Member Monday: Grandmother’s Skirt by Alicia McCauley

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an essay by Alicia McCauley. Alicia is a teacher, a writer and the President of Vigilante Kindness. Her essay, Grandmother’s Skirt, was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas. Welcome, Alicia.

Grandmother’s Skirt

by Alicia McCauley

A tiny crack splintered through my heart when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up in my closet this Christmas.  It’s a red and green plaid skirt that sits perfectly on my hips and floats at my knees, a traveling pants sort of miracle being that I’m six feet tall and my grandmother was five feet tall on her tallest days.

The skirt is one of two items I took from her closet when she passed away.  The other was a bland oatmeal sweater that smelled like her.  I kept that sweater on for days after she died, breathing in her smell even as I laid in bed nights, listening to the sounds that felt all wrong in her house.

But the skirt went unworn.  

The first Christmas season after she died, I couldn’t put it on without crying and so it hung at the back of my closet, its red and green merriment lost in a dark corner.  The second Christmas season after she died, I was able to wear the skirt with only the slightest quiver in my bottom lip when I looked in the mirror.

I paired my grandmother’s skirt with a black jacket zigzagged with zippers and tall, black boots with the skinniest of heels.  For good measure I added my favorite leather studded bracelet.  I remembered my grandmother wearing the skirt, so proper in her heels and pantyhose and a red sweater on top.  She would’ve laughed and shaken her head at her modest skirt paired with my hints of edginess.  

A thousand times I wanted to send her a photo.  I wanted our pictures to stand next to each other, each of us wearing this magical skirt, her red lipsticked mouth smiling next to my own pale grin.

Every single time I took her skirt out for a spin, I was showered with compliments.  I’m not fashionable or trendy in any sense of those words.  I’m gangly and awkward and when I can find pants that don’t look like I’m readying for a flood, that’s a fashion win in my book.

When I stepped out in my grandmother’s skirt, it was a whole new experience.  Compliments were showered upon me.

“I love that skirt.”

That is a fantastic skirt!”

You look radiant in that skirt.  It really brings out the color in your cheeks.”

Needless to say, I felt great in that skirt, so great that I carefully put it in my clothing rotation as often as possible.  I took the skirt to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  I wore it to three Christmas parties.  I wore it to the Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.  Finally I donned it for our Christmas morning church service.

As we read the Communion passage, I held the plastic Communion cup, complete with wafer sealed on top, and swirled the grape juice so that it coated the sides of the cup in red.  I thought about how Christ’s sacrifice covers my sins. I savored the wafer on my tongue and washed it down with the bittersweet juice, running red down my throat.

After church and after all the gifts were opened, a knot caught in my throat when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up that Christmas afternoon.  I ran my hand over the wool and slipped the skirt back into the recesses of my closet.  

Later that day I strapped on my helmet and pedaled out for a Christmas bike ride.  Under a blindingly blue sky and with the taste of Communion still on my lips, I thought of all the gifts I’ve received this past year, both tangible and not.

I smiled because somehow in spite of her passing, my grandmother still manages to give incredible gifts.

In her skirt I felt vibrant.

I felt confident.

I felt beautiful.

And the most magical gift of my grandmother’s skirt is that when I took it off and placed it back in the closet, all of those feelings still remained.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

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South Coast Writers Conference

Upcoming South Coast Writers Conference!

The South Coast Writers Conference is coming up in February. It’s an eclectic gathering of writers of various genres, novice and published authors; returning and first-time attendees. It is our goal that participants and presenters leave the conference inspired and renewed, with new insights and skills, and better connected to fellow writers and resources. Once again we have invited some of the Northwest’s best writers to guide you in an exploration and celebration of the many facets of writing. Participation in workshops is limited to 30 students or fewer, register early to secure a seat in the workshops you want.

The conference is always scheduled on Presidents Day weekend in the hopes that you will extend your stay to write and to explore the splendor of America’s Wild Rivers Coast. Visit our miles of spectacular beaches, explore our many hiking trails, or spend time on the mighty Rogue River.

The South Coast Writers Conference is co-sponsored by Southwestern Oregon Community College and the Gold Beach Visitor Center.

For more information including dates, cost, speakers, and scholarships please visit their website.

Roxy Reindeer by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a unique submission by Writers Forum member, Linda Boyden. Writing pitches and press releases can sometimes be just as difficult as writing the story itself, so today Linda shares her pitch and the press releasefor her latest picture book, Roxy Reindeer, which was recently named among the Best in Family-Friendly Products by the Mom’s Choice Awards. Congratulations, Linda, and thanks for sharing your expertise.

Roxy Reindeer
By Linda Boyden©2015

“Santa’s workshop is a busy place, especially on Christmas Eve. Everyone wants to help including Roxy, Santa’s youngest reindeer. Unfortunately, every time she tries to help, she seems to get in the way. Santa has no choice but to lead her to her stall so the elves can finish packing the sleigh. He tells her the problem is she’s too young and promises she can help next year. Will Roxy’s Christmas Eve be ruined? Not with Mrs. Claus around!  Discover her plan that will turn Roxy’s frown upside down and make readers smile, too.

Roxie book cover sm

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2015
For More Information Contact: lboyden@charter.net

The Mom’s Choice Awards Names ROXY REINDEER Among the Best in Family-Friendly Products

Summary: I am honored to announce that my fifth picture book, ROXY REINDEER, has earned the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award®. Having been rigorously evaluated by a panel of MCA evaluators, ROXY REINDEER is deemed to be among the best products / services for families.

Full Release:

Redding, CA. The Mom’s Choice Awards® has named ROXY REINDEER as among the best in family-friendly media, products and services. The MCA evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost.

“I am thrilled to earn the Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence Seal of Approval,” says local author/illustrator, Linda Boyden. “I know all the great things the MCA does to connect consumers, educators, and caregivers with the best products and services available for families.

To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five (5) identical samples for testing. Entries are matched to evaluators in the MCA database. Evaluators are bound by a strict code of ethics not only to ensure objectivity, but also to ensure that the evaluation is free from manufacturer influence. The five evaluations are submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final review and approval.

“Our aim to introduce families and educators to best-in-class products and services,” explains Dawn Matheson, Executive Director of the Mom’s Choice Awards. “We have a passion to help families grow emotionally, physically and spiritually. Parents and educators know that products and services bearing our seal of approval are high-quality and also a great value. The MCA evaluation program is designed to incorporate the expertise of scientists, physicians and other specialists; but we also engage parents, children, educators, and caregivers because they are experts in knowing what is best for their families.”

With the evaluation now complete, the testing samples of ROXY REINDEER will be donated to schools, libraries, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

Information about Linda Boyden and her books, including ROXY REINDEER and where to purchase them can be found at http://www.lindaboyden.com

About the Mom’s Choice Awards®

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries.

Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.

Learn more about the Mom’s Choice Awards by visiting their website: http://www.MomsChoiceAwards.com.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

A Message from the President: December, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho…

Hoping that everybody has a reading to share at this month’s Members Read Holiday Meeting of the Writers Forum. Twice a year we offer the chance to read five minutes from past, present, or future works. If you have something new, this is an opportunity to use the membership as a sounding board. And remember, FIVE minutes! That includes introduction, scene setting, whatever. As I am wont to say, “Five minutes from when you first open your mouth!”

And have something planned for the potluck. Hint: Nothing messy like BBQ Ribs. Or that requires sharp knives! Remember; we are writers and shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects for many reasons including acting out new variations of murder plots.

Meanwhile, hope all are being good and impressing Santa with your kindness to others, especially critics. Just because you like it is no reason to presume all would like it. Notice I typed “presume” since I don’t mind making a pres out of you and me.

Also in the “Meanwhile Category” is thinking of gifts for your fellow writers. No, not us (unless you really, really, want to).  Writers need/desire/thrive on stimulation. Some past favorites include the perennial-winner Writer Emergency Pack and the ever popular Writer’s Toolbox, both geared to help the writer become unstuck. Some can also serve as party games; I can personally attest to the toolbox being the focal point of many social gatherings.

Meanwhile (the last one), have a great holiday.