Grandma’s Last Gift

As a child my grandma was one of my favorite people. She was always enthusiastic for everything I did, incredibly supportive and loving. My most vivid memories of her are her tight embraces, her scent, the pins she wore on her turtle necks and her vast collection of mice figurines.

Nearly a decade ago her and my grandfather retired to Nevada, to a small town hours outside of Carson. They wanted to live a simple life away from the city. At the time I was devastated. My grandparents house had been a constant in my shifting world as a child. My parents divorced when I was young, and because they had shared custody, I did not have one home. Grandma’s house always felt like home it was one place that never changed. That was where we spent holidays and birthdays, all of my memories were wrapped up in that house.

When they sold it, it felt like a piece of childhood went with the sale. I remember crying as I helped them finish packing up their moving truck and watched them drive off to their new home, hours away from me.

We did our best to go out as often as possible, and talk on the phone, but as I grew up and started a life of my own the calls became fewer and the visits more rare. I managed to keep up correspondance through letters as my grandmother’s hearing failed her. But after a while, her handwriting got sloppier, there was an obvious shake to it. Her spelling worse and then the letters stopped all together.

It worried me but I was so concerned about my own day to day stresses that I let it go, thinking I’ll call her next weekend and check on her. I told myself this over and over again.

I was naive and thought I had another decade before I would have to worry about losing her. Then grandma had a stroke. I talked to my grandpa on the phone, who assured me she was doing fine. I promised to visit but I never did.

Then she got worse.

Grandma wasn’t acting like herself and refused to go to the doctor. Until one day she collapsed and couldn’t get up again. Grandpa took her to the doctor’s office and they found out she had cancer, very advance and all through out her body. The end was near. My sister and I rushed to see her.

She had wasted away since the last time I had seen her. The stroke had left her disoriented. She had dementia they said. She had faded away into a pale imiation of the woman she had been. Even in the five years since I had seen her at my wedding. She didn’t seem like the same person. But when I walked in she recognized me, and smiled a big toothless smile. And on her turtle neck was her angel pin I remembered so well. I got to say my goodbyes, got to hold her hand for an afternoon before returning to my own life, and my small worries.

Months I waited on that phone call, telling me the end had come. I checked in with my grandpa every few weeks, to see how he was doing. No news was good news it seemed. She was six months in the hospital. There’s a stubborn streak that runs through my family, and my grandmother was the most stubborn of them all.
One year ago, she passed away. It was in part a relief and a feeling like I was a deflated balloon. I loved her more than I can express and knowing that I won’t ever get her back was hard or that I won’t get back that time I wasted thinking she would always be there.

Then just recently I got a call from my grandpa, he was making a surprise visit to me in Southern California. Something he hadn’t done in nearly seven years. Not since him and my grandma had driven down just to watch me get married.

I was excited to see him and then he made one ominous comment over the phone. I have something for you and your sister that your grandma left for you. My grandma had been sick a long time before she ended up in the hospital, her mind being eaten by the dimentia, I couldn’t imagine what she would think to give me.

He set out the next day, I called him in the morning to see when he would arrive, he again mentioned this mysterious delivery which seemed to have prompted his journey to San Diego. He refused to answer questions about his delivery and shrouded it all in mystery. I was intrigued. Could it be one of her pins, or her collection of mouse figurines. Those things I most cherished and made me think of her.

Day arrives that my grandpa shows up, he’s looking healthy if not a bit sad, we talk for a while waiting for my sister to arrive and again he makes mention of this mysterious gift from my grand without elaborating on what it is he is giving me. I shrugged it off, again figuring it was something not worth mentioning. Something so obviously my grandma, that I feel confident I know what it was.

My sister arrives, and after a round of hugs, my grandpa announces he is going to give us what our grandma wanted us to have. We follow him into my driveway where he parked is 2001 Chevy, with the camper on the back he slept in on the way here. He climbs into the back and unlocks a cabinet beneath the bed, and pulls out two large white boxes. As he handed it to me I was surprised by how heavy the box was. It must have weighed ten or more pounds. What could this possible be? It was even taped shut with packing tape. I waddle my way into the house with my heavy box and drop it onto my table which shakes beneath the weight.

My grandpa takes a seat at the table with his tea and drinks as I cut open the packing tape, my curiosity getting the better of me. What could it be?

I open up the box and inside is several rolls of quarters. I blinked for a few minutes as I look at this box filled with currency.

I looked at my grandpa and he gives me a half smile. Your grandma collected all the state quarters, she wanted you and your sister to have them.

I laughed a little. Remembering before my grandparents moved away my interest in collecting the new state quarters. But just like the house my grandparents had lived in, I left it behind, a relic of my childhood. As I reflected later on I remembered all the different ways in which collector coins were sprinkled through out my childhood. It was something she and I had done together, and while I had forgotten about it the way I had neglected to call her, or write like I should. She had preserved that memory of me, when I was a child and we used to collect together.

And that is how I would like to keep her in my mind. My sweet grandma, cheering me on, encouraging me and loving me no matter what. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, or look at my state quarters displayed on my office wall.

What’s Next For Nicolette Andrews

Ever since I finished The Diviner’s Trilogy I have been feeling a little lost. That story was what got me started to really seriously writing. It was the reason I became a published author and has really been the catalyst for everything I am doing now. If it had not been for Diviner’s Prophecy, my sister and friends spurring me on to write it I do not know where I would be today. I started a new series the Thornwood series. I actually wrote a version of that story almost two years ago, had it edited and published it. But it was not as polished as it should be so I took it down and let it haunt me for a year or more. I finally revised it was really happy with it and then The Priestess and the Dragon took off. It was never my intention for that story to be popular, honestly it was just a way for me write about Japan and Japanese mythology because it’s something I enjoy. But it seems the story resonated with people and now Wattpad, the website where it all started, is going to feature it for six months. This is a huge honor and something that has been on my writer’s bucket list since I found Wattpad almost 3 years ago. So I am at crossroads.

I plan on writing more in the Diviner’s World because I cannot let it go. I have five more books planned in the Thornwood series. I have ideas for fairy tale retelling in a Japanese setting interwoven with Japanese mythology. And then there’s The Priestess and the Dragon, the elephant in the room, so to speak. This story has been consuming me and my thoughts and as much as I think these other stories need your attention, I know I need to work on P&D first. So this is my official declaration, I am focusing on writing P&D before all other stories. That is not to say I am going to abandon my other works, the next generation diviner’s story is coming, as if more in the Thornwood series and the fairy tale retellings but for now, I am going to write P&D until I lose my muse or until its done. The plan, and just so everyone knows I change these things all the time, is to write all six books in P&D and release a new one every 8 weeks. It seems like a monumental task but I am up to it.

I’ll be posting some teasers and tidbits on the blog in the coming weeks as I progress so stayed tuned for that.

 

Five Lessons Learned About Self Publishing

Two years certainly passes by in a flash. As I write this, Diviner’s Prophecy is two years old, has gone through two different covers, had thousands of downloads and sold hundreds of copies of Diviner’s Curse and Diviner’s Fate. It has been a wild ride. When I first hit that publish button two years ago, I never knew how much my life would change. It started out as a way to prove I could do it. I wanted to finish a novel. I finished it and then I sat on it. I didn’t know what to do so I did some research and learned about my publishing options. The more I looked the more I knew I could only go indie. Call it willfulness, stubbornness, or whatever you want, but I am a bit of a control freak. I wanted complete control of my writing. So I did it. And I’ll be honest when I say the beginning was rough. I had no idea how to help people find my book. Cue more research. After much more late nights and lots of worrying, I set Diviner’s Prophecy to free and never looked back. It’s been an amazing journey. Maea and Johai will always be my first characters, the ones I will look fondly upon as my oldest children. But I’ve grown and learned a lot about writing and now I seem to be bursting with ideas. Well here is the reason for my post, biggest lessons learned after two years published.

 

  1. Do Not Rush

This is a character flaw of mine that I am working on all the time. I have a habit of just jumping in guns a blazin’ I did that a bit with publishing. Yes I learned all about how to publish but I still made some sloppy mistakes. I have now put in measures for quality control, which helps with some of the stupid errors I’ve made in the past. (Posting a book with only two chapters. Doh!) Which brings me to my next lesson.

  1. Learn From Your Mistakes

You hear this all the time but it definitely rang true with me. I’ve made some errors along the way but I’ve grown a whole lot too. (seeing a pattern here?) If I hadn’t picked a cover that I loved but did not appeal to others, I would not know to be more scrupulous with my cover choices. I still adore my cover designer, she has made some of the most beautiful covers for me.  I’ve just learned to communicate better with her.

  1. Planning, planning, planning

As mentioned before I tend to rush in without thinking. But what I have learned is to take my time plotting my novels. (saves a whole lot of time in the revising stage) but also plan my writing schedule, and plan my releases, and blogs, like this one. I aim to be better about updating this blog more often. This is my public declaration!

  1. Keep Learning

As I continue to grow as an author, and as a person. (yes I’m a real adult now). I realize I am never going to master anything. I went through this arrogant period where I thought I knew everything. As I get older, I realize you’re never going to stop learning. I’m still discovering ways to make my writing better.

  1. Shake it Off

This sounds sort of Zen but I have decided to start letting things go that I cannot control. If you’re like me and small things just eat at you. letting it go, as Elsa would say, really helps to relieve yourself of all the negative energy. I have decided to not let negative reviews effect me. When 80% positive, why waste my time on the 20% that didn’t like it? Obviously I cannot please everyone. As much as I would like to.

Alright, jumping off my high horse here, I just thought I would share some thoughts. As for the future, I have a lot going on.  Now its your turn any life lessons you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.