Monday, February 9, 2015
In Loving Memory of Lu Ann Staheli
This morning, I lost a dear friend of mine, Lu Ann Staheli, who was bravely fighting cancer for 8 months. So many emotions battle for space when I think of Lu Ann. My first encounter with Lu Ann was in 2001 when I attended a League of Utah Writers meeting at the Provo Library, and Lu Ann was the speaker that night. She had her two little boys with her, Kent & Chan, since her husband was out of town. They sat at the back of the room while their mother taught the class. At one point, when they became rambunctious (I think they were climbing beneath a table), Lu Ann excused herself, walked to the back of the classroom, asked them to behave, then walked to the front of the room and continued teaching without missing a beat.
A few months later, I was invited into a critique group by Annette Lyon. Lu Ann was a part of the group, and I remember being excited (and a little intimidated) at that fact. There are so many things I want to remember about Lu Ann and I wish I could thank her again and again. I have a book coming out in May called Bondage (book 1 of The Moses Chronicles), which I dedicated to her. She won't be able to see that dedication in person now, but I believe she knows how much she means to me.
Just a few of my memories of Lu Ann:
At critique group: "Where are we, Heather?" (I struggle with creating setting in my first drafts)
In a text when asking her whether or not I should take on a certain project: "No, you're better off working on what you already have planned. Stick to your plan. You know it's right."
When trying to decide if I should indie publish: She sent me links to books that I should read. She'd done her own research and had enough unpublished manuscripts that she decided to start putting them up for sale.
We spent time at critique group each week for over ten years. I can hear her laugh now. I can hear her making corrections to my manuscript as I write, "Um, Heather, people can't do that." Or the infamous proclamation that everyone around our table heard. "I don't buy this."
Her handwriting was neat and tidy. Her comments thoughtful. She was well-read, and I mean well-read. From non-fiction to middle grade, to thrillers, to historical tomes. We swapped books to read, we swapped manuscripts, we swapped ideas, and we swapped dreams.
Losing Lu Ann is difficult and continues to be difficult. There aren't many people I can call or text any time of the day for advice, or just to chat. Lu Ann was one of those people. She had many dreams. For her family, for her career, and even more dreams for when she retired. Lu Ann taught English for over 30 years and most recently she was the school librarian--a job she'd loved and had worked hard to get after earning her Master's Degree.
Lu Ann was one of my Senior Editors at Precision Editing Group and she mentored dozens and dozens of new writers over the years.
This is a picture of Lu Ann and I the year we both won Best of State. Me for fiction, Lu Ann for non-fiction. Ironically, I had also entered the non-fiction category, and Lu Ann beat me out. I could never be happier to lose.
Lu Ann has truly been a mentor and an integral part of my publishing journey. She's given me advice on manuscripts, agents, editors, and she's encouraged, uplifted, and helped me every step of the way.
Jeff Savage, a member of my critique group, set up a fund that goes directly to her family, that will help pay for her medical bills.
I'm also working to put out all of her indie published books onto paperback as well. This will continue her legacy, one in which she helped so many achieve their dreams. Lu Ann's Amazon author page is here.
Our critique group: Robison Wells, Annette Lyon, Michele Holmes, Lu Ann Staheli, Sarah Eden, Me, Jeff Savage