Resume for Cathy Graham

Cathy Graham

Fiction writing ~ Article writing

Summary

I am an imaginative creative writer who works well independently and pays attention to detail. I work to a deadline and give good quality work in a timely manner.

Skills and Expertise

I write short stories, poetry and plays for children and adults. I also write articles and press releases.

Experience and Qualifications

I have taken the two children’s writing courses given by the Institute of Children’s Literature. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.

I have used my writing as a literacy educator giving presentations and working one on one with with children in workshops and classes.

I have a background in desktop publishing and graphic design which have given me skills in formatting, editing and proofreading. I am also good at working with graphics and digital photos.

catgraham.wordpress.com

catgraham_59@yahoo.com

Skin Deep – Published on the Long and the Short of It Romance Ezine 2008

Skin Deep

One morning the king and queen sat drinking coffee as they looked at the newspaper.
“Will we ever find that boy a wife?” the king asked.
“What about this?” The queen held up the classified section. The king perched his reading glasses on his nose and peered at the small print.
“Woman looking for a sensitive man who likes long romantic walks on the beach…”
“No, not that. We’re not that desperate yet! Besides, sensitive? I think not. I’m talking about this!” The queen took a red pen and circled the ad. “Image consultant for hire. Change your personality, change your life!”
“Do you really think they could do much?” the king asked. “Seems pretty hopeless to me.”
“It’s worth a try, isn’t it?”  Before the king could answer, they heard a loud yell from the prince’s study.
“That does it! I quit!” Mary, the chamber maid stormed past the dining room and slammed the door.
The king turned to his wife and sighed. “While you’re at it, how about hiring another maid from the agency? That’s the fifth one this week.”
A loud crash came from the study and the king and queen quickly turned up the volume on Coronation Street.
The next morning, there was a knock at the castle door.
A pretty young blonde woman smiled and curtsied, pulling down on her shabby wool skirt to hide the big run in her stocking. Her carefully made bun was already spilling out uncooperative curls giving her a frazzled look.
“G-g-ood morning. I’m Rose,” the girl stammered. “I’ve come about the job.”
“We’ve been expecting you,” the queen said. “You can go right up. Prince Leopold is in the study working on the computer.”

Rose stood in the doorway admiring the prince’s dark curly hair and boyish good looks. She couldn’t remember the last time she went out on a date. Finally he looked up from the computer and frowned. “What do you want?”
“Lovely to see you too,” Rose said “Are you always this rude or are you just having a bad day?” She resisted the urge to dump a nearby pitcher of water over his head.
“Go away.” He frowned and turned his attention back to the computer.
Rose walked over and pulled out the plug.
“Hey, lady! What do you think you’re doing?”
“The name’s not Lady, it’s Rose. You certainly are bad mannered, aren’t you?”
“Why you impudent girl! “
“So it is true what they say about you.” Rose put her hands on her hips and glared at the prince.
“Who talks about me? Tell me their names so I can have them thrown in the dungeon!” Prince Leopold jumped to his feet and clenched his fists.

Rose rolled her eyes and laughed. “The whole kingdom knows what a pain you are. Just because you’re rich and good looking, you think it gives you the right to be rude and selfish. Well, hear this! Rose doesn’t take that kind of crap from anyone.”
The prince collapsed into his chair and sighed.

“What can I do Rose?  Why doesn’t anyone like me?” He looked so pitiful that her heart softened and she caught a glimpse of the sad, lonely man hidden beneath the gruff exterior.
“You could start with some manners,” she said. “And that awful temper of yours! Have you ever considered taking an anger management course?”

The prince tossed his head back and laughed.
“You’re wonderful Rose. What a feisty woman! I like that! Come! Let me show you around the castle.” He bowed and offered his arm like a true gentleman.  Rose took it and he covered his hand over hers, giving it a playful squeeze.

“It’s so dark and gloomy in here. Don’t you find it depressing?” Rose asked as their footsteps echoed down the drafty hallway.
“I guess it is depressing. I never really noticed before,” the prince agreed. As they toured the rooms, they laughed and talked together like old friends. Rose realized she was enjoying herself and didn’t want the moment to end.

They returned to the study and the prince poured them some tea. As he handed Rose a cup their eyes met. “I’ve never felt so comfortable with a woman before. My parents are always trying to match me up with boring princesses but you’re different.  You’re the first woman who had the courage to stand up to me.”

There was a knock on the door and the king and queen peeked in.
“Mother, Father. Have you met Rose? She’s amazing. This is the woman I intend to marry!” The prince glowed with happiness and Rose blushed.
“Marry?”  The queen pulled Rose aside. “What’s all this nonsense about marriage? You’d better not be one of those gold digger types!”
“Of course not!  What kind of person do you think I am? I think it’s time for me to leave. No job is worth this humiliation.” She marched to the door and flung it open.

Prince Leopold grabbed her by the arm.
“Please marry me, Rose.”
“But we’re practically strangers,” Rose protested.
“I feel I’ve known you all my life. You’re the one I’ve been waiting for.” Prince Leopold pulled her into his arms and kissed her with such tenderness that all her resistance broke.

Rose’s mind swirled with confusion and she could barely speak. She took a deep breath and looked into his dark eyes.

“All right, I will marry you. But let’s get engaged first so we can get to know each other.”
Prince Leopold grabbed her by the waist and twirled her around.
“Bravo, my boy!” The king patted his son on the back. “You’ve found yourself a lovely wife and we didn’t have to spend another cent at princesses.com.

“I guess we don’t need to hire you as an image consultant after all,” the queen said, her face beaming. “You seem to have worked your magic on Leopold already.”
“Image consultant?” Rose looked at her in confusion. “I came about the maid position.”

Aunt Dorothy Knows Best – published on Long Story Short Ezine 2008

Aunt Dorothy Knows Best

by Cathy Graham

It all started when I came downstairs one Saturday morning to find my kitchen occupied.

“Good morning, Adele,” a sing song voice chirped.

“How did you get in here?” I cried.

I rubbed my morning eyes and took a good look. She looked familiar with her bright red lipstick and short brown hair swept up in tight curls away from her forehead. Her ruffled apron covered her green flowered dress and she had pearls around her neck. Pearls? Who wore pearls unless they were going out? It couldn’t be. I rushed over and looked at the 1950’s cookbook I had just bought at the used book store. I wasn’t much of a cook but I couldn’t resist old books. The title “Aunt Dorothy’s Knows Best” was still there but the picture was gone. That must mean…..

“You’re the woman on the cover of this cookbook!”

“Now, Adele. Let Aunt Dorothy make you a nice pancake breakfast.”

“I don’t eat breakfast,” I said. “Only coffee.”

“But breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t think you’ve been reading my book, have you?” Her perfectly manicured brows puckered together.

“Your book?”

“Of course. I tested each recipe. I wouldn’t allow my picture on the cover if each recipe wasn’t wholesome and delicious.” She poured batter into the frying pan and it sizzled.

“Sit down dear and I’ll serve you. I see you don’t have any real maple syrup so this honey will have to do. I’ll go to the market later. Your larder is practically empty except for something called tofu. It looks disgusting.” Dorothy made a face as she lay out my plate and cutlery on the round kitchen table. She looked more at home in my kitchen than I did. My idea of cooking was to defrost a frozen dinner in the microwave.

“Aren’t those high heels uncomfortable?” I asked looking down at her pointed green shoes adorned with red bows that matched her lipstick shade perfectly.

“A woman has to look her best at all times. How else can we keep our husbands happy?” Aunt Dorothy licked the tips of her fingers and smoothed her curls which were lacquered to her head like a helmet.

“You don’t really believe that nonsense, do you?” I asked taking a bite of the pancake which was delicious.

“That must be why there’s no man in your life,” Dorothy said. She reached for the cookbook and flipped through the pages. “Here’s a section you should read about how to get a husband.”

“I don’t want a husband,” I said pushing the book away. “I’m happy being single.”

“But don’t you want children?” She looked at me in disbelief.

“No, I don’t,” I said. “Mmmm, good pancakes by the way. Aren’t you going to join me?”

“I can’t,” Dorothy replied lifting a pail out from under the sink and filling it with soap and hot water.

“Why not?”

“There’s too much to do.”

“But it’s Saturday morning. I want to relax and read my novel.” I pleaded.

“Go ahead and put your feet up, Dear. You won’t even know I’m here.” She wrestled a mop out of my cluttered broom closet. A bulging plastic bag of cans and plastic containers clattered onto the floor. “My word. You are a packrat, aren’t you?” she laughed. “No worry. I’ll throw these out with the rest of the trash.”

“I’m recycling them.” I said and saw her puzzled look. “You don’t need to do this.” I clenched my lips together in a tight line.

“A working girl like you needs some help, Dear,” Aunt Dorothy said plunging the mop into the sudsy water and attacking the kitchen floor. I felt sorry for the mop.

“I don’t need your help.”

“After this I’ll vacuum the house. Do you have some newspapers and vinegar? Your windows look like they could use a good scrub.” She clucked her tongue disapprovingly.

“My windows are just fine. Don’t worry about it,” I said.

“But someone’s got to worry about it, Dear. This house is going to rack and ruin. Would you like me to paint the kitchen? It’s no trouble.”

“My house is just fine. I like it this way.” I tried to keep the anger out of my voice but didn’t succeed.

“That temper of yours is most unattractive, Dear. No man is going to like a wife with a temper like that.”

“I already told you. I have no intention of getting married. Don’t you even listen?”

“Aunt Dorothy knows best, Dear. I know a wonderful man who would be just perfect for you. And the best part is that he’s a lawyer so he would be a good provider. You could quit your work and concentrate on being a good wife and mother.”

“Okay, that does it,” I said getting up from the table and nearly slipping.

“Watch the wet floor, Dear,” Aunt Dorothy warned.

“Get out of my kitchen now! Get out of my life!” I screamed.

“Is that any way to talk to your Aunt Dorothy who only wants what’s best for you?” Aunt Dorothy’s perfect red lips twitched and her eyes widened so much I was sure her fake eyelashes would fall out.

I snatched the book off the counter and wrenched the cover off. I bent it between my hands trying to rip it apart. No luck. I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it into pieces. As I saw the cardboard pieces fall to the floor, I saw Dorothy break apart like a distorted satellite image. She screamed in protest but luckily I couldn’t hear her anymore.

I opened the kitchen door and flung the cookbook with all my strength. It landed with a satisfying clunk in the tin garbage can.

“And you don’t think I’m good at housecleaning. Take that, Aunt Dorothy! ”

Love of a Hero – Honorable Mention in WOW Winter Flash Fiction Contest 2009

I opened my eyes. As things came into focus I could see a familiar brown, shaggy face peering at me with one glass eye.

“Hamish?” I gasped.

“Yes, it’s me, Laura.” He gave me an evil grin, his mouth cracked from a steady diet of crayons and buttons.

Only a moment ago I had been in the attic looking at the Barbie dollhouse I got for my eighth birthday. How could I be forty years old already?

I looked down to find myself tied to a dollhouse-sized plastic chair with Barbie’s silver chain belt from her mini dress. Was I the size of a Barbie doll?

“I remember how you treated me!” Hamish spat out an old crayon. I think it was Burnt Sienna, but it was hard to tell. “It’s payback time, kiddo!” He grabbed a pair of children’s safety scissors, yanked at a lock of my hair and lopped it off near the scalp.

“Stop it, Hamish!” I begged.

“It’s a pity we’re not in the back yard so I could finish you off in the wading pool. Remember when you tried to drown me?”

“I was giving you a bath!”

“I was so mildewed, your mother almost threw me in the garbage,” Hamish snarled.

“I wouldn’t let her throw you away.”

“Do you think hanging from the clothesline by my ear was any better?” Hamish snipped off another strand of hair.

“You! Bear! Hand over that girl right this instant!” There was a thump as something landed on top of Hamish.

“Captain Valiant!!” I cried. My brother Steve’s action figure still looked pretty good after all this time. I admired how well he filled his red, white and blue spandex super-hero outfit.

“Are you all right, Miss?” he asked while untying me with one hand and wrestling Hamish to the ground with the other.

Hamish tried to stab Captain Valiant with a pair of safety scissors, but the captain overcame him. I threw Captain Valiant the Barbie belt, and he bound Hamish’s paws together like a prize heifer.

“You won’t get away with this!” Hamish screamed as Captain Valiant stuffed him into the toy box.

“You were great!” I gushed.

“It was nothing.” His steely blue eyes sparkled with recognition.

“You’re Steve’s sister, Laura.”

I nodded, blushing at the memory of how I had once removed all his clothes to see if he was the same as Steve. What a letdown that had been!

“You were always kind to me, unlike your brother.” He patted his muscular right leg that I had carefully glued back on after Steve broke it off during a tantrum.  “Can’t you stay?  It’s so dull here with only that airhead Barbie to talk to.” He pushed a strand of stray hair behind my ear and his fingers brushed against my cheek.

I looked around debating the idea. Maybe this dusty attic wasn’t so bad. We had the dollhouse to live in. House cleaning would be a breeze with everything made of plastic. I wasn’t so sure about eating plastic food though.

“I wish I could, but I don’t think it would work.” I brushed a cobweb off my face and sighed. “So how do I get back?”

“Talk like an adult. Be unimaginative.”

“What do you mean?”

“Be a nag.”

“Like this? I’ve told you a million times to pick up your clothes!”

“That’s it,” he urged.

“Eat everything on your plate. Don’t you know children are starving in Africa?”

“You’ve got the idea,” Captain Valiant said with a sad smile.

I felt myself growing to normal size. When I looked over at the dollhouse, a tiny Captain Valiant saluted me before disappearing over the roof.

Sadness washed over me like tepid bath water as I trudged downstairs and got ready for bed. I crawled under the comforter and tossed and turned for hours.

“Laura. It’s me, Val,” a deep voice said.

“Captain Valiant? How’d you get in here?”

“I have my ways. I am a super hero after all.”

I reached for him in the darkness and was surprised to feel a man’s warm body.

“You’re a real man! But how?”

“It’s a long, boring story. I’m here. That’s the main thing, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said leaning forward until our lips touched.

More happened, but that’s between Val and me. Let’s just say it was way more fun than playing with the toy captain years ago.

Laser Eye Surgery Changed My Life

I still remember being seven years old sitting in the classroom and crying over a math test because I couldn’t see the blackboard. After that, my life was dictated by clunky glasses and flimsy contacts so the idea of laser eye surgery was extremely appealing.

I thought about it for years before having it done in 2008. The expense and fear of the unknown always held me back. Finally I worked with a woman who had it done and she recommended it so strongly that I was convinced.

I had always been so vulnerable and dependent on glasses to the point that I would have nightmares about someone stealing them off my bedside table. Many times I’d wake up in the morning wearing my glasses.

For anyone considering laser eye surgery, I recommend it highly. Of course, not everyone can have the procedure but there is a free consultation where they determine if you are a good candidate or not.

The procedure was relatively painless and only took about half an hour.

There are two types of surgery available; one is the newer and more expensive PRK Procedure where the doctor reshapes the cornea without creating a corneal flap. It is recommended for patients with thin corneas and the results are supposed to be better than the standard procedure.

I opted for the cheaper standard Lasik procedure where they lift up the cornea and reshape the lens. It was still two thousand dollars but I thought it was a small price to pay when I considered the money I’d spent on glasses and contacts over my life time.

They put numbing drops in my eyes and everyone wore surgical caps to keep hair out of the way. I was instructed not to wear makeup, perfume or  clothes that would shed any lint to keep the operating area sterile.

There was something surreal about lying on the table and having a red light pulsating above me and the doctor aiming that laser down into my eye. He then lifted the cornea up and it looked like a transparent curtain. I never felt any pain and the worst part was the smell of the laser reshaping my lens as it was reminiscent of burning hair or getting a filling at the dentist.

After the procedure, I sat and stared out the window at the sunny winter day on Elgin Street in Ottawa. The Chateau Laurier stood out in sharp detail and I couldn’t believe how I could actually read the numbers on the buses rumbling by.

Things were still a bit blurry so I needed a ride home and I slept the rest of the day. The first week my eyes were dry and scratchy but they gave me drops to keep my eyes lubricated and prevent infection. At night there was a halo around lights but over time that went away. My night driving has never been great so I didn’t notice a huge change.

They recommended reading glasses from the drug store as my close up vision is not as good at it was. It was a small price to pay for the gift of perfect distance vision. Often I will stand and gaze out at the horizon, still in disbelief that I can see it all so clearly.

I have to wear sunglasses as my eyes are super sensitive to light. It’s a good habit to get into anyhow with the harsh UV rays causing conditions like cancer and macular degeneration.

The best thing is not having to deal with fogged glasses in winter and during rain. I don’t have to fumble around trying to clean scratchy contacts just to end up dropping them. Going swimming is actually enjoyable now that I can see where I’m going.

What a feeling of freedom! I tell everyone I know with glasses that it’s the best decision I ever made and how it will change their life for the better.

How to show support to a Bereaved Parent.

Losing a child is the most devastating experience a parent can go through. Life isn’t supposed to work that way.

Bereaved parents need the love and understanding of friends and family to work through the grief and begin the healing process.

Ten Tips for supporting bereaved parents.

1. Don’t shy away for fear of not knowing the right thing to say or do. It’s a lonely enough time for the bereaved parent as their whole world has been shattered. Bereaved parents need the support of friends and family even more at this difficult time.

2.  Let the bereaved parent talk about their loss and listen without interruption or giving words of advice. Saying “I’m sorry for your loss” with a hug is enough. Don’t feel you have to fill the empty silence with endless chatter. Don’t say remarks like “It was for the best,” “It was God’s will” “God loved you a lot to allow such a tragedy to come to you.” Or “Don’t worry, you’ll have another.” These kinds of comments are not helpful at all and make the parent feel even worse.

3. Bringing meals in plastic containers that can be frozen and reheated are much appreciated as parents’ are usually so in shock that food preparation is the last thing on their minds. Offering to look after small children is also much appreciated.

4. If you have books on loss and grief, offer them to the bereaved parents.  Encourage them to join a group such as “Bereaved Parents” which have local support groups.  If they go to church, suggest that the minister visit and counsel the couple.

5. Encourage the bereaved parent to express their grief openly through talking about it or writing about their feelings in a journal. As time passes, the parent will feel more comfortable looking at photos of their deceased child and will want to share about them with you. Let them. It’s part of the healing process.

6. Be especially patient and understanding about the way that men and women express grief differently. Just because men may be quieter and show less emotion than women doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. Be extra supportive to a bereaved father who might not have much of a network of friends to support him compared to the bereaved mother.

7. If you know of other parents who have suffered the loss of a child, suggest a meeting. Only those who have gone through the same loss can fully understand the extent of the grief. Also they can offer hope and support to the newly bereaved by showing that they survived and the parents will too.

8. If the child was a baby or very young, be sensitive and refrain from bringing your own small children for a visit. Often the parent can’t bear to see another baby or child as it’s such a painful reminder of their loss.

9. Flowers in memoriam are great but they don’t last. Doing something in the memory of the child is much more meaningful. Why not plant a tree in the child’s memory or donate to a cause that helps children? Or if you are artistically inclined, you could write a poem or paint a picture in the child’s memory.

10. Be patient and supportive with the parent and don’t expect them to snap out of it and get back to normal right away. They will have good days where they seem normal and bad days where they regress again. That’s a normal part of the grieving process.

Be supportive and patient in helping parents cope with their grief. The tragic loss of a child is life changing and in some ways, the bereaved parent will never be the same again.