Courage Under Fire: Author Shawna Legarza Succeeds with Her Memoir
As a wildland firefighter, Shawna Legarza's career has carried her around the country on high profile assignments, such as the Hurricane Rita disaster relief and the World Trade Center recovery efforts. It was in the midst of this emotionally-charged landscape where she met her husband, a fellow firefighter. However, her years of fighting fierce blazes could not begin to prepare her for the devastating loss she faced when her husband tragically took his own life just a few short years later. While her memoir, No Grass began as an emotional release towards her own recovery, the book has become a source of inspiration and hope for firefighters and their families across the country affected by the loss of a loved one.
"I was emotionally torn up inside, and writing came easy, so I wrote," says Legarza. She wrote of her childhood, her first experiences in the heat of the fire, and of the fateful moment when she lost her husband. As she wrote, the need for support became more apparent. Understanding the emotions and challenges faced by firefighters and their loved ones, she created the Life Challenge Program, an educational and reflective program created to support those dealing with depression, stress or the loss of a loved one. Using a variety of social media and web-based tools, Shawna built a network of survivors focused on providing guidance, support and stress management to professionals in the high-risk field of fire management.
Once No Grass was published, Shawna announced its availability on her Facebook group, website and Twitter account, and the outpouring of support from the firefighting community was overwhelming. The memoir went on to sell several hundred copies in a few short weeks and was selected as the winner of the Hollywood Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category. Legarza has also been approached by book and film agents interested in furthering No Grass's success. For now, she remains blown away by her instant success. "Good things happen to good people, and everything happens for a reason," she says. "Many folks have already asked for a No Grass 2."