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Imperfect Beautiful Lives

At close to sixty-eight years of age, it took me quite some time to realize that perfection isn’t reachable – at least not by me – and thankfully it is not a goal to which I strive. My second novel features delightful, and not so delightful, characters who are far from perfect but who reflect you, me, your coworker, and the person in line in front of you at the grocery store. Characters who face the truth of their circumstances and wobble between making something better of those circumstances or who get gobbled up by them and end up no better off.

A salient nugget of truth I’ve learned as an adult is that regardless of my past, my failures, or even my successes and regardless of the influences that have had the most impact on me, I can learn from those experiences, or I can stay stuck right where I am. We all have a choice to move forward and adopt what benefited us and discard that which did not.

A Jagged Journey speaks of similarly challenged people who make decisions that will change their lives forever, with some happily-ever-afters, and some? Not so much.

I hope you will lend an ear to what these people have to say. I did, and I am changed as a result.

A New Novel: A JAGGED JOURNEY

A Jagged Journey follows the story of Charlie, a too-trusting thirty-something-year-old high school teacher who thinks he knows what he wants until life radically alters his plans. It is the story of single mother, Hannah, and her young son, Sammy, whose life journey is bolstered by loving and supportive family members. And then there’s Gretchen, an educated professional whose thoughts and opinions are challenged at every turn when the cruelest of detours changes her life forever.

Irene Frances Olson, author of Requiem for the Status Quo, has written a new novel about disparate characters between the ages of seven and seventy-seven that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. The author paints a picture of what it is like for individuals to evolve and arrive at a place where hurt begets joy, smarts don’t necessarily equate to intelligence, and vulnerability guarantees increased strength.

If you have ever hit speedbumps and roadblocks in your personal life, if your opinions and judgments about others have taken abrupt and unexpected turns, A Jagged Journey was written for and about you.

 

New Book Release!

I am so very excited about my latest novel – now available in paperback and eBook! Just as REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO was a work directly from my heart, A JAGGED JOURNEY has come from my heart as well – but in a very different way. I hope you will read my new novel’s synopsis and grab a copy for yourself. eBook just $3.99; Paperback just $11.99.

A JAGGED JOURNEY excerpt!

I love the new story I crafted and I LOVE THE CHARACTERS!!! (The first of 3 excerpts)

This brief excerpt takes place on a Monday in a classroom at the Seattle high school where Charlie Brooks, an Environmental Science teacher, and Jamila Sanders, school Spanish teacher, discuss Charlie’s current relationship after a Friday date that didn’t go at all as Charlie had planned.

Charlie crossed his arms in front of him. “I didn’t do any school work this weekend, I didn’t trust myself to grade the papers fairly. My students didn’t deserve for me to take out my anger and hurt on their assignments.”

“That was very thoughtful of you.”

“It was, wasn’t it? Anyway, I spent most of the weekend at a gym I hadn’t been to in weeks, and boy was I focused, so focused, in fact, that on Saturday one of the attendants had to remind me not to monopolize the equipment. I guess one of the other customers complained that I wasn’t following proper gym etiquette.”

“Gym etiquette? You see, that’s why I’ve never joined a gym. Working out is hard enough without having to worry about being polite. Jeez, I don’t know how you do it.”

“Well, like I said, I hadn’t gone in weeks because there was too much macho pressure feeling like I had to perform better than the guy next to me. My membership period expires this month. I cancelled the auto renewal when I left the gym on Saturday.”

“Good for you, no one deserves that kind of stress.”

Charlie stood up and paced in front of the classroom. “And guess what I did Sunday that was a sure sign I had fallen into the deep end?”

Jamila tapped the side of her head, looked up, and conjectured, “You drank yourself into oblivion?”

“No.”

“Um, you did some baking, and if you did do some baking, why didn’t you bring me any?”

“Baking? Hardly.”

Jamila slapped her hands on both sides of her face. “No way, you went to a ‘gentleman’s club.'”

Charlie couldn’t decide whether to crack up or be offended. “How long have you known me? You think I’d frequent that kind of a place, a place that if one of my student’s parents saw me might mean the end of my job?”

“Okay, yeah, you’re right, but what did you do on Sunday that was so utterly unbelievable?”

Charlie placed his hands on the back of his chair. “I went to Mass.”

Now it was time for Jamila to laugh. “You went to church? In all the years I’ve known you, I think I can count on one hand the number of times you told me you had gone to church. And wait a minute … you went to a Catholicchurch? Since when did that become the religion of choice for you?”

“It isn’t, okay? I just wanted to go some place that might offer some amount of solace in my time of need and that church was a convenient one.” Charlie started to laugh at himself. “In answer to your next question, no, it didn’t help. And get this, I actually walked up and took communion. I was just mimicking the people in front of me, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. By the time I turned around to walk back to my seat, I felt like a heathen of magnanimous proportions and walked right past my seat and out of there as fast as I could.”

“Didn’t you even get a receipt?”

Charlie did a double-take. “What are you talking about?”

“A receipt, the weekly church bulletin. I used to give my parents a hard time when they went to Mass. They complained the whole way there, and then at the end of the service when we walked out, we were handed a bulletin and my parents would say, ‘Well, at least we got our receipt.’ Happened every week.”

“No receipt for me. God, I’m such a loser.”

Jamila picked up her backpack. “You are not a loser. I don’t have friends who are losers.”

A Jagged Journey will introduce you to characters similar to those with whom we come in contact at work, play, and everywhere in between. If you’ve given up hope trying to find goodness and kindness in the immediate world around you, be assured you just might find what you’re looking for within the pages of this novel. I write because I figure just about everyone needs someone in their corner to help them along life’s troubled way. Although A Jagged Journey portrays the ups and downs inherent with life as we know it, I believe it just might serve as the catalyst to fill up your hope tank – a tank that may be hovering around empty right about now. This book will be released on April 15, 2021, and is now available for preorder.

A Jagged Journey

Our lives never follow a straight path. We make turns, we leap or crawl over speed bumps and roadblocks, and when needed, we take breaks along the way while battling the insistent urge to just give up. More often than not, however, we keep going – we move forward, one step at a time, hoping for the best.

A Jagged Journey, now available for pre-order, is a novel that follows the pothole-filled lives of disparate characters between the ages of seven and seventy-seven who are far from perfect and for the most part, are not hesitant to admit it. Set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the diversity inherent within that region is front and center and will have readers laughing and crying in equal measure.

Laughing because the youngest character, Sammy, is a kick-in-the-butt delight when his honesty comes through loud and clear, challenging every adult with whom he comes in contact to sit up and pay attention.

And crying, because readers will see themselves in the imperfect childhoods that can find adults sinking or swimming in their grown-up years.

Ms. Olson’s new novel was written for anyone eighteen years and older as there are a few – and very far between – language elements within its’ covers. Readers won’t find any gratuitous sex or violence, however; just loving friendships and relationships that will challenge even the hardest of hearts to open up to the many joys that life has to offer.

Although her second novel does not have the same focus as Requiem for the Status Quo with its’ storyline filled with the caregiver and loved one’s journey with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, you will always find that element in every novel she writes, including this latest, A Jagged Journey.

 

A Jagged Journey

A Jagged Journey follows the story of Charlie, a too-trusting thirty-something-year-old high school teacher who thinks he knows what he wants until life radically alters his plans. It is the story of single mother, Hannah, and her young son, Sammy, whose life journey is bolstered by loving and supportive family members. And then there’s Gretchen, an educated professional whose thoughts and opinions are challenged at every turn when the cruelest of detours changes her life forever.

Irene Frances Olson, author of Requiem for the Status Quo, has written a new novel about disparate characters between the ages of seven and seventy-seven that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. The author paints a picture of what it is like for individuals to evolve and arrive at a place where hurt begets joy, smarts don’t necessarily equate to intelligence, and vulnerability guarantees increased strength.

If you have ever hit speedbumps and roadblocks in your personal life, if your opinions and judgments about others have taken abrupt and unexpected turns, A Jagged Journey was written for and about you. Be sure to follow this author’s website for publication updates.

RELEASE DATE EARLY 2021.

 

Free books!!!

Because sometimes it’s difficult to find time to sit down and read a traditional book, I now have an audiobook available for purchase. But in celebration of caregivers everywhere, I am offering several free copies of the audiobook.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a copy of my audiobook, please email me at irene@irenefrancesolson.com. The first 10 responses will receive a link and instructions on how to redeem their free copy.

As the adage goes, “But hurry, don’t wait, to receive your free gift now!”

 

Discounted Books About Dementia!

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to increase understanding of what dementia is and how it impacts the lives of those it touches. It’s also a great time to work to decrease the stigma and silence that too often accompanies an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Each June AlzAuthors hosts a book sale and giveaway to help caregivers and those concerned about dementia find knowledge, guidance, and support offered through shared wisdom and experience. AlzAuthors is the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience. I’m proud to be a part of this growing non-profit organization, and I’m excited my eBook, Requiem for the Status Quo, is a part of this sale for only 99 cents, but only for a week!

June 15th through June 22nd you can take advantage of this biannual opportunity to purchase excellent resources on the dementia diseases for free or at reduced prices. AlzAuthors offers a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s and teen literature. Most are available in Kindle and ebook, and many are available in paperback and audio. I would like to encourage you to build a library of carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire you every day.

These books are written from a deep place of solidarity, vulnerability, and love. May you find one – or two, or more! – to help guide you on your own dementia journey. Click here for the sale’s discounted offerings.

 

 

Being gracious – now and always

It’s so easy to focus more on what we lack versus what we have. Easy to take the hard work of others for granted, simply because what others are doing is a job for which they are getting paid.

My May 1st In Your Corner column in Grandparents Day Magazine addresses how important it is to express gratitude in recognizing the hard work of others. Whether that person is a frontline worker, a spouse, a child, or a neighbor we pass by on our social distancing neighborhood walk, everyone needs to know they are appreciated for showing up and simply being who they are, day after livelong day.

Please read my Grandparents Day Magazine column, and then let’s all fine-tune every expression of gratitude we can muster. 

Storytelling is an Art

I’m currently auditioning narrators to produce a new audiobook for my novel, Requiem for the Status Quo. This brief post, however, is not about audiobooks per se, rather, I simply want to talk about the importance of storytelling. Very few of us will write memoirs or even novels in our lifetime, but we do have an ongoing opportunity to tell our story. 

  • We tell our story by the way we live.
  • We illustrate our story by the words we choose to say and those we wisely choose not to say.
  • We add drama to our story by demonstrating how we manage the difficult times in our lives and we provide sorrowful interludes when what transpires has a devastating impact on our well-being. 
  • We inject humor into the many scenes depicted in our lives, hopefully laughing at ourselves more than laughing at the expense of others. (I made a point of including humor in Requiem because even in the toughest of times on my father’s Alzheimer’s journey, he never lost his sense of humor, nor did I.)
  • When life serves us lemons, we either choose to make lemonade or we allow the sourness of an episode to irreparably discolor our outlook from that point forward.
  • We can remind ourselves that even when it appears more bad than good is coming our way, the truth of the matter is that far more positive than negative events fill the days we have been gifted. (As of this posting, I have lived close to 24,455 days; I’ve enjoyed my life more than I have abhorred it.)

There are a few sayings that come to my mind on this topic: I can read you like a book or Your life is like an open book. My hope is that if those statements apply to me, they will mean that my motives, thoughts, and/or actions say a lot about me, and what they are saying is mostly good. 

I try to live my days, doing the best I can  with what I’ve been given.

How about you? What’s your story?