Requiem for the status quo: a source of hope

There is no sugar-coating dementia; I have not done so and I don’t pretend to paint a picture of good times and joy in my debut novel, Requiem for the status quoBut what I have succeeded in doing is to describe real people who seek solutions to their caregiving problems and who find those solutions amongst the counsel of others.

I completely understand that one of my recent reviewers found it a difficult book to read; she admitted that she is in the midst of a similar caregiving struggle with her mother so the subject matter more or less caused her to put the brakes on the completion of the novel. Thankfully, she indicated she would not delete the book from her eReader as she might pursue further reading at another time. I knew from the outset that the subject matter of my novel would be relevant, and it is, but I also knew some readers may require a little separation from their caregiving journey before being ready to read about someone else’s journey.

But this novel is not just for caregivers, it is also for those who endeavor to learn more about what it is like to have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. One such reader said the following:

I have a dear friend whose mom died of Alzheimer’s, and she was her caregiver.  So, now I’m dying to call her and say that I understand what she must have gone through and I want her to tell me all of her story!  Oh my goodness!  It’s so tough!!!  Your writing is wonderful!  Your story is educational and needful!! – Reader T.

And yet other readers have expressed that they wish they had had access to my novel while they were on their own Alzheimer’s caregiving journey for a family member. While Requiem for the status quo tells a story, it also assures the reader that the author – who herself was a family caregiver – stands in their corner and wants to lessen their load. The author, me, injected humor, hope, and encouragement as survival strategies were introduced in a storytelling, rather than clinical, manner.

All of us current and former caregivers have unfettered access to all the internet has to offer regarding latest treatments (few) and suggested ways in which to handle the new normals that creep up on us by the hour. What many of us lack, however, is a relatable story wherein we can find ourselves. Fortunately, that is changing as is evident in the Bookstore located on the AlzAuthors website, where both extraordinary non-fiction and fiction are offered, and where my novel will be spotlighted come December.

My greatest hope, dear readers, is that my personal caregiving experience, as altered and fictionally depicted in Requiem for the status quo, will reassure and support you as I remain now, and forever more, in your corner. I leave you with a few recently submitted comments/reviews:

In a couple of days, when I stop crying, I’ll write a review for you. I really wish this book had been around when my mother had Alzheimer’s. I would have asked some family members to read it … Wow, didn’t realize all this sorrow was still in me. I know you will help a lot of people with this amazing book. Good job, Irene. – Reader K.

My mother recently died from Alzheimer’s, and I could really relate to everything she (author) wrote about. All her information is very accurate, and I felt like she was on the journey with me. – Reader R.

This is such a beautiful, heartfelt, and touching book and story. The author shares so clearly and bravely the trials of dealing with all of the decisions that have to be made in every stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s for each phase your loved one is going through. The unknowns of what your loved one is going through is heartbreaking to watch, but she shows that love can trump these unknowns with laughter, humor and the help of family and friends. No one expects this disease to touch their families, but it does inflict itself onto her father. The love that she shares with her dad, her sister, and eventually her brother who has been in denial shows us that the needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be met with dignity and care. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has dealt with this disease, for anyone who is dealing with it right now, or for anyone who might have to deal with it in the future. Reader L.

 

 

 

September World Alzheimer’s Month Book Deals

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Several of the AlzAuthors group of writers who have written fiction or non-fiction books on the subject of Alzheimer’s or other dementia are offering special, discounted offers to those who would like to get ahold of a select group of books being offered September 27 – 30, 2017.

I am a member of this group of writers and am offering a total of eight free copies of my novel, Requiem for the status quo: four (4) free Kindle eBooks and four (4) free paperback books (the latter available to residents of the United States only). All you need to do is Like/Follow my author Facebook page, then write a comment in the AlzAuthor post that appears on that page.

In order to get in the drawing for a free Kindle eBook or free paperback copy,  you must indicate in the comment section which format you would prefer: Kindle eBook or paperback. Please don’t say you don’t care which format you receive; for accounting and distribution purposes I will only put your name in one of the drawings so be sure to specify your preference.  

All those Liking my page and posting a comment indicating their format preference will have their names entered into a drawing that will take place at Noon, Pacific Standard Time, on Saturday, September 30th. I will Messenger the winners through FB to request either your e-mail address (for eBook sending) or postal delivery address (for paperback book shipment) so that I can send out your complimentary book copies the first week of October.

But I am not the only author offering great deals on books – all the books contained within the graphic on this post are discounted during the September 27 – 30th timeframe. Be sure to go to the AlzAuthors website, click on the Bookstore tab, locate the author and their book being offered at a discounted price, click on the photo of their book and you will be directed to the site where their discounted book can be purchased. Since I am personally offering free copies of my novel – as opposed to doing so through an Amazon.com promotion – you will not find Requiem for the status quo in the AlzAuthors bookstore during this promotion.

 

An author’s reward

I so enjoyed being interviewed by the company, Nurture Your Books; they were very accommodating and generous to offer this opportunity to authors such as myself. Being able to talk about the inspiration for my novel and my writing process is such a gratifying experience. Be sure to check out the interview that took place on September 15th.

I do not have a publicist, nor do I have an agent. I do 99.999% of my book’s marketing. Paying for a review service, such as Kirkus Reviews, to read and provide a book review is not in my budget. I am constantly on the lookout for free opportunities to spread the word about Requiem for the status quo, a novel that has already proven to benefit those who have honored me by purchasing a copy. (I will post a few Amazon reviews at the bottom of this piece.)

The life and times of an author – especially one on contract with a small, independent publishing house – are not the most enjoyable times in a writer’s life. To be quite honest with you, they’re pretty darn stressful and for the most part, very unsatisfying. But I am so very grateful that my publisher chose to publish my debut novel. Black Rose Writing goes out of their way to publish up-and-coming authors so I owe them a debt of gratitude for including me as one of their clients.

It is my passion for the story – for my father’s story – that keeps me pounding the pavement/keyboard to drum up attention for the heroes of the 21st century: family caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Yes, it’s true, my book is fiction, but one doesn’t live through a multi-year caregiving experience without including personal episodes into the body of the novel – and I did.

I survived the experience, but many caregivers are currently right in the thick of it. I recently received an e-mail letter from one of my readers whose mother died just a few weeks ago from Alzheimer’s complications. This reader said, “Thank you so much for writing this book.  I didn’t belong to a support group and wish I would have found this book when I started the caregiving process…I do wish I’d found your book at the beginning of my journey.  It would have been a big help.  Anyone going through this experience definitely needs a cheerleader in their corner.”

That is what I have tried to do. If you’ll return to this site on Sunday of each week, in Readers Corner at the bottom of each web page, you’ll see I’ve posted encouraging words for those out there needing a little extra TLC for their day. I hope you’ll revisit my author site each week to catch a glimpse of that encouragement.

And now for a few reviews:

Poignant, agonizing, funny, all-consuming, It is a distinct honor to be the first to rate this outstanding, but heartbreaking, tale of a devastating and progressive health condition, and how deeply it touches those it enfolds. The author, who has closely experienced the cruelty of Alzheimer’s in a loved one, has shown a great deal of courage and consummate determination in writing it. This well-paced and brilliantly written story is at once poignant, agonizing, funny in places and all-consuming. The reader will have difficulty putting it down but had best keep a box of tissues at hand. It made this hardened, former combat soldier weep like a schoolchild through much of the second half. But I feel I have emerged from this novel with greater sensitivity to the whole continuum of dementia and its emotional impact on those who must find a way of dealing with its encroachment on their lives. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to give justice to a description of this debut novel by an obviously compassionate, energetic and witty author. It is worthy of six stars. – R. Bruce Logan, author of Finding Lien

Helpful and Hopeful. Such a relevant read. Whether you’ve encountered Alzheimer’s directly or are fearful of when it may enter your life, do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s a quick read, and in story-telling format, this novel makes it clear that Alzheimer’s and dementia can appear in a variety of ways. It also makes it clear that there are many tools to help. My family has seen a couple different manifestations of the disease. If we had had a book like this ahead of time, we could have been better prepared. Although written as a novel, I view this book as a great tutorial on how to work through the emotions and surprises that come along with Alzheimer’s. – Amazon Customer

Heartfelt and touching story. This is such a beautiful, heartfelt, and touching book and story. The author shares so clearly and bravely the trials of dealing with all of the decisions that have to be made in every stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s for each phase your loved one is going through. The unknowns of what your loved one is going through is heartbreaking to watch, but she shows that love can trump these unknowns with laughter, humor and the help of family and friends. No one expects this disease to touch their families, but it does inflict itself onto her father. The love that she shares with her dad, her sister, and eventually her brother who has been in denial shows us that the needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be met with dignity and care. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has dealt with this disease, for anyone who is dealing with it right now, or for anyone who might have to deal with it in the future.  – Bruce Milnor

And that, my friends, is all the reward I need.

    Dad & me, February 10, 2000

 

 

 

Honor thy father

My father was the inspiration for my novel Requiem for the status quo.

I have held three author events since my novel’s release back in July and I have more planned before the end of the year. At the senior centers and independent bookstores where my events are hosted, each person attending is certainly there in support of my efforts, but more importantly, I believe their presence honors my father’s story, a story without a happy ending.

Here’s an excerpt from my novel that speaks of my fictional characters’ dilemma, but it also mirrors that which occurred in my real life experience with Alzheimer’s.

If it’s true that cancer is no respecter of persons, it is equally true that Alzheimer’s disease exhibits the same lack of respect. This disease is a murderer and I’m troubled by the millions of crimes it has gotten away with.

Alzheimer’s is also a robber, not only because it robs a person of his or her memories and future, but also because it exacts an emotional price that few can afford. To be sure, monetary costs are a challenging force to be reckoned with, but many family caregivers and their loved ones would no doubt conclude that the emotional toll on a person far surpasses even the costliest of care fees paid.

Until the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia becomes blissfully unaware of the disease that is murdering him, he has a front row seat to all that is happening. My dad was the first to know when his senior moments became more than a quirk of the aging process. It grieves me to imagine what he went through when he was alone with his thoughts, witnessing first hand where those thoughts were taking him.

Yes, my father had a front row seat to the effects of a disease that is always fatal. Until he eventually became blissfully unaware, he lived with that fact every single day. If the caregiver thinks she or he has been dealt a bad hand in relation to Alzheimer’s, imagine if you possibly can how that hand plays out with the person diagnosed with the disease. I don’t know about you, but my imagination in such matters paints a picture I’d rather not see.

My very real reward for writing Requiem is that my father is honored as a result of my efforts. Additionally, it is my sincere hope that those reading my novel and attending my author events manage to discover that they have a cheerleader in their corner…me.

Authors covet reader reviews

If a book doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers’ sites, does it really exist?

It does, but to potential readers, no reviews may equate to a risky purchase. Let’s face it, you can hardly purchase a bag of cotton balls online without having dozens – if not hundreds – of reviews to peruse prior to consider pushing that all important BUY button.

The same goes for books, but even more than that, an author’s literary credibility is tied in with author and sales rankings and reviews are part of what feeds those rankings. Authors aren’t getting rich on their craft, and that is certainly not my goal. What is my goal, however, is that many people read my novel and at its end, they feel they’re better off having done so.

If you have read REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, won’t you please post a review on three of the sites for which said reviews are very important? Here’s the link for Amazon, and for Barnes & Noble, and for Goodreads. But fear not; you do not need to write a unique review for each of those sites, simply write a review on Amazon, for example, then copy and paste it into the review sections for the other sites. Easy peasy. And many, many thank you to those who have already posted your reviews. You have fed my soul and made my day.

AND IF YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO POST A REVIEW ON ONE SITE, PLEASE MAKE IT AMAZON.

If you have yet to purchase my novel…please consider doing so. And if you have a copy but have yet to read it, please remember my shameless begging in this post and submit a review once you have. Please, no mention of your relationship to me…absolutely not necessary and it’s advisable, from Amazon standards, that you don’t.

My plea for reviews isn’t an attempt to stroke my flaccid ego, no, it’s merely my effort to make my novel more attractive to the person looking for a book on the subject of Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on family members. Then, when they purchase and read it, they might very well be positively impacted by my words and my personal and professional experience. That’s all this author really wants in the grand scheme of things. For me, that’s the payoff.

REQUIEM release notes

I discovered something shocking during the weeks that followed my novel’s release:

Alzheimer’s disease is still a secret.

I know; we’ve all certainly read about it, especially when a celebrity is diagnosed with the disease. Every once and awhile there might be an Alzheimer’s Association commercial on television…that is assuming we don’t fast forward through it or walk out of the room. Another reason we’re familiar with the disease is that it is happening to so many people with whom we are acquainted – whether intimately or tangentially.

But it’s still a secret. The very definition of the word speaks to its intent: adj. not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others; n. something not properly understood; a mystery. from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

In many of my promotional posts and boasts for my novel Requiem for the status quo, I’ve indicated that my book tour would probably look more like a senior center tour than what is normally the route for authors: readings and signings in major and independent bookstores. That’s the tact I took, approaching numerous senior centers in Western Washington; 25% of those I approached booked my author event on their activity calendars. But when I approached a major senior housing community foundation to get on their speakers’ calendar, I was told the residents pushed back at the foundation’s previous efforts to enlighten and inform when they hosted those who spoke to the reality of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

Damn. Continue reading “REQUIEM release notes”

Dementia caregivers: 21st century heroes

Those family members who have had, or who currently have, a family member or close friend with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you are my hero.

You took on the task of showing your love and compassion by signing up to become a family caregiver which at its best is a learn-as-you-go, long-term commitment. Your efforts make a difference in the life of your loved one. They may not be able to express their appreciation for all that you do, but please know that the essence of who they are acknowledges your kindness.

Your name and/or identity may be lost to them, but you are still a vital part of their life, and your friendly and loving demeanor goes far toward affirming them and making them feel valued and loved.

Thank you for all that you have done, continue to do, and will remain doing in the future. It is an honor to be in your company.

Requiem for the status quo was released by Black Rose Writing on July 20th. You can order Requiem at Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well as all online and brick and mortar chain and independent bookstores. Be sure to shop around for the best price, you won’t be sorry you did. And for those of you with eReaders, the eBook will be available at most online book retailers on, or about, July 27th.

 

Support for my readers

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my “book tour” may look more like a senior center tour than a literary one. The reason: I want to reach those who could use a bit of what I have to offer. As my Author Bio states, I want to make a difference in the lives of others by writing novels that encourage those who just might need another cheerleader in their corner. At the bottom of each of my site’s pages is a section titled READERS CORNER. Each week I provide a new element of encouragement as my simple way of standing in my readers’ corner.

Today I witnessed one small way in which someone was reached by my novel.

I had a haircut appointment with my wonderful stylist, Molly, of C.J. Salon. Molly has followed my entire publishing journey and is very familiar with the topic of my soon to be published novel, Requiem for the status quo. She finished up with her previous client and welcomed me into her chair. I did the reveal of my published novel which I had brought with me for a much anticipated Show and Tell moment. I also gave her several copies of my marketing brochure that provides a peek into the storyline and the lives of the characters. “Please hand them out to women who could possibly benefit from reading my novel.”

She grabbed one of the brochures, said, “I’ll be right back” and ran out into the parking lot to flag down her previous client. Turns out this client is fully-involved in a family member’s dementia journey and Molly felt she could benefit from reading my book. Turns out she was right. Her client was so excited, she hugged Molly and basically said, “This is what I’ve been looking for!”

That, my friends, was the highlight of my week – someone who wanted what I had to offer and just might benefit from the read. But you wanna know something else? My appointment was initially scheduled for 3 pm. Yesterday I found out I had a change of plans for my Friday, freeing up my morning, so I called C.J. Salon, asked if they had an earlier opening, and I grabbed it.

Molly’s client benefited from my change of plans – a change that initially was upsetting to me, but turned out to be just what was supposed to happen.

My oh my, I love how the Universe cooperates when its occupants are just going about their lives, oblivious to its whiles!

In less than two weeks, Requiem for the status quo will be released. It is currently available for preorder at Black Rose Writing; enter discount code PREORDER2017 before July 20th for a 10% discount. You can also preorder Requiem at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Be sure to shop around for the best price, you won’t be sorry you did. And for those of you with eReaders, the eBook will be available at most online book retailers on, or about, July 27th.

 

The Alzheimer’s caregiver: NOT a fictional character

REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, to be released July 2017, contains fictional characters right out of yours and my reality. If your life hasn’t been impacted by caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you are at least tangentially connected to someone who has been.

  • A parent’s senior moments transform into hair-raising episodes of wandering and getting lost at all hours of the day and night during varied seasonal temperatures that may very well threaten their lives.
  • The husband who was Mr. Fixit for all home repairs, big and small, no longer knows how to use a screwdriver, and becomes combative when challenged.
  • A sister’s successful writing career is derailed when she can no longer write coherently or understand the written word.
  • The middle-aged next door neighbor pounds on your front door demanding entry to his home and threatens to call the authorities if you don’t immediately vacate the premises.

Continue reading “The Alzheimer’s caregiver: NOT a fictional character”