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.
This final novel excerpt before A Jagged Journey is released on April 15th, introduces you to a key character, psychologist Gretchen Marks, and her unlikely friend, Amit Singh, an Uber driver who comes to her aid when no one else is available. Gretchen’s life has taken a cruel detour, in part because of her way of being, in part because life is oftentimes no respecter of persons.
“Are we going to the same place today, Doctor, where you have previously visited?”
“Yes, please.” Gretchen glanced at Amit and then out the side window. “Unfortunately, it will be a place I visit every day for a few weeks. If I had my choice, I’d rather have a root canal, but it appears God has chosen to punish me so I get to have these treatments instead.”
“I do not know what this root canal is of which you speak. Is that something to do with the hair on the top of one’s head?”
A smile broke out on Gretchen’s face at the innocence projected by her driver. “That’s a good one, Amit. Thank you for making my day.”
“A good one you say?”
“A root canal involves the teeth, not the scalp. It’s when a really bad tooth needs a lot of work, and it’s not enjoyable at all. But given how my treatments make me feel, I think the dental work would seem like child’s play…it would seem like something far easier than what I’m doing.”
“I see, yes, my splendid wife, Faria, had something similar to that soon after we arrived in this country – there was a cavity in one of her teeth. And you indicated that these treatments you are enduring are a punishment from God?”
Gretchen thought it was just like a foreigner to take idioms literally, but she had to admit his way of thinking was somewhat refreshing. “It’s just an expression people sometimes use when things aren’t going well for them. And a contrary statement might apply if, when we arrive at our destination, there’s a parking space available at the front where you can pull in and let me out. If that were to happen, I might say, “Well, I must have done something right in my life and now God is rewarding me.”
“Thank you, Dr. Gretchen Marks, for your very thorough explanation about expressions Americans use in their speaking.”
Amit and Gretchen arrived at their destination, Amit pulled into an open space right in front of the building. “I see, Dr. Marks, that you must have done something right because God has graced us with this parking space.”
He parked the car and stepped out to assist Gretchen. He guided her out of her seat by her elbow and helped her step over the curb. “There you are, Dr. Marks.”
“You know, you can call me Gretchen.”
“Oh no, Doctor, you have attained a very important status in life that accords great respect. Unless it offends you, I will continue to address you as Doctor.”
“That’s fine, Amit, and regarding this parking space?”
“Yes, Dr. Marks?”
“It was because of your good works that God arranged for this space to be available. I’m quite certain my past works didn’t warrant such a benefit.”
“Either way, it is good that we are able to claim it, yes?”
Gretchen fumbled with her purse for a tip. “Yes, it is very good. I’ll see you after my appointment later today and I will call you a half hour before I am done.”
Gretchen’s appointment did not go well as she received some devastating news – said news put Gretchen on the defense when her Uber driver picked her up later that day.
Amit picked up Gretchen at the appointed time and although he tried to engage the doctor in conversation, he wasn’t entirely successful. At one point, Gretchen lashed out at him.
“Amit, are you a United States citizen?”
He looked at her in the rear-view mirror. “Not currently, but that is my goal, Dr. Marks.”
“How long have you lived in this country?”
“Four years, Doctor.”
“What’s taking you so long to become a citizen?”
Amit drove a couple blocks then asked Gretchen a question. “How many amendments does the Constitution have?”
“What? What has that to do with anything?”
“Amendments. Name one of the writers of the Federalist Papers that were written in support of the Constitution of the United States.”
“I have no idea. I’m not sure I’m even familiar with those papers.”
“I am. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were two of the writers.”
“Good for you, you’ve memorized the answers on the civics exam for citizenship, that doesn’t make you a US citizen.”
“In this country it does.” Amit pulled up in front of Gretchen’s condo. Looking straight ahead, he had one more question for her. “Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?”
Gretchen looked at her lap, then out her side window. “You win, Amit, and I’m sorry for being such a horrible person today. My doctor gave me some bad news and it’s made me angry at the world.”
Amit got out of the vehicle, opened Gretchen’s door, and helped her out. “This bad news, is it something you want to talk about with Amit?”
She patted the hand that rested gently on her forearm. “Maybe tomorrow, Amit. Will I see you at eleven?”
“It would be my extreme pleasure, Dr. Marks, thank you.”
There are many characters that are a part of the lives of those with whom you have already met: Charlie Brooks, the high school teacher and his fellow teacher Jamila Sanders. Single mother, Hannah Palmer and her engaging son, Sammy. And now, Dr. Gretchen Marks, and her Uber pal, Amit Singh. The cast of characters you will meet in A Jagged Journey are varied in age, life experience, and intent. I hope to see you soon, within Journey’s pages.
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?”
“Um, you did some baking, and if you did do some baking, why didn’t you bring me any?”
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 Catholic church? Since when did that become the religion of choice for you?”
“It isn’t, okay? I just wanted to go someplace 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.
The eBook and audiobook of Requiem for the status quo will continue to be available on Amazon until the end of 2019. I am going to self-publish the paperback version through my publishing arm, Words Matter Press so as of March 1, 2019, you will not be able to purchase a paperback copy for your bookshelf until Words Matter Press’s Spring 2019 release on Amazon.
In the meantime, the Amazon paperback price for the month of February has been reduced so those who want to add this book to their library can do so at a discounted price before supplies run out. If you are a Prime member, shipping is FREE!
Let these recent reviews encourage you to get your copy today!
Rubies My mother recently died from Alzheimer’s, and I could really relate to everything she wrote about. All her information is very accurate, and I felt like she was on the journey with me.
Having completed my second novel, currently titled BRIDGED BY BETRAYAL, I packed up all the research I used for my first novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO.
REQUIEM spotlights a family that struggles with the tangible and emotional elements inherent when battling a disease that is always fatal; a disease that gives you daily – if not hourly – reminders of its devastating effects.
I could not write about the fictional family’s journey without incorporating some of my own stories from my years as Dad’s caregiver. I also included other people’s stories as told to me through my work as an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group facilitator, and as a Washington State certified Long-Term Care Ombudsman. (Names and facts altered to protect those directly involved.)
The research materials I packed away this past weekend consisted primarily of the caregiving journals I kept while being my father’s primary long-distance caregiver while he endured Alzheimer’s disease.
That research also included reams of paper I organized into multi-tabbed folders containing the various doctor’s reports and findings from the seven years of dad’s disease journey.
I was not prepared for the emotion with which I was blanketed when I pulled out the large waterproof chest that had resided in my writing space the past three years. Placing my research in the chest, shutting it, and returning it to its original under-the-stairs location was extremely difficult for me.
In a certain sense, I felt I had betrayed Dad because I wasn’t just packing up some paper, I was putting away the physical evidence of his seven year battle of brain function loss. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, it’s true, I finished my second novel at approximately 3:30 pm PST November 25th, 2015. I wrote a 60,201 word novel (10,201 words above the required minimum word count) in 25 days as a participant in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event.
Is the novel ready for publication? Hell no. Now begins the editing, fleshing out, adding and subtracting of content, and fact-checking drudgery required of a book fit for representation and publication.
But I did it! I averaged 2,408 words per day; yesterday alone I wrote 3,879 words in five and a half hours.
It’s all in the preparation, Bay-bee, at least for me it was. For the first time, I used a novel-planning software called Snowflake Pro developed by Randy Ingermanson. This software isn’t writing software per-se, rather, it’s planning software that helps you craft all the necessary elements for your novel.
The greatest realized benefits occurred in Step Three (wherein you create a list of characters and flesh out their storyline) and Step Seven (where you’re forced to answer forty-seven questions about each of your characters.) These questions are quite thorough, from stating the height and weight of your character, to best and worst childhood memory, to religion and political leanings, to how the character sees herself and how others see the character, and much more.
Armed with these character profiles, the writing came easy for me. Of course I changed some of the initial answers as I completed one chapter after another. As is usually the case when drafting a novel, I found as I got to know the character better, I needed to redesign its destiny, but without a preliminary resume of sorts, I would have found myself floundering – not a comfortable position to be in when you’re on deadline. Yep, I’m certain I would not have experienced the same outcome without the software’s guidance. Read the rest of this entry »
Then you’re paralyzed: when do I start? how do I start? You begin to second guess your idea, your plans, your goal.
Doubt sidelined your goal.
For me, taking that first step can be the beginning of failure, and because it is, oftentimes it’s a step I choose not to take.
I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, in August or September, I don’t remember. I purchased book-drafting software called Snowflake, and went through every step needed to prepare an outline and/or book proposal for a novel, my second. I was extremely excited about the novel’s concept.
I kept receiving NaNoWriMo emails, counting down the days until November 1st when that novel writing month would commence. The second week of October I questioned the sensibility of subjecting myself to completing a novel in thirty days. The third week of October, I ceased all preparation. Monday of the fourth week of October, I decided not to participate. Read the rest of this entry »
12 Lessons Learned From a Debut Author | WritersDigest.com. I’m a debut novelist so I latched onto the attached article pronto! In writing this article, Anne A. Wilson managed to describe emotions I’ve been experiencing for the past several months.
What makes Anne’s story even more relatable for me, a somewhat older novelist, is that Ms. Wilson wrote her first novel six years ago at the age of forty-three. That’s not the novel that actually got published, but herein lies my point: it took years for her to write a publishable book. Also, Ms. Wilson had no creditable writing education or experience when she decided to write a novel. Like me, she was “starting from scratch.” Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this year, Richard Glatzer, co-director of the award winning movie, Still Alice, died at the age of 63 after battling ALS for four years. It would have been unfortunate if he had gone with his first reaction when approached to adapt Lisa Genova’s novel into a movie. (Evidently, he almost turned down the project.) Fortunately for us, he did not. One article on this subject indicated that it was Glatzer’s personal connection to independence-robbing illness that gave Still Alice a greater authenticity.
From what I understand, Mr. Glatzer used one finger – using a text-to-speech app – to communicate every directive. I don’t have to know anything about film directing to understand that doing so with his “limitations” would have been extraordinarily clumsy and time consuming. I wonder if his decision to accept the project was made in part because he believed he was the best person for the job. Did you see the movie? Wouldn’t you agree?
Yet all of us are faced with far less daunting struggles than those experienced by Mr. Glatzer and we cave in to our well-honed ability to find every reason not to pursue a task that requires exceptional action on our part.
I’m ashamed of all the excuses I’ve come up with to postpone – or to avoid entirely – new ventures that required more of me than I was willing to give. Ugh – I grieve those lost opportunities when I think of the benefit to me and others such ventures would have provided. But crying over spilled milk won’t undo the past.
Going forward I can commit to seizing new opportunities and disregarding the emotional and physical hurdles in my path.
I can, but will I?
Getting Out of the Labyrinth: Part 6 – Submission. The attached article on the submission process of trying to secure a literary agent, was written – and experienced – by now successful author, Kate McIntyre. This exceptional article is Part 6 of a series that so painstakingly and accurately describes the writing journey of a debut author.
God help my withering writer’s soul and those of other struggling writers that perish in publishing purgatory.
Have you ever been rejected? Read the attached NY Times article: Accepted? Rejected? Relax You’ll see that the article was retitled since it first appeared so when you click on the link, you’ll see the subject matter as being about college admissions.
Rejection affects all of us: it’s not just about college admission policies.
I’m a writer; I should know.
I’ve only been looking for an agent for 30 days, therefore the 15 rejections – or what I like to call not interesteds – I’ve received out of 60 submissions sent is only 25% of the total so far. Wow, 75% of the agents haven’t turned me down yet! Read the rest of this entry »
Now that my novel is finished, I decided to re-post an article I wrote about daring greatly. Everything we do requires a certain amount of risk: walking across the street, going on a 1st date, changing careers. But if we don’t take a calculated risk, we’ll never see the inside of the arena; we’ll never know what we missed.
I hope you enjoy reading this article that served to remind me that as I start to look for agent representation for my first novel, I should do so with the confidence that my vulnerability will one day pay off.
It’s not the critic who counts; it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles; or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit goes to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly and who errs and fails, and is sometimes victorious. But when he fails, at least he does so daring greatly.
The above is an abbreviated quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Citizenship in a Republic a/k/a The Man in the Arena, delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.
Brené Brown, PhD, paraphrased the above when appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Super Soul Sunday. I admit – I’m addicted to the types of shows that challenge the way I think, and/or that validate the way I think. This particular show that…
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Were you eating breakfast in bed at the time?
Or perhaps while sitting in the easy chair next to your bed, you tried your very best to ignore the urge to purge … but you couldn’t wait any longer for someone to assist you so you let it all out, leaving you in a shameful way, sitting in a mushy pile of excrement while a stream of urine puddled at the base of your chair.
Welcome to the life of a vulnerable adult living in a nursing home. From coast to coast across the United States skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are filled with adults needing the greatest amount of assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs) – toileting is one of those ADLs.
The following true scenarios occurred recently at a nursing home in a Seattle suburb, and at a similar facility in a suburb of San Francisco.
A man who is fully reliant on mobility assistance pushed the call button near his bed to register a need for assistance. In this case, he needed to go “Number 1” and “Number 2” and had the audacity to require assistance while the staff was busy attending to other residents’ needs – but not his needs. When a staff person finally entered his room an hour later, she did so to simply indicate that she didn’t have time to take him to the bathroom so he should just go in his pants.
A woman equally as vulnerable needed the assistance of a staff person upon waking in the morning and – knowing that breakfasts were brought around to the rooms at 7 a.m. – the 91 year old started to press her call button at 6 a.m. hoping to have her morning pee prior to the arrival of her breakfast tray an hour later. That “luxury” was one that would not be afforded her; instead, a caregiver brought a breakfast tray to this patient in the seven o’clock hour and when the patient asked if she could receive help to the toilet prior to eating her breakfast, the employee told her to just go in her pants because no one had time to help her at that moment.
I can’t help myself – here’s another incident: A staff person helps a woman to the toilet first thing in the morning. The woman who is clothed in a lightweight nightgown finishes using the toilet and is ready to receive assistance back to her bed – but lo’ and behold, the staff person forgot to place the call button within close reach of the patient so she is not able to alert someone of her desire to go back to bed. Enough time has passed that by this time the patient is shivering and screams for help – screams that went unnoticed for a quarter hour. In desperation this elderly woman somehow managed to lean far enough forward to push over a metal trash pail which she then kicked repeatedly until someone finally arrived to see what all the commotion was about.
These stories don’t paint a very pretty picture do they? They depict a low quality of life that no one deserves.
What does Quality of Life mean to you?
- Eating at fine dining establishments?
- Having a clothing wardrobe that rivals the catwalks of Paris?
- Driving in a luxury vehicle that provides amenities previously only found in limousines?
For most of us, quality of life boils down to leading a dignified existence in which we are allowed to take advantage of the basic necessities of life. For me, those necessities should include a safe living environment, sustenance, the inclusion of loving family and friends in my life, the freedom to make choices about matters that are important to me, and being on the receiving end of respectful behavior from those with whom I come in contact.
The most vulnerable among us should expect no less than those basic necessities, but “the system” isn’t working to guarantee those basics. Try to imagine, if you will, your own grandparent, parent, spouse, partner, or other family member in any one of the above scenarios. How comfortable are you with that type of day-to-day existence for them? You’re not comfortable at all – as a matter of fact you’re feeling a bit uneasy about this whole subject matter. I’m sorry to place doubt in your mind about the care your loved one is receiving but I’ll just bet that you need to get out of the comfort of denial you’ve been enjoying and into the eye-opening role of resident advocate.
Lack of caring = lack of care. Nursing home management is a tough job to do correctly, but I know it’s possible because there are some reputable and well-run facilities out there – not perfect by any means, but fairly acceptable. So yes, some nursing facilities employ stellar care staff but there are also those employees who just don’t give a damn. “I go to work. I go home after work. I get paid. What more do you want from me?” Caring – that’s what we want. You’ve chosen to work in this particular type of environment so don’t act like you didn’t know what you were getting into. Withholding proper care for those who have no recourse but to depend upon you is not only unfair, but it’s illegal. And how about answering these questions about your own aging prospects: Do you think you’ll somehow skip the journey into old age? Do you not realize that you too will be as old as the patients whose care is entrusted to you? What type of care will you hope to receive? Does it resemble any of the scenarios I’ve illustrated above – or are you under the impression that you’ll be at a “Champagne and Chandelier” type of place where you’ll be waited on hand and foot?
Not gonna happen.
This article just scratches the surface of the sub-standard care that can be found in nursing facilities. I only mention the toileting issue because it’s been front and center in my experiences with some of my acquaintances lately. One place to start getting some positive traction where these matters are concerned is the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center where you’ll find links to advocacy programs in your state. Call those local representatives and report any concerns you may have about how your loved one is being cared for, or not cared for, in their nursing facility, assisted living facility, or group home.
If you act on behalf of your loved one, you’re also acting on behalf of everyone else in the facility because trust me – your mom isn’t the only one being neglected on her nursing home floor.