Writing Updates

The Alzheimer’s Community

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I have been closely involved in matters regarding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia for eighteen years now: long-term care (LTC) housing, memory care, Alzheimer’s support group facilitator, and Washington State LTC Ombudsman. But it took me becoming a published author of a novel that focuses on a family’s Alzheimer’s disease experience before I finally found my Alzheimer’s community.

AlzAuthors is a group comprised of over 170 published authors (as of this writing) who have published fiction and non-fiction books reflective of their personal Alzheimer’s experience. The six members of the AlzAuthors Management Team (Team) is the Alzheimer’s community about which I speak.

The Team’s motto says it all:

We can sing a lonely song, or form a choir and create harmony.

Without exception, the authors featured on our site and each member of our Management Team had the experience of struggling with the learn-as-you-go-task of caring for someone with cognitive impairment. We all made mistakes, and we learned from them, but we also had successes, and we celebrated them.

As a recent addition to the AlzAuthors Management Team, I became even more convinced that my personal Alzheimer’s community resides within this group. The support, the kindness, the giving nature reflected within the Team is incomparable in my experience, and we are not just keeping it to ourselves. AlzAuthors is spreading their influence into numerous parts of the world…which is kinda why they asked me to join the team as their Global Outreach Coordinator. The six of us know our presence is evident in more countries than just the United States, but our imagination and passion is boundless so we have set out to become a household word in small and large communities throughout the world.

Why AlzAuthors? Because this 100% volunteer group has brought together some of the best books on Alzheimer’s and other dementia in one central location: our bookstore. We’ve categorized those books to make the personal caregivers’ or professionals’ shopping experiences an easy one with categories such as: Caring for Parents or Grandparents, Caring for Spouses or Partners, Living with Dementia, and Children and Teen books, to name a few. We know a caregiver’s “free” time is limited or non-existent, so we’ve done our best to make their shopping experience an easy one. They simply click on the cover of the book they’re interested in and they are taken directly to Amazon to make the paperback, eBook, or audiobook purchase.

We’re working hard so you don’t have to.

And finally, we understand the journey of unpaid (family & friend) caregivers because:

  • We have experienced the loss of a loved one with dementia.
  • We know the pain of being forgotten.
  • We all have witnessed decline.
  • We have provided countless hours of caregiving.
  • We know many others have experienced the same and we believe in the power of sharing those stories.
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Dynamite storybook for seniors with dementia

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I was asked to write a story or two for an anthology of short, short, stories that would be read to seniors with cognitive impairment. I jumped at the opportunity. That anthology, The Mighty Ant, is now available in paperback on Amazon.

I am one of 33 contributors to this collection of short stories for seniors who suffer from dementia and other related memory or cognitive disorders. This book is the culmination of a project from editor and contributor, Jessica Bryan, who is a caregiver and advocate for caregivers. Several years ago she began to notice that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, lost focus and could no longer read lengthy books. Jessica began reading to her mother and found that simple, short stories were easier for her to understand. The Mighty Ant is filled with these kinds of fiction and non-fiction stories.

The proceeds from the sales of the books will be donated to a local Council on Aging. The generous contributions of authors like myself have come from all over the world. The result is a book with different perspectives, reminiscences, and tales that reflect not only local culture, but a variety of customs, ethnicities, and lifestyles.

I am honored to have my two stories titled, A Neighborly Friendship and A Sweetheart of a Story included in this collection. A Sweetheart of a Story was selected as the final story in the book because the editor felt it was the perfect selection to provide a sweet ending to the anthology. Buy a copy or ten or more for yourself and others…perhaps your local memory care community would love to include the reading of this book to their senior activity schedule! Currently only $12 for this 322-page large print storybook.

 

Kindness Fridays

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Today I celebrate an author friend who has been so supportive of my writing journey. Jill Weatherholt is a fabulous writer of inspirational romance novels. Second Chance Romance is the first in the Love Inspired series that will grab you from the very first page. The second in the series, A Father for Bellawill be released August 1, 2018, but is available for preorder right now. I already ordered my copy and can hardly wait for the continuation of a series that has warmed my heart and has me wanting more.

This delightful author friend of mine inspires kindness wherever she goes, and she certainly warrants a Kindness Friday spot on my blog today for it is today that Jill posted an essay I wrote that gives readers a peek at my personal caregiving experience with my father. You can view that post, here. I wrote about this personal experience of mine when Jill indicated she wanted to feature me yet again on her author site, and could I please write about a caregiving episode from my past.

It was my pleasure to do so, just as it is my pleasure to give you, my blog followers, a peek into this North Carolina author’s exceptional romance novel series. I certainly hope you will pick up your own copies of Jill’s two books in the Love Inspired series, and that you will perhaps gift others who also might be interested in receiving their very own copies. At the very least, be sure to share this post with your friends so they can have quick and easy access to her novels’ Amazon purchase links.

The best part about my own publishing experience has been the authors I’ve met along the way; what giving and loving individuals they have proven to be. My life is greatly enriched by them. Thank you, Jill, for your friendship.

Kindness Fridays

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This week I focus on the kindness of a fellow Black Rose Writing author, R. Bruce Logan. Bruce and I have never met, but through both of our association with the same publisher we developed an online relationship in which I feel I’ve known him for some time. Good news? My husband and I will meet Bruce and his wife late June when they are in the Seattle area. What a delightful lunch date that will be.

Bruce kindly reviewed my novel Requiem for the status quo on his blog The Narrative Arc. That kindness inspired my own exchange of kindness by reviewing his novel Finding Lien and teasing you about its sequel, As the Lotus Blooms.

I am providing my Five Star Amazon review from a year ago, as well as my additional comments:

Finding Lien grabs you from the opening scene. Wow, I really enjoyed this novel. The author has a way of describing scenes so that the reader is transported right there. But it’s not just the scenes that are clear, it’s his description of the characters that comes through loud and clear, without robbing the reader of her or his own impressions of what a specific character might look like.

The action in this novel did not lag. I wanted to find out what happened next and was not satisfied to put the book down until such scenes had played out.

Bruce’s love of and familiarity with Vietnam and the surrounding areas give the reader confidence that what they’re seeing through his descriptions are right on the money. Delightful.  Addendum: how could he possibly know so much about Vietnam’s geography and history? He is a retired Army officer who has been giving back to the country in which he served, Vietnam, for many, many years.

Having completed Bruce’s very well written Finding Lien, I jumped at the opportunity to be a beta reader for the sequel. As the Lotus Blooms, with a release date of September 20th, seamlessly carries on from where Lien left off. If I could have read it faster I would have, a paradoxical statement if there ever was one. While wanting to read what came next, I didn’t want the novel to end. I would have done my emotions a favor by reading it as slowly as possible but speed won out, which left me wondering, “Will there be a book three?” I don’t know the answer to that question so nothing you do to bribe me for the answer will benefit your own curiosity.

What I can say, however, is that you should mark your calendars for the sequel’s release September 20, 2018, and read Lien in the interim. You will not be disappointed.

Kindness Fridays

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This week’s kindness celebration focuses on a long-time family friend, Walt D.

Walt came into our lives when we lived in Los Angeles, California. He worked at the same company as my father who was a mentor to the young, up-and-coming new employee at Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Company. When my family moved from LA to Honolulu, Hawaii, Walt kept in touch with us, oftentimes flying through Honolulu on his way to Maui where he vacationed from time to time.

We hadn’t seen Walt in a while, so when my mother died in September of 1994, imagine my delighted surprise when I entered the church for my mother’s funeral service and there stood Walt near the altar, a friend who had flown to Honolulu from Toronto, Canada where he had relocated years prior to work in the head office of my father’s company.

At forty years of age, I ran up the aisle of the church and threw my arms around him, so thrilled to see our family friend and so blessed that he traveled all the way from eastern Canada to honor my mother and our family by his attendance at my mother’s service.

Fast-forward twenty-four years to Monday of this week when eighty-three-year old Walt D. called me from Toronto to congratulate me on my novel, Requiem for the status quo. He had just finished reading it and couldn’t wait to talk to me about my accomplishment. “Irene, there is no reason why your novel shouldn’t be on the New York Times Best Seller List!” I thanked him for his very generous review and we then talked about the book’s subject matter (Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on families) and how he, in his golden years, had witnessed dementia’s hold on many of his friends. Since Walt and I communicate by postal mail several times a year (he does not own or use a computer), I was well-aware of his involvement with the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada where he volunteers and participates in their equivalent of the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Walt visited my father after my Dad’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, even while my father was in the middle of his Alzheimer’s journey. Walt made a point of keeping in touch with Dad, knowing the window of opportunity would come to a close in time.

I spent nearly a half hour on the phone with Walt this past Monday, feeling so close to this man who had entered our lives way back in the early 1960s, and who had remained a part of our family for almost sixty years. Friendships don’t have to end because of distance and time; when you stoke the flames they can survive and be contributory to one’s quality of life, as Walt’s has been to mine.

Kindness doesn’t recognize the barriers of distance, time, and even age.

Kindness can live on if we make the effort to nourish it.

An author’s gratitude

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Happy New Year, and thank you for reading my novel, Requiem for the status quo. By doing so, you have honored my father, Don Patrick Desonier, to whom my novel was dedicated. My family’s story was one that simply needed to be told, and although it was published as fiction, Requiem certainly reflects some of the personal experiences that stood out most during my father’s disease journey.

I waited until five years after my father’s passing to start writing my novel because quite frankly, I needed to lock away – both figuratively and literally – the many journals into which I jotted down notes and difficult sentiments. The mourning period wouldn’t have been complete, however, without sharing the ins and outs of my father’s illness. You don’t go through a family caregiving journey without learning some lessons – both about yourself and the disease that robbed a loved one of a sound mind and body in his later years.

For more titles on this subject matter, go to http://www.alzauthors.com

To be sure, I felt that if others could benefit from the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned then by Gawd, I needed to sit down and learn how to become a writer. And that’s what I did. The first version of my novel was 140,000 words which equates to approximately 525 pages in length. Now I knew I was no James Michener, Ken Follett, or Stephen King so over a four year period I sliced and diced it down to 68,000 words – a palatable 206 pages in length.

It was those 206 pages that eventually got published by Black Rose Writing and elicited countless five-star reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of those who make products, whether that product is the latest electronic gadget or the heartfelt novel of a debut author like me. If you have yet to write a review, I covet a few minutes of your time to do so before another minute goes by. I’ll even make it extraordinarily easy for you. Simply click right here to be immediately taken to the Amazon page where my novel appears.

You don’t have to be super creative in your review, just write how you felt about the characters I chose to include in an attempt to further people’s general knowledge of how dementia affects the patient and their loved ones. You didn’t even have to fall in love with my writing style – I know I’m not an experienced writer with dozens of published books to my name. But if you benefited at all from what Requiem had to offer, I sure would love to hear from you via your review on Amazon.com.

I hope 2018 treats you well. My wish for you is that you be clothed in health, wholeness, and happiness and that you spread the same to others you encounter.

Goodreads Giveaway: REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO

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Those of you familiar with Goodreads know that authors give away tons of books on that site all year round. I figured, I’m an author, and I’m pretty generous, so I think I’ll give away some paperback books as well!

Go to Goodreads (you’ll have to be a registered user to participate) and enter my 6-book giveaway that starts today, December 1st, and runs through December 8th. It’s easy to register on Goodreads, you don’t even have to create a new user persona; you can register using your Facebook, Twitter, Google, or Amazon log-in information.

Once you’re a registered user, follow these steps:

  • go to the Browse drop-down menu
  • click on Giveaways
  • towards right-hand side, click on Recently Listed
  • filter by Print Giveaways – as opposed to Kindle Giveaways or All Giveaways
  • and search for my novel, Requiem for the status quo.

Be certain to read the description of the giveaway that I’ve created. I want you to be clear on what it is I’m offering for free.

Goodreads does all the work in acquiring names and shipping information, they’ll notify me of the six randomly selected Giveaway winners, then I’ll send out a copy of my novel to six lucky winners within a week’s time.

You’ve got nothing to lose…what are you waiting for?