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.
Okay, today’s Kindness Friday is going to look a lot like another shameless effort on my part to promote by novel, Requiem for the status quo, and it is, but there’s lots of kindness wrapped up in it.
My very first author event will take place at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA on August 17, 2017. I dropped off my promotional poster that they’ll be using prior to and day of, and lo’ and behold, did I receive a welcome surprise when I walked into the store.
ALSO, on a kiosk just inside the door are announcements for every author in the month of August who will be holding a reading. And whose book do you think was found on that kiosk just waiting for someone to notice and purchase it?
If that isn’t kindness, I don’t know what is.
And just in case you’re wondering, my novel is available where all fine books are sold, including Amazon (who now offers it in eBook version) and Barnes and Noble. Other eRetailers will be offering eBook format in the weeks ahead.
Craig Boyack, author and author supporter – yes, author supporter – conducted a radio interview of two of the characters from my debut novel, Requiem for the status quo.
Patrick Quinn, father of the protagonist, Colleen Strand, has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and he’s having a difficult time trying to figure out how not to be a burden to his daughter, Colleen. He’s friendly with the radio host, even joking about a part of the male body that withers and needs medicinal support and encouragement from time to time. (Don’t worry, it’s G-Rated, you have to read the context of the interview to fully appreciate the sense of humor this fine, eighty-four year old man exhibits, even in the midst of his disease journey.)
Jonathan Quinn, Patrick’s son, who’s not too keen on what has happened to the father whom he at one time looked up to. Yes, Jonathan is embarrassed by his father’s forgetfulness and seems to think his father’s challenges are all about him, Jonathan, instead of the person who has a front row seat to every twist and turn the plaques and tangles of his diseased brain takes. Jonathan is firmly implanted on the road to denial and sadly, it gets in the way of his relationship with his father.
The interviewer is a fictional character, Lisa Burton, a character in one of Craig Boyak’s novels. The interview takes place on her show, Lisa Burton Radio. This different way of interviewing an author, in this case, me, and spotlighting the author’s novel, is so ingenious, you will be taken aback by how effective Craig’s blogging methods are.
Please, read the interview, and when you’ve done so, I hope you’ll purchase my book from any of the many online and brick and mortar book stores out there, including 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 also be available at most online book retailers on, or about, July 27th.
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 lives, 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.
Today is release day for my debut novel.
On December 29, 2012, I first sat down to write that novel.
On the day of the fifth anniversary of my father’s October 13, 2007 death, I decided to write a novel inspired by my caregiving experiences as his Alzheimer’s care manager. I was certain novel writing would be a huge undertaking because up to that point, I had never written fiction. Because of the enormity of said project, I figured I would wait until the beginning of the following year – you know, a fresh start and all.
But the universe had other plans. My December 29, 2012 horoscope was what the universe used as the catalyst to get my attention. More than that, it shocked me into action. The horoscope so alarmed me, I cut it out of the newspaper, typed it out in large font, and after writing my novel’s very first page, I framed all three to memorialize the outstanding coincidence of what my Taurus-scope said. Here, for your enlightenment, is its wording:
Now’s perfect to start a new writing project; no need to wait until next year. Put down your thoughts without worrying about form, one word at a time.
I showed the horoscope to my husband and if it at all possible, he was more shocked than I at the horoscope’s content. He left me alone the remainder of the day, knowing the horoscope meant business, and so did I. I closed the door to my office, sat at my computer and started typing.
I didn’t know what I was doing. As I mentioned earlier, I had never written fiction. At that point, my personal blog, Living: the ultimate team sport was filled with 100s of non-fiction pieces, most of which centered around aging, long-term care, as well as numerous posts about Alzheimer’s disease, other dementia, and the caregiving struggles faced by families. But to write prose – with dialogue!!!!! – was beyond my skill set, and remained to be for quite some time.
The short of the long of it is that Requiem for the status quo was not the first title for the novel, there were many, the first being Have we met? Aren’t you glad I changed it to its current one? Not only were several titles tried on but my magnum opus went through many rewrites, most notably and importantly, the first draft contained a whopping total of 140,000 words. You see, I had a lot to say and I just kept typing until I had nothing more to add.
That’s an excellent way to get thoughts down on paper, but the first draft is by no means the final product that is pitched to agents and publishers. My now published novel is less than 68,000 words. Yes, lots of cutting and slashing took place over the years, to the point where not only am I proud of the finished product, but a publisher is also proud of it, Black Rose Writing.
I will close this post by providing glimpses of my father to you over the years. I hope you enjoy this montage that includes, from top left: My mother and father’s wedding day, 1947; my wedding day 2000 (my favorite photo of my dad and I); and the Desonier family circa 1971.
I gave the members of that group 24 hours to leave a comment on my giveaway announcement if they wanted to be entered into my contest to pick one lucky (hopefully lucky) reader to receive a complimentary copy of my novel, Requiem for the status quo.
I received 37 entries, and a considerable percentage of those readers’ entries made mention of their own personal Alzheimer’s/dementia caregiving journey. Here are just a few of those comments:
- I am a geriatric care manager, can’t wait to read it!
- My friend just had to put her mom into a caregiving rest home because she could no longer handle her. She was becoming quite violent. It is a horrendous disease.
I love that you are writing inspiring stories! Many of us are or were caregivers and the hopelessness we feel when we dont see them getting better can be overwhelming. Your compassion is so sweet and much needed in todays world. Im really excited to find a new author I can enjoy!
- I would be honored to read this book, my father had Alzheimer’s disease. I want to tell you that the cover is totally amazing !!!!!
- I would love to win. My husband has Alzheimer’s/ dementia so it is if special interest to me.
Even as familiar as I am with the statistics for this disease – 44 million diagnosed worldwide as of this writing – it still astounds me to hear the personal stories associated with it. Like every terminal disease known to man, Alzheimer’s and other dementia are very personal diseases. The brain – the very essence of a person’s being – is the initial body part affected. What we say, how we behave, and who we are resides in the various, vital parts of our brain. Our brain is the grand traffic director of all things me.
It’s no wonder the very long goodbye associated with this disease is so devastating to the one diagnosed, as well as for the one caring for her or him. It’s very personal, isn’t it?
I am of the belief that family dementia caregivers are 21st century heroes. Additionally, all caregivers, not just those on a dementia caregiving journey are the best of the best. They are:
Ordinary people, doing the ordinary right thing, at an extraordinary time.
I am honored to be in your company.
Requiem for the status quo will be 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.
The definition of hopeless: 1) feeling or causing despair about something; 2) inadequate, incompetent.
When life happens, as it always does regardless of our preferences, we’re bound to find ourselves unable to manufacture even a modicum of hope to get us through the circumstances in which we find ourselves:
- The loss of a job and the financial repercussions resultant from that loss.
- Crimes against our body or our property.
- Relationship disruptions.
- The devastating diagnosis of a debilitating disease: cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease.
Hope isn’t what a person feels when the rug has been yanked out from underneath them and their very existence as they knew it, maybe even just five minutes earlier, takes an irreversible turn.To be sure, that’s how quickly hope can take a nosedive. Equally as quick, we can not imagine we will ever feel happy again, nor can we imagine not being overwhelmed with how life has showed up. In an instant, our level of hope took a nosedive. Read the rest of this entry »
My novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, will be released on Thursday, July 20th (although it’s currently available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Here are a few jokes about the craft and those who attempt the craft.
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
“Oh my,” said the writer. “Let me see heaven now.”
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
“Wait a minute,” said the writer. “This is just as bad as hell!”
“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice. “Here, your work gets published.”
A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”
A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”
“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in a second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is–”
“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”
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.
Yesterday 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. The day before 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.
Writing a novel just for the hell of it isn’t what I did when, on December 29, 2012, I started to write REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO.
First and foremost, I sat down at my computer because I had something to say about how Alzheimer’s disease affected my father. Additionally, having graduated from the unofficial school of family caregiving, I figured someone just might benefit from the good – and the not-so-good – ways in which I managed my father’s illness.
Now thirteen years after my father’s initial Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my novel will hit the virtual and brick & mortar shelves of bookstores. It will also make its way in person to a number of senior centers and senior living communities in my area. As an event on their activity calendars, I will read passages from my novel that might just ring a bell in the minds and hearts of those gathered to listen to what this Baby Boomer has to say. Maybe what I share will inspire them to purchase REQUIEM which I will gladly sell to them at a highly-discounted price. And once they’ve read my novel, perhaps they will share it with someone else, and so on down the line.
Is REQUIEM about Irene Frances Olson and her father, Don Patrick Desonier? Read the rest of this entry »
Today’s musing takes a different turn. The focus of today’s kindness relates to my daughter Erin’s never-ending, no-holds-barred editing offerings for all things having to do with the upcoming July 20th release of my novel, Requiem for the status quo.
Erin has been one of the most consistent editors of my work and what I appreciate so much about her input is that regardless of how much she loves and adores me – and she does – she is 100% honest in her comments about my writing. I always know, without a doubt, that when she criticizes/critiques me, she is doing so out of love.
Erin wants me to succeed because she knows this project means so much to me.
In preparation for my July 29th book signing at the Northwest Book Festival in Portland, Oregon, I designed a bi-fold brochure to hand out to attendees, a brochure that introduces my book and its primary characters to those who will be browsing through the many booths and literary offerings at the festival. They may not be ready to purchase my novel right then and there, but they’ll take the brochure with them and perhaps from the comfort of their living room, will decide to order, or purchase, the book from their favorite book seller.
Erin read through my brochure with a well-tuned eye and came up with several corrections and suggestions that absolutely rendered it a far better marketing effort than it was when I deemed it perfect and ready for printing. She has a keen, literary eye on which I have relied since I started writing my novel on December 29th, 2012.
My daughter leads a very busy life, so her consistently kind contributions to my writing success mean the world to me. That is why, and for so very many other reasons, I celebrate Erin’s gift of editorial kindness that keeps on giving.
I’ve written several articles over the years about the importance of assembling a caregiving team when caring for a loved one – a team that doesn’t necessarily rely on family because not everyone has a participatory family when it comes to these matters. That was certainly the case for REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO‘s Colleen Strand while taking care of her father, Patrick Quinn. She sought help from her brother but that was not something with which he chose to be involved.
REQUIEM, my debut novel, is now available for pre-order from my publisher, Black Rose Writing. You will receive a 10% discount with code PREORDER2017 if purchased before its release date of July 20th. Additionally, in the days ahead, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble will be offering a pre-order option leading up to the novel’s release. Ebook options will be available at most online book retailers as of July 27th.
Of all the life-changes we encounter during our journey, caregiving is one of – if not the most – difficult speed bumps to get over.
Caregiving: the ultimate team sport suggests how one might use the strengths of each team/family member to handle the varied needs during the caregiving journey.
Family dynamics that hamper caregiving success exposes the need to let go of stereotypes or childhood roles that don’t serve siblings well as adults. If ever there was a time to work together for the greater good, taking care of a family member with dementia or other terminal illness ranks right up there at the top.
Solo caregiving addresses the needs of the person who appears to be strapped with fulfilling all the roles needed for a successful caregiving venture. The solo caregiver need not settle into those roles, however. The help of other, well-meaning individuals, can lessen that daunting task. Certainly, much relies on the neighbor, coworker, even casual acquaintance, but said entities are a resource from which much assistance can be found.
Here are several more articles for the caregivers out there – and those acquainted with a caregiver – to provide some wisdom and encouragement through the tough times:
- The tethered caregiver
- Helping an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Caregiving and the 36-hour day
- A normal day, caregiving style
- Caregiving: grief, guilt, exhaustion, and discrimination
- Long distance caregiving Part I and Part II
- Caregiver: put on your oxygen mask first
- Caregivers, learning from our mistakes and finally
- But how am I supposed to do that?
Very, very soon, when you again visit my author website, http://www.irenefrancesolson.com, you’ll get a sneak peek of my novel’s cover. Additionally, in honor of my cover reveal, you’ll see a completely remodeled site. I’m not kidding, it looks nothing like the original version. I mean, you’ll probably think you’ve landed elsewhere instead of at Irene Frances Olson’s site.
It’s so mind-boggling to realize that in seven weeks, my debut novel will be published and available for purchase. It’s been a long road, but it is quickly leading to publication of my debut novel.
Thank you for joining me on this journey.
My novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, contains a scene where Patrick Quinn – many years before his Alzheimer’s diagnosis – wakes up his high school aged daughters on April 1st and announces that local public high school students have the day off to honor April Fools’ Day. His daughters attend a parochial school – church based – and when they hear of said day off, they become incensed.
The girls get out of bed – anger seething below the surface of their drowsy bedheads – cross their arms, and they yell, “That’s not fair!”
Patrick agrees, April Fools’ Day is no reason to have a day off from school . . . then he claps his hands together, and barely stifling a laugh, he says, “Gotcha!”
That exact scene happened to my sister and I – thus the reason why I had to include it in my novel. My father had the keenest sense of humor – a funny bone that stayed with him even while the plaques and tangles in his brain leeched the very life out of him. As a family, we were very fortunate that his humor survived until the very end. That is not always the case, as readers will discover when they meet the other characters in my novel whose disease journey is far from cool, calm, and collected.
REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, release date: July 20 2017.
Black Rose Writing, publisher.
I’ve read numerous articles regarding what writers of fiction – or non-fiction for that matter – should write about:
- You should write about what you know
- Expand your horizons, write about what you don’t know and research the heck out of the subject matter
In my case, I did both: I wrote about what I knew very intimately – caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease – and I performed a great deal of research to augment and supplement the personal knowledge I acquired over my father’s multi-year disease journey.
I enjoyed the research almost as equally as I enjoyed going through my personal journals and my father’s medical records that documented the progress of his fatal disease.
Perhaps “enjoy” isn’t exactly the most appropriate descriptor of the developmental process for my novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO. Perhaps the more appropriate descriptor is that I was fully engaged and committed to accurately tell every nuance of the story.
You see, the greater portion of the story was very personal to me and my family but it was also a story I knew was representative of so many in the world dealing with the same horrific disease onslaught. I took my story-telling responsibility of portraying the reality of the physical and emotional toll on caregiver and patient very seriously, but I also included humorous incidents that crop up from time to time when you least expect it … because as with all things in life, even during the darkest of times, humor can be found if we’re open to its sanity-saving presence.
And those of you in-the-know understand how important it is to nurture the fading remnants of sanity onto which you are holding.
REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, to be released by Black Rose Writing, July 2017
My life took an exciting turn when I signed a book contract on February 17, 2017 for my novel, Requiem for the status quo. When I started to write this novel in December 2012, five years after my father died from Alzheimer’s disease, I had the goal of seeing it published and in the hands of readers everywhere. I thought I knew how difficult it would be to secure a publisher, but I was wrong . . .
I had no idea how difficult a task it would be. I was so proud of the story, a story that was inspired by my years of caring for my father with Alzheimer’s disease, that I figured if I loved it enough, others would love it too.
One hundred queries to agents and publishers later, it’s now slated to be published this summer.
Great news, right? Absolutely great news but then, as many authors will tell you, the real work began, and with that real work came real stress and worry. Those added ingredients to my publication status robbed me of enjoying the moment, of celebrating my accomplishment – of being here. I abandoned the comfort of the present, of being mindful of what was going on in my life, where I could celebrate and relish the attainment of my publication goal. Instead, I focused on the future where fear and worry reside. I was living in a time and space that didn’t even exist, and I resided there for an entire week, and suffered the consequences: lack of sleep, dis-ease, and distress.
But I’m back, and I’m accomplishing task after task after task and thoroughly enjoying the process.
I’m now reaping the benefits of Being Here, right where I’m supposed to be.
This week’s kindness centers around the dining industry where waitstaff work their tails off for us gastronome-wannabes and oftentimes receive little thanks for it, other than what I hope is a decent-sized tip for excellent service.
My sister is visiting me from California, and with her visit coming on the heels of my publication contract, (see Irene Frances Olson – me! – has signed with a publisher) she wanted to take me out to lunch to celebrate. In between touring the Seattle Art Museum and attending the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, both in downtown Seattle, we settled in for a delicious lunch at Palomino Restaurant.
Our server for the day was a fine gentleman named Sam. After he introduced himself, my sister announced that she was treating me to lunch to celebrate my book contract. He was astounded, genuinely impressed that one of his customers was soon to be a published author. (I wonder if perhaps he is also a writer – or perhaps an actor – and therefore fully understands the enormity of the situation. Writing is like acting: many people want to break into these industries, but find little success in doing so.)
He asked all the appropriate questions about manuscript publication, honing in on the details of my novel’s roll-out process. He then asked what we would like for our beverage and I chose a half diet, half sugar loaded, Coke. My sister also ordered a Coke. He walked away to get our orders but returned within a minute’s time and said, and I paraphrase, “Wait a minute, you got a publishing contract and a Coke is what you’re ordering to celebrate? You sure?”
Unfortunately, I was sure, because if I had imbibed on my 1st choice – a margarita – the remainder of my day’s efforts would have fallen by the wayside. He complied with my request, and throughout our time at his table, served us attentively (but not over-attentively … we all know what that feels like). At one point during our lunch I told him I would be featuring his kindness for my weekly Kindness Fridays column. He asked for my blog website address so he could have a look-see when it’s published.
Toward the end of my our lunch, he asked about the storyline for REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO. He was touched by its origin, saying how intrigued he was by the story, and sorry for our family’s experience.
I guess the way I would describe that day’s kindness is that I felt important and appreciated. I felt special.
And who doesn’t want to feel special now and again?
I am positive proof of that statement.
Confession time for me: after four years of pounding the pavement/internet trying to get my books published, I seriously considered walking away. I’m not proud of that revelation, but I think after awhile, the prolonged efforts in which many of us are involved start to lose their shine, don’t they? They feel cumbersome in their fruitlessness.
Until they bear fruit.
That is the simple lesson here: nothing comes easily. Nothing. There is no such thing as overnight success or instant stardom. The instances of such anomalies are so few, they’re barely a blip on the timeline of creation.
If you want to accomplish something as much as I did – for me it was becoming a published author – you must continue on that quest. Speaking personally, if I had given up on my goal of publishing a novel inspired by my experiences as my father’s Alzheimer’s caregiver, all the research, writing, and re-writing I did might have been considered a waste of time. It was a valuable and cathartic writing experience, to be sure, but its outcome – a published novel – would have never been realized.
What a shame.
My first novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, was published on July 20th, 2017 and guess what? At the time, this first time published author was sixty-four years of age. Is my novel a resounding financial success? Not necessarily, but I did attain success which for me meant putting onto paper that which reflected my caregiving experiences so others might be encouraged and enlightened as a result. Family caregiving is difficult, so I figured if my novel could lessen even a few caregivers’ burdens, I will have accomplished much.
What does success mean to you? Whatever it might entail, don’t give up. I guarantee you’ll be glad you didn’t.
Okay, that’s enough time. REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO is slated to most likely be published by the end of 2017, thanks to Black Rose Writing. I submitted my novel to them in October 2016, and received an e-mail on Tuesday, February 14th, stating that they feel strongly that my project will make a successful addition to their publishing house. The owner of the company further stated, “I am excited about adding an author with such high potential to the Black Rose Writing family.” I have been in contract talks with the independent publishing house the past several days, and I confidently signed with them this afternoon.
I suggest you go to their website to sign up for their newsletter to get free e-books, deals, and exclusive content. The opportunity to do so can be found at the bottom of their Home page.
REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO is my first novel, inspired by the five years I spent as my father’s caregiver. Of my two completed novels, and one work-in-progress, this is the manuscript in which I have been most invested. I mean for gawd’s sake, REQUIEM is why I started on this anxiety-ridden writing journey back in December 2012.
All you writers out there know of which I speak when I say the road to publication is a pothole-filled one with Dangerous Curves, U-Turns, and Dead Ends that terminate many a writer’s quest to see their book in print.
I am pleased with all of my novels but late 2016 I recommitted myself – and redirected my energies – to getting REQUIEM published. I believe in the story and absolutely feel many current caregivers, and future caregivers, will discover themselves on the pages of the novel and realize their struggles are the struggles of many. They are not alone. Consequently they will find reason to hope, and even to laugh, when they read about Seattle, Washington’s fictional Patrick Quinn family.
So Don Patrick Desonier, this celebration centers around you, the father for whom I would embark on a caregiving journey all over again, just to have more time with you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bottle of tequila that’s waiting to be opened and enjoyed … it’s not gonna do it all by itself, ya’ know. I may not be available for awhile.
I’ve been authoring this blog, Baby Boomers and More, for five and a half years. Perhaps that’s a record for blog ownership, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy writing about matters of significance. I guess that’s why my blog has survived as long as it has: there are a heck of a lot of things going on in the world that fall into that category.
My website address remains the same: http://www.babyboomersandmore.com, but with a broader emphasis on life as it unfolds for all of us born within a certain year bracket:
- iGen (after 2000)
- Millennials (1980-2000)
- Gen X (1965-1979)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and
- The Greatest Generation (before the end of WWII).
Yes, there are many differences between the generations but we have one major characteristic in common: although as individuals we are strong in many ways, we still need each other to get to the finish line.
With that change in overall focus comes a new, primary blog identification:
Living: the ultimate team sport
If we consider all the people with whom we come in contact as being members of the same team, we will do all we can to support them. We’ll bolster rather than compete; we’ll pick them up rather than step over them as a means to an end; we’ll exhibit respect for each other’s talents while nurturing our own; we’ll not take advantage of weaknesses in order to falsely boost our own strengths. In short, we’ll stand by our teammates and want only the very best for them.
Another goal of mine: write more succinctly, at least after this particular post. 🙂 I know you’re all busy and have better things to do than read my oftentimes lengthy magnum opuses. I’m newly committed to being as succinct as possible, somewhere along the lines of an article I wrote on December 27, 2016: Don’t go there. Let’s face it, as a writer, I should be able to use an economy of words to get my point across to those who’ve chosen to follow me.
And one last thing: the header images you’ll see at the top of my blog (which will cycle through randomly) are from photos I took during a few of my hikes around the Pacific Northwest. Hiking is my passion, so I’m pleased to provide snapshots of views I have been privileged to see.
With that, I’ll sign off for now, so very glad to be a member of your team.
I received some not-so-good news the other day, and some good news.
The not so good news is that an agent I had hoped to secure contacted me about my second novel with a rejection. Wait, that’s not exactly true, he said he could not represent me at this time but he wanted to help me.
For those of you not familiar with the publishing business, 99% of all queries sent to agents are rejected. They receive thousands of queries (letters with sample pages) per year. Many are rejected because the writer didn’t thoroughly research an agent and therefore sent him or her sample pages for a genre the agent does not represent. An overwhelming amount of writers are rejected because they can’t even write a one-page query letter without mistakes that certainly might characterize what the writer’s entire manuscript may be like. And others are rejected because it just wasn’t a good fit for the agent or the agency … whatever that means.
Before I contact an agent I research him or her like a detective looking for a stray hair of evidence. I read interviews they have given, I follow them on Twitter to see how they conduct themselves on social media, I check databases for the titles they do represent, I do Google searches to learn of any hidden matters I should know that may make this agent someone I could work with, or someone I wouldn’t even want to stand in line behind at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.
Eric is an agent I felt I would be honored to work with and I was right. He proved it that day when he e-mailed me, asking me to call him at his office in New York. I contacted him one and a half hours later – I had to ground myself before jumping into that conversation.
He started out by saying that I am well-loved by many people in New York. (I follow lots of New York industry people on Twitter and they follow me and apparently they like what they read on my blog.) He provided a genuine invitation to New York, saying should I visit his city, he would love to see me.
He then told me that he never calls writers he has chosen to reject. He doesn’t have the time or inclination to do so. But I was different.
“You have an excellent writing voice … You are an excellent writer, and because of that, I want to help you.”
He then provided substantive suggestions on how I may improve on my character development, point of view (writing in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person), ways to improve the dialogue so that it is less expository and more descriptive. He said if I work on my second novel incorporating his suggestions he would like me to resubmit that novel. When I asked if I could submit my third novel when it’s completed and submission-worthy, he said, “Absolutely.”
A couple hours later, I wrote him an e-mail letter, thanking him for providing constructive editorial suggestions, and almost more importantly, for affirming my abilities. He replied that it was a pleasure and an honor to do so, and that he looked forward to speaking with me again.
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying,
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
I’ve considered those sentiments as applying to the way I conduct myself in this world. I am a work in progress. I learn from my mistakes and nine times out of ten, I do better the next time. When I make mistakes and am not aware of them, however, I have no choice but to keep repeating those errors until either I discover the errors on my own or someone makes me aware of them.
I have queried two novels thus far and have received close to one hundred rejections, rejections that gave me no clue as to why those novels didn’t appeal to an agent; absolutely no input as to what I might do differently. So I kept writing and editing, and querying.
Thanks to Eric I can do better because I know better. And although I am seriously disappointed in not being someone he can represent at this time, I am encouraged because according to one agent who took the time to speak with me, I have what it takes to get published.
Color me grateful. Color me blessed. Color me proud.
It’s true. I haven’t experienced the high I get while hiking in the Pacific Northwest since our end of September hiking adventure. Shortly after that hike we traveled to Hawaii for a couple weeks and the two hikes we had planned to complete there were a bust.
On the Big Island of Hawaii the heat and humidity were the hike-spoilers for us. We’re not fair weather hikers – we’ve hiked in the rain and extremely cold temperatures before – but heat is a deal breaker for us. Even in Washington state we hike early in the day or not at all if temps on the trail will be 80 or above.
Then on the island of Maui – where temps near Haleakala crater were guaranteed to be in the 50s – we gathered our gear, climbed into our rental car, drove up eight miles of a single lane, severe hairpin-turn paved road, only to arrive at the dirt road that would lead us to the trailhead and find it was only traversable by 4-wheel drive vehicle. We’re veteran hikers so as I always do before a hike, I checked the trip reports and the State of Hawaii hike descriptions for any pertinent info we might need for that day’s adventure. There was no mention of the hazards requiring a 4-wheel drive vehicle and we sure as hell didn’t want to place our rental vehicle in jeopardy so we turned around.
Disappointing, but at least I knew the week after we returned from our vacation we’d be scheduling a hike that would once again expose us to the expansive beauty we’ve grown to appreciate during our weekly hiking adventures.
Fast forward to the morning after our late night return when yours truly missed the last stair as I ambled down to the first floor of our house and twisted my left ankle. Mind you, this is the same ankle that has managed to climb over rocks and boulders with nary an ankle tweak; an ankle that has even managed to jump off said boulders victorious and proud to be alive!
And let’s not forget THIS adventure where I conquered massive challenges and came out smelling like roses – or at least without any mangled body parts.
Alas, I accept my lot in life – knowing it’s only temporary – but not knowing how one might define “temporary” is a bit troubling for this Rocky Mountain High-kind of person.
Yep, I miss and crave the hiking high I’ve grown to love this past year, but there’s no need to feel sorry for me. My current situation has forced me to finalize the preparations leading up to writing my third novel in the 2016 NaNoWriMo month-long competition that begins November 1st.
I guess this is what was supposed to happen in order for me to write that bestseller over which publishers will surely clamber! If that’s the case I can be grateful that it will be awhile before I can satisfy my addictive cravings.
My writing journey began at the age of four. My brother and sister had already started their school careers but being the youngest, I was stuck at home, resentful that I wasn’t old enough to join their ranks.
My mother was the fastest typist I had ever seen in all my four years. One day, fully mesmerized by my mother’s rapid-fire key pushing, I asked if I could try it out because I had nothing to do but had something to say. I lacked the prose skills to attack such an endeavor but truth be told, I was more interested in pounding on the keys than I was in making any sense. Two pages and numerous typewriter ribbon and key jams later, I completed my first manuscript.
In those days, my entire family sat at the dinner table to consume the evening repast. This was an opportunity for each of us to share what transpired during our day. With much frustration and boredom, I waited for my siblings to finish relaying the drivel of their scholastic school days so that I could read the magnum opus that I managed to produce in one sitting at the typewriter. Mom sat next to me, and looking over my shoulder said, “Irene, it’s your turn. I see you have lots written on those pages so you better get started.”
So I did. I launched into a magnificent story – the gist of which I fail to remember decades later – but I delivered this story with great conviction and a feeling of growing self-importance. My mother silently read along with me, nodding her head as I read each paragraph, encouraging me with a smile now and then. A good ten minutes later I reached the end of my manuscript and with great flourish, I folded the pages in half and placed them on my lap. Mom and Dad were impressed; my big brother and sister dubious; I was in heaven.
Here’s a brief example of what my first manuscript looked like:
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For ten minutes and two pages I read typed gibberish with bravado and my mother never gave away my secret. She didn’t out me. I am certain that Mom’s encouragement and acceptance of my efforts contributed to my infatuation with all things reading and writing.
For the past four years I’ve been in the ranks of writers who submit, get rejected, and submit again. I’ve written two novels, the first of which I queried (seeking literary agency representation) for a year – thus far with no success – and the second of which I’ve just started querying.
I can’t foresee the future, but I do see my mother looking over an agent’s shoulder, nodding and accepting every word I’ve written.
All gibberish aside, I can’t lose with her ongoing support.
Even a writer as talented as Mr. Holcomb has dry spells; dry spells that can even last for eleven years, as was the case for him. He was so desperate to write himself out of the desert and into the lush forest, he drove 120 miles once a week to attend a writing class with science fiction writer, David Gerrold. That writer had Art doing the really hard work to where eventually Art’s productivity and quality came back.
… I got back in touch with my abilities once I realized that creativity works best in harness and under the thumb of a good work ethic.
Writing takes skill, but even more so, it takes talent. Writers are artists whose tools are not paints or charcoal pencils, but whose tools are the written word. Whether art is appreciated on a canvas or the pages of a paperback book, the receiver of that craft has a choice to walk on past the canvas/put down the book, or absorb it for all it is worth.
…for each person willing to do the work, there is a fire that can live forever inside of you. A fire to create, which warms the soul and ignites the imagination. My life would be hollow without it and I am grateful every day that I get to write and create and weave stories that can move friends and strangers alike.
I learned what being a disciplined writer is by participating in the 2015 NaNoWriMo event. I had to write every day in order to complete a novel in just one month’s time, and I did. In less than 30 days, I learned what Art Holcomb learned, if I’m willing to fight for it, my talent will emerge and create a piece of art at which others will want to pause so they can fully appreciate what has been crafted.
After input from my Beta readers and numerous edits, I am on the verge of querying that novel – my second – in an effort to secure agent representation and eventual publication so that the byproduct of my craft can be enjoyed by the masses.
There is no such thing as overnight success.
True, the passage of time and an extraordinary amount of hard work don’t guarantee success, but it’s a damn good place to start. That applies to whatever you’re doing.
You’ve got to put in the time to earn the dime.
The Middle-Age Surge written by columnist, David Brooks, is a fabulous expose on what it really means to be living in ones “middle ages.” He reviews the book, Life Reimagined, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty while also proposing that the idea of mid-life crisis is truly a myth that many don’t see as being applicable to them. I mean seriously, people, how many friends or coworkers of yours purchased a zippy sports car when they hit their mid-40s or later?
Many years ago I briefly dated a guy who drove a gold-colored early model Porsche. On my third date with him, I said, “You know what they say about guys who drive Porsches, don’t you?” His response was nowhere near the statement I was going to provide that centered around over-compensation for short-comings. He said, “Yeah, they have lots of money.”
Not even close.
Anyway, Mr. Brooks quotes theologian Karl Barth who described midlife in this manner:
The sowing is behind; now is the time to reap. The run has been taken; now is the time to leap. Preparation has been made; now is the time for the venture of the work itself.
I can unabashedly declare that I can look back on my life with a more refined foundation of wisdom; I can move forward, not haphazardly, but with focus and intent. I know what’s important to accomplish before my time on this earth comes to an end, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of my doing so. (So watch out publishers, I’m knocking on your doors!)
The people who find meaning at this stage often realize the way up is down. They get off that supervisor’s perch and put themselves in direct contact with the people they can help the most. They accept that certain glorious youthful dreams won’t be realized, but other, more relational jobs turn out to be more fulfilling.
One of the conclusions the columnist comes to is that the mature mid-life folks “are less likely, given all the judgments that have been made, to care about what other people think.”
And that describes me to a T.
I don’t know what is the average survival rate of a Blog. I guess as long as the host has something to say and is willing to be consistent in her/his efforts, it can last quite some time.
Four years after the death of my father to Alzheimer’s disease I started looking into what all this blogging crapola was about. I felt my experience as a caregiver, coupled with my work as a long-term care ombudsman for the State of Washington (now retired), gave me ample ammunition for subject matters that relate to our aging population … but not just to our aging population, to all of you who are faced with the struggles inherent from having aging loved ones.
About half way through my Blogging experience I changed the “About this Blog” portion of my website to reflect that there is a commonality among those problems experienced by young and old alike. Those problems may look somewhat different on the outside but all of them involve the following sentiment:
Life sometimes throws curve balls at us for which none of us are prepared.
I guess I still maintain this Blog because I still have something to say, and some people out there still need to hear it.
I witnessed a sad occurrence at my local grocery store the other day. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m one of countless artists in the world who work in solitude and hope for public acknowledgement some day down the line.
I happen to be a writer, fiction primarily, but there are many other artistic crafts: painting, drawing, sculpting, metal work, woodworking, stained glass, and on and on and on. Bottom line, artists create and hope beyond all hope that what they create is liked by the masses … or at least one person who is not related to them, or financially obligated to them, or otherwise committed to the person doing the artistry.
I belong to several writing groups on social media. A day doesn’t go by that one of us writer’s doesn’t post a rant or a tear-filled comment such as:
Okay everyone, an agent requested my manuscript last week and said she’d have a look-see over the weekend … it’s now Thursday and I haven’t heard from her … Did she hate my manuscript? Did she even read it? Should I give up as a writer? What in God’s name should I do?
Sound exaggerated? It’s not.
I can’t speak for what it’s like to be an engineer or an accountant or a lawyer, doctor, bus driver, mail person, or what have you, but I can say that paranoia is many an artist’s primary personality trait. Consequently, we crave affirmation in order to continue doing what it is we do.
Remember Sally Field when she won an Oscar in 1984 for her role in the film Places in the Heart? During her acceptance speech she emoted that winning the Oscar told her that “you like me … right now … you like me.”
When that same paranoid author (three paragraphs above) is finally published, she won’t sleep at night without having read every review of her book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. And for every bad review, she’ll forget the good reviews and the four or five stars awarded her masterpiece, which, quite frankly, is the manifestation of her heart, laid out in the open for everyone to spit and step on.
At that point she may as well give up sleeping entirely until she believes in herself, regardless of what the reviews say, regardless of her Amazon book ranking, regardless of whether someone returns her e-mail right away or not at all.
If artists believe in what they create, if their whole raison d’être is doing what they do come what may, it won’t matter what the critics say … well, it will matter what they say but she’ll still love herself in spite of it.
And if all of you wouldn’t mind reminding me of this fact now and again while I’m on this seemingly never-ending road to publication, I will be forever indebted to you … if it’s not too much trouble … if you have the time … if you think I’m worthy …
Click on these brief stories that describe my delight when a literary agent complimented my short, short stories, occurrences that made my day:
Literary agent, Janet Reid, has once again singled out my entry as one that pleased her. She holds almost weekly 100-word writing contests on her blog which I enter in the hopes of being named a winner. That hasn’t happened yet but I’m almost as pleased with being told that my contest submission stood out.
The first time this happened, I posted my entry and her comments, here. What follows is my most recent complimented entry. I’ve underlined the required 10 words that must be included in each submission, and I’ve put in bold the sentence she liked most, which happens to be the last sentence. Her comment about my entry: “This entry cracked me up completely, especially this punch line.”
Here’s my submission:
The high school teacher sat with his student to go over her research paper.
“It’s Switzerland, not Switserland.”
“Before you criticize me, you know that’s the way it sounds.”
“Tell that to the originators of the exceptional country that’s served as a safe, neutral world-entity for many years.”
“How many years?”
“Look, I’m the teacher, not you. It’s your paper we’re correcting, not mine.”
Mr. Carmichael turned the page and shook his head.
“It’s Oxfam, not Oxfan.”
“Says everyone. Why the errors, Jennifer?”
“That’s how it arrived.”
“I bought it, not my fault.”
I’ve just recently distributed my second novel to my Beta readers after three extensive edits on my part. I’ve been keeping busy while waiting for their input. A writer needs to write – or at the very least, a writer needs to do writer stuff.
This week I submitted two different short stories to publications.
I submitted my short story BAD TEACHERS to Agni Magazine, published at Boston University. Agni Magazine sees literature and the arts as part of a broad, ongoing cultural conversation that every society needs to remain vibrant and alive. Their writers and artists hold a mirror up to nature, mankind, the world; they courageously reflect their age, for better or worse; and their work provokes perceptions and thoughts that help us understand and respond to our age. Bad Teachers reflects modern man’s tendency to interpret the Hammurabi Code (an eye for an eye) to what suits their intended actions best, regardless of how incorrect the interpretation.
I also mailed (no online submissions accepted) my short story AN UNJUST PENANCE to The Sun in Chapel Hill, NC. The Sun is an independent, ad-free magazine that for more than forty years has used words and photographs to evoke the splendor and heartache of being human. Knowing that to be the publication’s focus, AN UNJUST PENANCE is just the piece they might be looking for. When young Hugh Nabours discovers his gamma on the floor of the family’s kitchen, he assumes responsibility for the stroke that forever changed his grandmother’s life. Hugh’s struggle to let go of his mantle of guilt is a poignant one.