Requiem for the status quo
Another step to honor my father
Who would have thought when I started my publishing journey to honor my father’s life – a life that was cut short because of the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease – I would one day be featured as part of Maria Shriver’s efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease in women? But I am!
The Mission of Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM):Every 65 seconds, a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of the brains with Alzheimer’s belong to women, and no one knows why that is. The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is determined to find out. Founded by Maria Shriver, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s and to educating the public — women andmen — about lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brain health. Through our annual campaigns and initiatives, we also raise dollars to fund women-based Alzheimer’s research at leading scientific institutions, so that we can better understand this mind-blowing disease and hopefully get closer to a cure.
My contribution, Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Personal Caregiving, is a transparent look at the challenges every dementia caregiver faces, even for a personal caregiver who had years of professional memory care experience, as did I. If you know of someone who could use some encouragement – whether they are caring for someone with dementia or another debilitating illness – I hope you will share my Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement piece with them; doing so would honor my father, and all those current and future caregivers who just might need some additional support in their corner.
Discounted book about Alzheimer’s!
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.
Free Booksy giving away my novel for free!
My debut novel is ranked #1 in all free books available in the Alzheimer’s disease category. Just a few hours remain to get my novel Requiem for the status quo for free as a Kindle book. Giveaway ends at the end of the day, August 12th. Look closely, the cost is $0.00.
Free Booksy is sponsoring this giveaway. Even when my book is purchased for free, it has a positive impact on my book’s ranking on Amazon.
What are you waiting for?
Online purchases: whether cotton balls or books, customer reviews are a must!
If a book doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers’ sites, does it really exist?
It does, but to potential readers, no reviews may equate to a risky purchase. Let’s face it, you can hardly purchase a bag of cotton balls online without having dozens – if not hundreds – of reviews to peruse prior to consider pushing that all important BUY button.
The same goes for books, but even more than that, an author’s literary credibility is tied in with author and sales rankings and reviews are part of what feeds those rankings. Authors aren’t getting rich on their craft, and that is certainly not my goal. What is my goal, however, is that many people read my novel and at its end, they feel they’re better off having done so.
If you have read REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, won’t you please post a review on three of the sites for which said reviews are very important? Here’s the link for Amazon, and for Barnes & Noble, and for Goodreads. But fear not; you do not need to write a unique review for each of those sites, simply write a review on Amazon, for example, then copy and paste it into the review sections for the other sites. Easy peasy. And many, many thank you to those who have already posted your reviews. You have fed my soul and made my day.
AND IF YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO POST A REVIEW ON ONE SITE, PLEASE MAKE IT AMAZON.
If you have yet to purchase my novel…please consider doing so. And if you have a copy but have yet to read it, please remember my shameless begging in this post and submit a review once you have. Please, no mention of your relationship to me…absolutely not necessary and it’s advisable, from Amazon standards, that you don’t.
My plea for reviews isn’t my attempt at stroking my flaccid ego, no, it’s merely my efforts at making my novel more attractive to the person looking for a book on the subject, and when they purchase and read it, and they are impacted in a positive way by my words and my experience, then all that has lead up to this time will have been worth it.
Release day for Requiem for the status quo
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.
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.
No one wants to be a member of a club characterized by a disease that robs a person of their cognitive function and is always fatal. Unfortunately, as of this writing, 5 million Americans (many more million in other countries) are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Here are a few more facts extracted from the most current Facts and Figures document published by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- In 2016, 15 million Americans provided unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias;
- That equates to 18.2 billion hours of care valued at $230 billion;
- 1 in 3 adults dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia;
- It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined;
- Since the year 2000, deaths from heart disease have decreased by 14% while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 89%;
- Every 66 seconds, a person develops the disease.
My novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, (Black Rose Writing publication, July 2017) spotlights one family’s experience in particular – the Quinn family – while also visiting other households affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- Eddie and Katherine, a couple in their 40s. Katherine has a combination Alzheimer’s/Lewy Body dementia, a type of dementia that causes somewhat violent behavior and speech;
- Frank and his son, Sean, the latter of whom suffers from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) incurred while on deployment in Afghanistan;
- Victoria and George, a couple in their 80s, trying to crawl through the maze of George’s Alzheimer’s disease;
- Rose and Sophia, sisters in their 50s, struggling with the effects of Sophia’s vascular dementia;
- Donna and Kelly, partners in their 60s, experiencing the devastating effects of Kelly’s Parkinson’s disease and the dementia associated with her disease.
These are characters like you and I. They were living their lives the best they knew how, being good people and doing good for others, yet Alzheimer’s still managed to grab them by the throat and refused to let go.
The storyline is a difficult one but the way in which I have portrayed all of these precious people will touch your heart, and at times, your funny bone. No, there’s nothing humorous about the disease, but people will be people, and when they’re confronted with the impossible, they can find – or create – a bright side onto which they can find redemption and community.
I look forward to introducing you to my characters. Just a few more months before they’ll become a part of your life.
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?
A winner is just a loser who tried one more time
A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.
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.
Irene France Olson – me! – has signed with a publisher!
I’ll let you collect yourself, calm down, and come down to earth before I go any further with my announcement …
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.
Irene Frances Olson: falling in love with my second novel
As of yesterday, I’ve read through and edited my second novel twice. I completed this novel the end of November (writing it in one month during NaNoWriMo). The length at that time was 60,203 words.
Bridged by Betrayal is a healthy 75,366 words.
- print paper copy, do another edit, this time with colored pens & highlighters;
- transfer pen edits to the computer copy;
- print several paper copies so my Beta readers can get their hands on my manuscript and apply their constructive magic to it;
- review said editorial contributions; accept and reject edits and “finalize” the “final” version;
- write full-length synopsis for those agents who request one;
- start querying agents.
I love, love, love my characters, and I hate the characters who rightly earned that hate. Read the rest of this entry »
Gone but not forgotten
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 »
Rejection: part and parcel of the writing craft
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.