Wednesday, July 26, 2017

AlzAuthors: Suzka Collins, Wonders in Dementia Land


By Suzka Collins

Ah… the wonders I found living with my mother in Dementialand. It all started almost minutes after she was diagnosed with progressive dementia. The cause was meningitis encephalitis. There seemed to be no choice at the time. I had to leave my bohemian life in the art world in California to return to a Chicago suburb where my mom was living. I am a painter. This had all the markings of a disaster.

After four years living in Dementialand, I returned to California and remember my friends telling me how sorry they were, how horrible it must have been and what a great sacrifice I made taking care of her. I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. For me, I was on a crazy cruise of chaos and enchantment. I had to write a book. Dementia was getting a bad rap.

Wonders in Dementialand is a quirky, meta-fictional memoir. The book is composed of 350 pages with oddly connected sections that range from flashback memories of something that might have actually happened, to pure fantasy.

The architecture of the book is noticeably whimsical. Parts are pure imaginary. I metaphorically humanized ‘dementia’ mirroring a male character named Skeeter - an uncommon approach. Violet (my mother and main character) meets Skeeter in a port-of-crossing terminal. As Violet attempts to cross the border, she trips and falls in the arms of this handsome suitor. The suitor takes her away to exotic and alluring places that Violet keeps secret. Like a schoolgirl, Violet is smitten and scared. But Skeeter (similar to dementia) is persistent in pursuing Violet. Other parts have dreamlike processions and hallucinatory imagery depicting the facade of life with a fragmented potpourri of characters. Large balloons with cartoon faces of the Cookie monster, Dora, Betty Boop and Miss Kitty parade themselves about everywhere making all the craziness palpable and even mysterious at times. It’s funny and sad and touching at the same time. Yet through this book there shines the light of an authentic truism. Nothing is trivialized. The delusions, the paranoia and the discombobulated conversations are still there.

Wonders in Dementialand breaks through the stigma of dementia, which is now being called the defining medical concern of this generation. Today more than 47.5 million are living with dementia worldwide. Multiply that number by the family members and caregivers affected by dementia directly, day in and day out, and you have a universe of people living in dementialand. It’s a subject that matters.

Amazon > Wonders In Dementialand > Comments

5.0 out of 5 stars

What wonders you’ll find… By H

I love this book because of its attitude - vibrant, free-spirited, and positive. A book like this is precious. Reading it gives me the energy I need to tackle the world and notice the colors of what otherwise might be a debilitating tragedy. Dementia can destroy the lives of everyone involved, but in this book, Suzka gives the gift of a new perspective-- accepting, open, and daring enough to have fun.

5.0 out of 5 stars

I loved reading this book, By Christi

Suzka explored dementia as only an artist could. As I read her book, I felt that I could actually see what she was seeing and feel the withdrawal from the everyday understanding of the "real" world that was being replaced with an other-worldly view that leaves all the baggage and preconceived notions behind. It is a unique view of dementia from a caring, loving daughter who accompanied her mother as she made this journey. I loved reading this book.



Suzka, painter-author

suzka@dementialand.com

dementialand.com

Facebook: dementialand

Facebook: Suzka Susan Collins

Twitter: @Dementialand

Instagram: Dementialand

Dementialand™

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

AlzAuthors: Emily Page and The Fractured Elephant - Because Demented People Need Love Too


By Emily Page

Writing about dementia came about fairly slowly and organically. I'm an artist, so when my dad was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 65, my natural inclination was to start doing paintings about our journey as a sort of self-prescribed art therapy. I used an elephant as both a symbol for and a talisman against dementia, because "an elephant never forgets." As I created paintings, I posted them on social media with an explanation of their meaning, and people really responded to them. At the insistence of a friend, I started a blog to help promote my artwork, and it became a kind of online journal. Before long, I was getting tons of great feedback from my readers when I posted about what we were experiencing as we coped with caregiving. "Me, too!" was a phrase I started hearing a lot.

After my dad passed away in early 2016, my readers kept calling for me to turn the writing and artwork into a book, which was a fairly terrifying thought. I don't consider myself a writer, so the thought of sitting down and writing a book was daunting, but I knew that what I'd been writing about on my blog had spoken to people, and I hoped that the book would do the same thing.

When my dad was diagnosed, he was really open about his diagnosis, and so I decided that honesty was paramount if my book was going to do him justice. In our home, honesty meant not just talking about the really hard stuff, but laughing at the ridiculous stuff, too. There's plenty of both. My motto was, "We laugh when we can, we cry when we must." So I talked about the silly things he did as a result of the disease, and I talked about the raw, painful stuff that we were going through in our efforts to give him the best care possible. There are moments when I don't make myself look so great, but I thought it was important for other caregivers to be able to see themselves in the writing and know that it's okay and forgivable to not be perfect. We're all just struggling to do our best for the people we love.

I'm getting some great reviews on Amazon, but even more important to me are the people who've been given the book by a friend and have taken the time to look me up and email me to say, "Thank you. You said all the things I've been thinking."

About the Author
Emily Page is a professional artist and part-time writer. Working out of Raleigh, NC, Page spends most of her time elbow deep in paint, but comes up for air periodically to share her art and thoughts on her blog. She translated her ridiculous musings about her family’s journey through her father’s dementia into a book, Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love, Too Also available at http://shop.emilypageart.com/.

Follow Emily on Twitter at @EmilyPageArt23 and 
Read her blog at https://emilypageart.net/


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Christmas in July! Clean Indie Reads Summer eBook Sale! July 17-21



It's mid-summer and most people are thinking of the beach, baseball, barbecues, and family fun. Christmas, most likely, is not a high priority. Unless you're a reader who melts at the end of  a romantic Christmas story or a heartwarming holiday tale. If that's you, any time's a great time to pick up a stack of Christmas reads, and I've got a bunch of them right here. Clean Indie Reads Christmas in July eBook Sale offers 15 titles in a variety of genres - novels, novelettes, short stories, mysteries, and sweet and paranormal romance - sale-priced from FREE to 2.99. Stock up to read on vacation or save them for the holiday season. Sale ends July 21. Note: please check all prices before clicking the "BUY" button. Each individual author is responsible for ensuring the correct sale price for her book(s).


Ino's Love 
a short story by Marianne Sciucco

Ino prepares a Christmas feast for her successful, CEO son, but when he's too busy to spend the holiday with his mother she shares her dinner and gifts with her home health aid. Sometimes the people who love us best are not family.





A Gift for Lara
a Victorian Christmas short story 
by Suzanne Rogers

Lara Robinson wrote a love letter four years ago, but received no reply. Now the man to whom she gave her heart will visit Blythe Manor for Christmas. How can she enjoy the holidays knowing Miles Greystoke must despise her for revealing her feelings in such an unguarded fashion?  As an awkward youth, Miles fell in love with a kindred spirit…but his love was unrequited. Against his wishes, he’s now obliged to spend the holidays at Blythe Manor. Time has wrought changes in his physique, but his devotion to Lara Robinson has never wavered. He searches for the perfect present to show her how he feels, but nothing seems quite right…until he realizes the best sort of gift will embrace the true meaning of Christmas. FREE on Amazon

Secret Angel
by Cherry Christensen

Doctoral student Hannah Wagganer entertains dreams of teaching at a large university and leaving her hometown of Glen Arbor behind. That is until Jasper Morgan, the new mail carrier, arrives in town. Not only does he set Hannah’s heart a flutter, but he has an instant bond with her cat, Jingles. Preparing for the church candlelight Christmas Eve service and running the family store, Hannah continues to bump into Jasper—and the prying eyes of the locals who suspect there’s more going on than business as usual. Blessings and suspicions abound when an anonymous donor pays to have the church furnace repaired, and other locals suddenly find solutions to their problems. Is it coincidental, or the work of a secret angel? 99c on Amazon


Seaside Christmas
Sweet Romance by Stacy Claflin

He can’t stand her. She thinks he’s crazy. Will their feelings stay etched in permanent ink? Cruz Hunter has always stuck out in his small hometown. Now that he’s covered in tattoos, the residents peg him as even more of an outcast. It seems like the whole world is against his dream of opening a local tattoo parlor. When he finally finds the perfect place for his new business, Cruz discovers a pastor and his daughter have already bought it. The only thing more irritating than the change in his plan is Talia, a beautiful and feisty argument in a dress. Cruz would like nothing more than to have her out of his life and his mind, but for some reason, she’s the only thing he can think about. If Cruz and Talia can stop arguing long enough, opposites may do much more than attract. 99c on Amazon

Runaway for Christmas: 
A Citrus Beach Mystery 
by Victoria L.K. Williams

Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once. Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate. Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love. 99c on Amazon




Now Arriving: Sister Station Series #1, 
Christian fiction  by Victoria L.K. Williams

Sarah Skipton knew that her granddaughters needed a drastic change in their lives, but would they be willing to accept her challenge? To leave behind a successful career and home was a lot to ask of anyone. But Paige and Rebecca agreed to a short-term trial and headed for their childhood home of Skipton. There they would take over the family business and Sarah’s dreams for the old train station. Soon the sisters find themselves embraced by the small town and caught up in the plans for Skipton Station’s future. New friendships are formed as the women become more involved in local affairs-from the town’s Christmas plans to the blow that pulls them into a longstanding feud between two families. Now Arriving is about more than a physical destination. To follow the path before them will mean accepting God’s plan for them. Follow as the sisters discover their true desires and arrive at their choices. 99c on Amazon

Mistletoe at Moonglow 
a novella by Deborah Garner

The Timberton Hotel has always provided a perfect Christmas retreat for regular guests, as well as newcomers. But the small town of Timberton, Montana, hasn't been the same since resident chef and artist, Mist, arrived, bringing a unique new age flavor to the old western town. When guests check in for the holidays, they bring along worries, fears and broken hearts, unaware that Mist has a way of working magic in people's lives. Old-fashioned time spent together, exquisite food, conversation and a snowball or two offer guests a chance to trade sadness for hope. One thing is certain: no matter how cold winter's grip is on each guest, no one leaves Timberton without a warmer heart. 

The Seven Days of Christmas romance by Sharon D. Tweet

When Caroline Atherton’s brother brought his college roommate, Rick Stratford, home for Thanksgiving fourteen years ago, he quickly became one of the family. Much like a second brother, the three of them became a tight-knit family unit, sharing their successes, failures, grief, and faith. Leaving his wild days behind him, Rick has spent years pursuing his walk with the Lord in both wisdom and guidance, becoming a man content with his personal and professional achievements. When Caroline discovers her feelings change, she works hard to ignore them; unwilling to jeopardize the family dynamic. After all, they never expected to find love so close to home. In the sparkle of snow and twinkling lights of Christmastime, Rick has the green light to romance his love. Yet despite the excitement and promise surrounding her, Caroline battles an inner struggle that threatens to sabotage their joy and their future. In the midst of the holiday season, can Rick and Caroline navigate this new path to reconcile her hidden resistance, or will tragedy steal their happiness before it begins?  99c on Amazon

The More the Merrier: A Short Story (Seasons of Love Book 1) by Liwen Ho

Fed up with a string of bad blind dates, health blogger Alyssa Wu wants to drown her sorrows in ice cream. But there’s one more evening she must endure—a fake date with her best friend Barry Chang. They must convince her family they're in love, an act which may (or may not) be easy to pull off, thanks to the magic of some mistletoe. This 10,000 word short story is perfect for your lunch break, workout, or while you wait in line at the mall. Read it today to get into the Christmas spirit any time of the year! FREE on Amazon




By Christmas (Covington Falls Chronicles Book 4) 
by Kristin Wallace 

Noelle Joy Robinson should have been spending Christmas with her husband. Instead, she’s become the face of jilted brides in Covington Falls after her fiancĂ© runs off with one her bridesmaids on her wedding day. To escape the constant sympathy, she decides to leave town and start over in a new city. But when her father has a health crisis, it falls to Noelle to save the family business and Christmas for the entire town. Soon she’s knee-deep in parades, dealing with a cantankerous ass (the animal kind) and negotiating disputes with Santa’s elves. But a different kind of animal is threatening to disrupt her peace on earth. An angel named Michael, the brother of the man who broke her heart. Michael Campbell steps in to help Noelle with the holiday festivities, mainly out of guilt. He can’t help feeling he had a hand in ruining Noelle’s wedding and helping her save Christmas is his way of making amends. But soon an obligation turns into so much more, leaving him to wonder if Noelle could ever see past his last name and give him a chance. In the end Noelle and Michael will have to move beyond past heartbreak to find their holiday happy ending…By Christmas. 2.99 on Amazon Kobo iBooks

Falling for You at Christmas: Shellwater Key Tales
by Kristin Wallace

“I’ve always wanted you, even when I didn’t know your name or who you would turn out to be…I didn’t know that the pregnant woman who came barreling through the lobby would turn my world upside down in a matter of days.” A Nativity story for the modern day, set in the sleepy town of Shellwater Key, Florida. One expectant mother. One gorgeous innkeeper. One Lamb, two Shepherds, and a King. Three days that will change her life forever.  Pregnant, single and alone at Christmas, Cassie Stevens decides to take a holiday vacation in Shellwater Key before her baby is born. But then her reservation is lost and she finds there literally no room left at the inn. Thankfully, single innkeeper, Jared Latham, offers to let Cassie stay with him and his young daughter. She won’t have to sleep in a manger, but being in such close proximity to the gorgeous and caring Jared might be more dangerous to her piece of mind…and heart. But the magic of the season can change everything. Cassie is suddenly surrounded by a group of friends, who all seem have names relating to another important birth long ago. And when Christmas Eve brings an unexpected delivery, Cassie will discover that miracles are still possible even in modern times. 99c on Amazon

Finding You at Christmas: A Shellwater Key Tale 
by Kristin Wallace

She’s going to find her destiny this Christmas…

Preacher’s daughter, Janie Worthy, has spent years looking out for her father and siblings after the death of her mother. But as she watches her niece get married, Janie decides it’s time to get a life of her own. However, her plan stalls out before it can even begin…literally. On the way to her first date, her car decides to quit, leaving Janie stranded on the side of the road. A stranger on a motorcycle becomes her savior. Caleb Montgomery is gorgeous and sexy, and the short time they spend together on the side of the road might be the most romantic interlude Janie can remember. Of course, it’s all just a fantasy and soon Caleb is riding off into the night, never to be seen again. Until he shows up again where she least expects him…right in her hometown of Shellwater Key. When Caleb decides to stay in town for Christmas, Janie can’t help but wonder if she is the reason. Except that would be crazy. People don’t fall in love in one night…Right? As the holiday spirit kicks into high gear, Janie must find the courage to move beyond past guilt to embrace the future and open the best Christmas present she could ever find. 99c on Amazon

That Gift! 
a short story by Sheryl Fawcett

It's Christmas time!

Husbands everywhere search for the perfect gift. Some succeed in delighting their wives. The husband in this story misses the mark. In fact, he doesn't even come close. Years later the wife has a revelation about the gift from that long ago Christmas and it takes on new significance for her. This is a heart-warming story of mature love, the lasting kind, between a man and woman who raise a family and grow older together. At approximately 5400 words, this is a quick, easy read for a woman who loves her husband, a man who loves his wife, or the person who only dreams of finding that special kind of love. FREE on Amazon 

First Christmas 
YA Paranormal romance 
by Heather Karn

Vixen is an ice dragon shifter whose obsession with Christmas increases each day. Her clan’s village is located at the North Pole: the home of the one and only Santa Claus and his elves. She lives a life of carefree celebration until an attack from a vengeful dragon lands Vixen at the feet of her mate, a man who has never celebrated Christmas. Lunar is from none other than the South Pole, the farthest place on Earth from Vixen’s beloved home. And as for her favorite holiday, he’s never joined in any of the human rituals surrounding it. If anything, he’s purposefully avoided them. Vixen must now take the reins and teach her mate all about the joyous time of year she celebrates year round. Just when their relationship starts to blossom, Vixen is kidnapped and held for ransom. Lunar will stop at nothing to save her as his first Christmas draws near. After all, there is no place like home for the holidays. First Christmas is a story about love and family. It's a clean YA Paranormal Romance. There is no swearing or sexual content. Any violence is mild and not graphic. 99c on Amazon

The "She" Stands Alone
a novelette by Nadine C. Keels

She can’t seem to catch any guy’s notice for anything. No, that pick-up pitch from a stranger gawking at her at the gas station doesn’t count. And one attractive salesman in town shouldn’t have been flirting with her in the first place. He was much too customer-friendly for a store known for its pathetic customer service. Now, is this young woman’s dateless problem unfixable? Not in the least. New plan: Sheridan Jones is going to date herself. 99c on Amazon

Thursday, July 13, 2017

AlzAuthors: Ann Hedreen and "Her Beautiful Brain," a memoir


By Ann Hedreen

Without quite knowing it at the time, I began working on Her Beautiful Brain in 2004, when my husband and I made an award-winning documentary film about my mother called Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer's Story, which has had a long life on PBS stations and remains in distribution through Women Make Movies, Amazon and other sites. Making Quick Brown Fox made me realize there was so much more of my mom's story to tell than our film could contain. I also began to understand that, while I love filmmaking (which is what I do for a living), I have been a writer since I could hold a pencil and I longed to write much more than I was then writing as a filmmaker and occasional journalist.

In 2008, the incredible gift of a two-week residency at the Hedgebrook retreat for women writers got me going, and the Goddard MFA program, which I completed in July 2010, kept me going on what became a book-length memoir.

Her Beautiful Brain is the story of my mother, a copper miner’s daughter who was divorced twice, widowed once, raised six kids singlehandedly, got her B.A. and M.A. at 40 so she could support us as a Seattle schoolteacher—only to start showing signs of Alzheimer’s in her late fifties, taking us all on a long descent we never could have anticipated or imagined.

The book begins in Haiti, where Mom is visiting two of her daughters, one a Peace Corps volunteer and one—me—a journalist, and where we first suspect that something is wrong. From Haiti back to Seattle and back to the mine-gouged Finntown neighborhood in Butte, Montana where she was born; from her historic Seattle neighborhood to a locked geropsychiatric ward, Her Beautiful Brain travels the terrain of a heartbreaking illness: one that currently affects more than 5.5 million American families—a number that is expected to double or even triple by mid-century.

The tone of the book is essay-like, not blow-by-blow or how-to or what-to-expect. It is a reflection on the life of one person and how Alzheimer’s disease bent the trajectory of that life. Her Beautiful Brain tells the story of who my mom was, the seismic social changes she and we lived through, and how her illness changed not only her life but my life, forever. And not just mine but my whole family’s: my five siblings, our spouses, Mom’s 14 grandchildren. We’re a great example of the ripple effect of this most insidious and quietly cruel of killers. We are the children and grandchildren of a woman who lost not her mind but her beautiful, wonderful brain, as it was called by her high school classmates in Butte, Montana, where she was once known as the smartest girl in the school.

Since Her Beautiful Brain was published in September 2014, feedback has been so poignant and meaningful. You get it, people say. You don’t try to make it pretty. As a caregiver, I feel less alone now. That’s why I wrote the book. Families living with Alzheimer’s disease are becoming ever braver about speaking out and busting through all the shame and stigma and misconceptions that surround Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and I believe it is because more and more of us are sharing our stories.

You can find me at annhedreen.com, on Twitter at @restlessnest and on Facebook.  
Email me ann@whitenoiseproductions.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Release Spotlight: Misty Point (Misty Point Mystery Series Book 2)

Still reeling from her grandmother's death, Megan Stanford is shocked when her father, Dean, returns to Misty Manor with real estate developer, Randall Douglas. As Randall's business partner, wife and assistant arrive shortly thereafter, it becomes clear he intends to sell his mother's estate at all costs. When a body is found floating in the surf, Megan and her friends realize there is more at stake than the Grand Victorian. Can they work to stop a killer before it's too late? Or will the sale of Misty Manor be the only closure in the books?

Misty Manor, Misty Point Mystery Series, Book One

Three years have passed since Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey Shore as Megan Stanford returns to her childhood home to find her elderly grandmother and the family Grand Victorian home in a state of shocking neglect. As the town threatens to sue to ensure demolition of the guest cottages behind Misty Manor, mystery unfolds in the once quiet town of Misty Point, NJ. A dead body found in the debris, threatening messages, and vandalism, combined with an eerie sixty year old photograph, bring the investigation closer to home. Megan continues to dig for the truth and unwittingly begins to unravel a decades old secret, which threatens her and the future of Misty Manor.
 
Amazon Purchase Links




About the Author 

I was a prolific reader as a child. I started by reading my grandmother’s books, written by Phyllis Whitney, Emily Loring and Victoria Holt. I had also read most of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boy mysteries by the time I reached fifth grade and started to write my own mystery. Realizing my love for reading and writing, my fifth grade teacher allowed me to take a book, which he self-published, home to show my parents. I am sure that day was one of the most inspirational for my writing. In addition to my studies, I continued to read as much fiction as I could through high school and won first place in a poetry contest. The novels I choose covered most genres – mystery, romance, sci-fi, horror and fantasy. In college, I studied different forms of literature, reading American Classics and English Novelists as well as majoring in PreMed. During college, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov and Dr. Ruth. Over the years I’ve also met many writers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Donald Bain, Diana Gabaldon and others. I studied hard and went to Medical School. I no longer had time to read fiction, but I did have the privilege of meeting many wonderful people. Working with them, they shared many wonderful, emotional, painful and special experiences and I believe it is a combination of all these personalities which helped to make up my characters. Eventually, I was able to return to reading fiction and begin to write my own stories. I love all my novels and each is special in a unique way. However, I read to escape and I love to go to the beach to relax, renew and reorganize. Misty Manor is my favorite as I was able to visit my favorite place each time I started writing. I hope you will too!  Our days are never guaranteed. Always love one another and Happy Reading!

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