Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AlzAuthors Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month eBook Sale!


AlzAuthors was founded in 2016 by myself and three other daughters of dementia who met over the internet because of our books. We formed a friendship and a mission to create a space where caregivers can find solid support, and those who share their stories can find the proper audience. I'm proud of our work and how we've grown from a 30-day awareness mission in June of 2016, to a weekly blog showcasing books and blogs about Alz and related dementias, a bookstore, Facebook group, and active Twitter presence.
You may have heard that June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, and today, June 21st, is The Longest Day. Sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association, these important events increase awareness of Alzheimer's, related dementias, and brain health. In recognition of these events, AlzAuthors has put together our very first eBook sale!
Starting June 21 through June 28, you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books at reduced prices, ranging from 2.99 to free. We offer a variety of genres, from fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. Many of our books are also available in paperback and audio, so check them out too.
Our books are written from a deep place of understanding, experience, knowledge, and love. May you find one - or two, or three! - to help guide you on your own dementia journey.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Memories: Blueprint for a Great Dad

photo by Sergey Nivens via Adobe Stock
Celebrating Father's Day is bittersweet for me, because I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my own father at the tender age of 15. He suffered a heart attack at home one lazy Sunday morning and life was never the same. Ted "Bunky" Kasica was a good man,  and my brothers, mother, and I keenly felt his loss. It's been 41 years, and I don't believe any of us ever got over it. In his short life, he left us with many gifts, most importantly a blueprint for what makes a man a great father. 

Dad was the 11th of twelve children born to Polish immigrants in South Boston. His own father unexpectedly died when he was just three years old. He never finished high school, but enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In spite of his humble roots, his early life was one grand adventure. The Army took him out of Boston, and stationed him in Germany and Austria for years. His love for that life is clearly documented in the few photographs I have of him as a young soldier: parachuting out of airplanes, skiing in Austria, and competing as an amateur lightweight boxer.

Once home from the Army, he soon met my mother and fell in love, married, and settled down at the age of 28 to a quiet life as a cabinetmaker, with four children, a mortgage, and an ailing heart.

Dad as young soldier, family man, and fisherman.
My father was a man who loved his family, his children, and spent all of his time with us. He was an avid fisherman and loved boats. His skill as a cabinetmaker allowed him to refurbish a couple of old wrecks, and we spent many evenings and weekends skimming a pond, bass fishing. Other nights we swam in his favorite fishing holes while he fished from shore, casting for catfish. Winter presented no obstacles, because he loved to ice fish, and I recall many afternoons out on the ice practicing my skating in the bitter cold while he dangled for a catch.

My mother worked nights and Dad watched over us. We played games, swam in the city pool, worked in his wood shop, tended to his garden,  and listened to Red Sox and Bruins games, or the classical music he loved: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. I grew up in a  musical house. The last gift he gave me was an acoustic guitar, and he took me for lessons every Thursday night. It was precious time alone with him, sharing something we both loved. Foolishly, I gave up on the guitar shortly after he passed. 

My father went to work every day, six days a week, to a job he didn't always want to go to, but he shouldered his responsibilities like a man and made sure a paycheck came home with him every Friday night. He was a daily presence in his children's lives, doling out love and fun generously, and discipline reluctantly. He shared what he loved with us, and taught us an appreciation for many precious things: nature, music, family. He gave of himself, his time, and his talents. Toys and trinkets would never make up for his loss. 

We thought we'd have him forever. His death was a shock. But he left us with something not everyone gets, no matter how long they have their father: The blueprint for how to be a great dad.

***


To celebrate Father's Day, I'm participating in Celebrating Fathers in Fiction. This is a multi-author, multi-genre giveaway. Each story includes a father, whether in a major or minor role. I've included a sample of my Young Adult novel Swim Season because the relationship between my heroine, Aerin, and her father is tempestuous, but happily resolved in the end. All of my stories feature strong father figures, most likely the result of my having had a great dad. See a story here that interests you? Download a free copy and sign up to learn a little more about the author! And enter a giveaway to win one of eight $10 gift cards to get more free books. Ends June 25th.

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's the Book Blogger Hop! Week of June 16-22

This is something new for me and it looks like fun.

Each week, the Book Blogger Hop starts on Friday and ends on Thursday, with a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The Hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to their own blogs. 

Here's this week’s question:

How do you organize your blog in terms of what is in your side bar? 
Do you have categories and defined sections in your side bar?
  (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

I'll go first. 

If you look at the right side of my blog you'll see I've organized my sidebar into different sections. At the top is my book trailer for Swim Season, which I'm so excited about. It's my first one and the bright young man who made it with me did a super job. Then you'll see my AlzAuthors badge, which identifies me as an author writing in the Alzheimer's  and dementia genre. I am a founding member of AlzAuthors, dedicated to helping those on the dementia journey find great sources for understanding and support. I also display my Books Go Social Ambassador's badge. BGS is a great group for authors and I keep active with it each week. Below that there's a link to translate my blog into different languages, and  a link to follow the blog. Then you'll see my most popular posts, followed by other pages on the blog. I try to keep my blog  as clean and simple as possible. How'd I do? How do you organize your blog? If you don't have a blog, how do you like to see a blog organized? Please reply in the comments.

About the Book Blogger Hop
The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the hop on February 15, 2013.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

AlzAuthors: Ann Richardson, Life in a Hospice

By Ann Richardson

Some years ago, I was taken to a hospice by a friend, who happened to be doing an errand. I immediately felt that this was the kind of tranquil place where I wanted to spend time. Soon after, I began to volunteer at a local hospice every Saturday afternoon. I did so for four years.

This experience had a strong impact on me, lasting even to the present day. Death – as with birth – is a very special time and I felt privileged to help people, even in small ways, in their last days.

As I was a writer, I thought the views and experiences of hospice staff would make a fascinating book. I had developed a technique, based on the kind of research I did for a living, of creating books formed around the direct views of people acquired by long and intimate interviews. Like a television documentary, it allows people to talk directly to the reader.

I undertook 31 interviews in two hospices with a whole range of staff – nurses, doctors, chaplains, managers and even a very reflective cook. They talked about the many ways in which they tried to make patients’ last days peaceful and meaningful, about the impact of such work on their own lives and, most importantly, about what they gained personally from such work. Like myself, they often used the word ‘privileged’ for being with people at the end of their lives.

The resulting book, Life in a Hospice, was, in my humble view, the best I had ever written – and I anticipated that many people would be keen to read it. It was very well reviewed, there was an article in the Times newspaper about it and it was even Highly Commended by the British Medical Association, despite not being a ‘medical’ book at all. All this was hugely pleasing.

But, alas, the breadth of the readership was very disappointing. The book was bought by
many hospices and others working in end of life care, but it never took off with the general public. I quickly realized there were two reasons. First, most people do not have my fascination with end-of-life care and, indeed, avoid thinking about anything to do with death. And, second, the book was much too expensive, the price having been set by its medical publisher. 

I couldn’t do anything to overcome the first problem, but I took back the rights to the book and re-launched it as a very inexpensive e-book ($3.75), so that anyone who wants to read it will not be deterred by the price. It is again receiving some good reviews on Amazon. I must admit I have never heard anyone say they were not deeply moved by it. A paperback version is in the works and will be published soon. 

My one caveat for this website is that the hospices in my book did not cater for people with Alzheimer’s. I can only say that the attention to the very individual needs of patients would go far when it comes to people with dementia of any kind.
About the Author


Ann Richardson was a self-employed social researcher for most of her working life and wrote books and articles about her research. But she found that her real love is writing narrative books, in which people’s exact words from interviews form the essence of a book, allowing them to speak very directly to readers. Her other books of this kind are Wise Before their Time, about people with AIDS/HIV, and most recently, Celebrating Grandmothers, about the joys and challenges of being a grandmother. 

Buy Links:
Life In A Hospice


Saturday, June 10, 2017

New Release Spotlight: Krysten Lindsay Hager's Dating the It Guy

Welcome back talented YA author Krysten Lindsay Hager and her latest release, Dating the It Guy. Krysten's novels are full of all the doubts, anxieties, and fears all young teens face. She easily channels her teenage self in each of her books, all sweet and suitable for readers of any age. 

Blurb:  Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator's son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon's world and it doesn't help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her, and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you're dating the it guy. YA contemporary romance 


Short Excerpt:

"By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti's old school?"

"Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did," I said.

Margaux snorted. "Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory."

"Margaux, shut up," Kylie said. 

"Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there," Margaux said. "Em, do you think he knew?"

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn't have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

"Don’t worry about it," Kylie said. "She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She's so pathetic."

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the "Most Likely to Succeed" poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket. 

Praise for Dating the It Guy:
"Dating the It Guy is an entertaining story that is as absorbing as it is hilarious." Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite

"A satisfying YA romance that is really about growing up and learning how to deal with life." Writing Pearls book review blog

"There is so much to love about this book. Krysten Lindsay Hager knows how teens think and speak, and she understands why Emme would feel overwhelmed by everything about Brendon - his looks, his popularity, his feelings for her, his exes, his family." Vox libris: the voice of books book review blog

"A sweet, endearing story—you'll fall in love with Emme just like I did!" --Kimber Leigh Wheaton, YA/NA author

About the Author
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Grand Blanc View, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Purchase Dating the It Guy:

Follow Krysten Lindsay Hager
 

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's the Book Blogger Hop! Week of June 9-15

This is something new for me and it looks like fun.

Each week, the Book Blogger Hop starts on Friday and ends on Thursday, with a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The Hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to their own blogs. 

Here's this week’s question:

If you could have lunch with any living authors and/or 
book bloggers, who would you choose and why?
 (submitted by Kitty @ Vicarious Bookworm)

I'll go first.

 This is a tough one because I have so many beloved authors, but I'd have to ask the New York Times bestselling writer who motivated me to stop talking about writing and start writing: Elizabeth Berg. Her novel True to Form captured my interest in such a way that I had to begin my own novel. I'd also invite Anne Tyler, the subject of my Honors thesis back at UMass Boston. Incidentally, she's a favorite author of Elizabeth Berg. Lastly, I'd save a seat for Jan Karon, because I adore her Mitford series; each novel in the series makes me feel like I live in the town. 

What about you? Who would you invite to your writer's table? 

About the Book Blogger Hop
The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the hop on February 15, 2013.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

AlzAuthors: Karenna Wright and her memoir, "The Grapes of Dementia"


by Karenna Wright

It used to be that nine months or so after a traditional wedding, couples would announce they were pregnant. Not with Alan and me.

Nine months after we were married, and before our first honeymoon year was over, we were instead adjusting to the symptoms of Alan’s newly diagnosed dementia.

He passed less than five years after that diagnosis. He was 67 years old, I was 59.

Since then, I've been writing about our lives with early onset dementia, as well as my grief process.

I'd been writing all my life, had published in journals and magazines, so the thought of writing our story came naturally to me. And really, it wasn't an idea at all. It was something I did as instinctively as a mother loves her child.

At first I randomly jotted down brief notes, a shorthand to capture all my memories.

Several years later, Alan fell at home, then had a bad reaction to an anti-anxiety drug given him in the hospital.

He suffered disorienting, disturbing hallucinations and excruciatingly painful muscle spasms. Under the influence of the drug, he clawed at me, grabbed me, pulled me close to him, and fought me off—all at the same time. He squeezed my hand so tight I thought it would break.

When I got home at eleven o'clock that night, physically beat up and emotionally broken, I wrote down everything that happened that day.

My writing was raw, uncensored. I wrote for my own mental health. I needed to share my agony, to find a glimmer of hope in it, then offer it to others.

I anticipated the acceleration of Alan's dementia—memory loss, confusion, personality changes. But I didn't expect the profundity in it. I didn't expect to frolic in the deepest regions of love, to see the joy within the sorrow, to cry and laugh at the same time.

I didn't expect to discover that the kernel of hope and truth dwells in moments of seeming despair.

Placing your entire presence and awareness into caregiving (or any other activity) heightens the senses beyond the knowledge or experience of what we'd otherwise observe. It lifts us above what we think is happening, gives us a bird's eye view of the situation, and reveals a way for us to respond that transcends our personal normal.

And that is my message for caregivers and their loved ones.

The high road shows us how to love someone and what loving and serving another looks like—anyone, not necessarily someone who is ill. Anyone. This is how you treat another human.

Readers have said I've offered a glimpse into the hidden nature deeply buried in illness, trauma, and our perceived fears of loss, that my writing touches the heart, soul, and funny bone.

They've commented on the joy present even in the turn of heartbreaking events, the amazing strength we can find to just keep going.

They've realized that simply being there is more important than anything else.

 About the Author

Karenna Wright is retired from a global telecommunications corporation, where she managed one of the company's technical libraries and got to buy lots of cool books. She holds a BA in Communications, with an emphasis in Literary Journalism and a minor in Women's Studies, from the University of Denver. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and local publications. She also writes a column about her life as a caregiver for Senior News in Humboldt County, California. Her first book, The Grapes of Dementia: My Journey of Love, Loss, Surrender, and Gratitude, highlights her experiences and insights as a caregiver to her late husband, Alan. Karenna's second book is in the planning stages and will offer practical guidance to caregivers.

Karenna is wild about playing her djembe drum, which she discovered while a caregiver. The therapy and health benefits inherent in the drum contributed to her ability to cope with taking care of and losing her husband. She has enjoyed living on the north coast of California the past two and a half years and dipping her toes in the Pacific Ocean while gazing upon the giant redwoods. However, Karenna and her partner are in the process of selling their home and moving back to their families and friends in Colorado, where they have both lived for 35 years. Her brief sabbatical by the ocean did wonders toward healing her heart.

Connect with Karenna Wright