Friday, May 25, 2018

New Release Spotlight: Engaging Mr. Darcy, an Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy by Rachel John

“Angry people are not always wise.” – Jane Austen

After a standoff in the pizza parlor, Elsie Bennet has decided Fitzwilliam “I-Throw-Fitz” Darcy is the worst customer she’s ever encountered. Also the best looking, but that’s beside the point. She’s horrified to discover Will is not just passing through her small town, he’s her new neighbor.

Will Darcy has all the money and time he could ask for, and yet life never seems to meet his expectations. When his best friend, Charlie, starts dating Jane Bennet, Will becomes their unhappy third-wheel. The solution? Bring along Jane’s sister, Elsie, a girl who challenges him, makes him laugh, plagues his thoughts, and unfortunately, hates his guts.

Will might control a lot of things, but he won’t control her. Elsie’s already been warned away by her new friend, Jeff Wickham, who found out the hard way that Will is not someone to be crossed. Things would be so much simpler if she was attracted to Jeff. But she’s not. She’s attracted to Will, and the tug-o-war between her mind and her heart is going to drive her mad.

Purchase Engaging Mr. Darcy

About the Author

Rachel John loves to read anything with romance or humor, and thinks the best books should combine the two. She's found that writing is the best outlet for her wild imagination. She's a terrible cook, but unfortunately for her family, she keeps trying. Rachel lives in Arizona with her husband, four crazy kids, and her desert tortoise. Come visit Rachel on her Facebook page, blog or Twitter. She'd love to hear from you!

Amazon  | Website | Twitter   |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Miki Klocke, Photographer and Author of "Alzheimer’s - Beyond Caregiving"

by Miki Klocke

My Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 56 years old and still working two jobs. I was 33 and became her full-time caregiver. A few years into our journey, when Mom still occasionally had coherent moments, we talked about how difficult this path is and what limited resources there were to help us. There wasn’t anyone for us to talk to. During that conversation I promised Mom that I would share our story so that it could help others. I had no clue how I would accomplish that as I had a degree in photography and limited writing experience.

Many very overwhelming years passed where that promise remained a passing thought. During what would be Mom’s fourth year on hospice, I finally had the time to get serious about keeping my promise. I wrote, I shared, I rewrote many, many times. Photography has always been a part of my life, a lifeline, in fact, during the difficult years of caregiving. Through encouragement, I was led to combine my photography and writing into a visual and poetic expression of the trials and tribulations of caregiving that became Alzheimer’s: Beyond Caregiving.

Through 17 years of caregiving, my greatest source of support came from Caregiver Support groups offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. Hearing the stories of others who had gone before me and those navigating a similar path gave me hope and strength to continue on. They also gave me the permission I needed to express my fears, shed tears and verbalize the anger and shame at not being able to do enough. I want to make not only Alzheimer’s, but also caregiving, a topic we can all freely talk about.

The stigma and misunderstandings of both Alzheimer’s and caregiving open us up to misguided suggestions that can hurt more than help. When you are a full-time caregiver, you have little to no time for yourself. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances often say to “take care of yourself first.” I found it hard not to cry, scream and/or laugh every time I heard this advice. I grew to despise those words. They made me feel more alone – proof that no one understood what it was like caring for Mom.

However, I also grew to understand that taking time doesn’t have to be a physical act as I first imagined, but it can be a mental act. My photography often shows what can seem to some a lonely place, but to others a place of solace. Our perceptions can be foggy in the trenches of caregiving. You can feel trapped by circumstances, but they can also be a place of introspection and an opportunity for a connection beyond words that is simply love.

My time of reflection led me to discover that we never really have control. Therefore, I was able to not only accept – but embrace – the changes that are inevitable in Alzheimer’s. The minute-by-minute changes, as well as the daily, weekly and monthly changes. And the big change, the one that Alzheimer’s always leads to, because there is no cure.

But there is, if not a cure for the loneliness of caregiving, at least good medicine — sharing our stories openly with each other, without censure or shame. There’s a whole community out there waiting to talk about the grief, the pain and the hardships that are part of this devastating journey.

When I began Alzheimer’s: Beyond Caregiving, I knew I wasn’t alone in my challenges and concerns of caregiving, but the greatest validation came in this comment: ". . . this book is like sitting down with a friend who knows what it’s like.” I couldn’t have put into words what I wanted the take away of this book to be, but that is it.

About the Author

Miki Klocke is a photographer and author. Her images mirror what is going on in her heart and soul. During her 17 years of taking care of her mom, her images reflected a lonely time, an introspective time, a longing for peace and solitude . . .

Connect with Miki Klocke

Instagram: @AlzStories

For more vetted books on Alzheimer's and dementia please visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Release Spotlight: Halcyon, YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction by Caroline Akervic and Ruth Rankin

It’s hard enough to always be the new girl at school for Hailey Schick. She’s managed to irritate the ruling clique and Trevor, the boy she sort of likes, is a total social outcast. 

Nothing is as it seems at University. Preston and Chelsea rule the school with an iron fist and are obsessed with stomping out all nonconformity. There is more going on here than the usual cutthroat high school games.

Eternally young sentinels from the parallel universe of Halcyon have infiltrated their school and plan to use it as a launching pad for a planned takeover of Earth. Hailey and Trevor may be all that stands between Earth and a takeover by the militaristic Juventus.

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Release Spotlight: "In a Jam" by Cindy Dorminy

I fell in love with the cover of this book and its sweet premise, and just had to invite the author to visit the blog. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing Cindy! 

Andie Carson has to do three things to inherit her grandmother’s lottery winnings—sober up, spend a month running her grandmother’s Georgia coffee shop, and enter homemade jam in the county fair. If she can’t meet those terms, the money goes to the church, and Andie gets nothing. She figures her tasks will be easy enough, and once she completes them, Andie plans to sell the shop, take the money, and run back to Boston.

After a rough breakup from his crazy ex-fiancĂ©e, Officer Gunnar Wills decides to take a hiatus from women. All he wants is to help make his small town thrive the way it did when he was a kid. But when wild and beautiful Andie shows up, Gunnar’s hesitant heart begins to flutter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Cofounder and Admin Vicki Tapia

Today's guest blogger is my good friend and AlzAuthors partner Vicki Tapia. We met through our books, and never in person, but work closely together to manage AlzAuthors blog. Here, Vicki tells us her dementia story. 

By Vicki Tapia

In 2004, both my parents were diagnosed with dementia, Dad with Parkinson’s-related dementia and Mom with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Even though symptoms had become increasingly obvious by the time of diagnosis, hearing the words dementia and Alzheimer’s disease really knocked the wind out of my sails. We now faced the stark reality of terminal diagnoses.

Trained as a teacher and looking for answers, I sought information to describe what to expect and how to best navigate what lay ahead. I searched for books written from the family caregiver’s perspective, but found few, and none that actually proved very helpful. I could cry on my husband’s shoulder or unload my anxiety on a close friend only so often.

In a deviation from my usual handwritten journals, I began tapping away at my computer keyboard on a near daily basis. When I began writing about dementia, it was merely a vehicle to help me cope with family caregiving. My diary became the place I sought solace at the end of a long day. It didn’t talk back or demand anything of me. However, after a year or so of writing, an awareness slowly took shape inside my brain and I realized I was in the midst of writing a book. I began to recall memories of Mom’s dementia-like behavior from years previous and it amazed me how many recollections remained vivid in my mind. Scene after scene from both the past and present came alive on the computer screen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy 5th Birthday Indie Author!

In 2014, I compiled this list to celebrate the first book birthday of my first novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story. Five years have now passed since publication day, and I've learned even more from this experience. I'm reposting my original list with a few updates in an effort to help others who are starting out as authors.

#1 I Need Help

Indie publishing is not for the faint of heart. Never did I dream how much I had to learn and how much I had to do in order to be successful. If I had, I probably would have let the manuscript languish on my hard drive for eternity. Since early childhood, I always had to do everything myself, and have a hard time asking for help. But some things I just can’t do. Formatting a manuscript is at the top of that list. My repetitive strain injuries would not allow this no matter how many times I tried and how many strategies I used to get around the crippling pain. In the end, I asked for help and realized I didn’t have to do everything, or cripple myself to do it all. There are many skills needed to make a book, and no one person possesses all of them to do it expertly. Part of being an indie author is knowing when to call in the professionals to help make your book the best it can be. That’s why big publishing houses employ a staff of pros to turn out a book. It was foolish to think I could make it on my own.

UPDATE: I'll add to this that four years later I'm now teaching classes in self-publishing in the continuing education programs at three colleges. I've also mentored a number of people in publishing their own books. So, student became teacher. Who knew? Next step would be to write a book on the subject, but there are already so many good ones out there I'll save my energy for something else. I could do a webinar or a podcast, but that would require a whole new set of skills. Not sure if I'm up for that, but you never know...

#2 People are Helpful

One thing about book people: they’re helpful. I learned this at a writer’s conference a number of years ago. It must be a writer thing, this urge to share information, to write about your experiences, to answer when called upon for advice. I received information and help from many different sources: authors, publishers, editors, bloggers, and web sites, usually for free. I haven’t experienced such generosity in any other field. In turn, I give of myself, sharing what I've learned, letting others in on a good deal or a bad experience. When indie authors work together, we all win. It elevates our industry, and makes us all better at what we do. In the end, readers benefit, and that’s what we’re all here for, isn't it?

UPDATE: A few years ago I joined a wonderful writer's group, Clean Indie Reads, where I received not only knowledge but support. Through this affiliation I participated in numerous book sales and promotions, contests, blog tours, blog hops, podcasts, author interviews, guest blog posts, and more. Groups like this are essential for any author and I advise all aspiring authors to find one that suits them. As a result of this positive experience I helped create the AlzAuthors blog and writers group. This is a family of writers who share their dementia stories, paving the way for others dealing with the dementias to find resources to meet their needs. 

#3 I Am Not Invisible

People notice. They do, whether you’re commenting on someone’s Facebook status, a blog post, or retweeting a tweet. In order to be in this game, you need to put yourself out there, build a presence both online and in your community, letting the world know you’re an author with something to share, which leads me to the next thing I learned.

UPDATE: Some of the best things that have happened to me came by networking online in social media (see above.) Not all of these opportunities were online, but local, such as my recent participation in a regional authors event at a Barnes and Noble,  and at an Art Walk in a nearby town.  I learned of these opportunities through my involvement in Facebook groups. It is unlikely I would have learned of them otherwise. So time on social media is not wasted.

#4 Don’t Be Shy

No, you can’t be shy. This is not the time to be bashful, or wait for someone else to tell the world what you have to offer. Self-promotion doesn't come easy to me. I tend to do things quietly. But, in publishing you can’t sit back. You need to tell the world about your book, your next appearance, your latest interview. We indie authors are just drops in the ocean; there are thousands of us with thousands of books out there jockeying for attention. In order for us to reach readers, we must be our own best fans.

UPDATE: I still find this difficult. I sometimes go on whirlwind promotions but then sink back into obscurity. Neither is good. A consistent but not obnoxious prescence would be helpful. It's something I'm working on.

#5 I’m Important

It’s true. I never realized it before but I am important. I’m the only one who’s written this book, this story, about an important topic, one that affects millions of lives, and one that has moved many people to write to me and post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads letting me know how my work has touched them. And when I started to realize that, in my own small way, in my own little niche, I’m important, I started to act important, and then other people acted like I’m important. I accomplish so much more this way.

UPDATE: I tend to underestimate myself, so when I stand before an audience to talk about one of my books or in front of a roomful of students I surprise myself by what I know. I've picked up so much knowledge from my writer friends, bloggers, journals and podcasts, as well as my own practice. In time, you can do this too. It doesn't happen overnight, but with persistence, it happens.

#6 Don’t Give Up

This is a tough business. There are times I feel like giving up. Why did I ever get involved with this? How am I ever going to get it all done? But, after a little respite I get my equilibrium back and keep plugging along. In the end, I do get it all done, astonishing myself. Things may not happen overnight, or when I want them to, but things happen: the invitation to speak at the conference arrives; the interview with the alumni magazine is published; the host of the radio show wants an interview; the royalties are direct deposited. I never know what’s going to happen next, what opportunity will present itself to help me advance as an author, a writer, to build my reputation, to grow my brand. Each day brings a new adventure. Or not. During the slow times, I play catch up, and dream.

UPDATE: In five years, writing has not gotten easier because of my repetitive strain injuries. I still need frequent rest periods (sometimes weeks) but I have learned to plan and organize my projects to manage or eliminate stress. I don't think anyone ever gets the perfect writers life, anyway.

#7 I Love This!

I wouldn't change anything. Every ounce of frustration and disappointment is worth every moment of joy. This is a journey, and not everyone is destined to take it or make it. The end is nowhere close, but I continue to work, a little each day, to make my dream come true.

UPDATE: No change!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Cofounder and Admin Jean Lee, “Alzheimer’s Daughter”

by Jean Lee

Both of my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on the same day. They were in their mid-eighties. I was the hometown daughter, working full time as a third grade teacher. My only sibling lived 1,000 miles away.

That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but my far-away sister was my greatest support­­­­‑‑my therapist by phone. Early on, about five years before our parents’ diagnosis, conversations with my sister usually started with me talking about vague, weird things I was observing. Those concerns became more specific, like rotting food in the refrigerator and hushed stories whispered by neighbors that Mom and Dad had gotten lost on the way home from the mall. During those conversations my sister suggested I begin a journal to document frequencies and specifics. Like a traitorous spy, I kept the journal for two years. It became an integral part of our parents’ diagnosis.

Our parents were a tight team. Never did they tattle or express concern about one another. Mom never said things like, “Your dad glides through stop signs.” Dad never implied Mom couldn’t remember how to start the washer or move clothes to the dryer. They experienced a simultaneous decline, hand in hand, just like they’d faced everything else in life. I couldn’t rely on one to help me make decisions to safeguard the other. Those painful decisions fell to my sister and me. My sister was willing to come home with the intention of being the bad guy, delivering the news when we moved them from their home to a senior care facility. She allowed me to remain the loving caregiver. I can never thank her enough for being there for me, and I know she can never thank me enough for being there for Mom and Dad.

Over the course of five years and three moves, eventually to a locked memory care unit, our parents died peacefully within one year of each other. Mom died first. When I told Dad, he said, “She was just here, saying she’d wait for me in heaven.” In the year following her death, even though he couldn’t remember he’d had a wife of 66 years, he’d randomly wave at the clouds and say, “I’ll be there soon.”

I told only a handful of friends and coworkers about our situation. Those I confided in told me I should write a book about this dual decline. I brushed that off, thinking, I’m drowning, I barely have time to write my lesson plans. However, when I sat with my father only one week after my mother’s death and Dad said, “Where is that woman I admired?” I came to realize our story could help others.

Are you at peace with what you wrote?

Many people ask me if writing our story in Alzheimer’s Daughter has been cathartic. Nothing could be further from the truth. My parents gave me everything in life, and during the Alzheimer’s process, I felt like I took everything from them. So, even after working on my book for four years, I released our personal story with great guilt. I really believed I could be struck by lightning as I pushed the final publish button.

However, in the aftermath, reader’s reviews have brought peace. During the final cleanout of my parent’s home, while trying to sort treasure from trash, I found my parents’ WWII love letters. I used these letters as chapter beginnings. Readers say the passion and devotion in the letters show the glue that held them together until their last breath. I believe my parents’ writing is the most beautiful part of the book. To have used their words along with my own, I know I pay tribute to them.

Does your book help end the silence and stigma of Alzheimer’s and dementia?

As a career educator, I read to learn and solve problems. Reading also guided my way through our Alzheimer’s journey. Each book, each voice, helped strengthen me for difficult times. No story was exactly like mine in that both parents were diagnosed at the same time. So, I added my voice to the choir, writing my story so it may help you through your own journey.

About the Author

After the publication of Alzheimer’s Daughter, Jean connected with other authors of Alzheimer’s books, to co-found Their mission is to eliminate the stigma and silence often accompanying a diagnosis while enabling caregivers and those living with memory impairment to find written resources – memoirs, novels, nonfiction, or blogs – which educate and enlighten.

In slightly over a year, the site is now managed by five administrators, and has posted weekly essays from nearly 150 authors with direct links to their books.

You can order a copy of Alzheimer’s Daughter to read Jean’s story. Please browse the nearly 150 titles about Alzheimer’s and dementia at AlzAuthors Bookstore.

Growing from her years of teaching elementary school, Jean has recently published two children’s books, Lexi’s Triplets and Lexi’s Litter of Three about her grandchildren and their beloved pets. She’s busy writing the third book in that series, Julia’s Journey to Her Forever Home.

Connect with Jean Lee