Category Archives: Writing

Book excerpt: emotions of grief or relief?

Brought to Their Senses, Chapter 1: grief or relief?

book excerpt - grief or relief?With open arms, Elizabeth invited grief into the mourning room she had prepared for the occasion at hand. She had dusted off the memories, cleared the cobwebs of denial and anger, and readied the linens of acceptance for a belated retreat. Grief, however, declined her hospitality and instead sent a distance relative named relief for a visit. The unwelcome guest took up permanent residence and could not be persuaded to leave.

The family saga novel deconstructed

The family saga novel deconstructedNovels must be categorized.

A novel must be categorized for publishing purposes, fitting nicely into some classification for marketing efforts. To sell it, you have to know where it belongs in the scheme of things apparently. So I’ve set to work making sense of my book, determining where it fits in the publishing landscape, and it seems to fall best into the category of family saga.

What is the family saga novel?

The family saga is defined as a genre of literature that follows generations of a family through historical events, changes in social circumstances, or the gain and loss of wealth from a multiple of perspectives over a period of time.

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Quote about family relationships: Leo Tolstoy

Quote about family relationships, Leo Tolstoy, Anna KareninaSweeping generalizations are discouraged for writers, yet some of the greatest authors have used broad statements to their advantage. Take the quote about family relationships in the opening line to Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

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Announcing my author website redesign!

Author Website Redesign Responsive HP ScreenshotsMy new author website redesign is finally up and running, and I’m so happy to announce this update! As an author moving forward with the publication of my first family saga novel, I decided my website needed to reflect my commitment to this endeavor. I’m pleased with the results and the professional new look and feel of my online author’s home.

Thanks to all my visitors for your patience over the last few months as I’ve tweaked and changed the website around. Sorry if all the construction has been a little confusing. With the simple navigation now in place, you should be able to locate things quickly. You’ll find some new bells and whistles too, the most important of which is an online form to download a free chapter of my novel Brought to Their Senses. There’s also a contact form if you’d like to get in touch with me and a subscription form to follow news by email about the publication of my book.

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Happy birthday to my muse Sting!

Sting is my museSting’s birthday is today, October 2nd. Each year I take the time to offer my best wishes in thanks for the music he has shared with the world.

Happy birthday Sting!

Sting is my muse and has been since 1980 when I first heard his unique voice and music on a vinyl record (remember those?). His artistry and songwriting are the inspiration behind my own writing (since I can’t sing or play an instrument). If my novel included a soundtrack, it would play from Sting’s vast catalog of songs, and I’d like to share a special one in honor of his birthday.

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The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer’s Disease

The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer's DiseaseThe Gettysburg Address, only 272 words in length, and yet one of the greatest speeches of all time written by Abraham Lincoln. On the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address, I took the challenge to write a similar appeal on something important to me in only 272 words.

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Roadblocks and Setbacks

Roadblock , Do Not Enter, DetourEver had one of those days where absolutely everything goes wrong? You know, a day full of setbacks and roadblocks, enough to make you feel like you just can’t do anything right. That was yesterday for me.

Setback 1: It started early with oatmeal, of all things. I’ve cooked it the same dependable way for years but yesterday it turned out watery for some reason. An attempt to fix the problem then turned my oatmeal into a substance similar to concrete just before it hardens.

Setback 2: After arriving at work, a trip to the restroom and a look in the mirror revealed a stain on my sweater in a color I could not identify, remove or hide. Was the concrete oatmeal to blame?

Roadblock 3: A project I have been conceptualizing, writing and obsessing over for the last two and a half months got shot down, forcing me against my will back to square one. I could see the fireball and smoke for miles in every direction.

Setback 4: While attempting to operate a fire extinguisher in my brain, I forgot a parent teacher conference scheduled immediately after work and was reminded by the frantic “Where are you?” phone call ten minutes before the appointment time.

Roadblock 5: A pounding headache kept me from focusing on the conversation after arriving late to the parent teacher conference.

Obviously, I was in a serious funk and needed some help to get over it. I tried a few strategies, all with varying degrees of success or failure, depending on how you look at it.

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The Rest of the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers Story from Wendy Poole

The rest of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Family Caregivers Story Wendy PooleBack in April, I posted my thoughts after reading all the moving stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers. I specifically mentioned the story “Remembrance” by Wendy Poole as my favorite dementia story, but I wondered why Wendy and her mother shared only six weeks of happiness at the piano with Wendy’s mother singing show tunes while Wendy played for her.

Recently I was delighted to learn the rest of the story from Wendy herself, as she contacted me to answer my question. As it turned out, her mother’s illness had progressed to the point that she needed to be moved to a nursing home. The piano recitals were no longer possible from the new facility, and the therapeutic ritual became another short but sweet memory in Wendy’s Alzheimer’s journey with her mother.

All dementia caregivers have stories to share, events in the progression of this devastating illness that have changed them profoundly. While these stories are all personal tributes to loved ones, there is a bittersweet commonality between them to which all caregivers can relate. Wendy was kind enough to share another of her stories with me, one she originally submitted to her local newspaper for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Thanks to Wendy for filling in the blanks and also allowing me to share her poignant story with others here.

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State Fair Mini Donut Madness: The Bucket

Bucket of mini donuts at Illinois State FairI visit the Illinois State Fair annually for one reason only – concerts – but apparently I am in the minority. Most people attend to gorge themselves on the food. While walking around the fair this year before the start of the Grandstand show, I passed all the familiar food vendors located in the same spots selling the same food to the same people. Same as it ever was, nothing out of the ordinary, just the worst fried food contributing to the poor health and eating habits of Americans for the last century. No big whoop.

Then I walked by the mini donut stand. You know, the same mini donut stand in the same location since the beginning of time, or maybe just the beginning of the state fair. I was shocked to discover something new, a clever marketing ploy to sell more donuts in fact! This year is the first I recall mini donuts being sold in BUCKETS. I was even told these “commemorative” plastic buckets were suitable for keeping and displaying in your home on a shelf, WOW! These “keepsake” plastic buckets hold 48 mini donuts. Yes, I said 48 donuts, obviously because the usual bag of 20 just-out-of-the-grease, burn-your-fingers, deep fried beauties just isn’t enough anymore.Bag of mini donuts at Illinois State Fair

Who could possibly need 48 mini donuts at one time? Then I looked around and saw people everywhere carrying around these BUCKETS of donuts. The marketing ploy had worked. People did feel the need to eat 48 mini donuts at one time. While watching the unflattering views of individuals walking away from me with buckets of mini donuts in hand, I wondered what might come next once the newness of the mini donut bucket wears off.

Bushel of mini donuts?

Wheelbarrow of mini donuts?

Cart of mini donuts?

I guess the mini donut madness will continue as long as state fair visitors are hell bent on total destruction by food consumption. Is this what the future holds for Americans, BUCKETS full of food to go with a GALLON of soda and SUPERSIZED fries?

I just lost my appetite.

Book Review: The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

Book Review: The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

Image courtesy of www.AdamLanger.com

A friend loaned me The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer recently and recommended I read it. Knowing I was a writer and aspiring author, this friend felt certain I would enjoy this story. I was at first skeptical; this book did not fall into the categories I devote my limited leisure time to read: classics like The Great Gatsby, Little Women or Wuthering Heights, or narrative nonfiction and self-help books similar to my own genre of writing.

What the heck? I decided to take a break from the norm and give it a try. All I had to lose was a little extra time. As it turned out, my friend knows me pretty well. I truly enjoyed reading The Thieves of Manhattan. It’s an action-packed story about two writers in New York with a history of failure in the publishing industry. Their lives intertwine in a book-writing scam and suddenly they are living the Indiana Jones version of an author’s action/adventure in New York City. The book includes a lot of humorous jabs at the publishing industry and intentionally blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction writing. By the end, the boundaries between what is real (a memoir) and what is fake (a novel) have been completely overstepped.

As a writer working toward the publication of my first book, I really found this story to be amusing. It was a quick read for me and a nice departure from the books I read to help further my writing efforts for a book to read just for the fun of it. Go ahead and read The Thieves of Manhattan, there’s really nothing to lose with this one, especially if you are a writer or aspiring author. Without even knowing you, I’m still pretty confident you will like this book. And if you read it, let me know what you think!

Check out the book trailer here: