Wednesday, November 22, 2017

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Lynda Everman, editor of "Seasons of Caregiving - Meditations for Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers"



By Lynda Everman

“To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!” - Pope Francis

I really can’t tell the story of our book, “Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers” without first telling the story of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition, as they are the result of the following loosely connected series of events.

Like many others, I was away from organized religion for many years. Late in 2009, a neighbor invited me to attend Sunday services with her. I had just reluctantly and painfully moved my husband to an assisted living facility.

Early the next year George and Trish Vradenburg launched their non-profit, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. I was immediately drawn to their bold vision of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020 and joined them as a founding member of both the Activists and Women’s Networks. Over the next few years, I came to believe that a network of interfaith clergy would offer an important and powerful voice in our efforts to advance better care, prevention, and ultimately, a cure for this merciless disease.

In 2014, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Director Ginny Biggar and I set out to create ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and were quickly joined by an amazing team of passionate volunteers: Max Wallack, Rabbi Steven M. Glazer, Rev. Dr. Richard L. Morgan, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts.

We initially hoped to recruit about 20 interested clergy to be founders; but in just 4 months, we had over 110 founding members and went on to recruit additional clergy, laity and faith organizations.

With our interfaith network in place, it was Dr. Potts who suggested the idea for a book of meditations with these words, “Here is something to think about...” Literally, overnight, our thoughts melded into this project with an outline, a book title, original artwork, and a strategy for implementation; and in 5 months we published “Seasons of Caring.”

Our book was written to offer hope, encouragement, compassion and empathy to those on the difficult journey of caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The book is organized around themes and metaphors of seasonal transition, with each of the four seasons paralleling the various stages of life. The 141 entries open with quotes from scripture, sacred text or other inspirational text. The original writings by 72 authors representing a great diversity of spiritual traditions range from thoughtful meditations to poignant personal stories, moving poems and meaningful songs. Each is followed by a prayer and words of comfort and encouragement.

We are grateful to our authors, caregivers themselves, who so generously gave of their time, experience and counsel.

The words of Pope Francis bear repeating as they well describe the intent of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and “Seasons of Caring”:

“Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that...let us become bearers of hope!” 

Visit www.SeasonsofCaring.org to learn more about our mission and work, and to find resources for faith communities, including sermons, books, programs, and actions you can take that will help us defeat Alzheimer’s.

About the Author

Lynda Everman has spent most of her adult life - 24 years - as a caregiver, first for her mom who was paralyzed by a stroke and later died from complications of diabetes, then for her dad who, in 1994, showed symptoms of vascular dementia, and finally for her husband who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 1997 and passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012.

It was because of these experiences, especially those related to the relentless individual and societal toll of dementia that Lynda was called into advocacy for increased awareness, better treatment, prevention, and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

She and fellow advocate Kathy Siggins have mounted a national campaign for a semipostal (awareness and fundraising) stamp for Alzheimer's research and have created the Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s facebook community to further this effort.

Lynda is a board member of B.A.B.E.S. (Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science), a founding member of ActivistsAgainstAlzheimer’s, WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s, and has recently served as founder and convener to ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s. She is an editor and contributor to “Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers”, an interfaith volume with more than 140 original meditations from seventy religious leaders and care specialists representing seventeen faith traditions. She and her husband, Dr. Don Wendorf, have served as editors for the Leader’s Guide for Seasons of Caring and Treasure for Alzheimer’s, both written by Dr. Richard Morgan, a fellow Clergy Network founder and well-known author on issues of aging and caregiving. Because of her relentless advocacy, she has been recognized by Maria Shriver as a woman of influence in the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and included on Maria's "Big Wall of Empowerment”.

A retired Human Resources professional from the University of California, Lynda is determined to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's disease through public policy, increased funding for biomedical research, and recruitment of volunteers for clinical trials. Lynda is honored to speak on behalf of those with dementia and their loved ones and has addressed caregivers with her powerful message of being “The Voice: Advocating for your Loved One.” She may be contacted via the Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s facebook page, on Twitter @helpstampoutalz or by email @ ldeverman@icloud.com.


For more vetted books about Alzheimer's and dementia 
visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Release Spotlight: Annie Douglass Lima's "The Student and the Slave," Dystopian Young Adult Fiction


Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard.

The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2:


Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.
Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.



Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.

And now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!


Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!

About the Author

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima
Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

An interview with Annie Douglass Lima

What inspires you to write in this genre?

It’s just too hard to see myself writing anything other than speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.). Nonfiction and realistic fiction don’t give my imagination enough room to play!

Any more books in the series?

There probably won’t be a sequel to The Student and the Slave. However, I’ve thought about writing books (or perhaps short stories or novellas) set in the same world. They might focus on characters who’ve played a minor role in the Krillonian Chronicles trilogy, or on totally new characters. We’ll see.

Are you eclectic?

Yes, absolutely! Having lived in four countries and traveled to 21 so far, I consider myself to be a patchwork quilt of the different cultures that have shaped me. My tastes in food and clothing, and the d├ęcor in my home, reflect this combination of influences.

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!


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Friday, November 17, 2017

New Release Spotlight & Author Interview: Paul Toolan and "A View From Memory Hill," short stories




We live life forwards, but understand it backwards. Either way, it's a personal journey.

The characters in this collection are looking back into the half-shaded landscapes of memory. Most are "of a certain age", but young voices appear too, in stories uplifting and regretful, comic and sinister, poignant and optimistic.

 
Common ground is that moment of realization - eventful, fleeting or veiled - unearthed during a journey into the past. 
  • Will "Ruby, the Silver Surfer" learn to cut and paste and save?
  • Who is "Mrs. Melanie?"
  • Should "Billy the Quid" sell up?
  • Can Frank Smith cope with being an "Old Man in a Young Pub?"
  • Why is Lydia "Sleepless in Southampton?"
  • "What's in your bag, mister?" asks the small boy in "A Bag for Life."
See for yourself.  

Interview with Paul Toolan 

Where do your stories come from?

If only I received royalties every time a reader asks me this! Here, there, and everywhere is the true but unhelpful answer. In A View from Memory Hill, there's a story called Old Man, Young Pub that was triggered by seeing…an old man in a young pub!
 
I was at the Brighton Festival (Brighton, England - I used to live there) with old friends/fellow retirees. We dropped in to a wonderful, low-ceilinged pub called The Basketmakers, whose decor has barely been touched since it opened. I remember thinking we were the oldest people there, among many young and lively folk, some dressed in the trendiest fashion, some so far ahead they were next year.

It was a hot day, but as I looked around I spotted an old gentleman in a tweed jacket and tie, standing at the bar, quietly sipping his pint. All around him, bright young things were loud and full of energy. They squatted on bar stools, but no-one offered a seat to the old guy, and his legs could have used one. I wondered about his silent thoughts.

His anonymity, mine too, amongst this colorful crowd threw up a name: Smith. With the conscious germ of a story now in my head, I called him Frank Smith in hope he would eventually be frank enough to tell some sort of tale. I never spoke to this old man, but later when I sat at my keyboard, I spoke to Frank Smith, or he to me. I really don't know which came first.

What I had was a character and a setting. No plot, no events, no history. Yet. But Frank Smith traveled with me, later in the Arts Festival, to a shabby-chic little theatre where, on hard seats, we watched a trio of skilled actors on a bare, dark stage. Magically, they brought to life some of Damon Runyan's New York Prohibition stories.

Shortly after, inside that inexplicable swirl called a writer's head, two separate experiences merged. Frank Smith went to his local pub; and he went to see a play. To keep the story structure tight, I made the theatre a blacked-out room at his pub, and had him go out of sheer boredom. Frank would have liked the Damon Runyan stories, but there's insufficient conflict in what characters enjoy. I needed to change the play, to find one that Frank Smith liked less, that triggered something of his history, his demons or regrets.

On my bookshelves, I have Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works. I browsed through it. Krapp's Last Tape seemed ideal. It featured an old man's memories, recalled with the aid of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Krapp is a drinker too, which resonated with Frank. While flicking through, I revisited Rockaby, a short Beckett play featuring an old woman in a rocking chair, remembering her past. Within moments, Frank Smith had a wife.

A day or two later, I named her Lucy. Then killed her off. The story would have become a novel if I hadn't, and I wanted to balance Frank's ageing memories - of Lucy and others - with voices of youth. So along came the young woman who ushers the audience to their seats in "the long thin dark theatre" where Krapp's Last Tape is performed. Her surprise that Frank turned up at all, among so many young people, releases the demons that rumbled as Frank watched the play. Short stories need a moment of realization or change, and the clash between her enthusiasm for the play's use of the past and Frank's disturbed memories provided this.

"We've all been something," was all he managed to say. "Known someone."

The story might have ended there, but because the theme of age and youth was well-established I felt more could be done. I went back to the keyboard and jiggled the plot, making Frank inadvertently upset the "woman in black", so her young hopes and dreams could quietly confront his regrets.

"In the half-dark, she looked squarely at him, black T-shirt and jeans appraising jacket and tie. A slight twitch flickered her lips. He thought there might be tears.

'We all have dreams,' she said, in the quietest voice he'd ever heard. 'I'd rather dream than drift, any day.' She pressed her lips together to control the twitch, but it continued. 'What's wrong with having dreams?' she asked.

This exchange then allowed a more positive development in Frank, making for a more satisfying conclusion [in my view, anyway, but I'd love to hear yours too].

So, a chance observation in a pub, a visit to a play, a book on a shelf, some musings and experiments at the keyboard – and before too long there's a character's voice, a felt situation, and a set of realizations. If it was as easy as I've made it sound...
 
I drop in to a pub maybe once week. I'm wondering if I should go more often. Pubs are full of people, and where there are people, there are stories.
 
Purchase A View from Memory Hill


About the Author


Paul Toolan is a Northerner who now cheerfully admits being a southern softie living in rural Somerset in the United Kingdom. After a successful career in Colleges and Universities, he wrote book/lyrics for stage musicals, before "turning to crime."

A Killing Tree and A January Killing, the first two books in the Detective Inspector Zig Batten series, are set in the apple orchard landscape of the West of England. Look out for the third, An Easter Killing.

A View from Memory Hill, is Paul's first short story collection, exploring themes of aging, memory, and personal realization.

Like Inspector Batten, Paul enjoys walking, gardens, fishing, music and the occasional whisky. Unlike him, he enjoys sport and the taste of mushrooms, and loves travelling to sunnier climes - Greece in particular.

Connect with Paul Toolan

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Our First National Caregiver Appreciation Month eBook Sale & Giveaway, November 15-21, 15 Great Titles


November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love all caregivers bring to the task of caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, AlzAuthors is hosting an eBook sale and giveaway! This is a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to find carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them everyday.
 
Consider this from the Alzheimer’s Association:
  • In 2016, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.
  • Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older.
  • 41 percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
  • Approximately one quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Starting today through November 21st, you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books at reduced prices, ranging from free to $2.99. We offer a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s literature. Many of our books are also available in paperback and audio, so be sure to 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 more! – to help guide you on your own dementia journey.

Click on the book covers to visit the book’s Amazon.com page.

Please check all prices before purchasing. AlzAuthors is not responsible for ensuring price reductions. Please contact the author with questions. All prices are in U.S. dollars.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honoring our Vets on Veterans Day

photo by Scukrov via Dreamstime.com
Today is Veterans Day, a day when we pay tribute to those heroes who have served in our nation's military. My father, Ted Kasica, aka Bunky, served in the US Army, 82nd Airborne Division in the 1950's. He was a paratrooper stationed in Europe, specifically Austria and Germany, countries he loved. Through his service I came to respect our servicemen and women, to listen to their stories, to learn from their experiences.

As a nurse, I was often involved in their medical care, and in helping to coordinate aftercare for illness and injuries. This led me to include war veterans in two of my stories: Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story, where Jack served as a medic in World War II; and Swim Season, where Aerin's mother is an Army Reserve nurse, a Wounded Warrior, ruggling with the impacts of war in Afghanistan - a persistent blast injury, PTSD, chronic pain, opioid addiction, and depression. My attempt in this book, small as it may be, was to explore her experience, which is the experience of so many of our vets, by telling her story.  Of all my characters, she is one of my favorites.

Devon's story:

Devon was on duty in the ER at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City the day terrorists struck down the Twin Towers. This hospital, just outside Ground Zero, was the first stop for victims and recovery workers in need of medical care.  Deeply affected by the events of that day, Devon volunteered to work double shifts during the rescue and recovery effort. When the US went to war with Afghanistan, she enlisted in the Army Reserve, against her husband's wishes,  to provide care to the troops. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

New Release Spotlight:The 25 Days of Christmas Devotional



Many of us get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. One way to prevent that is to focus on the reason for the season. Taking a few minutes each day with this different kind of devotional book will help your family think of others. Each day focuses on one word and includes a story from Daniel and Holly's family, a Scripture reading with the devotional, the YouTube link to a Christmas Carol, and an activity that the entire family can be involved in.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Women's Fiction Giveaway! Grand Prize Gift Baskets of all 20 eBooks!

Prepare for winter!

As fall settles in, it's time to prep for the coming colder days and nights with lots of great ebooks. Here's a selection of 20 titles in Women's Fiction, including my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story. Take a moment to discover new authors. Maybe you'll get hooked on a new series. Enter to win 1 of 2 gift baskets holding ALL 20 books, or 1 of 20 featured ebooks! 


Win up to 20+ Women's Fiction eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks!
(20+) Winners of Individual eBooks 
(randomly selected titles)

Disclaimer: Each participating author is responsible for providing winners with prizes.