Wednesday, June 20, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Meet Ann Balcom, Blogger and Author of "The Blue Velvet Drape - Dealing with Dementia"


By Anne F. Balcom

Mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2006. From the moment my parents told my sister and me the news I began losing sleep, a lot of sleep. The worry of “How were we going to get through this?” was eating me up. I would lie in bed at night for hours thinking and crying while my husband and kids were sleeping.

After many sleepless nights, I began getting out of bed in the middle of the night, going to the living room and jotting down my thoughts in a journal. I had so many thoughts and concerns that I could not write as fast as my thoughts were coming, so I began to type them. I would print out what I typed and tape it into my journal.

After a while I began wondering if other people who were co-caregivers of family members with dementia were feeling the same as me. I had so many emotions…fear, worry, anger, frustration, and I wrote about it all. ALL of the ugly stuff.


I decided to create a blog. I didn’t really care if anyone read it or not, but I thought it would be a good way to keep family and friends of family current with Mom’s condition, so Dad, my sister and I wouldn’t have to keep retelling what was going on. This is how Dealing with Dementia was born. After Mom passed away, I changed the name to The Blue Velvet Drape: Dealing with Dementia. It truly is my journal.

For years, my father, aunt and I attended monthly support group meetings for family members caring for loved ones with dementia. At one of those meetings, Dad mentioned that I had started keeping a blog of our dementia experiences. The moderator of our support group asked for the link, so she and others could read it.

Months went by, and after she had read my blog she encouraged me to keep writing as she felt it was a good resource for others who were also caregivers. Later she encouraged me to publish my blog. “Oh my gosh”, I thought. “Who would want to buy a book about my family?” I am not a writer by any means; my blog is full of misspelled words and grammatical errors. Regardless, people kept reading, relating and encouraging me about the book. Eventually, my blog reached more than 20,000 views across 12 different countries.

It was 9-10 years before I actually bit the bullet and self-published a book in February 2017. My book IS my blog. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s mine and my family’s experience.

My hope for my book is that it is helpful to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You cannot do it alone.

Blog Feedback

When thinking of closing my blog after Mom passed away:

Anne,

Take it for someone who has been in your shoes, writing might be the exact thing you need right now. I found it very therapeutic after my father died. Once a caregiver, always a caregiver; your journey is not over yet. You will find that this campaign will stick with you for quite a while. Write about the after affects you go through, it’s important that others learn from your experiences. There’s a course of recovery that every caregiver should know about. 
Stay strong my friend and share your wisdom with others. - Gary Joseph LeBlanc, author of  Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness

I have referred a friend of mine to your blog two weeks ago. She needed a source to learn how to deal with things. I'm glad you are keeping this blog. Even though I haven't dealt with this, it's still therapeutic in other ways. –Amy


Don't close it, Anne...you may need to come back to it someday and it may be that you will want to share this with your children. And like you said, you aren't finished...take it slow and don't rush anything right now...I have enjoyed it, although I never commented. I learned a lot, and I appreciate you and how wonderful a daughter you were to your mother. What an inspiration you are. Loving you Anne! <3 Kim

Feedback on Amazon

"A wonderful book of the daily trials that families face when dealing with dementia. Book offers insight/guidance on how to deal with situations. A must read!" -arrky66

Purchase The Blue Velvet Drape

About the Author

Ann Balcom and her mom
Anne F. Balcom was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She attended Western Kentucky University from 1984-1988. While she did not graduate from WKU, she later attended the Interior Design Institute at Sullivan College in Louisville getting her Associates of Applied Science degree in Interior Design in 1997. In 2000, she married David, the love of her life. They began growing their family in 2001 with the birth of their daughter, Emma. Their son, Wade came along in 2003. A stay-at-home mom for 12 years, she returned to the fulltime work force in 2013 working for Jefferson County Public Schools as an attendance clerk in an elementary school. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as watching her daughter play soccer and her son run cross country. She has recently started taking painting classes at a locally owned art studio.

Connect with Ann Balcom

Instagram: dealingwithdementiablog


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Lisa Wingate, author of "Tending Roses"


By Lisa Wingate

The Gap

In every story I write, there are bits of real life, nibblets of sheer invention and sprinkles of serendipity. Readers often ask me which parts are which. Sometimes, it’s hard to dissect. Our way of looking at the world comes from our experiences in it. Our passions, the things we care about enough to examine, do as well. I’ve talked about caretaking and the Alzheimer’s journey quite a bit in my books. It’s an issue I know intimately. 

My first novel, Tending Roses, was in part walking that path with my grandmother. She was a storyteller, a keeper of stories. She could wear you out with her stories, but they always came with a lesson at the end. And then, the stories, one-by-one, piece-by-piece, faded away. The newest ones vanished first. It’s a bittersweet journey, the road of memory loss. My straight-laced, sometimes overbearing grandmother lost some of her inhibitions as she lost those stories. There were funny times, tender times, funny things she said that made us laugh until we cried.

There were times we just cried. When laughter seemed an impossible luxury.

Lisa's Grandma Rose
It’s difficult, being with a loved one who is physically able but fading mentally. It’s often a lonely occupation, a painful one. Even friends and family members who would like to help frequently don’t know how to contribute. My hope is that my stories build bridges and create dialogue between primary caretakers and  surrounding friends and family members. Just a few hours out of the house, while a friend or family member takes over the duties, can be an incredible gift.

There’s something to learn from the journey of memory loss, I think. Just like my grandmother’s stories, all journeys come with lessons. Preserve the family stories while you can—that’s the first lesson. Listen. Hear. Record. Write down. Be patient. These are treasures. They’re worth your effort. Later, you’ll be glad you took the time. I could fill a dozen shoeboxes if I had a nickel for every time a reader has said to me, I wish we’d gotten the stories down when we had the chance. Now it’s too late.

Those are the saddest words. I hate those words.

Another lesson from the Alzheimer’s journey — it’s hard. Most of us go through life watching heroic acts on the news and wondering if we’d have what it takes to do the right thing, to do the hard thing. To be heroic ourselves. It’s important to remember that true heroism doesn’t manifest itself only in those who run into burning buildings or cross battlefields to save the wounded. Heroism exists in quieter forms, in entirely unremarkable places, in everyday efforts and little battles. It’s found in those who sacrifice day after day, who love someone who can’t always demonstrate love in return. Someone who can be frustrating, frustrated, sad, confused, unfamiliar, repetitive. Who can’t say, I love you. Thank you for doing this for me. Don’t leave me. I need you.

Caretakers are heroes. Straight up. They stand in the gap between this disease and its victims.

I look forward to the day when they’ll no longer be needed.

Copyright 2018 Wingate Media, LLC

Purchase Tending Roses

About the Author

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and New York Times Bestselling Author of thirty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, The Carol Award, and the Christy Award. Her blockbuster hit, Before We Were Yours remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over ten months, was Publishers Weekly’s #3 longest running bestseller of 2017, and was voted by readers as the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award winner for historical fiction. Before We Were Yours has been a book club favorite worldwide and to date has sold over one million copies.



Connect with Lisa Wingate



Friday, June 8, 2018

New Release Spotlight: Lia London's " A Bid for Love," a Romantic Comedy


 He got way more than he bid for ...

Ladies' man and mid-tier model, Crawford Andrews has a hunkalicous reputation to uphold. That means working out and making out but making no commitments.

Philanthropic (and very chaste) heiress Maris Conway would rather be passing out warm rolls and words of encouragement than working in her father's swanky real estate development company, but it's hard to be generous without a lot of money and connections.

When Crawford and Maris meet during a publicity photo shoot, they decide to attend a charity auction together. Crawford bids on a romantic getaway using both of their names, hoping to score points with Maris for helping to drive up the auction prices for her pet fundraiser. When they accidentally win, he gets much more than he ever imagined.

Self-absorbed meets selfless sweetness, and both find room to grow in this romantic comedy set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest


About the Author

Lia London was born in Oregon and raised all over (including 3 years in Europe). She earned two degrees from Western Oregon University. Upon graduation, she served for 18 months as a missionary in Guatemala, teaching cholera prevention, literacy, and gospel messages. She worked as a high school teacher and ESL instructor for college students for a few years before becoming a stay-at-home mom and launching her writing career.

London currently plays the organ and teaches a children's Sunday School class at her church, and volunteers in a martial arts studio, working with foster children. She also is the founder and chief administrator of a network called Clean Indie Reads, an organization of over 3300 authors, illustrators, and marketing specialists who work in the independent publishing industry. She loves milk chocolate, extra-cheesy pizza and cuddling with her cute dog to watch old Star Trek (all versions) episodes on Amazon Prime.

Connect with Lia London

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Our 3rd Anniversary and Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month Book Sale, Giveaway, and Raffle


It's Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and AlzAuthors is celebrating its THIRD ANNIVERSARY! To celebrate this achievement, and in support of those living with Alzheimer's and other dementias, we have put together a book sale and giveaway, and a raffle, where one lucky winner will win a collection of 14 books from our authors.

Starting today through June 12 you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books at reduced prices or FREE. We offer a variety of genres, from fiction, children's, memoir, and non-fiction in digital, paperback/hardback, and audiobooks. 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. And they make great gifts!



Friday, June 1, 2018

New Release Spotlight: "The Nameless Soldier," a Young Adult Fantasy by Annie Douglass Lima

 The Nameless Soldier
The Nameless Soldier is book 4 in the Annals of Alasia young adult fantasy series. Haven't read all (or any) of the others? That's okay! The books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.



Blurb:

What do you do when you’re the only survivor?

Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom.

Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?


Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. Not sure if you'll like the story or not? Take a look at the first chapter and see!


Chapter One

Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”

Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”

“I heard something. Someone shouting.”

“It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.

A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies.

Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.

They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.

And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.

Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.

Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.

Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee.

He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him.

Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backward, jarring his already sore wrist.

Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.

He saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly.

If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!

He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.

Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.

He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.

***

Want to know what happens to Tarvic? Click here to purchase the book and find out!


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 seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five 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


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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Wendy Mitchell and "Somebody I Used to Know," on Living with Young Onset Dementia





By Wendy Mitchell

My name is Wendy Mitchell and I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014. Who would have thought, on that day of diagnosis, over 3 years ago, that I would now be publishing a book, Somebody I Used to Know? But, on the other hand, why not?

When people hear the word dementia, they often think of the end stages. Well, it has to have a beginning and a middle and I’m someone heading for 4 years into living with the condition. We all had talents before a diagnosis, we don’t suddenly lose all those talents overnight the day we receive that diagnosis. We simply have to adapt them to use in different ways, and with support can often achieve something remarkable.

I wanted to write this book to show people how there is a life to be lived after a devastating diagnosis. Yes, mine was of dementia, but it could apply to any crisis or life changing moment. I wanted to show that with the right positive attitude and support, you can adapt and live a good, if not different, life. So yes, my book should be read by everyone who is affected by dementia or healthcare professionals in the field, but moreover, it should be read by anyone to show them how living in the moment can enhance anyone’s life.

The feedback since the publication of my book in the UK has been overwhelming and humbling. Many people have been touched by my openness. I used to be an extremely private person, but was so shocked at the lack of awareness and lack of understanding that I’ll now shout from the rooftops at every opportunity. My book has enabled me to reach so many more people. Family members have often told me how they’re ashamed to admit their loved one has dementia. My response is to say, “we have a complex brain disease, why on earth should anyone be ashamed?” No one should have to face dementia on their own, least of all through shame or stigma.

I often write of outwitting and outmaneuvering dementia, almost relishing the challenge of the fight. People so often dwell on the losses, on what the future may hold, or on the negatives. Why not instead concentrate on what you CAN still do or what you CAN do, if only differently than before.

Moreover, why dwell on the future? We have no control over what dementia will strip away from us in the future, so why dwell on the matter? Instead, focus on enjoying what you have today. The future will come soon enough and a day spent regretting and in sadness is a day of happiness wasted. I hope you gain knowledge about dementia, but also knowledge about life from reading my book, Somebody I Used to Know.

About the Author

Wendy Mitchell at her home in York. 2015
I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014 at the age of 58 years young. I might not have much of a short-term memory but that’s one date I’ll never forget.

I have 2 daughters and live happily in Yorkshire. I retired early from the NHS, having worked as a non-clinical team leader for 20 years. Post diagnosis, I was shocked by the lack of awareness, both in the community and clinical world, so I now spend all my time travelling around the country raising awareness and encouraging others to embrace my passion for research.

Connect with Wendy Mitchell

Twitter: @WendyPMitchell



Monday, May 28, 2018

New Release Spotlight: The Tick-tock Between You and Me, A Canterbury Romance (Canterbury Romance Series Book 1) by Kristy Tate

Darby thought she had love all figured out
 until she heard the tick-tock of a clock

Darby Elliott thinks she’s in love with her long-distance boyfriend until he arrives on her doorstep. Now, she’s not so sure about him or how to get her car and money back. Which is embarrassing, because she’s a hot-shot accountant and money isn’t supposed to slip through her fingers... or into her boyfriend’s wallet.

Chad George and his girlfriend, Jessica have been together since they were kids. The trouble is, Jessica thinks Chad should convert his grandfather’s dying horse ranch into a cosmetic surgery recovery spa, and Chad thinks his grandfather should maintain the ranch as he wishes.

When Chad’s grandfather hires Darby, she discovers the ranch is full of untapped potential and hidden treasures including a clock that only seems to tick when she and Chad are together. Does the clock have a hidden message? Can Darby and Chad save the ranch before time runs out?

USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate returns with another clean and wholesome romance that will be sure to warm the hearts of Hallmark movie fans. If you like sweet romances with a touch of magical realism, be sure and pick up your copy of The Tick-tock Between You and Me today. You'll never look at your clock the same way again.

Excerpt from CHAPTER 1

Modern Day
Los Angeles International Airport

Darby stood in the line snaking its way toward the crowded Starbuck’s counter. She shivered, but this had more to do with nerves and anticipation than the over-zealous air-conditioning or her lack of caffeine. She glanced at the board announcing the arriving flights and consulted her watch.

Benjamin’s plane had been delayed. Again. She tried to wrap her head around this. After all, it was August, not the dead of winter when one might expect turbulent weather. Of course, he was flying from London—and when she had flown from London to L.A., her flight path had gone over the North Pole, where rotten weather was sure to happen. She needed to be patient, but she was tired of being patient. Other than on FaceTime or social media, she hadn’t seen Benjamin in three whole months.

Not that she had known him for much longer.

A sudden splash of burning hot wetness pulled Darby’s thoughts away from Benjamin. “Ow!” she pulled her blouse away from her chest and stared at the brown stain spreading like a fungus.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” A man with large hands grabbed a handful of napkins from the dispenser on a nearby table and tried to pat her chest.

She flinched away from him and noticed his face for the first time. Aside from his embarrassed and apologetic expression, he was incredibly gorgeous, like a young Paul Newman—blond, blue-eyed, rugged and weathered as if he spent a good deal of time outside. He was almost as good looking as Benjamin, but in a completely different way. But of course, Benjamin was a model and an actor who made a living with his beauty. This man was a silky-blouse-staining moron.

“It’s okay,” Darby said, even though it obviously wasn’t because the coffee was burning hot, her blouse was probably going to be ruined, and, worst of all, she’d now have to welcome Benjamin to L.A. with a giant brown spot on her shirt. She moved away from his clumsiness and wads of napkins.

“Oh no, I can tell you’re upset.” He shook the coffee off his own hands, making her realize he’d burned himself as well. 

“Let me pay for your dry -cleaning, at least.”

“No, don’t be silly,” she said, edging away from him, which wasn’t easy to do because of the crowd. Most people were ignoring them, but a few watched with open curiosity, waiting to see her response. Darby gulped back her frustration, mostly because she didn’t want to make a scene, but also because the man was cute and remorseful—a little like a puppy who knows his paws are too big.

“How about I buy you lunch?” he said.

Darby glanced at the board, noting that Benjamin’s flight had been delayed another hour. “Okay,” she agreed, tempted by a free lunch…and the handsome man.


About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate--writing her own happily-ever-after one day (and sentence) at a time.

She's the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling and award-winning Beyond Series and the Kindle Scout winning Witch Ways series. She writes mysteries with romance, humorous romance, light-hearted young adult romance, and urban fantasy.

When she's not reading, writing, or traveling, she can be found playing games with her family, hiking with her dogs, or watching movies while eating brownies.

She is also a popular public speaker and presents writing workshops for schools, libraries, and fundraisers. References available upon request.