Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today's Guest: LDS Women's Fiction Author Maria Hoagland

My guest today is Maria Hoagland, writer of LDS Women's Fiction and author of three novels: Still Time, Nourish & Strengthen, and Family Size, medical fiction with a twist. As soon as I learned Maria had written an Alzheimer's story I had to read it. Maria’s novel, Still Time, published by Sisters Ink, Inc. last July, is an insightful novel that sheds light on the plight of "the sandwich generation,” those among us working, raising children, and caring for a parent (or parents!) with Alzheimer's disease or other serious health concerns. Alyssa and her family relocate a thousand miles to take care of her recently widowed mother-in-law suffering with dementia. The family juggles many issues familiar to most of us: kids in high school, middle school, or church service, all with their own difficulties and frustrations; relocation and the changes inherent, including a new house, community, church, and employment; an aging, ill parent; and siblings unable or unwilling to share in the care of that parent. Ruth, her m-i-l, is uncooperative bordering on abusive, unaware of her condition and not sure why her son and his family are now living in her house or if she even wants them there. The characters are multidimensional, the dialogue and subplots believable, and the writing clear and uncluttered. Well done. I also learned a lot about the Mormon Church, which I haven't had much exposure to.  Still Time is an excellent read for anyone curious about Alzheimer’s or seeking validation of his or her role as caregiver. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing, Maria! Please tell us more about Still Time.

Thanks for hosting me, Marianne. Still Time is a deeply moving story about a woman’s faithful journey into the next phase of her life. Thrust into the chaos of her mother-in-law’s hoarding and forgetfulness, LDS church member Alyssa Johnston wishes she could retreat to a simpler time when her kids were small and almost anything could be fixed with a hug. But reassurance and a quick distraction no longer erase the pain of a missionary son who is struggling, a young teen who is bullied, or a daughter who is distant. As Aly’s own life and relationship with her husband plunge out of control, she wonders if her faith will be enough to keep her family—or herself—from falling apart. You will laugh with Aly, feel her sorrow, and see yourself in this realistic, heartfelt portrayal of a woman’s struggle to keep her family safe and hold back time as long as she can.
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Writing is a never ending job. How do you relax? Sports? Hobbies? TV? Books?
Of course, reading is the ultimate relaxation for me. My favorite places to do that are in a big bubble bath or by our neighborhood pond under the willow tree. I definitely prefer movies (especially chick flicks) over TV shows (but I do like crime shows)—and pretty much anything with a plot supersedes things without (ESPN and reality shows). As for hobbies—I would ask if cooking dinner counted, but since I don’t actually like doing that, I’ll have to come up with another one. How about spending time with my husband, supporting my kids, running occasionally, and redecorating houses?

What inspires you? Photos? Music? Nature?
I’d have to say photographs, more than music, get me going. And yes, I do share them. You can find my inspiration boards on Pinterest for each of my books. I keep them private while I’m writing, but then make them public after I release the book. I think they’re fun because you can see some of the things I mention and get a feel for what was important to me while writing it. In fact, here’s a link to my inspiration board for Still Time.

I know a lot of authors have cats, including myself.  What about you? Who’s your muse?
I have a cat, Zucchini, who loves to sit on my desk while I write. In fact, my husband and I had to switch desks so that I could have the bigger one to share with Zuch. He has a bad habit of typing for me, especially if I leave my desk unattended for any length of time, and he pushes everything else over the side of the desk! But at least he leaves enough room for me. Usually.

About the Author
When Maria is not writing, she can be found walking barefoot in soft grass, remodeling houses with her husband, and enjoying campfires with their three children. She loves crunching leaves in the fall, stealing cookie dough from the mixing bowl, and listening to musicals on her iPod. Maria earned her degree at Brigham Young University, and although she adores mountain

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