Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Release Spotlight: Meg Dendler's "At the Corner of Magnetic and Main"

Today I'm pleased to tell you about a new novel by fellow Clean Indie Reads author Meg Dendler. Meg is a best-selling, award-winning children's author and former teacher who recently debuted her first full-length adult novel, At the Corner of Magnetic and Main. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing Meg! Here's what you need to know about Meg's book:

It's hard to get on with your life
when you're already dead.
Penny had been stuck in the same diner for decades—ever since she died in 1952. Her diner was comfortable and safe. Serving ice cream to those who dropped in on their way to the next level of existence, she helped to ease their transition into The Light, the one place she can't go. Her afterlife was perfect. 

But when the ridiculously handsome, bad-boy biker Jake Thatcher shows up and becomes stuck as well, Penny rediscovers feelings that she thought had been buried with her body.

Life is still life, and love is still love. But was her existence really perfect, or was it something else entirely?

About the Author

Meg Dendler has considered herself a writer since she won a picture book contest in fifth grade and entertained her classmates with ongoing sequels for the rest of the year. Beginning serious work as a freelancer in the '90s while teaching elementary and middle school, Meg has over one hundred articles in print, including interviews with Kirk Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. She has won contests with her short stories and poetry, along with multiple international awards for her best-selling Cats in the Mirror alien rescue cat children's book series. At the Corner of Magnetic and Main is her first adult novel, but it won't be her last. Meg and her family (including four cats and her dog, Max) live at 1,400 feet in the Ozark Mountains on what they call Serenity Mountain, just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  

Purchase At the Corner of Magnetic and Main 
Amazon Author Page
Connect with Meg Dendler

Monday, October 26, 2015

What if it's Alzheimer's? Quit Worrying and Get a Memory Check During National Memory Screening Week.

photo by kentoh via Dollar Photo Club

I'm writing today as one of the forgotten, one of those left behind in the fog of Alzheimer's disease that took over someone I loved.

The first time this happened was in the late 1980's, when, as a 20-something, I didn't know much about this disease and didn't understand why Auntie Gilda had to live in a  nursing home and didn't recognize me when I came to call. She was my mother's oldest sister by 15 years, more like the grandmother I never had than an aunt, who coddled me as a child and expressed great joy when I took the time to visit her as  a young adult.

Heartbroken is too weak of a word to describe how I felt when she looked right through me as I took her hands and said hello in the crowded corridor of the dementia ward.

She was not the first aunt to forget me, and not the last, and my story is not unique as I am among the millions of people who have been left behind by parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, and in some cases children who are afflicted with Alzheimer's and other dementias.

This is a disease shrouded in hopelessness, where little can be done to cure, prevent, or stall its progression.

It's a primary concern of the elderly: Will I get Alzheimer's? My mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother had it. Am I next?

It's a worry of those with aging parents: Mom seems forgetful. Is it Alzheimer's?

When memory problems surface, even simple problems like searching for familiar words, forgetting an acquaintance's name, misplacing the car keys again, the thought train that maybe it's Alzheimer's starts roaring down the tracks.

All of this is usually needless worry as many of these behaviors are normal, natural, and no cause for concern. They could be symptoms of a medical problem unrelated to any dementia. Still, some of us stay up nights worrying: What if it's Alzheimer's?

Which is why it's important to include a memory check as part of your annual physical. Healthcare providers recommend routine screenings for a variety of conditions: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancers such as skin, colorectal, breast and prostate. A memory check is another exam you should do annually, to make sure your cognitive function is intact.

November 1-7 is National Memory Screening Week, and  a great time to not only perform this check for yourself but for your loved ones, especially your elders, who may be experiencing cognitive decline. Memory screenings are for those concerned about memory loss or those experiencing warning signs of cognitive decline, whether or not there is a family history of dementia or Alzheimer's. If friends or family are making comments about your mental acuity, a screening may be beneficial, whether you take one at your physician's office, your local senior center, or at home. 

If you’re asking yourself any of the following questions, it’s time for a screening:
  • Am I becoming more forgetful?
  • Do I have trouble concentrating?
  • Do I have difficulty performing familiar tasks?
  • Do I have trouble recalling words or names in conversation?
  • Do I sometimes forget where I am or where I am going?
  • Have family or friends told me that I am repeating questions or repeating myself?
  • Am I misplacing things more often?
  • Have I become lost when walking or driving?
  • Have my family or friends noticed changes in my mood, behavior, personality, or desire to do things?
Early diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of memory impairment, as many conditions are reversible. But without proper medical care, situations can escalate and lead to serious decline or other conditions that may adversely impact one's health.

Your healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant) can administer a screening test, and many community organizations do so through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Self-administered at-home tests are another option. These tests take only minutes and may help determine if further investigation is needed. However, these tests should never be a substitute for a professional medical evaluation if one suspects cognitive impairment or decline. Proper medical evaluation of potential memory issues includes a consultation with a physician, a complete physical exam, a thorough review of health history, and diagnostic tests.

At the very least, simple at-home screening tests can open up dialogue, and introduce important discussions about what can happen if dementia or Alzheimer's strikes, and how individuals prefer to be treated if it does.

Schedule a memory screening test with your healthcare provider this week, or visit Community Memory Screening and Awareness-Raising Education: The Road to Early Detection and Care (AFA C.A.R.E.S.) to find a local screening center in your community.
Some popular memory tests are:
Talking about memory issues and Alzheimer's can be difficult. One way to open a discussion is through reading. Here are five titles, including my own, that can help start a conversation about memory concerns:
Alzheimer's Daughter, Jean Lee
On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's, Greg O'Brien
Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, Vicki Tapia
What Flowers Remember, Shannon Wiersbitzky
Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story, Marianne Sciucco

Additional Resources:
The Alzheimer's Association

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Latest Adventure: My First Book Club Meeting as the "Read" Author

Today I visited Belle Reve Senior Living Center in Milford, Pennsylvania to drop off a box of books for their book club. A few weeks ago they invited me to speak to the club and ordered books. They took out this advertisement and it was published in two local magazines.

It all came about when I saw an ad in the paper for an Alz event they were presenting. On a lark I called and told them about my book. I offered a copy and the marketing director accepted. She loved it and now this is happening. 

I am so excited to meet personally with a group that has read my book. These are not residents of Belle Reve or their family members; these readers are from the local community who come to the center to participate in the book club. 

So, as they say in the New York Lottery, "Hey, ya never know!"

I always advise my students and fellow authors to leave the shyness behind and ask for what you want, not easy, I know. The worst that can happen is you'll hear a "No." So what? Sometimes you get a "Yes!" and it's worth all the "No's" and then some.

This program will take place on November 6, at the end of National Memory Screening Week and the start of National Caregiver Appreciation Month. I am working with four other authors of Alzheimer's books to bring awareness to these two events. Stay tuned for valuable information, interviews, and special offers and follow #AlzAuthors. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Cover Reveal!

Blue Hydrangeas 

by Marianne Sciucco

Cover design by Perry Elisabeth

I'm so excited to present the new cover for Blue Hydrangeas! The previous cover was lovely, if I do say so myself, I created it. Many people have told me it's beautiful  and that it  motivated them to pick up the book. But unfortunately, not enough of them, so after two years I thought it was time for an update. This time I hired professional cover designer Perry Elisabeth to help. Don't you just love the couple in the photo? They represent Jack and Sara so well, especially with her snowy white hair. He's gazing at her with such love, and she's looking back at him with a touch of confusion, don't you think? As though she's a little unsure of who they are and what they are doing. The beach in the background says Cape Cod loud and clear. Also perfect. And the hydrangeas at the bottom pull it all together. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment. Then enter my Goodreads giveaway to win a copy with the pretty new cover. Ends October 19th.

Reader comments on Blue Hydrangeas:
  • Heartbreakingly beautiful.
  • I felt drawn to Jack and Sara from page one and find myself wondering about them even now.
  • The book is very well-written and believable.
  • A heartfelt tender story that is entertaining and emotionally gripping!
  • A real page turner and it gives you insights of the daily life events living with this crushing disease called Alzheimer’s.
  • While not a "happily ever after" love story, Blue Hydrangeas is sure to be one you will ponder for some time after you have finished reading it.
Purchase Blue Hydrangeas in ebook, paperback, and audiobook

Connect with Perry Elisabeth

Monday, October 5, 2015

For Your Listening Pleasure: Short Read "Ino's Love" Now Available as Audiobook

I adore audiobooks, so naturally I want other audiobook lovers to be able to listen to my stories. This summer I teamed up with veteran television reporter and co-anchor Terry Murphy to bring my short story Ino’s Love to life. Terry is best known for her nine years (1990–1998) anchoring the tabloid show Hard Copy and, since 2003, reporting for the entertainment show Extra.   She has done a fantastic job with Ino's Love and I can't wait to hear what readers have to say. (Read on for my interview with Terry.)

Why turn a short story into a 28-minute audiobook?

Short stories are enjoying a resurgence these days as more and more people have instant access to books, including audiobooks, on their smart phones. Shorter reads are easier to digest; a reader can finish a story and experience a sense of resolution in a matter of minutes. And audiobooks make this even more convenient because they’re hands-free. I love listening to a great audiobook while I’m driving, cooking, and cleaning house, even when I’m lounging in the pool. Others do too. So making all of my books and stories into audiobooks is part of my marketing plan.

Of all of the stories I’ve written, Ino’s Love is one of my favorites. I absolutely loved writing it. I don’t remember what inspired me to create the characters of Ino and Ruby, but it must have been work-related because I was working as a hospital case manager at the time. My days were filled with helping patients (and their families) find ways to remain comfortable and cared for at home when faced with long-term illness or disability.

This story displays the love that can exist between caregiver and client. There may be a few questionable actions on the part of Ino and Ruby (no spoilers!), but it’s the love between them that stays with the reader.

Ino’s Love was originally published in Kaleidoscope magazine, 2009. You can listen to a sample of the audiobook here.


Ino prepares a Christmas feast for her successful CEO son, but when he's too busy to spend the holiday with his mother, she shares her dinner and gifts with her home health aide. Sometimes, the people who love us best are not family.

Interview with narrator/producer Terry Murphy

photo provided by Terry Murphy

What is it about Ino’s Love that motivated you to audition for the role of producer/narrator?

“Ino’s Love really touched my heart. Sadly today, so many adults either ignore or forget about their parents. And as I’ve gotten older, I realize it’s the little things from my sons that make me the happiest now. Ino also beautifully illustrates how simple gestures from a stranger can bring such joy to a senior citizen’s life.”

Were there any challenges to preparing for or performing this role?

“The biggest challenge for me was trying to capture Ino’s personality in my voice. And it was equally difficult alternating between Ruby and Ino’s ages. Ino’s Love was my first fiction recording, and I am very proud of my collaboration with you.”

Thank you, Terry. I'm pleased to be working with someone with such a highly visible and respected position in television. Please tell us about your background.

“My career in television news began at WKRC in Cincinnati, first as a reporter and then as one of the first anchor women in Ohio. After anchor positions in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, I was selected to in 1989 to co-anchor Hard Copy, Paramount Studio’s nationally syndicated and very successful tabloid show. Before my retirement last year, I worked as Senior Producer on Warner Brothers nationally syndicated entertainment show, EXTRA, starring Mario Lopez. I was blessed with a national daytime Emmy Award for my work in 2014.”

How did you get started in audiobook production/narration?

“When I retired from the entertainment business and moved back from Los Angeles to my hometown of Columbus Ohio, I realized I still had something to offer, namely my voice!  So my husband built me an audio booth in our basement, I invested in some high end equipment, and began working with a voice coach to add more variety to my tone. He suggested auditioning for audiobooks, and the rest is history.”

What other books have you narrated?

“All of the other books I’ve narrated are non-fiction works, including one on how to control mood swings, and another on the burgeoning marijuana dispensary business across the country.”

How has the market for audiobooks changed over the course of your media career?

“The market for audiobooks is growing by leaps and bounds.  More people are traveling further distances to and from work, and desire to listen to something more engaging than a top forty or all-news radio station.”

If you could produce/narrate any book in or out of print which would it be?

The Magnificent Ambersons is one of my all-time favorite books, and is at the top of my list.”

What advice do you have for authors who would like to market their books in audio?

“My advice to authors is, if you don’t have a broadcast quality voice, put your ego aside and hire a professional.”

What would you tell those who are embarking or wish to embark on a career as a producer/narrator for audiobooks?

“To all aspiring narrators I would remind them to be prepared to spend many long hours recording and editing, but the end result is a very rewarding career.  Also, begin listening to voice actors on television and radio, spend money for the best equipment, and invest in a professional coach. And most importantly, don’t take rejection personally. You may not be right for one project, but perfect for another!”

What was the best job you ever had?

“Definitely Hard Copy was my favorite job.  It thrust me into the national spotlight, and we covered several major stories, including the trials of Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson.”


over design by Jorge Vidals

Since its publication as an ebook on Kindle in December 2013, Ino’s Love has been steadily gaining great reviews and is rated 4.9 stars on Amazon. Here’s what a few readers had to say:

“The author packs so much into so little space. This is what a short story should be.”

“Such a tender story of love, receiving love; reminding us again that it's not the "things" in our lives that are important, but the relationships.”

“A great writer can make you fall in love with a character quickly. Ms. Sciucco proves to be such a writer with this short story.”

“All I had left when the tale ended was the question: ‘Why isn't this included in the full disclosure for new home health aides?’ Because it is such a delightful short read, and yet it depicts just how important these people are to the patients they serve.”

Purchase Ino’s Love

Ino’s Love in audiobook is available on Amazon for $3.46, and on Audible and iTunes for $3.95. It’s also available as a Kindle book for $.99, and is free on Kindle Unlimited.
Connect with Marianne Sciucco