Monday, April 23, 2018

Thoughts on the 5th Birthday of My First Novel

Today I’m celebrating the 5th birthday of my first novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. These past five years have been full of opportunity, joy, and sadness as I learned how to be an independent author, an advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia awareness, and a daughter of dementia.

Blue Hydrangeas is a story very precious to me as it’s a testament to the hundreds of families I helped navigate through the dementia journey during my nursing career. Little did I know, that three years after publication, I would start living my own story and become the medical, legal, and financial representative of my stepfather, who was diagnosed with three types of dementia. 

When I wrote the book, I thought I knew a lot about the caregiver's role in dementia care. Wrong! I was humbled by my new responsibilities and frustrated by the process of managing his care and business. I don't think anyone is ever ready to step into those shoes, and in spite of my years as a nurse and case manager, as well as the years of research that went into my book, I was still ill-prepared. Without the support and understanding of the fine people at AlzAuthors I would not have come through it intact.

Blue Hydrangeas has given me many lovely gifts, including dozens of five star reviews, status as a Kindle bestseller, recognition as IndieReader Approved, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a BookWorks featured book, but the best gift was leading me to my wonderful friends Jean Lee and Vicki Tapia, also daughters of dementia. As strangers united by our books and Twitter, together we cofounded and now manage the AlzAuthors blog. This project started in 2015 as a month-long Alzheimer’s awareness campaign in June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. 

Successful from the start, it grew into a weekly blog featuring vetted books on dementia and caregiving - almost 150 books and their authors to date! -  and is scheduled five months ahead. And three additional daughters of dementia have joined our team, admins Kathryn Harrison and Ann Campanella, and Special Projects coordinator, Jay Artale. 

We soon ventured beyond our little blog, and are partnered with the September 2018 Alzheimer's and Dementia Friendly Cruise and Conference to Alaska, with Holland America Cruise Lines, and are currently working on our first AlzAuthors Anthology, featuring authors from our first year, 2016-2017. We maintain an active presence on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads. 

None of this would be possible without the support and help of our dedicated and hardworking admins and authors, who retweet, post, share, and pin for us regularly. Together we have become a positive force in the Alzheimer's and dementia community, helping caregivers to find the knowledge and tools they need to manage their daily lives.

When I published Blue Hydrangeas in 2013,  I had no idea it would take me on such a meaningful journey, not only allowing me to share my Alzheimer's story but to make beautiful friends, bound together in pursuit of an often overlooked but necessary mission. 

After publication, when I opened the subject of Alzheimer's to new acquaintances, most were not familiar with the disease, but years later I rarely talk to anyone who has not had someone they love affected by it. This is a sobering and alarming reality, but also speaks to the removal of the stigma that once constrained people from sharing their stories. An open dialogue is necessary to educate the public and caregivers about this and other dementia diseases, and the resources that are available to help those affected live productive, enjoyable, and meaningful lives.

Blue Hydrangeas is more than just a book, a novel, a story. It’s changed my life, and has helped me make an impact in the lives of many others. 

That above all makes it my greatest achievement and joy.

Available in paperback, Kindle and audiobook on Amazon.

1 comment:

awcamp said...

What a wonderful post about your journey! Happy birthday, Blue Hydrangeas!