Meet Lisa Wingate, author of “Tending Roses”

Reprinted with permission from AlzAuthors.com

The Gap

By Lisa Wingate

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.

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

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.

Lisa’s website: www.Lisawingate.com

Twitter:   http://twitter.com/#!/lisawingate

 Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LisaWingateAuthorPage?ref=br_tf

 Pinterest:  https://pinterest.com/lisawingatebook/

 Lisa’s blog: http://theuntoldstory.guru

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Meet Marianne Sciucco, AlzAuthors Admin and Author of “Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s Love Story”

Reprinted with permission from AlzAuthors.com

By Marianne Sciucco

Writing a book about Alzheimer’s was not something I planned to do when I sat down to write my first novel. It was a lifelong dream to one day write a book, but I had something else in mind when I started typing. That story was going nowhere when I met the captivating couple that inspired me to write Blue Hydrangeas,an Alzheimer’s love story.

She was a beautiful 86-year old who was very confused when I, her case manager, met with her regarding her discharge plan from the hospital. “I’m so mixed up,” she said multiple times, while her frail but dedicated husband sat beside her with a bemused smile. How had these two driven from Florida to New York on their own without any mishap?I wondered, as I reviewed her plan, which was to go to a nursing home for rehabilitation of a pelvic fracture. Seems she had a fall once they arrived at their New York home.

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Their son was present and asked me to make sure his parents not leave the hospital without him the following day, as he planned to accompany them to the nursing home to take care of paperwork and business. I assured him that would not happen and left, spending the next few hours pondering what wouldhappen if they left the hospital without their son. Where would they go? What would they do? These questions became the foundation of my novel. I ditched the story I was working on and started writing Blue Hydrangeasright away. Eighteen months later, I had a complete manuscript.

When a writer falls in love with her story and characters magic happens. I easily stepped into the shoes of Jack and Sara, inspired by the hundreds of couples I helped navigate through their dementia journeys in my role as nurse and case manager. I chose Cape Cod as the setting because it’s my home in my heart, and built them a beautiful bed and breakfast called Blue Hydrangeas because of the gorgeous, fluffy blue flowers all over the Cape. I wrote and rewrote the moving scenes where Sara is at the worst of her Alzheimer’s, and the best. At all times, I infused the story with the deep love and dedication Jack had for his wife, even though nine years of relentless caregiving was affecting his own health.

I put my heart into this story because it was the story of many others living with dementia, and it was important, imperative, that their stories be told in a way that readers could relate to. It was not meant to be a how-to guide filled with advice from a clinical professional. It’s heartfelt and warm. Grab the tissues because you’ll most likely shed a few tears. Readers have written to me personally and posted reviews on Amazon that the story has touched and inspired them, validated their own experiences, and in some cases provided relief. “This story is my story too,” one wrote. Another said, “It was what I needed to let the grief release.”

My personal background with the disease when I wrote the book included my patients and their families, as well as three beloved aunts who succumbed to the disease. I was an observer in these interactions, not responsible for any of these people or the important and heart-wrenching decisions that needed to be made on their behalf. But two and a half years after publication, I started living my own story when I became the legal, medical, and financial representative of my stepfather who was diagnosed with three types of dementia: frontotemporal lobe, vascular, and Alzheimer’s. Although I had written a book about Alzheimer’s, worked as a nurse and case manager, and knew more about the dementias than most people, I soon learned I didn’t know much at all. It was a steep learning curve fraught with frustration and feelings of inadequacy. Without the help of my friends at AlzAuthors I’m not sure I would have come through the experience intact.

I now work in college health where Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the most pressing of my concerns, but my dedication to help educate others about these diseases and chip away at the stigma that surrounds them is stronger than ever. I am coordinating a fundraiser for my local Alzheimer’s Association and an education program for the entire campus in June, and organizing a team for the Alzheimer’s Walk in October. And I will continue to work with AlzAuthors, spotlighting books and blogs that are a source of wisdom, comfort, and support for the caregivers and others who need them.

Purchase Blue Hydrangeas

About the Author

Marianne Sciucco wearing Authors Supporting Our Troops T-shirt at Assateague Island
On Assateague Island

Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story,is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a 5-star Readers Favorite. Marianne has also published a Young Adult novel, Swim Season, based on 11 years’ experience as a Swim Mom, and three short stories: Ino’s Love, Collection, Daisy Hunter Story No. 1, and Birthday Party, Daisy Hunter Story No. 2. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her patient and reliable husband and beautiful, brainy daughter. They are ruled by Mr. Chance, a cat they rescued who thinks he rescued them. When not writing, Marianne works as a campus nurse at a community college, and teaches classes in independent publishing. She enjoys books, the beach, and craft beer, preferably all at the same time.

Connect with Marianne Sciucco

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Website

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Meet Crissi Langwell, author of “Come Here, Cupcake,” a novel

By Crissi Langwell

Come Here CupcakeThe story of Come Here, Cupcake focuses on an aspiring baker, Morgan Truly, and the magical ability she’s discovered that allows her to infuse her baking with feelings. If she feels sad while baking, anyone who eats it will feel sad. If she feels happy, her baking will make people feel happy. And if she bakes while feeling romantic…well, you can guess what happens to anyone who tries it. This new ability, along with finding new love, is confusing enough. But adding to Morgan’s life changes is caring for her mother, Karen Truly, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Continue reading