Stopping the Monster

Alzheimer’s is personal for me.

Mamu Christmas 1991

You may know I lost my mom nearly 7 years ago to Alzheimer’s after an 8+ year journey, and my mother-in-law 5 years ago after a somewhat shorter, though no less painful, journey. A dear friend of ours is dealing with Alzheimer’s, which means his 62-year-old wife must also deal with it – every single minute of every single day.

  • Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Between 2000 and 2015 deaths from heart disease decreased 15% while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased 123%.
    (2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures)

My new book, Open Circle, may be centered around a fictional adult day center but it deals with the very real issues of dementia, Alzheimer’s (a form of dementia), and how we care for the elderly. Throughout my mom’s years dealing with Alzheimer’s, we met amazing people devoted to providing the best possible care for the seniors they worked with day in and day out. We learned about cutting edge programming like Augustana Open Circle Adult Day programs where they offer person-centered care. And we discovered that there arUpdated OpenCircleFrontCover_previewe countless families like ours dealing with an ever-changing disease that keeps them always feeling one step behind.

I’ve participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for a number of years now, and this year am also participating in The Longest Day by releasing my book on June 21. None of us alone has the answer to this terrible disease, but by working together, raising funds and awareness, and offering support and love to those directly affected, we can find the cause and cure and stop the monster.

Check out my Longest Day page HERE. Perhaps you’ll want to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, or come up with your own Longest Day activity to raise funds. Hopefully you’ll be motivated to get and/or stay involved in fighting this disease that strikes adults of all ages, and is costing our country over a quarter of a trillion dollars EVERY YEAR. (Facts & Figures Report)

Sneak Peek at Upcoming Release!

In June I’ll be releasing my newest book – Open Circle. This one has a special place in my heart for several reasons. First is that I started writing it when my mom and mother-in-law were on their Alzheimer’s journeys. Writing helped me find good things along the way – the depth of care they received, the connections my family and I made with caregivers and elders alike, the unexpected joy that surfaced in the midst of pain–laughter when we wanted to cry, a spark of recognition, time to just be with Mom.

Another reason Open Circle is special to me is that over the past decade I’ve encountered so many people who truly love seniors, who find great joy in caring for them in the face of difficult behavior and utter confusion, and who take time to offer a smile and words of encouragement to families stumbling along the unpredictable journey. Caregivers, nurses, aides, van drivers, cooks, housekeepers, maintenance workers. Activities directors, volunteers, entertainers, doctors. Yes, there were a few who needed to move to a different career, but the majority BY FAR truly loved the people they were caring for.

Third, I’ve had the privilege of watching professionals in action–creating unique, fun, inspiring, and even challenging programs for those afflicted with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Professionals who went above and beyond the scope of a “normal” day (if there is such a thing working in the aging industry!) to provide the best possible environment in settings like adult day programs and assisted living facilities.

“Open Circle” provides a tiny glimpse into the complicated, amazing, surprising world of caring for our elders. Here’s a peek at the new book (with more peeks to come in upcoming posts)!


Book Sale! Inspirational Christian Reads

Book Sale! Inspirational Christian Reads

pexels-photo-273222.jpegIt takes the average author about a year to complete a full-length novel. Often longer, occasionally shorter (if the stars align, health stays good, there’s no family drama, and the chocolate keeps flowing).

That year consists of developing the idea, the torture of writing the first draft (okay, it’s torture for me), editing, stomping around the house when the words won’t come, more editing, getting constructive feedback (cue more stomping), cover development, the cost of a professional editor, yet another complete edit, then finally off to the printer. Phew!

But wait – now it’s time for publicity and marketing. Most writers’ nightmare. We tend to be introverts, which explains happily spending long periods of time alone, so putting ourselves out there to sell our “baby” can be as torturous as writing the first draft.Inspirational Christian Reads share 2 Mar 9-13 2018

Occasionally we take all that work and put our “baby” on sale – and that sale is NOW! Check out all the books that are either FREE or only $.99 in the Inspirational Christian Reads promotion.

From March 9-13 you can enter to win a $10 gift card while picking up great books at a great discount. There are 5 gift cards up for grabs, and you can enter every day so stop by the promo daily to grab another couple of books and throw your entry into the hat (so to speak).

Color of Truth - Front coverThe Color of Truth, book 3 in my Chain of Lakes series, is marked down from $3.99 to only $.99. I love this story, and think you will too. Here’s a sneak peek:

Truth isn’t always black and white. Sometimes it takes the unexpected to reveal its true colors.
Marti has been on her own since she was 15, determined to build a life for herself and her sister despite the threats of a man intent on keeping her from revealing his secret.
Sam’s turbulent teen years prepared him for the perfect job—counseling troubled youth. Then his pregnant wife walked out on their marriage and his life imploded, leaving him without a family, a job, or his hard-earned reputation.
With her sister in danger, they’re forced to divulge the secrets, lies, and half-truths they’ve kept hidden from each other, and from themselves. If they can’t face the brilliant colors of God’s truth, the consequences may be deadly.

Who among us hasn’t been called names (Marti believes she’s stupid because that’s what she’s been told), been unfairly accused of something (which cost Sam his job), and/or watched our dreams evaporate in the face of “real” life?

Marti and Sam’s journey from living in the shadows to stepping into the light of Truth might have some nuggets from my own life, as well as the lives of people I know and love. Truth can be a frightening concept but it’s the only thing that can set us free from the lies that keep us from living the full and amazing life we’re created for.

More stories like this are included in the Inspirational Christian Reads promotion, so check them out! Happy reading!

Meet All 10 Authors of the Spring Fever Promo

We’ve just concluded the Spring Fever Promo, featuring 10 amazing contemporary Christian fiction authors. While the give-away is done, you can still visit the blogs, meet new favorite authors, and discover fabulous books – stories of redemption and grace, romance and mystery, and much more.

Here’s a quick recap:

First up on the Spring Fever docket was Barbara Ellen Brink. An award-winning author, Barbara writes action-packed mysteries brimming with suspense and interwoven with a thread of romance. She grew up on a small fruit farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota. In her spare time, she likes to take her motorcycle for a spin, hang out with friends, or go hiking with her husband and their spoiled dog. She is currently working on the 4th book in her Double Barrel Mysteries series, and the 3rd in her Christian romantic suspense series, Second Chances.

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is Past-President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE, the 2016 ACFW Chapter of the Year. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 30 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Johnnie Alexander imagines heart-tugging stories in multiple genres. Her award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is a CBA bestseller which has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian. She’s also the author of the popular Misty Willow Series: Where She Belongs (her featured book for this promotion), When Hope Arrives, and What Hope Remembers.

Lindsey P. Brackett writes southern fiction and cooks big family meals, but she complains about the dishes. Her debut novel, Still Waters, released in 2017. Someday she hopes to balance motherhood and writing full-time. Until then, she’s just very grateful for her public school system! She’s currently working on her next book AND a novella for release later this year.

Joy DeKok is an author and photographer. Whether she’s writing fiction or non, she writes from the heart. She lives with her husband Jon just outside of Pine Island MN on thirty-five acres of field and forest with their dogs Sophie and Tucker. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s roaming their land taking nature photos.

Dawn Ford is an award-winning young adult fiction writer who looks beyond the lies we tell ourselves to reveal the truths we cannot face. She lives nestled in the Loess Hills in Iowa with her husband, youngest son, and a wonder beagle. She works with Splickety Publishing Group in her spare time, and is often caught daydreaming about plots for new stories. Her debut novel is Knee-high Lies.

Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child, she’s been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul. She holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also a Faith Hope and Love Reader’s Choice Finalist. Kimberly’s featured book is The Reluctant Groom.

Regina Rudd Merrick is a writer, church musician, wife, mother, and grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Having lived most of her life in Western Kentucky, she dreams of the sound of crashing waves and sandy beaches. Married to her husband of 30-plus years, she is the mother of two grown daughters, and the keeper of a 100-year-old house where she lives in the small town of Marion, KY. Her first novel, Carolina Dream, is book one in the Southern Breeze Series. Carolina Mercy, book two in the series, will be released in July 2018 by Mantle Rock Publishing, LLC.

Stacy Monson is the author of the award-winning Chain of Lakes series. Her stories show an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she’s the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma. Her featured book is The Color of Truth.

And last week we met award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter, who writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance, and has over a dozen published titles! A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects. Shannon’s newest book, Counting on the Cowboy, will be available March 20.

Spring Fever Promo – Final Day! Meet Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Spring Fever Promo – Final Day! Meet Shannon Taylor Vannatter

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Spring Fever Promo! I know I’ve enjoyed sharing these authors with you, promoting the work they pour their hearts and lives into, and hopefully adding new books to your TBR pile.

Our last featured author is Shannon Taylor Vannatter. An award winning author, Shannon writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance, and has over a dozen published titles! A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.

You can connect with Shannon on her WEBSITE and also on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Twitter. See all of her books by checking out her Amazon Author Page.

Shannon’s newest book, Counting on the Cowboy, will be available March 20.You can pre-order on these sites: Christianbook and Amazon.

Here’s what she shares about this new book, and how it relates to her own life!

Counting on the Cowboy is the fourth and final book in my Texas Cowboys series. Completing a series is always bittersweet. I love my characters and hate to say goodbye to them, but I’m glad they all got their happily-ever-afters rooted in God’s love.

Devree Malone is so me, back when my parents moved from a suburb of Atlanta to rural Arkansas. I was twelve and it was major culture shock. The nearest neighbor girl my age lived a quarter of a mile away and I was used to neighborhoods. I hated all things farm. The animals were stupid, stinky, and kind of scary.

Though Devree is in her late twenties, this is the place Devree she’s in. She grew up in the country in Aubrey, Texas, but longed for city life. She fled for Dallas the first chance she could and built a successful wedding planning business. Though her professional life soared, her personal life didn’t. What would get a genuine city girl to move to the country? Her sister. After a stillbirth last year, her sister is in the final month of her second pregnancy. A high-risk pregnancy with symptoms mirroring the first which ended in tragedy. Devree comes to her sister’s dude ranch in Bandera, Texas expecting to fill in as activities director, keep an eye on her sister, and plan one last wedding there before she revamps her business into event planning. Instead, she ends up decorating cabins with a handsome cowboy.

Brock McBride is running from his past and applies for the handyman position at the ranch where his dad held the job until his death. A city girl is the last thing he wants to contend with. Especially since his mom and his ex-fiancée both abandoned him. And both were city girls. When his job description gets tweaked, he gets stuck helping Devree prepare for the wedding and putting the finishing touches on the guest ranch’s newly built cabins. He loves the country. And she can’t wait to leave it.

Country life grew on me. I’m still not excited about farm animals. They’re still stupid, stinky, and slightly scary. I really hate cows after getting chased by one when I was nine and one this past summer. And I really hate chickens after being forced to catch them in my teens. Horses are okay, but they’re really big and I like a fence between me and them.

But I love the peacefulness, hearing the frogs and crickets at night, and not having neighbors too close. The net says the population of our town is 586. I’m not sure I believe that. In 2000, it was under 100. We’re eight miles from a city of 7000. These days, that would be way too big for me to live in.

With Devree and Brock, I had to decide if she’d soften toward country life like me. Or if he’d be willing to follow her to the city. They were both stubborn, but it was fun wrangling them, and I hope readers enjoy reading their story as much as I loved writing it.

Here’s the link for our last day of the Spring Fever Promo contest: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Shannon will be sending our grand prize winner an autographed copy of Counting on the Cowboy!

And don’t forget to enter Shannon’s secret Word of the Daycowboy

Thanks for being part of the Spring Fever fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting new authors and have added a few books to your ToBeRead pile!
Happy Spring!