Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From Out of the Chaos...

Alzheimer's disease is a tricky thing. Some days may be good--as in Mom can walk on her own with the aid of her walker and communicate her needs to me. At other times, we aren't that lucky. Mom is confused and anxious and can't seem to maneuver at all. On those occasions, we use her wheelchair. But on those 'good' days, Mom can become quite spirited. She displayed those feisty colors last month when I came for a visit only to discover that her apartment had been turned upside down.

I always take a quick inventory of the clothes in her closet and dresser. I also spotcheck her bathroom to see if she needs any supplies. On that particular day, I did my usual poke around of her bathroom when I noticed something strange. Everything on her sink was missing. I looked through the medicine cabinet and underneath the sink for Mom's toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, but they were no where to be found. Where could these things be? She only has a studio apartment. Things couldn't have gone too far. So I started searching, beginning with the front hall closet which proved to be empty. Mom has three coats and every one of them had disappeared. I headed for the galley kitchen where I found her toothpaste in the second drawer down of  her lower cabinet. The roll of saran wrap from the bottom cabinet drawer turned up in her dresser amongst her socks. The staff then informed me that her coats had all been left in another resident's apartment. Apparently, Mom and her cohort had made plans to escape and thought it best to bring all their coats--both winter and summer. The toothbrush and floss never did turn up that day. When I returned the next day with replacements, I stumbled upon her toothbrush and floss stashed away in her purse. Obviously, they had been part of the foiled getaway plan.  

It's fortunate for most of us that our lives aren't that disorganized. But I find that when I'm trying to write, even a little bit of chaos can throw me off track. Claude Monet, my favorite impressionist painter, once said, "Tranquility is the first necessity if one is to work well." I keep a copy of that quote tacked to my bulletin board as a permanent reminder of what perfection should be. I'd like to tell you that my life is like a Monet painting, calm water in a lily-pad pond. But that would be a lie. On any given day, you can find our border collie chasing and 'herding' our two cats. From the time I wake up til the time I go to bed, the house phone rings with messages and my cell chirps with texts. My husband leaves for work at dawn and returns at 3:00 in the afternoon. My nephew heads off for his college classes around noon each day and my aunt--who now lives with us to be closer to her sister (my mom)--treads quietly in and out of her room. My brother works in the neighborhood and often stops by for a visit. Stepdaughters come to forage through the refrigerator in search of food for their apartment. In a perfect world, I'd have tranquility, but in reality, I have a life.

This so-called life of mine often overflows onto my desk. But that's where I have to put my foot down. While I can live with all the comings and goings and meowing and chasing, I can't work or write at a disorganized desk. I need a certain amount of structure in order to create. And so each writing day, I stack all the papers, dust the fur from my laptop screen, and take a deep breath. I clear my thoughts and then pray for the words to flow. And if I'm lucky and the spirit of Monet is watching over me, those precious words appear and I get to happily share them with you.

Join with me in asking President Obama to issue a strong National Alzheimer's Plan. Click on the link to send your message and please, invite your friends to do the same.


I'm pleased to announce the winner of my Goodreads Giveaway of Merely Dee. Nearly 500 Goodreads members signed up for a chance to win a paperback copy of the book. The winner's name was randonly selected by Goodreads and emailed to me this morning. Carla of Tennessee should check her mail for the copy I posted to her this afternoon. Thank you one and all for choosing Merely Dee and I hope that someday a copy finds its way into your hands.

If you love to read and you're not already a member of Goodreads, click the link to check out their website. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Interview with Author Cherie Colyer

Merely Me: Welcome, Cherie, and thank you for joining me today.
Cherie Colyer
I want to congratulate you on the success of your debut novel, Embrace, a teen paranormal thriller/romance. Has this experience been everything you'd hoped for when you started this journey?
Cherie Colyer: Thank you. The journey has definitely been a wonderful one and I couldn't be happier with my publisher. There's nothing like seeing your book go from an idea to a published novel.

MM: Imagine Embrace as a movie trailer. Without giving away too much of the plot, what scenes would you like to see on the screen?
CC: Definitely Isaac and Madison's first kiss. Okay, maybe all their kisses. I'm a sucker for a romance. The graveyard scene with Madison and her friends. It shows a lot about the girls' personalities. And then the scene where Kaylee loses it in the classroom. It's a turning point for Madison, forcing her to look for answers to everything that's been happening around her.

MM: We've heard or read a great deal about your book, but what about you? Tell us about your life? Where were you born? Do you have any siblings? How does your family feel about your success?
CC: Oh, my, how much time do we have? I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, where I still live with my husband and our boys. I'm the younger of two girls and have amazing parents who have always encouraged me to go after my dreams. My entire family has been very supportive of my writing and I think they were just as ecstatic about Embrace being published as I was.

MM: Tell us about your writing process? Where do you write? When? Describe your office.
CC: I really don't have a set process. Since I work full time, most of my writing time is done in the evening and on weekends. My favorite place to write is in the living room. We have a comfy chair and ottoman in there and it's quiet, so there are few distractions.

MM: What do you like to do in your 'down' time?
CC: I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, going for long walks at the arboretum, and while it's not always fun, in the summer, I spend a lot of time doing yard work.

MM: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
CC: That would have been after I wrote my first novel and wanted to learn how to make that story better. I knew then that I loved creating worlds and that I wanted to be able to share my stories with readers.

MM: Imagine if you would, a life without writing. What would you be doing instead? How would you find your bliss?
CC: I'd still be reading as many books as time allowed. Come to think of it, I'd be able to catch up on my growing to-be-read list. (Pauses just thinking about all the time I'd have.) Nah, I'd miss weaving together my own stories.

MM: What's your favorite vacation spot?
CC: Out of all the places I've been, Maui. It's absolutely beautiful and I love the ocean. If I had an endless amount of money, I'd go to Europe, rent a car (or maybe just buy one) and drive everywhere possible.

MM: What three things would you tell 'newbie' writers?
CC: Finish the book! You'd be surprised at how many times I've heard someone say, "I started a book X years ago." Join a critique group. And attend local conferences or take courses to help you improve your craft.

MM: What is your favorite food? What is Madison's favorite food? What would Isaac like to eat?
CC: Mine - pasta
        Madison - chocolate and peanut butter ice cream
        Isaac - bacon cheeseburgers

MM: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
CC: There are definitely more teen paranornal thrillers
in my future. It's my favorite genre. And I have a middle
grade ghost story that keeps reminding me every week
that I need to find it a home.                                                       

I hope you've enjoyed this visit with my friend, Cherie. Be sure to check out her amazing novel, Embrace. You can find Cherie Colyer at:

Twitter: @cheriecolyer

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Merely Dee is having a launch party! And everyone is invited.

Saturday, March 3, 2012
1-4 p.m.
Author Presentation at 2 p.m.

Center for History
315 W. Front Street, 2nd Floor
Wheaton, IL 60187

Admission Fee Waived      Parking Nearby     Elevator Onsite

Center for History
Award winning museum & education center
Disaster, Courage, & Silence Exhibit in the Eastland Gallery
Largest Collection of Eastland memorabilia in the nation

Signed copies of Merely Dee will be available: Hard Cover $25 or Paperback $15
Portion of sales benefit the Center for History