#Book Review Friday – Time to Let Go by Christoph Fischer

Click on cover

Click on cover

I’m used to being transported to another era when I read a novel by Christoph Fischer. Set in England, his latest offering, Time to Let Go, transports the reader, not through the years, but into the lives of one family dealing with the splintered effects of Alzheimers.

I’ve lost several relatives and friends to this devastating disease. I’m familiar with the stages for the patient and the ramifications on the care givers. And so is Christoph Fischer in his portrayal of Biddy Korhonen and her family members dealing with her descent into Alzheimers.

Mr. Fischer shows the various ways individuals deal with the illness. There’s the husband Walter who depends upon the routine and regimen of a scheduled life to keep his wife from falling into a deeper stage. He can keep control of the situation to a certain extent, only as far as Biddy’s mind will allow it. Nothing can bring her back to the loving wife she’d always been. When he can’t control his wife’s failings, he absorbs himself in creating a book of family memories. He can control what is remembered and how much is revealed about the individuals who make up the Finnish branch of the Korhonen family.

Daughter Hanna uses the mother’s illness as a chance to come home and hide out from the realities of her life as an airline stewardess when things go horribly wrong on her last flight. Her casual attitude toward schedules and regimens clashes with her father’s grip on his life with Biddy. Hanna runs into problems with this casualness, yet there are times when Biddy seems so happy with the change.

It’s all here in this novel, and it’s done in such a way that the reader is caught up in the lives of the Krohonen’s and rooting for the family to finally communicate with one another before it’s too late. I found myself agreeing with both sides in the debate on how to handle Biddy’s situation. Since I’ve seen the terrific toll Alzhemiers takes, I understand the complicated feelings and situations that arise. Mr. Fischer handles it deftly and with sympathy for both Hanna and Walter and Biddy. No one is right, and no one is wrong.

As he does with his historical novels set in the first half of the twentieth century in eastern Europe, Mr. Fischer manages to bring in the prejudices of a generation raised with biases toward people of different religions, races, and ideologies. It’s not an indictment of older generations, but it is a reality best met with honesty and acceptance.

Thank you, Christoph Fischer, for once again bringing us a work of fiction that asks us to examine our beliefs and open our minds to honest communication with those we love the most.

To purchase Time to Let Go, click on the cover below.

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Disclosure: I was given an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Interview with Annamaria Bazzi – Incantation Paradox

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I’m very pleased to welcome back Annamaria Bazzi to Writing Whims. She’s come by today during her new release Book Tour for Incantation Paradox.

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Cover Designer: Natasha Brown

About Incantation Paradox (Urban Fantasy) – A car accident cuts Dolores Reynard’s life short, leaving her with a long list of unfulfilled dreams. When she awakens in a strange bed, inside a much younger body, and living with a new family—she can’t worry she might be going insane. How can she be a teenager again?

Jason Richmond understands the danger awaiting his new houseguest. Wanting to ease her concerns, he works to earn Dolores’ trust. But attraction flares in the most unexpected way, and he finds himself caught between setting the situation right and following his heart.

An enduring evil threatens not only the blossoming love but their lives as well. As Dolores and Jason struggle to unravel the truth behind her resurrection, they find themselves tangled in a web of murder, intrigue and magic. Only together can they hope to overcome the incantation paradox holding them captive.

Welcome back, Annamaria. Congratulations on the publication of your new book. Tell us about your vision of yourself as a writer.

I’ve been writing since a teenager, but once I had children I began to write for the young, wanting to instill in them the love of reading. As my children grew so did my novels. I occasionally write adult fiction, but mostly I concentrate on young adult in the hopes of capturing all those teens, who like my youngest don’t like to read. If I can turn even just one teenager to reading, my vision will be fulfilled.

What’s next for you?

Now that I’m done with Incantation Paradox, I’m working on the edits for White Swans A Regency World, which is a young adult story that takes place in a world mimicking the Regency Era. I originally started publish it as a short story series, but the idea never took off. I have now completed the entire novel, which, by the way, will also be a series about both Kendíka and Jillian.

How did you choose the title Incantation Paradox? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

When I first started writing the novel, I called it Trapped in a Nightmare. Later I Googled the title to see if other books had same title. I did find one and decided I wanted my book to have a unique title. Since I’m quite bad at coming up with interesting titles I solicited other author friends and Michael Drakich came up with title—Incantation Paradox.

It’s a great title. Michael is a great creative mind. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published novel?

To write the book, it only took me about three to four weeks; I can’t really remember, it’s been a while. I wrote it in first person. Submitted chapter to Critiquecircle.com and completed a second draft with the help of the critters. I stashed the novel away to distance myself from it. When I started working on it again, I became intrigued with Eric’s character and decided to rewrite it in third person so I could get into this character’s head. It took me another month or more to rewrite it since I was also writing White Swans A Regency World at the time. For the past few months, it’s been going back and forth between my editor and me. The novel will be coming out in mid May.

Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

Incantation Paradox is self-published. With the big six playing it safe and only publishing works from successful authors, ones that are known to have large following, translating in money, I’ve felt that I’d never be counted among these lucky few. Therefore, I’ve spent a great deal of energy on my platform and social media. If I had decided to go with a small press, I would still have to do most of the marketing, hence I’d rather be self-published and manage the book the way I want to.

You are a tireless marketer and promoter for other Indie Authors. Good job (and thank you!) Who is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

Eric is the antagonist, and he isn’t what he seems. Don’t want to spoil things, so all I’ll say is, he is pure evil. I did enjoy creating him, but to be honest I think he is a character that snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention and diligently working on my own edits. The evil exuding from him was too much and I had to investigate further.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

My favorite scene is when Dolores wakes up in the hospital and sees Dr. Richmond. He looks and sounds familiar, but she cannot place him. Did she really meet him? Does she really know him? The questions build so much stress that she won’t eat until she has the answers.

Thank you for including Writing Whims on your blog tour. I wish you the greatest of success on Incantation Paradox and all your other endeavors.

annamaria authorAbout Annamaria Bazzi: Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.

Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

Connect with Annamaria Bazzi

Blog – http://annamariabazzi.com

Website – http://www.annamariasbooks.com

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Author.annamariabazzi

Email – annamariascorner@yahoo.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AMBazzi

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6890526.Annamaria_Bazzi

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124386057&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Kendíka’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/kendika.burkeshire

Book Links:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Annamaria-Bazzi/e/B00API579Q/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1397056372&sr=1-2-ent

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/sobril

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/annamaria-bazzi?store=allproducts&keyword=annamaria+bazzi

 

 

 

 

Author Wednesday – Janna Yeshanova

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Janna Yeshanova, the author of romance stories set in Russia. Love is Never Past Tense, the first in the series, on the Black Sea where a couple meets and falls in love. A speedy courtship led to a quick marriage, then the world showed up. A divorce inspired by outside forces sent them on separate destinies, always wondering “what if…” Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? LoveisNever large

Welcome, Janna. I’ve been impressed by your biography and your stories, so tell me when did you first discover your voice as a writer?

Approximately twenty years ago when traveling with my husband and my daughter through North Carolina, we decided to stop at a fruit market. Suddenly, a strong smell of peaches brought back a memory of my childhood:  my six year old friend and I are sitting on the grass and consuming a huge box of furry peaches one after another…  Two carefree kids in a world of blue sky, lilac, sunshine and juicy peaches… I captured those memories on a piece of paper that I found in the car. Later, I edited the story, but it was lost when we were moving to a new house.

Somehow you made your way back to writing despite that loss. You’ll either recreate it or it wasn’t meant to be published. One of my heroes is Rachel Carson the author of Silent Spring. In one of her last interviews she said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

A scene from In The Land of Scarabs (the second book in this series), describes a problem with customs in Egypt.LandScarabsKD2stories kyra This actually happened to me in Bucharest, when I stepped in the Romanian airport several years ago. After being held in their basement office for two hours I had to call the American Embassy in order to leave safely. In this case the subject definitely chose me! Love Is Never Past Tense… is based on a true story. So, it seems that subject chose me as well.

It does seem to happen that way–it’s the great thing about being a writer. We can always say something happened to give us an idea for a novel! What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?

I try to convey the message that my Mom left for me. Once we talked on the porch sitting in the chairs facing each other. I was sad. My mom looked at me and said: The most beautiful thing in life is life. I thought a minute, and then, asked: Mom, what if it becomes so ugly that you do not want it anymore? She looked at me attentively and replied: Janna, the most beautiful thing in life is life.

What a beautiful message. Sometimes we have to hear it several times before it hits us. Write a paragraph as if you were a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

Janna Yeshanova’s life is a lens that looks back at recent history and forward to a happy future. When ethnic and political turmoil overwhelmed her homeland, as is currently happening in Crimea, she led her mother and daughter out of the collapsing Soviet Union to America, with $126 in her pocket and nobody at all in her address book. As a life coach, she reveals the value of optimism in creating the future you want. As an author, past and present meet and intertwine through her contemporary romance novel Love Is Never Past Tense…

If anyone can attest to the importance of remaining positive and moving forward it is you. You are doing your work as a life coach and spreading your message through fiction. That’s excellent, Janna. What’s are you writing now?

I am finishing up and launching a series of sequels to Love Is Never Past Tense. The first, In The Land Of Scarabs was released May 26. I rewarded myself with a trip to Israel on the same date! The next, Zebra Fish, has just been released. ZebraFishKDlast kyra

Congratulations on both books and your trip to Israel. I’m impressed that you reward yourself. We sometimes forget to do that. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?

1. Do not give up!

2. Do not share with anyone who may rain on your parade!

Excellent advice. I believe and follow both of these. You mentioned the message from your mother as finding its way into your fiction. Does this mean all your books have a common thread?

All my books involve the same main heroes. The first book, Love Is Never Past Tense, is based on a true story. The sequels are fictional, but based on the premise set in the first book. Because my name is in the books, I was debating how to deal with sex scenes: to cut them out or to keep. Couldn’t quite decide… Just to let you know, if I keep them, please know that all is fiction. If I do not, please know why.

OK, we’ve been forewarned. Great teaser! Why did you chose to write about love?

How can you not write about love that keeps the world alive?

How does setting play a role in your books?

Love Is Never Past Tense is set mostly in Ukraine. Odessa, Crimea, some other parts of my country… Half of this book was written in Crimea near my favorite Black Sea, under my favorite blue sky… Crimea is generously described in the book. In The Land Of Scarabs and in Zebra Fish are set in other locations where the story itself depends on the setting.

How is the current situation in Crimea and Odessa, Ukraine affecting you?

I was thinking about visiting there this past spring, but given the events that are happening there I can’t. If you are interested about my recent visit to Crimea, click here to read my blog article about it.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

Love Is Never Past Tense… was as much of a cultural experience for me as it was an enjoyable read. The novel did an excellent job of immersing me (an American reader) in Russian culture, through the eyes of a character experiencing extremely turbulent times for that region. It is a sensual love story set across contemporary Russian culture. It is inspiring as a reminder of passionate love beyond early youth.”

That’s very nice and especially gratifying that you brought another culture to the reviewer’s world experience. What’s your one sentence pitch for Love Is Never Past Tense…?

“This intriguing and often painful love story spans for decades of life-altering years, and life-altering events, but proves that true love will endure as long as the human heart beats.” I saw this on Amazon reviews. I agreed with it.

I love the title. How did you choose it? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

The title is representative of the underlying message of this story. The title came momentarily as soon as the book was finished.

Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

The book is self published. I wanted to publish it as fast as possible.

Who is the antagonist in the book?

Serge’s inner daemons are antagonists. His character is very colorful, smart, handsome, and controversial. Sometimes he is afraid to make decisions, and sometimes he gives in on his innermost values and then regrets it. You tell me what you think about him!

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

During their first three days together, Serge (as they called our hero at the time) was the quieter of the two, once in a while muttering some insignificant phrases. The first time he saw her, he silently followed her for a long time. She walked along easily, shifting her long, rather well-proportioned legs. Her thin leather skirt swung from side to side, barely hiding her shapely hips. A green blouse tightly covered her beautifully straight back. All the while, Serge followed her like she was a vision, lacking the courage to come closer or to back away. He knew that making her acquaintance was a long shot; she was simply out of his league. How could he possibly know that she, a complete stranger, would inexplicably impact his life and be with him forever, whether she was at his side or not?

What else do you want readers to know about your book?

Anyone who’s ever pondered the eternal question, “What makes life worth living?” can find the answer within the international romantic saga of Love Is Never Past Tense.

 

IMG_2591 (2)About Janna Yeshanova: Originally from the former Soviet Union, Janna Yeshanova, M.A., M.Ed., escaped to the United States when persecution became violent during the crumbling of her country. Arriving in the United States with her mother and daughter in tow, $126 in her pocket and knowing not a soul, Janna’s talent, experiences and education have helped her become a high end organizational training and development professional. Her exodus story is included in the book.

Founder and principal of Life-Spark, LLC, Janna is a dynamic and powerful life coach, premier trainer and motivational speaker. She leverages her passion and engaging style to help others to overcome adversity and spark the possibilities of their lives.

Love Is Never Past Tense… was published first in Russia and Ukraine in 2009, and is now available in English. It is a fascinating adventurous romance based on a true story.  The two fictional sequels In The Land Of Scarabs and Zebra Fish were published in 2014.

AUTHOR CONTACT LINK:

Website: http://www.loveisneverpasttense.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loveisneverpasttense

Twitter: @NeverPastTense

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22031165-love-is-never-past-tense

Newsletter : http://jannayeshanova.wordpress.com/join-the-list-for-a-free-ebook/

BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1rSpHxv

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1i9DfUk

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/love-is-never-past-tense-1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/love-is-never-past-tense…/id754506839?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/372640

 

 

 

 

#Romance in A Month – I Did It

Romance in a Month

Romance in a Month

The month has ended for Romance in a Month, and while I didn’t finish my first romance, Behind the Altar, I’m close. The bones are in place. I will write the final chapters–the resolution–this week, and I’ll have a draft.

This project represents the first time I’ve participated in a month-long writing assignment, and it’s my first attempt at writing a romance. And I’m signed up to do another class for the sequel in September. It was a successful experience for several reasons.

  • I wrote something new every day. I’m in the editing stage for Native Lands, my next book in the Florida Fiction Series, so I’m working on old stuff instead of creating fresh. There’s something inspiring to the creative process to be working with a new story.NATIVE_WEB
  • I didn’t have to worry about revising or publishing. I just wrote and became involved in the story of my main characters, Dean and Leah.
  • The plot for a romance is generally simpler than what I’m doing with my other novels, and that’s a good thing. I’ve always fought the “formula” novel, but now that I’ve written one, I find it freeing in its structure. I only have to worry about writing the story to fit.
  • Participating in a class meant I had cheerleaders at the end of every writing day. We all posted our updates–a sentence or two–about our progress and received lots of “Good job” comments. Now we’re all pairing off to be beta readers for one another, and that’s nice as well.

I’m glad I participated, and I’m ready to do it again. Of course, I’ve yet to print out the first draft of Behind the Altar. Maybe I won’t be as enthusiastic when I go back and read what I’ve written! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, the sequel Behind the Bar will be fermenting in my head. Stay tuned!Behind the Bar

The “Human Heirs” of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

I found this post on my Living Lightly blog and thought I’d reblog here. I needed the reminder!

Living Lightly

[This essay received the First Place Award in the 2001 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Essay Contest. This award came one month after I left teaching to pursue writing full time. I saw it as a sign that I had made the right decision.]

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

My new world frightened me. I didn’t see the beauty of the live oak trees draped in moss or understand the lure of frogs singing on a summer night. The wildlife of northern Florida held threats to my safety and left me wondering why we had moved here from Michigan.

I saw danger lurking in the surrounding wilderness. One morning I looked in the mirror and saw a tick, fat with my blood, attached to the center of my forehead. The first time I saw a broadhead skink, I threatened to leave my new home and head back to a land of lizard-less…

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Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Christoph Fischer for a guest post about his latest release A Time to Let Go. Christoph’s three other novels are set in Eastern Europe during the years of the Great Wars, and offer glimpses into what it was like for people of all gender, religion (or lack thereof), cultural heritage, and sexual preferences. The Three Nations Trilogy (The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and Black Eagle Inn) provide an excellent overview of life before, during, and after war.

However, his latest book A Time to Let Go takes a different path. Set in contemporary times in England, the book explores the life of one family as they deal with the onset of Alzheimers of Biddy, the mother and wife of the Korhonen family. In this guest post, Christoph writes about how and why this story was written. Please watch for my review of Time to Let Go on Book Review Friday.

Click on cover

Click on cover

How Time to Let Go Came to Be

by Christoph Fischer

The Real Biddy Korhonen

I grew up with only a few friends and with two older siblings who were miles ahead of me in their lives. My mother was a busy woman, and so I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house. She had always wanted to raise four children but lost one child at birth. Her other three children were much older and didn’t need her much anymore, so my visits to her house filled a gap for her, in the same way, her attention to me filled a need in me. A match made in heaven.

Philomena, or Minna, as we called her, remained a source of happiness and encouragement throughout my life. I was always welcomed and treated like a precious gift. She smoked, but she outlived both of her sisters who were taken in their forties by cancer.

In her late seventies, Minna was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. At least she was alive, I thought, belittling her misfortune without much awareness.

The next time I saw her, her trademark happiness seemed far away. She was crying bitterly because she had lost her hearing aid, a very expensive one, too. Suddenly her life seemed to revolve around retrieving things. She was spared the physical pain of her sisters, but she suffered severe mental torture.

She fortunately reached a happier stage as medication and care helped reduce the misery in her life, but the attention she needed was a huge toll to the family. Despite her memory loss, she seemed to vaguely recognize me; me, the “child” who lived abroad and who rarely came to visit. She had not lost her warmth and happiness, or maybe she had just regained it after the bad patch in the early stages.

Very recently, I saw her again, almost unrecognizable: withdrawn, very unresponsive, and almost reduced to basic functioning. Surprisingly, she could still read, and when I came to see her for a second time her eyes shone as if she did recognize me. I made an emotional goodbye to her, and her hand was shaking as she listened to my speech. She even responded by talking, using words that didn’t fit exactly, but which expressed an emotion similar to what one would expect from a loving aunt in such a situation.

With her loving kindness in mind, I created Biddy, the mother in Time to Let Go, a selfless, giving woman, who even in her illness manages to show her innate kindness. I know it would be wrong to praise her for a gift that many other patients do not have, through no fault of their own. Losing one’s memory and control of one’s life is a terrible thing that you can only understand when it happens to you.

Time to Let Go is a tribute to my brave aunt and to the wonderful people who help make her life dignified and as happy as is possible.

Alzheimers

My book is inspired by personal experiences with sufferers from the disease. Nowadays, almost everyone knows someone who has relatives with Alzheimers and gradually stories and anecdotes about these patients have entered the social dinner party circuit and become common knowledge.

Alzheimers is a dreadful disease that cannot be easily understood in its gravity and the complex, frustrating, and far-reaching consequences for the victims and their families. There are different stages of the disease as it progresses and patients can move through them at different paces and in varying intensity. My book does not attempt to be a complete representation or a manual of how to deal with the disease. The illness affects every patient differently, and there are many stories to tell and many aspects to cover. I hope that I can bring some of those issues to the surface and help make the gravity of the disease more prominent. However, I decided to stay firmly in fiction and family drama territory, and not to write a dramatized documentary on the subject.

I have witnessed several different approaches to handling the disease by both individuals and entire families, and I have learned that the people involved in every case need to work out what is best for them. In my book, a family works out their particular approach, which is right for them. They have different ideas about it and need to battle it out. These clashes fascinated me, and I felt they were worth exploring.

Issues of caring at home, mobile-care assistance, or institutionalizing patients are personal and, depending on where in the world you are, every family has very different options or limitations. The ending in my book must be seen in that context: as an individual “best” solution that uniquely fits the Korhonen family.

As point of first reference and for a more comprehensive and scientific overview of information and help available, I recommend: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/ in the UK, and http://www.alz.org/ in the United States.

There are support groups, help lines, and many other sources available in most countries, which will be able to advise specifically for each individual situation.

I can also recommend Because We Care by Fran Lewis. This fantastic book has a comprehensive appendix with more or less everything you need to know about the disease: Its stages, personal advice on caring, information, tools and help available in the United States.

For consistency, I exclusively used material relating to a medium-advanced stage of the disease. To protect the privacy and dignity of the patients that inspired the story, I have altered all of the events and used both first- and second-hand experiences and anecdotes. Nothing in this book has actually happened in that way. Apart from some outer parallels between my characters and patients I witnessed, any similarities with real people, alive or dead, are coincidental and unintended.

Airlines

The airline plot is not based on any real incident but is inspired by my own imagination. I used to work for an airline, and so naturally, much of Hanna’s life is based on my own experience of fifteen years flying. I lived with the awareness that every time a call bell goes off on a plane this could be a matter of life and death. What happens to Hanna in the book has never happened to me or anyone close to me. My flying life was not that extraordinary. Fortunately.

But every year airline crew are retrained in emergency procedures and aviation medicine, and at least during those intense yearly re-training sessions your mind cannot help considering the possibilities of such events.

The modern trend of the “suing- and compensation-culture” and the extent of it in some cases worries me a little, which is why some of that concern found its way into the book.

The lifestyle of cabin crew and pilots is often falsely glorified as a glamorous string of free holidays and leisure. A recent crew strike in the UK has brought the profession into disrepute in the media, representing them as fat cats and lazy bones. My book aims to shed a bit of light on the realities of flying. I enjoyed the life and would not want to miss the experience, but it is a tough life that demands huge personal sacrifices and flexibility, sleep deprivation on a massive scale, and exposure to aggressive and abusive behaviour by a consumerist clientele. In the global trend of cost cutting, salaries are going down and what used to be a career is at risk of becoming a minimum-wage job handed to people who have no experience and who have no incentive to give it their all.

My book is a tribute to my former colleagues in the airline industry personnel, who, in my opinion, are unsung heroes and a bunch of wonderful, hard-working and very caring people.

Memory

What makes Alzheimers’ so terrible? What is it that makes a memory so important to one’s life that people compare its horrors to pain-inflicting diseases such as cancer? You are alive and physically well, you eat and function as a human, but as an Alzheimer patient, you are bound to be suffering, frustrated, depressed and unhappy.

Of course, it is ridiculous to compare the two diseases, but while a cancer patient still has their awareness and choices, the Alzheimer sufferer is losing the core of their being, and everything they ever were.

How can you define yourself if you cannot remember? You have had children, but you won’t recognize them. You won awards, had a successful career, made people happy, but you don’t know any of it. Who are you and what are you doing on the planet? Who are the people around you? As the disease progresses, these things become more intense and you can live in a mental prison of fear and disorientation. Your brain won’t do as you want it to. The fear of losing it altogether, for some is impossible to bear. You are about to lose everything that was ever precious to you.

That thought is frightening to all of us. It can happen to all of us. The worst stage seems to be when patients still notice that something is wrong. We all know how annoying it is when we just put something down and don’t remember where. Imagine that happening to you all the time, every day, and you get an idea of how it might feel. The caretakers see their loved ones slowly drift away into a stranger.

Biddy’s husband Walter in my novel becomes obsessed with preserving memories—his own and others. He begins to write a family chronicle as a constructive outlet for his fears. He is an important character with his musings about preserving knowledge, memories, and facts, and he allowed me to bring in thoughts about the disease on a different and more reflective level.

I hope that I have managed to write about more than just the clinical side of the disease. I stuck to the early stages of Alzheimers in the story because it gave me the best opportunities to work these thoughts into the story. It allows me to look back at Biddy’s past but with still a lot of hope.

922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_oAbout Christoph: Christoph Fischer was born in Germany as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today.

Links – United States (click on title for Amazon page):

Time to Let Go

The Luck of the Weissensteiners

Sebastian

The Black Eagle Inn

Links – UK (click on title for Amazon page):

Time to Let Go

The Luck of the Weissensteiners

Sebastian

The Black Eagle Inn

 

 

 

Book Review Friday – A Fitting Place

A Fitting PlaceMary Gottschalk’s first novel A Fitting Place wraps the reader in a familiar blanket in the opening pages. A lovely surprise awaited me as I began reading a story told a hundred different ways of a marriage breaking up when a husband falls for someone younger. Lindsey Chandler and her story of growth leaves the typical and takes the reader on her journey to find out just what her “fitting place” is in the world.

Lindsey’s world crumbles and her teenage daughter Zoey crumbles right along with her. Gottschalk doesn’t shy away from the issues as Zoey crashes into a full-blown case of bulimia, and Lindsey realizes the perfect world of her marriage and family never really existed except in the pages of a fantasy created after her own troubled childhood. As a result, Lindsey explores different avenues on her journey, including an affair with another woman.

I loved the juxtaposition of Lindsey’s two female friends in the book. Dee is the friend we all have, born from their husbands’ friendship. But the friendship with Dee is based on certain presumptions, one of which is that Lindsey and Ted are happily married. When it becomes evident that isn’t true, neither Dee nor Lindsey know exactly what to do, but they keep trying. Lindsey realizes she’s never been honest with Dee about her feelings, while at the same time realizing she’s never been truthful to herself. Joan represents the “friend” whose friendship is based on something other than mutual respect. Soon enough Lindsey realizes that Joan needs Lindsey to be a certain way, just as Ted did during their marriage. Lindsey explores a sexual relationship with Joan and enjoys the results; however, she also realizes that she prefers the intimacy of men.

While it may seem this book is an examination of sexual preferences, I didn’t feel that was the main theme. It’s just an interesting side plot.

This book is about love–all kinds of love. There is the love we have for a partner; there is the love we have for our children; there is the love we have for our dearest friends; and there is the love we develop over time with people who are thrust into our lives without having chosen them. That type of love is portrayed by Gottschalk in the guise of Lindsey’s mother-in-law. Through this relationship, the reader sees how we can often misinterpret others and make judgements without taking the time to talk to another person.

A Fitting Place works on many levels. I found myself pushing for certain outcomes of the book (no spoilers here), but then sat back and enjoyed the writing of Gottschalk. She’s just as meticulous in her prose in this book as she was in her memoir Sailing Down the Moonbeam.

I recommend A Fitting Place if you love to enter vicariously into the world of a character as she searches for a better self, which includes love in all its choices and incarnations.

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Review Copy A Fitting Place in exchange for an honest review.

 

Author Wednesday – Mary Gottschalk

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday once again. Today I welcome back fellow author Mary Gottschalk who appeared on Writing Whims more than a year ago. I reviewed her first book Sailing down the Moonbeam, a memoir from her time of living on a sailboat while her marriage crumbled around her.  Cover lgNow Mary has turned her hand to writing fiction with the publication of A A Fitting PlaceFitting Place. I’m thrilled she’s returned to talk about switching gears from nonfiction to fiction.

Welcome, Mary. Tell us a little bit about how your two books are connected. Do they have a common theme or thread?

Yes — the concept that you grow the most when you are outside your comfort zone, when your core beliefs and values are challenged, when your habitual ways of getting though the day don’t work.

It’s tempting to think of one’s “comfort zone” as a place in which you can get through life with minimal stress. In fact, many sociologists and psychologists use the term to describe a set of behaviors that got you through the traumas of childhood, but are not necessarily healthy or effective in adult relationships.

And even if you do function effectively in your personal and professional, it’s hard to grow and develop as a human being if you stay in an environment where everything is safe and familiar.

The French author, André Gide, captured this notion beautifully: “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

Excellent quote, and I so agree. You do a beautiful job of expressing that philosophy in your books, Mary. What is it that’s inspired you to include this thread in both books?

It’s a concept that has played a key role in my own life.

I’ve been something of a risk-taker since childhood, out of both curiosity and an intolerance for routine and repetition. Even so, I spent much of my early life ensconced in the comfort zone defined by my parents, teachers, bosses, and friends. Although I went to the right schools, got the right jobs, and married the right sort of man, I lived in constant fear of being found wanting.

And then I made the decision to walk away from all those expectations. At the time, the decision to quit my job and sail around the world with my husband seemed outrageously risky. In retrospect, it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. By leaving my comfort zone for a world in which everything was foreign, I could recreate myself, based on what I wanted, not what I thought others expected of me.

I intended for Sailing Down the Moonbeam to be “my story,” but as the memoir progressed, I realized that “the story” belonged on a larger stage. Sailing on the ocean is a metaphor for the whole of life:  you can’t control your environment, the path is not well marked, and you often end up someplace other than where you set out to go.

Moonbeam is a story of a woman who makes a conscious decision to step out of her comfort zone. But most people can’t quit their jobs and head off into the sunset. I itched to write a story that could happen to any woman.

Voilà, I wrote the novel A Fitting Place in which my protagonist remains surrounded by friends, family and her career, but begins to grow in new ways when she is forced out of her comfort zone by changing circumstances.

How did you choose the title, A Fitting Place? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

No, it came during a regular session with my writing buddy Carol Bodensteiner. As we talked about how Lindsey was “trying on” a different way of life, we thought immediately of a fitting room.

However, the title works as a metaphor on multiple levels:

  • A Fitting Room – A fitting room is not just a place to check sizes, but also be a place to try on a new persona — a dramatically different style or color. How would I look in purple? Would I feel sexy or tart-y in a dress with a plunging back? Over the years, dressing rooms yielded some unexpected treasures, but also a host of purchases that languished in a closet until I carted them off to Goodwill.

Lindsey’s love affair offers an opportunity to try a different way of living and loving. But will a same-sex relationship stand the test of time, or will it founder just as her previous relationships with men have foundered?

  • The Biblical Notion of Fitting — The term “fitting” appears in the Bible, usually referring to actions that are appropriate rather than “right” in an a priori or moralistic way.

For most of her life, Lindsey tried to do the “right” thing, often subordinating her needs to what she assumed was expected of her. Only when Lindsey begins to take responsibility for her own actions—to do what fits her situation rather than what she thinks is expected—do her chronic stomachaches ease.

  • A Jigsaw Puzzle – For many years, Lindsey felt that some critical piece of information or insight was missing from her life. But the missing pieces were largely of her own making, a consequence of her tendency to withhold information about herself. The puzzle pieces began to fall into place when Lindsey began to share more about her own needs, and negotiate day to day life based on a realistic assessment of the stakes.

I love that the title has so many layers. It all “fits.” How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?

I found a draft of chapter one dated January 2008, more than six years ago. I’ve never felt weighted down by the time it’s taken—a fact that seems surprising for someone who dislikes repetition. But the story and the characters have evolved quite significantly over that period, so always felt new.

Also, there were a couple times when I set it aside for three–six months. It’s so easy for an author to fall in love with her own words … and putting it aside means you can come back with a less jaundiced eye.

I agree that time away from a work can bring new perspective. I started my current work in progress in 2006, and let it alone for seven years. But I never forgot the characters. I’m always curious about when other writers discover they have a voice. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

It was rather late in life. As a voracious reader, I always recognized a distinctive “voice” when I saw it, but I’d never tried to define it. I had no idea how to find my own voice when I turned my hand to creative writing at age sixty.

Although I’ve been a prolific writer since childhood, almost everything I wrote had a purpose—a term paper, my senior thesis in college, a report to a client, an opinion piece for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. With this kind of writing, where my goal was to present a set of ideas and concepts logically and persuasively, I made a conscious effort to silence anything that might be considered a personal point of view or an individual voice.

I did, from time to time, keep a journal (mostly when I was traveling) and for a brief period in college, I tried my hand at poetry. But until I started on my memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam, it never dawned on me that I needed a voice — or that I didn’t have a voice.

Writing a memoir strikes me as a wonderful way to find your voice, since you know what happened, and how people—most importantly, you as the author—felt about the events. I don’t mean to make light of the challenge of writing realistic and three-dimensional characters, but if you tell your story well, your voice will emerge.

I’ve never thought of it that way. It’s very logical. What is the best thing a reviewer could say about one of your books?

Gottschalk’s characters explore “edgy” or “provocative” issues in a way that gives the reader “a shiver of recognition” at the universal human dimension of even an unfamiliar situation or experience.

I love “shiver of recognition.” Such a powerful thing to have said about your writing and to realize as a reader. Are your books traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

I decided to self publish for two reasons. First of all, I had good luck with self-publishing my memoir from a process point of view. Getting a book produced is a bit like putting on a gala: you have to make a list of all the tasks and then check them off, one by one. It’s tedious, but not hard. And since high-quality Print on Demand (e.g., Create Space) is now available, A Fitting Place was even easier to do, with considerably less upfront cash.

But the second reason is that it is almost impossible for the average author to make any money. Advances are small, and you need to sell a lot of books before you begin to receive royalties. Then too, the royalties on e-books are ridiculously small when you consider that they are zero cost to the publisher. These days, I make significantly more money from the e-book edition of Moonbeam than I do from the paperbacks.

Yes, that’s the reality of book publishing today, and thank goodness we have that choice. I’m so happy you stopped by today, Mary. It’s always a treat to hear from my fellow authors.

Be sure to stop by Writing Whims on Friday for my review of A Fitting Place.

Mary-Gottschalk-7x9About Mary: Mary has made a career out of changing careers. Her mantra comes from Ray Bradbury: “Jump off the cliff and grow your wings on the way down!”
Mary spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, working with major corporations in New York, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. Along the way, she dropped out several times, the first time to embark on the three-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, SAILING DOWN THE MOONBEAM.

In her latest incarnation, she is a writer and lecturer, with emphasis on the personal and professional benefits that come when you step outside your comfort zone.

Click on titles for links to Mary’s Work:

Sailing Down the Moonbeam

A Fitting Place

 

 

Author Wednesday – Cate Beauman

typewriterWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today Cate Beauman stops by Writing Whims to tell us about her new release Justice for Abby. Cate is the widely successful author of the romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Justice for Abby is the sixth book in this series.

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

Welcome back, Cate. You’ve been busy since you last visited. Since you’re relatively new (and successful) as an author, tell us when you first discovered your voice as a writer? 

I’ve always said that my writing career started from divine intervention. I never had a burning desire to write. I didn’t even know I could. I remember the day I decided I was going to tell stories. It was October 2010 and nothing seemed to be going right in my life. My family and I had just made a cross-country move that didn’t go particularly well. I’d accepted a job position similar to the one I had always loved in New Hampshire only to hate it in the school system I was working for. I ended up resigning, gorging myself on chocolate, and reading Nora Robert’s novels to soothe my soul. One evening after finishing yet another book, I had this epiphany that I was going to tell a story about a bodyguard and the woman he would protect. Five Amazon bestsellers later, and I never looked back.

That’s quite amazing. So you took a down time in your life to turn it around to something quite amazing. Good for you. So tell us what writing rituals have you developed?

I’m a mom and wife before I’m anything else, but storytelling takes a close second! I follow the same routine pretty much everyday. Each morning starts by getting the kids ready and off to school. I typically tidy up the house because I can’t stand working in a mess. Next, I sit down to check e-mail, play a quick game of Bejeweled or Mahjong Tiles to clear my mind and get to work. I work until the kids come home, cook dinner, help with homework, and get back to it after everyone heads to bed.

Nice. I like to play hearts on my computer to clear my head, so I’m happy to hear someone else does that same thing. You’ve been writing this series since the beginning, but I’m curious if all six of these books have the same thread.

They sure do! All of my books thus far chronicle the close protection agents from Ethan Cooke Security.05 All-Book-Covers-Side-by-Side-Promotional

We all get bad reviews at some point, but it’s never easy.What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Not everyone is going to like our work. I never read my reviews, good or bad, because they aren’t written for me. They’re written to share their opinions with other readers.

That is an excellent philosophy and practice. I find the reviews mean less to me the more I get. How did you choose the title, Justice for Abby

Justice for Abby sort of came to me, as have all of the titles for my books. I felt this title fits this story well because Abby’s finally getting her chance to face the men who tried to ruin her life.

Tell us a little bit about how you came up with the plot for Justice for Abby.

The idea for Justice For Abby came to me one evening while watching an episode of Vanished with Beth Holloway. The story of a young woman named Amy Bradley vanishing from a cruise ship caught my attention. They believe she is still alive and stuck in the horrific world of human sex trafficking. I couldn’t stop thinking about her horrible situation and started my research into the subject immediately after.

I always tell folks who wonder where I get my ideas to just read the paper or watch television. Ideas are rampant. Human sex trafficking is certainly an intriguing and horrific topic. Since you’ve recently switched careers, how does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

I’m very lucky to have a wonderful husband and kids. They are very supportive of my career. It’s not uncommon to discuss plot snafus or character issues over dinner along with how everyone’s day was. I couldn’t do what I do without their understanding. There are days when dinner is late or I’m lost in my own head during first and second draft mode, and my men just roll with it!

How wonderful. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my husband and my grown daughter either. My daughter is one of my beta readers, and I find her opinions invaluable. It sounds as if you keep a busy schedule with the family and your writing, so what do you do during your down time?

I don’t have a whole lot of down time. My world revolves around two active kids, two huge dogs, and storytelling. When I do take a break, I like to make jewelry or spend time with my family.

It sounds as if you’ve found your niche and with your family’s support, I know you’ll be writing many more books. Thank you so much for stopping by today, Cate. I wish you much more success with your books.

04 Cate profile pic copyAbout Cate Beauman: Cate currently lives in Tennessee with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, three years later, I’m working on my seventh novel, Saving Sophie, and I’m an Amazon best selling author. I’m very grateful for the support and success I have had.” – Cate

Contact Cate:

Amazon Author Page 

Justice for Abby Amazon link

Social links:

Twitter: @CateBeauman

www.catebeauman.com

www.facebook.com/CateBeauman

www.goodreads.com/catebeauman