Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.

Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.

I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.

I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.

Monday, June 22, 2015

This Book Can Be Judged By Its Cover

As a followup to my previous post about books on Alzheimer's disease, I'd like to tell you about Blue Hydrangeas, a book I came across shortly after it was published two years ago. 

I gravitate toward Alzheimer's books written by caregivers about personal experiences. Blue Hydrangeas is fiction, written by a nurse, but the stunning cover drew me in. 

In this case, I believe this book can be judged by its cover because Marianne Sciucco's tender love story about an elderly couple who own a New England bed and breakfast captivated me from page one. 

Marianne Sciucco
Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story
Blurb: What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face and couldn’t remember your name?

A short excerpt:
Jack watched while Dr. Fallon grimly examined Sara, took samples of her blood, and performed a few mental tests. When the examination was over, he brought them into his office and tried to be optimistic, but warned them the situation could be grave. Following his recommendations, they consulted a neurologist and a psychiatrist. She went for a MRI of her brain.
       Several stressful weeks passed before all of the test results and consultation reports were in. They returned to Dr. Fallon’s office and he explained the diagnosis. He was blunt, left no room for misunderstanding, and told them what to expect.
        Jack refused to believe it. “I want a second opinion,” he said. “I want her to see the best specialists we can get. We’ll go to Boston, to New York. Nobody in our family has ever had Alzheimer’s disease. Find something else. You have to do more tests.”
     Sara sat by his side and clung to his hand. An air of despondency descended upon her. Silent, she studied the doctor’s face.
          “I wish I could tell you otherwise, Jack, but there is no single test to diagnose Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Fallon explained. “We’ve done all the tests available to rule out other conditions that might explain Sara’s symptoms. Everything indicates probable Alzheimer’s, and there’s nothing more to do.”
         “You say it’s ‘probable,’” Jack argued. “See? You’re not sure. It could be something else.”
           Dr. Fallon leaned toward Jack and looked deep into his eyes. “Jack, right now all I can say is that it is probable, because only an autopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis.”
            Jack had no words to respond to that suggestion.

Marianne has become a great friend and advocate for others who write about Alzheimer's. Today, she agreed to answer some questions for my readers. 

1.   What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through writing?

Writing has taught me the limitless depths of my imagination, my desire to perfect my craft, my dedication to completing a project no one requires of me, and my unwavering belief that I have something wonderful to offer the world.

2.     Do you have a special place to write?

I have a beautiful office in my home with a gorgeous mission style desk with lots of desktop, drawers, shelves, and cabinets. It’s overrun with papers to be filed, books to read, little slips of paper with notes on them, and lots of paraphernalia unrelated to writing. I’ve rigged everything to be ergonomically correct, to help me maintain the best posture to avoid triggering my repetitive strain injuries, but I often find myself writing on my lap top in the living room.

3.     Do you use any special tools to write?

I have lots of tools. Of course, I use a computer, either a PC or a lap top, but sometimes use my iPhone to jot down ideas on the run. I have a Kindle too, to research on the internet or read books about writing, publishing, marketing and promotion, etc. Right now I’m using Grammarly to spellcheck and analyze my work for grammar, punctuation and style errors. It’s a good tool, although a little pricey. I also use Bobbie Christmas’ Find and Refine Method to edit my work. This can be found in her book “Write in Style.” And I use Dragon Dictation because sometimes my hands aren’t up to the task of writing, and it’s a pretty accurate tool, well worth the investment.

4.     Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

My current WIP is Swim Season, the story of high school swim champion Aerin Keane, who is determined to leave her troubles behind as she starts twelfth grade in her third high school. Senior year is supposed to be fun, right? Friends. Parties. Boys. Ready to give up her dreams of a college swimming scholarship and a shot at the Olympics, Aerin decides she doesn't want to win anymore, she wants to swim for fun, it's her "therapy." But when her desire to be just one of the girls on the team collides with her desire to be the best this school has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to challenge a long-standing school record attached to a $50,000 scholarship? I hope to publish later this year. Here’s a preview.

5.     Where did you get the idea for your book?

Like so many authors, I wear several hats, one of which is 'Swim Mom.' I've shuttled my daughter to swim meets and swim practice for years, and now follow her across state lines during her college swimming career. All those hours sitting on cold, metal bleachers waiting to watch her swim for a minute or two gave me more than a sore you-know-what: It inspired me to write a book about it. My goal is to write a story about the whole high school swimming experience, to show others who may not be as familiar with the sport how much fun it is and how hard these kids work. I started it four years ago and will soon have a completed manuscript. The plan is to publish in 2015.

6.    Do you have a favorite character from your book or series? Why that one?

I love my heroine Aerin. She’s a character I developed slowly, because I didn’t know much about her when I started writing her story. She’s an Olympic hopeful, but has been through a few life-changing experiences that have left her confused, angry, and unsure of herself. She grows a lot in this story. She’s fiercely loyal to her mother, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, whom she sees as both a victim and a patriot, and is determined to support her. She’s furious with her father and resents her stepmother and stepsisters, but comes to peace with them.  Always the odd girl in school, set apart by her swimming achievements, she longed to be just one of the girls, and finally has friends and fun in her new high school. But in the end, she realizes her destiny is to be great, and she is willing to sacrifice her new friends to do so. She is a strong young woman and a great leader. I admire her dedication to her sport and to herself.

Marianne Scuicco's links:
An Interview with Author Marianne Sciucco
Linked In
Buy links:
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

Bio: 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, winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014, and a Library Journal Self-e Selection. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at SUNY Orange.

Many thanks for your time today, Marianne. I'll be 1st in line to buy a copy of Swim Season!

1 comment:

Marianne Sciucco said...

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Jean. It's always a pleasure to talk with other authors. By the way, Blue Hydrangeas is on sale this week at Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo. 0.99 till June 27th.