Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Next Big Thing (Blog Hop Post)

What is the working title of your book or project?

Stumbling Through the Dark, a memoir of my final year with my husband as we faced his death from leukemia


Where did the idea come from?  When he was first diagnosed, I thought of writing a cheerful book called Leukemia Wife on how to help your husband cope with cancer.  As he got sicker and sicker, my focus changed to documenting our final days together.


What genre does it fall under?  Memoir


Who would you choose to play your characters in a movie?  Oh, George Clooney for the husband, of course.


What is a one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript?  Stumbling Through the Dark is the story of an interfaith couple facing the greatest spiritual challenge and of a woman who lost her husband but eventually found herself.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I have just signed a contract with a publisher whom I contacted directly.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript.  I wrote it in about 3 months and unfortunately didn’t back it up.  I had about half in hard copy when my computer crashed, taking the manuscript with it.  I figured if I could rewrite one sentence, I could rewrite the whole thing, so I did.  All in all, with revisions and more revisions, it probably took close to a year.

What other books or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?  Probably Joyce Carol Oates story on her widowhood. 


Who or what inspired you to write the book?  I’d been writing romance for quite some time and my husband’s illness changed my focus.  My last romance came out the year after he died.  Since his death, I’ve worked mainly on creative non-fiction.  Recently I co-edited On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties, which came out in October.


What else about the book might pique readers’ interest?

Basically I believe this is a love story, a story of hope.  And one very important character is a possum…but that’s near the end.
Thanks to Nancy Hinchliff  for inviting me to join this blog hop.  Find out about Nancy's Next Big Thing at

Rossandra White will be posting at at about her next big thing. 

Please check out both of their posts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quote for the Week: Autumn

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. —Albert Camus                                                             

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview with Nina Albee, Contributor to On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

Today I'm interviewing Nine Abnee, one of the talented contributors to On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties, published by Silver Boomer Books.  Nina's piece is titled "What I Learned When My Husband Died."

TZ:  Your piece is about what to do when your spouse dies.  How have you coped since?

NA: I live in the present as much as I can.  I sold my house this year and moved from a 4000 square foot house to a 1500 square foot apartment.  It took me 3 years to get the house ready to sell, a year to sell it and 6 months to settle into my new place.  It was really, really hard work and difficult to downsize, but it has also been therapeutic and freeing.  So I guess I've coped by moving on.  I also have a very demanding job and wonderful daughters so I have a full life.

TZ:  What's been the hardest thing about widowhood?

NA:  The little things are harder than the big ones.  My oldest daughter just got married  and it was hard not to have him there, and everyone thinks of the holidays as hard.  But I think daily life is harder.  First, I have to do absolutely everything on my own.  Of course, I have help from friends and family, but cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaners, plumbers, Christmas decorations, travel arrangements and so on--it is exhausting.  And the daily chores are not as much fun when you don't have someone to share them with or complain about them.  And it sounds silly, but watching TV alone is often a bit lonely.  Whether it is news or football or a TV show, I always want to call someone and talk about it.  I have friends over but then that requires some level of entertaining.  Even if we weren't talking, it was nice to have someone in the house, a silent companion.  It is easier to handle the big things.  We have taken a family trip every Christmas since he died and we've really enjoyed them.  You make a plan for the big stuff but the little stuff requires coping.

TZ:  I could have written that answer above myself. 
        What are you most proud of that you've accomplished as a widow?

NA:  There are several things that I am proud of but I think the most important one is that I have learned to be okay with being alone.  In fact, I have come to like the peacefulness of being all alone in my home with myself.  People ask me if I want to date, and I don't.  I think they think there is something wrong with me but I don't feel the need to start up a relationship with someone else and it feels too hard to let someone new into my life.  I am too busy and I have a demanding job and am the single parent of two daughters and two dogs.  Okay, the daughters are adults, but I'm still their only parent.

TZ:  Tell us about your writing background.  What are you currently working on?

NA:  I have learned a lot about marriage and relationships with my new perspective as a widow.  The essay in this book was my first attempt to put this learning in writing.  I would like to write a book that offers learning through storytelling.  My goal is to have a good draft by July 25, 2013.  My husband died on July 25, 2003, so it will have been 5 years.  My writing goal for now is to give advice to women who are still married about what I have learned about marriage.

TZ:  Thanks so much!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quote for the Week: Thanksgiving

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Fable of the Donkey in the Well

Last week I went to Chicago for the family sessions at the end of my son's aphasia program at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  What a wonderful program!  What great speech pathologists!  I'm amazed at my son's progress but even more impressed by his attitude and determination to improve and keep improving his language skills. 

Few people are aware of the effects of stroke on all aspects of language:  listening, speaking, reading and writing.  Few people have ever heard of aphasia.  It's a devastating problem, but with good therapy, people can get better...and better.

During one of the family sessions, someone read us the story of the donkey in the well.  Here it is:

Once upon a time there was a donkey.  It was a stupid, stubborn old donkey, and even the farmer who owned it didn't like it. 

One day the farmer heard the donkey braying loudly.  After looking all over, he found the donkey at the bottom of an old, abandoned well.  Exasperated, the farmer called his friends and asked them to come over and bring shovels.  He had decided to bury the stupid donkey in the well. 

As the men began shoveling dirt into the well, the donkey brayed in protest but after a while, he stopped.  The farmers kept shoveling.
Finally one of them decided to look into the well.  What he saw astonished him.  As each shovelful of dirt hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up.  The farmers continued to shovel the dirt, the donkey continued to shake it off and soon he reached the top of the well, climbed out and trotted away.
So of course, the moral of the story is that no matter what life shovels at you, shake it off and take a step up.  That's what my son is doing.  No matter if life hands you aphasia or widowhood or loneliness, remember the donkey and shake it off and take a step up. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Interview with Sheryl Nelms, Contributor to On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

This is an interview with Sheryl Nelms, contributor to On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties.  I was surprised to learn that Sheryl is not a widow herself.  Her two poems are about women around her who have been widowed.  Her poems are "Hell, I Forgot Red" (my personal favorite) and "Grandpa's Shoes."

SN:  In "Hell, I Forgot Red" the lady speaking was a good friend of my aunt.  Her husband had died and had been cremated.  "Grandpa's Shoes" happened after Grandpa died and we were disposing of his belongings.

TZ:  If you had to give a 6-word description of widowhood, what would it be?

SN:  Widowhood is sad, stressful and lonesome.

TZ:  Have you always written poetry?  Tell about your writing background.

SN:  No, only since 1977 when I was 33 and took a creative writing class at South Dakoa State University.  I had a wonderful teacher, David Alen Evans, who is now the Poet Laureate of South Dakota who gave me an address to send that first poem to (He said that they might want to publish my poem).  I sent Hyperion my poem and they did publish it.  I was hooked.  Since then I have had over 5,000 poems, articles and stories published, along with 14 individual collections of my poetry.  I've been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and have won over 120 different prizes for my writing.  My work has been in magazines, newspapers, anthologies, textbooks, on state studnet assessment tests and on an outhouse display in Yosemite National Park.

TZ:  Impressive.  And was that a typo or did it really say your work was on an outhouse display?  Are you working on something now?

SN:  I am currently working on my memoir, children's stories and poetry.

TZ:  Any advice for writers/  For widows?

SN:  Hang in there and don't give up.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interview with Stella Rimmer, Contributor to On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

Stella Rimmer is one of the talented authors featured in Silver Boomer Books' new release, On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties.

TZ:  Would you summarize your piece for readers?

SR:  "Blind Dates" is one of the more lighthearted pieces in the book, but being widowed at age 73, I was able to approach it with a sense of humor rather than with the agonizing emotions evoked during the actual time of the events described.  The piece is really a cameo of my dating experiences over the last 31 years of widowhood.  I doubt that the story is unique to me, so perhaps other people in similar situations will be able to relate to it and know that they are not alone.

TZ:  What has been the hardest thing to cope with during your years as a widow?

SR:  The hardest thing has been--and still is--not having someone to share both the good and bad things.

TZ:  What are you most proud of?

SR:  As a cosseted young married woman for some 20 years, I am most proud of subsequently having been able to conquer my fear of making important decisions on my own, handling financial problems and, not least, being able to guide and support my two daughters during their earlier years.

TZ:  Any advice to widows?

SR:  We all react so differently to the state of widowhood with all its attendant emotions.  I don't think I would deign to offer any advice.  All I will say is that the sadness it bring is the price we pay for having loved someone so deeply and perhaps we should feel grateful for having been blessed with the opportunity to do so.

TZ:  What is your writing background?  Your writing process?

Although up to now I have not attempted to have anything published, I've always enjoyed writing and found it therapeutic to express myself on paper. My notebook is always nearby so that I can jot thoughts down as they occur to me, and when I want to write about something specific, I dfraw on those notes for elaboration.

TZ:  What are you presently working on?  Any specific writing goals?

SR:  Presently I am writing the story about my husband's two heart transplants in 1981, which is something he began himself just weeks before he died.  It has always been my goal to fulfill his dream of doing this, if only vicariously though me.

TZ:  Any advice for writers?

SR:  Speaking from personal experience, I would urge other would-be writers to join a writing class.  Apart from the enjoyment of spending a couple of hours every week with other like-minded people, I have learned so much about the actual craft.  I pay tribute to my teacher, who has encouraged me to express myself with more emotion and vulnerability.  Her classes have been inspirational and a great motivation to write on a regular basis.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quotes for Election Day

If the World Series runs until election day, the networks will run the first one-half inning and project the winner. ~Lindsey Nelson
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~George Jean Nathan

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America? ~Author Unknown

There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen. ~Author Unknown

People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. ~Walter H. Judd

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates. ~Jay Leno

The most important political office is that of the private citizen. ~Louis Brandeis

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour

Mankind will never see an end of trouble until... lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power... become lovers of wisdom. ~Plato, The Republic


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Books of Ocober

This month I read three books:

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens is a clear-eyed, no-holds-barred look at the author's impending death, with an afterword by his wife.  No sugar-coating on this one.  Death is what it is.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has been high on the best seller list for months.  It's a thriller about a woman who goes missing on her fifth anniversary, with enough twists and turns to keep you reading despite the fact that it's pretty long.  Unfortunately, the ending is a disappointment.  Oh, well.  I enjoyed it anyway.

Sister by Rosamund Lupton is another thriller.  When a woman learns her sister has disappeared (OMG, do all women disappear in thrillers?) she returns home to London to find out what's happened.  Another rather unsatisfying ending, but a fairly good read along the way.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interview with June Dowis, Contributor to Widowhood for Smarties

June's beautiful poems, one a haiku and the other "Lingering at the Cemetery," touched me.  I was surprised to learn she is not a widow!

TZ:  What prompted youto write these two pocms?

JD:  I don't know why, but I've always been blessed with the ability to imagine what life would be without my loved ones.  I'm sure that sounds crazy, but it has served me well.  My mother was widowed when I was fourteen, but she, like most of my family, kept her emotions to herself.  However, I will say that this November, I will be divorced four years after twenty-four years of a wonderful marriage.  Ironically, I have been dating my ex-husband for a year now and I think that is due in a large part to my still being able to appreciate the good person he is even when we were going through something tragic.  Before I went through a divorce myself, I never realized the grief that it brings with it.  And I will say that most of my dying-related poems were written during this time.

TZ:  Tell about your writing background.  Always poetry?

JD:  I have written a little of everything, personal essays, articles for a local news magazine, church newsletters.  I have written one young adult novel that is done but needs going over and, of course, publishing.  I have one mystery novel that is 2/3 done and I am planning onf resurrecting it this year.  But my true love is poetry--contemporary, free verse and haiku.  It seems to come naturally to me throughout the day, so I am always writing my thoughts.

TZ:  Any other writing goals?

JD: My goals are to publish a chapbook, finish and publish my novel and continue entering my writing in whatever venues pass my way that seem like a good fit.  Also in June this year, I made a goal to have 50 poems out at once.  It took me a while to get that many sent out, but I've done a pretty good job of keeping up

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