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Friday, 28 October 2011

COULD YOU BE A CAREGIVER?

Today I'd like to welcome guest blogger, Rick Lauber author of Caregiver's Guide for Canadians.

Welcome, Rick. Please tell us why you chose to write this book.


Do you know someone who is aging? We are all growing older and this is becoming an issue of national importance. Currently, one in five Canadians helps look after the needs of an aging parent/friend/spouse (source – 2006 Canadian census); with our country’s aging baby boomers, this number is expected to skyrocket.

As parents, friends and/or partners age and their health declines, other relatives/loved ones are left scrambling to find and provide appropriate care. Unless these people have been fortunate enough to work in the health-care field, they often lack the necessary skills, attitudes and experience to adequately help.

I know of these issues well through having served as a family caregiver – not once, but twice – for both of my aging parents. Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia; Dad had Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to being diagnosed, both my parents were the pictures of good health; therefore, I was not expecting either of them to be diagnosed with these serious health conditions, nor was I prepared to serve as a caregiver.

My new-found caregiving roles included helping them move, shuttling them to and from doctor’s appointments, handling their banking, picking up medications from the pharmacy and serving as my father’s Joint Guardian and Alternate Trustee. As a caregiver, I suffered from a sense of imbalance, stress and myriad emotions including anger, frustration and grief. I found that taking a temporary break from my caregiving responsibilities became absolutely vital to manage my own health and well-being; simple, cost-effective means of “escaping” from caregiving include going for a walk, reading and socializing with friends. While caregivers typically focus their time and attention entirely towards a loved one, they cannot overlook their own health and well-being. If I became sick and could not effectively manage, who would care for my parents?

One of my most effective means of coping, over all, was by writing. Journaling my thoughts and frustrations proved to be very therapeutic. First, I wrote only silent feelings, followed by numerous newspaper and magazine articles and finally a complete guidebook entitled “Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians” (published by Self-Counsel Press). The book is a wonderful resource for individuals expecting or currently providing care for a loved one (whether an aging parent/friend/spouse). Sample chapters include “Caregiving from a Distance”, “Searching for Long-Term Care for Your Parent”, “Dealing with Changing Family Dynamics” and “Finding Joy in Caregiving”.

Since its publication (September, 2010), the book has garnered some impressive media interest. I have been interviewed for newspaper articles, radio talk shows and television news broadcasts. I have also spoken to groups and visited numerous bookstores for scheduled signings … I have found that these personal appearances work exceptionally well to create awareness. With the number of caregiving stories I have heard, I am truly convinced that caregivers need an outlet to talk about their own experiences.

As the author, I am humbled with the attention but pleased that I can, even in some small way, help both prospective and current caregivers.

“Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians” is available at national Chapter’s bookstores as well as on-line at
Self Council
Amazon

Rick Lauber
Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians
Rick's Blog
Twitter


Reviews:
A superbly-written and well-documented book that guides the reader through typical eldercare issues provided by professional and private caregivers.

Read the book!! The experiences written about will make you want to fill out the sample forms in the last section of the book for all possible situations. There are also aids and resources listed. Wish I had had those lists when I was first a caregiver!!

A wonderful, concise, and practical book. While the subject of caregiving is a difficult one, Lauber approaches it in a way that a mentor, or wise uncle would...caring, yet firm, and full of useful tidbits and resources.




Thursday, 13 October 2011

DEAR WRITER...

It wasn’t long ago that I was going over my rejection letters from CHASING CLOVERS. Twelve white papers sat before me. Some with letterhead, some without, and even a few with coffee stains on them. Within the neatly typed letters, four stood out above the rest—four with the same inscription... Dear Writer.

I wasn’t important enough for them to address the letter to me. The letter they send all the rejects.

Nope, I am Dear Writer.

The first time I received a rejection letter I sighed loudly, and tossed the paper into the pile of NO’s slowly growing on the right side of my desk.

The second time my jaw clenched, and for a few seconds I think I lost my vision. I took a deep cleansing breath, and then off to the pile it went.

The third time my hand tightened, crinkling the paper a smidgen. I bit my lip from yelling out vulgar profanity, took ten deep breaths that burned my nostrils and throat. I waved the paper in the air and threw it into the pile on the right.

The fourth time was an email so I printed it out. I clenched the paper within both hands, spewed out “Dear Writer” in every mimicking way I could along with a few “Thank you Jack Ass’”, and crumpled the paper up into a tight ball. I went outside and lit it on fire. As I watched the orange flames lick the curled paper, my temper began to subside and I came back to reality. Every writer goes through this, right? It’s never the first time. Heck, it’s usually never the first book. I picked up the charred ball from the pavement, and went inside to run it under some cool water.

The only part that wasn’t burned beyond recognition...Dear Writer.

Dear Damn Writer. Ugh.

I stared at the two words for a long time, my eyes misting—my throat tight. Was I ever going to get this book published? I picked up what was left of my pride and dragging my feet, my chest tight, I went back to my office. I reached for the rejection letters, and spread them all over my desk. Words jumped out at me. “Good, but not good enough.” “You’re almost there, but this needs work.” “Keep trying.” “Sorry, no.” “We do not publish new writers.” “Please, do not waste our time.” (ouch)

I picked up my book, loose papers bound by two elastic bands, with scribbles from editing sprawled across the pages. I ruffled the edge with my thumb casting a faint breeze. The clean, dry scent filled my nostrils, and I smiled. The smell of paper is like homemade bread to a writer.
Even if I never publish this novel, I wrote it. I spent countless hours researching, and reading. I took course after course until I thought my brain was going to explode with information. I typed until my fingers cramped and my eyes dried out. I did it when no one thought I could, or would.

I finished it. I finished it. I FINISHED IT!!!

That was the day I put my book, CHASING CLOVERS in the drawer of my desk thinking it would never be published. A month later I saw the ad Imajin Books had posted in the Writers Guild looking for submissions.
I said jokingly to my husband, “I should send in CHASING CLOVERS and see what kind of rejection I get this time.” I had given up hope on ever finding a home for my novel. He didn’t laugh. He looked at me and said “I don’t think you should give up. Send it. What do you have to lose?”

I sat for a while and pondered what he’d said. He was right; I didn’t have anything to lose. So I gathered my query, synopsis and three chapters and sent them in. What followed next has been a dream come true.
In three days I will be a published author. CHASING CLOVERS will be in ebook and print.

I will hold the story I wrote two years ago in my hands. And you know what? It will be the best baked bread I have ever smelled.

CHASING CLOVERS ebook release this Saturday, Oct. 15th.


Cheers,
Kat

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mail Order Brides and Chasing Clovers

Mail order brides have always fascinated me. In the 1800's women married for a sense of security, and financial stability. They were widows seeking help to raise their children, lost souls searching for independence.

In the 1800’s mail order brides became very popular. Men migrated west to farm land, build towns and cities, and mine for gold. Most being successful, soon found themselves financially stable. But one thing was missing...women. There were very few women in the early days of the west and if some popped up, they were always married. Soon men began sending letters to churches and newspapers back east looking for brides.

The women took on the status of mail order bride for many reasons, but one looms above all the rest...security. Times were tough back then and a woman needed to know she was taken care of. This wasn’t a marriage founded on love, but instead on knowing you had a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and money in your purse. Those things held precedence to love. This doesn’t mean some didn’t find love. I think that was possible, but it wasn’t the reason they were together.

In the early stages of writing Chasing Clovers, I started to research the mail order bride, and I began asking myself questions. Why would my protagonist, Livy Green marry a man she’s never met? Was she running from something, or possibly someone? Was she destitute with no where to live? Was she lonely? Was she married with children and now a widow?

I soon realized she was desperate, from my perspective you’d have to be. She didn’t necessarily want to be a bride, but she needed to escape the life she was living and there was only one way to do so...answer an ad for a mail order bride. I described her fears of first meeting John Taylor, her soon to be husband. She was nervous. Her hands shook, back rigid, no expression formed on her face. She didn’t know him. Was he a drinker, a gambler, a forceful person? She'd second guess herself, wanting to run for the hills and live in the wild, then marry a stranger. But desperation pushed her into this possibly dangerous situation, and she had no choice but to stay.

In Chasing Clovers, Livy and John’s story is an adventure filled with laughter, sorrow, and forgiveness. It is an emotional tale woven solely for you, the reader, to enjoy and fall in love with.

Below are actual ads from the book Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss. I used this book for research and loved it.

"A lively widower of 40, looking much younger, 5 feet 7 inches high, weighing 145 pounds would like to correspond with some maiden or widow lady of honor who would like a good home, kind husband and plenty."

"A gentleman of 26 years old, 5 feet 3 inches, doing a good business in the city, desires the acquaintance of a young intelligent and refined lady possessed of some means, of a loving disposition from 18 to 23, and one who could make home a paradise."

"Wanted: A girl who will love, honest, true not sour; a nice little cooing dove and willing to work in flour:"

Watch for my book Chasing Clovers, published by Imajin Books on Oct 15th in e book!!!

Cheers,
Kat

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Back Cover for My Book.

The idea for Chasing Clovers didn’t come to me right away. There was no epiphany or bright light. No one wacked me across the head with a shovel, or slipped me a note under my door.

I had been writing a story for a few months, but there was something missing. The “missing” was actually a lot of things: no substance, no meat, and no bones. I had scenes, but no plot, no conflict and no resolution in sight. To put it bluntly I had nothing, zip, zilch, nada.
I did however, have characters. And while writing their biographies they started to take shape and form, coming to life right before my very eyes.

I took their backgrounds, delved a little deeper, and began asking myself questions. It wasn’t long after that the book emerged in my cluttered head and oozed from my fingertips onto my keyboard.

Long hours, little sleep and five months later I had written the rough draft of my novel. It would be another year and half of re-writes and hiring an editor to make this book what it is today.

Watch for my first Historical Western Romance novel, to be released by Imajin Books Oct 15th on ebook.

Below is a brief summary and back cover text of Chasing Clovers.

Mail order bride, Livy Green, is desperate to escape the memories of her past.
John Taylor will never love another woman again, but his children need a mother.
Will they learn to trust eachother, or will their pasts interfere?


Longing to escape the awful memories and the saloon she once sang in, Livy Green lies about her past so she can be a wife to John Taylor and step mother to his two young children. Overwhelmed by the task, she struggles to put her resentment aside and love them as her own.

John loved his first wife and is still heartbroken over the loss, but he needs a mother for his children. When his distant and unfriendly mail order bride arrives, he begins to doubt his decision though one glance into Livy's terrified green eyes tells him he can't turn his back on her.

As Livy's past catches up with her, and suspicous accidents begin to happen on the ranch, she is tempted to come clean and tell John the truth. But will he send her back if he does? Or will they forever be CHASING CLOVERS?


Cheers,
Kat