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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Indie Author Interview: Suzette Brown

Indie Author Interview with Suzette Brown - Author of the Memoir (Family-Relationships / Aging) Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes.

Suzette Brown is a wife, mother, and retired school counselor who learned firsthand the lessons that many people need to know about elder-care and Alzheimer's.

Interview with Suzette Brown

Author Suzette Brown
Author Suzette Brown
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Suzette Brown: As a teenager and young adult, I enjoyed writing poems for my family and friends. A couple of them were published and I realized the impact words could have on the human spirit. Not really a background in writing – my book as a caregiver is my first published accomplishment.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Two favorite books:
Truman Capote – “In Cold Blood”
Vincent Bugliosi – “Helter Skelter”
Anything and everything written by Ann Rule and Stephen King.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
In adulthood I gave it a great deal of thought. I always wanted to be a writer. Many told me I should have been a journalist. The magic of writing and caring about the content was always on my mind growing up. I was determined to one day write a story or a book. At last, I have succeeded.
Even as a small child, I vividly remember how much I enjoyed writing. I was well versed in the English language, used to win Spelling Bees, and developed a wondrous vocabulary as a young woman.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Many years ago, my sibling went overseas for volunteer work. I took great pains to write a story that I gave to her as my gift. The importance of having her in my life was etched in the fancy paper that I used to present her my going away gift. It brought her and others to tears – happy tears – as I read it aloud to her before giving her the written version. My heart and feelings were expressed with words, that made me feel good.

"I just wrote." 

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Writing the book on my mother as she descended into Alzheimer’s was mentally and physically exhausting. My routine consisted of setting up in the back room of our home. All my notes, documents, calendars, journals, and information were pulled from the box in which they had stayed for quite a few years. The back room is quiet, peaceful and during summer months in Virginia, very cool.
Before I found a publisher/editor, I had literally no idea what to do. I just started typing. I made notes on the side. The journals were all dated and I started at the beginning of journal # 1. I just wrote. The words came and the memories flooded the keyboard.
Many days, before I knew it hours had gone by. Some days I would have to take a break, go to the park with my dogs, spend time with my husband, go out to eat or the movies, or take a much needed nap. At times, It was too overwhelming and I needed a break in my routine.
I made sure I drank plenty of water and got up many times as my legs needed a break from sitting. The process was much easier since I type about 95 wpm – as my past typing skills definitely came in handy. Before I knew it, I had a great daily routine.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Quiet, peaceful and cool during the summer months in Virginia. No phone, no television, no radio – just peace and quiet. I didn’t want any outside distractions as I concentrated on the words that appeared on the computer screen. The dogs would join me and lie down with me as they seem to understand how focused I was on my work.
Taking breaks and drinking lots of water were important. After I was finished for the day, I left all paperwork where it was so I could start again the next day.
My workplace also consisted of pictures that I reminisced about and personal items of my mother’s. They always made me smile.

"The easiest part was the actual writing part."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

The easiest part was the actual writing part. The words flowed as they took form from the journal notes. The good memories of family and my mom lingered. Being able to put my story together was an incredible feeling.
The most difficult part was the realization that although my book would inform and provide valuable resources to many – I lived the memories over and over again as my story came together. It was mentally draining to continually type the negative aspect of being a caregiver. Mom’s bad days were hard to write about. Remembering her as a proud and beautiful woman was my reward.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to take our English language to write a story fascinated me. I always thought everyone was a writer or had the aptitude to do so, but I have since learned that is not the case.
I feel honored to have put my story in book form and the greatest joy knowing a caregiver, family member, friend or acquaintance will be helped by my story. That was my intent when I started writing my book. My experience as a caregiver in the rawest form will help another caregiver who may dread another day. There is help out there for others that have been in the same situation.

Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes (Suzette Brown)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Suzette, please tell us a little about your Memoir Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes.
My mother passed away in 2004. When she passed – I had numerous journals, medical notes, test results, calendars, hand written notes and documentation from the hospital, medical notes, doctor’s notes and assisted living facility and convalescent center medical records. I decided to combine all my resources for other caregivers and family members in order to possibly make the transition a little smoother as they dealt with the daily frustrations and joys of being a caregiver.
My story as Mom’s caregiver is real and raw. It describes my life and my family life as we struggle to also take care of my Mother. I go into detail about her non-stop phone calls, finances, driving, elder attorney, friends, living situation, her decline, her memory loss, Adult Protective Services, comments and negative connotations that I had to tolerate from others who always thought they knew better. It was a hard and long road to travel.
I delve into my emotions and Mom’s daily life. It is the story of being a caregiver for my mother for the five (5) years I was honored to do so. It explains her slow mental decline as well as her vicious fight for independence.
Working full time for a school system with my own household to run proved at times to be a huge hurdle for myself – my husband and my son who was a teenager at the time.
The decisions I had to make are explained. The documentation of Alzheimer’s as it slowly swallowed Mom up and the devastating effects this horrid disease had on her is one that all caregivers and family members do and will experience.
I wanted all involved with the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease to understand fully the consequences and decisions involved. The daily activity and demands on the caregiver are unrelenting. The frustration level is indescribable. The emotional and physical toll on the family and the loved one are what I write about in my book.

What inspired you to write the book?
Many co-workers, friends and family members urged me to put all my experiences together in book form. I would answer all questions relating to elder attorney, assisted livings, finances – etc. that I had learned through trial and error.
I had learned so much valuable information for caregivers and the legal aspect of being a DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney) – that the encouragement paid off and I agreed that a book would be beneficial for many other caregivers and family members.
I wasn’t a doctor or nurse, nor an administrator or director. I wasn’t an attorney or legal assistant – I was merely a daughter who had much to learn about being a caregiver. That gave my book the human aspect – not the medical or legal angle.
I was definitely inspired by many who believed in me and what I could do to help others. I continue to “pay it forward” to those that need my help.

"I also list many resources at the end of my book [...]"

What makes your book special?
My book is special due to the honesty and emotions that I emit for readers. It is a look into the actual days, duties and responsibilities of a caregiver. It is not from the viewpoint of degreed health care professionals or other specialists– it is merely a daughter who loves and takes care of her Mother. The relationship between myself/family and Mom was unique and special. I loved her and protected her.
I also list many resources at the end of my book, which has proven to be helpful to many readers. My book is relatable to caregivers and family members who live the roller coaster ride of emotion as I did. I am quite open about my exhaustion and frustration level as I fought for Mom’s rights and those that disagreed with my caregiving skills.
My book is special as I send the reader thru the years and struggle that Mom and I encounter. There is no “fluff” to my book. My forthright style was purposely written to give those with little to no knowledge of a typical caregiver week – a wide eyed view of exactly how it is.
The feedback has been satisfying. My honest and open story has been received as refreshing.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
There are many that have praised me for my writing and thanked me for the real emotions and honesty I expressed.
I am pleased that I am making a positive dent into the lives of those who have no idea what to do or what steps to take.
Readers need to know how important it is to leave a written review for the author. Be it a lousy review or a 5* review, the time they take to write it down is appreciated.
I’m pleased so far with the success as knowledge of book continues to grow and inform.

How long did it take it to write the book?
Since I am a fast and accurate typist, the actual writing part did not take me more than a month. The BETA reader kept up with me as I wrote. She would send back the cuts and corrections and I would follow up immediately.
Thank goodness for all those years of typing ! They came in handy.

"Write what you love."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
*The best piece of advice I can give to other Authors is – do NOT use one of these big self-publishing company to publish your book. This piece of advice was given to me by a local author in my area. How right he was.
*There are many other reputable, honest and supportive editors/publishers available.
Ask me on my blog, www.Alzheimersandflower.com
And I will be happy to refer.
*Write what you love. Write down notes. I didn’t seek anyone else’s opinion or input, nor will I.
*Make sure you have a professional editor to scan/correct your book before publishing. Edit edit and edit some more. Please don’t publish your work without a GOOD editor. It is worth every cent. I see many author’s holding their books with pride, only to have readers disappointed due to the grammar, spelling and errors of an unedited book. Readers want a professional product.
*Send your draft to a trusted friend as I did. Get their input and feedback. Make sure you have a great cover and well thought out title for your book.
*Do your research. Look up “editing” “proofreading” blogs. They may be able to refer you.
*Look under “journalists” and get their feedback.
*Sign up for as many “social” sites as you are able to promote your book.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am currently working on book #2. Let’s just say it is the opposite end of the spectrum! But a subject I am quite familiar with.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I, personally, prefer reading the soft or hard cover edition. To have the actual book in hand is what I like.
Hopefully we will never do away with bookstores. They are so much a part of our culture. How could we have a city with no bookstore? In 5 or 10 years though, bookstores unfortunately maybe be history, I hope not though.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do not have a Kindle, but I do have a NOOK. Many books though cannot be downloaded to my NOOK. When this is the case, I use my laptop. There is now a small “Kindle” icon that I use for the books I am reading.
Recently, I started reviewing books for editors and publishers. They send me the download link and the book goes right into the Kindle app. This modern computer technology is incredible to me. Who would have thought that we could one day download a book into a computer?

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I did not start writing my book until I did not work full-time anymore. It is a full-time project in itself to write a good book.
I am retired from the school system both in Gloucester and Hampton. I also have had numerous knee surgeries – including both replaced and the left one had to have a revision. (Revisions are extremely rare, my initial knee replacement came loose after 5 years).
My Therapy Dog International, by the name of Flower…..and I volunteer throughout the week. It is my way of giving back. We visit hospitals, convalescent centers, assisted living facilities, retirement centers, etc.
Her “brother” is my “old man” Charlie, who will be 15 years old this year. He still keeps up with us on our walks.
I enjoy spending time with my husband of 31 years, we go for walks, visit friends, out to eat, and love a good movie. I never would have made it through my caregiving years without my spouse and son.
I love to read – especially going to bed early with a good nighttime tea and relaxing for an hour or so.
We have an adult son that lives in Charlotte, North Carolina that I don’t see as often as I would like to.
Most would consider it a “boring” life, but we love it. It’s calm and serene.

How can readers connect with you?
Twitter: @thesuzettebrown
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mpsbrown?fref=ts
Blog: www.alzheimersandflower.com
Linkedin: Suzette Brown
Google+ Suzette Brown

Thank you very much for the Interview, Suzette.

About the Book Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes

Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes (Suzette Brown)
Click to Read an Excerpt
This book is for all of the caregivers out there who slowly found themselves in the position of taking care of a loved one who may no longer even recognize them due to the ravages of Alzheimer's.

Through Brown's experience watching from the sidelines as her mother slowly declined, to the day-to-day struggles she faced and the lessons she learned about meeting the very special needs of someone who used to take care of her, the author provides insight and information for anyone who may face this frightening possibility.

The author: "I watched helplessly as her physically, mental and emotional needs required more and more love and care. My devotion to her was my top priority. Journals, doctors notes,medical notes, calendars, phone calls, paper notes – all combined for a day to day accounting of Mom’s demise. I am not a doctor, health care professional or boast of any fancy degrees. I am a daughter who loved her Mom unconditionally and ensured she was safe and well taken of. My emotions are very real and the story is raw. Frustration, rage, anger, confusion – were experienced daily by both Mom and myself."

"- 'Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes' should be read by anyone whose family has been touched by the disease. I couldn't put the book down. It will offer guidance, honesty, and provide one with a realistic look on how this disease takes its toll. I highly recommend this book." - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Alzheimer's Through My Mother's Eyes with Excerpt on Amazon

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