Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joseph Sivak, M.D.: Author's Supporting Authors Tour

by Joseph J. Sivak, M.D.

I first started writing When Can I Go Home? back in 1989 when I was in my last year of medical school. That was about a year after my mother died from Alzheimer's disease.

The book is a memoir about my mother's futile struggle with the disease. After she passed away I had a tremendous need and sometimes furious drive to record the journey in a timeless and permanent way. As a teenager, I had been my mother's primary caregiver for a few years , as the disease progressively robbed her of her cognitive abilities, personality and her very essence. At the time writing about it was very cathartic.

The disease process is profoundly isolating for families and I wanted to scream out and tell the world. That element is there in so many Alzheimer's memoirs.  Unfortunately the issue of isolation has not improved in our society and much as we like to pretend it has in the last thirty years since my mother was diagnosed. At that time most people had not heard of Alzheimer's disease and of course now it is a household term, but as a society we are still ignorant and terrified about it till it affects our own family. The isolation is still there.

The book is a bit unusual or even paradoxical from an Alzheimer's memoir point of view in that  It presents a dual perspective. First is a family caregiver specifically a teenager son, which is a bit unusual and at times even bizarre, since that is not the prototypical demographic of a caregiver. The other perspective is a clinical one from a physician. I have treated thousands of patients and their families affected by many psychiatric and neurological problems including many Alzheimer's victims. The clinical information is broken down and translated for the reader.

So you essentially have these two very different points of view sort of flip-flopping but sort of coming into what I hope is a harmonious symmetry. The third aspect of the book is an underlying and ongoing commentary on all the relevant sociological and psychological issues this book interfaces with. Such issues as the state of health care delivery, being a doctor, and the aging population are addressed and sometimes not in a very convenient way for those that need to hold onto pretense and prejudice for security.   For example as a society we really don't treat the aging population with the honor and dignity they deserve. We are pretty much obsessed with youth and appearance. We also have a lot of bias toward the medical profession if not at times completely vilifying the field. So in that sense speaking candidly about things albeit my opinion yet based on experience may open the readers eyes, on some issue conversely it may propel some to try to look the other way even more. It's not always politically correct, but it is a memoir and it is honest. It is sort of visceral, some people will cry some will laugh some will get more angry, it makes you feel first, then think.

The manuscript was hard to finish, it lay dormant for some fifteen years, I never had an ending. Even after the death of an Alzheimer's victim, there is never an ending for the five million families affected by the disease.  something hit me, after all these years. We are all universally humanly connected by this disease process, and I had the clarity to finish this book.

I love writing, but most of my energy and creativity is spent in my day job. I am currently working on a novel about psychiatric residency. Fiction is obviously a much different prospect than a memoir but it taps a different part of your brain and soul to create something like this compared to a memoir. 

Joseph J. Sivak MD

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Betty Collier: Authors Supporting Authors Blog Tour

How to Find Humorous Inspiration

by Betty Collier

An editor for a magazine in which I ran an ad to promote my book, Living Inside The Testimony, asked me to come up with “A HOOK” that she could use as the headline for the ad. She said it needed to be something “catchy” that would peak the curiosity of radio and TV producers.  This is what I came up with:
·    I Became an Author Overnight, and I Remember the Exact Night it Happened
·    How to Become a Best Selling Author Overnight
·    When You Live Inside a Testimony, You Can’t See It
·    Why Read a Book Written by Someone Who Never Wanted to Write One?
·    Is it Luck or is it all Part of THE MASTER’S Plan?
·    Is Your Life Part of a Master Plan?

She considered all these suggestions, but after she read the book for herself, this is the headline she created and used for the ad:
Marrying Your High School Sweetheart is Great: Until Your Kids are in High School
Don’t Miss this Woman’s Fun Advice About Life

Having said all this, my point is simply that the book takes on so many different faces. It was written to be inspirational and encouraging, but it offers much more than that. It’s hard to categorize it only in the inspirational genre because it has so many other facets that are neatly tied together to flow very smoothly. The editor said she was definitely inspired, but felt the main thing I had been missing in my promotions was to stress the humorous side of the book also. She thought it was very funny, but also full of life, love, and faith. It has enough variety to appeal to the general population, whether you share my faith or not.

I never considered myself an author, and if you had asked me prior to January, 2009 if I would ever write a book, my answer would have immediately and adamantly been "absolutely not!"  Perhaps my honesty will make you wonder if the book is even worth reading, but I can assure you...I am an author. I became one overnight, and in fact, I remember the exact night it happened. It was after midnight when January 9th turned into January 10th, the night I dreamed about this book.  I am confident that if you allow me to share my journey with you, you will understand perfectly, but only if you have the faith to believe. I wrote this book based on faith, well aware that not everyone would share my faith. If you read the book, you will see that my journey has been inspired by faith, hope, humor, romance, and alot of love. As one reader told me, "It's like being on a roller coaster. I didn't know what to expect next. I was laughing on one page and crying on the next...This book is a masterpiece!"

Also I would like to mention what has resulted because of the ad I ran in the magazine. I guess the “hook” worked because the president of an internet radio station has asked me to host a new talk show. Beginning November 15, I will debut as the host of “Living Inside The Testimony with Betty Collier” on www.webtalkradio.net. You will be able to listen or play on demand and download the shows at any time beginning November 15.

Here is a sneak peak at the show’s description: ABOUT THE SHOW: “Get ready to remember this name: LIVING INSIDE THE TESTIMONY. Your life is never going to be the same. Host Betty Collier and her guests live each and every day inside the testimony. They will help you discover the inspiration that lies within all of us and prepare you to share it with others. Hear incredible stories of faith, hope, humor, romance and love, offering a source of inspiration and encouragement. Join Betty on this truly incredible journey of faith as if you, too, have been touched by an angel.”

Also, I would like to offer a complimentary copy of my book to one of your readers. I will send a free book and tote bag to the first person who leaves a comment to say that they read this post on your blog. Please click on my facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/livinginsidethetestimony and leave a comment. The first person to do so will receive a free book and tote bag.

For more information about my book, please visit http://livinginsidethetestimony.com

Thank you very much for allowing me to guest blog on your site and thank you to all the readers who took time to read it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo: 2010

This blog is where I can write the BIG PLAN for achieving my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. Now that is like 1,666.66 to infinity (but not beyond), unless you write more than this. Which I have to say that on DAY 1 - at 1:25pm I have EXCEEDED my goal.

BUT -- well you knew there was a BUT, right. There is always a BUT when it comes to a procrastinator.

Let's go back to that BIG PLAN.
NaNoWriMo would like you to make the goal a novel from beginning to where ever you can end it in the 50,000 words, BUT (here it comes) ....
I need MORE.

More what?

I need more words then just the ones in this one book, even though it is a monumental book. And the deadline is looming like the monster around the corner. The "2012: The Calm Before the Storm" is being published by January 1st, 2011. But, this book is a COLLABORATION, which means I do not write this all by myself. Now, I know what you are thinking -- but shouldn't you be doing your part.
Why yes, and my part of that 100,000 word count will probably be under 50,000 words because Don is like so far ahead of me and likes to jump ahead to the scene I really wanted to write. But, hey, that's Ok, because we are COLLABORATING, which means I am his MUSE and he wants to be the TOP DOG.

When I was asked by a friend if I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year and not be the chicken&@)($) I was last year because I FAILED to make the challenge in 2008, I thought about it before I said _________no. I thought, "hmmm, what better way to not only write the hand-me-down scenes and characterizations in the 2012 book, because, face it, I have a WHOLE LOT of character--- but, I thought, hey, maybe I can add some SPICE to the NaNo Challenge."

One of the goals I have been failing at miserably, among others, has been writing the articles for Examiner. I have been reading how others have been making $10,000 per year or more writing for the Examiner and I thought and maybe said out loud, "Holy Crap, I would like to see that happen!" BUT, (there it is again) this would be even more of a challenge because I don't write about Twilight, or celebrities going to jail, or sports. I write about books which is why I have the title, "Phoenix Books Examiner". Now, I could write about Twilight, because it is indeed a book or books if you consider the whole series of vamps and wolves. And I may even sink to that level if I must, by selling out to the "Man" or to the "Vampire", as it were.

Now, on my Examiner.com page I will give all NaNo's tips, tricks, and all the fluffy stuff they can eat and digest without totally hurling, but here on my blog, I am the TOP DOG. And just in case you are on the NaNoWriMo police force, I am not counting these blog rantings as actual, official NaNoWriMo word count for November 2010.

from a TV commercial .....
And for buying into this now, we will add even more to the challenge....
For this limited time, I will also leap a tall building by also working on another book at the same time.
BUT ,,,, to get this deal of a challenge, you must act now and stop procrastinating on YouTube.

By the way, I was NOT hooked onto YouTube until I had to find videos for those pesky articles for Examiner. It's a vicious cycle.

And so, I summerize. I will write over those 50,000 words thru the following:
1. The 2012 book so Don won't get full credit for the book.
2. The Examiner articles because I want to prove one way or the other that even I can make money as a freelance writer.
3. I am thinking about the "Bad Easter Bunny" book, so it will be out before Easter, and would give me even better reasons to keep up the sarcasm on my blog.

It is a vicious circle -- but I don't have a full time, regular job, so I must prove I can actually write for a living, (and continue to pan myself out as a graphic designer because that is really what pays for the rent). If I can't make the 50,000 word goal in 30 days with those 3 goals, then I really should give in to "The Man" and go back to a corporate job, if they will have me.