Meet Marianne Sciucco, AlzAuthors Admin and Author of “Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s Love Story”

BH 3D paperbackBy Marianne Sciucco

She was a beautiful 86-year old who was very confused when I, her case manager, met with her regarding her discharge plan from the hospital. “I’m so mixed up,” she said multiple times, while her frail but dedicated husband sat beside her with a bemused smile. How had these two driven from Florida to New York on their own without any mishap? I wondered, as I reviewed her plan, which was to go to a nursing home for rehabilitation of a pelvic fracture. Seems she had a fall once they arrived at their New York home.

 

 

Their son was present and asked me to make sure his parents not leave the hospital without him the following day, as he planned to accompany them to the nursing home to take care of paperwork and business. I assured him that would not happen and left, spending the next few hours pondering what would happen if they left the hospital without their son. Where would they go? What would they do? These questions became the foundation of my novel. I ditched the story I was working on and started writing Blue Hydrangeas right away. Eighteen months later, I had a complete manuscript.

When a writer falls in love with her story and characters magic happens. I easily stepped into the shoes of Jack and Sara, inspired by the hundreds of couples I helped navigate through their dementia journeys in my role as nurse and case manager. I chose Cape Cod as the setting because it’s my home in my heart, and built them a beautiful bed and breakfast called Blue Hydrangeas because of the gorgeous, fluffy blue flowers all over the Cape. I wrote and rewrote the moving scenes where Sara is at the worst of her Alzheimer’s, and the best. At all times, I infused the story with the deep love and dedication Jack had for his wife, even though nine years of relentless caregiving was affecting his own health.

I put my heart into this story because it was the story of many others living with dementia, and it was important, imperative, that their stories be told in a way that readers could relate to. It was not meant to be a how-to guide filled with advice from a clinical professional. It’s heartfelt and warm. Grab the tissues because you’ll most likely shed a few tears. Readers have written to me personally and posted reviews on Amazon that the story has touched and inspired them, validated their own experiences, and in some cases provided relief. “This story is my story too,” one wrote. Another said, “It was what I needed to let the grief release.”

My personal background with the disease when I wrote the book included my patients and their families, as well as three beloved aunts who succumbed to the disease. I was an observer in these interactions, not responsible for any of these people or the important and heart-wrenching decisions that needed to be made on their behalf. But two and a half years after publication, I started living my own story when I became the legal, medical, and financial representative of my stepfather who was diagnosed with three types of dementia: frontotemporal lobe, vascular, and Alzheimer’s. Although I had written a book about Alzheimer’s, worked as a nurse and case manager, and knew more about the dementias than most people, I soon learned I didn’t know much at all. It was a steep learning curve fraught with frustration and feelings of inadequacy. Without the help of my friends at AlzAuthors I’m not sure I would have come through the experience intact.

I now work in college health where Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the most pressing of my concerns, but my dedication to help educate others about these diseases and chip away at the stigma that surrounds them is stronger than ever. I am coordinating a fundraiser for my local Alzheimer’s Association and an education program for the entire campus in June, and organizing a team for the Alzheimer’s Walk in October. And I will continue to work with AlzAuthors, spotlighting books and blogs that are a source of wisdom, comfort, and support for the caregivers and others who need them.

Purchase Blue Hydrangeas

About the Author

Marianne Sciucco wearing Authors Supporting Our Troops T-shirt at Assateague Island
On Assateague Island

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, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a 5-star Readers Favorite. Marianne has also published a Young Adult novel, Swim Season, based on 11 years’ experience as a Swim Mom, and three short stories: Ino’s Love, Collection, Daisy Hunter Story No. 1, and Birthday Party, Daisy Hunter Story No. 2. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her patient and reliable husband and beautiful, brainy daughter. They are ruled by Mr. Chance, a cat they rescued who thinks he rescued them. When not writing, Marianne works as a campus nurse at a community college, and teaches classes in independent publishing. She enjoys books, the beach, and craft beer, preferably all at the same time.

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Meet Paul Toolan, Author of “A View From Memory Hill,” a Collection of Short Stories on Memory, the Past, Ageing, and Loneliness

By Paul Toolan

I live in an English rural village with a demographic weighted towards retirees. I’m one of them, I suppose.

There are young people too, but older bodies tend to fill the shops and the midday streets. I find myself reflecting on these sometimes solitary folk, about their past lives and the people they’ve known. Have they forgotten more than they care to remember – or just forgotten?

The stories in A View from Memory Hill were triggered by such images, nudged along by Kierkegaard’s idea that we live life forward but only really understand it backwards. Their settings come from the everyday world – a chemist’s shop, a village square, a railway station, a College, a pub, the bus journey from work to home – as well as real places. In the first and last stories in the book I used local outdoor settings. The title story is based on Ham Hill, an ancient hill fort in Somerset which I often visit. I take photographs to help me remember!

For perspective, I introduced younger voices too, and enjoyed exploring that sometimes-land of modern misunderstanding, where the old and the young coincide. A range of characters evolved, and broad themes firmed up as I continued to write: memory, the past, ageing, and loneliness – and the positive antidote of choosing to take action to avoid being lonely.

eCover-MemoryHill (1)For structure, I opened and closed the 12 stories with the same pair of characters: Jack – who has Alzheimer’s – and Maeve, his wife.  I guess they are distillations of various articles and documentaries I’d read and seen about dementia, and about Alzheimer’s in particular. Maeve has become Jack’s carer. Alzheimer’s couples may recognise her predicament:

“Jack was sleeping on the day-bed she’d rigged up in the conservatory. When he was bad, any sleep would do. She was Jack’s dictionary now, non-stop, exhausting, the reference book for all the objects, all the people he could no longer name. The butt, too, of each resulting outburst.

‘Do you know nothing?’ he would yell. ‘Nothing?’”

Despite Jack and Maeve’s difficulties, memory still breaks through, and with it, joy and laughter.

In between, the other stories explore the book’s themes through a range of genres, including crime, social satire, gothic noir, and romance, to give a variety of reader experiences.

So far, reviewers have enjoyed these “wonderful insights on ageing”.

“I felt nostalgic when I finished reading,” said one reviewer. “Where have the years gone? So many memories had me a bit emotional, truthfully.”

For me, if I’ve triggered emotion and insight in my readers, on such important themes, then I’m a happy man.

Continue reading “Meet Paul Toolan, Author of “A View From Memory Hill,” a Collection of Short Stories on Memory, the Past, Ageing, and Loneliness”

Meet Kathi Macias, author of “To The Moon and Back”

CoverFrontFinalSmallBy Kathi Macias

As a fulltime writer/editor, I was blessed to be able to work at home and take care of my mother during her last few years of life. I was also blessed that even up until her death at the age of ninety, she was clear-minded. Sadly, so many others are not, making their caregiver’s job so much more difficult. Continue reading “Meet Kathi Macias, author of “To The Moon and Back””

Meet Crissi Langwell, author of “Come Here, Cupcake,” a novel

 By Crissi Langwell

Come Here CupcakeThe story of Come Here, Cupcake focuses on an aspiring baker, Morgan Truly, and the magical ability she’s discovered that allows her to infuse her baking with feelings. If she feels sad while baking, anyone who eats it will feel sad. If she feels happy, her baking will make people feel happy. And if she bakes while feeling romantic…well, you can guess what happens to anyone who tries it. This new ability, along with finding new love, is confusing enough. But adding to Morgan’s life changes is caring for her mother, Karen Truly, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Continue reading “Meet Crissi Langwell, author of “Come Here, Cupcake,” a novel”

National Caregiver Appreciation Month eBook Sale & Giveaway November 15-21

Caregiver App Month Canva 2017

November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love all caregivers bring to the task of caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, AlzAuthors is hosting an eBook sale and giveaway! This is a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to find carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them everyday. Continue reading “National Caregiver Appreciation Month eBook Sale & Giveaway November 15-21”

Karen Kaplan is Back with a Sci-Fi Dementia Novel

By Karen B. Kaplan

Curiosity Seekers coverPerhaps it is not often that you come across science fiction that is (1) gentle and not full of weapons and nasty robots, and (2) includes a character who is one of the first with dementia to get cured of the disease. There are so many other aspects of reality to ponder, such as how robots might help or hinder grievers, it is a wonder that science fiction writers have not provided more material on such things. Continue reading “Karen Kaplan is Back with a Sci-Fi Dementia Novel”

Meet Pippa Kelly, author of “Invisible Ink”

invisibleinkcoverBy Pippa Kelly

Before signing off the final proofs of my debut novel I read the manuscript for the first time in over a year and realised that it was not just laced, but saturated, with guilt.

Invisible Ink tells the story of Max Rivers, a young London lawyer who seems to have it all: a beautiful girlfriend, a burgeoning career, an enviable address – but he harbours a secret. Continue reading “Meet Pippa Kelly, author of “Invisible Ink””

Meet Krysten Lindsay Hager – How Young Adult Fiction Helps Heal and Educate

By Krysten Lindsay Hager

competingwiththestarAfter my dad passed in the summer of 2015, I was sitting on my couch watching TV when I got a message from some readers asking what happened next for my characters Nick and Hadley from my book, Next Door to a Star. I was in my grief bubble, and this email was a welcome bright spot letting me know someone cared enough about the characters to want to know their future. I thought writing about what happened next might be a way to get my mind off grieving. It was when I got to sixty pages that I realized I might have a book. Continue reading “Meet Krysten Lindsay Hager – How Young Adult Fiction Helps Heal and Educate”

Meet Sharleen Scott, author of “Tangles”

tanglescomplete2ebookcover

By Sharleen Scott

Her name was Judy, and I married her son.

She was a Depression-era child who grew up in the Pacific Northwest forests, traveling with her grandfather’s logging company. She was an outdoorswoman who loved fishing, hunting, and hosting friends and family at her Cascade mountain cabin. She married Paul at age Continue reading “Meet Sharleen Scott, author of “Tangles””

12 Reasons to Gift a Book from the AlzAuthors Bookstore

book-tree-memeBy Marianne Sciucco

Most likely, you know someone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. With 5.4 million Americans affected, this disease affects the lives of so many of our families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We may feel inclined to do something, to help, but may not know what to do, or how to do it, or when. Continue reading “12 Reasons to Gift a Book from the AlzAuthors Bookstore”