Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health Awareness’

Its Release Day for The Stranger In My Recliner!

Its release day for The Stranger In My Recliner! I am overwhelmed and filled with gratitude for all of the kind words about Sophie’s story. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!

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To Agent or Not…

WRITING WEDNESDAY

Typewriter Pink

On Wednesday I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.

To Agent or Not and How the Heck do you Find One…

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Threat Level Elevated

One of my biggest complaints about VA medical centers is the unsafe feeling I have whenever I am in one. Am I crazy for thinking that here in United States any facility attached to our military should be the safest property in the country?

Weapons not permitted sign

Was Jack Nicolson’s character in A Few Good Men correct when he said, “We live in a world of walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns.” He went on to say, “You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

Last week we had another attack on homeland military properties and four Marines and one Navy sailor lost their lives. These are no longer random attacks. The bodies are piling up and before more are added it is time we rethink the decision to unarm our armed services.

For the past nine-years whenever we pull up to the guardhouse at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia more often than not the sign on the post reads ‘Threat Level Elevated.’ There is a guard there who is either smoking, talking on a cell phone or sleeping. The sight would immediately cause me to feel overwhelmingly frightened. These guards aren’t even military which if you ask me is ridiculous. Is our nation that short of MP’s that we have to hire security guards to protect (or not) our armed forces, our veterans and their families?

Threat Level Elevated

Once past the guardhouse the parking garage is dark and unattended.

Inside the building the first thing I notice is the dingy, dirty floors, windows and walls. I don’t want to touch anything. The next thing I notice are homeless people sleeping on garbage bags filled with their belongings. Are they homeless veterans?

You never know who you will be riding in the elevator with. It could be a veteran fighting with his wife, someone having a severe PTSD episode or someone under the influence of something or all of the above.

I was thrilled last week when we pulled up to the guardhouse and were asked for ID, finally!

It lasted only a few days. Last night we drove up to and right past the guardhouse where the guard was sitting inside the house with his eyes on his phone. He never looked up as we drove past. My heart sank and my anxiety rose.

I want to know there is a man or woman on that wall, behind the camera or in the guard house protecting us, all of us.

Marine

What has more impact on our feeling of safety and security and what has more impact on someone with criminal intentions, a sign that says no weapons permitted past this point or a Marine in full uniform with a handgun on his hip?

 

 

 

Writing Wednesday…Post PWC

Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us in the comments…

Post Philadelphia Writers Conference

I hadn’t attended the Philadelphia Writers Conference for a few years because my schedule and life got in the way. This year I was determined to make it and I am so glad I did.

No matter where you are in your writing career, a beginner or a best- selling author I believe there is something we can all learn by networking with other writers.

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference represents a broad range of writing categories, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as editing and public relations.

The annual June conference attracts conferees from most of the United States as well as a few from Canada, although the core of attendance is still from the Tri-State area.

The conference was held at the Wyndham Philadelphia. I decided to stay in the hotel this year to get the complete conference experience. I was a bit disappointed that so many writers chose not to stay in the hotel.

Our room was beautiful but I have to say the service at the front desk and of the hotel in general was horrible. The restaurant was atrocious. We ordered lunch, only salads and after an hour and ten minutes we had still not received them and in fact they never arrived. We attended our afternoon workshops hungry.

I shared a room with Toni McCloe, a friend from the Lower Bucks Creative Explorers writing group. Toni is the author of Rude Awakening. (A powerful story with Philadelphia roots.)

We checked into our room at 8:30 Friday morning, dropped our suitcases off in the room and hurried down to the lobby to meet fabulous friends, Kelly Deeny, Helene Cohen Bludman and Cathy Sikorski.

PWC Friends

The opening speaker was Sara Shepard. Her bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line. The book series has also inspired the ABC Family television series of the same name.

author sara shepard book cover

 

In a more informal session later that day Sara shared some tips on protecting ourselves and our work should we be lucky enough to have interest from film or TV producers.

author sara shepard 2

The workshop that I got the most out of was short story writing facilitated by Fran Wilde. I signed up for this workshop because I needed some inspiration to get some of the shorter stories I have rolling around in my head on to paper, before I forget what those ideas are.

Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy.   She’s taught writing and digital media at two colleges, a high school for the creative arts, and a long-distance program for young writers.

Her first novel, Updraft will be published by Tor in September 2015.

I also signed up for a Free Verse workshop. Ken Pobo teaches courses in literature and creative writing at Widener University, where he has won the prestigious Lindback Award for teaching. The award was well deserved he was very inspiring and his workshop sessions went SO fast. I used to love writing poetry. The last poem I wrote was for a memorial service for my brother who was murdered in a road rage attack. Since then I haven’t been able to write poetry. I needed inspiration to try again and for me the class was a success. Ken and other attendees have inspired me to try again.

Apples to Writers, a sort of writing prompt game was hosted by the brand new PWC Board President, Jim Knipp. Jim is the author of over a dozen short stories and several novels. I was so nervous to participate but it turned out to be a lot of fun. How could it not be, Jim is fabulous!

I love all writers and have very few favorites. Stephen Fried is one of my favorites so I was thrilled that he was the keynote speaker for Saturday’s Awards Banquet. Stephen is an award-winning investigative journalist and essayist, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism. He is the author of the highly praised books Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs, The New Rabbi, and Husbandry: Sex, Love & Dirty Laundry—Inside the Minds of Married Men.

author stephen fried

Stephen’s best-known magazine article is “Cradle to Grave,” his investigation into the deaths of all ten children of Marie and Arthur Noe, which led police to reopen the 30-year-old Philadelphia case as a murder investigation. The day after the story was released to authorities, the Noes were taken in for questioning and Marie Noe confessed, and later pleaded guilty to multiple charges of murder. For his role in the case, Fried received a medal—he became the first journalist ever to receive the Medal of Honor from the Vidocq Society, the elite international group of criminologists, pathologists and police investigators.

Fried’s wife, Diane Ayres is a fiction writer and the author of Other Girls. He shared some funny stories with us on what it is like to be a nonfiction writer living with a fiction writer.

I am a fan because Stephen writes about mental health, crime and the pharmaceutical industry and that is what I write and like his writing has done I can only hope that my work will one day make a difference the way his has.

Author Stephen Fried Cover

Another exciting but extremely nerve wracking event was the opportunity to pitch a literary agent. I have no idea why I let my friends talk me into it but I did and it went well. Do I have a new agent? Stay tuned, more on that experience later.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Ayesha Hamid, editor of Philadelphia Stories. I am looking forward to submitting an essay to them later this month.

Philadelphia Stories

Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting Facebook friend, Kerry Gans who is also fabulous as well as several other social media friends. I just love meeting people that I feel like I already know, in real life.

The conference was a great experience and I got out of it exactly what I needed which was the inspiration to go home and write like crazy.

Happy Writing,

Doreen

 

A to Z Reflections…

A to Z Reflections

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

This was my 4th year participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and my second year to participate as a helper/minion.

I was really excited this year because the first year I participated I had a book coming out a few months after the challenge and this year I have a second book coming out in a few months. I was also excited because my 500th blog post happened during the challenge. I will be celebrating that milestone next week.

Originally I joined the challenge because April is a tough month for me. The anniversary of my brother’s murder and my step-sons suicide are on April 26 so my husband and I both try to stay as busy as possible, doing the most positive things during the month. No matter what we do that date is always painful for us.

This year, the month life threw more bad news our way. My stepson was diagnosed with stage III non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We are hopeful and remaining positive. If you are the praying type we would appreciate your prayers.

While my husband was is Arizona with his son I had a medical emergency here in Philadelphia. I will be having a hysterectomy, soon.

I have to say that all of the bad news aside this was the least stressful challenge for me. Every year I swear I am going to pre-write my posts and every year I fail to do that. This year I did pre-write 7 posts and decided on all of my titles. It helped. I am still going to try to write all of the posts next year.

This year I had the least amount of visitors/comments. I commented on many more posts than I received. That was disappointing and unusual for the challenge.

All in all I am pretty proud of my participation this year. I handled all of my last minute book edits, spent a few days in the hospital, received sad news, dealt with frustrating issues at my day job, hosted a visit from my Mom and was only late with one post!

Cheers to all of my fellow A to Z’ers and a huge thank you to the challenge creator Arlee Bird: http://tossingitout.blogspot.com

And to all of the co-hosts and ambassadors;  Lisa Buie-Collard our Live Wire leader and to my fellow Live Wires!

Champagne toat for a to z

I’m looking forward to the road trip!

Thank you so much for reading along,

Doreen

Zee End

Today’s post is my final in the 2015 annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 Z

My theme this year was An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of, Sophie.  Sophie is the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The night that she walked through our front door changed me.

That book will be out later this year.

So; I decided this year’s challenge posts would be on programs that actually help the homeless and the mentally ill, programs that don’t, when did homelessness become a problem and what or who caused it, famous homeless people, famous people that help the homeless and the mentally ill, what you can do that will help in a real way and a whole alphabet more…

Zee End

I thank you so much for following along this month with Sophie’s story. I hope her story inspires you to do something to help the homeless and or mentally ill in your community by writing letters to your community leaders, politicians and churches insisting on homes not hospitals or jails for the homeless.

If you have any suggestions or want to share what you have done please post on twitter using #sophieschallenge.

Happy May and thank you again for following along,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa was a fabulous challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom – Bob R. MilneTamera NarayanStephanie FarisHeather McCubbin

*I am a day late because I was admitted to the hospital. I will be fine, cannot wait to get home!

Yummy…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 Y

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

An excerpt from The Stranger in My Recliner

Yummy

I started to remind Sophie at 8:30 in the morning that she had to take a shower. She smiled and said she would take one later. You have to shower today, I told her again and again. After my own shower, I placed the plastic safety chair into the tub and put a towel on the seat, to make it softer for her to sit on and not as cold. I put four fresh towels on the counter and a wash cloth on the arm of the shower chair. A bath sheet worked better on the floor than the tiny bath mat so I folded the mat and put it in the hall closet. I lined up the mouthwash, baby powder, Q-tips and facial moisturizer on the sink, doubting she would use any of the products.

Q tips

I ran downstairs and into Sophie’s room and picked out an outfit for her to wear. I chose a pair of mint green linen pants and a cream colored tank and sweater set. If only I could talk her into wearing real shoes. The plastic slides she wore made me cringe. At least I was able to talk her into wearing socks so her feet wouldn’t get frostbite.  The socks with the slides looked absolutely ridiculous but that was a fight I chose not to start. Cream pumps or flats would be so cute with this outfit. Even white or cream sneakers would be adorable. She only had white and black socks. I chose the white. Would she ever wear knee-highs, I wondered. I wanted to throw away those stupid plastic shoes so badly. If she didn’t dig through our trash cans I could probably get away with throwing them out and letting her think she lost them. Right away I realized how mean that would be, or would it be? Plastic shoes cannot be healthy for your feet.

Her toenails were disgusting too. I tried to cut them for her once but she screamed so loud I had no choice but to stop. When people age their toe nails thicken and harden naturally. The thickening can also be caused by a fungus, other disease, a trauma and of course improper fitting shoes. In Sophie’s case it could have been all of these. I tried talking her into seeing a podiatrist but she wanted nothing to do with that idea. I could only imagine the screaming she would do and how embarrassed I would be.

Moving on, I quickly scrambled an egg and cooked it in the microwave for her. I generously buttered her soft toast and poured a large glass of apple juice and put everything on the dining room table for her. She begged me to let her eat in the recliner. It was another fight I chose not to start and I moved the meal to her end table and placed a dish towel on her lap.

scrambled-eggs

I ran back upstairs to gather some laundry. “Dina, Dina” she shrieked. I yelled down to her asking her what she needed. “You forgot me peas in my eggies.” She whined.  I could not tell her we did not have any because I had enough canned peas in the cupboard to wait out Armageddon. Why did I think she would be okay without peas for that one day? I ran downstairs, opened a can of peas and drained the liquid off of them. I put a few spoonfuls of peas into a small bowl. I placed the bowl in the microwave. The smell of microwave eggs is bad enough first thing in the morning. Adding the smell of nasty canned peas and that slimy liquid they come in is so gross. The smell gets stuck in your nostrils and stays there. Taking the small bowl out of the microwave, lifting it with a paper towel, I walked over to the recliner. Carefully I scooped the peas from the bowl and piled them onto her plate.  I asked her to take her plate into the kitchen when she was finished eating. She smelled so badly I had to fight my gag reflex. I could not wait to get her into the shower.

peas in a can

I put a load of laundry into the washer adding extra Tide liquid and Downy fabric softener because I knew it would make the house smell better. It wouldn’t get to the root of the odor problem but for right then, I needed that putrid eggy, peas and urine smell to be gone.

Tide

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom – Bob R. MilneTamera NarayanStephanie FarisHeather McCubbin

 

Victim…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 V

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

VICTIM

21-year-old, Daequon Norman is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. He’s must use a wheelchair and has no verbal communication skills. Sometime during the first week of April Daequon’s mother, Nyia Parler walked him, in his wheel chair into the woods. She proceeded to dump him out of the wheel chair, cover him with a blanket and give him a bible. Then she turned her back and walked away. She went to Maryland to spend the week with her boyfriend.

Wheelchair in woods

On the night of April 10th, Fitzroy Anderson spotted two dear and followed them down a trail. He discovered Daequon and called 911.

Parler checked herself into the hospital in Maryland where she stayed for more than a week for an undisclosed …

Daequon remains in the hospital.

Parler was released from the hospital, arrested and extradited to Philadelphia where she was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, neglect of a care-dependent person, unlawful restraint, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

She remains in jail unable to post 2.5 million dollars bail.

For a minute I felt sorry for the mother. Having a child with special needs is a 24/7 extremely difficult job with very little down time. The child does not ‘grow-up’ and go to college. There is no empty nest.

I have a grandson with special-needs. He is all I could think of when I read about what happened to Daequon. My daughter and son-in-law work very hard to keep a support system together and to keep their relationship strong. They amaze me.

Services and support were available to Nyia and her son. Actually receiving those services is a nightmare full of hoops to jump through. She made a choice not to do the jumping.

I don’t feel sorry for Nyia anymore. What do you think?

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

Book Trailers…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 T

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Book Trailers…

At the beginning of the A-Z Challenge I received a comment from Mark Kelly who blogs at The Open Hearth. He said he knew of a song that would be a perfect fit for The Stranger in My Recliner.  I found the song, Shopping Bag Ladies on you tube and it was perfect for the book trailer. I Googled the artist and after some digging, was able to find, Dean Friedman’s e- mail address. Nervously I sent him an e-mail describing the book and Sophie and guess what? He said I could use the song for the trailer! Thank you Mark and thank you, Dean!

Now all I need is a script.

What do you think?

https://youtu.be/1K8ud5DSmOQ

The trailer for my first book, Bristol boyz Stomp

https://youtu.be/_6ApR_tV63Y

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

 

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

Meet Sophie…

 

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 S

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Meet Sophie…

Sophie Book Sophie in the blue recliner

She was so mad at me that day for taking her picture. She loved to take photos but never wanted to be in them.

Thank you for visiting,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

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