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We’ll see you at the fair!

Mom and I are purposely filling up our summer and fall schedules with author events and arts and crafts shows. We’ll soon be busier than we’ve been in years. Unfortunately, that’s because both of us were confined by taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s. We spent many hours making sure Dad was safe, and we did so willingly and with love. We even dragged him to a few of our book events, where we occasionally were rewarded with glimpses of my dad’s great, gentle smile. Alzheimer’s took much away from him, but it did not take his friendliness even when he had no idea whose hand he was shaking.IMG_4108

But we are now enjoying the freedom to attend what we want. With three books under our belts (and two more in the works), we are in another phase of being authors: getting out there and letting as many people know about our books as possible. We’re returning to some of the communities where we started our marketing efforts. We are also pursuing a new venue that began last holiday season and really took off: arts and crafts fairs.

In both cases, we are there to get people to buy our books and it feels great when they do. Selling anything piece by piece is a hard way to market a product, but it can be rewarding: we’re doing something we love and hoping to make some money at it.

Also, selling this way allows you another great benefit: you get to meet your audience. Whether you make earrings, quilts or books, creating something but just sticking it on a shelf never allows you the greatest reward of all: exposure to those who love your art. We are now at the point that we occasionally run into people who have read our books and want to talk about them. We also just love to meet the people that might be potential readers. If they stop at our booth, listen to our story and flip through our books to check our writing style, they have shown an interest in reading and/or writing. They are fascinated by what we’ve done and they validate the hours we spent doing it.

Don’t believe the naysayers that say reading books is a dead entertainment. We’ve been there first-hand and seen the passion in people’s eyes. Unless you’re a reader, it’s hard to understand. But reading is an activity that allows your brain to create the story from within. Even children, who have pictures to help them along, are using their brains to fill in the blanks. They don’t have a giant screen and loud music and noises telling their brains exactly what to think.

So gather up your pennies and come see us at a fair or event. You can spend those cents at another booth, and we’ll be perfectly happy. We are all artists and crafters and we want you to see what we do.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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To Angie: What is courage?

Let’s face it folks. Sometimes life just up and slaps you in the face.

Usually when I write these blogs I’m talking about my own personal experience. This isn’t the case today. Even though my family lost its patriarch in January, he left quietly—Alzheimer’s slowly took him away.

Today I’m talking about my 18 year old friend who is facing surgery and terrified.  She’s had way too many health problems for a vibrant, beautiful young woman and there is no way she should have to be going through this.

But courage, dear one, is accepting that life is not balanced: it’s sloppy and often painful. It makes no sense. It’s filled with oddities and absurdities and ridiculousness. It’s why people like me (authors) see life in terms of characters and stories.

Courage is remembering that life is also filled with a million small acts of wonder and love. It’s a first kiss from that guy who makes even your toes tingle. It’s a little sister who holds your hand and tries to make it better. It’s a mother whose heart is breaking but who tries not to show it. It’s lifting your head and seeing the golden sunshine and feeling the cool breeze, then realizing that the day is absolutely perfect. It’s the pleasure you get when you smell that perfume that always makes you feel feminine and alive.

mountain climbing

© Semion88 | Dreamstime.com

It takes true courage to face something like surgery and get beyond the terror to remember the other side of living. But for every major mountain we face as humans, there are footholds and handholds to get us over it. For some, those holds are faith in God. For many, they are friends and family.

You’re facing a mighty mountain. But we’ll get you to the other side.

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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My turn with the million

Genilee wrote last week about what she would do with one million dollars.  She suggested that maybe this week I could do the same because desires change with age.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Fifteen years ago, I would have bought my husband a new fancy new luxury car.  As Genilee said in her blog, that kind of gift would give me a personal thrill. Today, however, he might still want one, but I wouldn’t buy it. What good is a car to him or to me when neither of us can drive.  Fifteen or 20 years ago, I also might have chosen to take a long European trip, but that’s hard to envision today since we are both using canes and walkers. I can’t see how such a trip would be pleasurable.  However, I do have a substitute for that European jaunt―a worldwide cruise on a luxury liner.  That would be wonderful.  I don’t know how much we would be able to see of the different countries we visited, but I’m sure if I was that rich, I could work something out.

But before I take that trip, I think the first thing I would do with my million would be to give each of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren $50,000 to spend in whatever manner they wished.  I would also give monetary gifts to a few of my very good friends and to the Alzheimer Research Association in hopes that families in the future won’t have to go through what my family is experiencing.  Those few things would easily eat up about $600,000; then I’m figuring $200,000 for that cruise (like I said, I want a luxury liner.)  What was left, I’d put in the bank and then move my husband and I to an assisted living community I have visited and found ideal because of how cheerful the people are, how good the activity director is and what a great feel I had for the place (yes, Chancellor’s Village, I’m talking about you folks!).

I know all this will not sound very exciting to our younger readers (and we have many of them); but our desires change with age. Well, maybe desires isn’t the right word. I guess I mean our needs change.  I think our desires actually stay pretty much the same, but get adjusted as our daily realities change.

To be honest, though, I don’t think I will have to worry about any of this.  I don’t seem to be winning any lotteries, and I don’t think I can achieve a million bucks with $15 royalty checks from our books!  It’s surely a good thing we enjoy the writing and seeing our work in print―we certainly aren’t going to earn a million in my lifetime.  Maybe Genilee will reap a little of it someday.

Either way, it’s fun to dream!

F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A small miracle needed in a big way

I’ve done a lot of grumbling lately. The weather has been lousy for four months. My work load has been heavy. My mom and I haven’t had the time we had last year to market our newest book, Wretched Fate. My dad can no longer drive which means many hours figuring out how to get my parents back and forth to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store. None of which compares to the real heartache: Mom and I, and the rest of my wonderful family are dealing with: Dad’s Alzheimer’s.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

So when a tiny piece of sunshine breaks through, it feels like a miracle. But then, maybe it is.

For about a month and a half, my daddy cheerfully utters the same phrase whenever we get into the car: “You’ll let me know if you see any deer, won’t you?” As long as we are driving where there are trees, he says the phrase several times. There’s a reason he repeats the request: In the largely rural areas of Ohio and Michigan where we grew up and lived many years, we spent hours driving around and trying to spot deer. It was a family tradition that all of us remember from vacations or Sunday drives. And even though none but my oldest sister lives in a rural area, I think we all still search the tree lines when we’re driving in the country.

It’s a bit disconcerting, however, when you live in an urban area like Washington, D.C. and you’re just on your way from point A to point B and happen to be on a tree-lined street. But we always smile at Dad’s “joke,” and we nod and reassure him that we’ll be on the lookout.

Recently, Mom, Dad and I were on our way back from a doctor’s appointment that didn’t take as long as we all expected, so we decided to take a ride through a local park. It was the first pleasant, spring-like day in many weeks, and we were all in a good mood. I cranked up the music, and Dad responded almost immediately. He may not have remembered my name half an hour earlier, but give my Dad a melody, and he will sing along. He usually knows the melody, and he often knows most the words.

We took a winding road that led into the park, and on the way in, Mom and I heard “Let me know if you see any deer, won’t you?” All three of us chuckled. Then we rounded a bend and there before us, was a long stretch of land with seven deer munching happily on grass. I slowed way down, but they barely batted their beautiful eyes. They were young and didn’t know enough to be afraid (park season hasn’t started). Or maybe they just sensed that we were a car of people in awe.

The deer were so close to the road, we were afraid to roll down the window and make any noise that would scare them away. So we glided slowly by, as silently as we could, all of us appreciating the moment. Then we turned around and came back and appreciated their beauty again. They never stirred. Just lifted their heads and stared back as if to say, “Yea, we see you. But we are not about to move.”

In a municipal park that is packed later in spring and summer, to see seven deer out in the open is truly wondrous. It dispersed the drabness that can easily surround everyday life. And it gave my housebound daddy, who is dealing with a horrible disease that keeps him inside his apartment far too much, a few minutes of pure pleasure.

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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