DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Multi-Award-Winning Fiction Author Josh Lanyon


Josh Lanyon has been producing bestselling, award-winning books for over a decade, and still, when it comes to mainstream readers, few know of this mega-talented author with legions of loyal fans. Conduct an Internet search for “Josh Lanyon” and you will see page after page of listings, be they books, interviews, blogs, and even a few drops of Josh’s name just to try and wrangle readers to an article Josh knew nothing about. That’s the notoriety and recognition associated with this particular author. 

Josh writes some of the finest mystery, suspense, and adventure stories on the market today, lives in LA, and is absolutely devoted to his family. He is also a genius at marketing who readily shares tips with anyone willing to listen, explores every option of providing his stories to readers (including audio books), and isn’t afraid to venture into joint projects or dabble in subgenres he hasn’t tried yet. 

Author Josh debuted in 2000 with the novel “Fatal Shadows,” which, due to reader response, became the first book in the Adrien English mystery series. What drew readers was the author’s now trademark ability to combine suspense, drama, mystery, and even touches of terror with a charming dose of humor and a subplot of romance. 

When I decided to check out Josh’s storytelling ability, with so many books to choose from, I went to Josh’s Facebook page and asked his fans what book I should start with. The overwhelming majority said, “Come Unto These Yellow Sands,” the story of a professor caught between a youth who might be a murderer and his police chief lover bent on enforcing the law, no matter how convoluted the truth can become at times. It’s a magnificent story that left me confused as to why the author isn’t a household name. We can only hope that changes in the near future. 

Now Josh has released “In Sunshine or in Shadow,” a compilation of emotionally powerful short
stories written between 2007 and 2013. Readers interested in finding out for themselves why Josh is, has been, and will continue to be a fan favorite might want to try this sampling of a brilliant author’s work.

Q) You keep your family and private life out of the limelight. Why is maintaining a high level of privacy so important to you? 

A) I truly want readers to focus on the stories and not me. The work is what matters. I’ve achieved a sort of celebrity along the way, but more than anything it makes me uneasy and a little anxious. I appreciate my readers and I love interacting with them, but I do feel like there needs to be some kind of firebreak between the real life me and the author persona of Josh Lanyon. I don’t want “Josh Lanyon” getting in the way of my real life obligations and responsibilities.  

Q) “Fatal Shadows” was considered a book written for gay audiences. You have said your writing has shifted to focusing on female readers of male/male romance. What changes in style did you make to accommodate female readers? 

A) This is such a perilous question! And of course what was true in publishing for a gay audience thirteen years ago isn’t necessarily relevant now. For me the crucial difference was that M/M was by definition romance fiction, and so the emphasis had to be on the relationship and the romance. The first story I wrote for the M/M market was The Dark Horse, and there is a fair bit of explicit but yet romanticized sex, a lot of emphasis and exploration about feelings and emotions. There’s a little bit of a mystery, but it’s mostly backdrop. Whereas with Fatal Shadows, the emphasis was on the mystery and about the sexual identity of the two main characters. So we had Adrien English who, though gay, was a protagonist that straight readers could easily relate to -- that was important to me -- and we also had Jake Riordan who hates himself for being gay. That series is as much about Jake’s journey to come to terms with who he is, as it is Adrien solving various murders.  

Q) Good writing is good writing and yours is amongst the best I’ve read. Why do you believe your books haven’t found their way to mainstream readers yet? 

A) Thank you, David. That’s very kind. To answer your question: for the same reason that books featuring racial and ethnic minorities don’t tend to do as well as books featuring Caucasian protagonists. We’ve experienced -- and continue to experience -- encouraging political and social gains, but GLBT people remain a minority, and publishers are in the business of making money. It is all about the bottom line. A mainstream publisher needs to hit different profit margins from an indie or specialty publisher. So what constitutes a huge hit in my little publishing realm does not necessarily look viable to a legacy publisher looking to move 40,000 units of any given romance novel. 
 
That said, there are encouraging signs that mainstream romance publishers are beginning to look at the possibilities of M/M Romance. I won’t deny that I’m excited about the potential for all of us. 

Q) You’re currently involved in bringing a number of your books to audio format. Do you foresee a day when audio may surpass ‘written’ books in sales? 

A) No. I don’t see audio ever surpassing visual reading mediums. I think it will always be supplemental to the written experience. But I also see the market for audio growing steadily. I think more and more readers will discover what a delight audio can be -- how much it can enhance their enjoyment, especially of favorite stories. It’s a way of experiencing the work almost as though for the first time, and that’s really a lot of fun. 

Q) How do you view Josh Lanyon the author vs Josh Lanyon the person? 

A) Ha! Well, as I’m sure you yourself know, we try to be our witty, smartest, personable selves when we’re on line. Social media is a stage, and we’re on that stage trying to sell our author brand. But off stage, I’m your typical writerly type. I’m quiet, introspective, and largely preoccupied with the voices in my head. I’m impatient with interruptions and I’m often oblivious to what’s going on around me. But I will say that I’ve learned two important lessons along the way. To be of any use as a writer, you have to have something to write about. That means getting out in the real world and interacting with real people. And, most important, we are defined by our relationships with others. As much as I want my work to last and be remembered, being there for the people I love and who love me, must always come first. Time is fleeting and second chances are rare.  

Q) Any parting thoughts for fans and readers yet to pick up one of your books?
 

A) For my fans, thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your loyalty. And for readers hesitating about trying my work…one of the most common things I hear from first time readers is how different my stories are from whatever they were expecting. So I guess what I would say is, whatever is keeping you from trying my stories, it’s probably not true!
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear K Is Out!


DEAR K is a fictional website devoted to making fantasies reality.
This initial offering by HC Brown and myself is a trilogy of erotic short stories.

Lynda wants to learn to submit.
Danielle wonders what an unrequited high school crush is doing now.
Brianne needs revenge on the man who hurt her.

What they don't know is that the brooding, coffee addicted K is about to make their deepest, and even darkest, desires come true.




ATTENTION

Due to Noble Romance Publishing closing its doors, a number of my books are currently not available to readers. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Hopefully in the near future, I'll find these stories new homes.

The books not currently for sale are:

Out of the Closet
Back in the Closet
Sunday Awakening
A Dance with Bogie and Bacall
Desire Damned
Catherine's Toys - Volumes I thru IV
The Zombie with Flowers in Her Hair

Monday, August 26, 2013

Paranormal Romance Author Bobbi Romans


Florida’s Bobbi Romans is one of the authors finding her way to readers via indie (Ebook)) publishers and the Internet. Between her day job, writing, and taking care of her home, she somehow manages to find the time to maintain a presence on social media, chatting about books in general and just about anything else that strikes her fancy. 

I’ve known Bobbi since before she saw her first book published and followed her nervous entry into the world of ‘published author.’ That means I know her personally to be a very sweet, kind lady active in animal rights and holding to a strong belief that all people deserve respect until a person’s cruel side comes out. So, when she decided to write stories about heroic swamp monsters and supernatural enemies, it kind of caught me by surprise. However, I should have known that Bobbi’s wonderful ability to tell a story would turn a potential horror series into romances that set hearts thumping and passion blazing. 

“Swamp Magic” was the first of what is now known as the ‘Swamp Magic’ series. In the story, local lore tells of a Bog Man, a reptilian with human features, that haunts the swamps, searching for his next victim. But when the book’s heroine, Beth, follows her brother on a ridiculous quest to find a myth, Beth becomes lost, only to be found by something that shouldn’t exist, let alone be so damn sexy. 

The second offering in the series is “Under the Full Moon.” In the swamps a war is raging. The humans turned beasts have been ordered destroyed by the witch who created them, and the creature she has sent to do the job far out powers those she has left weak. Damien was an offhanded joke – a man the witch laughingly made into an armadillo shifter who survives by hiding. But now Damien has been discovered, and he’s willing to bring to bear all that he is to defend the gentle woman called Grace. 

Bobbie tells a great story. She really does. If you’re looking for romance in unexpected places fraught with danger and intrigue, you should definitely check out Bobbie’s ‘Swamp Magic’ series.

Q) Why swamp creatures?
 
A) Better question is why not? So many of the creatures most turn their noses to have extraordinary gifts. The Anole, can change colors before your very eyes to blend in with his surroundings. The Armadillo not only wears armor, but can also hold their breath under water for up to eight minutes. The Opossum? Well he is Americas Kangaroo.  No relation to the rat whatsoever.

*Did you know that the male opossum is a Jack, the female a Jill and the offspring are Joey’s?* 

Q) Many of us oppose animal abuse – from our armchairs. You turned your concern into action. What was the final straw that became your call to arms? 

A) I believe we should all stand up for those who can’t for themselves. Whether people or animals. Oddly, my family and I have been selected by many a strange critter to rescue it. We’ve awoken to a ferret in our bed in the middle of the night, (he was lost and we cared for until his owners came looking) nursed baby flying squirrels until ready to depart on their own and rescued an injured rat who somehow picked one of the few houses where the lady doing laundry wouldn’t come unglued finding him in her rug outside in the laundry room. One who also dropped a pretty penny at the vets to get his injured leg worked on. 

Q) You also wrote “Table for Three, Hold the Blood,” a story about a loving threesome who find
themselves on a collision course with a blood thirsty monster. That book’s original publisher just closed its doors (that happens sometimes in the indie Epublishing world). Where will readers find that book now? 

A) The story has been submitted elsewhere, but for now is in limbo. 

Q) You have a wonderful sense of humor. When will we see more of that? 

A) Honestly, there is humor found spattered throughout each story. I simply can’t hold it all back. But, my next release, An American Holiday-Turkey, Cranberry Sauce & Prozac, releasing in Nov from Wild Moon Press, is I think, the most humorous to date. Well, I hope the readers think so anyway. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and readers new to your work? 

A) I don’t tend to write inside the box. I write whatever I imagine. It might be contemporary, horror, romance, or even a combination of them all. I want to write the stories which allow the reader an escape from real life. A journey to somewhere else. It’s the trip there, which I try and make the true adventure.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Debut Literary Author Matthew Alan


Matthew Alan is a college swimming coach who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He has also released his self-published debut novel “One Degree.” 

“One Degree” is a story of how family, friends, and circumstances shape our growth. Matthew tells an interesting story that begins through the eyes and perspective of nine-year-old Karl and follows his growth as he experiences life. The reader is privy to all Karl’s decisions that alter his life path, all the way to and including his death seventy-three years later. This is a good story written by an up and coming author worthy of being read. 

That said, and in all fairness, the book does contain some editing flaws that purists may find slightly distracting. There are also a multitude of one sentence paragraphs. However, the story and the writing are strong enough to hold the reader’s interest to the book’s satisfying conclusion. 

Now, normally I might end this introduction by saying “One Degree” is well worth readers’ time and money. But Matthew also self-published a novella titled “The Hero,” and that is the story that really made me sit up and take notice. So much so that I asked author, book reviewer, and fellow Rainbow Awards judge Tom “T.A.” Webb to read “The Hero.” 

Tom’s verdict? “I was fascinated.” Tom also found Matthew’s writing and story to be “enjoyable and interesting.” 

You see, “The Hero” wasn’t what either of us expected, not at all. “The Hero” is about a gay superhero who agrees to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper. Through the author’s mastery, the character’s complexity is unveiled as The Hero identifies and comes to terms with what is expected of him versus his own hopes and dreams. This is one of those stories that could inspire debate and discussion on a variety of levels. It’s thought provoking, and yet told in a manner that allows for an easy, very entertaining read. 

“One Degree” and “The Hero” are as different as night and day but manage a commonality through character development. They both offer insight to a talented author we all should keep an eye out for to see what he does next. 

Q) “One Degree” was a seven year labor of love. What was it about this story that held your interest
to work on it for so long? 

A) I’ve always loved the idea of teaching through example, and “One Degree” contains many ideals/life lessons that I value, as well as a few personal aspects from my own childhood. As I became more comfortable in my writing and gained a better perspective on “my voice”, the story kept evolving. Constantly changing and re-working the two POV’s and adding elements that continued to layer the storyline until I was satisfied with the outcome. That process, and the fact that I like to work on a project for a few months and then take a break from it to see it with fresh eyes, kept me coming back to this novel. Since I usually only have an hour or two at a time to write/edit, my process has been slightly slower, especially during my coaching season. 

Q) Obviously, I have to ask: What inspired “The Hero”? 

A) Superheroes and individuals that manipulate incredible power have always fascinated me. “The Hero” came to me as an idea that even the most powerful person on the planet would face struggles, feel alone at times, and hide intimate and perceived embarrassing parts away from others. I also grew up in a time when sexuality was such a taboo subject. And watched older friends and relatives remain closeted even after events started progressing in the world of Gay rights. “The Hero” is a combination of those passions and interests.  

Q) Why opt for the interview setting in “The Hero” and not an action story where his inner self is revealed? 

A) I just loved the idea of getting such a charismatic person to open up in this type of intimate and honest environment. And I thought Anderson Cooper was the ideal person for such an historic and sensational event. The interview goes against every aspect of Mr. Matter’s past behaviors and semi-reclusive beliefs, and yet it is his idea. I hope his strength and conflicting vulnerability, as he tries to face his past and reconciles it with his public fa├žade, come through in the story. 

Q) What can and should we expect from you in the future? 

A) A book entitled “Cristman”. A science-fiction story – it is set in the Wicca based belief system, and focuses on a family facing unexpected challenges in Portland, Oregon. The first book in the trilogy is nearly complete.

I am also finishing a novel entitled “What We Leave Behind.” A story about love, loss and growth. It is one of the saddest and yet most uplifting books I’ve written so far.

I enjoy mixing up my writing depending on my different moods…alternating heavier reads that challenge people to think, with lighter, beach type works as well.  

Q) Any parting comments for fans and readers not familiar with your work? 

A) I love writing. Love being able to tell a story and try to share an idea with someone who I’ve never interacted with. Whether it’s getting a reaction from someone who agrees with every sentence, “Yes! That’s exactly how I think!” or facing a reader who just glances a few common truths that touch them, my goal is to try and present honest ideas that we can all relate to at some level. More than anything, I want a reader to finish a book of mine feeling a little more connected with the world. That has been my goal in my coaching, my writing and my life. I hope you enjoy them! 
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Award-Winning Romance Author Vicki Batman


Texas born Vicki Batman has worked as a lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park, in a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk, as an administrative assistant in an international real estate firm, and been the “do anything gal” at a financial services firm. She also writes good, clean romantic fun. 

Thus far her publishing path has been Ebooks where writers such as Vicki can easily become lost in the constant waterfall of new books. It takes a strong, unique voice to stand out amongst thousands, and Vicki does that by breaking a mold that came from I’m not sure where. There is certainly an audience, and deservedly so, for paranormal vampires, werewolves and other such former monsters now mutated into hot, sexy characters whose black hearts beat pure lust for the woman of their nightmares. Erotica is everywhere these days, including network talk shows. And then there’s Vicki Batman. 

Vicki eyes the routine, the everyday encounters we all have and transforms them into the potential romances many folks allow themselves to fantasize about. She writes the ‘what ifs’. What if that breath-takingly handsome store manager was in fact single, available, and knew how to talk to children? What if your new neighbor really was a nice guy without a history of orders of protection, didn’t bay at the moon after his third six-pack, had no warrants for his arrest…and no girlfriend? What if your single boss suddenly found a fresh smile every time he passed your cubicle? What if you wanted to read short, humorous, romantic situations that left you feeling good about yourself and the world around you? 

“Little Birdie Who…” is one of Vicki’s latest releases. It’s three short stories in one book written in
the author’s trademark style of lighthearted romance devoid of sex and profanity, yet filled with curiosity, hope, and the potential for a happy-ever-after ending. “San Diego or Bust” follows a woman’s romantic weekend getaway where a disaster reveals Mr. Right might be Mr. Wrong. And, with Christmas on the horizon, readers should definitely consider “Twinkle Lights,” a wonderful tale of building trust. Oh! She was also once crowned Miss Oak Lawn Moped.

Q) In an era where erotica is vying to be the king of ebook romance, you chose not follow that path. Why?  

A) Actually, I have had an erotic novella published, "I Believe," chocked full of sex, wonderment, humor, and a toss of magic. It was a personal challenge to me and I am writing two more now.  

I love writing about ordinary people and their romantic life. Sorta like when you least expect it…. Wham! Romance hits. No one can predict where the heart will lead us. 

Funny is serious underneath. Even in a humorous book, there is a moment when a couple recognizes the tingles are sexy as well as dark and mysterious.  

Q) You are a devoted fan of mystery and the late Dick Francis whose stories revolved around horse racing. So, why haven’t you focused more on that genre? 

A) I began writing with a humorous, romantic mystery. After working and revising, I submitted it to traditional publishers because the market was predominately there. And got "great writing," "funny," "but where do we put it?", etc. Kinda sad to get all those rejections. 

Then, writing short fiction hit. And I've done a lot. Lately, my friends began asking when I would submit/sell my book(s--as there are three) again. So I have and maybe I'll have some NEWS soon. VBG. 

Q) Many authors try to inject humor into their stories. Why do you think your humor works?
  

A) Does it? Thank you so much. For me, the greatest compliment I get is when someone tells me I made them laugh. 

Several years ago on a girlfriend trip, one friend said I was funny which floored me because I'd never thought of myself that way. So I say humor is partly a natural instinct and partly relatable. Many of us have been in crazy predicaments, have funny sidekick friends. I use those. And I look for the perfect word or phrase to punch the humor up. 

Q) Besides short stories, you also write novels. How do you decide what will be a short story and what needs to be a novel? 

A) I am a seat-of-the-pants (pantser). So the story goes until it goes no more. Lately, they are growing longer and longer. Maybe my muse is saying "write more books." LOL 

Q) Your story premises include yoga, petty theft, old flames who make an unexpected appearance, the list goes on and on. How do you determine what scenario will become a story?  

A) It just depends on the inspiration point. For example, in "Man Theory," my #2 son had just broken up with a girlfriend. He sat on the couch across from my desk and said in a very serious tone, "I have a theory about love." Boing!!! I could hardly contain myself. I literally held up my finger and said, "Just a sec," scribbled down those words, and then listened to him talk (like a good mom should), all the while my head was churning-churning-churning with an idea. 

Since I'd just returned from Colorado Springs and the Broadmoor, where the story is set, the idea coalesced and voila. Because the story is a moment in time, it lent itself to being very short--800 words--suitable for Woman's World magazine. So why didn't Woman's World take it? They get 200 subs a week and toss stuff right and left. Doesn't mean the story is bad. I had it and a couple other "rejects" edited and indie pubbed. 

BTW, I've written a story around the Miss Oak Lawn Moped incident. Truly, isn't that phrase hilarious by itself? 

Q) Any parting thoughts for fans and readers new to your work? 

A) There's the world of vampires, zombies, Navy Seals, and bodyguards and then… There's me! Light-hearted, romantic, hopeful, and sure to make you smile.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

 

Friday, August 9, 2013

20th ANNUAL CALLIOPE FICTION CONTEST



 
20th ANNUAL CALLIOPE FICTION CONTEST
Theme: “Fair and Square”
Deadline: February 15, 2014
^   ^   ^
Used in a phrase, both words mean the same; but what if you separate them?  Use the phrase or the word(s) “fair” or “square” in your story. But don’t lose sight of what makes a story come alive: sharp characterizations, vivid imagery and artistic use of language. Winners will not be separated into categories, but entries will be compared to others within their respective genres for judging purposes.  Neatness and manuscript presentation count.
^   ^  ^                                                      


Word Count


Up to 3,000 words.

 

Form

All types of fiction (including genre) accepted: this includes general audience/mainstream; magical realism; science fiction, fantasy, light horror, mystery, romance, or cross-genres thereof; young adult and juvenile. NO picture books.  NO explicit sexual content, excessive profanity, gory violence and/or extreme horror, please.

 

Entry forms/fees

No entry form required.  Entry fees: Calliope member/subscribers—$5 first entry; $2 second; next 3 entries: Free.  (Write “Member” on upper right corner of title sheet.)  Non-members: $10 first entry; $5 for each additional story. Maximum: five stories per entrant. Membership special: $16, includes a one-year subscription to Calliope (4 issues) and one free entry. 

      Make checks or money orders (in U.S. Funds only) payable to: Writers’ SIG.  (We will also accept fees in mint, U.S. stamps in lieu of checks or money orders.)  To make payment via PayPal, go to www.paypal.com, click on “send money,” and put in Cynthia@theriver.com when it asks “which vendor.”

 

How to Submit/Format

Entries accepted from September 15, 2013 to February 15, 2014, and must come by regular mail. No other method will be accepted.  Use standard manuscript format: 1” margins; double-space for stories more than 500 words.  Name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and title of story should be on a separate cover sheet, stapled to the manuscript in upper left corner. Print only title and page numbers on manuscript.  State “End” below last sentence of story.

      Work must be original—no reprints. Winners must retain sufficient rights for publication in the BIG Summer 2014 issue of Calliope, or their entries will be disqualified.

 


Prizes


Although final determination depends upon the total amount of entry fees received, a minimum $50-1st Place, $25-2nd Place, and $15-3rd Place is the goal. Also, an anonymous benefactor has pledged to donate an additional $100 to the cash awards, if more than 20 entries are received.    

      Gift subscriptions to Calliope will be at the editor’s discretion.  All winners and honorable mentions will receive certificates suitable for framing. Other prizes depend on donations received.

      Receipt of entry will be acknowledged if email address or a self-addressed postcard is included; manuscripts will not be returned.

      All stories submitted will be considered for future publication.

      nInclude a SASE for the winner’s list, and receive a free mini-critique of your entry.

 

Notification


Winners will be notified by mail or email; state preference on cover sheet.  Formal announcement will appear in both print and electronic versions of the Summer 2014 issue, together with the First through Third Place winning stories.  Other winning stories will be published in appropriate subsequent issues. We use one-time rights only.

 

About The Judging

Winners will be selected by The Fiction Editor, with comments, opinions and concurrence solicited from other Calliope editors, and/or others the Fiction Editor deems appropriate.  The decision of the judge will be final; every attempt will be made to render a fair and unbiased decision.

 

Mail entries and fees to:

Calliope Fiction Contest

5975 W. Western Way, PMB 116Y

Tucson, AZ 85713

*  *   *

For membership information and a sampling of stories visit our web site:

 
Calliope is a publication of The Writers' SIG of American Mensa, Ltd.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bestselling Non-Fiction Author Deborah A. Forrest


Sometimes it’s best I borrow from an author’s biographical information. Such is the case with Dr. Deborah A. Forrest: 

“Deborah Forrest was born in Maryville, Tennessee to older parents. Her early years were shaped by an extended family of white-headed elders who were fond of imparting choice words of wisdom gleaned from their own lives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For twenty-four years Deborah worked as a Registered Nurse and a biomedical laser researcher. In 1995 she completed her doctoral degree in clinical health psychology and began working in the fields of aging and spirituality. In 2002 her ground-breaking book "Symphony of Spirits: Encounters with the Spiritual Dimensions of Alzheimer's” became an international best seller. Her newly released book "Touch the Spirit: Connecting to the Inner World of Dementia" details many new ways to open a window into the memory banks of a person with dementia. She moves beyond discussions about dementia of the Alzheimer's type to include stories of persons with dementias created by other conditions like Pick's disease, Fronto-temporal lobe disease, Lewy Bodies disease, Vascular disease/Strokes, Parkinson's disease, Huntington disease, Traumatic Brain injuries/Shaken Brain Syndrome/CTE, HIV/AIDS, "Chemo-brain", Open-Heart Surgery induced dementia and Sports-Related brain injuries.” 

“Touch the Spirit” is a very straightforward book written for people like me who never sought nor attained a medical degree, yet either want or need to know about Alzheimer’s. The writing is clear, to the point, easy to understand, and sometimes even appropriately humorous. Though the book thoroughly covers Alzheimer’s, it also contains advice for caregivers (the unsung heroes) and family members; realistic advice, not pie in the sky perfect world suggestions. Deborah shares with readers that it’s okay to cry – we don’t have to stay strong twenty-four hours a day, and fear, tension and guilt can sometimes be relieved with a little “retail therapy,” aka – shopping. And chocolate; never underestimate the power of chocolate. 

Though I opted to add a touch of lightness to a dark subject, that really is one of Deborah’s points; that it’s okay not to dwell in the darkness cast by Alzheimer’s. “Touch the Spirit” is a marvelous book, covering every aspect of a condition we all know the name of, but still may not know much about until it’s too late and one of our loved ones is diagnosed with it. Whether the reader seeks information, knowledge, assistance, or hope, “Touch the Spirit” is a book we should all read, if not for ourselves, then for those we love. 

Q) Can we become overprotective to the point of inhibiting progress, and how do we know when we
are? 

A) Yes, it is possible to be overprotective IF the person who has been diagnosed with a dementia condition is aware of his/her problems with memory loss, poor judgment and/or behavioral changes. Talk with the person about your concerns and work together to help the person with dementia maintain as much independence and sense of self-control as is possible. IF the person has been diagnosed with a progressive neurodegenerative dementia e.g. Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body disease then added protection is probably warranted. Many of these individuals have no awareness that they are having any problems with memory loss. They will deny that they have any problems at all.  In every case of dementia, work with your medical professionals to determine what level of care is warranted now and what may be required in the future.  

Q) Many like to believe they can and will care for their loved ones to the end. Sometimes that just isn’t possible. When should a person surrender that the condition has become more than they can handle? 

A) There are many different situations that might trigger the need to make such a decision. The more common ones will be (1) the caregiver’s own health is in decline and she/he can no longer deliver the care that is needed (2) the level of care that is required for the person with dementia is beyond the caregiver’s ability to deliver it. Two or more people are required to help the caregiver perform activities of daily living for the person with dementia. (3) the person with dementia begins to display aggressive behaviors toward the caregiver (4) the person with dementia does not sleep for three or more days and becomes psychotic and agitated (5) the person with dementia develops repeated episodes of fevers, urinary tract infections and/or pneumonia that require ongoing hospitalizations with medical supervision.  In all cases where surrendering dementia care to others is warranted, the decision to make this change needs to be made by the caregiver and her/his family members together. 
 
Q) What sparked your interest in helping people to cope with dementia? 

A) A number of years ago, I sustained a traumatic brain injury during a motor vehicle accident. It produced many symptoms like those experienced by people with dementia. As I began to study these symptoms, I came to realize that I had personal and academic knowledge and skills to share with dementia caregivers and many of those who are living with a traumatic brain injury and/or shaken brain syndrome. Over the years, I have collected stories from family members and caregivers about the challenges and successes of caring for a person with dementia. Many of them allowed me to share their stories. Eventually, I realized that helping people learn how to cope with the challenges of dementia was the most important thing I could do.  

Q) There are hundreds of thousands of cases of people under 65 afflicted with dementia. What signs should we watch for in, as an extreme example, children? 

A) In adults who develop dementia, the initial signs center around such things as short-term memory loss, repeated episodes of confusion, or getting lost while driving. The concern about the long-term cognitive problems and memory issues in children is associated more often with sports-related concussions that occur during games like football and soccer. The link between repeated concussions in children and adults is complex. Research in this area is relatively new. These researchers do emphasize the importance of giving a traumatic brain injury time to heal. A Center for Sports Concussion Research and Service opened in May 2012. It is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NFL Charities. For information about concussion testing in children visit www.concussion.psu.edu . 

Q) How can art, a visual medium, stimulate an open channel of contact? 

A) As a health care professional, my immediate thoughts go to the special cells in the eyes that carry nerve impulses of images and colors to the occipital lobe in the back of the brain. The shorter answer is that art can stimulate the visual center of the brain where memories of things seen in the past are stored. Viewing works of art can stimulate long lost memories in a person with dementia. In some cases, an emotional response on the face of the person with dementia can be seen. In a growing number of senior centers around the globe, people with dementia are using various art mediums such as watercolors, acrylic paints and oil paints to express themselves non-verbally with colors and images. Many of these budding artists are shocked and pleased to see their own creations and to learn they have a talent for art they never realized they had.  

Q) Any parting thoughts for readers? 

A) Humor can be a valuable tool to use with persons who have dementia. “Humor Therapy” helps them with their communication skills, their memory processes and their recognition of family members. Don’t be afraid to use it where you can. Finally, researchers have discovered that dancing is clearly the best method we have for preventing dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net