A special month. A special book.

I’m going purple today, in honor of June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. 

My passion for this issue is related in large part to my work as an RN caring for patients suffering from this, but also because of loved ones who have struggled with it, too. As you might know, the main character in my novel, Then Sings My Soul, is battling his own form of age-related dementia. It’s a story of love and loss as Jakob and his daughter, Nel, navigate their days and learn to find hope in the midst of it all. 

The number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other brain/memory loss disease processes are striking. Chances are–and especially as our population ages–if you’re not related to someone who has it, then you know someone trying to balance the often overwhelming caregiving needs of these patients.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association

Worldwide, 47 million people are living with dementia.

The annual global cost of dementia is $604 billion in U.S. dollars.

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to skyrocket to 76 million by 2030.

In the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is a triple threat, which means that:

  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.

Do you or someone you know afflicted with these issues need hope?

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website by clicking here to learn about steps you can take to join the fight against Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. 

You can also pick up a copy of the novel, Then Sings My Soul, for you and a friend. 

Because even when it seems all hope and memory are lost, there’s always a story to be told. 

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What inspires your writing?

I’ve been thinking about this question as I begin my fourth novel.

Usually when folks ask me this question, I tell them nature. In many ways, the biology, geology, geography and weather of a place is like another main character, such as the pecan farms and salty bayside breezes of southwest Alabama in How Sweet the Sound; blustery winter in Ukraine and the sunswept Michigan lakeshore in Then Sings My Soul. I tend to imagine myself living in the places we travel to, soaking in the local flavor and scents, terrain and sounds, and I can’t help but share all that in my stories.

   
    
As I begin outlining and jotting down characters for my fourth novel, however, I’ve realized another huge inspiration for me:

Books.

Lots and lots and lots of books.

Nonfiction books about settng and time periods.

Fiction books in and out of the genre I’m considering.

Other books completely unrelated to what I’m writing about.

Stacks of books sit on my nightstand. The dining room table sags with the weight of a giant collection of books fresh from the library. Books pile on the floor and on my desk, in the bathroom and in the kitchen.

Even the dogs can be caught reading…or trying to chew on…books.

  

Someone once said there are no new stories, just new ways of telling them. And indeed, not only do I read because I love to, I read to study plot, to absorb the way a character is developed, to dissect detail and style, rules other authors follow and rules they break.

The more I read, the more I fill my writing tank, so to speak. Soon, brand new characters start revealing themselves in my mind, and (at the risk of someone thinking I ought to be committed) they begin to speak.

Stephen King refers to this phenomenon as a muse, or, “the boys in the basement:”

“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”

I completely agree with Mr. King.

The basement guys are hungry.

Starving.

A library is to the muse what Costco is to my teenage boys.

*****  *****

What about you? If you’re a writer, how do books play in to your writing process?


How do you feed your basement boys?

More of How Sweet the Sound: A Novel in pictures

I’m on blogging hiatus for a couple of weeks as I make copyedits to my upcoming second novel, Then Sings My Soul (3/2014). In the meantime, enjoy these collections of photos with quotes from How Sweet the Sound.

Do you have a favorite quote or quotes from this novel? Share it in the comments, below!
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