Monday, February 12, 2018

The Book!



Amanda asked about my current novel. I have finally finished it, the manuscript is being reviewed by two readers, and unless their feedback leads me to massive revisions, I'll soon be shopping for an agent or a publisher. This requires a one page query, on which a response of yes or no or maybe is based.

I have some work to do on this query, and I've deleted the paragraph that describes the story from start to finish, but here's a taste of the book. I will love your impressions and reactions.

love love
kj

In the words of the novel’s protagonist Christine Macabee, mother of four:
“My family history is told without fancy prose or superheroes, and admittedly with some drama around the themes of neglect and illness and crimes and death and alcoholism and infidelity and even a failed attempt at convent life. If you’re looking for threads I suggest you look to John Denver, Robert Frost, and Billy Collins. And I suggest you learn all you can about devotion.” 
The Answers to Everything is a work of fiction expanding seventy years and centering on the Macabees, a middle class family guided by its gutsy Mother Christine, who has a dual passion for the redemptive powers of poetry and her fantasy husband John Denver. Christine’s childhood and motherhood are comically supported by her uppity righteous older sister Louise who manages to rescue her from one crisis to another, and by the failures of first her alcoholic parents and then her alcoholic husband, Jimmy. Their four children, each with a story of his/her own, are shaped by Christine’s version of devotion and their own life circumstances: Claudia, devotedly languished in a seven year affair with a married man; Cole, a television sports reporter who is physically attacked for being gay and forced to face his own addictions; Emily, a Plain Jane who serendipitously lands a good guy who seems to stabilize the whole family; and John, the youngest, who quietly observes and easily accepts his family as everything he needs.  
Christine’s answers to everything are poetry and devotion. She painfully learns these tools aren’t perfect. 
The Author has a background and Master’s Degree in Counseling and Rehabilitation. She has a keen understanding of how people behave when faced with the commonplace and the extra- ordinary. She has self-published one book, The Light Stays On, (multiple excellent reviews on Amazon) and from time to time writes essays and poetry on her Blog, OPTIONS For A Better World. 

The Answers to Everything is approximately 100,000 words and divided into four Parts, beginning with Christine and Louise’s neglectful childhood and ending with a gathering that includes a number of new and surprising additions to the Macabee family. This is a story that aims to entertain and educate around the unique challenges of alcoholism, infidelity, differences, and the strengths and foibles that make a family. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Backing Up

I'm on a wild ride. 

About a month ago I started having significant back pain that has increasingly (and painfully) affected standing and walking. It's a slipped disc. This would be a big deal for anyone but is probably less so for me because I don't mind being sedentary. I'm happy to sit on the couch, work on my novel, read books, cruise social media, play pretend slot machines. But this is different.

For one thing, I turned 70 in August. This is probably the first time I've announced that publicly because 70 sounds pretty serious. I've noticed that sometimes kind people offer me their seats on buses and in waiting rooms. Sometimes, probably because even before my latest bout with pain, my back announces I'm creaky in my movements. So combine this new age with an impairment that is (luckily) my first big medical challenge and I'm a novice feeling my way.

I've had shots and consults and prescriptions. If I don't have relief in the next week or so, I'm headed for a surgical consult and it would be a biggie: probably a laminectomy and fusion. It's a 3-4 hour surgery and I'm told recovery is painful and extensive--3-6 months. That route will gobble two full seasons of my life.  Plus, major surgery has obvious risks. 

I am fortunate I have a partner who is able to help me in a thousand ways. She is currently cooking us three meals a day, bringing me ice packs, supervising our new puppy (yes, a puppy) who arrived a few weeks before the slipped disc, proofing my manuscript, and watching Netflix with me.

I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and reminded myself that my attitude matters as much as my effort. I'm determined to stay positive, and to WAIT TO WORRY. I'm also forcing myself to a pool a few times a week (I hate it) to counter the weakness that comes from not moving. 

And: I'm actually finishing my manuscript. Finally. For real. Even preparing my query letter for an agent or publisher. This time of forced solitude and sedentary sit-downs hasn't been all bad. It's also scared me enough that I'm losing the weight I've needed to lose for years.  I'm going to do that. I'm envisioning that there will be an endpoint where I'm healthier and stronger. Wouldn't I love to dress like the cool hip woman I want to be. :^)

I have a doctor here in Provincetown who reminds me that 70 in Provincetown is 50 anywhere else. A few months ago I asked him why I've had so many medical issues in the last year or so when I've never had any before. He smiled, "I'd say you should be grateful. Most people start to decline when they hit 50 and you've had a good 20 years without problems. So you're playing a little catch up, that's all."

He is a good doctor. I'm lucky in that department also. So far: Optimism reigns. 

love
kj