Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic by Nora Gallagher

Dear Lit Loves,
Oh my goodness, I loved this book.  I will keep hard copy of this book.  If you've ever dealt with chronic illness or cared for someone who has chronic illness, you should get this book.  It's a fairly quick read, but you will learn how to decipher the medical establishment.  Trust me, I help people do this exact task all the time because of all the experience I have with the medical system.  Ms. Gallagher starts having blurred vision on the edges of the vision field in her right eye.  She is treated for Uveitis.  This is serious business.  I have Uveitis.  And I've had it since I was sixteen years of age! It's not something you hand over to any tom, dick, or harry eye doctor.  Uveitis is inflammation of the vessels, nerves, and tissues in the eye area.  It causes me to see the cells in my eye during the day or at night.  Ms. Gallagher also starts experiencing fatigue and soon her doctors are looking for an underlying cause of her Uveitis.  I am speaking about an underlying autoimmune disorder whereby your own immune system decides to go haywire and attack your bodily organs like they are foreign invaders.  That's why I advised getting a specialist.  Ms. Gallagher witnesses what it is like to go from being a normal, health person living in the land of the normal to taking up residence in what she likes to call Oz, the land of the sick. 
Ms. Gallagher sees all kinds of doctors and finally goes to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for diagnosis and care.  It's scary, but the Mayo Clinic tries to put patients at ease by putting patients first.  There is even a spiritual center whereby you can leave a prayer or note to whomever you believe in on a prayer wall.  She and I like to think that Jesus is the collector of all these notes.  Eventually, Ms. Gallagher's underlying autoimmune disorder is identified and she has a treatment plan; however it took travel, multiple doctors, and endless amounts of patience.  I know becaue I've been to Oz and am currently residing there.  If you have ever wondered what would happen to you if your life or the life of someone you love is turned upside down by illness, you should find this book and acquaint yourself with a "how-to" plan on dealing with chronic illness and the medical community.  Now, fortunately for Ms. Gallagher and I, we have adequate health insurance, but what if you didn't have that either?  That's a book for someone else to write, although you will still gain a lot of strength and enlightenment from this book.  I know because I did and I hope someone publishes my books so I can help someone as much as Ms. Gallagher's book helped me.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How To Succeed In Publishing

Sometimes when it comes to getting published it is necessary
 to do the following:

1)  Knock on the door.

2)  If no response, bang on the door.

3)  If still no response, DROP KICK THE DAMN DOOR DOWN.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Dear Literary Loves,
Okay folks, I am waiting to hear from about seven literary agents.  I think they all went to the Frankfurt Book Festival over in Germany.  Eventually, I hope, they will get to my query and manuscript; however, in the meantime, I've been reading books.  Most recently, I read A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.  First, to be honest, I started this book on three different occasions, put it down because it was overly depressing, and then felt guilty for not finishing it.  Stephen King endorsed the book; however, what the hell does he know about writing good memoir?  I'm not dissing Stephen King, but I'm just pointing out that I don't think he has ever written anything in the genre. So for a fourth time, I picked up the book and read it over two days.  Basically, the author's husband suffers an immense tragedy.  The tragedy is related to the dog that the author wanted, but I don't think the husband really cared for all that much.  Chaos ensues along with a hefty amount of time in an intensive care unit.  The author's husband basically suffers traumatic brain injury; he's never going to be himself again and his short term memory is shot.  Heroically, the author and a home health aide/nurse attempt to bring the husband home to live, but it is just overwhelming.  He goes to reside
in a care facility in upstate New York.
Basically, for several years the author deals with survivor's guilt and understandably so.  She acquires three dogs during this time and they essentially become her new reality and family.  She sells her New York City apartment and buys a home near the care facility where her husband resides.  Ironically, she discovers that she is happier with her life now.  Would she like to have her husband and his intact mind back?  Absolutely, but she doesn't retreat from society or completely shut down as a human being.  She keeps evolving which many women I have known cannot do.  I think women sometimes cling to a partner that is bad for them because they are too scared of being alone or they think they are too old to find another significant other.  And that's a shame because the only one in that situation who is getting the short end of the stick is the woman.  Never settle for less than what you deserve or desire. 
Till my next update and review,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Dear Literary Loves,
I think all the literary agents flew to Germany for The 2013 Frandfurt Book Festival because I haven't heard from one this week; however, on the bright side, four publishers now have my next manuscript entitled Where The Hell Is My Yellow Brick Road?!  So in the middle of sending doc. files of my manuscript to publishers, I picked up Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky.  Lord, this book reads like a front desk clerk's manifesto on managing hotel properties and owners.  First, I don't think the author really planned to spend his life in the hotel industry.  Like a lot of people he just tried to bloom where planted.  Thankfully, he starts out in New Orleans and the south where people generally inquire as to your health and don't slam doors in your face ( I'm looking at you Boston).  He gets his first start as a parking attendant which also leads to a whole level of craziness outside the hotel.  Cars getting mismanaged, stopped on a dime, dinged, and finally two parking attendants take a rumble in the parking lot of the hotel.  Damn.  I always like the parking attendants as they know the city better than the city visitor's center.  Now I will be extra wary about who drives off with my car when valet parking is offered.
Next, he gets promoted to front desk attendant on the night shift which to me was the best post for him due to most of the hotel being asleep.  He also gets to take on laundry manager which was no special thrill either.  Finally, he winds up in a hotel in New York as a front desk manager and appears to be truly figuring out the system.  He now knows how to get guests to tip the bellman and utilize the bellmen; he knows how to upgrade a customer to receive a great tip; and he has learned how to cope with irate customers.  Management at this particular hotel is not fond of him and appears to want to get rid of him; however, much to my surprise and his praise, he belongs to a union which makes it next to impossible for management to fire him.  He does have a hostile outburst with management, but in my mind, rightly so.  I think they just wanted to make life hell for him so he would quit, but no, the best revenge is staying on and keeping his job.  And man can this guy tell you how to work a hotel system to your advantage.

Here is my customer manifesto to a hotel front desk staff which I developed on the back flap of this book while reading:

1)  If a parking attendant shreds any part of my car I am likely to sue because guess what?  It is the hotel's liability. 
2)  To parking attendants/valets:  Please remember to move my sit back to its original position and that is not with the driver's seat located in the back of the car.  I tip well and deserve seriously good service.
3)  I always utilize a bellman.  I especially like those that help me get my suitcase and belongings out of a taxi and up to a room.  Bonus points if the bellman is a conversationalist and inquires about where I'm from and assures me if I need anything to contact him. 
4)  I especially appreciate bellmen who manhandle any homeless person who is trying to berate me or rob me on my way back to my hotel.  (I'm looking at you Baltimore). 
5)  If I can't arrive at the hotel on time, trust me, I will notify you. 
6)  I am never jumping up and down to stay in a hotel because I prefer my house.  There is no luxury hotel that is better than my own home.  Okay, maybe a hotel in the Caribbean with a spa, but that's about it.
7)  Honestly, if I call the front desk and inform you there are no fresh towels, please do not send someone to bang on my hotel door and deposit a laundry bag of new towels that haven't even been folded.  Next time, I'll just book a room with a washer and dryer and do my own towels thank you very much.
8)  The room attendant should never keep asking how long I am staying, when I will check-out, and also lecture me on leaving tips with her/him instead of the front desk.  They never have good things to say about the front desk staff by the way.
9)  The best hostesses, assistant managers, managers, front desk attendants, wait staff are those that know I am a repeat customer.  They give me exceptional service and I tip well.  Case closed.
10)  If you have anger management issues with hotel management I would highly suggest finding a good gym membership because it's so much better than getting fired or worse, having a stroke due to all the stress a boss can throw your way. 

Bon Voyage!
Grace (Amy)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why A Literary Agent Should Sign Me

Dear Literary Loves,
I am writing this blog posting because it has become apparent to me that many literary agents need some serious convincing that I could be their next big break-out writer.  No kidding.  On that note, henceforth allow me to count the benefits of signing me as a new, debut author:

1)  I Am A Former English Teacher:  I hold a Bachelor's and Master's in Communications.  I have taught writing to many different types and classes of people.  Not only am I familiar with middle and high school age folks, I have also worked as an editor for college students and their many essays and thesis papers.  I edit for my tech consulting husband in relation to any tech articles he writes for magazines and journals. You never have to worry if a manuscript or proposal from me is going to arrive clean and free of errors. 

2)  I Write Both Fiction And Nonfiction:  I don't like to limit myself as a writer.  I truly am dedicated to the memoir genre, but I also have manuscripts in the genre of fiction.  I even write "light" pieces that are related to my love of felines.  I like diversity and it shows in my already completed three manuscripts.

3)  I Can Stage A Massive Book Party:  I plan on hosting a major southern-themed book party whenever my first book is published.  This party will have to be a floating book party with a time span of a couple of hours because that is how many people want to come.  Also, I used to stage events for a tech company so I'm used to hosting large gatherings.

4)  I Have Three Manuscripts Completed:  I'm serious.  These babies are waiting for an editor to take them to the next level and embrace them as much as I do.  It can't happen soon enough.

5)  I Have My Own Web Site:  Oh yes, I decided to launch my own writer/author Web site before I found an agent or editor because I wanted to be a part of the social media network.  Okay, it helps that my husband is a tech guru with many software engineering friends.

6)  I Have No Problems With Public Speaking:  I never had to take courses in public speaking in college because I passed an exam that ensured that I didn't need to sit through the specifics of learning how to speak well in public.  I am a former teacher.  You have to also be an actress when you teach in order to hold the attention and interest of twelve to eighteen year olds, trust me.

7)  I Write About Moving Experiences:  I write about those critical moments in our lives when we've got to step up to the plate or get out of the game entirely.  I like real, true stories and the nitty-gritty of life because it helps us all grow personally.  And my teaching motto is and always has been:  Know thyself well.  I can also take the experiences of others and bring them to life in fiction with names changed of course.

8)   My Manuscripts Generally Feature Strong Female Leads:  I am all about the female hero.  I'm generally going to read books about a woman making a difference in the world before I ever pick up a book where a man is the protagonist.  Why?  Because we need strong women and we need women who can break barriers in relation to today's culture.

9)  I Regularly Blog:  I have had my blog for two years now.  I often write about the chaos I have experienced trying to mesh with the publishing industry; it's been intriguing.  Additionally, I regularly critique quite a few memoirs on my blog.  I'm not shy about saying what I liked about a book, what I thought was confusing about a book, and why I would or would not recommend the book to other folks.

10)  I Know My Genres:  It's putting it mildly to say I like the memoir genre.  I feed off and learn from the experiences of others.  I know what is on the shelves at Barnes and Noble that is similar to my book and I can quickly and succinctly tell you why my book stands out from the rest.  Also, I know what I want to read about and I know what is not on the shelves that I think would make a great book.

People keep asking me:  Grace (Amy) when is your book going to be published?  Most of these same people know I have three manuscripts in the wings and are as utterly anxious as I am to see those books in a concrete and creative form.  I'm trying to get there folks, but I need an agent and editor that can run this race as quickly and effectively as I can.  Comprende?!
Till Next Time,
Grace (Amy)