Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Wendy Mitchell on living with dementia and why her cat kept getting fatter

Billy the cat was on a diet but he kept getting fatter and no one knew why. “Even the vet commented on it,” revealed Wendy Mitchell, who is living with dementia.

Wendy Mitchell and Sir Martyn Lewis at the BRACE conference

Wendy, who is 62, was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2014. Earlier this year, her book, Somebody I used to Know, became a Sunday Times best seller and Radio 4’s book of the week. Her account of being diagnosed with dementia and how she has coped with it has inspired many.

She spoke at the recent BRACE conference #Together4Dementia in Bristol and read her favourite extract from her book about her daughter’s cat Billy who kept getting fatter and fatter.

‘Billy pads into the kitchen performing a tiny dance in front of my feet before he finds the patch of sunshine on the kitchen tiles. He flops down on it while I scratch the back of his ears while he purrs his approval. I shake some biscuits into his bowl and he gets up and crunches on them noisily. He’s only allowed a few as Gemma has put him on a diet. She’s not sure why he’s put on so much weight recently. Even the vet commented on it.

‘I make myself a cup of tea and as the kettle boils, I feel Billy’s tail curling around my legs . I glance at his empty bowl. ‘Ah Billy, have I forgotten to feed you ?” He looks up with big, sad eyes, his purr audible over the boiling kettle that switches itself off, and I shake a few more biscuits into his bowl.’

Wendy goes to greet her daughter who has just come home from work. ‘Gemma and I catch up on the day. Twenty minutes must pass by like that and then Billy jumps down from my lap and sniffs at his empty bowl and sits, staring at it. “Ah no, I must have forgotten. Gemma looks at him, unsure.

‘“The vet said Billy has to lose weight; he must be getting fed somewhere else because his diet isn’t working. You are only giving him a few biscuits when you’re on Billy duty, aren’t you mum?”’

‘“Oh yes, I’m sure I do,” as I shake more biscuits into his bowl.’

‘I even see the positives in a bummer of a diagnosis’

Wendy’s account is full of humour and she talks at the conference about being a “glass half full person” saying: “I am a positive person so I even see the positives in a bummer of a diagnosis”.

Wendy used to work as a manager for the NHS at a hospital in Leeds and reveals “I used to be renowned for having a brilliant memory but it started letting me down badly. I came out of my office and I forgot where I was.

“I had so many different diagnoses at the beginning. They said it was stress or the menopause when I had already had the menopause. I knew it wasn’t stress as I am not that type of person.

“After 18 months of different memory tests, there was a SPECT can which showed a slowness in my brain.”

She is determined to reduce the stigma around the disease and encourage others to take part in clinical trials and research.

Billy the cat who kept getting fatter

“People think they have to talk to us differently,” she says. She now has had dementia for four years and still lives independently at home, where she is determined to stay for as long as possible, saying: “Living in a care home with many other people and other voices would be very distressing for me. But at the same time I don’t want my daughters to look after me as I want them to remain as my daughters.”

She has come up with strategies for living at home and says: “There are advantages to living alone as if somebody moves things about, they don’t exist for me any longer.

“At the moment I am coming up with solutions to enable me to stay living on my own at home. I have many adaptations which help me.”

She says “talking is the most powerful thing you can do to allay people’s fears when you have dementia. Talking is the most powerful thing I and my daughters can do.”

Wendy has found peer support from other people living with dementia to be hugely beneficial, saying: “We share solutions all the time and we listen to each other. We are non-judgmental and we are all going through the same thing. If one of us forgets who the prime minister is, it really doesn’t matter.”

Wendy finds images speak more to her than words so in her blogs she uses a lot of photos. “Photographs make me happy. People never take photos of people in a bad mood. When I feel anxious I go into my memory room which is filled with photographs and I look at them.

“I do travel around the country a lot going to conferences on dementia but people see me and think it is easy for me.

“But I have a pink file that tells me where I am going and has details on everything. It also has a plan B as trains don’t always go right. My Twitter friends are amazing and they will tell me what train to get if my train is cancelled.” Wendy admits that: “When I walk out of here today I will forget the details but I will remember the emotions.

Losing memories is like losing precious possessions

“Every day I lose a memory. For me when I lose memories every day, it is like losing my precious possessions every day.”

Wendy writes a blog Which Me Am I Today as she says: “It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable.

“However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we’ve been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we still have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day-to-day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. Living as well as you can with dementia is all about adapting. Adapting to new ways to enable us to live better for longer with dementia.

“I can type as though dementia never entered my world as that part of my brain has not yet been affected, but that often works against me as people question my diagnosis. All I can say is, live a day in my shoes and I’m sure the reality will dawn.

“What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.”

To read Wendy’s blog click here

 

16-Nov-18 Article By: Sue Learner

 

Advertisements

Competition

Front cover on Amazon

Want to be in with a case of winning my latest book ‘Chatty Cat: Autumn Into Winter’? You do? Click here https://www.reviewspot.co.uk/reviews/competitions/win-copy-chatty-cat-autumn-winter-suzan-collins

I’m talking to Jo Lambertwriter today, grab a cuppa and come and join us. https://jolambertwriter.blog/2018/02/13/today-tuesday-talk-welcomes-suzan-collins-discussing-the-inspiration-behind-the-chatty-cat-series-and-her-latest-writing-project/

Welcome, Regina Clarke…

Regina Clarke

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I was born in England and grew up in the U.S. That English connection has always been strong, though, for both sets of grandparents were born in England. I once traced my paternal name back to a time before 1066. It was spelled “clerc” and of course derived in Old English from various monks who were allowed to marry (or the name would have entered the mists of obscurity). I also found a Reginald Clerc, noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Rutland (1205). After that, I knew I had to keep my own name no matter what. My ancestors had to be honored!

What is the title and genre of your book?

I’ve written a number of books and short stories, but selected The Magic Hour, a mystery/fantasy, for this interview.

How did you come up with the story?

Three powerful things influenced my writing it:

On the back cover description I say this: “Before full night comes, when the air is indigo and objects less distinct, time and space can shift. This is the magic hour, and it reveals what is usually hidden.” I had always wanted to tell a story that took place in that interval. The desire to do that just wouldn’t let go.

Then about four months before I started the book, or even thought of starting it, I had come over to the U.K. and spent some days in the month of September in Glastonbury, visiting ancient monoliths and barrows (and having divine cream teas). The room I had was on Silver Street and I was on the top floor of this old house, and the view was over the wall into the Glastonbury Abbey ruins. Talk about a perfect place to be. There was often mist rising over the stones.

I am also a fanatical reader of mysteries, so I wanted to write a book that had a mystery to solve.

Those three elements all merged for me in this book. It began one day, all of a sudden. I hadn’t planned such a book at all. I was working in corporate at the time (alas) but instead of attending to a technical writing doc, I wrote the first paragraph of the novel. I remember looking at it on my computer and wondering what on earth that was about. Four months later the first draft was done. While I took the book through a lot of revisions, that first paragraph has never changed.

Oh, there was another aspect that influenced me. I was very familiar with the visual effects of migraines. I had studied them for a nonfiction paper and then got mesmerized by descriptions of the visual effects as given by Dr. Oliver Sacks and the brilliant Hildegard of Bingen on both migraines and hallucinations. I knew about TLE, temporal lobe epilepsy, as a result, as well. So these figured as a catalyst to explain why the detective was having visions of another world off and on while pursuing his real-life case in a small town in the Pacific northwest. Like the magic hour—which part is real was the question.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Regina Clarke book cover

Thank you! That was a joy to create. I have a wonderful digital artist doing covers for me now, but at that time I was on my own, though I had an excellent (and free) PaintShop clone I used, and still use. I’d received a Twitter message from a psychologist friend in Toronto and her background image for her profile was this small section of lovely stars in an indigo sky—just the smallest piece—but I loved it. She had no idea where she’d grabbed it from. Eventually, making Google searches relentlessly, I found the original image. It was taken by a photographer, who I credit in the book.

All I did was compress and alter the image to match the Kindle version specs and add my title and name. Choosing a titling font only took fifteen tries before I got it right… J When I created the back cover for the paperback it was a harder, because I did not understand about spines, etc., so that took awhile. But when it was done I was very happy with it—it gave the feeling I wanted of that magic interval of indigo twilight.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I offer the one writers are always given—write every day, preferably at the same time of day. But if that cannot happen, at the very least write something before the day is done. Make it a kind of mantra to do that.

What is your writing routine?

When I was in corporate it was nights and weekends or at lunchtime in the car. But as soon as I had time free I settled into a schedule that is so fixed that when I don’t do it I feel bereft! It is always in the morning—between two and three hours. I’ll do other writing, for my blog or my newsletter or a guest post, etc., in the afternoon or evening.

I think maybe the most important part of all is not even to look at news or social media until you’ve put in your writing time. I didn’t always follow that and would end up engaged in correspondence or researching an article I’d read or almost anything that drew my attention—like one of those people who surf channels on a television set, or an insect checking out the next flower source, only at least insects are following a purpose! I do a lot of research voluntarily or on assignment and have an insatiable appetite for information and the unknown, so left to undisciplined devices, I might not attend to doing what I wanted to do most. I had to absolutely stop it all and just write in the morning time. No distractions.

Do you have an editing process?

I love editing. It is as creative as writing but in a whole different way. It is a feeling of honing and settling and shaping—the actual writing gets the right brain dreaming down, and the editing activates the critical faculty. It is the whole process that brings the book into being.

Of course, indie publishing is the best of inventions! I get to use my inspired self and my critical self to design or approve covers, to learn new methods of production, to explore audience reactions and connect with other writers, artists, and production people.

That said, it is also quite grand that now the self-publishing field has drawn in people so skilled at marketing and promotion. I follow a number them or listen and watch their webinars—these people, the good ones, are professionals who know how to help us find our audience. They also offer a tremendous amount of information free as well as paid—of their skill, wisdom, and help. I am very much indebted to them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Writing is always, always good, even when it isn’t developing the way I think it ought to at any given time. It’s a world I love to enter. A welcome immersion.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if someone else took care of everyday tasks like shopping and cleaning—I am perfectly capable of spending an entire day writing and editing when in fact there is dusting and cooking and tidying that are waiting on me that simply get forgotten…! This would also open up time for me to create excerpted audio readings on my website for each book, as I want to do. I even bought basic equipment and downloaded Audacity to edit the audios. I then created a page for it on my website, which so far shows only a list of book titles! The audios require blocks of time in the afternoon that are not readily available. I could do it at night but my voice skills are very likely to flag.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website is at www.regina-clarke.com and I welcome visitors indeed. My Blog at that site is nonfiction, with the emphasis on inspirational posts. BTW, I would be keen to have people write guests posts there on similar themes, as well.

My Amazon Author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Clarke/e/B001K8IWBU

The following sites are good ways to reach me. I am also on Goodreads, though not involved with that site except occasionally.

https://www.facebook.com/ReginaClarkeAuthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/reginac7/boards/

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/regina-clarke.html

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/members/

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

http://linkedin.com/pub/regina-clarke/10/688/82

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

One thing that is invaluable to receive is feedback. If readers (and other writers) send feedback in emails or in reviews to authors they have read, it is always beneficial. I try for my part to do it for books I have enjoyed. It matters for writers to get other perspectives and impressions.

I would also extend great thanks to you, Suzan, for this gracious interview!

You’re welcome, Regina.

 

Welcome, Mandy Baggot…

Mandy B pic

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Perhaps a tea first and then we can move onto wine!

*Hands tea to Mandy* 

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I’m Mandy Baggot and I’m a bestselling romantic novelist of – currently – 14 novels. Mandy Baggot is my real name. I did think about writing under another name when I started to write more romantic comedy than anything else, but one Google search told me there was so much information on Mandy Baggot it would be foolish to work against that with a new name.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My latest book is called Single for the Summer and it’s a romantic comedy set on the Greek island of Corfu. Perfect summer reading for your suitcase… or garden at home.

How did you come up with the story?

Ha! It came quite easily really. I wanted to tell the story of someone who’s a serial dater but doesn’t want a boyfriend. Sound weird? Well Tess has been hurt badly so dinner dates and theatre trips she can do, but there is absolutely no commitment. Add in her broken-hearted best friend who says they must remain completely single for the Summer and Tess has a real problem… particularly when she meets gorgeous Greek, Andras.

 It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Yes. Ebury very much wanted to keep the style of my previous Greek-set books with the large title and they chose me the most amazing designer – Adrian Valencia. I am a real admirer of his work so I knew it was going to be special. It’s completely summery and Greek and gives the perfect flavour for the story.

Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write that book! Don’t think too long and hard about planning, just get the words down on the page – you can tinker later. Think about what YOU want to write. Fall in love with your characters, because if you’re not in love with them chances are no one will be.

What is your writing routine?

I generally write when my children are at school every day. But I often work evenings and weekends too depending on deadlines. I am currently writing two books a year so there is quite a quick turnaround!

Do you have an editing process?

I generally write the entire book and then I do one or two read-throughs where I might add in certain details I’ve missed or add more setting etc. Then the book goes to my agent for reading and then on to my editor. After that it goes to copy and line edits with me getting it back in between each time. I always do a final read through on my Kindle to spot any oddities!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

I enjoy making characters that people seem to resonate with. I write, I hope, real life, as well as summery fantasy where you know a happy ending is guaranteed. When readers connect with me and tell me how much they loved my book and how they have been through the same dilemmas as I’ve written it means a great deal.

There isn’t anything I don’t like apart from there are never enough hours in the day!

Where can people find you on the internet?

I am all over the place! Here are some ways to find out more and get in touch!

www.mandybaggot.com

https://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor/

https://twitter.com/mandybaggot

https://www.instagram.com/mandybaggot/

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I am extremely excited that Single for the Summer will be going in to W H Smith Travel, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco from 27 July. There will be a competition for photos shared of the book on shelves! Keep checking my social media channels!

 Mandy Bs book covers

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mandy+baggott&sprefix=mandy+baggott%2Cstripbooks%2C149&crid=3L7T6ZXLOSJ35

Thank you for a lovely interview, Suzan.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. 

Presecco   Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

 

 

 

Welcome, Heidi Swain…

Heidi Swain head and shoulders~black and white

Thank you for inviting me to visit Suzan. I’m delighted to be here.

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’d love a cup of tea please. Milk and one, not too heaped, sugar. Thank you.

*Hands tea to Heidi*

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

My name is Heidi Swain. I am an author who writes commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster and my agent is Amanda Preston from LBA. I live, with my family and our rescue cat called Storm, in a village a few miles south of Norwich.

I don’t have a pen name because I would find it all far too confusing.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My current release, which was published on July 13th is called Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage. It is the fourth book I have written set in and around the fictitious town of Wynbridge in East Anglia and it is commercial women’s fiction. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the ‘women’s’ tag as my other half is an HGV driver and his colleagues enjoy my books. And they are very manly!

Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

Do you write in first or third person? Please explain why

All of my books are written in the first person but my short stories are third. I never made a conscious decision to work that way. It just kind of happened, however, I do like writing in the first person because you really get right inside a character and find out what makes them tick.

How did you come up with the story?

The story of Cuckoo Cottage came to me when I was writing Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market (my Christmas 2016 release). There was a fabulous character called Gwen who was demanding her share of the limelight. She was completely eccentric and lived in a pretty cottage on the outskirts of Wynbridge. I knew straightaway that her home needed investigating and then along came Lottie Foster.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you. My daughter tells me it is her favourite so far but I find it impossible to pick one as I love them all. However, the Christmas 2017 cover is stunning…

With regards to the cover creation process, my editor, Emma Capron, and I have a quick chat about what we think the focus should be and then the ideas are sent off to Pip Watkins in the art department. So far she has struck gold every time and I can’t imagine that is going to change. She’s hugely talented and knows exactly what we want to achieve.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I’m asked this a lot now and I always come back to the same thing – don’t think, just write. If you have a story you want to tell just blooming well get on and write it! If we all waited for the perfect time, the idyllic writing room and the endless hours of free time, we’d never write a word. Stop procrastinating and get the words down and remember, the world won’t stop turning if you make a mistake. Every word you write is a learning curve but you have to take those first steps to climb it.

That sounds a bit ranty. Sorry. I feel very passionate about this!

What is your writing routine?

This has had a bit of a shake-up recently, and is still evolving as I’m now writing full-time (yay) and determined not to get stuck in a rut, sitting for endless hours and having no social life or fresh air.

I still like to get up early and, weather pending, begin the day with a walk rather than words. If I can manage 25 mins pounding the pavements I won’t feel so guilty about sitting and working on the WIP until lunchtime and occasionally beyond, depending on how the words are flowing.

Afternoons are generally kept for answering emails, writing blog posts and interviews.

However, I’ve discovered that us authors never really switch off, do we? Even when we’re ironing, hoovering or scrubbing the bath, our brains are still untangling plot problems and dreaming up new settings.

Do you have an editing process?

When I’ve completed a first draft, I like to leave it alone for a few days before having a read through and a tinker and then it goes off to my editor. Once she has returned it I’ll work through her notes and suggestions and work on it again. And again if necessary, although so far so good. Next come the proof pages and the finishing touches and voila! A book is born.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. I’ve left out the bits about months of obsessing and the crucial error of getting sucked into editing as you go along…

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most – creating a character that resonates with readers and coming up with settings that people would actually want to live in. I readily admit that I would be quite happy living the lives of all my leading ladies!

Least – the sleepless nights spent worrying that my lovely readers won’t like the next story and those (thankfully infrequent) scathing reviews that feel like a blow to the stomach and stick with you far longer than they should.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I’m all over the internet. I adore social media!

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483439180&sr=8-2-ent

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

A massive hug if I may? And an even bigger thank you for being so hugely supportive and giving me the confidence to carry on!

You are appearing at the East Anglian Festival of Culture in the Ambassador Room in the Hatfield Hotel in Lowestoft on Saturday 9th September.

I’m really looking forward to this! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet some fellow local authors and hopefully some new readers. I’m thrilled to have been invited.

Will you be reading one of your fabulous books or talking about becoming a fulltime writer?

I’m planning to read from Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage but am more than happy to talk about becoming a full time author as well. I could chat about all things bookish until the cows come home!

Thank you for a lovely interview.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. Can’t decide on chocolate or chocolate with strawberries…

Presecco Chocolate Strawberries and chocolate  Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

 

Covers

BID to have the name of your pet or a child in book 5 of my Chatty Cat series. Bidding closes tomorrow! ALL proceeds to Grenfell Tower.

https://authorsforgrenfelltower.com/2017/06/25/name-a-pet-or-child-in-book-5-of-the-chatty-cat-series-by-suzan-collins/