Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG - It's Okay to Not be Okay & Jemi Fraser's Dancing With Dementia

It's time for the April Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists so writers can seek support and lend support. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up. Then post about your insecurities and hop around to see what others have to say.

The co-hosts this month are Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

The optional question this month is "How are things in your world?"

On that note, it's been a strange month, full of unknowns. Some people thrive in terms of creativity during hard times. Others close up. I tend to have trouble letting my creativity flow during times of struggle or insecurity. Don't put pressure on yourself if it's not coming to you naturally. maybe this is the time to experience the arts more than create them. Get some extra reading time in, watch a movie, take a virtual tour of an art gallery or museum, listen to music, dance, do a puzzle, color.

My co-director and I scurried to put our monthly Pikes Peak Writers events online after having to cancel the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and delay a half-day event. Happily, after playing around with Zoom, we found we could do everything we needed to online. And people from everywhere can join in! I'd love to "see" some of you join in to the events. They are all free except one, which is the half-day event. Click HERE to view our free programming and get more information. If you have questions about format, just let me know in the comments. I'm excited that, albeit hopefully briefly, I can share some of our free education events with friends outside the area for once.

***If you're not interested in joining any of these, skip down to the next set of three stars. This is just more info on the events.***

The Write Brain is workshop style, and will be on writing comedy in April. Rebecca Rowley's presenting it, and it's called Zen and the Art of Parody. Totally free workshop, and she's a lot of fun. The May one will be an attorney talking about Legal Issues in Worldbuilding, BUT we're not positive yet if that one will be online.

Writer's Night is just when we all get together to ask and answer writing questions. You can tune in without asking a question. It's completely up to you. Another free one. Mytchel Chandler hosts this.

We're not doing Open Critique in April, but might in May. (This one will be free).

Write Drunk Edit Sober will also be online. Deb Courtney teaches mini lessons then has people write to prompts. This one's the soonest (April 8). It's via Delve (Adobe), but May's will likely be via Zoom. Also free.

So if you're interested in any of those, you can click on the links and get dates/times. They're all in the evening. We figured by taking it online, people would have something to do, and get some semblance of social time. And it gives you an idea of what I do for my volunteer job! The hardest part was making sure we could do our half-day event online since there are three speakers and it's a paid event. Knowing if we'd be able to do that or if we'd be canceling was incredibly stressful, because our quarterly half-day events are how we pay to put on all four free monthly events, so we can keep doing them. Once we got that figured out, it got slightly less stressful, so yay! (If you're interested in the paid half-day, it's on writing synopses, query letters, and loglines, and it's online and available to anyone interested, as well.) The funny thing is, had we not ended up canceling the half-day, I wouldn't have been able to attend my own event! It was originally scheduled on Pi Day, and I had to work the day job that day. Now it's April 11, so problem solved. The speakers are all good at what they do, but they're also friends, so I was disappointed I'd have to miss seeing them.

***Event info end***

About the day job, we only ended up having one more business day after Pi Day before everything went completely crazy, and we had to either close or adapt to doing all takeout/curbside. We made the adjustment, though, and didn't miss any days of being open. Just a reminder to anyone getting takeout from open restaurants in your area: the servers are still packaging everything up, and they're still making the usual tipped hourly wage. Not only that, but they're having to risk exposure to COVID-19 and the flu with every customer coming in. Please bear that in mind. I've found that about half the people getting takeout or curbside are still not tipping (for the record, I've always tipped some when doing takeout, but now I'm tipping out 20% for them being on the front lines).

As the payroll person, I've had to make some changes to how I do payroll, so it's definitely interesting times. Plus, my kids are home from school, and my husband is now off work every other week, so everything that is my normal has disappeared. It's no wonder I haven't written in two weeks. I was punishing myself for it mentally at first, but then I reminded myself that nothing is normal right now, and it's okay to not be okay. On top of that, I launched a book a couple days before the apocalypse, which has, of course, hurt sales. And I feel uncomfortable promoting it, so I've stopped for now. I'm hoping to do a book launch with friends who also had the misfortune of putting a book out right when things went haywire, but we have no idea when we can do that, so not being able to plan that and have it done adds to the stress. Plus, all my scheduled appearances (except podcasts) have been cancelled or delayed. I briefly had a job opportunity that would have involved me getting paid for the same type of job I currently do as a volunteer, but with the company having to shut down events, not only are the job positions all closed now, but those already working for them are waiting to see if they get to keep their jobs. AND my trip out to my grandma's memorial, who died just before all this, had to be canceled. Finally, my mom is trapped at home, and every time I visit I possibly expose her to COVID since I'm having to fill in for server (one of our line cooks and one of our servers have chosen to take a leave of absence from work, due to being in the high risk categories, so I'm taking on some extra in-person server shifts on top of ye olde day job.) It sucks. I feel like I should be doing more for her right now, but I also don't want to endanger her. I'm sure many of us are dealing with that right now.

So that's how I'm doing, in a nutshell (not a very small nutshell, was it?) I've got more work than usual, instead of less, which is probably best. There's been no time to sit around and dwell. We're moving my daughter to a new room, and I'm trying to get my house cleaned and purged of unnecessary stuff (we can't purge right now, because all the donation centers are shut down, but I can be ready to when the time comes.) Other than that, all we can do is take care of ourselves, take care of those we need to take care of, and roll with this thing while we wait to see what happens next.

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Jemi Fraser’s DANCING WITH DEMENTIA, Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

The author is offering a tour-wide international giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia
by Jemi Fraser
◊ Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
◊ Publisher: Just Jemi Books
◊ eBooks
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1-9991258-1-3

Dementia and Alzheimer’s touch the lives of millions around the world, but so much is still unknown.

As first-generation Canadians, we didn’t recognize the early warning signs. We didn’t know the differences between regular aging and the early stages of dementia. We’ve made mistakes but we’ve learned a lot.

•Identify those early warning signs
•Use visuals to improve communication
•Choose your words wisely
•Redirect and reassure
•Stay calm and cope with your own emotions
•Consider nursing home options
•Improve caregiver self-care

We’ve learned to dance the early steps of the disease with our love and laughter intact. If you are looking for help recognizing early signposts along with practical ways to cope with early Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this book is for you.

I asked Jemi for a Top Ten List. Here it is!

Thanks so much for allowing to visit here at the Warrior Muse! As Shannon enjoys horror, I thought I’d focus on our Top 10 horror moments in our dance with dementia. Lizzie is our Mom and Philip is our stepfather.

Top 10 Horrifying Moments

10. Watching Philip drive his car up to our house, RIGHT up to our house, and not being able to do a thing to stop him

9. The morning I picked up Lizzie to visit Philip in the hospital and realized their car had disappeared from the apartment parking lot

8. Cleaning out an apartment where 2 people with dementia had been “taking care of things” for years

7. The day Philip got his car stuck in a snowbank in a blizzard and Lizzie walked a couple of miles to call for help

6. The day Lizzie saw a cow wandering the hospital hallways

5. The day Lizzie eluded the nursing home staff and safety system and disappeared for hours without anyone knowing where she was

4. Discovering (the hard way) that Lizzie no longer understood the value of coins and bills

3. The day I checked on the pill organizer I’d set up the previous evening to find the medications all reorganized by colour (leaving a potentially deadly combination)

2. The day the police stole Lizzie & Philip’s car … sort of…

1. The day Lizzie & Philip had the grandkids over for lunch … and served vodka in water glasses

Most of these horror moments have a funny side, as long as you enjoy gallows humour anyway. We’ve learned to find the humour in as many situations as we can. It’s one of the best ways to cope as we continue to dance with dementia!

How about you? Anyone else enjoy the dark side of humour? Anyone else use humour to help them cope with the dark side of life?

DANCING WITH DEMENTIA buy links:              Apple Books       Barnes & Noble          Kobo

Add DANCING WITH DEMENTIA to your Goodreads shelf

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

For more on Jemi and her writing, visit her following sites:

Amazon Page        BookBub      Goodreads       Facebook       Twitter       Quick Tips Videos


This tour-wide giveaway is for a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway is open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Jemi on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. I hope dementia hasn’t touch your family or friends, but in case it has do you have any tips to share on dealing with this terrible disease?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back to me (Shannon), I did have a short story  come out in an anthology, XVIII, on the 20th. "Following the Rules" is told from a little girl's viewpoint, and it's all about her night parents.

Since this post is so long, I'm going to save my submission stats and links for next week's post. Plus, my pandemic viewing and reading recommendations.

How are you doing through all this? Have things stayed relatively normal for you, or are you dealing with massive upheaval? What do you think of Jemi's Top Ten list? Have you dealt with a family member with dementia? What are you feeling insecure about? Are you being kind to yourself?

May you find your Muse.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon - good luck with your writing; while Jemi's book will be really useful - it's always interesting to read up about aspects of how to cope with Alzheimers ... good luck to you both - Hilary

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

It sounds like you're doing everything you can do, so no beating yourself up. Hang in there!

Congrats on the story!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your world really has changed. Glad you were able to take the conference online. Don't worry about writing if it's not coming.
Big congratulations to Jemi!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Your advice is very sound. This is a strange time and the territory is quite new and unknown to us. Keeping busy (especially with writing) is important, but forcing it right now isn't the healthiest of things to do. Take it as it comes. Please take care...

I'm so happy for Jemi! Her top 10 HT is so telling. I remember most of them from reading her book. It's such a raw look into dementia. Totally recommend it.

Mason Canyon said...

It does sound like you have your hands full right now, but glad all is well with you and your family. Thanks for being a part of Jemi's tour.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks so much for hosting DWD during these crazy, troubling times, Shannon. Your world is completely turned on its axis. Take good care of you and yours. It is definitely okay to not be okay!!
We're busier than normal too - but I'm glad many people are able to work form home and stay safe.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks, Hilary! There are so many ways this disease manifests, and so many ways to cope!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks, Alex!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks so much, Sheri! :)

mshatch said...

I definitely feel like writing is like pulling teeth right now. Panic isn't a good motivator. Please stay well and if you need help promoting I'm willing to host anything you have in mind!

mshatch said...

Oh, and congrats to Jemi!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Marcy!!!

Jacqui Murray said...

I'm very impressed you got this all online. Huzzah to you for being risk takers! I have a conference coming up and they aren't even going to try to put it online. Sigh.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Patricia! I hear ya on the Twitter scrolling! It's hard to be creative right now :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jemi, I don't know which of those is scarier. Your mother hiding for hours! Wow.

Shannon, that's wonderful you were able to move most of the event online.

Michelle Wallace said...

It sounds like you are really busy and juggling many balls, Shannon!
I suppose it keeps you focused on being productive, instead of being distracted by all the doom and gloom out there.
Stay safe!

cleemckenzie said...

You are busy this month and maybe quite a few into the future. I'm looking forward to reading Jemi's book, and now even more after reading her answers to your questions.

Jemi Fraser said...

It was terrifying! I still have nightmares about that one!

Jemi Fraser said...

We've had some interesting moments for sure, Lee!

Olga Godim said...

@Shannon: Organizing a writers conference online must've been a huge amount of work. Well done.
@Jemi: I guess, a sense of humor is the only way of dealing with dementia. After all, if you don't laugh, you'd want to cry.

Jemi Fraser said...

Olga, that is EXACTLY it!!

Doreen McGettigan said...

You are SO busy and I agree with you it is better and will hopefully make this crazy time go faster.
Thank you for all those event links, they all look fabulous!
Thank you also for sharing Jemi's book.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks, Doreen!

Anne Higa said...

Sorry to hear about all the craziness especially with your grandmother. That must be so rough. That said, congrats for keeping it all as well together and staying a light as always.

Anne from

Yolanda Renée said...

You are definitely one busy woman, but as you said, it's probably a good thing. A little meltdown once in awhile is the new normal. At least for me. :)

Jemi, I loved your list, but at the same time felt a bit horrified. ;)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Take care, Shannon. I can hear in your written voice how frazzled you are. Hope you're able to just sit and meditate once in a while. You're the heart of your family, after all

Jemi Fraser said...

Renee - we've decided the only way to get through the horrors is to laugh!

Diane Burton said...

I like the title of your post. Those of us whose minds are so scrambled because of this crisis appreciate the sentiment. I hope you and your family stay safe.

Lori L. MacLaughlin said...

I'm glad you were able to move the conference online. It must have been an incredible amount of work. And I'm sorry you had to cancel your trip for your grandma's memorial. That's sad. Life hasn't been upended too much here. I work from home with my job anyway, so no big change there. My daughter is home from college, finishing her semester online. My son works at an "essential store" so that's a little nerve-racking, but someone has to do it. I worry about my elderly parents getting the virus. They've been staying home and I've been getting their groceries for them. All we can do is wait and hope and pray the crisis will be over soon. Stay well. Congrats to Jemi on her book. My grandmother and my father-in-law both had dementia. It's such a cruel disease for all involved.
Lori at

Liza said...

Thank you for the great links. If there there are silver linings to this cloud, one must be how we manage to stay together as a result of technology. Stay healthy.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks, Lori. It is indeed a cruel disease and not only to the people afflicted! Hope you and yours continue to stay safe!

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Shannon -- stay healthy! It sounds like you are making the best of the new normal.
Jemi -- congrats!

Juneta key said...

Wow, nice way to stay business. Congrats to Jemi on the new release.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks so much, Yvonne!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks, Juneta!

Damyanti Biswas said...

Good Luck with everything Shannon! Stay safe.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

It's good to be busy in these times, I think! I feel like I should be pretty unaffected, since I never go out anyway :D But I'm having trouble settling to any kind of work--my usual lack of focus has been magnified by all the changes and the stronger-than-ever pull of social media (heck, there's always something new there now, since everyone's spending more time there...).