Isabel Cooper.jpgIsabel Cooper loves to read about unlikely partnerships between book characters, even if she doesn't exactly like these pairings in real life. Today on the NOOK Blog, she discusses the unique relationship she created between a half-human, half-dragon Scottish Highland Laird and a diminuitive, London-bred secretary in her newest paranormal romance, Legend of the Highland Dragon.

 

I always hated it, in school, when teachers would make us move our desks around and be in groups with new people. I figured, first of all, it was none of their business whether we got to know each other or not, and second, please. By the middle of the year, I’d made all the friends I was going to. (And in morning classes, I wasn’t inclined to be friends with anyone, including people I already knew and loved. At 8 AM, I hate the entire population of Earth.) Forcing people to work together doesn’t do anything but annoy them!

 

Except, I love reading about exactly that. Unlikely partnerships, arranged marriages, people stuck in prison or elevators together, forming a team and ending up friends or even more: it’s a favorite trope of mine. Maybe it’s because I’m a New England introvert and *don’t* talk to strangers under normal circumstances. Maybe it’s because pressure, danger, or just unexpected situations let you discover more about yourself and the people you’re around. Forced proximity may be a pain in real life, but in fiction, at least, it creates a lot of opportunities.

 

So, when I was working out the plot for Legend of the Highland Dragon, I jumped at the chance to have my hero and heroine unwillingly sharing a house and a mission. Stephen doesn’t want a mortal girl wandering around his house or sharing his life, particularly when she has her own ideas about how to handle their predicament and doesn’t back down easily. Mina has plans for her life, and they don’t include being stuck with an arrogant Scottish lord who’s not even fully human. Neither of them are happy—but they’re grown-ups, so they work it out and, in the process, end up falling for each other.

 

Maybe that means my teachers had a point after all. Just…not before noon. Never before noon.

 

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It was a call that I answered a different way. My sister lost friends and a piece of her city. I was the one who she managed to contact that day before she began the long walk home through the ash. So I was the one who called her friends and family. I was the one who spent much of that tragic day listening to the stories of others. As I talked to more and more people, I started forming the ideas for the “Night Stalkers” series which took me almost a decade before I learned enough to begin writing.

 

Perhaps the key story for me from all that time is the one told to me by the Colonel I dedicated this 9781402258190_p0_v2_s114x166.JPGbook to and adapted to Tim’s transformation. Colonel Baker had decided to go out for a run, his assistant had declined joining him. As he returned toward the Pentagon, the jet flew in killing his entire department, including his assistant. I don’t like war. I am deeply a pacifist. But I have gained more than a respect for those who choose to serve, especially the career soldiers. I have gained an awe. It is that which I strive to capture in each book I write in this series.

 

The best way I know to honor them? I try to tell their stories with as much respect and accessibility tothe average reader as possible. And, along the way, I try to find them their soulmate, because, well, I love happy ever after endings and they bloody well deserve one! But as I said, sometimes the task is hard. To write Take Over at Midnight, I had to throw out a quarter of the first draft and try again. B&N Review columnist Eloisa James tells me I succeeded when she chose this book as one of the Best of 2013 Romances. I hope you enjoy it and the rest of my Night Stalker “family” as well.

 

 

 

Name: Lola LaRue

Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 3

Mission: Copilot deadly choppers on the world's most dangerous missions

 

Name: Tim Maloney

Rank: Sergeant

Mission: Man the guns and charm the ladies

 

The Past Doesn't Matter, When Their Future is Doomed…

Nothing sticks to "Crazy" Tim Maloney, until he falls hard for a tall Creole beauty with a haunted past and a penchant for reckless flying. Lola LaRue never thought she'd be susceptible to a man's desire, but even with Tim igniting her deepest passions, it may be too late now...With the nation under an imminent threat of biological warfare, Tim and Lola are the only ones who can stop the madness--and to do that, they're going to have to trust each other way beyond their limits...

 

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The Mafia has always been a mysterious and intriguing subject in literature and film, and Rachel van Dyken was quickly sucked in when her husband introduced her to stories about the mob. So she decided to write a New Adult novel about forbidden love, within a backdrop of an irascible crime family. Today Rachel visits the NOOK Blog to discuss the inspiration behind her Eagle Elite series. The newest volume, Elect, is now available on NOOK.

 

 

I blame my husband. 

 

Okay, so maybe it's not totally his fault--but I think he'd like to take the credit for the idea behind my latest Eagle Elite series.  He's not a hug fan of sappy romance so he thought I should write something with more darkness…danger…intrigue. Thus, the Eagle Elite series was born. 

 

My husband has always had this fascination with the mafia, and the minute he started telling me stories about the original five families, as well as the background of a Sicilian mobster who had hidden out as a farmer around thirty miles away from our house, I was hooked. 

 

I mean a New Adult mafia story? My head started spinning. I had to write it. 

 

Four weeks later and I finished writing writing the first book in the series. Now that the second book, Elect, is about to release, I can honestly say I am completely sucked into the mafia underworld and I’m not sure I ever want to stop writing about it. 

 

Elect is Romeo and Juliet with a love triangle on steroids. I'm usually really good at explaining stories, but this one has me stumped because to explain it is to take away from the reading experience.  But one of my favorite things about this book, as well as this series, is that it's written from the male perspective. 

 

I love a challenge and that's exactly what this book was for me. It's not just the two main heroes’ POV's that we get a glimpse into, but the "bad guy" from the previous book. Writing in the male perspective gives an author so much freedom with a storyline;  it also makes it possible to dive into the more violent tendencies of a mafia boss as well as a made man. 

 

Romantically, being in the male perspective brings a sensual flavor to the book that, personally, I really enjoy as a reader and as an author. I love knowing that the guy is holding on by a thread, or that the other main character is slowly dying inside because his love isn't returned.  It makes the story more complicated, more heart-wrenching, and in the end, a lot more fun! 

 

I hope readers enjoy Elect as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you have the desire to dive into a Soprano meets Romeo and Juliet adventure, then you'll love the Eagle Elite series :smileywink: I know that I don't plan on putting the pen down anytime soon, especially now that I'm stuck in the middle of their world! 

 

- Rachel Van Dyken

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By the time I started writing A Dance of Mirrors, I’d already written several novels involving Haern the Watcher, my own little medieval super hero assassin. He’d established himself as a fan favorite, as well as the nighttime protector of his capital city of Veldaren. So what I needed was a way to really push him to his limits, and in a manner beyond just skill with a sword. I could create dozens of characters equal to him in swordplay if I desired; it doesn’t take too much imagination to make a villain good at killing. But a truly engaging villain, one that felt like a worthy foe? That’s a bit tougher.

 

So I wanted someone who could challenge the Watcher, not only with blades, but over everything he believed, everything he’d come to represent through his stalking of the night. Haern, through sheer skill and vigilance, guarded his city against the criminal underworld’s crime and influence. He fought and killed, but did so to protect the innocent. But what if I presented an antagonist who had the same goals? Someone who viewed the Watcher not as an enemy…but as an inspiration?

 

It was this idea that created the eventual villain for A Dance of Mirrors (as well as inspiring the eventual title). Out of it came the Wraith, a mysterious man lurking in the shadows, killing those in power, using fear and death to shape events as he desired. Only where Haern sought to protect the innocent of a city, the Wraith sought to bend the will of an entire nation. Once I had a villain, everything else fell right into place. I pulled the Watcher from his homeland and sent him to a faraway city, throwing him out of his element to hunt the Wraith, the man killing and leaving the Watcher’s own mark in mockery…and homage.

 

A worthy foe. My hero’s own twisted reflection. Now that’s a villain I can write a book about.

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I cannot tell you how happy I am to be writing my Claire Morgan homicide detective thrillers again!  Medical issues caused me to take a lengthy break after Enter Evil, Book 4, but I feel great now.

Remember Murder, Book 5, came out last June and was the first book under my new contract. I’m very pleased with the positive response the book is getting and the nice reviews the readers took time to write. Kensington Books was kind enough to do a special promotion back in May, when they offered the first Claire Morgan novel, Head To Head, free for one week. Tons of readers downloaded that book, and I believe my Claire Morgan thrillers gained lots of new fans so I am grateful.

Since Books 5-7 will be eKensington eBook exclusives, I’m excited to be reaching that whole new audience. Mostly Murder, Book 6, comes out on December 5, 2013, and is set in New Orleans. My main characters, Claire Morgan and Nicholas Black, have quite a time in their new adventure hunting down an unbelievably evil serial killer. There’s a big surprise at the end of that book, which I believe you will like. I’m now working on Bad Bones, Book 7, scheduled for June 2014, and having a ball with the storyline. 

When I envisioned this series, I wanted to write a really strong and intuitive female lead.  Claire’s a smart, resilient woman, loves and excels at her homicide detective job, and puts her career above everything else. I like multi-dimensional characters so I gave her a tragic and complicated past that I wanted to use in shaping her emotional roles as a woman, a friend, and a lover. She is unique in the way she approaches her job, and her investigative work means everything to her. Past heartache and personal losses have caused her to build up defense mechanisms and internal walls so she rarely lets anybody see what she really thinks or feels. 

When Claire meets psychiatrist/lover Nicholas Black and her life begins to change in unexpected ways, she feels vulnerable and isn’t sure she likes it. Black realizes Claire is haunted by terrible past experiences and wants to help her. Her brutal childhood is locked up inside her mind, behind walls constructed long ago to protect her fragile psyche. This makes her stronger and more self-reliant, but also distrustful and unwilling to feel or commit to anyone. Claire fascinates Black from the first moment they meet in Book 1 and continues to do so as he tries to heal traumas that she has endured alone for so long.   

Now, after seven books, Claire and Black seem like my own very good friends so it’s a pleasure to sit down each day and write about them. Both still grow and change in each successive book, which is something I always try to do with all my characters.

 

I hope you like Claire and Black as much as I do!

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Secret Santa is a collection of beautiful holiday stories from four beloved and bestselling authors: Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Laura Levine, and Cindy Myers. Today on the NOOK Blog, each author writes about her own cherished Christmas traditions and memories and how they provided inspiration for her work in Secret Santa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Writing a full length novel as opposed to a Christmas novella is a challenge for me. When I found out I had to write one in the month of July it became even more of a challenge because I live in the South where our temperatures are in the high 90s with humidity. While I might be the Queen of Christmas in December, in July I am a wilted Southern wall flower, but I’m always up for a challenge. I needed a plan, that much I knew right off the bat. I have to say I spent more time getting in the mood, worrying about ambience, setting the scene, and working on my mind set than it took me to write the novella.

 

Upstairs in my attic where it was 200 degrees I knew we had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that the kids made when they were little (like 50 years ago).  At the time it was just a stick with branches the kids labored over and later became known as our very own Charlie Brown tree. The twigs that passed for branches were held in place with black electrical tape with gold glitter. Some branches had bandages on them, while others had white gauze holding them in place. Splashes of colored paint streaked the main stick. A wrinkled yellow paper star minus one peak was still attached to the top of the stick.  It was so ugly it was beautiful standing there in the bucket of sand that somehow was still intact. I lugged it down to my office, got it positioned. Then I ran to the Dollar Store, bought a bag of junk to wrap up to put under the tree (do you have any idea how hard it is to find silver paper with red bows in July? I found it, though!). Next, I turned down my A/C to 50 degrees, built a roaring fire and turned on my jukebox that has every Christmas song known to man, and hung the kid’s stockings on the mantle. I tied bells around my dog’s necks, bundled up in two sweaters, a scarf, and sat down to write. 

 

My kids came every day to check my progress as they eyed the packages under the tree. When I typed the last word, I called the kids to come over for our own Christmas in July. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange cream sickles for dinner. They were kids again for a little while. Talk about Christmas spirit. We had it by the bushel. They loved their one of a kind Dollar Store presents. 

 

Might you ask what I got? I got a cold, and the satisfaction my plan worked. - Fern Michaels

 


 I was fortunate to write the entire first draft of “The Yellow Rose of Christmas,” my story in the Secret Santa holiday anthology, at a beautiful little inn located in Vermont during the first two weeks of December 2012. Getting into the spirit of the season couldn’t have been easier. But, as you may have already guessed from the title, “The Yellow Rose of Christmas” is set in Texas, not Vermont. I had to look beyond snow covered hills, hot chocolate, and sleigh rides for inspiration and think about what unifying themes makes Christmas special for people, no matter where they live. 

 

It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer: family and tradition. For example, two of the characters in my story, Velvet and Silky, sisters who have lived together for decades, always kick off the season by decorating their little house, enjoying cookies and breaking out the Christmas records as they work, putting the nativity set and other decorations in the same places every year. 

 

My family has some similar traditions. For us the holiday season begins with a drive to a friend’s farm to choose and cut our tree, which we decorate with all kinds of ornaments, including some that were hand painted by husband’s mother back in the 1940s. Another important holiday tradition for our family is attending Julotta service, a candlelight religious celebration that begins before the sun rises on Christmas morning and ends with the dawn and a delicious breakfast shared by our church family. In spite of the early hour, I look forward to this every year.

 

Community celebrations are also important in Too Much, the little town in where “The Yellow Rose of Christmas” is set. The whole town turns out for the annual live nativity put on by the members of the local Methodist congregation. The Christmas Ball, organized by members of the Women’s Club and held in the fellowship hall of the Episcopal church is another can’t-miss holiday tradition for the residents of Too Much. In fact, the Christmas Ball takes on special significance in the story because Velvet’s secret admirer—who has been sending her a single yellow rose every day since Thanksgiving—is supposed to reveal his identity on that night. In a town with a population that barely tops four figures you can imagine how the rumor mill was churning over that piece of information!

 

No matter where we live or what our backgrounds are, I think most of us have little holiday traditions and rituals that we look forward to year after year. I know many people who consider reading uplifting Christmas stories an important part of kicking off their festive season.  Now there’s a holiday tradition I support one hundred percent! - Marie Bostwick


 Laura Levine is unfortunately unable to write anything at this moment, as she is busy sorting her socks, so we’ve asked the co-star of her Jaine Austen Mysteries—Jaine’s cat Prozac—to tell us how Laura got in the holiday spirit while writing her novella, Nightmare On Elf Street.

 

 Laura, get in the holiday spirit? Are you nuts? All she does when she’s writing a book is sit at the computer in her pajamas, cursing and muttering and running to the fridge for inspiration. I, however, was flooded with warm Christmas memories.

 

I thought back to when I was just a wee kitty, smashing my first Christmas tree ornament, clawing my first Christmas stocking, and leaving my first little surprise for Jaine in her Christmas slippers.

Oh, those were the days!

 

You should see how cute I looked trying to topple the Christmas tree—oops, hold on a sec. Laura’s calling me. I gotta go see what she wants…

 

Okay, I’m back. She told me to stop yapping about my memories and start plugging the novella.

What a nag, huh?

 

I promised her I’d plug the book, so here goes:

 

Some people might say that Nightmare On Elf Street is a story of what happens when Laura’s heroine, Jaine Austen, gets a job as a Santa’s elf and can’t decide which is worse—having to wear a hideous elf suit, or finding Santa dead next to the Christmas tree. But those people would be wrong! All wrong! Nightmare On Elf Street is, on its most profound level, about moi.  A courageous cat who, against her will, gets dragged to the mall to have her picture taken by a professional photographer. It’s an inspiring tale of just how far a cat will go to assert her independence while trolling for snacks.

 

I’m the real star of the story, and I’m getting pretty darn tired of playing second fiddle to Jaine. Oh, she’s likeable enough. And somehow she’s managed to solve a couple of murders between Chunky Monkey binges. But is she a star? Does she have big green eyes and a cute fuzzy tail? Can she cough up a hairball the size of a cumquat? I think not; which is why I’m starting a campaign to Elect Prozac the Star of Laura’s Mysteries. From now on, I feel each of Laura’s books should be subtitled A Prozac The Cat Mystery.

 

If you feel the way do (and I’m certain you do), please write Laura at Jaineausten@aol.com and tell her to give me the top billing I so richly deserve. Remember, vote for me for Star of Laura’s Books. If you don’t, I just may leave a little surprise in your slippers.

 

Ciao for now,

Prozac


 I love Christmas so much I got married at Christmastime. My wedding flowers were red and white poinsettias, and we took some of our wedding photos in front of a giant Christmas tree. Our first Christmas together was spent on our honeymoon, in a little cabin in the woods with mistletoe over the door. We ate wedding cake for breakfast and toasted each other with champagne served in jelly glasses. So Christmas for me is a time of romance, celebration and exciting possibility. Writing “Room at the Inn” reminded me of all these feelings.

 

I’m lucky enough to live in Colorado, and while I was writing my story set in a Colorado blizzard we did indeed have snow. There’s nothing like snow to put me in the mood to celebrate. A little hot chocolate or spiced tea, some Christmas carols in the background and a pine-scented candle burning on my desk and I was able to slip into that snow-covered landscape where Barb Stanowski ends up having a very different Christmas from the one she’d originally planned.

 

Christmas is a holiday that is freighted with so much expectation that it’s easy to be disappointed, even depressed, when things don’t turn out as perfect as we may picture them in our minds. We crave those family traditions, favorite foods and familiar decorations. But sometimes, life throws a curve and shakes things up. I wanted to explore that idea in my story, and to show that by embracing the spirit behind the holiday, we can turn the disappointments into something new and wonderful.

 

However you choose to celebrate—or not celebrate—the holidays, I hope you’ll find a way to see the familiar in a new light and discover new possibilities for yourself and those you love.

 

Warmest wishes,

Cindy Myers

 

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Bestselling author Hannah Howell has created an entire romantic universe with her Murray family sagas, following the Scottish clan as they fight battles, make and break alliances, and fall in love with roguish lords and ladies. Her latest addition to the series, Highland Master, profiles Lady Triona McKee as she struggles to save her family's cherished land from a vengeful cousin, while attracting the attention of a battle-scarred knight. Today on the NOOK Blog, Hannah delves into the story behind her beloved series.

 

The Murray series began with the tales of three brothers: Balfour, Nigel, and Eric.  They are the patriarchs of the clan. They were struggling to survive and in a constant battle with an old enemy, but one by one they found the peace and happiness they craved.

Next were the stories of the three daughters, one from each of the patriarchs.  After that came a son, a cousin, an inlaw, and, now, even a grandchild. The choice of the next story after the first two trilogies was easy enough. There was always one character that would slip into whatever Murray tale I was working on, slyly demanding his or her story. That is when the series began to expand to include the past. The clan, however, remains the tie that binds the whole series together, from the first book down through all that has followed.

Medieval Scotland is the stage the Murray clan struts on.  I am sometimes amazed at how widely the tales have spread out from the first one. The small clan ruled by three brothers has definitely grown, gaining allies, power, enemies, and wealth along the way. Despite how far they go, how convoluted those ties to the patriarchs become, it all still harkens back to those first three men. One thing that remains in all the stories: the strong familial bond.

Each Murray tale is its own story, the plot unconnected to the previous ones. Each can be read alone without needing to go all the way back to the beginning to find the thread of some storyline. These are stories of a clan, a family, and all the members of it, whether they are ones of the blood or the heart. The stage may belong to the Murray clan, but they allow friends and allies the use of it from time to time, especially when that person is undoubtedly soon to join the clan in some way.

Highland Master is the tale of Sir Brett Murray, the son of Nigel and Gisele from Highland Honor. He is rumored to be a rogue, as most Murray men are, and very late to settle down. Then he meets Lady Triona and his chivalrous instincts stir to life, along with a strong dose of lust.  As with all the rest of his kinsmen and women, he finds the path to happiness twisted and somewhat rocky. There are also several people from past books who make an appearance to give him aid, whether he welcomes it or not.  Readers of the series may enjoy their visit with these characters.

I love writing the Murray stories. I often feel as much a part of the clan as the characters I write about.  Highland Master shows how, no matter how many years have passed, the ties between the growing number of Murrays remain strong and true.

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What Happens At Christmas author Victoria Alexander loves the holidays, but her previous career in TV made it difficult for her and her husband to find time to celebrate. So they created a unique holiday tradition all their own. Victoria tells us all about it, plus shares a classic New Years recipe - today on the NOOK Blog.

 

Once upon a time, my husband and I both worked at television stations which meant we rarely had holidays off unless they fell on our usual days off. Instead of having a New Year's Eve party, we started having a Not-On-New-Year's-Eve party which traditionally falls on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year's (unless New Year's Eve actually falls on a Friday or Saturday, then it becomes The Not-On-New-Year's-Eve Party on New Year's Eve).

 

We have been having this party every year forever; it is our big holiday entertaining tradition. The house is completely decorated (it really does look its best at Christmas), and we invite everyone we know. We've often joked that even if we didn’t have the party, people would show up anyway.

 

The tradition begins by coming up with unique invitations, and when you do something a little different, you have to keep doing it; people expect it. Nothing is sacred on these invitations—not even the dogs. Since we send out party invitations instead of Christmas Cards, I’ve mention it on the invitation, i.e.: even if you can't make the party—Happy Holidays!!!

 

The menu tends to change every year with one exception—my pâté. I generally do not like liver in any form, but I love this. I guess if you include mushrooms, wine and butter—anything will taste good.


Really Good Pâté

 

Sauté 1lb mushrooms, 1 bunch sliced green onions, 6 cloves of garlic and 1 stick butter until soft

Push them to one side, and add 1 lb chicken livers 

Cook livers just until done

Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp rosemary, ½ tsp dill, ½ tsp dry mustard

Cover almost completely with red wine

Simmer until liquid is reduced by half

Throw it all into a food processor and blend with 1 stick of butter 

Chill

Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices


 While the Not-On-New-Year's Eve party is our big holiday party it's not the only entertaining we do. We usually have all sorts of casual gatherings and always have a table full of friends for Christmas dinner.

           

           

Happy Holidays!

Victoria

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In his bestselling The Good Soldiers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel embedded with the 2-16 Infantry battalion to write a vivid, on-the-ground account of the Surge. In his new book Thank You for Your Service, he has done something even more extraordinary—he has embedded with the same soldiers back home, taking a similarly immersive approach to capturing what their lives are like after war. As we remember the men and women who have served our country this Veterans’ Day, here is a snapshot from the research of a reporter embedded not on the battlefield but on the front lines of the “after-war.”

 

 

Adam Schumann is driving, trying not to speed. Michael Emory is in the passenger seat, trying to keep his balance. I’m in the back seat, watching and taking notes for my book, Thank You For Your Service.

Three years before, in the war, Emory had been shot in the head by a sniper, and Schumann had carried him on his back down three flights of stairs. Emory should have been dead. But here he is. He shouldn’t be able to talk. He talks. He shouldn’t be able to walk. He walks. Not that it’s been easy. There was the day, for instance, that he tried to kill himself by biting through one of his wrists.

 

It hasn’t been easy for Schumann, either, who three years and several suicide attempts later is still tasting Emory’s blood.

 

But they are both still alive, and seeing each other for the first time since that day.

 

Emory holds out his right hand, the one he bit, toward Schumann. He wishes he could have tried it on his left hand, he says, the one that remains paralyzed and without feeling, because he wouldn’t have felt his teeth and might have been able to finish. But the right one was the one he could lift to his mouth.

 

Schumann takes Emory’s hand.

 

“I appreciate it,” Emory says.

 

Schumann’s eyes redden and fill with tears.

 

“Somebody had to do it,” he says.

 

This is what I see from the back seat.

 

In the after-war, this is what any of us can see if we take the time.

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In honor of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, author Elizabeth Bass tells the story of her grandmother's struggle with the illness and its far-reaching effects on all those who knew and loved her - today on the NOOK Blog. Her poignant novel about a family in a similar crisis, Wherever Grace Is Needed, is available on NOOK.

 

 

 

After my mother dropped me off that afternoon at the end of my grandparents’ secluded, rural lane, I soon sensed that something wasn’t right. Dinner preparations seemed to take forever, and we ended up eating an odd meal that included burned pork chops and blueberry muffins with no blueberries. My grandmother acted frustratingly distant, and my stabs at conversation would peter out after a few stiff exchanges. After dinner, as I was consoling myself with a plate of chocolate-covered grahams and a Root Beer, when she finally revealed the source of the tension. She announced, solemnly, that there was a good chance that a person who wanted to kill her would try to break into the house during the night and make an attempt on her life. I would probably be spared this madman’s wrath, but she thought I should be warned.

 

This was my first run-in with dementia. My grandmother had many good days ahead of her, but also many more episodes like this one. It was the early 1980s, and I was only beginning to hear about Alzheimer’s disease, primarily because the actress Rita Hayworth had been diagnosed with it. My grandmother never was. She was simply declared to be old, or suffering from senile dementia. But through her, my family lived through the sadness that families of Alzheimer’s sufferers know—of watching a loved one losing their mental faculties and their memory. Looking into the eyes of the woman who introduced me to the joy of reading, who taught me how to tie my shoes, who took such comical, ruthless joy in knocking my croquet ball into the trees, and realizing that she didn’t recognize me at all remains one of my hardest memories.

 

Three decades after that first startling, bewildering visit with my grandmother, the world knows more about Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in general, but it is still far from a cure. I’ve always felt a personal animosity to the disease, as well as an added interest in Alzheimer’s research. When I was researching my novel Wherever Grace Is Needed, during which time so many people generously shared their own family experiences of Alzheimer’s Disease, it became clearer to me than ever that the suffering falls equally hard on the person afflicted and their caregivers. To my mind, that makes it a doubly heartbreaking disease.

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