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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life, As I Knew It

During my late-night Pinterest browsing, I came across the above quote by Jamie Lee Curtis and I thought it was definitely blog-worthy.

There was a time in early sobriety when I believed life was over.  I was no longer the self-assured, fun-loving person I thought I was. How could I possibly succeed, let alone have a good time without drinking?  Heck, I had never missed a liquid lunch at work or gone out dancing, to a movie, concert, or even bowled, for that matter, without being smashed.

And you know what?  I was right, THAT life was over.  In time, sobriety blessed me with clarity of self and a positive outlook on life. I learned happiness comes from within not from the bottle and not only that, bowling sober is more fun ... are there really only ten pins?????


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


After eighteen years of domestic and foreign assignments with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Clandestine Service, Sharon Clark Chang returned to the U.S. to assume a different professional role. As an advocate for Americans of Asian descent, she worked with the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) National Office in Washington, DC. Perhaps her most gratifying endeavor with OCA was researching and writing Congressional testimony leading to the passage of America’s initial legislation (the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990) dealing with crimes of hate-motivated violence. Currently she assists ethnic minority-owned small businesses serving a mainstream market. She lives in Virginia with a brace of terrierists.

What inspired you to become a writer?

A conspiracy of circumstances is what inspired me (in fact, “predestined” might be a better choice of words) to be a writer. First, swimming around in my gene pool is the DNA of two conquered peoples: the indigenous Catholic people of Ireland and the people of the American South. Both groups relied heavily on a tradition of storytelling. The Irish did so because, during centuries of British occupation, they weren't allowed to have a formal education, and so had to be instructed clandestinely by word of mouth. The American Southerners loved the oral storytelling tradition, too, especially as a way of passing the time on long, hot summer nights before there were many forms of artificial entertainment to divert them. Second, I was the firstborn of my parents' children. Parents and often-present grandparents had the time to read to me – and having a story read to me while I was cuddled up on a lap was something I recognized very early as representing one of the forms of love. Third, my very first-grade report card reflected a grade of A in what I misread as “vocalabury.” However limited my “vocalabury” may have been at the moment, it was clear that a strong appreciation for words and their uses had become established in me very early.

Which of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”. Why?

Since my current book is also my first book-length written work, I’d have to say Escaped Alone: A Memoir of an Incomplete Southerner. What began as something of a family history for my siblings and our descendents, undertaken piecemeal after the death of our last parent, morphed into something of book length for which the family story was the ground note and my personal story was the glue. On one level, it delighted and, in spots, moved to tears those family members and friends who recognized in it for the first time that the lives of people they had known and loved could become the stuff of which literature is made. One a higher level, it became a story that no one, to my knowledge, had ever told before: the story of how a new kind of social conscience developed in the post-WWII generation in America. My personal history becomes much more when readers recognize through it what we all already know when we stop to think: that as children many members of my generation were perceiving similar patterns of injustice in our society, were understanding none of the reasons underlying such injustice, and were determined to grow up and do something about it.

Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?

Not really. I do a lot of writing in my head, with the result that by the time I sit down to put words on paper, much of the work is already complete to such a degree that it needs little more than transcription.

If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?

Embracing Creation. I’ve been one who is greedy for life and thankful for all of God’s gifts.

If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?

So many admired writers to choose from! If forced to choose just one, I’d opt for Frank McCourt, another memoirist. Not because I resemble him in writing style any more than I parallel him in personal experience, but because his various memoirs (in particular Angela’s Ashes) were also one-of-a-kind achievements, because I greatly admire him as a writer, and because I’m sad to have missed my chance to know him in this life..

We all have family, work and other do you maintain balance
while in the middle of a writing project?

With continuing difficulty, but with a strong sense of honor regarding publishers’ deadlines.

What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?

“Vary the beginnings and the lengths of your sentences.” By paying scrupulous attention to this advice, gleaned from I’ve-Forgotten-Where, I can make my words and my narratives flow beautifully, carrying the reader along with it.

Where can we purchase your books and how can we keep up with you?

Signed and inscribed copies can be purchased directly from me, by mail. A message sent to my public Facebook author page will start the ball rolling. That same Facebook page can be LIKEd and provides a window on my doings. my web page, readers can buy my book from its publisher by clicking on the “Buy the Book” link:
Amazon and Barnes and Noble sell it online; it can also be ordered through any brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release? Provide a brief synopsis....

Several ideas for my next book are fermenting away in my head. The problem is that, as yet, none of them has left my head and commenced its existence on paper. Once I've settled down and chosen among them, I’ll be better able to speak to a new release.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alzheimer's/Dementia: Journey to the Past

I was recently on Blogtalk Radio (see left side bar) with a talented group of authors, one of which was Sheila Seiler LaGrand.  Sheila is writing a wonderful series about a woman with Alzheimer's, "Remembering for Ruth." On the show, she made a comment that hit so close to home.  It's not all sadness and despair when a loved one has Alzheimers/Dementia. Sheila reminded me, and all of us, when our loved one's minds travel to the past, we can go right along with them.

 I remember visiting my grandmother and she would be sitting up, moving her hands as if she was sewing.  "What are you doing, Nannie?" I would ask.  "Making Helen a dress," she would reply, then go on to describe the dress in every detail.  She would also knit pot holders.  That was a happy place for her.  Her eyes shined and she smiled. Although her hands were empty, I could almost see the fabric or yarn.

My mother did the same thing, not with the sewing, but reliving events of her younger years.  I took a journey back in time, well before I was born, and experienced them with her.  I learned about things she had never spoken of before, precious memories.

The disease is heartwrenching, but we don't have to see it that way. We need to set aside the sadness and share their journey. Through their happiness -- comes strength and comfort.