Project name: Turn THE ROOKIE CAREGIVER and THE ROOKIE WIDOW blogs into a quality paperback and an eBook.
With your support, I can proceed with She Writes Press, an independent self-publishing company that has accepted my third book and is set to release it in September 2014.
She Writes Press was founded to serve writers who wish to maintain greater ownership and control of their projects while still getting the highest quality editorial help possible for their work.
Once published, my true-life story, which will be titled, Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After Loss, will be available as an eBook for purchase on Kindle, Nook, iBook, and as a paperback through all traditional and independent bookstores.
The manuscript is now in the hands of the publisher where it will receive thorough proofreading, a one-of-a-kind cover design, marketing support, and more.
The Story: This book, which is dedicated to my husband, Tommy, is the product of a blog I began to write after he was diagnosed with Frontal temporal degeneration and Primary progressive aphasia in 2009. It continues after he died in late 2012. In my blogs, I wanted to create a narrative that was honest, poignant, humorous, and importantly, of value to others who were walking the same road.
Caregiving isn't just a task, it's a continuum. There's the blow, acceptance, adjustment, and hard work that goes into helping a loved one through their crisis. And then there's the aftermath -- resetting one's life as a solo, making hard decisions, meeting new friends, going forward.
When my story switches to widowhood, the experiences I describe are relevant not only to spouses, but to anyone who has transitioned out of the caregiver role.
I started writing Tommy's story, and my part in it, in March of 2012. Although it was intended as therapy for myself, and a way to keep my family and friends updated, the readership has continued to grow among caregivers, healthcare experts and people trying to find a happy and successful life after their caregiving duties are over with.
I've also gotten positive feedback from the medical community, which is pleased to see a spotlight on Tommy's particular illness, one about which little is known. My other followers include more than 2,000 connections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The Goal: My Kickstarter campaign seeks $5,500 in contributions. Mainly, it will fund the production and marketing stages for the book, which will include:
* The book's production in both print and electronic formats;
* Initial distribution by industry leader, Ingram Publisher Services;
* Shipping and outreach costs for review copies, and
*Funding for print and digital copies of the book as awards to Kickstarter donors.
Chapter Fifty-Three: Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion
“I know you hate them,” I say to Tommy, “but when you died, you forfeited your vote on my nails.”
If my husband were still alive, I would never have handed over a bottle of Estée Lauder’s Absinthe to the manicurist. Tommy made it clear that he found shades other than natural, beige, or a subtle pink garish.
It was easy to go along with his preferences when his wishes were earthbound, because my spouse of fourteen years was a dear. “He makes me feel as if I walk on water,” I often told people who were curious about the differences in our religion, bank accounts, family relationships, and levels of education. And let me tell you, that’s a sentiment not easy to come by.
There were other habits that Tommy brought into this second marriage that I tolerated, even when, toward the end of his life, his an illness magnified them.
At first I tried. “Honey,” I’d say, putting a hand on his arm, “sit. You can clear up the counter after we finish eating.” But he’d touch my cheek—a gesture I took as, “You’re cute, but it’s not going to happen.”
So, while I started in on the meal I prepared (that was our division of labor: I was the cook; he was the bottle washer), watching a rerun of The Andy Griffith Show, Tommy would rise, leaving his food to turn cold, as he put various utensils in the dishwasher, replaced the menu’s ingredients in the refrigerator or cupboard, and wiped down the countertops. By the time he returned to his chair, I was usually on my last mouthful.
Now, you guessed it, in my new life sans spouse, everything—dishes, ingredients, serving spoons, and more—remains out until I feel like cleaning up. I imagine Tommy and these waiting kitchen objects engaged in conversation: “Can you believe it?” the tossed dishtowel says to my husband. “The woman you thought walked on water has become a slob.”
“How long do you think she’s going to leave us sitting here?” I could swear the frying pan adds. “Doesn’t she realize the grease is going to harden and make my cleanup that much tougher?”
While those bossy things are jabbering about me, my resurrected husband is smiling. If I place him in the conjured scene while he still had a voice, he’d say, “I had a feeling that would happen. She’s a sweetheart, but without me around, I can see how she’d get sloppy.”
Now, if it were later in his life, when his aphasia erased speech, Tommy would just shake his head and turn the thumbs of each hand down—a sign of displeasure that is now bouncing off my slovenly shoulders.
I ignore my pretend cast of characters who are casting aspersion and finish my meal. With my viewing partner gone, I have switched television programs. Sheriff Andy has given way to Mr. White, of the hit series "Breaking Bad." Also, instead of kitchen-table viewing, in my new apartment, I’ve transitioned to couch-with-dinner-tray-on-lap.
I’m not certain if this counts as a genuine act of rebellion, because Tommy and I weren’t watchers of the drama back then. But the violence and drug themes might have put him off. Remember, this is a man who prefers nails in neutral shades rather than tropical colors.
This part, though, is definitely treasonous. I stack the dinner dishes in the sink, intending to place them in the dishwasher—maybe this night, maybe tomorrow morning, maybe even tomorrow evening.
With an evil smile, likely inspired by the TV show, I turn to the figments of my imagination and say, “I don’t care what you think. The dishes can wait.”
Everybody but Tommy receives this declaration aghast. “Has she fallen this low?” I believe the empty wineglass says to the salad plate. Then the crabbing crew turns to my husband, expecting equal derision and disbelief.
But he is laughing. A subtle, sweet laugh, as if he is in on the joke. “Relax,” he says. “Give her time. She’s like a kid let out of school, testing her independence. Just watch—in a few weeks, her kitchen will look more like ours did when I was in charge.”
Tommy may be right, for I unwittingly just returned the salad dressing to the fridge pre-tuck-in. Oh well—the rebellion was fun while it lasted, but the green nails definitely stay.
About Me: With the 2006 printing of my memoir "The Division Street Princess" (Syren Books), and the 2011 release of my e-novel, "She's Not The Type" (PublishGreen), and an essay in the anthology, "Ask Me About My Divorce," (Seal Press, 2009), I already have a well-established publishing background.
I’ve been a public relations consultant for 30 years. Prior to launching Elaine Soloway Public Relations (now Elaine Soloway Consulting), I worked as press aide to Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and communications director for School Superintendent Ruth Love.
Both of my daughters -- who are my strongest supporters -- are in the entertainment industry. Faith Soloway is a musician and producer of rock operas: "Jesus Has Two Mommies" and "Miss Folk America," and she also works in a violence prevention program with the Boston public schools.
Jill Soloway lives in Los Angeles and is the writer/director of the Sundance Director’s Award-winning, "Afternoon Delight." She is also the author of "Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants" (Simon and Schuster, 2005) She was a writer and producer on the HBO series, "Six Feet Under" and executive producer of "The United States of Tara." In February 2014, Jill's pilot, "Transparent" aired on Amazon Video.
A lifelong Chicagoan, I live in the River North neighborhood.
Risks and challenges
I believe risks are minimized with my project because this will be the third book I've published, so there's evidence I know how to follow through. Also, the manuscript is already in the hands of an established publisher, so I'm confident they will do their part to complete the project.
Of course, there are risks beyond any of our control, but I will do everything in my power to swiftly handle any setbacks so we can move full speed ahead.
I believe my history of successfully surviving caregiving and widowhood are testimony to my ability to face challenges with grace and energy.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)