Phyllis Brown has played many roles in her life – mother, wife, grandmother, great grandmother, chemist, and caregiver for her husband who had Alzheimer’s disease. Her latest edition of Help Me! I’m Slipping is a memoir about her relationship with her husband before he succumbed to the disease.
Combining personal narrative and facts about Alzheimer’s, Brown’s book is a comfort to caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as anyone coping with a loved one’s illness. She turns this emotional story into an honest and inspiring book that will be sure to help caregivers learn to cherish the wonderful moments amid strenuous hardships. In our interview, Phyllis talks about finding solace in writing and her hope that her book will help caregivers of those with chronic diseases.
A brief description of Help Me! I’m Slipping:
“At its core, this is a love story. Brown started her journey with Bert at 17 and continued on for 65 years, remaining devoted to her soul mate the entire time. As a loving wife and caregiver, Brown recalls the final years of Bert’s life and the difficulties that came with them: side effects of various medications, trouble finding the right aides, and problems with communication. Even with the difficulties, Brown emphasizes the highlights, including visits with family members and friends along with moments of laughter and love.”
Could you tell us a little bit about why you decided to write this book?
“The nurse coordinator where I live told me I should write about some of the things that I did with my husband, who had Alzheimer’s, because it’s a little different than what other people do as caregivers. I guess I was also feeling a little lonely. It was almost like free association; I just sat and it poured out. That’s really how I got started. It just came to me during the writing process. It started out to be a brochure to help caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s. But I couldn’t do that without giving some background, and it just sort of grew into a memoir from there.”
Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start?
“I have authored numerous scientific papers, which is an entirely different genre from this book. When I retired I thought I would write a children’s book, Grandma is a Chemist, or something about women in science. There are a lot of misconceptions about women in science. I am currently writing a book about my career in science. For a long time, I was the only woman in my specialty area of chemistry. I went back to school to get my PhD after my youngest was in first grade. I had been out of school for 18 years! I think my next book will be called, A Life with the Boys.”
Which writers inspire you?
“One author that I thought was great on this subject is Linda Genova. Her book is called Still Alice. It’s about Alzheimer’s from a patient’s point of view. She writes about a neuroscientist who’s diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.”
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
“I hope that the main audience will be caregivers. I hope younger people will read it too. A lot of them are going to be caregivers in the years to come because the number of Alzheimer’s patients is probably going to continue to increase. I hope it will assist them. In the end, I wanted to show that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s isn’t a terrible tragedy. It is a tragedy on some level, but my husband and I were also able to have a lot of good times together that we didn’t have before.”
How was this publishing process compared to past experience?
“I would’ve gotten Lisa at SDP Publishing as my publisher right from the start. I used somebody else and it didn’t work out well. Lisa and her staff have provided me the kind of support I needed. Sometimes it’s difficult to see that the first draft isn’t always the best. You need to work through several drafts. You need someone to discuss it with, someone who can help you through the whole process. The difference between the right company and wrong company is night and day.”
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
“The book sounds like me, like I am talking, which is what I wanted. And, after going through this process, I am more willing to take criticism, direction, and correction.”
What is the hardest thing about writing?
“I had a hard time ending the book. The last chapter didn’t come in the beginning. I just put it aside for a while, and then sat down one day and it came to me.”
What is the easiest thing about writing?
“Once I start, it seems to flow. But sometimes, it can be hard to get started, as I explained about my difficulty with the last chapter.”
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to get around it?
“I find that the words come if I wait then all of a sudden it comes to me. If I force it, it’s never right.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
“Follow your voice. I got a solid background in English when I was in college. I was trained well. We had to take many writing courses, typing courses, and public speaking courses. It was so hard to get your foot in the door those days, which I think has helped me in the long run.”
How can we contact you or find out more about your books? How can readers discover more about you and you work?
SDP Publishing: http://sdppublishingsolutions.com/bookstore/help-me-im-slipping/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/help-me-im-slipping-phyllis-r-brown/1112213533?ean=9780989972383
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Phyllis-R.-Brown/e/B00KI1A29A/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Press Release: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1143653
Can you talk a little bit about the process of working with SDP Publishing and going through the process of self-publishing?
“You need to find the right company. It’s so hard to know which one is right. My daughter-in-law helped me find Lisa, which I am so grateful for. Always use your network to find the best fit for your needs!”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“I’m happy that I was able to write something that will hopefully help others. I hope this book will reach a large audience so that it can be helpful for others. I hope that it gives them hope for life before and after Alzheimer’s. It also applies to other chronic diseases – like Parkinson’s.
I am very lucky. I had a career, a marriage, and four children, who are all great kids. I am a grandmother with nine grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.”
SDP Publishing Solutions, LLC (formerly Sweet Dreams Publishing of Massachusetts) is a leader of self publishing in Massachusetts. We offer optimal self-publishing solutions for authors worldwide. From literary agency representation to worldwide marketing – including international rights – and independent publishing, we provide the best solutions for authors. Our services include developmental editing and copy editing, custom cover design and layout, book marketing, query letter and book proposals, literary agency representation, print, and e-book development. We provide the best exposure for your book!