At Twenty-One #OpenBookBlogHop #MondayMusings #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: Where were you at 21? How does that reflect in your writing today?

When I was twenty-one in 1982, I entered my junior year at Rocky Mountain College, located in Billings, Montana, about 150 miles north of Sheridan, Wyoming, where I’ve lived since 1973. After attending the local college and living at home for two years, going to school away from home was quite an adjustment. Fortunately, it wasn’t that far away, and I came home weekends when I could get transportation.

I never considered a career in writing at the time. This was probably because my mother, may she rest in peace, rewrote most of my school papers, even when I was a student at Sheridan College. She taught English there and apparently didn’t want her fellow faculty members, from whom I took English, to see my less than adequate writing style. Who knows why she rewrote my high school assignments?

Instead of writing, I pursued a career involving music. Long story short, I became a registered music therapist and worked in nursing homes and other senior facilities for years. I didn’t do any serious writing until my mother passed away in 1999.

How about you? What were you doing at twenty-one? If you’re an author, how has that affected your writing? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Prologues and Epilogues #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another installment of fellow blogger Stevie Turner’s Open Book Blog Hop. If you’d like to participate, click here. Her prompt for this week is: ‘Prologues and Epilogues. Yes or no?”

In my opinion, it depends on the story. My young adult novel in progress, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, has no prologue. But I felt it necessary to tie up loose ends with an epilogue.

On the other hand, The Red Dress has a prologue that provides the back story through dialog. Since I was able to bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion in the last chapter, I decided I didn’t need an epilogue. So, to whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from my prologue.

***

“Oh, Eve, don’t tell me you’re going to work on that creative writing assignment now instead of going to the homecoming dance.”

In her dorm room at the University of Colorado, Eve Barry was staring at the blank piece of paper in her typewriter, waiting for her poised fingers to produce something. She sighed and ran her fingers through her long, black hair as she turned to her roommate, Charlene Tucker, who was fresh from the shower, clad only in a black terry–cloth robe, her dark, wet curls plastered to her head.

“I’m really not interested in going to the dance, and this assignment’s due Monday. I went to the game this afternoon.”

“Yeah, wasn’t that awesome? We creamed the Wyoming Cowboys.”

“Wait a minute! You’re from Wyoming.”

“Yeah, but I’m in Colorado, now, and we have something to celebrate. You really should come to the dance. I know you don’t have a date, but I’m sure Alex wouldn’t mind if you came with us.”

***

Eve isn’t just being a goody two-shoes, doing her homework instead of going to the homecoming dance. She has an underlying reason for not wanting to go. If you want to know what that is, I suggest you read the book.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Girls Just Want to Have Fun #Musical Monday

According to Wikipedia, the song I’m featuring today was written by Robert Hazard, who recorded a demo version in 1979. Cyndi Lauper’s version, which appears on her 1983 album, She’s So Unusual, makes the point that women only want to have the same experiences as men. Well, from the lyrics, you’d think otherwise. I never looked at the song from this angle until now.

I’m sure my parents wondered what I’d do with my life when I was in college, but they never asked me, unlike the parents in the song. It took me a few years to decide to go into music therapy. Meanwhile, I wasn’t one of those girls who just wanted to have fun. Although I enjoyed going out with friends, my main goal was to get the best grades possible. I hope you have fun with this blast from the past, even if you’re not a girl.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

On Living with Blindness #Thursday Book Feature

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life
by Mary Hiland
Copyright 2019.

From the author of The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living comes a compelling memoir about living with blindness. Unlike most memoirs, this one isn’t told in chronological order. Instead, each chapter covers a particular facet of the author’s life.
She describes her childhood and talks about how she dreamed of being a dancer on Broadway. She shares how that dream was dashed when she was diagnosed with legal blindness at the age of eighteen as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. This degenerative disease had been progressing throughout most of her life.
As an adult, despite this diagnosis, she cross-country skied, biked, and hiked on a regular basis and participated in a variety of entertainment groups as well as Toastmasters and other organizations. She even formed some groups of her own. She describes, in great detail, her experiences and adventures.
Other chapters cover college, getting married, finding a job, parenting, being a grandparent, and how she acquired a succession of guide dogs. She also discusses some myths and misperceptions about blind people and gives advice to others facing vision loss. In an afterword, she shares, for the benefit of her children and grandchildren, memories of relatives who influenced her as well as her legacies. The book includes journal entries, letters, articles, and photos.
I met Mary several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers, of which I’m president. Unlike her, I tried a few of the physical activities in which she participated, fell once or twice, and gave up. I admire her courage and determination. Anyone reading this book will be enlightened and educated.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Monday Musical Memory: Song and Poem for Graduates

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Today, I’m giving you a two-for-one special. Not only will I sing a song with a powerful message for graduates but I’ll also read a poem I wrote several years ago that I share with those in my life who are graduating. This year, my niece Ana in Florida and my cousin Darby in Colorado are graduating from high school and college respectively.

In The Sound of Music, the Reverend Mother sings this song to Maria, encouraging her to follow her heart. At the end, the song serves as a background for the family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. When I was in fifth grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf & Blind, I sang in the school choir, and we performed this song for the commencement ceremony at the end of the year. Ana, Darby, and anyone else graduating this year, this poem and song are for you.

Graduate

 

Go out into the world–never look back.
Reach for the top–always look forward.
Aim as high as you can.
Dream as big as possible.
Use your mind, heart, hands,
and know you can do anything.
Trust your instincts.
Energize your life.
***
What do you remember about graduation? Did you receive gifts from family and friends? Were you in the school choir that performed during the commencement ceremony? What song did the choir sing?

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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