The Red Dress #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Today, instead of a review of another book, I’d like to share a review of my own new book, The Red Dress, written by someone else. Former radio host Bonnie Blose interviewed me this past Sunday night about my writing and the book at a meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, of which I’m president. Since Bonnie write such wonderful reviews for a book discussion email list to which I subscribe, I asked her to write a review that I could post here, and she did. Please note this contains spoilers. Enjoy!

Bonnie’s Review

Is there a piece of clothing which brings painful experience flooding back? Does it symbolize the power of love and heartbreak for you?

In her new novel, The Red Dress, Abbie Johnson Taylor creates this moving scenario through just such a dress created for her main character, Eve Barry, for her high school prom.

Who hasn’t dreamed of all the senior prom will be? While it may not turn out as the beginning of a romance that will last for life, it is filled with romantic dreams and expectations long cherished and planned.

For Eve Barry, the prom ends in tears and heartbreak. She discovers her date and best friend in each other’s arms, acquainting her with hurt and heartbreak she will never forget.

Twenty-five years later, Eve has moved on. A successful writer of young adult fiction, she has a happy marriage and is the mother of three. As we all do, Eve receives a notice of the upcoming class reunion, but she has no wish to attend. Her daughters have heard about that red dress. Daughter Julie is looking forward to her own prom and wants to wear it.

In a moment of hurt and anger during her first semester of college, Eve’s roommate borrows it  to attend the homecoming dance Eve has no desire to attend. With one word, the dress is gone.

Life is filled with regrets over things we have done and choices we have made. Objects of significance play an important part in our memories as this red dress certainly does for Eve. Is it possible Charlene still has the dress? Should she try to get it back for her daughter? Will seeing it again bring painful memories  back?
One day, while going through email, Eve receives a friend request on Facebook from Charlene she accepts. Soon, she  discovers Charlene has a daughter  Brenda the same age as her younger daughter Ashley. Brenda and Ashley begin exchanging messages and become fast friends.

Ashley tells her mother something is not right with her new friend Brenda. She never leaves the house, preferring to stay with her mother. When they learn Charlene has a short time to live, Ashley wants desperately to go to California to meet and support her friend.

Eve wants to go but knows she has trouble at home. Her older daughter Julie has just begun a new  relationship with the son of her former best friend Adele who betrayed her on that long ago prom night. Now seventeen, Julie is going through the rebellion and angst so often a part of adolescence. Eager to make her own decisions, she clashes with her mother over everything. Maybe it would be best if they had a little time apart!

Eve is experiencing doubts about her marriage, too. Why is Greg so distant? Will he grow close to Chad’s mother as Julie is doing with Adele’s son Chad? Will she have a similar experience with pain and heartbreak her mother had at the same age? Is it possible some trips should not be taken, or must faith be found in the opportunity to mend fences.

Eve and Ashley go to California to spend time with Charlene and her family.

In the end, we learn  Charlene’s husband and children understand the place they have in her life. It is true. Some people love themselves first and foremost and only. Can you ever be complete or happy if dreams remain  unrealize?  Most of all, is it possible for those dreams to have more importance than love? It is a question many of us might ask ourselves late at night when time for deep and reflective thinking is with us as our only  companion.

Taylor’s novel is emblematic of life. Through growth, we may know ourselves better but learn hard truths and the importance of forgiveness. Wisdom and knowledge of ourselves or others does not guarantee happiness any more than forgiveness will, but it is the first step in living which comes with  nothing promised except the opportunity to do and be our best.

 

Bonnie’s Biography

I grew up in Slatedale, Pennsylvania with two fabulous storytellers. For 15 years, I cohosted Jordan Rich’s book show nights on WBZ. From 2006 to 2013, I was the host of the show Books and Beyond on Acbradio.org.
My memoir, “The Art of Dying,” was a winner in the nonfiction category of the NFB Writers’ Division competition, eventually appearing in Magnets and Ladders. In 2019, I received first place for my story “A Heartfelt Revenge” in the NFB’s Writers Division competition fiction category.
I enjoy reading, listening to music, podcasts, and have lived in Ohio since 1982. I am proud of being owned by my cat almost. My son Kevin lives in a nearby town.

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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.

My Other 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.
Like me on Facebook.

On the Loss of the Love of my Life

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Thanks to Wanda for such a nice review of My Ideal Partner. In this post, she also talks about the loss of her own husband. If you’re a parent or kid at heart, you might want to learn more about Wanda’s children’s books. If you’re a caregiver or grieving the loss of a loved one, I hope you’ll read this post and My Ideal Partner and know that you’re not alone.

via On the Loss of the Love of my Life

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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.

 

My Other Books

 

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You #Monday Musical Memories

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In February of 2005, a month after my late husband Bill, living in Fowler, Colorado, proposed to me, living here in Sheridan, Wyoming, he sent me a care package. This included, among the obligatory chocolates and other items, a cassette of love songs he’d downloaded from the Internet. This song was one of them.

I was amazed that a man wanted to spend his lifetime loving me. After Bill suffered his first stroke, the song inspired me to write a poem, which appears at the end of My Ideal Partner. You’ll find it below the video link and can click on the title to hear me read it.

This song would be easy for me to sing. But even now, almost seven years after his death, I tear up when I hear it. So, I’m not even going to try. But I think you’ll be moved, as I was, by this stunning duet performance. Although Bill is no longer with me, I’ll spend the rest of my life loving him. By the way, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds is still available free from Smashwords through Wednesday.

 

I WANT TO SPEND MY LIFETIME LOVING YOU – TINA ARENA DUET WITH MARC ANTHONY (YouTube)

THE RISE AND FALL OF MY ZORRO

 

With cape, hat, mask, rapier,
he rode out of the darkness.
“Take my hand. Dance with me,” he said,
“I want to spend my lifetime loving you,”
but happily–ever–after was not to be.
My hero fell and rose many times.
I felt the glory
until he fell for the last time.
Where there’s love, life begins again.
When life dies, love goes on.

 

***

How about you? Did your spouse have to convince you to marry? If you were the one proposing, how did you convince your spouse to marry you?

 

My Books

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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.

 

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

The Defiant Mind #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke

by Ron Smith

Copyright 2016.

 

In this memoir, Canadian author and publisher Ron Smith describes what it was like for him to have and recover from a stroke. He starts by describing, in great detail, the day he had his stroke in November of 2012. He then discusses his hospitalization and recovery: how he re-learned to eat, walk, and perform other personal care tasks and how he developed friendships with his roommates and other patients in the hospital.

Because of his determination and by some miraculous twist of fate, he was able to go home for Christmas that year. He describes the period After that when he went through several more months of outpatient rehabilitation, then tried other treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

Throughout the book, he describes the love and support from his wife and other family and friends he received during his recovery. He explains how not being able to eat right after the stroke triggered memories of a trip to Europe fifty years earlier when he nearly starved to death. He shares other memories brought on by his experiences after the stroke. He quotes other sources of information about strokes and provides a bibliography at the end of the book.

Having been a caregiver to my late husband Bill, who suffered two strokes, I agree with many of the points made in this book, including the fact that the system often gives up on stroke victims too soon. In Mr. Smith’s case, he only had about six months of rehabilitation before he was left to fend for himself. With Bill, therapists claimed he’d reached a plateau two months after his first stroke. When I brought him home, we tried two outpatient facilities. They both gave up on him after a few months. I don’t know about Canada, but part of the problem here in the U.S. is that Medicare and other insurance programs don’t cover therapy if progress isn’t being shown. There’s no coverage for therapy to maintain the strength you have once you reach a plateau. So, unless you can afford $70.00 or more per session, you’re out of luck.

I wish Ron Smith’s book had been around when Bill was alive. Maybe if Bill had read it, he would have been inspired to write about his own experiences, with my help, of course. I’d suggested it to him, but he hadn’t been interested. So, after he passed, I wrote My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which is available from Smashwords free until the end of the month. I hope those who read both books will be encouraged, if they’ve suffered a stroke, or if they haven’t,  be persuaded to do all they can to prevent one. As Bill once said, strokes are no fun.

 

My Books

 

New: The Red Dress: A Novel

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.

 

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

La Grippe #Monday Musical Memories

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I have a cold. So, I won’t be singing this time. However, in the musical, Guys and Dolls, Adelaide,, despite having a cold, sings about how you can get a cold by wondering whether the man you love will marry you. For me, it was just the opposite.

In 2005, after I received Bill’s unexpected marriage proposal, I was in such shock that I developed a cold that lasted for at least three weeks. It’s a wonder Bill didn’t get a cold from waiting to see if I would accept his proposal.

If you want to know more, I suggest you read My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. If you haven’t read this book yet, or if you know someone who would appreciate it as a gift, from now until July 31st, you can click here and redeem the coupon provided to receive this book absolutely free!

Now, here’s Adelaide, singing about her own predicament. Enjoy!

 

La Grippe–Guys and Dolls

How about you? Have you ever felt so stressed out about something that you got a cold? How long did it last?

 

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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

About Love

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Thanks to The Life and Death of Love for providing interesting answers to some questions about love. Now, here are my answers to those same questions.

***

 

Define love in five words.

 

Love warms and comforts you.

 

Do you believe in love at first sight?

 

Since I’ve never experienced this, I don’t have an opinion. However, for my late husband Bill, who was totally blind, it was love at first sound. He was living in Fowler, Colorado, and I was living here in Sheridan, Wyoming. He heard my voice on an audio magazine for people with blindness or low vision and apparently fell in love with it.

 

Have you ever changed yourself to make someone love you?

 

Yes, at least I tried. It drove Bill nuts when I talked to myself. I did my best to kick that habit but never really could. Finally, after Bill suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side and depended on me to do almost everything for him, he said he liked it when I talked to myself because he then knew where I was and what I was doing.

 

Love is like a box of chocolates. Discuss.

 

Chocolates and love are sweet and irresistible, but you have to be careful. If you eat too many chocolates, you’ll gain too much weight, which causes diabetes, heart trouble, and other complications. If you have unprotected sexual intercourse as a result of love, you could end up with an unplanned pregnancy and/or a sexually transmitted disease.

 

What’s the one thing about love that scares you?

 

It’s the commitment. After Bill sent me a letter, asking me to consider marrying him, I alternated between wanting to spend the rest of my life with him and not being sure I wanted to live with him for the rest of my life. It took me a couple of months to make a decision, and these were agonizing months for Bill because it had taken him six months to work up the courage to ask me to marry him.

 

Do you think you can be in love with two people?

 

Absolutely not! A married man who has an affair has apparently fallen out of love with his wife. That’s why it took me a couple of months to decide to marry Bill. I was thinking long-term, which is something people don’t do when considering marriage proposals.

 

How do you know when you love someone?

 

I don’t know how, but you just know. At least that’s the way it was for me. After Bill sent me his letter of proposal, he came to Sheridan to visit me for a week. We planned a dinner with family and friends at a local restaurant, where Bill would make his proposal official.

On the day of that dinner, I was still experiencing periods of doubt. The ring he’d brought was too small, and we were waiting for it to be re-sized. He used a necklace instead. When he placed it around my neck, I knew, and I said yes without thinking.

 

Do you believe love conquers all?

 

Absolutely! Three months after our wedding, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that left him unable to use his left arm and leg. Our love for each other got us through the uncertainty of not knowing what our lives would be like and the difficult times we endured while I was caring for him at home.

 

What do you hope to gain from love in the future?

 

Now that Bill is gone, I don’t think I can love another. I’m sure Bill wouldn’t mind if I did, but no man loved me before Bill and I doubt any man will love me again. Many women end up in abusive relationships or have husbands who cheat on them. I’m thankful to have never been in such situations and feel it’s better to be alone. If you’d like to learn more about me and Bill, read My Ideal Partner.

***

Now, it’s your turn. Please feel free to answer any or all the above questions on your own blog or in the comment field below. I’d love to know what you think about love.

 

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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Monday Musical Memories: Apple Tree/Apple Blossom

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In 1976 when I was in eighth grade, and my family was living in Sheridan, Wyoming, where I’m still living, we moved into a three-story red brick house with an apple tree in the back yard. I’ve never liked the taste of fresh apples, but my parents and younger brother may have picked and eaten them. I don’t remember. Since I didn’t grow up during war time, I didn’t have a sweetheart to tell me not to sit under the apple tree with anyone else until he came marching home.

According to Wikipedia, the song, “Apple Blossom Time,” was published in 1920 and made popular by The Andrews Sisters and other artists. It was one of many songs I sang while working as a registered music therapist in nursing homes and other facilities for senior citizens. Here’s my rendition of a medley of this song and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” also made popular by The  Andrews Sisters.

 

 

How about you? Did you have an apple tree while you were growing up? Did you sit under the apple tree with a lover or by yourself? Did you make pie, jam, or cider with the apples from your tree?

Happy Memorial Day!

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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.