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My fascination with memoir continues to grow in today’s interview with Elaine C. Pereira. Her story is a touching and intriguing one, not to mention she shares a wealth of valuable information regarding the self-publishing process and provides a few pointers on marketing as well. Elaine has published many articles on the topic of dealing with dementia. I’m adding her memoir to my TBR list and hope you will too.

Picture of Elaine C. Pereira

1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.

The memoir I Will Never Forget-A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia the incredible true story of the author Elaine ’s talented mother’s poignant and often humorous journey through the mystifying haze of Dementia. Through superb stories of Elaine’s childhood, from her controversial name, tales of smoking’ dragons and the feisty teenage years, her mother Betty Ward’s wonderful character is revealed.

Over time, as their relationship evolves and a new paradigm is formed, Betty begins to exhibit goofy actions, uncharacteristic verbal assaults and bizarre thinking. Although clearly mystified by her mother’s irrational behaviors, Elaine does not appreciate the extent of Betty’s mental decline. Her amazing ability to mask the truth clouds Elaine’s vision and prolongs her denial until one cataclysmic explosion of reality over an innocuous drapery rod launches a waterfall of destructive events.

As her mother’s brilliant mind is steadily destroyed by Dementia’s insatiable appetite for brain cells, Elaine accompanies her mother on her journey. She witnesses Betty’s fascinating visions of her own mother, masterful Houdini-like disappearances and finally a stunning rally to take control of her own destiny.

I Will Never Forget is a heartwarming, humorous, honest and deeply moving story pertinent to everyone touched by the insidious effects of Dementia. Learn from Elaine’s unwitting mistakes as she weaves her way through her mother’s unpredictable disease to capture insightful and effective intervention strategies.

Cover of I Will Never Forget by Elaine C. Pereira

2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.

My mother and I wrote to each other constantly after I moved a few hours away. Our turn around time was probably only a few days. Even if phone communication wasn’t costly “long distance” back then, my mother was very hearing impaired, rendering phone communication a challenge, not a gift. I did not “become a writer” as is probably the case for many authors. My mother’s is a story that needed to be told and inspired by many friends’ casual but on-point remarks like “You should write a book,” I did.

My mother was a kind, brilliant and talented woman all of my life (attributes I’m sure I did not appreciate during my feisty teenage years) until Dementia took hold distorting her persona and leaving an agitated, bewildered and compromised person in its wake. She was a great mom, not unlike all great moms, except that she was mine. She was a trailblazing woman, with a BS in chemistry and Masters in education!

By profession I’m an Occupational Therapist who specialized in pediatrics. Drafting accurate, detailed reports about my evaluations of young children was tantamount to my career. Additionally, however, it was crucial that the wording was professionally styled but understandable to the most significant person responsible for the child’s care, the parent!

Like the Phoenix, from the ashes of her life arose I Will Never Forget. I am humbled and honored to have been able to give back to the woman who gave so much.

Picture of Elaine C. Pereira

The last photo of my mother, January 2011, with my daughter Christie on the left.

3. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?

I do not have a favorite novel. But, If Steel Magnolias had been a novel before a play or screenplay it would be my first choice! I love the title and immediately think of my mom in the same way: a firm, strong, fiercely independent, sweet, elegant and delicate flower.

I especially like based on true stories; the playwright for Steel Magnolias was inspired by his experiences surrounding his sister’s death. Strong characters, complicated and/or intense plot, drama flavored with humor or vice versa. Even Marley and Me which was fall-off-the-chair funny in my opinion, but I think you have to have a dog to appreciate the hilarity, was well written with rich character development and the humor was contrasted against real life sadness in the end.

4. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

I post the most recent articles that I’ve written for the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Maria Shriver, and Endear for Alzheimer’s as well as guest posts on my website under Articles/Interviews and usually also my blog page. I am not an active blog writer like yourself, as so much time is devoted to new pieces of interest to the dementia community of caregivers and professionals.

5. Are you traditionally published or self-published?

I self-published with iUniverse. I had contacted a lawyer friend of mine who has several publisher clients, but her connections did not open any doors. It is she then who suggested self-publishing. To date I only have this one experience. I purchased their most expensive package with many editing, book cover design, and other relevant features included as (honestly) I didn’t know what I was doing originally and figured I needed a lot of direction.

But after the independent editor read the manuscript and it for was selected for iUniverse’s Editor’s Choice designation, the line copy edit and all of the other necessary formatting was done by iUniverse. There were some additional costs to bring it to the Rising Star status. A little over a year later, it has now achieved the STAR designation including a lengthy endorsements list and awards pages.

Picture of Elaine C. Pereira

Book Signing at Friendship Village, Kalamazoo MI, where it all began. September 2012.

6. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?

In one word: EVERYTHING! Let me just say that self marketing has been a far more challenging and exhaustive task than writing the book! I have followed up with every lead, idea, resource, suggestion, person, direction etc. that I or anyone else ever came up with, in behalf of my book and book sales.

One of the most helpful professionals with iUniverse was my marketing consultant; unfortunately he is no longer with iU. He provided me with a barrage of self marketing avenues, book contest sites and more. It was an overwhelming and exhaustive list and included contacting libraries, local author fairs, establishing FB, Twitter and web sites, book signings, independent book stores, entering book contests, networking with bloggers, and so much more.

  • Network with magazines, on-line sites, journals, etc. which are appropriate to the genre of your book, if possible. What has worked best for me and unique to my memoir is writing for the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, and Endear for Alzheimer’s.
  • Additionally networking with other authors in a similar genre can be very fruitful.
  • Enter book contests and blast your success when you achieve recognition. I have won 6 including the prestigious Indie Excellence Award in the Aging Category.
  • If you have a genuinely stellar book (let’s be honest here) consider a professional marketing team. It is catastrophically expensive, or can be, but if you really do have a book with “global market appeal” and the resources to fund a publicist campaign, do your homework and take the financial plunge.

Picture of Elaine C. Pereira

7. Describe your writing background.

I’m told I write the way I speak: detailed, articulate and honest, with a splash of sarcasm and humor. Apparently my voice, my personality resonates through the words in text and come alive in the book. I appreciate that observation and take it as a sincere and accurate compliment from those who have shared their perspective.

I do not have “formal training” except life itself and my apparent skill with words.

8. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?

I started drafting I Will Never Forget sitting near my mother in an eerily quiet room. What most likely began as a cathartic tribute to the vivacious woman I knew as my mom, gradually took form into a masterpiece of love (masterpiece as in a work of artistry, not necessarily more). I scribbled on anything available at first and then wisely brought note pads with me, transcribing while simultaneously editing on my laptop later.

I am both disciplined and spontaneous. Some days I planned on skipping the shower to sit down and write all day, literally in my pajamas. But when random ideas flooded my brain waiting in the dentist’s office, I jotted them down and expanded on them later.

I did not use any critique groups but I did have my husband comment on certain passages sometimes.The detailed mechanics as I refer to smart verses straight quotes, em-dashes (hyphens on steroids), and everything else I didn’t know was wrong or how to fix, was corrected by the publisher iUniverse.

Picture of Elaine C. Pereira

My mother and I making traditional Christmas cookies ay my house, circa 2006.

9. What future projects can we look forward to?

My memoir practically wrote itself. I am passionate about advancing dementia awareness and providing comfort and guidance for families and caregivers walking in the shoes I once trudged through. I will continue to write for ARR and related sites, but I’m not certain if there is another book or not. Possibly.

My ultimate goal is to recoup my ghastly out-of-pocket expenses and then donate generously to Alzheimer’s research. My mother was a private person and would not have endorsed sharing her story were it not for the underlying goal of helping others know they are not alone in their journey through dementia. I speak to all size groups in all types of venues to forward Alzheimer’s awareness.

10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?

Below are links to my favorite articles posted on either of the 3 sites I write for.

My 5 Part Series: How to Communicate With Someone With Alzheimer’s When Traditional Words Fail, Try Connecting Through The Senses on Endear for Alzheimer’s: Part 1 TouchPart 2 Sound and HearingPart 3 Aroma and SmellPart 4 Taste, and Part 5 Vision. On Maria, I received An Academy Award for Caregivers . In addition to numerous articles I’ve written can be found on the web.

You can connect with Elaine on her website where she also offers a personalized copy of her book. In addition, I Will Never Forget is available on Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. Or follow the link below to purchase it on Amazon.

The images in this post appear courtesy of the author.

Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB

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