Today, we have author, Linda Brendle here to answer a few questions and tell us a bit about her book, A LONG AND WINDING ROAD.
Welcome, Linda, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself.
Linda Brendle cared for her mother and father — both of whom had dementia — for 15 years. She began writing in the hope of maintaining her own sanity and of encouraging, inspiring, and amusing other caregivers with her experiences. Linda received her BAS in management and psychology in 1998 and retired in 2007 after 40 years in the business world. She has traveled both in the U.S. and abroad, and since meeting her husband David in 2000, she has done much of that travel by motorcycle and RV. She and David now live outside a small town in East Texas where she gardens, writes, and takes an active role in her church.
Tell us a bit about your book and where we can get a copy.
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a 400-square-foot box on wheels.
Alzheimer’s is a family disease, and A Long and Winding Road is a love story—not a boy meets girls love story, but a family love story:
The story of the love of a daughter for her parents and her willingness to take them into her home when they could no longer care for themselves;
The story of a mother and father who loved their daughter but no longer remembered exactly where they were or why;
The story of a husband who loved his wife so much that he stood beside her as they fought to survive the ravages of the brain-wasting disease that was stealing her loved ones away a piece at a time.
It’s also the story of a seven-week trip for four across sixteen U.S. states in a forty-foot motor home—a trip that involved stopped up toilets, wet jeans, laughter, and headaches that were far from the easygoing retirement the Brendles had imagined for themselves.
Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.
What was your inspiration for this book?
When I became a real hands-on caregiver, especially after Mom and Dad moved in with us, I often went to my Aunt Fay for advice. She cared for both her mother and her husband for many years. One thing she told me was to keep a journal, because one day my experiences might be of help to someone else. I didn’t write every day, but after a particularly trying episode, I’d write about it and post it as a “note” on Facebook. People responded in various ways: This is hilarious. Wow, I didn’t know anybody else ever felt this way. Thanks, I needed to hear this today. The responses encouraged me to continue.
When we planned our trip, I decided to keep a daily journal. A couple of weeks into the trip, I mentioned the journal to my son Christian, who is also a writer. He suggested I expand it into a story, not just of the trip but of our lives. It took several years and lots of growing pains, but after fourteen edits, it became a book.
Fourteen edits? That’s a lot! So, knowing what you know now about writing and publishing, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
My favorite piece of advice comes from Anne Lamott. She uses the BOS method – put your butt on the seat and write. Allow yourself to write bad first drafts. The second draft will be better, and before you know it, you will have created something wonderful that didn’t exist before.
When I first began writing, I tried to do it perfect the first time. I read and reread every sentence and paragraph, and it took me forever to finish anything. Now I wait until I’ve finished an article or a chapter before reading it. It’s exciting what comes out when you relax and let the words flow.
What has been your favorite part of the publishing and/or writing process?
I like almost all of it except maybe the deadlines, but my favorite part has to be interacting with my readers. It is so rewarding to hear how my words have touched someone, made them laugh, inspired them, or encouraged. That’s what really keeps me doing what I do.
What else are you currently working on?
I have written another memoir called Mom’s Long Good-Bye that will be published by Anaiah Press sometime in early 2018. It’s a follow-up to A Long and Winding Road. You could call it “the rest of the story.” I’ve also written a mystery novel called Tatia’s Tattoo about human trafficking in small-town America. I’m working on a sequel called Fallen Angel Salvage.
Can you tell us three things about you that not a lot of people know?
I’ve written a memoir, blogged for seven years, and written a human interest column in our local newspaper since 2012. I feel like there’s not much that people don’t know about me, but here are a few things for those who are new readers.
- In 2004 I rode my motorcycle over 25,000 miles. I would have ridden more, but…well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
- I met David, my husband of seventeen years, through a Yahoo personal ad. Details of that are in the book, too.
- David and I read – a lot! When we find an author we like, we try to read everything they have written in order. After a few years, we found it hard to keep track of what we had read, so to avoid duplicates, I began to keep a list of books already read and books to be read. At last count it was sixty-three pages and growing
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Linda!