No miles were logged in the execution of this adventure.
This blog has been sorely neglected as I’ve immersed myself and all my creative energy into releasing my memoir into the world, with none left over to tell you about it here! The generosity of affirming words that have come my way from memoir readers have kept me fueled. I am beyond gratified to know I was right, that stories like mine are needed by those hungry to know they are not alone in the exhaustion of providing care to another human, who are ravenous for some kind, any kind, of road map.
Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver published on October 18. (You can read about the labor and delivery here.) I gathered the people who greeted me when I arrived in my new old town in 2012 at the pub, and where (pre-pandemic) we celebrated one another’s birthdays in the ensuing years, I with one eye on my phone in case my mother called for help. (She never did.)
I’ve been glued to desk and computer since Pub Day, making graphics for social media, doing a podcast (listen here) and scheduling others, monitoring stats on Amazon, supporting my She Writes Press sisters, and spinning my wheels when momentum failed me. And planning the launch celebration. The book was #1 on Amazon’s New Release Best Sellers list in a couple of categories for multiple days! That was heady stuff. (It updates every hour, so it’s kind of amazing that it stayed there a while.)
A miracle happened a week after Pub Day: the distribution warehouse ran out of books! It seems the publisher—and I suppose me, doubting myself—underestimated my ability to support the book without a paid publicist, the commitment of my friends, and the hunger of caregivers. My local Indie bookstore sold out, and I hear other bookstores and libraries have backorders. A “fast track” reprint was ordered (at extraordinary expense) and books should be back in the world this week; and an additional regular reprint will be in the warehouse in January. I have a year to move them into readers’ hands* before a difficult decision will have to be made regarding any surplus. But I can’t think of that now.
And then came the official launch, in November to celebrate National Family Caregivers Month. Fifty family and friends partied at my sister’s beautiful shop, with “meaningful snacks and cocktails,” readings, Q & A, and door prizes. It was a hubbub at HUBBUB! Not my usual adventure, but talking before a large group is typically outside my wheelhouse, which made it adventurous.
I’ll tell you the names of the “meaningful snacks” Rebecca and Sue (the chef) came up with, but you’ll have to read the book to understand. (Bene)fiber veggie platter, “I only eat baby spinach” dip, “Make sure to the check the date” salmon dip, “Not as good as the last thyme” mushroom caps, “I’ll have more of your good black beans” dip. And, of course, there was the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake Off, which is from a story in the deleted scenes on my website. (Read it here.)
Mama was a tee-totaler, Rebecca and I definitely are not. Signature cocktails included the “Mamagroanie,” featuring a splash of creme dementia and a dose of preservative free saline; the “Just a half an ounce” champagne cocktail and the “No alcohol for me” mocktail, crowned with rubies and garnished with a bit of nature (rosemary). And, of course, “Jewels in Her Crown” wine, in red and white.
Rebecca surprised me by bringing in bartender Cliff, a college and continuing friend of hers, but whom I haven’t seen since we served together on a church camp staff in 1974, and who gave me my first motorcycle ride from camp back to Seattle!
What’s next for the book? I need to find places where caregivers gather—either in person or virtually—or create them. The need to be in community has been clear from both the online and the in-person events I held to launch Mother Lode. If you would like me to join your group to talk about caregiving and the memoir, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in a book club, suggest Mother Lode for your group. I would love to Zoom into your discussion. And there’s a Book Club Kit on my website!
Mother Lode is not only for current caregivers! Past caregivers are telling me the book has helped them forgive themselves and their loved one for not always being their best selves. Those who see caregiving in their not-too-distant future are finding it to be a sort of GPS to the road they could travel. And current or soon-to-be care recipients say it is showing them what to expect and how they want to be prepared (have those talks with your family now) and the importance of being gracious.
As always, I hope you will visit my website, www.gretchenstaebler.com, for caregiver resources and fun book stuff (deleted scenes, recipes, book trailer, podcast recordings, events, and more). If you are on my mailing list, thank you! If you are not, sign up on the website and receive my monthly eLetter with a brief letter and links to new website content.
If you are intrigued by HUBBUB (how could you not be?), visit the online store here. (You can also purchase a signed copy of Mother Lode there.)
P.S. In honor of caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month, the eBook version is on sale for $1.99 all month, wherever you purchase eBooks!
*P.P.S. You can help get books into readers’ hands by leaving a one or two sentence review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s so important. You have my everlasting gratitude! (If Amazon doesn’t accept it at first, please keep trying!)