Over 70 And I Don’t Mean MPH

Reflections on the Gift of Longevity

by Marilyn Reynolds

Image of a two-lane road disappearing over the hills

To purchase: https://newwindpublishing.com/product/over-70-and-i-dont-mean-mph/

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Written in a conversational tone with honesty and humor, this collection of essays is a compelling look at experiences and situations common to people over 70. The writings explore subjects such as choosing a burial or cremation plan, living in a body that requires high maintenance, and being typecast as one who can only eat bland foods. The personal essays expose with irony and humor the often overlooked details of the trials of aging, yet also provide a deeper understanding of the necessity of reinvention late in life.

Reviews:Dorothy Rice on Amazon wrote:

I just read this book and loved it. Funny, poignant, true. Passed it on to my sister. These are issues so many of us are dealing with - aging, mortality, loss of loved ones. Author Marilyn Reynolds tells her stories with the right mix of often harsh reality and humor. A quick, fun, insightful read.

Shen Feng on Amazon wrote:

Marilyn writes with complete honesty, insightful reflections and a great sense of humor. Both my husband and I are over 70 and we can relate to many issues she raises and deals with every day: such as our health problems come with aging and our mortality, etc. Her wit and wisdom are shown in every essay in this collection and we feel like she is talking to us as an old friend who inspires us to recognize the necessity of reinvention late in life. We look forward to reading more of her work.


Marilyn's straightforward take on the joys and challenges of aging is realistic, poignant, and at times thigh-slappingly funny. If you or someone you love is over seventy, or ever expect to be, this book is a must read. Part how-to-and part inspirational, her easy, conversational tone invites you to put your feet up and relax with her over a cup of tea, a sip of wine, or one of those pretty little martinis. Whatever your beverage of choice, you've got a delightful few hours in store for you.

If you liked Over 70: And I Don't Mean MPH you might also like:

About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Ms. Reynolds also co-wrote the Emmy-nominated script for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

In addition to books for teens, Ms. Reynolds is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers; Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH,a collection of essays on the gifts and challenges of longevity; and 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, a memoir chronicling her husband's descent into Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her newest book is Over 80: Reflections on Aging, a collection of essays.

Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author visits (Zoom or in-person) to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. She offers staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, ask a question, or learn more about her work, visit http://www.marilynreynolds.com/



Other Books By Marilyn Reynolds

‘Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part

A memoir

by Marilyn Reynolds

Book Cover: 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part

Available in paperback

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Excerpt:

In July 2009, after 42 years of marriage, my 69-year-old husband, Michael Reynolds, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). As frightening and horrendous as that diagnosis was, it went a long way toward explaining the frustrating and puzzling changes in Mike's behavior that I'd been experiencing from as early as 2005. Neither I nor any of our family members or friends had ever heard of frontotemporal dementia until the term was applied to Mike...There is no known cause. No cure. It is progressive, but the rate of progression is unpredictable...

This account of the steady deterioration of a much loved, bright, talented, funny, emotionally connected husband, father, brother, uncle, music colleague, and friend is unavoidably skewed by my own particular view. But, particular as it is, it also depicts much that is common to victims of FTD and to the ones who love them.

Reviews:Christopher Lillis, MD FACP, on Amazon wrote:

"'Til Death or Dementia is a love story above all else, a wonderful account of the relationship that Marilyn Reynolds celebrated with her husband, Mike. It is beautiful to read and an example of what I hope for all my patients' families--a deep reflection on memories representing all that was wonderful before the diagnosis of dementia. These memories can bring joy amid the struggle with the realities of the disease.

In a most courageous way, Marilyn shares her feelings, doubts, fears and regrets as she recalls Mike's personality and cognitive changes, both before and after his dementia diagnosis. Her words convey the emotional roller coaster in a way that the reader can feel every turn, loop, climb and free fall. Her remarkable ability to share serves as a road map for all those who care for someone with dementia, as I have witnessed among hundreds of families.

I would hope that everyone would read this story, not just those who find themselves caring for someone with dementia. This beautiful book reminds us that life is finite and worth living to the fullest. It brought a renewed mindfulness for me that every moment counts, and despite all life's challenges, love reigns supreme and can carry us through the darkest of times. Our legacy lives on in those we leave behind. Read this book, then think about the life soundtrack you want, and start singing!"


A moving account of her husband's losing battle with frontotemporal dementia. Throughout their journey, Marilyn clings to hope, the comfort of family and friends, and her own strong sense of self, all while having the clear-eyed recognition that her beloved Mike is slipping away. Includes a listing of resources (books, organizations, and tips) that she found helpful.

Originally published by River Rock Books. 360 pages.

If you liked 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, you might also like:

About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Ms. Reynolds also co-wrote the Emmy-nominated script for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

In addition to books for teens, Ms. Reynolds is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers; Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH,a collection of essays on the gifts and challenges of longevity; and 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, a memoir chronicling her husband's descent into Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her newest book is Over 80: Reflections on Aging, a collection of essays.

Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author visits (Zoom or in-person) to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. She offers staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, ask a question, or learn more about her work, visit http://www.marilynreynolds.com/



Other Books By Marilyn Reynolds

Over 80: Reflections on Aging

by Marilyn Reynolds

A collection of twenty-eight personal essays on aging, covering health, family, faith, memories, grief, longevity, and sharing a dog. The tone ranges from wry humor to poignant reflection as the author shares her thoughts on life in one’s ninth decade.

To purchase: https://newwindpublishing.com/product/over-80-reflections-on-aging/

Want an inscribed copy? Just indicate in the notes on your order.

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Dear Reader

This is a collection of reflections and random thoughts dealing with various aspects and experiences of life in my ninth decade. I now fall into the “old-old category,” a stage of life we don’t often see reflected back to us in books or other media. I hope Over 80 is at least a small counter balance.

When I first started this project near my eightieth birthday, I was thinking that my 80s would probably not be much different than my 70s. But they are. Although I continue to be in good health it’s obvious my body is farther along into the decaying process. I’m slower in speech and getting in and out of a car. In some public situations I’m less visible. Although I pass the basic cognitive function test with flying colors, I definitely don’t remember names or other specific details as I once did. So, not exactly like the 70s.

READ MORE

In the process of assembling all these essays, I became aware of important aspects of my 80s life that had been given short shrift. The subjects range from light-hearted, even silly, to darker aspects of loss and impending death, but music was missing; how did that happen? Music is, at various times, a comfort, an energizing force, a door to the past, or a quick kick of grief. Not a day passes without a musical offering. “Standing on the Promises” transports me back to the age of four or five, sitting on the bathroom counter, watching my father shave, my own face lathered with Yardley’s shaving cream, my father humming in his soft tenor voice, adding the words once both of our faces were cleaned with the hot wet towel, then patted dry: “Standing on the promises of Christ, my king . . .”

With “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth, I’m walking down the aisle to meet the one with whom I’ll share the next thirty-eight years. With Burl Ives and “The Little White Duck,” women now in their sixties are girls again, singing along. A Chopin waltz brings to mind Arthur Rubinstein at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, rising from the piano bench to drive a phrase home. “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” brings back the loss of Mike in unexpected ways, and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” has me laughing again at the perfect comic timing of his remembered antics. How could I not have included the necessities of music in my reflections?...

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Cynthia Davis, hospice chaplain wrote:

Through humor, acceptance and wisdom, Reynolds shares stories and insights about “…the unknown territory of aging…” as she shares reflections on being in her ninth decade of life. This book is about finding meaning in daily life at any age, and most poignantly, Reynolds shares what has fed her soul from her many years of being an educator. Dealing with unknown challenges and loss, she takes us on a journey as she names the necessities of life, explores healthy aging to the richness of memories and what makes life worth living. It is full of life lessons.

Katerina Christiansen, MD wrote:

While there’s no universally accepted description of healthy aging, Marilyn Reynolds provides a humorous, relatable, and refreshingly honest perspective on a topic that can be as hard to face as it is inevitable. Her self-deprecating wit make concerns about aging that are daily brought up in my office approachable and provide an inspiring example of navigating unavoidable challenges with both pragmatism and hope. While I can’t completely support her red meat, martinis, and wine diet, she makes a strong case that a lifetime of curiosity crossed with a touch of skepticism and an underlying resilience can carry you a long way. Her journey provides countless insights and a thoughtful perspective that would benefit all my aging patients. You won’t regret joining her for this ride.

Ruth Saxton, author of The Book of Old Ladies wrote:

Reading Marilyn Reynolds's Over Eighty is like having a conversation with a close friend. Neither depressing or sugar-coated, Reynolds' anecdotes and insights are a bit like answers to the questions many of us in retrospect wish we had asked our mothers and grandmothers. Her narrative voice is friendly, interesting, and honest. I highly recommend her book and warn you that you may be motivated to begin writing your own reflections.

Jane Manaster on San Francisco Book Review wrote:

Wisdom suggests that as we grow older, we hold onto our attitudes, beliefs, and other lifelong characteristics. Marilyn Reynolds, at eighty-six years old, admits to slowing down and memory loss, but defies wisdom by having found gratifying new interests. Spirituality, less prominent when younger, has become important. Writing groups continue to fulfill a space between pleasure and need, though COVID-19 almost killed book clubs by introducing Zoom, keeping reading companions away. And those significant new interests? Dogs were always welcome, but now, as it gets harder to keep up with animal care, she has found a friend to pet-share. What a creative idea!

In Over 80: Reflections on Aging, Reynolds has leapt into the practice of keeping a little free library. Instead of buying an expensive build-it kit, she has adapted a toy truck to hold books found abandoned in the neighborhood for bulk collection. Just stepping into her yard, she has an ever-changing selection to give and take. Her memoir offers humor and poignancy, a wealth of “let’s share” even the less welcome changes, suggesting a trouble shared is almost a trouble halved. Reaching the age of eighty is no longer a rare achievement, but it still deserves respect and empathy.


What does it mean to live well in late life? Marilyn Reynolds showcases twenty-eight essays on how to survive a sudden health crisis, create your own form of spirituality, share a dog, and think about the past without becoming mired in it. Reynolds’ voice is unsentimental, wry and realistic with a take-no-prisoners love of life and other people. Over 80: Reflections on Aging will appeal to anyone looking to live a meaningful life, whether aged 20 or 90.

If you liked Over 80, you might also like:

About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Ms. Reynolds also co-wrote the Emmy-nominated script for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

In addition to books for teens, Ms. Reynolds is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers; Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH,a collection of essays on the gifts and challenges of longevity; and 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, a memoir chronicling her husband's descent into Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her newest book is Over 80: Reflections on Aging, a collection of essays.

Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author visits (Zoom or in-person) to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. She offers staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, ask a question, or learn more about her work, visit http://www.marilynreynolds.com/



Other Books By Marilyn Reynolds

Deborah’s Gift

by Lois Ann Abraham

In 1900, young women in St. Louis society must conform to certain expectations. But Deborah Huntworth longs to paint the world as she sees it—radiating with color and light. The death of her pitiless great-aunt releases Deborah. Finally she is free to pursue her artistic dreams and to reclaim the beloved child who was taken from her. But disaster awaits on the island of Martinique. Will the gift of her art be enough to carry her through tragedy?

To purchase: https://newwindpublishing.com/product/deborahs-gift/

Want an inscribed copy? Just indicate in the notes on your order.

Excerpt:

Deborah waits to hear the front door click shut as her lover slips out to make his guilty way home to an invalid wife. He has lingered too long, poor fellow; Brently Mallard will miss his train. She enjoys the round, warm, rosy feeling of her body, enjoying it even more now that she is alone again in her refuge where she keeps rendezvous with a passion that has nothing to do with erring
husbands.

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The sparsely furnished little room is in disarray. Her paints and brushes fill packing crates; her papers and canvases are piled high along one wall. Her palette, smeared with green and brown, her untidy paint tubes, a drying canvas on the easel, and a finished painting on the wall are left to pack. Everything else has been boxed and packaged for weeks, dreaming in the darkness of escape. Deborah is waiting for the death of her great-aunt, Tante Charity, the French form of address the old lady insists on, waiting for her to pass from this life to what Deborah devoutly hopes will be a blankness, a disappearance, utter annihilation with no possible return, not even a ripple, a breath, an echo, please God, not a dream.

With an occasional dalliance when it pleases her, she is poised to return to Martinique when the fetters keeping her in St. Louis are finally removed. Deborah has just enough money to rent her small studio on Jefferson Street, to pay for paint and canvas and unobstructed room to work. She has created a sweet oasis to help her endure the harsh, dry desert of respectability, where she has sequestered her heart and steeled her nerves. Here she works in privacy, uninterrupted by expectations or obligations, unjudged and free. Only Katy, her childhood nurse, knows where to find her...

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Jo Niederhoff on Manhattan Book Review wrote:

It’s clear from the start of Deborah’s Gift that this is a novel about an artist. I don’t mean just that it’s outright stated in the prologue; the first chapter, about Deborah’s childhood, is a feast for all the senses. Even before she is able to truly express it, she has a way of viewing things that will serve her well as a painter. Abraham doesn’t just give us a wealth of visual description, though the book has that in spades. (Best of all: it works!) She feeds every sense the reader has, immersing them in Deborah’s world. And what a world it is! Deborah is a young woman caught in the trials of the late nineteenth century when everyone expects her to be some softer version of herself. If she will not bend, she will be beaten down. At times it seems impossible that she will be able to have the life she dreams of. I fell head over heels with this book from the start, and at no point did it let me down. It’s rich and vivid, an excellent addition to the wealth of historical fiction being written today. 5 STARS

Michael Spurgeon, Borchard Foundation Center on Literary Arts wrote:

“In a style as clear, eloquent, and evocative as the paintings of its heroine, Lois Ann Abraham’s historical novel follows the life of a woman fiercely committed to overcoming the suffocating social restrictions of her times as she pursues her dreams. Deborah careens from one tragic turn to the next, but despite a world of heartache, she never wavers from her conviction that the creative act is its own form of salvation. Abraham’s novel reminds us that to live is to love, lose, and endure, but to live well requires the unwavering courage to be true to one’s self.”

Gary Thompson, author of Broken by Water wrote:

“In deliciously descriptive and delightful prose, Lois Ann Abraham tells a coming-of-age story set mostly in America—though important things happen on the French island of Martinique—as the 19th century hastens into the 20th, into the modern age. Deborah, the spirited child who becomes a determined young woman and disciplined artist, once describes her life in fairy tale terms, but it’s a grim, sometimes-terrifying story beneath the shiny castles and princesses of her coded tale. Her artistic gift helps her see and make sense of that fractured world. There are many kinds of gifts in this novel, beginning with the Statue of Liberty, given by the people of France to the people of America, a gift that sets in motion the plot of Deborah’s Gift. And for those who delight in language, there are little, wrapped surprises on nearly every page.”

Mary Camarillo, author of The Lockhart Women wrote:

“Lois Ann Abraham has created a fully-realized fascinating character in Deborah. We see the world and its disasters and delights through Abraham's sensory prose and Deborah’s artistic eyes. I could smell the turpentine and feel the paint under her nails. Deborah appreciates what she calls the ‘luxury of being a single woman who makes enough from her art to cover expenses and then some’ during a time when women’s options were limited to what men told them what they were allowed to dream. A compelling and important story.”

AnetteMat on LibraryThing wrote:

I did not know anything about Martinique before reading this novel. The description of the volcanic eruption of Mt Pelee in 1902 and the catastrophic effects of it on Deborah and others makes for very compelling reading. I especially enjoyed how her current and future life as an artist was influenced by this and earlier personal tragedies. The descriptions of her paintings are very detailed, creating a vivid image in the mind. it is also interesting in that the book visits various places she lived - New York, St Louis, New Mexico, and of course, Martinique. A very good read.


5 star review from Readers Favorites

About the Author

Lois Ann Abraham is a prize-winning fiction author and retired professor of English at American River College in Sacramento. She spent her formative years in Texas, the Panhandle of Oklahoma, and New Mexico, where she still has strong roots. Her pieces have been published in Sojourner, Chico News & Review, Writing on the Edge, Inside English, Burning the Little Candle, Convergences, and elsewhere. She lives on the banks of Chicken Ranch Slough in Sacramento with her sisters and two orange and white cats.



Other Books By Lois Ann Abraham

Like A Complete Unknown

by Anara Guard

Available in paperback or ebook.

In 1969, a girl’s life is not her own. Katya Warshawsky’s parents demand she drop out of high school and join a cleaning crew. Instead, she runs away, hoping to join hippies, anti-war protestors, and aspiring artists like herself. But Chicago’s counterculture isn’t as welcoming as she dreamed. Widowed doctor Robert Lewis worries how much longer to keep his medical practice open: he can offer little help to his most desperate patients. When Katya—starry-eyed, barefoot, and in trouble—appears in his office, a rash impulse propels him into the turbulent streets of Chicago. While Katya hunts for freedom and Dr. Lewis searches for her, they encounter chaos and beauty as they both risk a new unknown life.

————————————

"A beautifully written debut novel with rich, complex characters bound by their tumultuous personal histories and the volatile political landscape of the late 1960's. Against the grit and beauty of counterculture Chicago, we are allowed to love these flawed, isolated people, and to feel joy as they create renewed lives.”

Meredith Hall

Published:
Reviews:John Weir on Kenyon Alumni Magazine wrote:

Guard’s fourth book and first novel, “Like a Complete Unknown,” follows Katya, a runaway teen with a dream of becoming an artist, and Dr. Lewis, a physician who wants to help her. Guard brings these seemingly disparate characters together to explore friendship, with a satisfying redemption arc that makes the story unforgettable. While at Kenyon, Guard received the John Crowe Ransom Poetry Prize, so it’s no surprise that even her prose is filled with artful, poetic language that proves she’s expert in both crafts.

~Kenyon Alumni Magazine

on San Francisco Book Review:

“In this stunning debut novel, Anara Guard weaves together the fragments of a runaway girl’s life against the backdrop of 1970s Chicago. Her voice is lyrical and self-aware, allowing the reader to fully immerse their self in Katya’s angst and yearnings with a gentle grace that can only come from sympathetic knowing…her deep understanding of story and character show mastery of the bildungsroman and novel writing…lulling the reader into her character’s painful, beautiful world.”

Diane Donovan on Midwest Book Review wrote:

This story of change, transformation, and growth captures not only the social and political milieu of the 1960s, but its pitfalls and opportunities. Readers who want a sense of what these times were like and the struggles experienced by those both within and outside of the system will find Like A Complete Unknown a vivid, thought-provoking story that captures this world from two different experiences.

Jennifer Ibiam on Readers' Favorite wrote:

Like a Complete Unknown by Anara Guard was a fantastic page-turner that broke my heart and mended it. This novel had pieces that came together to make a perfect whole. Anara wrote from the heart, giving the book depth and originality. The story was unique, realistic, relatable, and an accurate depiction of the travails of women, especially in core traditional and religious settings. Anara Guard developed flawed yet appealing characters and interpreted scenes in ways that tugged at my heartstrings. Katya was naïve yet sharp-witted, scared yet resourceful, and industrious. She could make something out of nothing. The author also showed that activists aren’t always the kindest or most decent humans in private. I couldn’t get over Harlow. Dr. Robert was my highlight of the novel, and I would appreciate a sequel that shows what became of Katya.

Trina Hayes on Hungry for Good Books wrote:

Read Like a Complete Unknown to step into authentic, technicolor 1970 Chicago where you can feel the roar of the El overhead. Experience the growing pains of young Katya as she embraces who she wants to become despite having no say about her body. Celebrate the emergence of Dr. Lewis from his self-inflicted cocoon into a world where he can help others and experience love. Grasp the fears of 18-year-olds whose birthdates meant being sent to die in Viet Nam. Like a Complete Unknown will embed you in 1970 Chicago and the lives of characters you’ll love.


Book Group Reading Guide available for download.

About the Author

Anara studied writing at the Urban Gateways Young Writers Workshop of Chicago with Kathleen Agena, the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts with Norman Corwin, Columbia College Story Workshop, St. Joseph’s College with Stu Dybek, Bread Loaf Writers Conference with Robert Cohen and Alix Ohlin, and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Boston. In 2010, Back Pages Publishing issued her first collection of short stories, The Sound of One Body. Her second story collection, Remedies for Hunger (2014) was named one of the Best Books of 2015 by Chicago Book Review. Read her interview with the Authors Guild.

Her debut novel, Like a Complete Unknown, is an indie fiction finalist for the Chicago Writers Association's Best Books of 2022.

She is also a poet and memoirist. Her poems, improbably enough, have won both a John Crowe Ransom Poetry Prize and a Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. Her work has recently appeared in The Ear, Gold Man Review, Voices 2020, Under the Gum Tree and elsewhere.  She and her sister, Gay Guard-Chamberlin, perform their poetry together as Sibling Revelry. Watch videos of Sibling Revelry here and here

Contact the author, subscribe to her newsletter, visit her website, follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Quotes from various Sibling Revelry audiences:

Loved your program! The introductions/backgrounds/history for the poems were perfect as well as breaking up the poetry by themes. The interplay between you also worked really well. – Joanne K.

Your reading was a delight!  So much fun to see the similarities and difference between the two of you and your work. You read (and write, of course) so expressively. —Michelle K.

It was such a delight for me.  It was such a treat to hear their work and see how they play off one another with their different personalities and styles of writing.  It was also fun to hear them read each other’s poems.—Ruth K.

I was very grateful for the brief respite your event provided. I ordered your book, so I am anxious for it to arrive. I think my favorite poem may have been the one about “What is Greater than 45” probably because of our current situation. I also loved the poem about her breasts; something I can relate to these days!—Shelli S.

I really loved hearing both of you together and the way your poetry intersects and yet is so different. I think your "concept" in these readings is just so lovely for this strange time. I can imagine writing a dissertation on both of your work and its--maybe "interplay" is the right word? I was definitely seeing your performance art side in the reading. —Abby B.

So lovely to see the two of you together with all your devotees! It was a delightful hour, so thank you. The poems really do come to life and I think you should think about reading each other’s poems more. It adds a certain freedom to the reading, I think. Nina G.

That was a lot of fun. The poem about the mason jar actually got me alittle misty ("the grandmother's home we long to return to") so I covered my cam for a second to blink back the tears. The ending about the lip meeting our lips is wonderful, too. And I loved the poem about the crow and its knick-knack shelf.—Erika M.

 



Other Books By Anara Guard

Circus Girl & Other Stories

by Lois Ann Abraham

Book Cover: Circus Girl & Other Stories

A little girl discovers the power of the creative impulse. A woman remembers her first confusing sexual encounter. An aging flower child travels to Mexico to save her daughter. A baby is born with blue feet. A man ponders his ex-wife's last word. Those who live in the pages of Circus Girl & Other Stories are seeking--wisely or foolishly, successfully or in vain--to make sense of their lives and to become more completely themselves. For some, the self-examined life leads deeper into darkness, while others find the crack in their universe that lets the light in.

Published by Ad Lumen Press.

Purchase paperback here.

About the Author

Lois Ann Abraham is a prize-winning fiction author and retired professor of English at American River College in Sacramento. She spent her formative years in Texas, the Panhandle of Oklahoma, and New Mexico, where she still has strong roots. Her pieces have been published in Sojourner, Chico News & Review, Writing on the Edge, Inside English, Burning the Little Candle, Convergences, and elsewhere. She lives on the banks of Chicken Ranch Slough in Sacramento with her sisters and two orange and white cats.



Other Books By Lois Ann Abraham

Tina Goes to Heaven

by Lois Ann Abraham

Book Cover: Tina Goes to Heaven

For fans of Anne Tyler and Barbara Kingsolver, Lois Ann Abraham's debut novel is an irreverent mid-life coming-of-age story about a resilient woman's journey to find a place to call home.

"The Swedes have a word for it: hortur, a whore's luck." So begins the story of Shatina Winona Mai Martinez, known as Tina Martin, who attempts to find a way out of being "girlfriend" to a pimp, finding that she cannot rely on "whore's luck" because there's nothing lucky about her life! After a successful robbery to bankroll her escape, she flees the city, only to find herself stranded in the most unlikely place: Happy Trout Fishing Resort, a rustic vacation spot nestled in the Sierra Nevada. It's hard to shake off the habits and dangers of her past life, but Tina relies on her good intentions, keen organizational skills, and willingness to do unpleasant things to make herself indispensable to the camp's proprietor, Bill, and his adolescent daughter, Rachel. Tina faces the challenges and risks of her situation with optimism, though it seems that every obstacle she overcomes contains the seeds of a new disaster.

Published by Ad Lumen Press.

Purchase paperback here.

Reviews:Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine wrote:

A sharply specific book can bring more thunder than a wide drama, when an author of this skill sets her scopes on a subject with such heart. Tina is a character we should all be reading: funny, honest, flawed, and allowed to be piercingly dear on the page. Here you will find no slick post-modern detachment, no sneering cynicism, no characters you'll "love to hate." Lois Ann Abraham is not afraid to write with real love, and this is an emotional treasure.


About the Author

Lois Ann Abraham is a prize-winning fiction author and retired professor of English at American River College in Sacramento. She spent her formative years in Texas, the Panhandle of Oklahoma, and New Mexico, where she still has strong roots. Her pieces have been published in Sojourner, Chico News & Review, Writing on the Edge, Inside English, Burning the Little Candle, Convergences, and elsewhere. She lives on the banks of Chicken Ranch Slough in Sacramento with her sisters and two orange and white cats.



Other Books By Lois Ann Abraham

Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle

by Gay Guard-Chamberlin

Book Cover: Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle

Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle is a collection of 36 evocative poems, melancholic and whimsical, that explores the natural world and the collapse of ecosystems, mothers and daughters, aging, the inner life of words, and the secret lives of ordinary objects. Read what crows have to say, how the park closes at night; hear the voice of a broom; remember girlhood; and try to banish those "Regulars," regret and dread, when they insist on showing up. Three of these poems won prizes in the 2019 Poets & Patrons Contest.

Interested in the SISTER SET of both poetry books at a discounted price? Click here.

PURCHASE:
Paperback

 

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Excerpt:

Book Club

My mother & I have a book club.

It meets on one side of death,

then the other.

When we meet at my place,

I give her bagels & lox,

peppery iced black coffee.

She says, Not like New York,

but it'll do.

When I go to her house, she serves me

from the big white cracked family platter.

Nothing on it but raw onion, cut so fiercely

my tears cry themselves.

Reviews:Ronne Hartfield wrote:

I love these poems. Love is the word, not “like,” a term much too pallid to convey the luminous quality of the imagery, the straight-at-you honesty and candor of the subjects, the precise, often rapier-sharp quality of the language. These are not poems for the timid, capturing as they do the paradoxical intertwining of domestic and mythic, intimate and philosophical, keenly observant and musingly imaginative. These are poems for the times-in-between, when the way home winds a bit too crookedly, or when the fog rolls in too thick and fast. Gay’s poems are gifts for all of us in need of a phrase like “Don’t you see the whole world shining?” Exactly that.

Jenene Ravesloot on Jenene Ravesloot's Poetry Reviews wrote:

Gay Guard-Chamberlin’s fine debut collection of thirty-six poems introduces us to a world that is specific and personal, but one that also touches on universal themes. The voice of a true poet is evident throughout, as is the studied gaze of an artist. Her language sings; her images stun...One can only step back and admire, again, the imagery throughout, the use of nuanced language that moves the poem forward with great verve, and the resulting emotional impact that lingers long after the page has been turned....There is an abundance of riches in “RED THREAD THROUGH A RUSTY NEEDLE”: family stories, homages, the joy of “ordinary things” such as “zipper teeth that meet and match,” post-election politics, and climate forecasts to keep you, the reader, turning and returning again and again to the pages of this outstanding book of poetry.

Lennart Lundh on Highland Park Poetry wrote:

The thirty-six poems of Gay Guard-Chamberlin’s collection, Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle, are wide-ranging, touching on a buffet of subjects, including horses, dogs, and crows; parents and other relations; neighbors and emotions-as-humans; Easter eggs and politics (both electoral and inter-personal). They are highly personal and revelatory, but also imbued with a strong sense of universality.

Better still, they are also well-written, reflecting the author’s mastery of the poet’s craft. Form generally follows function, amplifying carefully chosen words instead of burying them. There’s nothing obscure in the imagery, and the text is free of the typos that seem to plague current small press productions.

The lengthy prose poem “Stella Maris” acquaints us with the wonderful character of Guard-Chamberlin’s grandmother, who “dated Johnny Weissmuller before he went to Hollywood and became Tarzan.” We’re told of a book Stella Maris’ father gifted her in a dream: “She swallowed the book and the little black seeds of letters sprouted inside her. When she opened her mouth, invisible words tumbled out. My grandmother fed me with sweet invisible words she grew inside her.” Such a way to be remembered and immortalized.

“Corporal” presents its subject in much less detail, but this simply allows the reader to complete the sketch by drawing on every veteran they’ve either known or seen in a film. The closing is beautifully vague:

Home the hero
tosses the papers
into a rusty tin tub
splashes in a dash
of high-flash kerosene
and a goddamned handy

strike-anywhere match.

Using thirty-seven precise words, “The Inner Life of Words” exposes heart, leaving us “listening // from the heart / of the heart.”

The narrator of “After Hearing of Your Suicide” examines both the resulting grief and their sense of culpability:
Did I notice? Did I listen?
or did I lean my head
at the right angle to convey attention,
then place a bookmark between your words
so my mind could wander off in the woods instead?

For readers who have lived in rural or smaller urban towns, “Shift Change” (p. 21) holds a most relatable, and carefully alliterative, verse: “Street lamps would flit on and off, fitful, / forgetful, an erratic glimmer along darkened / streets neon-lit by a few small shops.”

Out of fairness to the reader, enough; there’s not a single piece here unworthy of being pointed out. In the end, despite deeply plumbed wells, these are surprisingly gentle poems. There are no eruptions of anger at others or the narrator’s memories. Instead, there is honesty in these poems that is careful and caring. Out of fairness to yourself and the poet, add a copy to your library.

Sheila E wrote:

Gay Guard-Chamberlin is a welcomed voice to contemporary poetry, and her most recent collection, Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle, suggests that she has a long-standing affinity to traditional poetic forms, someone used to pushing her imagination to that point of fresh insight we expect from poetry. From the charming simplicity of "A Garment Worker's Song", the amusing self-reflection of "Lament" to her meticulous adherence to traditional structure in "Your Contract" and "My Mother's Keepsake," this book is a wonderful collection from a poet who deserves to be read more.


About the Author

Gay Guard Chamberlin is a writer, performance artist and multi-media visual artist.  A graduate of Columbia College, Chicago, with a Masters in Interdisciplinary Arts, Gay is a member of Poets & Patrons, Illinois State Poets Society, TallGrass Writers Guild, Budlong Writers Group, North Center Seniors Poetry Group sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, and Women on the Verge in Kalamazoo, MI.

She has taught skills as diverse as self-defense/martial arts and paper-making to children and adults, and is a certified Interplay instructor. Gay has also worked as an office manager for an arts-in-schools organization, a waitress, childcare provider, and caregiver for people with dementia.

She lives on the North side of Chicago with her husband, musician-artist Doug Chamberlin.  Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle is her first book. She and her sister, Anara Guard, perform poetry together as Sibling Revelry. Watch videos of Sibling Revelry here and here
View Doug Chamberlin's video of Gay's poem "My Mother's Keepsakes".

Read a recent interview with Gay as featured member of Poets & Patrons here.

Quotes from various Sibling Revelry audiences:

Loved your program! The introductions/backgrounds/history for the poems were perfect as well as breaking up the poetry by themes. The interplay between you also worked really well. – Joanne K.

Your reading was a delight!  So much fun to see the similarities and difference between the two of you and your work. You read (and write, of course) so expressively. —Michelle K.

It was such a delight for me.  It was such a treat to hear their work and see how they play off one another with their different personalities and styles of writing.  It was also fun to hear them read each other’s poems.—Ruth K.

I was very grateful for the brief respite your event provided. I ordered your book, so I am anxious for it to arrive. I think my favorite poem may have been the one about “What is Greater than 45” probably because of our current situation. I also loved the poem about her breasts; something I can relate to these days!—Shelli S.

I really loved hearing both of you together and the way your poetry intersects and yet is so different. I think your "concept" in these readings is just so lovely for this strange time. I can imagine writing a dissertation on both of your work and its--maybe "interplay" is the right word? I was definitely seeing your performance art side in the reading. —Abby B.

So lovely to see the two of you together with all your devotees! It was a delightful hour, so thank you. The poems really do come to life and I think you should think about reading each other’s poems more. It adds a certain freedom to the reading, I think. Nina G.

That was a lot of fun. The poem about the mason jar actually got me alittle misty ("the grandmother's home we long to return to") so I covered my cam for a second to blink back the tears. The ending about the lip meeting our lips is wonderful, too. And I loved the poem about the crow and its knick-knack shelf.—Erika M.

 

 

 


Hand on My Heart

by Anara Guard

Book Cover: Hand on My Heart

Thirty-five poignant and powerful poems, in which the poet performs word ballet, pirouetting her way through regrets, childbirth and parenting, floods and heat waves, and love, both certain and uncertain. Deeply personal and sensual, Hand on My Heart sympathetically plumbs the depths of memory and imagination. Here you will find poems inspired by the Wizard of Oz, fallen giraffes, and Mason jars; laments and praise; what may be love, and what is most certainly love. The poem ">45" won a Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize.

Interested in the SISTER SET of both poetry books at a discounted price? Click here.

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Excerpt:

None for Me

 

After the crash, you must have scattered

Over yards, acres, into the next county or

Even somehow across state lines

Because there is your ponytail

Tumbling down the back of a stranger,

Your eyebrow cocks on an unfamiliar face,

And the shape of your shoulders is silhouetted

In that lit window I pass by at night.

How did all those people end up with a piece of you

And me, left with none?

Reviews:Jan Haag wrote:

Hand on My Heart dives into one’s “own mysterious depths/the volcanic source revealed,” as Anara Guard writes in the poem, “Self-Examination.” With great range, Guard explores in lovely language the “Weekly Communion” of trash day, of owls, of the gift of a Mason jar that gets reused again and again. Dip in and savor these poems, one at a time, then return for more sips of poetic nectar.

Lennart Lundh on Amazon wrote:

In its thirty-six free-verse poems, Anara Guard’s collection, Hand on my Heart, unflinchingly approaches the narrator’s personal and public lives, complete with joys and tragedies both mundane and spiritual. Serious and direct, Guard consistently fills her ruminations with wonderful images. The language is clear and carefully chosen, the subjects and references cross-generational.... Miscarriages and drownings. Recycling. Love, with its resilience or departure. The inevitable growth of a child and the lessons contained therein. Hand on My Heart is a marvelous gathering of Life’s examples to us, deserving from start to finish of your time.

Judith Logan on Amazon wrote:

I love this book! Anara nails it with her range of expressed emotions! I especially love An Education. And Owls. She definitely shows us her gift for language!!

Jenene Ravesloot on Jenene Ravesloot's Poetry Reviews wrote:

Anara Guard, a Midwesterner now living in California, presents us with a sophisticated debut collection of poetry… There are many memorable poems in this collection; fierce poems that surprise; poems that delight; poems of unstinting honesty and beauty… Hand on My Heart is as structurally powerful as it is poetic. It is divided into 4 parts, much like the chambers of the heart. The 1st section, “Answers and Questions,” with its 1st poem titled “All My Pretty Horses,” introduces the poet of this collection who needs “to ride at full gallop, headlong, headstrong, forlorn, thundering to the childless horizon.” These are brave words, bravely and beautifully said. We cannot help but want to ride along with her “into the dark, like all night mares, screaming into the wind.”

The 2nd section, aptly called “Laments,” explores such topics as “Insomnia, Revealed,” “None for Me,” and “Auntie Em’s Lament” which is a splendid spoof on Dorothy in Kansas after her return from the Land of Oz. The 3rd section, “Praise And Petitions,” winks at all forms of communion from the ritual of recycling “At the altar of the curb” to eye-wandering in church…the 4th section explores “Love, Maybe—and Love, Certainly.” We traverse a variety of love landscapes with the poet: old love; prophetic love; reconciled love; distant love; and always, in every poem, the love of language and imagery shines through as in “Robert Bly Reads His Poetry” when “as he speaks, a feather drifts into the spotlight, floating slowly above his head.” What a gorgeous image; one of many in this debut collection.

Read the full review at Jenene Ravesloot's Poetry Reviews Facebook page.

Lennart Lundh on Highland Park Poetry wrote:

In its thirty-six free-verse poems, Anara Guard’s collection, Hand on my Heart, unflinchingly approaches the narrator’s personal and public lives, complete with joys and tragedies both mundane and spiritual. Serious and direct, Guard consistently fills her ruminations with wonderful images. The language is clear and carefully chosen, the subjects and references cross-generational.

“Yes, She Knew” speaks to Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan,” answering what the poet sees as its central question quickly and directly, following with vivid imagery as proof:

They flew above the forests
heaving with rain,
and she watched the flamingos dance
their pink seduction.
She saw the deserts,
scraped clean to the bone.

In contrast, “>45” answers its question, “What is greater than forty-five?” by way of a clever, and clearly political, list poem that always and never names its subject:

Bottles of beer on the wall
Cards in a deck, even after we remove all the jokers

Colors in the big box of crayons
Native American nations

before concluding, “what is greater than 45? // We are.”

After “Hole in My Head” reminds us of the fragility of memories (“Where is that word? / I need it to fill a hole / in my heart.”), “Regret” warns, through their similarity to a garden, against failing to deal with them in time:

I have waited too long to prune
and my roses have grown tangled
and straggly. They resist
all efforts to tame them now.

Miscarriages and drownings. Recycling. Love, with its resilience or departure. The inevitable growth of a child and the lessons contained therein. Hand on My Heart is a marvelous gathering of Life’s examples to us, deserving from start to finish of your time.


About the Author

Anara studied writing at the Urban Gateways Young Writers Workshop of Chicago with Kathleen Agena, the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts with Norman Corwin, Columbia College Story Workshop, St. Joseph’s College with Stu Dybek, Bread Loaf Writers Conference with Robert Cohen and Alix Ohlin, and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Boston. In 2010, Back Pages Publishing issued her first collection of short stories, The Sound of One Body. Her second story collection, Remedies for Hunger (2014) was named one of the Best Books of 2015 by Chicago Book Review. Read her interview with the Authors Guild.

Her debut novel, Like a Complete Unknown, is an indie fiction finalist for the Chicago Writers Association's Best Books of 2022.

She is also a poet and memoirist. Her poems, improbably enough, have won both a John Crowe Ransom Poetry Prize and a Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. Her work has recently appeared in The Ear, Gold Man Review, Voices 2020, Under the Gum Tree and elsewhere.  She and her sister, Gay Guard-Chamberlin, perform their poetry together as Sibling Revelry. Watch videos of Sibling Revelry here and here

Contact the author, subscribe to her newsletter, visit her website, follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Quotes from various Sibling Revelry audiences:

Loved your program! The introductions/backgrounds/history for the poems were perfect as well as breaking up the poetry by themes. The interplay between you also worked really well. – Joanne K.

Your reading was a delight!  So much fun to see the similarities and difference between the two of you and your work. You read (and write, of course) so expressively. —Michelle K.

It was such a delight for me.  It was such a treat to hear their work and see how they play off one another with their different personalities and styles of writing.  It was also fun to hear them read each other’s poems.—Ruth K.

I was very grateful for the brief respite your event provided. I ordered your book, so I am anxious for it to arrive. I think my favorite poem may have been the one about “What is Greater than 45” probably because of our current situation. I also loved the poem about her breasts; something I can relate to these days!—Shelli S.

I really loved hearing both of you together and the way your poetry intersects and yet is so different. I think your "concept" in these readings is just so lovely for this strange time. I can imagine writing a dissertation on both of your work and its--maybe "interplay" is the right word? I was definitely seeing your performance art side in the reading. —Abby B.

So lovely to see the two of you together with all your devotees! It was a delightful hour, so thank you. The poems really do come to life and I think you should think about reading each other’s poems more. It adds a certain freedom to the reading, I think. Nina G.

That was a lot of fun. The poem about the mason jar actually got me alittle misty ("the grandmother's home we long to return to") so I covered my cam for a second to blink back the tears. The ending about the lip meeting our lips is wonderful, too. And I loved the poem about the crow and its knick-knack shelf.—Erika M.

 



Other Books By Anara Guard

But What About Me?

by Marilyn Reynolds

Eighteen-year-old Erica Arrendondo is a serious student with her sights set on a career as a veterinarian. Then, after his mother dies a sudden, accidental death, Erica's boyfriend, Danny, turns to drugs and alcohol to escape his grief. As his life spins out of control, Erica struggles to help Danny get back on track. After a tragic turn of events, Erica finally realizes that she can't save Danny, and that she is losing herself in the process of trying. Thus begins the difficult task of finding the strength and will to put her own life back together.

PURCHASE:
Paperback
eBook
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Teaching guide

Follow the Hamilton High series on Facebook.

ISBN: 978-1-929777-01-3
Paperback
192 pages

Grade level: 9 and up

Lexile count: 720

AR 8.0 IL: UG  BL: 4.5

But What About Me? has also been translated into Chinese (not available through New Wind Publishing).

Reviews:Teen readers wrote:

This book shows the truth. A relationship where one person is caught up in the life of the other. A relationship where a young teen thinks she's in love. But What About Me? reminds young girls what a REAL relationship is and not just what a young girl thinks. Yes the feelings may think you’re in love, but always remember use your head! — Linda

The book was awesome....i loved the action. and it just left me in awe. — Pedro

Erica is a typical teen girl. She sticks up for her boyfriend, even when she starts to doubt him. She lies to her parents about their relationship, but it all comes out in the end, as all secrets do. Since I teach eighth grade, I felt the need to share this book with my students. I always tell them to not get hooked on one person,to look around, and not become too serious. This book shows exactly what could happen to anyone. — A customer

This is a great book for jr/sr high students. It lets them know about real relationships. All of Marilyn Reynolds' books are great reads for students.  — Sheila

School Library Journal wrote:

Grade 9 and up. This sensitively written problem novel deals with a young woman's struggle to stay true to her own goals and values while trying to save her boyfriend from himself. Erica Arrendondo, 18, is an excellent student who volunteers at the Humane Society, plays volleyball, and desperately wants to be a veterinarian. Her boyfriend is spiraling down a path of self-destruction and pulling her along with him. Topics such as keeping parents unaware of sexual relationships, the trauma of rape, the stress of college applications, the rewards of volunteerism, and the threat of AIDS are all gently interwoven into the main story of the trials of young love. The characters are compelling and the novel itself almost impossible to put down. The writing is superb and the realistic tone sets this book alongside the best of the genre. This fifth entry in the series about students at Hamilton High is an excellent addition to any YA collection.

Midwest Book Review wrote:

Erica pours more and more of her heart and soul into helping boyfriend Danny get his life back on track. But the more she tries to help him, the more she loses sight of her own dreams. It takes a tragic turn of events to show Erica that she can't "save" Danny, and that she is losing herself in the process of trying. Finally, Erica is forced to wonder, "But what about me?" She begins the difficult task of putting her own life back together again. But What About Me? puts real-life problems of acquaintance rape into a candid fictional format that can grab the attention of teen readers the way no amount of simple lecturing can ever do. 


About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Ms. Reynolds also co-wrote the Emmy-nominated script for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

In addition to books for teens, Ms. Reynolds is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers; Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH,a collection of essays on the gifts and challenges of longevity; and 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, a memoir chronicling her husband's descent into Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her newest book is Over 80: Reflections on Aging, a collection of essays.

Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author visits (Zoom or in-person) to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. She offers staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, ask a question, or learn more about her work, visit http://www.marilynreynolds.com/



Other Books By Marilyn Reynolds