They say getting old is hell, but it beats the alternatives. Still Me After All These Years, Karen Helene Walker’s anthology of essays and poems on aging, written by 24 authors who know, may convince you it isn’t hell after all. It's a pleasure to be participating in the prepublication Blog Tour for this charming, funny, and enlightening collection, and I thank Karen for agreeing to answer a few questions about the book.
Karen is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring two print copies (U.S. entries only) of Still Me and two eBook copies (International entries). Instructions for entering are at the end of this post.
Now for the interview:
What motivated you to take on this project?
It really began when I had to care for my aging dad and then my mother-in-law. I saw what aging does first-hand and began to think about what would happen when I got older. Then an 88-year-old friend made the comment, “I don’t see me anymore when I look in the mirror.” That really stuck with me. While on retreat with a friend, it came to me that putting together an anthology about aging might be inspiring and helpful to those of us who are already seniors, as well as those caring for aging parents.
What value do you find in a variety of viewpoints?
It surprised me when I began receiving submissions that each writer chose a different aspect of aging. I’d been afraid I’d have to reject submissions because they were too similar. Other than surprise at the various viewpoints, I learned a lot from how others think about the aging process as well as how they deal with the issues.
What have you learned about life and aging from this experience?
That I’m not alone. That each and every one of us is at some point in the aging process. That aging is not a choice, but living is. That none of us knows when our time will be up, but we can choose how we use the time we have left. I’ve learned that our attitude about what life hands us is crucial to maneuvering through this process with grace and dignity.
This book seems like a huge project, from soliciting entries to editing, to laying it all out and publishing. This may be like asking a woman who just gave birth if she wants another child, but ... do you think you'd do it again?
Sheesh. It is like labor pain where the memory of the pain diminishes with time. Working on the anthology was a very rewarding process, especially seeing the end result. There were challenges, though, especially having to reject submissions. As a writer, telling a person I couldn’t use their work was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced. Would I do it again? Perhaps. If I did, the subject matter would have to overpower the reasons why I wouldn’t want to, which at this point would be mostly financial. It was costly to produce this book.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the contributing authors for their hard work and diligence in making the necessary edits, but most especially for their wisdom and humor in tackling this most difficult topic. And thanks to Mark David Gerson for his wise counsel in editing and his amazing book design. And lastly, thanks to Kathleen Messmer for her wonderful photography
These words from Tom Clancy seem to sum things up:
Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.
Karen, those words are perfect, and I totally relate to them, as I know many readers will. I hope they inspire others to persist with a writing project. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! I hope this book will touch countless lives around the world.
Readers, after reading all the stories in this book, I deeply regret that I did not get my act together to contribute. This is an anthology I’d be proud to be included in. If you are already eligible for senior discounts or soon will be, you’ll find meat for both body and soul in these pages. Younger readers, this book will give you personal perspective and empathy for elders. Give copies to senior citizens in your life.
Follow Karen and the other authors on their tour . Check the schedule HERE.
Rev. Clara Alexander is an ordained New Thought minister who creates and performs sacred ceremonies, including unique weddings, funerals, memorial services, baby blessings and house blessings. She is also a popular speaker, inspiring groups with her talks on how we cling to our grudges, how we overuse the phrase “I’m sorry” and how we can live the life we love.
Wendy Brown recently retired from a career in wildlife biology, where she studied sandhill cranes and whooping cranes as they migrated from Idaho to New Mexico. Wendy eventually found a permanent home in Albuquerque, where she and her husband enjoy the sounds of sandhill cranes from their deck. Since retiring from state government in 2014.
Valerie Capps has bypassed the porch rocking chair to pursue her life-long passion for writing, thereby proving that in today’s world, life can begin again at 65! Valerie lives in Nashville with her husband and their spoiled-rotten Welsh Corgi. Find Valerie's books on Amazon.
Mary W. Clark retired from her law practice in 2007 and transferred her observation and composition skills to travel writing. She is currently working on a book about her father’s World War II experience flying “the Hump” from India to China over the Himalayas. Mary lives in Paris, Texas. www.maryclarktraveler.com
Fran Fischer: “I was born at a very young age and that happened 82 years ago, so I don’t remember much about it. I’ve crammed as much living into my life as possible, and I’m not through yet. I’ve traveled extensively and I even flew in the same zero-gravity plane that the astronauts trained in. I live in California with my first (and only) husband, and we celebrated our 62nd anniversary this year.”
Pat Garcia (Patricia Anne Pierce-Garcia Schaack) is an American expatriate living in Europe. An accomplished musician as well as a writer, she has been writing (and reading) since childhood.
Mark David Gerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including critically acclaimed titles for writers, award-winning fiction and compelling memoirs. Known as “The Birthing Your Book Guru,” Mark David works with an international roster of clients as coach and consultant, helping them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease. www.markdavidgerson.com
Holly Deuel Gilster plays “make believe” for a living. In other words, she is a professional actress and musician. Holly also loves painting with words as an accomplished poet, an award-winning short-story writer and a book-reviewer for The Or Echo.
Aaron Gordon is a retired social sciences community college professor. He and his wife, Ellie, have been married for 65 years and have three children and grandchildren.
Ellie Gordon is a retired public school teacher who spent the best 20 years of her life in the classroom. A Chicago native, she now lives in New Mexico.
Karla “Rosie” Harper recently retired from teaching elementary school, freeing her to return to her early love of dancing. Today, when not helping out with her grandchildren, Rosie is taking dance lessons, spinning on a dance floor or performing in senior centers and retirement communities with Albuquerque’s Sugartime, as singer as well as dancer.
Linda Hoye is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, available through major online retailers. A native of Saskatchewan, Linda currently lives in British Columbia (by way of Washington State) with her husband and doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier. www.lindahoye.com
E.V. Legters hasn’t so much retired as she has exchanged one life for another — from rewarding years with career and children (while pursuing the arts on the fly) to a life with the arts at its center. She is the author of Vanishing Point and Connected Underneath and is currently hard at work on her third novel. www.evlegters.com
LD Masterson lived on both coasts before becoming landlocked in Ohio. After twenty years managing computers for the American Red Cross, she now divides her time between writing, volunteer work and enjoying her grandchildren. Her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies, and she is currently working on a new novel. www.ldmasterson.com
Kathleen Messmer not only runs a film production company with offices in the UK and the US, she is an avid photographer and wildlife advocate. In the unlikely event that she ever retires, Kathleen plans to live on a ranch with draft horses and pygmy goats and vineyards and fruit orchards, somewhere near the water. Oh, and a cowboy...maybe. www.kathleenmessmer.com
Karen Norstad has worked as cashier/gift wrapper, secretary, boutique seamstress, administrative assistant, manager of employee stock options, executive assistant and budget analyst. Now retired, Karen’s life revolves around lounging about, wearing PJs until four in the afternoon, obsessing over the news, reading, fusing and slumping glass, practicing piano, keeping a small balcony garden and cooking.
Matt Nyman’s nonlinear career path has included working in the geological sciences, teaching high school, stay-at-home parenting and, currently, training tomorrow’s teachers. Poetry equently resides near the surface of his existence, occasionally erupting onto paper.
Jill Plaman was born and began aging in Milwaukee, but she has lived and worked in Albuquerque since 1977. She holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MSW from the University of Minnesota. Her special interests are travel, international folk dancing, reading, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Maureen Polikoff is a clinical social worker/ therapist who has always pursued many other creative endeavors, including painting, playing music and, now, writing. A Connecticut native, she lives in New Mexico with her husband, Michael.
MaryFrank Sanborn left Boston 33 years ago, to apprentice with photographer Walter Chappell in Santa Fe. Still in love with the beauty of the Southwest, MaryFrank photographs, writes, hikes, travels, teaches yoga and meditation, makes soups on Sundays, and dreams of the ocean and whales.
Patricia Stoltey is the author of four mystery novels. The most recent is Wishing Caswell Dead. She lives in Northern Colorado with Sassy Dog, Katie Cat and her husband, Bill. www.patriciastolteybooks.com
Susan Swiderski grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, where everybody calls everybody hon and eating steamed crabs is a sacrament. Although she’s happy in her adopted Georgia, part of her heart still lingers on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, explaining the setting for her novel, Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade. Susan is currently working on a trilogy, proof that this old gal is still a pathological optimist. www.susan-swiderski.blogspot.com
Jan Castle Walker is a retired teacher and an active artist. She lives in Davis, California with her husband, Mack. www.jancastlewalker.com
Karen Helene Walker is a novelist, memoirist and essayist and the author of The Wishing Steps and Following the Whispers. When not writing, Karen is tap dancing, folk dancing or performing with the musical group Sugartime at retirement communities. Karen is currently working on her second memoir. www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com