Keli Gwyn
Real-life Romance: Caregiver Extraordinare

Paisley Kirkpatrick and I have been friends for a number of years, having met at a meeting of our Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve often heard her talk about her husband, Ken, and how he’s been there for her through trials and joys. I was especially struck by the story of how he nursed her through a battle with cancer and asked her to share it.

 

Here’s that story, in her words. . .

Romance isn’t always chocolates and candlelight. It’s also caring for the person you love when they need you. My husband really came through for me when I had cancer surgery seven and a half years ago. We’d had a difficult few years before my diagnosis. Our older daughter died from Melanoma just two weeks before her 32nd birthday. We were still reeling from that tragedy when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It seemed everything hit at once, and we could hardly catch our breath. Ken never let me down even though we knew cancer could be a death warrant.

Luckily for me, when the surgeon removed the uterus he took all the cancer with it. I was home in two days with the best nurse in the world – my hubby. After 37 years of marriage, he was taking care of me for a change. He vacuumed, cleaned toilets, did the laundry, and best of all, cooked our meals. He’s never had to fix food before so it was a definite challenge for him. He made each meal special by setting up a card table downstairs and bringing those meals to me. Apparently he’d been watching what the hospital served and tried to one-up them. Sometimes I’d wake up at night and notice he’d come downstairs just to check on me. I truly felt his love at those moments.

For the next five years we made many trips back to the hospital for check-ups. I am a worrier by nature and these exams always made me doubt. He never let me go alone, and afterwards insisted on a special lunch in celebration of yet another good exam.  When the doctor told me I was done, out of there, never to come back again, we sighed with relief. Now I can look back on my cancer scare as another bump in life, something we got through together.

I knew I’d made the right decision all those years ago when I saw him standing under a tree at an Air Force picnic. One glance told me he was the one I wanted. At the time I had no idea he was the one my ‘big brother’ took to our Uncle Bud’s birthday the weekend before because he thought the same thing.

We’ve been married almost 44 years now. I scared him one more time when I broke my arm. He nursed me through this surgery as well. My intuition about that gorgeous G.I. all those years ago has proven right. He was the right hero for me.

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Question for You

Have you ever faced a serious illness or battled a dreaded
disease such as Paisley has? If so, who was there for you?

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Paisley and her husband of 43 years live in the Sierra Foothills of California. They love to travel, with Paisley’s favorite destination being Scotland. She’s a seamstress with a heart of gold who gives away many of her wonderful creations. I rejoiced with her when, after 22 years, she received a contract for not one, not two, but five books. Her debut novel, Night Angel, was released August 21.

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About the Book

Sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie’s dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans.

Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community.

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Keli Gwyn
Meet the Reviewers: Rina

I’m honored to feature Rina of Rina’s Reading. I met her during my book release blog tour and am impressed by her reviews as well as her fun Top Ten Tuesday reading-related posts and her Waiting on Wednesday posts spotlighting upcoming books.

Rina earned a Master’s degree in Library Science and is currently working as a school librarian in Africa.

I asked Rina three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.

Reading and Reviewing

What led you to start reviewing books on your blog? When did you post your first review? What can your visitors expect in the future?

In the fall of 2011 I started wondering what I could do to fill my time, would look good on a resume and maybe earn me a couple dollars. I looked into online businesses but nothing appealed. During that time though I discovered book review blogs and thought I might enjoy that since I love to read and share good books. Around November I started writing reviews of books I read and then in January of 2012 I started the blog. It’s been really fun to discover other book review bloggers, make friends with a few, and start participating in giveaways and memes. I haven’t earned any money but I have gotten several free books to review and that’s equally nice if not better. 🙂

I am a bit in transition at the moment since I finally have a job as a librarian (and it’s in Africa!) but I do intend to keep up the blog. I think I’ll continue to sporadically do the Top Ten Tuesday meme (it’s a lot of fun but takes a while usually to think of the right books and then format it) and the Waiting on Wednesday and Book Blogger Hop memes are both easy to schedule ahead of time. Hopefully in a week or so I’ll start posting a book review or two each week. My computer is having lots of problems since coming to Africa so that’s something I need to fix first.

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it honestly but respectfully. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

I usually read books I like and enjoy but there are times when I wish the author had written things a bit different. No story will ever satisfy everyone. I always try to find something to praise about the author’s work and if/when I do criticize a bit or warn about excessive kissing, etc. or mention something I didn’t like then I try very hard not to write it against the author in any way.

Earlier this summer I read an interesting article about writing good reviews and how authors feel about the reviews, and one thing the article suggested was not even using the authors name in the body of the review. A critique or caution should never be directed against an author but rather serve to guide the reader to the book that is right for them.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

Before getting this job and moving to Africa I did most of my reading in bed late at night. If I start reading in bed I usually can’t put a book down until I finish it. There were many nights I didn’t turn my light off until 2 am or even 3 am. 🙂 Once or twice maybe even 4 am but don’t tell my mom that. 😉 (She’s going to read this though.)

Now I do most of my reading in the afternoon after school or in the early evening. The elementary students here really like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Judy Moody, and The Magic Tree House books. None of which I’ve read, so when the server was down one afternoon I read those. We are near the equator and the sun sets around 6pm and rises around 6am. And it’ll be this way year round! So by 9 or 10pm it’s been dark for 3-4 hours already and it feels really late. That, plus the fact that I have to be at school by 7:30am means I won’t be staying up late reading anymore.

 

Three Fun Facts About Rina

Since you’ve recently moved to Africa, I’m sure there have been some adjustments. What things from back home are you missing, if any? What cool new things have you discovered in your new place?

I’ve only been here three weeks so I’m not missing too much yet, although the milk tastes funny here and my stomach is still adjusting to the food and water. I know I’ll miss snow and cold weather in December/January. And I’ll probably start missing having a variety of sliced cheeses and lunch meats – gouda is the only locally produced and thus reasonably priced cheese. But the bread is good and there’s a great bagel place. 🙂

A cool thing about this area is the weather. It is perfect. Even though we’re near the equator the elevation is high enough so that it’s not too hot and not too humid. It is the dry season right now, so I don’t know what the humidity will be like once the rainy season starts, but for now I’m really enjoying the weather.

I saw that you love reading fairytale retellings, so I’m sure you’re well versed in fairy tales. Which fairy tale heroine are you most like, and why?

I do love fairytales and fairytale retellings. But I’m terrible at answering those types of questions. Let me think…I guess Beauty since in some versions she really likes to read and she has brown hair. I really like to read and I have brown hair too.

If we took a peek in your clothes closet, what would we learn about you?

That I love blue and green. So many of my clothes are those colors.

Rina’s Question for You

 If you could travel to any place in the world where would it be and why?

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To learn more about Rina, “like” her Facebook group page,
Rina’s Reading, and follow her on Pinterest.

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Keli Gwyn
Friday Fun Stress-free Style

Less stress? Don’t we all long for it at times? I certainly do.

I’ve been busy working on a new story and have limited time for blogging these days. My creativity is going into my story, which is a good thing, right?

Not only that, but I’m preparing to head out of town for a book signing at the Barnes & Noble up in Redding, California, where both my parents live. I get to visit with my mom and dad over the weekend before the signing on Monday.

So, I chose not to pressure myself to prepare one of my regular posts today. Instead I’m just going to wish you a wonderful weekend.

You know my weekend plans. What are yours?

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While I’m not publishing a regular post today, I am guest blogging.

Jessica Patch is hosting me at her Tea and asked me some fun questions.

I’m guest posting at Melissa’s Mocha’s Mysteries and More, where
I share “Five Places to Ferret Out Fun Facts for Historical Fiction.”

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Keli Gwyn
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