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Share Your Alzheimer’s Caregiver Story

Jana Waring Helms
By Jana Waring HelmsOctober 17, 2013
Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Alzheimer's Edition

Do you think you have an Alzheimer’s story worth sharing? Inspirational leaders at Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Alzheimer’s Association have teamed up to create a very special book that includes ‘Stories of Caregiving, Coping and Compassion’ for those suffering—or those that have a loved one suffering—from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The submission deadline is October 23, so get to writing!

Need inspiration before picking up the pen? “Look inwards,” says Amy Newmark, editor-in-chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias. “Your story as a caregiver, a loved one or patient will provide practical advice, encouragement, insight and support to our readers and will inspire and comfort others going through similar experiences and let them know that they are not alone.”

In an attempt to learn details of the book and also provide our readers’ submission tips, APFM reached out to Newmark. So for those who are thinking of sharing your story—take note! Get insider information, directly from the editor in this exclusive interview:

APFM: Why did you decide to write Chicken Soup for the Soul—Alzheimer’s Edition?

With the  millions of people suffering from the disease—or tormented from watching their loved ones suffer—we  often hear from people caring for others  with Alzheimer’s, and receive stories from those who were diagnosed and wrote early on in their disease. We were inspired to create this collection to help people by providing support. And we’re not just focused on Alzheimer’s.  There are other ways in which people experience dementia without officially being diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, and we want to reach them as well.

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A couple of years ago we did a book with Joan Lunden called: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers: 101 Stories of Love, Sacrifice and Bonding. We had a lot of Alzheimer’s stories in that book and actually could have made the entire edition based on dementia. Instead, we chose  to to focus only 15 to 20% of the book on Alzheimer’s stories because we wanted to include  other types of family caregiving, such as people who were taking care of children with chronic conditions. So now it just seemed like the right time to do a book on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and focus more towards the latter part of peoples’ lives.

APFM: What is the ultimate goal for this kind of collaboration?

AN:I really think this book will be like a portable support group. We’ll be helping those that read it, and also those at the Alzheimer’s Association financially, so they can provide education and support to people.

In first planning the book we hooked up with those over at Alzheimer’s Association because obviously they are the experts in the field. We thought it’d be nice to do something together with them and use the book as a means  of financial support for the organization.  We hope there will be a very healthy and much deserved royalty stream going to the Alzheimer’s Association from the sales of this book.

You’d also be surprised to learn that people are helped through writing their own stories. We receive many letters that say, “I wrote a story for one of your books. I didn’t even get into the book but it was such a wonderful experience because it helped me organize my thoughts. Putting my feelings on paper and sharing with my family helped a lot.”  We get stories like that all the time. The act of writing can be cathartic and constructive for people. It really does make people come to grips with their own feelings. So all the way around, this book is helping people— whether a story is published or not.

APFM: How many contributors are you looking to participate in this publication?

AN: Our tradition is to have 101 stories in each book. We typically get thousands of submissions but everyone who writes a good story has a shot of getting in. Not everyone is a great writer, so it’s definitely worth trying. We look for new people to publish, and not just names we recognize. I can tell you that every single story gets read and every single story has a chance to get into the book.

APFM: What advice do you have for those who might not have a writing background but feel they have a story to share?

AN: If someone has a great story to tell but feels they don’t have the ability to write it, they should turn to someone they know who is a great writer. Sometimes you may be able to say the story out loud but not feel comfortable writing it. Have someone else type it up, then  you can make changes where needed and send it in. Even if it is not a perfectly well-written story, we will work with it and turn it into one. If the subject matter is fabulous, or a story takes an angle we’ve never seen before, we will work with that writer. We just want to see stories and choose the best one for our readers!

APFM: Are there any celebrities that will be featured in this project?

AN: We will have some celebrity contributors but I don’t know which ones they will be… yet. So yes, we do plan to have some stories submitted by celebrities.

APFM: What will a writer receive in turn for his or her story being accepted into the work?

AN: We pay very well for freelance writers. We pay $200 per story, plus send the author 10 free copies of the book.

APFM: When will the book come to publication?

AN: We are targeted to ‘come out’ with this book on April 22.

APFM: Why did you extend the deadline to October 23?

AN: We extended the deadline by one week because we had some stragglers ask for more time. Since we already have so much work to sift through, we thought that’d be fine.  And that works out great for the APFM blog since the original deadline was today! So hopefully more people will see this ‘call-out’ for submissions and will work on something over the weekend.

APFM: Finally, can you give us 3 tips you recommend to writers?

AN:

Tip #1:Don’t do what you were told in eighth grade English. Don’t tell us what you’re going to tell us, tell us and then tell us what you told us. Leave out the first and last paragraph, and just tell the story. Our readers are smart enough to figure it out.

Tip #2:Write about something that matters to you. When you’re passionate about something, the writing is always better. So write a personal story and not something about someone you don’t know. This is not a newspaper article.

Tip #3:Stick to the action. We don’t want to see a paragraph spent about a leaf fluttering on a tree. We want to know who, what, when, how… we want to know what happened… we want to feel the emotions but without too much descriptive language.  Stick to the story.

To share your Alzheimer’s caregiver story or learn more about submission guidelines got to www.chickensoup.com.

If you are affiliated with a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association please let us know. Make note of that information in the “Comments” section of the submission form.

Again, SUBMISSIONS GO TO The Chicken Soup for the Soul Website. Select the “Submit Your Story” link on the left tool bar and follow the directions.

About Amy Newmark ~

Amy Newmark is Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher and editor-in-chief, after a 30-year career as a writer, speaker, financial analyst, and business executive in the worlds of finance and telecommunications. Amy is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where she majored in Portuguese, minored in French, and traveled extensively. She and her husband have four grown children.

Jana Waring Helms
Author
Jana Waring Helms

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