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I am proud to announce the publication of Bee King, my ninth book. Bee King is a historical novel about the first person diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in the United States. I wrote it as my thesis while I attended the University of Tampa's low residency program in creative writing and where I obtained my MFA. It was a wonderful program taught by talented writers. I met many amazing fellow students. 

Bee King is the culmination of my more than thirty years attempting to gain a stronghold over this mysterious, lovely and daunting task of writing. While we're not supposed to have favorite children, Bee King is one of mine. It is, after all, a love letter to my mother.

My mother had her first transient ischemic attack (TIAin 1998, and her second one the year after. These mini-strokes were certainly alarming but she was still our amiable mother who my siblings and I readily turned to for emotional support. She continued to work as a nurse. Mom had a good run, health-wise, until 2015 when she called my aunt and said, I don’t know where I am. Turns out, mom was in a shopping plaza less than a quarter-mile from her home. How she had the presence to call her sister, and point out the stores in front of her so my aunt could find her, is unknown. What is known is mom had four small strokes that day, which caused transient global amnesia. Four days later, she had another stroke, and the following day too. All mini-strokes, the doctors said, and all ones that affected her memory. Upon her discharge from the hospital, the neurologist said she had vascular dementia, take her home and make her comfortable as there was no knowing when the final stroke might hit. A doomsday report.

Four years later, mom’s still here. Life is different and the same. Although her short term memory is shot, and she is unable to offer emotional support as she once did, she is still our amiable, caring, and funny mother.

I write of this because when my father was dying—a pre-ordained death when he voluntarily ceased dialysis—I blogged about his journey and mine. With mom, I chose not to do the same. Instead, I decided to write a love letter to my mother in the form of this novel, Bee KingBee King is the historical fiction story of the first person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States. Bee King is a story of overcoming incredible odds as well as the importance of family. Mom is a compilation of all the characters, the locations, the sights, smells and sounds. She is in each page, as she has been in all the pages of my life.

In retirement, mom was an ombudsman and would give talks to caregivers on how to approach people with dementia. I specifically remember one example where she would say, imagine you do not know where you are and who you are. In walks a stranger who tells you to take off your clothes. You are cold. You are afraid you will fall, or be harmed. You do not understand why you are being made to stand under running water that stings your skin, and made to rub a bar over your body. You don’t know why a stranger is watching you during this personal moment. Mom suggested caregivers approach dementia patients from their perspectives, moving slowly, being reassuring and patient, and understanding if they lash out it is due to fear and discomfort. 

While mom is still able to live in independent living, and does not require an aide, I often think of the irony of her work as an ombudsman. Mom, who used to counsel on how dementia patients must feel, now resides in that in-between zone, somewhere between here and there, between knowing and not-knowing, between empathy and indifference. 

During the pages of my life, mom taught me to have compassion, patience and kindness. Now, as our roles reverse and I watch her tackle this phase of her life with courage, humility and humor, I continue to learn from her. 

Joanne Lewis is an attorney and writer residing in Florida where there is never a lack of inspiration for stories.

Bee King is available on Amazon

 

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joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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