How to Find Hope in a Published Book

With the release of “Final Grace for Reverend G,” the trilogy is complete. The gutsy little minister has challenged us to find hope even within the plaque-infested world of Alzheimer’s Disease.Rev G 3 Cover

On the eve of the release, I sat in my office and looked at the three books on my dream shelf. “The Unraveling of Reverend G,” acquired by Pamela Sonnenmoser for CrossRiver Media, not long before she graduated to heaven. The book that surprised even me, because I didn’t think I could write fiction.

Intermission for Reverend G” followed with its characterization of Alzheimer’s and a culmination of a romance between Reverend G and her soulmate, Chris. Another surprise for me because I don’t read romance. I still have no idea how that plot line happened and what made it so successful with my readers. Maybe because the characters were older and the idea of a romance with an Alzheimer’s patient was just flukey enough to be wonderful.

Final Grace for Reverend G” ended the trilogy and hopefully – it will become a best-seller with my readers, reminding us all that hope is eternal and God has a good plan for our lives – even when we face a serious disease.

As I looked at the books and realized the release date had arrived, I wondered – why am I not more excited? I didn’t even feel like celebrating with a bowl of Chunky Monkey ice cream or a slice of cheesecake with blueberries on top.


Was it because I missed Reverend G and the end of the series meant I had to finally let her go?


The publishing of a book is still a big deal to me. Even though I’ve been published before, these were my first novels. This story was real, because it mirrored what my family is going through with Mom. But it’s not the final release that is exciting, or the marketing and promotional activities.

It’s something else.

The achievement of writing and finding a publisher for three books is also a big deal. It marks another goal in my writing career, the answer to many prayers and the culmination of a dream. Seeing my books on library shelves and signing my name on the title page of each book during speaking events or booksignings – I still get chills up and down my arms.

But that doesn’t bring the most excitement.

What really does it for me is when I hear from readers, “Your books gave me ideas for how to deal with my dad. He has dementia, and we just didn’t know what to do.”

Or the CNA who shared the books with her colleagues, hoping they could all learn some new techniques for dealing with patients in assisted living.

The reader in Kansas who buys my books for her friend in Indiana, so she’ll have something encouraging to read as she watches her husband fade away in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.

Or the readers who emailed me, “I didn’t know we could pray so honestly to God. Reverend G taught us that it’s okay to cry out, ‘I can’t stand this.’”

When my readers learn something from the story, when they feel encouraged in their difficult journeys, when they find some hope, when they hear from God through the words he breathed through me – that’s exciting.

The end result of all the hours of writing, editing, revising, and doing it all over again to make it the best it can be is when all that perseverance pays off.

The excitement generates when people read my books and then buy them for someone else – to help another family dealing with the disease.

That’s when I know it was all worth it. And that’s when I’m encouraged to write another book, another blog post or another article so that this writer can somehow make a difference.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Hope Finds a Memory

monuments menOne of the Christmas gifts I gave my son was a DVD of the movie, “The Monuments Men.” The movie wasn’t popular with the critics, but we thought it was great – inspirational, historical and cast with several quality actors.

Besides the plot line and the suspense, the reason I enjoyed it so much was because we made a memory together.

My son took me to the movie. When your children start taking you to movies, you realize the role reversal has begun and your offspring are indeed becoming mature human beings.

But this wasn’t just any movie. This was the Fork and Screen Cinema where you sit in complete ecstasy in chairs designed for comfort. You order from a menu of culinary delights. It’s like a dining room merges with an entertainment system and you get to enjoy it without doing the dishes.

Since I wasn’t hungry, I only ordered from the dessert menu and thoroughly enjoyed a piece of raspberry cheesecake.

With the background music, the surround sound, George Clooney as a main character and an occasional bite of cheesecake, my afternoon was complete. Plus, my beloved son sat beside me enjoying our time together.

And did I mention – watching George Clooney in living color?

When I clapped after the movie ended, it wasn’t only for the great acting, the cinematography and the feel-good ending.

I was also applauding my grown son and what a good man he has become.

As a reminder for my son, I bought the DVD and wrapped it with the hope that during some icy snowed-in day this winter, we might watch it again – to relive that historical era when a group of brave men returned art objects the Nazis stole from the Jews.

I found hope in the action of a son who experienced joy spending an afternoon with his mom, so I conclude this post with a reminder to my readers:

Sons, spend some time with your mothers this year. And mothers, treasure the memories made with your sons.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Researching Food

In order to write with credibility, the author needs to complete all the research necessary for a novel. This includes researching about the foods included in the story without sounding like you’re repeating a menu.

One writer who does this well is Jan Karon. Her Mitford series is filled with all types of recipes and mouth-watering descriptions of the various foods that Cynthia, Father Tim and the other characters eat.

So when I write about Reverend G and her family, I research all the various foods they enjoy and even some of the foods they dislike.Blueberry muffin tops

I already know, because she told me, that Reverend G detests red gelatin and those vanilla crackers with banana pudding. So I don’t need to spend time with those particular food groups. Lucky for me, gelatin and banana pudding are not my favorites either.

Reverend G drinks green tea. For years, I have been a tea drinker – green or otherwise and lately, I have ventured into the white teas. They have a particularly smooth flavor that is not as much of an acid as the black teas. Of course, Reverend G drinks green tea, because it is supposed to help with brain function. Unfortunately, it does not cure Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Cheesecake with blueberries is her favorite dessert and it appears in all three books of the series. I have tried various renditions, including my own gluten free recipe. Usually, whipped cream on top is not necessary and since Reverend G rarely mentions whipped cream – there’s no need to research that particular taste. Although I might like to try that new-fangled version of chocolate Cool Whip.

Blueberries on Reverend G’s oatmeal turn up in the second book of the series. Did you know that if you microwave blueberries, they turn the oatmeal purple? Reverend G knew that and now – so do I. The readers of the second book will know that, too, because I included it in one of the scenes.

Chunky Monkey ice cream went on sale one week, so I “talked myself” into trying a pint. It was good, but a little too much banana for my taste. However, I needed to know that so I could describe it in one of the scenes.

In the third book of the series, which I am currently editing, Jessie makes her famous calzones. As you may remember, Jessie is Reverend G’s daughter-in-love and she invites the family over for an Italian dinner. I wrote the scene, not realizing that Jessie was going to make calzones, so now I need to try some – but I have a problem.

As the author of this series, I need to write with credibility. I need to know how the calzones taste, but they are usually made with white flour which contains wheat.

Anybody have a good recipe for gluten free calzones?

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Researching Blueberries

Ever since I moved to this area of Kansas City, I’ve wanted to experience The Berry Patch.

Nestled just outside the honking city and barely over the state line into Missouri, The Berry Patch offers fresh bounty from God’s earth as well as a respite for this particular farm girl.

It began in 1975, as a farm for peaches and then blackberries. Both crops died. Then by accident – one of those accidents in life that remind us God loves to plant surprises – the owners began planting and harvesting blueberries.

Now over 10,000 customers come each year to pick their own berries, buy the specialty treats in the country store and enjoy the picnic areas. www.theberrypatchonline.com

But for this particular author, The Berry Patch was more than just an opportunity to pick  fresh blueberries and enjoy the country  – it represented another research trip centered around my main character.Berry Patch

If you haven’t yet read the book, one of the themes you will find in “The Unraveling of Reverend G” is how much she loves blueberries. She globs them all over cheesecake at her retirement party, heaps them onto her oatmeal and (here’s a clue in the third book of the series) … Reverend G wakes up one morning with a terrible craving for those tiny blue dots.

So to replenish my own stock of berries and to do a bit of research, I drove out to The Berry Patch. The drive itself was enough to convince me this needed to be an annual adventure. Large acreages with winding roadways that ended in beautiful scenic homes, a man-made lake with happy ducks and colorful boats sharing its tranquility, a herd of black angus – slowly digesting the summer grass.

I joined other berry pickers by checking in and getting my buckets. A large wooden sign gave directions to the best patches for picking on that particular day as well as instructions on how to pick – palms up and carefully, so as not to squish the berries and end up with purply-stained fingers.

I learned that the reddish berries are more tart – great for cooking but not so much for eating fresh from the bowl. The darker berries are best, so I looked for dark ones about the same diameter as a dime.

What I also learned about was the over-30 varieties of blueberries. The Berry Patch includes several: Blue Crop, Duke and Liberty, to mention a few.

Birds chirped around me as I picked, my straw hat protecting me from the morning sun. Families with little children used the day as an outing and a teaching opportunity. I heard one teenager in the patch behind me say, “I’m from the inner city of St. Louis, for Pete’s sake. I don’t know how to pick something off a bush and eat it.”

But this farm girl from Oklahoma sure knows how to eat from the land, and now I have several pounds of fresh blueberries in my freezer – just waiting to plump up my gluten free pancakes or decorate my steel cut oats.

After I paid for my berries and transported them to the car, I took off my hat, fluffed up my hair and sought out the manager for a chit-chat about a certain fictional character and how her book might sell in the country store.

Sure enough, we struck a deal and “The Unraveling of Reverend G” is now for sale at The Berry Patch.

So you never know what might happen on a Saturday morning when you’re looking for an adventure outside of the city. You might have a fun time picking blueberries, meet some nice folks from all over the place, enjoy the sights and smells of a country store and at the same time – market your book.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” http://amzn.to/11QATC1