What you may not know about the cover designer of the Haunting Danielle series…

Some of you may be familiar with the professional cover designer, Elizabeth Mackey, of Elizabeth Mackey Cover design. If you are an author, maybe you’ve used her or have heard of her. If you are a reader, I suspect you have read at least one of the authors she’s designed covers for. You can check her website and see if you notice a familiar cover or author.

Elizabeth was a fine artist before she went into cover design. She graduated with honors from the Art Institute of California, San Diego, earning a Bachelors of Science Degree in Graphic Design. and has been in this business for over fifteen years. She not only designs the covers for all my books, she created the artwork for Marlow House, along with many of the silhouettes that show up in the various covers in the Haunting Danielle series.

Oh, did I mention, Elizabeth is my daughter?

Authors who work with Elizabeth know her husband is in the Coast Guard, and this means they move every four years or so. They are currently in the middle of a transfer. They left their home in Kodiak, Alaska, and are heading to California, where her husband will be stationed next.

Lucky for me, while traveling down from Alaska, Elizabeth’s family stopped by our Holmestead in Oregon and stayed for two nights.  Her family includes a husband, daughter, son, cat, and dog. 

While the visit was short, it was incredibly sweet, and we had an amazing time. Yesterday morning I went with my daughter and grandkids to visit Mom at the care home. Originally, we had considered bringing Mom home for the day, but decided against it, since Mom has just settled in and we were afraid to disrupt her routine since she seems so content now. I believe our decision was the right one.

We stayed for just under two hours, and my son surprised me by popping in to see Mom while we were there.  I decided to share two photos we took during the visit. One shows four generation of women in our family. The second shows Mom with her two eldest grandkids, my son and daughter (Elizabeth).  

I think Mom’s smile says it all.

Friendship: Important in Haunting Danielle and Real Life

Mom has a friend.

Fans of the Haunting Danielle series often tell me, reading a new book in the series is like visiting with old friends. It’s one of the things they like about the series—the friendships that developed from the first book to the one I released a few months ago—Book 32, The Ghost of the Wedding Crasher.

Friends are important in real life too. As I have written about in this blog, my mother, who is 95 years old, has vascular dementia, and we had to recently move her into a memory care home. One thing that has been hard for Mom—something that began when she still lived with us—is that she has lost so many of her friends. Only a few remain, like my sister’s mother-in-law, Florence, who is 101.

Like Mom, Florence lives in a memory care facility. But she is in California, and Mom is in Oregon. While they can no longer visit each other, we do arrange Facetime chats, so they can visit face to face.

Yet, it still isn’t the same as having a friend you can hang out with. Someone of your generation. While having devoted children and grandchildren who keep in constant touch is a blessing—one not afforded to all seniors—it does not replace friendships.

Mom moved into her care home on May 1. I hooked up her iPad to a super long cord, and explained to her to keep it plugged in like a phone. Our son put shortcuts on her iPad, to make it as easy as possible for her to call certain family members. (Sometimes she remembers how to do it, other times the caregivers there help her.)

The first month was excruciating. After moving Mom into the home, I literally cried for two days. It killed me seeing her so sad. But after my surgery on the 3rd, I stopped crying. (I suspect the pain meds mellowed me out). But poor Mom would tearfully ask my sister to come get her. She seemed to remember I had just had surgery, so she didn’t ask me. But on some days, she would wake up and not know where she was, so they would call me and I would have to calm Mom down.

I visited Mom for the first time on Mother’s Day. Since then, I’ve gone once a week and spend 4-5 hours with her per visit. 

But something happened about a month into her stay. She stopped crying. She stopped begging to come home. She smiled and seemed to have settled in. Since then, she has only had one meltdown, and that was after waking up and having no idea where she was or why.

Mom didn’t call me or my sister yesterday, which was unusual. She calls every day, yet the calls are starting to come later and later in the day. This only happened one other time. So, I did what I did after that last time, I called the home the next day and asked them to help Mom call me.

But instead of the reply I received the last time—I was surprised. The lady chuckled and told me Mom didn’t forget me, but she has a new friend. A new resident moved in. Her name is Barbara. And she and Mom have become buddies—chatting, walking the halls together, and visiting each other’s rooms.  The woman from the care home told me how adorable it was, and the two are so cute together. 

I told her to have Mom call me anytime today—when it’s convenient. If she is enjoying herself doing something, don’t interrupt her.

As soon as I hung up, I called my sister and gave her the news.

Mom has a friend.

My sister cried.

I didn’t cry. But I can’t stop smiling. 

(Photo: Mom on May 1, 2023, before we leave for her new home.)

Hello stranger!

My last blog post was almost three months ago—just days after the release of my last book, The Ghost and the Wedding Crasher. Since that time, I’ve been scarce on social media. But I had a good reason.

As some of you know, I had been the fulltime caregiver of my now 95-year-old mother, since 2019. She has vascular dementia. But about two years ago, just as we were preparing to move from Arizona to Oregon, I was told I needed knee replacement surgery. Because of the move, we decided to put off the surgery until we settled in our new home.

One thing I realized as my mother declined, there was no way I could go through surgery and deal with rehab while being her fulltime caregiver.  Initially my sister and daughter planned to come down and help with mom for a few weeks each, but then my sis broke her hip, and had her own surgery and rehab to deal with. Then the hospital cancelled my January surgery because of staffing issues, and they moved my surgery date to May 3.

I came to realize fate was trying to tell me something. I know my kids and the rest of my family were—it was time to find a place for Mom.

So, after I released my last book in March, I started on a mission to find a safe place for Mom. That’s pretty much what I was doing in April, and why I was rarely on social media.

We moved mom into her new home on May 1 and two days later I had my surgery. To say it was an emotional rollercoaster with Mom would be a vast understatement. But I will discuss more about that in a future blog post.

One thing I realize, I was foolish to think I could continue to care for Mom while dealing with my own recovery. While my surgery went well, and it’s been a little over seven weeks now, I am no way back to normal. Not even close. I struggle to get any quality sleep, I’m still in physical therapy, in pain, and I have been having some abnormal heart rate issues I have to address. I am in no shape to take care of my Mom.

I know some people might suggest I could hire someone to come in and help, but the fact is, we have a small two-bedroom house and two dogs which would make it both chaotic and crowded, and we couldn’t hire someone to spend the night—and when someone has dementia, they often get up in the middle of the night and require assistance.  

I haven’t done much in the last seven plus weeks except try to heal. My energy level is on empty. But, I do Facetime with my Mom every day (as does my sister.) I also visit Mom once a week, where I stay with her for about 4-5 hours at a time. She has a double bed, so during my visits, the two of us lounge on her bed, hold hands, and chat. In retrospect, this has provided us with some quality time.

My next book, The Ghost and the Twins, is slated for release the end of October. The audiobook for my last book, Ghost and the Wedding Crasher,  will also be released by Tantor Media around that same time.

While I haven’t had the energy to engage in social media, I’ve still managed to put out my Haunting Danielle newsletter, yet not as frequently as I normally do.

But I have been thinking about Walt and Danielle. One thing I have been doing during my rehab—re-reading the series. Even authors need to be reminded of the series of events in the books they write, especially when they are part of a 30 plus book series!

But before I close, I want to explain the above photo. In my last post, I shared a photo of our vegetable garden. I managed to get it planted before my surgery. It’s primarily a salad garden—since I knew I wouldn’t be able to care for it properly during my recovery.  Hubby has been watering during the dry days, and my daughter-in-law helps with the harvesting and other tasks.  

I hope to be a regular on social media again in the near future. Take care!