Help needed, please!

CaregiverMy book, The Reluctant Caregiver, is nearing publication. Word Alive Press is putting together a promotional package and has asked me to choose an excerpt from the book to be used in marketing.

It’s a challenge to find short excerpts that make sense without context. I’ve found three possibilities. Which do you think works best as a stand alone? Your feedback is most appreciated.



“Hi, Mom. It’s Bobbi. How are you doing?”

“I’m surprised you actually called me,” she sputtered.

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know. You know very well”

“But I don’t. Can you tell me what’s happened?”

“You and your brother happened. That’s what.”

It’s amazing how much fury she can put into her words, how articulate she is when she’s angry. Lawrence thought his visit last week had gone well, but maybe not… Lord, help me understand what’s going on.

“Did something happen when Lawrence was here?”

The sound of the radio blared from her kitchen, but it didn’t cover the curse she uttered. “You’re nothing but liars and stealers, the both of you.”



“The accountant says they have more papers that have to be signed,” Mom said over the phone. “Maybe I did it wrong. I hope not. The government, you know. There could be trouble. I’m scared. I’m really scared. I mailed them. Mailed them in on time.”

“You always do your taxes carefully, Mom.”

“Well, not this time. I thought I’d be dead by now, so I didn’t keep my records very well.”

“You thought… you thought you’d be dead?”

“Well yes. I am eighty. I think. Am I eighty now?”

“You’re ninety, Mom.

“Really? Am I? In any case, I thought I’d be dead, and then you could worry about it. So it took me weeks and weeks to do them.”

I gulped, not knowing whether to laugh or be annoyed. Diplomatically, I did neither.



Mom carefully pulled the letters from the pile, laying each on the side counter. Next she neatly tucked and re-tucked the wad of papers into her purse, then took them out again, shuffled through the pile, returned them, took them out once more, turned them around and put them back.

Breathe. Breathe. Wait. No rush.

Now she turned to the packet of stamps and began to fumble with the cover. After several false starts she managed to open it, and then tried to hook the first stamp with her fingernail. Over and over, she flicked and scratched at it with no success.

“Here, I can help, Mom.” She had often told me how her fingertips were numb. It seemed reasonable that I assist.

I quickly placed three stamps on three letters and popped them into the slot under the counter. Mom put the rest of the stamps in her purse. As we left, I was careful not to make eye contact with any of the now-seven people lined up behind us.

I did hear Mom, though, as she quietly said, “I hope I can remember that the letters got mailed, since I didn’t do it myself.”

Oh, Lord, I never thought of that. 


Which excerpt gets your vote? Let me know in the comments. I need to send it in this week.

Thanks in advance!

When the Bough Breaks

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  • Joy

    Wow Bobbi! These are all really good and so hard to choose! I’m stuck between #1 and #3. Each of them gives a different side to the story you’re telling. But I think I’m leaning more to #3 – it gives a good picture of why you would be a reluctant caregiver.

    • Ramona Furst

      I agree all of the choices are powerful. It’s a draw. # 1 & 3.

      The only reason I chose one and three is I’ve seen these situations happen with people I have known personally with dementia. I worked one on one and for some years in a long term care facility.

      My mother-in-law’s dementia filled her mind with such paranoia and irrational thinking. My father-in-law cared for her for so many years with such steadfast loyalty, love and devotion.

  • Ruth Sakstad

    I like option number 1. It really grabbed my attention and drew me into wanting to read the story.

  • Andrew McLean

    I vote number 2, it made me chuckle a bit lol

  • Patricia Anne Elford

    If word count doesn’t matter, so far, I’d go with either #2 or #3, leaning towards #2. Will narrow it down next time I comment. Hope you get lots of feedback.

  • Rick Junior

    I like 2and 3 as well, also leaning to 2.

  • Janet Sketchley

    I actually like #1 best, but only because I know the context of the story. It’s not super-clear that she’s responding as she does because of her condition.

    So… my vote is #3.

    What a lovely, happy photo of your mom! And congratulations on the book!

  • Jeff

    Number one is the one that most made me wonder what happened next; that’s a good box to tick from the marketing side of things.

  • carol

    Bobbi, I know the story and yet #1 grabs me and wants me to learn more. Very intriguing from my point of view. Ya had me at #1!

  • Melanie Fischer

    I find that number 1 has the best hook. To grab the reader even more you could end that quote a little earlier at the line “… Lord, help me understand what’s going on.” When I got to that line I was completely hooked…the lines after that softened it a bit.

    Great work Bobbi! Thanks for sharing this experience with us 🙂

  • Pat

    Number Three is most concise, and it shows the delicate interplay of clear thinking and dementia. It shows rather than tells what is going on.

  • Ruth L. Snyder

    Number 1 shows the emotions well, but leaves the reader wondering why she’s so angry.

    Number 2 could happen to any older person, and doesn’t really touch on the heart of your book.

    Number 3 is my vote. It shows a brief glimpse of your Mom’s confusion, how you attempt to help, and then your uncertainty about whether you really helped or not.

    I’m getting excited about holding a copy in my hands 🙂

  • Tracy Krauss

    Very difficult to choose. I actually concur with Melanie Fischer. I like number best if it ends with the line ‘help me understand what’s going on.”

  • yaa serwaa somuah

    I will choose except 3. I cried. God bless u Bobbi

  • Sally Devereux

    The first one leaves one wanting more – knowing that there is more; I like both the second and third. #3 is a complete story in itself. I don’t think that you can go wrong with any of them. If it was my book, I would probably go with #1.

  • Tare

    I am conflicted between #1 and #2, but leaning more towards #2

  • bobbi

    Thank you all for your votes, and especially for your comments. They help me understand why one excerpt stands out for some, and another stands out for others.

    Most of all, I’m realizing that this book will help those who haven’t been in the position of caring for someone with dementia to get a sense of what it’s like, the ongoing turmoil and craziness, mingled with bits and pieces of humour and love. Empathy based on understanding goes a long ways!

  • Deb Elkink

    I vote #3. The first one is great but is a little too angry and a little too long (so if you use it, I would condense it and NOT bring a possibly confusing third person–Lawrence–into it except for your mother’s mention of “brother”). But #3 is paced jut right–I agonize along with you as you wait through your mother’s interminable actions–but it’s not boring. As a reader, I understand that something significant is going on–and then you punched it out with the last couple of lines. Definitely #3.

  • Lois

    If you’re still looking for input, I liked #2 the best. My second choice was the third excerpt. I like the irrational rational in #2. I know you’re approaching it from the reluctant side, but it will help even the willing caregivers and the humour of #2 will draw both sides in, I think.

  • Shirley

    Bobbi I would go with number 1.

  • Tina M

    They are all so good. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them but # 3 is my first choice.

  • Vickie Stam

    I would choose #1. I feel it has the best hook. You and your brother are what happened…….?????

  • Katherine Hoffman

    Guess I am a bit late, Bobbi, but if you are still deliberating, I will put my two cents in. I thought number 3 really said it all. 🙂