Sharing support: reaction to my article in the AJC

I’ve been overwhelmed with all the support and kind wishes that Jack and I and our family have received since the publication of my “Personal Journey” article titled Fear and Gratitude in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) Sunday edition of July 10, 2016.

 

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Here are some quotes from the messages, letters, and comments:

“Thank you for sharing your story. My son is your son’s age and was a Terry student at UGA. I can’t imagine how hard this was but so glad things worked out well for him and your family.” 

“…Had me in tears…Congrats…Awesome…Very cool…”

“…so proud of your good writing as I sorrowed along with you, Jack, and the whole family.”

“Your story touched my heart…Kudos…Fabulous article…This is beautiful.”

“…your strength and talent go beyond the pages you write.”

“Excellent article…Amazing journey…Well done! Very moving! Thanks for sharing your experience.””

“…brought tears to my eyes and reassurance that goods thing can happen in this world…Inspiring!  That’s the one word that would describe Julia McDermott’s Personal Journeys’ story of her son, Jack’s, battle and victory over brain cancer.  We’re reminded that our lives can change in a moment and the only way to meet fear and tragedy is through positive action, courage, and faith.”

“…unbelievable…I marvel at your family’s courage and faith through it all!…Don’t we learn in the most unimaginable situations?”

From a friend in my French conversation class: “Quel article dans le journal ce dimanche passé!   Cette histoire est incroyable, une source d’inspiration! Tu es vraiment douée comme écrivaine et comme mère extraordinaire!
Et ton fils est un modèle de courage et de ténacité pour tout le monde.”

And:

From Dr. Allan Friedman of Duke, in an email to me: “You are a gifted writer.  This is a very nice article….Give him my best.”

From UGA President Jere W. Morehead, in a letter to Jack: “I read about your battle with cancer in…the AJC. I was deeply moved by your experience. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to confront such dire circumstances as a student. The strength that you demonstrated to overcome the illness and complete your education is truly inspirational. Your story sends a powerful message of hope and courage to so many, and the University of Georgia is proud to call you an alumnus.”

IF I’ve forgotten to include your message, or if you would like to send one, please post it in the Comments below!

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me, Jack 11-6

Pizza and a Movie: A Royal Affair

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Anchovies
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Spinach

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Movie:

A Royal Affair*

*You’ll notice the movie this time wasn’t one currently out in the theaters. That’s because my husband and I had planned to go see The Martian (and still do), but because it was playing at 7:00 – a bit early for us, after going down to the Corner Pizza first – we decided to go home instead, and watch A Royal Affair on Netflix.

I had seen it before, one time when he was out of town, but I love movies about any kind of royalty (and the affair part makes it juicy). Both my husband and I like foreign films, and  since our daughter (who’s studying in France) recently visited Copenhagen (and saw the Amalienborg Palace), we thought it would be interesting.

It was.

The movie came out in 2012, and it’s based on a true story. The actress who portrays Caroline Mathilde, Alicia Vikander, starred in Man from Uncle (U.N.C.L.E.) this year, and she did a great job. Turns out, royalty has problems, too.

The pizza we chose was three shades of green (sort of). At my insistance, my husband picked all the toppings, and these are what he chose.

I guess he was in a salty, spicy, and healthy mood.

 

Encore: “From the Author, and Behind the Scenes”

My friend Rachelle Ayala featured me and MAKE THAT DEUX in her BookChat post of April 9, 2013 in Rachelle’s Window

Two sections in particular offer some insight about why I wrote the novel, and what was going on in my life while I did…

From the Author:

A new world of adventure and romance opened up to me during my junior year of college when I was an exchange student in the south of France. Instead of living with a French family, however, I shared a beach apartment on the Mediterranean Sea with two other American girls, and I left my boyfriend behind in the U.S., unsure of whether our relationship would survive the time apart.

We three girls bought mopeds (mobylettes) to drive to and from our college campus in Montpellier, France, and we spent the year learning French, traveling and doing everything else that college girls do…

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The year we shared made a big impact on me, and the three of us have stayed in touch since, even as our lives have taken different turns. When my children began growing up and moving out, I considered my long-held dream to become a writer. I decided to draw on my memories of my experience in France and write a novel set in the time I was there.

I felt that Jenny – with her innocence, naiveté and idealism (and that of her two roommates) – could be a fresh character in a literary world sometimes crowded with cynicism. While not everyone would identify with the girls’ belief in “The One,” many would relate to Jenny’s feelings dealing with a long-distance relationship, especially when other appealing men enter her life.

Through Jenny’s story, I wanted to show that even (and maybe, especially) for young people on the threshold of adulthood…

…love is possible and important, and that it’s okay not to want to “do life” alone, and to want to go through life with – and to love – another.

Behind the Scenes:

Lots of things happened while I wrote the book…

I got lots of feedback on different drafts of the story from my Writers Critique Group, several beta-readers, and some interested literary agents. I took all their advice to heart and revised the novel many, many times. I connected with one of the readers, who turned out to be the most helpful, through the friend of a friend.

Before I finished the novel, though, I took a break from writing/revising because one of my sons, age 19, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2010. He had two surgeries and 5 weeks of radiation therapy and was able to go back to college as a sophomore that fall. His second surgery was performed at Duke University Hospital by the renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Allan H. Friedman.

My son faced his illness with courage, strength and hope, and cheered me on in my writing. He is now cancer-free and involved with raising funds for cancer research at his university, and he will graduate later this year.

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Just before I published MAKE THAT DEUX, I traveled to France to celebrate a milestone anniversary with my husband. 

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We did a tour of the south of France, visiting Montpellier and Palavas, where I had studied and lived, as well as other lovely spots, then spent several days in Paris. I was thrilled to go back to visit the place where I had spent my year in France and to show it to him.

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When we returned, my mother was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. She moved in with us and had chemotherapy and radiation last fall, and she shared my excitement about publishing my book. Her cancer responded to treatment and she moved back home (a few miles away). She is now cancer-free.”

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A (baker’s) dozen little-known facts – about me

Look for my BOOK TRAILER to be released soon for MAKE THAT DEUX!

While I wait for the finishing touches on it, here’s some trivia about me. My family (and relatives) know most of these faits peu connus (some of which are a bit embarrassante), but the rest of the world may not:

1. When I lived in France for a year as an exchange student, I didn’t (yet) have a driver’s license. But it wasn’t necessary to have one to drive a moped (mobylette). Phew!

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Not my mobylette, but the same color mine was. (Why didn’t I take a picture? Because cameras – and film – were expensive!)

2. Since my birthday is October 20, I was always one of the oldest in my class growing up (when I started 1st grade, you had to be 6 years old by Oct. 1). In 9th grade, I set out to finish high school in 3 years, which I did, tying with another girl for 1st in my class. When I started at UNC, I was 17.

3. I was 2nd-runner-up in my high school beauty pageant (“Miss Tiger”).

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4. I worked at the Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin Street (and other restaurants) when I was a student in Chapel Hill, and I once waited on Alan Alda. I don’t remember getting a big tip…

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5. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 26 years old and pregnant with twins, & I’ve never had another ear piercing (or any other kind).

6. One of my sons is a brain cancer survivor and was operated on by a renowned Duke neurosurgeon.* My son is doing terrific now & is involved in Relay for Life at UGA, which helps raise funds for cancer research.

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7. I don’t wear bracelets or turtlenecks (though I used to wear both, but only once in a blue moon).

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As a college freshman, wearing one of the two turtlenecks I remember ever owning.

8. I’m a slow reader, and always struggled to make A’s in English (which I did in high school, but not in college…Oops!)

9. Maybe because I’m very nearsighted (and my parents didn’t realize that until I was 12), I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was 10 years old. I couldn’t see the ground in front of me!

10. I don’t get seasick, but I do get migraines occasionally.

11. My hair is naturally curly, and while my kids were growing up, I experimented with many different hairstyles and lengths.

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Me when my third child was a toddler and my twins were in 1st grade

12. I left the promising field of computers and technology in the mid 1980s to stay home and raise my 4 children for 20 years, during which my family moved across the country 4 times.

13. I don’t know how to cook (much)…actually, that’s a well-known fact about me!

 * Dr. Allan H. Friedman, Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, Duke University Hospital; the same doctor who operated on Senator Ted Kennedy several years ago.

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