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Frances Shani Parker Interview

Your book "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes" is the captivating account of your hospice volunteer experiences in Detroit nursing homes. What made you write this book?

As I became more involved with hospice volunteering in Detroit nursing homes, I started writing poetry and prose about my experiences. I shared these writings at several
readings and noticed how eager many people were to discuss terminally ill loved ones who impacted their lives. I could see there was a need for more information about hospice,
nursing homes, caregiving, and the death journey in general.

While researching death-related topics, I discovered that most books on the market did not include people dying in urban nursing homes or the perspectives of people of color.
I knew that over 70 million diverse baby boomers were starting to expand the ranks of senior citizens in need of end-of-life information for their elders and themselves. I decided to write a book that would be an inclusive guide for literally becoming dead right.

Tell us a bit more about the book.

“Becoming Dead Right” includes stories, poems, and general information about my experiences as an urban hospice volunteer. My shared insights give readers a better
understanding of the death journey and strategies for dealing with nursing homes, healthcare, death, and bereavement. A former school principal, I address intergenerational partnerships and similarities between schools and nursing homes. A bibliography, index, and many resources are also included.

The book cover is very powerful. Did you design it yourself?

I searched Internet stock photos for a long time before finding the cover photo. The odds of finding an image showcasing a person of color holding a butterfly were very slim. The butterfly often symbolizes the transition from this life to the next one. Victor Volkman, publisher of Loving Healing Press, created the text and color design.

Your writing has won awards from "Writer's Digest," the Poetry Society of Michigan, the Detroit Writer's Guild, Broadside Press, and the New Orleans
Public Library. Has winning these awards helped to get you more coverage for your book?

Winning awards and having poems and essays published have helped to establish my credibility as a serious writer. While they have promoted more coverage of the book, they
have also motivated me to write more. I worked on learning the craft of writing and building credibility long before I decided to write a book.

You've spoken at several events. How do you think this affects the sales of your book?

A national consultant for many years, I enjoy public speaking. Unfortunately, death is not a topic that some people embrace easily. I find that most people are attracted to my book after I have had an opportunity to talk to them in a group setting, read excerpts, and answer questions.
Generally, they will come up to me later, share their personal stories, and express an eagerness to learn more. I hope that my book encourages them to become more proactive
about healthcare and death preparations.

What made you choose Loving Healing Press to publish your book?

I chose Loving Healing Press because the publisher was open to my input. While flexibility is important, as an author and an African American, I have to be involved in maintaining the artistic integrity of my written works.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I invite everyone to visit my website at http://www.francesshaniparker.com
and my blog at http://hospiceandnursinghomes.blogspot.com/
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog,” where research, pictures, and videos are used regularly.

Do you have any special tips or advice about how to be successful, especially on the Internet, with how to market books?

My advice to authors is to know your target audiences well and find ways to reach them. Eight months before my book was published, I started my blog, which focuses on hospice,
nursing homes, and senior citizens. Gradually, it has become an excellent tool for introducing my book to target audiences worldwide. In addition, it has kept me writing
regularly and increased my knowledge regarding research, trends and events related to my areas of interest. Blogging has also improved my expertise as a consultant.

Joining Internet social networks, particularly those related to topics covered in my book, has also been a good marketing strategy. Added bonuses have been opportunities to converse with like-minded people. I also do freelance writing for e-newsletters and e-zines.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Writing a book is a lot like going through labor and giving birth to a baby that continues to evolve with time. It is my hope that “Becoming Dead Right” will encourage more death conversations, empower the reluctant, and bring visions of overlooked death-related plans into reality. I want this offspring of mine to support caregivers, share perspectives of diverse people, and foster intergenerational partnerships. Most of all, I want my progeny to improve
healthcare and nursing homes for everyone, especially the elderly and terminally ill. I want a lot. A parent should.

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