Hello! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. We’re interviewing the wonderful Sheri D. Parmelee, who takes the world by storm — in the classroom and in her practical tips for daily living. I met Sheri at the 2016 ACFW conference, and we hit it off immediately. It was our first ACFW conference, and she was so encouraging to me every time we ran into each other.
Although she’s still seeking representation for her recent unpublished nonfiction book, Suddenly Single, I thought it’d be great to introduce what she’s doing. I hope you find it fascinating as much as I did.
Why did you write Suddenly Single: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Household When Your Spouse is NLA?
I wrote this book because my father had lost his wife of 67 years two years previously after a six- week illness and my Sunday school teacher’s wife of 46 years was in the process of dying; neither man had the slightest idea of how to take care of their houses. I still travel from Maryland to Florida once a month in order to clean my father’s condo. At 89, he is not likely to learn how to do it himself. My teacher’s daughters make trips from Pennsylvania and Illinois every two weeks, to cook two weeks’ worth of food and clean his home. I finished the manuscript the day after my teacher’s wife died; her illness was six months long.
While doing research for the book, I learned that many widows are in similar situations but on the opposite side of the discussion. They have no idea how to complete basic maintenance on their homes because their husbands “always did that.” Additional study showed me that both sides of the domestic equation need basic financial planning information and the book was born!
What do you love best about Suddenly Single?
What I love most about the book is that it can help someone answer the question “What do I do now?” It takes a very helping-hands approach to getting the individual organized and on track.
What was the most work for you during the process?
The most work for me was learning what my husband does to maintain our home. I had no idea about the steps in unclogging a rain gutter or mowing the lawn or keeping rodents at bay.
What did you learn from the process?
I learned from the process that there are many things that we each take for granted that our spouse does without comment. I had previously written (and just had published) my dissertation on indirect communication and House, M.D., so I knew how to write but this self-help book was a different type of writing than the academic writing I was used to doing.
How long did it take for you to complete Suddenly Single?
It took me 6 months to complete my manuscript for Suddenly Single. I know you aren’t supposed to say that “it wrote itself,” but it really did come to me pretty easily, once my research was complete. It was a joy to write because I could picture the recently-bereaved individual picking up the book and finding answers to the most basic questions. Yes, someone could look things up online but many times we don’t know what we don’t know. This book tells that person what he or she needs to know about and then how to do it!
You’ve chosen a catchy topic. What inspired you toward the topic?
I was inspired to use the title Suddenly Single when I was talking to a friend about the book. I hadn’t come up with a title at that point in time, but I looked at her and asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly single?” That was the title that fit!
What kept you going?
The thing that really kept me going during the research and writing process was the feeling that I had information that could be shared with someone after he or she had emerged from the darkest days of his or her life. It was a very practical way to help someone I had never met and it totally motivated me to continue the writing process. It was truly a labor of love to help those who I got to know through the numerous interviews I did while researching the topic.
What has been the hardest thing about the process so far?
The hardest thing about the process has definitely been the search for the right literary agent. At a recent conference, three out of the four agents I pitched the book to wanted to read the manuscript, but I am still waiting to hear back from them. The agent/writer relationship is like a marriage, so it is vital that the right agent and I are matched.
An influential person who inspired you to write or helped you along the way.
The person who inspired me the most during this writing process has been my sister-in-law Nancy Dean. She has read the manuscript from the very first draft and offered priceless advice about the writing and my approach to the various topics in the book. She also arranged several interviews with folks she knew would offer professional insights into things such as lawn maintenance and rodent removal.
What was your research path?
My research path began with “what do I know that I wish men knew about cleaning the house, the clothes cleaned, and the family fed?” It went from there to “what financial plans does everyone need to have in place?” It finished with “what do I need to know to maintain the house if something happens to my hubby?”
What is inspiring to you?
I am inspired by people like Emily Barnes, who wrote about home organization many years ago. The late Erma Brombeck is also a hero of mine; I approach the topics in Suddenly Single with some of the humor that I hope emulates her style of writing.
Any encouraging word?
My book offers guidance on organizing and maintaining one’s home and argues that someone with no background in these types of chore can learn how to do these tasks efficiently and effectively. As a result of lessons learned herein, readers can become more confident in their ability to get their lives and homes under control. The panic that they initially felt should subside, being replaced with the calm self-assurance that their lives are now more organized than they previously thought possible.
Suddenly Single is for Baby Boomers who become unexpectedly unmarried. The Census Bureau states that as of 2013, there were 44.7 million Boomers aged 65+. Of these, 24.7% were widowed and 16.7% were divorced or never married. This equates to more than 18 million people! They usually played specific roles in their families; many of them are clueless about household management. My amusing book beats searching websites to learn how to clean, control finances, or shop for groceries.
Thanks for sharing with us about your book that’s in search of a home , Sheri! I’m excited to see what will happen in the future.
About Sheri D. Parmelee, Ph.D.
Sheri has undergraduate degrees in English and Communication from the University of Maryland College Park. She has an MBA with an emphasis in leadership from Liberty University and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. Since 2006, Sheri has been adjunct faculty member for three different colleges. When’s she’s not teaching, she’s caring for her father who became suddenly single, speaking at academic conferences. She shares many of her own experiences on her blog through humorous tales of driving with bald tires and a clicking engine; these days, she drives with a bald man and clicking joints.
You may learn more about her and download a free chapter of Suddenly Single from her website www.Suddenlysingletips.com and glean many practical tips available on her blog at www.practicalmakesperfect.com.
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