Rhode Island Authors Reflect Their Publish Tomes and New Year’s Resolutions

Published in the Woonsocket Callon December 30, 2018

According to a YouGov, an internet company that conducts polls on politics, public affairs, products and brands, the most common New Year’s Resolution in 2018 was to eat healthier, get more exercise and to even save money. With New Year’s just days away, seven members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA), give us their literary aspirations and self-improvement resolutions for 2019, many of them mirroring YouGov’s poll findings last year while sharing details about their published tomes.

Julien Ayotte, 77, of Cumberland, wrote “Code Name Lilly, a book about a young Belgian nurse becomes a key leader in the Comet Line escape network during World War II. Through clever and persuasive ways, she aids over 250 downed airmen escape the Germans.

Publisher: Kindle Digital Publishing. Price: $16 (soft cover. For details go to http://www.julienayotte.com

New Year’s Resolution: Improving my eating habits to maintain a healthier weight in the coming year and to keep moving. My philosophy has always been, “it’s harder to hit a moving target.” Walk at least a mile a day, and lift weights. Continued good health will allow me to write my 6th novel in 2019. And all I need to do to make Code Name Lily a blockbuster bestseller and major film by building my reader audience. My goal is still to write 10 books in 10 years, and I am halfway there.

Phyllis Calvey, 68, of Bellingham, Massachusetts, wrote “The Butterfly Club: Is That You?” One component of the book is the butterfly phenomenon; the intriguing fact that God has used the perfect timing of the appearance of this spiritual sign to comfort innumerable people after a loved one has died. But the signs are not only butterflies, or signs connected to a death experience. Each of the true-life stories in the book focuses on an incredible sign God used to communicate with someone. The Butterfly Club is for all who have experienced or would like to be inspired by a sign that is undoubtedly more than just a coincidence!

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. Price: $10 (soft cover). For details, go to http://www.butterflyclubbook.com.

New Year Resolution: I believe it is the combination of nearing age 70 and having friends around me tragically dying of cancer that echoed these words of wisdom in my heart, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given”. It brought to mind when our two children were young. We made a difficult decision to put the television away which allowed us the time to joyfully discover the wondrous gifts that had truly been given to each of us! This year I am resurrecting the spirit of using the time given to focus on writing what I believe has been imparted to me. And hopefully that same discovered joy from years’ past will be found and kept all year!

Hank Ellis, 70, of Saunderstown, wrote “The Promise: A Perilous Journey.” One afternoon in late June, two adventurous, adolescent brothers stumble upon a huge mysterious cavern protected from the elements for centuries. Using dreams and deciphering riddles, they travel through underground passageways to meet a man named Eli. Through a series of strange and supernatural encounters, the two boys rely on resourcefulness, perseverance, and love to lead them to an opportunity they could never have imagined and make a decision that will change their lives forever.

Publisher: Archway Publishing. Price: $21.99 (soft cover); $39.99 (hard cover); $2.99 (e-book). For details, go to http://www.archwaypublishing.com

New Year’s Resolution: My biggest resolution is to finish writing my second book (sequel to The Promise). But with advancing age, and more important than any book, I want to pay more attention to the needs of those around me. At the same time, I want to simplify my life, eliminate clutter, and give things away. I am blessed.

Dr. Karen Petit, 67, of Cranston, wrote: “Banking on Dreams,” “Mayflower Dreams,” “Roger Williams in an Elevator,” “Unhidden Pilgrims,” and “Holidays Amaze.” Her five books have Christian content, historic elements, suspenseful action, dream/reality sections, romance, pictures, and methods of dealing with such problems as losing weight, fighting, quitting smoking, nightmares, writer’s block, anxiety, and separation.

Publisher: WestBow Press. Price: $11.95 to $24.95 (soft cover) depending on the book; $28.95 to $39.95 (hard cover) depending on the book; $3.95 (e-books for each book). For a specific listing of book prices and details on books, go to http://www.drkarenpetit.com/.

New Year’s Resolution: To lose weight by substitution and exercise. Because I love to munch on chocolate, I’ll substitute most of my chocolate items with low-calorie hard candy. I’ll also be substituting vegetables for half of my carbohydrates. After still enjoying a little bit of the sweetness of my favorite foods, I’ll be exercising while watching TV. Being healthier will mean a sweeter, longer life. In my book “Holidays Amaze,” the last two lines of my maze poem titled “A Maze of Choices for New Year’s Day” are: “A resolution opens new doorways / for new years of fun with amazing days.”

Steven Porter, 53, of Harmony and owner of Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Stillwater Books, wrote: “Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant,” a South Boston crime saga;” Mantises,” an adventure novel set against the mysterious history and legends of Block Island;” Scared to Death… Do it Anyway,” the story of Brian Beneduce and his lifelong work to overcome panic and anxiety attacks.

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications. Prices: $18 each (soft cover); $ 5.99 each (e-books). For more details go to http://www.stevenporter.com.

New year’s Resolution: My wife Dawn and I have been crazy-busy these past 12 months setting up our new bookstore. We’ve basically been working around the clock. Our New Year’s resolution is to simply find more time this year to relax and spend quality time at home. As 2019 approaches, Porter has three new books and a half written, and a fourth of shorter works and essays ready to go. “My resolution is to have at least two books finished and ready for the 2019 holiday season,” he says.

Richard T. Rook, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, wrote “Tiernan’s Wake.” The book is a historical mystery about a search for the “missing portrait” of the Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, but more importantly, it’s about how relationships and priorities change as we age.

Publisher: Lulu.com. Price: $15.97 (soft cover). For details go to http://www.amazon.com and search Tiernan’s Wake, or google Tiernan’s Wake.

New Year’s Resolution: Never to forget that the most important things in life are health, family and friends. If we have those, we don’t really need much else. To finish at least one sequel, listen more and talk less, and to keep my brain and body moving as much as possible.

Raymond A. Wolf, 76, of Hope, wrote a three-volume set, “Rhode Island Outhouses Today,” detailing exterior and interior color photographs of 469 outhouses discovered throughout the Ocean State, including details as when it was built and number of holes. A second five-volume set (cars from 1905 to 1949, the 1950’s, the 1960’s the 1970’s and trucks from 1921 to 1979) identifies over 1,100 cars and trucks photographed (in color) at Rhode Island cruise nights, car shows and private collections. Photo captions explain when the vehicle was purchase in or out of state, did the owner restore it or was it completely restored already, and identifies the owner, too.

Publisher: Wolf Publishing. Prices: $21.99 for each book (soft cover). For more details go to http://www.raywolfbooks.com.

New Year’s Resolution: Like previous years, his 2019 resolution is “never give up my dreams.”

The Association of Rhode Island Authors ARIA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization of local, published writers of both fiction and non-fiction committed to raising awareness of the outstanding written works crafted by writers in Rhode Island and other nearby communities. For details about ARIA’s 340 authors or to join the organization, go to http://www.riauthors.org.

Simple Tips on Surviving the Holidays

Published in the Woonsocket Callon December 23, 2018

The holiday season can be a double-edge sword. For some, it brings feelings of warmth and joy, even closeness and belonging to family and friends, but for others it produces, extra stress and anxiety and feelings of isolation and depression. Increased demands and family obligations during Christmas through New Year’s Eve, from last minute shopping for gifts, baking and cooking, cleaning and hosting parties, getting the Christmas cards mailed, and even having unrealistic expectations can bring about the holiday blues. Although holiday stress triggers depression, it can also bring about headaches, excessive drinking and overeating and even difficulty in sleeping.

During her 24-year career as a licensed behavioral health therapist, Holly Fitting, LMHC, LCDP, Vice President of Addiction and Residential Services at the Providence-based The Providence Center (TPC), has assisted many of her clients develop strategies to cope with the holiday blues. “It’s quite common,” says Fitting, who oversees over 20 programs at TPC.

Traveling to visit families, flight delays, long lines to check in, bad weather can add to your stress, too, says Fitting, even anticipating topics conversations that may lead to arguments and events that may not even happen.

Pre-planning Potential Family Conflict

Fitting says that preplanning potential issues that you might encounter at a family gathering can helpful up to a point if you just don’t over plan. “If you try to figure out every possible scenario that might occur, this may only heighten your anxiety,” she adds. So, if you think your sibling will bring up political topics you may not want to discuss, you can plan to say, “Let’s talk about this topic after the holidays,” suggest Fitting. Or just don’t sit near them at the dinner table to avoid the conversation, she adds.

It’s okay to say “no” if you choose not to attend holiday parties or family gatherings, says Fitting, especially if you feel stressed out going. To keep feelings from being hurt and reducing potential problems it might be better to go but limit the time there, she says.

Also, you can choose not to take on the responsibilities and commitments to bring trays of treats, says Fitting. But if you choose to bring dessert, take the easy road. Instead of baking everything from scratch, buy a platter of cookies or a store-bought cake to lighten your load.

Combating the Holiday Blues

Maintaining healthy habits can also help you beat the holiday blues. “Try to eat healthy meals before holiday gatherings and minimize sugary desserts and alcohol consumed at the celebrations,” states Fitting. During the holidays, “continue your exercise routine, even if it is a scaled down version and get plenty of sleep,” she suggests, noting that this will help to reduce anxiety and depression, sleep better and keep the weight off.

Out of control holiday spending and last-minute shopping can increase holiday stress, too, says Fitting who suggests these tips to reduce gift costs: “Stick to your set budget to avoid guilt about buying gifts you cannot afford. Use coupons and sales to decrease spending costs. Agree to set the spending limits to no more than $ 20. Rather than buying presents for ten different people, play Secret Santa and each family member just buys one gift. Set the price and rules ahead of time and make sure everyone understands them. Or rather than buying presents collect cash to make a donation to an agreed upon charity,” she recommends.

Standing in long lines in the shopping mall can quickly become a source of stress, says Fitting. “One good solution is to double up and invite a family member or friend to shop. Waiting in a long line alone always feels like it takes twice as long as when you have someone to talk to.

You can get into the holiday spirit by starting a new tradition for yourself and family that you will enjoy, suggests Fitting. “Volunteering to help out with a Toys for Tots Drive, or at a soup kitchen. Giving back by volunteering can really help to boost your spirits,” she says.

Finally, Fitting says, “accept the fact that there will be mishaps along the way during the holidays. Try laughing at the unanticipated events and this certainly will help to reduce the undue stress experienced.”

Getting Professional Help When Needed

As Christmas and New Year’s approach, and you cannot shake the holiday blues, “it is important to be honest with yourself and your feelings. But, if the feelings of sadness still persist then you should go speak to a professional. Sometimes going for therapy to talk through your feelings will help to alleviate depression and anxiety. Sometimes prescribed medication along with therapy is necessary to help reduce symptoms.”

For those suffering the holiday blues, call The Providence Center at (401) 276 4020 or go to http://www.providence center.org.

Sizing Up Baby Boomer Travel Trends

Published in the Woonsocket Call on December 16, 2018

Over a week ago, AARP Travel released the long-awaited results of its annual travel trend survey, examining travel behaviors across generations, looking at expectations and planning among Baby Boomers (ages 54 to 72), Gen Xers (38 to 53), and Millennials (ages 21 to 37).

According to the new national AARP survey, Boomers, considered to be enthusiastic travelers, expressed an eagerness to travel in 2019, planning to take a total of four to five leisure trips, on which they will spend over $6,600 (compared to Gen Xers spending $5,400 and Millennials outlaying $ 4,440.)

Meanwhile, a small number of the AARP survey’s respondents say they will only travel internationally (6 percent) while the rest are equally split between traveling throughout the nation (48 percent) or traveling both domestically and internationally (48 percent).

For Boomers, Planning a Trip is Not a Last Minute Chore

According to the 47-page 2019 Boomer Travel Trends report, released on Dec. 3, 2018, this year’s travel planning is taking place earlier as compared to previous years. A significant majority of Boomers (88 percent) planning domestic trips in 2019 have already selected their destination, an increase from 72 percent of 2018 domestic travelers. For Boomers traveling abroad, 31 percent had booked their 2019 trips by September 2018, up from 23 percent by September of the previous year in 2018 and 17 percent in 2017.

The AARP survey notes that when Boomers travel overseas, Europe continues to be the most popular choice followed by Italy and France. The findings also indicate that trips to the Caribbean and South and Central America remain popular, but interest in Mexico is waning.

For Boomers, domestic travel preferences have not changed in several years; Southern and Western states continue to be popular to most older travelers. Boomers are most likely to plan summer vacations (13 percent), weekend getaways (12 percent), and multi-generational trips (11 percent).

Travel destination preferences remain unchanged from last year, with Florida (17 percent) being the top-mentioned location followed by California (11%), New York (5%), Texas (5%), and Las Vegas (5%).

“According to this research, Boomers travel plans in 2019 are focused on spending time with family and friends, while getting away from everyday life,” said Patty David, Director Consumer Insights, and Personal Fulfillment in a statement. “Whether it’s a weekend road trip or an international vacation, Boomers are eager to travel in 2019 and are planning earlier and spending more than in year’s past.” she says.

The AARP Travel survey results also indicate that when traveling Boomers seek connection with locals for an authentic experience, especially over meals or when taking tours on international trips. Work was not found to be the biggest barrier to travel for older travelers, but cost (40 percent) and health issues/concerns (32 percent) were mentioned most often by the survey respondents.

Boomer respondents also tend to travel to get away from the day to day routines (47 percent) to relax (48 percent), and to spend time with family and friends (57 percent). Twenty four percent of the boomers say they have placed taking an international vacation on their life’s bucket list.

Researchers also took a look at intergeneration travel trends, too. Thirty-two percent of grandparents have taken their grandkids on a skip-generation trip, leaving mom and pop at home, and 15 percent of these older travelers are already planning to do so in 2019. Seventy-seven percent of these Boomers will do most of the trip planning themselves and 76 percent will pay for most of the trip.

Working Boomers do not feel compelled to stay connected to the office while traveling but for those who choose to will limit contact time, says the AARP survey’s finding. A few have even taken the opportunity to extend work trips for pleasure and fun or intend to do so in future trips.

Finally, most of the AARP survey respondents say they travel with a smartphone on domestic trips, but about only half choose to bring them on international trips. The top use for these phones while on vacation is to take photos.

Boomer Travel Trends in the Nation’s Smallest State

Lara Salamano, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, sees tourism as an important industry in the state. “It is the fifth-largest industry in R.I. by employment, and in 2017, the total traveler economy reached $6.5 billion,” she says.

“Multigenerational vacations featuring extended stays in vacation rentals or weekend family getaways are very popular here in the Ocean State,” says Salamano, noting that tourists are taking full advantage of the state’s authentic experiences, specifically great food, historic, natural beauty including its beaches, walking and bike trails and cultural attractions. “We also have a great array of soft adventure activities for the whole family. This is a case where our size works to our advantage as families can easily experience a wide range of different activities in a short period of time,” she adds.

Salamano notes that water, sailing, horse-riding on the beach, golf also attracts Boomers, too. Rhode Island is playing host to the U.S.G.A. Senior Open in 2020, she adds.

In addition, Boomers are big shoulder season travelers as they are not tied down by school vacation period. They are free to enjoy midweek and off-peak times of year to avoid higher prices, she says…

While summer remains the state’s most popular tourism season, the state’s Marketing Office has identified shoulder seasons as growth opportunities, says Salamano, noting that “Our most popular trip is domestic travelers living within a three-hour drive.

Salamano sees the Ocean States as quite different from those popular travel destinations chosen by the respondents of this year’s AARP’s Travel Survey. “Those destinations are also much larger, whereas Rhode Island’s small size ensures visitors are spending less time driving in traffic or waiting in lines, and more time actually on vacation. This was the jumping off point for our “Fun Sized” ad campaign which we rolled out last year,” she said. To see Fun Sized videos, go to http://www.visitrhodeisland.com/press/fun-sized-campaign/.

Getting the Bang for Your Marketing Dollars

According to Salamano, Rhode Island’s public relations strategy targeting Millennials involves pitching journalists on Rhode Island’s newest offerings such as new craft breweries and wineries, restaurants, special events, and hotel accommodations. This has led to placements national publications (including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Forbes) as well as more targeted publications such as the Boston Globe, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and TimeOutNewYork.

Digital ads are targeted to both Boomers and Millennials. “We have a robust advertising strategy, including digital ad placements to target audiences on websites that include travel planning sites and news publications. Digital advertising allows us to both target audiences and track our performance very effectively. Our ‘Fun Sized’ videos feature a wide variety of activities that appeal to both Baby Boomers and Millennials. This includes rock climbing, horseback riding and bird watching, to music, performances, restaurants and WaterFire,” says Salamano.

To read the full AARP Travel survey results, go to http://www.aarp.org/2019traveltrends. For more information, contact Vicki Gelfeld at vgelfeld@aarp.org.