Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review from Fort Wayne arts magazine

The Luxury of Daydreams by Amy McVay Abbott, WestBow Press, 2011

There’s a quietness to living in Indiana that some Hoosiers detest. Having lived here my entire life, I can say with some acquired authority that it takes a certain kind of resolution to be satisfied with staying here in the Midwest, especially the part of the Midwest that’s removed from a large urban area, and over the years I’ve struggled to keep that resolution in place. It comes and it goes; some days this place is unbearably tedious and lacking, and some days it seems like the perfect place to be. I suspect that Amy McVay Abbott has those ups and downs too, but in The Luxury of Daydreams, a collection of personal essays, she effectively captures mostly the good days, those days during which this kind of life seems more than adequate.

Abbott’s book is the appealing kind of essay collection in which a writer’s life comes into view gradually, gaining focus with each piece of the puzzle that falls into place, revealing a picture little by little, slowly rather than all at once. Her story isn’t uncovered chronologically, and it almost seems unfair to summarize her biography in a straightforward way here. I’ll do it, though. She grew up in Whitley County, went to college at Ball State University, worked as a journalist, moved to Florida for a bit, got married and had a child, returned to southern Indiana and reclaimed her life as a Hoosier. She writes about each of these experiences and how they shaped the woman she is today. There are themes that run throughout The Luxury of Daydreams, and they are the essential values of the Midwest, the kinds of values that everyone thinks of when they think of the virtues of the Heartland. Family, history, faith, compassion, self-sufficiency, a respect for the land.

You couldn’t write a more concise textbook with which to teach someone about the things that characterize the better parts of the Midwest than Abbott has written here, and the book doesn’t do much to shake up any preconceived notions an outsider might have about this place. That’s not to say it’s all smooth sailing and smalltown quaintness. There is struggle and difficulty here, too. The whole impetus to write the book begins when Abbott loses her job, but what is the Midwest about these days if not unemployment?

She deals with personal challenges (her son has Asperger’s Syndrome, and her mother suffers from dementia) and she helps other people cope with their own tragedies (she loses a good friend to leukemia, and she does what she can to be supportive to the woman’s family). But Abbott gets over these hurdles with the help of Christian faith and an impressive stockpile of oldfashioned Midwestern resilience. There’s never any doubt whether she’ll be all right in the end. Part of what helps her keep looking ahead with optimism is her ability to look backward with clarity.

She learns about – and teaches us about – her ancestors, Indiana farmers who never wanted to be anything other than what they were, men and women who stood up to the vagaries of nature and the economy, untimely death and every other hardship that came their way with steadfastness. Abbott treasures the objects they passed down to her – a quilt, a mixing bowl, a photograph – as a means to remember where she came from and as an example of how she should keep going. She writes all of this in a manner that’s evocative and engaging. The best Midwestern writers can find poetry in what looks mundane to the unimaginative, and Abbott occupies a space firmly within that tradition. It’s not always easy to look around Indiana and see what Abbott sees, but it’s good to be reminded that all the good that she finds in this place is here if you’re willing to notice it. Hoosier Values On Video October 6, ’11 On Books EVAN GILLESPIE

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Hoosier State Press Association Web Page

7/19/2011 1:51:00 PM
Indiana author weaves tales of family history and contemporary life
Independent journalist Amy McVay Abbott, who grew up in South Whitley, has written her first book. “The Luxury of Daydreams” highlights 30 humorous and inspirational essays about life in rural Indiana in the last century, as well as modern life in a small town in southern Indiana.    

Descended from two of Indiana’s pioneer families, the Creagers and the Longs, Abbott weaves family history into stories that speak to Indiana’s rural heritage. Her ancestors Christian Henry Creager owned a mill near South Whitley in the mid-1800s and Reuben Long settled in Indiana in the 1830s. One chapter features the late Hester Little Adams, who published the Columbia City Post and Mail where Abbott interned in the late 1970s. Adams was known for reaching out to high school and college journalists and providing newsroom opportunities for young writers. Upon her death, the Adams Trust formally supported scholarships for many years.

Abbott is a freelance journalist whose column “The Raven Lunatic” appears in seven Indiana newspapers. She is a frequent contributor Indiana newspapers and magazines, as well as curated online sites including, and

Noted Indiana author Jaleen Bultman-Deardurff, Rensselaer, has written an early review of the book. Bultman-Deardurff is the author of two novels, "The Music Teacher" and "Creager Farms: Sequel to The Music Teacher." Abbott and Bultman-Deardurff share a common ancestor in Christian Henry Creager.

They grew up in different parts of the Midwest, and did not meet until adulthood through writing interests. "Amy McVay Abbott captures the spirit of small town Midwestern living in her tales of growing up in Indiana. Her tongue-in-cheek approach to embarrassing stories told by her father is priceless. Her love for the simple things such as a blue bowl used by her great-grandmother prompted the author to blend stories passed down from her ancestors with dreams she holds for the future."

Abbott is a graduate of the School of Journalism, Ball State University, and recipient of the 1978 Foellinger Foundation Scholarship from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Information about ordering and events is available at
(Allen, Whitley, Kosciusko, Huntington, Wabash, Tippecanoe, Carroll, Cass, Delaware, Madison, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, and Gibson counties are mentioned in the book

Open Salon Today with Catherine Forsythe

JULY 20, 2011 9:30AM

A Brief Chat with a Published Open Salon Author: Amy Abbott
Click "Submit Abuse" if you feel this post is inappropriate. Explain why below if you wish.
On the internet, on the pages of Open Salon, she is known as Bernadine Spitzsnogel. Some call her "Bea". Some others refer to her as "BS", in the most affectionate manner of course. To the world, she is Amy McVay Abbott. Her debut book is "The Luxury of Daydreams" and Amy has been gracious in allowing an Open Salon exclusive.

This just means that I have pestered Amy with some questions and she has taken time to humour me. The following are six questions that Amy graciously has answered:

1. You write in the introduction that "When I am time travelling, I sometimes rediscover a familiar scene that is lost in my own imagination, like the child me wandering on a playground." How did the process of imagination, in which we all indulge, transform itself into this book?

The period before I began seriously writing again was a difficult one. A dear friend died of cancer, my mother was diagnosed with dementia, my father had a heart attack, I lost my job, and our only son left for college 1,100 miles away. I found myself alone in a big, empty house all day and my imagination seemed to take flight. My choice was to write, begin to drink heavily, or just turn into a potato on the couch. My issues were so minimal, so many people go through so much worse, but what women of my age have in common is that we’re all in transition.

Writing was my salvation. I literally could not stop writing. I had not written anything outside of sales reports for ten years. My imagination was bottled up, and when it flowed, it flowed. Finding Open Salon during that period was hugely important because it provided a writer’s playground. Before all the technical issues slowed this place down, there was a real vibrancy to it, and great opportunities for learning every day. I’ve met some wonderful people here that I know will be lifelong friends.
2. Was writing this book a smooth, seamless process or did it have its own unique challenges?

The writing of the book was easy. The editing of the book was like giving birth to a grand piano, as my editor and I stewed over words like “acknowledgement”. With or without the e?

I chose the self-publishing route, because waiting to find an agent and a traditional publisher was beyond my patience and probably, ability. I talked with people who have gone the traditional route and those who have self-published. For me, this route seemed like a good venture. Could I have gotten a traditional publisher? Probably not.

I hired a professional editor and I also engaged a friend to paint an oil painting for the cover that represents my first chapter. I am happy with the product itself—though I am still working through sales channel issues. Friends and family expect to walk into a bookstore and find my book in the front. God love ‘em for their support, but 2,700 books are now published daily (according to the Washington Post) and I’m not Snookie or JK Rowling.

Major publishers negotiate for shelf space, and even their prized works may only get ninety days. I am fortunate that a few local stores feature local authors, and will shelve my book.

The good news for the self-published author is that books are available online in various sources as well as in eBook form. Mine is available for Kindle as well.

3. I know, Amy, that you have been a writer for many years. You have been a wordsmith in a journalistic venue. Was there a significant difference in writing a book?

As a journalist, you work with a copy editor. On deadline, you may turn in work and never talk to another living soul until it appears in print. The editing period, and working with an experienced editor, is both wonderful and terrible. In addition to the editor, my husband and a good friend – who are both writers in their own worlds – read the manuscripts. Each had good input.

4. For some people, writing is a very personal, private process. It is revealing and, for some people, there is the feeling of being exposed. The process goes from private to very public. Was there any of that for you in doing this book?

Earlier in my life I only wrote for and about other people. I worked in newspapers and then in public relations and marketing before I went into sales in 2000. Then all this “stuff” happened. It was okay to write about myself and my family. This book is very personal, and I reveal some negative things about myself. I don’t regret it because with mistakes comes personal growth.

5. What are the two major lessons that you know now that you didn't know when this project began?

That is the most personal question you have asked. There have been some surprises, especially in the last week since the book was published. I don’t know if they are lessons, but I’ve learned I need to listen to my inner self first. For the most part, I believe people are good; sometimes people are thoughtless, not necessarily malicious. I’ve also learned when you write a book that talks about transitions, many people want to tell you about the transitions in their lives. That has been a little overwhelming. Okay, I was really honest there.

6. And now, I have a chance to toss a "softball" question(s). Where can we buy this book? Is there a chance to obtain an autographed copy? And will you be doing some travelling to promote the book? Perhaps I need an editor to re-structure this as one question, Amy, but humour me.

Check out the book’s web page at: I sign books that are ordered from me directly. Thank you very much. Amy aka Bernadine Spitzsnogel

Thanks to Amy for doing this with me. And yes, I have seen Amy's work in PDF format and I still want a book copy. That's "book" in terms of real paper pages. It's just a wonderful read.

Catherine Forsythe, Nottinghamshire, UK

Talk of the Town Whitley County

Talk of the Town Whitley County featured a story about the book today.

Monday, July 11, 2011 12:00:22 AM

July 10, 2011
Whitley County native authors essays about Cleveland, Washington townships

(Talk of the Town photo and image provided) Amy McVay Abbott, shown below at left, a Whitley County native and Whitko High School graduate, recently penned a book of essays about life in Washington and Cleveland Townships in addition to her experiences in southern Indiana. The book's cover is shown below, at right.
Article provided

Former Whitley County resident Amy McVay Abbott has written a book called “The Luxury of Daydreams.”
Abbott’s book features thirty essays which highlight stories from Washington and Cleveland townships in Whitley County, as well as her life in southern Indiana.

Abbott is descended from two pioneering families of Whitley County, the Longs and the Creagers. Christian Henry Creager owned a mill near South Whitley and is reported to have helped developed State Street. Reuben Long and his brother came to Washington Township and purchased farms near Tunker in the 1830s.
A freelance writer and independent journalist, Abbott writes a column called “The Raven Lunatic” which runs bi-weekly in the eight Indiana newspapers. Readers wrote to Abbott and suggested she write a book. She published on a Christian imprint, WestBow Press, which is a division of Thomas R. Nelson Publishers.
Abbott graduated from Whitko High School and Ball State University and is married to Randy Abbott and has one son. She is the daughter of long-time, former South Whitley residents William and Marilyn McVay, and has a brother Andrew who also graduated from Whitko. Her father is a retired Whitko High School agriculture teacher.
Growing up in Whitley County in the 1960s was a wonderful blessing,” Abbott said, “Both my brother and I are grateful for the close community of schools, churches, and neighbors we experienced.”
For speaking engagements, book signings, and ordering information, visit the web site at The book is currently available on the WestBow Press online bookstore.


Video Featuring Artist Barb Borries

This You Tube video shows Barbara Borries working on the painting that would be the cover of my book, The Luxury of Daydreams.

Barb is an amazing artist, and takes classes to continually improve her skills.

Thanks, Barb, for being a part of this project.

Incredible Cover by Artist Barbara Borries

Every author dreams of a stunning cover for her first book. Barbara Borries, an Indiana artist, rendered this stunning beach scene in oil for the cover of "The Luxury of Daydreams."

Chapter one deals with an epiphany I had one spring day in 2006 at Seagrove Beach, Florida.

Would there be any possible way any artist could capture the mood of that day, or the giant sky that joined sea and sand?

Barbara Borries is a superlative artist, and created--in this cover--a work of art that truly stands on its own. Visit Barb's blog at


Friday, August 5, 2011

A Review by Cranky Cuss (From Open Salon)
WHat I Learned From My Hoosier Friend Amy
I am proud to call Amy McVay Abbott, aka Bernadine Spitzsnogle, my friend. I am happy whenever one of her emails appears in my inbox because, besides displaying her sly wit and pithy observational skills, it will likely include an act of generosity. After all, Amy is passing on to me her lessons learned in self-publishing, in case I ever decide to publish a book despite popular demand.

I knew I would enjoy her first book, The Luxury of Daydreams, and I did. There’s the chapter on the birth of her child (“Childbirth itself is a gruesome affair where the guest of honor is woefully indifferent to the hostess”), a child she now describes as “the young man who lives in our basement three months a year.” (Been there, done that.) There’s her embarrassing adventure as an unprepared Bingo caller (“Cut out the jokes, and move on, girlie-girl”), as well as the embarrassment of a father who remembers all your mistakes (“Do you remember my daughter and how much ice cream she ate at Guernsey Field Day?”).

What I didn’t expect was how much her book made me think. No, it’s not a collection of opinion pieces. Rather, the book is a series of reminiscences about growing up and living in the heart of the Heartland in Indiana. When a good writer evokes her life vividly, as Amy has, it’s only natural for the reader to compare hers to his own life.

Amy is several years younger than I am, but she and I both grew up in smaller sized towns in the early 1960s. Her prose reminds me of a time when I could ride my bicycle all over town without fear and without wearing armor like Sir Lancelot. It reminds me of a time when kids ran out to play with the neighbors’ kids and parents didn’t have to obsess about their whereabouts, because neighbors watched out for each other. It reminds me of a time when generations lived in the same town, and daughters married in the same churches their mothers did. It also reminds me of a time, however, when those churches usually inspired compassion, not condemnation. It reminds me of a time when small towns provided sufficient jobs for its residents.

That life seems to be fading away. When I was a kid, I used to play touch football on our street, a street that is now overrun by parked cars and hulking SUVs. The neighborhood kids and I used to play pick-up baseball games in summers on the high school field, a field now fenced in and accessible only for approved, organized activities. Today I don't even know the names of many of my neighbors.

The big difference between our lives is revealed in a chapter entitled “Sweatshirt Weather,” in which Amy writes, “Harvest is in full swing in October, if not finished. Beans and corn are picked; winter wheat is planted.” In the town where I grew up, the only place you’ll find beans and corn is in the produce section of the supermarket. There are no farmers here. My town is a bedroom community for Manhattan commuters; it’s the home of Don Draper in Mad Men.

I find myself jealous of Amy’s ties to the land and the seasons. I wonder if our disconnection from them is a contributing factor to why so many of us feel adrift in our lives.

Our ancestors worked to live. They had no time for angst. They tilled the soil to prevent starvation; they built homes to provide shelter; they knitted clothes to keep warm. Now it takes so few people to create our basic needs of life that many of us engage in careers that may be considered inessential.

I’ve always wondered what Thomas Jefferson would think were he to somehow appear in 21st-century America. If he saw everyone walking around with their attention drawn to the electronic devices in their hands, would he admire our technological advances or be alarmed at our isolation from our neighbor? If he saw young men being paid millions of dollars to play a game, and other men paid hundreds of thousands just to comment on those games, or people becoming rich and famous merely for allowing reality-TV cameras in their homes, would he applaud our independence from the struggle to survive or would he be dismayed at our eager embrace of so much shallowness?

Though I’ve been a lifelong suburbanite, I felt the pull of rural living for one week each summer when my family would pack into our car and drive seven hours north to spend a week with my Aunt Mildred in Vermont. Mildred and her husband John owned 120 acres of land outside the state capitol of Montpelier, up a long hill on a dirt road. From her front porch, you couldn’t see another house, and a passing car was an event. The land across the dirt road, part of her property, was wild, the grass often too tall to walk in. The appearance of a deer at the dining room window was a common occurrence.

There was enough land in front of the house for me and my brothers to play wiffle ball daily. The front porch of the house was the right field fence, while the wooden deer at the other end of the driveway served as the left field fence. It felt strange and exotic at night to turn on my transistor radio and hear Red Sox, not Yankee, games. (Mildred’s daughter Alice, bless her heart, spent the last month of her life driving around Florida watching spring training.)

Amy’s chapter on working as a carhop at a restaurant that featured root beer floats reminded me that, when we were in Vermont, we’d occasionally spend an evening at the A & W root beer stand. I Googled it; it’s no longer there.

I never visited Mildred’s home again once I left for college. She died two decades ago, predeceased by her husband, and Alice soon followed. The property was sold.

A few years ago, we were vacationing in another part of Vermont with the kids, and I decided to take a drive past Mildred’s house. I didn’t need directions to find my way, and soon enough I was on that long, hilly road, still gloriously unpaved. All of the old landmarks were still there, and for a moment, I started to feel like that 14-year-old kid anxious to grab his wiffle ball bat.

As we neared Mildred’s old house, however, my heart sank. Every inch of her property had been developed. The wild land across the dirt road now consisted of manicured lawns and long driveways leading to brand, spanking-new McMansions. I couldn’t even see Mildred’s old house to see if it had been remodeled; the old home plate of my wiffle ball field was now part of a line of trees along the road that hid the house from view.

I’m sure the families that owned the new homes were thrilled. The neighborhood was green, safe and secure, a nice place to raise a family. But I was thoroughly disheartened by how rapidly “progress” had buried any trace of Mildred’s existence, as if the half-century she had spent on that quiet land had never happened.

In Amy Abbott’s world, the past still has value and community is real, not virtual. The Luxury of Daydreams brought these memories, good and bad, rushing back to me. Her direct declarative sentences gave her pieces an added punch. I wish we had more Amys in our world, but I also wish we had more of her world in our world.

Review from Bloom, Bake, and Create
Book Review: The Luxury of Daydreams
Aug 4th, 2011 by lyndah

Recently, Amy Abbott, one of my friends, gave me this autographed copy of her first book, “The Luxury of Daydreams.”

It’s kind of a sticky situation when you receive a book from a friend. What if I don’t like it? What do I tell her?
Well, there was no problem with that. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! In these 30 essays Amy takes us from her experiences growing up in a small Midwest town to dealing with difficult adult struggles including raising a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, handling a midlife job loss, loving her aging parents, and dealing with an empty nest. With all of these stories, she weaves in her wonderful humor, raw honesty, and undying hope.
What I love about this book is even though it’s about Amy and her family, I can relate to these stories. Although I didn’t grow up in a small town or have some of her experiences, when I read this, it brings back my own memories.
Calling bingo at the local senior center for cranky seniors who didn’t appreciate her jokes brought back memories and laughs about my sixth grade volunteering gig where I led the rosary for the nursing home residents.
In “The Trip to Rowena” Amy shares watching her mother with dementia slip into the past, and her father at his wife’s side providing 24-hour care. Amy writes about the small things her mom can’t do anymore – things that she misses. Her experiences remind us to appreciate those small things.
Her “Blue Bowl’ essay reinforces that these are not just things – they connect us to those loved ones.
This is a fast and easy read. It’s a book to pick up when you want to laugh or want to feel hopeful again. After reading this you may want to get out your pen and paper and write some of your memories. Or maybe you’ll look at some of those little things or actions a bit differently.
This is definitely not Amy’s last book. I know she has much more to share and teach through her insights. This book published by WestBow Press can be purchased here. Check out what others are saying about this book on her book website. You can also follow her on her blog here.


Bamy's new book "Submit Abuse" if you feel this post is inappropriate. Explain why below if you wish.
Yay, I beat Cranky! While he was up in Manhattan hobnobbing with Open Salon's New York stars I stayed home in Old Virginny composing a review for the book we've all been waiting to see reviewed. "Bamy," for those of you who have been reading nothing but political nightmare scenarios here the past year or so, is a compressed combo of Amy Abbott's real name and her OS nom de plume, Bernadine Spitznogel.
Her book - the first of what we hope will be a slew of sequels and perhaps a teleplay, screenplay or, what the heck, Broadway musical - hit the online retailers several weeks ago. Cranky and I got our copies about the same time. Come to think of it, he got his a day ahead of me. We both proclaimed loudly we would be the first to review The Luxury of Daydreams. Well, I beat Cranky, but we were both beaten to the ground and stomped into the mud by Vanessa Seijo and Alysa Salzberg, whose beautiful, lyrically discerning reviews dazzled me into a stupor on the page for Bamy's book when I opened it to do my own, which now appears above theirs haha. A hollow laff, for sure, but, for those who've been waiting to see who won the smackdown 'tween me and the Crankster, here's my Amazon entry:
I lost sleep reading The Luxury of Daydreams. I do most of my recreational reading at night, in bed, to supplant whatever frets and fusses of the day might be lingering to obstruct an easy slide into raveled sleeve of care-knitting sleep. My readings also occasionally inspire my subconscious mind with ideas for pillow dreams. The Luxury of Daydreams did the latter, sparking, and mingling with mine, memories of Christmas mornings, personal embarrassments, family gatherings, sibling wars, old friends, loss, dreams within dreams, small town magic and a moment that stole the joy from Three Dog Night in a mostly friendlier time less complicated and politically portentous, it seemed, than the present.
Perhaps Amy's stories resonated so deeply within me because I grew up in a small Midwestern town, too, and so many of the people and experiences she describes could, and do, reside in my memory, albeit with different names.

I have only two bones to pick with Amy as I read her spellbinding stories, hoping they would ease me into my own dreamland. First, her writing is so artful and fascinating I had a tough time returning the book to my nightstand and putting out the light. Second, hackles pricked up on my neck at her mention of her hometown as "America's best small town," because my hometown is the best - or at least it was back then. I was tempted to snarl and hurl her book across the bedroom, but then it occurred to me that in our memories the towns in which Amy and I grew up - hers in Indiana, mine in Wisconsin - were virtually the same.
If you wish to read the most revealing and comprehensive story in this collection first, I suggest "Letter to my Seventeen-Year-Old Self." Read this before the others, this flash review of her coming-of-age through the eyes of her older, wiser accomplished self and you will catch an indelible glimpse of Amy as a fun-loving sister, a mischievous daughter and a warm, generous, happy-hearted friend.
Clicking on book cover will transport you magically to the Amazon page where you can read the reviews, read some of the book, for free, and then, of course, buy the book. Do it. Now!

Monday, July 18, 2011
LC Neal is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fictionique, a literary ezine catering to fiction writers, essayists, artists and poets. She is also a fiction writer herself, with one novel nearly completed and a second in its infancy. She occasionally wanders off course and reviews music, books and television. She has a deep and lifelong attachment to historical research, which simply refuses to resolve itself into any sort of profitable enterprise.

Coming from a long line of terminally skeptical smart asses, when someone hands me a book entitled The Luxury of Daydreams and follows it up with “it’s kind of spiritual,” my first response is: I should not be reading this book. Much less reviewing it. I have a reputation to maintain.

I fully expected to struggle mightily with arriving at what to say about this collection of deeply personal essays, and surprised myself by struggling, all right - struggling to figure out why the emotion evoked by this book was so comforting. That feeling drove me crazy for a couple of days, until my much reduced memory banks finally sputtered and spat out the thing I had been reaching for.

I was homesick.

Because there is heartbreak and struggle and loss and tragedy in McVay Abbott’s world and throughout her family’s history. But it’s offset, by far more generous doses of what the lucky among us associate with home: comfort, humor, family, tradition, love and hope.
About hope: unable to live in a world without it, the author does what we all should and finds it, in the smallest and largest ways. McVay Abbott's essay on the subject is one of my she puts it, members of her family are Cubs fans, for heaven’s sake. What’s more hopeful than that?

The circumstances described in her tales are not exclusive to her by any means, but McVay Abbott’s way of balancing the good and the bad is unique. She finds room to laugh when many wouldn’t, and time to cry without an ounce of self-pity when she must, and always, always keeps her eye on her particular prize: her husband, her son, her family, her friends, her faith. She is firmly rooted in the same soil her ancestors were, and her obvious admiration for what it took her predecessors to build the foundation that her family rests on is woven through everything she writes.

The best thing of all about The Luxury of Daydreams is its structure. It’s a small book, but big enough to hold a piece of all of us, contained therein. You’ll recognize yourself....and your best friend. Probably a family member or two. But mostly you’ll recognize Amy McVay Abbott, as that sister who cracks you up at the most formal occasions, that friend who flies to your defense whether you need it or not, the woman who calls bingo for a bunch of cranky seniors who don’t get her jokes.

She’s the person who keeps all those separate pieces of humanity that make a family close to each other, and to her own heart.

Sunday, July 17, 2011
Review by Vanessa Seijo

Vanessa Seijo is a writer/teacher living in Puerto Rico. She is currently working on an YA adventure series.
She is the author of Nicolás, la abuela Margot y el hechicero, Ediciones SM 2010, Puerto Rico.
She publishes regularly at Fictionique and OpenSalon.

Journalist Amy McVay Abbott’s debut book, The Luxury of Daydreams, WestBow Press 2011, is a fantastic collection of essays, reflections of a life well-lived with the promise of more to come.
The Luxury of Daydreams is an aptly titled book that will speak to all of us. It touches upon the very fabric of our lives, what we believe and what we think we believe, our families, our loves, our losses. It is the kind of book that reminds you that it is never too late to set out to do what you intended to do; but, it also helps you honor the sacrifices made along the way, accepting life as less than perfect, still wonderful in its very essence. It reminds you of what is important.
The first chapter is a brilliant choice. Those first pages still the mind and prepare the reader for a soulful adventure. McVay Abbott is an engaged writer, both with her beliefs and with her readers.
There are essays that are true snapshots of a time gone by, slices of delightful Americana as well as faithful portraits of difficult times; all survived with hard work, faith, and optimism. McVay Abbott’s description of autumn brings a lovely ache of something sorely missed. There are turns of phrase that will make you laugh out loud even as the very words quietly show you a truth so profound you will find your eyes have traitorously filled with silent tears. Words that reflect life’s mysteries, as simple as they are deep.
The essays on growing up and friendship are sweet and poignant, but not rosy colored. They are brutally honest while still being gorgeously composed. This is a writer who is not afraid to question herself.
Through it all, McVay Abbott’s delightful comedic sense will delight you. There are the amusing stories of motherhood. The bingo story will rightly have you in stitches. You will fall in love with a wild grandmother who carries reptiles in a picnic basket. And in this book you will finally find out just who the "Mayor of Dorkytown" really is.
The Luxury of Daydreams is the kind of book that becomes a conversation between author and reader. You will find yourself stopping mid-sentence and saying out loud “Amy, about that bit, you know it reminds me” and realize you are, sadly, not in front of the writer sharing a cup of coffee under a shaded tree in your patio. But you will wish, more than once, that she were there right next to you.
For this book is a journey of self discovery in which you might also learn a lot about yourself.
Whether you are a believer or not, this is one book not to be missed.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Review by Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg, Paris-based founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beguile, an English-language literary e-zine, has written a review of my book The Luxury of Daydreams:
Early in this series of essays and meditations on life, family, faith, the Midwest, and so much more, author Amy McVay Abbott receives a quilt and an old blue bowl that once belonged to her great-grandmother.
You could say Abbott’s book is like these heirlooms: lovely, cozy, and a real connection with the past. With humor, humility, and hard-won wisdom, the author reflects on a number of different subjects, from childhood memories, to raising her own child, from falling in love, to slowly losing a parent to dementia, from faith, to personal flaws.
Connecting all of these thoughts and more is a strong tie to the past and to past generations. As a person, Abbott may not always know where life is going to take her, but the idea of where she comes from is ever-present, and seems to give her strength, just as this book will bring joy, laughter, reflection, and comfort to many readers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review by Kentucky author/musician

Kentucky musician Kit Duncan is the author of six books including "Dandelions in Paradise."
A good author brings you into the moment. Amy McVay Abbott does this with texture, style, humor, heart.
Reading "The Luxury of Daydreams", I can smell the surf of a Florida beach, and heaven help me, dairy cow patties. I strain to hear the sound of a young man’s car pulling into the driveway, a mother yelling, “Sheppie, Sheppie, Sheppie Doodle Doo, time for dinner,” the chatter of race talkers at a family gathering, the explosions of a July Fourth long ago, and of one not so long ago.
I can taste butter-cream icing, soft serve ice cream, root beer floats, and even a TaB float! I see a Christmas tree with decorations dangling about lying precariously in a dark ditch, and the contrasting faces of two young men sharing a ride to Burkies Drive In – one with a somber look of confusion at frivolity and the other with the gleam of an imp in his eye.
I think with only the slightest nudge I can actually feel keys on my finger tips – an old Royal portable, if I’m not mistaken. And plastic ones attached to a maple spinet piano.

Ms. Abbott's characters are not caricatures. They are breathing flesh and blood, and they have embedded themselves into my very soul. Women and men long gone from sight are reborn again and again in the author’s masterful telling of their tales.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review by Indiana Author

Noted Indiana author Jaleen Bultman-Deardurff has written an early review of the book, "The Luxury of Daydreams," available online and in select retail outlets in August 2011.

Bultman-Deardurff holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing and is the author of two novels, "The Music Teacher" and "Creager Farms: Sequel to The Music Teacher." She has been published in the national magazine "Today's Caregiver," and in the "New York Times" best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul."

"Amy McVay Abbott captures the spirit of small town Midwestern living in her tales of growing up in Indiana. Her tongue-in-cheek approach to embarrassing stories told by her father are priceless. Her love for the simple things such as a blue bowl used by her great-grandmother prompted the author to blend stories passed down from her ancestors with dreams she holds for the future."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So, you want to be a writer?

A poem by  Charles Bukowski provided by Mathew Paust, the author of Executive Pink,
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.   

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Introduction: Finding My Joy

Amy McVay Abbott lost her job within a few months of her only child leaving for college. After a thirty-year business career and eighteen years of mothering, she was at a loss with no job and her only child a thousand miles away.

Abbott always loved writing, having started at the South Whitley Tribune as a freshman in high school in 1971. With the overabundance of reporters in the Watergate era, Abbott chose another path, that of health care marketing and sales. 

She married, raised a child with her loving husband, and succeeded in the business world.

Then she turned fifty and stuff started to happen, as it does to every woman.  In addition to her only child leaving home, Abbott's mother was diagnosed with multi-infarct dementia. 

And in January 2009 -- the month with the most recorded job losses in this Great Recession -- Abbott and 4,000 of her closest friends got the pink slip from their Fortune 100 employer.  What to do?  Where to turn?

"In an empty house in the midst of the Great Recession, I had no idea what I was going to do.  

On the advice of a friend, I contacted the newspaper where I worked in college.  They were open to printing my bi-weekly column.  I started writing for the Columbia City Post and Mail, a daily I worked on in college. 

My reach has grown and The Raven Lunatic now runs in eight Indiana newspapers. 

I also branched out and wrote for numerous publications in southern Indiana as well, and various curated on-line sites.  I can't explain it; a fire somewhere deep inside was lighted and continues burning brightly.

Readers started talking to me about doing a book.

Writing the The Luxury of Daydreams has been a wonderful journey for me, with  time to sift through memories and gain some perspective. 

What do I write about?  Well, I see myself as a little bit like Erma Bombeck and a little bit like Harry S Truman.  If I can make you laugh a little, and think a little, and soothe your soul a little, then I've done my job.

I hope you find your joy in this book as I did."