Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Perks Of Membership

Book Club Badge Suggestion copy (1)

Just a little reminder for all of you amazing Rave Reviews Book Club members reading this blog. Did you know that one of the many perks you receive as a member of the greatest book club in cyber space is all sorts of free publicity? I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed the Weekly Club Updates. Maybe you’ve felt the reach of the Twitter Support Team. But that’s not all there is when it comes to powerful support within the RRBC. I’m talking about Blog Talk Radio’s Rave Waves Author Scoops program.

If you’re about to release a new book, we’ll mention it on the air. If you’re celebrating a birthday or wedding anniversary, we’ll not only proclaim it to the world, we just might even turn in a poorly performed rendition of “Happy Birthday” just for you!

Have you started up a new blog? We’ll tell the entire listening audience about it. Are you getting married? Having a baby? Expecting a grandchild? We’ll gladly share this fantastic news with all those who tune in each week to hear the latest news regarding fellow RRBC members. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us.

Here’s the catch: You have to let us know the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why! If we don’t know, we can’t pass this info along. So, if you want some great free publicity, send your info to me at RaveReviewsBookClub@gmail.com and be sure to put Author Scoops Info in the subject line, and I or one of the other Author Scoops co-hosts will try to get it on the air.

Not a member of the greatest book club in cyber space? Now’s a good time to join! Just click the link below! After all, membership has its privileges!

Rave Reviews Book Club

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Waves To Light Blog Tour Guest Author Queen Of Spades

Greetings, dear readers. Today it is my pleasure to introduce, not one, but two amazing guests to my blog. In connection with the Waves To Light blog tour, first up I give you Queen of Spades. 

The Waves of Write

spinningworld

I cannot recall the exact date and time
But all I knew back then
Was that a series of discovered lies
Caused my entire world to spin.

In the beginning, it appeared as if I blended in with what was considered normal. I learned to read early—utilizing the local paper mostly because it was more accessible than books. I liked being outdoors and didn’t mind talking. I didn’t talk a lot but I was willing to engage, open to taking steps to secure friendships.

While seeking outside relationships, a veil was pushed back. Yet, it was done slowly, almost like throwing small hints—where you have to wait until the next episode of a show to get closer to the answer.

questioning

Even in my younger years, when things did not make sense to me, I asked questions. There were cracks in the narrative a loved one was telling me, and someone finally revealed that person had been deceptive since day one.

It is important to demonstrate honesty because if you don’t, it leaves an impression—particularly when you are raising a child. One cannot expect that child to treat you with respect if you behave in a way that is distrustful, and on top of that, try to justify the lying. A person can miss me with the whole, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Instead, I’m of the mind, “How can I believe what you say when what you do is the exact opposite?”

What could have been an “all right” relationship downgraded into countless layers of dysfunction. My decisions no longer were simple things, like what colors to wear or what I wanted to eat for dinner.

They were more complex—choosing between honoring an absentee parent revealed as a pathological liar and honoring that parent’s parents who had been honest and provided for me from the very beginning. I had to divide my time between playing with my toys, doing homework, and bracing to do emotional clean up after that absentee parent would generate a tsunami of tears. I didn’t understand back then but now I know that the many tears my grandparents shed were two fold—the lack of respect they weren’t given for taken on a responsibility that did not belong to them.

They do not prepare you in school how a child should cope in adult situations. Since I did not know, I did not deal. I believed that if I could have more friends, it could be a buffer to the other things going on. Perhaps I’d have someone to talk to, even if it wasn’t about my sadness. Instead, the rejections if interaction—with the added caveat of bullying due to my outside appearance—only exacerbated my internal angst.

It wasn’t long before the veil was slashed. First, I stopped smiling as much. Then, I couldn’t remember if I still had the ability to smile. Soon thereafter, I stopped talking, unless it had a purpose. Examples of purpose are when the teacher called on me to ask a question or when my grandparents asked me about certain things.

oldbrothertypewriter

It was around that time my fingers became active. I did not have a computer, but I did have a typewriter, pen and paper. That was when I began writing. After I wrote things down, there was serenity, a release that made me feel more capable. Soon I was journaling daily. Once I got introduced to poetry, I was hooked. The early assignments based on Edgar Allan Poe enticed me the most. The emotions that he painted on paper with the brushstrokes of rhythm and stanzas, eclipsed into high definition Technicolor in the core of my being. There were moments where my journals entries took on a poetic style and one could not determine where one style began and the other ended.

The majority of my teachers marveled at my creativity while a select few were rattled. My earlier writes were of a morbid nature, teetering between grasping for the sky and plunging into oblivion.

It was said by one of my therapists that I was demonstrating classic signs of clinical depression: decrease in a once enjoyable activity (talking), not having a lot of friends (anti-social, end result of the bullying), not having my biological parents around (separation/abandonment issues), and instability of emotional processes (in ways of dealing).Nicolas-Cage-Laugh

I laugh at this because in many ways, if it wasn’t for writing, there’d be a lot more excess carnage. How many stories do you read about individuals acting out and other lives being lost as a result? To me, writing has saved lives, not just my own.

I asked this person, “So, my coping mechanism isn’t the proper coping mechanism? Therefore, what should I do if writing isn’t it?”

This therapist then wanted to pump me full of medication and have me talk about my past and how it might feed into my issues—taking me and putting me into a tiny little box that correlates with a chart of “classic”, “diagnosis”, and “treatment according to Section A, Paragraph B, with a clause from Footnote C”.

Needless to say, that therapist didn’t last long.

I’ve had quite a few therapists. I mean no disrespect. They may do wonders for others but they weren’t hitting the mark for me. I’ve been on quite a few medications—one in particular was an absolute disaster.

keepcalmwriteon

Yet for me, the only thing that has ever given me peace and power is when I write.

Writing started as my catharsis. I still journal, although not as much because I’m busy writing short stories and poetry. The thing I want to convey is just because something emerges from a tragedy doesn’t make it a bad thing, or an improper thing.

Would I have been able to write with such irrepressible coherence if disaster didn’t strike? I dare not speculate in one way or another. All I know is that I had a choice: to let my challenges consume me or utilize them in ways which would strengthen me. I chose the latter, and in doing so, have testimonies to share with others for solidarity, encouragement and hope.

wavestolight

Goodreads listing 

My emotions in the discovery and the treatment process for my clinical depression are captured in the poetry and prose via “Nuances of Color” in Waves to Light. The best way to combat the stigma is not stewing in silence but by bubbling with outspokenness.

Number Three

Waves To Light Blog Tour Guest Author MJ Holman

Greetings, dear readers. Today it is my pleasure to introduce, not one, but two amazing guests to my blog. In connection with the Waves To Light blog tour, next up is the talented MJ Holman.

Mental illness can begin quietly and be so faint that it barely makes a mark on one’s consciousness. There can be an imperceptible crawl towards a condition, and it may only be possible to identify the different symptoms, the behaviours in retrospect, after diagnosis.

The first behaviour came when I was six. I decided to stop eating. My poor parents and sister tried every method and subterfuge to get me to eat. This worked in my favour, for it was clearly an attention grabbing exercise to begin with and I won.

The next behaviour was not attending school. I would feign sickness or pretend to go, when really all I did was roam the streets alone. Eventually I was found out and I could have been saved from years of illness when my parents and the school decided to send me to a clinical psychologist.  Unfortunately, attitudes to childhood depression were different then to what they are now, and all he did was try to establish whether I was an unruly idiot or not. He decided I was neither, I was just ‘difficult.’

Progressing through my teenage years, the illness tormented me like a constant hum. My mild anorexia turned into the opposite: binging, and the behaviours of apathy and social withdrawal increased to an extent where I was afraid to leave the house. At this time, I started to write about the symptoms in my journal and poetry began to form as a consequence. Now I had a record of sadness.

I left school with qualifications despite my frequent absence and wanted to go to university. My lack of self-esteem was so severe I could not fulfil my ambition and instead I drifted into work.

Work was a contradiction. I felt comfortable there, confident even, however the depression began to accelerate. While the illness got worse, the journals began to fill with writing. Some of the early poetry in The Sea of Conscience is from this period.

For some people, depression finally becomes unmanageable once it has reached the breakdown stage. After months of sickness and fighting it, I was descending the stairs at work, when I suddenly discovered I could no longer walk. I stopped still in the middle of the flight and had to crawl down the rest of the stairs. A few days later I could not go out without sobbing. My brain had said, ‘no more, get yourself to a doctor.’

My doctor diagnosed clinical depression and prescribed medication. As the months and years passed, still with repeated episodes of depression I also noticed something else. I had periods where I was incredibly happy, where I cried non-stop, not out of sadness, but out of joy. I was also impatient and thought the world turned too slow. In addition to this, I experienced phases of intense creativity where the poems and the prose flowed freely.

In 2013, after enduring these symptoms for two months, I went to my doctor and he initially diagnosed bipolar affective disorder. It was later officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist. My medication was changed and I was offered cognitive behavourial therapy.

Cover poetry 2

With this history behind me I started to work on The Sea of Conscience, a volume of poems about depression, elation, and how we can cope through creativity and our passions. I asked Queen of Spades if she would contribute three poems, all of which blended well with my work. She later came to me to suggest a follow-up project, and agreeing it should be of equal parts and commitment, we started work on Waves to Light.

The two individual sections, All Shades of Black and Nuances of Color represent our  experiences with mental illness, our approach to treatment, both our own and through our respective healthcare providers.

For me the emphasis in All Shades of Black was using language to illustrate the many layers (the shades) of symptoms and emotions, to build a description of feelings (whispering in my veins)

and to look to places where one might find solace and peace.