My Favorite Birthday Gift: A Book Deal with Post Hill Press!

Post Hill

Dear Friends,

This post won’t focus upon errant hamsters, dancing cows, or much darker thoughts. I have great news to share, and I hope you’ll understand why I want to sing it from the mountaintops! 

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After a nine-year-long labor, in Fall, 2016 (as long as an asteroid doesn’t fall on me), I’ll finally be giving birth to…drum roll please!

 

          Birth of a New Brain – Healing with Postpartum Bipolar Disorder                           

Last month on my 45th birthday, I woke up groggy as usual and made a beeline for the coffee machine. I trudged over to my laptop and opened up my email.  While sipping my beloved Steve’s Smooth French brew, I spotted a message from Post Hill Press and braced myself for another patronizing rejection.  As I scanned the lines, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  They read my proposal and were interested in speaking with me! Yes, it was the same proposal that was rejected by a mean publisher which I whined about here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/lets-play-the-schadenfreude-game-a-writers-1st-rejection/)

Over the past month I received a contract, successfully negotiated a few amendments, signed and mailed the blessed document back to them. Now my goal is to produce a manuscript I’m proud of, and that’ll sell more than three copies.  (To people I don’t know!) 😉

The brilliant Dr. Walker Karraa has agreed to write the foreword. She’s the author of the highly acclaimed book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma, Healing and Growth (a #1 bestseller in the Amazon postpartum category) and founder of the wildly popular site Stigmama. http://stigmama.com./

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Now, many of the bloggers I read are absolutely amazing writers. (I bet you’re one of them!) There are numerous blogs containing writing that’s far superior to mine. So why did this deal happen if my writing isn’t National Book Critics Circle Award-worthy?  I’m stealing an answer from the talented author Kim Hooper. Hooper recently acquired a book deal with St. Martin’s Press for her book People Who Knew Me, and in her blog http://www.kimhooperwrites.com/she states,

“I still believe that getting a book deal is based less on talent than on luck and persistence.  I mean yes, you have to be a good writer.  But you have to keep trying, again and again and again.  And again.”

Kim’s right.

For years I’ve searched high and low for a book depicting PPBD, and to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing out there.  Like every author who’s passionate about her book, I believe my topics are worthwhile, interesting, and unique. That belief keeps me going when I wonder why the hell anyone would read my book.

Life hasn’t been all wine and roses since I got my happy news.  I’ve woken up many mornings at the grisly hour of 4:00 a.m. in a panic, wondering if I can pull any of this off.  I’ve been heartened by the encouragement of bloggers including Kitt O’Malley http://kittomalley.com/ Blahpolar Diaries https://bipolardyke.wordpress.com/ , Genevieve Desrochers/ Birth of a Bipolar Mother http://www.post-partum-bipolaire.me/, Anonymous, https://hidinginthespotlight.wordpress.com/, L.E. Henderson http://passionatereason.com/ and Laura Droege https://lauradroege.wordpress.com/.

All of your comments have bolstered my spirits when I’ve felt like giving up! Thank you!!! 

I’m also extraordinarily lucky to have a writing mentor in Wendy K. Williamson. https://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/ and 

http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I discovered Wendy years ago through one of my first Kindle purchases. I bought her bestselling memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar, never imagining that we’d correspond and become friends.

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Author Greg Archer (Grace Revealed) has also served as a magnificent mentor. The day Greg surprised me with a profile in the Huffington Post in which he praised my writing nearly made me keel over.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-archer/agents-of-change-5-inspir_b_5992870.html

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My husband Craig went through the publishing process for his award-winning book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.  When it came to negotiating my contract, he helped me fully understand every item in the document.

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There’s a little more to my publishing journey that makes this “birthday gift” significant.

In 2013, I landed a book deal with another publisher. When I got my contract it was absolutely thrilling, of course! Unfortunately, a few days later I relapsed with bipolar depression. I was hospitalized three times within six weeks. When I was released from the unit the third time, I remained terribly depressed. I continued with the bilateral electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy I had requested as an inpatient.  ECT helped me out of suicidal ideation, but back then I couldn’t write a few sentences to save my life.  I had to back out of my contract.

I didn’t think I’d get a second chance at remotely feeling like writing a book, but maybe my Dad had a hand in this one. Finding a great psychiatrist and an effective combination of medication were essential.

 

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Richard Leshin, May 22, 1927 – January 6, 2009   How he loved reading!  

And Mom, you inspired me to read. Thank you for buying me wonderful books as soon as I could hold one up, and for always believing I was a writer. Xo

 

I’m excited to work with Post Hill Press, an independent, progressive publisher. www.posthillpress.com  The team I’m working with has experience at several “Big Six” publishers, and their list features 20 New York Times non-fiction and fiction bestsellers. Post Hill Press publishes books that I purchased long before I even wrote my proposal. (I took that as a good omen!)  

Thanks for reading, thanks for inspiring me through your blogs, and thanks for your “likes” and comments, all of which have motivated me to keep submitting my book proposal again and again and again.

(and again!)

 Dyane

 

Please “like” the Post Hill Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/PostHillPress

Follow Post Hill Press on Twitter:

@PostHillPress

Do YOU think bipolar disorder is a gift?

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Sooooooo, my friends, I usually just post once a week, but I can’t help posting once more.

I’ve gotten into a relatively new habit of checking out the Word Press Freshly Pressed selections.

On Thursday I spotted this post in the line-up:

https://mybeautifulmachine.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/bipolar-as-unexpected-gift/

While I was genuinely glad that the topic of bipolar disorder attracted the attention of the WordPress editorial staff, I was also disappointed.

Why?

Because, because, because, because…(and I know some of you will disagree with me on this point, but I still love you!)

I can’t stomach calling bipolar disorder a gift.  My Dad had bipolar disorder, and he didn’t think it was a gift either!  

I guess when it comes to mental illness, my attitude of non-gratitude runs in the family!

(And I wonder why Oprah won’t return my phone calls about being interviewed on her

“Super Soul Sunday” show!!!)

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I’ve read numerous bipolar-themed memoirs and articles over the past decade. I observed in those works that a sizable portion of the writers who felt their bipolar disorder to be a gift didn’t have children.  I couldn’t help but notice that the author of the Freshly Pressed blog piece doesn’t have children.  I feel that if asked, most children who have been adversely affected by their parent’s bipolar disorder would not consider the mental illness as a gift.  

Other people who consider their bipolar disorder to be a gift are profoundly helped by their belief.  Some of these “others” are my friends or acquaintances who I admire very much.  Please – I don’t mean to offend you.  We can agree to disagree on this matter.  I won’t write about it much more; as you can see, I’m getting it out of my system today.  To tell you the truth, I feel like a shit for not thinking the same way as you/them.

But back to the Freshly Pressed blog post!  I skimmed the “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” post’s comments so far, and I didn’t recognize a single soul from my beloved bipolar blogging community.  I was surprised about that!  I wanted to see what y’all thought.  I also noticed that not a single person to date has written to voice any disagreement with the premise that bipolar is a gift.  That gave me pause; I’ll write more about that later.

Take a look at the Freshly Pressed post.  

What do you think?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

XO,

Dyane

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Wait!

Here’s a looong p.s. 

At first I felt so bummed out about the Freshly Pressed choice that I decided to write a letter to WordPress voicing my opinion.  I contacted the WordPress help forum to ask where I should send my email, and I wrote,   

To be honest, I was on the fence about even contacting WordPress, and I still am a bit hesitant. 🙂 However, I feel compelled to speak up in the hopes that I will be heard.”

The longtime WordPress volunteer, with whom I had positive, friendly correspondence in the past, surprised me with her caustic reply.  

She wrote, “Understood but do be prepared to note that some think mental illness is a gift and some think it is a curse.”

Really???   I’d never thunka that before! I thought. 

Just kidding!  

Her curt, patronizing reply made me think that maybe the WordPress folks, as much as I love WordPress, might not get where I was coming from. Meanwhile the uber-paranoid part of me feared they’d shut down my WordPress “dissenter” account!  I’d have to, gasp, go to the inferior Blogger!

I decided not to send it the “Happiness Engineer” after all.  I felt that my complaint sounded too much like sour grapes (well, I admit maybe I was just a bit envious, okay, okay!) and it ultimately my email wouldn’t make a difference.  Here are some excerpts from my email:  

“Dear G.,

I appreciate your finding the topic of bipolar disorder a worthy Freshly Pressed selection! As a blogger with bipolar disorder, I was excited to spot the word “bipolar” in Freshly Pressed. However, the complete title “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” made my heart sink.

Over the past few years there has been a media trend to sugarcoat bipolar disorder.  This was most recently displayed in the Huffington Post article “The Six Gifts of Mental Illness” and in numerous other articles.

I follow bipolar disorder in the media very closely.  I’m a longtime volunteer for the International Bipolar Foundation, a member of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and my WordPress blog was nominated for a WEGO Health “Best in Show Blog”. I’m a mental health advocate with a focus upon mothers who have bipolar disorder. My father had bipolar disorder as well.

Recently I did an informal study of responses to two articles about bipolar disorder being considered a gift.  I noted that roughly 50% of those replies disagreed with that concept.

While I’m genuinely glad that the Freshly Pressed blogger has found bipolar to be a gift in his life, I feel his point of view places pressure on those WordPress bloggers who have mental illness and haven’t found it to be a gift. (And I’m one of them, obviously! : ) When I see Freshly Pressed titles equating bipolar as a gift, whether it’s expected or unexpected, I feel that it minimizes my condition.  Due to the total lack of any critical comments about his post so far, and the low statistics compared to other Freshly Pressed selections, I suspect that many people chose not to read his post after spotting the title. 

I love WordPress, and I was hesitant to contact you, but this is a topic that’s very close to my heart.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reading this, and I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from.   There is an incredible array of WordPress bloggers with bipolar disorder.  For future Freshly Pressed choices I encourage you to check out Blahpolar Diaries, Kitt O’Malley, Stigmama, Bipolar1Blog, The Lithium Chronicles, and The Bipolar Mama.  I’m leaving out other ones I love, but that’s a great start!  Thank you once again for your time.

take care and all my best,

Dyane”