Link

When I read this quote my first thought was:

“Whoa…Sylvia Plath must have been manic when she wrote that!”

 

(Please note: this post was written before the Las Vegas tragedy.)

 

 

I know that things could be worse in my life.

Much, much worse.

Those of you familiar with my background know what events I’m referring to, but for those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the backstory:

I’ve been a revolving door hospital patient. I suffered from treatment-resistant bipolar depression for seven years, I’ve been suicidal, and I’ve had two rounds of electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy.

After all that, one would assume a writing rejection is not that big a deal.

Right?

Wrong.

This particular rejection really got to me. I thought my submission was good—it wasn’t amazing, but I felt it had merit. Despite the fact my submission focused on a rare mental illness, its content was relevant to readers with mood disorders of different kinds. The essay fit the editors’ specifications I had carefully perused. I had checked with the editors to make sure my topic would be appropriate and I got the go-ahead.

Here’s my rejection email:

Dear Dyane,

You are a horrible writer and geez – you need to do something else, anything else, like take up knitting, or create an herb window garden, or explore vegan cooking.

(Just kidding!)

Thanks so much for your submission to How the Light Gets In. After reading through entries, conferring, reading, and conferring more, we’re sorry to tell you that we won’t be including “The Deja vu Conversation” in the anthology. As writers, we know how much time and effort (not to mention gumption!) it takes to craft and submit a piece. Thank you for trusting us with it. We received an overwhelming amount of beautiful entries.

It was a nice problem to have. But also, it made the process of choosing very difficult. We sincerely appreciate you sharing your work with us. Also, thank you for adding your voice to the larger story of mental illness. It’s encouraging to see that there are many of us speaking up and helping to break the stigma that surrounds mental health. None of us are alone in our battles. 

Again, thank you for submitting and all the best as you move forward,

Kelley and Gillian

My take: they should have stopped the email after the first paragraph. The remainder seems saccharine and uses a cliché. I believe a rejection email should be brief and condescension-free unless it has specific feedback for the writer.

Everyone gets rejections – one of J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters said she should join a writing group!

 

I was especially vulnerable on Rejection Day because I had a cold. I get a nasty bug every October, although this year I was doing all I could to prevent it.

Because of my cold, I wasn’t able to get out with Lucy for our restorative, attitude-adjusting walks that almost always improve my mood.


Recently, I was inspired by my blogging friend Sara Gethin whose hit novel Not Thomas received very challenging criticism in the British daily newspaper The Guardian. While it wasn’t writing rejection per se, negative reviews have much in common with writing rejection.

She took the criticism in stride—she has such a great attitude, one I wish she could bottle and sell to me. Gethin’s situation was unique and I encourage you to read this post, part one, and this post, part two, about her experience being nominated for a fiercely competitive Reader’s Choice contest. 


 

I need to focus on something wonderful instead: the publication of my book on Tuesday! And guess what? My first case of my books arrives TODAY by 6:00 p.m.!!!!

I’m so excited!

I’ll be taking pictures of the books fresh out of the box. I feel like they’re my babies. (I know that’s weird, but it’s true.)

Please don’t forget to tell your friends, your social networks, and everyone else you know on this planet to buy Birth of a New Brain on Tuesday, October 10th. If at all possible, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll be forever in your debt!

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!!!

Love,

Dyane


This collie looks so much like Lucy, it’s uncanny! I’m not getting the costume though. It got bad reviews, and I know Lucy would hate it.

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw,

will be published on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10th – hurrah!

Until then, Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback pre-sales.

 

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Is My Book Worthy of Being Published & More Redux

ImageI wrote this post in January, 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago. It was before I received my all-time favorite birthday gift. 

I’ve been sick the past couple days with a nasty cold/cough…

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While I’ve been stuck in bed, I revisited some of my oldest blog posts. Is My Book Worthy of Being Published? & More caught my eye. I wanted to share a revised edition of the post, and I hope you enjoy it!

These days I’m focusing on writing blog posts rather than completing my memoir. Unfortunately when I write blog posts I feel like I’m “cheating” on my book, if that makes any sense! Oh well – I could have worse problems, right?

Apart from feeling like I’m a cheater, I go through fits and starts about whether or not I even have a story worth publishing. 

For those of you writing books, do you feel the same way?

On the one hand, I would’ve appreciated reading a book about my particular diagnosis. As of now, there’s no book I can find that specifically addresses postpartum bipolar disorder. If that continues to be the case, it’s a blessing in disguise, since I want my book to stand out in the sea of ubiquitous bipolar memoirs.

Oftentimes when a writer covers a particular unusual topic, another writer halfway across the world (or even down the street) is writing about the same specialized subject  This happened with my husband’s book about a West Coast aviation pioneer named John J. Montgomery, a contemporary of the Wright Brothers. In all honesty Craig’s book was far superior than the other book in terms of writing quality. 😉 Additionally, Craig is John J. Montgomery’s great, great nephew, and he had access to amazing primary sources that no one else had.

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Team Harwood prepping a case Craig’s books with protective plastic covers. The girls will sell them at his next book talk, a benefit for the Friends of the Library. Craig’s still in demand for presentations although his book was published in 2012! He has only had a few people fall asleep during his talks – one snored very loudly.

At this point, I’m in too deep to renounce finishing Birth of a New Brain, so I’m going to keep plugging away. 

UnknownOn a related note, I have a hobby that inspires me to not give up writing my book .  

When I wind down in the evening, I search my Kindle Fire’s Store using the keyword “bipolar”. Then I select the “Recently published” sort. I do a separate search and sort for “postpartum”. 

 

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KINDLE FIRE

 

I’ve noticed that more and more bipolar disorder and postpartum-related books are being published. (Note: This trend is much stronger now than it was in 2014!)  

I can tell at a glance that most of the bipolar-themed books I spot in the Kindle Store are unimpressive. Just from reading these books’ descriptions I notice the writing is inferior. To be blunt, these books (which are sometimes less than 40 pages long, yet sport titles such as All About Bipolar Disorder!) simply don’t contain many redeeming qualities!

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At 39 pages, I doubt this book is comprehensive. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Dr. Morrison for my doctor!

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Let me tell you all, quack, about, quack, quack, bipolar disorder!!!

Other books appear to be personal journals rather than books meticulously crafted for the public. (I know this because out of sheer curiosity I download free samples of those books; I love Kindle’s sample feature!)

Why do these observations motivate me to continue writing my book? Well, I might have just flamed the inferior quality of 90% of what gets published, but I do admire those writers for their chutzpah – for “just doing it”. If they can do it, why can’t I? 

Through my Kindle searches I also notice which publishers release mental health books, and then I dream of landing a publisher specializing in mental health issues such as New Harbinger (Update: they soundly rejected me) or Hay House.

When I feel down about taking forever to get my book done, I think of my husband Craig. His award-winning book Quest for Flight (University of Oklahoma Press) took seven years to write while he also worked full-time and was hit with my bipolar disorder illness, seven hospitalizations, and other crises. He wrote for fifteen minutes a day, usually before the rest of the family got up to distract him.

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I love the cover! 

 

I don’t want to take seven more years to finish Birth of a New Brain, but witnessing Craig’s slow, steady and successful path ha helped fire me up to continue writing my blog and return to working on my book soon.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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The 9th Time’s The Charm (A Writing Rejection Fairytale)

DyaneAndLucy

Me aewd my ghostwriter Lucy

 

Happy almost-Friday, my friends!

This week life managed to surprise me in a good way. I’ll be honest with you…I liked it!

Some of you may remember the plethora of posts I’ve written about my writing rejection, i.e. Let’s Play The Schadenfreude Game – A Writer’s 1st Rejection, Chopped Liver (A Writing Rejection Merry-Go-Round), and Becoming More Lizard-Like (Another Ode to Writing Rejection).

I’ve had my blog pitches rejected by various Huffington Post editors a whopping eight times over the past 18 months. At one point I became so full of sour grapes over my Huffington Post rejections that I immersed myself in bath of negativity. I read articles written by people who despise the Huffington Post and who had their work rejected too. (There! See? I share my dark side with you – I never pretend to be Mrs. Glitterfart here!) 

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I vowed to stop submitting to them because what was the point? 

A few weeks ago I was surfing the web. I don’t remember what I looking for in particular, except that it wasn’t Huffington Post-related because I was burned out on them, as you might imagine.

But when I serendipitously found this post on Erin’s Inside Job about how she landed her Huffington Post blogging gig I couldn’t resist my curiosity. In it, Erin explains how her pitches were constantly rejected, and she decided to go straight to the top. She pitched her blog post idea to HuffPost’s founder Arianna Huffington and was successful. It sounded too good to be true.

After reading that, I drank a mug of my new favorite caffeinated beverage called “The Godfather Latte“.

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Thanks, in part, to the power of this magical chai tea combined with my two favorite food groups: espresso and chocolate, I was a bit high and figured I had nothing to lose by emailing Arianna Huffington except more pride.

Apart from The Godfather, what motivated me to make this final attempt was that I was profiled twice in Ariana Huffington’s paper & I got positive feedback. While neither of those profiles went viral, the statistics on the HuffPost Women profile weren’t shabby either. Plus the HuffPost Women profile (the one I shared everywhere except under rocks) was mostly comprised of my own writing, so it was almost a blog post in itself, ha ha!

I hastily drafted an email. I made the egregious mistake of ignoring this cardinal rule: “Any email meant for an editor’s eyes must be very short, i.e. 2-3 lines” Whoops!

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C’mon, Arianna, show me some blogging love!

 

Here’s the novella I sent to her:

“Dear Arianna,

I hope this finds you well!

I’ve had the honor of being profiled in HuffPost twice! The 2nd piece
(about my having the least-known perinatal mood & anxiety disorder/form of bipolar called postpartum bipolar) was written by Dr. Laurie Hollman and got great views, shares & comments:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/a-successful-working-moth_b…

HuffPost Blogger Greg Archer chose me as an “Inspiring Agent of Change”:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/agents-of-change-5-inspir_b…

I’ve submitted a pitch to HuffPost Stronger Together, Healthy Living, HuffPostWomen and the general box about my experience with this obscure-yet-relevant perinatal mood & anxiety disorder to no avail.

The piece would be worthwhile to your readers. Bipolar disorder, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis have recently made media headlines. “Touched With Fire”, the film about bipolar disorder, the U.K.”EastEnders” postpartum psychosis storyline, and the postpartum depression screening ruling are a few examples.

It’s the perfect time to spread the word about postpartum bipolar disorder; despite the fact it’s more obscure, it’s a very relevant perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and just as important as the other seven perinatal mood disorders.

Do you think you or your staff could help me? I’m copying my article below.

Thanks so much for your consideration,

Dyane”

I emailed her two weeks ago and promptly forgot about it.

Last Monday, in my blurry-eyed state, I opened my email and spotted a subject header that said “An invitation to blog for Huffington Post”.

My first thought? Spam.

I opened it anyway.

It seemed real! I couldn’t believe it. Still dubious, I reviewed the email. It didn’t ask me to buy a penis enlarger. There were instructions: a form to submit and a request for my profile picture. Then I received a confirmation and further instructions from The New York Scientology Society (just kidding!)  no, – it was “The Huffington Post Team”! 

Wow!

It was so awesome to receive good news like this, especially as it has been a hard time for most of us, hasn’t it? 

Family and ex-friend dilemmas that I haven’t been able to blog in depth about (as much as I’ve wanted to, believe me) have been testing me, so having my HuffPost pitch finally accepted was a beautiful validation that I was doing something right. While sure, it’s not The New York Times, it’s an opportunity to get the word out about perinatal mental health, a subject close to my heart. That’s what matters to me.

 

Karen Kleiman gets it right!

Karen Kleiman gets it right!

If you ever feel like giving up on doing something, but feel compelled to try again, please remember this little story. You never know…

And with every fiber of my being, I wish you each a happy surprise of your own. You all deserve them!!! (Maybe you can share one of yours here? 😉 – subtle hint.

See you next week!

lots of love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Becoming More Lizard-like (Another Ode to Writing Rejection)

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“Tell me about your childhood!”

 

Hello there!

It’s me, your epidermally abundant friend, sharing my latest literary brush-off with you from my neck of the (red)woods.

Yes, I’m developing a thicker skin, and it even grew a few millimeters more overnight!

At least in my most recent turndown, a different one than what I wrote about last week, I knew there was a strong chance my submission would be rejected. Even so, I felt stung upon receiving the news.  

The same-old thoughts paced frantically through my brain which included You’re not good enough!, Why even bother?, and of course the classic:

Your writing sucks! 

Then I switched gears.

I reminded myself that my writing reflects who I am, and no one else can create rambling prose quite the way I do! Simplistic as that may sound, it comforts me.

The editor who rejected my writing is just one person. With her own subjectivityIt’s not like a panel of twenty experts decided my writing wasn’t up to snuff.

I licked my ego wounds. I vented a bit around the house and sat down at my laptop. My writing muse/collie Lucy promptly sat gently and warmly in her special spot, which is upon my foot. I felt better than I thought I would.

I started writing again. It was the best antidote to literary rejection besides chocolate.

 

For fun, I grabbed my mental surfboard to go online surfing to review  famous author rejection letters. I came across these excerpts from Writer’s Relief. One excerpt falls in the WTF category – can you guess what # it is?

  1. Sylvia Plath: There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.
  2. Rudyard Kipling: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.
  3. J. G. Ballard: The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.
  4. Emily Dickinson: [Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.
  5. Ernest Hemingway (regarding The Torrents of Spring): It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.

Writer’s Relief Inc.’s blog post “How to Interpret Rejection Letters from Literary Agents And Editors” is worth a visit. I especially like the opening paragraph:

Rejection letters from literary agents and editors of literary journals can be discouraging—especially impersonal, one-line form letters. But rejection is a necessary part of the writing process, and creative writers should know how to interpret the information in rejection letters and then use this knowledge to improve their submissions.

Sounds good to me.

As my loyal friend, hilarious visionary and former Good Times editor, the gifted author Greg Archer, often says:

ONWARD 

 

 

I’m now on Instagram! You can follow me here: birthofanewbrain

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth)will be published by   Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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Chopped Liver (The Writing Rejection Merry-Go-Round)

 

ZaydeLucy

“Bubbeleh, is my writing chopped liver???”

 

DEDICATION:

This post goes out to all writers who don’t give up on the publishing game.

Lucy and I salute you!imagesI mean….

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Recently I emailed an essay to a local magazine that publishes personal essays and poetry. The publication has a special interest in pieces about writing and life in this area. I’ll call it The Banana Slug Gazette. 

Yesterday I read the current issue and chuckled when I recognized two of its writers. These men were members of a gym where I worked as a desk attendant/certified personal trainer in the 1990’s. We had some lively chats at that front desk. Back then, I didn’t know the two members were writers, but they were my favorite kind of member: warm, witty and kind; in other words, they treated me as a person rather than a warm body whose only value was in handing them fresh towels.

I read their pieces, and I thought my writing was at the same level. Clearly none of us had the talent of another local writer, some guy you may have heard of named Jonathan Franzen. I noticed their submissions had nothing  to do with life in Santa Cruz, or writing.

I submitted The Found Girl  to The Banana Slug Gazette because it included (and examined) local references and, most importantly, I believed in it. I thought that my topic of surviving mental illness (a subject I hadn’t noticed covered in the archives of The Banana Slug Gazettemade it a worthwhile read.

A few days ago I received an email from the Gazette editor. She wrote,  

“Thanks for your heartfelt nonfiction submission. It doesn’t fit with our needs right now, but I thought it was very well done.”

Okay, it could have been worse…

But it’s never fun to read an editor’s “thanks, but no thanks”, and by her wording, it was clear that The Found Girl would never fit with the Gazette’s “needs”. I was being let down with faint, insincere praise.

Yes, rejection is a de rigueur experience for any writer. It has happened to me quite a bit, and some of you may recall that I’ve whined blogged about writing rejection here and here.

After reading the Gazette email, I reacted poorly. Apparently I haven’t earned my Writing Rejection Yellow Belt yet! The bottom line was that I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough. Despite my having a literature degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, landing two book deals and having my articles published over two decades, I felt like my writing sucked and that I sucked too! 

This icky feeling of unworthiness made me want to email the Gazette’s editor and fire off this puuurrfect William Shakespeare invective:

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King Lear

 

My next thought was this: As The Found Girl mentions my struggle with bipolar disorder, I couldn’t help but wonder if mental illness stigma also played a role in my rejection. Could it be that mental illness wasn’t a “deep” enough topic for this small-town literary magazine?

Who knows.

 

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It’s most likely that the editor simply didn’t like my writing. Perhaps my essay was written too informally. But we’re talking about one person who, according to my Google Advanced Search, isn’t a professional editor, agent, or accomplished writer. She’s doing her editorial work as a labor of love; I just wished she loved my essay!

Why did I even want The Found Girl to appear in the Gazette? The magazine isn’t well known – it’s no Tin House or Glimmer Train. However, I really liked the grassroots aspect of it. I wanted to connect with that particular group of writers. I wanted to be published where I live, writing about one of the subjects that’s closest to my heart.

To that end, yesterday I submitted yet another piece to The Banana Slug Gazette, and I won’t stop trying until they publish me or fold! 

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In memory of my father Richard David Leshin, violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, May 22, 1927-January 6th, 2009. Dad, I miss you more than words can express.

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Dad and Dyane, Santa Cruz, 2005. I’m 8 mos. pregnant with Avonlea

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa, will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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My 1st Fellowship Award! The Catamaran Writing Conference

 

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On Tuesday I was awarded a Fellowship to study Creative Nonfiction and Memoir with Frances Lefkowitz at the 2015 Catamaran Writing Conference. 

I still can’t believe it!

A little backstory: in 2012 I read about the new, local Catamaran Literary Reader. Each issue was filled with first-rate writers. Many of them had received the highest writing accolades possible. I never dreamed of submitting my writing to the editors, especially since my unrelenting bipolar depression got in the way.

In 2013 after a seven-year-long search, I finally found a medication combination that alleviated my paralyzing depression: lithium and an MAOI. I started this blog and returned to work on my partially written memoir Birth of a New Brain.

Fast forward to last month. I wanted to attend a writing workshop that could help me improve my first draft. Through a Google search I found the Catamaran Writing Conference. This annual event is held at a beautiful Pebble Beach campus complete with field trips. It sounded like a glorious summer camp for writers!

I looked at the cost and gulped. No way, I thought. Ain’t gonna happen. 

However, I couldn’t get the conference out of my mind. After three cups of Steve’s Smooth French coffee (for the record, the coffee mug was small!) I wondered if scholarships were available  I emailed an inquiry to the Catamaran office and got on with my day. Within hours the conference coordinator emailed me,”Yes, we offer several fellowships, and here’s the link to apply.” 

Why the hell not? I thought.

Some of you know I’ve been through plenty of literary rejection that brought up slight 😉 anger and insecurity issues. See this link for the gory details: https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/lets-play-the-schadenfreude-game-a-writers-1st-rejection/

 

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To get fired up to write my application, I re-read the description of the Nonfiction Workshop I wanted to take. The teacher, renowned writer Frances Lefkowitz (author of To Have Not, a highly acclaimed memoir about growing up poor in San Francisco), seemed like she’d be an ideal guide. Lefkowitz has led numerous memoir workshops. She won a grant to teach free memoir workshops at libraries – how cool is that? (I’ve worked for the Santa Cruz Libraries and Friends of the Santa Cruz Libraries; I’m a bit of a library fan.) Participating in her workshop would be a unique opportunity, bar none.

Moreover, Frances Lefkowitz has the same first name as my beloved Granny who was also a gifted teacher. I blogged about my remarkable grandmother for the first time last week. The name coincidence and timing seemed like a good omen that tickled me in the face.

Still, I knew that it was highly unlikely I’d be awarded a fellowship. Surely the staff received a gazillion entries from outstanding writers with talents far superior to mine – writers who were destined to win oodles of Pushcart Prizes and PEN Literary Awards. 

On Tuesday morning I sat in front of my laptop, perplexed. The past month I’ve gone through an awful writing block. I’ve worked on my book here and there instead of during every precious child-free opportunity that I’ve had. (I suspect that my Seroquel withdrawal has had something to do with my struggle.)

My dog Lucy sat on my foot, her warm, furry flank reassuring me of her affection. I began to sob with frustration. Lucy immediately jumped up in alarm and licked my face. As soon as I dried my tears, I noticed a new email had popped up in my in-box.

It was from the Catamaran Literary Reader.

I stared at my in-box. I felt slightly sick to my stomach. I wanted this fellowship. Ever since I emailed my application I wrote nightly affirmations stating I’d receive the award. I furtively placed these slips of paper under my pillow. (This is hippie-dippie Santa Cruz after all, and in twenty-seven years of living here, I’ve never written positive affirmations!)

Despite my pillow plea to the Universe, I knew that the email was likely to be a rejection. Before opening it I braced myself. I took a deep breath. I opened the email and read, ” The editors have chosen you to receive a Fellowship Award to study Creative Nonfiction and Memoir with Frances Lefkowitz during the 2015 conference.”

I let out an enormous, happy scream. Poor Lucy. She barked madly while I danced around in circles like a freak. I’m so grateful for this beautiful award, and I’m honored that the Catamaran editors were “impressed” with my submission!

Since then, I’ve been absorbed with reading my teacher’s memoir; it’s not required, but after reading its rave reviews and spotting its $2.99 cost on Kindle, I was compelled to buy it. I’ve read the first few chapters and it’s incredible. My good friend/blogger Kitt O’Malley (http://kittomalley.com) noticed my enthusiastic tweet about this book and she also bought it. I know she’ll find it a riveting read as well. 

I’ve checked out Lufkowitz’s blog Paper in My Shoe and some of her interviews to get a sense of her teaching style and philosophy. All of these interviews contained excellent writing advice.

Here’s one piece of wisdom she shared on the Fictionaut blog that many of us bloggers/writers can utilize. 

http://fictionaut.com/blog/2012/04/11/fictionaut-five-frances-lefkowitz/

What’s the best writer’s advice you ever got?

Frances Lefkowitz: When submitting stories to publications, always keep several pieces in circulation, so when one comes back rejected, you still have the others keeping hope alive. Also, for the same reason, send that rejected one out immediately to another journal. This advice came from the wonderful Pamela Painter, who taught me fiction at Harvard’s night school.

It’s not too late to sign up for the conference! Details are posted below. 

I’ll be back next week with an update on the Seroquel withdrawal blues, which was meant to be today’s original topic until I got this lovely conference news. 🙂 

take care, and have a wonderful weekend!

love, Dyane

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To buy To Have Not go to :http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003GDIA32/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=0434WR0JN7PNWSVJ7ACW&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2079475242&pf_rd_i=desktop

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@YesFrances
Frances Lufkowtiz’s cool website/blog Paper In My Shoe 

http://www.franceslefkowitz.net/blog/

 

For information about the 2015 Catamaran Conference in Pebble Beach this August, visit:

http://catamaranliteraryreader.com/conference-2015/

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

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

 

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