Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s “Metronome”

The gifted author/poet Alexis Zinkerman

 

 

Alexis Zinkerman is a journalist, poet, and mental health advocate, and she has bipolar one disorder. She holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University, and her novella Brooklyn’s Song is available on Amazon. Alexis was first diagnosed with bipolar in 1996, but it took her many more years to find the right treatment course.

I discovered Alexis’ blog A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health through her International Bipolar Foundation blog. She also has a website right here where you can sign up for her Love Notes newsletter.

Alexis is the reason why I broke my “I Only Donate to One NAMI Participant/Year” rule.

When it comes to NAMI walks, I’ve always donated to my dear friend, the advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley. (Follow her blog here!)

But I made an exception for Alexis. You’ll see why after you read her April 14th post “You Can Help Too. No Amount Is Too Small” which I’ve copied, in part, below. (I changed the color settings and font sizes found on the original post.)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To celebrate I will be running/walking in a 5K to help NAMI-CT. NAMI-CT offers support groups for people with mental health conditions as well as monitors legislative activity at the state level on mental health policy. They also educate schools and parents on mental illness. I wrote their annual report a few years ago.

This is a cool organization and I hope you’ll help me if you can…I sincerely understand if funds are tight for you, readers. But if anyone out there wants to forgo that morning coffee and support a great cause, no amount is too small. All your donations will go directly to NAMI-CT. I have been training for this 5K for over a year now with strength training and running on the treadmill and outside when weather permits. I will think of all my readers as I run/walk this event.

And…anyone who donates will receive a personalized poem from me on the topic of their choice.” 

 

I donated $10 to Alexis’ NAMI group, and this is the poem she wrote for me:

 

Metronome

Stability.

Why am I this dried up

when on meds?

Lithium, you save my soul

but

I no longer have the creativity

and manic energy

I need to function

There are manic floods

and depressive droughts

Then, there are droughts

caused by the meds

Droughts where you feel

nothing

not the highs or the lows

The doctor evened you out

so you forgot how to feel

I want to be manic again

so I can sing poetry to the sky,

write all night,

be super-productive…

I want to be manic again

I miss my creative thoughts

coming at rapid speeds faster

than I can write them down

But the drought of no emotion

is here to stay

I must re-learn how to feel

what everyone else feels

without the extremes.

I don’t like it this way

but at least, I have a life.

 

(c) Alexis Zinkerman

 

After I read Metronome, I emailed Alexis. This is an excerpt of that message:

My god, you have the poetic gift, Alexis!

I'll start with the title:  Metronome.

Well, it's perfect in many ways. It brought back memories of my 
violinist Dad's metronome ticking away in his practice room which 
was next to my bedroom. I found it to be an object of fascination 
as a little girl.

I'll be honest - I'm usually not a poetry fan. I've never 
gravitated to the majority of the poems of Madeleine L'Engle & L.M.Montgomery, my two favorite authors. They were *big* on writing 
poetry, and they frequently referenced others' poems in many of 
their works.

Your style reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's: bold, vivid, and true

Your amazing piece spoke to me.
First off, I could understand it - that's a major plus.
There are soooo many poems that are beautiful to read, but frankly I have no idea what they're about, therefore I get frustrated and Ifeel dumb.

Not so with yours! Hurrah!

Second, you get bipolar. You clearly understand mania and what 
lithium can do. In a remarkably concise way, you express this 
complex mood disorder (including the hypergraphia I had) so 
poignantly and lyrically.

Wow!  Just wow!

 

Please consider donating a few dollars to Alexis’ team (and Kitt’s, if you’re flush with cash! 😉 and you’ll be thrilled when you receive a personalized poem in return.

You can follow Alexis on Twitter: @azinkerman

Next Friday, my friends I’ll publish a post about how my first talk for Toastmasters went.  I’m scheduled to do it on May 3rd.  It’ll be a tale of sweat, tears, anxiety, and (hopefully) triumph for making it through the four-six minute speech without passing out.

I’ll try to record it so I can share it with you here.  In the meantime, take good care of yourselves!

Lots of love,

Dyane

 

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017.

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

I Faced My Fear! (Well, Partially…)

Last Wednesday I went to my first Toastmasters Meeting and I survived! (I wrote about my fear of public speaking in this post and described a little bit about what the Toastmasters do.)

With a groovy name chapter name like “The Redwood Ramblers,” how could these Toastmasters not be a cool bunch? Nevertheless, I had my doubts…

I had a surprisingly good time! After the hour-long meeting flew by, I wanted to linger and get to know these brave souls!

I had almost bailed an hour before the meeting began, but I knew if I did that, I’d feel rotten. Plus one of the members had taken the time to contact me a few days beforehand (I RSVP’d on their Meetup site), and she encouraged me to show up. I felt compelled to give this group a chance.

I’m so glad I faced my fear.

When I arrived, I was made to feel so welcome by the members. Guests are allowed to be a fly on the wall, and that was a blessing since I wasn’t quite ready to speak! (Um, that’s my understatement of the year!)

This is me!!!

Everyone gave a short talk approximately four minutes long (most members spoke less than that) and each person was interesting. It was “Soap Box” day and we met outside in a park, but the meetings are usually in a building.  The topics ranged from inspiring to educational to “ranty” to funny.

The meeting was well organized; it started and ended right on time since it was the lunch hour. There were treats that included red velvet cookies – how exciting! 😉 (There were healthy snacks too.)

My first assignment or “Project One,” is called “The Ice Breaker.” I was given a packet of materials and the instructions for The Ice Breaker are four pages (!) but I’ll sum it up for you:

For your first speech project you will introduce yourself to your fellow club members and give them some information about your background, interests, and ambitions. Practice giving your speech to friends or family members, (I interject here: Lucy is in for it, that poor dog!) and strive to make eye contact with some of your audience.

You may use notes during your speech (I interject again: HELL YEAH, I’LL USE NOTES!!!) if you wish. Read the entire four pages before preparing your talk.

Objectives: To begin speaking in front of an audience

To begin speaking in front of an audience

To discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need your attention

Time: four to six minutes

Gulp.

The next meeting is the Open House, and I want to do my first project the week after that, and then I’ll report back here!I ran a DBSA peer-to-peer support group for moms with bipolar. I like how Toastmasters is also based on peer-to-peer feedback and interaction.  

Simply getting to the first meeting was a huge step, and their slogan says it all for me:

“It all begins with that first visit.”

On a final note, yesterday my good friend, the author/blogger Lisa Henderson, shared a very cool find with me – you may already know about it because I think it has been around for a year.

(Shameless plug: Be sure to check out her new book Paw on Amazon, her blog Passionate Reason is here.)

These products made a big impression on the girls and Craig who are massive Star Trek fans. As cute as the suits are, I think I’m taking a pass until they come up with a Tribble-themed suit!

Okay, my friends, have a great weekend! 

Lots of love,

Dyane

p.s. Are you going to do something you’re afraid to do anytime soon? Tell me about it!

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017. 

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

Wake-Up Calls from the Universe

 

 

During the past week, I had an epiphany courtesy of my inner universe.

The inner universe is the area comprised of mysterious brain synapses and who knows what else…

Maybe subatomic bits of chocolate?

I can’t type “inner universe” without thinking of Crowded House’s hypnotic song Private Universe. 

Ever since the creation of my ARC, I’ve been obsessed with attaining book endorsements. I’ve contacted bestselling writers, experts in the bipolar and perinatal mental health fields, and celebrities.

When the rejections started coming in, they weren’t fun, as you can imagine. Some of my emails were ignored. (I’d rather get a rejection than no response at all!) But I knew from the get-go that rejections would be part of the process. 

I received five blurbs (you can see them here under Editorial Reviews) and more are on the way. 

How many blurbs does an author really need?

Well, there are publishing pros who believe a writer only needs a few blurbs. Other marketers such as Sarah Bolme suggest getting twenty to thirty! I encourage you to read her brief post about her rationale. Although Sarah’s specialty is Christian books, her perspective applies to all genres.

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I thought this book cover endorsement was witty. The image is blurry, so look closely & if you can’t read Julie’s quote, I copied it at the end of this post.

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Since March, I’d often think of an awesome celebrity I wanted to ask for a blurb. 

Stephen Fry!   Jessie Close!   Adele!   Sia!

 

Yet I already had more than enough blurbs. Last week I realized I knew what I truly wanted, and it wasn’t fifty glowing endorsements of my book. 

What I yearned for was a Mount Everest-sized amount of validation that I was worthwhile.

I thought that if extraordinary people approved of Birth of a New Brain, I’d have irrefutable proof that I was worthy as well. 

Stigma and all.

It was time to smash my longtime habit of seeking approval from others and look inward.

As Stuart Smalley would say….

 

As I looked inward, it wasn’t pretty. I noticed my shame of having a mental illness, feeling like I’m a mediocre writer, struggling with body image issues, and knowing I sometimes fail as the mother, wife, and friend I want to be. 

I spoke about all of that with my therapist this morning. She helped me reframe how I saw myself and my life. It wasn’t her first time doing that and it won’t be her last, but I’m determined to chip away at the shame and insecurity that have plagued me for a long time.

###

My Scottish collie Lucy serves as an inspiring role model even though she is of the canine persuasion. She possesses a healthy amount of self-esteem.

Just like Stuart Smalley, Lucy’s good enough! She’s smart enough! And gosh darn it, people like her! 

(Cats aren’t exactly thrilled with her, but hey – you can’t have everything!)

Here’s my furry girl after her bath. She pulls off her spiky Cher hairstyle with aplomb! 

On a completely separate note, I want to share a very cool, free resource with you. I can’t remember how I found out about it, but I’m glad I did. 

It’s called Net Galley and you can participate in it as a blogger. Here’s their nutshell description:

Why Register for NetGalley?

We’re looking for readers of influence who help to build buzz about new books. As a member, you will be able to request or be invited to read new books, primarily before they are published. In the book trade, these are called “galleys” (hence our name!).

You will be able to read galleys digitally, on all major reading devices and platforms, and provide reviews, recommendations, and nominations for industry lists, right from your account.

We’re delighted to be in the business of helping “professional readers” evaluate new titles. Anyone who reads and recommends books can use NetGalley for free. Welcome!

——

To register visit this link

I suggest you read this page before you create your blogger profile so publishers will like it and grant your book requests! I’ll start reading an advance copy of Jen Waite’ s A Beautiful, Terrible Thing this weekend.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Oh yes. There’s one more thing.

Have you had any epiphanies lately?  I’d like to know about one if you’re up for it! 

Lots of love & see you next week,

Dyane

 

When I did a Google search for “beautiful images of the universe” this picture came up.

 “The Real Miss Universe”

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017. 

 

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

 

  • “Pure genius. Brilliant. A literary masterpiece”
  • Julie Kraft (the author of the book! 😉 

The Comparison Greens/A Call for Submissions!


The salt flats of the vast Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, beneath which lies roughly 50 percent of the world’s supply of lithium.

 

In June 2015, I read Jaime Lowe’s New York Times Magazine article “I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium! My 20-year Struggle with Bipolar Disorder.”

The critically acclaimed article went viral. After I read it, I had a strong feeling – heck, it was more of a premonition — that she’d land a spectacular,  bipolar-themed book deal with a “Big Five” Publisher.

My envy of Lowe’s success made my tongue turn green!

 

A few months later, based on the enthusiastic recommendation of an editor, I subscribed to a trial of Publisher’s Weekly. The subscription included a daily email that announced new book deals in every genre. 

In my very first Publisher’s Weekly email, I spotted an announcement of Jaime Lowe’s book deal for Grand Delusions about being on lithium for bipolar disorder. 

After her article’s wildly positive receptionI knew her memoir would do well. My prediction was accurate in that Lowe landed a Big Five Publisher: Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House that was also Carrie Fisher’s last publisher for The Princess Diarist

In my typical paranoid fashion, an irrational thought slimed its way through my brain synapses:  

I hope Grand Delusions isn’t released when my book comes out – it would kick Birth of a New Brain’s ass!

Okay, friends. Fast forward nineteen months later to January 2017.

Thanks to my ghost writer Lucy, my book is finally written and edited! 

Every week I review Amazon’s list of upcoming bipolar-themed books. (I do this because like to know what kinds of books will be published, and sometimes I pre-order one if it intrigues me, such as this one.)

As usual, I was scanning Amazon’s bipolar books when I spotted Lowe’s Grand Delusions and its release date. I double-blinked when I saw it would be published in nine months on October 3rd, a week before my book publication date of October 10th.  

(If you sort our paperback books by the publication date, they are literally next to one another.)

My first thought was Waaaaah!!!!

Your first thought might be, “Shut up! I can’t even get out of bed.”

I thought that way for many, many years due to treatment-resistant bipolar depression. Please forgive my insensitivity and rudeness, and keep reading!

Here’s my wack-a-doo theory I call:

The Theory of Relativityinsecuritythisissoembarrassingyuckmouth

When a reader who wants to buy a bipolar memoir is faced with a choice of two books published the same week, they’ll buy the book written by the New York Times writer.

Believe me, I know how super-dumb this is, but that’s how my brain rolls.  

My topic is fundamentally different – I’m writing about postpartum bipolar and being a mother. As far as I know, Lowe isn’t a mom, and her book focuses on her experience with lithium.  

I spoke to my husband Craig, a published author of an award-winning book. (Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West)

“It’s actually a good thing,” he said. “The subject matter is being stirred up and promoted by the other author. On Kindle when people see what other books on the same topic have been bought, they might see yours and buy it.”

Okay, I’ll buy that.

But doesn’t it seem a teeny bit weird that out of all the days in the year, my book is alongside the very NYT Magazine superstar whose book I’ve been stalking tracking for 19 months?

Lowe’s book has a new title:

 

I almost didn’t share this post because it’s so petty, but it’s honest. That counts for something, even if I cringe when I press the “publish” button!

The heart of the matter is that I need to believe in my book’s worth. I won’t magically stop worrying about the competition, but I can remind myself, mantra-style, that my book will help people.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could write fiction and transport readers in that amazing way, but there’s a place for my book in this world.  And if you’re writing a book, or if you plan to do it, there’s a place for your book too.

I recommend Joanna Penn’s book The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey, specifically her section 1.11 “Why Write? There Are Already Too Many Books In The World,” and you’ll be encouraged.

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn Company


I want to share a call for submissions. I copied most of the details below. If you’re even a little bit interested, why not visit the website and go for it! The co-editors/renowned authors are very respectful of the topic and moreover, they’re cool. While there isn’t payment, it’s a worthwhile project.

Have a good weekend!!!

I’ll see you next week!

Xo,

Dyane

How the Light Gets in 

an anthology on parenting and mental illness

Call for Submissions

 

Kelley Clink, Co-Editor and Author of A Different Kind of Same

 Gillian Marchenko, Co-Editor and Author of Still Life

Submission Guidelines

  1. Narrative nonfiction–be it essay, memoir, or some kind of creative hybrid. It doesn’t have to be in first person, but it needs to be personal and true.
  2. Stories from a wide range of diagnoses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, and eating disorders, to name a few. Anything covered by the DSM is accepted.
  3. Focused writing with a clear point of view.
  4. Stories from every point on the parenting timeline, including essays by people who are expecting children, raising infants, toddlers, school age kids, or parenting adult children. Even people who are not yet parents (and maybe not sure they want to be).

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WHAT WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR

  1. Prescriptive or “How To.” Rather than giving advice, show how you tackled issues or disclosed personal information.
  2. Stories about Postpartum Depression (unless PPD was unresolved and became a chronic condition). These stories are valid and extremely important, but they have been written about extensively in other places.
  3. Stories about parenting a child with mental illness, unless it relates to your own experiences with mental illness and your parenting. Like PPD, these stories are important, and like PPD they have been written about in other places.
  4. Fiction. Changing names and details to protect privacy is okay, but the work submitted must reflect personal experience.
  5. Typos. Please read your work carefully and have others read it as well.

~

LOGISTICS

  • We welcome submissions between ~1,000 and ~10,000 words.
  • Previously published material is accepted, as long as the author retains the rights.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, as long as the author notifies us if the work is accepted elsewhere.
  • All files should be Microsoft Word .doc or .docx, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font.
  • Please include your name, email address, and a short bio with your submission. Phone number and website are optional.
  • Electronic submissions only. Submit via email to parentingmentalillnessbook@gmail.com
  • Contributors will be compensated with copies of the book and our undying gratitude.

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SUBMISSIONS OPEN FROM 4/1/17-8/1/17. Responses can be expected by 10/1/17.

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

Birth of a New Brain is available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!