Cover Reveal Coming….I Miss You All!

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Dear blogging friends, hello there!

I know, I know….I promised I’d do the exciting cover reveal yesterday, but I lied. Just kidding. The truth is that I’ve been TOTALLY flipping out about meeting my Feb. 15th deadline. (It’s nothing major…it’s just the deadline to submit my revised manuscript to The Great and Powerful Oz.)

 So please, I beg of you, give me an extension! The truth shall be revealed!

Speaking of book covers, some of you have seen the following image, but for those who haven’t had the, um, experience yet, I’ll reveal what the cover is NOT going to be.

The cartoonist Chato Stewart generously submitted this artwork pro bono for my consideration. I was grateful, but after careful consideration, I decided to take a pass.

Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart
Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart

The cover won’t be this:

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This is picture of a bona fide mountain lion who lives near me! Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Puma Project

The cover won’t be this either, primarily because it’s my husband’s book’s cover:


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It won’t be this:

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(courtesy of Bookshop Santa Cruz)

On the other hand, THIS could work!

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Have a great Valentine’s Day! I send you each a virtual tray of calorie-free pastries from the glorious heaven known as the Ben Lomond Baking Company.

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Sending you lots and lots of love,

Dyane

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 in October.

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Two Editing Gems & Cover/Pre-Sale Update!!!

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Hello, my lovelies!

This will be the shortest post I’ve written in a long time. I read somewhere that an ideal blog post length is around 500 words. Since I usually publish 2000+ words, I’m happy I won’t bog you down this week!

In next week’s post, there’s a chance I’ll be revealing the cover of my memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder and I’ll provide an Amazon link where it’ll be available for groovy pre-sales!!!!

I’ve scanned books on Amazon for years. (Don’t ask me how many books I’ve bought for my Kindle because it’s downright freakish.) It will be incredible and surreal to see my book on my Kindle Fire’s fingerprint-covered screen.

Aside from avoiding being a tasty nibble for our neighborhood mountain lion

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I’ve continued editing every day.

I’ve killed more darlings! (I must admit every “murder” has felt good!)

I invested in two awesome, relatively inexpensive editing tools: Grammarly Premium, and  ProWriting Aid, which is relatively new and remarkable to boot.

I learned about ProWriting Aid at the awesome * Beyond Your Blog by Susan Maccarelli. I encourage you to read Susan’s review “How A Non-Human Leveled Up My Writing.” ProWriting Aid has been the most helpful to me, and has more features than Grammarly. You can try ProWriting Aid for free, and if you want to purchase it, you can do that too! With Susan’s discount code provided on her blog post, I received 20% off the cost. I paid less than $40 for a year’s subscription, which is the same amount of money I’ve been known to blow at the Italian-owned, dreamy Ben Lomond Baking Company down the road; they made me gain ten pounds – it’s all their fault.

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Damn you, Ben Lomond Baking Company! I can’t quit you!

ProWriting Aid has been worth its weight in chocolate ganache cupcakes and gold.

That’s all the news that’s fit to blog. Phew!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for putting up with my being incommunicado during the home stretch to publication! And thanks, as always, for reading!

Love,

Dyane

p.s. I can’t take all the credit for editing. My ghost writer Lucy has been working very hard too.

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With her hedgehog baby

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Stretching before returning to take over the laptop

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After an intense editing session, Lucy took a dognap on Craig’s pillow – please don’t let him know, although in truth she’s the cleanest member of our family!

* Beyond Your Blog is “a site helping bloggers successfully submit their writing for publishing opportunities beyond their personal blogs. Susan also offers online training and consulting to new bloggers looking for direction on submitting their writing for publication. Susan has interviewed dozens of editors from publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Brain, Child, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Washington Post, and speaks at many respected writing and blogging conferences.” 

 

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Dyane’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 in October 2017.

A Noise I’ll Never Forget…

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Photos courtesy of the Santa Cruz Puma Project

Today at 3:00 a.m., I woke up and realized I left something important in my car. I needed to get it, so I walked up the hill to our driveway. It was pitch black outside and brrrrrrrrrr…cold!!!!

On my way to my car, I heard the chickens rustling loudly, and I thought maybe a few raccoons had been around. As I began opening our wooden gate, I heard a very low, rumbling, resonant growl the likes of which I’ve never heard before. It sounded like a mountain lion’s growl.

My gut told me whatever made that noise was NO dog! I can’t prove it, but I swear it was a mountain lion. 

I fled back to the house. Running away from a mountain lion is exactly what you aren’t supposed to do – it can provoke a mountain lion to attack you! You’re supposed to make yourself look big, i.e. raise your arms up high and yell.  

After I heard that unforgettable sound, I stood still inside our house for a good 20 minutes, trembling from fear, thinking about what took place.

We live in mountain lion country. Recently, mountain lions have been spotted a few minutes up our street, so it’s entirely plausible that my gut was right. 

It’s their home as well as ours, but that growl was one of the most frightening sounds I’ve ever heard. (It sounded a lot like the growl at this link.)

And I’m grateful to that mountain lion because it didn’t attack me. That’s not the way this gal wants to go – oh, my dear mountain lion/neighbor, if you’re going to come after me, please wait until my book Birth of a New Brain is published in October! 

Dyane’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 in October 2017.

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On the Homestretch of Editing “Birth of a New Brain”

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I look a lot like her, complete with frizzy hair and her expression! (But she’s dressed way better than I am.)

Hello, hello!

You might have noticed I’ve been taking a hiatus from reading your blogs. Believe me, I miss them! Hopefully you haven’t been making voodoo dolls in my image for neglecting your posts.

I swear on a tower of glorious Halo Top Ice Cream pints I shall return to your blogs come February!

To add insult to injury, I still owe replies to comments some of you made on my last post – that one about the awful email I wanted to send my writing teacher. While I plan on responding, I must say that each of you who gave me advice was 100% right!;)

De to my Jan. 31 deadline, every spare moment I have is allocated to editing 300 pages of….well, now I can state for the record that my manuscript (ms) no longer resembles Bandini Mountain.

However, sh*t describes exactly how I’ve felt about my ms ever since I got it back from my editor last month, and heck, long before that.

After making the editor’s suggested changes, I realized that my book was NOT ready to be perused by anyone, especially a famous author who agreed to consider contributing a cover blurb. 

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Even after following my editor’s suggestions, the ms still needed a TON of work, and I made up my mind that I was going to give it one last shot before turning it in. I’ve been “killing my darlings” and last night I deleted an entire chapter that didn’t further the story. Sorry to sound like a drama queen, but deleting those pages almost killed me.

With the exception of giving birth, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I’ve been sleeping, but I’ve had vivid nightmares such as the one where alien-human hybrids were eating people around me, and it was clear I was next in line. I woke up just in time.

There was another nightmare that was even worse: I was editing my ms and found an error, and I fixed it, only to discover it had reappeared. That happened with the same error over and over again, a la maddening Groundhog Day fashion. 

Yuck!

At least Lucy has been by my side; her loving energy has been an enormous boost. (That’s her hedgehog “baby” next to her paw.)

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So that’s what has been going on in my life, and things will continue to be that way until January 31st. Every second I’m not taking care of the girls or doing the neverending chores, I’m in my office (i.e. on my bed) editing until I can’t take it anymore, and I guiltily close the ms Word file to play hooky on the wicked internet.

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How are you?

Sending you my love, as always,

Dyane

Dyane’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 in October 2017.

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To Send or Not to Send? (A Self-Indulgent Fantasy!)

“Sometimes a fantasy is all you need…”  

Sometimes a Fantasy by Billy Joel is from the seminal album Glass Houses. I must have listened to that album hundreds of times in the 1970s!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I wrote last week I’d update you about working with the editors on my book Birth of a New Brain. I’m reviewing their feedback, and I’m editing every day for hours until I speak in tongues, but please, I ask you for an extension, because something else came up! 

It all started yesterday with WhitePages Premium.

I was searching for author Martha Manning’s new email. She’s a psychologist who I interviewed via email in the 1990s for a magazine article. Manning wrote Undercurrents about her ECT experience, one of the best books I’ve read about ECT. I wanted to send her an ARC of my book to see if she might possibly endorse it. (I take breaks from editing to do that sort of thing.)

Well, it turned out that I found it impossible to find an active email for her, so I finally spent a whopping $1.00 for a five-day trial of WhitePages Premium. I plugged in Manning’s name and I was given not one, not two, but six emails for her, including the email that worked for me in the 90s, but all six emails are now stinkers! I was dismayed, to say the least. 

Had I wasted my precious dollar???

It turns out I did not. WhitePages Premium gave me surprisingly accurate contact information for other professionals and even celebrities I’ve been in touch with over the years, so it wasn’t a sham.

I tell you this because:

a) You might want to use this resource.

b) I used it in a moment of weakness which I’d like to share here. Just to be clear, I don’t recommend that you do anything like what I contemplated doing. I want you to learn from my wicked ways!

Si vous plait, allow me to explain.

Some of you might remember my Bad Manners post.

In a nutshell, last year I was excited to learn that my college writing instructor’s play was being produced near my home. Despite my severe social anxiety, I went to the matinee and listened to her speak about the play afterward. It looked like she was doing well. 

I made 100% sure she received a package I left for her at the box office.

I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I had brought a letter and some gifts for her. After going to that trouble, I gave it to the stage manager because I didn’t want to bug my teacher, and I was freaked out in general.

I spent all afternoon writing that letter, thanking her for being a great influence on me as a writer. I filled her in on my writing career after college, my bipolar diagnosis & its harrowing aftermath, and my upcoming Post Hill Press book. I included my contact info.

I never got a thank-you, not even a one-liner email. 

I know that when we give someone a gift, we should have no expectations. It shouldn’t be “tit for tat.” (Sorry, that’s a dumb phrase you won’t catch me uttering out loud, or writing again for that matter.)  

But I still believe in my heart of hearts there’s no excuse for rudeness.

I wondered if my teacher now felt I wasn’t worth her time since she was no longer just my teacher, but someone who had partnered with one of the most famous and successful writers of our century. (By the way, I know how ridiculous this all sounds.) Maybe she didn’t want to associate with someone with bipolar, or someone who was a small potatoes writer like me. Maybe she had a crisis, right? Who knows.

I certainly don’t know.

I may be a mess of a human being, but I’ve tried my best to thank the kind people who popped up in my life no matter what their status has been.

So let’s go back to WhitePages Premium and see what all the fuss is about!

Believe it or not, I had forgotten about what happened with my teacher, but when I played around with WhitePages Premium, I put her name into the tabs. Up came several emails for her, plus her address which I already knew was accurate.

I wrote this draft:

Dear Teacher,

I want to thank you so much for not thanking me for my letter and gifts. I was shocked I never got a reply because I don’t think you would have ignored my letter in 1991.

However, I learned a valuable lesson – I must have learned a lesson since you were one of the best teachers I ever had, but I just don’t know what the hell it is.

All my best,

Dyane

PLEASE NOTE I DIDN’T SEND THAT GROSSLY IMMATURE EMAIL!

Plus, I read it to Craig and he talked me off the “I’m gonna press ‘send’ ledge.” Moreover, this teacher and I live in a small town, and I don’t think I should burn a bridge with her in that way. But dang, I was tempted to send it!

What would you do if this kooky scenario happened with a teacher you admired…who you connected with and never forgot even though you had sh*tloads of unilateral and bilateral ECT?

Let it go?

(That’s what my Frozen soundtrack-loving girls would sing at me!) 

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

Love,

Your friend who loves to air her brain’s dirty laundry

 

The first two lines sum it up so well: 
“This is a story about two writers. A story, in other words, of envy.”

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Dyane’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 in October 2017.

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Tahoe Editing, Mount Everest & Adam Ant

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Don’t hate Adam Ant because he’s still beautiful…at 56!

 

Happy New Year, my friends!

I’m still in Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe for a few more days, and we’ve had a very heavy snowfall. I must admit I prefer to visit here in August when the wildflowers are blooming and I can escape the confines of The Munchkin cabin to take long hikes, bears and all!

I’m wimpy when it comes to this kind of cold – perhaps it’s my Los Angeles upbringing. But this has been the perfect setting to hunker down and work on my editor’s feedback, which I’d like to discuss in next week’s post. It’s a workout, to say the least. My deadline is the end of this month and that’s a powerful motivator, as you can imagine. While here Craig and I have traded off taking the girls out so we can focus on our work; he has been very supportive when it comes to my “Other Man.” (I used to call his book his “Other Woman”!)

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I’ve taken some breaks to sit in front of the roaring fire and watch movies, and I want to share a favorite with you: the documentary Everest. It’s an amazing film, and while I’d NEVER attempt to hike Everest even if you paid me ten million dollars, it’s fascinating to watch these intrepid souls scale the highest mountain in the world.

wp-1483632264427.jpgEverest is poignant because the filmmakers chronicle the ascent of the son of the late Tenzing Norgay; Norgay was the first Nepalese man who completed the first Everest summit with Sir Edmund Hilary. Everest is narrated by the actor Liam Neeson, whose lilting Irish accent makes me, oh, I’ll admit it…swoon just a little bit!

I also love the soundtrack, which has beautifully arranged versions of some of my favorite George Harrison songs – his famous hits and the more obscure tunes, such as This Is Love from one of my all-time favorite Harrison solo albums Cloud 9.

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I brought along a Jack Bond documentary titled Adam AntThe Blueback Hussar, but I haven’t watched most of the film yet. I’ve admired Adam Ant for years; first during his 80s musical splash, and then when he went public with having bipolar disorder. He wrote the remarkable memoir Stand and Deliver and I had high hopes for this film, but I haven’t been able to get into The Blueback Hussar the way I expected I would.

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However, I’ll definitely finish it and see how it all pans out. And I won’t miss the special features that include a duet with Boy George – oh yes, please! 😉 Have any of you seen it???

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 Lucy was more enraptured watching Adam AntThe Blueback Hussar than I was!

There’s not much else to report – I’ve been pretty quiet on your blogs while we’ve been up here (we don’t have internet available at the cabin, and I hate using my cell for comments, don’t I, Marie?) but I’ll get noisier in your comment sections as the year rolls on.

Take care, have a great day, and I send you lots of love!

Dyane

 

Dyane’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 in October 2017.

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Somewhere Over the Technicolor Rainbow

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Last Friday we headed for Alpine Valley, Lake Tahoe, a five-hour-long drive from our home. Minutes after this selfie was taken in our ancient Subaru Forester’s back seat, one of my daughters unloaded a “Technicolor rainbow” all over the place. I sat next to her. Suffice it to say, my smile wouldn’t be seen again for some time.

Suffice it to say, my smile wouldn’t be seen again for some time.

I was enormously relieved when she said she felt better, but during the rest of the trek, I was on the verge of doing the same thing. It was one of the most miserable journeys of my life, and when we pulled up to The Munchkin cabin, I nearly kissed the snowy ground in relief!

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We rent The Munchkin each year and if I won the lottery, I’d convince the owner to sell it to me. Seven years ago my husband Craig found this rental on Craigslist , appropriately enough. The cost was extremely reasonable for pricey Lake Tahoe, but we had no idea how nice this place was until we pulled up to the steep front staircase. Our mouths dropped at our good fortune.

Since then, Craig befriended the owner and she has dropped the rent for us, making this stay incredibly affordable, especially because Craig makes this a working vacation.   

The Munchkin is modest compared to the nouveau-riche McMansions that dot the street, the neighborhood…and virtually all of Lake Tahoe! Unfortunately, the older, quaint cabins are becoming a thing of the past. I prefer cozy to cavernous any day.

We’ve enjoyed The Munchkin during the summer and winter, and Lucy loves being here no matter what the season.

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 Don’t let Lucy’s pensive expression fool you – this dog has a complete blast romping around in the snow. 

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This is the view from the deck where I’ve written my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder almost every summer we’ve come here, except when my bipolar depression was so horrible I couldn’t do much of anything. 

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Right after I snapped this shot, the girls got into a vicious snowball fight – what else is snow good for?

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This giant Santa greeted me when I walked to the top of the street. This photo doesn’t do his size justice – trust me, he’s BIG!

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My older daughter loves to cook and bake on snowy days. Here she’s putting the finishing touches on lemon meringue cups. Unlike me, she isn’t a chocoholic, which is a blessing because if she made chocolate-anything, I’d eat the entire batch.

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I took these mountain shots during one of my daily late afternoon hikes. In the summer I must watch out for bears, which makes for a rather unsettling hiking experience.

I’ve even had a bear encounter in The Munchkin (to read more about that, check out the post “Bears, Shrinks, and Mindfulness”) and I take bears very seriously! But now that it’s cold and the bears are fast asleep, I can put that worry to rest, well, for the most part. Thanks to the guide Bear Aware, I know what to do in case I come across a bear.

As far as my book’s editing is concerned, I haven’t made much progress yet. Due to a glitch, I had to sit tight and wait for my publisher to fix the file filled with copyedits and assorted questions. I received the file last night and I’ll begin working on it today. We don’t have internet at the Munchkin, so it’s off to the Crest Café this morning where I’ll download the file, gulp hard, pass out (just kidding) and put my nose to the grindstone.

I can’t write this post without mentioning the loss of Carrie Fisher, her mother Debbie Reynolds, and George Michael – they have all been on my mind. I still can’t believe they’re gone, and I’m glad there have been so many insightful blog posts and articles written about their lives.

Only two weeks ago I sent a letter to Carrie Fisher’s staff about her participating in a World Bipolar Day project. I never thought in a zillion years that she wouldn’t be here to ring in the new year. My heart goes out to her daughter Billie, her brother Todd, and the rest of her family and fans.

I wish you a Happy New Year, my friends! Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’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 in October 2017.

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