Review — Birth of a New Brain: Healing from #Postpartum Depression by Dyane Harwood

 

 

 

 

I want to thank my writing mentor Wendy K. Williamson for writing this wonderful review of my book! I only paid her five bucks to do it! 😉

If it wasn’t for Wendy, I don’t know if my book would have been “born!” I’m forever grateful to this intrepid writer for her encouragement, humor, and wisdom.Wendy’s belief that my writing was good enough to share with others truly kept me going.

Be sure to check out her two books I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar (an outstanding memoir that was ahead of its time) and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival (which I wish I had to read in 2007 when I was diagnosed); please follow her blog & Twitter too @bipolarwendy.

Wendy has some amazing blog posts – one of my favorites is her post called “Go Ahead Writer”:

https://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/go-ahead-writer/

Once again, Wendy, thank you. I’ll always be in your debt unless I win the California SuperLotto Plus jackpot – in that case, I’ll build a writer’s colony and name it the Wendy K. Williamson Center for the Literary Arts. It will have a cafe called “Diner Girl,” a bookstore heavily stocked with her books, and I’ll give you a million dollar stipend! How does that sound? (I wish I could do that!!)

Xo,
Dyane

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ARC’s, Anxieties, Insecurities, and More

 

Lucy

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My Writing Muse 

 

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Holding my first galley, or advanced review copy (ARC)

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Charging the ARC with positive crystal hippie energy.

Hey, before you make fun of me, I live with a geologist so we have tons of crystals in this house. Moreover, I live in a hippie town, so I figured, why the heck not??? I charged the ARC for an hour before I sent it to my dream endorser who requested a hard copy for consideration. Stay tuned for the outcome…

 

Happy Friday everyone!

This week has been all about the ARC.

The what?

The advanced review copy, or ARC. Many people don’t know what the acronym stands for, including some authors! The ARC is the more recent term for a galley, which is an advance copy of your book that’s sent to book reviewers, endorsers, and the press.

This pre-publication copy doesn’t quite look like a book – the pages are simply bound and it might resemble a college term paper. Sometimes the copy hasn’t been fully edited. The cover art isn’t usually included. (For two cool links that will explain more about ARC’s and how to make your own, please visit here and here.)

Sometimes reviewers want the ARC via computer, such as a PDF file. Other times they want a hard copy printed out. Today I sent out my first hard copy to an incredible bestselling author. I’m superstitious so please forgive me for holding off on naming names until I get an answer  I’m crossing my fingers and toes that I’ll get good news in the near future! Even if I don’t get the endorsement, I’ll write about what happens. This endorsement, or “blurb” will appear at the top of the front cover. (Click here for helpful articles about attaining blurbs.)

***Anxieties***

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I’ve been extremely anxious about sending the galley to this famous author. I’ve procrastinated all week, but today after a “pep text” from the gifted author/journalist Greg Archer who has interacted with 95% of the most famous, talented people on the planet (check out his blog Know Place Like Home) I sat down and forced myself to do it.

I had purchased a beautiful card to accompany my book. My hands shook so badly that I screwed up while writing the title of one of the author’s books – how embarrassing!!! Since I paid $7 for the Papyrus greeting card, I just did my best to correct it! I’m keeping it real! (This is the card I sent – I love their cards so much! The Halloween ones are the best I’ve ever seen…)

 

***Insecurities***

Although I tried to mute or unfollow any social media outlet I thought might share the Demi Lovato Situation, I didn’t get everything, so I encountered announcements of a red carpet extravaganza event.  My insecurities were triggered each time I spotted the photos and press releases. But it wasn’t healthy to keep cursing Demi Lovato & her high-rolling production team to the darkest corners of Hades – I needed to move on once and for all. 

My wise daughter Avonlea told me, “Mommy, even if you were chosen, you know you would have freaked out going to New York and being on that panel with Demi Lovato!” and she was right. It would have been too much – I’m not ready for that kind of media exposure. My social anxiety would have been through the roof.

My close friend and mental health advocate/blogger extraordinaire Kitt O’Malley read my mind when I told her it would’ve been too difficult. She reminded me how something stressful (like filming and flying to New York for the red carpet/panel discussion with Demi Lovato) could trigger hypomania. I’m 99.9% sure it would have been the case for me. The rejection was a blessing in disguise.

***Better Late Than Never: At Last I Have An Author Website!***

After procrastinating for several years, I bought a domain name on Wix for $24 for one year. I opted for Wix’s month-to-month Premium Plan at $7/month. I could’ve signed up for a longer subscription time resulting in a lower monthly cost, but I wanted to try it out for a few months, and then decide.

http://www.dyaneharwood.com

If you take a peek, please keep in mind I’ve only just begun to play around with the site, and there are some sample sections up that have nothing to do with me or my book! Please sign up for the mailing list. Also note that Miss Lucy is my media inquiries canine associate for the time being.

***Insecurities (Yet Again!)***

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I’ve started reading bestselling author Joanna Penn’s book and I really like the useful information and her down-to-earth writing style. Some of the sections don’t apply to me, but that doesn’t matter – I read them anyway because they’re brief and interesting. I definitely recommend you read this book, especially if you have insecurities as a writer! I’ll write more about this book as I go along. Here’s the nutshell description:

“Being a writer is not just about typing. It’s also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey. Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer’s block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more.

This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey. Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote so that you can dip in and out over time. It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers.”

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Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers (as J.F.Penn) and non-fiction, a professional speaker and award-winning entrepreneur. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers.

And now I’m about to enjoy an episode of Shetland, a murder mystery set against the stunning Scottish backdrop of the Shetland Isles. I’m addicted, and I’m not ashamed! My Scottish collie Lucy has genetic roots from this rugged part of the world, so I have her watch it with me.

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It’s really well done, and it’s no surprise that Shetland has earned rave reviews. During the first ten minutes, I couldn’t understand the thick Scottish accents and I set the disc aside, disappointed. I’m so glad I gave the series a second chance. All I needed to do was to select the subtitles option, and everything became clear. Let me know if you’ve seen it!

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Actor Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez

Have a good weekend, and say hello in the comments!

XOXOXO

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.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!

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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.

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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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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Sour Grapes, Rejection, and Perspective

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As I write today’s post, it’s a rainy, cold, and dreary day. The gloom depicts how I felt after I learned I wasn’t selected to be in a documentary called Be Vocal. The fifteen-minute film features people who live with bipolar disorder. It’s affiliated with singer Demi Lovato (who has bipolar), five national mental health agencies, and Sunovion.

I had been nominated by a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) staffer to be a candidate. She read my Life Unlimited profile on the DBSA website in which I wrote about my postpartum bipolar diagnosis. I was honored; nothing like that had ever happened to me. Despite my anxiety at the prospect of the required  interview, I immediately scheduled it with the production team.

My hopes were high before my phone interview with the six-person panel. I bared my soul to those strangers (I eventually dubbed them “Team Voldemort”) during a nerve-wracking forty-five minutes. After I hung up the phone, my gut told me I wouldn’t make the cut. It was a sucky feeling that I couldn’t shake, and to be honest, I wish I hadn’t been nominated in the first place. As I wrote in last week’s post, this wasn’t a mere job interview but something much more personal; people were judging my personality, my way of speaking, and my life “story” instead of my typing speed.

While this post is basically “word vom,” I’m sharing it because this experience has tested me and triggered my ever-present insecurities. (By the way, I never heard of “word vom” until I read Raeyn’s The Scarlet B post “Death to Concern Trolls.” Thanks, Raeyn, for bringing a smile to my face. I needed it!)

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2017 will be a significant year for me. My memoir Birth of a New Brain, nine years in the making, will be published in October. With that in mind, you can see why I was tempted to interview for the documentary after I read the following email sent to me by a Voldemort:

“One of the key projects for Be Vocal this year is to create a documentary that will include the stories of three individuals living with a mental health condition who are vocal in unique and powerful ways. The Emmy-nominated documentary film director working on this project is Shaul Schwarz.

The documentary will be placed on Demi Lovato’s Be Vocal website and shared widely with news outlets, online, on social media, through advocacy organizations/support groups, etc.”

You might already be familiar with Be Vocal. Recently the campaign announced ten portraits of people living with mental illness that was blasted all over social media.

Mental health awareness is such a worthwhile cause, in part, because stigma is still pervasive in our society. However, I was put off by this mental health awareness-themed photo collection for a few reasons. For example, one of the subjects with bipolar disorder has gotten a TON of media attention to date. Please believe me when I tell you she didn’t need yet another photo session. It’s time for her to move over and let someone else take a turn in the spotlight.

SPLAT!!!!!

That was an imaginary sour grape I just flung at my innocent computer screen! 

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Here’s an excerpt of my rejection email:

“Hi Dyane,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. As you know, we want to ensure that the Be Vocal documentary features a mix of individuals with different stories, experiences, backgrounds, ages, etc. For this reason, unfortunately, we need to move forward with other candidates to ensure we have this diversity. 

We think your story is incredibly inspiring and hope you will continue to share it with others… 

Sincerely,

Team Voldemort”

Yuck! How I hate rejection letters! 

I’m going to have a hard time in February when Be Vocal is heavily promoted and released. I know the film will be all over the internet due to the Demi Lovato Factor. Did you know she has 30 million fans called Lovatics? Yes.

To that end, I’m planning on dialing down my bipolar social media subscriptions so I won’t see press releases everywhere. I don’t want Twitter and Facebook to remind on an hourly basis that, for whatever reason, I wasn’t interesting enough and my story wasn’t relevant to the Voldemorts.

After my blogging friend Vic read my last post he decided to write a post called Promotion? Perhaps about what helps him through rejection. He explains how it’s all about perspective. I encourage you to take a look. As you can see, I need to improve my perspective, and I’m glad Vic shared his positive, helpful insights.

Apart from developing a healthy perspective, something that helps me to lessen rejection’s sting is getting immersed in a new project. (And I’m not talking about “making a batch of brownies and eating all the batter” project!) 

I’m currently contacting authors and other notable movers and shakers about endorsing my book with a few lines known as “blurbs.” (How I love that word.) While this endeavor is guaranteed to involve plenty of rejection, I’m better-prepared thanks to the Voldemorts and Vic’s post.

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Finally, I’d like to send out a big, ‘ol thanks to those of you who wrote such supportive, kind posts last week. Every one of your comments helped me.

I apologize for this post being whiny and, at the end of the day, superficial compared to the problems we face in living with bipolar depression and mania, etc. I hope you’re still reading! If so, I’d like to create a blogging award & cute meme just for you, but I’m not sure what to call it. Hmmm.

Do you have any ideas for an award bestowed upon faithful readers who read your blog posts no matter what topic you ramble about???

Let me know!

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Love,

Dyane

 

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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.