Friday, October 16, 2009

Struggling with Brain Disease

I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. Symptoms include mania, severe depression and certain aspects of schizophrenia.

My BPD is chemical based, which means the depression isn’t triggered or sustained by my situation. It's a brain disease, a malfunction that can be caused by many things and which the Psychiatrists don't really understand.

The most terrifying aspect (for me) of a severe bout of depression (for example) is the disassociation or loss of self that one can experience. Your emotions and thoughts don’t seem to belong to you and, at times, you can become convinced you have no control over your behaviour. Try to imagine being possessed, shoved back into a small corner at the back of your mind, aware of all that’s happening but unable to do anything about the fact you’re yelling like a maniac at your wife or your child, or you’re planning in detail the immediate end of it all.

Now, one of the ways to counter such an episode without resorting to more drugs and/or a hospital stay is so simple it’s laughable. What is it? You must take ownership of what you’re thinking and feeling. That’s right, you aren’t possessed and you aren’t without control. You always have the choice to simply stop, to recognize that these are, indeed, your own thoughts and feelings, even if you don’t know how to deal with them at the moment. This pause, all on its own, has the power to get you through almost any crisis and can give you the time you need to find a solution to the situation at hand. My own particular approach is one I discovered during a hospital stay… one always has the choice to accept what he or she is thinking, then turn away from it. That’s really all you have to do in any given moment: make the choice to turn away from despair and death and look toward light and life. It’s such a small thing you might consider it insignificant. But the choice isn’t insignificant, and it works.

Note: The process is not easy, however, as you must be forever vigilant until (if this happens) the aberrant thoughts go away. Think of the movie A Beautiful Mind.

Anyway, my battle over the last while has slowed down my reading ability and has forced me to come up with alternate content for my various blogs. To quit producing was to continue looking toward the darkness; to find other forms of content I could manage to produce was making the choice to look toward the light. The following is an example of this. It’s a horror poem, written by myself about my disease.

Mind Fuck

Chemicals in my brain
Are toxic today,
Hurling spikes
Of preformed anger
Into unwary flesh.

Go away dear people.
Do not venture close:
I draw blood;
A storm of slicing,
Razor-edged words of bale.

Sadness underneath is
Tearing me apart
As I rend
In my helpless rage,
Destruction unfettered.

I call music to me,
And the Gods, so that
The devil mind fuck,
Is ripped from its warm hole.

Bruised from this psychic rape,
I lay on cool sheets:
Silence heals.
Don’t ever tell me
Evil is just a myth.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009

For more of Clayton Bye's writing, visit his website or become a fan.

Monday, October 5, 2009

An interview with author Dayna VonThaer

Tuatha and the Seven Sisters Moon is Dayna VonThaer’s first Novel.

Hi Dayna,

My audience is made up of publishers, readers and writers, so I’m going to be asking you questions relating to all.

Q. Congratulations on your accomplishment. Would you, in your own words, give us a brief description of Tuatha and the Seven Sisters Moon.

A. This book is the first in a series of at least five novels. It begins with the Celtic gods of the Tuatha De’ Danann (Hence the name) and includes Egyptology. The story begins with a full moon on Halloween, and the Seven Sisters Constellation is in view with the moon. The Seven Sisters are synonymous with catastrophe and death in nearly every ancient culture. In this novel, we witness the beginning events that take place during Samhain (Sah-Win) which is the Feast of the Dead. (I ask your readers to Google to see what year this even actually took place. You’ll be surprised.) The Dagda, once the High King of Ireland, and a Celtic god awakes from a two-thousand year slumber on this night. His tribe (the Tuatha ) is gone, and he’s left alone in the modern, mortal world to find his way home.

Q. Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

A. I was visiting London, and had dinner at my friend’s parent’s home. I’d never met his parents before, so they invited me over to Sunday dinner. His dad, this huge, tall, muscular old Irishman with white hair spent the night poking at me for my name. I didn’t understand, and finally he quipped, “Dayna. Like our Mother Goddess, Danu. You’re named after Mother of Creation herself, hasn’t anyone ever told you that?” We spent the evening chatting away, where he told me all about the Irish myths and so on. I was fascinated. I already had a story about an Irish witch brewing, and now a spark had lit. I spent three years researching Celtic mythology, and the Ancient Egyptians for this series.

Q. Who is your target audience, and what would you like to say to them?

A. Obviously, I’d love to say this book is for everyone! This book is NOT for children. I would say as long as you’re an adult, this book is for your age group. As for tastes, it’s definitely something I think all pagans would love. Anyone interested in mythology, history, astronomy, horror, mystery would enjoy this book. It’s packed with all the elements of love and hate, fear and loathing, tenderness and humor. The Celts and Egyptians are just the beginning. There are more characters and cultures that will have their say in later volumes.

Q. Where will Tuatha and the Seven Sisters Moon be available for sale?

A. Right now, the Limited edition is only available through my website. This version has a special cover dedicated to Salem (my former home) and includes a hidden chapter that will NOT be in the standard version. It will never be reprinted in any form. Each copy is personalized, signed, numbered, and includes S&H. The standard version will be on Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and other book retailers, as well as my website. If you order from my site, each copy will be signed.

Q. Tell us about your publishing company B.A.S.E.D Press.

A. I started B.A.S.E.D. Press to house my work (I have approximately 15 unfinished manuscripts collecting dust) but I also wanted a place for my writer friends to go where they can get true support, advise, and see their work unscathed by other publishers. Obviously, editing always needs done. But I don’t feel writers HAVE to alter their work to make it mainstream. I will offer editing, marketing, cover art, promotional services, book videos, and other services when I decide to accept submissions. I’d like to get my own book off the ground to work out the kinks before anyone puts their ‘baby’ in my hands.

Q. I have a company similar to yours. The traditional world of publishing won’t recognize me as a “legitimate publisher” until I have released many more titles for others than for myself. What is your response to this fact: Do you consider yourself a self-publisher. Why or why not?

A. I don’t like being put into a box, which is a big reason I didn’t accept the mainstream publishing offer I had with this novel. If they want to call me a self-publisher, so be it. I’d just like others to recognize the differences. B.A.S.E.D. Press is NOT vanity publishing, nor is it print-on-demand. Though POD can be useful and cost effective, it does not always garner the best quality. And large-house publishers like to use this point to put us wee-publishers in our place, like we’re sitting at the kids table, scolding us for not playing by their rules. Self-publishing has a great deal of benefits, but it’s very hard work. I am responsible for each and every detail. Which can be very good, considering I can schedule my own book tours, I can sell things through my website, I can control inventory, contests, and do it on my terms. I don’t need ‘permission’ to do what I like in terms of promotion. I don’t think a lot of people realize that even big publishing houses do not spend much in terms of publicity on new writers. They don’t get the top-shelf treatment, or ads. Those dollars are reserved for the big names. You’re still responsible for about 95% of your publicity. Also, only 10% of authors outsell their advance. That means 90% of authors have to write another book within that contract time to make up that difference, or are even dropped for lack of sales.

Q. What is the most difficult part of the writing and/or publishing process for you? The most enjoyable?

A. Marketing, hands down is the most difficult. It doesn’t end. You have a plan, and each day is spent following that plan to get your book out to the readers. I love writing, but I especially love writing when I’m not paying attention. I lived in Salem, Mass, and I used to write on the beach. I’d sit with my coffee and type away. Then I’d go home, and a few days later, I’d read what I wrote. Those pages are always the best, because my heart spoke, not my head. Those are the words that make me almost always laugh or cry.

Q. What methods are you using to market your book?

A. Everything is in three’s: web, print, person. I do a lot of the initial marketing via the web. It’s obviously a great tool to meet other writers and spread the word. Then, of course print. I’ve sent ARC’s to newspapers for review, and have asked for reviews from other writers. Radio is kind of an in-between medium. I’ve contacted some personalities that have been generous enough to put me on the air, and advertise my novel. Finally, there’s me. I’ve been setting up appearances in Salem during Haunted Happenings where I can sign books, and speak to my ‘fans.’ All five of them!

Q. Who are your favourite authors?

A. I’m a classics girl. Growing up with a librarian for a mother, I spent my life engrossed in books. Stoker and King are of course the horror masters, Tolkien and Rowling are the ringleaders in fantasy with Baum. I read all kinds of genres, but not much for chick lit. Hawthorne was kind of a mixture of it all. He was obviously a classical writer, with such a creepy, ominous tone to his books.

Q. Which of these authors has had the greatest impact on your own writing?

A. Hawthorne is a huge influence. I lived in Salem, just blocks from House of the Seven Gables. He had a genuine affection and fear of Salem, and he used that in all of his writing. Especially the way he seemed to try to make amends for the sins of his ancestors. (Hawthorne’s grandfather was a judge in the Salem witch trials, who sent people to the gallows even after being found not guilty.)

Q. Tell us about your next project or project(s).

A. The second volume of Tuatha is in the works, but another story has sidetracked me slightly. Blue Moon: RISING is a story I’m working on based out of New Orleans. It’s a werewolf story, but it’s unlike any kind you’ve read before. I joke that it’s really a story about racism, and could stand on it’s own legs even without the wolf element. As a classic reader, I wanted to create my own world, make these creatures of the night the way I see them. (In all honesty, I’m actually terrified of werewolves, and have had recurring nightmares about them since I was a child.) I hope to release it early next year, depending on the success of Tuatha.

Q. What have you learned along the way with regard to writing and publishing?

A. Perseverance. What one person loves, another will hate. Don’t take it personally, but try, try, try to learn from it. Start to develop that thick skin now. Also, there’s a duality not many writers are prepared to experience. The creative side, the writing and building of your world is only half of the book process. You must develop the other side, become both left and right brained for the marketing and promotion. Because, that’s when the real work comes in. Writing is the easy part!

Q. Any general advice for writers?

A. Just write. Turn off the internet, unplug the phone, and get to it. Allow your authentic voice to speak. When it does, you’ll have a masterpiece. I say, “If the voices in your head make you cry, you’re a lunatic. Put their words on paper, and you’re a writer.”

Thank you for sharing with us Dayna. I wish you much success.

Dayna VonThaer can be found at

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009

For more of Clayton Bye's writing, visit his website or become a fan.