The Honesty Tax Again

Ladies and Gentlemen, gentle readers: I adjure you to tread softly when you review books on any site where books are reviewed.

As most of you know, I am autistic.  I have little to no ability to soft-pedal, and no ability whatsoever to suck up to people, whether they are potential customers for something I might be selling on eBay, or whether they have written a book that has drawn accolades from well-known reviewers.

And so it was that, having bought a book from an online bookseller, having read that book, and having been asked by the bookseller to review it, I did so.

The book didn’t float my boat.  In my opinion, it lacked a good deal.  My review was much more reserved than my full-on opinion, but in the interest of giving the author a break and not putting potential readers off, I went easy.

It seems that my review wounded the author’s feelings, and he sent me a letter.  This surprised me.

I have never considered myself an important writer, and certainly not an important reviewer.

The letter I received from the author of said book made me wonder if I had morphed overnight into some lauded writer, whose “C+” review might actually mean something.

It accused me of everything from sullying the author’s reputation, to negatively affecting his income, to damaging his health.

Good grief!  The next thing, I fear, will be a letter from said author’s attorney, or worse yet, a summons of some kind.

Grief, grief, grief.

The reason I am sitting here in this barn–yes, I do mean barn, literally, not figuratively–is that fourteen years ago, I opened a registered letter.  It informed me that I was being sued for half a million dollars, and that I was summoned to a hearing in a far-away state.  I barely had the means to put beans on top of rice, not to mention traveling!

At that time, gentle readers, I had just lost my job; my child was desperately ill;  and I was already spiraling into the depths of a depression that was resistant to every antidepressant on the market, because it was a Bipolar Depression, which behaves differently from Major Depressive Disorder.  Antidepressants just make things worse.  The specter of ECT loomed on my horizon.  I fought it off with brooms, and cans and cans of Raid™.

That Registered Letter was the straw that catalyzed my first hospitalization.  But that did nothing to avert the rumble of the approaching juggernaut of the pending lawsuit.  Stomp, stomp, stomp, like a bad Japanese movie.  Only this was no movie.

All of the lawyers I contacted said the suit was a frivolous attempt by the plaintiff to gouge money out of hundreds of caregivers, and that I would certainly be exonerated, and could then file a countersuit for damages.The only thing was, the lawyers wanted a retainer of $25,000-$35,000 up front.  And I was penniless.

So I did the only thing I could do: I went bankrupt.  The few things of value I still had to my name went away in one horror-struck day.

I will never forget seeing the repossessors come and haul away the little car that I had used for work and house calls.  My big horse trailer went too.  Anything else of value was carried off in due time.  I was left sitting in a mostly empty single-wide trailer, on land that was thankfully untouchable by the vultures that swirled around my head.

Now that I am in fact homeless, I feel more at ease, because I don’t have anything to steal.  I don’t even have a reputation to feed and care for.  I am Just Me.

I no longer accept registered letters.  If it’s a check from Publisher’s Clearing House for a million dollars, I imagine they might call.  Or maybe not.  What does it matter?

At this point, my energy reserves are at their nadir.  I have just spent nearly four years helping my father to die, in great pain and suffering for both of us.  I’m happy that his suffering is over; and I must say that it is a great relief, as I feel very sure that he is in a good place and out of pain.  But it’s taken an enormous toll on my own resistance to diseases, physical and psychological.

The aforementioned author’s thinly veiled threatening letter has set off a cascade of paranoid thoughts: what would I do if he decided to sue me for….for….um, for honestly reviewing his book?  What has the world come to?

What would I do?

I am weary.  I don’t know how much more I can take.  There are times when I long to go up on some high mountaintop with a fifth of good single-malt, and drink it until I become numb, and let the bitter cold of the night take me Home.

And then I think: how well do I know the evils of this world!  But–what if there really is an Afterlife?  What if there really is a God, who gave us laws?  What if suicide is seen as murder, in that Other World?  Meh.  I just want This World to be over.

I am sick and tired of paying the Honesty Tax.

I wanna go Home.

 

Good News and Bad News

First of all I gotta say that I am really proud of Rhonda Elkins for her bravery in allowing me to post the letter that she wrote shortly after her 23 year old daughter’s suicide, on my Wednesday feature “Breaking the Silence of Stigma.”  That letter touched a lot of hearts and did a lot of good.  And I’m proud of my readers for rallying around Rhonda with their words of support, and some frank and open discussion of their own struggles with suicidal thoughts.

And I’m really proud of ME for writing a great review for David Henry Sterry’s new book, Mort Morte.  He’s honored me by using my review as the copy on his web page.  Kinda makes me think about going back to copy writing.  I wrote copy for an online store for a while, then ditched it because they started carrying shit  stuff I didn’t like, so there went my low-paying writing job. I can’t write copy for stuff I can’t get excited about.  Like “Wow, look at these tacky rhinestone-studded chartreuse earrings in the shape of a bunch of bananas.  Carmen Miranda would have put them on her head!  Only $1,200 on sale now!”  Ugh.  Now if someone would pay me to write fun stuff I’d be on it like white on rice.

That’s the good news.

And here’s the windup, now the pitch….oh come on, just get it out.  Er, I mean over with.  Well, I really don’t want to.  I want to stay sunk in denial forever.

I had to go see my shrink yesterday to get a form filled out so that I can take Noga, my service dog, on the plane when I go to Israel twelve days from now.  Eek.  Time is running short, and it’s running like hell.  Anyway.  So I go and see Tony my shrink, and he’s a good egg.  The man really loves crazy people.  He’s crazy himself, freely admits it, and also admits that the reason he’s a good shrink is that he’s crazy.

Anyway.  So he likes to talk for a long time, both because he likes the company of other crazy people, and because that’s how he sizes you up and figures out what brand of crazy you are and if you need your meds tweaked or anything else like that.  So we’re talking and he’s really paying attention to me and not just goofing around like he normally does.  So at some point I lose not just a single word, as has been happening a lot lately, but an entire phrase that I needed to have, in order to express what I was trying to, well, express.  I wanted to describe something but lacked a whole phrase and was trying to find alternative ways of saying it.

“How often is this happening to you?”

“Oh, several times a day.  Even when I’m writing, sometimes I can’t think of a word and just have to put a parenthesis and go back and fill it in later when I remember the word.”

He raises an eyebrow.  Not a good sign.  Tony is almost always upbeat and goofing around, because if he can’t make you laugh then he knows you’re really depressed.  Or if he annoys the shit out of you then he knows you’re irritable and wants to know what’s up with that.  But if he raises an eyebrow….that ain’t good.

“You know the meds that they’re using to preserve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s?  They’re using them now to treat cognitive dysfunction in Bipolar.”

My heart fell out and hit me on the toe.  I winced.

Last year I felt like my brain was misbehaving, so I had a battery of neuropsychiatric testing that showed a big hole in one part of my central information processing.  I freaked on out and called Tony, who talked me down from my freakout and told me it was a known phenomenon in Bipolar, the older you get.  Great.

So yesterday he gently suggested that since the cognitive issues (he did not say “dementia,” thank God) seem to be progressing, he recommended I try one of these cognitive function preserving drugs.  Far fucking out.

And he also suggested that I go back on the stimulants that I hate and had previously refused to take because they make me feel like shit.  He looked up what I had before and it was Adderal.  He said that sometimes people who hate Adderal like plain ol’ Dexadrine.  He said it might give my brain some clarity and help the cognition to cognate.  So I said all right, and now I have two fucking more pill bottles in my pharmacy.  Why me, Lord, why me?  Oh stop with that whiny shit, Laura, you know very well there are much worse things in the world than being crazy.  Don’t even go there.

A Valuable Resource for Writers

I just had a marvelous and incredibly useful conversation with David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors.

At first I was skeptical: I mean, here’s a couple (David Sperry and Arielle Eckstrut) who make their living allegedly helping writers get their books published.  So what’s to be skeptical about that?  Oh yes.  I remember now: they charge money.  Now, there seems to be a bumper crop of people and organizations purporting to help you get your book published.  I myself subscribe to Writer’s Digest, which has been mildly to moderately helpful, at a certain price, and NaNoWriMo, which has been enormously helpful, is free.  Once in a blue moon they host a valuable webinar, which is where I became acquainted with The Book Doctors.  You can tell where my allegiance lies.

David and his partner Arielle Eckstrut, who is the “other half” of The Book Doctors, offer consultations at a fee of $90 per 15 minutes, $250 per hour, and claim that they are dedicated to:

“helping writers everywhere get their books published.”

Yeah, right.  Just like all the other bozos out there that trumpet the same thing, but uniformly don’t deliver.

Exactly how they came across my radar screen, I don’t remember.  I flipped through their website and said, sheesh, how could these people possibly be for real?  And $250 per hour?  That’s what I made being a real doctor.  They gotta be kidding.

So when NaNoWriMo featured them on a webinar , I tuned in to see what they had to say. They had a lot to say, and it was all good, practical, useful stuff.  And as a “value-added” feature, they offered a 15-minute consultation (a $90 value!) to webinar participants.  I signed up.

Then I went back to their website again, and using my super-hero x-ray vision, sucked up all the information it contained.  I even purchased their excellent book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published., which retails for $11.82 on Amazon.  Couldn’t hurt, I figured, and besides, if you buy the book you get a 15 minute consultation, FREE!  Wow, I was up to 30 minutes with them, for stuff I would have bought anyway, the webinar plus the book!  I went for it.

First of all, I gotta tell you–that book is priceless.  First I will tell you what it does NOT contain, and that is: Bullshit.  None. Of. It.  It is pure, concise, unadulterated useable information.  If you’re wondering how to really, really get your book published, this is the nuts-and-bolts go-to guide.

Now let me get to the fun part: the consultation itself.  I got to talk with David Sperry for a whole thirty minutes, because I had participated in the webinar plus bought the book.  As soon as I pitched him my novel/memoir, we discovered that we had common ground (see my Dina Leah blog), and that greatly facilitated the process of sorting out my book and answering critical questions.  The information and advice that he provided were 100% useful.  I feel that our short conversation will exponentially increase the probability of my book being published.  Like most aspiring authors, I feel that my book will change many lives.  I hope that mine will bring hope to people who are struggling with recovery from the awful traumas that haunt those of us who have been “scrabbling down in the streets” (thanks again, Joni Mitchell).

If you’re working on your book and wondering where to go next, I encourage you to first buy the book The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published and then beg, borrow, but don’t steal (that is a sin) the money for a consultation with The Book Doctors.  You won’t regret it.

Disclamer: this review of my experience with The Book Doctors is entirely mine and unsolicited.  The Book Doctors did not ask me to do it.

Lost and Found: I spotted a peculiar-looking woman by a telephone pole…

Found in the online literary journal for medical professionals, Pulse.  I found it a beautiful and heart-rending piece, all in the same bite.

 

Lost and Found: I spotted a peculiar-looking woman by a telephone pole….