Tag Archives: NAMW featured member

Featured NAMW Member – Dyane Harwood

Book Synposis 

Dyane Harwood’s compelling memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder shares her struggle with postpartum bipolar disorder, a rare form of bipolar disorder. The first book to address this postpartum mood disorder, Harwood recounts how she grew up affected by mental illness in her family. Her beloved father, a gifted violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, had bipolar disorder and suffered from crippling depressions and bewildering manic highs.

During her childhood, Harwood learned how bipolar disorder could ravage a family, but no one suspected that she’d become mentally ill until her baby was born. Within a day of her daughter’s birth, Harwood’s thoughts became a manic maelstrom, and eventually she dropped into the morass of bipolar depression.

Struggling to survive the highs and lows of her brain’s turmoil, Harwood wondered if mental health would always be out of her reach. From medications to electroconvulsive therapy, from “redwood forest baths” to bibliotherapy, she explored both the traditional and unconventional
realm in between her harrowing psychiatric hospitalizations.

In “Birth of a New Brain” Harwood reveals how she ultimately achieves stability. She learns that despite having a chronic mood disorder, a new,  richer life is possible. “Birth of a New Brain” is a chronicle of one mother’s perseverance, her burgeoning hope, and her grounded advice for others battling mental illness.

Bio
Dyane Harwood holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A writer for two decades, she has interviewed the authors Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain and SARK. In 2007, Harwood was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder .Her memoir is the first book to discuss a woman’s experience with this rare form of bipolar disorder and overlooked postpartum mood disorder.

She founded a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) chapter and facilitates support groups for mothers with bipolar disorder. Harwood lives in Ben Lomond, California with her two daughters, husband and Scotch collie.

www.dyaneharwood.com/  

Featured NAMW Member – Rena Graham


Book Synopsis

INFALLIBLE: A Modern Mystical Memoir tells the story of an ambitious young interior designer, living a life of freedom and novelty, in 1980s San Francisco. She thought she’d left her past behind and attained the glamourous new life she’d fought hard for. Then the violence started: four seemingly random attacks in two years, the last almost fatal. These coincided with some of the worst violence San Francisco had also endured: the Jonestown massacre in the jungles of Guyana by local cult leader Jim Jones, the double murder of George Moscone and Harvey Milk and the subsequent White Night Riots. Was there a connection between her mugging, attempted car-jacking, street attack and stabbing and the violence that rocked The City she dearly loved?

Searching for help after exhausting conventional medical and legal sources, she met a one-armed astrologer who told her she had the most difficult chart he’d ever seen. His uncanny level of prescience and clear-headed guidance helped her move forward in life and heal the deep trauma she’d suffered. But what of the thirty difficult years ahead that he tried to prepare her for? What would she believe and which of his prophecies would come true? How did her belief influence the fate he saw for her? Would she eventually engage the future he saw for her, one so different from the one she strived to achieve?

Rena’s voice is as distinctive as the tale she’s chosen to tell. She plumbs experiences that could have sidelined others to bring the reader universal questions regarding belief and fate. Written from the mature, reflective voice of someone who lived and evaluated those years, this is a book for anyone who might wonder at their own odd destiny. Bold writing, telling dialogue and provocative characterization are highlights on this dramatic, yet humorous debut memoir.

Bio
Rena writes short and long form creative non-fiction and is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. Originally from the U.S., her work’s been published there and in Canada, where she currently makes her home. Cobalt Review, The Bookends Review, and the upcoming inaugural edition (spring 2017) of Chroma Magazine have all featured her work. She’s also had pieces shortlisted in Malahat Review’s Open Season awards and The Writer’s Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. Her work as an editor and ghostwriter helps writers and non-writers get their personal stories on the page.

Featured NAMW Member – Peter Gibb

Book Synopsis

King of Doubt is a story of well-meaning but clumsy parents, pedophile teachers, the mistakes of youth, lessons learned from unlikely sources, inner and outer adventure. And love. It is the story of one man’s (and the universal) quest to identify the illusive soul and fashion a life of meaning and connection, played out across time and continents. Beneath a surface of success, crippling doubt stalks the protagonist. A desperate need for approval holds him prisoner. What had been a distraction becomes a dungeon of despair. As the book approaches its climax, Peter has yet to deal with a depression that threatens to destroy everything he has lived and worked towards. This remarkable story of how Peter transforms himself and his life, from doubt to wonder, and the unlikely ally who reappears to help him at his time of trial, will fill you with delight at life’s possibilities and leave you dancing with hope.

Bio

Peter was raised in Scotland and England before coming to U.S. Though he was always interested in writing, he served a 50 year apprenticeship that included work with U.S. Foreign Service, High School and College Teaching, Acting, ESL, foreign language teaching, military service, home remodeling, and organizational development. He wrote two novels and a number of children’s books before succumbing to the lure of memoir. Peter and his wife Wendy live in Ashland, OR. They have finally succeeded in locating all 3 of their children on the west coast, between the Bay Area and Portland.

For more information about Peter Gibb, please visit www.PeterGibb.org or contact him at peter@petergibb.org.  King of Doubt will be available after February 6, 2017 on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, iBooks and in paperback from your local bookstore.

 

Featured NAMW Member – Patricia Dunn

Book Synopsis

Patricia was “cracked open” at age two by a nearly fatal accidental fall.  Her earliest memory is that of the unseen hands that lovingly carried her down an entire staircase.  This gracious act performed by an anonymous presence occurred within weeks of the sudden death of her eighteen-year-old sister.

Growing up in a family devastated by death and dysfunction, Patricia became increasingly aware of the many enigmatic incidents that infused themselves into her life.  By far, the most profound of these was a chill day in November of her ninth year when a premonition demanded that she remain home from school.   This was to be the day that her chronically ill father would die.  Home alone with him, Patricia was unaware that he was dead until she reached out to wake him from his day-long sleep.  In that moment, two things happened.  Her hand registered the ice-cold flesh of her father’s arm and she was pulled implausibly into a place of bliss hearing the last words she would ever hear her father speak – words of comfort, spoken from the other side.

Left with a disabled older sister and a mother plundered by grief, Patricia took on the role of peacemaker.  While her outer world was confined by walls of despair and frustration, Patricia’s inner world took on new depth and breadth.

The place was New York City during the 1960’s.  Even in this world of cultural tumult, she found nothing to explain or even validate these glimpses into the unseen.  What she was being taught by the good Dominican sisters swayed far from the mark.  As her home life degraded into darkened rooms and silence punctuated by the pain-fueled bickering of her mother and sister, she turned to books and her love for drawing.  These became her teachers and her sanctuary as she learned to navigate two worlds.

The struggle to understand both of these worlds and find the nexus between them, became her secret obsession.  Search for meaning both in the seen world, so fragile and temporary and the unseen world so tantalizing and unpredictable, led her down many esoteric paths.

In this memoir, Patricia winds her story around the chronological recounting of a multitude of these inscrutable vignettes, depicting them both through illustration and the written word.  This is a story of one woman’s search for meaning.

 

Bio

The hauntingly beautiful Delaware River Valley is home to Patricia and her husband of nearly thirty years.  Patricia has been writing since childhood and drawing since infancy.  Mostly self-taught, she can cite many talented individuals who have mentored her along the way.  Mostly a writer of short stories, having published two, Patricia’s memoir is her first book-length work.  Patricia has worked as a counselor, a legal assistant and as an art director.  She is the winner of The People’s Choice Award at the Niagara Falls International Plein Air Painter’s Worldwide Paint-out.

Featured NAMW Member – Coralease C. Ruff

cora4In January, 1997 my world as I knew it came crashing down around me. My 21-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, where she had gone to serve as a missionary.  This journey of survival took me through some very dark and scary valleys, over some gigantic mountains, and finally through some calm and soothing meadows. I cried many tears, felt excruciating heartache, anger, fearfulness, and appreciation, and yes, gratitude. I worked hard at learning to live with my loss, and discovered it is possible to survive and go on living a reasonably meaningful life.  I learned it can be difficult to find original information on first-hand experiences of grieving individuals. I am writing my memoir Still Living Still Loving After a Child Dies– to fill that void.

In my memoir, I want to share the lessons learned and insights I gleaned from nearly 20 years on this journey. I want to provide hope, inspiration and support to grieving parents through the rough terrain of loss and devastation to a sense of peace in a future without their child.  My picture of how grief softens over the years should instill confidence in parents that they can survive.  Finally, I present coping strategies for getting through the difficult times and resources for dealing with grief.

I have been a member of NAMW for three years, and completed theWYMI6M course in December, 2015.   I enjoy participating in the monthly coaching calls and became a writing buddy to Lynette from Richland, Washington who once lived in my community in Vienna, Virginia. I didn’t know it at the time, but her kids attended the same school that our kids attended.  We now support each other in our memoir writing efforts. NAMW provides numerous and valuable memoir writing resources as well as mentoring and networking opportunities.

Testimonials

Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler