Thursday, August 27, 2015

Scene in Nature

The setting of my work in progress is along the Ice Age Trail at the Point Beach State Forest in northeast Wisconsin. I asked fans of my Facebook page to share their favorite photographs of nature with me to inspire. I selected this landscape by Gaelle Loriot-de Swarte as the winner of Wisconsin Naturalist Aldo Leopld's book A Sand Country Almanac. Thank you for sharing your inspiring photos with me. 

 The picture on the left was shared by Paula Marie.

 The photos are the right were submitted by Wendy Butkovich.

The two water scenes on the left were shared by Billie Braeger.

 The three country living scenes on the right were taken by
Crystal Otto.

 The photo on the left was taken by Heidi Huck.
 The photo on the right was taken by Jenn Morris Fodden.
The photo on the left was taken by Dharma Kelleher

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I don't blog

Lack of confidence prevents me from blogging.

Without confidence, I cannot determine which one of the 120 works in progress should take priority. But, I know they should all take priority over blogging, or should they? (See lack of confidence above.)

These works are mostly short stories and essays, but one novel is about half done and four more have about 10,000. Oh and that reminds me of the approximate 80 poems of varying quality.

Of those projects, some only need editing, others need more words, and others are fully ready for publication, if only I could make time to get them into print for readers to stumble upon.

To that end, I would love an editorial assistant. Wouldn't that be nice?

I keep writing fresh pieces longhand. This is the first time in my career where ideas and inspiration have come steady. With legal pads and notebooks, I am able to get them down. There are tens of thousands of longhand words scribbled, any typists out there?

Fortunately, I have a critique group to help with the confidence. Also good is the start of the school year, which always comes with a promise of a more open schedule.

The muse is here, please send the work horse for the drudgery of finishing. The first step has never been the hardest; it has always been step three-quarters of the way.

Don't send wine, just an angel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In the News Around Wisconsin

Thank you Journalist Alyssa Bloechl for writing this article supporting Mental Health Awareness month in Northeast Wisconsin.

Read the Article Here

Thank you Nancy Stultz and the Door County Public Health Department Mental Health Focus Group for providing the leadership to bring so many diverse groups together for these conversations.

Thank you Door County Library Director Becca Berger and Psychologist Dr. Dennis White for leading the book discussion on the memoir.

Thank to the many, many volunteers who coordinated and supported these events. And thank you to the public for coming out on a rainy Monday to hear my story, and share your own.

Yesterday was a great day and a humbling experience to make so many meaningful connections.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness month begins today. 

 When I think of stigma, I don't really think that the world needs to be better educated in order to accept me, or anyone else, with a mental illness diagnosis. It just took ME to accept bipolar is real, to move past popular opinion that the disease is personal weakness. I had to stop believing the diagnosis was bogus and embarrassing in order to reach health for myself. By accepting the condition and identifying it, proper treatment can follow, and or about 80 percent of people with bipolar, health can be achieved through treatment. Those are pretty good odds that treatment could be worth effort. 

Live Well! 

I will be at some events in Northeast Wisconsin to honor the month. Thank you for your interest in sharing stories about mental health, and thank you to the non-profit and government agencies who make platforms available for this subject. 

Wednesday, May 6 (11:30 - 7 p.m.) "Stigma: You're WISE if You Lose It" Health Fair with presentations at noon and 6 p.m.  Free Community Event featuring Pat Smith, Cecilia Broussard, and Tracy Rogers at UW-Manitowoc Campus. Signed copies of "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" will be available for purchase at a discounted rate of $10 all day. I will be at the fair from 11:30 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. This event is presented by Healthiest Manitowoc County Mental Wellness Coalition.

** WISE (Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination) is a statewide organization promoting inclusion and support for all affected by mental illness by advancing evidence-based practices for stigma reduction efforts.  

Thursday, May 7 (2 p.m.) Book Discussion at the Door County Library, Sturgeon Bay. Join Library Director Becca Berger and Dr. Dennis White (psychologist) for a discussion on the memoir. Copies of the book are available for borrowing at the library. Request a copy via the library's online catalog: For more information, contact Cheryl at the library, (920) 746-2383. This discussion is sponsored by Door County Public Health Department Mental Health Focus Group and Door County Library. 

Friday, May. 8 - Saturday, May 9 (two-day event) Lakefly Literary Conference. I will be leading a memoir writing workshop Saturday morning. Come for Keynote Speaker Michael Perry, stay for the breakouts and connect with like-minded souls. Lakefly

Monday, May 11 (6 - 7:30 p.m.) Free Community Presentation, Resource Fair, and Q&A with the author brought to you by Door County Public Health Department Mental Health Focus Group.

Location: Prince of Peach Lutheran Church, 1756 Michigan St., Sturgeon Bay.  

Monday, May 11 (12:15 -1:15 p.m.) Education Program Sponsored by Door County Public Health Department Mental Health Focus Group. 

  • Location: Ministry Door County Medical Center, Conference Rooms One and Two. 
  • Intended Audience: Primary Care Physicians and All Other Clinic Providers. 
  • Program Objectives: 

  1. To learn to encourage voluntary treatment even when the person does not meet the commitment standard criteria of being a danger to himself or others; to understand that health is achievable despite a mental illness diagnosis.
  2. To empathize with people experiencing symptoms of mental illness and respect them as human beings; to set aside prejudices and stereotypes.
  3. To accept mental illness as a legitimate health problem and struggle that is outside of a person's control, while still holding him accountable for his actions.  

  • Lunch Included
  • RSVP: Medical Staff Services, Laurel Wise (920) 746-3741, ext. 3741 or 

Saturday, May 30  Private Book Club. (Invite me to your book club via Sykpe or in person. Free autographed copy for the host.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

A novel walk

I snapped the following pictures on the Ice Age Trail in Manitowoc, Wis. around 9 a.m. this morning. The scenery is inspiration for a fictional setting in my novel in progress. Enjoy the view, my friends. And, forgive my amateur photography skills.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thank you for your letters and cards!

Getting an email from the Website or a Facebook message via my author page, and especially the hand-written cards found in the PO Box truly make my day. 

I'm so glad to hear readers are enjoying the book. Putting it out there has alreadyled to more than I could hope for. People are talking, to me anyway, about their
families' experiences with mental illness. They share they believe in wellness despite the diagnoses they or their family members have. 

I do hope these conversations spread. One reviewer on Amazon wrote, "... my view of mental illness has forever changed."  

I am fortunate to live in a time when people are becoming more comfortable with
discussing mental health. 

It is funny, however, because I am both proud of my accomplishment of having published a
well-written book; at the same time I am embarrassed. The embarrassment comes from the stigma, which is still attached to mental illness. Some days it feels as if I admitted some crime that I have committed rather than revealing a story of an illness I survived and am successfully managing.

Thank you again for your notes affirming the book is contributing to the national conversation on mental wellness. 

Live Well, 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How I write

The beautiful and blank fancy journals. 
The pristine journals are beautiful, inspiring, arty, and full of possibility. I have received many of these notebooks to inspire me and prompt me to write, a validation my vocation as a writer is a worthy pursuit.

Pictured are gifts from friends. The one in the background was a surprise gift brought to my front door at a time when I had "quit" writing. It was a thoughtful gift to inspire me to keep penning and remind me of the value of poetry and prose. I received the one in the foreground at my book launch party, it a ribbon of accomplishment, a celebration of those 75,000 words bound in my first published book. 

The ugly work-in-progress truth. 
My current project is a big mess! Note cards, legal pads (pink, yellow, and white), composition notebooks, binders, folders, sketch pads, markers, and that's just on the desk. On the computer are jpegs of character composites and settings, One Note files, research PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, several word docs containing some of the forty-eight original poems that will accompany the novel, and The One Main Word Document, sadly shy on word and page count.

The blank, fresh sheets intimidate me rather than inspire me. I need color and mess. I need legal sheets that easily tear and can be crumpled before being tossed in the general direction of the waste paper basket. I take comfort in the clutter.  

I apologize to Laurie and Sharon for keeping those pages blank. I do love them, and keep them as pure treasures. Someday, I may feel focused enough to be able to just write directly on the beautifully bound pages, confident in the worth of my words straight from thought to page. Until then, I can rest assured no one will publish my work posthumously, as it would be impossible to interrupt.

In case you are wondering, my novel in progress has a working title: "Poetic License." Of course, there is a legal pad sheet with a list of at least twenty alternatives — was that a pink or yellow sheet and where did I file it?

Saturday, March 28, 2015


On this day in my history, I was hospitalized for a psychotic break. I didn't know it at the time; I thought I was going to a birthday party rather than the ICU of a psychiatric care center.

Today's five-year, post-breakdown anniversary is a bittersweet reminder. I celebrate the absence of a re-occurrence, but recall vividly the horror of the injury.   

The cause of the psychotic episode was determined to be bipolar disorder.

The name of that disease, its category of illness, and the shame of it all felt like more than I could accept in the spring of 2010. I certainly didn't feel I would ever be right or normal.

However with medical treatment and a loving support system, I did learn I could be healthy and most importantly happy, genuinely happy even with a feared and disrespected illness as part of my whole.
I came to realize the man-made construct of control can be destroyed through a force outside of oneself. The savings account, the physical ability to work, the false sense of security.

I also learned how to rebuild with a more solid foundation.

I do not feel stronger for having survived. I am weaker — more timid, more hesitant, more fearful. I literally have come to accept I am, in fact, not strong enough to live without the help of medical treatment. I have learned I am not strong enough to live without love and support, which I both give and receive.

A sense of gratitude did emerge from the rubble. I thank God for each day I am able to wake up symptom free. I appreciate my family, my friends, and my vocation as a writer. I am indebted for the men and women who came before me to study,understand, and treat mental illness so those afflicted can live with health. I learned to see the beauty of nature, and through this I recognize the evidence of divinity.

The title of my book, "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" speaks to the temporary nature of psychosis, a fracture, something that can be repaired. A stress fracture — differing from other bone fractures — results from repeated pressure put on a bone, which over time causes a break. Psychosis can be like that; the repeated pressure of living with an untreated or mistreated mental illness forces a fissure in sanity.  

The book was shared so others can recognize many of the symptoms of a chronic mental illness can heal. People with mental illness can live well and enjoy the view from a place of a healthy mind, body, and soul.

Happy spring; happy new life. For my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday sing those Alleluias jubilantly. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Come write with me!

HomeHave you ever thought about writing memoir? Not sure how to get started? As part of the amazing Lakefly Literary Conference, I will be presenting a Mining Memories breakout session to get you started. The conference is held May 8 and May 9, 2015 in Oshkosh, Wis. Come for Keynote Speaker Michael Perry, stay for the breakout sessions, book fair, and connect with like-minded people.

Learn more about the conference here: Lakefly Presenters

I have read a lot of books on memoir writing and my favorite was "Old Friend from Far Away" by Natalie Goldberg. For general writing inspiration, I recommend "On Writing" by Stephen King (direct and, at times, funny) or "Bird by Bird" by Ann Lamott (a more Zen approach to inspiring the craft).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Extreme Flash

Change of Fun

Norbert appears boyish in his flat cap, wrinkles hiding beneath the brim’s shadow. He watches a swarm of tots gathering ‘round a soccer ball. He played football, without protective gear — tackle, not touch — in a yard wearing outside shoes. Norbert grins; shin guards and pint-sized cleats supervised at manicured fields.

*Writing Flash Fiction is an exercise in brevity. My original example here is just 50 words. The short story genre is often standardized at 750 words, with some guidelines allowing to a 1,000 word count. The exercise is fun; I dare you to try it. Feel free to leave links or examples in the comments.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015


The Goodreads giveaway ended last night. Thank you goes out to the 430 who entered.  The three winners will receive a signed paperback, which will be mailed this week.

 Congratulations to:

  • Krystal from Wisconsin
  • Jennifer from Minnesota
  • Cheryl from Sough Dakota

Please note "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" is available to all public libraries and
bookstores. It also is sold at all online outlets. Thank you to those who entered.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway!

It has been a great start to 2015.

I joined the board of directors of a local chapter of Mental Health America. As part of this organization, I am to give back all that I have gained from the advocates, researchers, and practitioners who came before me and made my health possible.

Letters, book club invitations, and public speaking requests have appeared in my mailbox, which serve to further humble me as I realize how large the need is to support those living with mental health conditions. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon continue to trickle in from strangers near and far affirming that the work "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" has value. A little thing I can do to spread my story and expand empathy for those living with bipolar is to give away three paperbacks. Click the link Goodreads Giveaway!  for your chance to win.

Please note if you don't win a copy of my book, it is available to all public libraries. Talk to your favorite librarian to get "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" on those library shelves.

Thank you and good luck.

- Tara