Saturday, 25 April 2015

One Night Sweat Over the Line

I thought it would be appropriate at this point to share the story of how my debut novel, Mental Pause, came to be. It was published two years ago on International Women's Day. Parts of this post originally appeared on It’s Not All Gravy during the virtual book tour when it launched.

The Symptoms Come Creeping In

I’ve been a writer all my life but mostly corporate communications and PR but I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic and dreamed of one day writing fiction. About five years ago I tested the waters and submitted a couple of short stories to The Fiction Writers Platform (now The Writers Platform) and both received an editor’s choice award!

Prior to that, I had started freelancing and was doing corporate copy writing while thoughts and dreams of being a novelist did a water ballet in the back of my mind. Simultaneously, I began experiencing some rather uncomfortable peri-menopausal symptoms. I honestly didn’t know what was happening at first, only that I was horribly irritable. So much so that I couldn’t even stand being around myself. I was also having crazy thoughts, tinged with paranoia, along with such startling memory loss that it felt like I had had a lobotomy.  It wasn’t until the night sweats started that it finally dawned on me that I was experiencing ‘The Change.’  It was a shocking revelation as I was still in my early-40s. It made me feel a little better knowing there was an explanation for it all but didn’t make it go away.

Hitting the Keyboard

Then one very sweaty, steamy night as I was lying there in a disgusting pool of sweat, even though the A/C was blasting, and trying not to slime my poor husband sleeping soundly beside me, I did what any writer would do… hit the keyboard and poured out what I believed to be the mad ramblings of a peri-menopausal woman. If anyone had seen me they would have thought I’d lost it! I stifled the giggles so as not to wake my husband and wiped the tears and just kept writing. I thought I might turn it into a blog but wasn’t really comfortable exposing myself that openly. Then the idea hit. I could have even more fun with it if I turned it into fiction.

NaNoWriMo to the Rescue

As luck would have it, I had recently heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which was about to start, my husband had recently retired and we had just moved to Thailand. I hadn’t really met anybody and had a lot of time on my hands. I signed up and plunged in headfirst.

I started segmenting the ‘ramblings’, categorizing and developing a loose plot line. The first chapter sort of spilled out and characters started to take shape. The more I wrote the more I dreamt about my main character, Abbie, her thoughts and feelings, family and friends. I’d wake up with a start and run to my computer to type out a description of one of my characters that I had seen so vividly in a dream. The best plot twist in the book (in my opinion) came in a dream!

The Catharsis of Writing

It was really cathartic to write it because no matter how bad I was feeling, how crazy my mood swings or wild my thoughts were, Abbie’s were always worse. I could also live vicariously through her. Without ruining the story for anyone who plans to read it, I can share that I’ve always teased my mom that we’d both get tattoos when I turned 50 and she turned 90 (which happened just last year)! I’d really never do it because I have absolutely no pain threshold and the thought of even one needle makes me go weak in the knees, so I had Abbie get one.

Focusing on writing and publishing Mental Pause really helped ground me and allowed me to face my change with a more positive attitude. The worst has passed and I can talk more openly about it now and hope that, along with enjoying the storyline, my book can help other women as well. My mood swings have tapered off; the night sweats are few and far between and the hot flashes are barely noticeable since I live in a very warm and humid climate anyways.

I had so much fun writing Mental Pause that after it was published I immediately began working on my next novel with the hope that my diminishing symptoms wouldn’t limit my creativity! Fortunately my imagination seems to still be just as active and Deep Deceit recently launched to 5-star reviews!

If you're an author and have written about Menopause or if you are experiencing 'The Change' and have come across a book that you found helpful, please feel free to send me a note ( I'm looking for guest posts from authors and reviews from readers so I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Flashing!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

'Mental Author' Feature #1 - Samantha Bryant

So excited to welcome my first fellow 'mental' author, Samantha Bryant, as she prepares for the launch of her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, where she turns those pesky symptoms into super powers! Can't wait to read this one. Here's Samantha to share her journey...

Turn and Face the Change: Writing Menopausal Superheroes

Menopause and superheroes might not seem like a natural progression at first blush. After all, most women in superhero stories are barely dressed and eternally twenty-three. At mid-life, most of us have given up spandex and clothing with peek-a-boo cut-outs. I know I have.
Author Samantha Bryant

But there's no denying that the feelings (physical and emotional) that women experience during "the change" are powerful indeed. Hormones are overwhelmingly strong at different times in our lives: puberty, pregnancy, and menopause being the highlights in that particular movie reel. (My personal hormone movie has been mostly a comedy, though it sometimes feels like an overwrought drama when I'm living it).

Hitting 40 - Enter Night Sweats!

After I turned forty, I began to get my first direct hints of what this journey was going to be like for me. I woke up hot and sweaty. My skin did weird things. My moods shifted around me like sand on a beach. The doctor says I am still premenopausal, but the writing is on the wall. The process has begun.

Honestly, it scares me. I remember feeling at the mercy of my hormones and the effects on my body when I was a teenager and again when I was expecting and nursing my children. I'm not looking forward to going through more of that. I don't like feeling out of control.

So, I wrote about it. That's what I do, as an author. I take the things that scare the heck out of me and spin them into stories. Art is cheaper than therapy.

Hot Flashes or Power Surges?

This book took a lighter turn. Sometimes we need to make light of the things that get under our skin to take away their power. So, when I woke up sweating, I wrote a woman who could project the heat from her hot flashes out of her body, giving her the ability to wield fire.  When my back itched all the time from the dryness of my skin, I wrote a woman who was transforming into a lizard creature. When I felt depressed, I wrote a woman who became so light she flew. And when I bemoaned the strange growth of hair in new locations, I wrote a woman who turned into a man!

Of course, there's more to my characters than just what happened to them and what they decided to do about them.

We're all Superheros

I'm a long time reader of comics and fan of superhero movies and television shows. As I developed the idea for what became Going Through theChange: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, I wanted to write a superhero story that women like me could identify with. That meant developing characters who were grown women with the problems and worries that grown women have: partners, children, family, careers, feelings of self worth, ageism, weight gain, health, and so on.

Each of my women is on a personal journey, one that just became complicated by some more unusual symptoms of menopause. Writing this series has been cathartic and, honestly, a great deal of fun. I hope my readers will find it so, too!

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. She believes in love, magic, and unexplainable connections.
Samantha writes blogs, poems, essays, and novels. Mostly she writes about things that scare or worry her. It’s cheaper than therapy! Someday, she hopes to make her living solely as a writer. 

Learn more about Samantha at follow her on Twitter @mirymom1 and join her on Facebook.

Good luck with the rest of your blog tour Samantha!! Let us know where you're headed to next so we can join you there ;)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Returning and Reinvigorating

I haven't posted here in a very long while but I have a very good reason (I know... excuses, excuses)! I've been working on my latest novel, Deep Deceit, and it finally launched in March (same date as Mental Pause two years ago, International Women's Day). The past couple of months have been a flurry of launch activities to get the word out so poor Mental Pause has sort of taken a back seat.

I've been pondering what to do with this blog... forget about it or rejuvenate it. After long and careful thought, and seeing a pitch from an author whose debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, which is coming out soon, I decided I would bring it back alive but change the focus just a bit. I plan to use it to highlight other books about women going through 'the change' (both fiction and non-fiction).

So, I'm officially sending an invitation to:

1.  All avid readers and women (or partners/family/friends of women) who are entering and/or in the midst of 'Mental Pause', or have left it in the dust (as mercifully I have done for the most part) to send recommendations on books you'd like to see featured and, even better, submit your own reviews.


2. Any authors who have written on the subject who would like to do a guest post or simply submit a synopsis of your book (complete with links, cover image and head shot).

Email me at ... it's as simple as that! I don't have a huge following yet but I'm hoping that you'll be able to help me change that! If you'd simply like to leave a suggestion in the comments below, that's fine too! I'll take the suggestion, take a look and take it from there.

In the meantime,
Happy flashing!

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