Wednesday, 30 July 2008

New! Magazine promotes 'Don't Wait for Me' because of 'Hollyoaks' fame!

'Beth Morris talks to New! about watching mental illness take over her brother's life' reads the headline in the very well written feature about 'Beth' and her now troubled relationship with 'Zach'. Notwithstanding that New! is very much the kind of magazine that you pick up at the newsagent for a quick read on the tube or in the hairdresser, I thought that the article was handled extremely sensitively and not sensationally. It was touching for me to see the photos that we had given them of the children when they were... children. How things have changed! Read it!

The interesting thing is that now soaps are featuring mental illness as a part of their plotlines. I remember when 'Eastenders' ran the story with Paul Nicholls as the schizophrenic son. He was fantastic in the part and totally believable. That was because of the writing but also his understanding of the part. Yet, conversely, publishers are still finding it difficult to promote books about mental illness and newspapers feel that one story fits all...

'Sophie' told me online last night that she reads the blog. I doubt that she knew that she is 'Sophie'. Maybe now she'll work it out. It's great that people are reading it but I would love some feedback too. Do use the comments button. At least that way I'll know whether I'm saying anything that resonates...

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Power of You Tube and Kippers

Chris L. said that I should post three minutes of myself on You Tube speaking about the book. I've just about learned about the Power of Facebook (Part I). How on earth do I manage You Tube? Whenever I try and watch something on You Tube, my PC crashes. Something about distortions. I have to ask for directions here but don't you need a video camera or something similar? The mind boggles with possibilities...

Is You Tube the way to go? I understand that it reaches millions but where's the hook that binds the book to the voyeur?

I read today that smiling may help beat depression. Oh, yeah...? And another thing: kippers. KIPPERS?? Maybe smiling kippers - yes, they will most definitely help beat depression. Maybe watching a kipper swimming around a pretty pool, smiling and flapping its pretty fins will make the depressive get out of bed, get washed, dressed, fed and off to his/her wonderful job, full of the joys of omega-3. That way no one will need antidepressants or mood-balancing medication or anti-psychotics for when you get to the position that the only way out is the Suicide Bridge.

You have to wonder about these so-called 'experts' who have the temerity to write about depression and anxiety or why they are even quoted when they come out with these totally absurd and irresponsible advertisements.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Power of Facebook - part 1

I've been informed that Facebook is the way to go. I'm pretty much a Luddite when it comes to some new technologies - well, most new technologies! Thank goodness for Jessica. So there's now a link on my Facebook page. It's like the old concept of the letter that was sent out to three people, who would then pass it on to three new people and then they, too, would do the same and eventually it would reach a million! The possibilities are mind-blowing. It just has to hit them between the eyes...

I see that Jenni Murray's new memoir has just been published. She had a whole page in the Telegraph this Saturday. Well, I guess she's rather more well known than me! The interesting thing is that her grandmother was Bipolar (or manic depressive as it was known as then). Amazing how this mental illness hits every family and how every family had a family member who experienced those 'funny turns.' I had an aunt about whom my mother would only ever speak in the most opaque terms. My father would alude to her, too, experiencing 'funny turns' and my mother would hush him. 'You don't speak about this in front of the children' was her most oft repeated admonishment to him whenever he brought up some aspect of her family that she thought should be kept in a closet. Her closets were full of skeletons. In fact, I think, she must have created the patent. Nothing was ever spoken about and I wish I knew more about her family. Maybe then I could have some idea why my present family is so loaded with psychological whimsey. I can't see my mother posting her news on Facebook!

So check out Facebook. See how far this can go.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Interviews and Amazons

I think that Robyn has done really well with the interview. The Ham & High have run a full page feature about the book and me and a photo that doesn't actually make me look like Frankenstein's bride. The only quibble that I have is that she wrote that I 'hate' my son. That's not true. Well, let's qualify that. On the whole I don't hate him. I love him. It's when he allows himself to lose control and makes no effort to curb his excesses - be they behaviour patterns or drugs - that I do, quite frankly, hate the person that he has become. Not a pretty reflection of myself but entirely honest. Otherwise I thought that it was pretty good. Hopefully there will be others to follow.

There's now a link to buying the book at the bottom here. I don't know if it's going to work. We'll try it out. Still problems finding the book in bookstores and I don't appear to be making any headway in establishing why precisely there's no real promotion going on. Be nice to see a stand, fully replenished with my book, and a bright, bold advertisement exhorting the public to buy!

It's in the label but I'll post the Amazon link again in any event: cr tht view

As Robyn wrote: 'Morris's book stands out from the influx of trauma autobiographies filling the bookshelves, in the way that she does not glorify herself or demand sympathy. Her frank honesty lays down the facts and invites the reader to make their own objective judgement, with no promise of a happy ending.'

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

So Katie Price doesn't actually write her books?

Well, what a surprise! As if anyone actually thought she did! Yet how very unfair it all is for authors everywhere. A continuation of my gripe: you write the book, you find an agent and a publisher. The book is published and then... I don't know. Then what? Unless you're Katie Price who's not actually written her books herself you can't even get them into the shops? What's happened to publishing? Why is it that the lowest common denominator is thrust full pelt into the faces of the buying public? Surely we should do better than this? I just wonder how many absolutely wonderful books are published but no one hears about them because they are not written by 'celebrities' or those writers lucky enough to have been 'picked up' by the media. At least, maybe, they actually wrote their books themselves!

My walking companions this morning made the point that if it were the case that 'Zach' had raped me as a teenager or was now threatening to sue me for writing about him or simply that the book was largely salacious, then there would be no problem... Look what happened just now with Christian Bale. Is it true that he 'accosted' his mother and sister? Or is it another cynical tactic to publicise the new Batman film by any means possible?

I went into the local Daunt books this morning and asked if they had a copy of the book. 'No' was the answer. 'Why not?' I asked. The bookseller looked nonplussed. 'I wrote it,' I added. Slight interest. 'What's it about?' she queried. 'About living with someone with Bipolar disorder,' I responded. A slight curling of her lip almost in disgust. 'Oh, well. We'll order one in for you then...'

I had lunch with B. today, an American friend of an American friend whose daughter has suffered from mental health problems in the past. 'I never mentioned that my daughter was in a clinic. I was too embarrassed...' I keep hitting everyone with this. They must be bored with it by now: why is it perfectly alright to have a medical illness but not a mental illness? When are people going to learn to try to accept mental illness for what it is? I'm trying to get the message out there but who's listening?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Why did three broadsheets run drugs features this weekend?

I can't understand it. Do newspapers collude? It's like buses - nothing, then three come along at once. The Sunday Times, The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph all ran features about drug abuse. But what was the Observer one about though? Was there a message at all there that didn't say that it was perfectly fine to use so long as you still work? Why is it that none of these features actually made the point that using drugs was really BAD for you and led not simply to rehab but to spells in nasty, dirty psychiatric wards - and not just in the UK but around the world?

These journalists still want to make the point that it's cool to use. It's not. Just look at Amy's face for a start... They start off with the premise that because they've used in the past, or still simply 'have the occasional toke', then it's all perfectly fine. They think it amusing to make the point that because they did it at uni when they were younger, being friends with their kids, they tell them so. They don't seem to be able to join the dots that actually telling your kids that you did it, then it's all perfectly fine. Kids look to their parents to learn. If they know that their parents used (and using means cannabis too), then why shouldn't they?

So the broadsheets want to publicise that people are using with no real reaction or comeback and nothing serious happens to them apart from the giggles, the spots and the munchies. Well, guys, it's not like that. It's totally irresponsible to make the comparision that booze is worse. It's a fallacy. Yes, English kids drink far too much and make themselves sick and some of them end up in hospital because they've been out of control but it's far rarer for them to find themselves actually addicted in the same way that so many people who use drugs are addicted. Nor do they find themselves in psychiatric wards because they've shot their brains with too many chemicals.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

So is Amy Winehouse manic or what?

How long's this been going on then? When 'Beth' met Amy in Texas last year at South by Southwest, the girl seemed to be fine. Happy, carrying her hot sauce, her hair was clean and shining. Certainly not in the state that she's in now. That all seemed to begin again later in the summer. How is it possible that she's slid into the state that she's now in? Of course, when you're manic and in denial and hooked on drugs as self-medication, then no one can help. No one is going to make her better or cure her. The only person who can is she herself and she doesn't look as though she believes enough in her future to want to stop. The drugs and the booze and the obsessive behaviours are indicative of someone sliding out of control.

So 'Zach' knows them all on the periphery. His life, to some extent, parallels hers. The music, the madness, the drugs, the extremity of living their lives on the edge of a precipice. She's lucky; she has the financial recourses to help herself if she wants. Zach doesn't. He now has to rely on the NHS and that's a hiding to nothing.

Amy's parents: read my book. Understand what Bipolar disorder is and recognise that even installing the largest, tallest, toughest minder is not going to stop someone intent on self destruction. Telling people not to give Amy cigarettes? For real? Is that the best you think you can do? Let her be charged and imprisoned for offences that anyone in the real world would have been by now. That's the only way she will attempt a reconciliation with herself. Stop giving interviews and let her fall as low as she can go without attempting to pick her up each time she ends up in the gutter.

Friday, 11 July 2008

So how can you actually sell any books?

Well, I found an agent, a publisher who's put his money into it, had it edited and typeset and a great jacket. I've also had my launch - when I sold out and Waterstone's didn't have enough copies for everyone to buy one and numerous people went home empty-handed. But they haven't got replacement copies and when they do, they'll only have five! Now I just want to sell books and guess what? I can't! Seems like there's even a Catch-22 here too. Notwithstanding that I've published a book, because I'm a first time author and an unknown quantity, bookstores appear to be cautious about stocking it! Now, wouldn't it make sense for booksellers to actually stock it in bulk for a week or so, see how it goes and then make a decision? If the public can't see it, if a bookseller doesn't stock it or - even if they do, they hide it! - then what hope have I?

Poor old Ailsa at Mainstream. I keep emailing her. 'They haven't got it at Covent Garden! The don't have a clue at Tottenham Court Road and the local Smiths haven't even got it on their system!' despite the fact that I bought two copies there earlier this week... Bizarre...

The PR does appear to be hotting up though. 'Beth' did her interview with New! magazine this week. Had her photos taken and a long interview with the very sweet Clare. I'm being interviewed by the Ham & High this week coming and their photographer is coming tomorrow to take pix of me. Not an enthusiastic prospect for me as I loathe and detest having my photo taken and 'Sam' always admonishes me, telling me to remove my sunglasses because no one can see my face. Well, isn't that the idea? Maybe they'll use the one on this blog because no one can actually tell i'ts me in any event!

So, Toby's got a copy and it would be great if he could get someone to review it if he can't and I've been on to Judi to see if someone there will too (I know, this is curious - but I can't give names yet...)

I'm still trying to work out how to load my blog counter. Would love to know if I'm writing this into a void or if anyone else is out there...

Rant for the day.

Thank you Julian for buying it at Gatwick!!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Still sane?

I've had some remarkable feedback - already! Mostly along the lines of 'how come you're still sane?' and 'utterly compulsive... have to work but don't want to put it down!'

I really don't know how I am still sane! I think it's probably because I have the capacity to detach, distance myself from what goes on. I still get the sinking feeling in my stomach when I think that I'm going to be confronted with it all over again - but then I create the flimsy veil of detachment. I remember when I first went to live abroad, all those years ago. After that I always told myself that it just takes a month to get used to a situation. Whether it's moving country or moving house or living with insanity. Maybe the last bit is a lie... maybe it's taken rather a lot longer than a month to get used to insanity. You really never get over that last one, especially when each episode pretty much resembles the first.

Oh, and I think that I'm also going to get into the self-publicity lark. I shall tell everyone I know and everyone who knows anyone to buy the book. That way it should hopefully make a 'buzz'. It needs to. It needs to be read. There you go! My first self-publicity...!

Friday, 4 July 2008

The state of psychiatry today

So let's see. This week the new head of the NHS mental health body states that he would hate to have to put one of his relatives into an NHS psychiatric unit because they are so disgusting. Nice one. Does that mean that he will recommend that a bit of extra cash should be forthcoming to make these units more tasteful? Or that they will be cleaned? Or that, as was in the case of Zach when he was banged into the holding cell of a well-known hospital, without excreta creating patterns on the filthy walls?

Then there's the case of the psychotic woman in a Brooklyn hospital who died in front of witnesses too imured to insanity and too indolent to do anything to help her. So nothing really changes, does it?

At my book launch last night I read from 'Don't Wait for Me' of the fear that mental illness creates in those whose friends or family are suffering and how the mentally ill are treated: with contempt, with ignorance and generally shunned. I 'm very despondent really as to how anything will ever move on.

In any event it was a good evening. I think that about ninety people attended and Waterstone's ran out of books! People were going home empty handed. I only hope that they go to their local bookstores today and buy their copies. Waterstone's will be getting in more stock by next Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how sales go. Be nice to hear from people who bought the book too - what they think of it and whether they it thought-provoking.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The time it is a marching on...

Why is it that I only seem to be able to write on Tuesdays? And why do the weeks go so quickly? Only two more days and the launch. It's off to buy the wine and the plastic glasses and fizzy water so that no one has to sit down and suffer (I hope not) my wittering on. I'm prepared not to do a Gwynneth and ramble on, thanking everyone who's ever said a good word but I'm still not prepared to stand up and remember what it is I have to say...

Yesterday was the first of the long interviews. An hour and a half over the phone with a 'leading' women's magazine. Hope that it looks good when it comes out in October. Sunday was my first piece of journalism: a first person piece in Stella magazine for the Sunday Telegraph. I loved the photo they used and thought that it looked pretty elegant - and the prose wasn't too bad either!

My sculpture fraternity are showing up in force and I hope that they're not let down. They've been greatly supportive. One review so far from someone who received the book on Saturday; read it by Monday and who gave an excellent feedback. Makes me feel it was worthwhile. Can't anticipate that this will be across the board - but there's hope...