Rachel Thompson on RachelintheOC

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Bullied, by Guest Steven M. Cross (@stevecrosswords)

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Please welcome booktrope author Steven M. Cross as he shares his story on bullying. 

I despise bullying. I hate it, and that’s why I wrote a book about it. The ironic thing is that my intense dislike of it happened not so much because I was bullied but because of one incident where I was the one who bullied.

My sixth grade year was memorable for a lot of bad reasons, but two events especially stick out most in my mind. One of my supposed friends started calling me a racist name that I won’t get into because I didn’t look as Caucasian as he thought I should have. It was really the first time I had experienced any kind of bullying. The one event though that helped to shape who I am more than any other had to do with a boy I’ll call Johnny.

Some background is needed here. Johnny was a little strange. He looked strange – like a miniature adult with a cleft in his chin like Kirk Douglas’s. His social skills were not strong, and he didn’t do anything cool like play sports or collect baseball cards. And gasp, one of the worst things of all – he was a preacher’s son. Most people made his life hell by bullying him constantly. Most of the time I felt sorry for him, but I never bothered to say anything or stop anyone.

One day, during recess, for some reason I have never been able to fathom, I shoved Johnny to the ground. Usually, this kind of thing ended most interactions with Johnny. He’d get up, maybe start crying, and run off. This day, for some reason, he decided to make a stand. He came up and swung at me – missing by the way.

The moment of truth. My manhood. My reputation. Both were at stake. I punched Johnny once, maybe twice, and he crumpled like a house of cards. He cowered on the ground and covered his head and face. I sat on his back and punched him several times with uppercuts. I felt horrified at what I was doing because I could have literally punched him into unconsciousness, and he would not have resisted. It was like the first swing he took at me sapped all his strength.

I stood then, backing up in horror at what I’d done. Tears came to my eyes. I don’t know why since I wasn’t the least bit hurt. It didn’t matter to me that I had won one of the most coveted schoolyard awards: beating a kid up. A girl, one of the prettiest ones in our class, looked at me. “Why are you crying? You beat the shit out of him.”

Johnny jumped up, tears already streaming down his face, his lip and nose bloodied. He ran for the teacher, to tell on me. I deserved to get paddled or expelled. I started the fight without any provocation whatsoever. Yet, when we both faced our teacher, he said, “Boys, I think this was just a misunderstanding, and you need to apologize to each other.” I didn’t know why at the time, but this made me feel worse.

I felt so much guilt. Then, Johnny exploded with anguished sobs. I can’t remember his exact words, but he cried about how everyone always picked on him even when he did nothing. He cried because everyone hated him because he was a preacher’s son. He cried for several minutes. I stood in stony silence and wished I were dead. When his anguished sobs finally quieted to sniffles, sixth grade continued as if nothing happened.

Terrified that my mom or even worse, my dad, would find out that I got into a fight at school, I confessed to my mom. She asked me what the fight was about. This was my chance to come clean, to confess my sin, and get my forgiveness.

I thought for a moment. “He was picking on one of my friends,” I lied and dropped my head.

My mom said, “You should take up for your friends.” As far as everyone was concerned, the incident was closed.

But it wasn’t.

You know what they say about Karma. I think, about this time, my predisposition to bipolar disorder kicked in. I guess it could have been the first hints of puberty too, but I got a little strange. For the next four years, I learned exactly how Johnny felt.

Hardly a day went by during those four years when someone, including teachers, didn’t bully me. I think the only thing that kept me from killing myself was that I was more afraid to die than I was to live. Though I am surprised about this too because during this time period, I had a friend who killed himself. I remember asking myself at the time, was he more cowardly or courageous than me? Most of what I experienced I have blocked out, but every once in a while, some long-forgotten memory pops through my walls and stabs me with new pain.

I have never forgotten Johnny even though he moved sometime during our sixth or seventh grade year. I don’t know what happened to him, but I do know that he changed my life forever. I went into teaching because I wanted to be better than some of the teachers I had during school and because I wanted to be just as good as some of the others. I went into teaching because I wanted to help people like Johnny to realize that school is not the end of the world, that it is, in fact, just a small fraction of a fraction of a slice of it.

I try to prevent bullying of every kind, and I think I can honestly say that I have never intentionally hurt any student who has entered my classroom door in the 30 years I have taught. I sincerely believe that most of my teaching career is, in some way, my attempt to prove to Johnny that I was not a bully and that I am truly sorry for what I put him through on that playground over 40 years ago.

About the Author:

stevenSteve Cross’s first successful writing project was a play about a werewolf that his eighth grade English class performed. Though the play was never published, the warm fuzzy feeling from its public performance has never quite left Cross, who continues to sink his teeth into a variety of writing projects. His first publication was a haiku, followed by two middle grade novels published by POD publishers and a young adult novel published by Buck’s County Publishing.

A fanatical St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan; a lover of all kinds of YA fiction, as well as the writings of Dean Koontz and Stephen King; a fan of all kinds of music – from Abba to the Zac Brown band, Cross dreams of the day he will write a best-selling novel or sell a screenplay for seven figures, so he can retire and write more best-selling fiction. Until that day, he and his wife Jean, Missourians born and bred, will continue to toil in the field of education and live in peace with their two dogs and two cats and wait around until their daughter Megan and son-in-law Sean give them grandchildren to spoil.

Connect with him on: TwitterFacebookFacebook author page, or his website.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here!

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Pictures courtesy of pixabay

Self-Promotion Sucks…Because You’re Doing It Wrong

There have been a few posts circulating recently about how authors who self promote are basically assholes, because self-promotion doesn’t work to sell your books.

I agree.

Wait, before you freak out on me, She Who Is A Marketing Person, let me explain…or as I always say, let’s deconstruct.

YOU’RE DOING IT WRONGanimals-215775_1280

You shouldn’t be ‘self-promoting,’ you should be marketing smart. Marketing your work correctly. Branding yourself with focus, sharing interesting content, articles, blog posts, quotes, graphics, throwing in the occasional humor, i.e., cat videos, Nutella pictures, whatever, NOT ‘Buy my book!’ posts repeatedly, ad nauseam, until we want to poke you (or ourselves) in the eye. Repeatedly.

Sadly, most people on Twitter or other social media channels tend to leave messages (DMs or tweets) like these (actual examples from my timeline just today):

Hello Friend, would you be so kind to give my book trailer a like/comment? I’d appreciate it. Thank you! http://linkblahblahblah

Hi @RachelintheOC! I’d love it if you would buy my book, review it, and tell all your friends! http://linkblahblahblah

Love your site! Please like mine, buy my books, and let’s party!!!! http://linkblahblahblah

(don’t even get me started on all the exclamation mark cheerleading)…

It doesn’t take a genius to see that these are not effective ways to sell books and there’s a really good reason for that: Twitter (and other social media channels) are ineffective channels for selling books. They are, however, quite effective for networking, relationship building, listening (if you are doing any listening, which these writers are clearly not), and sharing information — all of which can lead to sales.

STOP SELLING AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

When people start on social media, they see millions of potential book buyers (wrong. who is their demographic? not everyone on Twitter), so, like an excited puppy who pees in the house, they decide to run amuck and leave messages of all kinds, everywhere, with no focus, no strategic marketing behind them, just a brain dump of random ‘buy my book!’ messages. Very few even look at the Terms of Service each channel provides where spam guidelines are clearly defined.

In the examples I give above, those writers sent the exact same messages to hundreds of others victims, er, people, clearly in violation of Twitter’s TOS, of which they are blissfully unaware…til enough people report them for spamming and Twitter suspends their account. Boom. We are all subject to the same TOS, and yes, Twitter does refer to them as the ‘Twitter Rules.’ I’m not the Twitter police — I’ll report spammers because they are annoying and should know better (doesn’t anyone read anymore?).

Tip: Instead, put your link on your bio. Here’s mine:Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 3.06.10 PM

Share a quote from your book, and say ‘link on bio.’ I do this all the time (if there’s room) and it works. How do I know? I track clicks from Twitter to Amazon using bit.ly. I know exactly how many clicks come from Twitter, and I know that I’m getting hundreds of clicks from Twitter to Amazon each month. Sometimes, thousands — more than if I repeatedly spammed my link in every damn tweet. Does each click result in a sale? No, of course not (and there’s no way to track if it does anyway.)

The only time I suggest that it’s okay to be slightly more self-promotional? If you have some kind of promo going on, i.e., a free book or low-price limited time promotion.

Tip: Pin that promo tweet or FB post to the top of your timeline so it’s the first thing people see (for a limited time, anyway). Once your promo is done, change it up. I usually keep a quote from my most recent work pinned to the top of my Twitter timeline or Facebook page — kind of like a tease — with a ‘link on bio’ mention.

More Tips: You can also spend a few bucks on paid advertising (Google AdWords — not AdSense which is totally different and not at all effective for what we are discussing here — or Facebook or Twitter ads), put out a newsletter (email marketing is still extraordinarily effective as long as, again, you’re not spamming people and hey, Mailchimp is free), run a contest of some sort, start a street team who loves and supports you and your work and is willing to put out the word for you…it’s almost laughable how many options there are other than spamming your ‘Buy my book!’ tweet repeatedly.

Don’t be that clueless writer and if you are, don’t rationalize your cluelessness because your transparency is showing. Educate yourself, be a smart marketer, do the thing. Work on your entire author platform and be professional.

And think about this: aren’t you a writer? If you can’t write more than ‘Buy my book!’ in a tweet repeatedly, why would anyone want to buy said book? Duh.

LOSE THE ENTITLEMENT

When I asked a writer recently not to spam me, she YELLED AT ME IN ALL CAPS that I should share my good fortune (that I’ve spent seven years building, day in and day out) with all the newbie authors out there (apparently, she’d not heard of #MondayBlogs, my stupid cheap promo sites, my free blog posts (on BadRedheadMedia, BookPromotion.Com, IndieReader, Huffington Post), or the many other advocacy projects listed on my bio), and by me not sharing her free book promotion (again, I offer free book promotion on my promo sites if she’d bothered to read my bio), I am a selfish bitch and other choice names I won’t repeat here.

That kind of entitlement has zero place in the author community, and buys zero happy points with me. As I tell my kids, ‘you get what you give, and you give what you get.’ I give of myself in so many ways, and in return, these relationships have more than given back to me in ways I never imagined — personally, in business, in advocacy, and yes, in sales. But I never once have demanded anyone do anything for me, ever. I am not a princess who stomps her foot and tells others what they need to do for me or off with their head!

I no longer ask people not to spam me simply because I won’t take the time to educate them anymore — the abuse and vitriol these spammers direct at me just isn’t worth it. So I block them. Who has time?

Tip: Follow readers, bloggers, reviewers, as well as other writers but not only other writers. I see this happen far too often: authors hitting up other authors. Who is your demographic? Who is your ideal reader? Is it another author? No. Then you’re doing it wrong.

BE HUMBLE AND BE PROUD

Wait, what? How can you be both? It’s a fine line.

When Broken Places went free last week, I was shocked, truly and deeply shocked, at how many wonderful souls shared my free promotion without me asking them to do anything at all. I thanked as many as I could, and ultimately, was honored by the results — #131 on Free overall, #1 on Poetry and Women Authors. Without that amazing support, I don’t know that my book would have done so incredibly well. Now that it’s back on the Paid lists, it’s still ranked quite highly and selling well.

When you do (retweet, share, guest blog, invite them to guest blog, interview, etc.) for others, inform or promote others, offer your platform to others, they are more compelled to return the favor because you have helped them. Don’t do it to get something back for manipulative purposes — I wrote my books to give survivors a voice, not to make a living or to have people begging me to work with them. The more notice my book gets, the wider the audience, and the more survivors it reaches — that’s purely a win/win.

If that helps give a wider audience to the Gravity Imprint I’m now directing for Booktrope (stories of trauma and recovery), great! I’m happy to wave my pride flag. The authors in this imprint are extremely talented, and their stories are incredible. I can’t wait to bring you their books. Our first releases, out very soon by Lindsay Fischer, Dana Leipold, and Beth Stoneburner, are all compelling and I am so fucking proud of the work they’ve done.Gravity-800w

BE BRAVE

You have given yourself permission to write your book…now give yourself permission to market it. If you wait until after you release your book to start creating buzz, you’ve waited too long. Start long before you release the book — I started two years before I released my first book with blogging and social media — because remember, the focus is not on selling, it’s on building relationships with readers. Are you tired of me saying that yet? Even I’m getting sick of me saying it. Maybe people will get it and I can finally shut up.

Bottom line: look outside yourself and your own work, embrace and follow readers, and don’t be annoying. Market smart, have a damn plan, and be focused. Golden rule, my friends.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here!

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Pictures courtesy of pixabay

 

#MondayBlogs Giveaway April 2015

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger March 2015
Inspiration Tree
– Alicia Audrey

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here!

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Five Ways of Seeing Breakable Things by guest @LorenKleinman

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Please welcome poet, author and editor Loren Kleinman as she shares five ways of seeing breakable things.

1.

It’s the hairline crack in a cup that I don’t see right away. The length of the split stretches down to the base of the wide expanse. I hold it in my hands and I’m in a sea of tea. I take a chance and sip from its lip. Waves drip down my chin.

2.

Last night the wind howled, sounded like a helicopter breaking apart in the air. It’s wings held back by the wind reached out in pieces. Its breath was a shard that sliced against the pane.

It’s just one aspect of this apartment life: the split from the inside. But I’ve seen this before. The yolk splits on the plate, runs off the bread. I remember when I split the egg, slept in the atom at the center of my Mama’s belly. I split her, once in half, too.

3.

I love the cracks in my skin, the small lines, a web at the edge of my mouth. Love the time it takes for things like this to happen: age.

4.

Now, I’m just a Goblin fish caught in a net. I was sold for salmon filet. My face was hideous; my mouth, a shotgun.
The woman that cut my belly ripped my intestines with her knife.

I loved once, in pieces.

5.

I look back at the cup. Its break lets the light in. I see more clearly now, through the split, this new shape against my hand. It’s reflection in the window, mixed in with the wind; all the burst pieces of its breath reshape this fracture. I can almost feel the breeze in my hands.

About the Author:

Loren Kleinman HeadShotLoren Kleinman is an American-born poet and writer with roots in New Jersey. Her writing explores the results of love and loss, and how both themes affect an individual’s internal and external voice.  She has a B.A. in English Literature from Drew University and an M.A. in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Sussex (UK).

Connect with Loren on her website.

Breakable Things:

Breakable ThingsFrom the author of the breathtaking The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, Loren Kleinman, comes the intense and heartfelt new poetry collection, Breakable Things. Look for the release of Breakable Things this March.

After the fracture, after the breaks in the surface, there is always light. Breakable Things is a testament to the idea that everything is breakable, and everything somehow finds its way back together again. Whether it’s past, present, and future; falling in love and out; or darkness and light, life is full of beautiful contrasts. Loren Kleinman presents the world in breakable objects: bones, cabinets, hearts, sexuality, and more. She shows us that broken does not mean damaged, and that it’s a necessary part in the process of becoming a whole person.

Readers can order Breakable Things on Amazon.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here!

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Trauma Survivors Have Symptoms Instead of Memories by guest @LinneaButlerMFT

Trauma Survivors Have Symptoms Instead of Memories

“Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories”

Harvey, M. (1990). An ecological view of psychological trauma and recovery. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(1)

It can be really tough to try to make sense of a past trauma and how it effects you in the here and now. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has a specific set of symptoms, such as nightmares and flashbacks. But the reality of complex trauma resulting from repeated traumatic events is that the effects go far beyond the symptoms outlined in the DSM.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds”

~LK Hamilton

One of the first steps in healing from trauma is to understand the problems that you are having in your life and how they might relate back to the traumas. Not every problem originates with trauma, but there are some problems that originate with trauma that you might not expect.

Trama

As you look at this image, what do you notice? Are you experiencing any of these problems in your life? Have any of these symptoms started to emerge as you are getting older?

Trauma is often buried in non-verbal memories and stored in a different part of the brain than typical, chronological memories. These non-verbal trauma memories can be hazy images, familiar smells, body aches, nightmares, urges to do things that harm you (like addiction) or noticing that certain situations, colors or sounds trigger an emotional response that seems out of proportion with the situation. Over time, those non-verbal memories begin to surface and become more problematic in your life. The trauma is ready to speak and be heard. That’s when you know it’s time to seek some help.

“All emotions, even those that are suppressed and unexpressed, have physical effects. Unexpressed emotions tend to stay in the body like small ticking time bombs—they are illnesses in incubation.”
― Marilyn Van DerburMiss America By Day: Lessons Learned From Ultimate Betrayals And Unconditional Love

Trauma survivors are more vulnerable and susceptible to these kinds of problems or symptoms. During trauma your nervous system goes into hyper-drive, releasing stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones prepare you for action, like running away or fighting. If you aren’t able to run or fight, then you head for other defenses like freezing in place so you might not be seen, or playing dead. Then later, when you experience triggers such as an image, smell or thought, your nervous system thinks it’s back in the past trauma and fires off cortisol again. BAM, you’re in hyper-drive again and you get overwhelmed by emotions.

So here’s the good news. You can learn to modulate your emotions as part of the healing process. With coping skills you can dampen the emotional rollercoaster. With self care you become less vulnerable and can tolerate more stimuli without getting triggered. The overall result is that you feel more stable in your life, your symptom are reduced and you can regulate your emotions.

If you’re experiencing a number of the symptoms above, you might want to seek therapy from a trauma professional. In the meantime, here are a couple of tips you can apply to your life.

Coping Skills: When you feel overwhelmed by emotion there are some things you can use to distract yourself for a short time. Note, these tips do not solve the problem and you’ll need to come back to it later on when you feel stronger.

  • Imagine placing painful thoughts and emotions in a box and then putting that box on a shelf.
  • Run your hands under very cold water. Splash cold water on your face and back of your neck. The cold distracts your body and mind away from what is causing you pain.
  • Hand wash a dish very slowly. Wash just one dish and pay attention to every second of the experience. That will take you out of the past and bring you into the present.

Self Care: Do something that you find enjoyable. Tune in to one of your five senses.

  • Make and drink some yummy tea (smell and taste)
  • Look at a beautiful picture (sight)
  • Smell a flower or some hand lotion (smell)
  • Listen to soothing music (sound)
  • Curl up with a fuzzy blanket or put fresh sheets on the bed (touch)
  • Self care can include a sixth sense, motion, like going for a walk or exercising or doing yoga.

Everyone needs to do self care, whether they have trauma or not. We all have stressors in our lives and conscious, intentional self care can help reduce our vulnerability to emotional stress.

Please note, these tips are not a replacement for therapy. If you are feeling overwhelmed please seek the help of a professional.

Linnea ButlerMore information about Trauma Therapy: www.bayareamh.com/therapy-for-trauma

More information about Sexual Abuse and the Brain: www.bayareamh.com/blog/sexual-abuse-you-dont-just-get-over-it-pt1

Linnea Butler, LMFT
Bay Area Mental Health
Los Gatos, CA
linnea@bayareamh.com
WebsiteTwitter | LinkedIn | Facebook

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Photo at top courtesy of Unsplash. Guest author photo courtesy of Linnea Butler MFT.

#MondayBlogs Giveaway March 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger February 2015
Pavarti K Tyler

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today!

M is for Munchers by guest Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (@Alexandria_SZ)

Post image for M is for Munchers by guest Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (@Alexandria_SZ)

Please welcome author of several award-winning books, Alexandria Constantinova Szeman as she shares her story. Warning: May Contain Triggers

 

“The first time I realized someone was trying to kill me, I was four years old.”

Thus begins my memoir, which, unhappily, is about a certain category of female serial killers, of which my mother is one. Female serial killers are usually more successful than their male equivalent, sometimes termed “sexual predators,” if only because the females tend to prey on people already known to them, and to use methods of killing that are rarely discovered, such as suffocation or poison. To date, there are 4 recognized categories of female serial killers, not including Team Killers, who work with partners and are most like male serial killers in other aspects.

Black Widows, who kill for insurance, social welfare, or inheritance monies;

Medeas, who kill their own or adopted children to punish or otherwise manipulate the men in their lives;

Angels of Death, who are often in hospitals or Nursing Homes and kill in ways that are undetectable during autopsy or in ways that are ultimately considered part of their victims’ disease process; and

Munchers, who practice Munchausen’s by Proxy (MBP), an untreatable and incurable personality disorder where the women intentionally and repeatedly abuse, torture, sicken, injure, and sometimes kill their children (or other people dependent upon them for care), attempt to “save” the child if there is an audience present, rush the child to the hospital or doctor in order to acquire said audience if none is available in the home — all so the MBP women themselves can get attention, praise, love, and respect for being a Good Mother.

M is for Munchers cover w mask webMy mother is a Muncher.

MBP is not a new phenomenon, though it has only been officially recognized and named in the last 40 years, nor does MBP simply “appear” after these women become mothers. Just as male serial killers do not suddenly begin raping, torturing, and killing others when they become adults, MBP women – often called Munchers by the medical community and law enforcement officials who have discovered the abuse and killings – do not suddenly begin hurting children after they give birth.

Munchers’ childhood histories reveal that they originally got the attention and “love” they so desperately crave by practicing its precursor personality disorder, Munchausen’s, which is also incurable and untreatable. A person who practices Munchausen’s intentionally sickens or inflicts injury on himself in order to receive medical attention as well as intensive care from family members. Both men and women practice Muchausen’s, at about the same rate, but males very rarely transfer their violent, self-destructive, attention-seeking behavior onto one of their children.

94-98% of female Munchausers, however, discover an easier way to get the “love” they so desperately seek. They use a “proxy” – sickening or inflicting injury on someone else, usually a child, attempting to “save” the victim when there is an audience, and then seeking extensive medical attention for the proxy – in order to gain admiration, respect, and love for themselves in their own role as selfless caregiver. Munchausen’s by Proxy is always preceded by Munchausen’s, and, if the children are taken away from the MBP mother or if they simply leave home, the MBP mother returns to her self-destructive Munchausen’s behavior.

My own mother killed at least two children before I was born. Within the family, these incidents were called a “miscarriage” and a “stillbirth.” Both occurred at the home of her parents since they happened before she ran away to Kentucky and got married when she discovered that she was pregnant for the third time. My biological father, who was also the father of the previous 2 babies, was himself 31-33 at the time. I was born when my mother was 12. I got all of this information from my own medical records — not from my mother herself — as well as from her family members, who often argued about these things amongst themselves when they thought they were alone.

My mother tried to kill me before I was born by insisting that the doctor induce labor when she was approximately 5 months pregnant. She told him that he’d gotten her due-date wrong. (She told me this story herself many times when I was growing up, though she omitted the part about her age, the fact that she was less than 5 months pregnant, and she insisted that she’d been trying to “save me” because she’d been “past her due date.”) The doctor resisted her request for 6 weeks before finally surrendering and inducing labor, only to discover, to his horror, that I was at least 2 months premature upon birth.

While I remained in the hospital after birth, my mother tried to kill me with an unidentified poison — hospital records indicate an additional ¼ ounce of fluid in my formula whenever she fed me. The nurses noted the additional amount of fluid in my records on the nights my mother visited as well as the fact that, after she’d fed me, I projectile-vomited, lost a drastic amount of weight, was listless and lethargic, and had to be “forced” to take the formula from my mother on future occasions.

The nurses eventually requested that the doctor be present at my mother’s evening feedings, but only after they discovered a large lump and severe bruising on my head after one of her visits. Once the doctor was present when my mother fed me, the amount of formula did not increase, and I stopped being ill during my remaining stay in the hospital.

My MBP mother was trying to kill me before and after I was born — a pattern which never stopped as long as I lived at home with her, and which I first realized when I was 4.

I discovered my own pre-memory MBP abuse when I was an adult, from my medical records, which were difficult to find not only because of my age but because hospitals and doctors’ offices simply do not follow the laws requiring them to retain medical records. Once I gathered as many of my records as I could, however, it was obvious that, in every instance, my mother was doing something very wrong to me, and that the medical personnel knew it, though they weren’t sure exactly what she was doing.

Each doctor and medical facility where I received treatment as a child eventually refused to continue seeing me, thereby absolving themselves of the moral dilemma about how to handle my Muncher mother. This contributed to the difficulty in locating my own medical records, and many MBP victims experience this difficulty in confirming their mothers’ suspected MBP abuse because Munchers “doctor-shop” whenever a doctor or hospital refuses to do invasive, painful procedures – often suggested by the MBP mother herself – or when they begin to suspect her stories about the child’s injuries and illnesses.

I always knew there was something wrong with my mother, though I didn’t know what it was. I just thought she hated me and my siblings. She certainly told us that often enough. She also claimed we were stupid, ugly, fat, clumsy, retarded, and [insert any other insult that would permanently damage a child’s self-esteem]. That’s an aspect of MBP abuse that’s often not recognized: the constant emotional and psychological abuse that always accompanies the physical abuse and attempted killings.

Szeman_1956So, from at least the age of 4, I knew something was wrong with my mother, yet I thought I deserved everything she did to me because I ruined her life by being born (that’s what she always told me) and by being too stupid to know when to die (which is what she said whenever she “revived” me after drowning me during my bath, or smothering me with my pillow).

Of course, I didn’t realize that she meant the latter statement literally. I thought her “wanting me to die” was her obviously inappropriate way of saying that she didn’t want children. Therefore, I constantly ran away, beginning at age 4, seeking a new mother. I also told every adult in my life, from family members and neighbors, to teachers and medical personnel, exactly what my mother was doing to me and my siblings, while begging them to find me another home.

No one listened.

Actually, I suppose they did listen. They just always insisted that mothers don’t do things like that to their children. Then they’d contact my mother, tell her what I’d revealed to them in the strictest confidence after eliciting their promise that they would not tell my mother, listen to her weeping protestations of innocence and her insistence that I was such a liar and the biggest storyteller [she’d] ever met, then send me home with her, where I would be subjected to even more severe abuse for not keeping my “big mouth shut.”

It’s rare for Munchers’ victims to be aware that their mothers are intentionally hurting them. For one thing, it’s incredibly emotionally painful to realize that your own mother is repeatedly seriously hurting you or constantly making you violently ill on purpose just because she wants attention for herself, because she’s bored, because it excites her, because she can, or because no one will stop her. It’s not a surprise that such information gets repressed by the victims, most of whom are children.

More integral to MBP abuse and to the victims’ inability to “recall” such abuse, however, is the Muncher’s role of “The Good Mother.” If there’s an audience, be it family members or strangers, the Muncher will be the most affectionate, caring, concerned person imaginable. If the audience is comprised of medical personnel who are attending her sick or injured child, her Good Mother performance becomes Oscar-worthy. This discrepancy between the private and public personae of the Muncher — violently abusive in private, but incredibly loving in public — causes most child-victims to repress the abuse, though studies have demonstrated that even MBP victims who cannot actively remember the abuse never feel safe around their mothers, and do not believe that their mothers ever loved or cared for them.

How does a Muncher get away with constantly taking her children to emergency rooms with severe injuries or to doctors for treatment of bizarre illnesses?

By making up stories about what happened to the victims, and by constantly insisting that if she herself hadn’t been there to “save” the victims, they would, no doubt, be dead. Being a Saviour is an integral part of the Muncher’s Good Mother role, so she tells these stories over and over, receiving praise from her listeners, and it is these stories of what happened to the children that her victims eventually begin to believe.

A Muncher also gets away with her repeated, violent abuse because she tends to marry or be in relationships with men who are emotionally unavailable and sometimes physically absent (traveling for work, for example). When present, the men simply ignore what is happening to the children.

In homes where the adult male — be he father, stepfather, or boyfriend — is sexually abusive to the children, the MBP abuse significantly increases in severity and number of occurrences. My father first raped me when I was 3, and my mother walked in while it was happening: she blamed me. My stepfather raped and sodomized me, and forced me to perform fellatio on him, from the time I was 5 to 18. He repeatedly raped my siblings until each ran away from home. My mother’s MBP abuse increased each time she discovered another instance of his sexual abuse. (My mother raped me herself, with implements, when I was 11, but she did not take me for medical treatment of my injuries.) None of us children were ever taken in for treatment when we were sexually abused or raped. Whether Munchers view the male’s sexual abuse of the children as “permission” for the MBP woman’s own increased violence and abuse of the children, or as retaliation against their spouses or partners for “infidelity” is not known, but studies support the evidence of increased MBP abuse in homes where the adult male is also sexually abusive to the children.

Because I knew, from an early age, what my mother was doing to me and my siblings, I am one of the rare MBP survivors. As far as I can determine, I am unique among MBP survivors because, from the time I was 4 years old, I also constantly told people exactly what my mother was doing to all of us. No one ever believed me — not even when confronted with physical evidence like X-rays of multiple, now-healed, broken bones — but that never stopped me from telling everyone I could.

I wanted her stopped.

I want all women like her stopped.

We can only stop women who practice MBP by becoming more educated about the components of this incurable, untreatable personality disorder.

First of all, self-destructive Munchausen’s behavior always precedes Munchausen’s by Proxy, so if MBP is suspected, the woman’s own childhood and pre-motherhood medical history should be investigated.

Once she has children, the Munchauser transforms into a Muncher by injuring and sickening a proxy instead of hurting her own body to get the attention she needs. Sometimes, these women will hurt pets if no children or other dependent family members are available; in fact, veterinarians were reporting this suspicious abuse and confiscating pets before medical doctors acknowledged it.

Additionally, the Muncher will virtually always attempt to “save” the victim in front of an audience. If no audience is immediately available, she will take the victim to a medical facility or call 911 herself in order to obtain that necessary audience, for which she will “perform” the Savior and Good Mother roles.

Intense medical attention for the victim — into which the Muncher inserts herself, by insisting on administering medications herself, for instance, even in a hospital environment, or by suggesting invasive and dangerous medical procedures — is an essential component in this personality disorder, though no one knows the reason for this.

Munchers will not take a child in for treatment of any injuries caused by the father, even if it is rape, sodomy, or other sexual abuse. They will not seek medical treatment for normal childhood illnesses, such as chicken pox, nor for injuries resulting from accidents which they themselves did not cause, such as a fall from the swing-set.

Munchers will not obtain medical attention for a child’s illnesses which they did not induce themselves, such as strep throat or appendicitis, since not getting immediate attention will increase the severity of the illness and risk the child’s life. Only when the child is in crisis from something like a burst appendix will the Muncher “suddenly” recognize the “danger” and “save” the child by rushing it to the Emergency Room or calling 911. My own mother did these things with my siblings.

Respect, admiration, and “love” from medical personnel, family members, neighbors, colleagues, and even strangers is the Muncher’s “reward” for being such a Good Mother (or caregiver of an elderly parent, for example) and is a necessary component of this personality disorder.

Posing as ideal mothers and self-less caregivers, women who practice Munchausen’s by Proxy are one of the most dangerous female serial killers yet identified. Many of their victims survive and escape, however, as I did.

If you believe that you are or have been a victim of MBP, you should gather as many of your medical records as possible. Then you should seek professional help immediately.

If you suspect that someone else is a victim of MBP, do not confront the child or the suspected mother as this will often cause the Muncher to disappear with the victim. Instead, contact your local law enforcement agency or Children’s Services (but be sure they are aware of MBP). I have listed some sources below.

As for me, I have many physical injuries which can never be healed. I was unable to ever have children, for example, because of that especially violent act of sexual abuse on my MBP mother’s part. She did not seek medical attention for me after that incident since her own severe abuse of me would have been discovered, and, besides, it was not MBP abuse. I have been through many years of therapy to help heal the emotional damage. Writing a book about my mother and women like her helped me grieve and heal.

My goal now is to prevent other children from dying and from being irrevocably damaged, as were my own brothers and sisters, by shining a glaring light on this most hideous type of child abuse and the serial killers “next door.”

 

Resources & Help For MBP Victims

If you believe that you are or have been a victim of MBP, then you should seek professional help immediately. The Resources listed here may be able to direct you to therapists or doctors in your area who can provide assistance. If you suspect that someone else is a victim of MBP, you should immediately contact one of the resources below, or your local Children’s Services, or Law Enforcement Agency. Do not, under any circumstances, confront the suspected MBP-woman yourself as such action may precipitate the Muncher’s (and child’s) immediate disappearance.

  1. Childhelp USA
    800-422-4453
    480-922-8212
    in DC 703-241-9100
    (they can also provide toll-free numbers for each state)
  2. American Psychological Association: Locate A Therapist
    800-374-2723
  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  4. Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN)
    800-656-7233
  5. ABA Center on Children and the Law
    800-285-2221
  6. American Humane Association, Children’s Division
    800-227-4645
    303-792-9900
  7. American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
    312-554-0166
  8. American Public Human Services Association (APWA) State Contacts
    202-682-0100
  9. National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
    800-879-6682
    202-232-6682
  10. Prevent Child Abuse America Crisis & Support Contacts
    800-244-5373
    312-663-3520

About the Author:

Alexandria Constantinova SzemanAlexandria is the author of several award-winning, critically acclaimed books, including The New York Times Book Review‘s “Best Book” and Kafka Award Winner “for best book of prose fiction by an American woman,” The Kommandant’s Mistress.

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door | Website | Blog | Twitter | Pinterest 

 

 

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

What Happens When You Walk Through The Fire

burningWhen I finally decided it was time to tell my (almost-ex) husband I wanted him to move out, that I wanted a divorce, I wasn’t ready to walk through the fire. I’d skipped around the burning coals for years, dancing past the cinders, dropping hints through smoke so thick, it choked my ability to be honest with him.

So I drifted further into myself, the cloud of silence growing, the fire building.

When silence didn’t work, we had conversations about what needed to change, what we both needed to work on. I loved him. It wasn’t that. It’s still not that. He’s a good man, a good father. I’ve known him almost half my life. My god, how is that possible?

My feet continued to burn.

I blurted it out one day, “You need to leave!” in a rush before I lost my nerve, my soles on fire. I couldn’t breathe with his booming voice, his anxiety vibrating, snapping at the very air of his slamming door, slamming drawer, clutter-filled presence. I needed peace. I wanted counter space. To breathe in my own clear air.

My soul burning.

So he left. Not without some protest, a mountain of bills, and the upheaval of our now suitcase-carrying, back and forth children who think I’m being selfish. And that’s okay. I see their point. They are too young to understand that breathing isn’t selfish. It’s more important that we do this thing together, focusing on co-parenting them, and we are. We are friends. He still calls me “Hon,” after twenty-two years together, which is sweet and only slightly strange, as when a child calls you by your first name.

It’s been easier, and harder, to go through than around. There is no detour when it comes to ending a marriage. “You will have to walk through the fire,” my therapist told me, and she’s right. Nobody does this for you. It’s a grown-up thing, this divorce business.

You dig through the ashes for answers, and realize that you are just as imperfect as you fear, that all those cliches about change are so fucking true. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. I don’t even blame change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but taking a Zen approach to it all has helped immensely.

I realize control is an illusion. We can’t shape a tattered love that’s no longer there, yet I can choose to cherish memories, and be thankful for happy times and amazing kids. That we’ve salvaged enough of it to still care about each other and our family makes me if not happy, at least grateful for this solo walk.boots

I’m damaged. I’m healing. I’m tending my scars.

The way it is with any kind of burn.

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com

This Is the Reason Migraines Affect Sex Abuse Survivors

blue-215942_1280I’ve had migraines since well, my teens — more intensely since my late twenties. I’ve seen neurologists. I’ve had MRIs. I’ve tried chiropractics. Alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage). Dietary changes. Botox. Behavioral therapy. EVERYTHING. I’m fifty-one now and as I write this, I’m on a preventive treatment that includes medication and diet, exercise, meditation, and therapy, and I still get them. In fact, I’m in a stretch right now that’s lasted about a week and it’s just as awful as you can imagine.

But I function. I’m luckier than most, though on bad days I feel like crawling into a cave of soft blankets and binge-watching Scandal reruns for hours and hey, sometimes I do. I may not be a gladiator, but I can watch them on TV.

Meds like triptans (Imitrex, Relpax, etc), aka serotonin receptor agonists, are the most effective in terms of treatment because they are non-addicting and work quickly. Triptans narrow (constrict) blood vessels in the brain and relieve swelling (Source: WedMd). They are also expensive if not covered by your formulary, and don’t come without their own side effects (sensitivity to hot and cold, nausea, sleepiness). Like any medication, you can only take so much without experiencing rebound (aka, a form of dependence), so you have to mix in anti-inflammatories along with stronger meds, if needed. Occasionally, I’ve had to go to an urgent care for a Toradol (anti-inflammatory) shot or even the ER for a shot of Demoral when the pain has been THAT bad.

What’s interesting to me is that nobody, not one physician or health care specialist, ever once suggested that my migraines could in any way be tied to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. It’s only through my own research and connection with the amazing community of survivors (in #SexAbuseChat that I started last year with therapist/survivor Bobbi Parish, every Tuesday on Twitter at 6pm PST — join us — all survivors and families are welcome) that I realized how commonly migraines occur in survivors.

Let’s deconstruct.

PTSD IN SURVIVORSsad-468923_1280

Take a look at the research. Here’s just a quick sample:

“Several studies demonstrate that childhood injury or abuse makes it more likely to develop migraine later in life. The more severe the abuse, the stronger the link grows. These headaches are also more likely to be frequent and disabling. Severe abuse is also linked to other conditions, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel disease.

Chronic maltreatment early in life alters the brain’s response to stress. This may make it more likely to have migraine. A study of inflammatory blood tests suggests a mechanism for the link. In this study, adults showed higher levels of biomarkers in the bloodstream when exposed to abuse in childhood. Genes are also important in this process. Genes are responsible for how a person and their body respond to early stressful experiences. It is also possible that early stressful experiences may become hard-coded into DNA. This creates a memory of events that leads to impaired health at a later date.” (Source: American Headache Society.)

I’m honestly thankful to know this. It explains so much! To say that finding this out has been life-changing for me seems almost trite at this point.

There are people who say that knowing this is a crutch of some sort — that because someone told me that my migraines are due to the PTSD from the abuse, I now have an ‘excuse.’ Whatever. I’ve had these things for twenty-five years. I’ve seen the top experts and they don’t even know or understand the causes of migraines or how the brain works. So, good luck with your rationalizations. (Here’s more information on how abuse affects the immune system, which can also lead to migraines and other diseases. Source:  American Nurse Today.)

People are well-meaning in the advice. I’ve heard everything from using lavender (done it), to Vitamin D (use it), to garlic (love it), to gluten-free (tried it, didn’t help). You may recall, I was in Big Pharma for seventeen years. My company made migraine meds (nasal spray — hated it, awful taste). I’ve bought and sold these meds. I have spent A LOT of time with neurologists and scientists. I don’t claim to be an expert — far, far from it. The brain is this crazy thing that almost defies explanation. But I do know that what works for one person may not work for another, yet sharing information is crucial.

This explanation about PTSD makes sense to me, but it doesn’t take the migraines away.

And that’s okay.

MEDS AND THE STUPIDNESS OF HEALTHCARE

One of my doctors told me something that has stuck with me all these years — there are no long-term physical negative side effects of having migraines. You have one, it goes away (eventually), and you get on with your life. Sure, psychologically, a migrainer, as we are called, lives in well, if not exactly fear — it’s more like dread — of getting one, at least we know we are actively living our lives and doing what we can to prevent them.

Some people don’t, though. They become addicted to prescription pain meds — Vicodin, for example. There’s a reason for that.

I have a prescription for it myself, for when the pain is really bad. My doctor can only write thirty (I’m in California, and since Vicodin is a controlled substance, a prescription must be picked up in person with ID, written in triplicate, and presented at the pharmacy by the patient, no more than once per month). I only take them when the pain is unbearable and none of the other meds help. I don’t drive when I take them, and it makes it hard to write or function, which is why I avoid them until I just give in.

Triptans work differently. You take them at the first sign of a migraine. Some people aren’t aware of triptans, or simply can’t afford them. Get this: one prescription of six tablets of Relpax, the triptan that works best for me, isn’t covered by my PPO (Anthem/Blue Cross). The price: $250. FOR SIX TABLETS. I can only take two in twenty-four hours. If my headache lasts a week, that’s only three days worth, and I can’t get more for another month. So my options are to take Advil (which can cause rebound — take more Advil, which causes more headaches, which means I have to take more meds, which causes more pain, and on and on it goes), or take Vicodin, and the same cycle begins.

Vicodin (or other controlled pain meds) are available in generics, are covered by insurance, and cost about $5. Despite it being more difficult now to get filled, it’s still an easier and more affordable option for people on a budget and in pain. It does not cost more to make a generic triptan than it does a generic Vicodin. Of course, there’s always the ‘street’ option, not something I’d ever consider, yet people do, because of what I mentioned above. But that’s a whole other post.

OTHER OPTIONSwoman-228176_1280

To avoid rebound headaches, I do natural therapies like vitamins, meditation, yoga, and behavioral therapy. I also take preventive medications like Topamax and Cymbalta (and anti-depressant which is also indicated to help prevent pain). I also get Botox shot into my temples and jaw (yes, TMJ is part of my issue, too — isn’t this fun?) every three months. And though migraine prevention is a covered and FDA-approved treatment for Botox, my insurance company, in their infinite financial wisdom, refuses to pay for it. Don’t get me started.

Listen, this is my story. Knowing that migraines and PTSD are closely linked has been eye-opening for me, because it’s a partial answer to a complicated question that has dogged me for years. People want to relieve my suffering and the symptoms of my migraines and give me a ton of advice. I appreciate the love and support from so many caring individuals. I do, truly. What I’m doing usually works, and sometimes it doesn’t, which is why I’m here, sharing what I’ve learned.

I’d love to hear your stories about what does or doesn’t work for you, or those you know and love. Please share below!

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Enter my Valentine’s Day Godiva Truffle giveaway — a $50 value — and win a free eBook of Broken Places, too!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com  

 

#MondayBlogs Giveaway February 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger January 2015
Richard Flores IV at Flores Factor

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today

Valentine’s Day #BrokenPlaces Sweepstakes!

pink flowers

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so to celebrate I am giving away a 24 pc. Ultimate Dessert Truffles Gift Box from Godiva ($50 value) and an ebook of my latest book Broken Places (the second book in the Broken series) to one lucky winner! Enter using the form below. And please share!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Broken PlacesAward-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Purchase: Amazon

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Archive

Inside Schizophrenia: ‘I Could Be AWOL Right Now’ by @allieburkebooks

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Please welcome my amazing friend and talented best selling novelist, Allie Burke! Allie is quite open with the fact that she is schizophrenic (she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2011) works two full-time jobs, and has a thriving literary career (she just finished her eighth book). Allie is signed with Booktrope. More here:

Allie is an American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.papersoulscover

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.

Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com and look for her outstanding latest, Paper Souls, on Amazon. 

I Could Be AWOL Right Now

I think a lot about that one time I outsmarted the mental health industry and used the intellect I didn’t even know I had to break free from one white walled prison we call a hospital.

The very act of it epitomizes the ideal that we must be crazy enough to tell the whole world to fuck off if we’re ever going to survive.

Excuse me. She smiled sweetly, knocking on the station window.

A large man with a shaved head emerged, dressed in white. Yes?

I would like my purse, please.

I’m sorry?

My purse. You confiscated it when I arrived here. I would like it before I leave.

You can’t leave.

Excuse me? Emily asked incredulously, her eyes bulging out of her head. I’m sorry, am I…a prisoner? Have I committed some sort of crime and am being held against my will now?

The nurse stammered. I…I…

If I walk out that door right now, past that red line, Emily pointed to the two-inch-thick red line painted on the floor six feet from the door, are you going to chase me?

No, but if you don’t sign out, with pre-approval from Dr. Talen, then you will be considered AWOL.

Do I look like fucking Rambo to you?

The nurse didn’t answer.

I haven’t seen the doctor yet. Let me speak to him, please.

He’s not here yet.

Emily’s stare at the nurse was intense, but in reality, she wasn’t staring at him but the stupidity his body reeked of.

Call him. Now.

-Paper Souls

I didn’t ask him for my purse, even though I wanted to. I had never been as appalled as I had been in the moment six hours earlier when they had confiscated my cell phone. Though I was thinking all of this, and it would actually make for a really good story, I never referenced Rambo. My mental age was so much younger than it is now; I was so scared. I would have welcomed a thousand years of psychosis in that moment and took it like a boss if it meant I could walk out that door unscathed by the disgusting reality that is our mental health system today.

What I had done, though, was spend six hours in a mental institution without any means to communicate anything to the outside world and without actually seeing a doctor.

The presence of my now ex-husband in that tiny visiting room with another nurse watching our every move, his tears, the fear bleeding from his pores, struck something in me. He wasn’t working and I was the only one paying bills. Clearly I hadn’t thought this through the moment suicide crossed my mind and convinced me that I wasn’t getting any better. My life would be in shambles if I didn’t get my ass out of there and get it to work on Monday morning. If I had a second chance at that afternoon, I would not have checked myself into a fucking mental institution. I would not have told them that I was hallucinating and afraid of harming myself and that I was off my medication.

So I told them that. That was after they nearly had me sedated and straitjacketed for stepping too far into their nursebox. But I did tell them the truth. I told them that this place was going to do nothing for me but ruin my life, and I needed out. They told me that I should stay because they could help me. That they would recommend it. It was such a passive-aggressive fucking way to control my life. You are mentally ill and therefore we cannot trust you to function properly in society, but here, have a cookie.

There really was a red line on the floor. That wasn’t something I made up for the book. I’ve never liked the color red, and maybe this is why. The ideal that a color can instill the fear of imprisonment is pretty psychotic in itself, but I am psychotic. Technically. According to the State of California.

So I asked them. Are you going to arrest me if I just walk out?

I still don’t know what they meant by AWOL. Like is that a real thing? What does it mean if you are AWOL and not in the military? Do they take away your driver’s license? Refuse to hire you at a job? Call the credit reporting agency? I can’t even with this shit.

Either I am really smart or the doctor was in a good mood that day. He just got a blow job by his assistant, I don’t know. They let me go. Like, legally. Without the AWOL part. It was really fucking weird, but every day I thank whatever higher power we are thanking for this kind of stuff now. Regardless of the number of times I did go back, I really do believe that that experience of questioning authority as the prisoner and not the jailer set the tone for the healing process that I would force on myself in the years after. It was my fuck off to the people bigger than me. And I’ve been telling people bigger than me to fuck off ever since.

It works for me. Me specifically. Paranoid Schizophrenic or not, I’m still a real person.allieburkehs

“The only difference between the sane and the insane is the sane have the power to lock up the insane.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Exciting news: Broken Places is FINALLY out (via Booktrope)! Pick up a copy today (eBook or print) on Amazon or your favorite retailer, Broken Pieces is still going strong, and my two humor books, A Walk in the Snark and Mancode: Exposed have wonderful new covers and are now available in print!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Picture courtesy of Pixabay via CCA Public Domain license

Speaking Up About Rape: Brave or Foolish? by Guest @SbethCaplin

 

snowy trainPlease welcome author and blogger Beth Caplin to the blog today as she shares her brave story about speaking up.

*Trigger Warning*

The lyrics to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles hit me hard and personally:

Your history of silence won’t do you any good/Did you think it would?/Let your words be anything but empty/Why don’t you tell them the truth?

That’s exactly what I’m ready to do.

Tell the truth.

But first, here’s the back story:

THE BACK STORY

When I was seventeen, the summer before my senior year of high school, I met an outgoing, attractive, and charismatic twenty-one-year-old man about to enter his senior year of college. It was the kind of relationship where I dove in headfirst, as only a headstrong teenager can.

Fast forward two years, when I am nineteen and visiting him at his college over spring break. We’d been having the “Should we or shouldn’t we?” talk about sex for some time, but ultimately it was decided that we couldn’t go all the way, as that would be a violation of both our religious beliefs. But somehow, for him, that conviction did not rule out everything we could do before that final step. When I refused to even go that far, he raped me (I’ll spare you the details).

I didn’t know it was rape at the time. For years afterward, I became easily preyed upon by the words “You know you want it,” “I thought you loved me,” “You owe me this,” and similar sentiments. It didn’t take long for force to become unnecessary: I was damaged goods, and this relationship was as good as I could hope to get.

PRESENT DAY

Fast forward another seven years to present day, when I am married to the love of my life: a man who treats me better than I ever thought I deserved. It truly stunned me that he respected my concerns about boundaries, when that should be a normal expectation of any healthy relationship. In many ways, his kindness continues to surprise me.

Clearly, this is not okay. Only now, seven years later, am I considering the ramifications of speaking up, because fear held me captive for so long. Problem is, the option of speaking up in a court of law has long passed due to the statute of limitations (not to mention a complete lack of physical evidence).

What choices am I left with? If I can’t have a lawyer speak on my behalf, I’ll have to use my own voice. And instead of a jury, my audience will have to be the people who know me personally. People who know us both.

And yet I hesitate. For many people, contacting their abusers or raising any kind of hell could have serious ramifications on their safety. Now that we are several states away, my physical safety is not a concern. Instead, there is my public image to think about. I think it’s extremely admirable to not care what others think, but as an aspiring writer with a growing audience, I cannot afford to completely embrace that mindset. I am building a reputation, and few words that are projected into the cyber world can ever be taken back.

TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL?

In my most lucid moments, I tell myself this is about justice. Who cares about the consequences, if telling people is the right thing to do? This concerns the safety of all the women in his life. But there is a part of me that desires vengeance, and it’s unclear how much of that desire is righteous or vindictive. I cannot deny that, as a human who has been deeply hurt, part of me desires to witness a public humiliation, a virtual flogging, if you will.

Sorting through these conflicting feelings also requires evaluating the person I want to be. In the novels that shaped me growing up, the heroines who faced adversity always took the high road. Even Jesus, the center of my religious faith, advocated turning the other cheek. I want to be remembered as someone noble, righteous, and compassionate. At what point does my pursuit of justice conflict with that sort of character?

Perhaps you or someone you know has been in a similar situation. I was fortunate to move away from the place where the abuse occurred, but some people have to see their assailants on a regular basis; perhaps because they share custody of children, work together, or are related. There are so many complicated factors that influence the way justice will be enacted, if it is to be enacted at all.

So long as one’s pursuit of justice does not involve harmful behaviors – stalking, further violence, harassment – perhaps there are no right or wrong answers. Ultimately, the question of self-care should be the most important. Ask yourself, and be willing to be honest: How will this affect me? What are the potential consequences? Am I willing to sacrifice a few relationships in the process? How critical is justice to my journey of healing, and am I willing to accept that not even justice will erase the damage that has already been done?

Regardless of whether justice is served, I won’t let that stop me from moving forward and reclaiming my life. At the same time, I am left wondering if speaking up about what happened to me is brave or foolish.

SarahbethBeth Caplin is a Denver-based author and blogger. Her first novel, Someone You Already Know, follows two teenage girls on their journey to heal from rape culture. Find her on her website, sbethcaplin.com, or engage on Twitter @SbethCaplin


someonecoverTwo teenage girls, two experiences with sexual assault: one committed by a stranger, the other by a relationship partner. Neither girl quite believes the other when she shares her story: wasn’t she ‘asking for it’ by walking home alone so late at night? Why didn’t she just end the relationship if he really treated her that way?

Someone You Already Know is a raw, emotional book that explores the impact of rape culture on modern society. Told in alternating perspectives from two survivors, it unpacks the common myths of sexual assault, revealing important truths that every woman needs to know.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Broken Places will be out after New Year’s from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

#MondayBlogs Giveaway January 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger December 2014
Leetah Begallie

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today

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