The 'Psych Meds' book gets a new Title, which inspired the expansion of a different and deeper theme
You may recall that I was working on a book with the working title “Sex Toys and Psych Meds,” which tells the story of all-too-relatable Claire Colson, a successful businesswoman who, after a painful divorce from a long-term marriage, tries to heal from depression by re-entering the dating world, but only on the days she doesn't have her daughter and can manage to put on deodorant. But it’s the unlikely friendship she develops with two strong but damaged women she meets in group therapy that may help her find true healing, in ways she never expected.
Anyway, while "Sex Toys and Psych Meds" was a descriptive title and still technically representative of elements of the book, as part of the the professional manuscript critique I got from Tory Hunter (www.toryhunterbooks.com, who is fantastic, btw), she suggested a title change and the emphasis of missing pictures as a metaphor in the book. And it was a great suggestion. Pictures/photos are a recurring motif in the story, starting with Claire insisting on inspecting Roger Bigcock’s (not his real name) driver’s license, including his photo for verification, as part of her first on-line dating experience, and up to and including Claire’s brave decision to finally look through family photo albums with Gretchen at her side, once she finally felt strong enough to revisit the remnants of her broken life. Still, it’s the missing ones that hurt the most, and also are the most revealing.
But missing pictures can be placeholders for the things to come. And this thought, and the use of the metaphor in this way, is powerful. It’s powerful when you are struggling with mental illness and wondering if you are ever going to be well again, and it’s powerful when you are recovering from a betrayal so bone-deep it feels like a graft. But that’s not the whole story. The rest of it is Claire’s amazing, (sometimes) clinically crazy, strong-as-hell friends, who won’t let those photo slots stay empty. And who are teaching Claire that Group wasn’t the end. It was just the beginning.
So Tory’s suggestion led to a title change, which is now MISSING PICTURES, and also inspired me to create what I believe to be a beautiful cover (see below). And both the title and the cover are just as representative of what’s inside the book, maybe more so than the original working title. Because it’s hard to remember when you are in the Dark Place, but it’s not just what’s missing that matters. What matters more is what is actually here -- the real moments that form the scatter diagram that make up your life, and the images of the faces of people that actually stay.
Gosh, I love this book. It has my heart, like A Whisper of Smoke did. And people loved that book, maybe in part because I left pieces of my heart in it. This one is the same, and there’s a reason for it.
It is inspired by the very real and beautiful friendship I formed, unexpectedly, ten years ago when I met Jennifer* and Emma* (*code names picked by them) at Group therapy, when I was on leave from my high-power job as partner at a big firm, barely able to think or talk or even breathe, the only part of me still functioning at all the part that was determined to love and protect my son. And that was before the restraining order, the loss of my house (temporarily), and most painful of all, how close I came to losing custody of my (then) little boy. And, man, I was deep in the Depression Hole. But it was my friendship with Jennifer and Emma, two beauties with their own brands of mental illness and who have loved me so unexpectedly and powerfully, along with the unfailing love of my parents, my brothers (and sisters-in-law), my aunt and uncle and others that stepped up in my very worst time, that helped me climb out if it.
And lord, those girls have made me laugh.
So... here's the new cover and the latest description (you can also find this on the 'My Books' page of my web-site. Click on the book cover and it will take you to it.)
After surviving a painful divorce, normally fierce businesswoman Claire Colson is on leave from her job, clinically depressed, and quite possibly failing as a mother. Determined to beat the blues, Claire attends group therapy at the psych hospital, where she meets Tasha and Gretchen — two single moms from very different walks of life with their own brands of mental illness. Claire finds comfort in their unconditional acceptance and unfailing humor, and is surprised to find a friendship she didn’t expect. With her friends’ encouragement, Claire enters the Nashville dating scene. Unfortunately, the selection includes middle-age rejects, young guys suffering from beer fog, or judgmental men that remind her how far she’s fallen. At the same time, Tasha and Gretchen teach Claire what it is to live with mental illness, including that Group isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning. But time is running out. If Claire can’t get to a better place, she could lose everything she’s worked for, including custody of her daughter. Nothing in her life is what it once was, but with her unlikely friends by her side, can Claire find a path to a future worth living, even if it may not look like the life she lost?
CONTENT WARNING: Contains adult content, including sexual situations and explicit language, as well as realistic depictions of mental illness.
TRIGGER WARNING: References to sexual assault, depiction of suicidal actions as well as delusional psychosis.