ABOUT, Author In Training, My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Why a Pen Name?

May 2016

A pen name? Why?

I wrote a book which details my personal journey through mental illness with my child. She became ill with schizophrenia in late 2004. Uneducated and unprepared I found myself struggling to understand our situation.

First, I am not ashamed of my story, nor my experience with mental illness. I am more than proud of my child, who’s overcome the nasty symptoms mental illness unleashed.

However, this story is about me, and my reactions to the chaos that accompanied our journey through mental illness. In telling my story, I needed to discuss other family members and their place in our story. They didn’t ask to be part of this journey through mental illness, nor did our affected child. Or me, for that matter. In addition, this time in their life evokes many painful memories. Therefore, they wish to leave those recollections in the past. A place where they’ve been dealt with and resolved. Continued discussions about those times may only open them to additional grief. In order to keep their identities private, I used a pen name and changed all our names and locations.

In concealing our identity, my hope is that you’ll concentrate on my story, what unfolded, and how I dealt with all the issues that accompany mental illness. I think I have some of the most supportive, loving and caring family, as well as friends. Therefore I would like to leave them in the world where they live, separate from the eyes of any publicity that may accompany this book.

And I’m grateful for your understanding. Broken Brain, Fortified Faith releases on September 6, 2016. It is available Amazon, Barnes and Noble, direct from the publisher Familius, or from any bookstore.

Thank you for stopping.

Virginia Pillars

Author In Training, How To Eat an Elephant, Virginia Pillars

How to Eat an Elephant – Part 2

Zim 742June 2015

A few more bites…

During the summer of 2008, two strangers told me within a week of each other that I should write a book and tell my story. I didn’t feel like a writer, but I gave their comments some thought. I decided if I wanted to write a book, I needed to find out if I had the capabilities for such a task. Since my only writing had been our family Christmas letter, I found a local group of writers who met once a month. My daughter had found this group and invited me to join her.

I remember the first time I read a piece I had written. The comments “Wonderful,” “I love it,” and “That’s so great” sounded wonderful.

However, I didn’t think my writing warranted such responses and asked for feedback. The floodgates opened as constructive criticism was given with honesty and compassion. I took their advice to heart and added some spit and polish to the piece.

That Christmas, I entered a local contest for devotionals.Still unsure,  I threw out the proverbial fleece, much like Gideon in the book of Judges. I prayed, “God if this is your will for me to write, I’ll get in.”

After my bold proclamation and the piece appeared in their booklet in December, I felt that I had no choice but to move forward. I began to attend the monthly writing group. I looked forward to the lessons taught and the advice I received from the members.  I absorbed the things I heard and implemented their suggestions. My road to learning began.

The next summer, I attended a local writer’s conference. Through one of the presenters, I learned of a devotional book in the making. I submitted four pieces and total shock enveloped me when I learned one piece would appear.

Since I considered myself a toddler in the life of an author, I continued to attend the monthly group and the conference the following year.

While there, I met a woman with years of writing experience. For some reason, she took me under her wing with a boatload of encouragement. With her help, I submitted my first piece for a book of anthologies. In 2011, my first essay appeared. The thrill of publication filled me to my toes.

During the next three years, I continued to submit to anthologies. Chicken Soup for the Soul published two pieces, along with other books with collections of stories . Each year I had a piece or two accepted for inclusion in a book. My confidence grew. By January of 2015, I felt lead to write a book query and a book proposal, mostly at my mentor’s suggestion.

What’s a book query and a book proposal? Come again for the next leg of my journey. Read about my next bite of the proverbial elephant.

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Thanks so much for stopping by to visit.

Virginia Pillars

Thank you, Familius