Monday, August 27, 2012

Transitions, OCD, and a Giveaway

by Barbara Claypole White





August 28th 2012 is a date I’ll never forget. Yes, it’s my first blog for Girlfriends Book Club (yippee!), but it’s also the day I transition from daydreaming about becoming a published author to being, well, a published author.

In celebration, I’m giving away a signed copy of my debut novel, The Unfinished Garden. To enter, please leave your email address in the comment section, and a winner will be picked at random after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 29th.

So. Big day. Swear to God, I want to enjoy it, want to imagine driving across rural North Carolina with my sunroof open, screaming, “I did it!” Everyone tells me I must be thrilled. And I am. In a terrified can-I-throw-up-and-crawl-into-my-writing-cave kind of way.

Here’s my problem—I’m focused on the doubts that could turn my inaugural reading into disaster. Will my legs shake so much that I’ll trip in my high heels and nosedive onto the podium? Will I open my mouth and talk rubbish? Halfway through, will I need the potty?

Harlequin MIRA, 2012
This is awfulizing, a word I've learned through years of helping my son navigate obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m not obsessive-compulsive—although, as a Virgo, I’m the next best thing. My son, however, has bravely battled the anxiety monster for most of his life. He’s brilliant, compassionate, and a published, award-winning poet. He’s also someone who, because of his OCD, struggles with transitions. OCD is all about control; OCD hates change. And this is senior year of high school.

Mom’s book launch + college apps + OCD = the perfect triumvirate of transition hell. But as Sir Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And he should know, since he was simultaneously fending off depression and the Nazis.

Me? I’m fighting back with a pledge. Today, I will focus on the book and nothing but the book. After all, public readings are really tiara moments for my love story about grief, OCD, and dirt. Yes, there’s a little of my life in The Unfinished Garden.

The story seed came from two separate what ifs—both dark and morbid. I know, what is my problem? The first what if came from helping my mother retreat into her garden after my father died, and in the weeks that followed, watching her change from a wife to a widow. I kept thinking, “Suppose that were me?”

I’m a Brit married to an American professor. When my dad died, I was a stay-at-home parent with no income and no citizenship of the country I called home. My mind stuck on a horrid dilemma: What would I do if something happened to my husband? That thought led to my heroine, Tilly. And it still entertains my husband, who loves to tell people I killed him off in the backstory.

The second what if came several years later. James was not my original hero, but as I sought escape from the hell of sharing our home with OCD, my mind veered off on another sick tangent: What if, once my son grew up, no one could deal with his quirky behavior? What if no one could ever love him the way I loved my husband? There’s a reason James is estranged from his family: OCD destroys relationships.

I didn’t set out to make a statement about OCD. I just wanted to create a believable character. Popular culture is littered with stereotypes of obsessive-compulsives. I love Criminal Minds, but the words obsessive or compulsive often creep into the show’s profiles of serial killers. And then there’s Monk, the television detective with the wipes-carrying assistant. Did anyone see the episode when school kids were laughing at him? Man, that one kicked me in the gut.

Imagine your worst fears. Now imagine living with them every moment of every day. In stereo surround sound. That’s OCD. To force back the worry demands incredible courage, and James is the bravest person Tilly knows. He isn’t a victim or a psycho. He’s a successful entrepreneur who happens to be terrified of everything…except snakes. Which gives him one up on Indiana Jones.

I have no control over what happens as my book launches into the world, but James and Tilly will always be my first hero and heroine. And I’m so proud of them. I think I might get in my car, open the sunshine roof, and throw out one “Yay for The Unfinished Garden.”


When she’s not gardening, Barbara Claypole White writes love stories about damaged people and blogs through the highs and lows of OCD at easytolovebut.com. To browse The Unfinished Garden, go to barbaraclaypolewhite.com or amazon.




61 comments:

  1. Awfulizing! Now I have a much better name for that thing I do all the time.
    Congratulations on your book and I would love to win a copy.
    lynm3041@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay for you, Barbara! Congrats on the new book. Love the cover and thanks for the quote from Churchill. I think I need to print that one out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, he had the best quotes. Here's my favorite: "KBO. Keep buggering on."

      Delete
  3. I would love to read your book. Please count me in! encgolsen@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations, Barbara! I've been dying to read your book since I heard about it months ago. Wishing you much success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for being so supportive, Lori. I can't wait to read YOUR book,

      Delete
  5. Congrats on the launch of your new book! Thank you for sharing the story of your inspiration for the book. I'm often as fascinated with the story behind the book as I am with the book itself. Would love to win a copy of the book. You can contact me here: http://roxanneravenel.com/contact/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Welcome Barbara and congrats! Your book sounds wonderful and I adore the backstory! Here's to wonderfylizing (I can make up words, too, right?) your day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And yes, made up words are the best. :)

      Delete
  7. Hi Barbara. Thank you for sharing your story. You must be an amazing person to wear so many hats. I don't know what it is to be OCD or to live with one who is, but I'm sure it's not easy. Our middle son was bipolar.
    I would love to read your book. My email address is macjam47@cinci.rr.com.
    Best of luck to you on your book launch and to your son.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have bipolar in our family, too. I think bipolar and OCD are distant cousins! Im not sure about being amazing, but I have wonderful friends who keep me chugging along. Thank you--for your kind comments.

      Delete
  8. Barbara, I am in the catbird seat of having read the THE UNFINISHED GARDEN ahead of publication. In addition to my congratulations, I want to share with GBC readers what a wonderful story this is! Your OCD hero, James, is the perfect blend of quirky sympathetic protagonist, while Tilly's past and future lends itself to a fabulous plot! I think readers will just love your book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Laura. See previous comment about wonderful friends. I am forever grateful for the day I picked up BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and thought, "Hmm. I need to read this."

      Delete
  9. My husband has this monster so I am very interested in your book. Count me in and thank you for writing it!

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  10. My son was diagnosed with OCD at about age six but thankfully for whatever reason it has become almost non-existent over the last two years. I hope everyday that it has passed for good for his sake. Thank you for sharing your story and for the opportunity to win a copy of your book, it sounds fantastic. I also am in love with the cover, gorgeous!

    jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tiffany. My son's OCD waxes and wanes, but he's a trooper. He's writing his college app essay right now, and it's all about the life lessons of fighting OCD. Made my cry. :)

      Delete
  11. This sounds sooo good...would love to read it & discuss with my book club! Thanks for the chance!
    ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Thanks, Ruthie. If you want me to Skype in, I'm game. :)

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  12. Huge congrats on your novel, and I may have to steal the word awfulizing! Great cover. And, wow, do I know that I want to crawl in a hole and throw up because my book releases today feeling!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yay for The Unfinished Garden! I'll have to add this to my TBR pile too, Barbara. If I had a sunroof on my SUV I'd open it up and yell as loud as I can for you too! YIPPEE. YOU GO!
    Patti

    yagerdelagrange@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm leaving for school pickup in two hours and plan on having that sucker wide open.

      Delete
  14. This book sounds so interesting. There are so many people struggling with OCD, family, friends, coworkers, ourselves. It is good to read to learn more about it.



    Bonnie

    sunnydaysrule AT hotmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I hope people will like James and see the courage it takes to boss back OCD.

      Delete
  15. Hi Barbara, I just stumbled onto this blog and I'm so glad I did! Your book sounds fascinating, I'd love to read it and possibly post a review of it on my blog This Little Light if you don't mind. My email address is jenk00004.jk@gmail.com :) Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Barbara -

    Best of luck. I'd love to participate. My email is sheryn(at)sherynmacmunn (dot)com. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congratulations on your book being published. I think you have the right to be scared- I think I would be scared and excited, too.
    P.S., thanks for sharing the inspiration behind your book. I love hearing the story behind the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly--exciting and terrifying. Although I have an even better understanding of my hero now. It's not fun living with anxiety!

      Delete
  18. I would love to read and review your book--such an interesting idea.

    Lisa @ http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/2012/08/whats-on-your-nightstand.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. Congratulations and welcome to GBC! Your book sounds fabulous and I'm heading over to read your blog now, too.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. EASY TO LOVE is a group blog, and a wonderful place for parents of kids with invisible disabilities. :)

      Delete
  20. you hit me in the gut with your debut post and your book sounds so compelling--i'm going to go download it now! I hope you can enjoy your debut day and not let the what if's get in the way--easier said than done. As a mom with a child with anxiety issues I totally get how the whole household is brought into the fray--it' exhausting for all, particularly our wonderful, bright, fascinating children. Best of luck with your launch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jenny! Yes, life with our brilliant worrywarts is always interesting. :)

      Delete
  21. Congratulations on finally getting to release day! I hope you have a wonderful time and that the memories stay with you forever. Best wishes for all good things, enjoy every minute.
    carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carl! It's been a long journey, and I'm ready for champagne. After I take my son to and from his weekly guitar lesson!

      Delete
  22. Barbara,
    First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS on your release day! May it be the first of many. Second, welcome to the GBC -- it's wonderful to see you here. And, finally, I'm a Virgo, too...which, as you say, is just a step away from OCD ;). Really looking forward to reading The Unfinished Garden!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Barbara,

    Happy pub day! Hope it meets all your expectations. And welcome to the Girlfriends!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Congrats on your book being published! I admire wonderful writers like you that I can relate with your subject matter. My Brother-n-law has OCD. I have learned so much on the subject and with his explaining..your book will help me too in understanding! Thank you for this being my entry in to the giveaway! I can't wait to read your story!!!
    Live, Laugh and love your writing talent!
    Cyndee Thomas cyndee.thomas0@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Live and laugh--even through OCD. Amen!

      Delete
  25. Sounds wonderful! I have seen it on goodreads. So pleased to see a giveaway! Thank you!

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  26. THE UNFINISHED GARDEN looks wonderful. My son has a 'touch' of OCD. It makes life hard, but most especially for him. Change makes him practically shut down or he has a major panic attack.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Marybelle. Change in everyday life can be crippling for our beloved obsessive-compulsives. And you're right: hard as it is for us as parents, it's a thousand times worse for them. HUGS.

      Delete
  27. I live in Western North Carolina - and, yes, it's a purdy place to go riding with the windows open shouting WHOOHOOO when your book(s) are published :-D

    Love reading about author's "behind the scenes" *smiling*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I did that yesterday across rural Orange County. Only had a few strange looks from cows.

      Delete
  28. zpmlynnewing@yahoo.com
    How wonderful to have someone knowledgeable deal with this topic! Lynn Ewing

    ReplyDelete
  29. Another take at OCD in romance: "Highlights from a Life of Quiet Desperation" , a Kindle Single new release. Best regards.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Congrats on your novel. We've been Facebook friends for a while and I'm looking forward to reading your novel for that reason and many more. I, too, have a character who has a "touch" of OCD and wrote this from my own perspective of having the disorder. Apparently, I was diagnosed at age 19 but my mother didn't bother telling me until I was 45 while in the doctor's office. Explains a lot, doesn't it?! My OCD has improved greatly over the years and most family members think I'm quirky and funny. Hmm.

    I can't wait to read your book and hope you'll read my debut, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. We can compare notes. :) My best to your son.

    ReplyDelete