Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Post: Allie Burke Author of Paper Souls

When I started down this bumpy road of self publishing, Allie Burke was one of the first authors I met in a Facebook group filled with incredibly supportive indie writers. Recently, I read Allie's latest book, Paper Souls, and I was blown away. Having worked in the field of psychology for more years than I care to share, this story about a young woman diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia was so painful for me to read, knowing how accurate it is with the ups and downs of mental illness that I've seen in my own clients, and yet it left me with such hope in the end. One of the things I love about this story is the fact that Allie was able to create a woman who struggles with mental illness, but yet she is a strong person, who runs a successful business and has a loyal support group of close friends. I am proud to say that Allie agreed to do a guest post for me. I applaud her bravery, and I'm grateful that she is willing to speak out about her own struggles to raise awareness for those with mental illness. And now...Allie Burke.

The truth about Paper Souls is that I was having such a hard time at life for so many years that I really felt as if I needed to get it all out so I would feel better. I did eventually get it all out, and it did make me feel better.

Until it didn’t.

For me, the hardest thing about Paranoid Schizophrenia—which I was diagnosed with in 2011—is the judgment. Why doesn’t that guy want to be with me? or Why did I say that? Jesus, I am such a horrible person or Oh my god, everyone hates me. I still have these issues. It’s an extreme self-confidence issue, not necessarily based on the illness itself but the experiences I’ve had while also dealing with the illness. My doctor, who is not your ‘typical psychiatrist’, once told me that it can be compared to the three pigs and the wolf story. The three pigs are having a grand old time in the woods and the wolf comes after them, so they run to safety into their home. They slam the door behind them and they are okay. They are all standing against the wall, breathing heavily, exclaiming how the wolf almost got them and they could have died. An hour later, two of the pigs are on the couch relaxing, but the remaining pig is still against the wall, gasping for air, saying over and over, “he could have killed me.” Six hours later, two of the pigs are sleeping, and the remaining pig is still against the wall, gasping for air, saying over and over, “he could have killed me.”

That self-conscious pig is me, the girl with Schizophrenia. When I say something that upsets someone, or do something that was the wrong thing to do, I can’t let it go. I analyze the situation over and over, turning it around in my head, thinking how I could have handled the situation better or why life is so hard or why people don’t understand what I meant or why I did what I did. It is how I learned never to act on anything when I’m upset or in the heat of the moment, because it has always gotten me into trouble. When any little thing happens to someone with Schizophrenia that is not the best thing that has ever happened, it is the end of the world. If someone reacts to something I do in a negative way, I truly feel as if everyone hates me and there is no remaining reason for me to exist. The number of times the idea of suicide has crossed my brain is insurmountable. But this is not a trait of only those with Schizophrenia, it is a trait of Bipolar Disorder, of Depression, Anxiety, of Autism. Pretty much every mental illness that ever existed ever. And I think that’s why those of us with a mental illness are so quick to take the medication that is given to us by doctors. Because they numb the problem. Anti-psychotics, which are given to people with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder, numb everything. They cross the blood-brain-barrier to literally numb your mental (and physical) existence to promote sleep for as long as you are on it. As with every drug there are side effects—you cannot sweat, you cannot see, you cannot concentrate—and you really just want to sleep. When you’re on it, nothing—such as a reaction to a mistake that you think you made—can touch you. The same goes for anxiety medication, which doubles as an anti-depressant. It numbs the effects of your problems. It does not solve them. Medication combined with therapy and probably a thousand life changes can solve your problems, with an end-game of getting off the medication, but taking a pill every day does not solve your issue. The woman who raised two autistic children who spends her time helping other children with this illness—that can solve your issue. Personally, I wished I never took the medication that was prescribed to me (which happened to be anti-psychotics AND anti-depressants) because 1. it was that much harder to get off of them and 2. the ideal that I can just take the medication and everything will be better will always be in the back of my mind.
To date, more than three years after I was diagnosed, went through a divorce, changed jobs and my place of residence, I continue to be very affected by my illness and the symptoms that it causes. I haven’t mentioned the hallucinations because really, that’s such a small thing to me. Something I can easily deal with. It is the mental turmoil one puts themselves through by thinking they are an alien and that everyone hates them that is so hard. Like everyone else, I have good days and bad days—my good days just happen to be really good and my bad days, really bad. That’s how it was for Emily and that’s how it is for a lot of people affected by this illness, I think. And that really is the point of Paper Souls. To bring up awareness that people in general can be bad people, not just people with problems. And vice versa. People with problems can be good. Or they can try really hard to be.

Schizophrenia is a thing that is hard, but life in general, can be hard. If we choose not to be defined by things such as Schizophrenia, we can make it. My definition of making it might just be different than yours.

Author Bio
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. 

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

Check out Paper Souls

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: Eggnog Kisses by Mireille Chester

Eggnog Kisses

Christmas in Quelondain

It’s been six months since Kaley’s fiancĂ© called things off, disappearing with barely an explanation, and the thought of spending Christmas alone is causing feelings of hurt and loneliness to ruin her holiday cheer.  Tall, dark, quiet, and ever the gentleman, her next door neighbor has been sneaking into her thoughts more often than not lately.  When she decides to ask him to go to a Christmas party on a spur of the moment whim, she has no idea she’s about to unleash a whole new dimension on her usually normal life. 

Born in Quelondain, Sean is no stranger to a broken heart.  Though it’s been years since the one he loved fated to his best friend, the ache is still present and crossing over to the other world hasn’t helped like he’d hoped it would.  When Kaley asks him to accompany her to a Christmas party his gut tells him to stay away.  It’s not that he isn’t attracted or tempted, but how is he supposed to explain his past and what he is.  Of course, it’s just one evening, right?  What could possibly happen in one night?

Two broken hearts…

Two worlds…

One fate…


She managed to get into her apartment while keeping a curious JJ from escaping.  The fluffy white cat purred and rubbed himself against her ankles.

“Hey, bud.  Did you miss me?”  Kaley went to the cupboard and pulled out a few Whiskas treats for him.  She looked around her small apartment and suddenly, she didn’t want to be there alone.  “I’ll be right back.”

She didn’t bother putting on shoes before closing her door behind her.  Sean answered his door and smiled at the sight of her.

“What can I do for you, neighbor?”

“I…”  This was stupid. 

 “So, what brings you over here?”

“I just…”  Kaley’s good mood vanished.

His smile softened.  “First Christmas since Gale left?”

She took a deep breath and blew it out of her nose.  “It’s stupid, I know.”

Sean shook his head.  “Not at all.  I know the feeling.  I wasn’t engaged, mind you, but my first holiday after my girlfriend left I was a wreck.  We’d been together four years.”

“I’m sorry.”  She looked at the ground.  “What happened?”

He cocked his head to the side.  “I was just about to have a rum and eggnog.  Want one?”

She was tempted to turn him down, but curiosity got the better of her.  “Sure.”

He held the door opened wider so she could get in and directed her to the couch.  “It was your typical breakup.  We were young and life had other plans for us.”

She watched as he mixed the drinks and brought them over.  “Thanks.”  She took a sip and he took a long swallow of his drink.  “Anyway, it wrecked me when she left.”

“What did you do?”

“I moved here.”  He smiled.

Kaley frowned.  “That worked?  It helped?”

“Not even a little bit.  The only thing that helps is time.”

She couldn’t help the depressed look that took over her face.  “Five years, eh?”

Sean laughed.  “It’s been that long, but it didn’t take that long.  I’ve had a few other girlfriends since, I just haven’t found anyone else I want to settle down with, that’s all.”  He raised an eyebrow at her glass.  “Want another one?”


“So where’s your party at tonight?”

“Mel’s boss is throwing a bash for their office. He rented the Rex Hall.”


Kaley noticed him glancing at the clock on the wall.  “Do you have something to do?”  She turned toward the door as someone unlocked it from the outside and he stood.

“Sean!”  The dark haired woman dropped her duffle bag and ran into his open arms.  Kaley watched dumbfounded as he hugged her close.  He had a girlfriend.

“I was getting worried.”  He took her coat from her and hung it up.

“My bus was delayed.  There was a crash on the highway and we got caught behind all the traffic.  I don’t think it was too bad.  I mean, there were ambulances and stuff, but the cars looked to be in not bad shape when we were finally able to go by.”

“And you didn’t think to phone?”

She shrugged.  “Ooh! Are you having rum and eggnog without me?”  The woman finally turned her attention to Kaley.  “Since Sean has zero manners, I’m Reese, by the way.”

“Um, Kaley.”

“Let me guess.  He didn’t tell you I was coming?”  She took the drink Sean handed her and settled on the cough beside Kaley.  “And he says I’m forgetful.  You’re getting old, big brother.”

He scoffed.  “And you get more immature the more years you put behind you.”

“Mom’s going to flip when she hears you finally have a girlfriend.  It’s about time you got over that stupid bitch.”


“Well, what?  By the moons, she was.  None of us could figure out what you saw in her.”

“You were sixteen when we split.  Don’t tell me you gave a shit.”

Reese pounded back her drink.  “Of course I cared.  How many big brothers do I have?”

Sean rolled his eyes.  “Four.”

“Right.  But you were always my favorite.”  She skipped back to her knee high leather boots, slipped them on, and shrugged on her coat.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m meeting Heather.”  She gave him a peck on the cheek.  “I have my key.  Don’t wait up.”

“Just remember I’m leaving at eight tomorrow morning.  With or without you.”

“Yeah, yeah.”  Reese grinned.  “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.  Brat.”

She closed the door with a wave at Kaley.

“She’s, uh… she’s one of those high energy people.”  Sean smiled and went to refill their drinks.

“No kidding.  I had no idea you had a sister.  Or three brothers for that matter.”

“What about you?”

Kaley shook her head.  “Only child.  Your mom and dad?”

“Both alive and running the farm.  You?”

“My parents died when I was fifteen.  Drunk driver.  I went to live with Mel and her folks.”

“But you don’t do Christmas with them?”

“They’re not around since they retired.  Mel gets on a flight tomorrow to join them in Mexico tomorrow morning.  They invite me every year, I just… Christmas needs snow.  You know?”

He grinned.  “I agree.”

Kaley found her gaze moving to his mouth.  He had a great smile.  Had they really been living next to each other for almost six years?  How had she never noticed? 


“Nothing.  I was just thinking that I can’t believe we’ve been neighbors all this time and we know nothing about each other.”

His smile softened.  “Yeah.  I guess that’s life.  Everyone’s too busy.”

She looked at her watch.  “Shit.  I have to go get ready.”

Sean stood and walked her to the door.

“So, you’re just home alone tonight?”  She looked up into his dark green eyes.

“Seems like it.”

“I was just thinking… Mel is bringing a date tonight and I’m going to be the third wheel.  Want to come along?”

“I don’t think…”

“Come on.  I’ll owe you one.  There’s this guy that works there that always gets drunk and hits on me.  You can pretend to be my boyfriend.”  Sweet mother of fuck.  Had she actually just suggested this?  She was thirty four years old for shit’s sakes.  Her face turned a deep shade of red.  “Sorry.  That’s so highschool.  I’m just going to leave before I make myself sound any more stupid.  Thanks for the drinks.”

Kaley rushed out of his apartment and back into hers.  Good god!  How many eggnogs had she had?


For more information on Mireille Chester and her books go to