Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Caitlin Billings answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight

Operation Awesome Spotlight #13Questions of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6 2022

13 Questions shine Operation Awesome's Spotlight
on this
2022 Debut Author

In Our Blood: A Memoir by Caitlin Billings

1- Self–Care Awareness Month in September #SelfCareAwarenessMonth -- How might self-care create personal, social, or economic benefits?

We need to slow down. I think care for others starts with ourselves. If we can focus on this, our society will benefit so much!

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Write with the radical acceptance that you are enough.

3- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

My book is about grief, transformation, and above all, acceptance. My hope is that readers will ride those emotions and ultimately end with hope and resonate with the universal message of self-compassion and acceptance.
#cover Caitlin Billings answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

4- Could you tell us the reason for the maple leaves on the book cover?

The leaves fall from the tree in the fall, which is a time of change and loss. The tree represents many things, one of which is family. The larger leaf cradles the smaller leaf which represents a mother and child. Personally, I am drawn to nature as a metaphor, and I reference water, leaves, eggshells, and other symbols of the natural world. Motherhood is a primal experience and follows cycles and seasons, just like a tree and its leaves. The color orange evokes energy, creativity, and joy.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a positive setting?

Caitlin Billings answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

6- How do you support your fellow debut authors and have any of them supported you?

I was part of a writing group for many years and several of us have recently published memoirs or are in the publication process. We celebrate each other on social media and have remained in each others’t lives.

7- Time to double-down on social media! What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
Also, can you please recommend a favorite #bookstagram account profile?

My Twitter handle is @cemmabillings, and my Instagram handle is @caitlin.billings.
Some bookstagrammers I’ve interacted with recently and loved are
@cindyroesel_readsandwrites, @sarastrand9438, @leslielindsay1, and @vvb32reads.
#leaves Caitlin Billings answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight

8- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?

I really enjoy yoga, especially Yin Yoga which is a quiet, internal, and reflective practice that allows me to go inward and be in the moment, which nurtures my overall creativity.

9- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

My book explores living with a severe mental health condition (bipolar and PTSD), LGBTQIA kids and parenting (particularly gender diversity).

10- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime? #WriteGoal #BucketList #WriterBucketList

I would love to write a novel (fictional). I’ve learned a lot about nonfiction writing, and I would love to learn how to write fiction.

11- What was the query process like for you?

I queried before my book was ready and I worked with a developmental editor to prepare my book for publication with She Writes Press, a well-known and highly reputable Indie hybrid publisher.

12- Would you please ask our audience an intriguing question to answer in the comments?

What do you need to radically accept, right now, in your life?

13- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?


Caitlin Billings answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California, Caitlin Billings specializes in deep trauma therapy, is pursuing EMDR Therapy certification, and owns her own private practice. Despite involuntary hospitalizations and an initial refusal to accept her bipolar diagnosis, Caitlin reclaimed her life and sanity, successfully establishing herself as a professional and a supportive mother to her gender-fluid elder child. Now Caitlin is speaking out about the deep-set need for perfection throughout society, especially on teens and mental health professionals, until people understand that your best is good enough and you are never alone. She aims to subvert societal expectations and pressures of idealism through embracing self-love and imperfection.


The first time I cry is in front of a therapist who wears brown clogs. Her restless feet dance with minute movements. A flash of striped sock. She holds a notepad.
The scrape of the pen slices something inside of me, a grinding kind of ache that keeps the tears dripping. She told me her name when she came into the room, but now her staff tag blurs with my grief.
When she speaks again, I become a statue, one leg crossed over the other. I wear sneakers, not professional shoes. My body tries to say, I can’t believe this is happening, but then she asks if there are other cuts. I shake my head no, and my husband pulls up my shirtsleeve. Shallow, tentative wounds from my shaving razor, all over my left arm. Those cuts sting more than the straight razor strokes to my wrist.
My breath shakes in my diaphragm, and I move my husband’s hand. I press my face into my palms, glasses and all, and sob. Perspiration tickles my back.
“Allen,” I say.
His hand grazes my shoulder, and I don’t brush him off. “I’m here.” When I move my hand to blot my eyes, brown clogs and striped, socked feet stand, pause, and then lumber away.
I loved to sing as a kid. Sometimes my best friend and I converged at the park between our houses. We rested on the rusted merry-go-round and spun with our feet in wood chips. She sang one long tone and I belted the next note, its sharp sister. We held those sounds as long as we could while we stood and whirled in slow motion, hanging from the bars, looking out over the park with its meadow and creek and stinging nettle. Our creation was the ugliest and most beautiful noise I had ever heard.
That noise is coming from me now, a howl that fills the room with dissonance.
“It’s going to be okay,” Allen whispers after a moment. He lifts my head, and I hand him my glasses. He places them like a tiny, vulnerable eggshell on the seat next to us.
Out of my mouth pour the jangled notes; they are huge and take up all my air.
What have I done?
“I’m sorry . . .”
Brown Clogs returns. “Nothing to be ashamed of,” she says. I rock in my seat.
She hands me a tissue.

Time passes. I don’t know how long. I tell the balloon in my chest to release rather than pop.
“Caitlin,” Allen says. He stands in the doorway with a tray of burgers and french fries.
Brown Clogs is gone. Outside the open door, a man in a dark uniform with SECURITY printed across his back and a walkie-talkie at his hip sits in a chair.
The windows have turned from bright to soft black. “What time is it?” I ask.
Allen pulls a low table toward our chairs. “It’s about six,” he says around a bite of fresh onion and pickle.
“Where are the kids?” My hand cups the cuts as if to shield my children from the sight.
“My sister picked them up.”
“Your sister? Oh god, Allen—”
“It’s fine.” He hands me a fry. “Eat.”
I take the greasy wedge and stick it in my mouth.
This is grief, I think to myself. Because grief comes like the ocean rushes and sprays and tugs. My familiar self, sculpted out of thirty-three years of life, taken away by a moment of insanity.
Tears fill my eyes and sting like shards of glass.
“I don’t want to go,” I whisper.
The security guard pokes his head around the doorframe.
I try to appear sane.
He steps back, and the awful scratch of pen on paper returns.
This wave, it’s massive. I’m sucked under, deep into the dark murk where shadow creatures live, where the blind and translucent dwell, so far down I’ll never come up.
I sink into Allen on the love seat.
Voices trail down the hall. A soft exchange with the security guard and then someone states my name.
Another uniform. A gurney.
I feel small and see myself in their eyes: tousled bun, swollen face. Allen’s sweatshirt. Dirty sneakers.
I hand the sweatshirt to my husband. In a simultaneous choreography, the medic wraps a warm blanket around my shoulders.
I am loaded, buckled, and secured. We roll down a hallway and out the door into a parking lot with a silent ambulance.
They lift me into the vehicle with a weightless swing, as if swaybacked elephants are carrying me.
“You ever been in an ambulance before?” asks one of my escorts.
The wave crashes and yanks me down until I black out the moment. No, I’ve never been in an ambulance.
I’ve never been admitted to a psychiatric hospital before either.

My Twitter handle is @cemmabillings, and my Instagram handle is @caitlin.billings.

In Our Blood: A Memoir by Caitlin Billings

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