Guest Post and Giveaway: In the Present Tense by Carrie Pack

Today I am so pleased to welcome Carrie Pack to Joyfully Jay. Carrie has come as part of the GRL Blog Tour to talk to us about her release, In the Present Tense. She has also brought along two copies to give away. Please join me in giving Carrie a big welcome!

 

Time travel is a subject that has fascinated me since I first saw Back to the Future when I was five years old. It was inevitable that I write a book about it. But when I set out to write In the Present Tense, I knew I wanted to include an unusual means of time travel. I didn’t want a vehicle or machine to aid my characters; I wanted them to travel of their own accord. However, I also wanted an explanation as to how these people could time travel. In fact, I wanted the reader to question whether the main character, Miles, could really time travel at all.

During the brainstorming stage, a friend suggested using a dissociative disorder as a way to incorporate both the time travel aspect and the question of the character’s sanity. Perfect.

GRL tourCue nine months of writer’s block, thanks to depression.

When I finally got back to writing, my idea for the story had changed. In a story about time travel, mental illness began to take center stage. Miles’s dissociative disorder was still there but so were characters dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, and even schizophrenia. For me, romance and mental illness were inextricably intertwined. I’m a happily married woman with a mental illness, but how? How do you maintain romantic relationships when you’re at your limit? How does your illness affect the ones you love?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 18.1% of all U.S. adults had some form of mental illness in 2014. That’s a lot of people— 43.6 million, in fact—living with mental health issues. And certainly, many of those people are also in relationships. I wanted to write about those people—people like me—and I wanted to do it respectfully. That’s was a pretty tall order when you’re asking the audience to question your main character’s sanity. So I did a lot of research. I read books on dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia and the DSM-V (the go-to resource for mental health professionals). I wanted to get it right.

Still, mental illness is stigmatized and romanticized in media to the point that some people don’t even believe it’s a real disease. Or, worse still, they make jokes about it. So my characters (and readers) had to take Miles’s dissociation seriously. His wife, Ana, supports him and tries to get him treatment. His ex-boyfriend, Adam, tells Ana she might need a therapist as well. Later, Miles meets multiple characters who are managing their symptoms through medication and therapy.

But that’s not all. I also made Miles’s disease a super power. That way, the very thing throwing his life into turmoil is also a strength, but only if he learns to control it. That is the reality for anyone with mental illness. It doesn’t define who you are, but you should, seek treatment. Even with a supernatural ability, Miles’s journey is very much rooted in the reality of mental health. He comes out the other side a changed person, as many of us do. But he’s still capable of love and being loved. He’s still Miles. And I’m still me.

Mental illness is a fickle mistress. She will lie to you and convince you that your affair with her is healthy. She’ll make those around you think are a bad person. She’ll ruin relationships or she’ll lie in wait and appear only when it’s least convenient. But, if you can come out the other side, if you can face the mistakes you made and get the help you need, you may find something better than you had before. That is at the heart of Miles’s journey. And mine.

My depression flies in the face of the stereotype that troubled people make better artists. It flat out prevented me from writing a word for nearly a year. But when I emerged from the fog, I was able to give voice to myself and the millions of other Americans battling mental illness. Through Miles, I was able to travel back in time and fix broken relationships and heal old wounds. In the end, writing In the Present Tense gave me the strength to talk openly about my mental illness. It was catharsis.

Plus, I finally got to write about time travel. You gotta admit, that’s pretty freaking cool.


Blurb

In the Present TenseMiles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love.

Traveling more frequently, Miles assembles the puzzle pieces of his life and, in doing so, alienates his wife. As he loses control, Miles must realize that sometimes fixing your past mistakes means changing your future. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?


Bio

Carrie PackCarrie is the author of two novels—Designs On You and In the Present Tense—and a part-time college professor. She recently left her job in marketing to actively pursue her writing career. Her early career focused on advertising, journalism, and public relations while she also did freelance writing for businesses in the nonprofit sector. Carrie lives in Florida, which she fondly calls America’s Wang, with her husband and four cats.


Giveaway

Carrie has brought two copies of In the Present Tense to give away to two lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, August 9th at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

Comments

  1. I share your love of a good time travel story, Carrie. Thanks for sharing your personal story. Best wishes with your writing.

  2. Serena S. says:

    Thanks for the chance. The book sounds interesting.

  3. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    Hi Carrie it was interesting reading about the research you had to do into different types of mental illness also I’m so glad you able to get back to writing the book as it sounds like a fascinating read.

  4. Purple Reader says:

    Congrats on your new release. I love gay fantasy/SF and YA, especially time travel; and this sounds like a winning combo of all that.

  5. Thank you so much for hosting!

  6. coNGRATS ON YOUR RELEAE AND ON MOVING INTO A NEW CAREER.
    DEBBY236 AT GMAIL DOT COM

  7. Ashley E says:

    I still struggle with having a mental illness and the idea that people will look at me differently. I sometimes have to fight to not look at myself in a negative light. Thank you for writing books for those many people like us!

    • Ashley, that means so much. It’s what I set out to do. I wanted to give us all some hope and encouragement while allowing us to see a different side of mental illness. Much love! ~Carrie :)

  8. I haven’t read to many time travel stories not because i don’t like them just because it never seems I come across any. I’ve added this one to my wishlist. Thank you for the giveaway chance!

  9. Angeles G. says:

    Congrats on your release and good luck with your writing career.

  10. Danielle Brooks says:

    I loved reading more about your story and how it influenced your novel. Excited to see how your experiences help others in the future. <3

  11. Sounds graeat!, thank you a lot for the post an the chance

  12. In the Present Tense sounds like a great story.  Thanks also for sharing your personal story and providing hope and understanding to others.

  13. This sounds fascinating!

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