Book Feature: Blue Flame (Daemon Collecting Series #2) by Alison Levy| Guest Post

I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety lately – one of the reasons you haven’t seen many posts here. But when I was approached by Books Forward about doing a guest post by Alison Levy about how she uses writing to cope with anxiety and advice for others with anxiety, I knew I had to!

Daemon Collecting series sounds interesting and I hope to read the first and eventually this one! You can find Alison’s guest post after the book info.

Meet Author

Alison Levy lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband, son, and a variety of pets. When she is not writing or doing mom things, she crochets, gardens, walks her collies, and works on home improvement projects.

Her books feature female characters who are strong but flawed, making them more relatable. They stay rooted in everyday life while world-building in their fictional cultures. Intolerance of differences has become widespread in recent years. Gatekeeper encourages readers to look beyond what they consider normal and see through foreign eyes, a message that I hope will appeal to many in today’s climate.

About The Book

Title: Blue Flame
Series: Daemon Collecting Series #2
Author: Alison Levy
Publisher: Sparkpress
Publishing Date: October 11th, 2022
Page Length: 432
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Synopsis:

While introducing Leda Morley, last of an ancient line of gatekeepers, to the ins and outs of her daemon-collecting work, Rachel Wilde encounters something far more dangerous than any daemon: a young boy who stands alone against an unseen yet terrifying enemy that has invaded his home–an inhuman creature who, hellbent on revenge for a minor slight, intends to harm the boy’s oblivious family. Meanwhile, Leda’s brother, Simon, is feeling left out of his maternal family legacy but is coping partly by helping Rachel’s friend Bach–a previously homeless man with unusual mental abilities–get his life back on track.

In the midst of all of this, Bach unintentionally but serendipitously makes contact with a capable otherworldly being who, with great reluctance, agrees to help Bach and his friends take on the dangerous creature that’s just become their problem to solve. Together, this group of unlikely allies must put aside their differences to save an innocent child, and his family, from a monster–before it’s too late.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Indigo

Guest Post: How Alison uses writing to cope with anxiety and advice for others with anxiety

I didn’t know that I had an anxiety disorder when I was young but in retrospect, all the signs were there.  I was so afraid of getting bad grades that I wouldn’t turn in assignments—better to get a bad grade from self-sabotage than from trying and falling short.  I had more stomachaches than any kid I knew, likely a result of my constant worrying.  I would burst into tears for no discernable reason, though I taught myself how to cry in silence so my parents wouldn’t hear.  My family didn’t see my symptoms as indicative of an anxiety disorder—a thing not widely known in the 90s—and assumed I was just acting up.  Instead of counseling, I was scolded for having a “bad attitude” and left to manage my anxiety on my own.  I largely failed to do so until middle school, when I started writing.

            As I learned how metamorphic it is on my mental state, I started writing more. When I’m world-building and developing characters, everything else in my life fades and my anxiety shrinks.  The anxiety never goes away completely—sadly, disorders don’t just vanish—but writing calms my nerves in a way no other treatment can.  Because everything I write is within my control, nothing about it can alarm or trigger me.  It gives my brain a rest from the exhausting cycle of tension and fear that the disorder puts me through, which helps me retain better control of myself overall. 

            While writing has been the most effective means I’ve found of managing my anxiety, I can’t promise that it will work for everyone.  Anxiety disorders take different forms in different people.  Still, here are some pointers I can offer based on my own experience:

  • Do not hesitate to seek professional help.  Therapy can make a world of difference in your life.  I’ve seen several counselors over the years, each of whom provided a stepping stone on my healing journey.  Also, feel free to shop around for the right therapist or doctor.  You have no obligation to stick with someone who doesn’t gel with you.
  • Ask about medication.  Not every disorder requires medicine nor are they all improved by it but in my case, medication has made a big difference.  The first medicine prescribed to me had unpleasant side effects but the second worked very well!  It doesn’t eliminate the anxiety but it narrows the range of moods I experience—I don’t hit the extreme highs or lows that I used to. 
  • Find an outlet that works for you.  Writing works for me—it redirects my brain away from stress—but I’ve had a number of other things recommended to me over the years.  Here are a few:
    • Exercise.  Exercise prevents and improves many physical conditions and it released endorphins, which can boost your mood.  I do find that regular exercise helps my anxiety somewhat, if for no other reason than it burns off nervous energy.  It doesn’t stop my brain from overthinking every little thing but it serves an important function.
    • Yoga.  A couple of counselors recommended yoga to me because it lowers blood pressure and your heart rate.  I’ve done some yoga, enough to know that it’s not for me.  I don’t like going to classes—they’re full of people and the instructors tend to walk around the room a lot, which leaves me hyperaware of their presence.  I’ve even tried yoga at home only to discover that I’m too fidgety to hold a position for that long.  Still, lots of people with anxiety disorders find yoga soothing.  Worth a try!
    • Meditation.  The intent of meditation is to ground yourself in the moment by clearing the mind of chatter and calming the body.  Lots of people benefit enormously from meditation.  But even if I could calm my fidgety body, the chatter in my brain is incessant.  Trying to clear my head just frustrates me, which kind of defeats the purpose.
    • Journaling.  Writing down your thoughts can help gain perspective over negative feelings.  This is a suggestion I’ve gotten so often that when I connected with my most recent therapist, I flat out told her that I was willing to try any idea she gave me except journaling.  Writing is my happy place and I want to keep it that way.
    • Listen to music or watch movies.  These can refocus your thoughts and take your mind off of stressful situations. I’ve done this a lot throughout my life!  I actually do most of my writing with music or a movie on since I find it easier work with some background noise.  It’s especially helpful for me if the music/movie matches the mood of what I’m writing.
    • Coloring.  Using adult coloring books can induce a meditative state.  One counselor suggested this to me but trying to stay within the lines stressed me out.
    • Read.  Classic escapism!  And every writer needs to read regularly to improve his or her craft.  If you’re like me and have trouble finding time to sit down with a book, try audiobooks.  Most of my daily exercise occurs with an audiobook in my headphones.
    • Arts and crafts.  Creative, requires you to engage your brain, and keeps your hands busy.  I’ve been crocheting for years and I love it!  It’s a great outlet for my nervous energy.
  • Lean on your loved ones when you can.  I didn’t have much support growing up but my wonderful husband has become my rock.  Having one person’s love and support is huge.
  • Finally, take care of yourself.  No matter how much treatment you’ve had, some days you will simply not be okay.  And that’s alright.  You don’t have to be okay 100% of the time.  It’s fine to step away from the world for awhile when everything gets to be too much.

Anxiety is a daily struggle, but it only improves when you put in the effort.  Give it your best.  You are worth it.

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