Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Learning from Robin Williams

Like millions, I'm mourning Robin Williams. 

In addition to being a writer, I'm also an occupational therapist at a psychiatric day hospital. Our program mostly serves people who are suffering from depression. Some have made unsuccessful suicide attempts, some are traumatized by living with the aftermath of a family member who has committed suicide. All are working to recover their lives... to pull out from under the dark, heavy cloud that is depression.

I'm so very sad that Robin suffered. It breaks my heart to think about what he might have been experiencing his last few days, hours, minutes.

His death is a big loss. It feels to me like he slipped away too easily. But I also don't claim to know what he was actually going through. We will never truly know. 

And yes, there's help out there. But there's also stigma. Stigma for seeking help and stigma for having depression. Depression is considered a mental illness. It would do everyone so much good if we could drop the use of "mental" and see it for the illness that depression is. 

In fact, this is what we can all learn from the death of Robin Williams. To think of depression just as we think of diabetes: as a disease that requires management. Depression is like this. It's a disease that requires treatment and ongoing management. It sounds so simple and yet, both require ongoing focus and doing a number of strategies to keep the difficult symptoms at bay, so that living a meaningful life is possible. All of this is so much harder when people experience shame for having an illness. 

I'm blessed to work with the patients I serve. My role is one of assisting to excavate their selves that get lost in the battle that is depression. And then once they remember who they used to be, to help them to build those selves back up. To guide in finding their way to the life they dream for themselves. Theirs is difficult and courageous work. As a witness, I find it beautiful. And uplifting. 

So let's look depression in the eye and see it for what it is: a nasty disease. Let's support those suffering from it, not stigmatize them. 

If we do, America will be that much more beautiful. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Losing Ned Vizzini

This is important. 

In addition to being a young adult author, I am also an occupational therapist and I work part-time in an outpatient psychiatric program. My life is made up of traveling to and from the world of writing/publishing to working with people who have behavioral health issues. But on Thursday, my two worlds collided. 

A young adult author who I admire, Ned Vizzini, committed suicide. His book, IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, about a teen who was experiencing suicidal thoughts and was treated for depression on an inpatient psychiatric unit, and then comes out glad to be alive, is one of the most profound books I've read. It has a prominent place among my young adult book collection...waiting for the day when I might get to meet him and ask him to sign it.

To say I am so sad about his death is a lazy way out of this. So I will try to tell you how I feel and hope to do justice to this important author. It's like I was too busy shopping and missed an important detail. Like if I was just a little more focused on what's truly important maybe I could have done something to keep his light shining. This of course is crazy, because he lived in New York and I live in Chicago and we never met. But it's a reminder to attend to that radar signal inside that tells me someone in my vicinity is not okay. 

This radar is always on high alert when I am at work, since so many of the people I work to help are experiencing depression. This time of year, the media is filling our eyes and minds with utter happiness, dreams coming true, high hopes of getting exactly what we want. But there are those among us who are struggling and sad. 

Keep your eyes open. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, please, please call 911 or go to your hospital Emergency Room

The world needs your light!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Greetings!

Virtually open my holiday card to you.....
Here's what it says: 

Peace is the best word, around the world,
and magic. Hanukkah lights, stars
among the Christmas trees, your eyes
when I seize the Harry Potter Quidditch
video game.  Giggle is another word,
good among girl-women and kindness,
one sweet gesture in a sugar cookie
and fondue, good celebration, good word,
chocolate~strawberries dipped in it.
Season of good words, wishes,
moment into snowy moment.
                                     ~ Kathi Baron

Friday, September 6, 2013

Short Story Boot Camp

I'm visiting Zion-Benton Library on Saturday, September 28, 2013, from 1-3 pm. I will be doing a writing workshop for teens and I'm so excited to meet them and to help them with their short story drafts!

I will be discussing what a short story is and how it's different from a book length story, as well how writing short stories helped me to learn my craft. I will share about the process of getting published, especially how I use the critique process to develop my work. 

We will be experimenting with a critique group and learning how it can help each writer to further develop their own short story and their skills. Participating in a critique group is a typical process used by most professional writers. Each writer will gain a sense of where they are strong and where they could further develop a piece.

For more information, check out:

And for more information about SHATTERED, my debut novel, please visit:

Can't wait! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

SHATTERED eBook Now Available

Good news! I launched SHATTERED on Kindle on 6/14/13!

To celebrate, I'm doing a Virtual Book Tour with 15 stops along the way. 

Dates/stops of the SHATTERED Tour

June 10
Book Spotlight at Much Loved Books
June 11
Guest Post and Book Spotlight at Moonlight Gleam
June 12Interview and Review at A Diary of a Book Addict
June 13
Book Spotlight at Unputdownable Books 
June 14
Feature and Guest Post at Delphina Reads Too Much
June 15
Review at Hopeless Bibliophile 
June 16
Book Spotlight at Every Free Chance Reading 
June 17
Interview and Giveaway at Word Spelunking
June 18
Book Spotlight at My Fiction Nook 
Review at Stuck Between the Pages
June 25
Guest Post at Now is Gone
June 27
Review at The Kari Annalysis 
June 28 & 29
Guest Post and Review at Therian
July 1
Review and Interview at J Bronder Book Review 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Announcement

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be presenting at the upcoming National Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Las Vegas with Young Adult Authors Angela Morrison and Nancy Bo Flood.

Our presentation, "AN AUTHOR'S TOOLKIT: TECHNIQUES FROM THE PROS," will be held on Friday, November 16, 2012 from 12:30 pm-1:45 pm. We will be demonstrating professional techniques adapted for the classroom (K-12) to motivate students to write what they know, fear, believe, love, and dream. 

Anderson's Bookshops will host a signing at their booth in the Exhibition Hall immediately following the session. 

For more information about my young adult novel, SHATTERED, please visit