The Stories We Live
“A Divided Mind” started with a phone call. It was the day before a major college kickoff event I had helped plan for more than a year. I was crazily finalizing last-minute details when my son, Kyle, called saying he needed to talk. I still remember my exasperation from being bothered at work. What? What could it be now? With four children to support, I was finally getting my boots on the ground as an adjunct professor. My placement on the planning committee was a huge step forward in my career. An interruption at work meant a disruption in what I was trying to build.
When I pressed Kyle for an answer, he started to back away from the conversation. That’s when I knew. I knew it was more than a phone call. And suddenly, I couldn’t breathe or stop my mind from racing – pregnant girlfriend, drugs, failing a class? What I heard in reply wasn’t at all what I expected.
“I’m hearing voices.”
I didn’t understand what was happening to my son. I only knew I wanted it to go away. The campus event no longer mattered. In trying to build “something,” I let what truly matters – family, children, home life – break down. As I sat in the waiting room at the counseling center while my son saw an emergency intake specialist, my only focus was on my little boy. At, 6’1 my 18-year-old was far from little. He was my gentle giant, my brave heart. Together we navigated the world of mental health without any clue what was ahead. During this time, the journalist in me surfaced. I asked a lot of questions, which I wasn’t always sure I wanted to know the answer.
By delving into the darkness, Kyle shared with me demons I never knew he battled. It was heartbreaking and heroic. The story we lived became the story we told – with a twist. What started out as a quest for answers, turned into a fictionalized, chilling story of what could happen if a divided mind was left untreated.
The book wrote itself. Yet, the manuscript for, “A Divided Mind” stayed on my desktop for four years. Kyle wanted the book published the minute we finished, but I wasn’t as brave.
It’s taken me four years to allow this story to be released into the world. I wasn’t about to just place it in anyone’s hands. Every member of the publishing team at Tangled Tree is family to me and my son. They get it. I have been included and have had a voice in every aspect of this process.
So when I considered authors I’d approach for a cover quote, I was equally as selective. Two authors, whose work I have long admired and have met personally, which only heightened my respect for them, topped my wish list.
I knew it was a big ask. But it was one I was willing to make.
The first person I shared their generous endorsement quotes with was Kyle, who texted back, “Hell yeah!”
Four years later, my son is set to graduate from the University of Wyoming in May. I’ve never known anyone who has worked harder for their future than Kyle. In July, “A Divided Mind,” the story we wrote during the darkest period in our lives will take flight.
“A Divided Mind is a raw emotional drama about a mother’s worst nightmare… A gripping page-turner, I couldn’t put it down until I read the final gasp-inducing line.”
—Tiffany Reisz, USA Today Bestselling Author
“This tightly crafted thriller tricks you – it carefully assembles everything you think you know, and then reveals what you didn’t see coming. Taut and deftly rendered, Billiter delivers a smart, searing novel. This well-paced story skillfully shows a mother’s love and the levels we will go to protect our families. The narrators keeping you reading, and questioning everything we hold true in our own minds. This book is an uncompromising view of the bond between mother and child, and the stories we tell each other in order to survive.”
— Nina McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the PEN Open Book Award
A Divided Mind
Published by: Tangled Tree Publishing
Publication date: July 27th 2019
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller
Sometimes that little voice in your head isn’t always yours.
What if the only friend you have isn’t real? When the voices in his head begin to make sense, high school senior Branson Kovac turns to the one friend he’s still got… only to discover he’s not really there.
For everyone’s concern about me hurting myself or someone, cutting into a frozen frog didn’t prompt any crazed thoughts. Now the kid next to me who kept tapping me on the shoulder like he had a nervous tick, he deserved a beatdown just for annoying me.
“Branson, help me out. What is this?” He pointed to a part of the frog.
“For the hundredth time, it’s the liver.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
I was identifying the other parts of Kermit’s anatomy when tick boy tapped me again on the shoulder.
“What?” I glared at him and he backed away. That sudden jolt of anger triggered the shadow people. I shook my head, but it was still there. I saw a shadow of a person pick up the scalpel and attack tick boy with exact precision, cutting him across the throat. The only color I could see was red.
M. Billiter is the alter ego of contemporary, award-winning romance author, Mary Billliter.
After writing more than a dozen love stories, she is exploring the other side. Best known for her emotional honesty, Mary doesn’t write about well-adjusted people, but rather the wounds in life.
M. Billiter writes with clarity and raw emotion to explore difficult subjects and issues close to her heart.