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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain by Jackie M. Stebbins - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Jackie M. Stebbins and her new book, “Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a custom #StebbinsStrong t-shirt!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Jackie and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain

by Jackie M. Stebbins


GENRE:   Memoir



“Jackie Stebbins’ UNWILLABLE is an inspiring story of a brilliant woman’s battle with autoimmune encephalitis and the circle of support--from loving family members to dedicated physicians--who helped guide her through a hard-won recovery. Her story is as moving as it is important and is destined to help so many others facing this condition.”

Susannah Cahalan author of NYT #1 Bestseller Brain on Fire



I was easily confused, and I did abnormal things. I said, “This looks weird,” or “Why can’t I do this?” about routine objects and tasks. Right after I got out of the ward, Sean asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was doing my laundry. When he went upstairs to check on me, I had put my clean underwear on the floor beneath my dresser and was putting my sweats and shorts in and around the sink in our bathroom.

Once, as I sat in my recliner and my legs were shaking badly, I told him I couldn’t feel them.

I thought my phone looked “weird,” and I kept commenting to him that something was wrong with it, because the screen was green. When he looked at it, everything was fine. I also texted Lacie and Betsy some odd things about seeing them when I hadn’t. Sean finally took my phone away from me. When I no longer had my cell phone, I picked up our landline phone, believing it was my cell phone. I tried to text from it, but could not do so, so I asked Sean to help me. He remembers almost losing it with me at that moment.



Describe Your Book Cover and How it Came About:

I was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis (AE) a rare and can be fatal brain illness, in May 2018. Leading up to my illness, I was a busy trial lawyer and senior partner of my own law firm, Stebbins Mulloy. When my brain was turned back on in June 2018 by intravenous steroids, and I “woke up,” I had to learn about this devastating illness that had impaired my brain and broken my mind, body, and spirit. I felt like I was in complete ruin and knew that I’d never be able to return to my beloved career.

As I came to learn about my illness, I also found out about the NYT #1 bestseller, Brain on Fire. Not only did the book inspire me to write my own memoir about the condition we share, my neurologist actually referenced the book in my diagnosis. Brain on Fire helped save my life and I decided I wanted to write a book to possibly help save someone else’s life and give them hope after this life-changing illness. I was convinced that writing my book would be the only way to heal myself and rebuild my life.

For the first year after my diagnosis, I struggled to stay alive amidst serious health problems. But during that year, there was one bright spot in what were otherwise long and taxing days: my book. Daily, I thought about the book I planned to write as I relived AE’s trauma and horror. And as I put the story together in my head, I also dreamed about “the perfect” book cover.

Between my husband, Sean, my best friend, Lacie (who created Unwillable’s cover), and I, none of us can really remember who had a lot of the initial ideas in what became the finished product. But I think Sean deserves a lot of credit for setting the scene, quite literally.

AE presents like a psychiatric illness and my onset was no exception. I was first an insomniac for months. I then had tremors in my hands, clenched my jaw, and a white noise blared in my ears on repeat. I struggled through work, but won my last court hearing on May 3, 2018. I left work only a few days later and the illness completely overtook me. I was paranoid, hallucinated, thought a man shot me in the face in my bedroom and I thought the same man lurked in my house to kill me and my family. I saw grey waves of dead people floating above me and kept talking about the color purple. I was first hospitalized in the psychiatric ward and was hospitalized again after having seizures, which I explained as lightning going off in my brain. When I was in the psychiatric ward, I realized I couldn’t read a clock. And when I returned home, I told Sean that something was wrong with my cell phone, that it “looked green.” I also had recurring dreams that terrified me, including being trapped in a basement where there were medieval steel knights around me. And when I first saw my neurologist, he asked me to draw a clock as part of a neurological exam. I failed the exam and couldn’t draw a clock.

I wanted my cover to be a trip, just like AE is. Sean thought I should have a courtroom scene where I was sitting at counsel table or a ghost-like silhouette of me was in the room. I wanted it to be in Courtroom 303, the last place I was in court on May 3rd. We settled on the courtroom being empty, which was symbolic of the loss of my career.

I wanted a replica of the clock I drew in my cognitive exam and the knight from my recurring dream. And I wanted greens and purples abstractly spread throughout. I also hoped Lacie could illustrate gray waves of dead people floating up above.

Unwillable’s cover is a product of my hallucinations, paranoia, confusion, seizures, and dreams. Through the amnesia and impaired brain that the illness gave me, I tried to recreate all of the details for Lacie, so she could turn those abstract concepts and ideas into art. She did that and more. She drew the courtroom from photos I took and drew the knight. She copied my exact clock onto the wall where the real clock hangs in the courtroom. I think the grey woman floating in the ceiling gave her the most headaches, but she did it. And I know I’m biased, but I truly love the final product and am very proud of the story it represents and the love and support I’ve had from family and friends.



Jackie M. Stebbins was living her dream as a nationally recognized family law, criminal defense, and civil litigator. But Stebbins’s career as a lawyer abruptly ended in May, 2018, when she was diagnosed with a rare brain illness, autoimmune encephalitis. Stebbins persevered to make a remarkable recovery and turned herself into an author and motivational speaker. Stebbins is the author of the JM Stebbins blog and host of the Brain Fever podcast. Stebbins’s side hustle includes raising three lovely children with her wonderful husband, Sean, in Bismarck, North Dakota, and in her leisure time she can be found reading, trying to be funny, and aqua jogging.























Amazon US Kindle eBook:


Amazon US Paperback:


Amazon CA Kindle eBook:


Amazon CA Paperback:


Barnes and Noble Paperback:




Jackie M. Stebbins will be awarding a custom #StebbinsStrong t-shirt (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those fabulous community outreach projects and awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. Thanks for allowing me here today! I look forward to talking all things Unwillable!!