Authors. They hold our hands and take us to different places around the world, or make us fly into magical new ones they create especially for us. Worlds we can escape when negativity or even despair take a toll in our lives. The words written are whispers of stories that make us sigh, cry, laugh … Stories that drag us into a roller coaster of emotions that are embedded in our hearts and memories.
We buy their books, but who is really the person penning the stories you love? What inspires them? What do they do to make a difference in the world? We see all these books, but have you ever thought about the challenges they’ve had to overcome to publish their books? The sacrifices? Authors are people like you and me, who are driven to pursue their dreams sharing their talent and creativity with us. There’s a lot we can learn from them to help us live an inspired life pursuing what we are passionate about. What makes us feel Alive.
Today, I would like to introduce you to Crissy Maier, author of “Blue Sky Morning.” She kindly accepted my invitation to share with all of you a side of her that many people don’t know, and which makes her not only an author but the real-life and daily heroine of her own story. Enjoy!
1.) How was Crissy's life as a little girl? How would you describe yourself?
In one sense it was totally normal - middle-class family in a suburb of New York City. I had a mom, Dad, and 2 older sisters. The only thing missing was a dog. However, it was anything but ordinary! I was born with a cleft lip and palate and had my 16th surgery on my 16th birthday.
I was learning disabled and had to go to “resource room” for extra help learning and support taking tests. From the moment I was born, I was different.
2.) How was for you to grow up as someone with a learning disability? How important was to have your parent's support? Peers? School staff?
When I grew up, diagnosing learning disabilities was a bit of a newer thing. I was fortunate to be in a small school district with the resources to support me and the few other students who also had learning disabilities. But I don’t think most kids and even some adults fully understood what a learning disability was. The people who did, like my reading teacher Ms. Ronaldo, were amazing and worked tirelessly to help me and also to make sure I had the resources I needed. Those were the people that helped my parents help me.
I remember when I was young asking my Mom why I got extra help and other kids didn’t. She told me it was because I tried and the other kids didn’t. As an adult, I know that it’s much more complicated than that, but at the time it was what I needed. I needed to hear that I wasn’t less than anyone else, that if I worked hard I could succeed. I think this may be the origin of my mindset that I can do anything I set my mind to, I just have to work hard for it. Maybe even a little harder then other kids, but I can do it.
3.) Were you subject to any kind of discrimination or bullying? If so, how did you handle it? What kind of impact it had in your life?
I was a short kid with a scar who went to resource room. I certainly wasn’t one of the cool kids!
Did it reach bullying? Maybe a few times, but for the most part, it was curious questions or an occasional ignorant statement. It ran more along the lines of teasing a kid who wasn't "cool." I remember in elementary school playing kickball and kicking the ball and running to first base. I was NOT an athlete, I was lucky I made it to first base. One of the kids got the ball and threw it at me, but it went over my head. I saw it as a victory, being short saved me from getting “out.” In reality the kid probably just missed me, but in my head, the thing that made me different was the thing that saved me. Maybe kids bullied me at times, I probably just didn’t notice.
4.) How and why did you decide to write your first published book "Blue Sky Morning"?
I started seeing people in certain groups I was in that were in pain. It really opened my eyes to the fact that people who had been through some similar experiences as I had been through dealt with them in a very different, and not always healthy way.
I very quickly realized I wanted to do more. I wasn’t sure what it was and started to work on some goals in my life. One of those goals was to start writing a book. Not that I had a clue how to do that, but it seemed like a good idea. Within weeks I ran into a publishing opportunity. I think I slept on the decision, but in reality, from the time I found the opportunity and signed on, it was probably less than a week because I was so excited by the idea and the opportunity.
My book concept was very loose when I started, I had to write a book proposal as part of the process. Within a few weeks, I had all the major elements of Blue Sky Morning in the book proposal.
5.) How much do you relate to its main character, Emily?
The basis for Blue Sky Morning was to write about someone who had never had a hardship in life and to now face one and really struggle. In that sense, Emily is very different from me. However, there are elements of her in me, but I think we’re more closely aligned later in the book. But she may have stolen some of the negative thoughts I've had about myself for herself too.
6.) After experiencing a traumatic event, Emily makes a decision that will take her on a self-exploration journey to find out who she really is. Who is really Crissy Maier? What does she want to accomplish?
Great question! I wish I had the answer. Seriously though, I enjoy the quiet and introverted side of me that can hide in my apartment and write. Creating a character and building them up. But I also enjoy being with people, people who want more from their lives, even if they don’t know what it is.
My newest idea stems from the tagline “You Are More” which I’m planning to roll out as you publish this interview. I’m not 100% sure what this becomes. But I don’t think people tell themselves that they are capable of more. But they are and maybe if I tell them enough they’ll start believing it.
7.) I've found through my writing that my characters give me life lessons. The freedom to create them and listening to their voices, watching them grow and overcome the challenges they face in their story... I find myself at times opening my eyes and realizing that I learn valuable lessons from them. Has it happened to you? Did you learn anything from Emily? If you did, what was it?
I don’t know if Emily taught me that much directly. But the process of writing her made me more aware of things going on around me and to be more sensitive to people.
The other thing I learned was to really own Emily and her story. This was harder than I thought, I didn’t realize how much of me seeped into the book until I was done and had to tell people about it.
8.) Early in life, you learned to identify a problem, you tackled and overcame it, and thought that everyone dealt with their problems the same way as you did. However, as you grew up, you realized that not everyone does. Many people struggle every day and feel lost and alone. What would you say to the readers that perhaps could see their lives in a more positive way with a message enriched by your personal experience?
First, I struggle too and I know it’s really hard to get out of that mindset. I spend a lot of time in that mindset wondering how to get out of it. Sometimes I just have to be there for a bit. But at some point, I don’t want to be there and I have to force myself out of it. I go back to things like my goals, my mission, songs that inspire me, exercise, writing, or looking at the pain other people are in. It kicks in slowly.
Then all of a sudden I realize I can control this - I come up with an action plan. Then I pursue it. Maybe it’s a couple little tasks or a goal. Once one little thing falls into place the rest follows. Sometimes I don't come close to meeting my action plan, but just the act of having it gives me a reason to get up and do stuff.
Just like being depressed can spiral down, having a reason to get out of bed can spiral you up. You just need to find that thing that motivates you to take the first step. Maybe even two or three things. When you recognize the things that make you happy - write them down so you can pull the list up on a rainy day instead of trying to recall it when you’re unhappy and it’s a distant memory.
9.) It is important for you to make a difference. What are you doing to help others to overcome their struggles in a positive way in your community, and how satisfying is for you to be able to reach to others and help them see their lives with more optimism?
The first thing is to be supportive of people. If they feel dumb, tell them they are smart, point out something good they did. If they feel ugly, compliment them. It’s amazing how much a small compliment will go. I try to do this before they need the encouragement.
For my writing, I’m creating characters with flaws and challenges and then helping them overcome. I try to make it realistic and organic, the way it happens in real life.
I also try to share positive stories, whether it’s from the news (yes, they exist) or something someone tells me about. They don’t need to be stories of transformation, maybe just something that made someone else’s day better. It’s easy to forget how much power we have to help others. We often build ourselves up by helping others.
10.) What is next for Crissy Maier?
Good question! I’m working on another book at the moment, it’s been very slow going. I recently challenged myself to do a 30-days of YouTube videos. They’re terrible and I hate doing them, but I know it’s because I’m just starting and need to find my voice there. I thought 30 days was a good test period.
11.) Who inspires you?
People who pursue their dreams, whether they fail or succeed doesn’t matter. They took the risk in a society that is very quick to judge and even quicker to post on social media about it.
Thank so much, Crissy! We wish you the best in your new projects. I know the readers will enjoy this special interview.
See you next time, when I'll be honored to have an incredibly amazing author and dear friend, Jennifer Locklear, who will be releasing her new book Chaos on May 17.
Enjoy your weekend and remember!
You are meant for greatness.