1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve always kept a diary/journal and loved writing short stories in school. I think it was in Grade Four when a publisher came to our class to talk about the world of writing and publishing books. She took us through the whole process. At the end of the chat, we got to ‘publish’ our own books: We wrote a story, did illustrations, designed and created our covers then ‘published’ them in the school library for other students to take out. My book was called, ‘The Adventures of Super Bug’. Okay, so the ‘book’ was on printer paper, the ‘illustrations’ were stick guy-like and the ‘cover’ was laminated cardstock but to me it was the best thing EVER!
The ironic thing was that I’d forgotten to bring my book home with me at the end of the year. Ten years later, my younger sister came home from school one day and asked me to read the book she took out from her school library. Guess what it was? Yup. Super Bug! I took that as a sign that writing and authoring is what I was meant to do.
2. Are you published and if so, how long have you been a published author? If not, what’s your plan?
I am a published author, actually (yes I did publish again after Super Bug! HA!). I have two memoirs, a children’s picture boo, a Young Adult novel, and an adult suspense/thriller coming out next spring. I’m certainly very Blessed.
3. Which route did you choose for becoming published, the traditional route, with an agent, the “indie” route, going directly to the publishers yourself, or deciding to self-publish?
My children’s picture book was originally self-published and is now in the loving hands of the traditional publisher who handled my memoir, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and the traditional route with all of my other books. But in all cases, I’ve gone directly to publishers myself.
4. Why did you choose that particular route?
I self-published my children’s picture book because it was a really hard one to sell having such a specific niche. But I wanted to have total control over how it turned out. It’s a story close to my heart and, really, a gift I created for my daughter, Jaimie so I had to make sure it was exactly what she needed.
So far, I’ve had great success with selling my own stuff so I keep right on doing it. But, eventually, I think it would be wonderful to have an agent so I can leave all of the pavement pounding to him or her. =)
5. How long did it take you to write your first novel?
My first published novel, Blackbird Flies, only took me a few weeks to write but months of editing. That’s how I work. I get an idea, envision the entire book in my head, write madly for a few weeks then edit until it all makes sense.
6. How long did it take you to publish it?
Ahhhh! That’s an entirely different story. LOL! I wrote this book a couple of years ago but only just recently found a home for it. That’s just how it works. I shelved it and worked on other projects. Then when I came across a place handling YA that might be interested, I’d dust it off and pitch it. When it was rejected, I’d put it back on the shelf, working on another project I’d have going, until I found another place to try. After years of doing this, I finally found the right home for it (Thank you to Stephanie with Astraea Press for giving my book a chance! xo).
7. How many times did it get rejected before it got published?
Oh my goodness! Eighteen that I kept track of and that doesn’t include the ones I did through online submission forms.
8. Tell us about worst rejection letter.
For this manuscript, I never had any really bad rejections. Just editors telling me the story was great but that it didn’t fit in with their line up. The worst rejection letter I’ve ever received on any of my book projects was for White Elephants where a publisher actually told me I should be ashamed of myself even approaching publishers with such disgusting subject matter (White Elephants is my memoir about being raised by a mom with untreated bipolar disorder and alcoholism. The ‘disgusting subject matter’ the guy referred to were issues we should all be talking about like child abuse, eating disorders, rape, and others.) That hurt so much it took me months before I tried again to send it out. But that’s just what you have to do—dust yourself off and keep trying.
9. What was the best news you ever got in your writing life and how did it make you feel?
Wow! I’ve had so many wonderful things happen I’m not sure I can choose just one. I’d say it would be the feeling of hearing, “IT’S UP FOR SALE!” after my first book, “Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD” was released. Nothing beats the feeling of that first book out there then holding it in your hands.
10. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
The back story to this is a long one but the gist of it is that I’d worked my butt off on a book that was supposed to go out earlier this year. When I got the galley copy of it, it was awful. I mean God awful!! I wouldn’t have stood behind that book nor wanted my name on the cover it was so bad. The publisher took my project and turned it into what they felt was more suitable not what I’d originally intended. So I told them so, stopped publication of it and demanded my rights back. But instead of admitting what they’d done, the editor told me she thought I was an awful writer and should never have been published in the first place. She told me to give up writing. Needless to say that knocked the wind out of my writing sails for months. I wouldn’t even go near my keyboard. But then, one day, I got a lovely email from a fan of Not Just Spirited who told me she loved my book, how it helped her and to keep writing. In fact, she told me she’d be watching for more of my work!
Shortly after that, I sold three more of my manuscripts. I guess that editor was wrong, hey?
11. Now, tell us the best!
One of my writing mentors once said, “Don’t get hung up on rejections. Wear them like badges of honor that give you the strength to go on. What doesn’t work with one editor/publisher will be the next one you try’s pearl.”
Never give up. That’s what I keep telling myself. Just like the Little Engine that Could. LOL!
12. What’s the one thing you would want an aspiring writer to take away from your personal path to publication?
Gosh. I’d have to say don’t let others define who you are or what sort of writer you want to be. Figure out what your special talent or niche is then be the best you can be at that. Don’t worry about what others are doing/aren’t doing. Focus on what you’re doing and you’ll do awesome.
13. Where can we read your blog? Buy your books? Connect with you on facebook? On Twitter? Your website?
Okay let’s see.
My main blog, ‘The Gift’ is where I spend most of my blogging time: www.the-gift-blog.com
My second blog, ‘White Elephants’ is a place where I discuss all those issues that one editor found ‘disgusting’. I guess you could say I realized after that guy said that, we really need more places for people to discuss those issues where they feel safe and accepted. That address is: www.seethewhiteelephants.com
You can find me on Facebook as Chynna Laird. I also have an author page here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Chynna-Laird-Author/203311629699211
You can find me on Twitter as @lilywolf.
My personal Website is at www.lilywolfwords.ca. I’m in the process of revamping it so if folks can’t get on right away, keep on trying. =)
Book Blurb – Blackbird Flies
Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.
His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he's going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.
Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming for Payton, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.
This book sounds wonderful and I can't wait till it comes out! And hearing about all those blogs and ways to reach Chynna exhausts me. Wanna know a secret? Just to make you even more impressed, I can share one more little fun fact....Chynna is not only a talented and amazingly prolific author....she is also a mother of four! Making time to write with my two makes me nuts sometimes....Chynna, you are my hero. She'd love to hear from you at one of the bazillion ways she's got to contact her. Let her know if you're a fan. She already knows I am!