Author Interview – Chynna T. Laird

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is titled, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (Loving Healing Press). The book is about a mom’s journey to finding the right diagnosis and treatment for her daughter. Our daughter, Jaimie, suffered greatly for the first few years of her life with…something. Not only did we not understand what was wrong with her we had no idea how to help her. And the worst part was that no matter how hard we pressed for people to see what we did, nobody listened to us. Then we met a wonderful occupational therapist who figured out what was wrong with Jaimie after spending only an hour with her: Sensory Processing Disorder. This shows a story many parents have: getting people to listen, finding the right diagnosis, then fighting to get their child the proper treatment.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. I started writing when I was in elementary school. In Grade Three we had a representative come to our classroom to teach us all about the publishing world. We got to write our own little stories, have them “published” then put into the library for other students to take out. My story was called SuperBug a superhero of the Bug World whose only weakness was a size 10 shoe. The whole process of “publishing,” or having the book laminated and put on the library book shelf, was awesome to me. Many years later, my younger sister came home with a book she was so excited for me to read to her: SuperBug! I took that as a sign that writing was to be part of my life in some significant way.

As for recent stuff about me: I’m a psychology student, freelance writer and author living in Edmonton, Alberta with my partner, Steve, and our three daughters [Jaimie (almost seven), Jordhan (five), and baby Sophie (eighteen months)] and baby boy, Xander (three). My passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.

You’ll find my work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, I’ve authored a children’s book, a memoir (now available!) and a reference book about the Sensory Diet coming January 2011.

What inspired you to write this book?

The book started of as journal entries. I often journal to work out feelings or thoughts. Then I began meeting many parents with similar stories as ours and decided that more of us need to tell our stories. You see, there are many in the medical field who don’t acknowledge SPD as a separate disorder with its own symptoms, assessment process and treatments. A child can have SPD without being, say, Autistic or AD/HD. I wrote the book to show this. SPD is real…as real as my daughter Jaimie and her struggles with it.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

This book was published traditionally through Loving, Healing Press. I tried for almost two years to get the book out there. I had many agents and publishers interested in the story but because our story is such a specified niche and a memoir, it was tough finding someone to take the risk with it. But Victor at Loving, Healing Press has helped many stories, such as ours, get out there. He took our project on as enthusiastically as if it was his own story and that meant so much to me. A writer wants her agent or publisher to take her story because they believe in it not just because it could make money or to be an extra listing on their site. That’s so important.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I never planned on being a published writer. I just knew I loved writing. I found it soothing and therapeutic. I was inspired to keep journaling after my sister came home with SuperBug. I just kept writing stories and journaling then I shared one of my stories with a friend called, “The Gray Felt Hat.” She told me to enter it in a contest or get it published. I didn’t understand that. Who the heck would want to read my stuff? So I entered it a contest and it won first prize. Then I sent the same story to Angels On Earth magazine, who accepted it and the rest is history. I never had any intention of becoming an author. That sort of just happened. =)

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Finding the time. I have four children—three with special needs—so my attention is constantly grabbed away from the computer. But they are my number one priority so I just squeeze the time in whenever I can.

How do you do research for your books?

Read, read, read. Then I make a point of interviewing experts in the field. So far, I’ve done nonfiction projects that I have personal experience and knowledge in. But I never take on something without referring to the experts. You don’t want to give out false information, especially when dealing with subject matters such as the one I write about. Then you aren’t helping people, right?

Did you learn anything from writing this book?

Yes. I learned a lot about the publishing process and how things work. It’s a l-o-n-g, careful process with much editing, re-editing and making sure things fit together just right. I’m grateful for the experience, though, because I understand so much more now. Getting your book out there is much more than writing your awesome story; it’s making it look nice, getting it out to the people and making sure it stays out there.

What are you reading now?

I’m in my last semester at school (B.A. in Psychology, majoring in teaching/caring for children and families with special needs) so most of what I’m reading are textbooks. HA! But I’m taking a course in Aboriginal Women’s Health, Violence Against Women in the World Perspective, and Alternative Health. VERY cool stuff.

For fun reading, I started Murder Takes the Cake, by Gayle Trent and just finished another Brian Doyle book (Canadian YA author). I love Brian Doyle. I have many books waiting for me to read them on my shelf. Once I’m finished school, I plan to tackle them all.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

My favorite genre to read is thriller/suspense but I enjoy mysteries, comedy, nonfiction projects…actually I’ll read just about anything that makes me think and has a message I haven’t seen in the way the author has presented it before. That’s why I like authors like Brian Doyle, Sandi Ault and John Grisham because they do just that.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m finishing up another nonfiction reference book tentatively called, The Sensory Diet: Setting the Sensational Child Up For Success. It’s about treating children with the holistic approach of nutrition and exercises specific to the sensational child’s needs. It’s a mixture of personal experience and insight with tips from the experts.

I also have two Fiction projects waiting for publishers. One is a thriller the other is a YA book. I’m very excited about these projects because they are very different from what I usually do. And that’s FUN!!

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Ask questions, be patient and don’t give up. It’s rare when a project gets nabbed up right away, especially for first-time authors. But if you believe in your work and stay excited about it, you’ll make someone else excited about it too. HEY! It took me two years to have someone take on my memoir. And I know the book is in the right hands. That’s the most important thing: finding a person who’ll take on your project with the same passion YOU have for it.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I’m currently doing a Book Blog Tour through WOW-womenonwriting. We’re sending the book out for review to top-notch review magazines and Zines. And I’m sending the book out to people I know in the SPD community and special needs communities that I think could most benefit from our story. I know the book will get into the hands of those who need it the most.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can come to my blog at It’s sort of a spin-off of my newsletter I put out through my website. I also blog over at WOW from time-to-time.