Karla Yazzolino – If Seen: My Journey Living With Anxiety

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

I have two recent books. The first is: If Seen… My Journey Living With Anxiety and the Second is: SeeMee “Says!”.

If Seen… is about my life and the struggles of living it with anxiety. It is starkly truthful and revealing about my condition and what feeds it, also about how I learned acceptance. So many years spent being afraid of panic attacks and death lead me to just surviving. When healing begins, I learned acceptance of self and spent five years in therapy learning about myself and life outside of sexual abuse and family dysfunction to finally come to an understanding about the disease and life lived in truth.

SeeMee “Says!” is about communication between parent and child. SeeMee the bunny in this story reaches out to get answers to hard questions and to ask for what he needs. It is heartwarming with great graphics to tell the story of communicating better and seeing the child in your life and him/her feeling brave enough to ask.

Tell us something about yourself.

I come from Troutdale, Oregon The gateway to the Gorge! Here in Troutdale we get a lot of wind and usually most of the snow and ice! I am a mother of four girls and a grandmother to 10 boys and girls. I have been writing my whole life really, I just didn’t know that I would turn into an author. I always felt that my mother would become an author, but I guess it was left for me to do. I have been an avid reader my whole life starting out with comic books we were allowed to read at the dinner table. It took a while but from there I eventually got into novels and then branched out in many different favorites! I lived in a small town when growing up called Ridgefield Washington and our mascot was a potato if you can imagine. I was a cheerleader and a bit of a rebel in high school! Aren’t we all though?

What inspired you to write this book?

My inspiration came after I was fired from a huge HMO in my area for revealing my Chronic Anxiety condition during my training period. I was so devastated by the firing that I realized I was truly just an unseen individual in my disease. When I thought about it I had really been unseen throughout my whole life. I had no dad and only a working mother and a mother who was in night school for many, many years. I truly believe that had I been seen in my childhood and teen-hood I would not have acquired such a high level of anxiety. Children like me need full attention and questions answered. I needed to be soothed and spoken to and have someone look at me and see the fearful child. I first wrote a prose poem about myself and my sister called If Seen, and from there, after the death of my mother and the abandonment of almost my entire family I wrote many prose’s. After a while I thought I should put them into a book…and then it became a novel of sorts to tell the whole story because it was so intricate to explain.

SeeMee was a work in progress for about five years. I had wanted a book that showed kids how to speak up, relating that to myself and my own childhood of keeping quiet. The first draft I wrote about five years ago and while I liked it, I didn’t think it was good enough. So I sat on it for about four years and then went back to it and re-worked it and didn’t like it again. Rather than place if back on the shelf I kept at it until my bunny was born and the book now is something I really am proud of.

How did you choose the title?

For If Seen.. I chose to use the title of the first prose I wrote about my sister and I. It was cathartic and completely relates to the whole topic of my book. For SeeMee “Says!” is pretty much self explanatory, Haha. It relates to being seen.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I spent a couple of months writing query letters and it wasn’t long that I was negotiating with Black Rose Writing. They “saw” me and my book and found it worthy. Black Rose also published SeeMee and that was real easy, no obstacles there! I was lucky, because one doesn’t usually find a publisher that fast.

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

I had no clue I wanted or would be a writer. I think life just asserts itself and things happen. If you understand the clues you take a new path.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No I don’t. I’ve heard of people having rituals, but really I just sit an write when an idea strikes or I have something to say. I don’t like to pressure myself into writing. I can write on demand, but it’s a little harder. Usually I am more inspired early mornings and sometimes I wake up from sleeping to an idea and I have to get up and write then and there no matter the time of day.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

So far I haven’t had to do that. But I think I would put great effort into figuring it out because I wouldn’t want to use just common names. I am writing a new children’s book about a dog named Mr. Big. I used my own dogs name for that because he is just so big when I thought he wouldn’t be. I named him Mr. Big because he was the biggest of the litter and from the character in Sex in the City! So I suppose those are the kind of thoughts that would go through my mind when picking names for characters.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

So much! Too much!! I am still learning. I am daily challenged by the marketing end of publishing and how much commitment it takes to stay on task. I feel it to be a dispassionate world when it comes to being a new author. No one wants to take much time to hear your story…and it is incredibly hard to make a name for yourself. But, the true grit of it all is your own passion for your story and given time, energy and commitment I think an untried author can finally get seen.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would not have hired a publicist right off the bat. I lost $6000 dollars trusting someone I never met and that has taken its toll on my finances! I didn’t understand my own power in the beginning and really if I had anything to say to a new author it would be to push yourself and do the work to be seen. It can be an eye opener and also gives one growth of self.

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

I love Dean Koontz! I have been reading his books for twenty years. He is a master at creating eerie and wonderful! I also read Janet Evanovich, she is crazy and I love her characters! I also read Nora Roberts whom I feel is the most successful author out there! She is wonderful at character development and weaving a great tale! I also read John Grisham, love his books! Dick Francis has been a love for me throughout my reading life, his novels always evolve around horses and that world and I love horses and his stories are always keeping me on the edge of my seat!! I do a lot of re-reading of these authors when I’m too broke to go buy new books!! I also read other books, not a lot of self help but some, and a few off the wall. I just love the world of reading and can’t imagine ever stopping.

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

Yes, It is for now, called Me Finally. It is a sequel to If Seen… and its express why one would feel joyless in a world of anxiety and then also why one can be joyful in a world full of anxiety. It expresses the worst of what I live and then expounds upon the best of what I live and why that is the most important part of life and living. For SeeMee I have written two other books called SeeMee Asks and SeeMee Wonders. I hope to have all these books out there soon. I am also working on a book called Mr. Big and Butter, strictly a fun story!!

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

Stay true to who you are no matter what and to live your truth. Write write write and when looking for representation to attack as if it were a job search, because truly that is what you are doing.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The perfect reader for If Seen is anyone looking for an explanation into anxiety or family dysfunction. It is for a sufferer or a spouse of a sufferer or a family member looking to support and how to do it. It is for hope and for reaching out to those who feel alone. For SeeMee it is for parents of children, for teachers of children, for babysitters of children, for grandparents of children. It is for children.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can find my books at www.powells.com, Amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.blackrosewriting.com