My book, Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery (Coping With Illness) is the story of my life just before, during, and after my cancer experience. It is a very truthful book that tells it like it is. I want readers to know exactly what cancer is like and how feels, looks, smells, ect. Grace is also, interestingly, a spirit-booster because it shows people that they can make it through difficult times with a smile on their face. Lastly, my book strikes a chord with almost all cancer patients and survivors. Often times, parents and siblings of young children thank me for sharing my story because they now understand what their small child could not tell them.
Tell us something about yourself.
I have lived in a small dot on the map called Nipomo, California for all 16 years of my life. I was homeschooled until my freshman year of high school, which gave me the opportunity to write and be creative from a young age. In addition to writing, I have also been passionate about dance my entire life. Having started classes at age three, I now dance six days a week with the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Jazz group. I also speak and help raise money for organizations such as the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, and many more! I am very busy, but very blessed!
What inspired you to write this book?
Because I have always loved writing, it was just a natural impulse for me to write about my experience. Gradually, I realized that my story could help others and provide comfort for those facing cancer, and I began to focus on the end goal of a book.
How did you choose the title?
My mom and I were on a long drive in the car when we began to roll around title ideas in our minds. I knew that I wanted something simple-something that said a lot by saying a little. Then “Grace” popped up…and It stuck with me. Grace applied to God’s grace, a dancer’s grace, and those little unexpected moments in a cancer journey that I describe as “grace”.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The initial obstacle was what route to take in getting my book published. Not wanting a big publisher to have the rights to my story, I opted to self-publish it. Our publishing company, Happy Quail, was born October 2009. The next major hindrance was how to distribute it. Upon submitting Grace to Greenleaf Book Group, which lets the author maintain full rights to his or her work, it was accepted. Greenleaf Book Group now does the major distribution, marketing, and more.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I knew that I wanted to be a writer because I always felt that written words were the means by which I could express myself the best. Writing can express thoughts and feelings that spoken words cannot, and I feel that I can be more honest and open when I write. When I was homeschooled, I adored writing silly, creative stories. I can still remember my very first story called “The Man” where I didn’t know how to spell “police officer”.
Do you have any writing rituals?
No, I don’t have any rituals. However, I refuse to write when my “writing juices” aren’t flowing. In other words, when I don’t feel the words pouring out, I don’t force it…I just stop. In writing Grace, I felt that I wrote best, strangely, when I wasn’t feeling well and was in a reflective mood.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
There was no need to!
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned a lot amidst the whole process of writing and publishing. When I wrote Grace, I felt as though I was able to put my experience in context and extract what positive lessons, values, and perspectives I could from my unfortunate situation. Besides learning buckets of information about the publishing industry, from formatting to social networking, the process taught me a lot about patience and gratitude.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have made more time in my schedule to play an even more active roll in Grace’s production. (Darn! That homework gets in the way!)
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
To be perfectly honest, I’m not much of a reader. I know that usually writers are big book people, but I’ve always been different! Although I have not read many books, my favorties are Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike, and of course, the classics by Steinbeck. I enjoy To Kill A Mockingbird, Travels With Charley, and Of Mice and Men and other books that teach you lessons about life.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I have many ideas about my next book, but mind-blowing inpiration has not hit me yet! I will let you know when it does though!
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
To those going through the writing process, I would say that the most important thing to do is to write from your heart. Whether fiction or nonfiction, the emotion of the character needs to be portrayed through the words, and so the best thing to do is to “experience” your own story and book. During the publishing portion of book production, I would advise others to be patient, research a lot, soak up a lot of new information, and mostly, enjoy the process! Don’t rush it and be so focused on the end product that you don’t enjoy every step of the writing and publishing process!
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
There are several perfect readers for my book!
-Anyone touched by cancer, whether directly or indirectly
-Anyone who has been through a difficulty in their life and is seeking inspiration, hope, and comfort!
-Anyone who wants to cry, then laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry some more, and finally, laugh again!