Monday, July 13, 2009

 

Chynna Laird, author of I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Chynna Laird credits her adventures as mom of four children under the age of six as the source for much of her writing. When she's not spending Mom-time reading, playing piano and violin, and crafting with her children, she divides her time between being a student and a writer.

Chynna is busy finishing up her BA in Psychology, specializing in Early Childhood Development as well as continuing her career as a writer through her business Lily Wolf Words. She's written for many magazines: Amaze, Mindful Mama, Parenting Special Needs and Unique. She also has several bigger projects, including a thriller making the rounds. Her memoir, Not Just Spirited: Living With Sensory Processing Disorder, will be released this August.

Find out more about Chynna by visiting her websites:
Lily Wolf Words: http://www.lilywolfwords.ca/
Blog: http://lilywolfwords.blogspot.com/

About her book:

I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD

By Chynna T. Laird

Four year old Alexandra describes, in her own words, how it feels to have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) readers get a peek at how she hears things, smells things, even how things feel on her skin. She tells readers how frustrating it was for her to try to explain to other people she wasn't trying to be difficult or naughty, she was trying to communicate. Alexandra shows us all the things she does to cope in a world she finds so terrifying and how she helps others understand her better.

The book can be used as resource/reference tool for parents of children with SPD; to help children with SPD learn to express how they feel in words; and to educate counselors, teachers, friends and family.

Genre: Children's picture book
Paperback: 24 pages
ISBN: 1432714724
Publisher: Outskirts Press

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are
holding a contest to win a copy of Chynna's book, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Chynna's beautiful children (photo right): Xander (two), Jaimie (six), Sophie (ten months), Jordhan (four).

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Chynna. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD. [editor’s note: the original title of the book was I'm Not Weird, I Have SID] You've written a variety of non-fiction articles and essays about Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD for various magazines. What made you decide to also write a children's book about SPD?

Chynna: Initially, I wrote the story just for my daughter Jaimie who lives with SPD--to validate her feelings. When she was about three, she had an unfortunate experience with a small group of children who made fun of her reactions to them and her behaviour. The book was to help her feel better about herself and also help her see that there were other kids in the world who felt things the same way she did.

WOW: Tell us how your book got from idea to publication and how long it took.

Chynna: Jaimie loved being read to so I thought the perfect way to reach her and teach her how to talk about her SPD was to write a children's picture book that she'd love and be proud of. I honestly never had any intention of having the entire world read the children's book.

I researched a few POD places and chose Outskirts. I got lucky with the people I worked with on my project. They were wonderful and so supportive. I was never pressured to spend more money than I had to. Sadly, a lot of first-time and eager writers are "advised" to spend way more than they have to with some places. My project only took a few weeks from submitting my manuscript to approving illustrations, cover and interior setup to production and printing of my book. I cried the first time I read it to Jaimie and she loved it.

WOW: A little birdie told me you're making some changes to your book. What are the changes and why are they being made?

Chynna: Yes, I'm currently in the process of revising the book to reflect important changes that have occurred in the SPD community, mostly having to do with important research.

When Jaimie was diagnosed with SID/SPD about four years ago, it was known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), Dysfunction of Sensory Integration (DSI) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). All these acronyms refer to the same condition but there was no universal way to refer to it. It was very confusing. Then shortly after my book came out in October 2007, it was finally decided to universally refer to it as Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD.

There were several reasons for this decision. The first, and most important, being that a "dysfunction" can give the impression that something simply isn’t working quite right and a few simple “tweaks” can make things run smoothly again. Believe me, with this line of thought, seeking the right help for a child with this condition can be very difficult.

The other point is that SID, as an acronym, was often confused with the tragic Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Finally, there’s a phenomenal SPD research team attempting to finally have SPD included in the next revision of the DSM in 2010 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). To put it simply, everyone involved with SPD research, diagnosis and treatment had to agree on what to call this disorder in order for it to be taken seriously in the medical field.

WOW: You're also adding an activity page. Why did you decide to add that?

Chynna: All year long, her classmates knew Jaimie struggled with something because she was often very aloof or avoiding activities requiring closeness, touching or that were too loud/smelly/etc. During the first few months of school, Jaimie had many meltdowns and her classmates were genuinely concerned but didn’t understand what was wrong or how to help Jamie. For example, when upset most children will accept a hug from a friend. But Jaimie yelled, "DON'T TOUCH ME!" or would become even more upset.

It was after I'd taken the book to read at Jaimie's Kindergarten class and given a free copy to each of her classmates that I thought of adding the activity page. Almost all of the parents came up to me the next day--some of them tearing up--to thank us for a book talking about SPD from a child's perspective. You see, there are so many reference books out there written for adults who care for or work with these children. None of them really talk about SPD from the child's eyes…in the child's voice.

Then it dawned on me that it could help children reading the book with adults to have activities that may help to further their understanding. Children are amazing people and are genuinely curious about things, especially when it’s different. Giving them fun ways to explore SPD and how it "feels" to children who have it may help readers understand it better. And that's so important.

Kids like to ask questions and explore…this just helps with that idea. Parents and teachers are always looking for fun ways to explore the subject matter in books they read with children in a deeper way. Activity suggestions already offered in the book helps give the book more "saleability" because the caregiver doesn’t have to either research or come up with ideas on their own. It’s already there!

WOW: What's up next for you?

Chynna: Well, I have a memoir called, Not Just Spirited: Living With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) coming out at the end of August. It's about our journey finding help for Jaimie. It starts with what we went through from when we saw signs that something was wrong (pretty soon after we'd brought her home from the hospital) to begging her pediatrician to listen to us, her diagnosis, therapy, getting into Kindergarten. My story is just to help other parents who have that aching gut feeling that something is wrong never to give up. Knock on those doors until someone listens.

Another exciting thing that's just happened is that I've signed on with Sunrise River Press to write a book tentatively called, The Sensory Diet: Setting A Sensational Child Up For Success. Essentially the book talks about the natural, holistic approaches we can take to treating children with SPD using combinations of occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutrition and exercises specific to the needs of a child. I'll also have a great section on childhood anxiety and how it can help this too. (Children with SPD can often have high anxiety. We've had to help Jaimie with both.)

WOW: Did I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD pave the way for these new projects?

Chynna: It's funny you should ask that. It wasn't my intention but it seemed to have done just that. I honestly never planned for the entire world read the children's book. But one day when Jaimie was in her preschool class, I got to talking with one of the other mothers about Jamie's SPD.

Anyway, the mom actually said, "Wow! My son was just diagnosed with that. We always thought he'd had Autism. Do you have any information on it?" I gave her a few resources, including the book I wrote. She came up to me the next day and said, "We read your book as a family and it actually made my husband cry." She asked to buy four more copies of the book. It sort of went from there. Now it's included in several local libraries, SPD therapy centers, Early Intervention resource centers and other places.

I'd been working on the memoir for quite some time and had several agents/publishers interested in it. But because the subject matter was so specified (or "niched"), it didn't fit into their editorial line-up.

The Sensory Diet project is a compilation of all the research, interviews and stuff I've done over the years in finding what worked best for Jaimie. I thought if I could offer a resource to parents that were in the same position we were in, a book that had all of that information in one place, they wouldn’t have to research as much on their own. This book isn’t going to be a signs/symptoms book but more for parents past the diagnostic stage and into the, "What do we do now? What therapies are there out there?" stage.

I still don’t consider myself an "expert" on the subject of SPD. I'm just one parent with one child who has a form of SPD who’s willing to share our experiences, especially if it helps others. I'm a strong believer that we go through things for a reason. I also believe that reaching out to others can be therapeutic in a way. Most importantly, if telling our story inspires other parents to tell their stories, we won't be islands in the middle of nowhere wondering if others are going through what we are. We'll build bridges among us to share our stories, experiences and knowledge and maybe, one day, this disorder won't seem so foreign.

WOW: Do you have a piece of advice for hopeful children's authors? Something you wish you had known starting out or something you wished you had done differently.

Chynna: The first piece of advice I can give hopeful children's authors is to try your hardest to find an agent or traditional publisher.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing it all on your own or with POD places (as long as you do your research and find the "right" one.) But you are entirely responsible for the marketing part, including finding buyers. It's not a big deal for me now since I'm not going to school full-time any more but it is A LOT of work and takes A LOT of time and effort.

If you don't have that time, hang in there and do it the traditional way. You'll still have to do a lot of your own marketing but it's better to have the additional support and backing. I wished I'd waited for a traditional publishing route but, as I'd said, my initial goal wasn't to SELL my book to the world; it was to help my daughter understand her disorder and to give her the words to make others understand.

The best advice I can think of is to understand your intended audience and stay in that perspective. For example, writing for a 5-year old is much different than writing for, say, a tween or teen. Listen to how they talk, watch their mannerisms, watch how they interact with people. I'm lucky because I'm surrounded by my intended audience and they inspire me every day. Children are amazing little people and I love writing for them. In fact, I've decided to focus most of my fiction writing on the children's and YA audiences. Who knows…maybe you'll see me out on the bookshelves in that area one day.

WOW: Thanks for giving us so much to think about, especially how a writing project that was essentially a gift of love could make its way from a bookshelf in your daughter's bedroom to a bookshelf in your neighborhood bookstore.

Want to join Chynna on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

JULY 13, 2009 Monday
Chynna chats with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win copy of Chynna's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

JULY 14, 2009 Tuesday
Chynna stops by Joyce Anthony's blog, Books and Authors, for an author interview and book review! Stop by today and learn more about I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD.
http://joyce-anthony.blogspot.com/

JULY 16, 2009 Thursday
Chynna visits Raising Socially Anxious Children to talk about encouraging loving sibling relationships when one child has special needs. There is also a book giveaway comments contest! Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Chynna's book.
http://www.raisingsociallyanxiouschildrenblog.com/

JULY 17, 2009 Friday
Chynna visits Cathy C. Hall's blog, Finders and Keepers, to chat about children's book writing. If you haven't visited Cathy's blog, be sure to stop by--it's bound to spark a lively discussion!
http://cathychall.wordpress.com

JULY 20, 2009 Monday
Chynna visits Shai Coggins' blog for an author interview! Stop by today and learn more about Chynna's thoughts on writing her first picture book.
http://www.shaicoggins.com/

JULY 24, 2009 Friday
Have questions about writing children's books? Stop by Samantha Clark's blog, Day by Day Writer, to visit with children's book author Chynna Laird.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

JULY 27, 2009 Monday
Stop by Margo L. Dill's blog, Read These Books and Use Them, to find out what Margo thinks about Chynna's book, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD, as well as some activities adults can use when reading with their child.
http://www.margodill.com/blog/

AUGUST 11, 2009 Tuesday
Chynna stops by Allyn Evans' blog, Happily Ever After Today, to talk about the challenges of understanding SPD and raising a child with SPD. Not to miss!
http://www.allynevans.blogspot.com/

We may have more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE to keep up with the latest.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you would like to host one of our authors, or are an author looking to schedule a tour of your own, please email Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a signed copy of Chynna Laird's children's book, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD.

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