Monday, December 12, 2011

CHRISTMAS INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, CHYNNA LAIRD

"GOOD TIDINGS & TRIMMINGS" CHRISTMAS INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, CHYNNA LAIRD

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Thank you again for donating a book for our 1st annual "Good Tidings & Trimmings" e-book Giveaway! What book or books did you donate, tell us more about them.
I’m so excited to be able to contribute! I have three books I’m donating:

1)Not Just Spirited:A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – This is a memoir talking about what it’s really like raising a child with SPD. My oldest daughter, Jaimie, went through such a hard time because not only did we not know what was going on with her, but none of the professionals around us were steering us in the right direction. This book is about caregivers trusting their guts when they suspect something is going on with their child and continuing to forge ahead finding the right diagnosis and treatment.

2)White Elephants– This is another memoir talking about what it was like being raised by a mother who lived with bipolar disorder she refused to acknowledge or treat. My mother was a brilliant musician and artist but instead of turning to her talents, she chose to self-medicate. The book is about what happens behind closed doors…talking about the white elephants all around us we refused to see. When we ignore them, they grow until they take over. And it’s also about forgiveness.

3)Blackbird Flies– I love this story. It’s so close to my heart. Here’s a book blurb: 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.

What is your favorite thing about the holiday season and what does Christmas mean to you?

Oh, I love Christmas. There were so many hard times when I was growing up but Christmas was always special because my grandparents made sure it was.

My favorite thing about the holiday season is the music. I love singing the carols, playing them and absorbing myself in the memories they elicit. OH! And I love decorating the tree with my kids (it can be a bit stressful BUT it’s worth it in the end when I see the smiles on their faces).

What is your favorite holiday memory?

Most of my favorite holiday memories revolve around my grandparents. The one that sticks out in my mind most vividly involves a beautiful brass Christmas bell.

It would be one of the last decorations to come out every year. Grandpa had a special hook for it on the fireplace, hanging on the left side under the mantle. It was about the size of your palm, shiny bronze with three angels on it and it hung from a thick, gold cord tied at the tip with a sparkly gold fringe. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. When you wound it up, it played ‘Silent Night’.

After my grandparents had both passed, each of the grandkids were asked if we wanted something of our grandparents that held a special memory. I chose the bell. Now, every Christmas, it hangs from the left side of my mantle. It makes it feel like my grandparents are still with me during the holidays.

Do you still have any of the toys you got when you were a kid?

What a great question! I still have a Mickey and Minnie Mouse that I got from Disney World. My brother and I got the tickets as our ‘big gift’ when I was seven.

How do you celebrate the holidays?

I have two children with high sensory issues so our Christmas is usually pretty calm, quiet and low-key. But that’s just fine with me. We decorate the tree on the first weekend of December. Because of transition issues, we do things a bit at a time so it’s a weekend-long project. Which is awesome and just makes it more fun!

We do an online Christmas calendar where we ‘open’ a new window each day until Christmas. It’s fun for the kids because there’s a little visual for each window.

On Christmas Eve, we go tobogganing if there’s enough snow. After that we have a scrumptious supper of ‘puffs’ (which is pudding stuffed pancake balls) we keep track of Santa’s whereabouts around the world on Santa Tracker. After bathtime and stories, we let each child (I have four!) open one gift before they go to bed.

In the morning, we open the stuff in our stockings first thing then open the gifts under the tree throughout the next day. Again, we make it a day-long thing to reduce the chances of the kids becoming overwhelmed.

We try having an easy-going afternoon, playing with all of our new stuff. Then we have a Christmas dinner, which is usually a roast beef with all the trimmings. This year should be interesting, though, because I’ve gone back to vegetarianism. But I know that it’ll still be fun because we have each other.

Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Absolutely. My grandparents taught me about the spirit of giving, which has very little to do with the actual presents but more where it comes from. I know how cheesy that sounds but it’s so true. The best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten was the year Jaimie gave me a hug—she was going on five. It took a tremendous amount of courage and inner strength for her to share that with me and it was in that moment—when she wrapped her tiny arms around me instead of just touching me with her head and saying, “Hug!”—that I finally understood my grandparents’ words.

A lot of people get that warm, fuzzy feeling around this time of year, are you one of those people?

For sure. The first couple of years after my grandparents passed away were excruciating for me. I didn’t even want to think about Christmas. But they wouldn’t have wanted me to do that…to ignore Christmas. So I remembered why we celebrate it in the first place and did everything I could to make my own children’s Holidays as special as my grandparents had made it for me growing up.

Have you ever gone caroling or wanted to?

I never went carolling and not sure I wanted to. It would be nice to go do that for folks that need it the most, you know, like people sick in the hospital at Christmas or people in retirement homes who can’t get away. But I was always in the church choir. I loved Christmas Eve in the choir.

If you had a choice of the perfect weather for Christmas would it be cold and snowy, or warm and sunny?

I joke all the time about wanting to move somewhere warm and sunny because I detest the cold winter months. I really do. But on Christmas, I think I’d miss the snow and the weather being chilly enough to have a roaring fire going. Those are some of the things that helped create the beautiful memories I have.

Give us your links! Tell us where to find your books and more information about you!

Okay! Well, people can come on over to the new ‘home’ for my author Website atwww.chynna-laird-author.com.You’ll find information about all of my books as well as many of the freelance work I’ve done. Please come on over and ‘Follow’ the site to keep track of what I’m doing and where!

I also have a main blog called, “The Gift” where much of the focus is on children and families living with sensory issues and SPD. I have many useful resources on there as well as some great features like Music Mantra Monday, Foodie Fridays and Jaimie’s blogging day on Wednesdays (‘The Sensational World According to Jaimie). The link there iswww.the-gift-blog.com.I even have a newsletter folks can sign up for!

I also have an author page on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Chynna-Laird-Author/203311629699211) I’d love to have people connect with me through there. Folks can find me on Twitter (@lilywolf), MySpace, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. I have a full list of where to find me on my Website (http://www.chynna-laird-author.com/p/contact.html).

Finally I have a special blog I’ve started called ‘White Elephants’ (www.seethewhiteelephants.com). There is where I open the discussion about many of the issues I bring up in ‘White Elephants’. The way to make some of these things less taboo is to talk about them. Through understanding we elicit acceptance. And that’s so important.

Thank you so very much for having me here today.


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