Dream Big III

This is the the final interview in my Dream Big series of interviews with authors who have learning disabilities. I want to thank Bethany Averie and Ryan Jo Summers for being a part of it. This week, it’s my turn to talk about my dyslexia, what it means to me and how it has affected my life.

Again,  our wish is for you is to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter your learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you!

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

CC Hunter

CristiePhotoWhat are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?

I’m dyslexic.  I was diagnosed in third grade as being learning disabled.  I had a very hard time reading, spelling, and am extremely directionally impaired.  Left and right is still a mystery to me. North, South, East and West is like talking Chinese.  I wasn’t actually diagnosed as dyslexic until I was 30.  And this came after my son was officially diagnosed.  I now read, and while I’m not as fast as most people, I love reading.  I’m terrible at leaving out words like: an, and, the, to.  I confuse words like:  two and to, and too, and mail and male.  I know the difference, but when I write, my mind doesn’t recognize the differences.  I will leave out letters in words.  I’m told that I learned to cope with a lot of my issues by relying on my auditory strengths.  So I hear my words in my head, and when I use that skill, itturns off the part of my brain that allows me to recognize my mistakes.  The only way I can catch my own mistakes is not to read it for about a month, so my auditory side of my brain doesn’t kick in.  I cannot take notes and listen at the same time.  If I attempt to write something down, my brain will not retain anything else that is being said.

Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, but in part due to it.  First, dyslexic people are intuitive.  We read people.  We read emotions.  Because of this, dyslexics are often natural born storytellers.  I spent my entire childhood making up stories in my head.  Not even realizing that this was a talent.  This intuitive ability allows me to tap into the emotions of my characters and create stories that pull at the heartstrings of readers.  Being a writer takes the tenacity of a Tasmanian Devil.  Being dyslexic taught meI had to work hard, and even harder for anything I wanted.  I have over 10,000 rejection letters.  But because of the lessons of never giving up, I just kept going, learning, and I made it where a lot of people who didn’t have the same issues, gave up.

What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?

To this day I remember the first person who looked at me and said, “Wow, you are intelligent.”  I was twenty-three years old.  Because I didn’t do well in school, I didn’t realize that I was smart.  It was only as an adult that I realized my disability didn’t reflect my intelligence.  Parents of a child with disabilities, need to stress to their child that almost every disability comes with some good traits.  Yes, it’s hard to find self-confidence when you have to struggle for something that comes easily for others.  Find your gifts, and focus on how those gifts can help you succeed in what you want in life. For many, my choice career of writing may seem a difficult path, and yes, it’s harder for me than others, but because I tapped into my gifts of tapping into emotion, this aspect comes easier to me than others.

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

As I said earlier, I’m not a quitter. I simply refuse to give up.  I sold my first book ten years after I started writing.  I didn’t sell my second book until thirteen years later.  I deal with dyslexia in my writing career by having people proof my books even before they go out to an editor.  Yes, my publishers have line editors and copy editors who also go over it, but I want to hand them as clean a copy as I can.  Even this interview will be read by a proofer before it goes to Bethany.  I used to whine about never being able to write a clean copy.  I spend at least 50 hours of every week writing, you would think I would have overcome my issues.  But I haven’t.  Yes, I’m so much better than I was before, but generally, I still will have as many as five mistakes a page.  And that’s with me going over it three or four times.  But I’ve learned to accept that I will always have goofs in my work.

 

MidnightHour_Final CVR_revisedThis October 25th, Midnight Hour, the final and tenth book in my Shadow Fall series will be released.  Miranda, my heroine in Midnight Hour, is a dyslexic witch.  In her journey, Miranda is finally learning to believe in herself in spite of her disability.

Pre-order today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and  Kobo.

 

 

 

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Dream Big II

There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.

Last week, you heard from YA author Bethany Averie about her learning difficulties and how it affected her life. Most importantly, she told you how she learned to cope with her disabilities and go on to become a multi-published author. (If you didn’t read her interview, you really need to!)

This week, I have another author for you. Like Bethany and me, Ryan Jo Summers grew up struggling with a learning disability. She is sharing her journey with us today.

Our wish is for you is to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter your learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you!

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

Ryan Jo Summers

Briefly tell us about yourself (your name, your YA story titles, anything else you wish to say about yourself):

Me 4-25-2015 choice 1My name is Ryan Jo Summers. I write contemporary romance fiction and free-lance non-fiction, essays and scribble poetry for fun/ therapy. I have written a YA novel, working title of Flashes of Lightning and currently am working on trying to find a publishing home for it. I love animals and six of the seven animals living with me are rescues with their own luggage of differences. Three are occupational hazards of when I used to be a veterinary technician.

 

 

 

What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?

Dyslexia, poor eyesight and being left-handed were the biggies. Now days we don’t see being left-handed as a disability, but back when I was young, it was unacceptable to be ‘different’ from everyone else. Because of the poor eyesight, I struggled to see the blackboard. It took to the middle of second grade for my parents and teacher to figure that out, so by the time I received glasses, the impaired learning was already set.

As a result of being ‘different’ I was frequently called “retarded” at home by my family, who did not understand my issues were either not really issues at all or could have been easily corrected much sooner. This degrading caused low self-esteem and certainly depression at an early age, which fed into the “I’m retarded and useless” thinking, which fed into the “I can’t learn” mentality. I also suffered incredible headaches, which made it hard for me to concentrate, retain information or recall information.  I had small seizures, in which I drifted off and became ‘lost’ to what was happening around me. To many, that just confirmed I was ‘retarded’.

To this day, I still loath and cringe at the word ‘retarded’.

51C4mnTGwgL._SY346_It would take many years—up into Jr high to prove my family wrong. There was never an official diagnosis until I was grown. And made it a point to educate myself.  I eventually outgrew most of my difficulties. Eyeglasses brought the board into my world. I studied hard, brought up my grades. In Jr High and High school, I carried a 4.0 GPA. I took advanced, challenging classes, excelling in English and science courses. Finally no one could call me ‘retarded’. I still struggle with dyslexia, especially with numbers. And today being left-handed is no big deal. The headaches were finally diagnosed as migraines, once I left home, and I take daily medication for both that and the occasional seizures I used to have.

Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

I don’t recall much, except resenting and being hurt by my family’s insensitive actions. They were supposed to be my support system. Not the case. I was socially challenged, not having many friends until I became a teen. Eventually, I learned to use school as my place to escape, a place where I could earn acceptance by the school staff. That unconditional acceptance was a precious blessing to a depressed and lonely kid. I could work hard, study hard and knew my teachers appreciated my efforts. Now I know that was wrong, in a way, but it worked then. I regret my family could not have been understanding and encouraging of my struggles, instead of adding to them.  To this day, it still hurts.

I feel parents and school staff should be more open to correctly diagnosing symptoms they see instead of quickly slapping a label on them. I raised two special needs step sons from the ages of 3 and 6. The older one was considered ADHD & Learning Disabled and the younger one was considered Learning Disabled. The older one was hyper, but he was also acting out because of his parent’s divorce, the fact he had no control in his life and he was angry and scared. The younger one certainly was slow to learn, at three he uttered instead of talking and was not potty trained yet. Like me, he was a bed wetter well into his teens. Much of his issue was reinforced by his older brother’s treatment to him. He eventually caught up to where he needed to be and today is an eloquent, intelligent, and methodical young man.

What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?

You are just as good as the rest of the world. You have something to contribute, too. Never, ever, let anyone tell you are less. You may have to try harder, but that application will be noticed. You don’t have to listen to negative, ignorant or cruel people. Never hang your head in shame. There is nothing to be ashamed for. Make no excuses. Make change. Make your own mark.

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

I had to become tough. To think outside the box of what seemed normal for everyone else. To believe in myself. To focus on the positives and the now. To know when to walk away from those who intended to harm me. Words do hurt, but I don’t have to stay and listen to them. I have strong opinions and I have to watch how they sometimes come across. I still struggle with occasional bouts of depression but have learned to cope. I write, draw, create poetry, cook, whatever works. Hug my dog. Water the plants.

Clearly, I don’t have much of a relationship with my family, so I have become resilient and independent. I treasure the friendships I have. My experiences in life make it hard for me to trust, but I am learning. I am also much more open minded and compassionate.

Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc.:

Flashes of Lightning is the coming of age story for 16-year-old Tabitha McGowan. She loses her best boyfriend buddy and falls into a world of new friends. She is introduced to Magick, and falls for the bad-boy new mechanic in town.

She becomes estranged with her family. The reader follows Tabitha’s journey from typical teen to young adulthood. She makes lots of decisions, some good and some not so smart. She is a kid, a young lady, many can identify with and root for.

My other books are adult romance, written in a twisted blend of contemporary, time travel, mystery, inspirational, suspense, paranormal and sweet romance. They can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords Most are novels, with one anthology and one novella.

Dream Big

There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.

The three of us—Bethany Averie, Ryan Jo Summers, and me—have all faced learning disabilities/difficulties and based on our personal experiences, and what we see in the world today, were inspired to share our own stories with you.

We’ll be posting each author’s Q&A style on all our blogs for the next few weeks, starting with Bethany Averie. The next week will feature Ryan Jo Summers, then lastly will be my story.

Our wish is for you is to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter your learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you!

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

So, here are our stories, and we wish you all the best.

Bethany Averie

Bethany Averie photoHi, my name is Bethany Averie. I’m a wife, mother, and writer. My YA Trilogy, Immortal Dreams (Divine Love, Astral Love, Immortal Love) is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

My favorite colors are purple and green (and somehow manage to be in my novels whether I’m consciously or unconsciously aware of it).

When I was growing up, the YA genre didn’t have as diverse selection as it does now. It’s amazing to see genres grow and expand. It’s also awesome if you’re a writer like me, because then you have more room to “play” (AKA, create).

What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with learning disabilities when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I was in the 6th grade. My parents home schooled me because I was having a lot of trouble in “regular school”. It became apparent to my mom that I learned very differently from my other siblings (I’m one of 8 kids, if you can believe it—it’s true! I’m second-to-the-youngest in my family). She found out about this learning clinic and I went and got diagnosed. My two biggest disabilities are called Visual Spatial and Auditory Memory. Basically for the Visual I can see something, but I have a lot of trouble reproducing it. That one made copying things off the board extremely difficult. What was up there was never quite what I had in my notebook, which I found frustrating. The Auditory Memory has to deal with hearing a series of things and what I remember. Before I went for remediation at the learning clinic I could only remember the last thing a teacher said in a series of instructions. For example, if a teacher said, “Okay, class, take out your math books, turn to page eighty-three, and do problems one through ten.” I’d only remember I was supposed to do problems one through ten. I wouldn’t know what book or page. It didn’t matter if I had been paying close attention or not, that’s all I’d remember.

After remediation at the learning clinic, I got better at remembering a series. But sometimes I still have to have people slow down and repeat several times what they said, which can be embarrassing.

I have other learning disabilities, but those are the two big ones.

Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

At first I was devastated. How could I be so different from my peers? I didn’t want to stand out any more than I already did (I stood out because I couldn’t run fast, I didn’t grow up with a television in my house until I was 12, and people thought I was weird because I didn’t know all the things that were popular at the time. I was a total ‘fish-out-of-water’). Now, I also couldn’t learn like they did—I was SLOW at it. So, yeah, it totally bugged me.

Eventually I got over it. Remediation helped. My sessions were a lot of fun and interesting. In high school, all my Standardized testing (whether practice or real) were untimed so I had a chance to give each question the attention I needed to understand them and put in my answer.

I learned how to touch-type on the computer, which improved other areas of my life—spelling, handwriting, and I began writing.

AstralLove-SoulmateFINALIZED 805_805x1275 (1)I started writing stories probably in Junior High—nothing I would publish, but it was a wonderful creative outlet for me. As the years went on, that love of creating new worlds and writing only grew until I got to where I am now—a published author and working on new stories.

Nowadays, I don’t mind my learning disabilities as much. In fact, I find them fascinating. Everyone learns differently whether they have learning disabilities or not, because everybody thinks and processes differently. My learning disabilities help me recognize any learning difficulties in my kids, which has proven useful. So, in a sense, it’s cool that I have them. They are part of what makes me who I am in general. And, in general, I like myself. Of course there are things I want to improve upon, but I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to make themselves a better person, so I’m in good company.

What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?

Having learning disabilities/difficulties/differences (whatever you want to call them) doesn’t make you “not as good” or a “failure”. It’s something that makes you uniquely you. Revel in being different. Too many people want to be just like someone else. If were all exactly alike how boring would life be? Differences keep things interesting.

And you wouldn’t believe what opens up for you when you have learning disabilities. Because you learn differently, sometimes you have to get creative in how you remember, process, and put together what you learn. For someone like me—who loves to create—this is a huge opportunity to use my imagination and figure out what works best for me. And I’m always learning something new about myself, what works, or what could work. It’s a lot like how I write my novels—figure out what the story is, what goes together and what doesn’t.

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

Sometimes I have to take a little longer to do things. But that’s GOOD because it helps me to slow down and catch mistakes, which helps during my editing process. Being able to correct myself makes some things easier. I’ve learned how not to be ashamed of how I learn and work, but to use them to develop into a better person and writer.

Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc.:

Finalized Divine LoveMy Immortal Dreams Trilogy is a Greek mythology-inspired story about an 18 year old girl named Laney Alberts. After meeting the new boy in her class, Jason Magnus, Laney finds out nothing is what she thought it was. The revelation of just how different things are take her on an incredible adventure on Earth, Mount Olympus, and even the Underworld in an effort to save both Human and Immortals from a goddess bent on world domination.

 

Summer Time Giveaway!

9619School’s out here in Texas, so summer has officially begun. Although with all the rain we’ve had, it made for some soggy proms and graduations.  My driveway is no longer flooded, but this is the lake, aka my front yard, that I looked out on for most of May. So, I know a lot of Texans are heading off to if not warmer, at least drier places.

Are you going any place special this summer? I’d like to rent a beach house again at some point. Nothing relaxes me more than sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean, listening to the rhythm of the waves. Speaking of the beach, I’m having a HUGE giveaway on my blog in July, and yup, it involves the beach. so, be sure to watch for it.

So, tell me where you’re heading this summer, and I have a signed copy of Unspoken for one of you. (Sorry, this giveaway is for US residents only, and if you’re reading this on Goodreads, you have to go to my blog to comment.)

Just in case you’re going to be anywhere near where I’m having a signing, I’d love to meet you. And make sure you tell me you follow my blog or are on my Street Team, and I’ll give you some exclusive swag.

B-Fest_v3

This weekend, June 10th-12th, no matter where you live in the US, Barnes & Noble is having their First-Ever National Teen Book Festival. There will be tons of book signings by your favorite authors, activities, swag giveaways, games, and more! I’m celebrating their festival with THREE appearances in the Houston, TX area!

Saturday, June 11th, I’ll be at their Champions Forest store, 5303 FM 1960 West, Houston, TX 77069 at 1:00 PM with Joy Preble and Becky Wallace. There will be giveaways!

Saturday, June 11th, I’ll be at their Pasadena location, 5656 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, TX 77505 at 5:00 PM. Again, I’ll be with the talented Joy Preble. So, this is your chance to ask us questions and pick up signed copies of our books.

Sunday, June 12th, I’m off to their Deerbrook Mall store, 20131 Hywy 59, Humble, TX 77338.  I’ll be there at 1:00 PM, so join me and be ready to party!

Do you live in Southern California? Well you can catch up with me there.

July 13-16th, I’ll be at the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference in San Diego, CA. Wednesday, July 13th, I’ll be signing books at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. This is a great event where all profits go to literacy—and it’s absolutely FREE and open to the public! For more information go to https://www.rwa.org/conference.

So, come and spend a little of your summer with me!

BIG NEWS!

I’ve hear many of you say you miss my Facebook posts and announcements. So, I’ve created a private Facebook group for my die hard fans. Be sure to join today for extra offers, special giveaways, and the inside scoop on all things CC Hunter. Just follow this link: CC Hunter: Chills, Thrills, Laughter.