Interview with Carrie Cariello

Posted by admin on April 22nd, 2013


 

Carrie Cariello’s What Color is Monday? was recently featured on Fox News and was selected by Parents Magazine as the “perfect book for Autism Awareness Month.” We sat down with Carrie to discuss the motivation behind her memoir, how autism has changed her life and what words of wisdom she can share with others.

What motivated you to write WHAT COLOR IS MONDAY?

Both the title and the subject of the book were inspired by my autistic son, Jack.

My children motivated me to begin compiling my essays into a book and consider publishing it.  As I watched each of them take delight in each other and Jack, and our family grow stronger as a result of his autism, I felt compelled to reveal the other side of the spectrum disorder; the uplifting, heartwarming, positive angle that often goes uncelebrated.

But I was equally compelled to reveal it with candor and honesty, to highlight the challenges that endless stimming and perseverations, limited communication and rigidity can bring to a family.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing WHAT COLOR IS MONDAY?

For me, finding the time and the discipline to write every day was the most challenging part of writing the book. And once the manuscript was completed, the tedious task of editing and proofing with the publisher was very difficult. I hated the book, then loved it again, then hated it once more.  Now I think it’s okay.

What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

I hope readers see the funny, frustrating, confusing, brilliant aspects of autism. I hope they can relate to both the challenges and joy of raising a larger family with a special-needs child.

I especially hope young parents with a newly-diagnosed child can read the opening chapter and see themselves in it, and understand that although the road ahead will be challenging, it will also be rewarding. And fun.

How did writing about your son Jack’s autism help you understand him better?

Since I started writing regularly, a certain phrase comes to my mind often: to see him is to write about him and to write about him I need to see him. Essentially, writing about Jack helps me to observe him at a distance and yet understand him much more thoroughly. It has helped me reflect. At the end of a long day of his obsessions, stimming, and tantrums, I sit and write and untangle it all until it becomes meaningful for me.

And likewise, after a day where he says sentences with a lot of words and shows me his quick smile and finishes his math worksheet without exploding, I sit and write and quietly celebrate.

Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

Unfortunately, I do not outline. I do keep a journal full of notes—funny things the kids say, interesting situations—and use them as a starting point. I typically start an essay or a piece first thing in the morning, and mull it over through the course of the day while I drive small people to gymnastics and cook Shake & Bake for dinner. Then, once the house is quiet again at night, I return to the computer and color in the details.

Are there any books on autism that stand out in your mind as the most inspiring and helpful?I

I thoroughly enjoyed Temple Grandin’s books, The Way I See It, and Thinking in Pictures. I was also inspired by her mother, Eustacia Cutler’s book, A Thorn in My Pocket.

Also, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been very helpful when I feel overwhelmed at the task of writing another chapter, another essay, another sentence.

What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned—cliché alert—that I can do something once I put my mind to it. I have learned that my husband is a generous person who will give me the time and space I need to be creative.  I have also learned that making my family come alive in my writing has helped me enjoy and appreciate them even more in real life.

What advice you would like to give parents of autistic children?

I would tell moms and dads of an autistic child to get help when they need it, whether that help is in the form of a great babysitter who gives you time to yourself, or a psychologist who helps you figure out why your son or daughter is wiping soap all over the walls.

I would tell them to hang in there and to hold on, because one day they will realize that they have been given a gift in their extraordinary child.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best parenting advice I’ve been given has been primarily practical. Back in Buffalo we had a pediatrician—a towering Chinese man in his forties—who told us that babies need to learn to sleep and it’s our job to teach them.

Our psychologist once told us to always assume our children’s behavior has a purpose. This single piece of advice re-shaped my perspective as a mother and helps me deconstruct my children’s motives and emotions throughout the day, especially Jack’s.

And when I was a small girl my mother always said never put anything in writing unless you’re sure you want people to read it.  I’m not certain if this was good advice or not, but it’s always stuck with me.

What are you working on now?

At this point I’m writing weekly posts for my blog and quarterly submissions for Autism Spectrum News. I’m also trying to learn how to do a pull-up unassisted.

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Carrie blogs regularly on her website and shares humorous, poignant and eye-opening stories of life in the Cariello house.

Boston

Posted by admin on April 16th, 2013


Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We are truly devastated by this tragic event.

Get Started!

Posted by admin on April 5th, 2013


This is it! I’m officially here. In this place, on this blog, providing advice, encouragement and tips. I’ve stopped and started so many times that it has become a source of endless frustration. I don’t have time. I don’t know what to write. I have nothing to say. I have too much to say. I’ll ramble. I’ll get blocked. But then I realize that what I do, what I offer and what I am giving to my clients, my friends, my family and my students is advice that is strong and helpful and powerful. It’s sometimes direct and straight to the point and sometimes it takes the scenic route. It’s the answer they’ve been looking for or the spark they needed to follow through. I want to share daily insight into building the career you dream about that so that everyone can be inspired. We can all use more daily inspiration and guidance. While I’m busy promoting authors and getting them to recognize and distill their own voice and mission, I can help others do the same.

That’s what this blog is, a place to be inspired. To find your voice. To hear a call to action. Because how many of you are out there doubting yourself? Doubting your voice? Doubting your ability to be newsworthy or a good storyteller or just plain interesting.  Well, now is the time to STOP doubting. I’m a media maven. An architect for books and authors. I’ll help you chart the course and give you the vision to complete it. Think of it as an infusion of creativity.

I’m not a fan of the word “branding” because it is overused and under appreciated but at its center, branding is all about recognizability. Creating your mission statement. What do you want to tell people? What is your book about? What do you WANT to write about? Who do you want to be? How do you want to affect people? What kinds of people do you want to have an impact on?

Whether you have written a novel, a memoir, a cookbook, a thriller or a self-help book, you have a mission. You have something to say, a story to tell, or you would never have picked up a pen. You wouldn’t have dreamed of being published if you didn’t want people to hear you, to find you, to want more from you.

I’m here to help you get those words out. To be news worthy. To give editors, readers, reviewers, producers something to grab onto. Something that ignites a fire in them to want more from you.

The only way I can help you is to be here for you. To give my advice. To give examples, case studies, positive affirmations, sparks of creativity and guidance. I hope that my words help. I hope that my advice rings true. I hope it opens your eyes to something that you never thought of before or something that was right in front of you all along. Either way, if I can push you in the direction of your dreams, then I will have succeeded. And I will be so thankful I started this blog. Finally!

Questions

Posted by admin on April 4th, 2013


What are your biggest questions about book publishing and publicity? Are you self-published, traditionally published or dreaming about the day when you will some day be published? Regardless of where you are on your publishing journey, questions will always follow you. So speak up! Let me know what’s keeping you up at night or causing you to stare longingly at the blinking cursor.

 

The Chase

Posted by admin on February 27th, 2013


You’re a writer. You have a novel published or are waiting to hear back from an agent/editor/critique partner. You click around on Facebook or Twitter and find that someone you know has a BRIGHT SHINY NEW BOOK DEAL!

You feel a moment of excitement for them and then suddenly the truth and reality comes crashing down. Why don’t YOU have a book deal or movie deal or even an agent? Why are you still toiling away at this manuscript without seeing any return on your investment of time + emotion + hard work + patience?

Maybe you have a deal and your book has been published. Congrats! You’ve gotten a few reviews but nothing substantial. You open up People Magazine and smack dab in the middle of the book review section you see a four star review for a writer you know, maybe one you feel you are more talented then or has already achieved their fare share of attention. The inevitable crash of disappointment sets in again.

Why does it seem that the writing life is filled with so much disappointment? It seems that way because we are always chasing the next best thing. If we don’t have an agent, all we see are writers with agents. If we get an agent, other writers are getting better deals + bigger advances. Even if we’ve scaled the mountain and gotten the agent, the book deal and have been published, now we’re not getting the right media exposure. We are climbing up a mountain and we can’t see the top. We’re not sure if we’re even going in the right direction.

So what happens? We burn out. We quit. We look around for other careers because this one is too hard with too much rejection and competition. If we keep searching for something better or more impressive, we will soon learn that we will never reach the top of the mountain because we will never be satisfied.

The problem is that we are only seeing the narrowest view of this climb. If we don’t get an agent, then we are a failure. If we don’t get a six-figure book deal, then we are a failure. If we don’t achieve starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly or People magazine, then we are a failure.

Writers are too busy chasing their ideas of perfection instead of looking around at how far they’ve come. Think back to your 4th grade self. If you told your 4th grade self that you had written a 75,000 word novel, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed? If you told your 4th grade self that you had written an article or published a book review, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed. If you told your 4th grade self that you can search a website called Amazon.com and find your book with a cover and a price and people can actually buy it, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed? (PS- While you’re at it, tell your 4th grade self to invent Amazon.com, then you’ll really be impressed!)

But seriously, we forget to appreciate how far we’ve already come in the direction of our dreams because we are always chasing + comparing. We continue to chase an idea of success without seeing it all around us. We compare our success to the success of others. We need to learn that there is no such thing as perfection and as Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” There is always going to be a better deal, better sales, better coverage, better reviews. But if you love what you are doing and can appreciate the steps you’ve made in the pursuit of your dreams, then you are already a huge success.

Tips for success:

-Do one thing every day that moves you toward your ultimate goal. Write a thousand words a day. Pitch one magazine article to an editor. Write one important blog post.

-Feel grateful for the success you have achieved, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Remember, your 4th grade self would be impressed.

-Look at where you were last year vs. where you are today. I guarantee you have made strides towards your goal.

Move forward. Keep going, moving, progressing, learning. You can’t feel like a failure if you are always learning and growing.

-Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s journey is unique, with equal parts high + low. And in the words of your 4th grade teacher, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.”