AUTHOR INTERVIEW 109 – Carla E. Criswell

Carla E. Criswell

United States

Age 38

My name is Carla E. Criswell, and I was born in Chicago, Ill and now live
in Hopkinsville, Ky. I grew up in a loving two-parent where education
was important. After high school, I received my bachelor’s degree in
Middle Grades Education at Western Kentucky University and a master’s
in Educational Leadership from the University of the Cumberlands.
After several failed relationships and a major setback in my personal and
professional life, I started the journey to develop a close relationship with
God and a personal relationship with myself so I could start living in my
truth and purpose.
My goal is to inspire and encourage other young girls and women to start
the healing process of past traumas and tragedies so they do not sabotage
your future.
I am currently a teacher, mentor, and self-published author of my personal
memoir, “I’m Not Leaving You, I’m Loving Me.” When I am not writing
or taking care of my two children, I enjoy cooking, traveling, shopping,
and taking care of myself.
This is a memoir of my journey to self-love. This has nothing to do with them, but EVERYTHING to do with you. What if I told you that the most important person in the world to love and give love to was you? What you look like on the outside can conflict with how you feel on the inside. Toxic relationships, dangerous behaviors, and harmful situations can have you creating a mirage, so the people in your life never see your constant struggle with how these things have sabotaged your self-love. Are you ready to put yourself first? As you read, I’m Not Leaving You, I’m Loving Me, you will learn the journey to self-confidence, self-worth, and self-love is excruciating. This journey will make you face some powerful truths about yourself and the demons that have held you captive by mistreatment, disrespect, and disengagement in relationships. It will also be a journey to new freedoms, healthy relationships, and a life of genuine happiness. Hold on to the vision, be patient, grab your baggage, and let’s start the journey. The time is now!

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WRITING?

Carla E. Criswell: To always be true to yourself and tell your story your way.

Romelia: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

Carla E. Criswell: I write 2-3 hours daily.

Romelia: WHEN YOU ARE WRITING AN EMOTIONAL OR DIFFICULT SCENE, HOW DO SET THE MOOD?

Carla E. Criswell: I close myself off from the world, light some candles, pour a glass of wine or Kentucky bourbon and let  my fingers do the talking across my Chromebook.

Romelia: WHOM DO YOU TRUST FOR OBJECTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF YOUR WORK?

Carla E. Criswell: I love getting feedback from my readers. I always seek our beta readers from the same genre that I am writing. I know they understand where I am writing from and the audience I am trying to reach.

Romelia: HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE SUBJECT OR THEME OF YOUR BOOK?

Carla E. Criswell: My book is my personal memoir to my journey to self-love and self-discovery. I wanted to share my experiences to help others do their work and start the journey of intentional living.

Romelia: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE IN YOUR PARTICULAR FIELD OR GENRE? IF YOU WRITE MORE THAN ONE, HOW DO YOU BALANCE THEM?

Carla E. Criswell: I love telling stories of truth and purpose. We live in a world where being your authentic self gets clouded by society’s standards of beauty and expectations. I want readers to be able to see themselves in my writing and then go live their true self.

Romelia: WHAT CULTURAL VALUE DO YOU SEE IN WRITING?

Carla E. Criswell: As minorities, sometimes our stories get buried or don’t get told the way they should. Writing is a way to get others to experience our lives, our culture and appreciate the gift we have to give to the world.

Romelia: HOW DOES YOUR BOOK RELATE TO YOUR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE OR OTHER LIFE PATH?

Carla E. Criswell: I am a firm believer that God moves us when he sees that we are being distracted from the life he wants us to live. He does not give us more than we can handle. Through everything I have endured, I learned that no way is God going to let me fail. And my book focuses on how my connection with God and my inner self was the key to my peace and happiness.

Romelia: WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS AND INTENTIONS IN THIS BOOK, AND HOW WELL DO YOU FEEL YOU ACHIEVED THEM?

Carla E. Criswell: My goal was to reveal my own trauma and tragedies and heal from them. I want other people, especially women to understand and know that they are not alone. We all struggle with self-love and being our authentic self at times. I want them to gain strength from my story and make the steps in their own lives to make necessary changes so they too could live in their peace and purpose.

Romelia: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REFERENCES THAT YOU USED WHILE RESEARCHING THIS BOOK?

Carla E. Criswell: I used my own personal experiences as well as the tools, skills, and strategies I learned through my own therapy.

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU THINK MOST CHARACTERIZES YOUR WRITING?

Carla E. Criswell: My writing is very transparent and authentic.

Romelia: WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING THIS BOOK?

Carla E. Criswell: The chapter, Forgiveness is for You, was very difficult for me to write. I finally open up and discuss my rape experience in college. For over 15 years, I kept my silence and pretended that it never happened. I was ashamed and afraid of what others would think of me. But in order to truly heal, I had to confront it and reveal it so I could begin the healing process. Now, that trauma no longer holds me hostage.

Romelia: ARE THERE MISCONCEPTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT YOUR BOOK? IF SO, EXPLAIN.

Carla E. Criswell: Sometimes people ask me if it is just another self-help absurdity. In fact, it is the opposite. I am not trying to tell you how to live your life but simply tell my story of my journey in understanding the power of me and the love I needed to pour into myself before I could seek it in others.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR SUBJECT/GENRE, THAT THEY NEED TO KNOW?

Carla E. Criswell: Nonfiction and self-help books are not overrated or corny. We have stories to tell that the world needs to hear, needs to read in order to heal and grow into a better version of themselves.

Romelia: WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Carla E. Criswell: My children and the word of God.

Romelia: HOW DID YOU GET TO BE WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY?

Carla E. Criswell: Resilience, compassion, hard work, and prayer.

Romelia: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS THAT YOU FEEL WERE INFLUENTIAL IN YOUR WORK? WHAT IMPACT HAVE THEY HAD ON YOUR WRITING?

Carla E. Criswell: I love, love LOVE Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Sister Souljah. They wrote exactly what they wanted and told their stories unapologetically. They helped me to discover the writer within me.

Romelia: WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST USEFUL IN LEARNING TO WRITE? WHAT WAS LEAST USEFUL OR MOST DESTRUCTIVE?

Carla E. Criswell: I learned the value of vocabulary. Words are so powerful and can invoke emotions in your readers. It can help them to visualize your ideas, feelings, and thoughts. Writing does not have to be perfect! You can bend the convention rules a little especially if it is to create a dramatic feel to your writing.

Romelia: ARE YOU A FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME WRITER? HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOUR WRITING?   I am a part-time writer.  I am a full-time working mother so my writing is my outlet to escape the pressures of the world.

Romelia: WHAT ARE SOME DAY JOBS THAT YOU HAVE HELD? IF ANY OF THEM IMPACTED YOUR WRITING, SHARE AN EXAMPLE.

Carla E. Criswell: I am an educator and I teach language arts, so yeah that has had an influence on my writing. I love how stories and writing can just take you places you only could dream of and let you inside a person’s life.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT EBOOKS VS PRINT BOOKS AND ALTERNATIVE VS CONVENTIONAL PUBLISHING?

Carla E. Criswell: I love the smell of books. I am a lover of print books. Ebooks just don’t have the personality like a good print book. I really think that publishing is based on your own goals for your book. I wanted to tell my story my way so that is why I went with self-publishing, but being a contracted author for a major publishing house is something I could look forward to as well.

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE FUTURE OF READING/WRITING?

Carla E. Criswell: I see reading and writing becoming an electronic thing. Paperback and hardback books will be something of the past, something that collectors of literature will have. I fear that we will turn to quick reads and long books and stories will be obsolete.

Romelia: WHAT MAKES YOUR BOOK STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD?

Carla E. Criswell: It is my story and no one could tell it better than me. I am vulnerable, authentic, and transparent about my experiences and how I was able to put my life back together. I am not trying to be an expert, just simply telling my story in hopes it inspires others.

Romelia: DO YOU WRITE MORE BY LOGIC OR INTUITION, OR SOME COMBINATION OF THE TWO? SUMMARIZE YOUR WRITING PROCESS.

Carla E. Criswell: I do not have a writing process. Crazy, yet true. I just write whatever comes to my mind or whatever I am feeling. I like the idea of just letting it flow on paper.

Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THE WRITING COMMUNITY?

Carla E. Criswell: I hope to become a well-known author that helps other authors write their stories.

Romelia: WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE PRESENT? WHAT DO YOUR PLANS FOR FUTURE PROJECTS INCLUDE?

Carla E. Criswell: I am currently working on an affirmation journal and a street literature novel. I hope to one day write a screenplay and get one of my books as a tv series.

Romelia: DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL US SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.

Carla E. Criswell: I am an educator, mentor and empowerment speaker. I am a mother of two beautiful children. I love to travel, shop, and spend time with family and friends. The only thing I hate about the world is the fact we have this division between the have and have nots. Poverty and racism should not still be issues any more.

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