Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kindle Fire #Giveaway & Book Tour with Author Annie Harris - It's Time To Dance

Hi Annie, and welcome to Bk Walker Books Etc. I’m so happy you could join us today in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania.

I too live in PA, actually, really close to you, and I just love the mountains. What is your favorite thing about PA?

AH:  I love the rolling hills in the fall.  The maple trees and oaks are breathtaking at that time of year.

I have worked in the nursing field for many years, so Cerebral Palsy isn’t new to me, but may be to others. Please tell us how living with CP has affected your writing life, and what inspired you to be a writer at all…

AH:   In the African American culture, having a disability doesn’t so much define you, just how you get things done.  I cannot separate having cerebral palsy from being an African American woman, therefore, I speak and write from ALL of who I am.  In all aspects, I move at a slower pace than western culture.  I believe, as a writer, this has given me the ability to slow down and perceive the “core” of things; i.e. that which is essentially true and to articulate and elaborate on that which is not readily visible or usually ignored.
I was inspired as a child to write poetry and keep a journal as early as age 14.  I LOVE TO WRITE!!!!!!!  I don’t really remember NOT wanting to be a writer and using my skill as a way to teach and encourage others.

Do you have any writing quirks, such as music you must listen to, coffee, tea, or other “must-have” you need to write?

AH:  The early morning (around 6:00 a.m.) and I cup of coffee “set the stage” and I am lost in a world of my own where I write my best.  Little editing is needed and I produce my best work.

How do you get in the writing mood?

AH:  By quietly sitting with the intention to write. I waitfor words to come.  I require I significant time of solitude to meditate and pray for what may be most important to commit to paper.

When you wrote the last word for “It’s Easier To Dance”, what emotion did you feel, knowing the next  step would be putting it in front of public eyes? 

AH:  Exhilaration!  A few days later when I handed a copy of my manuscript over to an English professor and writer for editing, I wept  and prayed my story would make a difference  in the lives who needed to read it  most.  I also felt, and continue to feel somewhat vulnerable

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

AH:  Encouragement, inspiration and HOPE!!!  That no matter what has happened in your life, you CAN move forward to find joy  and love!                                  

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

AH:  I’m an avid fan of college sports, especially Penn State football and basketball.  I also enjoy the theater, swimming, and I’m always planning my next trip to the ocean.   I’m very active in my church and volunteer with young children.

What can we expect from you in the future? Any new projects in the works?

AH:  A book on self advocacy is in the thinking stage. I have practiced yoga for 14 years and would like to write a book about my experiences as well.

Where can readers connect with you?

AH:  My web site  is the best place to connect with me.  I am available for speaking engagements.  Fees are negotiated according to size of group and make up of group.

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today Annie. I loved getting to know you better and wish you much success in the future.

Thank you, BK.  I enjoyed this interview too.  If any of your readers have questions, please ask them to write the questions in a comment and I will be sure to respond.  I encourage all of them to enter my book launch contest.  I am giving away a Kindle Fire!

Annie Laurie Harris, the oldest one of her ethnicity who lives independently, was born with cerebral palsy. She has defied the odds and challenged the medical prognosis since early childhood. She continues to live a full and active life in her 6th decade. After achieving her Master's Degree at Penn State University in 1985 she worked as a counselor and advocate for those with a history of chemical dependency. In 1990, she was recruited by the prestigious World Institute of Disability to be the Assistant Director of the first HIV/Disability Project. Her grant writing expertise is second to none as private foundations funded her innovative research projects again and again. Since returning to her home state of PA where she lives near her beloved alma mater, Ms. Harris continues to be involved in her community and avidly supports the Penn State athletic program. Once again,her love of writing helps to supplement her income. Her groundbreaking memoirs, It's Easier to Dance, is provocative and thought provoking.

It's Easier to Dance, a memoir, by Annie Laurie Harris, a woman of African American Heritage, born with cerebral palsy, depicts the highlights, turning points and crossroads of her life while living with cerebral palsy. 


Ticket to Freedom

My mother always stressed great importance in having an education. From early in my childhood, she insisted that I go to school like any other child. She became my first teacher. But never was college considered a possibility. After getting my high school diploma, I went to a rehabilitation center where I entered a typing program. No one bothered to tell me that in order to be a clerk typist, you needed to be able to type at least 40 wpm with a maximum of 5 errors. When I learned this, I felt betrayed, and I quit the program, returned home depressed. There was another reason I wouldn’t see my vocational rehabilitation counselor.   He wanted me to go to a sheltered workshop which was for those whose diagnosis was primarily “mental retardation”.  I didn’t get dressed; I don’t even remember eating regularly. I wondered what would happen to me. Finally, my brother, who was a graduate student at PSU, asked one of his professors if there was some way that his younger sister could go to college. The professor had influence, and recommended to the appropriate people (I assume was Admissions) that I would be able to attend the branch campus for 2 terms and then my acceptance would be based on my GPA.
In Sept. 1972, the year congress passed the Right to Education Law which allowed children with significant disabilities to attend public schools; I became an adjunct student at Penn State University’s Shenango Valley campus. I excelled academically, making the Dean’s List and that next fall, I began my undergraduate degree at Shenango Valley. Being older than the typical undergraduate, I made friends among the young instructors, who loved having me in their classes.  My academic advisor recommended that I be exempt from taking a language (something I later regretted), and she also thought I should not take the undergraduate speech requirement, which included giving public speeches. I went to talk to the instructor, James Elder, who said “Annie, you have important things to say to the world so you might as well start in my class.”  Except for statistics, college, was easy for me… not particularly intellectually challenging.

Follow The Tour:

September 10 - Introduction at VBT Cafe' Blog
September 12 - Book Feature & Excerpt at YA Reads
September 12 - Book Feature & Excerpt at Little Book Star
September 14 - Interviewed at Blogzine
September 17 - Reviewed at All Things Books
September 20 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
September 20 - Reviewed at Silver Sleep
September 25 - Reviewed at Waiting On Sunday To Drown
September 25 - Interviewed at YA Reads
September 27 - Guest Blogging at The Bunny's Review
September 27 - Review & Interview at Sky Rose Review
October 1 - Review & Guest Blogging at Whoopeeyoo
October 3 - Book Feature & Excerpt at My Miscellaneous Bookshelf
October 3 - Review & Interview at Turning The Pages
October 5 - Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover's Library
October 8 - Review & Interview at Simple Books
October 10 - Review & Guest Blogging at Black Hippie Chick's Take On Books & The World
October 12 - Review & Guest Blogging at Indie Writer's Review


KyBunnies said...

I have this book in my TBR pile. I hope to get to it soon. Thanks for sharing your story.

Unknown said...

I can't wait to read your book. I find your story very interesting having a son of my own with Cerebral Palsy. Thank you for your story.

Wendy ArtsyChaos said...

I've wanted to try out Yoga! Thanks for the interview and thanks to Annie for the great inspiration.