Mary Jane McCluskey (MJ) was one of the first women I met that was walking a similar path of newly published author and entrepreneur. She was both kind and generous, and when she surprised my daughters with a private reading of her children’s book, Grace Comes at Christmas, I was in awe. So warm, so engaging, my girls loved every second. I’m honored to share with you her thoughts…
Strength does not come from winning.
Your struggles develop your strengths.
When you go through hardships and
decide not to surrender, that is strength.
Q: Why does the quote above speak to you?
A: Two and a half years ago, I was working at a very demanding technical managerial position that required long hours, being constantly available, and driving an hour each way to Harrisburg every day. I started to feel a lot of unease, and knew that something had to change and wondered what I should really be doing with my life. God made sure that I had to make a change – my job was eliminated! Wow!
So, ready for the next chapter while I went through the steps of applying for unemployment and applying for new jobs, I waited to hear what it was that I was supposed to be doing. No answer came! Another wow as I was sure I would be ‘told’ right away.
The next month, my wrist was broken in four places while walking my neighbor’s dog. Surgery, steel cage in my wrist, and five months of therapy later, I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else.
I had this children’s story that I had written, and I had always wanted to write children’s books…
In July 2017 I took the plunge and signed a contract to self-publish my first book. What a journey as I really knew nothing about what I was getting into! Fast-forward to July 24, 2018 when a tractor-trailer pulled up to my house with one skid, 11 cartons and 400 pounds of the first 500 of my children’s book, Grace Comes at Christmas: Gracia Viene en la Navidad!
This quote speaks to me for I could have given up and wallowed in self-pity that my former company didn’t want me anymore and didn’t appreciate all that I had done. I could have spent months feeling sorry for myself. However, I used the time, albeit in physical therapy and surgery recuperation!, to take this hardship and develop my strength!
Q: Describe what you do in ten words or less.
A: I am living out my passion for literacy through writing children’s books.
Q: Share with us something your heart and intuition has told you to do. Maybe it was against popular opinion, or maybe it was a step in a new direction.
A: Ha ha! That is my first reaction to this question, Katie! I am so glad that I didn’t know what the norms were for a new author, and one that was self-publishing no less. I followed my heart and boldly ordered books, spent money on publishing packages and illustrations, and started lining up book signings and book readings!
Q: What one thing have you done lately that scared you? Why?
A: I was interviewed for an on-air segment of Bright New Voices by Hay House Radio, the traditional publishing parent of Balboa Press, my self-publishing company that was going to be aired to 80,000-90,000 people worldwide. I was out of town for a book event, and didn’t have any of my research notes with me! Scary, but I am very pleased with how the segment turned out.
Q: What are a few of your big, bold FUTURE asks?
A: I am claiming that I will travel to Guatemala next summer to read my book at a boys and girls children’s home, and that I will be fluent in conversational Spanish by then. I also feel called to travel to Russia after my book is published in English/Russian.
Q: For women who are digging deep to cultivate courage, what advice would you give them?
A: Follow your inner voice! You can climb hills – or mountains – and have a happy life. Be passionate and love what you do.
Thank you, Katie, for asking me to share some of my journey!
A Brief Bio...
Readers are invited to visit MJ's website at mjmccluskey.com and to like and follow my FB page, M. J. McCluskey, Author for updates. If you are interested in the English/Spanish edition of the book and would love to give it for a Christmas present, there are several ways to purchase it. Readers in the York, PA area can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717/767-6141 or 717/873-6434 (c) for a personalized copy. Books can be purchased online through Amazon, Balboa Press and Barnes and Noble. Books are also available at Hearts and Minds, Dallastown; Leg Up Farmers Market, York; The Strawberry Shop, York; Flinchbaugh's Orchard and Farm Market; Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE and at The Hemingway Home in Key West, FLA.
To complete your gift, there is an adorable hand-made and hand-stuffed kitten that looks just like Amazing Grace. If you would like the book and kitten, they are only available from M. J.
The English/German edition of the book should be available by New Year's Day and the second book in the series will be released in Spring 2019.