Friday, September 27, 2013
Interview with Author and Emmy Award-winning Reporter Denise Zarrella
Denise Zarrella is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who has spent the past two decades covering hard news. She has met with historic figures, including U.S. Presidents and roc stars, but the people she has been most touched by are the children at the center of many of her stories.
Zarrella began her career at Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted,” where she researched cases involving unsolved crimes and missing children. From there, she shifted gears to news and headed to Atlanta, where she became an Associated Producer at CNN’s World Headquarters. While at CNN, she began reporting for TBS’s morning show “Interact America,” and her on-air journey began.
She left CNN and TBS to become a full-time Anchor/Reporter at WBBJ, in Jackson, Tennessee. She has also world in Champaign, Illinois, and Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, which returned her to her hometown in the Poconos.
You can find out more about Denise Zarrella, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/nouc27m
1) Tell us about your book. Give a short summary.
"Not even the Sky is the Limit," is a book that shows readers what people with Down Syndrome can do. There are kids and adults golfing, dancing, playing soccer, painting, sewing, graduating from high school and, of course, jumping out of planes. The point is people with Down Syndrome are capable of doing anything anyone else can - in some cases they are doing more and getting more out of life than people I meet without disabilities.
2) Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?
My publisher, Lisa Umina of Halo Publishing is out of this world. She came very highly recommended. I knew I wanted to self-publish this children's book because I wanted to be the one to call the shots, but I wanted everything done right. I wanted this to be a first class product. I needed someone who knew what they were doing. Lisa was able to help, "take me over the finish line," as one of my friends who recently published put it. I also admire her as a person and get great joy from knowing that the money I spend with her to publish my book goes to doing even more good works. Lisa has a heart of gold and donates much of her time and resources to helping orphans. How do you top that?
3) How you did you get the idea for the book?
My daughter Gianna has Down Syndrome. I found out what her challenges would be while I was still carrying her. She had open heart surgery at three months old, and is one of the most amazing little girls I've ever met. Very early on, when I met and talked to other parents of children and adults with Down Syndrome I realized what I wanted to know most was what their child was capable of doing. Did they enjoy playing sports? Did they go to the movies together? Did they pal around? Did they have fun conversation? These were all the things I longed to know as I looked forward to my future with Gianna. I also did some research before she was even born and was shocked to see how many people decide to terminate their pregnancy when they find out that they are carrying a child with Down Syndrome. If only they had my book in my hands before they aborted that beautiful human being; I'm convinced that they would chose life. Anyone I meet with a child with Down Syndrome, anyone I meet that knows someone in any way that has this chromosomal disorder, lights up when they talk about that person! They talk about how spectacular they are, how loving they are, how much better they are in so many ways than the rest of us. People with Down Syndrome don't judge, they love unconditionally, and they live in the moment. How many of us know how to do that very well? A slim few.
4) What is a typical writing day like for you?
I am a Reporter and Anchor for a local television station. I've been writing stories for television daily for the past two decades - I can't believe it's been that long!! This is my first book.
5) What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy connecting with others and telling a story that may make someone think twice about how they feel about something. If I change or affect just one life with, "Not even the Sky is the Limit," then my mission is accomplished.
6) What is the most difficult part of writing?
My thoughts run so much faster than my fingers on my keyboard or my hand when I'm free writing!
7) How has publishing this book changed my life?
I have learned a very powerful lesson. When you listen to your inner voice and tune out things like fear - especially when what you are setting out to do something that can help someone - the end result is so amazing. I cannot believe how excited everyone has been about this book from start to finish. People have contributed their time and their talents to help me accomplish this dream of mine to get the rest of world to sit up and take notice that my child's life is just as valuable and fulfilling as the child's life, who doesn't have a disability. It seems so funny to say that though, when you consider that all of us have disabilities - some are just more visible than others. Anyone who disagrees with that is not being honest, and none of us who are parents can say we truly know what lies ahead for any of us. We just have to be dedicated to making sure everyone has the same opportunity to live their lives and grow to meet their greatest potential.
8) What are your plans now? I just want to enjoy this moment. I want to take every opportunity like this one to talk about my enthusiasm for elevating and empowering people with disabilities. I truly believe this was a book I was meant to put out there. Many parents and people who work with children and adults with special needs keep telling me they don't think there is enough out there like this book to educate people about what our kids are doing.
9) What is your best tip for aspiring writers?
Get busy writing!!! We are so lucky that we live in a time where there are so many opportunities for writers to get their work published and seen by an audience of millions - thanks to the internet. There is no excuse not to go for it and get that book you've been wanting to write or publish all these years out there.
A portion of the proceeds of my book is going towards organizations that help children and adults with Down Syndrome. "Not even the Sky is the Limit," is even being used as a fundraiser for some groups.
*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive. SFC does not review any samples sent without a request for review to the Blog Editor, VS Grenier. SFC's staff members will not return unauthorized samples to the senders, but will donate them without review.