Author Crystal Lynn O’Brien penned Pretty, Raised Ugly in the fall of 2015, a memoir sharing how beauty can grow even in “ugly” predicaments. “The book covers a large area quickly and aggressively,” said Crystal, who is a native of Northwest Indiana. “While the story is very raw and powerful in content, it is immensely empowering for many audiences.” With a lifelong passion for writing, Crystal earned her undergraduate degree in Financial Information Systems as well as an MBA in Human Resources. Now with a successful debut under her belt, read how Crystal is paying it forward by hosting events for local authors to network and develop their own platforms.
- Congratulations on the success of your first book Pretty, Raised Ugly. It took you seven days to write your memoir— that might be a record! How did you go about getting it published?
I did a lot of research, and decided self-publishing was for me. I was ironically approached by a publishing company halfway through the process, but I wasn’t interested. I never knew how to start writing Pretty, Raised Ugly, but I did an outline of topics. But when I started filling in the chapters, it went its own way— or really His (God’s) way. The words and thoughts that came to my mind went faster than I could type (and I can type pretty fast), so I stayed up all night for two days, and kept writing. I checked myself into a hotel, and knocked it out within seven days and just knew when I was done. I cried over it because there were so many blocked memories that resurfaced when I started my memoir. My English teacher, who had also pushed me to write my book, was the first person to lay eyes on it.
2) Tell us about your upcoming Summer Must Reads Networking event.
The Summer Must Reads Networking events taking place on Friday, June 23 at the Captains House from 6 PM – 9 PM. It is a free event, completely open to the public, and will help any reader compile their summer reading list for 2017. Accomplished authors from the Northwest Indiana area will be present, and you can hear about their books, ask them questions, and enjoy a great evening.
3) Why did you create this event series?
Hosting this event series was important to me because while I penned Pretty, Raised Ugly, I became very antsy and created the concept of the iRaise Movement. I did speaking engagements for women’s groups, shelters, and abuse organizations. I put together groups to support walks and causes. I had to keep busy, but as I spent this time in the community, my wheels were turning. I needed to find an ongoing way to help my community change and grow (while making money). I asked a few of my entrepreneurial friends for an hour of their time each week for six weeks to brainstorm. The sessions went so well that eventually people started requesting them, and the NWI Mastermind |Think Tank was born. My goal was to do a themed networking event for other entrepreneurs, and within those six weeks, I planned and executed my first networking event: The Ugly Sweater Party. The event was a great success, and the next will be the Summer Must Reads Networking event.
4) In the age of visual media where film and YouTube reign, why did you choose book format for your story?
Writing is my first love, so penning a book felt natural. But it’s funny that you would mention other mediums because I’ve had some suggestions for Pretty, Raised Ugly to become a stage play or even a movie. But my goal was never for stardom, numbers or attention, it was to help people heal on subjects that are real and not often discussed. If the right opportunity comes while I’m in a creative space to do a stage play or a movie, I may explore it, but I’ve learned not believe the hype. I have been bamboozled by so many people trying to work with me. They would talk an amazing game without delivering! So, learning how to do a lot of things myself, finding creative solutions to my problems, pushing through the tasks I would’ve preferred to delegate, has been a humbling, but rewarding experience.
5) Introverts often cringe at the word networking. How important is networking in the writer world?
Networking is vital for an author, or anyone doing anything independently. A lot of writers are true introverts! My good friend says I’m an introvert who knows how to be an extrovert when necessary. If it was my choice I would stay inside with a good book, or with my DVR loaded, and have my phone off! But as an entrepreneur, I’m constantly pulled out of my comfort zone because you must create your own opportunities. While you’re busy doing working on your project, shift happens and other opportunities arrive! It works with you when it sees you working.
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