Marie McKenzie is a #1 Amazon Bestselling author of her first book, a memoir, “Things That Keep Me Up at Night,” which was released in June of 2021.
She is currently co-authoring her first novel with the NK Tribe Called Success. She is an accomplished Registered Nurse, educator, community volunteer, victims’ advocate, and trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Born in Jamaica, Marie migrated to the United States of America in 1989, and currently resides in Orlando, FL, with her husband George.
When she is not on the job, she volunteers and advocates for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, and the homeless. She has volunteered for food banks, crisis pregnancy centers, and homeless organizations. She is a past board member of the Inner Truth Project, which strives to change the conversation surrounding sexual violence and help survivors find their voices.
First things first, how did you develop an interest in writing?
My interest in writing was ignited after I entered a 90-Day Writing challenge hosted by USA Today Bestselling Author, Naleighna Kai, during which I wrote my memoir, Things That Keep Me Up At Night. The opportunity connected me with the NK Tribe Called Success, a group of phenomenal authors—USA Today, international and national bestselling—who freely guided and supported me at every step of my journey.
When did you realize you had a story that the world needed to hear?
A few months prior to writing my memoir, I was a guest on a Podcast, where I spoke about my role as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. During the show, I shared my experience with sexual assault. I later shared the podcast with family and friends, and although shocked at first, they were very supportive and some opened up and shared their own stories of victimization and survival.
Some were struggling to heal. I call that SHUT IN – Silently Hurting due to Unresolved Trauma (caused by rape/sexual assault) and Internalizing (shame, anger, fear, anxiety, reliving the trauma) Needlessly.
Some verbalized that my story helped them regain their voice and power. “If you have been through all that and survived and are sharing your story, I can do the same.”
What was the writing process like, did you come up with your title first and build around it or did the manuscript come first?
The manuscript came first, then we brainstormed with a few titles and settled on Things That Keep Me Up At Night.
What is the message behind your title?
The message is that I am no longer bound by the Things That Keep Me Up At Night. I thought of changing the title to Things That Kept Me Up At Night but opted to keep it as is. Because like an addict there will always be triggers, healing is lifelong, but, when the memories come, I have tools to subdue them. I’m no longer SHUT IN – Silently Hurting due to Unresolved Trauma Internalizing Needlessly.
Can you share 3 takeaways you would like women to take away from your book?
I would like women to know that:
- Healing is possible – they can heal, survive, and thrive.
- They are not their trauma – someone did something to them. The shame, blame, and guilt belong to the perpetrators.
- They are worthy of living a purpose-filled life. If you’re SHUT IN, it’s time to reach out for help to heal.
At any moment during your writing process did you experience writer’s block, what tips do you have for overcoming it?
Yes, I have experienced writer’s block and there is so much one can do.
- Write about something else, another chapter, or a topic. It doesn’t need to be in order and can be fixed later.
- Stop writing and do something you enjoy – talk walk, exercise, (I lifted weights)
- Brainstorm with a friend.
- Read a book.
Take me through the first moment you held your book in your hands, what did that feel like for you?
The first moment I held my book was exhilarating! I was grinning from ear to ear, my heart was racing; just overjoyed and wasn’t sure how to act.
What would you say was the most challenging part of your writing process?
Marketing was and is the most challenging part of the process – It’s a constant process and a daily intentional journey. Need to be creative to find new readers and keep my book in the public’s eyes.
What key tips do you have for marketing your book and getting it out to the masses?
1. Connect and collaborate with other authors and cross-promote each other’s work.
2. Find a Tribe that will support you. People you can always trust to have your back.
3. Be intentional and promote often/daily even, attend events, and seek out speaking engagements to share about your work.
4, Be engaged with readers/audience. People don’t want to see or hear of you only when you’re selling.
What audience is your book written for?
My book is written for survivors of sexual assault/rape/domestic violence and the people and organizations who love and support them.
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