In this episode I am hanging out with Maria Dismondy, an award-winning children's book author who is passionate about inspiring lives through her poignant stories about topics challenging today’s modern child.
Maria’s background in early education and commitment to teach the importance of character building enables her to touch lives the world over while touring as a public speaker in schools, community forums, and at national conferences.
When Maria isn’t writing, she can be found embarking on adventures throughout southeast Michigan and beyond, where she lives with her husband and three book-loving children.
Tune in to hear us discuss her journey to becoming an author and building a thriving business (and family!) while following her passions.
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As we dive in, Maria shares that she never actually intended to be an entrepreneur. Growing up she wanted to be a teacher and a mom - both dreams she would later go on to fulfill!!
To both her and everyone around her it was quite a shock when she made the decision to leave teaching and pursue writing her children's books. But the decision was fueled by both a passion to fulfill a need that she saw, and do what made sense for her growing family.
"I felt like there was a problem, that we were lacking children’s literature with realistic kids - real characters that kids could relate to with real world problems.” (3:36)
So, Maria wrote her first book Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, and a few weeks later she got pregnant with her first baby!
After her book came out and her daughter was born, she went down to teaching part-time, and didn't have much of a plan beyond that. One year turned into two, and eventually she realized that she wanted more time to pour into both her growing family, and her growing business (which she was LOVING!)
“It wasn't just writing books, but spreading these amazing messages to children and families.” (4:10)
When I asked Maria what her day-to-day life as an author, publisher and mom looked like, she shared that it didn't look like what most people would think.
“Being a writer you would think that I would spend my days writing and I don’t!” (4:30)
As a work-at-home mom to three kids (ages 2, 5 and 7) her days start early so she can get some good creative work time in, as well as some self care.
She also books around 75 speaking engagements per year, but most all of them are local as she has made the decision not to travel away from her family if she can help it.
Maria also describes that every day is a journey to just figure out what works best in that season.
“I didn’t plan for any of it, and Dana I am a planner so when baby #3 came along surprisingly (and was due on Christmas Day!) I thought, ‘This is a sign from the universe that, Maria you don’t get to plan your life and it doesn’t go accordingly1" (7:25)
Having three kids was a complete game changer for Maria and her family - one she describes as sending her into complete overwhelm.
“I just said things have to change, I cannot do it all. I need to delegate and outsource things.” (8:13)
And so, she did just that! They hired help both inside the home and in her business, which she says has made a world of difference, though it was difficult for her to let things go at first.
Our discussion took a great turn as we explored the differences between moms and dads, and how moms often seem more inclined to feel guilty about things that don't tend to ultimately matter as much.
I share how the "put-together" moms at daycare made me feel especially un-put-together until I realized the freedom that I have because I don't have to show up to a job and instead get to spend the morning playing with my kids.
Maria on the other hand, is one of those moms who is put together first thing in the morning - because it's important to her! And also her only real chance during the day to make sure getting ready happens.
It's all about figuring out what matters and what works for you.
“We are so quick to compare ourselves to other people without knowing the whole story, and that’s hard. I wish we didn’t put that on ourselves.” (12:43)
After Maria's first book was released in 2008 she was asked to do a few speaking engagements, which she quickly realized she loved.
She then decided to spend time building her speaking career to allow her the time and space to write more books.
“I felt like every additional book added credibility to my speaking platform.” (13:48)
Another big point she shared is that marketing is a really key component to building a business as an author.
“A huge part, about 75%, of what I do is marketing in a non-sales and very authentic way trying to get my messages out there so that people do want to hear me speak and do want to bring my books into their homes.” (14:57)
We discuss the ramifications of publishing traditionally (which she did with her first book) versus self-publishing (which she does now, for both herself and other authors through her publishing house Cardinal Rule Press).
She shares that in addition to writing and speaking, she began consulting for other aspiring authors, but she didn't completely love the process of consulting, so creating a course to impart her knowledge instead.
“I want to educate other published authors on how they can use their platform to market their messages.” (16:23)
And - Maria is a BIG believer in anyone being able to write the stories that matter to them. She says she often has people suggest book topics to her, but believes that any person who has a story in mind should be the one to write it themselves!
“When you have the personal experience and the passion for that topic that will drive your business and that will make you all the more successful because you have passion behind the idea.” (24:06)
Towards the end of our conversation we dig deep into the realities of being a boss mom and discuss what Maria does to deal with the inevitable overwhelm we all experience at times.
She shares that exercise, meal planning, making lists and putting everything into ONE calendar are what keep life afloat for her, and she's really had to figure out what tools work well.
We compare different organization tools like Asana, Trello and Bootcamp and how different platforms work better for different people, so it's important to figure out which is best for YOU.
“Don’t give up! If one doesn’t work, try a different one.” (30:22)
(Just FYI, some of these links may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using the links I may receive some love in return!)
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