Friday, October 26, 2012

Mary Curran Hackett: Proof of Determination

Everyone's Story welcomes this week author Mary Curran Hackett, whose debut novel PROOF OF HEAVEN stirred up an excited buzz. That's how I became acquainted with Mary, and when I connected with her on Twitter I invited her to be my guest here. While Mary's personal story may have provided much inspiration for the novel, unlike other stories of dreaded prognosis, Mary's novel offers hope that love will save the day. The protagonist of the novel, the mother, is full of determination that her son will live. Like this character, Mary exhibits this strength. For more insight on Mary, please see the mini interview below. Plus, Mary offers her take on the art of persistence, as well as an exciting book giveaway. Lots of fun this week!

Book Giveaway:

Mary is offering a signed copy of PROOF OF HEAVEN  to 3 commenters. For convenience, please leave your email address within the body of the comment. The winners will be announced next Friday on November 2 between 3-4 EST. For a reading excerpt, please visit on Amazon.

Born on the Day of Dogged Persistence
by Mary Curran Hackett

Several years ago I looked up my birthday sign in the mammoth Secret Language of Birthdays astrological sign book and discovered that I was born on the “Day of Dogged Persistence” (March 19). I was struck dumb when I read it. (Believe me, not much does.) Because, nothing and I mean nothing, matters more in my life than this singular belief that I have held dear from even an early age: Never ever give up. I have always believed (some might say rather naively so) that nothing is out of reach if you want it badly enough--and you’re willing to do the work to achieve it. Whether I was preternaturally disposed to this belief or not is up for debate. But I can safely say (thanks to many trials and tribulations) even if I wasn’t born under said “persistent sign.” no one character trait matters more to one’s survival (and success) than one’s ability to persevere. I know this especially when it comes to writing. No one gets to be a published writer without doggedly pursuing the craft--writing every day, submitting and submitting (and the requisite--accepting rejection after rejection), and rewriting and rewriting until you get it right.

And even then…it’s just the beginning. And sometimes persistence and wanting it badly isn’t enough. 

Like everyone else in the world, I’ve had to face some obstacles along the way. Though my obstacles--debt, unwed pregnancy, children’s illnesses, husband’s cancer (he’s recovered) and my own heart condition---are far less monumental than most, I can say with absolute honesty: it’s not easy to go after what you want.

And lately, I hate to admit this, but I’ve been wondering if I was born under the wrong sign after all. Yes, I’ve considered giving it all up--my freelance writing, my books, everything as I know it.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was ready to close up my laptop--if not chuck it out the window. I thought that once I got published things would ease up a bit. But, in reality I found myself trapped in fear and self-doubt: The stakes are higher. Expectations are higher (mainly my own). People will judge me (sometimes quite viciously thanks to the anonymity of the internet). There is no guarantee anyone will want to read my second book.  The bills still come in every day, my kids still want to be fed and clothed (imagine that), my bosses still want their work done, and my husband still needs his wife --and writing just seems like a pain, an added nuisance, especially when it seems like no one is even reading, buying, or aware that my book Proof of Heaven exists. (I know this is not true…but when throwing yourself a pity party--why not go all out?). So I asked myself: What’s it all for? What am I doing? Do I still want this? Those are the questions I asked myself again and again. I went on long walks. I called my sister and brother. I stayed up at night thinking. I hate to admit this: But I cried. Like a baby. It’s not that I had writer’s block or nothing to write about (rarely am I at a loss for words--much to my husband and kids’ chagrin), but I had lost my drive. My desire. My beloved dogged persistence.  And I felt like I had failed--not just me--but my younger version of myself, my family, my kids, my husband, my parents, my publisher. Everyone.

Wah, wah. Wah. I know, I even hate hearing me whine. What I needed was Cher to come and slap me and say, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”

So without Cher on call for a good slap, what did I do? I went back to the beginning. I remembered why I started writing. I remembered when I was a little girl and loved to read, and believed, however silly and/or audacious it may have been, that I too could do the same thing someday. I remembered the thrill of hearing my third grade teacher read my essay about a bird that watched soap operas with her owner aloud to the class and watching my classmates roar with laughter and slap their desks as they listened to what I wrote. I remembered the mixture of joy, sorrow, compassion and gratitude I felt when I received the first letter from a fan of my novel Proof of Heaven, who had said she had never felt so connected to a character as she did when she read my little story about a mother who wouldn’t give up on her son--because she too was like Cathleen before her only child died.   

And with that proverbially slap, I snapped out of it.

But I also snapped to another realization and it forced me to revise my belief about persistence. Persistence is nothing without purpose. My purpose is not to be solvent (let alone wealthy). It’s not to be a NYT best-selling author. It’s not to be anyone less--or more--than who I was made to be. It’s definitely not what others expect me to be.  My purpose here on earth is to do what I love--every day--and to connect with other human beings struggling to get through each day like I am. And I have to say, once I figured out that purpose, it’s nearly impossible not to be doggedly persistent about what it is that I am meant to do: To write and to connect.

And so, I will.

Two Questions for Mary:
Courtesy of Google Images

You've certainly have had your fair share of health concerns through the years. Would you say that your brushes with death have taught you anything in particular about living?

Absolutely. I don’t take any day—any moment for granted. If you’re not living every day like it’s your last, you’re not living. I may hug my kids a little longer, a little tighter than I should, but I don’t ever regret it. I greet them every single morning with a smile and a hug. I make sure no matter what is going on in life—no matter how bad I feel, exhausted, tired, and run down—that they see me happy and smiling, ready to take on the day. I have my moments, believe me, but I want my kids to see life as something beautiful. I make sure we laugh every single day—that there is space for silliness and joy—the spontaneous dance party, milkshake, day off, movie night, Justin Bieber concert. I make sure we watch, listen, and read things that infuse joy and hope into our lives.  And I don’t care how busy I am, how many events we have to get to each night, or how many deadlines I have, we eat together every single night—no television, no music, no distractions. I know from my own experience (my mother was big on mealtime bonding) that these are the moments my kids will always remember: All of us together—laughing, talking and being a family. I try to make sure I surround myself with beauty—beautiful souls—my kids, my husband,  my sisters, my brothers, my parents, my nieces and nephews, my best friends; beautiful places—my home, my garden, my favorite spaces (bookstores, art galleries, parks); and beautiful things—flowers, clothes, artwork, my kids’ drawings and creations. I don’t sweat the small stuff—petty arguments, politics, haters (bullies, critics), money. Somehow, the bills get paid, and no one who has an opinion on my life has to LIVE my life—so I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I live my life. It’s not their life to live: It’s mine. It’s a funny thing: when you focus on living your life right, you don’t have much time to make judgments on how anyone else lives. So I spend less time judging, less time being angry, annoyed, bitter, and more time trying to understand, give, and love.   

Courtesy Google Images
And a lighter question: if you could blink your eyes and be transported to any one place without worry of deadlines, obligations, and the practicalities of everyday life, where would you like to take a personal "Mary Retreat"?

Without a doubt—I’d hightail it to the  quietest, least inhabited, hottest, white sandy, blue water beach on the planet. I’d bring a bag full of books—my old standbys and the stack of books I haven’t gotten to yet that having sitting beside my bed for months, and I’d park myself on a beach chair and read, read, read. I’d occasionally get up to get into the water—and maybe sip a cocktail with an umbrella, but mostly I’d sit and be still. It would be lovely. Actually, I feel better just thinking about it.

Viewers, let's chat: What are you determined to accomplish in your life? Mary will enjoy hearing from you--drop her a line or two!

Author Bio:

Mary Curran Hackett is a writer and mother. Like her character Colm Ma­gee, Mary’s heart stops at the “most inopportune times,” but thanks to a kind doctor, she now has a pacemaker and a heart that beats on its own—at least most of the time. PROOF OF HEAVEN is her first novel. 

Mary is currently working on a collection of real-life stories similar to Cathleen, Colm, Dr. Basu, and Sean’s quests to find heaven. Feel free to send your own stories of “proof” to or submit them through her website’s contact form at


  1. I've accomplished a lot in my lifetime so far. I survived a marriage that ended after 25 years. (My ex-husband found the love of his life and walked out the door). I survived brain surgery to remove a brain cyst. One 1/2 years after the brain surgery I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Four years after battling the breast cancer my 2nd husband of 8 years died of a brain tumor. Without God in my life I would have survived nothing. God was with me every step of the way and he is still with me today. With God all things are possible! I have now been cancer free for 13 years. I have married again. John is the love of my life!

    I would be delighted to read your book Mary. I hope I'm a winner. Proof of Heaven sounds like a good read. Please don't give up on writing! Don't let satan put self-doubt in your mind. Lean on God!


    1. Judy, what a strong testimony of faith. I had no idea what you've endured... your example of strength and reminder to lean on God has certainly filled me with a sudden peace this evening. Thank you, my friend.

    2. Elaine, I do believe we all have a testimony big or small doesn't matter. During my husband's bout with brain cancer my nerves were really frayed. It was a period of time I would not want to relive. I was at the point if I heard one more person say to me God won't give you more than you can bear I was ready to scream! They had no clue to what you go through when a loved one is dying unless they lived it too. I cried out to God so many times, it was like hey God it's me again. I'm falling apart! But you know, through it all I've learned to trust Jesus more and more. I am happy to read that my testimony of faith gave you sudden peace the evening of October 26th. That was the eve of my Mom's passing on to Heaven 9 months ago on the 27th. I can't begin to express how much I miss her. She is with her Lord and Savior now. Blessings to you!

    3. Judy, I know exactly what you mean about well-intentioned people offering "God won't give you more than you can bear." It's sometimes difficult to hear this when all you need is a shoulder to lean on, to rest your weary head and heart. And it's not like God "gives" us any of this sadness anyways. But, at least they mean well. The bottom line is that thanks be to God, no matter how many times we cry out to Him in anguish, He always hears us and answers us.

      And I have to share something with you: one of the gifts I've received from blogging Everyone's Story is that I keep receiving the strong message that with God, there is no coincidence, like your testimony giving me peace on the anniversary eve of your mom's passing (my condolences). God's grace and love is undeniably awesome!

  2. Thank you, Judy, for posting and commenting! You're truly a fighter. And I am so glad to hear you're cancer free.

    I won't give up and I hope you win, too!


    1. Mary, thank you for your kind words. A fighter? I'm not so sure about that. I just learned to lean on Jesus more and more. He gave me the strength and peace that I needed. I can't imagine what non-believers do when a crisis hits their lives. We have Hope...what do they have?

      Blessings to you!

  3. Mary, thank you for being my guest this past week on Everyone's Story. And what a horrific week it's been due to Hurricane Sandy. There are so many who have been touched one way or another, from one extreme to another. Lots to rejoice (my father who was on a cruise ship and stuck out at sea to wait the storm just got home, 4 days late, but safe), lots to pray about (a friend's cancer surgery is delayed because surgeon couldn't make it to hospital), home towns are flooded & people evacuated--like my guest scheduled for next week--homes lost, businesses lost. I'm just thankful God is holding all of our hands.

    Mary, despite all, you've remained a faithful guest. Thank you.

    The winner of Mary's novel, PROOF OF HEAVEN, is Judy. Judy, both Mary and I will be in touch with you shortly. Happy reading?


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