By Marika Siewert : I recently had the privilege of interview a good friend of mine Maureen Francisco on her newly released book : It Takes Moxie which earned the “winner in the Multicultural Nonfiction category of the 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards.” Maureen’s story is inspiring coming from an immigrant family to being a successful career driven woman, and recently a newlywed. The book is about going after your American Dream, but as a Canadian immigrant myself going after my own dreams, I found this book is just as relevant to Canadians, has incredible nuggets of faith, hope and a whole lot of Moxie, and Maureen’s life and words are encouraging in every way.
This is how our interview went:
1. Q: Can you fill this statement in : My name is.. My Life is About…
A: Maureen Francisco My Life is About – being a blessing to others.
2.Q: Please give me a brief description about you, your history, and any highlights from your life so our readers can get to know you better.
A: My family emigrated from the Philippines to America for better opportunities. I came here barely knowing how to speak the language. As a child, I would watch the anchors and reporters on TV to learn how to speak English.
A life changing moment took place when a reporter interviewed me when I was Miss Teen Federal Way. I thought she had the amazing job of telling stories for a living and meeting interesting people.
I then pursued a degree in Print/Broadcast Journalism. After college, I spent five years being a TV reporter and anchor all over the country. When I left the TV news business, I became a contributor for numerous publications including HuffingtonPost.com. I enjoy storytelling so much that I recently finished my first book: It Takes Moxie: Off the Boat, Or Out of School, To Making It Your Way in America.
3. Q: Why did you write It Takes Moxie?
A: I was speaking with a group of friends who told me there weren’t as many opportunities in this country because the economy isn’t doing well. I told them, there are but you have to look for these opportunities. I shared with my friends the story of Lola (grandmother) who came to this country in her fifties. As soon as she got her working permit, she earned a job at a hotel working in the laundry department. This was Lola’s first time ever receiving a paycheck with benefits. While other people her age were thinking of retiring, Lola was thinking of staying healthy so she could support her nine children and some 40+ grandchildren. She eventually pursued her American Dream where she retired in this country. She now travels back and forth from America to the Philippines.
I then realized there are other unique American Dream stories out there with people who’ve I met along the way. I met the first military woman to be the White House doctor to three U.S. presidents, Dr. Connie Mariano, who wrote the foreword of this book. Her story is special in its own way as she is an immigrant, a woman who often was underestimated at the White House and was mistaken for being the nurse and not the doctor. Constantly being judged, Dr. Mariano made sure she consistently provided excellent service to change the judgments against her for being a petite, Pan Asian woman. She didn’t let those adversities get in her way. Through Lola and Dr. Mariano’s stories and other immigrants in pursuit of the American Dream who I interviewed in the book, I noticed a pattern with all of them. They understood the meaning of work ethic, having a positive attitude, and believing in themselves. That’s the message I want to share with my readers…if they are ever feeling down, they can read other people’s stories to see how they overcame their obstacles.
4. Q: What are your plans in this next year?
A: I am currently doing speaking engagements and plugging the book in the various projects I am involved in which could be through Ascend, a non-profit organization that nurtures today’s Pan Asian American leaders as well as tomorrow’s, or the Miss Washington USA, Miss Washington Teen USA, Miss Idaho USA, Miss Idaho Teen USA, and Miss Montana USA and Miss Montana Teen USA where I help empower young woman to be the best they can be.
My team also have our first docuality airing on January 25, 2014 at a station in Idaho “Beyond the Crown.”
This is what the docuality is about. It’s a show that witnesses how six ladies lives are changed forever along with 170 contestants.
They learn life is not about winning. Life is about succeeding. Watch as these ladies put themselves out there on stage. They learn that the pageant is more than getting the title. They learn about overcoming obstacles, going outside of their comfort zone, understanding what true character means, and building lifelong relationships.
5. Q: Who have been some of your influences?
A: I have had the privilege of surrounding myself with people who’ve been instrumental in my life. First off God and my husband, mom, teachers and professors, Dr. Connie Mariano, my agent Linda Konner and so on. These are people who’ve believed in my potential and beyond.
6. Q: If there is anything you would like to say to our readers what would it be?
A: Don’t live in the past. Focus on a prosperous future. Laugh along the way.
7. Q: You were recently married – how has that impacted your life/career/goals?
A: I was busy before I met my husband, David Van Maren. My life is even busier after marriage. My goals have remained and that’s to be a blessing and impact as many lives as possible. I’ve realized that we both work really hard and it’s important for us to make time for each other where we don’t talk about work. It’s something we are working on a regular basis.
8. Q: Can you give any advice to those who have a goal of writing a book?
A: If anyone wants to write a book be prepared for a journey that has lots of ups and downs. It took me five years to think of the concept of my book, find and agent, and then get the book sold. Someone told me that less than 1% of authors going through the traditional route ever get an agent to find a home for his/her book.
I also encourage anyone writing a book to having a writing coach during his/her journey so you have another second set of eyes to give you feedback with his/her story.
9. Q: Tell me why should people buy and read It Takes Moxie.
A: It Takes Moxie is a chicken soup for the soul and offers practical advice on how to achieve the American Dream. It’s a great book to give you a “kick” in your kickstand.
10. Q:Where can people get the book?
A: To purchase a copy of the book, readers may go to Amazon.com or my website.