CANTON, Ohio — Canton native, and now published author, Chynna Denny is sharing her childhood story in hopes that it can help other children overcome their shyness and pursue their dreams and passions.
Chynna Denny, a graduate of Timken High School, is the self-published author of the children’s book “I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!”
The book is written to help children to be themselves, overcome their fears, and take chances—lessons Denny wishes she could have learned as a child.
Denny grew up in a different family dynamic than many of her peers. The youngest of three, her half-siblings were much older than she was, which made her feel like an only child. From a very early age, Denny struggled to fit in. She had one white sibling and one black sibling and was the only biracial member of her family.
She said the feeling of being different in her family didn’t help her struggles to overcome shyness.
“I was extremely shy as a kid. It was to the point that people thought I was the ‘weird kid,’" Denny said. “I desperately wanted to have friends but it was really difficult for me to be outgoing. I didn’t really realize how much it kept me from.”
Denny said her shyness kept her from doing the things she wanted so badly to try, like taking piano lessons, playing sports, going skating and even drawing.
“I used to draw a lot, I absolutely loved to draw,” Denny said.
In middle school, Denny said a bullying incident changed her love of drawing. A girl saw Denny’s drawings and held them up in front of the class, ridiculing her art and crushing the passion of an already insecure child.
“At that point, I wasn’t drawing anything anymore. I was so discouraged by that incident, I just gave it up,” Denny said.
In high school, Denny was involved in Timken’s Early College High School program. She graduated from the Canton high school with her college degree and an associate’s degree in 2010.
After high school, Denny was accepted to Bowling Green University where she studied photography and business, earning a dual degree.
Despite her achievements and success, Denny’s struggles with shyness weren’t behind her yet.
Denny dove right into a career in photography, but her introverted nature made it difficult to interact with clients she didn’t know. She was very aware of her struggle to interact with strangers and put herself out there, making a conscious effort to address it once and for all.
That’s when she was inspired to write the book.
Making “I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!”
While working on her photography business, Denny began a blog to accompany her work. Her editor, Laci Swan, was impressed with Denny’s work and made the suggestion that she write a book.
“Two weeks later something popped into my mind. I thought ‘what if I wrote a book for shy children?’ and kind of kept that bottled up until it got so strong,” Denny said. “I figured maybe I could write this book.”
Once she set her mind to it, everything began to flow. Based loosely around her childhood, the story came so naturally to her, Denny was able to write the book in a single night. She sent the story to her editor, who loved every page.
After the story was on paper, Denny started to figure the costs for everything else. One of the things she began to budget for an illustrator. At that moment, the memories of childhood passions resurfaced.
Denny, working to practice what she preached in the children’s book she had just written, pushed aside her doubts and childhood worries and decided she was going to illustrate the book herself.
“I had a conversation with myself and decided I was going to write this book and I was going to illustrate this book,” Denny said. “I told myself ‘you need to do this.’”
Denny started the illustrations in April and wrapped the entire process up by August. “I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!” is a product of Denny’s childhood and her dedication to overcome her past fears and doubts.
Published by Denny in September, “I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!” is start-to-finish all done by her. In the month that it has been published, it has gotten great feedback.
“I put everything I had into it,” Denny said.
The biggest inspiration
Although the book is intended to help all children overcome their fears and shyness, Denny has one child, in particular, she hopes it impacts—her daughter.
Denny said her daughter Camylle is the polar opposite of her as a child. She is outgoing and extroverted, but she wants to make sure that her outgoing nature continues and she always feels confident to follow her dreams.
“I support everything she does,” Denny said. “I want to encourage her to push her to do everything she feels she wants to do.”
Denny said that Camylle is enrolled in six classes at the local YMCA to see what she gravitates to, and while she loves to swim and run and play soccer now, she wants her daughter to find the courage to try new things if she desires.
“I’m hoping this book, if she has any fears, that it teaches her that she can do anything she puts her mind to,” Denny said. “Without my daughter, I wouldn’t have written this book, she inspires me.”
“I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!” is sold exclusively on Amazon in paperback form and for Kindle Unlimited, but Denny said she has been considering an e-book that would be available on Apple Books as well.
Until then, Denny’s book can be found here.
While her newly published book sells online, Denny will be spending the next seven months working on a different task on the internet.
Heading to France to support her boyfriend’s overseas basketball career, Denny will work remotely, teaching English to children in China online.
Perhaps the words she included within the author's notes in “I can’t, I can’t...I CAN!” will be a part of those English lessons.
"You can overcome this! You are enough! You are loved!"