Posted in authors, books, faction, history, military, non-fiction, novels

FACT BASED FICTION “FACTION”

Per Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

Faction is a literary genre, which utilizes fictional characters, and plot lines that must remain within the constraints of current reality. The authors tend to take current and recent-past events, and postulate what is likely or very possible to happen due to these events, utilizing current technology.

In this way faction differs from fiction, which does not have constraints to stay within reality, non-fiction novels, which take actual past persons and events and fictionalize their story….

                              *                        *                        *       

 By Vince D’Angelo

My time with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific provided many interesting experiences.  Since none involved combat or other heroics, I found little reason to share them. A houseguest’s curiosity about my military service compelled me to discuss those experiences. My guest found my anecdotes intriguing and suggested I write about them. After a few hastily constructed chapters, my guest commented, while still engaging, it read too much like a documentary. To me, the events were the facts and I couldn’t change them. Or, could I?

I recalled a book discussion on television where an author said his novel was based on actual events but fictionalized.  Asked if the novel was considered fiction or non-fiction, the author answered, “Faction”.  I heard the term used again in other literary discussions.

Thus, I embarked on writing a novel based on my experiences in the navy. I completed the manuscript; the process was easy since all I needed to do was to recall events. It met with praise…from family and friends and the former houseguest.  I titled it, Tales from the Pacific.

I was inspired to continue writing. So I cannibalized one of the chapters and expanded it into a novella titled, No-Name Island.

I decided to write another novel, this one based on my shore leave in Hong Kong, China; a British Crown Colony at the time. I was very much taken with the exotic Far East city.  It was the most memorable experience of my naval career and the inspiration for the new novel, Out of Hong Kong.

*                          *                          *      

BOOK COVER Vince De'Angleo

No-Name Island: Post World War II, a six-man navy detachment is sent on a highly classified mission to map a remote, uninhabited tropical island. Instead, they find a leper colony manned by a mysterious medical staff. Also, a hidden encampment of men and women survivors of an accidentally sunk Japanese hospital ship, who are not aware the war is over. Unlikely scenarios for romance? Not quite.

Out of Hong Kong Vince D'Angelo

Out of Hong Kong: A young navy officer on shore leave in Hong Kong unintentionally finds himself in a brothel. The girl assigned to him is a ‘first time’ teenaged virgin desperately attempting to earn quick money to free her parents enslaved by mainland communists. His attempt to save her from becoming a prostitute puts both their lives in danger. They fall in love but are forcibly separated. He goes back to his ship not knowing what has happened to her. He returns to Hong Kong numerous times over the years, attempting to find her.

Thanks to Vince D’Angleo for his input on writing “Faction.”

Authors: Do you write faction? How do you market it?  What have been your experiences.

Readers: Do you like reading faction – fact based novels? Why or why not?

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Posted in academic, business, children, college, college debt, education, family, money, non-fiction

An Entrepreneurial Approach to Getting Out of College Debt

Today we have a very different author to interview.  Abigail Widynski is the author of Making Money the Millennial Way

Abigail  Front Cover Thumbnail

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

For several years, my writing was purely academic. I am grateful for a very honest and tough 11th and 12th grade English teacher who had a Ph.D. in English. He was very critical of my writing and set the bar extremely high. At the time, it was completely demoralizing that he didn’t recommend me a place in the AP English course I had my heart set on. But looking back, this was a sort of fuel later on in my education as I disciplined myself to communicate with precision.

While going to business school abroad, I was often the one tasked in our group assignments to do the speaking, proofing and writing due to the fact I was a native English speaker! Later, the communication niche continued to pop up in my work, both in non-profit and M&A (finance). I just kept writing, trying to communicate the best I knew how. So, while I didn’t take any courses, I feel my life’s experiences have been a never-ending course!
On a side note, I also do sales and corporate communications writing for business owners seeking to increase sales or communicate newsworthy or delicate information to clients. Their feedback has helped me refine a different type of writing and earn while learning! Now, I subcontract some of these contracts and now, in turn, teach my writers how to write for sales and marketing.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

About two years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article for my friend and Techli.com’s founder, Ed Domain. Even as I type the title of it, I can’t help but laugh. The name said it all, ‘Dear Recession, Thanks! A Letter From a Millennial MBA.‘ Little did I realize my reality check of a recession would propel me into this dialogue on solutions. As my partner can attest to my saying (especially when he’s refusing to go to the doctor), I’m willing to offer sympathy when you’re willing to look for a solution! Now, before you brand me as cold-hearted, would you agree with me that merely talking about college debt doesn’t solve a graduate’s monthly repayment problem?

So, there it is, why I wrote this book. Students and graduates need a solution to their debt sooner, rather than later. And who doesn’t benefit from encouragement and motivation? That’s what I want to give to my readers who are the very generation of Millennial Money Makers.
Do you always write in the same genre?

Certainly not! I write on business and entrepreneurship, faith, as well as do marketing and sales writing. For my own business, I’ve written a great deal on finance. I believe that learning to write and communicate in your client’s voice stretches you as a writer and refines your own voice.
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Your writing style is a mirror of your personality. Are you goal-oriented or process-oriented? If you’re goal oriented, consider a writing timeline complete with mile markers and a completion date. If you’re process oriented, setting aside two hours a day/one day per week/etc may make the process both sustainable and enjoyable. Trying to fit yourself into the tips you read on ‘writing best practices’ may strain the process for you. Know yourself, own your style and carry on.
Personally, I’m highly goal-oriented and naturally an organizer. It was no headache for me to develop my title, full outline, etc. I also knew that my peak time is early morning and I need to stay active while writing. So, I took one month and completed my manuscript! I structured my day to be at the coffee shop by 6:15am, work until 8:30am, go to yoga or another fitness class, go to the library for another 2 hours, take a walk, and finish up writing at 4:30pm. At the end of every writing session, I determined which section I would address in the next writing session. This kept my mind flowing with thought and allowed me to get to work immediately when I sat down at my laptop. It worked so well for me because my writing style is a mirror of my personality!
Please complete this sentence….. My first ever published piece of writing was a travel tip that was published in the magazine Budget Travel. I was thrilled and received a years’ subscription. 😉
What is your advice to college students when it comes to college debt and how to handle it?

I think it’s critical to remember that entrepreneurship is a tool, a tool that can be wielded against debt. And as that tool sharpens and debt is eliminated, well then who knows what’s next for that student or graduate!

 

How did you conduct your research? With whom did you speak? Did you go to college campuses?

In researching this book, I wanted to get input from students making ends meet right now. I wanted to hear exactly what students are doing right now to earn money while studying. I needed to listen not just for the facts, but the struggle and resilience behind their pursuits. Also, I wanted to here their own ideas for creative money-making and things their friends had tried out! As a writer and researcher, I made the decision to compensate my survey participants and go to the place where many are trying to make money: online. Advertising for participants, I received dozens of bids and inquiries for two separate sets of surveys: experience in trying to make money (qualitative) and ideas for making money (qualitative). Sifting through a few hundred business ideas, I conducted further research against this criteria: Is it a low-capital venture? Is it quick-start? It was critical to me that I offer practical solutions; the book includes twenty-five low-capital, quick start business ideas broken into the following sections: the idea, getting started, and the nitty-gritty of pricing and overhead.
In addition to the research, I included personal stories from my education experience at Charles University in Prague and Imperial College London as well as a story or two of inspiration from my post education career working with entrepreneurs. Also included are oftentimes humorous testimonials from my college student survey participants.

Thank you, Abigail,  for being on “Writing Under Fire.” Where can readers learn more about your book or purchase it?

Press Release (Local to Marco Island): http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12439299.htm
Press Release (National post-State of the Union): http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12460853.htm
Book Website: http://getoutofcollegedebtnow.com/

Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

Posted in authors, books, children, favorite books, fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, writers

Thank you to 50 authors

My journey into blogging has hit the one year mark. To date, I have had fifty (count’ em 50) authors interviewed on  Author Interview Friday. And over THREE THOUSAND  views. I have learned so much from each and everyone of you and want to shout out a huge THANK YOU.

Every author has something different to bring to the table. Whether it is their experiences in publishing, struggles with writing or offering a book I can’t put down, it has been a wonderful journey. I am going to try to post more of my own personal journey as this new year begins. But fear not – we have lots of other authors to interview and join us here at Writing Under Fire.

If you have a new book being released (or an old one that needs a fresh promotion) and would like to be on my Author Interview Friday, please leave a comment here with your contact information and I will get back with you. I welcome authors from both fiction and non-fiction, local or global. Let’s mix it up a bit.

photo 2

Couldn’t resist – didn’t have any cute picture to post that had anything to with writing, but how can you not smile at this beautiful face of my grand-daughter, Amber?

Posted in authors, consumers, education, Indie, non-fiction, writers, writing

Micki Suzanne talks about writing and selling vintage jewelry

Micki Suzanne

Please help me welcome Micki Suzanne to Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday.   Micki, was there a particular inspiration to start writing?

As a kid I was obligated to write for church and school assignments. I didn’t enjoy the topics, but I’ve always loved wordplay.

In the sixties my high school English teacher told my mother I had talent and urged her to send me to college; she just didn’t have the money.

In the 80s I worked my way up from secretary to event planner for a Detroit-area marketing company. The guys in the creative department enjoyed passing informal essay contests around via email. Themes ranged from “what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done on a date” to “what’s the most humiliating thing you’ve ever done for money.” My contributions garnered guffaws, so they decided I should be hired in as a writer.

The creative director – an f-bombing bear of a man – took me under his wing and taught me the ways. That generous act changed my life. I’ve been writing professionally ever since.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

In the 90s I studied non-fiction with William X. Kienzle (author of The Rosary Murders and other best-sellers). His wife Javan was his editor, and they taught as a team. We became friends, met for lunch and discussed possible scenarios for his latest book “Til Death.” It came out in 2000; he passed the following year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_X._Kienzle

 What brought you from Michigan to Fort Myers?

A deer tick. In 2002 I had a writing career that paid so well I was able to open an antique shop on the side; then I got sick, lived with undiagnosed Lyme disease for two years and never fully recovered. I lost my job and my health, but I still had the antique shop. I was known for my estate jewelry, which I bought and sold online.

In 2006 eBay invited me out to join their Voices of the Community group. I returned inspired to write my first book, “Sick Mick’s Guide to Selling Antiques & Collectibles.” It was for people (like me) who were dealing with chronic illness.

When my boyfriend started wintering in Cape Coral, I closed my shop for the season and brought my estate jewelry down to sell online. I noticed I felt much better here!

When the relationship ended, I stayed and – to my surprise – managed to make it as a freelance marketing writer. That’s not easy at my age in a tourism-based economy.

This is my personal website/online portfolio: www.mickisuzanne.com

Are you a pantser or a planner?

Neither; I need to be inspired.
What inspired your new book?

When my freelance writing business slumped in 2012, I panicked and took two bags of my best jewelry to the gold buyers. I knew better, but I was teetering on the brink of financial disaster. Fortunately, I didn’t give them all of my gold. I walked away with some cash and the best of my stuff; which I promptly sold on eBay for substantial profit.
Once I calmed down, I was ENRAGED by the prices the gold buyers deemed “generous.” People needed to know how to sell their own jewelry online!  I thought I could just revise my previous book, but it was terribly out of date. I needed to write a whole new book – it is:

“How to Sell Vintage & Gold Jewelry Online”
http://www.amazon.com/Sell-Vintage-Gold-Jewelry-Online/dp/0978739329/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389483848&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+sell+vintage+%26+gold+jewelry+online

It’s available on Kindle (or PC) for $4.99 and as paperback for $9.99

Vintage Jewelry

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

I published my first book through a respected self-publishing company; I was lucky if I received pennies on the dollar. In their hands, my first book is – and has always been – out of my control. I will be shutting it/them down this year.

If you have the smarts to write a book, you have the skills to manage the publishing process. I’m extremely happy with my results through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space; most important, I own and control my work!

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

 My voice is my tone. We have a different tone with certain types of friends. I choose who I will write to. I see their faces and know their reactions.

Challenge brings sadness, so I attempt to soften hard truth with wry humor. This sample briefly explains how I acquired Lyme and what it felt like to part with my first heirloom.

“Weekends with Randy were my salvation. He had a hot tub, swimming pool and five acres of woods. One Sunday I should have been poolside catching late day rays, but no – I was cranked back in his bony blue La-Z-Boy watching Sex and the City.

Sassy ambled over, circled three times and curled up at my feet. She had been out back chasing deer. Her soft wavy fur carried the parasitic freeloader that would steal my health, my wealth and my man.

‘The thing’ I clawed from my thigh that day was a deer tick; but I didn’t know that. I wouldn’t know for a long time. It was round and hard as a bullet with my blood.

Years of crushing illness and brain fog passed without income or diagnosis. I literally kissed my house good-bye, ran a red light and cried all the way back to Randy’s.

It was time to rethink the spoils of failed relationships; the skating rink [3 carat diamond] was the first to go. I was freaked about putting something so valuable on eBay.

The day it sold, Emma was checking the pool filters for trapped frogs.

I vaguely remember putting the big pear cut diamond in her sticky little palm and apologizing that it should have been hers one day.

Then I cleaned it, insured it and shipped it to Texas. The new owner was ecstatic.

I was encouraged; I could do this.

So can you.”

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Editing is the hardest part. I’ve gone in to tweak a sentence and wound up restructuring one chapter that affects five more.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

As a marketing person, I know the importance of establishing online relationships. My favorite method is sharing my estate jewelry buying and selling experiences on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MickiSuzanneAuthor

 What advice would you give to new non-fiction writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Find a need and fill it.

Thank you Micki for being part of my blog today. Okay guys and girls, let’s run out and sell our vintage jewelry.   Joanne 

Posted in authors, children, counselors, humor, Indie, non-fiction, parents, peaceful, purpose, relax, writers, writing

Laughter Salad by Kimberly Borin

 Kimberly Borin pic

Joanne:  Welcome Kimberly.  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad is such a fun title.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Kimberly:  At a young age, I wanted to be a writer.  I loved reading and would spend hours reading Nancy Drew books and more.  I distinctly remember reading one quote by Eudora Welty, that granted me permission to be a writer.  In her book, One Writer’s Beginnings, on the last page she writes, “As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.”  Her last words seemed to free me up to know that I too could become a writer.  I am still writing, and for some writing, I still feel like someone trying to be a writer.  I am grateful for her simple words of encouragement and freedom to pursue my heart’s calling.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Kimberly:  I belong to a writing group called, The Sunrise Circle Writer’s Group.  This group of women encouraged me to write, find my voice and tell my story.  I have had plenty of writing courses and have had to learn how to write for public relations, education, dissertation research and more.  I am always learning to write in a new style and my first book Laughter Salad helped me learn to write in the first person, as a personal narrative.  Of course, there is still so much to learn and so much to hone too!  The skill I did not know I needed was the courage to put my voice out there and promote my book. This skill seems to be a little tougher to develop!

Joanne:   Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Kimberly:  I chose the self-publishing route because I was in a hurry to publish my book – I had to have it done within a year – and my friends had already used a self-publisher.  My first book was through iUniverse – I would never recommend them to anyone.  I have since published two books through CreateSpace, which I adore!  I work with a wonderful formatter, who is a lifesaver and allows the CreateSpace process to be easy for me.  I would highly recommend Judy Loose and her formatting services.

Joanne:   Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Kimberly:  I am continually finding my voice.  In my first book, Laughter Salad I tried to just be myself and speak from a very honest place.  Of course, as soon as it was published, I said to my family, “I hope NO ONE buys the book!”  I felt so very vulnerable and afraid that people might see my inner feelings.  In my second book, Laughter Salad for Little Ones, I was writing letters to children.  My school counselor and friend voice came through in my writing and it was fun to see that on paper.  For my third book, Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I was writing stories and lessons for my colleagues who are counselors, teachers, and parents too.  I kept moving from a personal voice to a professional voice – it felt a little unnerving but seemed like what I was called to do.  I see that finding my voice also requires much silence, waiting and listening within.  The silence allows me to hear the small whispering voice, that I eventually bring to life on the page.

Joanne:   It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Kimberly:  This is a great question, one I wrestle with weekly!  I am starting in small ways.  I work with local book shops to have book signings.  I enjoy being local and seeing friends that I know.  I have also given talks at our local libraries and in schools.  I often incorporate my work into my yoga classes too.  I am slowly and surely finding my voice in the marketing world.  At the moment, I am also relying on serendipity, synchronicity, some prayers and a miracle or two! (Doing more marketing is also my New Year’s resolution!  J)

Joanne:   What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Kimberly:  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad offers over 60 activities that bring simple moments of peace, relaxation, and nourishment to the lives of children, and the adults who work with them. This is the perfect book for teachers, counselors, parents, and anyone who works with children. The book is divided into three chapters, each one highlighting activities using Nature, Relaxation, and Stories.

These simple lessons are perfect for the classroom, counseling office, or the outdoors. They are easy to use and can be adapted to meet the needs of students of any age. In a matter of minutes students can feel centered, calm, and connected to all that is around them. These mindful activities also help children develop deeper compassion and caring for themselves. If you take a moment to flip through the playful activities within Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I promise, you’ll feel nourished, relaxed, and peaceful too!

Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

The Cover Design LS3i 11Best2

Here is a sample activity from the chapter on Relaxation:

Activity #1: Beginning Relaxation Strategies

In school, we want students to be able to handle stress by practicing simple relaxation strategies. We know that with practice, students can learn to calm down, ease anxiety, and easily feel at peace when they need to. These are skills we want our students to have as they take a test, prepare for a big game, make a speech, interview for a job or college, or ease their worries.

Please note that the activities suggested in this book require adult assistance and supervision. If you have any doubts or questions about the suitability of these exercises for a student’s social, emotional, or physical needs, please consult a healthcare practitioner. Below are some very simple and basic strategies to help with relaxation:

  • Awareness of Body Tension and Feelings – First, we have students take a moment to see how they feel, physically and emotionally. Students are asked to notice how they feel while sitting at their desks. We ask them to notice muscles that feel tired, sore, or energized. We also ask them to notice how they are feeling – happy, sad, concerned, tired, etc. We want them to know that they have the ability to change how they feel, but first they have to figure out what is happening and what they need. We also encourage them to talk with a trusted adult if they need help with any of their feelings.
  • Postural Awareness Students are asked to become aware of how they sit at their desks. We help them notice when they may be slouching and when they are sitting up tall. We point out how much more oxygen and breathing is possible when students sit up straight with good posture. Sitting with good posture can also allow them to feel more confident, alert, and energized throughout the day.
  • Simple Breathing Techniques Next, children are encouraged to take a deep breath. So often throughout the day, we don’t even think about our breathing and we forget how relaxing a long inhalation or exhalation can be. We practice taking a large inhale and then allow the breath to “travel” all the way down to our feet before exhaling. This long exhalation is the key to relaxing. When students are practicing just two or three breaths, we also ask them to be silent and notice sounds in the room, which will enhance their listening skills, concentration, and awareness.
  • Progressive Relaxation We also talk about progressive relaxation, which is used by professional and Olympic athletes, rock stars, corporate CEOs and more. Students are taught to tense muscles when inhaling and then relax them while exhaling. We start with our feet and tense and relax knees, stomachs, backs, arms, and shoulders. This simple act of tensing the muscles and relaxing them creates a more relaxed state as the body releases tension. Students notice a difference as they hold the tension in their muscles and then relax. This is also another good technique for managing emotions, preparing for a test or competition, or releasing fear or worry.
  • Imagination – When students are done relaxing, we ask them to use their imaginations to think about a peaceful place or an image of their “best self.” We encourage them to see their best self – with as many sensory details as possible. The images they share with us are always positive and encouraging. They have said, “I saw myself as smart and confident.” Or, “I saw myself as being a doctor, which is what I would like to do when I grow up.” We also talk about how professionals use visualization to see themselves making the perfect foul shot, scoring a touchdown, or auditioning for a Broadway play.
  • Staying Positive, Positive Self-Talk and Reframing We also speak with students about positive self-talk. In their visualizations of their best self, we ask them to choose three positive words to describe this image of themselves. We want them to notice the words they use when speaking about themselves. If the words are negative, we want them to know how to change those words to something positive. For example, if a student is saying, “I’ll never be good at math,” we want to help them reframe the words into something positive, like, “I am able to learn math in my own way and my own time. I am very capable of learning lots of new things.”
  • Other simple ideas that will help students stay positive include:

o   Laugh when you can, especially if you feel nervous.

o   Try to think in new, creative, and positive ways.

o   Use kind words, eye contact, and politeness to build a bridge to others and be an ambassador of peace. Your kindness will help others too.

o   Take good care of yourself by getting lots of sleep, eating well, and drinking water. The extra effort will keep you strong, smart, and happy!

o   Tell someone – a friend, a teacher, or any trusted adult – if something is bothering you. Telling someone is taking a positive step to help yourself.

o   Think positively about yourself. Everything that you do matters!  You never know how your kindness or help can have a positive, lasting effect on the people around you.

o   Try to learn something new. When we stretch ourselves, we realize that we are capable of great things, even when we make mistakes.

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to just take deep breaths!

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to know that you are an amazing person with unique likes, dislikes, talents, strengths, and needs!

o   Take a moment to celebrate your gifts, strengths, hopes, and dreams too!

 

Helpful Websites:

Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Nourishing-Inspiring-Stories/dp/1475937539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335512&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad

Laughter Salad for Little Ones: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Little-Ones-Nourishing/dp/1482371995/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335534&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad+for+Little+Ones

Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Growing-Laughter-Salad-Celebrating/dp/1489579125/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335562&sr=8-1&keywords=Learning+and+Growing+with+Laughter+Salad

Kimberly’s Website, The Encouraging Works: www.TheEncouragingWorks.com

Kimberly’s Art: http://kimberlyannborin.zenfolio.com

 

Posted in authors, characters, fiction, friends, history, mystery, non-fiction, novels, readers, writers

Welcome back, author Dan Goldstein to Writing Under Fire

Please help me welcome back, Dan Goldstein, to my weekly Author Interview of the Week. He was a guest on one of my very first posts, as an a good friend and author, I am pleased to have him back. Dan is has written several Indie novels and some children’s stories. His latest book, Wild Bill Hickok, is the true adventure of the famous wild west icon’s last few weeks of his life as portrayed in a journal of his sidekick, Nathan Bernard and passed down to his son, grandson and then to Goldstein.

Joanne:  Do you have a background in writing?

Dan: Not really. Up north before coming to Florida I started writing children stories. When I arrived in Naples I joined an evening class and shortly after, my teacher took me aside and told me she liked the way I did my dialogue and that I should try a novel. I thought she was crazy. Me? Write a novel? But I started one and found that I picked the right topic and the words just flowed out of me. It was an adventure story and now it’s in print and also e-books.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Dan: Mostly. I have some great children stories but I prefer to write adventure stories.

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route instead of traditional publishing?

Dan: Now-a-day, I believe that if you’re not a big name writer or you know somebody who knows somebody, or you are extremely lucky, it is rare an agent will touch you. I have also discovered that most publishers won’t touch you without an agent. It feels like a catch-22 situation. I believe that the big publishers are losing out by not representing more local writers.

Joanne: Do I always write in the same POV?

Dan: I tried writing in first person and found it much too difficult. I switched to third person and that was much easier reading and writing.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis or the story itself?

Dan: I find the synopsis the hardest in writing. I tend to get inside the story too much and the synopsis gets too lengthy.

Joanne: Are you a pantser or a planner?

Dan: Not knowing exactly what a pantser is, I assume it is somebody that writes by the seat of his/her pants, while a planner has a good idea what the story is about and plans each step. Actually, I write quite different from most. I start with a title and start the story never knowing what the story is about until I get into it. I also usually put myself into the story and respond as I would to whatever event I’m writing about. I never write an outline or plan any events until they actually arise. I have written six novels this way, and what I have found as my only problem is my English knowledge and building sentences in the correct English. I write as I have learned to speak, mostly while in the streets of Boston. Since writing novels I have found myself correcting other writers in their spelling and use of words. Many times while reading some ‘big named’ writers like Stuart Woods I have said to myself, “this sounds like me writing”.

Amazon link to Hickok novel

Thank you Dan, for taking the time to be my guest on Writing Under Fire.

Goldstein is the author of Wild Bill Hickok – The True Story about his last six weeksBoston / Moscow Connection and Destination: Croatia

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Posted in books, education, family, Florida, history, Indie, non-fiction, remember, writers

Local SW Historian brings Florida history to life

I am so pleased to have  Elizabeth “Betsy” Perdichizzi with us today on Author Interview Friday. I first read her book, A Girl Called Tommie when I moved here in 2008. Betsy made Tommie jump off the page and come alive for me. I could see her forging creeks and plodding through swamp land to bring civilization to Marco Island.  Like Betsy, when I moved here, I was craving the history of the island.  It was the best book  I had ever read on the local history of the area.  It is such a joy to say that Betsy and I are now friends and share the joy of writing together.

Betsy Perdichizzi

Betsy, please tell the readers when you first knew that you wanted to be a writer and if there was a particular inspiration to get started?

Our move to Marco Island in 1989 sparked my interest in learning about my new Florida home.  There were no books in the bookstore, only one or two in the library to read about the history of the island.  Most newcomers like myself came just for fishing, boating and leisure.  Doug Waitley, author of the Last Paradise, spoke at a luncheon that I attended. He said that he too had come to the island wanting to read about the history, then decided he had to write it.  He wrote about the Deltona development which we call modern Marco. In my mind, his words helped spark establishment of the Marco Island Historical Society in 1994 the need to capture oral histories of pioneers and their descendents.  I sensed time was running out. Those Old Timers and their descendents were dying off or drifting away. I met Kappy Kirk, Tommie Barfield’s 80 year old niece and legal ward, who introduced me to her friends.  That was a real break through, I wanted to  interview them all and write their stories.  So I became an actress telling the story of Tommie Barfield and her friends, then I became an author, writing about these people and how three communities developed.   I eventually found myself chairing the Capital Campaign to raise $4.5 million dollars to build the Marco Island Historical Museum to tell the story of the Calusa, the Pioneers and the 1960 Deltona history that led to modern Marco Island.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I learned the rudimentaries of writing for newspapers in a high school journalism class, but my real training was on the job experience writing as a freelance columnist, writing for the historical society newspaper then spent ten years writing a  newspaper history column “Days Gone By’ in the Suntimes, for which I won the Golden Quill Award.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

I would say two years. My book was a one-woman play before it was a book. In 1998, I collected information about Tommie Barfield with the Kappy’s help and we formed a company to publish the book “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” in 1999.

Do you always write in the same genre?

You’ve heard the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is true.  I am fascinated by the stories of pioneers and try to make them come alive for people, using their own words where possible. The SW Florida region is captivating, with new information about the past turning up everywhere, all the time. I can’t make it up any better than this, it is more interesting to me fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Florida non-fiction.  For the past six years I have been on a journey with the Olds family, discovering what it was like down here one hundred years ago.  When I was writing “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” Kappy took me to Miami Beach to meet Tommies’ little sister Hazel.  Walking into Aunt Hazel’s house with pictures of her mother, sisters, the boarding house, made it all come alive for me, I hope I passed it on..

One of my readers, Dr. Robin Brown, a noted author in Fort Myers, wrote, “I just finished reading A Girl Named Tommie. What a very fine piece of work! I am helping write a summary of material pertinent to the presentation of Marco’s history for your new museum and I learned more about Marco during the century from 1850 to 1950 from your book, than from any other source. It needed to be written. And writing readable non-fiction is not easy. Your combination of dry historical fact with poignant human detail is well crafted

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Desk-top publishing or Indi-publishing as it is now called, blossomed with advent of the computer offering writers an economical way to publish their work  and become authors of published books.  I loved the writing part of it. Marketing the book and making it profitable thus rests directly on the author and if I do a little bit each day, even that part is getting interesting.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Documenting the history of real people and telling their life-stories is of great interest to me. In the non-fiction books my Voice is just the narrator giving some necessary background information.  In the early book I was a character in order to tell the story. 

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s? (point of view)

I read contemporary and classic authors and find myself studying how other authors express themselves, handle delicate subject matter, or admire a well-turned a phrase.  Writing for a newspaper helped me write clearly and cleanly, eliminating unnecessary words or flights of phrases. I like beginning at the beginning, but am not adverse to back flashes that explain a point in the story. 

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

In writing about real people it is sometimes easier to find the beginning and the middle than it is to find the end or conclude the story.  In the “Tommie” book I I searched for a good ending, with what I thought was her vision of the future.  Readers always want to know what happened to your main character and I handled that  in a postscript, just as in a performance, you conclude the presentation in first person, getting out of character in the end to answer questions from the audience. 

Into the Wilderness offered my biggest challenge because I felt that Mary commanded the heart of the story with her very personal and revealing letters.  Mary’s daughter Saloma picked up the legacy with a beautiful letter that made it come full circle.

What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

One of the lecturers the 2013 Florida Heritage Book Festival remarked that if you do a little marketing everyday, it isn’t so overwhelming.

I found that I had made a good start, was doing some things right, 1. Establish my publishing business with Florida Sales Tax and ID tax number using an on line accounting program such as Quickbooks. 2. Establish website. 3. Contact Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  I acquired a Vendor of Record for companies who do not deal directly with authors or Indiepubs. 4. Actively working to market my books at least 30 minutes every day. 5. Enable myself to take cash, check and credit cards. I acquired a smart phone and Square reader for credit cards. Obtained credit card slips for back up when there is no WIFI or internet. 6. Obtain a banner, posters, and provide a table set up at book fairs that will attract people to my table.

I need to do more on social media, I don’t think it will ever end.

What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript? 

It you have the passion, don’t worry too much about details down the road…write it and it will come.

How does this book relate to the issues of today?

Some of the political issues touched upon one hundred years ago are still with us.  It is sometimes good to look over your shoulder and see how far we have come, and see what we can learn from the past. The pioneer had to be hardy, independent, self sufficient, and make do or do without.  You have to ask yourself, when disaster strikes are we prepared to meet and overcome the challenges as they did?

What is the premise of your novel, Into the Florida Wilderness,  we are promoting today?

Into the Florida Wilderness

Into the Florida Wilderness, Pioneer Life and medicine is based on fascinating first-hand accounts of life on the edge of civilization before Florida became a tourist and snowbird haven. The story is told in first person through the lively written diaries, photographs, and letters of three growing daughters of homeopathic doctors Mary and Louis Olds who lived on Marco Island from 1903 to 1920.  Dr. Mary and her family dropped out of Society and wrote about it, just as Al Seely, the hermit, would do 150 years later.  Mary followed her husband, the love of her life, with three little girls into the unknown backward civilization of primitive Florida. How do you survive in a place without roads, electricity, sewage, running water, hospitals, churches, or grocery stores. How do you preserve food without refrigeration? Wealthy and socially prominent northerners were attracted to their modest two-story home on the Marco River, becoming friends and sharing beach picnics and family suppers.  The girls took pictures with their camera and developed the film themselves…when they had ice! Names like Pinchot, Hornaday, Fielding, Dimock and Halderman float through the narratives like next-door neighbors.

 Dr. Mary’s challenge was to create a cultured home, and educate her daughters.

Betsy, I know the readers would love a little sample of your story.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Mary writes to her Smith college classmates of 1884. (word count 831)

Marco Island, FL.

Oct. 25th, 1911

Dear Eight-Four: –

What a pleasure it is to hear from you once more! And what interesting letters you do write! It is a great delight to all our family to hear from you – and quite an education to our three country girls to touch so many phases of life through your rich and varied experiences.

Since I wrote you at Reunion in June 1910, the chief event in our history has been the great hurricane of Oct. 17, 1910 and its consequences.  During the whole summer following that June the country here seemed unusually prosperous: crops were most promising, both fruit and vegetables, for the fall and winter; and the tropical fruits of the summer were luxuriant in quantity and variety. We feasted on mangoes, guavas, sapodillas, sugar apples, avocados, etc. and then often felt little need of anything else except a little bread and butter.  Dr. Olds was greatly interested in propagating the finer varieties of mangoes, and had a beautiful nursery of young trees, and some fine specimens beginning to fruit, among them a fine Mulgoba, which proved to be as perfect and wondrous a fruit as it is claimed to be.  For the first time since we came to Florida, Dr. Olds began to feel that reasonably financial comfort was in sight. ‘But alas! Though we did not see winter as an enemy…“rough weather” did come- rougher than we had ever known.

We have often been on the edge of the great storms that have devastated Pensacola, Key West, Cuba, and other places within the sphere of influence of the Caribbean seas: but had always been fortunate in escaping with a gale tide, a high wind, and a day or two of hard rain but last year we were at the very center of the storm’s mischief. Five days it rained and blew-and when finally it seemed that the storm must be over, the very worst of it came on.  The rain did not fall down, it came horizontally, dashing at the house and forcing its way in at every horizontal crack.  Great sheets of salt water were swept up by the wind from the bay and dashed over the house. All day long we worked like Trojans, mopping up the water and trying to save our possessions from ruin. At dusk, the trees began to crash and break, and the rain poured in through the shattered roof in hopeless floods-.  Buckets did not avail to catch it- and it poured down through the second story floor to the ground floor where Dr. Olds bore holes for it to escape. It seemed every moment as if the whole roof must crash in, and we did not dare stay up stairs. Finding one dry corner we dumped the children there to try to sleep-but they could not, exhausted though they were by the day’s labors. Finally they arose, and tried to relieve the strain by playing Parcheesi! Dr. Olds and I were meanwhile going through some of the most anxious hours we had ever known. The tide the day before had gone lower than we had ever seen it before, almost baring the bottom of the bay, and Dr. Olds had known that this presaged an extraordinarily high tide on the return flood, and had felt all the time that we ought to escape to higher ground, than our own place afforded. But the wind was so terrific that none of our little boats could live in the angry waters as they rolled back.  Dr. Olds himself could not stand against the wind, and with trees crashing and timbers whirling through the air it seemed sure death to venture out of the house at all. By midnight our dock was swept away, the launch unroofed and sunk, the skiffs disappeared, palmetto trees torn up by the roots, the large sea grape tree in front of the house (the larger of the two trees in the photo) torn limb from limb until little more than a stump remained. No words can describe the force of those frightful gusts of wind as they beat against the poor little house – like a giant fish beating on a band box, like blows from a colossal club, each one harder than the last, getting worse, worse, incredibly worse, the house trembling and shaking, (flapping its wings: the children said), the kitchen roof rising and falling a foot or more with every gust, and each time it fell the stove pipe knocked against the stove with the weirdest sound!  Meanwhile the tide was rising a foot every five minutes, and we could see the water approaching the house.  The wind changed, and the chances were that storm and waves and wind would knock the house “all to smithereens,” as Dr. Olds said.

Go we must, but how?

Thanks Betsy. Readers, if you are interested in SW Florida history, you will love her books. Betsy’s website is www.CaxambasPublishing.com where you can see all of her books.

Posted in authors, books, characters, editing, education, Indie, non-fiction, writing

Tell Me (How to Write) A Story by E.J. Runyon

E.J. Runyon, author of the story collection, Claiming One, and the writing guide, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story also runs  BridgetoStory.com a creative writing website. Her next book is a novel, A House Of Light And Stone  due Oct 2014, and the upcoming writing guide, Revision for Beginners, is due out in 2015.

Picture of EJ

Welcome E.J. It is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About 10 years, I’d say, collecting it all together. My short story collection got picked up the first place I sent it to. But the 17 stories had been written, edited, and polished since about 2001. That work led to Claiming One, being published in 2012 – by the first and only place I tried. They like me well enough that, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story was released next, and a novel will be out soon. Sara Jayne Slack’s baby, Inspired Quill, is a UK Social Enterprise program and that interested me much more than the idea of publication.

Book cover for EJ

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

I may try Indy publishing one day, but so far things are via Inspired Quill. Online I have a few personae, none of which use E.J. Runyon as a screen name. So my first connection with Sara, my publisher, was through one of these forum nom de plumes. She mentioned her new press. I sent off my submission, agentless, without mentioning that we knew each other online. She had no idea what my actual name was anyway. Would I have submitted if Inspired Quill hadn’t been a Social Enterprise concern? I doubt it.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

(laughs) Read my latest book! No. I think you’ve got to put it all down first. Don’t spend all your energy polishing one scene or chapter. You’ll never get anywhere that way. No matter if you re-read and aren’t happy with it. Save the editing for when it all exists and you have an ending to consider. In Tell Me (How to Write) A Story I talk about highlighting what you want to edit, but holding off on the changes until you can look at a chapter or scene and see all those highlights. Knowing how often you do something– will help you stop doing it that way in the next scene you write. Editing means a writer is stepping back and seeing it all from a small distance; not cleaning up one step at a time.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Luckily, no. I’ve got no problem with hearing various voices in my own mind. Maybe there’s a bit of actress inside, willing to take on new roles. And I’ve studied the basic storytelling methods so that’s allowed me to stretch and try lots of different voices in my works.

Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?

I deconstruct scenes from novels all the time. I’m famous for leading my coaching clients through doing that too. I’ve got whole classes on how to do a syntax deconstruction for bettering your own writing. There’s a section on that in my book too, you can follow how to do it step-by-step. Good strong syntax, when you recognize it, can be the road-signs to better writing. I try stealing as much as I can from writers whose way of saying things I admire.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

In 1996, it dawned on me that I’d made it to a place where my characters sounded like real people. The Narrator-voice I started with had receded to the background. I wasn’t using my words for telling, or explaining things to the reader. I think it was then that I realized ‘that way of writing’ was the storytelling ‘voice’ that people were talking about finding. Without that stilted sounding, overt describing, things began to sound right on the page for me. I knew I’d found it then.

Thank you for being with us today E.J. I am sure many people will want to log on to your creative writing website and look to your for some pointers. This writing business can be very frustrating and sometimes lonely. It helps to have someone like you in our “corner.”

Readers – here is how you find E. J. and her books

Tell Me (How to Write) A Story” Good, Basic Advice for Novices Ready To Write. By EJ Runyon

US: http://tinyurl.com/kkcfsjz    UK: http://tinyurl.com/kjon5ub

CA: http://tinyurl.com/klq7ls9    IN: http://tinyurl.com/lv8wnwh

Twitter: @TellMeHow2Write

Websites: Author site http://ej-runyon.com    Coaching site http://bridgetostory.com

Posted in authors, children, education, non-fiction, schools, teaching our children, writers

Dr. Dolores Burton addresses an integrated approach to today’s classrooms

It is my honor to have Dr. Burton with us today on Author Interview Friday.  I rarely have the opportunity to have non-fiction writers here and it is a wonderful change. I know that there have been so many new changes in the school system over the years and although I no longer have children in school, I hear the grumblings from young parents about the school testing programs and the general decline in good teaching. It sounds like you have offered an answer to their concerns.

author photo

Dolores Burton has been an educator for 37 years and consulted on educational matters locally for school districts, nationally and internationally for universities such as Moi University in Kenya. She was recently honored as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and traveled to South Africa to assist the University of Pretoria to create programs for underserved populations.

Dr. Burton recently retired as chair of teacher education and a professor at New York Institute of Technology. She is a former middle and high school mathematics and computer science teacher and school district administrator responsible for the installation of district-wide and county-wide technology implementations and professional development for teachers. She is permanently certified in New York State as a classroom teacher of mathematics, building administrator and school district administrator.

Her first book, The Complete Guide to RtI: An Implementation Toolkit, was published in December 2011 by Corwin Publications and her second book, Mathematics, the Common Core, and RtI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms, was published in September 2013. She has published in numerous journals and presented in regional, national, and international venues on topics related to; mathematics, STEM, using technology to enhance teaching and learning, differentiated instruction and assessment and using brain based learning strategies to reach all students among other topics. In the early 1980’s she authored 10 modules of software to prepare students for standardized tests in mathematics and was the first author admitted to the Author’s Guild for authoring non-print material.

She has a special interest in using research to close the achievement gap of the traditionally underserved populations; nontraditional learners, English Language Learners, students with special needs, and others at-risk for academic failure.

Before we begin, can you explain what “RTI” actually is or “the Common Core?”

To answer your question, I’ll take a quote from our first book, The Complete Guide to RTI. A change in regulations that govern education in this country took place in 2001 with the legislation, No Child Left Behind. In place of accumulated experience, past practice, expertise, professional judgment, and training as the basis for decision-making, the standard for educational practice would be the scientific method: “systematic, empirical methods . . .  rigorous data analysis . . . observational methods . . . experimental or quasi-experimental designs .”

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach to identifying and supporting students with learning and behavior needs. Its purpose is to provide high quality, scientifically based instruction in the general education classroom. The RTI process includes ongoing student assessment and monitoring of individual student progress (progress monitoring) that tracks the results of targeted and “tiered” interventions. These interventions are introduced first to all learners (beginning at the elementary school level), and then increased for those who show a need for additional support. This additional support comes from a multi-tiered approach that provides differentiated instruction to develop their skills.

While no single RTI model is universally practiced among all grade levels, generally, the three (sometimes four or five) separate tiers of specific learning strategies offer increasing levels of intensity of instruction to accelerate students’ rates of learning, based on their individual needs.

Common Core refers to the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics that are implemented on a state level for education. The proper name in Florida for the Reading standards is “English Language Arts and Literacy”.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

As a teenager I wanted to be an artist; then I thought about becoming a teacher of mathematics. I chose mathematics because as a math teacher I would not have to write, just work with numbers. I did not think I was a very good writer but knew I was a good math student. My interest in writing began about 15 years ago. Over my professional career, I had written many reports, memos, etc. but had not found my passion. My passion was ignited when I started doing research for my dissertation and learned from my professors ways to create new ideas and knowledge to share about best strategies to use to help children and adults learn new concepts. Around that time, personal computers were being installed in schools and the use of technology for teaching and learning was very exciting to me; like a really challenging jigsaw puzzle. Around the same time word processors were becoming more powerful (thank goodness for spell check!) and suddenly I could write about what I was discovering about using computers in schools to benefit students.

How long did it take to publish your first manuscript?

The process to publish our first book, The Complete Guide to RTI: An Implementation Toolkit, started in the summer of 2008 and continued until the book was published in December of 2011. The book proposal was completed and submitted to the publisher in June 2010. We received the contract from our publisher in August 2010. The book went through a peer review process several times during this period and each time a response to the peer reviewers’ comments needed to be submitted to the publisher. This added to the time between idea and publication.

The book we are discussing today started as an idea while writing the mathematics chapter in The Complete Guide to RTI. Once I started the research for the chapter, I realized to do justice to this topic; it would take more than a 20 page chapter. Hence, Mathematics, the Common Core, and RTI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms was born!

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? How did you find your publisher?

Both books were published by Corwin Publications, a division of Sage Publications. I found the publisher by identifying books in a similar genre and making a list of their publishers. I attended conferences and met some of the staff of 3 or 4 potential publishers and gave them a one page flyer that described the premise of the book and the titles of the chapters. I focused on Corwin because I liked the conversations with the Corwin editors I met. I guess you can say it felt right. I followed up with a 70 page book proposal (most likely over kill) based on the directions for authors on the Corwin website.

What was the hardest part of the writing process; the outline, the synopsis, query or building the story itself?

The hardest part of the writing process for me was getting over “writers block”. Periodically I would sit down at my computer and stare at the screen. Absolutely no thought would enter my mind regarding whatever topic I was trying to write about. My technique to get over that “mental freeze” was to just start writing even if a page or two made no sense in the context of the book and was eventually discarded. For me, the process of typing on the computer sometimes helps to make my brain think.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

The most important advice I can think of for new writers is, “Write every day!”. The more you write the better writer you will become. When you are not writing; read. Reading the work of good writers has helped me to analyze my own writing. I have writing buddies that read my work are “critical friends” Before we start the process we agree to not to take the suggestions personally and be honest with each other about how we can make the chapter, article or proposal better. Sometimes my husband becomes my “critical friend” especially when I am trying to judge how clear I have presented an idea.

What is the premise of the book we are promoting today?

Mathematics, the Common Core, and RTI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms was written to help pre-service and in-service teachers, parents and administrators to create opportunities for all students to be successful in mathematics. We tried to give strategies that are easy to use that will help children in grades 1 through 8 to succeed in the new more rigorous Common Core Mathematics State Standards   and the English Language Arts and Literacy State Standards, whether they are challenged or typical students. There are chapters describing the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and literacy, special strategies for students for whom English is not their first language, students with special needs and a chapter to help parents understand the new Common Core Standards  and resources for them to help their children. The book was released on September 26, 2013 and is available on Amazon.com and Corwin.com.

Burton_Mathematics_the_Common_Core_and_RTI       42181_Burton_Complete_Guide_RTI_72ppiRGB_150pixw (2)

I must apologize for the small copy of the Complete Guide to RTI book.  One thing I am not is a computer wiz and try as I may, this was the best I could do.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

This is an excerpt from Chapter 1:

The most pervasive mandates in American schools today are the Common Core State Standards (prescribing the content of instruction) and Response to Intervention (prescribing a data-based method of instruction). Most of the resources available to help teachers work with either mandate treat the two as separate entities, without reference to the other. As a result, mathematics educators are calling for some way of working with CCSS and RTI as a single, unified program that they can use in their classes, rather than as separate, isolated mandates. Discussions with teachers reflect John F. Kennedy’s frustration with his advisors when he reportedly complained, “All my economists say, ‘on the one hand . . . on the other.’ Give me a one-handed economist” (quoted in Krugman, 2003, p. 11). Teachers need a single inte­grated approach to mathematics instruction—not two, let alone three or more—that addresses the needs of all their students.

In preparation for this book, we reviewed the growing collection of mate­rial on CCSS and RTI that is available to educators, and as we listened to col­leagues who are introducing the two programs to their schools, it became clear that what they needed was not another handbook telling them what CCSS or RTI is. What they want is, first, a way of untangling the perspectives of the many experts within the fields of the Common Core and RTI. Second, they are asking for help in charting a path through the potential interactions between RTI and the other mandated requirements their schools face, par­ticularly the Common Core, but also the No Child Left Behind legislation, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, differentiated instruction and universal design, inclusion, parent involvement, and the demands of their local school policies. Teaching mathematics is a more com­plex activity than ever before, and the need for a unified instructional strat­egy to teach all students has never been stronger. There is pressing need for a book that integrates the multiple new requirements into a single, compre­hensible process that can help teachers succeed with the mandates of CCSS and RTI, but more important, to help each of their students achieve success in mathematics. That is our goal.

Where can readers buy your books? 

On Amazon:     http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-author=Dolores%20T.%20Burton&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ADolores%20T.%20Burton

On Corwin.com

http://www.corwin.com/books/Book236037   for The Complete Guide to RTI

http://www.corwin.com/books/Book239522     for Mathematics, the Common Core and RTI