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By Trish Wilkinson

iStock_000001688703SmallWith academic demands ratcheting higher, stressing out children and their parents, seven years ago, I set out to write Grade by Grade: A Guide to Raising Smart, Happy Kids, K—6. The book would be a What to Expect When You’re Expecting for elementary school.

I’d collected a boatload of convenient games for parents and children to play on car rides, at the doctor’s office, or in line at the grocery store at each grade level—activities to help kids thrive, whatever their learning environment.

After twenty-three years of teaching, three years of research and interviews with lots of professionals and parents, I took an online class with Media Bistro and wrote a killer book proposal.

But once I started sending out queries and talking to agents and publishers at conferences, the response was always the same:

“It’s a great idea, but parenting books written by teachers don’t sell well.”

It didn’t matter that I’m one of the few teachers who has taught all the grades, from kindergarten through sixth, so I could speak from experience. I didn’t have a PhD or several thousand blog followers, so the book wasn’t worth publishing.

My plastic file box, jammed with folders of notes, articles, research studies, and interviews, collected dust in our garage for three more years.

When our older daughter graduated from Cal Poly, and our younger daughter was in her senior year at Williams College, my husband and I decided to move to Bend, Oregon to put 94.9 Central Oregon Fox Sports Radio on the air. To make the move from San Diego, California, we threw out eighteen years of accumulated non-essentials—including my box full of research.

But no effort is wasted.

I often remind my clients of this. Our endeavors don’t always get rewarded in the time-frame we expect. Sometimes the skills we learn on a project apply to the next one that gets the results we’ve been seeking.

Shortly after my husband and I moved to Bend, I arranged for Howard Shulman to give a presentation on his book Running From the Mirror and to teach a workshop with me on how to write a memoir at the San Diego Southern California Writers’ Conference in February 2016. His publisher, Sandra, of Sandra Jonas Publishing in Boulder Colorado, called me to coordinate promotions for the book.

And the two of us hit it off.

Sandra is an incredibly conscientious, passionate hard-worker—like I am.

After the conference, we kept in contact, and she asked me to do a developmental edit for one of her authors. This author’s novel had a fabulous premise, but the story and characters needed fleshing out—which we did, and it’s awesome now!

Watermelon Snow by debut author William Lippett, an intriguing story of scientists, melting glaciers, catastrophic egos, treacherous journeys across the ice, and a bit of romantic tension, chock-full of suspense that’s sure to keep you turning pages, will be released in July 2017.

When wrapping up the edit for Watermelon Snow, Sandra mentioned one of her other authors, Jacqueline Frischknecht. Jackie was a PhD who’d done a ton of brain research related to how function and development affect children’s education. She wrote a manuscript called Boosting Brain Power: Leveraging Students’ Learning Abilities.

“What a fabulous idea!” I said and gave Sandra my one-sentence summary of the Grade by Grade project, so she would know I had the background to provide whatever help she might need.

Sadly, Jackie passed away while working to develop the manuscript for publication. The prose still needed focus, organization, and a friendlier tone.

Jackie’s dying wish had been to publish the book, and her family wanted to see that wish granted. Sandra asked me to read the manuscript to see if I could do a content edit that would: a) make Jackie’s writing sound more conversational, b) hone the focus, and c) flesh out the work to make the book user-friendly for parents and teachers. Excited to work with Sandra on another project, I told her I would be happy to read the manuscript and come up with a plan to get it in shape for publication.

Jackie’s research was excellent and her ideas empowering.

However, to make the book an effective resource, the material needed to be geared for parents or educators, not both. Experts all over the country train teachers to use brain research to drive curriculum, such as Dr. Eric Jenkins who has written many books for educators, Dr. Carol Dwek, and veteran teacher Pat Wolfe, so I told Sandra that Jackie’s work may best serve parents.

 

Still, to create such a manuscript, I would have to read more recent studies as brain development has been a hot topic over the last decade in the research community. I’d have to almost rewrite Jackie’s book to make it work.

“Would you mind sending me your Grade by Grade book proposal, so I can get an idea of what you’re talking about?” Sandra asked.

Although I’d tossed my magic box of research, the proposal had been saved on a flash drive, so I said, “Sure,” and attached the file to an email without much thought.

A week later, Sandra called and said she loved my book proposal: my voice, the grade-by-grade progression, how I present what will be expected of kids that year socially and academically, the games, the “Real Deal” (goofy true-life stories), the tips for everything from communicating with teachers to family organization to healthy snacks on the go…

And Sandra had sent the proposal to Jackie’s family. She asked them how they would feel about me co-writing the book with Jackie; that is, using Jackie’s brain research and ideas for capitalizing on current brain development and function to my grade by grade structure, integrating my information on social development, games, tips for organization, and all the rest.

Jackie’s family liked the idea and even paid me a stipend to work like crazy for five months (in the proposal, I’d given myself a year) to complete the manuscript. I mourned the loss of the box I’d thrown out in the move, but truthfully, the more recent interviews and research will better serve parents anyway.

THIS is the book that was meant to be published.

Jacqueline Frischkknecht 1932-2015

Though I never had the pleasure to meet Jackie in person, we share our passion for educating and empowering children and families. At times, I felt her looking over my shoulder, guiding my research, nudging me to include this or that as my fingers flew across the keyboard. I learned so much about brain development and the nuts and bolts of how humans learn.

BRAIN STAGES

A Grade by Grade Guide to Raising Smart, Happy Kids, K—5

                                        by Jacqueline Frischknecht, Ph.D. and Trish Wilkinson

                                       will be released in early March 2018.

Parents who have children at various grade levels are reading chapters to give feedback, and we’re fine-tuning the manuscript now. But mostly they say things like:

“I used to get annoyed with my daughter, but now that I know what’s going on in her brain, somehow the things she does are less frustrating. Our house is so much more relaxed than it was before I read that chapter.”

Soon I plan to launch a Brain Stages website where I’ll post videos of kids and parents playing some of the games in the book as well as all kinds of helpful hints for raising smart, happy kids, so stay tuned…

I’d say, “Wish us luck,” except there have been too many “coincidences” involved with this project. 

Whatever your beliefs, providence or the cosmos, BRAIN STAGES: A Grade by Grade Guide to Raising Smart, Happy Kids, K—5 was simply meant to be.

 

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2D07078A00000578-0-image-a-15_1443824642109Hi there. Trish Wilkinson here, novelist, writing coach, freelance editor, and member of Page a Day Writers. Recently, I decided to post writing tools on my Write to Win! website using materials I present at workshops. I thought Page-a-Day readers might appreciate them as well. Below is the beginning of the outline author Howard Shulman and I used to teach workshops in February on writing memoir for San Diego Writers’ Ink and the Southern California Writers’ Conference. If you have questions or would like further assistance, send an email to Trish@write-to-win.com, and I’ll be happy to help.

 

Memoir: How to Write a Salable Personal Story and Enjoy the Process

  • The three things that will make your memoir successful:

 

  1. Write your story as the illustration of a universal theme

(what Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-standardized Text for Writing and Life(TMP), calls “The algorithm”, p.23)

Exercise 1: Write your own statement that describes your memoir below.

 

“This is a story about ____________________________ and the illustration is

 

________________________________________________________________.

 

Examples: – This is a story about the struggle for love and acceptance, and the illustration is Howard Shulman’s disfigurement as an infant and subsequent abandonment by his birth parents. Running from the Mirror

– This is a story about self-discovery, and the illustration is Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey choosing places to explore pleasure, spirituality and love. Eat, Pray, Love

– This is a story about emotional survival, and the illustration is Augusten Burroughs’s childhood, coping with his mother’s mental illness. Running with Scissors

– This is a story about love and loss, and the illustration is Nicholas Sparks’s relationships with his family members.Three Weeks with My Brother

Ask yourself: Who are you in your memoir? What is your position as the expert who has experienced your theme? What is your purpose; that is, what’s in it for the reader?

 

  1. Tell the truth (be real, for better or worse, because that’s what gives you credibility).

 

  1. In the revision phase, make every word/page drive your story forward in a context the reader can relate to (see hand out for the “how to” on “showing” vesrsu”telling”). If a sentence or scene doesn’t relate to your theme, leave it out.

 

“…when you have a flash of understanding on one topic, you can write an essay. Write an essay and you tackle a scene. Master the scene, and you can write seventy-five of them and have yourself a book. And here’s an unexpected dividend: Write a book about an aspect of your life, and you might gain perspective since … success in writing is all about which details you choose to emphasize.” (TMP, p. 34)

Click here for two more exercises, specific steps for revision once you’ve written your first draft, and concrete publishing options.

Happy writing!

Trish W.

 

2D0688C300000578-0-image-a-6_1443820018926

Imagine you’re born perfectly normal, but then a virulent infection devours your eyelids, nose and lips. Your parents decide they can’t handle raising such a needy kid, so you become a ward of the state – and a doctor gets permission to do experimental plastic surgery on you.

This is Howard Shulman’s story.2D07078A00000578-0-image-a-15_1443824642109

Recently, his memoir Running from the Mirror was released by Sandra Jonas Publishing, and it’s riveting.

I met Howard a few months before his book was released. He’d called and told me he met a friend of mine in line at Starbucks who gave him my number. He wanted to talk to a local fellow author about giving writers’ workshops together. We met at a coffee shop in Chula Vista, California, where Howard shared his experience writing his memoir: cleansing yet uncomfortable, often frustrating, sometimes sad or filled with regret. Still, the satisfaction of knowing how far he has come and the hope his story might give to others made the project worth the effort.

Talk about grit. They don’t make ‘em much more bad ass than Howard.

Now in his 50s, what he treasures most is his family.2D068F5100000578-0-image-a-5_1443820009163

Since that first meeting, Howard and I have become friends, and we’ve planned some great workshops on writing craft, character development, and story structure. Be prepared to hone your skills, save time in revisions, and have a lot more fun, whether you write fiction or nonfiction. If you’re interested in participating in a writers’ workshop with Howard and me, please leave a comment with your contact information, or email me at writetowinwithtrish@gmail.com.

A portion of Howard’s sales go to Hillsides, an organization that works to recreate the lives of at-risk kids. For more information about Howard’s book or to order Running from the Mirror, click here.

Our very own Page a Day Writer, Sharon Cooper, recently received two more awards for her excellent romance novels. Go Sharon!

Sharon C. Cooper

Hi all!

I spentthispastweekend in Dallas, TX celebratingthe 20th Anniversary of Romance Slam Jam (RSJ). Forthose of youwho are not familiar with RSJ it’s an organization that brings African-American authorsandreaderstogether. RSJ has created an opportunityforreaders to meetandget to knowsome of their favoriteauthors.

It was super exciting to meet readers who have sent me wonderful emails and who I communicate with on social media platforms. I’m telling you, some of these readers know my characters better than I do! I really enjoyed discussing the stories with them!

Though I attended as an author, I have to admit I didhave my fangirl momentswhen I sawsome of my favoriteauthors (Beverly Jenkins, Farrah Rochon, Sienna Mynx, Zuri Day, and the list goes on). Andwhat TOTALLY blew me away

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Sharon won’t brag on our writers’ blog, but I’m happy to let you know about her extreme awesomeness! Already a successful self-published author, Kimani Romance, a subsidiary of Harlequin, asked Sharon to write a few books for them. I believe this one is her second traditionally published novel, and she is still self-publishing other titles. Hybrid authors are becoming more common. Check out Sharon’s website https://sharoncooper.wordpress.com to see all the titles she has published in the last few years. This girl is cookin’.

Sharon C. Cooper

Woo hoo! Look what’s available in paperback – SIN CITY TEMPTATION!

Sin City Temptation Cover - FinalIs love in the cards? 

Former police officer Trinity Layton will do anything to keep her personal security business afloat—even babysit professional poker player Gunner Brooks. Bizarre incidents have been plaguing the poker tour, and Trinity has been hired to keep Gunner safe. But when the gorgeous playboy convinces her to pose as his girlfriend, she might be the one who needs protecting, as their passionate charade quickly becomes all too real.

A gambler in the game of life, Gunner has made his fortune playing for the greatest prizes. The last thing he needs during this tournament is a bodyguard hanging around, especially one as alluring as Trinity. And being together 24/7 just tripled their odds of falling for one another. Now, as Gunner prepares for the championship of his career, he’s playing for the highest stakes of…

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Writing and Illustrating

Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling

 by Trish Wilkinson

trish20131226_D800_trishwilkinson_family_5447_trish_2x3-225x300For readers to become invested in a story, they need to “see” characters’ movement and action within a setting. Writers often hear, “Show don’t tell,” and sometimes we think, “But I did show – didn’t I? How do I fix this?”

Here are a few quick tips for showing rather than telling:

  1. Use ACTIVE VERBS rather than passive ones wherever possible.

Keep this list of passive verbs near your computer until you get in the habit of using them sparingly. (I tell my students: “If you must use passive verbs, limit them to no more than one or two on a page.”)

  • Forms of be to AVOID: is, are, was, were, be, being, and been
  • Auxiliary verbs: am, did, do, does, can, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, has, have, had, could
  • Adjectives (describing words)
  • Adverbs (words used to…

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Here’s a great post from Kathy Teamen, authot of blog: Writing and Illustrating that does a great job of clarifying point of view. Several of my coaching clients struggle with POV, and this short article does a great job of summarizing how it works.

Writing and Illustrating

rivet your readersI added Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to my writing library and want to recommend that you check it out. The information is good and the price is right – $3.99 on Kindle and $5.39 in paperback. You can take a look at Jill’s romantic suspense novels by clicking this link to her website. http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com/

Below are just a few things that Jill explains in her book. She gets more in depth during the book.

In fiction writing, the position from which anything is considered in any given scene should be the character through whose head we are viewing events. That character’s psyche – his or her very soul – is the standpoint from which everything else in the scene is presented and evaluated. This particular character is the point-of-view character or POVC.

In order to remain firmly inside the POVC’s head, nothing in a scene can be presented for…

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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