Monday, April 7, 2014

My Publishing Journey- Part 2

If you missed part one of this post you can catch up here.  For the rest of you, let's travel back to last May... after emailing Julia, she graciously put me in contact with her wonderful publishing company Boys Town Press and I emailed them my manuscript. Many people have asked me about the format needed for manuscripts and the answer is different depending on the publishing company. I typed mine up just like a typical paper and left breaks where I wanted the pages to be. If you are considering sending in a manuscript I suggest you look at that publishing companies’ guidelines for submission. Typically these are located on their website.

Anyway, after sending in my manuscript I waited patiently. Ha! Who am I kidding? I was a nervous wreck.  I bet I checked my email 20 times every day. Then, a week or two later I checked my email and saw that there was an email from one of the Directors at Boys Town Press. I opened the email so quickly that I didn’t have anytime to think about what it might say. Once I started reading it I saw that it asked if we could set up a time to talk. I was shocked! They wanted to talk to me? At first I stared at the computer smiling in amazement and then I hit print (I think I needed proof that this actually just happened). Of course I danced around my room for a while and then I ran and called my husband who is used to my crazy antics. He was really excited too, but probably just as shocked as I was. 

After I got off the phone with him, the worry set in. What if they didn't like my book? What if they were just going to give me some advice? Either way, it was better than nothing so I allowed myself a few minutes to fret and then I went back to dancing. 

Several weeks later we had our first phone conference and it was clear to me that they liked my book and wanted to publish it. After that initial phone conference we had several more to nail down specifics about content and eventually illustrations. I have to say that seeing your written word interpreted by an illustrator has been the most exciting part of this process. Tune in next week to hear more about the illustration process.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Publishing Journey Part 1

Recently, I was asked to blog about how I became a writer and to give insight into the publishing world. Since I am VERY new to the writing industry, I will provide my experience in hopes that it helps others. Please understand that my experiences are probably not typical and may be different than that of other writers.

As I have written in previous posts, I have always wanted to be a writer. I have many journals and write pretty frequently. Most of my journals are more like diaries and just detail what is happening in my life. Other journals are more spiritually driven and include scriptures that I can reference.

In college I minored in English and took several creative writing classes for fun. I have always been interested in poetry and memoirs. During these classes my professor encouraged me to write frequently and so that is what I did.

The turning point for me came last year when I attended the North Carolina Reading conference. I was there presenting with my teamie Monica Schroeder.  The day before our session, I had heard that Julia Cook was doing a presentation and I was super excited to get a seat. In fact, I left the session before hers early to ensure that I would have a seat.  If you are not familiar with Julia Cook she is a children's book author who has written many great books on social skills. Some of her books include:

The RJ series and the Relationship Series both of which are
published by my publishing company- Boys Town Press


Check out these great titles as well!


When I attended her session I was so inspired to write. During the session she gave tips for publishing, read some of her books and talked about her own publishing journey. I remember leaving that session with so much excitement. During lunch that day, I told Monica "I'm going to write a book as soon as I get home." I started taking notes for possible ideas at lunch and as soon as I got home I couldn't wait to start writing.

After I had written a manuscript that I thought was good enough to send in, I emailed Julia and explained that she probably has no clue who I am but that I attended her session and was really inspired. I also asked her for some more advice. I wasn't sure if she would email me back, but I remember praying that she would. To my surprise she did! Not only did she respond, but she gave me amazing advice. Since this initial email, I have found myself calling and emailing Julia many times. I am beyond grateful for what she has done for me. In todays world it can be very hard to find genuine people, and I have found that in her.

Long story short, my advice to anyone who wants to become an author is:

  • Write everyday
  • Stay true to your writing style
  • Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
  • Research publishing companies in the area that you are writing
  • Know the guidelines for submissions before sending in your manuscript
  • Visit Julia if she is presenting near you (you will be inspired)
  • Write what you know

Next week I will be posting more about what writers do, the illusration process and much more so stay tuned.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Behavior Management Resources

As I sit here today, I am really excited and blessed for where the Lord has taken me. Last week, I found out my first book, The Garden in My Mind won the Mom's Choice Award- Silver.

This is so exciting! I  love hearing how this book has helped teachers and parents. The other day, one of my teacher friends told me how her students refer to the book whenever they see someone making bad choices whithin their class. As a writer/teacher this is the type of story you hope to hear when you sit down and write a book, but you never really know how it will be accepted. I am hopeful that this book will really help students see what positive behaviors look like and how to generalize them to areas outside of the class. The video below talks more about the books and it's application.

I also created a 48 page teacher's guide to accompany this book. It includes lessons for teaching both academic skills and behavioral skills. I also included resources to implement a behavior management system centered around the concepts within the picture book. To learn more about how to use this within your classroom, head on over to The Unique Classroom and see how Amy is using this within her classroom.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Shout Out to My TPT friends!

One month from tomorrow my book will be shipped to everyone who has placed an order! I am so excited and can't wait to hold the copies in my hand. I have just finished my fifth book and look forward to having it available soon. I am so thankful to everyone in the teaching world who has pinned my book, blogged about it or purchased it. It is great to work in such a supportive profession.


On that note, I want to thank all the teachers who have donated units to my Guided Reading presentation for door prizes. I am overwhelmed with all the support! These ladies have remarkable units on TPT and I encourage everyone to visit their shops. Click on the pictures below to head over to their TPT store.
Melonheadz Illustrations

 The Schroeder Page

Katie Conklin

Kindergarten Smiles

Miss King's Enchanted Kingdom

Where The Wild Things Learn

Owl Always Love 2nd Grade

2nd in line

Second Grade is Out of This World

There are several others who I will post about later :) If you are interested in donating one of your units for a door prize  please email me at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Main Idea lesson Plans and Freebies!

 Teaching students to identify the main idea and supporting details in a story can be very difficult. In the past, this was always a weak area for my students. Not this year! After taking our school benchmark assessments my students scored really high on finding the main idea and details. If finding the main idea has been a struggle for your students, maybe some of these activities below will help your kiddos understand. Below is an outline of a few of my lessons.

Day 1- I used a power point that I had borrowed from a friend to teach students that a good paragraph consists of one main idea. It includes a topic sentence that states this big idea. Then the author supports this big idea with three major details. These three major details are then followed up by a minor detail. Finally the paragraph ends with a closure sentence or a transition sentence to the next paragraph. We took Cornel Notes from the Power Point.

Day 2- We talked about stated and implied main ideas. I showed another power point and students added to their Cornell notes. Then, we used a set of main idea task cards I had purchased from TPT. These cards have both stated and implied main ideas. My students really enjoyed working in groups and discussing what they thought the main idea and details were.

Day 3- One day it finally dawned on me that my students could not identify the main idea of a paragraph or story because they did not understand the organization and structure of paragraphs. Since reading and writing are reciprocal, I decided to start teaching my students about the organization of paragraphs. I created a graphic organizer that broke the paragraph into 8 sentences. After modeling how each paragraph has a topic sentence, several major details and then minor details to support the major details it finally clicked. * graphic organizer freebie at the bottom of the page.

Day 4- Then, we looked at nonfiction text on Reading A-Z and used the same graphic organizer to analyze each paragraph within the story. I projected the story on the Smart Board and then had the students transfer the sentences from the story onto the graphic organizer.

Day 5- I put students in pairs and told them to think about a nonfiction topic that they knew a lot about. Then, I gave them 8 sentence strips. They were to use one strip for each part of the graphic organizer. Finally, we taped the 8 sentence strips together to make our paragraph.

Day 6- During Writer's Workshop, I had students use the graphic organizer to create an introductory paragraph for their paper. All of the students were going to write about a field trip that we had just went on the week before. I told them that the intro paragraph should discuss the moment they got off the bus and what they saw and their initial thoughts. The paragraphs were amazing. We spent the next week and a half during Writer's Workshop using the same approach for each paragraph of their paper.

Review- This week we are going to continue the unit by playing my Christmas I Have, Who Has Main Idea game.

Click the picture below for a freebie of my graphic organizer


Monday, December 2, 2013

Waiting for Superman

Waiting for Superman is a documentary that analyzes the educational deficits of inner-city schools. This documentary was really empowering. I heard about this video from one of my friends in the Ed.D program. She was giving a presentation about the leadership style of Michelle Rhee. If you are not familiar with Michelle Rhee, she was the chancellor of the Washington, D.C public schools from 2007-2010. The interesting thing about Michelle is that she had only taught three years before becoming the chancellor, she had no Ph.D and have never ran a school district before.

Attribution: Newsweek

If you are interested in watching Waiting For Superman I have attached a link I found on Vimeo.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Helping Students Make Positive Choices- The Garden in My Mind

Behavior management can either make or break a school year. Good teachers know this and spend the first few weeks teaching students classroom routines and  expectations. It is important to start teaching positive behaviors from the first day of school and then revisit it every so often throughout the year (especially after Christmas break).

Each year, I look for new and unique ways to help my students understand what positive behaviors are and how to avoid getting caught up in negative behaviors. As a teacher, I have noticed that even very well behaving students can get caught up in negative behaviors from time to time. This is why I decided to write the picture book, The Garden in My Mind. I have found that this picture book really helps my elementary age students understand how to make positive choices because it explains these behaviors to them in a way in which they can relate to.

In addition to the picture book, I also created a teacher's guide. This activity guide is packed with great resources. These activities teach Common Core skills as well as help students learn to make positive choices.

To  pre-order you copy of The Garden in My Mind click the books below.