Saturday Morning Coffee

8:39 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Saturday mornings are the only quiet time I get to myself most weeks, and I save all the interesting reads that I find online for that time.  I thought I should share some of my favorites with you.  I hope enjoy them as much as I do.


1.  My AP Psychology class is the first at the advanced level that many student encounter at our school  there are always students who struggle not only with content like any other, but also with a college format.  These Best Procedures for Test Corrections from Math Giraffe are perfect, and I will be changing my testing policy to eliminate retakes as a result.

2.  Busy teachers are always on the look out for easy meal ideas.  When I found Suburban Simplicity's Ham and Cheese Frittata, I knew I could use this as breakfast all week.  It was perfect and reheated wonderfully.

3. My seniors have less than twenty school days left, and we are going to end the year with adult and life lessons.  USA Today's 8 High School Habits that will Fail You in College is going to be required reading for them.  Some of them have developed bad habits- maybe my juniors should read it.

4.  It has taken ten years for me to be less defensive about the work I do when someone questions me, but I know have improved.  It is really the last of The 7 Bad Habits of Ineffective Teachers that I need to conquer.  Where are you?

5.  Twitter has been a great asset to me as an educator.  It is my PLN and a way to connect with students.  I can't wait to try out some of these 100 Twitter Tips for Teachers.

6.  I am teaching journalism now and the lack of an online community for journalism teachers led me to start a Facebook group for Journalism Teachers.

7.  With budgets getting cut, class sizes are going up.  We made the switch to a seven period day to help, but I am starting to see our class sizes creep back up (we were warned this would happen).  This Edutopia article on Managing Large Classes is one I am going to share at work.

8.  I never thought about sharing responsibilities with colleagues.  I think some shared grading might be in order for my teaching partner and I.  Thanks 12 Ways to Reclaim Your Personal Life: Why Teaching Isn't 24 Hours!

9. What if khaki pants were suddenly not school appropriate?  Would we all suddenly clamor to wear them?  Thanks to Who's Who and Who's New for the fun read on Jeans.

10.  With AP Exams this week and finals creeping up on us, I want to try Ms. Wendi's World Wonder's Visual Whiteboard Review Notes.

Did you find any great read this week?  I would love to know what they are.


Giveaway and Book Promotion: The Secrets We Keep

3:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.
I am so excited to help spread the word that THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver is now out in paperback!

If you haven’t yet added this awesome book to your shelf, now’s the perfect time. Just scroll down to learn more about the book and author, to read an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!


Twin sisters. A fatal accident. A devastating lie. Which girl survived?

"A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters."

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves Maddy dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. And everyone believes her. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception and risk devastating those who loved Maddy, or give up her own dreams and live her sister's life.


THE SECRETS WE KEEP
Author: Trisha Leaver
Paperback release date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) | Square Fish
Pages: 304
Formats: Paperback 978-1250073624) | hardcover (978-0374300463) | audio (978-1501212222) | eBook (ASIN: B00OFKKFFQ)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Ages: 12 and up

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound | Goodreads




Praise


*"Leaver's brilliant novel is the high school version of What Happened to Janie? The compelling premise will attract readers and the strong characterization will keep them enthralled." -VOYA, STARRED REVIEW

*“Leaver's story is certainly entertaining and intriguing. VERDICT This should be a primary purchase for any library with patrons who love melodramatic mysteries and romance.” SLJ, STARRED AUDIO REVIEW

"Trisha Leaver crafts a powerful and haunting novel that will keep you up long after you read the last page. Full of twists and turns and FEELS, this book questions how far a person will go for her family . . . even if it means losing herself." - Lynne Matson, author of NIL



Excerpt


I don’t remember her room being so cold. Even snuggled into her sweater the chill seeps in, settling into my bones like a whisper from beyond. That’s where I will sleep tonight...in Maddy’s bed, surround by her scent. Mom wants to change the sheets, but I won’t let her. The hint of vanilla mingled with Alex’s dark cologne brings a little piece of my sister back to me each night.

The only thing I have left of my old life is a few sketches and a poor replica of the friendship bracelet Josh gave me. It took me days to re-create, to weave the strings into the right pattern. It’s not perfect, but it goes with me everywhere, a tiny reminder of who I once was and what Josh still means to me. The real bracelet is gone, cut off and tossed aside just like my life.

I want to make peace with my choice, but Maddy’s secret haunts me. The dark pieces of her life are hid- den in the back of her closet for no one but me to see. She’s not who I thought she was, but that doesn’t matter. Maddy was my sister, my twin sister, and I’ll do anything for her, including losing myself.



About Trisha Leaver


Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather disobedient black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. Her YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, was named one of the best YA novels for summer (2015) by Teen Vogue and received starred reviews from VOYA Magazine and School Library Journal (audio). For more details, check out her website at www.trishaleaver.com





The Giveaway


There is a blitz-wide giveaway, courtesy of the author, for: 
ONE (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card
***Giveaway is open to anyone 13 or older who can accept an Amazon Gift Card***

Enter in the Rafflecopter below.





Author Interview with Hillary Homzie, author of Queen of Likes

4:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.
Queen of Likes
by Hillary Homzie

Like everyone at Merton Middle School, Karma Cooper’s smartphone is almost another body part. She’s obsessed with her LIKES on Snappypic. When her parents shut down her social media account and take away her smartphone, Karma’s whole world crumbles. She has to figure out what she actually likes and how to live life fully unplugged. This book will jumpstart conversations about how social media is changing the ways tweens are growing up.


As a teacher, I know all about students' love of their devices and social media, which is why this book was a perfect (and humorous) read for me.  The book starts right off en media res.  You jump right into Karma loosing her phone and having her social media account shut down.  Then comes the peer pressure of spirit week and Karma being elected co-social chair.  The 7th grade is bound and determined to win.

Queen of likes is the perfect book for a whole-class shared reading for tweens and middle school students.  If I were still teaching middle school, I would use this book as part of a unit on social media and social responsibility.  There are many wonderful companion articles and web sites that could aid in this conversation.  I would tie this all together at the end with an argumentative writing piece with students writing to Karma or as Karma:

Write the argumentative speech that Karma could give to her parents to persuade them to return her phone and social media accounts.

Write an letter to the local paper as if you were Karma's parents.  Give reasoning, support, and explanation for why young people need to ease up on social media.



In addition to getting to read this young adult novel, I was able to interview Hillary about her book, inspiration, and writing process.  I am always intrigued as to how published authors work through the writing process and handle writing block because I can use that information for my own writing and to assist my students with their writing.
___________________________________

What was your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for this book was watching my two teenagers and one tween grow up on screens, and specifically with the older kids—social media. It's so interesting to me because I grew up before the age of computers and social media and kids today are so used to communicating through their devices.

I noticed that my kids were becoming competitive on social media. My older son would say, "look, I got 17 likes on this post!”

And my middle son would respond, "Dude, that's nothing. I just got 30 likes."

I thought this emphasis on how people respond and was fascinating. Among young people likes are becoming a barometer for social success. So decided I wanted to explore how tweens’ sense of self and self worth was being developed through social media.


How do you handle writer’s block?

When I get writers block my first impulse is to hop in a shower or to take a walk. Alternatively, I might pop some popcorn. Or I might try another tactic, which is to write something new, preferably short, such as a chapter book or picture book. Once I’ve diverted myself I usually can hop back into my project refreshed.


What advice do you have for young/student writers?

My advice to young writers would be to read books. Lots of them. But most importantly read what gives you joy and pleasure. Then write the kinds of stories you would like to read.



Explain your revision process.

My revision process changes depending on the kind of book that I'm writing. But if I had to generalize, I’d say I focus mostly on the opening chapters. In other words, I usually write the first chapter in an exploratory way. I generally have a situation in mind and a main character pops up. Or sometimes I have a character in mind and I throw her into a particular situation where she'll have to struggle in some way. As I write the first chapter (sometimes also the second or third) I get a chance to know my characters better. I get to decide what the major conflict of the book is. I usually rewrite those first few chapters again and again and again until I get a really good sense of my characters, setting and themes as well as the tone of the book. Only then can I go on to finish the book.

What book has influenced you the most? Why?

Which book has influenced me the most? Wow, that's a really hard question. But in terms of my middle grade work, I would have to say it's been Judy Blume. She has an unparalleled ear for how real kids sound and how they behave. And most importantly, she knows how they feel. At the same time, she has this ability to dive deeply into ordinary life that astounds me.



AUTHOR Bio and Links


Hillary is the author of the tween novel, THE HOT LIST (Simon & Schuster/M!X) which Booklist says “captures the angst of young teen friendships and fragile identities.” She’s also the author of the middle grade novel, THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY (Simon & Schuster/M!X), a Justice Book-of-the-Month, which was just optioned by Priority Pictures, and the forthcoming  QUEEN OF LIKES (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X, April 2016), which is about social media, as well as the humorous chapter book series, ALIEN CLONES FROM OUTER SPACE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), a Children's Book-of-the-Month Best Books for Children. Emmy-nominated Suppertime Entertainment developed the books to become an animated television series and it was sold to ABC Australia. Hillary’s young adult fiction has been published in TEEN MAGAZINE and anthologized (MUDDVILLE DIARIES, Avon Books). She has sold non-fiction and fiction projects to Klutz Press/Scholastic Books, The Learning Company and John Muir Books. With her frequent writing partner, Steven Arvanites, she has had film projects developed by Brooklyn Weaver’s Energy Entertainment. Hillary got her start performing and writing sketch comedy Off-Broadway, and was a Heideman Playwrighting Award Finalist. Hillary holds a master's degree in education from Temple University and a master’s of arts degree from Hollins University in children's literature and writing. Currently, she’s a visiting professor of children’s literature and writing at Hollins University.
Buy on 



The song QUEEN OF LIKES which was written just for the book. It’s a wonderful song. 





HIllary is awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner during the tour.


Teaching Overseas #4: Glasgow, Scotland

4:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments


This is #4 in a series of interviews that I have conducted with teachers that have or are teaching overseas.  This is a topic that is dear to my heart for several reasons.

There was an opportunity to student teacher in England the semester that I did my student teaching, but I didn't even apply. I now with that I had.


I was accepted to the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program in 2009. After receiving my placement, I had to withdraw because the school I was working for laid me off. 


Lastly, one of my three brothers, who you met in POST #1, is currently teaching English in Saudi Arabia. I was there when he got on that plane in the wee hours of the morning, and his messages home inspired me to seek out teachers that have or are teaching overseas to have them share their experiences with my readers.
____________________________________________________________________________

I would like to welcome Norie.
____________________________________________________________________________

I teach HS social studies in West Islip, NY. This is my 15th year teaching. West Islip is a public school, middle-upper class district on Long Island. We are very homogeneous- white, Irish and Italian Catholics.



What is your is your background and teaching experience?

I taught overseas in 2011-2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. I did a Fulbright teaching exchange. I was placed a
The High School of Glasgow- one of the highest achieving private schools in the UK. Comparing the two schools would be like comparing apples to oranges. They are very different.

Why did you decide to teach overseas?

I decided to teach overseas because I was feeling the itch for something different. I needed a challenge. I applied for personal and professional fulfillment.

What are challenges have you faced teaching overseas?

Some challenges I faced were cultural differences and an unfamiliar curriculum. I teach history, but I knew very little about Scottish history. I felt like a first year teacher all over again. I was usually just a few days ahead of my pupils. At times I felt like a fraud because I lacked content knowledge.  

Also, the teaching styles were incredibly different. In Scotland I had the opportunity to really go into depth on some topics while at the expense of other topics.

What do you believe is one thing  U.S. teachers can do to improve learning based on your overseas experience?

I definitely feel as though I improved as a teacher. I learned new teaching styles and assessment strategies.

I wish every teacher could have the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone to experience something like this.


Check out 

Week one with my brother who is teaching English in Saudi Arabia 

Week two with my sorority sister in India

Week three on teaching ESL in Asia



Enjoy the Small Things with Grove Collaborative and Mrs. Meyer's Set

11:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.
Enjoy the Small Things-Everyday

Sometimes you just need to spoil yourself after a hard day. Or on a Tuesday — you know the feeling, right??

The team at Grove Collaborative (formerly ePantry) gets that, which is why they’ve put together this incredible Mrs. Meyer’s  Everyday Luxury Set set for you — for FREE.



The set feels like something you’d get as a gift from a friend — the kind of gift where you’d say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” before eagerly tearing it open. It includes a lovely Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, Mrs. Meyer’s Candle, and Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges. So pretty and useful.

I especially love this Mrs. Meyer’s candle. It’s made with essential oils, vegetable waxes, and a lead-free cotton wick for a clean, healthy burn. It lasts so much longer than conventional candles and the lavender scent reminds me of the flower market.  My secret? I love to light one of these after my Saturday cleaning regime to help me unwind and relax.

Of course, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to make the house sparkle without spending hours on it. One of my favorites is this walnut scrubber sponge. The combination of super-absorbent vegetable cellulose and crushed walnuts helps me the stuck-on toothpaste and hair product in the bathroom sink.



If you’re new to Grove Collaborative, you’ll get this set FREE + free shipping when you use my link and spend $20. There are so many beautiful, healthy household products to choose from at Grove Collaborative, I just can’t get enough.

With a few clicks, I can choose my favorite products and scents, customize my shipments, and have them delivered right to my door (carbon offset, of course). I love Grove’s scheduling feature because I never run out of dish soap or shower spay, which means no more last minute, expensive trips to the grocery store!. That means more time to put my feet up, light my Mrs. Meyer’s candle, and curl up with a glass of wine.

If you’re already a Grove Collaborative subscriber, they want to pamper you too! You’ll get a free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap with your next order when you use THIS LINK. I have the lemon verbena scent in my kitchen right now, but the basil and lavender are delightful too.



There are a limited number of sets available, and this offer is only good while supplies last or until Sunday, May 1 — so grab yours now. Here’s how:

1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative HERE. You’ll receive the Mrs. Meyer's Everyday Luxury Set for free when you sign up! Existing customers should use THIS LINK.

2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home. This takes under 30 seconds, and Grove Collaborative will use this to customize your first basket.

3. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items and adjusting quantities.

4. To receive this offer, your order needs to total at least $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box.

5. Click “Finish & Pay” and place your order.

Author Interview: Julie Roberts and The Wow Factor

4:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Last week you got to meet one of my college sorority sister's, Erica, when she shared her experiences teaching in Mumbai, India.  This week I am fortunate enough to have another one of my college sorority sisters here sharing about her new education book, The Wow Factor.

Julie and I have known each other since 1999 and have stayed in contact through social media over the years.  In fact I remember when she was scouting out stories for her first book (I liked it at the bottom) about crazy college roommate stories.

When I found out that Julie had a new book out that focused on education, I reached out to see if she would answer some questions on her book, her inspiration, and her writing process with me and my readers.


What was your inspiration for this book?

The main inspiration for this book came from my desire to share what teachers may experience behind the scenes. On the surface teachers need to put on a strong front for parents, students, and administrators. Yet there is a lot that goes on that is often kept out of public view. 

Teaching is an emotional job because you often put your heart into your work and students. There is a lot politics in education today; test scores, enrollment, trying to please difficult people. This book gave me the chance to openly express my views and make others aware of some of the challenges and triumphs teachers may face.

Who should read this book? and Why?

Anyone who has an interest in education could enjoy this book. Parents, education workers, politicians, and students thinking about becoming teachers would all gain from it. It is a short, easy read that gets right to the point. It helps people see the classroom experience from a teacher's perspective. 

Everyone has their own agenda and it doesn't always align with who they are interacting with. By helping to bring understanding between groups, this book assists people to work more cooperatively in improving education. This book aims to bring more empathy and support for those on the front line in education.

Explain your revision process.

The revision process for this book was slow and thorough. I wanted it to be as enjoyable and error-free as possible. Once the first draft was finished, I reread it myself, and then submitted it to my publisher to make revisions. We then ordered our first proof, which is a rough draft of the printed version. 

Each proof had to be carefully screened by myself and my publisher. I also had a close friend and family member read it over as well. Because when you are dealing with your own writing, it can be easier to overlook the errors. It took several proofs before it was ready for release. Once we had a proof that appeared mistake-free, it was approved for sale.

What book has influenced you the most? Why?

The teaching book that has influenced me the most was Rafe Esquith's, There Are No Shortcuts. I really enjoyed this book because it gave a straightforward, common sense approach to teaching. There are many teaching methods pushed today that are displayed as magical techniques in education. 
Many successful teachers are forced to teach in ways that don't work well for them; yet they are pressured to follow the trend. 

From my own experience, I agree with Rafe. What works in teaching is really a lot more simple than some curriculum pushers want to admit: hard work, focus, and dedication. Students are in control of their own success, teachers need to help them take charge of their learning.



Summary from Amazon

“Sometimes you need to rock the boat to stop it from sinking.”~ Julie Roberts 

There is lots of news buzzing around about education today; broad topics such as curriculum reform and budget cuts are covered often by the media. Teachers and students are mentioned as large masses, but their personal experiences are rarely singled out. Government officials and school administrators make daily decisions about education, yet we rarely learn the names and faces of those affected by them. 

The Wow Factor goes beyond the headlines and takes you through one teacher’s journey through her first eight years in teaching. Starting with her college years, author Julie Roberts shares her passage from an insecure rookie, all the way to a veteran teacher. This story gives a no-holds-barred approach to Roberts’s outrageous encounters in and out of the classroom. From dealing with difficult coworkers, parental bullies, and cowardly administration, Roberts discloses her strong views based on personal experiences and battles. 

True tales of victory, disappointment, and shock are filled on each page. The Wow Factor is guaranteed to amaze you with its raw honesty and outlook. This book will definitely leave you with a “Wow” reaction by revealing what really happens after the bell rings.



Check out Julie's first book too


Summary from Amazon

Caution: what you are about to read is real: names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent and the demented. 

If you haven’t yet started the college living experience, then this book is what you need. Unlike other college anecdotes you might have seen, this one doesn’t give a deceiving, sunshine approach to collegiate living. It isn’t trying to soothe or coddle you when the world seems harsh, but instead gives clear, cold hard truths about what can happen when students choose to leave the nest. 

So be warned: these are true stories of roommate experiences that people have lived to share. Some will make you want to laugh, weep, repent, disinfect, or heave. It’d be best to wait until mom and dad drive away before opening this book; that way you can’t change your mind and run back home. No doubt about it, Dorothy said it all when she left Oz, “There’s no place like home.” This book contains insane tales of deficient hygiene, soiled environments, untreated psychosis, and sexual malfunctions. Be advised that you may find it to be amusing yet strangely disturbing. Enjoy!

 



Giveaway and Book Review: Like I Used to Dance

5:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Like I Used To Dance
by Barbara Frances


“Oh, Grace, our kids,” laughed Bud. “Where did we go wrong? One marries God, another a Jew and the last one, the devil!”

Texas, 1951. The Wolanskis—Grace, Bud and their three grown children—are a close-knit clan, deeply rooted in their rural community and traditional faith. On their orderly farm, life seems good and tomorrow always holds promise.

But under the surface, it’s a different story. Grace is beset by dark memories and nameless fears that she keeps secret even from Bud. Their son Andy has said no to becoming a farmer like his dad and, worse, fallen in love with a big-city Jewish girl. Youngest child Regina is trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. Even “perfect” daughter Angela’s decision to become a nun takes an unforeseen turn.

And then Ceil Dollard breezes into town.

Ceil—wealthy, sophisticated, irrepressible—is like a visitor from Mars. She’s a modern woman. She drives a car and wears pants. She blows away tradition and certainty, forcing Grace to face her fears and brave a changing world. Through Ceil, Grace learns about courage and freedom—but at the risk of losing Bud.

Barbara Frances’ sparkling, richly human novel takes you back to a time when Ike was president and life was slower, but people were the same as now. You’ll encounter a cast of characters storm-tossed by change, held together by love. Written with compassion, humor and suspense, Like I Used to Dance will charm you, warm you and even squeeze a few tears, from its opening number to the last waltz.


A family with its own problems like every other family in America.  A period tale with a family that reminded me of This is Where I Leave You and Trail of Broken Wings.  This emotional tale has a family of characters that are well-developed and interesting to discover; the journey of each one of them adding to the story as a whole.

Your emotions will be pushed to the happiest and saddest of limits over the course of this novel, and I always get way more emotional over books than movies.  The characters and emotions combined with a simpler time means I was drawn in from the first line to the last dance.  Courage and change are awaiting.

While this is not a book that I would teach or use with my students, it was the perfect spring break read.






Excerpt


Ceil had brought over a bottle of wine and some fancy cheeses. Grace felt like a celebrity. She asked Bud and Ceil to sit on the couch in the parlor. Slowly and carefully she furled the bed sheet from the easel revealing the newly dried canvas. It was a painting she had copied from an old black and white photo of the children.


Nine-year-old Andy stood on the creek bank with his little fishing pole while ten- year-old Angela held a wriggly worm for him. To the side and in the background five-year-old Regina looked on with awe at her older siblings.


There was a long moment of silence before Bud could catch his breath. “I’ve never felt anything like this. I’m… It touches my heart,” he said and began to applaud. Ceil joined in. Grace couldn’t remember such joy flooding over her, not even when her children were born. The wine was opened and for the first time in her life Grace got tipsy over the course of the evening. Sitting between Bud and Ceil, she hugged one and then the other like a child who had been away from its mom and dad for several days.


“Ceil, I know I promised you my first painting,” she said, slurring her words, “but this one’s for Bud. I hope you don’t mind.” Bud kissed her on the cheek. He felt like a prince.


Ceil paused with a serious expression on her face. “Well, I guess I’ll have to take back all the brushes, canvases and stuff I got you.” Laughter sailed through the open windows.


A few days later, Regina dropped by and stood for a long time silently taking in Grace’s painting. Grace marveled at how pretty she was these days. She was regaining her health and an interest in her appearance. Finally, Regina said softly, “You paint like I used to dance.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~


AUTHOR Bio and Links


Barbara Frances has plenty of stories and a life spent acquiring them. Growing up Catholic on a small Texas farm, her childhood ambition was to become a nun. In ninth grade she entered a boarding school in Our Lady of the Lake Convent as an aspirant, the first of several steps before taking vows. The Sisters were disappointed, however, when she passed up the habit for the University of North Texas, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Theater Arts.


Her professors were similarly disappointed when she passed up a postgraduate degree to become a stewardess for American Airlines. Barbara, however, never looked back. “In the Sixties, a stewardess was a glamorous occupation.” Some highlights include an evening on the town with Chuck Berry and “opening the bar” for a planeload of young privates on their way to Vietnam.


Barbara eventually returned to Texas and settled down. Marriage, children, school teaching and divorce distracted her from storytelling, but one summer she and a friend coauthored a screenplay. “I never had such fun! I come from a family of storytellers. Relatives would come over and after dinner everyone would tell tales. Sometimes they were even true.”


The next summer Barbara wrote a screenplay on her own. Others followed, including Two Women, a finalist in the 1990 Austin Screenwriters Festival. Three more were optioned: Silent Crossing, The Anniversary and Sojourner Truth. Barbara left teaching and continued to work on her screenplays. In 1992, exhausted by endless rewrites she did something many screenwriters threaten but few carry out. She turned down an option renewal, done forever with writing—or so she thought.


It was not to be. One day a friend’s child found and read Lottie’s Adventure, her script for a children’s movie. At her young fan’s urging, Barbara turned it into a book, published by Positive Imaging, LLC, her husband Bill’s press. For Like I Used to Dance Barbara drew upon childhood memories and “front porch stories.” Her next novel, Shadow’s Way, is a “Southern Gothic tale” about  a woman caught in the struggle to keep her beloved plantation home from a scheming archbishop.


Barbara and her husband Bill Benitez live in Austin, Texas. 

She can be reached at:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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