Too Much Coincidence Not to be Part of the Cosmic Plan

By Trish Wilkinson

In the face of 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—5. The book would be a What to Expect When You’re Expecting for elementary school. I wanted to help bring families closer in this techno-hustle world and support parents in raising well-adjusted kids.

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 strengthen relationships and help kids thrive, whatever their learning environment.

After twenty-three years of teaching in the classroom, three years of reading studies and articles, and doing interviews with lots of professionals and parents, I decided I was ready to take an online class with Media Bistro to write 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 June 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 needed.

Sadly, Jackie passed away while working to develop the manuscript for publication. It 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.

Digital Image by Sean Locke
Digital Planet Design
www.digitalplanetdesign.com

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 Frischknecht 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 March 2018.

The original release date was in September 2017, but after careful consideration and further planning, Sandra and I decided an extra six months will give us the time we need to make this book the best possible resource for helping families develop a solid mental, emotional, physical, and social foundation for kids in the elementary school years.

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 knowing what’s going on in her brain takes away the judgement. Our house is so much more relaxed than it was before I read that chapter.”

Simon Tucker, a friend and media intern at Compass Church in Bend, is working with me to develop an awesome Brain Stages website. We plan to make videos of kids and parents playing some of the games in the book as well as post all kinds of helpful hints for raising smart, happy kids, so stay tuned…

I’ll let you know when the new site goes up, show off the cover art when we make a decision, and inform you of upcoming events.

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.

Shout Out for Sharon Cooper: Writer On Her Way Up!

Legal Seduction – Did You Know?

Did you know that RT Book Reviews (Romantic Times Magazine) chose LEGAL SEDUCTION as one of their “Top Picks” for June 2014?!

legal seduction - book cover

Okay, so a few weeks ago, other authors started shooting me emails and inboxing me about LEGAL SEDUCTION, my debut Harlequin Kimani novel (coming June 1st). They were congratulating me because LEGAL SEDUCTION was chosen by RT as one of their “Top Picks” for June 2014. Now me, being me, didn’t have a clue to what that meant. So I shot a quick email to Candace Shaw and she’s the one who told me that RT was Romantic Times, but neither of us knew what the “Top Picks” was all about.

After receiving several emails, and a few people inboxing me via Facebook, I started to think – I need to know more about this RT thing. NOTE: That was my exact thought. Mind you, I was getting a little more excited with each email, inbox message and super excited when I talked with one of my critique partners (one of several) on the telephone who subscribes to the magazine. She’s kinda like my own personal “Hype Man”! No joke – I think she was even more excited than I was because she actually had access to a digital copy of the June 2014 magazine. Oh, but getting back to the “Hype Man” part. In hip hop, a hype man typically gets a crowd hyped up…kinda interjects here and there during a song. Well this particular critique partner is usually the person who gets me hyped up about my stories (good and sometimes not so good). I could go on and on about her. She’s the one who talks me into writing stories I had no intention of writing and quick to tell me if she likes…or if she doesn’t like something I’ve written. Lol! And she HATES the word “it” (which I use ALL the time)! Needless to say, she drives me nuts! But I can’t imagine my writing journey without her! But I digress…

So after one particular author inboxed me (my excitement even higher), I made the comment – “So this must be a big deal, because several authors have reached out to congratulate me.” I can’t remember her exact words – but it was something like – Uh…yeah! This is a big deal! Then she sent me a screen shot of the review page. For whatever reason, whenever I tried to log-on to the RT site, it would time out – not let me on. At any rate, before that day was over, several people had sent me the actual review. Here it is:

RT Review – Reviewed by B. Nakia Garner

After growing up in the foster care system, Iris Sinclair has dedicated her life to defending teens in courts. Her latest client is Tania, niece of millionaire Nash Durpree. The case brings Iris and Nash closer than either of them ever thought possible when Iris becomes the temporary guardian of Tania. While Iris tries to convince herself that she is worthy of a man’s love, Nash must decide if he’s ready to love again. Steamy sex scenes that will have you flushing with heat make this tale a must-read. The passion leaps off the pages, and readers will get lost in the romance. You won’t want to put this book down.

I thought – this person must’ve really enjoyed the book. Then I saw that it had received 4.5 stars! Of course, me being me, I wondered what I needed to do to get a full 5 stars since it sounded like the reviewer really enjoyed the story. Now this part is funny – The person who edited LEGAL SEDUCTION congratulated me and I thanked her for all of her assistance with the story. I went on to tell her that next time, we’ll see if we can get 5 stars instead of just 4.5 stars. Now those of you who are familiar with RT’s rating scale are probably laughing right about now. The editor said to me, I can’t remember her exact words, but it was someting like – actually 4.5 is the highest rating you can get. Now at this point, my excitement level was off the charts! I had to bust out with my happy dance!!

So hopefully you’ll enjoy LEGAL SEDUCTION as much as the RT reviewer did! Here’s a description of the story:

legal seduction - book cover

 

When it comes to desire, they’re both pleading guilty.

In the courtroom, criminal defense attorney Iris Sinclair is cool and confident.Yet, around her new client’s guardian, she loses all composure. Atlanta club owner Nash Dupree is an infamous playboy who could compromise Iris’s heart as well as her case. For once, she feels like a curvy goddess instead of a strait-laced lawyer—even if the evidence suggests what he’s looking for is strictly short-term. No matter what the tabloids claim, Nash has made his teenage niece his first priority, and without Iris’s help he’ll lose guardianship. What began as seduction, a sweet thrill, has turned into something more—now he wants Iris forever. But proving his intentions means winning her trust before his reputation drives away the only woman who has ever captivated him, body and soul…

*

The official release day is June 1, 2014. You can find LEGAL SEDUCTION in paperback in bookstores or purchase an e-copy. You can also pre-order through Amazon or B & N.

Re-posted from Sharon’s blog, “Just Thinking”

Sharon C Cooper Gets it Done

legal-seduction-book-coverCongratulations to Page-a-Day Writer, Sharon C. Cooper, weaver of romance extraordinaire! Her newest book, Legal Seduction, will be released June 1 by Kimani Romance, a subsidiary of Harlequin, but you can preorder a paperback or e-book at this very moment! Get a sneak peek at the storyline on her blog, “Just Thinking…”.

A couple years ago, Sharon decided to take the self-publishing route, so she started “Just Thinking…” and began to build a following. She posted regularly, giving insights about her life experiences, hosting interviews with other writers, doing blog-hops with writers of the same genre, holding contests, and offering giveaways.  In the meantime, she finished her first novel, revised like crazy with feedback from other Ignoring Your PassionPage-A-Day writers, and got a professional content and line editor to help her fine tune the manuscript to get it ready for publication.

Something New, a sweet romance, came out in April, 2012 and became a bestseller on Amazon! Whoot! Whoot!  It’s a great story that totally deserved to sell a lot of copies and receive recognition – and this is coming from someone (me) who doesn’t generally read romance. I’m always up for authentic exchanges between three-dimensional characters, plot twists, and a satisfying ending, though.

Since then, Sharon has been busy. She’s published Blue Roses (July, 2012), Rendezvous with Danger (April, 2013), and Still the Best Woman for the Job (2013), all of which have enjoyed great reviews and sales. Is it a wonder how an editor with Kimani Romance contacted Sharon to offer her a contract with a traditional publisher?

We’re all waiting for Sharon to tell us about the differences between self and traditional publishing after Legal Seduction comes out, so stay tuned to get the inside scoop from one Page-A-Day author’s perspective.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on self vs. traditional publishing!