It’s Not a Book but It’s a Start

 

Summer 2016

      So, last year, someone from Methodist Home for Children, asked me to write an article for the magazine, Spotlight. I did. It took a few months to get it edited but when it was finally published, I was pretty happy. It was on page 8 in the summer of 2016 issue. It might not be a book but it’s something I got published.
I did have a lot of help with it, from someone who knew how to word things better than I did, for the audience the magazine is sent to. Every family, program, employee, church supporter, and financial backer gets the magazine. That would be thousands of people across our state and beyond. You can view it on the website https://www.mhfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Summer-2016.pdf   or below. Let me know what you think.

Here it is:

Leaps in Learning

By Melissa Pasek, N.C. licensed teacher in the Chowan Multipurpose Home

         Some come straight from the detention center, bound in handcuffs and shackles. Others come from home, accompanied by a mom or dad. Still others may not have seen parents or siblings in months. But they all come to Methodist Home for Children to change behaviors that are escalating toward serious delinquency or crime. As a teacher in the Chowan Multipurpose Home, it’s my job to help teens catch up academically. Our classroom is set up in the living room area and, on any given day, I might have eight students in my class — with one who reads at a third-grade level sitting next to another working at a 12th-grade level. I might have one student who came in with report cards and a specialized Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and another who arrived with no records at all.

To sort it all out, MHC teachers create a baseline score for each new student using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). WRAT scores are grade-equivalency scores with the highest, 12.9, representing 12th-grade achievement in the ninth and final month of school. In the absence of reliable records, these scores are especially helpful in uncovering a student’s strengths and weaknesses — weaknesses which may be rooted in learning difficulties or behavioral and emotional problems like defiance and anxiety. Six to eight months later, when the teen is ready to leave our care, we give the WRAT again. By comparing scores, we can see that students are significantly better prepared to succeed in school, improving by more than one grade level in reading, spelling and math.

Teens come to multipurpose homes as repeat juvenile offenders, and they’re often behind grade level when they arrive. It’s the job of our five on-site teachers and staff to help them catch up and shed bad habits — and standardized test scores show they’re succeeding. Last year, 86 percent of youth performed at grade level when they left our multipurpose homes, up from 65 percent when they arrived.

Here are a few teens who’ve made me proud lately(names have been changed for protection)

Sam, a seventh-grader, came to the Chowan home for repeatedly skipping school. He was a smaller kid, and he craved attention. Every time I turned around, it seemed he was there, asking if he could write on the chalkboard or help out in some way. I came to discover he needed constant affirmation, and he didn’t get much at home. He was so eager to please. In six months at the Chowan home, Sam’s confidence grew noticeably, and by the time he left us, he’d increased his WRAT scores by multiple grade levels: Word reading: 5.4 to 10.3 Sentence comprehension: 9.9 to 12.9 Spelling: 12.7 to 12.9 Math: 5.1 to 5.9

Montana: Often we have youth who come to us with psychological and neurological disorders. I expect the same hard work from all youth, and I teach them not to use their disabilities as excuses. Montana, a ninth-grader, suffered from anxiety, and it seemed to be triggered by everything — playful teasing by her classmates, fearing that others were talking about her, being corrected in public by staff. She was terrified of speaking in front of the class. Over time, I was able to show Montana that she knew more than she thought she did, and her participation slowly increased. She started out timidly raising her hand and, when she would get an answer right, you could tell she felt encouraged. She went on to make a presentation for health class, selecting a chapter from the textbook and teaching it to the others, and she was first to volunteer to speak at our annual graduation ceremony about her experience. After about six months, she improved her WRAT score in math from 8.7 to a 12.9 and finished with a 12.9 in every category.

Jasmyne:  Two or three times a year we get a low-functioning teen. Jasmyne was a ninth-grader who arrived without any information about her disability, but early testing pointed to learning challenges and some anxiety, especially in her math score. I tried to treat Jasmyne the same as other students during class and helped her build confidence through one-on-one projects. Soon she learned she could do things she’d previously been told she couldn’t and her WRAT score improvements were remarkable: Word reading: 3.5 to 7.4 Sentence comprehension: 6.5 to 8.2 Spelling: 5.1 to 6.8 and Math: k.0 to 10.1 While we’re glad to see WRAT scores improve, we’re even more excited when we learn that former students are doing well in life. Montana, for example, completed her GED and is working at Piggly Wiggly.

Others go on to college, and some have qualified for higher education funding and mentoring through our Hackley Education and Learning Program.

These young people show us that court-involved youth are capable of changing behavior and achieving success in life. ■ 9 SPOTLIGHT SUMMER 2016

Picture Book Possibility

I posted this a couple of years ago. I pray, by re-posting it it may be seen by someone who can help move it along… Thank you to all who read my posts.

I was working at a hotel for a year and was inspired one day. I started saying something silly  like, “On Monday we have to make the beds, on Tuesday we have to clean …” So, I turned it to a farming theme. I wanted to write something that would teach children, the days of the week, reading phonics,  and about using more Eco friendly ways to care for small farms as you would find in the area we live in.  A friend of mine started the illustrations however, she moved to Utah before she could finish them. They were perfect for the book.  I will probably need to find a new illustrator.  So, here are some of the pictures and some of the book “Farmer Floyd”.

FARMER FLOYD

BY Melissa Pasek

c- 2009

Farmer Floyd lived in the city and he was not happy. He did not like the noise or the traffic or the dirty air. 

 

   Farmer Floyd woke up one day and said, “This is not good. I need to move away from all this noise and pollution.”  So, he packed all his things and bought a little house in the country.

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This is good

On his first night in his new house he said, “This is good.” And he turned out the light and went to sleep.

 

On Monday, Farmer Floyd woke up and walked around his yard and noticed all the crows eating his apples in his apple tree.  “This is not good,” he said, “I need someone to chase these crows away.”

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Farmer Floyd went to the local animal shelter and bought a little dog he named Bongo. After a quick visit to the vet, Farmer Floyd brought Bongo home and Bongo got straight to work.

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That night Farmer Floyd put Bongo’s bed on the floor next to his and said, “This is good.” And turned out the light and went to sleep.

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On Tuesday, Farmer Floyd walked around his yard while Bongo chased the crows and noticed some mice. “This is not good,” he said, “I need someone to get rid of the mice,” 

Slinky and spanky

Farmer Floyd went back to the animal shelter and got two cats he named Spanky and Slinky. After a quick visit to the vet Farmer Floyd brought them home to meet Bongo and chase mice.

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That night Spanky and Slinky slept on the bed at Farmer Floyd feet and Bongo slept in his bed on the floor. Farmer Floyd said, “This is good” and turned off the light and went to sleep.

There is more but I can post that on another day.

Another Year Has Gone By

Anxious thoughts

Well, I must be the biggest loser on the eastern coast. I just looked back at my blogs and I have nothing to show for it. Others I have seen on Facebook, have a book published. Others are having problems promoting their books. It all is intimidating me and I want to crawl into a shell and stay there.

I keep writing on here and there in hopes that an agent may see my writing. I’m waiting for “Muhammad to come to the mountain” I work 40- 50 hour weeks and just don’t have time to write letters and queries only to be rejected because I have no clue as to what I’m doing.

So I start thinking, “what would Evan Sanders from The Better Man Project say”….. That sometimes we have to dig deep, pray deep, and act fast.

Pray, I do all the time. I ask God for courage and knowledge of what to do and say in order to do his will, if his will is for me to get my books published.

The energy it takes to dig deep within me to actually do what I say I want to do, is depleting and low most days. It’s on my day’s off I have the most energy but I am tethered to correcting my students work or doing house work. Thus my energy disappears. How do I do what I need to do in the 4 hours I get to relax after work….  oh wait… 3 hours and one is for games to get my mind relaxed and I have to turn off the computer 30 – 45 min before I go to bed so that leaves 1 hour. 1 hour to remember to write a letter ……

So, I will start by continuing to pray. Pray for energy, time, knowledge and guidance on my writings and how to do God’s Will and get them to the public so that people may see him through my stories.

I also will try to re-post any and all stories in hopes of an editor, illustrator and publisher who may be interested in my books.

Any thoughts?

Samba’s Adventures Personified

God said, "write it", so I did.

Personification is fun to write. As you can see, I have a lot of material for this with all the animals I have had. I have made a tradition at the small school I teach at to have the students write a Thanksgiving story personified. Many children who come to us don’t even know what a turkey acts like or anything. So, I write a quick story to show them how it’s done. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. First let me give you the conclusion to the “cat venture” with a picture of Samba. I hope you all are enjoying my writing. Please let me know what you think. 🙂

 

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“Samba looked, walking back and forth, randomly. “I don’t see anything.”

“What about at the corner of the house, in the garden?” Mason asked.

Samba went to look. There in the dirt, just at the edge of…

View original post 468 more words

Updates are Essential for Notoriety

 

Im still working on you-God

If you want your name to be noticed you need to put it out there.  Blogging is a good start and so is twitter and Facebook.  Most people just do as I do and join twitter, get tired of it because it’ s more like Disney World in the Summer. Facebook is good for a quick look at peoples’ character. If you post naked pictures and have a lot of drama on your page publishers will not want to go near you. Blogging is great because it can show your writing, your sense of humor and your intent.

No matter what type of venue you use you need to do a little updating and changing once or twice a year. I updated my about.me account and in a day I had 99 new followers on that account. Now if I could get them back over here to wordpress….. anyway I also updated the look of my blog and my bio and now have a few new followers.

If you are changing and growing shouldn’t your blogs, twitters and whatnot evolve too?

Of course! So, take some time and change it up! Don’t forget to go and visit all my other blogs and writings too.

Thank you for reading and believing in me!

One Step Closer

Im still working on you-God

Networking is so important when you want to get published. It does pay off.   So, don’t give up.
I am a part of www.goodreads.com and someone saw my book, contacted an artist friend of theirs and now we are working together to get Farmer Floyd illustrated.
What’s the Next Step?
Well, I have to decide, self publish or not. There is one Self publishing company that looks very good and they have a payment plan.www.outskirtspress.com

I will also ask advice from published authors like Carol Gill,  Ellen Hopkins, and Andrew Smith as to what they would recommend .
What else do I need?
I need to know how much the artist should be payed. So, off I go researching and asking other authors or artists what the going rate is or do they get an upfront sum and then a % of the sales….????
Many questions and I just need it all spelled out for me and that’s why it would be easier if I could get a publishing house to just pick me up but I guess, like most of my life, I have to go through the “basement ” door.

I am trying to earn and save a little money through my writings on www.bubblews.com where you get paid to write 400 characters of anything. You also get connected to people around the world.

One step at a time.  Let me see what the artist can do. While he is sketching I can do a little research and check out prices through connections on writers’ pages on FaceBook,  my 300 connections around the world on www.Bubblews.com ,  Google+, and  Good Reads.

I will let you all know what happens after all that so stay tuned….

Writing to Publishing: Trying to Overcome Fears

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I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing stories and books but the scary part is the unknown.  I don’t know when my pieces are ready for sending to publishers. I don’t know what it sounds or looks like to others. I don’t know what agents to send these off to.  When do I send them? What should a query letter really look like? Is my query letter good or not? 

This all tumbles around in my head causing my fears to build up like a large snow ball. I have to face my fears and have my determination to get published be bigger than those fears.

Feedback Helps a lot!

So, I started with some beta readers on www.goodreads.com and  quite a few enjoyed the picture book first. So, I will start with Farmer Floyd and work on the Polly’s Pebble series.  A kind person on Good Reads even gave me a name of an illustrator who ay be able to work on my book.  I know that some feedback is hard to read but I am willing to hear/read all opinions and ideas. This is why I have the comment boxes on here, so that my readers can help me become a better writer .

Networking 

By starting a blog, I am taking a risk of putting my work out there to be judged, critiqued and picked apart. What was the saying? It’s better to have been loved and rejected than never to have loved at all… so I also have put myself on goodreads and on bubble news ( www.bubblews.com).

I tried twitter but each time I ended up getting some type of virus on my computer so, I refuse to take the risk anymore. Facebook has been helpful with the writers groups that I belong to. People have given me advice on copyrighting, getting objective readers, and some self publishing sights (if I choose that road). The more people see my name, my blogs, my writing, the larger the circle of  my fan base will get. (yes, it is weird to think I have fans).

Query Letters

One thing I hate is to write to a formula. It seems easy but to me it’s not. If I want a real Literary Agency to see my work I have to send them a Query Letter. I try to write according to the formulas and advice given on www.writersdigest.com or on  www.querytracker.net . One of my problems is follow through. I write a letter then because I am unsure of it I let it sit in a folder on my computer. Another problem is getting feedback on it. No one seems to want to read it. So, I think I will go back to query tracker and see if I can try again.

Choosing how to Publish

Real publisher or self publishing?  People choose self publishing for many reasons and I believe that one of those reasons is so they are not rejected. Rejection is part of the game. Like in soccer when you are simply trying to get the ball in the goal and someone comes along to block you. If you are really good you may get passed them however it takes a few tries and years of practice to get so good that they move out of the way for you. They won’t. On the other hand, Self publishing is a little faster, a little more personal and could be a way to make it to a big publishing house. 

Writers who seriously want to get published, not for the money, but primarily to get their message out to the public need to think about all of this. I teach teens who think that they can “just become”  professional rappers or basket ball players or football players with out having to go through high school or college.  I try to teach them that they need to go through school, they need to have a plan B, and make school their plan A until their dreams can become their plan A.  

I cannot “just become” a published author without the help of other people and experience at trying to put my work out there. I had sent my books out to big publishers once and it was never the right time. Well, maybe now is the right time.