June 20, 2004
Eric Katz and I have been researching and interviewing and collecting all sorts of information for our new book, High School’s Not Forever. This week, we got to see a preliminary cover for this book. Although we’re still in the early stages of researching and interviewing, this is always a special event in the process, and one that renewed my motivation when I was starting to bog down in the reading and research. Very exciting.
I just read an article about adding search capabilities to my site using a Google search engine. I need a little time to digest the information and “play,” but definitely hope to have this up soon.
I also have a bunch of new products in the wings, things I just can’t get to now but will as soon as I can (probably once the manuscript for the book is finished, later this year). My main priority is an updated and revised edition of the Rx: Handwriting book. It’s almost completely laid out but still needs a cover and some internal “tweaking.” Stay tuned.
August 8, 2004
An amazing week! Co-author Eric Katz flew out to Albuquerque where we spent 7 very intense days working on the new book, High School’s Not Forever. We revised the contents (you can now see our chapter titles and table of contents online, as well as the cover!) and also went through nearly 500 pages of stories, quotes, facts, tips and lots of other stuff, sorting, editing and, in many cases, scrapping, to finally find a “voice” that worked for us. (After years of writing on issues for adults, this process has required a significant shift on my end—and much learning along the way! Yay!)
We’re now in the process of reorganizing the material we decided to keep, while soliciting more stories from kids. We’ve also ditched the 150-question surveys as many of the responses ended up being a little too superficial and rhetorical. We need more solid stuff about specific issues.
If you know any overstressed, overextended kids, students who have experienced bullying or violence, gay or lesbian kids or recent graduates, dropouts, or kids who have had a hard time making the system work for them, or anyone you think might have a good story, please encourage them to contact us or let us know and we’ll follow up.
Rx: Handwriting Update
I should know better. I’ve been revising an old standby, Rx: Handwriting, a manual I developed when I first started working with first year intern teachers, based on an individualized, prescriptive program I used when I was in the classroom. I have a number of VERY PATIENT people waiting for their orders to be filled, some for an embarrassingly long time.
So here’s the scoop: Now that Eric and I have wrapped up this stage of our work on the book (EVERYTHING in my life was on hold that week), I actually am in a space where I can turn my attentions to the rest of my life.
I’m leaving town again tomorrow for my first-ever job in Arkansas (this leaves only Utah and Idaho, folks) and promise to make it my #1 priority when I get back. The graphics, which were the real holdup (cleaning up the scans from not-so-great originals) are done and I’ve gone through the manuscript for the book and cleaned up the text.
This week will be devoted to entering the changes in text, adding an order form and list of books and resources (and reference to this website—something I never would have dreamed of when I was creating the first version of this book in 1980!) and coming up with a new version of the cover.
Closeout Books Going Fast!
We continue to sell out of our closeout books. After once having had a catalouge with over 350 titles, it’s VERY strange to go into the warehouse and see only about two dozen titles left, and this number seems to shrink each time I go out on the road! It’s kind of sad to say goodbye to these old friends. Distributing books for other publishers was a good thing for us to have done when we started this business. Nonetheless, focusing on my products has been a good decision, and a very good move for us.
If there’s anything you need, now might be a good time to get a great deal. Be aware, for several of the titles, we only have one copy left. If there’s something specific you’re looking for, if we have sold out, we will refer you to the publisher.
New Jobs and Travel
For a while, it looked like I was going to have a whole lot of time off this Sept. and Oct. And being on a deadline, as I am, with a schedule that barely lets me come up for air between this Halloween and some time next July, that was kind of a good thing. I have some exciting opportunities to work with some old friends in some new places, and to do some work with parents as well, however, and there was no way I was going to pass those up! Check my calendar to see where I’ll be or click on the map to see when I’ll be in your area.
Onward, upward, outward…
Sept. 16, 2004
High School Book
More progress… We are still wrestling with the tone and expression in this book. It’s becoming clearer that in order to create a product that will work as effectively as we hope in reaching—and helping—teens, honoring their voices and the range of their experiences is very likely to make some adults a bit uncomfortable. We understand this. It’s been an issue for us all along, perhaps more so for me, as I’m so much in contact with this adult world, which is so much a part of these kids’ lives.
I can promise that a tremendous amount of thought, agonizing at times, has gone into the selection of the material we’re submitting. Every sentence, every submission, every fact we uncovered has been evaluated and re-evaluated in terms of one primary filter: Is this something that will help a high school kid who picks up this book? Period.
If it sounded preachy, or like it would be more interesting to a parent or teacher, out it went.
The scope of the book has been evolving to reflect the range of experiences kids have shared with us. And we’ve encountered more than a few hints that there will be adults who may be uncomfortable with this range of experiences, or the way these experiences have been related. Despite the overwhelming support we’ve received from the majority of people of all ages, we also recognize that there are people out there who would much prefer a sanitized or more two-dimensional expression of a teen’s world.
Which, I suppose, is one of the main reasons I wanted to do this book in the first place. We have had a number of kids write in about the lack of congruence between the way high school and the teen years have been pitched to them by well-meaning adults and the way these kids are actually experiencing them. (No, these are not the best times of your life, not for most people. Not by a long shot.)
New Book: What We Still Need
We have an almost overwhelming number of short quotes and are now looking for stories, longer and “meatier” submissions from kids (and high school “survivors”), particularly around some of the more weighty issues many teens encounter.
We are inviting contributors to share anything that tells what high school is or was like for them OR to tell us about a specific incident or event they experienced in high school.
We are also looking for kids with specific experiences to fill in some of the “gaps” in our content. Click to see topics we’re still looking for. (Note: Link disabled, 11/29/04.)
In addition to recruiting reviewers and more writers, I am still going after permissions—from contributors and from the publishers of the books we have quoted, which is almost a full-time job in itself!
Rx: Handwriting Update
Yes, it’s done. The back-orders have shipped and the new version of Rx: Handwriting is indeed available now!
Yeah, it’s a little nuts. I don’t think I’ll be home for more than 4 or 5 days at a stretch between the beginning of October (when I go off to Newburgh, NY to work with Eric again) and the week before Christmas. It’s not much better after the new year starts either! Yikes!
Do note that there have been some changes to a couple of dates, notably the engagements in Encinitas and San Juan Capistrano. For details of these or any other job, check my calendar or click on the map for your area.
Shadow’s own Web Page
Long overdue, our dog, Shadow finally has his own web page! Back in December, I assembled a memorial page for Chelsea and have been wanting to create a page to celebrate Shadow, the other half of what was an amazing pair of pets.
He has been the best companion for me, walking with me up in the foothills or around the neighborhood every day, just keeping me company on the deck or in the office as I’ve worked on the book. There is nothing like the friendship and companionship of a good dog, and there are few I’ve met who have as big a heart as this one.
Taking Care of Myself
OK, this has never been my strong suit but I’ve actually scheduled some sanity breaks recently—a day at the fair yesterday, a massage next week, lunch or dinner with friends in between.
And of course, I do have a week at sea in November for the MacMania Geek Cruise. (And we just booked our travel for the Baltic Blast cruise out of Copenhagen this coming June.)
I actually got my hands back into some beads again—a part of my life I’ve sorely neglected since I started working on this book. (And no, I still haven’t put my studio pages up on this site. Maybe next summer.)
Not hardly in balance (it’s 6:15 a.m. and I’ve been up for at least 2 hours now, which is pretty typical of what my sleep schedule has been like all summer) but making time for a few breaks. And, for now, going back to sleep…
© 2004, Dr. Jane Bluestein
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