Tag Archive for Teens

Client Success: Joe Shumock’s “Briana and the Dog” Enlivens YA Readers with Unique Plot

“I develop many of my stories using a short question: what if?” said author Joe Shumock.  “What if I start with a nine-year-old who is blind? And what if she wants a dog for Christmas and her parents insist that she take care of him? And what if the dog has a disability too?”

Briana and the Dog is a young adult novel aimed at ages 8-12, but is lauded as a “children’s book for all ages.”  With the lead character and conflict in mind, Shumock researched people, places, and circumstances to develop a unique plot, while creating the book’s setting from memories of his rural upbringing grounded in the town near where he currently lives. Foley, Alabama is a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I love writing. For me, it’s great fun to develop the story and the characters. And every word should be the best one possible for its place in the sentence and the story.” His process lasted about nine months, but Briana was one of several projects on his desk, including a fifth entry in his published thriller series, the first story in a new family trilogy, and the second entry in the Briana trilogy while he also worked on publishing details for The Shepherd’s Crook, a spiritual story scheduled for publication later this year

Very grateful, Shumock couldn’t do without his readers.  “I think of myself as a writer in the southern tradition, caring about family and community.  And everyone from family to friends to my high-school classmates and neighbors is aware of my writing.”  He enjoys the questions when someone finds out he’s an author. Some are about writing, and some are about him as a writer

After serving as editor on his recent novel Sacrifice of the Lambs, this story’s tone was very different yet still exhibited his signature style while writing complex issues and thrilling acts.  Shumock said, “Through our work, the lesson for me was to see how my writing could be better with your help, to see my novel through new eyes.  Working with you, Barry Hodgin (designer), and others has made this ‘work’ pleasurable.”

To those who want to write and publish, Shumock advised, “Don’t let the unknown overwhelm you. Dig in everywhere possible and learn all you can. And this goes for marketing the book too. It’s a challenge, but like the writing, it must be done. Use social media, schedule book events, and create new ways to spread the word. Stay at it a little every day.”

Client Success: Dr. Linda Craighead Supports Kids and Parents Through Childhood Obesity

Illustration by Robbie Short

“Writing and sharing this book has been very rewarding as I’m giving many more people a resource than I could by seeing them individually,” said Linda W. Craighead, Ph.D, licensed clinical psychologist and professor at Emory University.

Through simple concepts and energetic illustrations supporting both kids and parents, her book Training Your Inner Pup To Eat Well helps kids understand why their parents are concerned about their weight and empowers them to take ownership of their eating so it isn’t a source of tension at home with parents seen as the “food police.”

“I got the idea from working with a 12-year old boy who already weighed 222 pounds and had significant health problems related to obesity.  He and his family volunteered to be on The Dr. Oz Show in 2010 to draw attention to the increasing problem of child obesity. The show invited me as an obesity expert and asked me to follow up with the family to provide treatment.”

Through her clinical work with adults, Dr. Craighead had developed an approach called Appetite Awareness Training which is available as a self-help book, The Appetite Awareness Workbook: How to Listen to Your Body and Overcome Bingeing, Overeating, and Obsession with Food.  She modified it for relevance and appeal to children/adolescents, and this resulted in Training Your Inner Pup to Eat Well.  Through the process, she benefited from contributions from clients, grad students, and other therapists, particularly a group leading an obesity clinic in Iceland that first integrated the concept and shared their results.

“I started using the main metaphor of a dog after working with the 12-year old boy and his family for over a year. Then I trained other therapists to use the metaphor. Over time I wanted images for the concepts, and while searching the internet, I was lucky to find illustrator Robbie Short in Atlanta whose style was particularly appealing, not too young but with a sense of humor. He created the images, and the response from kids and parents was positive. This was something that all parents seemed to relate to. So, I wanted to make something available for any parent wanting guidance on positive ways to teach children healthy eating in what I call the ‘food-rich environment.’

“Although I had written a textbook, the adult self-help book, and multiple journal articles,” Dr. Craighead said, “I didn’t enjoy writing this at first as I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job writing for kids. I was surprised at how different it needed to be from all I had written before. I was again lucky to be referred to Wayne South Smith by a fellow psychologist who had benefited from his guidance.

“The most fun was getting Wayne’s comments and having that a-ha moment when he suggested a phrase or a word that was just right or sparked another idea in me. I don’t know that I would have kept up the effort without having someone to check in and give feedback and guidance. I had a lot to learn about ‘point of view,’ as well as making the writing conversational and appealing to kids.

“The lesson I learned from this experience was to ask for help when I felt stuck in a writing project and that using a professional doesn’t have to be a huge investment. They totally changed how I approached the book. I am so grateful I found Wayne and Robbie as they made this project a reality.”

Teen Instruction: Academic Coaching

Recently, my Academic Coaching was successful for two students, ages 13 and 15.

teen.4One prepared creative writing and dramatic monologue auditions for an arts magnet school, learning new approaches to excel in writing and presentation.  On her first try, she was accepted!

The other, a high school freshman, worked on getting up to speed with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards requiring writing and reading in every class.  This former A student was blindsided by the increased workload.  Suddenly, homework was taking five times longer.

Her mother wrote, “Our initial face-to-face meeting with Wayne was amazing.  He brought concepts and strategies to a level she understands, really getting her attention by using analogies between writing and dance, her passion.  He helped her examine and break information into manageable pieces, then organize her thoughts and work to make the writing process more natural.    She meets weekly via telephone and likes his clear explanations.  I like her positive progress and how he encourages her to come up with a solution rather than providing it.”

This student grasped new study strategies and was on the winning track in less than 6 weeks!

Read other success stories about a teen needing confidence, another needing an attitude adjustment, a college hopeful, and a real job seeker.

My work with teens has included students from public, private and home schools.  During six years as a certified tutor, I’ve work with college freshmen, sophomores, dual enrollment learners (ages 16 and up), as well as students from cultures around the world.  I get them to talk, ask questions, and reveal what they want and need.  I start with the skills they possess, have them recognize this, then celebrate each new achievement as they move forward.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Teen Writer Success: ‘Real Job’ Seeker

Academic Coaching available

Writing resumes and cover letters can be daunting to students.  This rite of passage on the track from school to career forces them to truthfully examine their lives and, perhaps more difficult, write persuasively about it.

Sixty students piled in the classroom equipped for 25 at my workshop for freshmen at Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston.

teen writer 4I showed them what the resume and letter represent and the basics of how to craft good ones, then I talked about common mistakes, answering their many questions along the way:

“All I’ve done is study, and I feel like I can’t get a job because I don’t have any work experience?  What can I do?” the student lamented.

“Well, you could give up,” I replied.  The student laughed.  “OR you could highlight the work you’ve achieved — school, extracurricular activities and volunteering.  Employers understand this for an entry level job.  Starting right where you are is perfect!”

“I was thinking I would put my resume on orange paper to get their attention.”  His large personality was even brighter.  “What do you think about that?”

“Well, it will definitely get their attention AND you’ll be remembered. . .but not necessarily for the reason you want.”  Everybody laughed.  “You’re not inviting someone to a party.  You’re showcasing your skills, experience and goals, plus showing how you can fit in the culture of a working environment.  Now if the business throws parties…!”

“I’m from St. Thomas,” she said, her accent thick and her English flawless.  “I removed all my experience gained on the island because it’s another country, but now there’s not much left in my resume.”

“Of course there isn’t!  You’re 19!  Leave your experience in,” I grinned as I saw her sigh in relief.  “Who knows?  St. Thomas could be your foot in the door.  Then it’s up to you.  Never discount your story.”

In the days after the seminar, several students worked with me privately.  One in particular was charged to get his resume out for an open position he really wanted.  The next week, he announced, “I’ve got an interview!”

I coached him on preparedness in answering typical questions like “where do you want to be in three years?” as well as those from his resume.  I even gave him hints about what power tie to wear.

The following week, he came back in.  His enthusiasm was still good, but he informed me he didn’t get the job.

“I wish you had gotten it,” I said, “but that position did its work anyway, huh?”

He shrugged.

“Well, it got you on the fast track to a great resume AND gave you experience in interviewing, both very good things in only a week!”

“You’re right,” he said. “I found two more ads I’m answering today.”

With great attitude and focus to move forward, he’s onward and upward at 18.

This student knows his future starts now.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.