A Special Thanks to Teachers

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Today’s guest is New York Times bestseller Dianna Love. She’s converted her art studio into a writing cave with a huge white board on her big easel and some paintings hanging on the walls. Dianna spend her days crafting Slye Temp romantic thrillers for adults as  Dianna Love, and also co-writes (with USA Today bestseller Mary Buckham) the Red Moon sci-fi fantasy trilogy for young adults as USA Today bestseller Micah Caida.

When I was a kid, I loved school.

It’s true. I know some of you are shaking your heads and wondering how that can be, but you have to understand that we grew up with very little and school was this wonderful place where I could step out of a restricted home life to find a whole new world.

That’s the same thing that drew me to reading. I could dive into a book and explore the world I’d never seen outside of Tampa, Florida, because traveling was limited to fishing the Gulf of Mexico on any day we had free. We fished to feed the family, so it was great that I loved fishing, but I never realized how limited my horizons were until living on my own, which happened at seventeen.-4

I’ve done a lot of things since then, such as building companies that created unusual three-dimensional art, wall murals, and other strange marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies.  When I stopped climbing over a hundred feet in the air, I went from painting faces of celebrities that were sometimes twenty feet tall to writing bestselling books. That’s quite a change, but I only tackle what I feel passionate about, and everything I do can be traced back to teachers and librarians who inspired me as a child.

School wasn’t always easy, but I thrive on challenge and love to learn so it suited my personality.  Even so, there were boring classes, too, which is why the teachers who made a special effort stand out. They are the ones who come into sharp focus when I think of who influenced my life.

About a year ago, I met two such dynamic teachers in New York at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. We were at a social event that separated writers by their region of the country, so it was nice to find that Dennis Jolley and Justin Jones were also in the Atlanta area. They both write stories for teens and tweens, and were in New York to develop their craft and to network. I’ve had the pleasure of reading their work and I’m looking forward to seeing those books in print when they sell.

But these two men were doing something pretty extraordinary back at their high school that I found more fascinating than any writing workshop. They said many teachers complain, “Our students won’t read.” During a discussion of their passion for literature and why they became English teachers, Dennis and Justin came up with an idea on how to share their love of reading with their students. They put their idea into action by creating a four-pronged program. I’m posting a snippet of a post Dennis wrote called Muggles Can Make Magic, Too from the Nerdy Book Club blog:

-5“Step One began with a commitment to having our students read in silence for ten minutes a day. I’d tried this the year before and failed, but I’d learned two things since then. Kids will not read stuff they aren’t interested in – and you have to meet them where they are. I was willing to give it another go. I knew that practice time is essential. Just as an athlete or musician has to practice to improve their skills, a reader must practice on a regular basis.”

What difference did this make for the students? Here’s another snippet from his blog:

“In a three-year period, we increased our SAT Critical Reading scores by 30 points, while other schools in our county increased at an average of 8.5 points.” That idea is brilliant. It seems so simple, but it took someone willing to meet kids on common ground rather than expect them to read a specific book just because “I said so.” How many adults would sit down and read a book this week that they weren’t interested in? I’m not seeing a lot of hands going up on that one.

I admire anyone who has this kind of passion for what they do, but teachers in particular. Yes, it’s wonderful that parents read to their kids (something I didn’t have), but those same children spend the majority of their week with teachers. My niece, Ashley Love, teaches at an elementary school along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and she has this same passion for working with small children. My husband’s mother, Jane Ohern taught first grade in Ft. Benning, Georgia for over 50 years, touching multiple generations.

The teachers who touched my life were as much a part of my art as they are my writing. Every time I write a story, I hope it makes their stars shine a little brighter, since many of them have passed on. It’s thrilling to know that we have teachers who are going above and beyond to mold children in a way that will launch them to follow their own passion. One teacher in twelve years can make a difference.

To all the teachers out there who bring their passion to school every day: Thank you for inspiring the next generation.

*LEAVE A COMMENT if you’d like to be in the drawing for a signed copy of Time Trap or Time Return, Books 1 & 2 of the Red Moon Trilogy. Time Lock (Book 3) will be out June 2014.

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See you next Wednesday, March 19th at Barbara’s Welcome Party at her new home site here!

Bottom Line:  I loved school too and there were many teachers who inspired me!

Comments

  1. Dianna, you are so gifted and can always see the BIG picture, whether in your art or your writing. Congrats on all your success. I always marvel at your drive and energy. When you set your mind to do something, you work hard and accomplish that goal, no matter how daunting it might seem to the rest of us.

    Applauding you and all you do to help others.

    Hugs!

    • Thanks, Debby!! I just got out of the cave today and getting a chance to read everyone’s blogs. Going to yours next (if anyone missed it, be sure to jump over to Debby’s!). I appreciate your sweet words. :)

  2. As a retired teacher and now writer, I particularly appreciate your post. Congrats on your accomplishments.

  3. Thank YOU, Jacqueline, for being a teacher. When we’re young, we don’t know how much your influence is going to mean to use later on, so just know that all those kids WILL appreciate what you do. :) Thanks for stopping by to visit Barbara’s blog and come back on Wed, Mar 19th for the party. :)

  4. Dianna! What a wonderful post! As the daughter of a Librarian and an English Teacher, I’ll thank you on their behalf, and shake my pom-poms right along with you! YAY TEACHERS!!! WOOT!!! YAY LIBRARIANS!!! WOOT!!! I lived in the library – sometimes all day and well into the evening if my father wanted to give my mother some down time – and was never bored, never lonely. :> And school? LOVED school. So much to do, to learn, to find out….just like the library. Grins.

    • I’m not surprised, Jeanne, as we are kindred souls. :) I just feel for teachers and librarians, because they go every day to help raise the next generation and may never know about that one moment that changes a child’s life. You tell them thank you for me right back! :) And thank you for stopping by!

  5. This is a wonderful post.
    Congrats on your Sucess.

    “I’m a Dianna Love Street Team
    member”

  6. Dawn Brower says:

    That was a lovely post :)

    I’m a Dianna Love street team member

  7. Hilleary Peterson says:

    I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member!

  8. Donna Antonio says:

    Dianna Love Street Team member. I loved school. It was my escape. I lived in the library.

    • Me, too, Donna. I loved walking in and just the smell of books would get me ready to dig into something. : ) Thanks for being on my Street Team and for stopping by!!

  9. I’m a Dianna Street Team member! Hey Dianna! Hey Barbara! Good to ‘see’ y’all miss y’all!

    • Hi April and I miss you TOO! :) Thanks for being on my Street Team and for stopping by to visit. :) Make sure to come back March 19th for the PAR-TEE – everyone!!

  10. Terri Dowbiggin says:

    Great Post! I remember the names of the 2 teachers that really pushed me and none other. It’s amazing what great teachers can do.

    I am also a Dianna Love street team member.

    • See? that’s what I’m talking about, Terri. Those teachers imprinted on our future in a great way. Thanks for visiting and for being on my Street Team. :)

  11. Laura Collins says:

    Great article, “I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member”

    • Thanks, Laura. I get asked a lot about my unusual background and I’m always pointing out how teachers and librarians influenced so much in my life. :) Thanks for being on my Street Team and for visiting today. :)

  12. Love street teem member. Nice blog. I didn’t know you were an artist too! How talented.

    • Hi Lisa!! :) Yes, I actually fell out of the womb as an artist and built companies around that before I turned to writing. Thanks for stopping by and for being on my STreet Team!

  13. Love street team member.

  14. Kaye Tomlin says:

    You always amaze me, Dianna. But then you are an amazing lady.

    And I’m happy to be a Dianna Love Street Team Member.

    • HI Kaye!! I appreciate your kind words. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do these things! Thanks for coming by say hello and for being on my Street Team!

  15. pam elliott says:

    I am a Dianna Love Street Team member

  16. Kristi Ivey says:

    I love your writing Dianna and am proud to be a part of your Street Team!!!

  17. Michelle Bourassa says:

    I actually liked school as well, and have loved reading as long as I can remember. The library was a favorite place to be, just love the smell of books. It’s so good to see teachers now advocating having kids read what they want to read, and not just assigning them books to read. I went to a Literacy for Life conference with my daughter last year, where the Keynote speaker was David Bouchard (amazing Canadian children’s author http://www.davidbouchard.com) He actually didn’t start reading until his 20s and that was one of the reasons – he was given books he neither wanted to read, nor could he relate to the stories. As he said in his talk – we as adults have to help children find THAT ONE BOOK, the one book that they love and fires their imagination, and it will turn them on to the love of reading and will send them looking for other books to read. I still remember how my son pretty much refused to read until he was about 13-14 and found the Darren Shan books that turned him into a reader. Now he’s 20 and making his way through the Game of Thrones series, and at one time I wondered if he’d ever read a whole book. So thanks to the teachers who take the time to help our kids become readers and find that book.
    Oh, and “I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member”

    • You’re so right, Michelle, and I’m always pointing out the fact that “I” wouldn’t want to read something assigned to me. I’ll hear about a book – like The Rosie Project – and in the back of my mind I think that I want to try it, but I have to wait for that day that I’m in the mood for something different. BTW – that’s a really interesting book. But I’ve heard teachers and parents both saying how hard it is to get kids to read – until you hand the child or teen something that “they” are interested in. Then bam – they get excited about reading. Thanks for being on my Street Team and for stopping by to share your thoughts today!!

  18. kym amaral says:

    Dianna, I was a teacher and librarian before my accident. Loved your post !

    I am a Dianna Love Street team member and <3 ya !

    • Ah, Kym, thanks. You’re part of a special group of people – educators and librarians!! Glad you liked the post. Thanks for being on my Street Team and for stopping by!

  19. danielle estes says:

    “I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member” And i love all of your books Dianna Love :)

    • Hi Danielle – Thanks for the wonderful note on my books. :) That’s so sweet. I appreciate you being on my Street Team and visiting the blog today!

  20. Great words of passion and gratitude! My first job was in a library and I thought I’d died and gone to heave getting to work in a place filled with books and readers all day. Loved it! Thank you for sharing the inspiration of Justin and Dennis, as well as all the teachers out there that are making a huge difference in children’s lives. Teachers rock!

    • HI Mary and thanks for stopping by. BTW – for those who don’t know – this is THE USA Today bestseller Mary Buckham who is my co-author on the Red Moon young adult trilogy series that we write as Micah Caida. She also writes the amazing INVISIBLE RECRUIT urban fantasy series. Invisible Fate is the 3rd book in the first trilogy and it was just released. Be sure to check it out!!!

  21. Sandy Giden says:

    I’m a Street Team member. I’ve always been a reader but I found Grade School reading class boring because I always read above my grade level. During part of 6th grade the teacher had them reading and acting out a condensed version of Treasure Island which I’d read a few years before. She pretty much just let me sit in the back row and read Dracula.

    • LOL, that you were reading Dracula then, Sandy. How nice that you’d been reading so much by then you were ahead of the curve on reading skills!!! Thanks for being on my Street Team and for sharing your thoughts today!

  22. Hi Dianna! *waves* Just coming up for air and wanted to say I am so with you on one great teacher making a difference.

    I had more than one through my 12 years of public school. In first grade it was Mrs. Sandusky, who said to me, “You can do anything you want to do.” And in 7th grade it was my English teacher who encouraged me to try my hand at public speaking. In high school it was my art teacher, Mrs. Henrietta Scott, who encouraged me and let me hang in the art room to work on my art projects instead of going to study hall. There was even a vice principal, who allowed me to cheat on the curriculum…he let me take journalism instead of Junior English since I couldn’t fit in both. Yep, that’s right. I skipped Junior English and I’m the better for it because one teacher was paying attention to what would work for one kid. *High Five* on this great blog. And a huge wave to Barbara!

    • HI Cassondra – (my amazing Assistant, for those who might now know) That’s a wonderful memory of teachers and you’re right – how nice that someone recognized the best thing for “you.” It shows in your writing and creative abilities. You definitely had a wonderful span of teachers. Thanks for jumping on to say hello!

  23. As a daughter of an English teacher turned Librarian, sister of an assistant teacher, aunt of a teacher, and relative to several teachers, thank you for this!!

    I am proudly a Dianna Love Street Team member! :)

    • Wow, Beth, you have quite a family of educators and a librarian. Talk about the jackpot!! You’re welcome and I’m just happy to do this and thankful to Barbara for the blog today. Thank you for being on my Street Team and for coming over to give me a shout out. :)

  24. Karin Anderson says:

    Wow. Working on props for the Olympics is pretty cool! I’d love that chance.

    I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member. ;-)

    • That period of time during the Olympics was insane, but really cool, Karin. I am at my happiest when I’m challenged and given a big canvas to work on. They gave me Atlanta. LOL!! I loved it. thanks for being on my Street Team and for coming by to visit!

  25. Jaime Gramberg says:

    Teachers have such a hard time sometimes, with testing and dealing with parents and everything else. They deserve a lot more respect than what they get! It takes a very caring and wonderful person to be a teacher!
    I’m a Dianna Love Street Team Member, and very proud of it!!

    • Yep, it definitely takes someone who is willing to go above and beyond to be a teacher, Jaime. You’re right – we may not say thank you often enough and that was the inspiration for this blog. :) Thanks for being on my Street Team and visiting me here today!!!

  26. Jillian Mickiewicz says:

    Wonderful post by a wonderful lady! Can’t wait to see you next month Dianna at Barbara’s luncheon.
    I’m a member of the dianna love street team…and if you haven’t read any of her books you are missing out!!

    • Hi Jillian!! Thanks for the compliment. :) I can’t wait for the luncheon next month either!! thanks for being on my Street Team (and tell your mom hi!) and for stopping by today. Also, anyone who hasn’t signed needs to jump over to http://www.BarbaraVeyReaders.com and get their ticket to the luncheon. :)

  27. Nancy Wolfe says:

    Teachers are awesome!!! Reading well is the key to the world, there is not enough emphasis placed on learning to read in our schools. Thankfully, I had some wonderful teachers who guided me along the way to reading. I always read to my children and now my grandchildren. I cannot imagine a world without books. I loved seeing the pic of you painting the Coke bottle!!! Also, I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member.

    • Teachers are the cornerstone for our future. And reading to me is major for anyone who wants to get ahead in this world. I love, love, love that there are programs for children that encourage them to read whatever interests them. I think that makes them far more open to reading something assigned. I’m glad you enjoyed the painting I was doing. I painted a bazillion miles of Coke bottles, old Coke murals and other things. Thanks for stopping by today and for being on my Street Team!!!

  28. I’m jumping off to go to dinner with the hubby. :) I’ll be back early tomorrow to catch up any other posts. Have a great evening and thank YOU, Barbara, for inviting me to guest blog today. This has been terrific!

  29. Sher Giambra says:

    I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member and i would love to read these

  30. Pam Howell says:

    Hello BV – I said HI to you — Alabama Readers Luncheon @ DL’s req!!
    Dianna I just LOVE U!!! there was a previous Pam – but I am THE Pam :)
    and I’m a street team member too!!! And I’ll see you in 2 weeks at the Novel EXP!!!

    • LOL – I will always know who you are, Pam! The other Pam use to work at the Kroger in Peachtree City then moved to the PNW. :) I can’t believe the Novel Exp is only 2 weeks away!! I’ll see you then for sure. Love you too!! Thanks for being on my Street Team and visiting me here. Always good to see you!

  31. Marie Williams says:

    Wow what a good lot of people dropping in to the blog.
    I have a number of teachers in my family but didn’t go down that track myself. But am surrounded by books and am always encouraged kids to read so I feel I’m doing my bit

    • You are absolutely doing your bit to help by encouraging kids to read, Marie. Everyone time one child gets excited about books, the world is instantly a better place. :) Thanks for being here and on my Street Team!

  32. Madison W F says:

    Teachers are the strength of the future. Thanks for the great article.
    I am a Diana Love Street Team member.

    • HI Madison – I couldn’t agree more. When you think about a child going through twelve years (even more these days) school as a child, that’s a big opportunity to make an impact on a life. I’m grateful for teachers every day. Thanks for coming over to say hi and for being on my Street Team!

  33. That painting is amazing. It’s always fun to learn more about an author (besides that they write books LOL). I had a few amazing teachers and they do stand out in my mind when I think of my “school days”.

    I’m a Diana Love Street Team member.

  34. Candace Fox says:

    I’m a Dianna Love Street Team member

  35. Hi Candace!!! Thanks for stopping by and for being on my Street Team. :)

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