Monday, May 10, 2021

"Behind the Wall" by Connie Steinman


Behind the Wall Paperback – November 30, 2020

A struggling English teacher in an inner-city, diversely populated, impoverished, and dysfunctional high school. Connie Steinman connects, empowers, and gives hope to James and his close friends who are severely credit deficient and face life with all odds against them to inspire them to graduate high school. Connie teaches from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” essay as a tool for her students to learn self-responsibility and self-reliance and apply Emerson’s concepts in their own lives!

Product details

  • Publisher: Absolute Author Publishing House (November 30, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1649530854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1649530851
  • Item Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.6 x 8 inches

Connie Steinman


 Behind the Wall




Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.


I am a native of Philadelphia, PA who has lived in California since 1983. I graduated from Wissahickon Senior High School, Ambler, PA. I studied filmmaking and photography in college.


I worked as a production assistant, location scout, stagehand, and extra in films/TV in the Bay Area. I also directed, produced, filmed, and edited five short 16mm films. Three have been in International Film Festivals and two are currently on YouTube.


I worked as photographer/video specialist for the Department of the Navy and participated in ASL Immersion Programs at Gallaudet University and Washington School for the Deaf.


I currently teach American Sign Language and English at the same high school for twenty years and wrote, implemented, and taught the ASL curriculum and scope & sequence for my school district!


My professional development for improving my teaching methods includes UC Davis’ Globe Academy (Shakespeare in London), Teach for Peace- India, The China Institute- Fulbright Scholarship, and NYU’s Film Studies for the High School Teacher.


I enjoy acting, bicycling, traveling, crew (rowing), swimming, hiking, reading, writing, and being a life-long learner.


What inspired you to author your book?


I participated in an afterschool group for English teachers who wanted to write. We would try different exercises to improve our own writing. We would sit in a circle and write for fifteen minutes. Read what we written. Then we would cross out every other sentence and reread it. We could hear how our writing has changed. The writing group encouraged us to keep a journal. I kept a journal and wrote when I could for 20 years. I also wrote hundreds of referrals, a document that is filed about a student’s behavior in class and the student is sent out of class. I also saved emails, letters from students & teachers, etc. I thought I could put all this information together in a book or write a story about them. This is how the idea started.



Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?


I like illustrated colored portraits that look handpainted. I wanted to be portrayed holding Emerson’s book with “Self-Reliance” peeking out over my arms and my students standing behind me against the brick wall with the school in the background. I sent my illustrator photos of brick building schools, wired fences, a photo of me, examples of illustrations and colors, and detailed descriptions about the characters. Rebeca and I worked together for five weeks as she worked on my description and the students’ descriptions. We worked on hair style, hair color, ethnicity, height, and facial features! She came up with the idea that the school is in black and white and the characters and the wall is in color. It looks like a movie poster.



Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?


Professor Bertanasco was my English instructor at Sacramento State University where I earned my second BA in English and my teaching credential. He taught various classes in writing. His students read short writings from Tom Wolf, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac. He had us follow their style in writing details. Professor Bertanasco drilled us on grammar and word usage. He emphasized empowering our verbs. I read as much as I could from these authors and began to copy their speedy, boisterous, and influential style.


My healers and life coaches have influenced me personally. Especially, Angel Thacker who is a Joyous Life Coach. She helps people in finding their best and joyous life through meditation and prayer, balancing your energy levels, finding your life’s purpose, manifesting your life’s dreams, and even hosts a radio program that interviews other healers, clairvoyers,


What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?


I struggled with organizing the sequence of the story. I had spent many years writing in a journal, saving emails, referrals, and letters in a file. Well, I evaluate each document and then write about that issue as it happened in the classroom with the dialogue that I remembered. My obstacles were translating Emerson’s work into a clear and credible lesson plan in my classroom with colloquial dialogue between the students and me. I had given other English teachers Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and asked them if they would help me interpret it for high school level students. No one wanted to do that so I found several books and YouTube videos where Emerson’s work was interpreted. I did a lot of research about self-responsibility and self-reliance on the Internet and how I could relate Emerson’s ideas to high school students in accepting their own responsibilities.


I had trouble concentrating and figuring out how I wanted the story start. I began with describing the neighborhood and the relationship between James, the main character and his mother. I wrote the ending first. I wrote a memorial for my student who committed suicide and read it to every English class I had. I wrote the last chapter first, describing James’ graduation.


I hired Angel Thacker, Joyous Life Coach who is also a writing coach. She connected with me and guided me in organizing the book. She can bring out the best in someone and inspire them to get their thoughts on paper. Angel guided me in getting all my sources (emails, documents, letters, journals, etc.) into one file in Microsoft Word and Googledocs. I had to type all my hard copies into Microsoft Word. I transferred all my research notes.


Angel had me organize my information into parts. Then as I wrote each part, we numbered the chapters and then I was able to title each chapter. I had many incidents or short scenes in the story. She helped me evaluate each one to see which one the audience will understand and like. We cut out a hundred pages for the flow of the book. Angel inspired me to dig deep and write about my experience in the book. We met on Zoom three times a week and she would have me work on the details for each chapter. We worked for five months together.


My struggles are understanding this whole process of publishing a book. I am learning to be more tech savvy. I am learning about Microsoft Word program and how to track, edit, etc. I am learning these new features.


Tell your readers about your book.


My struggles as an English teacher in an inner-city, diversely populated, impoverished, and dysfunctional high school. My students are severely credit-deficient, face life with all odds against them, and are far from graduating. I connect, empower, and give hope to James and his friends as I teach from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” essay  as a tool for these students to learn self-responsibility and self-reliance and apply Emerson’s concept in their own lives. I inspire my students to see the importance of graduating high school and seeking higher education. It is also my story of seeking guidance and connection with my administration, school district personnel, parents, students, counselors, and staff to empower my students.


Who is your target audience, and why?


My target audience is adolescents, school-age students, and everyone employed or involved in the educational field.  It is a teacher-student story and anyone in the educational field can relate to my memoir.


If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?


My story is both inspirational and poignant. I write with courage and no filter. You will see what teachers face in their struggle to create a positive and powerful experience for their classes. This also follows how teachers are not supported by administration, parents, funding, politics, etc.


What do you consider your greatest success in life?


I created and completed my last two 16mm short films “Jackie and the Beanstalk” and “Mirel.” They are both on YouTube. I also toured Vietnam solo from Hanoi to Saigon in 2010 for a month. This trip was quite a challenge! Also, I was recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship for 2015 China Institute to tour the Silk Road and view the Mao Gao Caves.


What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?


I write with honesty and empower my verbs. I enjoy authors who write in details and their descriptions are powerful and fast like Jack Kerouac, Tom Wolf, and Hunter S. Thompson.



How do you overcome writer’s block?


I hired a writing coach and share my ideas with friends. I also read other author’s biographies.


What one piece of advice do you have for new authors.


You will learn a lot through this whole process. I am learning how to use Word program and becoming more tech savvy.


Tell your readers anything else you want to share.


You can’t rush the writing or publishing process.



Connie Steinman is a native of Philadelphia, PA. who has lived in California since 1983. She pursued a film career and worked as a production assistant, location scout, stagehand, and extra in films/TV in the Bay Area. She also produced, directed, filmed, and edited five short 16mm films. Three have been in International Film Festivals, and two are currently on YouTube.

She currently teaches American Sign Language and English at the same high school for twenty years and wrote, implemented, and taught the ASL curriculum and scope & sequence for her school district! She has taught all grade levels including ESL/SDAIE English.

She was one of twelve teachers chosen to participate in UC Davis' Globe Academy to direct students in a scene of Taming of the Schrew. The teachers attended a two-week course at the Globe Theater in London to engage in teaching methods to reach students. The final performance included each teacher's class performing a scene of the play at UC Davis Performing Arts Center. She also received the Fulbright Scholarship for the China Institute 2015. Twelve teachers from California were chosen to study "the Silk Road" and its influences from Shanghai to Bejing. They traveled through the Gobi Desert and given a private tour of the Mao Gao Caves, parts that were not open to the public.

She has traveled to India twice for Teach for Peace to learn how to apply Gandhi's philosophy in the classroom.