DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
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!
Publisher: Absolute Author Publishing House (November 30, 2020)
Paperback: 264 pages
Item Weight: 13.1 ounces
Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.6 x 8 inches
Behind the Wall
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
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
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!
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
I enjoy acting,
bicycling, traveling, crew (rowing), swimming, hiking, reading, writing, and
being a life-long learner.
inspired you to author your book?
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.
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did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
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.
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has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
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.
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,
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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
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
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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do you overcome writer’s block?
I hired a writing coach and share my
ideas with friends. I also read other author’s biographies.
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.
your readers anything else you want to share.
You can’t rush the writing or
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.