Come on in and chat with me…I’ll be featuring guest bloggers on a few pages here.
My first guest is Fran Lewis, who describes her journey and what motivated her to write.
Here’s her story, in her own words:
I attended P.S. 67 in the South Bronx and JHS 44 on Prospect Avenue where I grew up on Southern Blvd. and Tremont in the South Bronx. P.S. 67 was on 180th and Mohegan Avenue. High school was Columbus and I graduated in 2 years, to be followed by Hunter College with graduation in 3 years. My first two master’s degrees were from Lehman College in the Bronx: one in Education and the other in Reading and Learning Disabilities. My next master’s was from Manhattan College in Riverdale, in Administration and Supervision. I also received a PD diploma along with my master’s degree.
I became interested in writing books when I retired from teaching; at the time that my mom was diagnosed with dementia Alzheimer’s in 2003, I decided to spend my time doing something constructive. I started out writing short stories about things that happened to me growing up. I guess that is when I realized I could take all of the short stories and turn them into a children’s book. My Aunt Tova Ross made me promise (before she passed away) that I would write a book about my life growing up in the South Bronx; I kept my word. I wrote about my dancing lessons, ice skating fiasco, and other things from my childhood that I felt I wanted to share with children. I was always overweight as a child and I got picked on a lot by my friends and family. I decided to write these stories to help teach children how to deal with these issues and other real life issues they face today in an intelligent and humorous way.
I have written three books in my Bertha Series and I am working on my fourth. The first is My Name is Bertha which includes short stories about my dancing, ice skating, and bowling lessons and more. Bertha Speaks Out tells about how I dreaded long car rides and the funny things that happened along the way. It tells about how I dealt with my mother who insisted that I get perfect scores on all of my tests or I had to write the test over. I learned to deal with difficult girls in school and it tells how we came together when a family member gets dementia. Bertha Fights Back is my first chapter book and it is dedicated to 9/11 and to one of my student’s who died in the first tower. It deals with hate crimes, peer mediation and what happens when Bertha is accused of doing something and is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It teaches adults what happens when a good kid does the wrong thing and learns the hard way. It does not have a happy ending but it teaches important lessons to kids about tolerance and understanding and more.
Bertha is my grandmother. She was my father’s mother and my sister said that I looked like her growing up. She was not a happy person and at times when I would get angry she would call me Bertha. I would call her Tillie after my grandmother’s sister Tillie who she reminded me of.
I am proud to be a part of Robins Falls Kids radio show and Red River Writers. Thanks to April and the authors on Robins Falls Kids I have been given the opportunity to read from my books, meet great authors and learn more about the writing profession than I would have without their help and support. I love being on the radio and I never thought, as a shy child growing up, that I would ever have the courage to do an interview show or read from my own books on live radio. I love contributing book reviews to the magazine and I hope to always be a part of Red River Writers and hopefully be on many more of their shows. I would love to review some of the books of the writers on Red River Writers for the magazine too. I would love to add something to my speak out column. I would love to speak out about issues that authors have felt that are difficult in writing and also other issues that we might read about in the news. If not, speaking out about which books I have reviewed that area must read .
I think that if I did not become an educator I would have become a journalist or a professional book reviewer and an author. I think that writing is great but I am finding it hard to get my books republished by a traditional publisher. I think that young students today need to know that writing is a great way to get your voice and thoughts heard.
I think that if I did not decide to become a writer I might have decided to tutor children with reading problems. Since my mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I have learned a lot about health care and medicare and Medicaid services. I probably would have become a advocate to help seniors get the services they need.
My wish is to raise awareness and funds for a cure for Alzheimer’s hopefully through the sales of my book Memories are Precious. The book is about my mom’s journey with the disease, told in her own words. There are memories and dedications from authors, family members and friends from around the world. It is also a resource for anyone who wants to understand the illness, the stages of the illness, and how to get help for a friend or family member. It has caregiver tips and much more.
If I could go back in time for just one hour I think that I would have become a school administrator and not just a reading and writing specialist and dean. I think that I felt that teaching reading and writing was more important than running the school. I realize now that my school, or any school, would have done better with someone who cares about the students, the teachers and parents; someone who respects them and would look at her day and running a school as an educator and not just as an administrator.
My Name is Bertha, Bertha Speaks Out, Bertha Fights Back and Memories are Precious are my four books. My websites are:
Bertha Series Author
You can purchase all of my books on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Shelfari, goodreads, booksamillion and other online resellers and Xlibris.com
I love reading books of all genres and reviewing them. I review books for Manic Readers, bookpleasures.com and Ijustfinished.com . You can read my reviews on Ijustfinished.com under the name Gabina which is what my sister calls me. I love to walk and I enjoy museums especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love doing research on the net. I am presently doing research for my second Alzheimer’s book will be called Sharp as a Tack or Scrambled Eggs: Which Describes Your Brain?
I have written three children’s books and one on Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s book was written in order to raise awareness for a cure and to raise funds for research. I have given Memories are Precious to many people to see what their reactions would be. I was surprised when my doctor and his wife said it should be required reading for anyone that wants to learn about the illness, the stages and caregiver tips too. It includes my mom’s story and feelings from the day she found out she was diagnosed with the illness until now. It has resources for those who need to get help for a family member or a loved one too. Dedications from family, authors throughout the world, and stories of how others have dealt with this illness when family members were diagnosed helps the reader understand why there is an urgency to find a cure.
My three children’s books are based on true stories that happened to me growing up in the South Bronx. I was always overweight and a total klutz. My mom decided that dancing lessons and ice- skating lessons would help make me graceful and agile. Not really. She also expected me to always be perfect and get straight 100’s one every test I would ever take. You have to read Bertha Speaks Out to see what I finally have to do and more. Bertha Fights back is a chapter book and helps children deal with real life issues that kids face in middle school today. My niece, Dani Nicole Miller co-authored the book with me. My niece, Jamie Miller illustrated the book and all of the covers for all of my three children’s books.
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