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Here it is – January. Change and enthusiasm describe it well. New beginnings. New challenges. New opportunities. Coming on the heels of a time for reflection (December) I am certain all of us, whether we consciously make resolutions or not, want to assess our goals.

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity of running a book club where we relished discussing our selections and did so in a way that enriched us all. Some of those books have become my all time favorites, and some have caused me to examine why I cannot connect with certain authors.

This year I plan to continue reading books that jump out at me as most appealing for my preferred genre. But I have also decided to read my fellow Winter Goose authors. Perhaps my local independent publisher does not have any New York or LA Times best sellers, but they do boast a lot of writers who have won awards.

Since my passions of writing and educating have coincided my whole life, I fully respect peers who have had literary works of any kind from poetry to fiction, nonfiction, short stories, essays or articles rise to the top like cream. I will boldly admit I admire them a lot more so than those who have managed to find fame and fortune with the craft.

This is not surprising when you consider how monetarily poor those of us in academia are in comparison to other careers that require graduate degrees. You might surmise that what motivates us is excellence alone.

My personal journey in education began with running my own school for the creative expression of young children on the Oregon Coast. (Learning through hands-on art and acting out plays.) Not coincidentally, I did this while my own children were young.

I continued from there with a few non-conventional jobs at private institutions such as Oak Hill in Eugene, OR, where outdoor learning was the norm. The school was located on a 70 acre estate that had once kept horses and was overrun with foxes. It wasn’t a typical morning if I didn’t see one eye to eye out my classroom window early in the morning before students arrived.

After that I taught at another kinesthetic-forward school based on Gardner’s Theory of Eight Intelligences in Vancouver, WA. Here in California I spent a few years running my own after school program for the arts while freelance writing. I finally settled into the private art college that was my last (and longest) job until a bad economy caused the design school to irreversibly suffer. 

Currently I am poised to teach creative writing, literature, and visual arts at University of Phoenix and I am thrilled to be part of their Humanities Department, eagerly awaiting my first class, which would have started today but has been cancelled due to low enrollment. My guess is that the university scheduling it for a Friday night did not fair well for enthusiasm.

Those fortunate enough to be hired by U of P, which I have heard only employs half of those adequately credentialed and carefully selected for the 5 week training course, could wait up to 6 months for their first class. This is because you need a mentor for it, and mentors apparently are hard to come by.

The good news is that once past that first course, if you have received high marks from both the students and your mentor, you are then able to teach as much or as little as you want and can transfer to any campus in the country.

I don’t plan to get rich teaching college so waiting for that first paycheck is not what motivates me to do this. Interacting with and instructing young adults on subjects that matter most to me in life – writing, literature, and art – is priceless.

Although disappointed I have to wait a couple months to teach the class I have excessively prepared for, it does give me more time to finish editing my next novel, edit manuscripts for my clients, and read more books by Winter Goose authors – one of which (Theory of Remainders) recently was awarded Best Independent Book of the Year (among others) by Kirkus Reviews.

I am reading Scott Carpenter’s Theory of Remainders as I write this, and I couldn’t be more pleased to belong to the same flock as he. I am sorry I did not have Benjamin reviewed by Kirkus. I might not have won. Maybe they wouldn’t even have liked Benjamin, but now I will never know and that’s regrettable.

I hope that Scott, myself, and all the other authors in this Winter Goose flock are able to soar above our wildest imaginings this year in terms of literary success. May the New Year allow each of you to also soar high and accomplish an important goal. One that is priceless, regardless of monetary gain.


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Visit Benjamin at Barnes&Noble