Exclusive Interview With Author Jack Ketchum

(PCM) “Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum.” – Stephen King

I had the honor of recently interviewing writer Jack Ketchum. Ketchum is a masterful storyteller and has written over twenty novels & novellas. Five of his books have been turned into films The Girl Next Door, The Lost, Red, Offspring, and The Woman.

The Woman and I’m Not Sam were both written with director Lucky Mckee. Be sure to check out www.jackketchum.net for a full listing of his terrifying body of work.

Q: Are writers born or made due to their upbringing or social surroundings?

JACK KETCHUM: I’m no scientist, so I can’t speak for nature. But I do know about nurture. Were it not for my mother teaching me to read pre-kindergarten, encouraging my interest in and love of all kinds of reading — including comic books — I wouldn’t be here today. Then I had some great teachers along the way in high school and college, most notably my sophomore English teacher, Dorothy Senner, who assigned the class to write to a writer and see if they responded. Robert Bloch did, wrote back to me and subsequently encouraged my writing every step of the way until the day he died. A lot of doors opened for me. I owe a lot of good people big time.

Q: You have inspired a lot of writer’s including myself. What advice can you give someone who has a story they want to tell?

JK: Apply ass to chair. Make sure that before you do that you’ve read like a demon, all kinds of stuff. Then, when you think you’re ready, trust yourself and trust the story. And remember to have fun!

Q: Are there any upcoming horror movies that are coming out that you are looking forward to seeing?

JK: I usually don’t know what’s coming until it’s out. I rarely watch previews and never read the trades. Horror movies have always been pretty hit or miss — you wade through a lot of uninspired drek to get to a gem. Fine. I’m good with that. But it also means I don’t get my hopes up prematurely.

Q: You and Lucky Mckee have been quite the successful pairing. How did that relationship come to be?

JK: Lucky wanted to option Red for himself to direct and The Lost for his buddy Chris Sivertson. Once I saw May I was immediately on board. Then we got to know one another, and found that we’re so like-minded in so many ways about movies, books, and life in general that collaboration seemed a natural way to go. Damn glad we did.

Q: Any upcoming projects on the horizon?

JK: I’ve got a new story collection coming out soon called Gorilla In My Room, and the 35th Anniversary edition of Off Season, illustrated, and complete with bells and whistles. After that, I suspect Lucky and I will start a new project before too long.

Q: The first book of yours I read was The Girl Next Door I was both fascinated and horrified. Do you ever go back and read a scene and get goosebumps?

JK: Not goosebumps exactly. But last year I did the audio version of The Girl Next Door, and prior to that I’d never read it out loud. So, there were places where I had to stop myself and say, good grief, I wrote that? Really? That’s really harsh!

Q: You grew up in New Jersey and worked various jobs before writing full time. Do you ever run into childhood friends or coworkers that have read your work?

JK: Happily, there have been a few who’ve found me along the way, including a woman last year who I was absolutely nuts about in college. She went and read everything I wrote in a matter of a few months. And I gotta say, I loved it.

Q: Favorite place to get inspiration?

JK: Lying in bed with my nose in a book.

Q: Do you write every day?

JK: Perish the thought! I’m not driven to write. I take time off for actual life in between projects. Though when I’m doing a longer piece, a book or a screenplay, then I do write something each day, even if it’s only a few paragraphs, just to keep it flowing and hold onto the continuity. Otherwise I’ll lay back for a while and do a short story, essay or poem every now and then. It’s got to be fun for me, the way it was when I first started, or else it becomes a job…and I’m allergic to jobs.

Q: I’ve read that you loved Elvis Presley growing up. If you could have one conversation with him what would you talk about and would you give him any advice?

JK: Well, he’s dead, and I imagine that’s pretty boring, so that might limit our conversation. If I could have talked to him while he was still alive I’d have told him to dump that goddamn pissant manager of his, Colonel Tom Parker — or Uncle Tom to some of us — and strike out on his own. But if I’m talking to his spirit or something? I’d say thank you, for giving a thirteen-year-old who was just plain different a shot of courage.

The post Exclusive Interview With Author Jack Ketchum also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

New Children’s Book Has Santa Claus Coming Out Of The Closet, Rather Than To Town

(PCM) A new children’s book will be published that is set to change the story of Santa Claus as we know it, forever! The book titled, “Santa’s Husband” is penned by Daniel Kibblesmith and features the story of a gay, black Santa who lives in the North Pole with his white husband. The story further goes on to explain that if Santa can’t make it out to all of his mall appearances, his husband fills in, hence why everyone believes that Santa is white.

Kibblesmith is also a writer for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and the book “How To Win At Everything”.  He revealed via Twitter that the “Santa’s Husband” book will be hitting store shelves on October 1o, 2017. Kibblesmith says that the idea for the “Santa’s Husband” book came from a joke he tweeted back in December of 2016 which read, “Me & @JenAshleyWright have decided our future child will only know about Black Santa. If they see a white one we’ll say “That’s his husband”

Kibblesmith still appears to be in awe that the story is actually getting published, but definitely seems ready to take on some of the backlash he will most likely begin to receive. He also has a ton of support as well, so we are definitely looking at a Christmas battle to begin online soon. Kibblesmith and publisher Harper Design both claim that “Santa’s Husband” will be a parody children’s book, but it is also meant for all ages.

 

The post New Children’s Book Has Santa Claus Coming Out Of The Closet, Rather Than To Town also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Exclusive Interview! Author Larry Atkins’ Book “Skewed” Helps Us Understand Media Bias!

(PCM) When Larry Atkins set out to write about media bias in “Skewed,” he did not realize just how important, and timely, his book would become amid the current complicated political climate.

“Skewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias,” (Prometheus) has been a labor of love from this established journalist, attorney and Philadelphia-area journalism professor.

In “Skewed,” Atkins, a longtime adjunct professor of journalism at Temple University, Montgomery County Community College and Arcadia University, lays out the difference between “neutral and balanced” news and advocacy journalism. He highlights the urgency for media consumers to recognize this difference.

Atkins has written more than 400 articles, op-eds, and essays for noted publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Dallas Morning News, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The book “Skewed” is timely, given the current and ongoing debate over “fake news” versus reputable journalism. Atkins’ concern is that advocacy journalism — “a type of reporting in which the reporter gives an opinion or point of view and uses stories to advance an agenda,” — is tearing America apart.

He said that he wrote his new book, which is gaining great attention during the media frenzy surrounding the Trump Administration, because of his long interest in journalism, and “the increase of advocacy, agenda driven journalism like Fox News, MSNBC, conservative talk radio, and liberal and conservative websites has arisen substantially in the last 25 years. “

Atkins was struck by the fact that “these media outlets don’t lie or misrepresent information, but they have a clear bias, agenda, or slant, and cherry pick facts, statistics, and expert quotes that bolster their own opinion,” he added. “I’ve been teaching journalism for around 12 years, and one of the topics that the students tend to be most interested in is the topic of media bias and advocacy journalism.”

In a media landscape dominated by advocacy news networks pushing competing points of view, Atkins wants to help the average viewer/reader uncover the truth about any particular issue. His book will show readers how to separate the facts from the agenda-driven spin and selective presentation, often used by such news sources as Fox and MSNBC.

“Skewed” gives readers the tools to critique the media, to see both sides of any issue, and to become better informed citizens and voters.

PCM: What was the biggest surprise or revelation in writing your new book?

LARRY ATKINS: I was aware of the concept of news literacy and media literacy, but I was surprised that it has developed into a major area of study in universities and that there are many media literacy organizations that are trying to raise awareness about the importance of being a savvy news consumer. There are efforts to bring this education to K-12 schools, and I think that this is a good thing that should be even more prevalent.

PCM: What do you want people to learn from the book?

LA: It’s important for all of us, as news consumers, to be critical thinkers as we receive news. Be skeptical at first, and confirm information you receive by checking several sources. Break out of your echo chambers, meaning that if you’re liberal, in addition to watching MSNBC and reading the New York Times Editorial page, also watch Fox News and listen to conservative talk radio. Likewise, if you’re conservative, in addition to watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh, also read Salon.com and watch MSNBC. Also be careful about relying on information that you get from friends and family from social media, especially in light of recent hoaxes and fake news.

PCM: Why is it especially pertinent in today’s national and world events?

LA: As evidenced by the 2016 presidential election, our country is highly polarized. Advocacy journalism outlets tend to enhance that polarization. Most people tend to go to news outlets that confirm their own opinions and biases. We live in our own echo chamber bubbles and aren’t exposed to what the other side is saying.

PCM: Please tell me about the journey of the book?

LA: I proposed my idea to my agent, Maryann Karinch, when I met her at the Philadelphia Writers Conference a little more than two years ago. She was extremely enthused about the project and thought it would be timely for the upcoming Presidential election. After I developed my book proposal, it took about a year before I got a book contract in August 2015 with Prometheus Books. Since I usually teach around five or six courses per semester, it was a challenge to simultaneously teach and do the research and writing of the book. I had to get up pretty much each day at around 5:30 a.m. to work on the book, even on weekends. It was important to me that I interview many experts for the book. I was able to get 18 experts in journalism, politics, and media literacy to give me quotes.

PCM: Tell me the reaction from readers at book signings so far?

LA: The signings and appearances have gone very well. At some of my signings, I’ve seen people from high school that I haven’t seen for more than 35 years. It’s been nice to see family and friends at my events, but I also enjoy meeting new people there. I try to have interactive discussions during my book signing lectures, and people have very strong opinions on the topic. The book has received mostly positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.com.

PCM: What surprised you about teaching college journalism students in the present day?

LA: I was surprised at how many students tend to rely on sources that aren’t very reliable, such as obscure websites. Each semester I need to emphasize the importance of relying on respected major news sources, government websites, university websites, and peer reviewed journals.

PCM: What does it mean to the relevance of your book with the current tug-of-war going on between President Trump and the media?

LA: I think my book is even more relevant during the Trump Administration and in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Media bias, fake news, and advocacy journalism has been a huge issue during the last year and will continue to be discussed and debated. Now, more than ever, people need to pay attention to source credibility and whether a media outlet has a specific agenda. It’s important for the mainstream media to continue to do their job as a watchdog on the Trump administration, even though negative stories and articles will be brushed off and criticized by the Administration as being untrustworthy.

The post Exclusive Interview! Author Larry Atkins’ Book “Skewed” Helps Us Understand Media Bias! also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Nina Sidell’s ‘Parenting for Life’ – A Revolutionary New Paradigm for Families

131337-473954-3_320x400(PCM) Many parenting books that are filled with advice for parents with children of all ages seem like a tug-of-war; but now there is a book with an honest, empowering, and extremely positive and helpful approach to parenting

Author Nina Sidell, M.A. has written “Parenting for Life,” an exciting new parenting book focused on strengthening your relationship with your child — starting from the baby and toddler stages, through the teen years, and continuing until they are mature adults. A true visionary, she has found a way for adults to look back to discover and heal the way they were parented.

“Parenting for Life,” received the internationally prestigious “Mom’s Choice Award,” which honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services, and the cutting-edge and thought-provoking book has also been endorsed by Deepak Chopra, MD, who said: “If you are interested in conscious parenting, this book is an excellent guide.”

Sidell explains in her powerful 288-page book, that other typical parenting books most often explore what is wrong with a child, where the child gets stuck, or how to remedy behavior problems.

Although these books are well meaning, Sidell says that they leave out “the essential opportunities for mutual learning and growth present within the parent-child relationship, and what the parent brings to the table.”

Many parenting books are filled with advice for parents with children of all ages yet miss the importance of the parent-child relationship across a lifetime. Now there is a book with a positive and revolutionary approach that holds parents accountable and propels healthy family relating; ideal for the times we are living in today.

There are many personalized aspects and developmental stages to deal with when raising and relating to children and young adults. “We now have a parenting manual that is designed to help parents, children, and families navigate their lifetime relationship better.”

“Parenting for Life,” Sidell explains, “Is a guide book for parents who are contemplating, expecting, raising, or relating to their children. The manual is designed to educate, encourage, and inspire individual and coupled parents.” Sidell’s award-winning new book, “Parenting for Life,” provides vital tools to help you connect with your growing and grown kids in new and powerful ways.

Sidell is a skilled, highly intuitive therapist in private practice. She has a B.A. in psychology, and her Master’s Degree in Expressive Arts Therapy. She works as a therapist and life coach with children, families, teens, women and couples; as well as writes, lectures and facilitates workshops on parenting, relationships and personal development. The mother of two sons, who resides in Suburban Philadelphia, has also written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines.

There are three sections in the book and her hands-on approach provides “homework assignments” at the end of each chapter for parents to follow.

One major piece of advice from Sidell is that “the best approach is to “view and enjoy our children for who they are from the get-go,” she explains in her book. “Our expectations are best managed when we look at ourselves, our histories, our attitudes, and our children as they are. It is most effective to be unconditionally loving, respectful, realistic, and supportive of your child in each moment.”

Sidell, who has worked as a therapist with children, couples and families for more than 25 years, goes to explain that “we must value children’s feelings, opinions, wishes, and limits as the lifetime relationship grows.”

Sidell said that families are no longer the picture of the popular ’50s TV show “Father Knows Best.” She explains while the meaning of family has remained relatively the same; the configuration and needs of today’s family has changed in modern times.

Her book on formulating successful lifetime parenting also encourages readers to create a Parenting Journal to work on each of the 20 homework assignments in the chapters of the book. “By applying the principles and practices of the book, you can personalize your own inspirational parenting journey.”

mca_book_coverHere is a close-up look at Nina Sidell’s vital lessons from “Parenting for Life.”

Q: Please tell me about your book.

NINA SIDELL: “Parenting for Life,” Creates a new niche’ and paradigm in parenting. The sub-title for Parenting for Life is “Consciously Creating Your Lifetime Relationship with Your Child.” This book helps readers connect with their children at all stages in their lifetime relationship. It holds parents accountable, discusses the importance of mutual love, respect, and empathy as well as healthy roles and limits. There is homework at the end of each chapter to support the parent on their journey. Practical and powerful, “Parenting for Life,” offers parents of all ages tools to strengthen and heal relationships with their children.

Q: Overall, how do you see your book, “Parenting for Life?”

NS: I feel that my book is a socially relevant and revolutionary guidebook for individuals and couples, both before and after they become parents. This new approach heals lives. It can also help heal adult children who need to better understand and forgive their parents.

Q: What is important to understand about your approach to parenting?

NS: We must tune into where our expectations as parents come from. With this orientation, we can better accept and allow for our children’s individual process. Development cannot be rushed; nor can individuality. Your responsibility is to try to understand what your child is both saying and showing to you, all the days of your lives.

Q: How important is being a role model for our children?

NS: Being the best role model possible is always the goal, since children follow their parent’s lead. I advise parents with children of all ages that the consistent messages they send and model to their children will take hold in some way. A parent models strength and vulnerability as the family leader and how to navigate their inner and outer worlds.

Q: What do you feel is a good path for a healthy parent-child relationship?

NS: It is helpful when a parent identifies their parental feelings and goals around being a parent and welcomes the development of this lifetime relationship. See and love your children as individuals with unique gifts and needs to be valued, cherished, and encouraged. Keep your child safe and grow alongside him or her as you both evolve. Beyond trying to be a friend to your child, a parent’s job is to be the team leader, primarily to be a protector, guide, safe role model, and consistently loving and responsive caregiver to your child. The process of learning and relating lasts a lifetime between parent and child. The relationship starts from the beginning of your time together until the end of your time together. Keep your mind and heart open every step of the way as you both learn and grow.

Q: Why did you write your book?

NS: After a near-death experience I realized that I wanted to expand my work as a practicing psychotherapist to reach more people. I found that the practices and tools that were effective for me as a mother and clinician working with families, couples, and children provided a powerful and practical set of tools — valuable information to share with the world. “Parenting for Life” creates a new parenting paradigm that heals lives.

Q: Please tell me more.

NS: Well, as parents we often learn while in the throes of the parenting experience. We hope to do the best for our children, with the love, skills and knowledge we have at the time. Sometimes parents behave as their parents did, which may or may not have worked then or be effective now. Children need the best start in life that they can have while parents need to take responsibility for their parenting style, history, and role in co-creating this unique lifetime relationship.

Q: Do you have advice for parents just starting out?

NS: I feel that the best approach is to view and enjoy your children for who they are from the get-go. Your feelings and expectations are best managed when you look at yourself and your attitudes about your children. Managing your time and self-care are very important to fortify your energy as life with a child unfolds. Educate yourself and seek support when need be as you learn about your child and how to best parent them.

Q: What does ‘effective conscious parenting’ mean?

NS: Effective conscious parenting is described when a parent is self-aware of their intentions, feelings, attitudes, words and actions toward their child, applying this awareness for the benefit of the child and the relationship. It is utilizing tools and practices that offer growth-focused parenting.

Q: What are some primary roles of an effective parent?

NS: An effective parent’s job is to provide the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual anchor that stabilizes your child’s sense of safety and security, and the wings that give him or her freedom to explore the environment and his or her identity. Another key, aside from keeping children feeling loved and safe, is supporting individuality. This includes accepting and supporting a child’s individual personality, gifts, self-expression, and needs.

Q: What else would you like to say about this?

NS: No two children are alike and each one must be treated as uniquely special. For every family there is typically some dysfunction and up’s and down’s. A parent who can be heart-centered ensures the importance of unconditional love and respect. Inviting appropriate, open dialogue, creating healthy routines and boundaries, and learning experiences are key. An open learning environment, such as welcoming “insight moments” and “lifetime insights” are practices that help the family focus on growth as opposed to challenges- which builds life skills for all.

Q: What is another key to keep in mind?

NS: A home that is filled with love fills up the giver and the receiver… one major key to successful parenting is that love and respect go together, and that they are valued as mutual practices between parent and child. Knowing home is a safe harbor provides shelter from the storms of life, reassuring your child that he or she is not alone. Living in a home that is treated like a sacred place is the best way to start the day and the most reassuring way to end the night.

For further information about Author, Speaker, Life Coach and Therapist Nina Sidell, M.A. and “Parenting for Life,” please go to: www.LiveInspiredwithNina.com. The book is available from Amazon, Create Space, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble.

The post Nina Sidell’s ‘Parenting for Life’ – A Revolutionary New Paradigm for Families also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Witchcraft Shop Refuses To Sell Wands To Harry Potter Fans

Harry-Potter-Wand1

(PCM) Not sure exactly how one witchcraft shop in Great Britain is able to accurately spot a Harry Potter fan, however they claim they can sense one just by the aura and wants no part of them shopping in their store.

Mystical Moments crafts gorgeous handmade wooden wands for witches, warlocks and wizards, however if you are a Harry Potter fan you can forget about it!  The store refuses to sell any wands to fans of the hit book/film franchise written by author J.K. Rowling.

The store owner claims that while Rowling did, indeed, do her research, Harry Potter is for children and has done nothing for his business overall. The store owner told the Telegraph, “I don’t have customers who have been Harry Potterfied. If I had someone come in wanting a wand just because they liked Harry Potter I wouldn’t sell them one, no matter how much money they were offering.”

When used correctly wands can be used as a tool to draw a protective circle around witches to assist with curing various ills and of course make wishes come true. All you truly need is faith in whichever product you choose to have it work wonders for you, except if you are a fan of Harry Potter. In that case, you are totally on your own!

This definitely shows quite a bit of discrimination against Harry Potter fans by Mystical Moments and many fans feel that it is not even legal for a shop to refuse to sell an item to a specific group of people. Do we smell a lawsuit brewing?

The post Witchcraft Shop Refuses To Sell Wands To Harry Potter Fans appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

Caring Author Changes The World One Child At A Time

MoreHeavenbookcover(PCM) When a young, determined special education teacher takes on the impossible task of teaching six so-called “unteachable” children, she not only transforms their lives; she also opens the doors for all future exceptional students who followed.

This is the premise of “More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special,” the riveting new book, by International Bestselling Author, Dr. Jo Anne White, a noted motivational speaker, TV & radio executive producer and host of “Power Your Life.”

The book, published by Outskirts Press, has won numerous honors, including the Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence and the Best Ever You Books Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence. It’s also an Amazon top 10 International Bestseller in three categories.

In 1975, the federal government mandated that all children, regardless of disability, be given the right to a public education.As a result of this historic mandate, this young pioneering teacher – with heaping doses of pluck and perseverance – stepped into a Philadelphia classroom of exceptional learners and transformed their world.

This “true life” experiment took place when Dr. White was hired by the Philadelphia Board of Education as the first teacher and program coordinator for children who were either expelled or had never entered the hallways or classrooms of a public school.

The cutting-edge program, which initially was not embraced by the typical education teachers, parents or by the administrators,began slowly. Its success paved the way for more special education classes to open in the public arena. “Not only did we persevere,” Dr. White explained, “we conquered skepticism and won victories for these children to live and thrive in society.”

Dr. White says that she fought hard, alongside the children and their tireless parents, “to restore dignity in their lives. This dignity, the birthright of every human being, had been denied them. The time had come to make things right.”

This pioneer has crucial lessons for all of us today: to learn that despite tremendous obstacles, each of us can use our compassion to bring out the best in our children. By using her common sense, imagination,sheer will, and a caring heart, she truly changed the lives of these formerly“unteachable” students in her class.

Dr. White still vividly recalls the first day of school when a little girl named Eva, who had autism, arrived for the new program.“There was great skepticism on the part of the faculty and the administration,of the notion of educating Eva. The girl’s driver echoed those sentiments to the young teacher, ‘Believe me,’ he confides, ‘I wouldn’t want your job for nothin’ in the world.’”

Q: How will your book, “More Heaven: Because Every Child is Special,” positively impact parents, teachers and the greater community?

DR. JO ANNE WHITE: I’d like people to understand how wonderful these children are, instead of seeing them as strange or approaching them with great apprehension. We need to be able to co-exist and embrace our differences when it comes to everything: ethnicity, culture, learning,and neurological differences. So, it has always been very important for me that everyone understand the richness and beauty of each child. That is the way to truly embrace humanity.

Q: Please tell me a little bit about your history as a teacher.

JW: I was planning to go to school for English literature and writing, until I became involved in an inclusive camp program. When this visionary director of the program created a division for children with special needs, it opened my eyes and I changed my plan to study education and special education.

Q: That sounds like a life-changing moment.

JW: Yes. When I walked into that camp program I completely fell in love with the children there.

Q: What do you recall from that experience?

JW: I remember working with one little girl who would bite her arms and bite the insides of her cheeks with sores that wouldn’t heal. She hummed and had ritualistic behavior. I immediately took her under wing, and sang to her, and massaged her cheeks, when no one else wanted to go near her. She blossomed under my care. This was such a beautiful life-altering experience and it shaped my future. I thought to myself ‘this is important.’

Q: Did the text books prepare you for that first special education classroom?

JW: No, not with these children. What I learned in school was important and served me; but I also had to bring something else to these kids. I had to reach them with unconventional methods, by getting into each of their worlds and being extremely resourceful, imaginative and creative.

Q: Please talk about being a young special education teacher, what was that like?

JW: I didn’t know what to expect. There were so many unknowns; and the truth be told, not everybody, including the faculty and many parents, wanted this to happen. It was new territory; people were afraid and misinformed. This was a case of sink or swim; I didn’t know what to expect.These children were labeled as more disabled than some of the previous groups of children I had taught. The first girl, who had autism, came to school in a taxi because it was thought ‘how could she function on a bus or relate to other kids.’

Q: But you say you never considered giving up even on the toughest days. So what about you personally made you stick with it, no matter how overwhelming this was?

JW: Something that has served me well over the course of my life is perseverance. I have patience, perseverance and an understanding that the time has to be right for everything. I also know that in life you need to take chances.

Dr.JoAnneWhiteQ: What is the most important life lesson for each of us who work with and care for children?

JW: My book gives you a front row seat where you get to know these six children up close and personal. It’s important to understand that despite the many challenges and mannerisms each child faces and family,each child has special gifts we need to nurture and celebrate every single day.

Q: How is all of this relevant today – some 40 years later?

JW: There are many reasons. One major reason is about bullying, and the way children with special needs are still judged, as opposed to being accepted by their communities. My book, “Bully Free,” which also won awards, ties into “More Heaven.” It focuses on my interviews with parents about their children with autism and special needs who were victims of bullying at school and in the community, and the deep emotional scars left on these families.

Q: How did you know how to teach these so-called“unteachable” children?

JW: I knew that I had to reach these kids, so I did whatever I could do, as long as it was ethical. With the first child, I used play, movement and dance since she was never still for long. Much of this was not a part of typical classroom lessons. I was literally utilizing whatever I could to make that connection, and for each child it was different. I knew I had to reach them and had to figure out how to enter their different worlds so they would eventually embrace and accept the world of learning and socialization.

Q: What was the result?

JW: Each of my students slowly started to accept their surroundings and felt ‘wow, this is okay. My teacher is not telling me I am crazy or ridiculous.’ I was able to get them to trust me, open up to their individual worlds and join our world.

Q: Why are you so proud of this book?

JW: I am repeatedly told that “More Heaven,” captures people’s hearts. It allows the reader to see what went on back then, and to understand that despite the strides we have made we are not there yet. Many parents at that time were told that their children could never learn or would best be served by an institution.

Q: What are the vital life lessons for all of us?

JW: People need to recognize the struggles, the passion and determination from families who have done so much to create change. We need to say to the world ‘stop putting blinders on and let’s teach these kids and not hide from it or ignore it.’ All these years’ parents have fought and pushed for change, and there are parents today who are continuing to fight for acceptance, inclusion and dignity for their children.

Q: What makes you believe we need to keep pushing for acceptance?

JW: As an example, in 2014 there was a lawsuit in California involving an autistic boy who was considered to be a trouble maker. Neighbors sued and were also worried about their reduced property values. This action eventually drove the family from their home of seven years.

Q: So is your message that history will keep repeating itself if people don’t step up and make the change?

JW: Absolutely. It’s happening on the playgrounds, in the schools and the communities. There was bullying, judgment and disapproval at the time I taught these children. Unfortunately, it still happens a great deal to children who act or appear different in social or educational settings today.

Q: Ultimately, what do you want your book to accomplish?

JW: I’d like professionals to be open to work with these children even if at times the techniques seem unconventional. I wish for all families and parents to learn to accept their children and guide them to express their talents. And I’d like families, neighbors and the general public to see these children in a warmer light after reading my book and interface with the special needs community. I frequently say that ‘this book reaches in from the heart outward to all children – they will be heard!’

For further information, please go to: http://www.drjoannewhite.com/more-heaven/

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