Friday, May 17, 2024

15 Years? No!!! Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

 Fifteen years? Teaching Authors is fifteen years old? How is that possible?

 I have no sense of time.  People kept telling me “Wait until you have a child, and you’ll see how time flies.”

Well, no.  My daughter will be thirty in July, and her birth seems to have taken place in a “galaxy long ago and far away.” Everything in my life feels like it happened in the last Ice Age. I swear I’ve been writing these blogs for at least fifty years. 

So what is there to say on this momentous occasion? For one thing, we Teaching Authors, and especially our Mighty Blog Mistress Carmela, should give ourselves a big, old pat on the back. When we began posting 2009, everybody and his dog had a blog. The majority fizzled out after a couple of months…or weeks. We’re not the only blog that’s lasted this long…but we are definitely in an exclusive club. Let’s hear it for us!

I suppose this is a time for looking back. 

For 12 years I really was a Teaching Author, leading Young Writers’ Workshops and Camps in the Atlanta area. Then COVID hit and…well, there was really no way to do day-long programs for kids 9-15, virtually. I haven’t taught since 2019, and I really, really miss it.  The same thing happened with school visits. (I’m available for workshops and school visits...hint, hint.)

Life has shifted in my family as well.  Most of these fifteen years I was the “Sandwich Woman”; getting my daughter through school while trying to take care of my parents in another time zone. For the past ten years, my husband has been commuting from Atlanta to Chicago for work…every single week (except for the COVID year when he telecommuted from the kitchen table.) After four previously announced retirement dates (the first was March 2020 and we all know what happened then!), he is officially retiring this August.  My parents are gone, now. My daughter is teaching in a public school Pre-K, while pursuing a double masters degree in Special Education. (Her students can’t believe she was the inspiration for MY BEST FRIEND and FIRST GRADE STINKS!) The circumstances are constantly changing but life goes on.

I had a “milestone” birthday in March.  I’ve never really thought about age, but that particular number has brought me up short. My husband’s retirement plans are unformed, apart from wanting to move away from Atlanta traffic. The future seems fuzzy and uncertain. However, I am hanging on to something I was told in the Vermont MFA program; write the book you must write before you die (not that I'm planning on doing that in the near future!) So that’s what am I doing now.

I press on.

Don't forget--you have until May 18th to enter our Blogiversary Giveaway Book, S is for Story by TA Esther Herschenhorn. Details are here. 

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

Friday, May 3, 2024

Happy 15th Blogiversary! + Book/Gift Card Giveaway


Crystal marks a 15th anniversary,

so choose a flute from those pictured above, then join me in raising 

a toast to celebrate our TeachingAuthors 15th Blogiversary!

Next, click here to enter our celebratory Giveaway to win a copy of 

my S IS FOR STORY and a $15 Bookshop gift card.

                                        S is for story, I wrote,

                                        so brilliant in its might,

                                        to help us see

                                        ourselves, our world,

                                        in oh, such dazzling light.

Reflecting on the past fifteen years, I see, as Carmela did, the 

circular structure of My Story.

I also see, and dazzlingly so: the more things change, the 

more they stay the same.

How honored I was when Carmela invited me to join five 

other children’s book writers who also taught writing 

to create this blog.


As I shared in my very first post in April of 2009, I knew in my 

heart since learning my ABC’S, I wanted to teach and write 

children’s books.

I was grateful for the opportunity to share my Susan-Lucci-like 

Writer’s Journey to help others tell their stories to children, 

especially since I’d soon be publishing S IS FOR STORY.

As always, I was hopeful, (1) that I could hold my own in the 

company of such talented and highly-degree-ed writers – and – 

(2) that I could handle the requisite software technology.  I’m 

an unashamed Luddite.

But…and isn’t there always a but, I soon realized: TEACHING 

had over-taken my AUTHORING, filling my days and often, 


My story had become helping others tell their stories.

My students and the writers I coached – my “storied treasures” 

as I described them in my very first Thanku - had claimed my 

hearand refused to let go, which was just what my book 

characters – Lowell, Rudie, Pippin and Howie – had done.

And as former Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon used to 

say, “It’s all about the heartbeat.”

Though I wasn’t writing a children’s book, I needed to do 

everything a children’s book does, beyond entertaining: 

inform, encourage, inspire and always, always offer Hope.

Chicago’s Newberry Library and the University of 

Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Education 

continue to gift me with outstanding smart and caring 

human beings eager to tell their stories to children.

They’re joined by the singular writers I’m privileged to 

coach – in person or now via ZOOM, plus those I’ve been 

lucky enough to mentor and the Young Authors I’ve 

taught in countless school visits. 

All engage my head and heart on a daily basis.

To seed and feed, to grow these writers, I grew classes, 

workshops, seminars, programs, meeting writers’ needs, 

no matter their age or years on task. I’ve presented here, 

in Chicago, but anywhere and everywhere, often thanks 


Believe it or not, thanks to the Pandemic, I even 

learned how to teach virtually! I utilized the

unicorn's collective nouns to label the squares 

on my screen my marvel, my blessing, my glory 

of writers.

And miraculously, with a whole lot of help from 

Carmela, I posted on schedule, sharing my views, thoughts 

and opinion on the selected subject, always in service of 

offering Readers a Teaching Take-away.


Of course…and isn’t there always an of course, my students and 

writers reside in our Children’s Book World, where I reside, too, 

gladly on their behalf.

NEW has become this ever-changing World’s operative word, 

especially these past fifteen years.

New formats. New genres.

New publishers. New ways to publish a story.

New communities, online, offline.

New institutions of learning, both in person and virtually.

New gatekeepers and ways to reach our Readers.

New technology.

New social platforms.

New awards, grants, booksellers, resources.

And thanks to Walter Dean Myers’ NY Times OpEd that led 

to We Need Diverse Books, new doors, windows and mirrors 

for generations of Young Readers.

My job? To bring all of the above to the attention of my 

students and writers and to our Readers’ attention, too.


Yetand of course there's a yet, our CBW's bottom line 

remains as always.

Stories matter.

Readers matter.

WE matter.

As I shared (with the help of my then 11-year-old tech-savvy 

grandson) in my recent Power Point Chicago workshop 

presentation As Our Children’s Book World Turns: the more 

things change, the more they stay the same.

It's all about the heartbeat.


Lo and behold, while I was fully-engaged seeding and feeding 

writers, they must have been seeding and feeding me!

How else could two very different characters – one a colonial 

Jewess, one a bunny potter – grab my heart and refuse to let 

go until I get their stories told.

Writing brought me to our Children’s Book World and in truth 

to this blog.

How good it feels to be writing - and revising - children’s books 

again, while of course, still TEACHING, but yet with 

AUTHORING now and once again in view.

 I remain hopeful…

and grateful.

How could I not?

Thank you to my eleven fellow TeachingAuthors bloggers, 

veteran and former*, for sharing your Smarts and Hearts 

these past fifteen years.

Thank you to our TeachingAuthors Readers, storied treasures, 

too, loyal Fans, Feeders and Fuelers.


Happy 15th Blogiversary!  And don’t forget to click here to 

enter our Book and Book Gift Card Giveaway!


Esther Hershenhorn


Thank you to Buffy Silverman/, whom I’ve cheered on since 

our Writing Paths crossed oh, so long ago in Illinois, for hosting 

today’s Poetry Friday.


One spot has opened up in my July 7-12 Vermont Manuscript 

Workshop! To learn more, click here and scroll down the page.

*Joann Early Macken, Jeanne Marie Grunwell-Ford, 

  Jill Esbaum, Laura Purdie Salas, Gwendolyn Hooks, 

  Carla McKillough