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EILEEN'S CORNER -
After thirty-six years of teaching language arts at the junior high level, I decided to erase the boards, clear my desk, and turn in the broken pieces of chalk and my dog-eared manuals in pursuit of my life dreams – to be a writer and self-publisher. Not only did I shift gears in a career, but also I relocated from the windy city of Chicago to the sunny blue skies of Glendale, Arizona.
A full two years into my new career, I completed a number of short stories and several articles, entered most of them in literary contests or sent them to various magazines for publications. No one published my work nor did I win the Pulitzer Prize for novice writer of the year. Instead I won three honorable mentions for short stories, collected a shoe box of rejection slips and entered the unique world of literary arts.
The experience was so extraordinary, not to mention demanding and frustrating, that before I knew it, I was considering self-publishing my first book. Like many teachers, I often thought of writing stories about the students who touched my life, and over the years there have been quite a number. I decided to collect, rewrite, edit and publish a book containing true stories about students who enriched a teacher’s life. Thus Chalkboard Dust was created.
This project was more involved than I ever anticipated, but it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. Writing and editing the stories were the easy part, but to become an independent publisher, I had to enter the world of the competitive book industry. The entire process of organizing the materials, obtaining technical details, establishing myself as a small publishing house, preparing the manuscript for the printer, hiring a typesetter, and a graphic designer, and paying up-front for everything presented challenges I wasn’t prepared for. At that time, I was considered a traditional self-publisher since this was several years before Print-on-Demand companies swarmed the industry.
I chose to use a local printer even though out-of-state printers were less costly. This enabled me to watch the birth of my own book. I didn’t even mind the two round trips it took to finally get all the boxes of books from the printer to my garage.
Now came the hard part – marketing! Several articles in local newspapers, a guest on two TV shows, book signings and readings, book fairs and school presentations helped promote Chalkboard Dust. For a while I felt as if I became the “guru” of the printed page. Amazing what one book can do! Most important, I joined writers’ clubs and organizations and made many literary friends along the way; I am privileged to be part of their special world.
Recently I published my seventh book and my first full-length novel: Burnt Incense, a Novel of Trust – Deceit – Defense. And I still have a few more book ideas floating in my head. Writing is that rare profession where you are actually working while staring out a window. Ah, the joys of being a writer – endless!
I am a member of Arizona Authors’ Association, the Phoenix Writers’ Club, The Society of Southwestern Authors, and the West Valley Authors’ Association. I hold a Master’s Degree in Education-English from Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, and served four years on the Arizona State Board of the American Association of University Women and still actively involved in the Glendale branch of the same association, and served two years on the Golden West Region Board of Soroptimist International of the Americas, and an active member of Soroptimist International of the Kachinas, Inc. And I was a member of the curriculum committee and membership committee for the RISE Institute, Rio Salado College in Surprise, Arizona. For more information on writing and self-publishing, contact me at: Neeliepubl@aol.com.
Please click on the book covers below for a brief description of efach book. Happy Reading!
Books by Eileen Birin