Learning for Life: Educational Words of Wisdom

Learning for Life:

Educational Words of Wisdom

By Teri Ann Berg Olsen




Where did you get the idea for this book?
As an avid reader, researcher, librarian and home educator, I regularly encounter statements and sayings that I want to remember. Notes and quotes, written on assorted pieces of paper, were scattered all around my house. I was also getting a long list of quotations that I had saved on my computer. Since I had so many of them, I decided to gather and assemble them into a book. I thought that if I found them to be useful, other people would too.

They say timing is everything. What prompted you to publish the book at this time?
I could have kept working on this book forever, there are so many good quotes out there. I had already been working on it for about four years. But I just had a feeling that this was the right time. I like to think it was God's perfect timing. My husband was out of work and we were looking for other sources of income. Plus, he was there to take care of the kids while I worked around the clock on the book. Because once I decided to finish it, I wanted to get it done in time to sell at the Arizona Families for Home Education convention in July. It was also back-to-school time, which made sense for promoting a new book of educational quotations.

What is your target audience?
Anyone who has an interest in education, child training, or lifelong learning -- parents, teachers, tutors, homeschoolers, unschoolers, librarians, childcare providers, school reformers, alternative education advocates, Sunday School leaders, college instructors, etc. Additionally, history buffs will find interesting quotes on the history of education, book lovers will find lots of quotes by their favorite authors, and public speakers will find a treasure trove of wit and wisdom to glean from.

What do you hope the reader will gain from this book?
It is my sincere intent that each reader will find support and encouragement for their own educational endeavors, whatever they may be.

What personal satisfaction have you gained from writing this book?
Well, ever since I can remember, I had always wanted to write a book. Whenever I'd go to a bookstore or library and see all those books on the shelf, I wished that someday one of those books would have my name on it. And after spending hundreds of dollars over the years at Amazon.com, finally I have a chance to earn some of that money back by selling my own book on there!

How did you go about getting your works published? What kind of publisher is Knowledge House?
I actually self-published my book. Knowledge House is a registered trade name for my own home-based writing and publishing business. The Knowledge House name and logo symbolize the place where we live and learn - our homeschool - plus, they refer to a publishing house that produces educational materials. I didn't see any point in working with some other publishing company when my husband's family owns a printing business and they could do it for me.

Who is your printer? Did they have any previous book printing experience?
Whitten Printers in Phoenix, AZ has been owned and operated by the Olsen family since 1973. The original Whitten Printers was located in the old mining town of Jerome, AZ. You can still see the sign there. Whitten Printers has printed books before, and they're well known around the country as the publisher of the "Citizens Rule Book" that has sold over a million copies nationwide. My book was probably the most number of pages they've had to do at once, though. They did a really good job on it. My three brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, and the rest of the staff at Whitten Printers worked hard to get my book printed on schedule even though I had run late.

Publishing your own book must have been quite an undertaking. Would you do it again?
Yes, definitely. It was challenging but personally gratifying, something I had always dreamed of doing. As a self-publisher, I was involved in every step of the process from formatting the text to getting the ISBN barcode and designing the cover. Then I got to see how they made the printing plates, watch the paper rolling through the press, and see how they folded and binded it. There were so many things I didn't know about when I did it the first time, but I think the next time around will be a lot easier. Of course, I have to sell all of these Learning for Life books first!

What are your next plans for writing? Do you plan to do any more books?
Yes, I've been simultaneously working on a history of home education in Arizona. I also have another book idea that I've had for a long time. When I ordered my ISBN number it came as a set of 10, so I figure on writing nine more books in order to get my money's worth!

What else do you write?
I used to write poetry and I won a poetry contest in high school. I kept a journal for many years. I write a weekly "Not Just For Kids" column for the local newspaper and would like to syndicate it. I've written a newsletter for my homeschool support group. My homeschool articles have appeared in different publications, and I write for The Old Schoolhouse website. All of my articles can be seen on my website, www.knowledgehouse.info.

How do you find time to write? Life is busy and time management can be tricky. How do you juggle homeschooling and writing? When do you do your best writing and where?
I squeeze it in whenever I can and often let other things go such as cleaning the house or reading the mail. Over the summer when I was working overtime trying to get my book done by the printing deadline, I remember two or three weeks in particular going by in a blur as I sat at the computer continuously, staying up till midnight-2:00 am and then waking up first thing in the morning, eager to do it again. I had to put everything else aside temporarily, which I was able to do because my husband was home at that time so he did all of the cooking, homeschooling, and taking care of the kids for me. My computer is right off of a high traffic area in the house so I can be aware of what's going on around me, but I get so focused on what I'm doing that I can block everything out and write with noise in the background like TV shows or videos playing. Out of necessity, I've also become good at multitasking, doing more than one thing at a time. But I'd say my best times to write are in the wee hours of the morning and late at night when it's quiet and everyone else is in bed, or anytime I'm home alone. Once I start making good progress on something that I'm writing, I don't like to stop.

How much editing was involved? Did you edit alone or did you send it to people to edit? How many times did you have to re-edit your works?
I tend to self-edit as I write. As a perfectionist who majored in English, I'm always careful about spelling, punctuation, and grammar as I'm writing. The computer spell checker comes in handy if I make a mistake while typing. And I did proofread the whole manuscript before printing out the final copy. My parents helped me with that. (My mom is a former teacher and a perfectionist just like me when it comes to writing.) Still, I did find some typos in the finished product that managed to slip by. But I've even found errors in books from major publishers that used professional editors. I notice things like that more often now after all the practice I had proofreading my own book!

How has your family supported you in your writing?
My mom and dad always give me good advice. I can run any ideas by them - no matter how crazy they are! - and get their honest opinion. My kids are pretty independent and can make their own lunch if I'm in the middle of writing something and don't want to stop. My husband has always supported my writing because he knows how important it is to me. He put up the money to self-publish my book because he believed it was a worthy project. My in-laws printed the book and gave me a break on the cost since my husband was out of work at the time.

How is your book of education quotations different from other educational quote books?
It wasn't written by a professional educator. It was written by a parent who is concerned about children's education and who believes in the importance of learning as a lifelong pursuit.

I see that you are a homeschooler. Does your book promote any particular form of education over another?
No, I've included a wide variety of quotations from a wide range of viewpoints, including arguments for and against public schooling. I do think the significance of parental involvement in children's education will be obvious after reading the quotations by many intelligent thinkers from throughout history.

How do you think your book will be received by professional educators?
If the early responses are any indication, it should be well received. I've had public school teachers, both current and retired, say they really like my book.

Of all the feedback that you have received from people regarding your book, have there been any particular comments that have touched you the most?
Yes, the comment that meant the most to me was from my high school English teacher. She wrote me a letter saying, "Your book is overwhelming! I am in awe of what you have done! What an impressive collection of useful and inspiring quotations." That was quite a compliment coming from an AP English teacher and college instructor - who I might add, was always quite strict when it came to critiquing and grading my papers!

What training do you have in writing or education? Did you take any writing or education courses?
My English and writing classes included: English and American literature, advanced composition, children's literature, creative writing, and poetry. Courses related to education included all of the classes I took for my library degree: Libraries and Information Services, Reference Services and Resources, Multimedia and Audiovisual Production, Public Services for Libraries and Information Centers, Technical Services and Collection Management, Cataloging and Classification of Library Materials, etc. I have worked in a public library, elementary school library, middle school (junior high) library, college library, and church library. In addition, I have attended many home education seminars, workshops, and conferences. I also do a lot of research on my own.

What advice would you give to someone interested in publishing their works?
If you really have a sincere desire to be a published writer, you can't just dream about it. You will have to seriously put some effort into making it happen. Don't wait for other people to do it for you, you have to take charge of your own work. Statistics say that only 10% of the new books released make a profit, so don't count on getting rich. Big publishers are very selective, but PublishAmerica is one that is open to new authors. If you decide to self-publish, no one except you is responsible for making sure your book sells. It's a lot of work writing a book, getting it printed, and then doing all of your own marketing and advertising. But it's worth it if that's what you really want to do. Try to find a unique niche to fill, and make sure your work stands out from the rest. Join a writer's group, read books on writing and publishing, do some research on the internet, gather all the information you can before you even get started. Be willing to start out small. Submit articles to a local newspaper or magazine, write a newsletter for your club or organization, post articles on the internet. If your written work is available out there where people can see it, a bigger opportunity may someday present itself. Finally, be patient. If God instilled in you a talent and a calling for writing, He likely has a plan for you to use that gift. But your destiny often comes in the form of something you never would have thought of and when you least expect it. Abraham Lincoln offered the best advice when he said, "I will study and get ready, and some day my chance will come."

Can you recommend some writing and publishing books or other resources that have helped you?
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White. The Elements of Grammar, by Margaret Shertzer. The Elements of Editing, by Arthur Plotnik. The Self-Publishing Manual, by Dan Poynter. Get Organized, Get Published! by Don Aslett and Carol Cartaino. 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes - more quotes! No matter how many quotes I had, I would always find more quotes to add. So I decided to create an interactive element. Readers can visit my website to see additional quotations that didn't make it into the book - and they can also submit their own favorites.

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These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
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