Christian Teacher, Public School

". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Saturday, October 27, 2018

No Winner in the Book Giveaway

Hi, Everybody!

The book giveaway has ended with no entries and thus no winners. The contest post had lots of traffic, though, so I am dying to know if readers tried to enter but had technical problems. If that was the case, please leave a comment on this post or email me, Amy, at this address: amy [at sign] amyballard.com.

You can of course purchase Shhhh. . .Murder on Amazon and elsewhere on the Web, but it's disheartening to think someone may have missed out on a win because of issues with the Rafflecopter widget.

If you live in southern Idaho, there's another opportunity coming up, and this one doesn't involve technology! You're invited to the Camas County Public Library on November 15 at 6 p.m. for a reading of two cozy mystery stories from Shhhh. . .Murder! and a chance to win the paperback edition as a door prize. See you there!


Friday, October 26, 2018

Just a few more hours to enter the book giveaway

Our giveaway for a paperback copy of Shhhh. . .Murder! is ending in a few hours!
If you are having technical difficulty entering the Rafflecopter below, please email me, Amy Ballard, at this address: amy [at sign] amyballard.com. That way I can address the issue with Rafflecopter.
Thanks!
Amy

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Book Giveaway for Shhhh. . .Murder!

It's here, the giveaway for Shhhh. . .Murder! 

Use the Rafflecopter box below and comment below for a chance to win a free copy of this fun fiction anthology from Darkhouse Books. The contest begins Thursday, October 25 at 12 a.m. EST and ends Saturday, October 27 at 12 a.m. EST, so spread the word and tell your friends while there's still time to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



The prize: one copy of the paperback edition of Shhhh. . .Murder!, signed by Amy Ballard, the author of "Bookish Dreams," one of the stories in the collection.

Shhhh... Murder! by [Pachter, Josh, Sewald, Jacqueline, Rockwood, KM, Bracken, Michael, MacDonald, Jennie, Tucher, Albert, Fellowes, Kate, Ballard, Amy, Schlichting, Barbara]
Shhhh. . .Murder!
I was so excited when I saw the call for submissions for this anthology. What a fun theme! Immediately, I knew I wanted to write a library-themed who-dunnit. After all, I have so many good memories of libraries.

One of my favorite library memories from childhood is of the big, old-fashioned, clawfooted tub full of pillows that the public library in Waterville, Maine, kept in the children's room. What better reading nook could there be? And why don't I have one of those in my house? #LifeGoals. I wonder if the tub is still there. . . ?

Here in my southern Idaho town, our local library served as part of the inspiration for my story, "Bookish Dreams." While the characters in the story are purely fictitious, the setting of the old library building and other spots around town may be recognizable to local readers. 

(And speaking of my public library, I'm looking forward to doing a reading there in mid-November! More on that in a future post.)

As for the would-be detective pooch, Billy, he's inspired by a bulldog rescue that one of my husband's coworkers took to work with him. To my knowledge, the real-life doggy, Max, never solved any mysteries either, though he did get in trouble with the cops once or twice.
I hope you have a chance to read the story, along with the 23 other stories in the cozy/noir mystery anthology. If this contest doesn't bring you luck, you can go to Amazon.com to purchase the Kindle edition for $2.99 or the paperback for $12.95. Like what you read? Leave an Amazon review. Your reader reviews will help the book find more readers.

If you're a Goodreads user, you can add the book to your lists and follow me, Amy Ballard, there, too.


It's your turn! In the comments, tell us your favorite library memory.



Note: Any entries or comments deemed spam will be deleted by the author of this post and will not be eligable to win.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Library-Themed Book Giveaway Coming This Week: Shhhh. . .Murder!

Shhhh... Murder! by [Pachter, Josh, Sewald, Jacqueline, Rockwood, KM, Bracken, Michael, MacDonald, Jennie, Tucher, Albert, Fellowes, Kate, Ballard, Amy, Schlichting, Barbara]
Shhhh. . .Murder!
The fall book giveaway is just five days away! Stop by Christian Teacher, Public School from Thursday, October 25 at 12 a.m. EST to Saturday, October 27 at 12 a.m. EST to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Shhhh. . .Murder! The anthology features librarians in sticky situations, trying to solve "Cozy crimes in libraries." Some stories veer more toward noir, while others are solidly cozy reads. It's the perfect fall book pick, with twenty-four mysteries by various authors, including me, Amy Ballard.

In my story, "Bookish Dreams," assistant librarian Emma and her English bulldog Billy help solve a murder in the old library building across town. There's a smattering of romance, a pile of old National Geographics, and plenty of small-town charm for cozy mystery readers who like a happy ending.

Also don't miss Michael Bracken's "Mr. Sugarman Visits the Bookmobile," a cozy mystery with characters that feel so real they could be your neighbors. After I read this one, I just had to send the author fan mail via his Web site. Michael was kind enough to reply! I know you'll love the story as much as I did.

Can't wait to read the collection? Get the Kindle edition for $2.99 or the paperback for $12.95. Like what you read? Leave an Amazon review. Reader reviews will help the book find more readers.

If you're a Goodreads user, you can add the book to your lists and follow Amy Ballard there, too.

Use the sharing buttons below to spread the word about the contest to book lovers and library lovers in your life!

More:

Landlocked: Poems by Amy Ballard
The Swans of Starlight Lake, a traditional fairytale by Amy Ballard and Reagan Ballard, .99 for Kindle
"The Ghosts of the Composers," a short story by Amy Ballard on Penultimate Peanut

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Free eCard Digital Colors of Fall, a Perfect Encouragement for the Teacher in Your Life


For a limited time, get the "Fall Is My Favorite Color" eCard from Brevity on TPT free. It's part of the 8 Encouraging eCards for Teachers, Summer and Fall Collection now on sale for $3.00. Celebrate the colors of fall with this cheeful greeting pack.

Coming Soon: Looking for a fun fall read? 

Mark your calendars for an autumn book giveaway perfect for lovers of cozy mysteries and noir. Tell your local librarian, too, because the stories in this anthology all feature "Cozy crimes in libraries."

The giveaway begins Thursday, October 25 at 12 a.m. EST and ends Saturday, October 27 at 12 a.m. EST. Stop by Christian Teacher, Public School during the contest window to claim your entries! The prize is a paperback edition of Shhhh. . .Murder!, featuring "Bookish Dreams" by Amy Ballard and twenty-three other stories.

In "Bookish Dreams," assistant librarian Emma and her English bulldog Billy help solve a murder in the old library building across town. There's a smattering of romance, a pile of old National Geographics, and plenty of small-town charm for readers who like a happy ending.

Get the Kindle edition for $2.99 or the paperback for $12.95. Like what you read? Leave an Amazon review, and don't forget to follow Amazon author Amy Ballard. Your reviews help make this launch from Darkhouse Books a success.

Goodreads users, follow Amy Ballard there, too.

Friday, October 12, 2018

I Sought Knowledge Also

There are a few lessons every year when I get on a soapbox. One of those lessons came around yesterday, when my sophomore class was analyzing the powerful short story "By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Benet.

In the story, the protagonist, a teen boy named John, explores the city of the gods, a future version of New York. The city has been destroyed by the gods, whose wisdom was not enough to prevent their killing each other with fire from the sky. It's chillingly prescient, considering "By the Waters" was published in 1937 before nuclear warfare became a reality. The line "Then the towers began to fall" gives me shivers every time I read it.

My soapbox moment centers around a more mundane quote, though. It's this:

"Everywhere there were books and writings, many in tongues that I could not read. The god who lived there must have been a wise god and full of knowledge. I felt I had a right there, as I sought knowledge also."

I put this quote up on the screen and tell my students that Idaho is consistently ranked among the lowest states in the nation for sending high school grads directly to college. Yeah, it's not pretty. According to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems' 2014 data, Idaho is dead last, with just 43.7% of graduates heading directly to college.

Now, I'm not one who thinks every student has to go to college. I do wish every student would pursue some kind of higher education, be it one class each term from the local community college, an online class in the summer, a trade certification, or a liberal arts degree. So I get on a soapbox about that. Kids, don't underestimate your ability to pass a college class, to afford a few college credits. Just because you're from a tiny little speck on the map in a state that has a poor track record of sending kids to college, don't think you can't do it. If you seek knowledge, you have a right to it.

I show them a photo of the reading room of Harvard University's Widener Library, whose collection is available to scholars demonstrating a genuine research need. So, Idaho kid, you might never go to Harvard. But if you seek knowledge, you could use their library, one of the most beautiful and iconic in the world.

And before I get off that soapbox, I urge them to read. How many students have broken my heart by telling me point-blank, "I don't read"? Choosing not to read is like choosing a lifelong handicap for oneself. "I'd like to go through life with just one leg," or "I think I'd like to be blind," we say when we don't read.

It's usually boys who need the most encouragement. A recent article by Alia Wong at The Atlantic reminds us that, all around the world, girls are more likely to read for pleasure than boys. That's important, since "Reading for pleasure is. . .a habit that can prove integral to performing well in the classroom" (Wong).

Idaho kid, you'll never look back on your life and say, "I wish I hadn't read any books." The opposite is true. You'll be glad that, like John in "By the Waters," you followed your vision quest. That you sought knowledge also.

More

Don't forget, I'm giving away a copy of Shhhh. . .Murder! The book giveaway begins Thursday, October 25 at 12 a.m. EST and ends Saturday, October 27 at 12 a.m. EST. Enter for a chance to win a free paperback edition of this fun, cozy mystery anthology featuring my story, "Bookish Dreams," and other fun reads.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Be Unforgettable to English Language Learners

I know if the translation makes sense when I look at Renata’s face. Is she nodding and smiling that radiant, happy willingness to tackle a new assignment I have given her? Or is she giving me this: nada. The lovely statue of a teenage single mother from Mexico who stays in school for the sake of her son, her hijo, Mateo, but who is getting no meaningful words from Google Translate at this moment.

Or maybe it is because of my American accent, and not Google’s fault at all. I used to think I had an ear for accents. Now I follow every attempt to speak her language with a grimace and “That’s really bad Spanish. . . .”

She is the only Spanish-only student I have, which indicates how small my school is. There are under fifty students in the whole high school. I teach them all.

Renata, of course, isn’t the only one who knows Spanish. There’s a bilingual Mexican-American kid, Paulo. He talks to Renata in Spanish to make sure she understands her assignments. She laughs at him and corrects his sloppy Spanish, so sometimes he just shakes his head when I ask him for help. “She’ll make fun of me!” In another class there are caucasian kids taking Spanish as a foreign language. I lean on them to interpret for me, too. In still another English class (I have Renata in three classes, bless our souls), I seat Renata near a Mexican-American girl, Maria, and the new kid, a boy named Jose who contradicts me when I say I would like to visit his native El Salvador. “No, you wouldn’t. You do not want to go there.”

Jose’s English is better than Renata’s, but not as good as Paulo’s or Maria’s. There are pauses as he thinks of a word. Anything beginning with “sp” becomes “esp”—“Espending money,” “Listening to Espotify.” Anything beginning with “st” becomes “est”—“Climbing estairs,” “Esteering the car.” He’s plenty bright, so my lessons on subordinating conjunctions and comma splices help his writing noticeably. Part of me wishes Renata would progress as quickly in learning English. But I remember how long it takes—years—for a language learner to become fluent.

In the meantime, I buy a Spanish/English dictionary with classroom supply funds. I use Google Translate to prepare texts for her. I make her practice English phrases out loud: “May I please use the bathroom?” and (as she holds her water bottle up for a visual), “May I please get water?” Slowly, slowly, she is learning.

I have taken only one professional development class on teaching English as a second language. Over the years as a teacher, I’ve observed in dual-immersion classes, participated in a week-long Summer Spanish Institute, and provided differentiation for all kinds of learners in my high school English classes, no matter their native language. That's my training. But I want to learn more. I want to help kids more.

Sometimes it’s tough caring this much, trying this hard. There are days when I don’t get materials prepared for Renata’s classes before the day begins. There are times when Renata is tired, her brown eyes glazed over because she can’t keep up with the conversation in the classroom, or she’d rather be with her son, or she just doesn’t care today. It’s then that I invite her to join me at the computer as I fire up Google Translate, not to give her a new assignment or to translate a short story for her to read. Just to ask her in her own language, “How are you doing today? How is your son?” She wakes right up, smiles appreciatively, and types her response.

If my Spanish were better, I could ask these important, unimportant questions in a real conversation. Since I’m a beginner, I am glad to live in the digital age, when I can instantly communicate with my English-learner without a human translator.

Of course I want Renata to pass her three English classes. More importantly, I want her to know that I care about her. If not for building relationships with students like her, the teaching life would be bleak for many of us in the trenches. Because of the students, I thank God for the extra labor, for the time lost to translating, for the words lost in translation. For the chance to be unforgettable to an English learner.


Names have been changed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Book Giveaway for Shhhh. . .Murder! Coming October 25th!

Shhhh... Murder! by [Pachter, Josh, Sewald, Jacqueline, Rockwood, KM, Bracken, Michael, MacDonald, Jennie, Tucher, Albert, Fellowes, Kate, Ballard, Amy, Schlichting, Barbara]
Shhhh. . .Murder!
Mark your calendars, mystery readers, because a fall book giveaway is headed your way! Tell your local librarian, too, because the stories in this anthology all feature "Cozy crimes in libraries."

The giveaway begins Thursday, October 25 at 12 a.m. EST and ends Saturday, October 27 at 12 a.m. EST. Be sure to stop by Christian Teacher, Public School during the contest to claim your entries! You'll have a chance to win a paperback edition of Shhhh. . .Murder!, featuring "Bookish Dreams" by Amy Ballard and twenty-three other stories.

In "Bookish Dreams," assistant librarian Emma and her English bulldog Billy help solve a murder in the old library building across town. There's a smattering of romance, a pile of old National Geographics, and plenty of small-town charm for cozy mystery readers who like a happy ending.

Can't wait to read it? Get the Kindle edition for $2.99 or the paperback for $12.95. Like what you read? Leave an Amazon review, and don't forget to follow Amazon author Amy Ballard. Your reviews help make this launch from Darkhouse Books a success.

If you're a Goodreads user, you can add the book to your lists and follow Amy Ballard there, too.

Tell your friends about the giveaway by using the sharing buttons below. Spread the word about the contest to the book lovers and library lovers in your life!

More:

www.amyballard.com
Landlocked: Poems by Amy Ballard
The Swans of Starlight Lake, a traditional fairytale by Amy Ballard and Reagan Ballard, .99 for Kindle
"The Ghosts of the Composers," a short story by Amy Ballard on Penultimate Peanut

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Shhhh. . .Murder! Now Available

Buy
I just received my first batch of Shhhh. . .Murder! anthologies from Darkhouse Books. It's so exciting to see my story, "Bookish Dreams," in print! Though I've had short fiction published online and even as an audio recording, this is the first time I've held my published short story in my hand.

And mine isn't the only story in the collection. Twenty-four library-themed cozy crime stories fill the pages of this anthology, edited by Andrew MacRae at Darkhouse Books.

Learn more at darkhousebooks.com or on my author Website, amyballard.com. If you read the book, be sure to leave a review on the Shhhh. . .Murder! Amazon page!