Climbing toward a Dream

26 01 2015

ladder to sky I always loved this picture of a ladder reaching to the sky. When I first decided I wanted to write, I drew a symbol like this as my logo. I pictured myself climbing that ladder to success, rung by rung, each rung representing a new skill, a new publication, a new height. And slowly, I started learning and climbing.

Some of the most important steps along the way were joining SCBWI, participating in critique groups, reading craft books, and taking classes. I even added an MFA to my goals. But the most important step was doing the writing itself. I’d read somewhere that to become an expert in any skill, you needed to put in 10,000 hours and write 1,000,000 words. So I did.

And the work began to pay off. First in small writing assignments and then in books. During the early writing years, I drew another picture in addition to that logo–a stack of books. A tall stack set up in a spiral shape. I was reminded of that recently when I decided to take a picture of the books I’ve written in the past five years. That drawing looked almost exactly like this:

7_BooksInterestingly enough, some of the titles I put on those books were related to the topics of these books. I’m a big believer in using visualization to achieve goals, but I was surprised at how much the two stacks resembled each other.

I’ve seen so many writing dreams come true  in 2014. This past year has been filled with book contracts and book releases and speaking engagements. All of it fun, although sometimes exhausting. Sometimes the sign hanging behind me at this reading was definitely a reality.

8_reading  One of my long-term goals was signing at BEA, and I not only got to do that, but I got to watch friends and a CP sign too. And that was one of the highlights of the year — seeing so many friends and acquaintances making their dreams come true.

And 2015 is promising more of the same. Several CPs have signed book deals, and I know more will follow. I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. And wishing all of you a move up to the next rungs of the ladder to your dreams.

Junior FBI Agents Solve Mysteries

20 12 2013

Fallen Prey    CoverIt’s always exciting to announce new releases from other Carolinas SCBWI members. And today, I’m lucky enough to have mystery writer Ann Eisenstein here to talk about her new release, Fallen Prey. Not all mystery writers have Ann’s background, so I’ll let her share about herself and her qualifications.

I grew up on a farm in Sidney, Ohio, where weekly trips to the library made it possible to explore and dream about the world beyond. I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, graduating with a BS degree in Education, with an English and Journalism minor.

I taught elementary school in Ohio and California before obtaining my M.Ed. in School Psychology from Wright State University, Fairborn, OH. As a psychologist, I served in school systems in Texas, California, Michigan, and South Carolina, in adolescent psychiatric treatment facilities, in private practice, and for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. I taught college level Psychology in Columbia, SC, where I currently reside.Ann E Eisenstein

I continue to volunteer and mentor with Richland County Schools, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

My first juvenile fiction, Hiding Carly, was published in 2012. Fallen Prey, book two of the three-part Sean Gray, Junior Special Agent Mystery series, was released in November, 2013.

A lot of people have asked me why I wrote Hiding Carly. Where did I get the idea, the inspiration, and the mystery? None of my persona operates in isolation. I was mentoring a fifth grade boy at the time. I work a lot with kids in that community on various skills from school problems to social skills and problem and conflict solving. He was not much of a talker. And struggled academically. He was from an extremely low social-economic stratum.

Sean Gray JSA BadgeAlong with his fifth grade peers, he was engaged in a unique program offered by the FBI, the Junior Special Agent Program. I witnessed a growing interest in what this program had to offer. He was genuinely interested in something! It was exciting – and gave us something to talk about! (Besides his baseball games – which I loved watching!)

An idea crept into my head about a Junior Special Agent protagonist! I struck up a conversation with the Special Agent in charge of this program, relaying how much my mentee was learning and benefiting from it. And I mentioned “the book”! The agent agreed to an interview! A seed. A kernel. A beginning.

And from that seed the series began. Hiding Carly was the first book and the latest is Fallen Prey.


Twelve-year-old Junior Special Agent Sean Gray is in a race against time.

Could there be a connection between his testimony in the trial of an international child kidnapping ring and his mysterious accident?
While the sheriff’s department and the FBI are investigating, his new friend, Gabby, gets caught in the web of an online predator and disappears. She’s been missing for more than 48 hours, and the authorities have not been able to find her. Sean goes undercover to bait the mysterious hunter. But when he becomes the prey, how will he rescue her?

To find out more about Ann and the Junior Special Agent Sean Gray series as well as her other books, you can visit her website. And if you’d like to win an autographed copy of Fallen Prey, just leave a comment any time up until January 2, 2014. We’ll pick one lucky winner in the New Year.