Author Interview & Book Giveaway: School Daze by Sharon Mitchell

Welcome to Author Sharon A Mitchell

Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell has worked as teacher, counselor, psychologist and consultant for several decades. Her Masters and Ph.D. degrees focussed on autism spectrum disorders and helping kids to reach as high a level of independence as possible.In a March 2012 announcement, the Centers for Disease control released their latest statistics on autism. One in eighty-six American children has an autism spectrum disorder and one in every fifty-four boys. Every teacher will have a child with autism in their classroom. Every coach will meet a child with autism. If autism has not touched your family, it will affect your friends or neighbours.When parents, especially mothers, receive the news that their child has autism, they spend countless hours researching the subject, usually at night, after an exhausting day. There is a lot of information out there, much of it by competent authorities. But after a hard day of work and family responsibilities, who wants to read a textbook?Writers are admonished to show, don’t tell. Kids with autism learn best when shown rather than “talked at”. Why not write a book that shows how a family and a school help a little boy with autism? Does a book have to be hard slugging for the reader to learn new things? Does learning have to be tedious? What if you could just read a good story and still gain ideas to try?So, the novel “School Daze” was born – a light read aimed at a general audience. Yes, life with autism has it’s struggles, but there are strengths as well and the fun parts that any family experiences. The book’s full of the challenges inherent in autism plus strategies that make life easier for all concerned. It’s a story about a single dad doing the best he can.

INTERVIEW:
One food you would never eat?
 

Live octopus. My son tried this “delicacy” when he was in a fine restaurant in Korea. It escaped the bowl and meandered across the table.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 
It’s an entertaining read and you just might learn something while enjoying yourself.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
The first draft of the sequel is about three-quarters done. It’s again set in a school but centers around a different child/family with different challenges. You’ll meet some of the characters from the first book. The romantic interest involves an unlikely couple.
What inspired you to want to become a novel writer?
When a parent, especially mothers, first learn of their child’s diagnosis, they scour books and the internet, searching for information on how to help their son or daughter. There is a lot of information out there, much of it by competent authorities. But after a hard day of work and family responsibilities, who wants to read a textbook? I have my doctoral degree in autism, have taught at university on this topic, and keep up with the research in the field. But even I get tired of reading weighty books.
     Writers are admonished to show, don’t tell. Kids with autism learn best when shown rather than “talked at”. Why not write a book that shows how a family and a school help a little boy with autism?
     So, School Daze was born – a light read aimed at a general audience. It’s full of the challenges inherent in autism plus strategies that make life easier for all concerned. It’s a story about a single dad doing the best he can.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Some of the comments I’ve received from readers.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 
Pick an actual reader in mind while you write. Don’t use a big word when a smaller one will do – you want readers to not notice your writing while they’re caught up in the story. Join NaNoWriMo next November to get going (www.nanowrimo.org). And, before then, read this little, free ebook by Lazette Gifford – NaNo for the New and Insane (http://lazette.net/free%20stuff/NaNoBook.pdf).
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? 
That answer’s easy – to write a novel in a month. Although I write for online sites and do academic writing, I had wanted to try fiction for some time but felt that life got in the way. Plus, it all seemed too daunting.  I need a challenge and a deadline or I don’t get my butt in gear, always thinking I’ll get to it later. So, I joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November and completed the first draft during that contest. I could not believe how much fun I had writing that novel. Of course, you cannot write a quality book in that short amount of time, but NaNo helped me get the bare bones down and so I could begin the revision work later on.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?  
Just do it! The limits you place on yourself carry far more weight than those anyone else can impose on you. Life is a doing affair or it’s nothing at all.
Hidden talent? 
I have a private pilot licence.
How do you react to a bad review? 
I’ve luckily only received one poorer review and it was still a 3 star. It bothered me because she made a good point that I had missed. I wanted to thank her for her comments and to ask her a question, but advice I’ve seen says to never respond to reviews. I appreciate reviews and take the opinions seriously. I doubt that anyone would trash an author out of nastiness. Instead, they have a legitimate point of view, one I could likely learn from. At the same time, I know that there will always be people that some writing appeals to and just does not sit well with others. Otherwise we’d not have such a wonderful assortment of books to choose from.

Which authors have influence you most how?
The most influential writing book for me is Stephen King’s On Writing.

What do you do in your free time? 
read, write, garden, kayak and walk
If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it? 
writing and reading
Print or Ebook? 
I used to believe I was firmly in the print camp, that I needed to hold a book in my hands. I dislike reading on a computer monitor. Then I got a Kindle and it totally won me over. The device melts away and I’m engrossed in the story. I love being able to carry around with me thousands of books so I can read whatever I fancy. I read while standing in line and while waiting for appointments. My Kindle reads to me while I commute to work. I can read in the bright sunlight without any glare. I also like the publishing freedoms that come with ebooks.
City or Country? 
Although I was raised in a city, I’ve since moved to a rural area and married a farmer. I love this way of life.
What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day? 
reading and writing (Hmm. Do you spot a recurring pattern here?)

School Daze

After suddenly receiving custody of his five year old son, Ben must learn how to be a dad. That fact that he’d even fathered a child was news to him. Not only does this mean restructuring his sixty-hour work week and becoming responsible for another human being, but also Kyle has autism. 
Enter the school system. Under the guidance (and bullying) of a gifted teacher, Ben and Kyle take tentative steps to becoming father and son.
Teacher Melanie Nicols sees Ben as a dead beat dad, but grudgingly comes to admire how he hangs in, determined to learn for his son’s sake. Her admiration grows to more as father and son come to rely on Melanie being a part of their lives. 
When parents, particularly mothers,receive the news that their child has autism, they spend countless hours researching the subject, usually at night, after an exhausting day. Teachers, when they learn that they’ll have a student with an autism spectrum dirorder, also try to learn as much as they can. This novel was written for such parents and teachers – a light read that still offers strategies and information on autism.

Giveaway Details
1 ebook of School Daze
Ends 8/31/12

a Rafflecopter giveaway