Friday, May 26, 2017

Welcome to the Cuckoo’s Nest by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

I just got done with another session of Saturday School. The last one of this school year, actually (I’m writing this on May 20th). As an assistant principal of a public middle school, I must point out that there are other pieces to the educational puzzle besides reading, writing, and arithmetic. Acceptable behavior in a group setting is a biggie. Classroom disruptions derail the academic process, which is why we get together in the first place.

Unfortunately, in a society that is slowly lessening the consequences of laws and rules day by day, it’s harder to get students to understand why certain behaviors are unacceptable, especially in a school setting. I mean, they go home and hear parents and relatives talk that way, so why can’t they? They hear the profane language in the movies they watch and the music piping through their ear buds. So, why Mr. Administrator, Mrs. Teacher, do you have a problem with it?

It seems at times we fight a losing battle. In many respects, that is true. As a Christian, I also have to view life through the lens of scripture. If you’ve ever read the book of Revelation, we lose a great many people to the power of Babylon the Great by the end of chapter 20. But Jesus predicted it in Matthew 7:13. So, it doesn’t surprise me when students react the way they do.

However, a comment made by one of the Saturday School teachers today encouraged me.

In Saturday School, we do what are called LEAPS lessons. A company designed lessons that teach social-personal skills to students who have trouble with that area of life, which in many cases, stems from having never been taught proper “etiquette” by their parents (for a variety of reasons). Each time we hold Saturday School—which is an alternative punishment for a referral and part of the progressive discipline ladder—we cover three of these lessons, one an hour, from 9:00 a.m. to twelve noon. Two teachers work the students through the scenarios given, and a hearty discussion takes place on the proper manner in which to handle those situations. Such topics as “Saying ‘No’ to a Friend,” “The Authority of the School,” and “Proper Interpersonal Relationships with Your Peers” are just a few of the kinds of topics discussed.

We finished today’s session, and one of the teachers told me that the lessons were superb, and she had noticed some students—who had been frequent flyers in Saturday School earlier in the year—were no longer being assigned to attend. It was true. Some students’ behavior had improved. Between what we were doing and what the parents were doing at home, the “data” showed those students had turned the corner in the maturity department.

So, what’s this got to do with writing?

The writing life, for me, is much like being an assistant principal. The hours are long. The business is grueling. The accolades are few, and the complaints run high…as do the emotions. Society appreciates authors about as much as educational professionals these days, it seems. They think nothing of paying five dollars for a cup of coffee that takes two minutes to make, yet squawk at paying $3.99 for a book that took months to produce (and if it’s a paperback or hard cover, then it lasts for a long time, I might add, and can be passed along to others in a myriad of ways).

The writing life is a job they would never want—and they think we’re nuts for doing it unless we’re on the NYTBL and making a boatload of cash—yet, when asked if they want to swap jobs, they look at you like you’ve escaped from Bedlam Hospital. I had a parent tell me once, “I’ve got two middle schoolers, and I want to strangle them sometimes. Why would I want 700? Are you crazy?” This statement can be compared to one I heard a reader make, “Oh, I could never do that (write). I could never sit at a computer that long.” Translation? We’re nuts to sit at a keyboard for hours on end, cooped up in an office, living vicariously through characters we talk to in our heads.

But what these people don’t understand is, they need us. And so do their children. Because within the decaying fabric of American society, there is still a part of a child’s heart that knows certain things aren’t right, and so those behaviors should change. There’s also a desire within the human heart for storytelling. There are students who are learning how to co-exist with their peers (behavior) and glean material from their teachers (academics). And there are some folks who do get jazzed about a book you wrote, even if they had to buy it. It’s those students and readers who keep educators and writers running up their electric bill well into the night.

And like educators, writers too have little victories that keep them going. It may be an unexpected review on a bookseller’s website. It may be a social media post. An email, perhaps. The little nugget of encouragement that keeps you going back to the keyboard one more day, knowing that someone found your words uplifting, entertaining, or thought-provoking. Your words helped someone “turn a corner” in their life, even if it was to escape this life for a while and firmly plant themselves in another world.

Take heart, fellow writer. Like an educator, you never know when the next “Little Johnny” or “Little Janie” will grow up to be the scientist who finds the cure for a disease, and our “Little Johnnies and Janies” are the books, blogs, and articles we “pen.” For your treasures are truly not in books, computers, or words on a page that can be ruined by the mouth of a moth, the oxidation process, or the hand of a robber. Your treasures are being stored where the moth cannot fly. Where rust doesn’t exist. Where the thief cannot reach (Matthew 6:19-24).

We educators know something about this process. It’s called making a difference in the life of a person.

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His Blake Meyer series is out! 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out in August 2017! Also, the second edition of The Serpent’s Grasp will be out in June 2017 through Hallway Publishing!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

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