Yesterday was my last official day of summer vacation. Today (and tomorrow) will be spent in greetings, meetings, and working to get my classroom ready for the first day of school on Wednesday. This will be my 27th year of teaching, and I cannot understand why I continue to get butterflies in my stomach contemplating that first morning when those seventh graders walk through the door.
I start the first day by asking for each student’s name and shaking every student’s hand as he or she walks through the door. Some of these kids will know me because I will have had their brother or sister in a previous year. Some will know me by reputation (good and bad). I know they will all be sizing me up and trying to figure out in the first few moments of class whether English will be fun, boring, interesting, or awful. It’s a lot of pressure!
And I’m checking them out too. Who looks at me when I introduce myself? Who laughs at my lame attempts at humor or rolls their eyes when I start reading The Teacher from the Black Lagoon? Who has paper and pencil that first day? Who slumps in his chair or turns sideways and stares out the window? There’s no escaping those first impressions!
I feel like I packed in a lot over my vacation. I did several mini getaways, from Tahoe, to Las Vegas, to San Diego, and Disneyland. I was able to almost finish uploading all my pictures from the Old Testament onto Christian Image Source. (I still have the Books of Proverbs and Psalms to go.) Ironically, I was unable to finish David Allen’s book on getting organized, but I did get a bit of yard work done and cleaned up my office/art room a little. But I have to say that my biggest accomplishment of all was publishing three Kindle ebooks on Amazon.
As some of you might know, I have been slowly and steadily working my way through uploading Civil War images on my U.S. History Images site. To organize the images in a cohesive way on both the Bible and U.S. History sites, I generally have to do research and reading in order to know which pictures fit together and how to label them appropriately. So I’ve been learning a lot about both topics as I’ve added pictures to the sites. I was really enjoying reading about the Civil War, and was learning a lot that I had never known before. So I got the idea to choose a single topic that I was interested in and make an ebook about it.
I decided to start with the Battle of Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War. I began gathering chapters from history books, magazine articles, letters, speeches, poetry, war reports, all about Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and and the events leading up to and following its bombardment. I soon discovered that I had way too much information to just fit into one book, so I split it up into three parts.
I started my project in November 2011. All of the information was in the public domain, and most of it was available online; however, much of it was not easily found or readable. In my spare time I researched, read, typed, edited, proofread, added pictures, wrote about the authors, designed the covers, and tried to learn everything I could about how to format a manuscript for Kindle. I had a friend of mine—an awesome (supposedly) retired history/English teacher—do another round of proofreading. And then I proofread again for good measure.
The first week in August my moment of truth had arrived. I don’t know why I was nervous about uploading and putting my books on Amazon, but I was. I guess I just didn’t want to publish anything that I wouldn’t be proud of. I am proud of the way the ebooks turned out. And if I think that the topic is fascinating, there must be a few others out there who feel the same way. Right?? So now, if anyone wants to acquire a deeper understanding of the people and events of that moment in history, they have a comprehensive compilation of material to read, all in one place, without having to dig around and find each piece individually. My next topic: The Battle of Shiloh.
Here are the links to the books on Amazon, in case you want to take a look.
If you want to read a little overview of the events that started the Civil War, check out my blog posts on my U.S. History Images Blog.