“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”
Every day someone reads a book to our grandson, Levi. Most days it’s his parents but, whenever he’s with us, we read to him as well.
Why would we read to an infant unlikely to remember the moment?
Because reading stories always create memories—sometimes buried deep in the synapses of the brain — that last a lifetime.
Back in the Dark Ages, before the invention of eBooks, my grandfather gave me a book that I carried everywhere. The book weighed almost as much as I did, but it seemed a worthy burden to bear. It was a collection of many stories—The Wizard of Oz, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Sredni Vashtar, and many others that I read, and reread, and read again.
Even all these years later, when most of the things I once thought important have been lost to the dark recesses of my brain, these stories stayed with me on the forefront of memory. Perhaps it takes the mind of a child to know what is important to hold on to. Sadly, it seems it is a skill we lose as we turn our focus onto matters that we come to learn later in life never really mattered at all.
I want to create those lasting memories for Levi, the ones worth remembering, as my grandfather did for me.
There were other stories I remember. Stories from Captain Kangaroo—the model for all those shows that followed. Stories like Stone Soup, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddlar Some Monkeys and their Monkey Business.
I haven’t heard these stories since I heard them on that show, but I remember enough to tell them to Levi from memory. His reaction was mostly to smile, frown, laugh, or blow spit bubbles, so I also bought the books to read them to him and watch as the memories take root.
Reading is the critical foundation for learning. On average, Americans read just twenty minutes per day (https://www.statista.com/topics/3928/reading-habits-in-the-us) which is actually an increase over previous years (likely related to the involuntary limitations of Covid-19.) Could it be our lack of reading, and lack of encouraging others to read, negatively impacts our success with education?
I have always wondered what is it that makes some successful at learning while others struggle. It seems today that many would blame teachers for their kids’ failures in school or the dismal state of public education in many parts of this country.
My sense is nothing could be further from the truth. Teachers aren’t the problem, they are the filter that catches the problem and brings it painfully to our attention.
So I asked teachers, if they could point to one marker of success in students, what would it be?
The answers were remarkably similar.
A willingness to learn and work at it…
An enthusiasm to learn…
Parent(s) who make their children’s education a priority… parent(s) who were actively engaged in their children’s education…
… students that have the eagerness to learn have the most success. Of course, that eagerness, especially with the primary grades, comes from the attitude of the parents.
The point is, like the quote from Twain implies, schooling is just a part of education. It is fundamentally necessary but just one aspect of learning. The rest comes from living and the influences of those around you.
So if one book, given to a child all those years ago, can light the spark of an enthusiasm for learning, imagine what reading to them every day can do.
… and that’s why we read to him and will continue to do so until he is such an age to read on his own or to tell us not to… I hope that never happens.
If you want to create a legacy that will live on long after you’re gone, read to someone. They will remember…
A special shout out to Colleen Campbell Hagen (my cousin), Pat Nixon-Gwin (a classmate from Cumberland High School Class of 1974), and Joan LaPlante and Dan Walsh (two of the finest teachers to grace the halls of Cumberland High School), for sharing their thoughts and experience as teachers.
Everyone has a story to tell. By some estimates, almost 80% of Americans have considered writing a book. Most never take the first step—putting pen to paper or hands to the keyboard—and write.
Yet the stories are still there, yearning to be told.
The world of publishing has changed. There was never a more opportune moment for new authors to break into the world of publishing. But the best opportunities are not through “traditional” publishing, nor is it in self-publishing (although sites like Amazon have made it remarkably simple.)
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
The best opportunity for new authors is with a hybrid publishing company like JEBWizard Publishing. Many of the hottest authors on the NY Times bestseller list began with this hybrid approach. Some of the traditional publishers use those who publish this way as a “hunting ground” for new talent.
It is a different world with books today, and this offers both opportunity and peril. The downside to this brave new world is the proliferation of ninety-nine cent eBooks that quite frankly are overpriced. If ever the expression “you get what you pay for” was apropos, it is with the avalanche of poorly written, unedited trash the floods the market.
Readers—by their very nature intuitive and perceptive—have learned how to tell the quality of a book by breaking the rule of “not judging a book by its cover.” An amateurish cover is the first warning of a book not worth buying or reading.
Even if the cover doesn’t discourage them and they look inside, lousy writing, poor formatting, and grammatical errors soon unmask the inferior quality of the book.
The upside is where JEBWizard Publishing’s hybrid approach comes in, offering the highest quality production standards resulting in a book readers will want to buy.
With hybrid publishing, the author keeps full creative control over the book, a higher percentage of sales, and benefits from the same professional level design, editing, and distribution chains of traditional publishing.
If you have ever dreamed of writing a book or have written one and would like to get it published, JEBWizard Publishing is a great choice. We will help you bring the book to market with the same quality one would expect from traditional publishing houses.
Click here to read about our latest author releases.
I am excited to announce Edition 1 of JEBWizard Publishing quarterly newsletter. Depending on what’s happening there will be book release announcements, upcoming projects, media appearances, and book signing notices.
Follow this blog for upcoming information on all new book releases. And please share this with readers everywhere. All comments are welcome. Or if you would like write a piece to be posted on my blog please send me a message.
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First, there wasCollision Course, introducing Detective Lieutenant Josh Williams, East Providence PD Special Investigations Unit Commander. Then came Silenced Justice, and the adventures of Lt. Williams soared to new heights.
Now, the next in the series, Gideon’s Bludgeon, brings the challenges facing Lt. Williams and the members of his investigations unit to a whole new level.
A killer is leaving body parts all over the state, and a young detective newly assigned to the SIU thinks the killer is sending a message. The trail leads Williams and his fellow officers to a world of unimaginable terror and mystery.
“Hey L T, come look at this.” Detective Frank Lachance said. “Tell me what you think.”
I looked over the top of the Providence Journal, twisting my feet apart on the desk to get a view of the young detective.
“Frank, does it look like I give a shit about your latest discovery? Let me remind you it is Sunday…Morning… And what do I do every Sunday morning before anything, and I mean anything else?”
“Read the paper,” Lachance answered.
“That’s my boy. You’re learning. Now whatever monumental revelation you’ve had can wait until then. Now go make sure there is more coffee. I need the extra push for my morning constitutional.” I put my feet back together and ducked behind the paper.
“Lieutenant, it’s about the body parts in the bay. I talked to a friend of mine from the State Police, and we think they’re connected.”
“Were connected,” I said, from behind the paper, “that’s why they’re body parts now instead of a whole body. But I’m glad you and Trooper Dudley DoRight figured out that elusive element.”
I heard him pick up his laptop and walk to my desk. Plopping the computer down, he tapped on my paper.
“Do you want to die?” I said. “Give me a minute, I know my gun is around here somewhere.”
“Come on, Lieutenant, give me five minutes, and I’ll not only get coffee, but I’ll also go out for your favorite pastries.”
I put the paper down. “Frosted Apple turnovers?”
“As you wish.”
The kid’s enthusiasm reminded me of myself a century ago when I was an ambitious first-year detective. It was not contagious. I was immune to any such passion after thirty years of rolling in shit with the dregs of the world. And putting up with wannabe hero political cops, who got all their ideas from TV but ran and hid when shit hit the fan, saps the life out of you.
Someday, this kid will be an old burn-out like me, but for now I suppose I should humor him. To a point.
The kid was smart, good at his job, and showed lots of potential. He paid attention and was willing to learn. I’d humor him for five minutes. Plus, for a frosted apple turnover, I’d remarry all my ex-wives.
“Okay, Columbo, whaddya have?”
The look in his eye said it all.
“Ah jeez, never mind, show me what’s worth risking my wrath over.”
The kid spun the laptop so I could see. A spreadsheet, with highlighted cells, filled the screen.
“This is an Excel spreadsheet. A spreadsheet–.”
“Stop there, kid. Yeah, I know what a spreadsheet is. I know my way around computers. I’m old, not dead. Tell me what this piece of work shows, save the technology lecture.”
The kid smiled. “Cool, okay. You know how over the years various body parts have turned up along the bay?”
“Hmm, body parts along the bay?” I reached out and smacked the backside of his head. “Stop talking to me like you’re the school resource officer in a kindergarten class. Everybody in the whole fucking state knows the body parts story. Jeez…”
“Sorry, anyway, Jerry Paulson from the State Police and I think there’s a pattern to them. A message the killer is trying to give us.”
I leaned back in my chair. “Know what I think. I think sending you two knuckleheads to that FBI Profiling Serial Killer seminar was a fucking mistake. I told the chief that, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He has his head so far up the Attorney General’s ass trying to get the head investigator position there and retire. He jumps at any idea the AG throws out, and the Homicide task force was the latest. I knew you and that trooper would start salivating for your very own Rhode Island serial killer. You’d invent one if you had to.”
“Listen to me, Lieutenant. Look at the spreadsheet. I put the date of recovery in one column and the recovered body part in another. The first was four ago. They are found on the same day, the last Saturday of each season, every year. And if you sort by date of recovery oldest to newest, it looks like he’s sending us a human jigsaw puzzle.”
He slid the mouse around and sorted on the date. “The first discovery, (Date) was a right foot. (Date) left foot. (Date) right leg, on an onto this spring, the torso.”
The one part missing, the head, was all that was needed to complete the puzzle.
I looked at the screen. No doubt the kid was onto something.
“I also added in location. At first, it didn’t help. Then I did it by the side of the bay where the part was found. It alternates, East Bay, West Bay, south to north.”
“No shit, Frank. No shit,” I played with the columns. I was right, this kid might be the one I’d been looking for. Someone to mentor before I pulled the pin.
“What do you think, Lieutenant?”
I hesitated a moment. If word got out that we are looking at this as a serial killer, the media frenzy would drive us crazy. Worse, if the AG finds out, he’ll turn it into a fucking circus. I had to approach this delicately. Temper the kid’s enthusiasm with rationality.
“This is smart work, kid. But we gotta keep control over it. Limit who knows. If any of the suck-ups around here find out, they’ll tell the world. Some of these assholes are so close to the chief they could wear his ass for a hat.”
I tapped my finger on the desk. “Tell you what. We work this off the books for now. No reports in the system. Back to paper notes only, and we’ll lock it in my office at night. I’ll call Captain Murray at State Police Headquarters. He owes me a big one, anyway. I’ll get him to keep this between us. I’ll have him send your Trooper Knucklehead counterpart down here like you’re chasing burglars or something.”
Lachance bounced around like a nine-year-old told he was going to Disney. “Great, I have a few ideas on some things we might do with new technology the FBI uses. I’ll see what I can come up with.”
“Frank,” I said, in my most stern lieutenant boss-type voice. “Work it, but quietly. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. Ah, there is one more thing, Lieutenant.”
“What’s that?” I said, dropping the paper onto my lap one more time.
“This Saturday, it’s, ah, it’s the last day of Spring.”
“Great, happy summer, kid.”
“Lieutenant, if the pattern holds, we will find another body part this Saturday on the east side of the bay, north side. The head. I think we should try to run a stakeout. Maybe get lucky.”
“Hmm, and how should I find enough cops to run this stakeout and keep it quiet? Not to mention, getting El Hefe to pay for it?”
The kid actually smiled. “That’s why you’re the Lieutenant.”
“I got a better idea, kid. How about I get you assigned to the SIIU with Lieutenant Williams? He loves this shit as much as you do. Then it can be his headache. I’ll take care of that; you go get my apple slices and make sure you get the ones with the thick frosting. Now move.”
I watched the kid fly out the door. I almost missed that joy for the job. Almost.
Whatever possessed me to let him talk me into this? One year left, one more year, and I’d run out the door. Thirty years over, and I get a pension to cover my bar bill. This last year was supposed to be uneventful, not some reality TV series.
But no worries. I had a solution. Reaching for my cell, I hit the speed dial for Lieutenant Josh Williams.
“Lieutenant Ford, what can I do for you on this fine morning?” Williams answered.
“Josh, I’m getting El Hefe to give you that extra body you’ve been whining about. Det. Lachance will be transferring into your unit first thing tomorrow. And he comes with a bonus.”
“And what might that be?”
“He has his own trooper. You get two for the price of one,” I chuckled. “No need to thank me.”
“Why do I have the distinct feeling I am getting screwed here?”
“To borrow a line I recently heard, that’s why you’re a Lieutenant.” Ending the call, I resumed reading the paper. All was right with the world.
My name is Joe, and I am a Kindle-aholic. The addiction to reading anything and everything has plagued me all my life, long before this devil device came along. Kindle opened a whole new dimension to my addiction.
It all began with a book my grandfather gave me. A compendium of condensed stories; The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver’s Travels, Huckleberry Finn. I would carry the book with me everywhere.
Elementary school brought me the world of the Hardy Boys, more Mark Twain, more and more worlds to explore by the mere turning of a page. Reader’s Digest added to the mix. I even read the Encyclopedia Britannica (surely an early indication of my future addiction.)
Reading became an integral part of my world.
When I traveled, I would almost fill a separate suitcase, requiring four or five books just for a week’s trip. The thought of being without something to read made me tremble with terror. I could not bear the thought of being without a book.
I recall one trip to Barbados, where I did not bring enough books to read. I found myself desperate, almost willing to grab a dog-eared copy of some romance novel left behind on the beach just to have something, anything, to read.
But fate intervened at the last moment.
In the hotel room—this was a Marriott hotel—was a copy of J. Willard Marriott’s biography. The whole place got started with an A&W Root beer stand. Who knew? Now I did. Alongside the biography in the nightstand was The Book of Mormon—no Gideon’s Bible here, although I’ve read that as well on another ill-planned expedition—Marriot was a Mormon and promoted his flavor of religion.
This book is a frightening read. In the dark, a reading light cannot ward off the bizarre contents of this most terrifying of religious tracts.
Back then, lacking a book would force me to seek one out at any cost. Bookstores were my suppliers. Then, when my career required me to travel over two hours each day in my commute, I discovered audiobooks.
It got to where I did not even look at the titles in the library. I would just grab a handful and head out. It got me strange looks from the librarian. But I feared the terror of being stuck in five o’clock rush hour traffic, moving three miles per hour, and the book ending more than a librarian’s disdain.
Perish the thought. On a side note, did you know there are audio cookbooks? There are. I listened to one and learned a few things, arriving home starving.
But what put my addiction into overdrive was the invention of two things; the Internet (with its insidious links) and my acquisition of a Kindle Reader.
No more taking notes about other books I might want to read, no more wandering libraries or bookstores, no more looking for old favorites to reread hidden in stacks of books all over my house.
Oh no, not for me. All I needed was a Wi-Fi connection and my thumb, and I could buy just about any book ever written.
Read about a book in a footnote, one-click buy it.
Read a list of other books by the same author, one-click buy it.
Read a list of similar books to the one I just finished reading, one-click buy it.
One-click buy it, one-click buy it, one-click buy it.
On my Kindle device, I now have 189 books. I have the added enhanced reading addiction where I always have two or three books going at once. Since I’ve owned the device, the number of books grows geometrically. The chances of the total reaching zero is, well frankly, zero.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail, where every ounce of weight is evaluated for its necessity and usefulness, I carried my Kindle!
On top of my addiction to reading, I’ve followed a tragic but common path. Now I’ve WRITTEN books available on Kindle for others to join me in this affliction.
Now available at the pre-release price of $2.99 for Kindle, the long-awaited story of Jerry Tillinghast as only he could tell it. Click here for the Amazon link. Order it before the price jumps on release date and stay tuned for more formats and deals as they become available. Sign up for my email list and win one of five signed first edition print copies and the ebook version. Click here for the signup form.
Jerry Tillinghast talks about his life and the choices he made.
Battling alongside his brothers on the streets of Providence.
Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in Vietnam, and becoming a victim of the politics of that war.
His return to Providence an angry young man and his choice to hang with the wiseguys.
His reputation as a “feared mob enforcer” and the effect on his family.
Meeting Raymond L.S. Patriarca and how he came to embrace him as a father figure.
His brushes with the law and the two most infamous cases he is
forever linked to;
Bonded Vault and the George Basmajian Homicide
Silent no more…
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