Posted in authors, books, disabilities, elder care, family, Indie, love, parents, purpose, readers, remember, schools, senior care, support, writers, writing

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.

She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.

Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.

Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.

Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me,  is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.

If you Love Me, Kill Me

You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page

Naga Queen by Pauline HaytonChasing BrendaA Corporal's WarIn my Fathers Footsteps

Joanne:  Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?

Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne.  It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England.  I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Pauline:   I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.

Joanne:  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Pauline:  It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.  

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Pauline:  No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen.  Writing this book changed my life.

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

Pauline:  I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family. 

Joanne:   That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?

Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction.  I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.

Joanne:  Let’s talk a little about the writing process.  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Pauline:  No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.

Joanne:  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Pauline:  I published through Create Space, a part of I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Pauline:  I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.

Joanne:  Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

Pauline:   I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Pauline:  Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.  

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.  

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Pauline:  Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.

Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us.  Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?

I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.

“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”

Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.

   How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!

The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.

“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”

I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.

“I don’t know.”

“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.

“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”

He looked at me questioningly.

“They infected him, and he died,” I said.

“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”

Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.

Posted in authors, children, education, non-fiction, schools, teaching our children, writers

Dr. Dolores Burton addresses an integrated approach to today’s classrooms

It is my honor to have Dr. Burton with us today on Author Interview Friday.  I rarely have the opportunity to have non-fiction writers here and it is a wonderful change. I know that there have been so many new changes in the school system over the years and although I no longer have children in school, I hear the grumblings from young parents about the school testing programs and the general decline in good teaching. It sounds like you have offered an answer to their concerns.

author photo

Dolores Burton has been an educator for 37 years and consulted on educational matters locally for school districts, nationally and internationally for universities such as Moi University in Kenya. She was recently honored as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and traveled to South Africa to assist the University of Pretoria to create programs for underserved populations.

Dr. Burton recently retired as chair of teacher education and a professor at New York Institute of Technology. She is a former middle and high school mathematics and computer science teacher and school district administrator responsible for the installation of district-wide and county-wide technology implementations and professional development for teachers. She is permanently certified in New York State as a classroom teacher of mathematics, building administrator and school district administrator.

Her first book, The Complete Guide to RtI: An Implementation Toolkit, was published in December 2011 by Corwin Publications and her second book, Mathematics, the Common Core, and RtI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms, was published in September 2013. She has published in numerous journals and presented in regional, national, and international venues on topics related to; mathematics, STEM, using technology to enhance teaching and learning, differentiated instruction and assessment and using brain based learning strategies to reach all students among other topics. In the early 1980’s she authored 10 modules of software to prepare students for standardized tests in mathematics and was the first author admitted to the Author’s Guild for authoring non-print material.

She has a special interest in using research to close the achievement gap of the traditionally underserved populations; nontraditional learners, English Language Learners, students with special needs, and others at-risk for academic failure.

Before we begin, can you explain what “RTI” actually is or “the Common Core?”

To answer your question, I’ll take a quote from our first book, The Complete Guide to RTI. A change in regulations that govern education in this country took place in 2001 with the legislation, No Child Left Behind. In place of accumulated experience, past practice, expertise, professional judgment, and training as the basis for decision-making, the standard for educational practice would be the scientific method: “systematic, empirical methods . . .  rigorous data analysis . . . observational methods . . . experimental or quasi-experimental designs .”

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach to identifying and supporting students with learning and behavior needs. Its purpose is to provide high quality, scientifically based instruction in the general education classroom. The RTI process includes ongoing student assessment and monitoring of individual student progress (progress monitoring) that tracks the results of targeted and “tiered” interventions. These interventions are introduced first to all learners (beginning at the elementary school level), and then increased for those who show a need for additional support. This additional support comes from a multi-tiered approach that provides differentiated instruction to develop their skills.

While no single RTI model is universally practiced among all grade levels, generally, the three (sometimes four or five) separate tiers of specific learning strategies offer increasing levels of intensity of instruction to accelerate students’ rates of learning, based on their individual needs.

Common Core refers to the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics that are implemented on a state level for education. The proper name in Florida for the Reading standards is “English Language Arts and Literacy”.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

As a teenager I wanted to be an artist; then I thought about becoming a teacher of mathematics. I chose mathematics because as a math teacher I would not have to write, just work with numbers. I did not think I was a very good writer but knew I was a good math student. My interest in writing began about 15 years ago. Over my professional career, I had written many reports, memos, etc. but had not found my passion. My passion was ignited when I started doing research for my dissertation and learned from my professors ways to create new ideas and knowledge to share about best strategies to use to help children and adults learn new concepts. Around that time, personal computers were being installed in schools and the use of technology for teaching and learning was very exciting to me; like a really challenging jigsaw puzzle. Around the same time word processors were becoming more powerful (thank goodness for spell check!) and suddenly I could write about what I was discovering about using computers in schools to benefit students.

How long did it take to publish your first manuscript?

The process to publish our first book, The Complete Guide to RTI: An Implementation Toolkit, started in the summer of 2008 and continued until the book was published in December of 2011. The book proposal was completed and submitted to the publisher in June 2010. We received the contract from our publisher in August 2010. The book went through a peer review process several times during this period and each time a response to the peer reviewers’ comments needed to be submitted to the publisher. This added to the time between idea and publication.

The book we are discussing today started as an idea while writing the mathematics chapter in The Complete Guide to RTI. Once I started the research for the chapter, I realized to do justice to this topic; it would take more than a 20 page chapter. Hence, Mathematics, the Common Core, and RTI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms was born!

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? How did you find your publisher?

Both books were published by Corwin Publications, a division of Sage Publications. I found the publisher by identifying books in a similar genre and making a list of their publishers. I attended conferences and met some of the staff of 3 or 4 potential publishers and gave them a one page flyer that described the premise of the book and the titles of the chapters. I focused on Corwin because I liked the conversations with the Corwin editors I met. I guess you can say it felt right. I followed up with a 70 page book proposal (most likely over kill) based on the directions for authors on the Corwin website.

What was the hardest part of the writing process; the outline, the synopsis, query or building the story itself?

The hardest part of the writing process for me was getting over “writers block”. Periodically I would sit down at my computer and stare at the screen. Absolutely no thought would enter my mind regarding whatever topic I was trying to write about. My technique to get over that “mental freeze” was to just start writing even if a page or two made no sense in the context of the book and was eventually discarded. For me, the process of typing on the computer sometimes helps to make my brain think.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

The most important advice I can think of for new writers is, “Write every day!”. The more you write the better writer you will become. When you are not writing; read. Reading the work of good writers has helped me to analyze my own writing. I have writing buddies that read my work are “critical friends” Before we start the process we agree to not to take the suggestions personally and be honest with each other about how we can make the chapter, article or proposal better. Sometimes my husband becomes my “critical friend” especially when I am trying to judge how clear I have presented an idea.

What is the premise of the book we are promoting today?

Mathematics, the Common Core, and RTI: An Integrated Approach to Teaching in Today’s Classrooms was written to help pre-service and in-service teachers, parents and administrators to create opportunities for all students to be successful in mathematics. We tried to give strategies that are easy to use that will help children in grades 1 through 8 to succeed in the new more rigorous Common Core Mathematics State Standards   and the English Language Arts and Literacy State Standards, whether they are challenged or typical students. There are chapters describing the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and literacy, special strategies for students for whom English is not their first language, students with special needs and a chapter to help parents understand the new Common Core Standards  and resources for them to help their children. The book was released on September 26, 2013 and is available on and

Burton_Mathematics_the_Common_Core_and_RTI       42181_Burton_Complete_Guide_RTI_72ppiRGB_150pixw (2)

I must apologize for the small copy of the Complete Guide to RTI book.  One thing I am not is a computer wiz and try as I may, this was the best I could do.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

This is an excerpt from Chapter 1:

The most pervasive mandates in American schools today are the Common Core State Standards (prescribing the content of instruction) and Response to Intervention (prescribing a data-based method of instruction). Most of the resources available to help teachers work with either mandate treat the two as separate entities, without reference to the other. As a result, mathematics educators are calling for some way of working with CCSS and RTI as a single, unified program that they can use in their classes, rather than as separate, isolated mandates. Discussions with teachers reflect John F. Kennedy’s frustration with his advisors when he reportedly complained, “All my economists say, ‘on the one hand . . . on the other.’ Give me a one-handed economist” (quoted in Krugman, 2003, p. 11). Teachers need a single inte­grated approach to mathematics instruction—not two, let alone three or more—that addresses the needs of all their students.

In preparation for this book, we reviewed the growing collection of mate­rial on CCSS and RTI that is available to educators, and as we listened to col­leagues who are introducing the two programs to their schools, it became clear that what they needed was not another handbook telling them what CCSS or RTI is. What they want is, first, a way of untangling the perspectives of the many experts within the fields of the Common Core and RTI. Second, they are asking for help in charting a path through the potential interactions between RTI and the other mandated requirements their schools face, par­ticularly the Common Core, but also the No Child Left Behind legislation, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, differentiated instruction and universal design, inclusion, parent involvement, and the demands of their local school policies. Teaching mathematics is a more com­plex activity than ever before, and the need for a unified instructional strat­egy to teach all students has never been stronger. There is pressing need for a book that integrates the multiple new requirements into a single, compre­hensible process that can help teachers succeed with the mandates of CCSS and RTI, but more important, to help each of their students achieve success in mathematics. That is our goal.

Where can readers buy your books? 

On Amazon:

On   for The Complete Guide to RTI     for Mathematics, the Common Core and RTI