1.) What inspired - Not by the Book: The Pencil Pro?
A few years ago, I was asked to teach/mentor a creative-writing after-school club. About 50% of the students who attended this club were seniors who wanted to improve their college application essay writing.
I walked into the classroom and assigned the first topic: “Everything that College Needs to Know About Me,” I gave some writing tips and waited to collect the essays. When I finally got back home and started reading through the essays, I was shocked. All students—about 15—wrote pretty much the same thing. It was like they copied from one another.
That night, I realized something else. It’s not just students who are lacking the ability to be original, IT’S ALL OF US! We’re all copying from one another: we copy types of behavior, we copy expectations, models of success, and we copy solutions that worked before and hopefully work again tomorrow.
The book, “Not by the Book – The Pencil Pro” is aimed to promote original thinking in our careers, our everyday life, and even as parents. New and creative ideas are necessary even when conducting a murder case.
2.) The novel seems to cover a few genres - what challenges did you face when writing this book?
The book tells two parallel stories that are woven together.
Adam Schwartz is a motivated high school teacher who is bothered by his students’ lack of creative ideas. Together with his friends, he initiates The Pencil Pro, a program aimed at finding the next genius.
Eric Gutenheim is a detective with the Providence, RI police department. When Eric is called to solve the murder case of a 16-year-old girl, he uses a different way of thinking in order to solve the case. The only clues to follow are codes on ancient tribes.
Although Adam’s story is based on my own personal experience as a teacher; and Eric’s story is a fiction dealing with murder and mystery, my goal in this book was to challenge and empower the reader’s mind with a new way of thinking. While the reader is engaged in the stories, his brain is stimulated with out-of-the-box creative and innovative solutions.
3.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us about your early work?
This book: “Not by the book – The Pencil Pro” is my 5thpublished book. My previous works were related to Jewish education and teaching a second language (Hebrew). Even my book, which became a best-seller in its category (Titled: 101 Let’s have fun: 101 fun activities to reinforce learning Hebrew) is aimed at helping teachers teach a second language; not the regular way, but through creative and fun games.
As a writer, I feel that I can pass a message across. The message in this book is that being original and creative is a virtue in our world. Creativity is a must-have skill that can be mastered by anyone.
4.) Ever experience writer's block? How do you work through it?
I was working on this book for the last 3 years. I often write what’s on my heart and mind, and I let the characters find their way and grow through the story. I feel inspired to write in the middle of the night and during the early hours of the morning. However, sometimes, I’m stuck and can’t find the right words to express what I’d like to say. Once I experience writer’s block, I know it’s time for my“24 hour-change” exercise (also described in this book). That means that for the next 24 hours, I’ll change all my routines: I’ll change my seat, I’ll do something that I’ve never done before like trying out a new food, skydiving, or talking to a stranger. I’ll change the way I hold my coffee mug, and I’ll change the way I dress up. I’ll intentionally do everything different from the way I’m used to.
This exercise usually helps me refresh my perspectives, jump-start my brain, and get over the writer’s block.
5.) Where can we learn more about you and your work?
I’ve recently launched a website under my name: http://ronirosenthal.com/
You can find all my previous work at my author central page: www.amazon.com/author/ronirosenthal