Rinda Beach, like Goldilocks, is always in pursuit of a story that’s “just right”. Her perfectionism drives her to craft stories with legs. And in her journey to becoming a published author, she learned that not all animals have legs, so to speak. What in the world are we talking about? Read on for an important lesson we can learn from our very own passionate teacher and author of NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. A big congratulations on your debut from On the Scene in '19!
Where were you when inspiration struck for your story?
I took a webinar class with Mira Reisberg in April of 2018. She said that putting two opposites together could create a great story. Two immediately came to mind, Neil building a wind tunnel and his mother not knowing the details. Mira said it was a great idea, and it stayed with me. It grew, and it grew until May when I decided I needed to research the story. By June I started writing NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. The rest is history!
What other jobs or careers have you worked in prior to becoming an author?
I’ve been a teacher for most of my adult life, for 33 years. I subbed a year in Kindergarten through sixth-grade. Then I taught Title 1 reading for 4 years. I’ve always loved reading so Title 1 was a great fit. It gave me a chance to work with kids in grades K- 2 in small groups to help them develop their reading skills. I loved it, but I wanted more. I wanted to teach everything – math, science, social studies.
A colleague wanted to swap jobs so I took her second-grade position, and she took my reading one. I stayed in second-grade for the next 25 years until I retired. Now I sub for fun, to stay connected to teachers and kids. It’s like being a teacher/grandmother. I’m there for a day. Then I give the kids back to their teacher. It’s lovely!
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to write?
I NEVER wanted to write. EVER! I used to cry my way through college papers trying to get each word write. Confession – I’m a recovering perfectionist. I still want things to be ‘just right!’
I decided to become a writer in 2007 when I was handed a story, literally! I was chaperoning my son and his friends on a trip to our sister city, Lengerich, Germany. It was the second night of my stay. It was almost midnight, and my host had fallen asleep. A bird started flying through the house, at least I thought it was a bird. I gently woke my friend, I didn’t want to scare the bird!
Would you believe we started arguing over what it was? Finally, Uschi pulled out a book. It was two inches thick. I thought she was going to hit the bird with it. NOT! Uschi turned to the word Fledermaus. The definition . . . BAT!!! The book was a German/English dictionary.
At that moment the bat hung upside down from the curtain rod. It was a no-fake, Jake moment. Uschi and I argued over what to do. She left me alone with the bat. It seemed like forever. I decided to hold a mop up to the bat, hoping that it would start flying again. I tried . . . but the bat climbed down onto the mop with three of its four legs. The other leg held onto the curtain rod, just in case.
We stayed like that, FOREVER, till I heard Uschi come in the door. It broke the spell. The bat started flying again, and I hollered for Uschi to leave the door open. It worked! The bat flew out into the German night.
That bat gave me my first two stories, both unpublished. In the first I dragged in Herman the German because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself as a writer. In the second I told the almost true story of me, Uschi, and the bat.
I took it to an SCBWI conference where I was told it was flat, and that as a debut writer I should let it sit in my computer until I had a body of work. Why? Because bats don’t have legs. Their stories stay on the shelves till Halloween’s over. Then they go back into storage. I listened . . . and kept writing.
Who is your favorite writer?
Oh my gosh, picking one is hard, but I can choose the three I most want to be like. First is J.K. Rowling. I love Harry Potter and the life lessons she plants in her stories, like love never dies or chocolate cures everything. TRUTH!
Next is Judith Viorst, I love how she writes about the things that are important to kids. I even named my son after Alexander in the TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY.
Last is Nancy Poydar, who was also once a teacher too. Her stories about kids and schools rang true to my classroom experience. In FIRST DAY HOORAY she wrote about the fears that adults have about that first day of school. The teacher, she lost the name tags. The principal, he came to school in his PJ’s, and the bus driver missed a stop. I loved that my kids could see that adults fight fears too.
My own fear that I shared each year was that a phone call would awaken me. It would say I’d forgotten the first day of school. Thank goodness that never happened!
CHOCOLATE!!! Without a doubt! There’s nothing better than chocolate. It makes everything better, really! You probably don’t know that one of my titles is ‘Queen of Chocolate!’ I always had M&M’s and Hershey kisses in my classroom. If you brought in six homework pages, you got six M&M’s. If you returned all your homework that week, a Hershey kiss. I also did grade card treats, and let’s face it . . . nothing says loving like chocolate!
What would you like readers to know about you?
Writing is easier now than talking. When I write, I plan out what I want to say. I edit it too. When you talk, it’s too easy to blurt something out, and you can never take it back. Or change it either.
But something good has come from learning to be a writer. It has helped me learn to edit my speech. It taught me to think ahead and decide if something was better said. Or, left unsaid. Now I can actually follow through, and that’s an excellent thing!
AND NOW FOR NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM'S COVER REVEAL....