Featured Authors Talk About It
ATAI: Tell us a little about you.
My name is Dr. Paul Semendinger. I am an elementary school principal in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I am very fortunate, I work in the world’s greatest school. I mean that sincerely. The teachers, the kids, the parents, the staff – everyone is so wonderful and kind. There is a passion for kids there that I have never seen anywhere else.
I have been an educator for close to thirty years and have served at every level. I have a passion for bringing joy to children and adults alike.
I am happily married to my wonderful wife Laurie for 26 years. We have three terrific sons who are grown and are in college working towards their own futures.
Growing up, I was always a coach for their sports teams and volunteered with the Boy Scouts where they each earned Eagle Scout honors.
For fun, I enjoy running, playing softball, reading, and writing.
ATAI: How long have you been writing?
My whole life. I remember having a one line story published in my school newspaper when I was in first grade. I find that I am best able to articulate my thoughts when I write.
I am proud to have my first book of motivational passages, Impossible is an Illusion published along with my first two children’s picture books about a wonderful absent-minded character named Principal Sam.
In addition, I have a novel that will be published soon as well as a book about the New York Yankees – and a host of other children’s books. I’m querying some of the children’s books right now! Please wish me luck!
ATAI: What was your most recent release?
The most recent release, Principal Sam Gets Fit, just came out. The other two books Impossible is an Illusion and Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion were also released in 2017.
It’s been a busy year!
The third Principal Sam book, Principal Sam and the Three Bears, is scheduled for a 2018 release. That is when the novel is also planned for publication.
ATAI: What do you love most about writing?
Everything. I write a lot. Each week I spend time writing a (sometimes long) reflective piece that I share with my teaching staff. (Some of those essays, in modified form, are in Impossible is an Illusion.) I also maintain my blog (www.drpaulsem.com) and write for It’s About the Money, a New York Yankees blog that is part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network.
ATAI: What do you find most challenging?
To be honest, the publishing process is challenging. I have been told by many agents/publishers that they really enjoy my writing, but also, I’ve been rejected by them more times than I can count. It’s hard to get published.
I believe my books, especially my children’s books, are positive, warm, child-centered, and fun, but I’m sometimes told that publishers are looking for more edgy characters. I’m looking forward to the day when the industry is ready to embrace kindness even more. Parents, kids, teachers, and so many find my characters lovable, sweet, and kind. I think we need lots of kindness today!
ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?
Mostly real life experiences or my imagination. The first Principal Sam book, where he confuses the holidays, came about because I was joking with little kids in my school pretending that I didn’t know what Valentine’s Day was. After thinking about it later, I thought to myself, “There’s a cute book there!”
ATAI: What is your writing process?
I try to write every day. I like getting ideas on paper (or the computer) and building from there. I live an active and busy life so I wake up early to find the necessary time to write (and to exercise). Yes, I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m.
As I shared earlier, I write a reflective (hopefully motivational) passage for my teachers each week. I also write for the parents on a monthly basis. It’s part of who I am.
I most write on the computer, but I do have notebooks where I jot ideas down as they come. I started using a standing desk last year – which I love!
I wish I had even more time to invest in this craft!
ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
I’ll answer this in two parts. For Impossible is an Illusion, the best part is when people tell me that my words helped them achieve a goal, to be more positive, or to be a better person. That’s what it’s all about. I love inspiring others!
For the kids’ books, my favorite parts are when I make kids laugh and smile. That is absolutely priceless. I love reading in classrooms or libraries and making kids laugh. It’s the best!
ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?
Principal Sam and the Three Bears will go for a professional edit soon and be released in 2018.
My novel Scattering the Ashes is also slated for a 2018 release.
My unique history of the New York Yankees, The Least Among Them, is in it’s editing stage. I’m actually hoping to collaborate with a professional sports writer or researcher to help me tie up some loose ends to bring the book to its conclusion.
As I also stated, I write for my blog and “It’s About the Money” as often as I can.
ATAI: What are you working on next?
ATAI: Where can people find you online?
You can find me in a variety of places. Here are the links:
www.semmendinger-camera.com (but that’s a whole other story!)
ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.
Thank you! I am honored that I had this opportunity to talk. I’d love to come back and talk more about writing, reading, motivation, running…or even old cameras.
I wish you only the best!
*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.
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