Today we welcome Paul Reeves.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Paul Reeves: Outside of actively writing each day, I currently host “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on http://www.impactradiousa.com. Although we stream our shows 24/7, we broadcast live at 11:00 a.m. on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Additionally, I work as a book editor and ghostwriter (https://www.authorpaulreeves.com) and as an educational consultant. My three grown children, with one grandchild on the way, are all very much a significant part of my life, as are my three dachshunds! In addition to writing and spending time with family, I love to watch sports, read everything that I can, continue to learn, exercise, and volunteer to help others.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Paul Reeves: My currently published books include, A Principal’s Family Principles, Your Middle School Child: Never Look Away, and Effective Instructional Practices. All three books are nonfiction, with the first one focusing on parenting and raising kids of all ages, while the second book zeroes in on the middle school years. Book three is directly geared to those in the educational setting who seek to excel (Note: Only the first book is still in print).
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Paul Reeves: I am currently working on three books, A Principal’s Top 10, It is NOT All about the Kids and a three-part relationship novel.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Paul Reeves: I have written some chapters on drug and alcohol use, as well as physical and emotional abuse of children. Children are supposed to be raised up correctly and lovingly, and parents must take an active role in ensuring that their kids avoid the traps that are set in life. Knowing that some parents ignore the warning sings, do not pay attention to the daily activities of their own kids, and knowing that some just do not care enough about their children, always serve to break my heart.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Paul Reeves: The majority of my research came from being in the educational industry for years and taking copious notes on all that worked and did not work. Further, I am a voracious reader of all quality educational research, so that I am always up to date and so that I can learn even more. While pursuing my doctorate, my research was more focused on instructional practices that work for all children, all races, and all socio-economic levels.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Paul Reeves: Just like my own father, I am drawn to biographies, autobiographies, and all nonfiction. I have a yearning to learn all that went on before us, so that we can repeat the wise decisions and avoid the poor ones.I also read fiction and novels when they are based upon reality. My favorite author in this genre is Elmore “Dutch” Leonard.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Paul Reeves: My parents and several teachers were highly instrumental in encouraging me to write from the youngest age. I was fortunate, as I had several people in my corner from Kindergarten on who encouraged me, assisted me, and challenged me to be a better writer.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Paul Reeves: According to those who have read and/or used my works, my strength is in speaking in plain terms to people about the vicissitudes of life. While writing in abstract terms was the norm for my college work, my ability to reach people with the words in my books and newspaper columns has been the most rewarding for me. The best feeling that I get from my writing is when somebody tells me that they can “feel” what I wrote. I know that I have reached them at their emotional cores when I hear those words.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Paul Reeves: I write almost every single day. When I am totally alone, I can write at any time of day or night. When others are in the house, I find that it is necessary for me to write early in the morning, often starting at 5:00 a.m., before the day takes over my schedule.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Paul Reeves: I hope to continue to excel and improve as a writer, sharing my findings with others to help them, and continuing to work with other writers to help them to achieve their goals.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Paul Reeves: Learn EVERYTHING that you can about the written and expressed word. Writing is a tool that can touch and improve lives, but only when it is properly expressed, proper grammar and punctuation is used, and your message is pertinent to what others need and/or want. I further recommend reading everything that you can find in all genres. While it is tempting to read in one’s specialized genre only, I believe that it is imperative to read in all genres, so that one can learn of the different styles and messages that are expressed with the written word.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Paul Reeves: The best compliment that a reader has given to my book(s) has been that I have touched their soul and that I have helped them to see the light, improve, and/or gotten them on the rewarding path to success.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of you writing that you would like to share with our members:
Paul Reeves: From my book, A Principal’s Family Principles: Little Boy to Big Fidder.
I am reminded of a touching story between a dad and his youngest son, who shall be called Brady for this story. This is a story of love, encouragement, and togetherness, all of which led to big things for Brady. The dad had tried to do everything for and with Brady since his birth, including: Teaching him about life; spending quality and quantity time with him; working in the yard with him; helping him to make the baseball team; later managing his baseball team which gave Brady the confidence to excel as a centerfielder and hitter; teaching him how to play the drums before finding him a teacher who would be better for him; sharing his sense of humor; monitoring his friendships and behavior; and always trying to serve as his teacher, mentor, and spiritual guide through life are just a few of the ways in which the dad helped Brady get to his high school years.
As it turns out, one of the best things that the dad ever did for Brady was to help to create a home that was constantly filled with music, humor, good moods, and a sense that all was well within the home.
Brady, always the astute observer of the dad, spent years studying his dad, eventually taking on his dad’s mannerisms, speech patterns, thoughts on life, and sense of humor, while also establishing his own identity.
Brady went on to excel in many areas of life, including sports, music, and school work, making the dad proud all along the way. The dad used to perform fairly well in all of the same areas, but it was clear that Brady had far exceeded his dad’s output of years ago.
The dad’s admiration for Brady continued to grow on a daily basis throughout the years. In fact, one could easily say that a mutual admiration society had grown between the two.
Although the dad danced around the house like a fool (no real dancing talent, just a good sense of rhythm and a willingness to frolic in a seemingly foolish manner!), created silly lyrics to existing songs and even created a few new songs with silly lyrics, and acted out various theatrical parts, especially including invented parts with accents from around the world. Although the dad had never actually been on the theatrical stage (other than performances as Santa Claus in 2nd grade!), the home was the daily stage for everybody!
Brady, after studying his dad carefully, began to engage in the same behavior early in his life, while matching and often exceeding his dad’s ability to dance like a fool, sing silly lyrics that he created, and acting out theatrical parts with various worldwide accents! The two made each other, as well as the other family members, laugh for hours at a time!
Even with all of this frivolity as an everyday practice in the house, the dad never even thought about the theater for Brady, nor had Brady ever expressed an interest in a thespian adventure. However, much to his surprise, in the spring of his sophomore year, Brady announced that he would be trying out for the school play – in a thespian group that had always been noted for its excellence. Wow, this would be a daunting task just to get in the play as an extra, but Brady was confident that he could pull it off ….. and he did! He was given the part of an eccentric doctor, a character that was perfect for the years-long practiced frivolity in which Brady had engaged for most of his life – and a practice in which Brady had watched his dad engage for his entire life.
Brady pulled off the role with apparent ease, as his appearance on the stage seemed to command the limelight during his scenes. His scenes were few, but the dad was told that Brady seemed to have a knack for getting into character and holding it for entire scenes. The dad wanted to tell the director that 16-year-old Brady had practiced for 16 years for this role, but he managed to keep quiet!
A few months later, in the fall of Brady’s junior year of high school, he decided to try out for another play. He was given the part of a crazed and possessed mental patient, a role that he pulled off flawlessly and, again, used it to command the stage during his scenes.
The dad, again with no almost zero theatrical experience of his own, had some trepidation about Brady’s time on stage, as the dad was a tad worried that Brady might forget a line or two. But, it did not happen! Brady nailed the part and audience members gave tremendous kudos to him, even though it was not one of the main parts. Yep, ol’ Brady had found a way to capture the attention and imagination of the audience through a secondary part by nailing the character of a crazed mental patient!!
Jumping ahead to the spring of Brady’s junior year, he announced that he would be trying out for the next play, “Fiddler on the Roof”. He was hoping for a more prevalent role, but he also knew that there was a pecking order with regard to experience and tenure in the thespian troupe. Because of his demanding schedule away from the stage, Brady knew that he would not have time for a major role, but if he could get the part of Lazar Wolf, Mordcha, Rabbi, Avram, Motel, Perchik, or Mendel, he would be happy. But, in the true spirit of a thespian man, he would take whatever role he was assigned. The important part to Brady was just getting in the cast.
Well, on the day that the cast was announced, Brady called his dad at work to tell him that he did not get a part, but that he had been assigned to the chorus. The dad tried to comfort Brady, as he knew that the news was devastating to his son ………. then Brady ‘fessed up. Brady announced that he had been given the LEAD ROLE of TEVYE, a role that one program described as the following:
“Huge part – To dominate show – Big acting & singing role. To look mid-50’s. Larger than life character – strong character. Talks to audience, other characters and God. Village leader. Warmth and sincerity needed – also sadness. Resilient. Audience sees show through him”
The dad nearly jumped through the phone to hug his son. Brady was ecstatic and the dad could not have been more proud of his son. Incidentally, just for extra kicks, Brady also pulled the same “did not get a role” stunt on his mom – always the comedic actor!
The dad, with his limited theatrical experience (although the dad had worked in the theater as a musician and he had performed for many years in other professional musical areas), tried to coach Brady on preparation and the techniques that the dad knew to be successful when preparing for something big! Brady listened intently; internalized the plan, and then set out to conquer the role of Tevye!
To help Brady prepare for the role, mom, dad, and Brady traveled about 6 hours one way to see a professional theatrical production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. In that 2-3 hour snapshot of time of the professional theatrical performance, it all came together for Brady. He noticed how the professional “Tevye” actor took command of the stage and how he made the play his own. The actor was a young man, but Brady did not see a young man on stage playing an old guy. He believed that he actually saw Tevye. With that knowledge and additional coaching from home, Brady actually set out to become Tevye on stage, not just a high school junior acting in the role. He became immersed in the script; practiced with the CD; and watched the movie of “Fiddler” many times to help him to prepare for the role.
Although the rehearsals were closed to parents, Brady would give day-to-day rundowns of the rehearsals. At one point, Brady came home and announced that he believed that he had finally become Tevye. He had gotten to the point to where he believed that he was actually thinking like Tevye and not Brady trying to be Tevye.
Wow, this was all new to the dad, but he was excited and encouraged that Brady was pleased with his rehearsals. In the days leading up to the opening night performance, the dad did not fully know what to expect. Quite honestly, the dad would have been pleased to see Brady get through this major role with not forgetting his lines or not hitting wrong notes while singing. In reality, the dad had no clue as to what to expect with Brady’s portrayal of Tevye.
Well, opening night finally came, and the mom and dad got there early to get front row seats. The show began with Brady/Tevye coming out to give the opening speech of the play, which led to the full cast coming out to sing and dance “Tradition”. Through the opening moments, the dad could not see much of Brady on stage. Rather, he saw Tevye. Wow, what a great opening sequence of events for the dad to watch. But, then, the unthinkable happened. What happened next was not expected; not thought about in advance; and certainly no preparation had been made.
Tevye came back out to sing “If I were a Rich Man”, all in full character, with the gestures of an old man coupled with a sparkling Russian Jewish accent. Who was this kid playing Tevye???
Not too long into the song, the floodgates opened for the dad. The dad, always the rock of the family, absolutely broke down and began to shed tears at his son’s performance, as Brady was no longer Brady, he was an old Russian Jewish man named Tevye!!!
As the “Tevye” role is prominent in the “Fiddler”, Tevye spends much of the play on stage, narrating, leading the family and town, and singing.
The dad could not get his eyes to be dry. He was quite thankful for the darkness of the theater, although he knew that intermission would be coming at some point and he would be exposed! Intermission came and, of course, others in the area noticed the dad’s basket case appearance. The dad offered some sort of flimsy excuse about allergies, but everybody knew what was going on.
The dad looked at the mom and he was happy and surprised to see that she had been suffering from the same type of “allergies”!!
Nobody is really sure as to where this started – perhaps it was when the dad awakened Brady as an infant by singing baby songs and substituting Brady’s name; perhaps it started when the mom, dad, and kids first started singing, dancing, and being silly on a daily and nightly basis; perhaps it started when Brady played a drum solo in front of a crown of about 500 people, even though he had only been playing the drums for two months – the crowd went crazy for Brady and maybe that was the moment that he realized that he liked being on stage! Who knows when or how or why it started?
What his parents do know is this: Brady has progressed in many areas of life to the point that other students, his teachers, his older siblings, and even his parents admire his work, his preparation, his drive, and his overall approach to hard work, while still being very kind to everybody.
As the dad told Brady before opening night, Brady would remember his “Fiddler” performances for the rest of his life, due to the significance of the role. What he did not tell Brady on that evening was that the dad and mom would remember the performances for the rest of their lives, as well.
What the dad did not know beforehand was this: The “Allergies” would return every single time that his mom or dad even tried to think about Brady’s performances.
Brady – your parents did not think that you could have possibly made them prouder of you and the way that you approach life. But, you have far surpassed their previous levels of admiration for you! Keep up the great work in all that you do in life!
So, what is the lesson in all of this? The same thing that I have been saying for years: Spend quality and quantity time with your children; monitor their behavior to keep them out of harm’s way; encourage them in their efforts; always be there for them; and, of course, always know that your kids are watching YOU, even to the point that your silliness around the house might lead to the role of “Tevye” for your child and severe “allergy” problems for you and your spouse!
Now, if somebody could hand the dad a tissue, it would be appreciated – his “Allergies” are acting up again!
Thank you, Caroline!