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Persistent Pearsall found success with first book

Shelley Pearsall admits she gets bored easily.

Author-BL

Shelley Pearsall, an Ohio-based author, shares a poem she wrote as a middle school student with eighth-grade students at Benjamin Logan Middle School on Wednesday. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

It’s why she has worked as teacher, historical shoemaker and ghost storyteller. Even as a first-grader, she would finish her assignments quickly and then begin to wander around the room.

Her crafty first-grade teacher hatched a plan to keep her busy.

The teacher told the first-grader to turn over her worksheet and write a story. The teacher affirmed the young Ms. Pearsall and asked for another story each day.

It kept the active child busy and set her on path to her current vocation — author of children’s books.

“I decided at the age of 13 to become a writer,” she told students Wednesday at Benjamin Logan Middle School.

She decided to submit her writings for publication. She tried publishing houses, magazines and newspapers and received rejection letter after rejection letter.

Ms. Pearsall has a poster board of rejection letters she is most proud of from the likes of Reader’s Digest to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer to Modern Maturity.

“Obviously, I didn’t give up,” she told a group of eighth-graders. “That’s the way it is if you get into anything creative. You’re going to get turned down if you’re an artist.”

At 33, she took a leave of absence from teaching and wrote Trouble Don’t Last. It was picked up by a publishing house and won the 2003 Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction.

Ten years later, she has just published her fifth book, Jump Into The Sky.

Her other titles are All of the Above, All Shook Up and Crooked River.

Seventh-grade language arts teacher Sherri Morehouse said Ms. Pearsall’s visit is a continuation of the middle school’s efforts to promote reading and writing.

For the past several years, the school has brought in authors and focused the students’ attentions on a particular theme from an author’s book.

She said meeting with the authors and the week of special emphasis seems to help encourage students to write and to read other works.

Funding for the program is part of the middle school’s annual budget with some proceeds coming from the school booster bar sales.

On the Web at http://shelleypearsall.com.

 

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