Matilija Press
Book Titles

Article 9: Book Proposals

Book Proposal Basics
The Right Way to Write a Book

by Patricia Fry

You may be surprised to know that the first step to writing a book for publication has nothing to do with writing. There is a process involved with producing a successful book and it all starts with a Book Proposal.

A well-designed Book Proposal is an excellent marketing tool. It gives a publisher the information he/she needs in order to evaluate your project. A student of mine in a recent book proposal class landed a contract with a major publisher mainly because of her book proposal. The editor said, "It was the detail in your book proposal that prompted us to acquire this book."

It makes your life easier when you use a Book Proposal as a guide to writing your book. Probably the best thing about writing a Book Proposal is that, during the process, you'll find out if you truly have a book at all. Another student changed the whole focus of her book when she was halfway through the Book Proposal process. This is one reason why I suggest writing a Book Proposal before you write the book.

A nonfiction Book Proposal contains a Cover Letter, Title Page, Synopsis or Overview, Promotions Page, Market Analysis, About the Author, Chapter Outline and Sample Chapters.

While each piece of the Book Proposal is important, there is one question in particular that you must ask while preparing the package. The answer could change the course of your project. The question is: Who is your target audience?

What segment of the population will embrace your book? Who cares about what you have to say? Do they have a problem you can solve? What do they worry about, care about, want to know? Maybe your target audience just wants to be entertained.

Targeting your audience can be just about as difficult as finding a good agent. But it's highly important. You need to identify the segment of people who are seeking a book like yours or who would be interested in reading it. If you can't, you don't have a grasp on the scope and focus of your book.

I meet a lot of writers who give little thought to their audience until after they write their book. They have a book in them and they just want to get it out. And that's okay. It's when they decide that they also want their book to be widely read that they run into problems.

A Book Proposal is a necessity in today's publishing climate. So you might as well bite the bullet and write one for your manuscript. Once you've broken through the mystery of your first Book Proposal, you'll be surprised how easily the others will go together and how vital a proposal is to your book projects.

Sample book proposal that SOLD (1): Book Proposals

Dear Diary?

The "How to" Book of Journaling For Kids


The practice of journal-keeping is as old as the written word and has been pursued over the years in many forms and for many purposes.

A journal can be whatever you want or need it to be at the moment: a friend or confidante, a sounding board, a spiritual guide, an advisor, a teacher? Journaling is a useful tool in fostering self-awareness and growth. Journal-keeping can enrich a child's spiritual life by providing insights and inspiration. Through journaling, a youngster learns about his relationships with others and his place in his family, his school and society. It's a great problem-solving tool that can enhance a child's scholastic abilities and help to resolve their personal and social dilemmas. Writing regularly in a journal can also aid in improving a child's communication and writing skills.

A journal is a safe place for a child to express him/herself without fear of ridicule or judgment. It encourages deep thinking, stimulates creativity and fosters emotional awareness. Journaling also provides children the opportunity to work through their fears, anger and grief.

Many of our children today are in crisis. They've been emotionally and physically abandoned by career-driven, divorcing and drug addicted parents. Fatherlessness is epidemic in American, with statistics predicting that half of all children born today will spend at least part of their childhood without their father living in the home.

Wounded, hurting and angry, too many of our children are turning to drugs, promiscuity, gang involvement and violence. In fact, one of the fastest rising crimes in America today is children killing children.

According to child behavior and mental health professionals and bereavement experts, a child who has lost a parent to death, divorce or addiction and who doesn't feel as though (s)he is well cared for, suffers untold heartache. To be abandoned or rejected by a parent is excruciatingly painful. Feeling that parental love is being withheld or has been withdrawn hurts like heck. If a child has not been taught how to grieve, the hurt my eventually manifest itself as anger—an emotion much easier to tolerate than emotional pain. And the child's actions begin to reflect this anger through self-destructive acts and/or acts of violence toward others.

Whether a child has suffered a severe loss in life or is growing up in a loving, supportive environment, (s)he will benefit from faithful, truthful journaling.

The book will encourage journal-keeping among the pre-teen and teenage set and show kids how to use their journals to meet their particular needs.

Market Analysis/competitive Works

Although my visits to local grammar, junior high and high schools indicate that teachers today are encouraging students to keep journals, I've found few books about the practice of journal-keeping for kids.

The only books I've discovered so far were published in the early ?80s, except for Totally Private and Personal: Journaling Ideas for Girls and Young Women by 14-year old Jessica Wilber. This is a compilation of entries from Jessica's own journal which includes benefits of her insights and advice for her peers.

Dear Diary differs in that it teaches the concept of journaling and its benefits, counsels the reader in the process of journal-keeping from choosing a journal book to managing emotional crisis through journaling. This book will offer guidance and exercises to help pre-teen and teen boys and girls get the most from their journal-keeping experience in every area of their life.

Promotional Ideas

I envision this book being marketed in the following ways:

  • Through children's bookstores and the children's section in general bookstores. It's a natural gift item for grandparents to give their grandchildren, for example, along with a lovely journal book and a snazzy pen.
  • Through toy stores, children's clothing and furniture stores and department stores that carry these items.
  • Through stationery stores such as Hallmark.
  • This book should be marketed to children's therapists, physicians, family counselors and the clergy.
  • I can market it by writing articles on related topics for children's religious, senior and family-related magazines such as: Seventeen (circulation, 1,900,000), Keynoter (circulation, 171,000), Highlights for Children (circulation, 2,800,000), Parents (circulation, 1,825,000), Family Life, Family Times, Modern Maturity, Family Circle, Catholic Digest and oodles of others.
  • We can solicit book reviews in children's and teen magazines as well as youth-oriented club and organization newsletters.
  • Through advertisements in children's and teen's magazines.
  • To libraries and school systems throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Through journaling workshops sponsored by churches, schools and youth organizations. An accompanying workbook would help leaders across the U.S. facilitate such workshops.


About the Author

Patricia Fry has been writing for publication for 27 years. She has 7 books to her credit.

Book Titles:

Hints For the Backyard Rider ? A.S. Barnes, 1978 (out of print)

The Ojai Valley: An Illustrated History (a 360-page comprehensive local history) ? Matilija Press, 1983; 2nd printing (revised) 1999.

Nordhoff Cemetery ? Matilija Press, 1992

A Thread to Hold, The Story of Ojai Valley School (a 325-page comprehensive history of a local, world-known, 80-year-old private school) ? Fithian Press, 1996

The Mainland Luau: How to Capture the flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard ? Matilija Press, 1996; 2nd printing, 1997; 3rd printing, Island Heritage Publishing, 1999.

Quest For Truth, A Journey of the Soul ? Matilija Press, 1996

Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles, Ideas for Sharing Love, Faith and Family Traditions ? Liguori Publications, 1997.

Note: Matilija Press is the author's own publishing company.

Books in the Works:

Fatherhood and Fathering: The Ultimate Guide For Today's Dad. This book is complete

Hope For Parents and Teens: Stop Bickering and Start Understanding: A unique book of hope for both parents and teens—parents read it from the front to the middle and the teen turns it over and reads it from the back to the middle.

The Inner Vacation: How to Go Away and Return Really Refreshed and Recharged. Alone But Not Lonely: Keys to Healthy, Happy, Solitary Living

Shift Your Life to the Next level through Your Own Creativity. A guide to living in the now.

Write From the Heart: Journal to Find Your True Path.

A Writer's Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit. This is one of a series of writing books the author will publish through Matilija Press in 2000.

Magazine Credits:

Ms. Fry has been published in Writer's Digest, The Entrepreneur Magazine Group (about a dozen feature pieces), The world and I, L.A. Parents, The Family, Keynoter, Single Parent, Christian Parenting Today, Living with Teenagers, Living With Children, Catholic Digest, Columbia, Los Angels Times, Kiwanis Magazine and many others.

Additional Information:

Patricia is on the board of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and is a Chapter president. She is chairperson for the Ojai Historic Historic Preservation Commission. She presents a program called, Writing For Life within the local school system as part of her obligation as a Living Treasure in a local mentor program. She teaches classes, does consulting, presents seminars and gives speeches on writing/ publishing-related topics and to promote her books.

Chapter Outline


Chapter 1: What is a Journal and Why Should I Keep One? This chapter will describe the purpose and benefits of keeping a personal daily journal. A journal can be a trusted friend to whom you can safely share your most private thoughts and feelings. And when you do, you'll begin to better understand those thoughts and feelings and yourself.

It's hard to be a pre-teen or teen today. You feel misunderstood. There's a lot that you don't understand. You should know that this is also true in adulthood. This chapter, however, will explain how journaling can help you discover the answers to your questions, guide you in solving problems and even help you work through serious personal dilemmas. Through regular journal-keeping, you'll overcome fears, learn to identify and manage your grief and anger and heal heart pain. You'll learn to get along better with others and gain the tools to recognize true friendships and to strengthen them. Journal-keeping opens the door to a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you and understanding always leads to greater personal joy and happiness.

The practice of journaling, then, is a beautiful gift you can give to yourself.

Chapter 2: How to Choose Your Very Own, Very Special Journal Book. This chapter includes tips for selecting a ready-made journal book as well as instructions for making one. Through guided self-evaluation, you'll discover your journal book preference. For example, while some teens enjoy keeping their secret thoughts in a beautifully-bound journal, others can't bring themselves to write on the pages of such a fine book. Some people are more comfortable writing in stenographer's tablet, legal pad, composition book or three-ring binder.

Be practical: choose a journal with plenty of space on the pages. Lined pages are useful. The pages in a spiral-bound book or tablet lay flat and are easier to write on than those in a perfect-bound book. A small journal is more portable—easier to carry with you. If you're a prolific writer, however, or write big, you'd probably rather have a larger book. Also discussed in this chapter will be pros, cons and how-tos of computer journaling.

Chapter 3: Your Journaling Routine: Finding the Time and Space. This chapter addresses that one most difficult issue we all face when introducing something new into our busy lives: change. How will I find the time to keep a journal? What will I have to give up in order to start the habit of journaling? The author includes tips and helps, such as, finish your homework right after school and treat yourself to a thirty minute journaling session after dinner each night instead of watching television. Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning and write while everyone else is still sleeping. Learn to recognize opportunities to write in your journal.

This chapter will teach you the basics of scheduling and prioritizing as well as how to be flexible—skills you'll need in order to get along well ins school, college, the workplace and life.

As to the questions, "Where will I find the privacy to write in my journal whenever I want to?" This can be a problem for young people who share a bedroom with siblings, for example. Here's where flexibility comes in. Wait until your sisters or brothers are involved in a television program, are doing their homework or have gone to soccer practice. When you'll have your room all to yourself. Ask Mom if you can use the desk in her bedroom for a few minutes every day. On a nice day, go outside on the patio to write or under a tree in the garden or a nearby park. If your siblings depend on you for their entertainment and won't leave you alone to journal in peace, encourage them to start a journal and spend time journaling quietly together. Strike a bargain with siblings. Say, for example, "We'll bake cookies together when I finish here if you'll just leave me alone for fifteen minutes."

If finding time and space to journal seems to be a monumental problem in your household, use the journaling technique in Chapter 7 (Journaling as a Problem-Solving Tool) to resolve it. Journaling every day is best, but a habit of three times a week or even once a week is better than not journaling at all.

Chapter 4: Get Ready, Get Set, Write! There's nothing more frustrating than opening your journal book for the first time, eager to start filling the pages and you can't think of anything to write. This is what most young people and adults experience the first few times they sit down to journal, however.

This chapter offers exercises and assignments to help you get started. The author will suggest to just start. Address your journal by writing, "Hello, journal" or "Dear Diary." Maybe you'd like to give your journal a name. Describe the room you're in, write about the weather, tell about your day at school. Just write what comes to your mind, "I'm sitting here under the oak tree in the backyard trying to think of something to write in my new journal. I hope my sister doesn't come to get me for dinner before I think of something to write?" I call this rambling. Sometimes rambling leads to real journal material—something you want to document, resolve or understand.

When you're ready, write about something that's troubling you, worrying you, making you feel said, angry or happy. Writing will come easier some days than others. Some days your journal entry may take up several pages and other times you'll do good to write one sentence.

Many people find that on days when words don't come easily, it's because there is something on their mind—something, perhaps, they don't want to talk about. One 12-year old girl, for example, sat down every day for three days with her journal and wrote nothing. All she could think about was the fight she had with her best friend, Laura. Finally, she decided to write about the fight. She described what happened and wrote about how she was feeling inside. Not only did she begin to feel better after writing about it, she could see the problem more clearly. Later that day, she figured out how to resolve the issue and soon she and Laura were best friends again.

There are no rules to keeping a journal. This book will offer suggestions, however, based on what has worked for other kids.


Chapter 5: Learning About Yourself or Who Am I? This chapter explains how to use journaling to get to know yourself better because you cannot improve if you don't recognize your faults and shortcomings and you won't excel if you don't know where your strengths are.

Through exercises and sample journal entries, you'll learn how to become acquainted with who you are so you can take an active part in who you will become. We are all changed by time and experiences. Those who have found the secret to true happiness in life, have found joy within themselves. This is only possible when you know yourself well and journaling is an important means to that end.

By writing honestly about your feelings, fears, beliefs and impressions—things that you may not normally take the time to examine—you are creating the opportunity to develop into the person you want to become—preferably somebody whom you admire and trust.

Chapter 6: Document the Events of Your Life. Life is a series of events and we don't always know which ones are significant to our growth. It's fun and enlightening to document your life events, such as the day your drawing took second place in the junior division at the county fair, when your brother fixed your bicycle and asked for nothing in return or the time your dad took you shopping for a new pair of ice skates. Although events such as these may not seem hugely important, something in the experience may have provided an insight or lesson that will help you to understand yourself, someone else or a situation in the future.

The author will suggest that you start your journal by telling your life story—documenting everything you can remember about your childhood. Within those early years is sometimes woven a string that emerges in a pattern that will help you to overcome or understand something that's going on in your life now.

Fourteen-year-old Angela didn't get along very well with her 10-year-old brother. They fought about everything. When she began to write her life story, she could see that she and her brother had been at odds ever since her mother resumed her career. Of course, Angela put most of the blame on him.

She began documenting the details of their arguments. She also noted times when they did get along. What Angela discovered was that she had the power to create fights or peace.

When the two of them got along, it was because Angela took the time to acknowledge him, listen to him or play with him. When fights occurred, it was when Angela pushed him away. What Angela realized was that with both of their parents working all day, she had become his security blanket and when she ignored or rejected him, he felt angry and hurt and he would lash out at her. She, in turn, would react to his behavior and soon they were fighting.

Chapter 7: Understanding Others or Why Are They Like That? A key to understanding and accepting ourselves is understanding and accepting others. This chapter will focus on your relationships with parents, siblings, extended family members, friends and even passing acquaintances. Here, you'll learn some of the principles of getting along in a world where everything isn't always all right and where everything doesn't always go your way. One way to get along without compromising your values is through deeper understanding of self and others. The author will show you journaling techniques that will help you examine problem issues and difficult situations that involve others. These techniques will help you to find answers to such questions as, "Why did he do that?" "Why doesn't she seem to understand?" "Why does he hate me?"

Journal-keeping can help you resolve issues by changing your mind. For example, rarely do you have control over a situation that involves someone else. When you can't change the circumstances, however, you can change how you relate to another person and how they affect you. Journaling can help you do this and so it is vital to your sense of self and your peace of mind.

Chapter 8: Journal to Solve Problems. When you are unsure about how to handle a situation or confused about how to approach something, journaling comes to the rescue. The author will share exercises and examples demonstrating how to use journal-keeping to make difficult decisions about which girl to ask to the prom, for example, whether you should to out for cheerleading or track or whether it's in your best interest to attend a particular party.

This chapter will guide you in turning to your journal when life is confusing or you have a specific problem and teach you how to resolve the problem through journaling.

Chapter 9: Your Journal: healing for Hurt Feelings. This chapter is the essence of what journaling is about ? healing emotional pain. Whether you're suffering guilt, anger and fear after your parents' divorce or devastation and loss after the breakup of a friendship, courtship or death of a loved one, for example, regular and honest journaling is key.

If you're grieving a major loss in your life, you're not alone. Divorce, for example, is rampant among adults. Twenty-three million children went to bed last night without their fathers in the home. Millions more feel abandoned by parents who choose drugs and alcohol over responsible parenting or who work away from home most of their waking hours.

Even those youngsters with caring parents are bombarded every day by negative choices. Negative peer pressure is at an all time high and even kids from ideal home situations are put in temptation's way. It's not an easy time to be an adolescent, but the author demonstrates how journaling can help heal grief and guide you in making the right choices particularly in these challenging times.


Chapter 10: Journal Your Way to Better Grades. Often the reason a student does poorly in school is lack of organization and the ability to prioritize. Through journaling, these attributes/skills can be practiced and honed. This chapter will demonstrate how through example and simple exercises.

The author will also address your cognitive skills. When you leave school at the end of the day without a clear understanding of the class assignment, you're not going to get very far in completing that assignment. The author will teach you how to gain greater clarity by writing down things you know and the things you don't know about the assignment and processing this information so the assignment becomes more clear.

Chapter 11: Improve Your Writing Skills Through Journaling. Journaling is writing and practice makes perfect, so it follows that if you write in your journal regularly, you are practicing writing skills. As a writer with 27 years professional experience, the author will offer exercises to help you improve your writing skills.

Chapter 12: The Creative Journal. A journal can be a book of poetry, creative prose or a collection of short stories. It can be a continuing life story. Your journal pages might have drawings that reflect your thoughts. Some teens put their whole journal in picture form while others enhance their entries with drawings or sketches. Your journal is yours to do with as you please. There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. This chapter will encourage creativity and give examples you may want to explore.

Chapter 13: Just Look at Me Now. In the chapter, the author will recommend that you read your journal entries every few months or so to evaluate your personal growth. There's nothing that can boost your confidence quite like seeing evidence that you're learning and growing in ways that are meaningful to you.

The author will help you to recognize the signs of your growth as these can be overlooked at first glance.

Sample Book Proposal that SOLD (2): Book Proposals

Youth Mentoring: Your Gift to the Next Generation


The book I propose will guide readers in becoming a positive influence by mentoring a child within their family or within their community. Through anecdotes, examples, success stories, tips, information and guidelines this book will teach and encourage men and women to take on the role of youth mentor to one child or several.

The statement, "It takes a whole village to raise a child" was never more true than today. More children come from broken homes. They spend more time either in day care or home alone while their parents work. Fewer children have the day-to-day support of extended family members. And neighborhoods lack the networking systems that once helped to keep our youngsters safe.

The Search Institute of Minneapolis has defined forty developmental assets that children need in order for them to flourish. These assets include family support, relationships with other adults, caring neighbors, positive school climate, the opportunity to give service to others, a sense of feeling safe, involvement in creative activities, a sense of purpose and a spiritual base. Studies show that the average youngster experiences only 18 of the 40 and as few as 8 percent experience 35 to 40 of these developmental assets.

We all know what happens when a child lacks the appropriate adult involvement, support and encouragement represented by these developmental assets. He does not thrive. He'll typically do poorly in school. He'll have behavior problems. He may show signs of depression. Children who fall into a pattern of drug abuse, promiscuity and violence, typically lack numbers of these developmental assets. Sadly, the fastest growing crime in America today is children killing children.

What does it take to reverse this horrifying trend? It can start with just one adult expressing an interest in just one youth. Yes, a solution for some young people is a mentor—a positive association with an adult other than his/her parents.

Even the most conscientious parents sometimes need help. Many of them are stressed to the max by the pressures of parenting and societal obligations. Add to that the need to earn a living and you have parents who are overwhelmed.

According to the Department of Labor, in 1995, nearly 70 percent of all mothers with children under the age of 18 worked. Over 62 percent of mothers with children under 6 work. America's young children are spending a lot of time in daycare. They're being raised by someone outside the family—learning the values of virtual strangers.

A recent study reveals that 84 percent of children by the age of 6 have spent time in some form of daycare. The same study declares that the more time kids spend in daycare, the more aggressive they become and the more behavior problems they have.

When these children reach the age of 8, 9 or 10, they become latchkey kids. Do you know how latchkey kids typically spend their afternoons? Safely locked inside their homes watching TV or playing video games and eating junk food. The result is a decline in the overall fitness of our children and an increase in childhood obesity. According to a recent study, 22 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 are considered obese. What they're feeding their minds is another matter that obviously needs attention.

Those children who are allowed to roam the neighborhood after school without adult supervision are at risk of getting into trouble. The fact is that more vandalism, shoplifting, underage drinking, drug use and other crimes perpetuated by the younger set occur between 2 and 6 PM on school days.

The American family is in trouble. Fatherless boys are looking for fathers. Those who don't find a father figure in a relative, a teacher or a church leader, are at risk of joining gangs in search of one. Father-lack affects girls, too. Teen girls, feeling unloved and abandoned by their fathers, often become teen moms.

Our children's most valuable supportive links are no longer available to them. Gone is the American dream that includes the traditional two-parent family: one full-time parent and one breadwinner who also contribute strong physical and emotional support to the family. Many of our children have been emotionally and physically abandoned by career-driven, divorcing and drug/alcohol addicted parents.

Children don't feel nurtured by or safe in their neighborhoods, because most of their neighbors are strangers they see only in passing.

And we're even losing our sense of belonging through extended family support. Few kids can just hang out with grandpa after a tough day at school. Grandpa is likely either living in a retirement community miles away in a milder climate or pursuing his own personal adventure. Grandma isn't around to offer her grandchildren a safe haven, a fresh baked batch of cookies or her expertise in designing a Halloween costume. She's more apt to be running her own company or running a marathon.

The bottom line is that America's children are in crisis and we can help. This book is for those adults who are already mentoring a child either formally or informally and want more information, support and help in their endeavor. It's for the educator, religious leader and community leader who want to do more to help children and need additional guidance. It's for those who are ready to give something back to society and want to do it through our children. It will assist folks who already spend time with their grandchildren or kids in the neighborhood and who want additional inspiration and ideas for successful mentoring. And it's for those who, perhaps, see a problem developing with children in their community or neighborhood and they want to get involved but don't know how. This book is for every adult who cares about kids.

Market Analysis

My research failed to reveal any books like the one I propose. Most books on mentoring today reflect adult-to-adult mentoring in the business world. Some of those listed below have more religious leanings than is probably comfortable among mainstream readers. While I plan to embrace a spiritual perspective in my book, it will not be overly religious in tone.

Through research, I found books written for people who want to help highly troubled teens. My book is designed to encourage and assist adults in mentoring kids before their life spirals out of control.

I also located books for organizations and individuals who want to establish a mentor program for youths. While I will touch on what it takes to start a program and I will include an extensive Resource List, the focus of my book is different. It will be to entice, encourage and guide readers who want to work formally or informally with a child or children in their family or community.

Competitive Works

Intensive Caring: Practical Ways to Mentor Youth by William Hendricks (Group Publishing, 1998). This book has heavy religious overtones and would not be appropriate for the average reader who is looking for a more mainstream method of reaching a child.

Mentoring: Confidence in Finding a Mentor and Becoming One by Bobb Biehl (Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1997). This book features lifetime mentoring relationships. Biehl comes from a highly Christian perspective which may discourage some people from participating.

Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose and Faith by Sharon Daloz Parks (Jossey-Bass, 2000). This book features mentoring ideas for the young adult rather than the teen and mainly in the area of spirituality.

Mentoring and the Rites of Passage for Youth by Ralph Steele (Ralvon, 1998). This is a guide to parents, mentors and organizations who wish to start a mentor program.

Mentoring for Resiliency: Setting up Programs to Move Youth from Stressed to Success by Nan Henderson (2000). This book relies on the expertise of several contributing authors and focuses on information about mentoring and various programs. This is not a how-to.

At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Teens by Scott Larsen (Group Publishing, 1999). This book is for those who are interested in working with intensely troubled kids.

Promotional Ideas

I envision this book being sold through traditional and religious bookstores and gift shops for the general public as well as through catalogs for educators, religious leaders and family counselors.

The leaders of youth and mentor programs nationally would be interested in this book for their staff and volunteers. I would suggest a mailing to such organizations.

I can market this book by writing articles on related topics for parenting, educational, senior, university and religious magazines such as: Parents (circulation, 1,825,000), Child (circulation, 930,000), Family Life, Family Times, Parenting, Becoming Family, Modern Maturity (22,000,000 circulation), Family Circle, Catholic Digest, Columbia, Becoming Family, St. Anthony Messenger (350,000 circulation), Teachers in Focus, Teaching Tolerance (400,000 circulation) and others.

We can solicit book reviews in a variety of magazines and community newspapers as well as youth-oriented club and organization newsletters and web sites.

I will periodically send press releases to newspapers throughout the U.S. as new information becomes available and as success stories emerge.

I will promote this book on my web site.

I do a lot of public speaking and would enjoy developing a program for service and civic organizations, educators' groups, the clergy and others.

About the Author

Patricia Fry has been writing for publication for 30 years. She has 12 books to her credit.

Book Titles:

Hints For the Backyard Rider ? A.S. Barnes, 1978 (out of print)

The Ojai Valley: An Illustrated History (a 360-page comprehensive local history) ? Matilija Press, 1983; 2nd printing (revised) 1999.

Nordhoff Cemetery ? Matilija Press, 1992

A Thread to Hold, The Story of Ojai Valley School (a 325-page comprehensive history of a local, world-known, 80-year-old private school) ? Fithian Press, 1996

The Mainland Luau: How to Capture the flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard ? Matilija Press, 1996; 2nd printing, 1997; 3rd printing, Island Heritage Publishing, 1999.

Quest For Truth, A Journey of the Soul ? Matilija Press, 1996

Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles, Ideas for Sharing Love, Faith and Family Traditions ? Liguori Publications, 1997.

A Writer's Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit ? Matilija Press, 2000.

Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book ?Matilija Press, 2000

Write On! Journal-keeping for Teens (A book featuring journal-keeping techniques and including many examples for pre-teens and teens) ? Liguori Publications, July, 2001.

Note: Matilija Press is the author's own publishing company.

The Successful Writer's Handbook ? Matilija Press 2002. An ebook featuring Fry's best writing-related articles.

Books in the Works:

Fatherhood and Fathering: The Ultimate Guide For Today's Dad. This book is complete

The Grandparent's Survival Guide. A book for the millennium grandparent.

Hope For Parents and Teens: Stop Bickering and Start Understanding: A unique book of hope for both parents and teens—parents read it from the front to the middle and the teen turns it over and reads it from the back to the middle.

The Inner Vacation: How to Go Away and Return Really Refreshed and Recharged. Alone But Not Lonely: Keys to Healthy, Happy, Solitary Living.

Shift Your Life to the Next level through Your Own Creativity. A guide to living in the now.

Write From the Heart: Journal to Find Your True Path.

Magazine Credits:

Ms. Fry has contributed hundreds of articles to about 150 different magazines. Her articles have appeared in L. A. Parent, Central CA Parent, Seattle's Child, Christian Parenting Today, Living With Teens, Living With Children, Northwest Family, Single Parent, Becoming Family, South Florida Parenting, Teaching Tolerance, The Lookout, Message, The Preacher's Magazine, The Family, Catholic Digest, Writer's Digest, Kiwanis Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Entrepreneur Magazine Group, The World and I, Keynoter, Columbia, Sunday Digest, St. Anthony Messenger and many, many others.

Additional Information:

Patricia mentors a 14-year-old girl through the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation and informally mentors two at-risk neighborhood children, ages 13 and 10. She presents a program called, Writing For Life within the school system as part of her obligation as a Living Treasure in a local mentor program. She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and a commissioner and past chair for the Ojai Historic Preservation Commission. She teaches classes, does consulting, presents seminars and gives speeches on writing/publishing-related topics and to promote her books.

Ms. Fry has three grown daughters and six wonderful grandchildren—all teenagers now. Her oldest granddaughter, is employed by Wells Fargo Bank and attends junior college in San Luis Obispo, CA. She plans to attend Cal Poly's broadcasting/journalism program next fall. Her 19-year-old grandson is following his lifelong dream of a career in aviation. Her 17-year-old grandson attends the local high school and plays both varsity baseball and football. He is the quarterback for the football team and first string catcher for the baseball team. He's rated third in southern CA in baseball, is already being wooed by colleges and being watched by scouts for professional baseball teams. He hopes to earn a baseball scholarship to college. His sister, 15, was voted the queen of her middle school and was just selected a cheerleader for the freshman high school team. Another fourteen-year-old granddaughter is tops in her class at her private school and in the youth rodeo circuit. She's 7th in the CA state for high school rodeo. Fry's 15-year-old grandson has been chosen MVP in football ever since he started playing some 5 years ago. As a sophomore next year, rumor has it that he will earn a spot on the varsity team.

Fry believes that heads-up parenting, involved extended family and neighborhood and community involvement have helped to shape these kids and contribute to their success.

Chapter Outline

Chapter 1

What is Mentoring? This chapter serves as an introduction to mentoring. Here, I will explain the various types of youth mentoring. I'll provide examples to illustrate workable and working mentor methods—one-to-one mentoring, group mentoring, informal mentoring and opportune mentoring, for example. And I will provide information and anecdotes to show mentoring as a viable process for helping young people.

This chapter will also include some of the statistics appearing in the Synopsis as well as fresh anecdotes reflecting positive encounters reported by half dozen adults who recall having had mentors as children. Fifty-four-year-old Linda recalls the safe haven a neighbor woman offered her when she was a child. Ralph (46) is currently involved in a mentoring program because he remembers how important a friend's family was to him during his stormy adolescence. Barbara (36) claims that, without the caring and support of a special teacher, she would have taken a much different, more destructive path in her life.

I will explain what is different and/or missing in our children's lives today and why so many kids need the attention and support of caring adults in addition to that of their parents.

Some of the material for this chapter comes from research relating to my books on fatherhood and grandparenting and my articles on how America is helping our children and innovative PE programs. To complete this chapter, I'll refer to materials from the Search Institute as well as Erika Shearin Karres's book, Violence-Proof Your Kids Now: How to Recognize the 8 Warning Signs and What to Do About them and When the Bough Breaks, The Cost of Neglecting Our Children by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Chapter 2

What Does a Mentor Look Like? This chapter will focus on the type of person who, in some way, shape or form, serves as a mentor to a young person. This will include adults of all ages and from an assortment of lifestyles and career fields who offer their attention and support to a youngster(s) in a variety of ways. I'll introduce teens who guide and encourage younger kids in academics as well as in life. And then there are those who mentor by sharing their skills, craft or art with young people.

Teachers, spiritual leaders and youth sports coaches, for example, all have the opportunity to go beyond their job description on behalf of the children in their midst. I'll give examples of those who do and offer guidelines for those who could.

There are formal and informal mentors who participate with a child for a sequence of weeks, months, years or as a one-time event. I'll report on unique mentor styles such as teacher, Ted Nellen's program featuring virtual mentoring. Through his Adopt-a-Student program, he teams mentors with his students via the Internet.

A mentor is anyone who wants to make a positive difference in the world of a child. By offering examples in several categories of mentor styles, I hope to touch upon one that resonates with and inspires the reader.

I know someone who takes a group of students from the inner city on a whale watching trip every year. My 20-year-old granddaughter enjoys spending time with me and my mentees when she's in town. She always leaves them with the message that you can still be popular and hold to your values. A friend of mine invites the children from her neighborhood to the Easter program at her church every year. An elderly woman in town isn't able to do much physically, but she is willing to donate money to a local mentor program. Because of her donation, I was able to take two troubled teens to the wonderful production of Lion King. An artist I know invites neighborhood kids into her studio from time to time, when she sees them just hanging out and looking bored. A couple of them have developed a surprising talent. One man, noticing a 9-year-old's interest in football, took the child to some of his young grandson's games. The boy showed such enthusiasm, that he arranged with the boy's grandmother for him to play youth football during the next season. This man did all of the legwork necessary to get the boy qualified and signed up and the grandmother paid the fees. This was the first time any of the children in this family had ever been exposed to organized sports.

Chapter 3.

Why Should I Get Involved? Helping children grow straighter is everyone's responsibility. Not all parents are equipped to do the job alone. They need help, not ridicule and scorn.

As a mentor, you can show kids (and their parents) other ways to be. With the right training and heart, you can help to prevent child abuse and neglect by modeling and teaching parenting skills. By working with local youth, you can help to reduce violence and teen crime in your area. Your participation in that child's academics might launch him or her on a more positive educational/career course. By modeling and teaching values, you can show a youngster how to make better choices.

A 13-year-old girl in my neighborhood told me a couple of years ago that she was the only one in her family who has never been arrested. And she is the next to youngest of five children. If this child never has the opportunity to see a different way of being or to explore new perspectives, she will likely make some of the same choices as her parents, cousins and siblings have.

In society today, we tend to say, "These are not my kids. It's not my problem." But it is our problem. We are all affected when kids make destructive choices. Crime costs everyone in civic spirit as well as in dollars and cents. Studies show that when an adult spends time engaged in positive activities and dialogue with a young person, change does occur.

As in all of the chapters, I'll insert pertinent anecdotes. Here, I'll include the story of a mother who dramatically changed her own son's behavior while inspiring his classmates to improve academically just by her presence at his school.

Chapter 4

What Do You Have to Give? Evaluate Your Abilities, Skills and Talents. I'll provide a list of assets for potential mentors. After taking inventory, the reader may be surprised at what genuine gifts they have to offer young people in their community.

The second part of this chapter will be to help guide the reader in how to best utilize their particular assets and find a program that fits within their comfort zone.

Chapter 5

Mentor Organizations. This chapter will focus on mentor organizations and what to expect in your association with some of them. I'll offer resources for getting involved in well-known mentor programs and advice about finding local ones. I'll suggest that the reader talk to local school officials, church leaders and community and youth leaders about programs that involve teaching parenting skills, rehabilitating troubled youth or working with at-risk kids.

I'll relate my story featuring an introduction and my eventual involvement with Ojai Valley Youth Foundation as a mentor—how I was inspired to take action. And I'll include the story of a woman who had something to give, but couldn't find a program to fit her skills and desires. So she built her own program.

Every state and thousands of communities operate some variety of youth mentor program. This chapter will encapsulate many of them.

Chapter 6

School Mentor Programs. With the assistance of Susan Weinberger, President of Mentor Consulting Group, and other experts, this chapter will feature mentoring programs within school systems throughout the U.S. We'll explore those that work and those that don't with lots of suggestions about how to get involved.

We'll talk about such organizations as Young Ladies and Gentlemen Club, a drop out and violence prevention project for 1st ? 5th graders and Action Club, an after school program for at-risk children grades 5-8. I'll use material from an interview with an anger management leader in a Florida school district. And I'll speak with school officials who specifically encourage parents and grandparents to participate in the classroom and the results of such programs.

I'll also offer information about starting a mentor program in your school and I'll provide appropriate contacts.

Chapter 7

The Neighborhood Mentor. Here, we'll explore a more informal type of mentoring that involves reaching out to children in need right in your own community. I'll interview individuals who saw a need and got involved. One woman, for example, became a surrogate grandma and guardian angel to three small children in her neighborhood when she noticed the children were often being neglected by their drug addicted mother. Another couple befriended two neighbor children to try to keep them from following the path of crime that their older siblings chose.

I'll suggest ways that neighbors and relatives can get involved without presenting a threat to the parents/guardians and how to protect yourself from false accusations and potential litigation.

For those who are unable or unwilling to work one-on-one with an at-risk kid, I'll suggest that they band with other neighbors to create something for the kids to do after school, for example. I'll offer scads of ideas and recommendations. I'll also provide information about how to work with the local school district, city government, the library, a civic organization or other agency to develop a program for kids who need structure and guidance.

Surrogate grandparenting is also a viable activity today in light of our nomadic tendencies. Whether you live away from your grandchildren or not, what a fulfilling activity to become a surrogate grandparent to a child who doesn't have a grandparent close by.

Another method of helping children is to offer your support even for families who are doing relatively well. Take the kids from time to time so the parents can have some breathing room. Praise the parents for a job well done. Express an interest in the children's academics, hobbies, sports, cultural activities and so forth. Be prepared with some resources this family might need. I'll offer some specific resources and activities.

Chapter 8

Employee Mentor Programs. Here, we'll talk about businesses that have employee mentor programs, who donate to mentor programs and/or who give employees time off to participate in mentor activities. I'll also offer resources for employers who want to start a mentor program and tips to employees for getting involved.

I plan to flavor this chapter with anecdotes illustrating working employee/mentor programs in America's industry. In the mid 1990s, for example, the Grand Metropolitan Corporation, in conjunction with the National Child Labor Committee in New York, developed a program called KAPOW (Kids and the Power of Work). The primary focus of this program is to introduce young children to the world of work and this is accomplished by mentors from the corporate world connecting personally with the children. According to the principal at Lillian Emery School in Albany, Indiana, "This is an inner-city school and our population is made up mostly of federal-housing-project students. Most children in a school of this type have never seen an adult work."

Through this program, these children learn about work from the employees of local companies. They visit the Pillsbury plant and actually participate in jobs there during field trips. Their principal says, "The world of work is almost like a fantasy to them. But when they return from their day at Pillsbury, you'll hear them saying, ?I want to be a mechanic' or ?I want to work on an assembly line.'"

In 1970, a group of business people who wanted to do something about the number of kids who were dropping out of school and hanging around in front of their businesses established Wave (Work, Achievement, Values and Education). This program is designed to help young people complete their high school education while preparing them for the work force. WAVE is in place in 195 public schools across the U.S. It's still funded primarily by local businesses and involves volunteers from the business community.

Chapter 9

Mentor/Mentee Activities. This will probably be the most well-read chapter in the book. I'll provide bundles of ideas in which the mentor can participate with his/her mentee. I anticipate dividing the activities into groupings such as; outdoors, home arts, volunteering, educational, cultural, arts and crafts, active, spiritual. The activities will include gardening (I'll provide kid-appropriate projects from my research for healing gardens articles), making jam, building something like a birdhouse or dog house, learning something new together, attending and/or participating in various events (little theater plays, concerts, bird watching, etc), attending the child's activities, photography, participating in local historical events, homework help, helping someone else and so forth.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds generally have not traveled much, they have rarely been involved in organized sports or other activities, they have not seen a play, they haven't tended a garden and they may not know how to prepare a well-balanced meal. They typically lack personal goals and have little encouragement to achieve much of anything.

I'll talk about generating activities to help balance out the child's life. But I'll also stress the importance of finding activities within your mentee's realm of interest and abilities.

Chapter 10

When You Wear Your Mentor's Hat. This chapter deals with the mentor's responsibility to his/her mentee. Here, we'll focus on your responsibility to teach and role model positive values to a child who may have very different examples to follow at home.

I'll coach the mentor in helping his mentee to set and attain reasonable goals and to find ways to increase his/her developmental assets. And we'll talk about how to encourage the youth to raise his personal aspirations.

A mentor can offer a child/teen the opportunity to learn the laws of the land and their consequences. If the youngster comes from an environment where negative consequences are the norm, for example, you can show him how to create positive consequences. Here's your opportunity to teach a young person that life doesn't just happen to you, you have choices in the matter.

The youngster may have no background in table manners, honoring the elderly, being kind to animals or respecting others and their property, for example. These are things that you would model and teach.

I'll give examples from some of my own experiences with my mentees and those of others. Examples will include, teaching a sense of gratitude by helping the youth write a thank you note to someone who went out of their way for them. I created a thank-you note project for my 12-year-old neighbor when a friend brought her a bag of handed down clothes, for example. I arranged for my mentee to write and send a thank you note to a ceramist who taught her to throw a pot one summer. And when someone donated tickets to a major Hollywood production for my formal and informal mentees, I brought along a note card and we each wrote a thank you message to the donor at dinner that evening.

A child generally grows up sharing the perspective of his family. A mentor can offer a child a new perspective and give him or her fresh ways to look at something. When the child talks about an incident where someone in his family or circle of friends used poor judgment, a mentor can talk about other ways the situation could have been handled. And when the child comes to know you and trust you, he/she will discuss problems with you and you will have the opportunity to reinforce his decision or, perhaps, introduce him to a new concept.

I have several anecdotes that reflect lessons in perspective.

I'll also offer techniques for helping the mentee through some of the tough decisions he will face. I'll talk about journaling (I'm the author of a book on journal-keeping for kids). I'll also borrow techniques from other programs that are designed to empower the youth while showing him how to make better choices

Another responsibility of a mentor is to help boost the young person's sense of self worth. Adolescents and teens, in general and especially youths who have been damaged, have low self image and they lack confidence. A mentor can help a youngster boost his/her confidence in many ways—through involving them in activities they're good at, for example, helping them to do better in school and offering them praise and rewards for achievements and accomplishments. I spent an afternoon with my neighbor girl once making curtains for her bedroom to replace the sheet that had been tacked over the window for the past two or three years. This 13-year-old feels a greater sense of self each time she walks into her bedroom, now. Not only does she have something lovely gracing her room, but she remembers that someone cares about her every time she looks at her pretty curtains.

For this chapter, I will bring in the expertise of child development experts and psychologists to help guide the mentor in the delicate job of building a child's damaged or faltering self image.

Chapter 11

Make a Community Connection. An at-risk youth is generally not well connected to the community. Thus, they don't know how to get appropriate services or become involved in positive community activities. This chapter will guide the mentor in making positive connections on the child's behalf and helping them to make connections of their own.

I'll discuss various opportunities for kids' involvement in their community through youth organizations, civic associations, churches, schools, city government, the public library, the recreation department, youth employment services and so forth. My anecdotes for this chapter will include the story of making arrangements and obtaining a scholarship for one young girl to attend babysitting training at a local hospital. I'll share how proud she was of her graduation certificate. To reinforce her pride, her mentor framed the certificate for her to hang in her room.

Someone who doesn't know, might be amazed at what opportunities are available for youth today in their community. I will list several possibilities and explain how to learn about them, approach them, get the child involved and even obtain a scholarship, where needed.

Another important way to make a child feel a part of the community is to volunteer together. Do something to help the community or people who are less fortunate. People in disadvantaged families often don't have the opportunity to give to others. The family may be so focused on their own situation that they haven't the ability to see any need beyond their own. Volunteering offers a child another dimension by giving him/her the opportunity to experience the joy in giving.

I'll suggest finding something that matters to this child and get involved together. If the child doesn't seem to have a sense of benevolence, the mentor might consider one of the following volunteer opportunities: walking the dogs at a local animal shelter, working with the children in a county-run childcare facility, helping to clean up the local pioneer cemetery, serving sandwiches to the homeless in the park on Saturdays or taking care of projects around the house for an elderly neighbor, for example.

Chapter 12

Parents Involvement. This chapter focuses on the parents' participation in the mentor/mentee relationship. I'll counsel parents on how to recognize when their child needs a mentor and how to go about finding one. I'll instruct the mentor in how to relate to the parent so as not to hamper the sometimes delicate relationship balance.

No two of this triad should side against the other. This important issue will be discussed in depth.

Chapter 13

Trouble Shooting. In this chapter we'll explore various problems that can arise in a mentor/mentee situation and how to successfully diffuse them. For example, mentors should be prepared to address questions around drugs, promiscuity and other sensitive issues. What is a mentor's obligation when it comes to keeping the mentee's confidence? When is ratting on the child the right thing to do?

I'll caution mentors against giving expensive gifts and why. And we'll discuss how to handle problems such as—"My mentee suddenly seems disinterested in getting together with me and keeps breaking our dates," "He has a short interest span and gets bored easily so we never seem to finish anything we start," "She is doing poorly in school and I don't know how to motivate her."

I'll use an anecdote involving Elaine and Heather in this chapter. Elaine became a beloved mentor for a lovely and needy 11-year-old named Heather. The mentor/mentee relationship was enjoyable and satisfying for both parties and Heather's mother could see that Elaine was good for her daughter. Her father, however, felt somehow threatened by this relationship. Since the parents had joint custody, Heather spent half of her time at Dad's and half at Mom's. When it became obvious that Heather's father was purposely obstructing her time with Elaine, the mentor made arrangements to see the girl only when she was staying at her mother's house. Elaine turned a potentially negative situation into one that works for everyone involved.

The ending paragraph for this book will be designed to reinforce the need for mentors among pre-teens and teens today and to further motivate and inspire worthy adults to jump on the bandwagon and dare to help a child in need.

Partial List of Resources

Among others, I will be interviewing the following people for this book:

  • Susan Weinberger, president of the Mentor Consulting Group and expert on mentoring programs in the schools.
  • Chuck Cooper, executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.
  • Caryn Bosson, director of Ojai Valley Youth Foundation—a multi-faceted youth-oriented organization that was recently awarded a $1million grant from the California Wellness Association. Major aspects to this organization are their one-to-one and after school group mentoring programs.
  • The director of the National Mentoring Partnership, an organization that provides resources and tools for mentoring groups throughout the U.S.

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