Interview with Kelli Stair

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Most of the education books out there are research-based books. While I enjoy reading about research-based approaches to education, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the theory and underwhelmed with the practical applications. I write the kinds of books I'd like to read--practical, hands-on application of teaching best practices with exciting technology tools. I wanted a flexible format that let me include live links to video demonstrations that I've created for the visual learners and complete technophobes out there. I wanted to create interactive experiences for the audience members that really help them use and apply the technology tools creatively in ways that fit their teaching styles. I haven't found any other books like that available, which led me to believe that traditional publishers weren't looking for those kinds of books. Hence, I became an indie author.
What are you working on next?
While my first two books, VoiceThread for Digital Education and QRevolution, each focus on a single technology tool and explore its many uses, my next book will encompass a broad range of free online tools for flipped, blended, and technology-rich classrooms. Digital literacy strategies and Common Core applications using best practices in secondary literacy instruction will be the focus of Flip Your Lit (working title). The goal is to help teachers use technology tools to develop students' literacy skills across the curriculum.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. I enjoy sitting on my dock and dreaming up stories or making up characters, developing curricula or planning my next project. I also play on a rec league hockey team with my husband, Al. I love working outside and fixing up my house. Most importantly, I love playing with my dogs, Lexi and Mojo.
What is your writing process?
Great question. I'm still figuring that out. Sometimes, I'm "on" and I just write. My fingers fly across the keyboard and I have errors all over the place that I have to go back and fix. On those days, time flies and I'll spend ten hours at the keyboard until my fingers start cramping and I have to stop--but even then, my mind keeps racing and I feel like I'll never get all of my ideas out of my head. Sometimes, I know that I need to do something, and I sit down and do it--with varying degrees of focus. Sometimes, I can't find a place that feels right and I'll wander around the house, trying different seats--by the way, I have five different writing spots, and that's just inside! Sometimes moving about works, sometimes I lay on my back with my feet on the wall and stare at the ceiling, and sometimes I'm just too distracted to sit still and I walk around.

As far as organization, I like to know where I'm going with a book because it helps me stay focused when I'm not "on." I like to write a table of contents and create chapter templates--a list of what I need to write about in each. I like the set structure and consistency for nonfiction texts.

When it comes to stories, I have two absolutely opposite processes. With short pieces, I roll an idea around for a minute, then build on it. I immediately pick a perspective and go with it. Even if halfway through I think that a different perspective would be better, I don't change it. I just push to tell the story and finish it. Finishing is always the toughest part, especially in short stories because you want them to be poignant, yet wrapped up.

With novels, I play them out all the way in my head, then try out some voices, then try out perspectives, and then start writing. Of course, you can see by how many novels I've published (zero!) that that strategy is a work in progress!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Orson Scott Card's Ender Series is my first set of favorites. First, Ender is a great character. His transformation and depth throughout the series pulls at the heart strings. Feeling like you are half one person and half another, then trying to reconcile the differences and find yourself is one of my favorite themes. [See also Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.] Plus in Speaker for the Dead, he creates his own "religion" and explains souls with physics. Awesome!

I love the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is one of my favorite female characters. She's smart, sassy, and doesn't mind having dirt under her nails. She develops from an outcasted loner into one of the pack, and that gives me hope.

Speaking of outcasts, I'm a big Dostoyevsky fan, particularly Crime and Punishment. Some day, I'll write a modern young adult version set in a high school so the story is more accessible to modern teens. How do you not love a story of ultimate redemption?

Mary Roach is by far my favorite nonfiction writer. Her works are legendary. I learned more (too much, one might say) from Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal than I ever learned from a science class (with the exception of high school physics--best teacher ever!).

Finally, I know she's controversial and her philosophy gets used in all the worst ways, but I really like Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. (Not the movie version, unfortunately; and when I reread, I skim the last 50 or so pages of the 100 page philosophy lesson toward the end.) I love the determination of her characters, the way they see their lives and the world around them, and the way they live the way they believe they should live. I think it's inspiring. It's not my way, but I respect that the characters in her books are uncompromisingly true to who they are, and I aspire to also be that true.
Published 2013-12-02.
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Books by This Author

QRevolution
By Kelli Stair
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 10,330. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
With over one hundred ideas for using QR codes in every aspect of school communication, this book provides easy-access solutions and over an hour of video tutorials.Harness the power of mobile technology and QR codes in your school.
VoiceThread for Digital Education
By Kelli Stair
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 36,000. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
Versatile, easy-to-navigate, and interactive, VoiceThread equips teachers to deploy numerous best instructional practices that engage 21st century students in rigorous literacy activities. Upgrade your current teaching strategies with VoiceThread for Digital Education and create an environment where every student learns every day.