Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cleo Lampos {Writer Wednesday}

I am so excited because today you get double the fun with TWO posts today! First off, you get to learn more about author Cleo Lampos and then later today you'll hear from James Callan in a "Spread the Christmas Joy" post with a GIVEAWAY attached! How fun is that?

A little bit about Cleo...

During the twenty six years that Cleo Lampos taught in public schools, she also wrote magazine articles for professional and religious journals. She shares her knowledge of education by speaking to homeschool, parent and Sunday School curriculum groups. Recently retired, Lampos uses her Bachelor’s in Education from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and her Master’s from St. Xavier University-Chicago to volunteer for children’s programs in her local church and to tutor special education students. With her husband and two cats, Lampos lives in a suburb on Chicago’s south side where she enjoys visits from her eleven grandchildren. She writes novels in the early morning hours.
How to connect with Cleo...

Website and Blog: Facebook: Cleo Lampos
Oak Tara: Author Page

Author Interview | Cleo Lampos
This interview will be a slightly different format than past {Writer Wednesday} posts - hope you enjoy the variety!
My first published book, Daily Devotional for Women - Teaching Diamonds in the TOUGH: Mining the Potential in Every Student has been on the market for a year now, but it took twenty six years of teaching experience to write it. In a devotional format, the nonfiction book presents twenty situations in my Behavior Disordered classroom that are followed by Scripture, quotes from famous educators, and a take-away plan for the reader. The purpose is to help adults look beyond the behavior of problematic children to the reasons for their actions. I always dub myself as the “original diamond in the tough”. My story parallels those of the students that I taught.

In November, 2013, my first novel Miss Bee and the Do Bees: Teachers of the Diamond Projects School series was released by Oak Tara Publishing. The first book in a series, is the story of Zoey Pappas who comes from a farming community to teach in an urban school where she meets a policeman, Gavin Corrigan, who harbors a secretive side. Both people need second chances to realize the love they feel and to overcome the challenges in their lives. The secondary characters include Mrs. Milner and her husband, Jim. Mrs. Milner, a fifth grade teacher, is also the evening caretaker for her husband who has multiple sclerosis, MS. From this couple, Zoey realizes that she desires the type of love that transcends life’s problems which can only come from a foundation on God’s Word. The series is called The Teachers of Diamond Projects School and Book 2 is Miss Bee and the Do Bees which deals with the tragedy and triumphs in special education, as well as the issue of PTSD in veterans. Miss Bee learns to lean on God for her strength to teach.

Later in the spring of 2014, A Mother's Song will be published by Oak Tara. This historical novel took five years to write. During the research phase, I was privileged to attend an Orphan Train Reunion in Little Falls, Minnesota and meet four elderly riders of the orphan train. This book is based on fact, but reads as fiction. Again, the theme is about the difficulties of families in the inner city and problematic children, but in the confines of 1890 New York City’s Five Points and Nebraska. Foster and adoptive care is an issue that the plot explores. God’s mercy is demonstrated throughout the book.

The themes of my books reflect the trajectory of my own life. I was born in Greeley, Colorado where I lived with my sister, brother and mother after my father died when I was three years old. My mother married a man who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic. This resulted in my changing schools nine times in three states with a stint in foster care before hitting high school in a small Wisconsin town. Several teachers took an interest in me and I went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on full tuition scholarship. My emphasis in education was teaching culturally deprived students, which I taught until I married my husband and started a family. Later, I earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from St. Xavier University in Chicago. After 26 years of teaching Learning Disabled, Behavior Disordered and Emotionally Disturbed, I retired from education. During those years, dozens of articles for parents and professionals were published in Christian magazines and Sunday take-home papers.

Retirement allows my husband and I to try our hands at urban homesteading as we sow, grow and stow our harvest. We volunteer for the Bible League Thrift Store, Share the Harvest, Children’s Hunger Fund, and GEMS. I also serve as a Worship Planner and enjoy the quilting club and book club at our local church. For over twenty years, I have been in a critique writing group with Lynn Austin and Jane Rubietta. I participate in the local library writer’s group and read in Open Mic at the community center, which gives me new perspective on the culture. It is my desire to speak to parent groups or book clubs about educational or family challenges from Christian principles.

Christmas is a season of melancholy for me. The most surprising revelation about the children I taught was that they shared my feelings. Most of them became agitated and unruly before the two week winter break because it meant fewer meals and the possibility of violence. Anyone like myself and my students who have lived with alcoholics know that the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is the most dangerous time of the year. When I realized the dynamics of the season for children of alcoholics, my teaching during this time changed. More close, homey type lessons, stories read aloud, treats. I try to focus on the real meaning of the season and over the years my anxiety has decreased. My prayer is that my students will eventually be healed and find the true love that came at Christmas. Thoughts of them fill my mind as I decorate my tree with ornaments that we made in my classroom. A gentle reminder that family and inner peace can never be taken for granted.

God has a journey for each of us. The material He has given to me through my life and teaching career will now be translated in words that have the power to heal and change lives. What message has your life given you to put into words?


Thank you so much for your insight and honesty regarding your background and what fuels your writing now! It is so powerful to have so much experience and to focus that into writing. I love that you're writing about what is close to you, dear to you. It's beautiful, though I'm sure difficult at times. And I love your question to us - what can we share with the story God has given us?

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