Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Mark Barnes. He writes Mystery novels and Educational, non-fiction books.
Educational, non-fiction, mystery
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A nationally-recognized speaker and education writer, Mark Barnes is the author of Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, named a 2013 Best Professional Book by Teacher Librarian Magazine, and The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom, both published by internationally-recognized education publisher, ASCD.
Mark is also the creator of the award-winning website for educators, Learnitin5.com. A popular keynote speaker and presenter, Mark has written for many education magazines including, Learning and Leading with Technology, eSchool News, SmartBlog on Education and ASCD Express.
Mark's first novel, The League, was published by DNA Press in 2005. He rewrote the book in 2013 for Kindle and retitled it, The League: A New Game.
Mark is currently working on a new education book and outlining his next novel.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: The League. What do you have on the drawing board next? Rumor has it that you have a couple of books on the horizon, one educational and one fiction. Can you tell us the timeline for their release and give us a little tease about them?
Thanks. The League has been an ongoing passion of mine. I recently sent a new manuscript to my editor at ASCD. It's a short-format book about successfully teaching students with mobile devices and social media. I hope to have a new novel by spring, but right now I'm really just fleshing out ideas. All I can say is it will be a unique government conspiracy.
You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?
Social media is crucial for people who are working hard to break into writing, without the backing of a major publisher. Twitter has been huge for my success, not only as a storyteller but as an education consultant. I have been invited to deliver keynotes at major conferences, solely based on Twitter relationships. I used to tweet strictly about education, but since I've re-released The League, I've started tweeting and blogging more about sports in general and fantasy football, in particular. The power of Twitter and other social media is undeniable.
You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
Most of the book signings I do are at education conferences, since my fiction work is online. I'd love to hear more from fiction readers. The best way to stay in touch is to Tweet at me and read my blog at
I try to respond to everything, so I'd love to hear from readers.
Have you considered publishing your books in Audio format?
I've never really considered publishing books in audio format, but I think it would be fun, and I'd like to maybe narrate one myself someday.
What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I read a lot of blogs by writers and I'm part of the general community at Goodreads.com, which also has an author section. The Amazon author page is also helpful for getting the word out about writers and their books. Mainly, my support group is my family, friends and people who communicate with me on Twitter and Facebook.
Between your book writing, blogging, school, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?
Time management is crucial for someone like me, who works many different jobs. My calendar is my lifeline. Without it, I'd be a mess. I also use the app, ToDoist, which is wonderful for prioritizing daily and weekly tasks.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I have done very well offering The League: A New Game for free on Amazon. This has created a swell of enthusiasm, which ultimately brought many fans to my work. ASCD gave my book, Role Reversal, to thousands of its premium members, which sparked a ton of interest in my teaching model from educators worldwide. Once a large group of people see your work and like it, they begin to talk. Then, people will buy. I always want to give some time and work away; people appreciate it. My blog is free and has a large audience. Although I rarely promote my books there, I know many people buy because, at least I hope, they like what they're reading and are hungry for more.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
I don't actively seek reviews of my books. ASCD has done a nice job with getting reviews for my education books, but they are an international publisher with a wide reach. As far as my fiction goes, I use Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and places like that to promote. Sometimes, people find the work and like it enough to review it, sort of like the folks here at HBS did.
Now that you have published fiction and non-fiction books, does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which type of book did you enjoy writing the most, fiction or non-fiction? Does moving from one to the other give you a change of pace?
Because The League was the first book I ever wrote, I'm partial to that project. I think writing fiction is thrilling, but it's extremely difficult and, honestly, not my strength. I have the highest admiration for good storytellers, because weaving the story into the narrative is remarkably difficult. I do have a narrative style, which comes through in my nonfiction writing. I'm proud to say that reviewers of Role Reversal said they enjoyed that style. Because that's how I naturally write, it makes transitioning from fiction to nonfiction and back easy for me, which isn't to say that it makes the books any better. As far as tips, that's a slippery slope, because all writers work differently. For example, I never work from a traditional outline. For a novel, I picture the story in my mind and think about how it unfolds from ending to beginning. Then, I just write until I get to the end. For nonfiction, I create a table of contents and work from there. It's a very free style. I think the best work happens during revision. I'd advise a new writer to just tell the story. Then, revise it and make it better.
One of the things missing in the new digital book industry is the training of new writers in the business and publishing aspects of the industry. Since you have knowledge in both the educational and the author side of things, do you plan on writing anything to assist the newcomer in this new environment?
You make a great point. I had to learn a lot, just to publish my book to Kindle. There are all kinds of guidelines for setting up the manuscript, graphics and cover art. Plus, you have to understand author rights and permissions. There is a lot of helpful how-to stuff already available on Amazon, though. I'd recommend that people begin there. Thanks for interviewing me. I'm always honored when anyone is interested in my work.
Author's Book List
- A New Game
Jordan Young and his Wall Street friends set out to play a new game. It comes with an entry fee that only the wealthy can afford and a lottery-sized trophy. Year after year, the prize increases, until the men in this elite, secret league play their game for an unfathomable, winner-take-all $50 million.
The game is fantasy, but the stakes are reality, and when someone concocts a plan to control the outcome, real people's lives are suddenly in peril.
A player is attacked in Cleveland, and one is drugged in Boston. Another is kidnapped in Minneapolis. No one sees a pattern, until Cleveland detective Derek Brooks uncovers a conspiracy, too bizarre for anyone to believe, much less investigate.
With the FBI and his own lieutenant against him, Brooks is on his own, but he is desperate to solve the strangest case he's ever worked. If he is to stop the next attack, though, and bring down the secret league, Brooks learns that he may have to choose between targets -- catch a killer or stop the most powerful group of white-collar criminals America has ever seen.
Set primarily in New York and Cleveland, The League follows the exploits of millionaire financial whiz, Jordan Young, and his powerful friends, who spend most of their time attempting to build fantasy football teams that have the best chance to outscore their fellow league members' teams each week, en route to the amazing $50 million prize.
Barnes weaves fantasy football with fast-paced crime drama, creating an organization that quickly spirals out of control, as the lust for money and power overcome the fun of playing one of America's favorite games.
Fantasy football has exploded into prominence and is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, boasting over 32 million players in the US and Canada alone. Today, some real leagues offer first-place prizes of $1 million, making one wonder what someone might be willing to do to win.
The answer might just be contained in The League: A New Game.
Order the Book From: Amazon
- Barnes and Noble
The 5-Minute Teacher
- How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom?
Even in an education system driven by the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes testing, teachers must adapt their methods to the styles of the modern learner. This means creating a student-centered classroom, driven by brief, interactive instruction from highly skilled teachers who know when the time is right to get out of the way. The five-minute teacher is one who delivers quick, thought-provoking lessons that send students clamoring to find meaning on their own, with the help of peers, and using the concepts and tools the teacher has provided in just a few minutes to create a wondrous, student-centered classroom. Barnes shares real anecdotes and practical strategies for transforming any learning environment into a remarkable, student-centered classroom, facilitated by a five-minute teacher.
Order the Book From: Amazon
- Barnes and Noble
Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom
Want to make your students more responsible for their own learning? Want to create an academic environment in which students thrive and develop a genuine thirst for knowledge? Want to improve your students’ standardized test results but avoid a “teach-to-the-test” mentality that throttles creativity and freedom?
In this book, Mark Barnes introduces and outlines the Results Only Learning Environment—a place that embraces the final result of learning rather than the traditional methods for arriving at that result. A results-only classroom is rich with individual and cooperative learning activities that help students demonstrate mastery learning on their own terms, without being constrained by standards and pedagogy.
By embracing results-only learning, you will be able to transform your classroom into a bustling community of learners in which?
* Students collaborate daily on a number of long-term, ongoing projects.
* Students receive constant narrative feedback.
* Yearlong projects target learning outcomes more meaningfully than worksheets, homework, tests, and quizzes.
* Freedom and independence are valued over punitive points, percentages, and letter grades.
* Students manage themselves and all but eliminate the need for traditional classroom management.
Learn how your students can take charge of their own achievement in an enjoyable, project-based, workshop setting that challenges them with real-world learning.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by:
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS eBook Author’s Corner
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle
Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.