Ms. Rebecca Rose Orton was born deaf. She learned American Sign Language again after being away from the deaf community for nearly 20 years. After returning to her deaf origins, she gained at least 20 years of signing experience and considers herself bilingual and bicultural within both the deaf community and the hearing world.
SIX MINUTES WITH REBECCA ROSE ORTON:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author is Rebecca Rose Orton. The nonfiction books she writes for children help them understand difficult topics such as cognitive linguistics and dimensions. Rebecca Rose Orton was born deaf, but she shares what inspired her to write a book that touched on American Sign Language.
***How did you get started writing?
I read somewhere that writing was a career that people typically started in their 40's and were successful at it. I started writing books in 2016, when I was 49. However, I had been writing poems sporadically since I was a kid. My work as a poet was often recognized in scattered poetry books other companies published. The decision to become an author was spurred by a desire to publish most of my poems in one book. I learned how to self-publish by reading a book, Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide by Michael N. Marcus. After becoming more familiar with online publishing platforms, such as CreateSpace, Smashwords, Lulu, Draft2Digital, Xinxii, Authorship, and Kindle, it was a small step for me to create more books by using the computer skills I had acquired in 2017, such as creating and editing a book cover in Photoshop Elements.
***Who influenced you?
When I was a child, I was influenced by C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, Dale Carnegie, and J.R. Tolkien. I consider their books to be classics and timeless. My mother was the one who gave me books written by C.S. Lewis and Dale Carnegie. The rest I discovered in the school library.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
Wonder Woman as portrayed by Lynda Carter was my favorite character back in the 1970's at a time when I did not have access to captioned television. On April 19th, 2014, I bought a huge, illustrated book about Wonder Woman from the author at a booth at Awesome Con. I slowly read the whole book a page at a time each morning for breakfast and learned a lot about Wonder Woman. The author also told me at the booth that the original Wonder Woman series was playing on the WeTV channel. I was thrilled! I got to watch most of the series with captions this time around, and it felt like I was watching a completely new show. The captions made such a difference from what I remember.
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
My advice is get the writing done and when it is done, then improve on it. Don't procrastinate. Just do it. Start out with something simple. Then build on it each time you come back to it. Don't wait until it is perfect to publish it because then it would never get done! Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty is. This is the approach I've been taking towards my books. Each successive step added a deeper dimension and made the books fuller and fatter.
***Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is at my old computer desk. I've had it from the time I bought my first computer in 1986. I bought the desk used from someone who lived in another city and had to make arrangements to bring it home. The desk has been a mainstay while I switched to better computers over the years. The only time I didn't have it with me was when I was in graduate school for three years plus four and a half years after I graduated. It had been in storage a thousand miles away. I was happy to get my desk back into my home again.
***What else would you like to tell us?
Minds and Signs was inspired by an exchange of emails with a friend I found through Ancestry.com. We were discussing what topics I should write on. One topic was how to organize everything in real life, for example, how a child can organize his or her bedroom. I did some searching and found books on that topic for children, but mental organization was a topic that seemed to be unexplored in the children's marketplace. I had noticed that mental organization is a concept that fits well under cognitive linguistics, a complex field of research. I wanted to introduce cognitive linguistics to children in hopes of sparking an interest strong enough for them to become linguists in the future. To that end, I used a common metaphor "light is understanding" throughout the book and included both English and American Sign Language examples.
Thank you for joining us to share more about your books and what has inspired you as a writer. You show that inspiration can be found anywhere.