Kathi Wyldeck grew up in Sydney, Australia, won a Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Sydney, studied Science and worked as a clinical and research technician at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, before becoming a full-time mum to raise her three sons.
After returning to work, she switched careers and became a general education tutor to children, teenagers and ESL adults. Kathi has taught a variety of subjects, but developed an interest in the teaching of grammar and writing skills.
Having been a Cub Scout Leader while her children were young, she also has a natural love of games – indoor, outdoor, active, quiet and educational – and this love has flowed through to writing three games books (“Family Games”, “Games for Fun, Fitness and Learning” and “Grammar and Vocabulary Games for Children”).
Her first two grammar books were published by Pascal Press in Australia (“All You Need to Know About Grammar” and “Everyday Spelling and Grammar”) and these became best-sellers. Since then, further books on Comprehensive English (“English – A Comprehensive Course: Grades 3 to 5; 5 to 7; 7 to 9” and “English for Everyone – Books 1 and 2”) and Writing Technique (“How to Write an Essay” and “How to Write – Writing Lessons for Middle School”) have become popular on the international market.
Kathi has a love of reading, and writes as a hobby. Other interests over the years have included skydiving, hot-air ballooning, hiking, surfing, travelling, astronomy and photography. She thanks you for taking an interest in her work.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Australia? I’m proud to be a writer not so much because of where I come from, but because of the fact that my educational books are different from other books of this genre in my country. I like to feel that my books are unique and offer something that the others don’t. I wrote most of my books in Sydney, Australia, but have written a few more since moving down to Tasmania, the beautiful island-state of Australia.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I’m surprised that I have become a writer! I never planned it that way! The stimulus that pushed me into writing educational books was the disappointment I felt when my three children went through school, and received a very mediocre education in the modern school system. Compared with when I was at school, the curriculum has been “dumbed down” here, and I would describe the Australian education system as indoctrinating and fact-free! I started by wanting to write a book that my own children could learn from, so that they could receive the grammar, spelling, punctuation, writing and general knowledge that the school system was no longer delivering.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? At first, I wrote just for my three sons and a few English as a Second Language (ESL) students whom I tutored after school. The lessons and exercises that I wrote down, I then compiled into a manuscript, and after about a year of success with these notes, I wondered if any publisher would find them useful. I started to send my manuscript to various educational publishers, and after about nine months, a very well-respected company offered to publish this first book. I was overjoyed, of course, and thrilled to see it hit the best seller list for an educational book. It has remained a top seller, even eleven years after first publication. This book was called “All You Need to Know About Grammar”, by Pascal Press. A short time after this book hit the shelves, the company invited me to write a second book, which also became a hit. It was called “Everyday Spelling and Grammar”. It was after the success of these first two books that I started to think that maybe I should write some more! That’s when I became a writer.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? My upbringing played an enormous role in my decision to write educational books. I was fortunate enough to attend a very good school which was rigorous in its teaching, and turned all its pupils into independent, knowledgeable, hard-working young adults. We left school feeling like walking encyclopaedias! We had the facts at our fingertips, a love of learning and the confidence to know that through our own hard work, we could teach ourselves anything in the future. We were made to write enormous quantities of work at school, and we were all so used to writing that it just flowed effortlessly. With a love of factual knowledge and a confidence that I could write well, becoming a writer was easy, all thanks to my schooling.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Pascal Press chose the titles for my first two books, but when I became an independent publisher with Lulu, I was glad that I could choose my own. Because my books are educational, my titles do their best to explain what the books are about. They are just clear, simple titles – nothing fancy about them.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? My main genre is “Education”. Most of my books are comprehensive English books, created to suit a wide ability range of students, from ESL learners and those having trouble with the basics, to intermediate and more advanced students who needed harder work and greater challenges. Each chapter of these books contains grammar, reading comprehension, spelling and dictation, vocabulary, conversation and writing exercises, with booklists and answers at the back. My main titles in this category are the series entitled “English – A Comprehensive Course” for Grades 3 to 5; Grades 5 to 7; Grades 7 to 9. My other genre is “Games”. Having raised three boys, and also having been a Cub Scout Leader for many years, I have a natural love of games. As a Cub Scout Leader, I wrote a book of games for my Cubs, mainly to help me in programme preparation. My first two games books “Games for Fun, Fitness and Learning” (suitable for big groups of children at Cubs, school, church or childcare centres) and a similar book called “Family Games” (for small family groups and home-schoolers) consist of three sections: games just for fun and fitness; life skill games; educational games. The third book in this games genre is “Grammar and Vocabulary Games for Children” which is a big hit with school teachers and home-schooling families, especially in USA and Britain. After a lesson has been given on the topic, the children are given the chance to consolidate their learning by enjoying the fun and active games in this book that test their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary in a play-as-you-learn format.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? “English – A Comprehensive Course: Grades 7 to 9” is my most recent work. It is the final in the series of three books, and it just seemed natural that this title would be the best one to promote. It is selling well on Amazon and Lulu, and is also available as a Kindle book, although I would recommend the paper version if I wanted to study the book with ease. I do love Kindle books for novels, but for educational books, I think the paper version is far superior and much easier to use.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? The most rewarding experience, I think, for any writer is the pleasure of knowing that people actually enjoy what is written and want to buy their books! I often wonder who has bought my books. What sorts of people are they, where do they live, what do they do, and why do they like the books? I would love to be able to meet the people who buy my books one day.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Yes, I have had two negative experiences in my writing career. A Korean company had signed a contract with me to publish two of my books and then they went broke! They did not honour the contract and I received no compensation. A reputable American publisher of academic books signed a contract with me, but then pulled out when they decided that some of the games in my book (even though tried-and-tested, and much-loved by children and parents alike) were too risky to publish due to fears of litigation due to injury. The particular game in question involved adults teaching children how to light a match safely, striking away from the body, how to peel a potato and how to thread a needle. The publisher was concerned that a parent might sue if the child got burnt, cut or pricked! Surely the best way for children to learn practical skills is by doing them themselves with adult supervision. As for avoiding problems like these with publishers, they have the power and the money, and the author doesn’t, so I think we can be very vulnerable. Even if you read the contract carefully, the publishing company has the upper hand.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Definitely my most rewarding experience was the acceptance of my first book for publication by Pascal Press and then the invitation to write a second book. Good royalties flow in every six months, and it feels fantastic!
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I write books on grammar, a subject that has not been taught in Australia in any detail since the early 1970’s. After that time, the idea of creativity and skills-based, practical learning became fashionable, and rigorous, academic studies became politically incorrect! In fact, in the state where I lived, any teacher who was caught teaching grammar as a separate subject could be fired! The excellent school where I was taught was told that if it didn’t stop teaching in a rigorous, academic style, it would have its government funding withdrawn! As a result, Generations X and Y in Australia have suffered greatly from lower standards of literacy and numeracy. This is why I chose to write books that can help students who have missed out, and are still missing out, on formal English training. The negative experience I have been subjected to in my publishing journey involved having my manuscripts reviewed during editing by Generation X school teachers who had never learnt grammar themselves, and wanted me to remove topics such as the subjunctive mood, which they considered much too difficult for students to handle! They told me that the subjunctive mood was no longer used! I considered that I was being judged by an inferior!
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? If you are trying to publish a book through a conventional publishing house, be prepared for plenty of rejections of your manuscript before you get lucky. This is a normal part of the process. Keep trying and eventually you might achieve success. If you are an independent publisher, make sure you thoroughly edit your work for mistakes, and do not release your book onto the market until you are certain that it is perfect.
Who is your favorite author and why? I have many favourites – Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Koestler, Douglas Adams, George Orwell and Richard Adams come to mind as great writers whose books I have enjoyed.
Comprehensive English (grammar, spelling, punctuation, reading comprehension, conversation and writing) is exactly what a student will learn. This book is designed to teach students between Grades 7 and 9, advanced ESL pupils, students in Grades 10 to 12 who need revision of basic skills and teenagers and adults interested in learning or need a review of advanced grammar. This book is designed for individual learning, classroom and home school environments.
This reviewer is particularly impressed that the author has included several sections for special needs: ESL pupils (a large choice of conversation topics is offered), students wanting more writing practice (extra topics are set), unconfident spellers (a phonics summary is provided), pupils keen to read more books (a book-list is included) and for parents and tutors (dictations and answers are supplied).
Author Kathi Wyldeck grew up in Sydney, Australia, won a Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Sydney, studied Science and worked as a clinical and research technician at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, before becoming a full-time mum to raise her three sons (served as Cub Scout Leader). After returning to work, she switched careers and became a general education tutor to children, teenagers and ESL adults. Kathi has taught a variety of subjects, but developed an interest in the teaching of grammar and writing skills.
Cold Coffee Press is familiar with and endorses Kathi Wyldeck’s educational books. The content, detail and clarity are worth the small monetary investment. Her sixteen educational books All You Need to Know About Grammar, English For Everyone: Book One and Two, English – A Comprehensive Course: Grades 3 to 5, 5 to 7, 7 to 9, Essential English Book 1, 2 and 3, Everyday Spelling and Grammar, Family Games, Games For Fun: Fitness and Learning, Grammar and Vocabulary Games for Children, How to Write – Writing Lessons for Middle School, How to Write an Essay, and Writing Practice Workbook can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and Lulu.
September 2014 – Cold Coffee Press: http://www.coldcoffeepress.com