Tag Archives: School of Lies

A Few Biased Truths About Special Education

When I became a teacher I knew overall conditions certainly hadn’t improved any since my Chicago days. And to use a hackneyed expression, I was warned during teacher training to become a Special Education teacher. The warnings often went, “Don’t go near that school, the kids are downright dangerous.” Or, “You’ll see, you’ll spend all your time on classroom management.” None of the cautions clued me into the source of the worst problems, other adults.

Imagine public school as a tree with students as the roots and the support staff as the trunk. The problematic adults perch on three branches that can be labeled Administrators, Parents and Other Teachers. What falls off these branches (think perching birds here) falls willy-nilly on the nourishment-seeking roots. Some of what falls is fine, and some…well keep reading.

I soon learned that school is experienced very differently by anyone connected with Special Education. The problems in Special Ed. powerfully affect the students but mostly don’t originate from them–not from the ones who actually qualify for the program, as I’ll explain. Special Ed. students, on average, are no harder to teach or to deal with than the so-called “normal” students who fill the classes of any urban public high school. (They just stand out more because 1. They’ve been labeled and 2. They might look or act a bit different.)

Example: The student who set the back of my hair on fire—fortunately stopped by another student—did not really qualify for Special Ed., and should never have been placed into it. After that incident, he was finally kicked out of the program. The student who stopped him before my whole head of hair went up in flames was the one with genuine mental health issues. This is the same kid who at a younger age used to climb trees to avoid going back to class after lunch. Perhaps it’s hard for you to see who the “normal” teenager is in that duo, but I’ll take the tree climber.

So, why pyro kid and his cigarette lighter in my class to begin with? Tree Branch numbers one and two at your service. Administrators tend to siphon their most problematic students into Special Ed., thinking they won’t have to deal with them thereafter. If a Special Ed. student causes a problem, school administrators often get on the phone to the downtown Special Ed. branch asking someone to drop everything and rush over to deal with their student. Afterward, the same administrator will decline to participate in any suggested strategies that might cause a positive change in the student’s behavior. To such administrators, Special Ed. kids aren’t real students and don’t deserve the resources or the time they use.

Branch Two now. Let me say that most parents are respectful to teachers and do what they can to help, even if they don’t always understand what the teacher is doing. Teachers sometimes don’t try hard enough to explain. Sometimes parents are so desperate they’ll accept the advice of anyone they think is a “professional” even if it’s bad advice. So, parents are sometimes responsible for incorrect placements. Some have been made to believe that placing their troublesome kids into Special Ed. is the best way their child can avoid disciplinary measures at school. These parents may even have given up on their child or lack confidence in their own capability to positively change the child’s behavior. They are sold the story that giving their kid a label will magically create change. Sadly, some parents seem to think that once the placement in Special Ed. is made, parenting responsibilities are duly transferred to the teacher’s shoulders. For this type of parent–who want to work the system–all problems become the Special Ed. teacher’s responsibility and if the parents have an attorney, if problems arise, the administration will wholeheartedly go along and blame the teacher. In the incident I described, only the fact the principal personally disliked both the fire setter and his mother got the kid removed from my class list and later, expelled. The fact my hair burned was hardly a factor in the decision process.

Now to the third and perhaps the most gnarly Branch: Other Teachers. I could write pages (and I did, heh heh) about how some “regular education” teachers treat Special Ed. teachers. If they can’t ignore them (which is preferred because acknowledging one might mean being asked to mainstream a Special Ed. student and everyone knows those kids are hellspawn) they resort to overt hostility or even worse, obsequious flattery. While passing the Special Ed. teacher at one hundred miles per hour in the hall so as not to get cooties, the “regular” teacher calls out, “You’re a saint for teaching those kids.” If I’d earned a dollar every time I heard that I wouldn’t need my pitiful retirement account.

You’d think, given such hostility coming from the world of “normal,” that Special Ed. teachers would band together and support each other. You’d be wrong. Some of these stories are told in a darkly funny way in my novel, School of Lies. The first chapter can be read here: http://secondwindbooks.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/school-of-lies-by-mickey-hoffman/ It’s a novel because who’d believe any of that stuff? And, of course, because a murder mystery was the only way I could safely pillory some deserving souls.

Mickey Hoffman is also the author of the mystery Deadly Traffic. For more info go to www.mickeyhoffman.com


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“Home Visit” by Mickey Hoffman

This is a sketch from Chapter 28 of Deadly Traffic. The title of the sketch is “Home Visit.”

Mickey Hoffman is the author of Deadly Traffic and School of Lies, both featuring Kendra Desola

Click here to read the first chapter of: Deadly Traffic

Click here to read an interview with: Mickey Hoffman, author of Deadly Traffic

Click here to read an excerpt from: Deadly Traffic


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Excerpt From “School of Lies” by Mickey Hoffman

School of LiesMorale is falling at Standard High
Dedicated Teachers in Short Supply
One has discovered a dangerous lie
Will she be the next to die?

Teacher Kendra Desola opens an anonymous email to find that someone’s photoshopped her into a snapshot from a student party, and this bogus picture means jail time for her if it gets around. When a staff member turns up dead on campus, that photo becomes the perfect set up to make her murder suspect number one. Kendra plays off an unknown adversary — and the police — as she seeksto prove her innocence before the killer can kill again.


“What is it, Nicole? Aren’t you assigned to VP Favor this period?” Zant gave her a quick head to toe appraisal. Nicole was squirming in front of him, working her fingers into the back pocket of her exceedingly tight jeans. She surely was a “babe,” as the students said. Zant wasn’t so far removed from those years that he couldn’t easily remember how it felt to be in class with girls like her. Next thing you know, she’d be calling him a dirty old man, but what should he do with his eyes? These kids thought a dress code was a cipher to be broken, not a clothing guide. He forced himself to look at her face, at that lovely wide mouth.

“I already told you that I won’t have you reinstated as a candidate, Nicole. Once you get a suspension, you can’t run for office.”

“This’ll make you change your mind.” Nicole held out an envelope decorated with her signature cartoon and moved forward to edge around the side of his desk. In a lower voice she continued, “Yesterday, after school, I was on my way to interview a teacher for the school paper and I saw the Special Ed. teachers having a little get-together in the room next door. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but when I heard what they were talking about I thought, like, maybe I’d help you out a bit, you know?” She upended the envelope and slid out two cassette tapes.

When Zant didn’t rise to the bait, Nicole made a gesture to put the tapes back. “Or, maybe you already know what they’re planning to do?”

He could see his pet tarantula in its tank, crawling mere inches from the girl’s arm. He was struck by the irony that the girl was a predator in her own way as well. However, her proposal was not without interest. The gleam in his eyes contradicted his careful words. “I don’t make deals with students, Nicole. Save your business skills for your senior vocational task.” He picked up his Army insignia paperweight and fondled it.

“Well, Mr. Zant, I think that you’ll find it very worth your while to listen to this. Tell you what, you can have ‘part one’ now. After you hear how their meeting was going, I just know you’ll want ‘part two’.” Nicole leaned forward, revealing several inches of cleavage. She dangled the tape before him. “I’m totally sure you’ll want to show your appreciation by putting my name back on the ballot and then I’ll give you the second tape. You know I should be senior class President.”

The VP gave her his most professional smile. “I’ll give it only my best, Nicole. Hand it over and go.”
“I knew you’d see the light, Mr. Zant.” She dropped the cassette into his hand and bounded out of the room, leaving a cloud of perfume behind.

Cripes, he thought, that café latte girl was much more than her six feet of trouble. The tape seemed to jeer at him from his hand. Clearing his head, he locked it into a drawer. He’d listen to the tape later. That had been a real interesting little scene. The tape must have been made on the sly. It was probably illegal to even have it. Even if it actually did contain useful information, he had no intention of reinstating her as a candidate. He’d find a way to get the second part of the tape.


mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman was born in Chicago, and attended public schools where she acquired the strong suspicion that some of her teachers might be human. She wasn’t able to prove this fanciful thinking until much later, when she became a high school teacher herself.

Before landing in the halls of academia, she worked in a variety of jobs, including computer typesetting and wholesale frozen fish sales.

The author is also a printmaker and painter and resides on the West Coast with her long suffering mate, eight marine aquariums and a very large cat.

Deadly Traffic, the sequel to School of Lies will soon be released by Second Wind Publishing.

Click here to read the first chapter of: School of Lies


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Interview With Mickey Hoffman, Author of School of Lies

What is your book about?

School of Lies is a funny mystery novel about a bunch of teachers who work in a dysfunctional, urban high school. The stressful environment is a perfect catalyst for the murder that takes place. My new book, Deadly Traffic takes a teacher out of her comfort zone into the word of human trafficking when female students disappear from campus.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

My MC is a Special Ed. teacher named Kendra Desola. She’s compulsive and overly inquisitive; every problem has to be examined and solved. She is devoted to her students but has learned the hard way that the best way to help them often involves breaking the rules. There’s a tension between her wanting to be a good role model and her willingness to lie when she thinks it’s useful. In Deadly Traffic, Kendra meets a young man, Win Ni (who my brother decided to call Win Ni the Pooh). Win has a good heart but he wants to be rich and is willing to do almost anything to achieve his goal. I wanted to make him a lot darker than he ended up because I became fond of him.

Who is your most unusual character?

I’d have to say most of them are unusual, but they’re true to form. The good characters I create are never all good and that bothers some people. Readers who aren’t familiar with what really goes on in public schools may think the teachers I portray are over the top. I’ve had people react in shock. They say, “A Vice Principal wouldn’t talk like that.” Oh, but they do, they do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For School of Lies I relied on my own experience moving through different schools. I mentally filed away what other teachers told me of their experiences as well. The book, in fact, started because some of my fellow teachers knew I liked to write and said, “You should really make a book about some of this stuff because no one would believe it.” For my second book, Deadly Traffic, I read several nonfiction books about modern slavery—in this country as well as overseas—and human trafficking, and visited many websites.

What was the first story you remember writing?

My family used to make up poems and stories in the car during road trips when I was very young and I’d try to contribute when my older brother would stop torturing me. Just kidding. I do recall writing a play in 9th grade with some friends about a super pigeon named Supersplatt.

What do you like to read?

I like mystery novels, fantasy and science fiction. I try to find mysteries with puzzles and with as little gore as possible. Some of my favorite writers are Elizabeth George, Ian Rankin and Tad Williams.

What writer influenced you the most?

Mark Twain. Absolutely.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads and if there’s mystery involved all the better.

What is the best advice another writer gave you?

I asked how you tell when your manuscript is finished. The reply: “You don’t leave a book when it’s done, it leaves you.”

See also:

Mickey Mickey Hoffman’s author page at Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Interview of Kendra DeSola the Hero of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
The first chapter of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
Review of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman

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Let the games begin!

I can feel it … Love Trumps Logic is nearing its release date, and I’m about to transition from being a proofreader of my book into being a promoter of my book. The idea of self-promotion is a bit scary, but—thankfully—Second Wind Publishing does a lot to help their authors get the word out. A release party last month introduced four new books onto the writing scene: Staccato by Deborah Ledford, School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman, Loving Lydia by Amy De Trempe, and Buried at Wolf Lake by Christine Husom. Readers could sneak a peek into the books because the first chapters were made available … and they are still available if you revisit “Goodies and Giveaways” (September 29th) in the WordPress blog files of Second Wind Publishing.

Two free downloads were part of the promotion: a Romance Sampler and a Mystery Sampler, which both featured first chapters from many Second Wind Publishing books, both released and unreleased. If you happened to download the Romance Sampler, you got the un-proofed first chapter of Love Trumps Logic. I’d love readers to compare it to the revised first chapter when my book is finally released, and tell me what you think of the changes. I think the new first chapter is a more satisfying read, but others might disagree.

Love Trumps Logic‘s first planned promotion will be in the form of a Clue game that Second Wind Publishing’s Amy DeTrempe has put together. It will come out just in time for Halloween, and will feature excerpts from many of the Second Wind books as clues. To give you a sampling, here’s the Clue excerpt from Love Trumps Logic:

Beau slipped the hard-won bracelet back into its gray velvet sack and pulled the drawstring tight when, from somewhere behind him, a small hand appeared and snatched it from him. He whirled around and caught sight of a boy making a wide circle around him, headed for the exit.  The black-toothed grin was the only thing that gave away his lowly status. Upscale clothes had been a perfect ruse, allowing him to gain entry into the museum.

(You’ll have to read Love Trumps Logic to find out what horrible trouble that bracelet causes.)

So, do you like to play Clue? Then this party’s for you! Mark October 26th on your calendar as Clue day with Amy De Trempe on the Second Wind Publishing WordPress blog. The winner will receive a free copy of Second Wind Publishing’s mystery anthology, Murder on the Wind.

And then … look for many more promotions in the days that follow. I’m not saying that I know what they will be yet. If anyone has any ideas to offer, I’m all ears!

Lucy Balch

Author of Love Trumps Logic, due for release soon from Second Wind Publishing.


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Goodies and Giveaways

We are celebrating the release of four new novels, but you are the ones who get the presents! Just click on the covers and you will find puzzles to delight you.

Loving Lydia front-sta-195x304 School of Lies Buried in Wolf Lake






We also have free ebooks for everyone: An ebook sampler containing the first chapters of all our our mysteries, mainstream, and adventure novels, and an ebook sampler containing the first chapters of all of our romance novels. Click on the photo for your free download.


And three lucky commenters will win the ebook of your choice. Which of these new releases would you like to read? You can name as many as you want.

Click here to buy or find out more about:
Staccato by Deborah J Ledford
School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
Buried in Wolf Lake by Christine Husom
Loving Lydia by Amy De Trempe

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From September 30th till October 2nd, we will be celebrating the release of four new books. Please stop back for fun, giveaways, and goodies! To tide you over, we have a treat for you. Click on the cover of any of these new novels to read the first chapter.

front-sta-195x304Three world-class pianists.
Two possible killers.
One dead woman.
Who is her murderer?
Who will be next? 

When acclaimed pianist Nicholas Kalman discovers his lover’s dead body, he sets out alone to find her killer. During his journey, he meets an unwitting female accomplice who soon becomes determined to help Nicholas wield his retaliation. Following a parallel path for justice, Steven Hawk, the deputy of a sleepy Southern county, is assigned to the case. Pursuing the investigation, Hawk finds himself entangled in a world of vengeance, greed and manipulation.

Performed against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Staccato transports readers to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of professional musicians, the psychological twists and turns of its characters, and in the end, retribution that crashes in a crescendo of notes played at the literary pace of a maestro’s staccato. 

Staccato is the first novel of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller trilogy.


School of LiesWhen High School teacher Kendra Desola opens an anonymous email she expects to find a bitter complaint from a parent, or a snipe from one of her back-biting co-workers. Instead, a photoshopped attachment shows Kendra getting way too friendly with her male students. 

She intends to stop this lie before it circulates, but before she can locate the source, the suspicious death of a colleague brings the police on campus. Kendra now fears the email was a set up, to make it look like she had a motive for murder. What if the cops get wind of the email and buy the “evidence” that she’s a child molester, or a murderess, or both? Kendra plays off an unknown adversary as she desperately seeks to prove her innocence in a School of Lies.


Buried in Wolf LakeWhen a family’s Golden Retriever brings home the dismembered leg of a young woman, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department launches an investigation unlike any other. Who does the leg belong to, and where is the rest of her body? Sergeant Corrine Aleckson and Detective Elton Dawes soon discover they are up against an unidentified psychopath who targets women with specific physical features. Are there other victims, and will they learn the killer’s identity in time to prevent another brutal murder? 


Loving LydiaLoving Lydia, is a sweet, inspirationally touched romance, set during the regency era. When Lady Lydia, a moral, naïve young woman enters society, she is confounded by Lord Alex, a known reprobate rumored to have a dark side.  Yet he captures her heart. When Lydia is sucked into his dark world, can he save her and their love?

 Available from Second Wind Publishing:
Printed Books

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