Forward for Don’t Look Too Closely by Belinda Adams


I am so excited that you have chosen to read Don’t Look Too Closely. In this book, Belinda Adams takes a look at hurting children. She shares her perspective with stories from her classroom, that help us to see what we can do to provide a bright spot in the lives of children who have experienced trauma.

The strategies in this book are not new and expensive, most require just a little of your time. However, they are not as easy as rocket science where 2 + 3 always equals 5. No, when we start talking about things to help students who have experienced trauma, we can’t simply say here is the answer, because all children are different. As Belinda reminds us, ‘one-size’ does not fit all. It doesn’t fit all teachers and it most certainly does not fit all students. Through years of tears and struggling to find answers, Belinda shares an assortment of strategies that we can tailor to our own teaching styles and to the unique problems and challenges our students face. If one strategy does not work, try another strategy or a combination of strategies.

Belinda is one of the most caring teachers I know. She has a passion for children who need someone to be there for them. She is continually looking for ways to make the classroom a place where students, all students, feel safe as she employs many strategies to help them be emotionally available to learn while imparting a sense of high expectations for students. Belinda has one of the highest success rates with difficult students – success rates measured in improved behavior and academic performance.

Now, some may glance through this book and feel that the strategies are not really that big of a deal. I’m here to say that they are. As a child of trauma myself, I can remember the overriding question of my childhood: Where are the people who are supposed to protect me? Growing up in a different time with less understanding of the impact of emotions on achievement, some years there was no one, but eventually, school became my place of refuge.  The best teachers, I still remember – Mr. Daniels, Ms. Avery, Mrs. White. I excelled in their classes as I felt safe, protected, cared for. Looking back, no one did anything spectacular. Some just noticed my strengths, others always had a kind word or an encouraging comment when I needed to do better. Mostly, they cared and had confidence in my ability to succeed even though I could be difficult and I was not always on-task. These things were important, because school was the only place this was occurring during one particularly traumatic period of my life.

As I thought about Don’t Look Too Closely, I remembered the feeling. Like the children in Belinda’s class, I was hiding something. As a child, it can be embarrassing to admit the trauma you face daily. I only wanted to be loved and accepted, a normal kid – not the object of someone’s pity. For pity, at least to me, suggested hopelessness. I wanted teachers and other adults to look beyond my situation, understanding life was difficult while they brought hope that life wouldn’t always be that way. I needed role models to show me caring adults existed, especially when the people who cared for me had been ripped from my life. I yearned for someone to know me and know what I was capable of if I could just control the untamed emotional roller coaster driven by constant trauma. Belinda tells us how we can do that for the students in our classroom. It does matter.

Belinda shows us some things we can do to help, but she is honest. Sometimes, the needs of students are beyond the ability of any one person to fulfill. Even in those cases, Belinda demonstrates ways we can provide some relief to a suffering child. I’ve known Belinda for many years and I can say this is more than just a job to her. When Belinda describes a child’s story, she is talking about a child who has touched her heart and she has done all she could to help that child. While some stories do not have what we would consider happy endings, I am proof that we may not be looking at the ending. Today, I am a successful professional and I am able to talk about traumatic situations in my life objectively while remaining emotionally stable. However, if you had looked at my life in high school, you would not have thought the efforts of my teachers and other adults made any difference, but some situations require time for efforts to produce success. Don’t discount your efforts because you are not privileged to see the difference you made in a child’s life. Be thankful for the relief you were able to provide for a short time and hopeful that you aren’t seeing the end.

Belinda seems to have a soft spot for hurting kids and a radar for students of trauma. Don’t Look Too Closely, shows strategies she uses to help students feel accepted, worthy, and empowered to learn. As Belinda says, “We must challenge ourselves to see their pain while still encouraging them to learn.” We have a choice. Some may say, this is not my job and choose not to get involved. I hope that through the words of this book, you will be inspired to choose to help students, especially hurting students. Belinda wrote this book to share her strategies, if you find them helpful let others know about the book. If we all choose to step up, everyone benefits – the students, the teachers, and even society. Will you be the difference for the hurting kids in your life?

Annie -Childhood Trauma Survivor

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Excerpt from Can You See Me

An Excerpt from Can You See Me?

(Chapter 5: Stories You Wouldn’t Believe But You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up!)

Marco: “It Might Be in Something Wet”

It was early in the school year, probably the 2nd week, when my cell phone was stolen from atop my desk. I noticed it was gone immediately upon returning to my desk after dismissing my students at the door for the day. Panic swept through me! I didn’t have it password protected, and the thought of my students reading my personal text messages with my husband, or making obscene phone calls to my mother or my sisters sent shivers of horror up my spine.

I quickly replayed the last few moments of class, and determined that three students had been in proximity of my desk prior to dismissal.  I immediately called the parents and explained that my cell phone may have accidentally been taken by their child. Two parents agreed to speak with their child when they got off the bus and would let me know if they located the phone. However, on the third call, the student answered the phone instead of the parent. I sensed that the student seemed to have some reservation in speaking with me about the phone, insisting much too loudly that she knew nothing about it. When asked if her mother was home, she mumbled something about not knowing and hung up.

I went to the office to speak with an administrator about the problem. The principal and I drove to the student’s house and were met at the door by the confused parent who had been home the whole time and didn’t know I had called. We questioned the girl I spoke with on the phone, and eventually, she said, “I’m not sure if it was your phone … yours is green, right? … well, I’m not saying it was yours, but Marco had a green phone he was showing kids on the bus on the way home today.”

The chase was on! The principal and I drove to Marco’s house, and much to our dismay, he said he knew nothing about a green phone. While we waited, Mom searched his backpack and reported that there was no phone inside. There was nothing left to do; the principal and I went back to school. I spent a sleepless night, wondering and fearing which of my students might be writing down my entire contact list!

The next day, the principal took Marco to her office to talk more about the cell phone. Well, there’s something to be said about trying to “interview” a special education student with lower cognitive abilities. One has to be cognizant of the fact that you cannot make the questions too complicated or ask questions that require only a “yes” or “no”. As the principal later reported, she learned both the hard way as she relayed the conversation verbatim.

“Marco, have you seen Mrs. Adams’ green cell phone?” “Yes.” “Do you remember seeing it yesterday on her desk?” “Yes.” “Did you take Mrs. Adams’ cell phone off her desk?” “No.” “Do you know who might have taken her cell phone?” “No.” “Marco, do you think you might know where Mrs. Adams’ cell phone is?” “Yes … maybe.” “Is the cell phone at your house?” “No.”

Seeing this conversation was going nowhere fast, she said she changed tactics to sentence starters. “So, Marco, if Mrs. Adams’ phone was somewhere, where might it be?” “Well, it might be in some…water.” Knowing that this conversation could go on forever as there are endless places of water between the school and his home, she grabbed his coat, called his mother and put him in her car to take him home. As they got out of the car, she said, “Show me where Mrs. Adams’ phone might be in water.” With hesitation, he walked a few steps and pointed into the storm drain.

Fast forward to her knock on my classroom door. Looking elated, she held up her hand with my phone resting on her palm and said, “I’ve got your phone! That’s the good news! There’s some bad news, however …,” she trailed off. By this time, I noticed that my phone was sitting in her hand on a paper towel and that water was dripping through her fingers.

“Where did you find it?” I asked. She explained that after Marco had pointed into the storm drain, she’d looked inside and saw the shine of my bright, neon green phone resting on a ledge about 4 feet down into the storm drain. Not to be outdone by any future administrator in years to come, she’d called the public works department to retrieve my phone with a net!

While I’d like to say I was saddened by the loss of the phone, I was happier to learn it wasn’t in the custody of any of my students, and my sister and aunt were safe from prank phone calls, at least for the time being.

Interestingly, when the principal phoned the parent the next day to advise her that my phone would need to be replaced and the sum I would have to pay, the parent showed up an hour later to pay me with cash for the replacement of the phone. Not wanting little Marco to get off without consequence, his mother agreed that he should clean lockers before school for the next month.

And I’d learned a valuable lesson, put a pass code on my phone so that even if it’s stolen, it can’t be opened and the contents remain safe. Furthermore, upon reflection, when a student strolls by your desk 3 times in one day to say, “That’s sure a nice phone, Mrs. Adams’,” be sure to put your phone in a safe place!

Want to read more? Available on Amazon!

Self-Publishing – Pros & Cons

There are a lot of things to consider if you are planning on self-publishing your manuscript. If you are a writer, you don’t need to be told that the publishing industry has changed dramatically with the introduction of technology and print on demand companies. The question for writers who have not been offered a contract with one of the big five companies is whether to self-publish or wait for an offer.

Pros of self-publishing

  1. Speed – there is no question, self-publishing is faster, even if you received a contract in the mail today.
  2. Good Company – There are quite a few famous authors that have chosen to go the self-publishing route. Some have sold many copies of their books through Amazon’s print on demand. Others have secured a contract from one of the big five publishers after moderate success from self-publishing. While some people look down on self-publishing – you can’t argue with success. Self-publishing does not mean you have to stop submitting your manuscript to the big five.
  3. Royalties – While it may be likely that you will sell less books when you self-publish, print on demand companies like Amazon typically pay 70% commission on eBooks and 60% on the net profit of paperback books. Most traditional publishers pay an average of 10% royalties. So, you have to sell 5 or 6 times as many books to break even.
  4. Control – Self-publishing lets you keep control. Control of the price; control of the content. When you use a traditional publisher, you actually sell the rights of your book to the publisher. When you self-publish you keep all the rights. You make all the decisions.

Draw Backs of Self-Publishing

  1. All the Work – you have to do all the work from, editing, to formatting, to marketing. You can hire various people to do things like editing or formatting. You can find a marketing company. With a traditional publishers, they handle all of that. Well, at least the editing and formatting. Many authors have complained about the lack of marketing, even with a Big Five contract.
  2. Cost – It can cost a lot to self-publish. While it is true, the print on demand companies like Amazon do not charge and upfront fee, neither do they help you. People have written books on how to prepare your manuscript for Amazon. If you are not tech savvy, it can present a big challenge. Unless you can figure it all out on your own, you will have some costs. When looking for help, weigh the cost in time and money.
  3. Time – While time was one of the pros, it can also be a drawback if you don’t know what you are doing. Especially with the concept of your time. The pro is that there is not a lot of wait time that is experienced with the traditional publishers. However, self-publishing does require a lot of your time in editing, formatting, and marketing.  It takes time to find a good editor. If you are formatting yourself, it takes a lot of time to get it right. One little mistake and your whole book is thrown out of whack.


Look for an independent publisher and have the best of both worlds. There are many companies out that that will help. Some independent Publishers work just like the Big Five, which puts you back to where you started. Others, offer services in exchange for a fee. At Anchor Book Press we are a hybrid publisher. We offer reasonable rates that allows you to partner with us to publish your book with a minimum amount of time, frustration, and money. You decide if you want the premium package to save time and energy or you are on a tight budget an will go with an economy package, paying for just the services you need. Visit us at for more information.  We offer  complete publishing packages that includes some marketing and advice on record keeping to avoid penalties from Uncle Sam  in addition to editing and formatting. Our experienced staff can also edit or format your manuscript without other services.

Celebrate Milestones to Combat Discouragement

As a writer, I think one of the most important things you can do is to celebrate milestones. Writing takes time. Writing is not a sprint; it is like running a marathon. It takes lots of perseverance and creative energy. So, it is easy to get discouraged along the way. I know many authors with several unfinished manuscripts. Sometimes, it is a good choice to drop a manuscript, but many times authors are just discouraged and do not finish a manuscript that could be turned into a great book. To reduce the number of unfinished manuscripts and avoid discouragement, celebrate milestones as you go. Celebrate finishing the first chapter of your book or creating the perfect title. Celebrate revisions and rewrites. Celebrate finding the perfect cover picture or the perfect photographer. Every step that has a beginning and an should be acknowledged.

What do you do to acknowledge your accomplishment? That depends on what gives you the most satisfaction. Tell friends and family. Sit in the sun and enjoy a glass of wine. Take the kids for ice cream. Or, send your spouse with the kids and enjoy some down time. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity.  The main thing is to acknowledge your accomplishment. That will go a long way in helping you to the finish line.