Retired teacher finds joy as author
NILES — Carol Ann Kauffman believes everyone should write a book.
“I think there is a book in everybody, and everybody should write,” Kauffman said. “And my advice would be after you write the first book, sit down and write another.”
Kauffman, who has authored 26 books since her retirement from teaching at Niles City Schools — and has more in the works — said there is joy and satisfaction in writing.
A lifetime area resident, Kauffman, 73, grew up in Niles. She went to Youngstown State University to study art, but decided that wasn’t her path.
“I looked left and I looked right, and I realized the people around me had a lot more artistic talent than I did,” Kauffman said.
Still, Kauffman was the first in her family to graduate college and the first to “think I could do anything I wanted to,” she said.
When Kauffman’s sister, who was her elder by 10 years, had children, Kauffman realized she really enjoyed playing with and teaching them, which led her to pursue teaching. She got a master’s degree in education from YSU.
She mostly taught first grade through her 35-year tenure but sometimes followed classes up to second and third grade. During her last few years in the school system, she was in the reading specialist program, helping students who were behind catch up.
“I had wonderful children and wonderful parents, and it wasn’t like going to work,” Kauffman said. “It was joy.”
Kauffman said she may not have won a popularity contest among teachers, but she believes her students learned from her. She still keeps in touch with some of them today.
When she was teaching, Kauffman began writing little stories for her students, working in science or social studies words that weren’t in their regular vocabulary.
“Mesa, plateau, cliffs — sometimes I would just do it with spelling words,” Kauffman said. “I’d make up little stories that they would get a kick out of. That was all I did.”
Kauffman retired when her mother fell and couldn’t be rehabilitated.
“When she passed, suddenly my whole day was open with nothing to do,” Kauffman said. “That’s when I started writing.”
Her first books were “Blue Lake” and its sequel, “Belterra,” which she wrote simultaneously.
“Maybe they call it writer’s block these days. I’d get stuck and switch to the other,” Kauffman said.
The books became the first in her “Time After Time” series, a romantic adventure following the same couple throughout different lifetimes.
When Kauffman first started writing, electronic books were not prevalent.
“My husband and I would go to these publishing houses and sit around and wait,” Kauffman said. “People would say, ‘This is a lovely book, but we don’t think we have a market for it.'”
Some of her books are in paperback, but all of Kauffman’s titles are available as ebooks. Many of her books also can be found at the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles.
She’s found a community among independent writers.
“I love to read other independent author books,” Kauffman said. “They don’t follow the formula … they put the climax where they want. It’s a story like life, you never know what is coming next.”
As for Kauffman’s life, she has kept busy. Although teaching captured her heart, she dabbled in other careers along the way. For a while she had an insurance license, and she worked in an automotive and a hardware store. She met her husband, William Kauffman, when they both worked at King’s Department Store on the corner of North Road and U.S. Route 422.
They met when William came home from the service — but before that, they both attended Niles High School, and Carol admired William’s suspension bridge art project. A friend promised to introduce her to William, who was a few years older, but never did. Years later, Carol saw a picture of William and the bridge in an old yearbook.
“William, he’s wonderful,” Kauffman said. “He has the patience of a saint.”
The pair enjoys traveling and has been to Italy, Aruba and all over the southwestern United States.
Kauffman has a miniature dachshund named Lilly Rose, and in her spare time grows African violets and orchids. She used to quilt, but said writing is easier.
Kauffman also maintains her blog, Visions and Verse, a site for independent authors and art. The blog often takes more time and effort than writing her books, Kauffman said.
Kauffman encourages everyone to keep a journal — she said writing helps with organizational thinking and helps put everyday problems into perspective.
“Writing is very good for you,” Kauffman said. “You would be surprised, when you get it out on paper you feel better.”