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Today we're joined by fellow author and psychologist Christine Fonseca, who's talking to us about giftedness, the writing life, and book promotion. Read on to learn about why you (and your children) may be intense, and how to deal with that perfectionism!

To celebrate the release of her first book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings, we're giving a copy away! I'm going to throw the names of everyone who comments on this post into a hat (seriously...I have lots of hats) and draw a winner. enter, leave a comment below!  I'll post the winner here on Wednesday  Friday (deadline extended)!

1. How did you decide to write Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings?

After working with families of gifted students through the school district, I became increasingly aware of how society perceives the emotional aspects of giftedness as opposed to the cognitive attributes. Most people love the way a gifted child can solve problems with intensity, but do not understand that same intensity when it comes through via their emotions. As a result, too many kids grow to believe their emotions make them less – make them crazy.

Something needed to be done to help kids, parents and educators understand the emotional aspects of giftedness. Thus the idea for this book was born.

2. How do you define giftedness?

Great question. As you may know, there is no standard agreed upon definition of giftedness. That being said, I like this one the best (From the National Association for Gifted Children, NAGC):
“A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.”
To expand that a bit, I would also say that a gifted individual demonstrates a specific set of attributes within their cognitive and emotional domains consistent amongst the gifted. This includes a high level of intensity in all aspects of their lives – cognitively and emotionally.

3. Why can gifted people be so intense?

I find the intensity to be a nature part of giftedness, related to how gifted kids interact with the world. Unfortunately, while being cognitively intense is generally a great thing at any age, being emotionally intense can be problematic – especially if you have not yet developed the emotional tools necessary to work with the intensity.

I remember working with a group of 3rd and 4th grade gifted students recently. I asked them to tell me the top things they worry about. Instead of the typical answers you may expect to hear from 8 and 9 year olds (my grades, my parents, my dog dying – that sort of thing), these children confessed their fears about the wars our country is involved in, the natural disasters that had been occurring, global warming and whether or not the country was headed for problems economically.

A gifted child truly approaches life looking through a very different lens – one that is much more global and intense.

4. Perfectionism is a problem for so many writers, and also for many gifted students. Do you have any tips to help people deal with their perfectionism?

I think the first thing to do is set realistic goals. If you, as a writer, tend to average 500 words during your writing sessions, don’t set a goal for 1K.

Next, it’s important to focus on the process – the journey – not just the outcome. If I had been outcome oriented when I queried that first novel, I would have quit three years ago. But I didn’t, because I focused on what I was learning, not on the fact that I hadn’t yet achieved my goals.

Check your perspective. Too often we have a faulty perspective of our world. When we get one rejection, we say “EVERYONE hates this book, again.” Not true. A better statement would be “This isn’t the right story for this agent.” Same event, two distinct ways of looking at it.

Bottom line, perfectionism is not completely bad – it is a driving force that enables us to continual grow and develop. But, taken to an extreme, it will paralyze us. It’s important to utilize some of the above strategies to prevent perfectionism from keeping you from achieving your goals.

6. What have you learned along this journey toward publication, both about yourself and about being a writer?

Needless to say, my journey towards publication did not really start with that first novel. Or the second. It started with my nonfiction.

Through this journey, I have experienced amazing highs – finding an agent, selling my first…and second…books, holding my galleys in my hand, holding the book in my hands. I have also experienced extreme lows – having to shelve a novel…and another, rewriting a story from a blank page, endless rejections, endless confidence issues, jealousy.

All of it has been part of my journey, teaching me what persistence really means, patience, tolerance, and an acceptance that this is NOT a journey I could have done alone. These are things many gifted individuals never get a chance to learn. Perhaps that is why so many gifted peeps are drawn to the creative arts – for a chance to not only express themselves, but to find a true challenge.

7. In addition to EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS, you have another book coming out this spring: 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS: THE ULTIMATE HANDBOOK. Where do you find your ideas?

Giftedness is a significant underserved population when it comes to advice books. My ideas come from endless conversations with gifted adults and children – listening to their concerns, answering their questions, offering help when I can.

Fiction is a different story. These ideas come from people-watching. Yes, that’s right – I LOVE to spy on people, listen to the things they talk about, how they interact with each other. All of my stories usually start there – whether I am writing a contemporary “issue” piece, or exploring some dark gothic fantasy.

8. How do you find the time for your writing?

Like every other writer balancing multiple careers, I scrap time whenever and wherever I can. I am a pretty driven and disciplined person when it comes to work (unlike my approach to exercise), so finding time usually isn’t a problem. My issue, is remembering to stay balanced – take some down time in between projects, take time to flake out, that sort of thing.

9. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your book/s?

I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for the wonderful support I’ve had for EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. The stories of hope and the ah-ha moments parents have emailed me about make every moment of this entire process worth it.

Thanks for having me Carolyn. I can’t wait to celebrate YOUR book release soon.  (Isn't she awesome? -Carolyn)

Want more info on Christine and her books?  You can read the first chapter of Emotional Intensity here. You can also visit her website or blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter. The book is now available, and you can order it here, or get the e-reader version here.


  1. Christine Fonseca said...
    Thanks for hosting a leg of the tour, Carolyn!
    Khanada said...
    Yes, I am commenting to try to win a copy of Christine's book as she has said that it's a bit tough to find right now (glad it's doing so well!). But I also want to say how pleased I am to be led to this blog - it definitely looks like something I'd like to keep my eye on!
    Michelle McLean said...
    This is such an incredible book. I especially enjoyed your comments on perfectionism :) Wonderful interview, ladies!
    Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...
    Christine's book sounds fascinating! I'd love to read it - and pass it on to my school-teacher niece.
    Benoit said...
    Great interview !

    If I show an exceptional level of performance in one area of expression ( say a lot of stupidities*), am I Gifted ? ;-)

    *Is there a less raw word for "stupidities" in English ? Something more poetic, less vulgar ? As I am on a writer's blog, I ask !

    Best regards

    Anonymous said...
    Great interview! I'd love to throw my name in the hat too please. :)

    I wish you every success with the book, Christine and thanks Carolyn for sharing this.
    Unknown said...
    I really enjoyed the interview and would live to win a copy of the book. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Janna Leadbetter said...
    This is a wonderful interview! Christine gives so much brilliant insight, and I absorb every bit of it. Would be so thrilled to win the book, which will be an awesome resource for our family.

    And I love your blog here, Dr. Kaufman. As a fiction writer who's interested in psychology, and given that I'm writing a story now for which I'm still plotting the psychology, I think I'll stick around. Will be following!

    Best with all your endeavors, ladies.
    Chelsea said...
    Thanks for the post!
    Anonymous said...
    As the mom of two gifted kids, I'm very interested in this book! (And for that matter, I'd love for teachers and family members to read it too.)
    yeidam said...
    Thanks for being not just an excellent writer but and advocate for this very special population that really need the help that their deserve.....
    Karen S. said...
    I can't wait to read it. As the mother of a 9-year-old emotionally intense highly gifted girl, I need all the help I can get!
    Ishta Mercurio said...
    Great interview! I am looking forward to reading this book - I see my two sons in so much of what Christine has said in her interview.
    Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...
    I'd love to win a new read! I've been following Christine on Twitter for a while and am thrilled to see the success of this run selling so fast!

    (Thankful you extended the deadline.)
    Beth Ann Brand said...
    As a gifted grownup still dealing with some of those issues myself, I have found that I have been more mystified by my son's emotional intensity and not see the connection to his giftedness. I think, after reading about this book, I can lighten up on us both.
    Sherri Cornelius said...
    De-lurking to enter the contest. Love the blog. The book sounds fascinating, as well as relevant for me. I look forward to reading "Emotional Intensity" whether I win or not. Thanks for the opportunity!
    Christine Fonseca said...
    Thanks for all the great comments everyone! And THANK YOU, Carolyn for hosting it!

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