Steven Waiters wanted to be a writer ever since he was in high school. As he went through life, raising a family and teaching at the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, he never let that dream go.
“Writing has given me an outlet to do something different that I actually can bring into the classroom and share with the students other than just the standard curriculum,” Waiters said.
Waiters recently released his third young adult fiction book, Time is FOR.E.V.E.R.—a story that follows two siblings who discover a time machine hidden behind a secret door in their grandparents’ basement, he said. However, things don’t go as planned and the two end up stranded in the past.
In all three books, Waiters said he tried to capture kids’ attention by making the characters around their age and creating journeys that would keep their interest throughout the story.
“All three of these books are accidental adventures, so the characters accidentally stumble through the plot experiencing different adventures. I tried to leave at the end of each chapter a hook so the reader will want to figure out what happens next,” Waiters said.
It took a while for Waiters to grasp a strong writing process that worked with his teaching schedule and balanced with his family life. He said it took him years to complete his first book, The Lost Treasure of Grandpa Jingle Wingle, because he ran into several plot holes along the way.
“I knew what this kind of story was going to be about, but I had no backstory so I would run into dead ends and have to go back a couple of chapters to fix things,” he said.
Alongside writing, Waiters said he acted as the cover designer, editor, and found the right publisher for his work. He wants to find a new literary agent to help with the workload after his first agent passed away.
“It’s all on me now. It’s a lot, but when it’s something you want to do or accomplish, it’s like, let’s get it done,” he said.
His books also grew up alongside his son and daughter, Stevie and Amber, who star as the main characters in each book and are featured in the cover art, he said. In Time is FOR.E.V.E.R., Stevie and Amber are 12 and 14.
“It was fun including my son and daughter’s personalities in the books,” Waiters said. “My fourth book will be more of an adult mystery because they are now both grown up. Stevie’s 18 and Amber’s 21.”
He hopes to have that book done in three years when he plans on retiring, he said. Throughout his 31 years of teaching in the Santa Maria-Bonita district—currently at Battles Elementary—Waiters brought manuscripts into the classroom to have his students read a few chapters at a time, he said.
“All of my students have always known I’ve been a writer, and I’ve done that to hopefully inspire some of them to be a writer. There have been a couple who have shown interest and shared their stories with me,” Waiters said. “I think that’s part of what makes teaching worthwhile, is taking something positive that you are interested in and trying to ignite that same spark in your students.”
Time is FOR.E.V.E.R. and his other books, The Lost Treasure of Grandpa Jingle Wingle and The Mummy Hand are available at various online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target.
• The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department recently recognized the Winter of 2023 Class of Hometown Heroes. The Hometown Heroes Program recognizes individuals actively serving in the military and veterans of the United States military, first responders, and essential workers. In recognition of their service, Hometown Heroes will receive a certificate of appreciation at the Santa Maria City Council meeting on Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m., and new commemorative banners are being displayed on College Drive for the next six months. The “Summer of 2023 Class of Honorees” is currently accepting nominations. Applications can be submitted to the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department. Visit cityofsantamaria.org/hth for more information.
• Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and The PG&E Corporation Foundation (The Foundation) are expanding PG&E’s Better Together: Investing in California’s Youth initiative. This new commitment will directly benefit Central Coast students with $50,000 for the Cuesta College Promise program in San Luis Obispo and $50,000 for the Allan Hancock College Promise program in Santa Maria. The Hancock Promise provides Santa Barbara County high school graduates with a year of free tuition at Allan Hancock College. For more information on Hancock’s program, visit hancockcollege.edu/promise.
Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s spotlight. Reach her at [email protected].