You've found the home on the net for romance writer, LaVerne Clark. Thanks for visiting! :)

I write suspense and light fantasy/paranormal set in the beautiful country of New Zealand. A land of myths and magic, Aotearoa (Maori for Long White Cloud) has always been a storytelling nation and it is my pleasure to share mine with you.

Make yourself your drink of choice, stay a while and feel free to leave comments. I love to meet new friends.

Heartpounding suspense and fantasy Downunder

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Heroine - My Teacher

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a reflective mood. Edits were well past on my second book with the countdown to release day truly on. I was close to finishing and submitting another story I was really proud of, and my confidence that I had finally found ‘my voice’ as an author was sky-high. All was right in my world. I was living my dream.

Then I got to thinking about how this had come to be. No-one can achieve their goals without a bit of help along the way. For me, my own personal heroine and who shaped me into the person I am today (apart from my awesome parents of course!) is a woman by the name of Lois Senojak. How cool is that name by the way?

Mrs. Senojak was my last year of primary school teacher. As her name suggests, she was a strong, intelligent, caring teacher – and completely unforgettable. She had a way of teaching that made you want to learn and to earn praise. Her patience was unending, but she was no fool if you weren’t trying as hard as she knew you were capable of. She had a wonderful affinity for music and that year I was in her class, she composed a beautiful song called Seabird. Haunting notes soared and dipped perfectly capturing the spirit of a bird as it wheeled and played with the wind. I’d learnt to play the recorder and we were given the honourable task of playing for the school assembly, accompanied by Mrs. Senojak on the piano. I’m certain we butchered the song, but it was a beautiful moment as she played the notes and smiled proudly over at her incompetent students playing her creation. I still remember the words to this day.

On the last day of school as we were breaking up and I was all excited to get home, Mrs. Senojak asked me to wait so she could have a quick word with me. As it was her, I curbed my impatience to get home (patience still is not one of my virtues) and stayed behind. What she had to say to me has stayed with me ever since. And when doubt creeps in, I will remember it anew.

“Whatever you want to do in this life, you can achieve LaVerne. You have the will and determination to succeed in whatever you set out to do and the talent to see it through.”

Even now, writing it down gives me a shiver and brings tears to my eyes. This amazing woman believed in me so much, she felt the need to share such a moment with me. I am forever in her debt.
I’d thought about this special lady for many years and often wondered how she was doing but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to track her down and thank her. Google and the internet is such a wonderful tool! J

With a name like hers, she wasn’t that hard to find, and I managed to get an address. I dashed off a note from the heart saying where I was today, my family situation and my success in finally having one of my life-goals achieved, and how it was all thanks to her. Hoping I had the right person, I dropped it off into the mailbox without expecting too much. A few days later, I received a lovely card which made me want to cry again. I did indeed have the right person, it was such a wonderful surprise to hear from me and she was so happy to learn about what I had achieved. She finished with some more inspiring words about my children which I will treasure and make sure to act on as well.

I’m so glad I had that period of inner contemplation and had the chance to say thank you to a person who helped shape me into who I am today.

What about you? Is there someone from your life – in the past or recent past – who has made such an impact on your life? I’d love to hear about them.


  1. What a beautiful story, LaVerne! I'm all teary reading this post. I'm very happy you found someone so special to you after so many years! I had a wonderful teacher in eigth grade I've been trying to find and thank for being such a wonderful person. Miss Carol Taylor was my English teacher that year and it was the year I began putting thoughts on paper. I started with poetry back then and she liked my poems so well she printed my handwritten work and handed copies to every single person in that small country school! I still have my copies packed away somewhere safe. She was engaged to marry when I knew her, twenty-two and in love with a man who, she claimed, looked "just like Robert Redford but cuter!" But I didn't hear his name so if she married him, I'm having trouble finding her. Your story has inspired me to keep trying. Thank you!

    1. Oh, wow Calisa. Miss Taylor sounded like another wonderful teacher - and was obviously so proud of you. To be shown from an early age that we have the power to move people with our thoughts and words is a priceless gift. I'm so glad you had someone like her in your life.
      Not knowing her married life makes the hunt that much harder. Have you contacted the school with a query? Or other social media places. Here in NZ, we've got sites like Findakiwi which often helps track down those elusive people. I hope you do find her and I'd love to know the results if you do!

  2. What a touching story, LaVerne. Mrs. Senojak sounds like a wonderful person and teacher. You were lucky to have her. And she's lucky that you were smart enough to appreciate her. So cool that you've reconnected.
    My high school journalism teacher inspired many, many high schoolers and their writing. We're friends on Facebook now, and she continues to support lots of her students who have become writers. She doesn't even read romance, but she bought and read my novel. LOL! :)
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Joya - your comment made me smile. I forget that those teachers must wonder about us just as much sometimes. How lovely to share such a special relationship with her. And who knows - you may well have converted her into a romance reader. Having read Beneath the Surface - I wouldn't be surprised! :)

  3. Such beautiful words, LaVerne. Kids don't get nearly enough affirmations of their worth and talent, I'm afraid. So glad you had a teacher to do that for you. I can't think of one particular person shaping me into who I am today, but a whole montage of faces flip through my mind. Teachers, Sunday school teachers, dance teachers, doctors I worked for when still in high school. I tool something away from each of them, and though they may not have said encouraging words to me, their actions (how they treated others etc) taught me a lot.

    I was never told I could be anything I wanted, but somehow, I got a message not to limit myself, to try new things. I was lucky to break through some barriers (getting published) and achieve a goal I didn't know I had until I was middle aged!

    Thanks for the reflective blog.

    1. Lynne - how wonderful to find that goal and accomplish it - and your stories are all the richer for it coming to you later in life.
      Thank you so much for stopping by my friend :)

  4. I envy you LaVerne. When I was in school I had the bad habit that many writers have. I was a day-dreamer. Along with the fact that I'm dyslexic, I wasn't a favorite in the classroom or at home. No one knew that dyslexia existed then and it would have been considered a weaken if they had.
    By the time I was thirteen I was being passed from one family member to another. I ended up being extremely self-destructive. Everyone gave up on me, so I did too.
    Ten years later, I had two small children and I was close to being homeless. I entered a marriage of convenience with a man who needed help raising his own two children. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
    My husband taught me to believe in myself. He adopted my children and he's my one true love. We passed our 31st anniversary last December.

    1. Oh Sandra! Your story is incredible and brought a lump to my throat! I'm so glad you found your amazing man and happiness at last. And the inner strength you must have to keep going after all the knock-backs. You've lived a true romance story.

      Big hugs to you!

  5. Great advice from what seems to be a great teacher. Several teachers influenced me over the years, but the person who influenced me the most was my older sister. She had a genetic, degenerative condition that eventually put her in a wheelchair and stripped her of the ability to verbally communicate. But she still managed to keep her faith and her sense of humor until the end. She taught me to never give up, to never judge people by their disabilities, and to never assume someone isn't smart just because they can't communicate. Her suffering ended 2/28/12. Her influence lives on.

    1. RIP to your beautiful sister Lilly. I know it must still be tough dealing with the grief of losing her - but you're right. Her influence will live on. Thank you for sharing her memory with us.

      Happy birthday by the way! xo