About Me

jacqui murrayHi all!

My name is Jacqui Murray. I’ve been a teacher for thirty years, fifteen at the college level teaching business and the last fifteen as a K-8 technology teacher both in a traditional classroom and online. I have a Bachelors in Russian, in Economics and a Masters in Business. I believe in education and use every bit of what I’ve learned to thrive in today’s world.

Lately–the past fifteen years, I’ve considered myself a writer (I’m still teaching–I hate being bored). I

wrote a book called Building a Midshipman about how my daughter got into the Naval Academy. It’s more than a personal journey, it’s a how-to for every high school student interested in acceptance to an Ivy league college. I edited a series of nine computer workbooks for grades K-8. all available on Amazon.com or through the publisher, and then I wrote a passel of books and ebooks on how to integrate technology into the K-8 classroom. I also write tech columns for TeachHUB, Examiner and a variety of other tech-in-education ezines.

That’s my geek side. My real passion is fiction–thrillers, action, that sort of novel. I won the Southern California Writers Conference’s Outstanding Fiction Award for my upcoming scientific fiction thriller, To Hunt a Sub. Reviewers called it ‘strongly written’ with ‘interesting and unique plot hooks’. Agents didn’t agree. I’m currently working on a prehistoric novel, Born in a Treacherous Time (excerpt available on Scribd.com) and my second techno-thriller, Twenty-four Days. Its protagonist is the USS Bunker Hill, one of America’s most advanced cruisers ever to sail the ocean blue.

I love writing–always have–so this blog will cover writing topics, with brief forays into other things. If you know writers, dogswe’re intrigued by everything around us. Life is full of characters, plot lines, unique settings, and we want to experience it all. I have two other blogs. One Ask a Tech Teacher, technology tips and tricks to accompany the books I write. One USNA or Bust–a how-to in getting accepted to the Naval Academy and what life is like if you do. T

I live in California with my husband and beautiful Labrador Casey. I spend as much time as possible with my Naval Officer daughter and my Army Signal Corps son. They are my passion. You can contact me by visiting the Contact Me page.

–Casey© Please don’t use image without permission

For those of you still curious about who-the-heck I am, here is an interview from the blogosphere:


Author Interview with Jacqui Murray

 Thank you for popping in today. We are again on location, this time in the Tech Lab where Jacqui Murray teaches, so grab yourself a desk. There is a lot of information Jacqui will be sharing and I know those with school aged children and grandchildren, you’re going to want to take notes!
Deanna: Jacqui, thank you so much allowing us time to be with you on your blog tour. Tell us a bit about YOU as a person that your readers might not know.

Thank you for having me; this tour is just beginning and I look forward to meeting so many readers. I was born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, another in Russian and an MBA, I spent twenty years in a variety of industries while raising two children and teaching evening classes at community colleges. Now, I live with my husband, adult son and two beautiful Labradors and I write. I write how-books, five blogs on everything from the USNA to tech to science, and a column for the Examiner on tech tips.
Deanna: What made you want to become a writer?
Jacqui: My non-fictions books are all inspired by the same circumstances. When my daughter wanted a book on how to get into the Naval Academy, all she could find were books that told her how hard it was, how selective they were, how very few could achieve it. My daughter brushed them off, but I wondered how many kids would be discouraged by that approach and decided to write a book explaining how to achieve the goal, not why kids couldn’t. I stressed how teens can solve the problems that stood in their way rather than why they couldn’t, how they could get where they wanted to go rather than why they couldn’t get there. That worked for my daughter and I had no doubt it would work for others. From what I hear from readers, it’s true.
My tech workbooks are the same. When I went back to teaching, I could find no workbooks for teaching technology to K-5. There were how-tos, but not geared for students of that age group. So I decided to write them. I geared the books for parents with nominal computer skills, homeschoolers and lab specialists. It outlines the method I use in my classes that gets kids from the most basics of computer skills in kindergarten to Photoshop by fifth grade. I’m not surprised that the method works, and is now being used in school districts all over the country.
So, to sum it up, what happened was I had no choice!
Deanna: I find this fascinating. Tell us about the workbooks and how they can be used.
Jacqui: Because I have taught technology to youngsters for so many years, I was asked to edit a series of six K-5 technology workbooks. Geared for parents and homeschoolers, they provide a year’s-worth of age-appropriate computer lessons at each grade level that meet or exceed national standards like ISTE. Each includes thirty-two multimedia projects in programs such as MS Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Earth, keyboarding, computer hardware, vocabulary, as well as training on how to solve the most common computer problems faced by kids as they learn technology. Their unique combination of projects and skills, introduced according to a proven timetable, enable me to morph the thousands of students I teach from computer novice to accomplished in six years. Every year, I hear over and over from parents how even their second graders are now independent in their computer work–showing their parents how to do skills. I include step-by-step lesson plans with examples and reproducibles, homework for grades 3-5, an extensive list of age-appropriate edutainment websites, vocabulary builders and collaborations with classroom units of inquiry.
Deanna: What workbooks are best for home-schoolers and which ones are best for teaching in a larger classroom?
Jacqui: These six 32 Lesson workbooks are perfect for homeschooling and parents who want to extend their child’s education. My two newest workbooks, 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom are geared for a classroom teacher or a lab professional.
Deanna: Are these books for a specific age group?
Jacqui: The 32 Lesson series is for grade kindergarten through fifth grade. The 55 Technology Projects volumes are for kindergarten through eighth grade.
Deanna: Parents are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks and subjects to best teach our children. What makes your workbooks stand out from the rest?
Jacqui: I’m glad you asked that question because, they absolutely do stand out. They start kids in kindergarten with age-appropriate and challenging skills in programs such as keyboarding and KidPix, and that wonderful online reading site, Starfall.com. By fifth grade, after following the logical progression presented in the series, kids are photo-editing in Adobe Photoshop, creating professional world tours in Google Earth and sharing ideas on education-safe wikis. By the time I send them to sixth grade, they’re ready to use technology as an equal partner in their education.
Deanna: Do you write under a pen name?
Jacqui: Yes, I do, because I am both a fiction and a non-fiction writer. My non-fiction is under my own name. My fiction I think will be under a pen name once it’s ready for prime time. That will help differentiate my different writing styles.
Deanna: What’s your favorite non-fiction book that you’ve written?
Jacqui: Without a doubt, it’s Building a Midshipman: How to Conquer the USNA Application. There are lots of how-to books on getting in the Naval Academy, but they’re quite dry and impersonal. Mine is from the perspective of a woman who did it (my daughter!) and how she accomplished such a lofty goal. It’s very down-to earth and should give confidence to any teen, male or female, considering a military academy as their college of choice.
Deanna: Do you read in the same genre that you write in?
Jacqui: I sure do. First, I love non-fiction books. I read lots of biographies and how people accomplished the impossible. With my fiction, I love action/thrillers that show how people solve problems when under stress, and how they come up with unique solutions to never-before-solved problems. The human mind fascinates me. We’ve done so much no other species has managed to accomplish.
Deanna: How did you find your publisher.
Jacqui: They found me! They were writing a tech series of workbooks for kids grade K-5 and asked my assistance editing it. When I was ready with my own tech books, I naturally offered them to Structured Learning first. It’s been a great relationship ever since.
Deanna: Do they market your books for you?
Jacqui: Like most publishers these days, the work is on the author to do the marketing. I am active in many social networks. I offer a site called Ask a Tech Teacher where I answer readers’ tech questions. These are usually common problems, like how to add footers to Word pages. I also write a column for the Examiner.com which enables me to plug my work a couple of times a week.
Deanna: How much time do you spend on your writing?
Jacqui: If you mean straight writing—the fun stuff–that’s about eight hours a day during summer, but not so much during the school year when I’m teaching. I force myself to do a few hours a day of marketing also. Most of my publicity is word of mouth, and that takes a lot of words!
Deanna: What have you found to be the hardest part of writing?
Jacqui: The hardest part of my non-fiction books is the picky stuff that’s part and parcel to editing. With my fiction endeavors, it’s the characters. It’s a challenge to keep each character true to their personality, be in their POV during their scenes and not just mouth the words. I almost have to sit differently or wear a different hat, change my hairstyle—whatever reminds me I’m different. I have to say it’s also the most fun.
Deanna: What type of fiction do you write?
Jacqui: I call it scientific fiction. It continues my love of spreading knowledge to kids, but is geared for high school or college. I pick science topics and weave them into the plot so readers learn about them while they’re engrossed in the story. So far, I’ve covered DNA computers and Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak (oh yes, it exists and is a great plot twist).
Deanna: Tell us about the fiction books that you have written.
Jacqui: After the success of my how-to book Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the USNA Application, I turned to my second passion: fiction. My first fiction novel, To Hunt a Sub is a techno-thriller about nefarious characters using brainy science to steal America’s Trident submarines and how an equally-brainy female grad student stops them. It won the Southern California Writers Conference Outstanding Fiction Award last year and is in the final stages of rewrite. I have an excerpt available on Scribd.com. I am currently writing the sequel, To Hunt a Cruiser.
Deanna: Doesn’t it take a lot of time researching that?
Jacqui: Absolutely, but it’s a lot of fun. I get to explore new worlds of my choosing. I know more trivia than anyone I know thanks to my fiction books.
Deanna: What’s next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?
Jacqui: I’m pretty busy right now getting my two-volume technology integration books out and finishing up the rewrites for To Hunt a Sub. When those are completed, I will continue to do whatever I can to breach the barriers that prevent technology from being available to all children’s education. It’s too important; kids should be involved in it at as early an age as possible.
Deanna: Where are your books available.
Jacqui: My books are available on Amazon.com and the publisher’s website http://structuredlearning.net. The ebooks are available on http://www.scribd.com
Deanna: Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Jacqui: I don’t have my own website, though lots more information (including freebies from the workbooks) is available on the publisher’s site, http://StructuredLearning.net I have a blog with loads of free lessons and tips at http://AskATechTeacher.com. I take questions from readers and detail skills they’d like to learn so you’re likely to get almost anything on my blog.
Deanna: Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?
Jacqui: I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to interact with you and your readers. Please feel free to send me any questions, ideas, your own tips, either through my publisher at jacqui.murray@structuredlearning.net or through my blog. I love helping parents and kids make technology part of their education toolkit.
Deanna: Jacqui, it’s been a pleasure to have you with us today and I think our readers have found you very interesting also, especially those with school age children and grandchildren. I hope they contact you for more information!

91 thoughts on “About Me

    • I am honored, Annika. I’m amidst a huge non-fic project as well as planning my summer professional development classes. I’m going to try to participate, but I apologize if I can’t. I’m going a bit crazy over here in California!

      I’m glad to be (finally) home from my road trip. I loved it, but everything takes longer when I’m not in front of my home computer.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: A Blog Award « Charles Ray's Ramblings

  2. Pingback: Dragon’s Loyalty & One Lovely Blogger Award – Fun Facts for Writing

  3. I have been searching for a website like this one. I used to write all the time before I had kids. I am now trying to get back into it, but it seems my brain was wiped clean at the birth of my last child. This website looks to very insightful and hopefully it will jump start my sleeping brain. Thank you!!


  4. Lovely blog with well written and interesting posts. Great to know you have a very close family connecting with the Navy and the Army. I too am an ex-Army man:)


  5. Hi Jacqui! I’m breathless after reading all of the things you have been doing throughout your life. You are an inspiration to many, including myself.:-) Cheers!


  6. I’m going to take time to read all of the information that you posted for writers. I love to write, draw, teach and learn. I’m so glad that I ran into your page. Thanks for sharing! Lori


  7. Hi Jacqui,

    I enjoyed reading your ‘about’ section, and look forward to exploring more of your blog.

    Your prehistoric novel sounds interesting. Have you completed it?

    You have Labradors; I have Dachshunds. We have both gone to the dogs. :)



    • I love reading ‘about’ bloggers also. they always include such fascinating details. I’m taking a ‘fix your blog’ course and they’re encouraging me to make the ‘about’ less about me and more about my writing. I’m not sure that’s correct for a lot of writer blogs. Maybe for business blogs…


  8. Thank you sooo much for liking my post “Remember: Try to see the bright side”. I would love to hear your input. What did you like about it? I’ve been following you for a while, and it’s actually a bit intimidating (and exciting) to know that you’ve read something of mine.
    Again, thank you!


    • I think a lot of people feel the way you do about writing. The joy of getting what’s only a glimmer in the brain onto a sheet of paper, and have people nod and smile–that’s an amazing feeling.


  9. Hi Jacqui,
    I would like to nominate you to participate in a Writing Process Blog Meme.
    If you accept my nomination, you will need to write an article prompted by the following four questions and post it on your blog on Monday, April 21, 2014. You’ll also nominate three writers of your choice to post their articles on their blogs on April 28, 2014. The four questions:
    What am I working on at the moment?
    How does my work differ from others of its genre?
    Why do I write what I do?
    How does my writing process work?
    I’d be honored if you would accept this nomination. Please let me know ASAP so that I can feature your blog in my post on April 14, 2014. And I apologize that this is somewhat last minute – took me a while to figure out how to do this.
    Thank you,
    Shari Pratt


  10. Thank you friends for sharing the article is quite interesting, hopefully we all get that true happiness rays began to warm our hearts and make the heart glad, when we can share with each other sincerely. Lots of love from Gede Prama:):)


  11. This is a wonderful read. I appreciate to meet you. Fancy first being inspired, doing the book re your daughter getting in – very interesting!

    You are well accomplished. I admire you:)


    • With as hard as agents say they work to publish the handful of books that get out into stores, no wonder they reject so many great books. They just don’t have time. Well–we have time. We’ll do it for them!

      Love the concept of your book. I hope it’s doing well for you.


  12. Beatiful site , beautiful words thank you for wonderwordworld .Useful and clear explanations , lovely tips and also free …You are the one of an idealist & honest , naive person ,I think . I will follow your beautiful site , passionately.I don’t have a web or blog and I want to send my wife’s blog adress below , bye Turkish by ; Güle güle . Means ” go with joy.”


  13. Hi Cynthia

    Thanks for your kind words. Most of what I share are situations I found myself in and what the solutions were. It amazes me how much there is to say.

    I visited your site. It’s darling. I love the animated dog gifs. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t accept outside reviews. I do those through my publisher, Amazon Vine and several outside agents. I’m pretty limited in what else I can accept. There are several websites that do take books for review you might check out. If you can’t come up with any, comment back and I’ll look around for you.

    Thanks for thinking of me and I wish you the best of luck.


  14. Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past hour. It is filled with helpful tips and information. I also have learned that you are an amazon reviewer, teach kids, and love dogs!

    I am the author of a fiction fantasy series about dogs written for ages 7-11 and would like to know if you would accept a copy of my book, Angel in a Fur Coat, for a review.

    It’s a fun easy read about angels trading their wings and halos for fur coats and bones to be born on earth as dogs but first they must learn what it means to be a dog so they go to school. They learn about various dog breeds and different dog jobs and when they graduate they get their fur coat and are born on earth to find the person they were made for. The stroy is told through the eyes of one special little angel whose everlasting dream is to be a person’s best friend. The book is titled: Angel in a Fur Coat.
    My website is http://www.Gooberella.com and email is Xia@Gooberella.com



  15. Hi Jacqui,
    Wow I’m really impressed. We have somewhat similar backgrounds although I haven’t accomplished nearly as much. I have a business degree (MBA, U of Chicago) and some experience in teaching most recently two years in China teaching finance at a University. I am also interested in using technology for teaching and developed what I consider a brilliant approach using multimedia in the classroom with an avatar that interacts with both the teacher and the class. Unfortunately due in part to my limited marketing skills the concept never got off the ground.
    Now I am writing a Science Fiction novel, Mankind’s End, and fear that I have done some of the things you suggest will turn off readers. It is a long and complicated story and although I try and make the characters interesting and have a good hook, will it be the end of mankind?, I’m going to try and rethink parts that may be a bit too long.
    I read your short article on scribd but now that I’m at your website I’m a bit overwhelmed by all that is here.
    I do have most of my book posted on authonomy (www.authonomy.com) which is a great site for novelists. I’d suggest you try it yourself but not sure if you have time.
    One other thing: Instead of a yellow lab I have a black and white Border Collie/Retriever mix.
    I’ve posted a number of stories about him, Toppy, in a collection called Tales from the Top which is on scribd and can be found under my pen name dloganw.


  16. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Anna Of Alaska. I post upon request, for the most part. At work, there are times when the mood or the topic of conversation, inspires me to tell some tale of my life or experiences. Since you said I should write more, I’d be happy to do so. What would you like to know about my life? I’ll see what I can put together for a new post.

    Congratulations on all your accomplishments. Your interview was very interesting. Characters can be just as challenging as any friends or enemies in the real world and just as demanding. Best of luck with all your desires.


    • I’ve been reading through your entries in Anna of Alaska. What a life! I can’t say I’d survive, but I’m enjoying it vicariously through you. I’m a completely domesticated human–could not survive without my ac, my heater, my mechanical devices to ‘skin the bear’ for me. But in my dreams, when I don’t have arthritis and headaches, I’m up there with you, hiking the short three miles to your neighbor’s house.


  17. You mention in the Fifth Grade Technology* workbook that there is an available teaching module the accompanies the workbook for purchase. I can’t find this module anywhere. Where can I purchase this?


    • I’m sorry to say, this is no longer available. With the huge number of platforms out there, it became impossible to provide step-by-step directions for all of them. Do you have a specific lesson plan you’re looking at I can assist with?


  18. I am interested by one painting you used as an illustration for your article “How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion–A to D”. It shows a man huddled up and the dominant colours of the background are blue, yellow and orange. Would you happen to know the name and artist of this painting? Thanks!


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