Tag Archives: children’s books

Chop Chop


kindle

A few years ago I bought myself a Kindle HD Fire, hoping that it will help me with my studies. I was thinking of ways to save myself money by downloading my college books or other reading materials for my classes, though ebooks for college courses are not as cheap as I had imagined.

I also purchased the kindle during the time my daughter began her therapy sessions. My intentions were for me to use the kindle for school, but I didn’t have luck in way of obtaining WiFi coverage at the college I was going to, unless I could find one of the very, very few hotspots where I could use my kindle; so it was generally used at home.

During the summer months, I kept my daughter home, rather than put her in daycare. It saved me money, plus, I was home majority of the time and would rather spend that time I had with her. Since she wasn’t going to daycare now, her therapists began visiting her at home. Upon their many trips to my house, I noticed that they were using an iPad as a tool for part of her therapy. They showed me a few apps I could download for her that would be beneficial for her in OT.

Since I had a tablet, of the sort, I began downloading all kinds of free apps for her, to help teach her the ABC’s, counting, colors, shapes, all kinds of helpful learning apps for children her age. At that moment, my kindle became her kindle and has been ever since. It’s encased in a pink hard leather case, decorated with many stickers from our trips to the ER or doctor visits, though some of those stickers have since been ripped off. The kindle has been a treasured item for my daughter, who is easily bored when there isn’t any form of entertainment for her.

Flash forward a few years and to the present…it’s endured water, juice, and milk submerges; many drops to the floor (carpet and concrete covered); a near attempted meeting with the toilet; an almost attempted dunk into the Arkansas River, landing in the muddy river banks; a trip to Disney World, followed by a trip to the beach; a couple of family reunions during the hot summer days; and many roads trips thereafter and is still working. Only once had I taken it back to Best Buy, where I had purchased it, for a reboot, but it has been one tough piece of wonderful electronic device I had ever purchased and to have survived my five year old for the past three years plus.

Though, yesterday, the wonderful case which holds the kindle from meeting its dreadful doom, finally met its match…a pair of scissors. Those scissors are usually kept up high, so that tiny little hands can’t reach them. Those scissors have chopped bangs a tad bit too short, chopped up a tail of a stuffed dinosaur, chopped hair off a stuffed Pegasus to mimic a horrible mullet. Yes, those scissors have many reasons to be kept put away…in a safe place…until yesterday, when someone left them lying on the kitchen table, where they were being used to cut quilting fabric.

Mini me came running into the office, holding her kindle, still encased, though now in two pieces. My first reaction ‘Man, it finally ripped right in two’. Then, the careful learned forensic archaeologist that I am studying to be, looked carefully at the hard leather case and saw cut marks…this pattern looks strangely familiar. I didn’t get mad. The sad eyes I was given, followed by, “I’m sorry, Mommy” would only soften anything I would think to say, other than, ‘Where are the scissors?’

I followed her into the kitchen, took the scissors left lying on the kitchen table and put them back in a safe place. Then went to find my roll of duct tape, which coincidentally is the same color as my daughter’s kindle case. Duct tape, pink or any other color, can fix anything, including her kindle case. She just happened to have cut the case along the fold, allowing me the chance to save it, whereas, the many other things that she’s broken had not been savable.  But on this occasion, it was. And once again, I’m the Superhero Mom, whose daughter is now toting a kindle, whose case is held together by pink duct tape.

WPC: Blur


This week’s photo challenge is Blur.

I rarely keep a blurry photo, as I always go for the picture that has better quality. Usually my cell phone takes blurred images. Some are noticeable, while others aren’t as noticeable until after I’ve posted them on my FB or Instagram pages. However, this one is my favorite blurred image. It’s of my daughter, shopping for a comic book. She’s staring up at Hulk, her favorite superhero; there’s two different stacks of Hulk comic books so, she’s trying to decide which one she wants.

She loves superheroes and comic books. There’s a lot of girl’s who read comic books, they’re not just for boys. A few years ago she found my small stack of comic books; I had a huge stack of them, once upon a time, but they had gotten stolen while I was in the Navy. I found her thumbing through them carefully and mumbling intelligible words, which only had me believe that since she can’t read just yet, she’s making up her own story lines. Suddenly, I thought ‘maybe she would like to have them, if not help me pick some out that she would like’.

Now, when we go to Hastings, the only store nearby that has a large selection of comic books to chose from, she always asks if she can get one. Of course I say yes, it makes my little geek heart leap for joy.

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Redrafting a Query Letter


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I’m often asked, “You’re so busy, when do you find time to write?”

Of course I reply with, “I find the time.”

I do have a full schedule, or a full plate, whichever way it’s put, I am quite the busy person. Single mom, work, college, plus a huge list of other things to add that I wish not to discuss publicly. I’ve often stated when I fit in my writing. It’s usually scribbling ideas down onto paper whenever I have a free minute, such as standing in the grocery store check out lines. Then late at night, or right before class, I’ll type them up. Usually, it helps to have a printed manuscript for me to scribble on, but I always have a notebook where I keep all my notes.

Currently, I’ve been adding the last pieces to my manuscript. A sentence or two here, cut and paste that over there… As I type this, I’m 200 words shy of making 60,000 words. Wow! Well, isn’t that enough? Apparently not! It is a young adult novel, so there is a minimum and a maximum amount of words required for a publisher to actually look into publishing an author’s book…so I’ve been told…by a couple of actual publisher’s.

I didn’t come up with that entire word count over night…I wish…It took me five, long years to come up with that amount. So, you can see, I may seem to have accomplished a lot, it just took me a long time to get here. I don’t spend all of my time on the computer, writing…though some of my relatives may think otherwise.

Honestly, after hearing other authors tell me how long it’s taken them to come up with their first manuscript for a full novel, I don’t feel so bad on how long it took for me to get this far.

I’m now at the point to where I should prepare a query letter. I have written and rewritten a query letter for this manuscript, though it just hasn’t caught an agent’s attention. It’s taken me five years to write a novel with 60K words, why should it take me so long or be so hard to write up a short professional letter? Well, it is a hard market for us authors. So hard in fact, that a query letter has to have the essentials, yet catch an agents eye for them to pick you and your manuscript. It has to be perfect.

I’ve had a few ‘maybes’, but they weren’t a definite ‘yes’. So, it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. I couldn’t understand what my query letter lacked. It had all the important details; genre, word count, title, synopsis, a little bit about me…yet, no yes’s. I had a hard time coming up with my query letter. I honestly didn’t know how to write one. I had to research and research this on the internet, through the writer’s digest magazine, even thumbed through several books on ‘how to get published’.

Until one day, I had stumbled upon a blog that proved most helpful in every way. Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant, with many years of experience, had written a ‘Complete Guide To Query Letters…’ After scrolling through this post, I finally had the understanding of how my query letter should read. It clicked. The part about her ‘Hook Instruction’ was proved most helpful to me. After having a few people read my query letter, it seems that’s what it lacked, a hook.

Now it’s time for me to go re-type my query letter, though with motivation and determination that I will have the perfect one written and sent out to all those agents I’ve picked to query.

Be sure to check our Jane Friedman’s post about, ‘The Complete Guide To Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests’. Also scroll through her other posts, you’ll find them all very helpful.

Happy writing!

Reblog: ‘Calming a Meltdown…’


Meltdowns are something Autism Parents are quite used to. They’re much different than a normal tantrum, though we autism parents would prefer a tantrum versus having to handle a meltdown, especially in the store. Honestly, I don’t mind a meltdown at home, as I can readily handle them. But I cannot handle one as easily in the store. What’s worse is all the stares and rude comments from all the those lurking around when my daughter has a meltdown.

Anything can start one and it’s mostly from her not being able to handle a situation.

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For instance, when her school first started practicing fire drills, any time my daughter would see a red fire alarm, anywhere, she would panic. It would lead to screaming and crying, fire, fire, get out, get out. I try to calm her by telling her that the fire alarms aren’t working, rarely does that help, but it’s worth trying. I try to hold her, hug her, use soothing words to try and calm her, all the while moving to another aisle so that the fire alarm is out of sight. Then, point out all the cool things around us, like a neat toy she may like. Distraction works best, most of the time.

Meanwhile, people begin to swarm in, pointing, talking amongst themselves, staring at us. The best way for strangers to handle this situation is to move on. It doesn’t help that parent at all to point and stare. It adds stress to the already embarrassing situation that parent is having to endure at that moment.

I was in the check out lane one day, when my daughter started to heave a meltdown. The checker didn’t hand her a toy fast enough, plus it was in a sack. The checker looked at me awkwardly as I said, “it’s okay, she’s just having a moment, it’s just something children with autism do.” Her reply made me frown, “I thought all kids do that.” Yes, and no. What’s worse, an older gentleman behind me began to giggle at my daughter’s outburst. I did my best to ignore him and held my tongue. When we got outside my daughter’s meltdown grew worse as she started to toss things out of the buggy. I can only pray that we get to the car without being hit by someone speeding through the parking lot….it does happen, even right outside the doors of the store.

At home, her kicking and screaming turns into her jumping up and landing on her knees, to banging her head on the floor or anything that she can hit her head on. Usually I let her kick and scream, but when she starts banging her head, I’ll scoop her up and rock her in the rocking chair. Her meltdown may last from a few minutes, to hours, but I’ve noticed that the rocking does help.

Here’s a blog post from ‘The Autism Site (dot) com’ on ‘Calming A Meltdown Can Be Frustratingly Difficult’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward


This week’s photo challenge is, reward.

What does ‘reward’ mean to you?

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In the autism world, there are many challenges that are faced every single day. Yet some of those challenges can be very rewarding, for both child and parent. I can think of many challenges we’ve both faced, that in the end, we were equally rewarded – her reward was achieving something out of the ordinary, achieving a goal, breaking out of a habit. For me it was seeing her do something and knowing that she knew she did it without having a complete meltdown, or after the meltdown was over, she saw that what she did, was actually okay.

The first rewarding moment that I can remember, was the first time she sat in a barber chair without assistance or without me holding her down while she got her hair cut. Yes, you read that right. For most children with autism, getting a haircut is a HUGE challenge. I had to sit in the chair with her in my lap, hold her legs and arms as still as possible, all the while listening to her scream and cry as the stylist cut her hair. It’s just a part of that sensory/autism area…someone different combing my hair, that isn’t my hairbrush, etc. The stylist having to spray their hair with water isn’t a big hit either. Plus, the scissors aren’t a favorite thing – something sharp and pointed, coming towards me…

I take her to a place where the hair stylist is familiar with children with special needs; she has a special needs child of her own. Not only that, but the place is very welcoming to all children, especially those with special needs. They can play with all kinds of neat and cool toys. Plus, the stylist doesn’t even have to cut their hair while they’re sitting in a chair. I walked in one day and saw her sweeping up hair from around the train table – the child was preoccupied with the train set, that that was all they were going to do. My daughter was the same way, I couldn’t get her away from the train set, or coax her to sit in the chair to get her hair cut, so the stylist proceeded to cut her hair from where my daughter played. No problems, whatsoever!

Maybe there’s a fear of sitting in a barber chair, who knows!

The last time I took my daughter to get her hair cut, she sat in the chair without a fuss. Cartoons was playing on the TV The stylist was able to find a cartoon my daughter liked on the TV, which kept her preoccupied long enough for the stylist to go to work. It was only when the cartoon ended did she realize what was going on and started to squirm, though the stylist quickly finished, yet did an amazing job. The stylist then rewarded my daughter with a toy of her choosing, for her being so brave and not making a fuss.

This little barber shop also has an awesome store where I can buy sensory toys for my daughter. I even purchased a few puzzles and a few dry erase alphabet mats for my daughter to learn tracing her ABC’s on.

My daughter now calls the barber shop, the train place, because of the train set kids can play with while waiting to get their hair cut. There’s also a dollhouse and a few sensory toys around the store where kids can freely play.

Book Reviews on Amazon Actually Help


It’s a hard life/job being a small time published author, especially when you first start out. You continue to market yourself time and time again, in hopes of getting your work out there. My first year as a published author went really well. I had quite a few book signing events, which led to being invited to other events where I was able to set up a table for more book signings. I’ve sold quite a few books by myself alone; through social media, emails, word of mouth, leaving postcards here and there. But that’s just small marketing. it takes a lot more effort, time, and money to really get noticed.

Recently, I’ve been doing some research on how to boost sales, broaden my marketing area, and strengthen my marketing skills. A very good friend of mine can tell you straight away, that I’m not very good with computers, yet I try and I am a quick learner.

Social media alone is the largest self-marketing tool that I know of, but word of mouth from readers can be a much bigger step in having your work noticed.

According to Brooke Warner in her Huffington Post blog post, “book reviews on Amazon are what carries it’s weight in getting more attention with Amazon.”

“After you hit 50 (ratings), you get more visibility on Amazon.”

In this line of work, I believe reviews from readers are extremely important. It helps me, the author, know that my work is being purchased, that my work is being seen by others. It also lets me know what people actually think of what I have written. It also lets me know that my work is getting out there.

It takes a lot of time and and a lot effort to put a book together and get it out on the market, yet it takes little effort to write up a review.

If you read a book and truly love it, be sure to let the author know. There’s many webpages out there where their work is being sold. Be kind and leave a quick review. I’m a big Goodreads user and love to rate author’s books. I also click which ones I’ve read, want to read, and have purchased. I then write up a short review on what I thought of each book I’ve read. And if I loved a particular book, I let them know.

I’ve even written reviews on books and posted them here on my blog, tagging their name and a link to where you can purchase that book or see other works by that author. This all helps us authors in many ways. It gets our name out there. Word of mouth goes a long way, it is a small part of marketing, and it does help the author. You never know when someone is actually reading that review; it helps make that decision for them to purchase that book.

According to a blog entry by Mike Briggs, on author Patricia Briggs’ writing, “…that pure, dumb luck plays a major role in this phase of the game.”

He’s right. Just by posting on my blog here, I’ve been able to bring attention to my work and what I do. I’ve had guess blog spots where I talked about what I do and how I got started and why. Other author’s, whom I have reviewed and shared their work here on my blog, have seen my posts and have thanked me.

Small steps can lead to big adventures, yet you have to take those small steps.

With all that said, if you have purchased my book and would like to leave a review, click here and it will take you to Amazon. Also, feel free to purchase a copy if you haven’t already. If you would like a personal signed copy made out to someone, click here. To rate my book on Goodreads, click here.

I will be finishing up my last round of edits on my last chapter of my young adult novel and will be sending it to my editor very, very soon. After the last draft is finalized, I will be sending it off to the publisher. As always, I’ll keep everyone posted.

Cheers!

Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.