Treating the child not the fever

My son followed one of my childhood Christmas traditions this year; he was sick. As a child, I routinely had strep throat during Christmas. This year Jase woke up with a 102 degree temperature on Christmas morning.

My daughter and I had a low-grade fever the weekend before Christmas. Now when I mention this to my husband, his usual response is to give them fever reducing medicine such as children’s ibuprofen. But I am not one to take medicine, unless I really need it. So unless the fever is causing some discomfort, I don’t want to give them medicine to reduce it. I am definitely one to treat the child and not the fever. After all, the fever is there for a reason.

Actually, this time in both incidents, I did reach for the medicine. Lexie complained her head hurt and just wasn’t herself, so we gave her ibuprofen. But the next day, she still had the same low-grade fever but was playing enthusiastically with her brother. No medicine this time.

Now with Jase and Christmas day, we wanted him to enjoy the morning of opening presents, so we convinced him to take some chewable ibuprofen. I say convinced because he really hates taking medicine. Lexie, on the other hand, has been taking some form of medication every day basically since birth and is pretty good about taking her medicine though on some of the nastier tasting antibiotics we do end up bribing her. (Candy works wonders.)

sick childJase took the medicine and had a wonderful Christmas morning. It is amazing that you can see almost exactly when the medicine wears off. His face is flush and he just curls up on the couch. The next day he was feeling even worse and tried a liquid cold medicine. It didn’t go over too well. After that, he refused to take any medicine. And since he fever was under 102, I didn’t force the issue. We just concentrated on giving him fluids and letting him rest.  We offered him anything he wanted to drink, but he stuck with juice (which he almost never drinks) and milk. I was just happy to get him to take anything since he didn’t eat at all the day after Christmas.

Now in this case, we let Jase decide about the medicine, but just so you don’t think he is in charge all the time, if it had been a prescription medication, he wouldn’t have had a choice just like if the fever had been higher than 102, he would not have been the one to decide whether he took it.

That said, it is no fun to be sick while on our Christmas break. But the good news is that he didn’t break his perfect attendance record at school. And as a reward for perfect attendance, he earned a free ticket to tonight’s Spurs game against the Brooklyn Nets. Yep, now that everyone is finally better we are all going to the basketball game. This is Lexie’s first time and could possibly supply a whole new blog topic for new week. We will see. Until then…Go Spurs Go!

Today’s Featured Author: Pamela D. Beverly

Today I am excited to interview author Pamela D. Beverly on my blog.

INTERVIEW:

About the Author

Welcome. Please tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Pamela D. Beverly and I was born in Camp Springs, Maryland.  I am a member of the Federal Government, which seems to be on the endangered species list these days.  I was once in the Air Force, stationed in England and Missouri.  I like to travel and enjoy my attempts at guessing where the people I’ve met in my travels are from.  I’m proud to say that I’m right most of the time.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

As a child, I used to draw cartoons and did so for years.  Some of them had extended storylines so the writing just seemed to develop as a kind of off-shoot to the cartoons.  I stopped drawing and began to write stories and never looked back.  Now I can’t draw even if I tried.  S.E. Hinton, the woman that wrote the novels, That was Then, This is Now and The Outsiders, inspired me.  She wrote That was Then, This is Now when she was 16 and I remember as a young girl thinking that that was the coolest thing.  As a teenage, I wrote a story, talked to a local author that was a teacher at a local middle school, where I first heard the expression, “Write what you know.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first thought of myself as a writer when I made the transition from drawing cartoons to making up stories to amuse myself all those years ago.  I considered myself an author when my novel, Relations, was publishedearlier this year.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

A lot of my personality as well as some of my experiences are in the novel.  Up until the year or so, I traveled a lot for my position, which kind of served as the impetus for this book.  I’m not the most patient woman in the world and I am even more impatient and intolerant of racism and injustice, which are some of the qualities that the protagonist, Frank Ellis possesses.  He also has a temperamental stomach, like I do.  In fact, something that happens to him in the book has actually happened to me.  He also is an insomniac, as am I.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book? 

I have several projects in the pipeline.  I keep getting asked by people who have read my book if I’m going to write a sequel to Relations.  I hadn’t planned on it but I am now considering it.  Relations was the last of six manuscripts that I have written over the years but the first to be published.  I attempted to have my first manuscript published years ago and was discouraged by the rejection letters that I received.  A vanity press publisher wanted to publish it soon after but I’d never heard of vanity press publishing back then and so I didn’t choose to do that.  I put it aside and began writing another manuscript.  Relations took me almost two years to write but I actually began writing it years ago, around 2004.  I was traveling so much that I developed writer’s block.  I only wrote about a page and a half of it when I started, until I finally rid myself of the writer’s block and began writing it in earnest in June of 2010.  I can’t really share much about my next project because with the limited time that I have as I market Relations, I have been revisiting two of my old manuscripts and I don’t know which of them will win out in the end.

How do you find time to write?

I’m old-school, if you want to call it that.  I never write outlines or use index cards or any of that stuff.  I just carry around a tablet, scratch paper or a journal of some sort and start writing.  I can be anywhere, at the dentist or the doctor’s office, wherever it’s boring or nothing’s going on.  After I have written a fair amount, I transfer it to my laptop.  I don’t usually feel the inspiration to write when I’m sitting at my computer (maybe because it feels too much like work) but when I write in longhand, it just flows naturally.

About her Book

Please tell us about your current release. 

My novel, Relations, is about the long-distance interracial relationship between Frank Ellis, a financial consultant, who lives in Washington, DC and the woman he meets during his travels, Delilah Carpenter, who lives in Savannah, Georgia.  At first glance, it is about their relationship but it is also about all of the relations that intertwine–her family, his friends, her co-workers and supervisor and those with whom they come in contact on a daily basis.

What inspired you to write this book?

During my travels all over the United States, I would listen to the instructors and the guest speakers at the training classes I support and I thought about how I and some of my co-workers would go to each class, set them up and break them down, sort of like circus performers.  I thought about the people I’ve met from different parts of the U.S. and the world and my adventures on airplanes and in the airports.  I’ve talked to people that I’ve sat next to on planes for hours or in airports during layovers and delays for hours on end, only to never see them again.  I just found it fascinating.  Initially, my main character, Frank, did not start out as a financial consultant.  He sort of developed into one over the course of my writing the book.  But I noticed that I still experience racism, even in the building where I work, in a metropolitan city like Washington, DC.  And one day I just got fed up with it.  I thought to myself, Will it ever end?  So the two subjects kind of came together.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character would be the main protagonist, Frank Ellis.  As I mentioned earlier, he is closest to me than any of the characters to having the same qualities that I possess.  He believes in fairness and equality for everyone.  Sometimes he just gets in his own way because he’s not always able to rein in his impatience with those things that he dislikes about society.  The two characters I dislike the most are Delilah’s supervisor, Mr. McDermott and her co-worker, Agnes.  People will have to read the book in order to find out why (laughs).

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Frank Ellis has it allgood looks, a charismatic personality that draws people to his financial seminars in droves, and a multitude of women for the choosing. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough anymore.

As Frank leads one of his entertaining seminars on financial planning, one audience member captures his attention-the beautiful Delilah Carpenter from Savannah, Georgia. Bewitched by her charming accent and sexy curves, he is thrilled when he encounters her again in the hotel bar after the seminar. They go to dinner, but not before he has had too much to drink. After he makes a less-than-favorable impression, he passes out at the table, leaving Delilah to ensure he gets back to his room safely. When he awakens the next morning and discovers she has already checked out, Frank wonders if he will ever get a chance to redeem himself.

Frank and Delilah come from different races, different backgrounds, and different parts of the country. But in a passionate affair of two lonely hearts, only time will tell if all of that really matters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pamela D. Beverly is a Jacqueline-of-all-Trades but a master of none. Mostly she is a student of human nature that enjoys writing and studying mankind. She has traveled all over the United States as well as to several foreign countries and enjoys meeting people of all races, religions and creeds. Her main wish for mankind is that we learn to get along and enjoy one another’s differences.

You can purchase Relations at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million.com.

How much do you need to develop minor characters?

So you know that you need to fully develop a background and motivation for both your antagonist and protagonist and of course, their supporting cast (sidekicks, best friends, and close confidants). But how much do you need to develop minor characters?

Well, that all depends on how minor they are. If they are just part of the setting – say the surly teenager at the coffee shop who tosses the sticky bun on the tray and nearly spills the coffee, then I would say pretty much no development is needed. This character almost doesn’t even warrant a name – unless that name is going to play some role in the story such as reminding your character of their first boyfriend which could lead to some back story.

Now if this minor character gets a speaking part (beyond “excuse me” or “How can I help you?”) then it might be helpful to have a few facts about him or her. miraIn Destiny, I introduced a character that only appears in two scenes, though she is mentioned a few other times. She is a young thief who has great drawing ability. Well of course she needed a name (Mira) and a description (a shy, thin girl of sixteen with long brown hair) as well as a few facts such as she is a better artist then a thief. But I didn’t create a complete back story as to why she is living on the streets or working for the thieves network when she isn’t a good thief. I know nothing about her family or her life before she enters my story. And it works as she is a such a minor character. There is no need to waste your time developing a character profile on such a character but you might consider giving your minor character a distinctive trait. In Mira’s case it is her shyness that stands out.

Now in Quietus and Destiny I have a lot of characters that are minor. There are High Council members (basically government officials) and other Elementals (people who can control the elements) that train with my main character Lina. In this case, since they appear numerous times and directly impact the story, I did develop brief character sketches so that they would come to life in the story. Especially with the Elementals, I needed to know what element they could control and where they came from (not just country but employment and family) as well as what they looked like and how they behaved. Of course for most of these characters I only devote a few lines to each. But knowing these facts I think makes it easier to write about them as if they are real people rather than just people to advance your story.

So how much time you spend on these minor characters depends on their role in your story.  In some cases knowing their motivations (why they are helping or hindering your protagonist) can prove to be very beneficial. In other cases, you need nothing more than a description.

Merry Christmas, readers! (#Free book offers)

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brought you the new Nook or Kindle that you were wishing for. Or perhaps you got an iPad or Sony’s e-reader.

As my Christmas present to all the new e-reader owners out there, you can get three of my books for FREE!

Please use the coupon codes on Smashwords websites where you can download these stories in whichever e-book format you need.

The SearchTHE SEARCH – a fantasy short story

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

FREESmashwords – No coupon needed

SummonedFINALSUMMONED: Book 1 of The Elemental

At the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Now as an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

FREESmashwords Coupon Code ZD57L

QuietusFINALQUIETUS: Book 2 of The Elemental

The Learner Ben Dar had been destroyed by the reluctant use of her powers. In the shadow of his fallen fortress, she had learned the truth – that she was the center of a thousand-year-old prophecy claiming the rebirth of the Elementals – an ancient race dedicated to caring for the Land.

Now Lina and those with traces of Elemental power train in the mountains of South Point in the hopes that they can defeat this unknown danger to the Land. Will her powers be enough to stop the destruction of her homeland?

FREESmashwords Coupon Code MP48W

DestinyFINALDESTINY: Book 3 of The Elemental

Destroying Quietus should have stopped the destruction to the Land. But it hadn’t. Slowly, the barren areas continue to grow destroying everything in their path. None of Lina’s Elemental powers can repair the damage while the Land remains contaminated by magic.

But there is an ancient scepter created by a Learner that may lift this magical barrier. Before Lina can claim it, the scepter is stolen. Now Lina and Val must race to find the scepter and end the destruction to the Land once and for all.

DESTINY is available at Smashwords (in all ebook formats), Kobo Books or Amazon for $2.99.

All Coupons are good thru December 27th. Enjoy!

Wondering when the magic of Santa Claus ends

santa2It is that time of year when the house is decorated with gold, red and green. The Christmas trees have been carefully decorated, and the front yard is alit with thousands of twinkling lights. Yes, it is definitely Christmas time, and my kids are eagerly waiting for the big red-suited guy to make his appearance tonight.

The stockings are hung by the chimney (with care). We have our cookies baked and ready for the plate. Santa will get a glass of chocolate milk as that is my son’s favorite. And of course, we have reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn.

Yes, my kids believe in Santa. And with Jase in the first grade, I sometimes wonder how long it will be before he hears the whispers and the other kids declaring that Santa doesn’t exist. Last year in his kindergarten class there was a boy who didn’t get Santa gifts but Jase never questioned that. Now we have a family who moved into our neighborhood who doesn’t believe in Santa. I keep wondering if this is the year that the questions start.

I participated in an online poll the other day about what age was the right to break the news about Santa to your kids. There were comments at the bottom of the poll, and I was surprised how many parents didn’t allow their kids to believe in Santa Claus.

Quite a few of the people didn’t like lying to their children. That made me think about my discussion about death with my daughter earlier this month. I said that I wouldn’t lie to her and went on to explain that we will all die someday.

So when she finds out the truth about Santa, will she feel I lied? Or will she recall the magic of the season – of a time when she believed in something good and special?

It is hard to say. I don’t recall when I learned the truth, and I certainly don’t recall it making me trust my parents any less. Childhood is so short. Why not let them believe in something magical?

We have never used Santa as a way to get our kids to behave. We have never told them Santa won’t bring them a gift or that their stocking will be filled with coal. Nor have we used the Elf on a Shelf like my friend does to keep her three boys behaving nicely during the season.

We also do not attribute all gift to being from Santa. He brings them each one gift and fills their stocking with books, candy and small toys. The rest of the presents have been under the tree for weeks, and the kids know they came from their uncles and grandparents as well as my husband and me.

So how long will they believe in Santa? I have no clue. If they ask me straight out, will I continue to “lie” to them? No but I will ask them what they think and lead the conversation from there. In the end, they will know about St. Nick and how he is a symbol of hope and generosity that has brought joy to millions of children.

And I hope this Christmas magic – the goodness and the spirit of giving – continues well past their belief in the big guy.  But for now, I will sit back and enjoy the magic of Santa and watch the hope and wonder on my children’s faces.

Today’s Featured Author: Carl R. Brush

Today, I am pleased to feature Carl R. Brush, author of The Second Vendetta, on my blog.

Guest Post: A Little Old Time Religion Could Save (or at least spice up) Your Story’s Soul

Since we’re in the middle of the holiday (holy day) season, I thought a few remarks about religion in writing might be in order. I think, particularly in the world of thrillers and mysteries, authors tend to ignore the subject. I’m guilty. Both my historical thriller THE SECOND VENDETTA and its soon-to-be released prequel THE MAXWELL VENDETTA contain little in the way of encounters with god and church, though they hold a healthy component of the spiritual in other modes. However, in working on a third book in this California history trilogy of mine (the title du jour is BONITA, the protagonist’s name), I’ve created religious characters by necessity. They’re part of Mexican California society, ca 1840, so it’s nearly impossible to write about the era without writing about the church. Here’s what I’m finding at about three-quarters of the way through my draft.

Characters with a religious mind-set continuously measure their thoughts and actions against the demands of both the religious institutions and the notions of the eternal spirits to whom they pay homage. That fact gives the writer an opportunity to explore moral and religious questions of plot and of relationships in a way that secular narrative doesn’t afford. It’s one thing to say or to show that it’s wrong and legally perilous to, for example, kill and torture. It’s quite another to do or witness or suborn these acts under the threat of eternal damnation. It matters not, I think, whether your readers believe the doctrine. If your writing is convincing, it’s enough that your characters believe it. And it adds a dimension to themes such as the conflict between what’s legal and what’s just that I don’t think we can create any other way.

Or take matters of authority. Most of us use politicians or police as the exemplars of societal power. But what of the priest? It’s easier, I suppose for a historical novelist like me, who can enter an era where priests count more in the societal structure, but they still count today. Else why would we have a rebellious nun speaking at the Democratic convention? Is not a preacher with a prostitute a bigger hypocrite than a businessman with one, even if the businessman is a putative family man? And what if the preacher is speaking out against fornication at the same time? And when you add that spiritual element to a secular situation, you’ve automatically expanded your story’s consciousness.

Finally, the way your characters relate to their religion can speak volumes about their inner life and by extension about major themes in your narrative. For example, one of my characters in BONITA is an Anglican convert to Catholicism. Mostly, he is a perfunctory observer of his new religion, but the sacrament of confession absorbs him completely. It’s his way to absolution, and it influences how he acts in everyday life as well in moments of crisis.

So, give religion a try. It might not save your soul, but it might inject a new spirit into some of your writing.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas gift, take a look at my historical thriller, set in 1910 San Francisco/Berkeley/Sierra Nevada, THE SECOND VENDETTA, at $2.99 for the e-book and $10.99 for the paperback on Amazon. If you’re in the bay area, there’s still time to get an autographed copy. Just contact me carlrbrush @me.com.

Book Description:

The Second VendettaNot again.

It’s taken Andy Maxwell two years—1908-1910—to help his family recover from the vendetta that nearly killed his mother, burned their Sierra Nevada ranch house, and exhumed some long-buried family secrets—including the fact that his father was black. At last, Andy thinks, he can return to University of California and pursue his history doctorate in peace.

Not so.

First of all, it turns out they don’t want a miscegenated mongrel in the Ph.D. program. Just when he’s enlisted the eminent San Francisco journalist, Ambrose Bierce, to help him attack that problem, it turns out that marauder who started all the trouble in the first place didn’t stay Shanghaied. Michael Yellow Squirrel is back for another try at eliminating every last Maxwell on earth. So much for school.

And then there’s the election.

Reform gubernatorial candidate Hiram Johnson wants him to run for the California legislature and help foil the railroad barons.

And then there are the women.

The debutante beauty and the Arapaho princess.

So, how is Andy Maxwell, going to deal with all these quandaries? The Second Vendetta answers that question and many more with a tale-telling style that pulls readers into the book and doesn’t let them go till they’ve turned the last page, wishing there were more yet to turn.