Eight tips to end the “my kids never listen to me” dilemma

listeningYou’ve repeated your request a thousand times – or at least if feel like that. But there sits your child ignoring what you just told them to do. The funny thing is that even though we know our kids may tune us out and choose to focus on their TV program we keep doing the same thing. Sometimes it feels the only way to get the kids to listen is to raise my voice. Then I feel guilty about yelling at them.

What needs to change is my behavior. I mean doing the same thing and expecting different results seems ridiculous. So I turned to the Internet to look for some new ideas or maybe just a reminder of things to try. Here is some of what I found.

  • Consider their age – I think sometimes we as adults expect our kids to think and behave like we do. But they are not little adults. It is our responsibility to teach them what they need to do. So instead of yelling at them and repeating the same thing over, consider telling them once and then “helping” them to do what you asked. I have often found especially with Lexie that she sometimes just doesn’t understand what we want her to do – even if she had done it before.
  • Consider what you say – Take some time to listen to what you say to your kids. Is everything negative? Are you constantly lecturing them and yelling? If so, it is natural reaction to tune someone out and disconnect from the negativity. Change your approach and maybe the results will be different.
  • Don’t give them repeat chances – Tell them once. Don’t say by the time I count to three (or ten or whatever) because you know they are going to wait to the last second to comply. I remember reading one parenting book that said you should tell them once but lay out the consequence of not doing whatever you asked. “Please pick up your toys in the living room. Any toys I find when I come back in ten minutes are going in the time out box for a week.” And then follow through.
  • Try lowering your voice – I have heard this time and time again. Instead of yelling, try talking softly. I have yet to try this. I fear that talking softly would be lost during the crazy loud noise my kids are usually making at the time.
  • Practice Listening – Listening is a learned skill. Make sure you take the time to listen to your children. And I mean really listen. Turn away from the computer or put down the book and listen to what they are telling you. Model for them how you want them to behave.
  • Be close – Don’t yell out directions from the other room. (Yep, I am guilty of this one.) Though they may be able to hear you with the TV on or while you are banging around pots and pans in the kitchen, they are not focusing on what you are saying. So go to them, get down on their level, look in their eyes and tell them what you need from them.
  • Keep it short – Don’t list off a long list of things that need to be done. Young children can only process and remember one to two commands at a time. So have them complete one thing before moving on to the others.
  • Repeat – No that isn’t you repeating the message or request again and again. We already covered how fruitless that can be. Instead, have your child repeat back to you what you just asked them to do. “Now tell me, what are you going to do as soon as you finish breakfast?”

Now like I said, a lot of these are advice that I have heard before, but sometimes it bears repeating again and again. Maybe this time I will be listening.

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Today’s Featured Author: Loren Weaver

Today, please welcome fantasy author Loren Weaver to my blog. She shares a little bit about the creation of her Victoria Novak: Paranormal Division series. The second book, Archangel’s Salvation, was released in August.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Texas, but I call Georgia home. Currently, I’m living abroad in Ecuador while working in both Ecuador and Brazil.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started writing when I was eleven, and I’ve never gone back. I always loved reading, and I wanted to be a part of bringing that escape to others. So, I guess you could say that I was inspired by hundreds of other authors bring life to their stories.

Please tell us about your current release.

I just released my novel Archangel’s Salvation, which is the second book in my Victoria Novak: Paranormal Division series. The first one is called Havoc’s Cry. The series follows Tori on her adventures as an agent for the FBI’s paranormal branch. Books three and four are already in the works and should release late 2014 and early 2015.

How did you come up with the title? 

My titles are based on Shakespeare quotes, actually. For example, Havoc’s Cry is from the quote “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war” which has a double meaning since my main character is best friends with a werewolf!

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I don’t ever base characters on real people, because then I’d feel bad when terrible things happened to them. Which they almost always do in my books. Strangely enough, one of my good friends has the same name as one of the characters, but I had already written the character before my friend came into the picture!

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I came up with the ending towards the beginning of my plot outline, although some of the relevant players changed from the original idea. I had to separate the original idea into the first three books, since it was too much for one!

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write? 

I work in the field, so I can’t ever be in one place to write! For me, if I have a laptop, I’m able to write. I don’t even need internet to keep me entertained in my story land! But if I get a choice, I always like a good view for inspiration.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a Master SCUBA Diver, and it’s my dream to set foot on all seven continents before I die.

Book Description

2 Archangel's Salvation frontVictoria Novak, infamous Sorceress and Federal Paranormal Division Special Agent, just got a call from the police about four bloodless corpses. Now it’s time to investigate.

When she goes to the Coven Master for help, he gives her a vampire liaison. Gabriel, a 400 year old vampire with angel’s wings painted on his face, is violence on a leash. Tori and the team chase leads back to the new club Transylvanian Travesty, owned by a vampire that makes Tori weak with his power. But is he really involved in the killings?

A new vampire murder, paranormal politics, and police work. All in a normal day. But now, Gabriel’s ready to be free, and Tori may be the only way to ensure Archangel’s Salvation.

About the Author 

LorenLoren Weaver is an engineer for an oil company as her day job. She loves crazy sports and has her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, master SCUBA diver certificate, and motorcycle license. Although engineering pays the rent, she writes because she loves to hear and to tell a good story.

You can find out more about Loren and her writing on her website.

You can purchase Archangel’s Salvation on Amazon.

Seven tips on foreshadowing

Superstition uid 757681Foreshadowing is using suggestive words or phrases that give hints of future events in the story. It can be used to build suspense or to prepare the reader for impending events without revealing too much of what is to come.

Without foreshadowing, readers have no expectations because you haven’t provided them with any. Since many beginning (and even some veteran) author struggle with foreshadowing, I wanted to offer these tips.

  • Make sure the incident needs foreshadowing. Not every event needs it and overusing it will cause the effect to be lost on the reader. It should only be used for the major events in your novel.
  • Remember to follow through on the foreshadowing. If you introduce a gun (or a mystic stone), it will need to appear as an important piece of the story or your reader will feel cheated.
  • If you are building suspense, your foreshadowing should be more obvious since it is key to the suspense. If you are merely setting up a situation for later, you may want the foreshadowing to be almost invisible to the reader. Think of this as planting clues that the reader may miss but when they think back about it will realize they were significant to the event they were pointing to.
  • Carefully consider the timing of the foreshadowing. It needs to be far enough in advance to tip off the reader but not so far ahead that the reader forgets about it. If you are using it for suspense, remember not to drag it out for too long or the reader will disengage from the suspense building.
  • Don’t forget that you can also use foreshadowing to deliberately mislead the readers. You can make them believe that X is about to happen when really Y happens instead.
  • Since foreshadowing is tough to do – you don’t want it too obvious or too subtle – this is a good time to use a beta reader. Something that you feel might be obvious may not be clear to your readers.
  • A lot of foreshadowing is done after your first draft is written. It might be easiest to plan for foreshadowing by selecting the events you want to foreshadow and then work backwards to incorporate the foreshadowing in the preceding chapters.  A small event may only need a little foreshadowing while a major event that occurs near the end of the novel may be hinted at and alluded to almost from the beginning.

Foreshadowing can be a tricky business and how you use it – heavy-handed or subtle – is up to you. The bast way to learn about foreshadowing techniques is to observe them in the books you read and movies you watch. And of course by practice in your own writing.

Fall sports for the kids

School has started once again. I am not one to insist my kids have extracurricular activities but if there is something that they want to do, I will let them tackle one new thing – be it a sport, club or whatever.

This year, Lexie has chosen to try soccer. She remembers going to games and practices when Jase tried soccer when he was five. I signed her up for the same program through the YMCA. She is on an all-girl team of five and six-year-olds. Her coaches are the parents of one of the other little girls. They coached their daughter’s team in the spring and have coached their son’s team before so they know what we are doing.

Before the first practice, we had to go get the necessary equipment – shin guards, cleats and black shorts. We already had a size 3 soccer ball. The YMCA provides the jersey and matching socks. In the case of Lexie’s team they have yellow as their color. They choose bumblebees as their team name.

The first practice was supposed to be on my birthday but we got to the field only to find out that they were cancelling practice due to a rainstorm that was approaching. Instead the coach met the girls, gave them their jerseys and went over a little bit of what their first game would be like. That first game was the next morning at 10 am!

CIMG3379Yes, they had their first game without ever having a practice. They did get to run through a few drills before the game. But they ended up losing 1-4 against the other team. Lexie had fun though she wasn’t use to being bumped or hit with a ball. She held up well until someone elbowed her in the nose. Luckily that happened in the fourth quarter.

As for Jase, he stuck with karate for the fall. He is currently a first degree purple belt and will be testing this November to become a second degree purple belt. He began karate almost three years ago. I think he does better at an individualized sport like karate than a team sport such as basketball or soccer.

IMG_2032Every season, he is required to participate in a karate tournament. He has yet to win a round during tournament and I know this doesn’t make him happy. He is good at techniques but really doesn’t have the killer instinct for tournament. He is not aggressive and typically falls back into the same few kicks which are his favorite.

But even without his success at tournament, Jase loves karate. He even performed some karate moves for last year’s school talent show. He included some karate weapons for his demonstration. In class, they do not learn about the weapons. They offer camps twice a year where the students learn to use long or short swords, tonfa (police batons), nun chucks, throwing stars and other weapons. At the end of the camp they sell some of the practice weapons.

I am glad the kids are liking their sports this Fall. I don’t know if Lexie will want to continue with soccer. She has tried gymnastics and dance before this and neither of those activities were ones she wanted to stick with. But I am sure Jase will stick with karate for at least a little while longer. He often says he wants to become a red belt which is the highest rank he can attain in the junior level.Until then we will just enjoy going to practices, games and tournaments with the kids.

Today’s Featured Author: Susan Leigh Noble

For the first time in the three years that I have been hosting authors on my site, I finally had one not return their information in time. So today, I decided I would be the featured author and share an excerpt from Destiny, the third book in my The Elemental trilogy.  If you are an author and interested in being featured, please contact me.

Excerpt

Selda delighted in just holding the scepter in her hand. She caressed it as one might caress a lover. She couldn’t believe she was finally holding the instrument that would restore her magic. Movement outside the window caused her to turn. It was the red dragon, Kset, gorging on a horse. She shuddered at the sight. The abandoned farm was not her choice of places to stay, though it did provide food for the dragon. She had been all for letting him go, but Slade seemed attached to the creature. She glanced at her brother and then back at the scepter.

“How do we use it?” she asked her voice breathless.

Slade held out his hand, and she reluctantly gave up the scepter. “I don’t know,” he said turning it over in his hand. “I guess we should give it a try.”

“How?”

“Well it reveals magic. I have an amulet made by a Learner. The amulet was designed to track the wearer. We can test it on that.” He looked at her. “Of course we still need the sword.”

“We will need to find out where Val is.”

“I can use the spell Ben Dar used to track Lina.”

“We don’t need her. We need Val.”

“From what you have said, I figure they will be together,” he said as he opened his book and flipped a few pages.

Selda reached into the bag at Slade’s feet. She pulled out the book she had given to him. She opened it to a marked page. “Use this one.”

Slade read it and smiled. “Perfect.”

Selda quickly fetched a bowl and filled it with water from the pitcher on the counter. Slade leaned over the bowl, murmuring the spell softly. Selda watched him with a mixture of appreciation that he was helping her and a bit of indignation at the fact he could do magic while she couldn’t. That fact burned inside her as she watched the colors swirl in the water. A picture began to form. Selda took in the campsite that was clearly in the process of being broken down. She saw Val carrying a pack over to the black dragon. He fitted it on the beast’s back and then turned and took something from Lina. The two shared a smile. Selda pushed the bowl away. Water splashed onto the table as the image disappeared.

Slade looked at her with an amused smile on his face. “They aren’t in Harmony anymore,” he said. “Or Zena for that matter with all those trees in the background.”

Selda began to pace. “Where do you think they are?”

“They could be in Carna still looking for me.” But before she could say anything, he shook his head. “No,” he said, waving his hand to dismiss what he had just suggested. “Didn’t look like Carna. The trees were not quite right.”

“That would then put them in Altron. Where would they be going?”

Slade shrugged. “At least they will be closer to us when we are ready to get his sword. But enough of this. Let’s try the scepter.”

He walked over to his pack and fished out a tarnished silver amulet. A yellow stone set in the center of a delicate looking design. It hung from a simple silver chain. Slade set it on the table beside the bowl. He picked up the scepter and waved it above the amulet. Nothing happened. Slade lightly tapped the scepter to the amulet. Again, nothing happened.

Slade picked up the amulet. “I feel its power. But the scepter made no indication of it.”

“Try releasing its power.”

Slade looked at her. “I don’t want to destroy it.”

Selda laughed. “I know you like the amulet, but we need to make sure the scepter works.”

Slade waved the scepter over the amulet in his hand. His face was tight with concentration as he again tapped the scepter to the amulet.

“Maybe there are some words you need to speak to invoke the scepter’s power,” she suggested.

Slade sat down the amulet and scepter. He picked up the book that had led them to the scepter. “Nothing in here about how to use it.” He looked around the room. “Perhaps we should try it on something else.”

Selda sighed. “Like what?”

“I don’t know. Something else magical.”

“Create something,” she suggested as she picked up the scepter. “Or use it on the dragon; it’s a creature of magic.” Slade’s outraged look caused her to laugh.

“We are not using the scepter on the dragon,” he said as he opened his spell book. “If you want to try it on a creature of magic, I can do that.” He flipped through the pages, stopping on one.  “Here we go.”

As Slade began to work, Selda turned the scepter over in her hands, wishing she knew how it worked and wishing she already had her powers back so she could hunt down Lina. She would make her pay for everything. But not before she took The Elemental’s powers.

Book Description

DestinyFINALDestroying 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 they believe will 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.

You can purchase Destiny for $.2.99 at AmazonSmashwords or anywhere e-books are sold.

Formatting your self-published novel – DIY or hire someone?

CIMG1036You have written your novel and now are ready to publish it as an e-book. But your file needs to be submitted in the proper format as required by the publisher. So do you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you?

Well, that really depends on how computer savvy you are. I have done the formatting for all my books with no problems. I know of other authors who would never want the headache of formatting their book and hire someone to do it.

Option 1 – Do it yourself

You can follow the step-by-step instructions offered by Smashwords to prepare your manuscript.

Amazon too offers a simplified formatting guide.

Advantage – It is free. If you are relatively proficient at MS Word, it is not difficult to follow the Smashwords guide. Amazon’s is a little more complex.

Disadvantage – if you aren’t proficient in MS Word, or you don’t own/use MS Word you could produce an improperly formatted book that will prevent or delay the publishing of your book. Also depending on your level of proficiency, it can take a while to follow all the formatting steps.

Option 2 – Hire someone

As I said, some authors would rather leave the formatting to the professionals. Just remember that when you hire someone to format your book that is all they are doing. They are not proofing the content.

Smashwords offers a list of formatters (as well as cover designers).

Advantages – Hiring someone who knows what they are doing can take less time and relieve you of having to worry about the formatting being done correctly.

Disadvantage – It cost money. The average rate can vary from $30 to $100 depending on the complexity or condition of your current file. It also can take longer depending on the turnaround time of the person doing the formatting.

In most cases, you will need to do several versions of your book. You will not want to use the same formatted version for all the publishers, especially as Smashwords requires a specific notice as part of the front matter that you will want to remove for submission to Amazon and other providers.

The most important thing is that you follow the guidelines provided by Amazon, Smashwords, or whatever other e-book publishers you are using so that your book not only meets their requirements but looks professional.