Cursive handwriting will NOT be a dying art in this family

This image is so true! Today, many schools don’t teach cursive writing or spend so little time on it that kids don’t become proficient in it. Cursive writing is after all not required by the national education Common Core Standards.

Even in Texas which currently requires cursive writing be taught in elementary school, my kids still don’t know it. Yes, they did spend a month or so working on it in third grade, but since it isn’t consistently required to be used in the higher grades, it isn’t retained.

Jase just finished fifth grade and couldn’t read what his Nana wrote on his birthday card because it was written in that secret cursive writing. And of course both kids sign their name by printing it.

I am sure there are many out there that don’t think cursive writing is important. With the advancement of electronics in the schools and workplace, those people don’t see the benefit of cursive writing. Even my husband seems to prefer that Jase learn different word-processing software and email programs rather than work on his atrocious print handwriting, let along work on cursive.

Of course, I am one of those who thinks our children should be learning cursive writing. I want my kids to be able to sign their name – even if it is just for signing on those horrible electronic screens at the grocery store. And if they want to read family letters or historical documents, they will need to know cursive.

But there are even more important reasons. Research has shown that people who learn and write in cursive are better at expressing their ideas. It has been linked to better reading, increased brain activation and increased performance in all academic subjects, especially in language activities such as spelling.

And it will certainly help them as they advance in school when taking notes in class becomes important as you can take notes faster in cursive.

My mother (a former school teacher) has already sat down with the kids once this summer and worked on them signing their names. But now that we are back from vacation, I think we will continue working on not only their signature but the rest of the alphabet. I hope to have them reading and writing in cursive before school starts at the end of August. Of course then the trick will be to make sure they keep using it so that they retain that knowledge.

For those of you who want to teach your own kids, check out this website for cursive worksheets to practice individual letters, words and sentences. You can find short educational lessons written in cursive for reading and writing practice at this website. Good luck!

Today’s Featured Author – Pat Simmons

Today, please welcome author Pat Simmons. Her latest book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. She is currently finishing up her novella, Late Summer Love, which should be out by the end of summer.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My Name is Pat Simmons. I’ve been a wife for 34 years and a mother of a son and daughter. I graduated from a great college in Boston, and eventually worked in my field of broadcast journalism for over twenty years. I started in radio and was truly blessed with an opportunity to transition into television news for ten years. Because of my media experience, I head the publicity team for the RT Booklovers Conventions. In my free time, when I’m not writing, which seems like all the time, I enjoy sewing, tracing my family roots, reading, and watching romance movies.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

It was my play mother, the late Lorna Robnett. She had faith in me that I could do anything, especially after she heard me weave a story to a houseful of guests.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received an email from a reader about my first book. That’s when it kicked in that I really was an author. That was 10 years ago.

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

I think each story has a little bit of Pat Simmons’ personality in them, or my alter ego, like Grandma BB or Sandra Nicholson in the Jamieson Legacy series. Grandma BB is the seventy something smart talking childless widow who says what she wants, when she wants. On the other end is sweet and sanctified Sandra Nicholson, who finally found love in her early sixties and married him. She was the epitome of an uncompromised Christian woman. The Confession won the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance in 2016, so I was happy readers fell in love with Sandra and Raimond’s story. My news background has sparked many a plots in my stories. It’s my curiosity about a subject that has created great storylines, like Guilty by Association. Kidd Jamieson wasn’t fond of carrying his absentee father’s last night, but thanks to my genealogy search, I was able to write his story when I uncovered documents that showed pages of enslaved African Americans who were buried without last names.

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

Actually, I’m sitting on the second edits of a completed novel, Mystery of Love, because I’m trying to finish Late Summer Love before summer is over. I’ll close out the year with my annual Christmas novellas, Prayers Answered by Christmas, which is a sequel to Couple by Christmas. I’m looking forward to writing it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Yes, I’ve been writing full-time for about nine years. When I run short on cash, I’ll work a temp assignment, but my steady income is from my monthly royalties, mainly from eBooks. Since I’m a Christian author, I begin my day with prayer time, I study my Bible, hoping God will give me a message to incorporate in a scene, or a personal word of encouragement for me. After that, I try to start writing my ten a.m., and many times will write until midnight. I do take breaks for chores, eating, and a movie with my husband, but I spend a lot of my time doing administrative tasks: reading and sending emails, looking for blog content, newsletter content, monitoring my social media accounts, looking for stock photos for book covers, and most importantly, staying on my writing schedule to meet my releases. I think every author is always in search of promotional opportunities, me included.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

I want to say I’m in control of my income, but it’s God who supplies my needs, especially when I’m on the road and can’t write, or my funds get low. The worst? People don’t think I work—that writing isn’t a job, and therefore, I have to tell me people I’ll call them back or let it go to voicemail, then I forget to check voicemail. The other thing is some people think I can write a book in a month or less—I wish.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Since I release three to four books a year, I appreciate outlining them. I didn’t at first. When I did, I would go off the outline anyway, usually by chapter 7. But even now, God gives me fresh scenes every morning and I say, “Thank you, Lord that is a good one.”

Please tell us about your current release.

My recent book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. Since then, I’ve completed a full length novel entitled Mystery of Love that is waiting for me to do the second round of edits until I finished Late Summer Love.

What inspired you to write Late Summer Love?

It’s a sequel. Readers wanted Paige Blake to find happiness.

How did you come up with the title?

I got the idea last year while I attended my husband’s family reunion. The plot was perfect for Paige’s story, so I had planned to name it Summer Reunion, but a fellow friend had a release called Winter Reunion, so I changed it to Summer Love, but when my first round of re-writes for Mystery of Love worked me over, I knew my novella wasn’t going to hit a May or June release. I told my husband the story had to come out before the end of summer because it was called Summer Love. He joked, “It’s going to be a late summer love.” I thought about it, and tweaked the title and gave him the credit.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Of course. They are a mixture of physical characteristics, personalities and mannerisms. My best friend says she can hear our voices in my characters’ conversations.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

My hero: Blake Cross. It’s easy on the eyes and has a good heart.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This is book 2 of the Perfect Chance at Love series. I have to come up with another scenario for my main character’s cousin. I don’t have anything yet. I’m sure it will come to me.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

All my characters have too many issues for me to jump into their shoes. LOL. They all have happy endings, but their journeys aren’t easy. I’ll pass.

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

I have a home office that faces the front. I can write and be nosy—a great combination for an author.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

That I read—The Warmth of the Other Sun; That I’ve written—Crowning Glory.What book are you reading right now? I won’t read until I finish a project, then I’ll read three and four books to detach from my characters. I have a TBR pile.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I’m around a lot of authors—indie and New York Times bestselling authors like Sylvia Day, Charlene Harris, Brenda Jackson, and Francine Rivers. So I count it a privilege to mingle with these ladies and others at the yearly RT Booklovers Convention

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

I do have bouts of shyness, but nobody believes it—seriously!

Book Blurb

Could a chance meeting during two family reunions be God playing matchmaker? Paige Blake recently witnessed her best friend marry. Now, Paige is struggling to tame the pity party stirring within her heart, questioning whether God had forgotten about a husband for her. After twelve years of serving his country, Blake Cross is ready for civilian life. He soon learns there is another battle he must fight. When he meets Paige on an elevator, he’s drawn to her. There’s one slight complication to win her heart. Blake has to surrender to the Lord’s will in his life first.

About the Author

Pat is the multi-published author of more than thirty titles, and is a three-time recipient of Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Currently, overseeing the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions, Pat has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and her administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.

You can find out more about Pat and her books on her website.

You can sign up on a wait list for Late Summer Love here or check out the rest of Pat’s books on Amazon.

Working while on vacation

My husband owns his own law firm. It is a small group – him, another attorney, two paralegals, a part-time law clerk and a secretary. And while I know that he needs to work (and bill clients) to make a living, I want him to be able to take a break. After all everyone needs a break now and then.

But vacations seem to stress him out. There is the getting everything in order and done before you go, finding someone to cover your work, and then of course trusting that they can handle everything without you.

I’ve come to understand that my husband will never be able to do that last one. He has never been able to go on vacation and NOT check in. He did this when he worked for another law firm and of course it has only gotten worse since he became his own boss.

When he first started out on his own, it was just him and his paralegal. And even though he had an attorney friend who agreed to help out with any emergencies, my husband still wanted to be available for his clients. So when we went on a cruise two years ago, he called in when we were at port and tried to stay in contact using the ship’s slow internet connection.

This week we are on a trip to Houston. It has been in the works for years as we kept postponing it to go on a cruise or to Disney. But four or five months ago we picked our dates. (We always have to do this early as my husband is required to file vacation notices with the courts so they don’t schedule anything during those times.)

It has been on his calendar for months and now he seems shocked that it is here. And of course, he is busy. He is always busy. Working to take time off takes work and he doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Truth be told, I know he would rather not go on vacation.

The fact is he will always be busy. There will always be motions and hearings and deadlines. It is like people who say they will wait until they have money before they have kids. It isn’t going to happen. You just need to do it.

And I think he needs time away from the office. And while I know that a trip with the kids isn’t his cup of tea, I planned a short Las Vegas getaway for just the two of us earlier this year. But it is always the same complaint that he has to work so hard to prepare for even a short trip that he isn’t sure it is worth it. And then, he does not disconnect from work if he is working while “vacationing.”

I worry that working all the time will lead to burnout. And I wish that he would put aside work and truly disconnect. It would do wonders for him to enjoy himself and destress. But he isn’t going to do that. So I have told him that if he needs to, he can work in the afternoons while we are in Houston while the kids and I are at the pool. But I know the kids would be happier if he was out there with him instead of in the room. But hey, we will take what time with him that we can get.

Today’s Featured Author – Susan Leigh Noble

Today, I am featuring myself as my featured author. I have done this in the past when I have had an author flake out and not turn in their author interview or book excerpt. This time that isn’t the case. I just failed to fill this spot, but don’t worry, I have the rest of July filled up. August isn’t so lucky so if you are an author (self published or traditionally published, any genre) and would like to be featured on my blog in August or beyond, I urge you to contact me.

Typically when I have been the Featured Author, I have done book excerpts but today I have decided to answer some of my author interview questions. If you would like to take a look at my books, click here to find links to book excerpts from all four of my full-length novels and my short story.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I wear many hats. I am a blogger on this website where I post four times a week. I am a fantasy author with four full-length novel and a short story published. I am currently working on another fantasy full-length novel due out in 2018.

I am a mother to two children – Lexie and Jase. I am an officer on the Parent-Teacher Associations for both their schools. I am also a wife and animal wrangler (we have 3 cats and 2 dogs). My husband and I have been married for twenty-two years. I do the bookkeeping for his small law firm. I am sure I am forgetting something else that I do but as you can see, I am one busy lady!

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Maine. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around quite a bit until I was twelve when we settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I attended high school and college in New Mexico before marrying my husband and moving to Texas. We have lived in Lubbock, Brownsville and finally now San Antonio where we have lived for the past fifteen years. I feel pretty confident that we will be calling San Antonio home for many, many more years.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

As you can see from above, I certainly am not a full-time author. I am busy so I have to squeeze in writing when I can. That might mean I spend an hour (or just a few minutes) here or there. It means sometimes I am writing at home and sometimes I am using my iPad while I am taking the kids to their activities.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I typically do what is called headlight outlining. That is where you plan out a few moves ahead at a time. This allows for greater flexibility than outlining the whole novel but doesn’t leave me directionless. It saves me from staring at a blank page and also cuts down on rewriting in subsequent drafts which can happen if you write without planning.

Why did you choose to write fantasy novels?

I love magic and dragons so it just seemed natural to pick a genre that incorporates those two elements.

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

Yes, I have just completed the first draft of my next book Blood Bond. It is a story about a man (Soren) whose life changes drastically when he meets a dragon (Dex) and becomes “linked” to him. I came up with the idea for the book because I like dragons. In fact, all of my books so far have contained a dragon. The dragons were really a big part of The Elemental trilogy, and I wanted to write another book where dragons played a crucial part of the story. In this one, man and dragon have broken off all communication until an approaching army threatens both which forces them to work together again.

Please tell us about your current release.

My last release, The Heir to Alexandria, begins with Alista, a young woman searching for her parents who abandoned her at birth. She is a bit naive and trusting but also harbors magic that she has kept secret. It is this magic that leads her to be chosen to be tested as the possible heir to the powerful Alexandria family who was murdered many years ago. There is a rumor that the youngest daughter survived and it is her descendants that the Kings are searching for. While the Kings believe the heir will restore peace to their troubled kingdoms, there are others who will do anything to stop the testing and possible return of the heir to Alexandria.

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

I do most of my writing in my office. Sometime if I want a change of pace, I bring out my laptop and write either on my bed or the couch. With my busy life, I can write anywhere.

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

I have a black belt in Aikido.

Book Blurb

Believed the descendants of the Gods themselves,
The Alexandria line ensured peace,
Until they were brutally murdered.
But rumor spread a maid escaped with the youngest daughter.

Now as the world rushes toward a period of unrest, the nations’ Kings continue their 200-year-long-search for the Heir to Alexandria – the one person who can bring peace and stability through divine power.

Alista has her own search – for the parents who abandoned her as a baby years ago. When her only lead proves to be a dead end, she heads to the capital with a reluctant escort. Grayson is just following his aunt’s order, but he would rather be on one of his solitary scouting missions for the Landra Guard. However, when Alista unintentionally curses a guard in front of the King’s court, everything changes for both of them.

Now forced to travel to Covington for testing, danger lurks at every turn as a secret society strives to prevent the return of the Alexandria line. Are Alista’s visions of the future enough to save herself and those traveling with her?

About the Author 

Susan  Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also had to throw in a telepathic cat to the mix in her The Elemental trilogy as her short story, The Search, which features Tosh, one of the main characters from the trilogy. She published a stand-alone novel, The Heir to Alexandria, 2015, and just finished the first draft of her latest book, Blood Bond.

In addition to writing, Susan spends her days taking care of her two children, three cats, two dogs and husband in San Antonio, Texas.

You can purchase her books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and anywhere e-books are sold.