Posted in community, Family

Creating Stronger Communities

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. Always with the writing! LOL! But I do love it. I can’t seem to stop.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creating stronger communities. It saddens me when I hear about school shootings or mass shootings in movie theaters or public places because these events are symptoms of a societal problem.

Photo on Visual Hunt

That problem is disconnection. When someone feels isolated and disconnected from society they exhibit symptoms of this by being violent to people who are close to them. That’s the first sign there’s a problem. We need to stop turning a blind eye to domestic violence. As with so many things, it all traces back to the home.

Photo on Visualhunt

Now we can blame poor parenting, throw our hands up in outrage, and point fingers. We can do that, but that doesn’t solve the problem, does it? And let’s be fair, none of us can say we’re perfect parents. We strive to be the best we can be, but there are days when we fall short. And in parenting, the most important job we have, there are no do-overs. You can’t go back and erase your mistakes.

So what can we do?

We can create communities where we all come together for the sake of the kids. I believe schools do an incredible job of offering extra-curricular activities be it sports or theater or clubs. However, what about the kids who don’t make the team? I think we need to create community centers within our cities where kids can go and play a pick-up game of basketball, or use a computer, or just hang out after school. A safe place to go with adult supervision until parents get home from work.

 

Photo credit: RobW_ on Visualhunt.comCC BY-NC-ND

I know some community centers exist, but we need more and they need to be affordable. It costs money to run these centers and that’s where I run into a snag because I don’t know where to get the funding. How about you, do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment and let me know you’re thoughts.

Posted in community, Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

Can we prevent Mass Shootings?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m saddened by the events in the news this week. I’m talking about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. How did a nineteen year old get a semi-automatic weapon?  Why are we selling these weapons to children? Yes, in my eyes a nineteen year old is still a child.

Photo credit: FraVal Imaging on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

We have to do something about this because our children, our best Natural Resource, won’t survive if they don’t stop killing each other. That means our species won’t survive. I know, you think I’m taking this to an extreme, but maybe we have to, to wake everyone up.

The question I have to ask is why? Why is this happening? Why does a young person become so despondent that the only answer for him is to go to school and shoot his classmates? And why are warning signs ignored?

To answer this question, I did a little research and found that most mass shooters are profoundly alienated from society and there are warning signs.  Mass shooters don’t become mass shooters overnight. They usually assault, abuse, or threaten people close to them. Domestic violence is something all shooters seem to have in common. But how do we as a society predict which abusers will become mass shooters and which ones won’t?

Photo credit: dualdflipflop on Visualhunt / CC BY

Here’s an interesting article on what mass shooters have in common. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/14/what-do-most-mass-shooters-have-in-common-hint-it-isnt-politics-video-games-or-religion/?utm_term=.6c89f9ef1859

That is a good question and one we don’t have an answer for. So what is the answer? I’m not usually in favor of more regulation, but in this instance until we can find ways to predict who will become a shooter and who won’t, I feel more regulation is the way to go.

First of all, let’s stop these young kids from buying weapons.  No child or adult outside the military needs a semi-automatic weapon. They shouldn’t even be available for the public to purchase.

Photo credit: Christiaan Triebert on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

We also need to go to the extreme where people who have a history of domestic violence are banned from buying weapons. These people don’t have to have convictions, just a history of it because we all know domestic violence rarely gets reported, and convictions are hard to get.

I know what you’re thinking, but it’s in the constitution, we have the right to bear arms.  You’re right it is in there, but our forefathers didn’t have assault weapons to deal with back when it was written.  I’m not saying all guns, but even the most staunch NRA supporter must see that the general public does not need semi-automatic weapons to defend themselves.

Photo credit: roberthuffstutter on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

The next thing we need to do is make our communities stronger, so these people who’ve been alienated from society won’t fall through the cracks. How do we do that? We do it by creating community centers where teens and adults can come together to be socially interactive.

Photo credit: lyman erskine on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

I would love to open up a community center in my town, especially for teens because the teen years are tough. I love the fact our schools have team sports and band and orchestra, but the problem with these programs is there’s a limit to how many kids can be in the program. What about the ones who don’t make it?

That’s where my community center would come into play. If money were no obstacle, I’d have a center where kids could come after school and play pick-up games of basketball or football. They’d be socially active and learn the skills of team play and how to compete fairly.

It’d be a place where they could hang out and do homework instead of going home alone and playing video games. I feel these community centers would alleviate the social isolation that many teens feel especially if they don’t make the team.  Team sports are wonderful, but like I said before, only so many kids make it.

Photo credit: Timm Suess on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

I’d have a counselor on staff so kids could talk to him for free and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Let’s face it, some kids aren’t getting the love and attention they need at home so what a great way to try and help those who don’t get the support they need.  I know this won’t solve all the problems, but it is a step in the right direction.

We as a society need to take care of our children. They are our most valuable Natural Resource so let’s do a better job of protecting them.

Bringing back community centers is one solution, but I’m sure there are others. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment!

 

 

Posted in Slice of LIfe

Slice of Life Post: We’re getting a new Bookstore

 

Write. Share. Give.

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post.  I’m so excited to announce we’re getting an Indie Bookstore in the area.

I just found out about it this last weekend and it gives me hope for the future. I’m hoping it not only survives but thrives. I love the idea of an independent bookstore. I always imagined myself owning my own store. Do you remember the movie “You’ve got mail?” Meg Ryan played the part of the bookstore owner and I totally identified with her.

I love books. I remember when I lived closer to a Barnes and Noble. I’d go there and spend hours browsing and reading. It was a way to relieve stress. Now, I don’t have that luxury because I have kids, and I’ve moved too far away from that store.

Photo credit: Stephan Geyer via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The owners have a refreshing attitude, too. It’s so nice that a business wants to come in and be a part of the community.  I’m hoping they’ll carry my books. I find the independent stores are more willing to work with Indie authors than some of the larger chains. I find that very interesting.

I’ve also heard rumblings in the blogosphere that some of the major booksellers aren’t doing as well as expected. Could this new bookstore be the wave of the future? I’ve heard there’s a resurgence of the Independent bookstore. Check out this blog post from “Books and Mortar” and draw your own conclusions.

Books and Mortar

How about you, do you like browsing through a bookstore, spending hours just reading and checking out books? Tell me what your favorite bookstore is. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to check out other Slice of Life Posts, click the link below.

Slice of Life

 

 

 

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Brenda Maxfield as she introduces her Debut Novel!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you today. I’ve got Brenda Maxfield another Astraea Press author and all around great gal here today. Her debut novel, “The Lance Temptation”, has just been released and we’ve got her main character Emili answering some questions for us.  Take it away Emili!

Interview with Emili Jones, the main character of The Lance Temptation:

Give us a few brief facts about yourself.

My name is Emili Jones. I’m sixteen years old and a sophomore at Bates Academy.

Is Bates a private school?

Yes. I’ve gone there forever. All my friends are there.

Who’s your best friend?

Right now, my best friend is Farah Menins. She’s gorgeous and all the guys like her.

And how about you? Are you popular with the guys?

Not so much. I figured if I hung out with Farah, it might help me get more popular.

Did it work?

I managed to snag one guy all on my own. His name is Marc and he’s really nice. You know, a sweet guy. But there’s this new guy at school named Lance, and I start sweating the minute I look at him. He’s fine. But I don’t think he’d ever look twice at me.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

I make perfume. It can get kind of spendy though.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Is it okay if I don’t really answer that? It’s embarrassing and I’m still mad at myself. I will say this—it had to do with Marc.

What do you wish you could do over?

Wow. There are a couple major things. I dumped my friend Jeannie, and sometimes I regret it. Especially because of the reason why I dumped her. The other thing is the same as the last question you asked. It’s about Marc.

What’s hardest about being a teen in today’s world?

The pressure on you to be hot and smart and beautiful and popular. It’s impossible. Who could live up to that? Well, maybe Farah.  But the pressure makes you do stupid things. Even when you try not to be an idiot, you end up doing things you know you shouldn’t.

What are your future plans?

Hmmm, I’m only a sophomore so I’m not sure. I want to graduate from Bates and go to university. I’m worried, though, because something’s going on with my dad.  He has some big announcement, and I can tell by the look on his face I’m not going to like it.

I hope the announcement isn’t too awful. It was nice talking with you today, Emili. All of us can read about your story in The Lance Temptation, correct.

Yep. Thanks for talking with me. It was nice to be here.

Below are the cover, blurb and an excerpt from Brenda’s book:

LanceTemptation_500x750Sophomore Emili Jones has had it with being a boring, straight-A student. Itching for excitement, she sees plenty of it in classmate Farah Menin’s life of frequent dates and edgy adventure. Hoping the popularity will rub off, Emili latches onto Farah and manipulates herself into best friend status. The connection helps her land the hot new guy, Lance Jankins, but there’s a catch. Now a pawn in Farah’s dating games, Emili is on a crash course to betrayal. Will she realize it in time to save herself?

Excerpt from The Lance Temptation (Book One of The Edgemont Collection):

Farah carried her tray with its plate of green beans as if it were the royal jewels. She sashayed toward our regular table in the corner of the cafeteria, her hips lightly brushing the backs of the entire high school football team who’d already grabbed the table in the nearest the food. The catcalls began immediately.

“Hot stuff,” one player yelled, and then whistled.

With practiced innocence, Farah paused, and turned to face the guys. She rolled her green eyes and shook her head, feigning annoyance. A smile played on her lips. Then she fluttered her thick lashes and continued on, skirting her way to our table in the back.

Oh yeah, she’s a master at everything I’m not. All Farah has to do is show up and the boys follow, frolicking like puppies around a bone. So, shameful as it sounds—I made it my business to become her friend, even if it meant dropping everyone in my tight circle. I was done being the boring, straight A girl. I wanted the hot guys to drool around me for once, and I figured the connection couldn’t hurt.

Watch and learn, Farah had said. Right.

I stood with my tuna sandwich stuffed inside my crumpled lunch sack, sighed heavily and followed her, trying not to let my shoes clack out my progress. Nobody’s eyes followed my every move.

Well, there’s a surprise.

I slid onto the bench across from her. It was Monday—the only day Farah’s halfway civilized because she’s tired from the weekend—and we were eating lunch together as usual.

Farah opened her milk carton, and took a drink. She tipped her head, letting her thick red hair cascade down her back. The loose curls nearly touched her waist. Farah’s well aware how flat-out gorgeous she is, and she quickly glanced around to see who might be watching.

The table of girls to the side of us stared at her. When they spotted me looking at them, they huddled together in one big gossip head. Farah saw them laughing, pointing, and whispering. Her expression hardened. “What a bunch of wannabe’s.”

“They’re jealous,” I said.

Farah leaned across the end of our table toward them. “Talk about me all you want, you sad groupies.”

Their heads jerked apart and each one of them glared at her. Farah scowled, and then turned her attention back to me.

I heard a yelp behind me, and someone hollered, “You’re disgusting!” A burst of raucous laughter filled the air. I could see Farah watching the whole scene over my shoulder. Wide-eyed, she jumped from her seat and flew to a table of freshmen girls. I swirled around to observe. Farah lunged across their strewn trays and stuck her face against a shocked girl’s nose. “Leave her alone! Do it again, and you’ll deal with me.”

Her harsh voice echoed across the cafeteria. The freshmen girls were shocked into silence, but their lips fairly curled into snarls.

A choked sniffle came from a girl cowering at the end of the table. Macaroni was splattered all over her uniform. Farah stood up to her full height, her cheeks blotched red. She regarded the sniveling girl. “You okay?”

There was no answer.

“Want help cleaning up?”

The girl shook her head, picked up a napkin, and started wiping at her shirt.

Farah squared her shoulders and returned to our table. I stared at her. “What was that?”

“Bullies. I hate them. And where are the lunch monitors, anyway?” She picked up her fork and took a bite of green beans.

“You know, sometimes you’re actually nice.”

Farah grimaced. “Don’t let it get around.”

I laughed and picked up my sandwich. Right then a tender feeling of protectiveness toward Farah washed over me.

And that’s when he descended upon our table. The New Guy. The one I’d secretly been panting after since he transferred to our school two weeks earlier.

Here are the buylinks for Brenda’s book:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Lance-Temptation-Edgemont-Collection-ebook/dp/B00BERGAHU/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lance-temptation-brenda-maxfield/1114511976?ean=2940016224381

Now here’s a little bit about Brenda herself:

Maxfield (2)Brenda Maxfield loves writing novels for young adults. She explores teens’ heartaches and triumphs—and always with a bit of romance thrown in to complicate matters. Brenda is a high school teacher and spends most of her waking hours with teens. She loves hearing their views on love and life, and is honored to be part of their lives.

Brenda has lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, she lives in Indiana with her husband. They have two adult children and are grandparents to one precious little guy, special delivery from Africa.

When not writing or teaching, Brenda can be found at her lake cabin with a book in her hand and her dog Lucy on her lap. If you’re looking for good, clean teen reads, check out Brenda’s books! She loves getting to know her readers better, so stop by and say hello at: www.brendamaxfield.com

You can find Brenda at these Social Media Sites:

Website:  http://www.brendamaxfield.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TheEdgemontCollection

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BrendaMaxfield

Blog:  http://www.brendamaxfield.wordpress.com

Thanks for stopping by Brenda and your story definitely sounds intriguing! I’ve got it on my TBR pile!

Posted in Teen

Volunteering: Another solution to Teen Angst

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you today! I wrote this blog post about three years ago and I thought it was important enough to share again. So here you go! 🙂

I’m back today and I’d like to just touch on some of the teen issues that I’ve discussed in the past, for example, bullying behavior, teen depression, and teen pregnancy. What I’d like to touch on is a possible solution to these problems. 🙂

All of these behaviors are a result of pressures that the young adults feel during these tumultuous years. These years are filled with new challenges and new emotions and this is the first time teens are testing their boundaries. These are exciting and frightening times for them.

So, it’s not surprising that they make some incorrect choices. 🙂 In the past, I’ve said that parental involvement and keeping kids active in sports are ways to combat some of these negative choices. I still believe that parental involvement is very important in developing positive behaviors, but what about the kids who aren’t interested in sports? Some kids just don’t have any inclination in that direction.

Well, I’ve thought about this and I’ve discovered a solution. 🙂 You knew I had one didn’t you? What about volunteering? That’s right. I came across a wonderful organization that encourages teens to volunteer and I’m very impressed by it.

In fact, I’m working with them on a project and I’m very excited about it! But, there will be a whole blog post about that as soon as we get all the details ironed out. 🙂  So stay tuned for that. 🙂 The organization is called VOLUNTEENATION and here’s the link to their website. Check it out! http://www.volunteennation.org/.  This is a national organization which means they have volunteer opportunities all throughout the United States.

I’m sure you all have heard one of the best ways to combat depression is by helping others…I believe this applies to teenagers as well and that’s what volunteering is all about.

What I love about this organization is that teens are working with other teens in a positive situation. They aren’t at home closed off in their rooms brooding about their problems. Volunteering takes their focus off of their problems and gets them moving in a positive direction.  In my opinion, this might lead to more fulfilling friendships because teens are working together toward a common goal.

Another positive effect this type of organization has is that there are certainly instances where teens can utilize/learn leadership skills as well as team building skills. 🙂 Skills that are necessary for the working environment. 🙂

Maybe if we got our kids involved in volunteering we’d have fewer disasters like Columbine and Newtown. Something to think about my friends. 🙂

Check out Volunteenation’s blog. Here’s a post about how teens can support the Newtown victims. http://www.volunteennation.org/blog/categories/latest-news/203-how-youth-can-support-newtown

I can’t say enough about this organization; it’s getting teens headed in the right direction. 🙂

Thanks for reading my post today! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment and let me know what you think! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! I HOPE 2013 IS YOUR BEST YEAR YET!