Posted in Writing

Why We Write

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy couple of weeks. I attended a writer’s conference last weekend and this week I had an author night at one of our local bookstores. I’m also putting some finishing touches on my latest WIP and I’ve got another one going strong. So it’s a busy time for me.

During the writing conference we were asked to answer the question: why we write?

 

Photo via VisualHunt

There’s a different answer for each and every author. Some do it out of love for the written word. Others do it because they feel they have something important to say. Still others do it just to silent the voices in their heads. Whatever the reason, you must keep writing. We need books now more than ever.

I learned while at this conference that 40% of public schools no longer have a librarian. Isn’t this sad?  It’s just one more responsibility heaped upon our already over-extended and stressed out teachers to instill a love of reading for their students.

 

 

Photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

But how can they do that if there aren’t new and exciting books? That’s where we, the storytellers come in. We need to write as many quality stories as we can. We need to entice our readers to fall in love with our books so they’ll want to keep reading. This is incredibly important. Why?

Because right now ninety one million people are functionally illiterate in the United States alone. That means they can’t read, write, or use numbers sufficiently well to get along in society.  Every year at least a million functionally illiterate students graduate from America’s high schools. This is an epidemic.

We need to turn this around. It is up to us the authors to do this. The teachers can’t do it by themselves. I know what some of you may be thinking. Ninety one million people? So what? It’s their problem not mine.

Well. You’re wrong. It is your problem because you may have to deal with someone who’s illiterate in your life. Maybe at work. Maybe as a customer or client. They’re going to be difficult to work with if they can’t understand basic concepts because they can’t read.

What if one of those illiterate people somehow manages to find a position of power in our country. Do you really want him/her to make decisions for you?

 

I sure don’t.

Our government needs to stop buying weapons and invest in our educational system right now. Our adversaries won’t have to go to war and take us over with physical force. They’ll wait and let us destroy ourselves then come in and take over when we’re reeling from our own destruction.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

So writers keep writing. You’re needed now more than ever.

 

Do you have any ideas on how to turn this situation around? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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Is there any Relief to the Rising Cost of a College Education?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m discussing the cost of a college education. According to experts, the cost to send your children to school has risen forty percent in the last ten years.

Therefore, when my kids go to college it’s going to cost almost $15,000 dollars more a year to educate my boys. According to this college cost calculator. http://www.archimedes.com/vanguard/collcost.phtml?

I was a little freaked out about that. I mean we’ve started a college fund for the boys, but I’m sure it’s not going to grow that fast. According to experts, the reason for the increase has been loss of state funding, endowments, and fund raising.

So what are parents going to do? I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but incomes are on the decline as well, when parents’ incomes aren’t rising as fast as the cost of college educations that spells trouble.

There have been some whispers through the community that college classes will only be available online in the future. What does that mean? If this rumor does come to fruition, it means that colleges will no longer need the brick and mortar buildings in which to conduct their lectures. Professors will be able to record their lectures from their offices and even their homes. That cuts a huge expense right there. Hmmm… makes you think doesn’t it.

Wait, there’s more. If college courses are all online in the future, there will be no need to send your kids away to school. Just think of the savings on room and board!  Granted, they’ll be in the house a little longer than you planned, but think of the savings.

I believe this is the future of education. The way I see it, a student could pick any instructor he wishes to learn from regardless of that instructor’s affiliation with a certain college. I’m seeing professors as independent contractors. I’m sure the government would get involved in some way, probably, setting the criteria for each degree and the prerequisites for each class.

In fact, there’s one man who’s already doing this. His name is Salman Kahn. He’s a former hedge fund manager turned YouTube Teacher. He records lectures and posts them on the web and his videos are by far the most viewed educational videos on the web. In fact, he’s Bill Gates favorite teacher.

He posts lessons on math and science as well as lessons on a range of other subjects. His playlist of approximately one thousand six hundred and thirty tutorials are viewed on an average of seventy thousand times a day. I found this information in an article from Fortune’s Magazine. The author is David A. Kaplan and it’s titled, Bill Gates Favorite Teacher. He does all of this for free. He wants to offer the first free world class virtual school.

I see some great things that online teaching can accomplish. It will level the playing field between the socio-economic classes. What that means is that people who can’t afford to send their kids to college won’t have to worry. They can log onto the computer and see the same lecture as someone who can afford a Harvard education. I think that’s great. It would certainly alleviate the problem of whether or not people are going to be able to afford the cost of a college education, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. If you have any insight on the future of education, please share it with us by leaving a comment. We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Teaching our Kids to be Self Focused

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m a huge fan of Zig Ziglar, so when I saw this post on my Facebook page, it inspired this blog post. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but when I was younger (many moons ago. ;)) if a friend, co-worker, or boss didn’t see my value, I would make it my mission to prove them wrong. I would spend time agonizing over their opinion and become frustrated when they couldn’t see how incorrect they were.

Of course, I’m older and wiser now and I know better, but what would’ve happened if I had figured this out earlier? I probably would have used all that energy to focus on accomplishing something, or maybe just enjoying my life a bit more.

This is an important lesson for our young people to learn early, and that is to be internally oriented and self-focused. Being self-focused is different from being selfish. I think I need to make this distinction. Being self-focused in the context in which I’m writing about anyway, means that a person focuses on his or her own set of internal values and desires. So when they encounter a negative or toxic person that person won’t have a huge impact on them, because they’re busy working on their own goals and aspirations.

As a parent, I worry about this. I don’t want my kids growing up with this kind of insecurity. So how am I going to raise them to be internally oriented? That’s a good question. I thought about it for a while and I’ve decided that this is the best way for me to do it.

The best way to do this is by being an involved parent. I have to remember that my kids are experiencing many things for the first time. What that means is even though I may think what they’re going through isn’t a big deal. It is to them. They don’t have the life experience that I do, and because of that experience, I’m supposed to be a guiding force in their lives. I shouldn’t use that experience to belittle the event they’re dealing with. I should use it to help them through it and give them some guidance on how to deal with it.

Often times, we adults forget this and try to brush off our child’s feelings because we’re trying to put food on the table, are worried about our jobs, or one of the other million things that parents worry about besides our kids.

If we focus on our kids, that also gives them permission to focus on themselves. It teaches them that we value them. This is important because then they learn to value themselves and they won’t fall prey to the toxic people that they’ll inevitably encounter in their lives.

Thanks for reading my post today. I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts, so leave a comment!

Posted in Guest Author, promotion, Teen

Please Welcome Sharon Ledwith as she shares her Time Travel Series with us!

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’ve got fellow author and great friend Sharon Ledwith here today and she’s sharing her Time travel series with us, and also  giving us a little history lesson on Atlantis! So, without further ado…take it away Sharon!

Atlantis101…

No lost continent has a more powerful hold on our imagination than Atlantis. In fact, each generation has felt the need to search for the truth of its roots. Presumably, Atlantis was a flourishing island empire located in the present-day Azores. Or do the remains of this mystical place lurk deep under Antarctica’s ice cap? There’s also the possibility that remnants of this advanced civilization are buried under the marshes of Spain. Whatever the truth is, theories abound, and stories about Atlantis still flourish to this day. So much has been written about this legendary country that it was hard to lock down the information I needed to create my middle-grade/young adult time travel series. It was a challenge for sure, but I managed to find a handful of resources that allowed me to craft a master plan for the book series.

The oldest and fullest surviving account of the great island’s rise and fall was provided by the Greek philosopher Plato, who lived from about 428 to 348 BCE. In his seventies, Plato composed two dialogues (the way he wrote out his philosophy) called Timaeus and Critias based on information passed down by word of mouth through his relatives, and a Greek statesman named Solon, about the lost continent. It was gleaning through Plato’s numerous descriptions about Atlantis that I knew I had collected enough information to form a blueprint of what this mysterious place would look like for me and my readers.

Through Plato’s story of Atlantis, I gained an incredible amount of data on the people, their appearance and lifestyles, what was important to them, the architecture, their influences, the way they used and manipulated energy, and even about the final destruction. Too much information filled my head, until I sorted out what I could use to form the basis of my first story, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and the prequel of the series, Legend of the Timekeepers.

I’ve always had an insatiable interest in this mysterious country. In fact I, like Plato, believe that Atlantis did exist. How about you? I’d love to hear your comments!

Author Info:

SHLE-0014Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

 

 

 

Here are Sharon’s books!

tltkataoa-500

Tagline/blurb for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.

legendofthetimekeepers-200Tagline/blurb for Legend of the Timekeepers:

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis Buy Links:

MUSA PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀ SMASHWORDS ׀ KOBO

Legend of the Timekeepers Buy Links:

MUSA PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀ SMASHWORDS

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Connect with Sharon on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Thanks so much Sharon for sharing your new release with us! I’ve definitely got it on my TBR pile! 🙂

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Iris Blobel as she shares her New Release with us!

Iris is a great friend and fellow author from Australia! I must say I love her accent and her book is definitely on my TBR Pile! So without further ado…Here’s Iris!

It’s an absolute delight to be a guest on Lisa’s blog. Not only is my daughter a big fan of Lisa’s Spy series, but I like her motivational posts on how to get children to read.

I’m Iris Blobel, a fellow Astraea Press author, and I’m here to talk a little bit about my new book “New Beginnings”, the first in the trilogy of the Beginnings books.

The story is set in Hobart, Tasmania. It’s a small island just south of Australia. The more mature generation might remember Errol Flynn, the younger generation might know “The Mentalist” Simon Baker – well both of these talented actors were born in Tasmania!

When I took my mum to Tassie a few years back I was ready to move there, I loved it so much. The scenery, the vast wilderness, the beauty, and the wonderful people. My husband said no. The meanie!

And then I visited the island again last year and spent a weekend in Hobart. I wondered how it would be like to move there and adjust. The idea of inheriting a house came to mind. And because I love adding a little child to my stories, I did that as well. And considering that Hobart has a ghostly past, I added a tiny little bit of a mystery in it, too. Voila – the story was born. Of course I needed a bit of romance, and the hunk from across the road was just perfect.

I hope you all have a chance to one day come and visit this wonderful place! And thanks, Lisa, for hosting me today.

NewBeginnings 500x750 with logoBlurb:

Twenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know or have even heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator, and Sophie is afraid it’s all been a mistake.
As Mia settles well into her new school and life in general, Sophie is not only occupied by her search of what connected her to Clara, but also her new studies and the two men, who suddenly have become part of her daily life – Mark O’Connor, the lawyer representing Clara’s estate, and Zach, the hunk from across the road.

Tagline:

To believe in new beginnings is to trust in tomorrow

Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/New-Beginings-ebook/dp/B00ENU02BU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377251351&sr=1-1

Astraea Press: http://astraeapress.com/#!/~/product/category=662245&id=27261175

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/new-beginings-iris-blobel/1116794762?ean=2940148572381

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/349320

Bio:

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her two dogs. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

NewBeginnings 500x750 with logoExcerpt:

Tracing the face of her mother with her finger on one of the photos, a tear escaped from her eye, and she silently prayed that after all they had gone through, nobody would take this house away from them. And silently blessed Ms. Bellinger.

“Tell me another story about Mum.” Mia’s hand on her shoulder startled her, and she turned.

“Hey, sweetie. You’re supposed to be asleep.” Sophie placed the camera next to their mother’s photo and took Mia in her arms.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“It’s been a long day. You should be falling asleep just like that.” And with that, she snapped her fingers.

Mia smiled and took the photo of her mother. “She looks beautiful.”

“She was beautiful. Just like you are.”

“Why did she die, Sophie? Why did she leave us?”

Sophie hugged her even closer and placed a kiss on her forehead. “She didn’t want to leave us, sweetie.” She felt the tears sting behind her eyes and closed them for a moment. It wasn’t always easy to be the older sister.

“You know what I always say. God needed another angel and took Mum.”

“I don’t like God,” Mia replied with more than a touch of wistfulness.

Sophie followed her sister’s eyes to the photo. Even though her heart agreed, she knew it wasn’t the right thing to agree to.

“Remember Father Tim Mahoney? I think he once told you that God’s got a plan. A plan for  everyone and everything. Yet this plan is like the wind, and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. You need to have faith and patience.”

Mia leaned closer and cradled her head into Sophie’s chest. Sophie felt the tiredness in the small body. “Remember what else he always said?”

“When life keeps you in the dark, you need to start looking for the stars.”

They both stood and walked over to the window and moved back the heavy curtains. They were lucky, and the stars were out in all their glory after the storm in the early afternoon. They even thought they saw the Southern Cross.

Thanks Iris for sharing your new release with us today! It’s definitely on my TBR pile!

Posted in Uncategorized

Could e-books be the Solution to our Growing Literacy Problems?

Hello Everyone, I hope all is well with you today! I’m back with another topic that’s near and dear to my heart and that is the literacy problems that we have in the US today.

According to an article in USA Today a federal study has found that an estimated thirty two million adults are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle.  For more information from this article click here: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-01-08-adult-literacy_N.htm

I find this alarming, don’t you?  The statistics for our youth are just as bad. According to RIF.org http://www.rif.org/us/about/literacy-issues.htm  nearly forty percent of US fourth graders do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. The number is higher among low income families, certain minority groups, and English language learners.

So, how can we turn this around?  That is a very good question and as I ponder it the memory of a conversation with my second grader comes to mind. We were getting ready to do his reading homework and he was grumbling that he really didn’t want to do it.  Feeling frustrated, I started to argue with him and then I stopped and asked him, “Why don’t you want to read tonight?”

He looked at me and said, “Because these books are boring.”

“Well…did you tell your teacher that?”

He shook his head. “No…she would get upset.”

I just stumbled upon part of the problem. Some of these books that schools are requiring students to read just don’t interest them. And with no interest in the subject reading becomes a “pain” to do and the young student’s motivation turns to dread. With all the millions of books in the world I’m sure we could find topics that would be interesting to our young readers.  Why can’t we offer them choices? I feel that offering our little chickadees a choice and letting them pick a topic they like would be a step in the right direction. It would solve the motivation issues that seem to be a problem with our reluctant readers.

As I pondered this I thought, what if all of the students were given e-readers? Look at all the books available today that are in e-book format. I’m sure we could find something to please even the pickiest reader. I know what you’re thinking…that’s kind of unrealistic.  Or is it?

When you think about it…look at the cost of a paperback versus the cost of an e-book. I mean educators will be making up the difference in cost relatively quickly.

And while we’re at it…why don’t we put text books in e-book format? Can you imagine the savings for educators in that arena? With our educators trying to cut costs I think that e-readers represent a viable solution.

Did you know that Scholastic has an e-reader right now? It’s called Storia and parents can get most of the books available from Scholastic in e-book format.

I see E-books as the wave of the future and if our schools hop on board maybe we can turn this literacy problem around. Kids could literally carry a library around with them. What do you think? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

I’d like to thank USA Today and RIF.org for some of the information in this post. 🙂

Posted in Teen

Cheating…an Epidemic in our Schools

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back after a two week Halloween Party. It was a blast! And I want to take just a minute and thank all the wonderful authors and contestants who participated in our event. I hope you had a great time and we’ll try and brew up some new and exciting events in the months to come. So stay tuned!

The topic that I want to discuss today is cheating.  From my research, I found that cheating is a way of life in our schools today.  At first, I was surprised by this but then I looked back on my own high school days, and realized that cheating was prevalent back then too.

Back in my day, (not so long ago, wink) I remember a certain football player who wanted to copy my answers on a test in health class. The teacher had left the room and there was a debate between all the students. Half of them wanted me to let him copy my answers and the other half didn’t. What a dilemma I was in, because I liked him and considered him a friend, but I didn’t want to get caught cheating.

Luckily, the teacher returned, and the class settled down.  I didn’t have to make that decision. But what about kids who do?  From what I’ve learned, it’s become easier and easier to cheat. It’s almost the norm nowadays.  There is tremendous pressure on teens to get good grades and many are taking the quickest route to success.

And it’s hard for parents to caution against the perils of cheating when kids get away with it and are rewarded with good grades. And isn’t that the goal? Good grades?

What makes the process even more difficult is that these students see adults cheating as well. In fact, what do you do when your own school does it? In this article,  http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/07/06/investigation-finds-widespread-cheating-in-atlanta-schools/

Authorities found that educators in Atlanta were changing test answers on students’ tests in order to get a better score.  Officials suspect this is a widespread problem brought on by the initiative “No child left behind” where teachers can suffer salary cuts and lose their job if their class doesn’t meet the requirements specified by this initiative.

So what’s the answer to the cheating epidemic that seems to be a problem not only among students but teachers as well?

In my opinion, the problem is that we’ve become a results oriented society.  Our society is sending this message and our kids are smart…they’re picking it up loud and clear, and that message is…we don’t care how you get the best score…it only matters that you get it.

How very sad.  We’re not doing our children any favors by sending this message. We need to shift that focus from results to the learning process. That’s right. 🙂 We need our kids to be graded on how much they’ve learned or improved and let’s make learning fun again! I mean when they were babies those kids were curious they wanted to learn. Now, that curiosity has been snuffed out because society says you’ve got to learn these specific things and you’ve got to achieve this result. I don’t know about you, but for me that takes all the fun out of it!

I know what you’re thinking, how in the world are we going to do that? That is a good question and I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got some ideas, but you knew that didn’t you? 🙂 In my opinion, as parents we need to focus on the strengths of each of our children.  And we need to work in conjunction with educators in developing those strengths. I believe that our kids will grow up with healthier self-esteem and more confidence because they were able to develop these strengths.

There’s a great book available written by Jenifer Fox, M. Ed., titled “Your Child’s Strengths” and it’s a great resource for parents and teachers. We need to start there and create an educational environment that allows each child to develop their strengths. By doing this, we’ll eliminate the cheating problem we have in our schools today.

You can find the book in many book stores or on Amazon. Here’s the link.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Childs-Strengths-Teachers-ebook/dp/B000VMFF5M

I know what you’re thinking…that’s going to be hard to do. You’re right it is…we’d have to revamp the whole educational system…but aren’t our kids worth it?

I’d love to hear any other ideas or thoughts on the topic. 🙂 Feel free to leave a comment and thanks for stopping by!