Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Subtraction and Sibling Rivalry

I don't normally post about things like this on here, but this seemed too long for a Facebook status :).

A discovery I've made as a homeschool mom is that a secret to teaching subtraction is....exploiting sibling rivalry. 

Not what you're thinking. No--I don't mean setting your kids up to compete with each other. I mean, use their rivalry to help them understand practical application of math concepts.

For example...

This is the word problem you're given:
Suzie has 14 crayons. Mary has 18 crayons. What is the difference?
You have explained to your child about 4,327 times that "what is the difference" means you subtract. Still, she looks at you like you're speaking another language. So you reword it and ask, "How many more crayons does Mary have than Suzie?" Again, a blank stare.

Now, say this:
You have 14 crayons. Your brother has 18 crayons. What is the difference?
What immediately goes through your child's mind:
He has MORE than me. This is UNACCEPTABLE. 
And the calculation will happen almost instinctively. Actually, she will also be able to tell you that if he gives her two crayons, they will now have THE SAME.

Another example... 
4 - 2 1/3 = ?
What is probably going through both your head and your child's:
Fractions??? Are you kidding me? 
A common problem is getting the fraction on the "wrong side"--in other words, your child may answer "2 2/3" or even "2 1/3" because 4-2=2, and they're not sure what to do with the fraction part.

Never fear. Say this:
You have 4 brownies. I'm going to give your sister 2 1/3. How much will you have left?
Your child will immediate envision four brownies sitting in front of him. He will fully understand that TWO WHOLE BROWNIES will be taken from this precious stash. And not only that, but 1/3 of one of the other will be given to her. Which is, of course, unacceptable. And you may be surprised that he can not only answer the question, but tell you exactly how much his sister needs to give back in order to make them have THE SAME.

Notice--"the same" is of utmost importance.

And of course my disclaimer that I can't guarantee this will work with your kid, but my little Beasties.... ;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Necronomicon 2013

Me at last year's Necro.
It's less than a month away. The 2013 Necronomicon, that is. If you don't already know, this is a sci-fi/fantasy/horror/anime/gaming convention that takes place every year in the Tampa Bay area.

In past years, it was in St Pete, but this year it will be at the Embassy Suites USF in Tampa, from October 18th to 20th.

(Click here for full info. Registration is only $35, btw.)

I will be participating as an author for the second year. Which means I get to be on cool panels!

This year, the panels I'm on are:

Friday2:00 PMSALON AWriting Basics--Creating Anti-Heroes, Rogues, and Villains
Friday5:00 PMSALON GSocial Media and the Author
Friday8:00 PMSALON CHow to Keep Writing in the Face of Adversity
Saturday4:00 PMSALON BReligion in Science Fiction and Fantasy

The guest of honor this year is Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon series. In honor of that, they've deemed this year's theme "The Dragons are Coming." Check out the t-shirt design:

Yeah, mine's already pre-ordered :)

So, maybe see ya there? And feel free to spread the word!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Free Ebook, Protection's Prison, Companion to Finding Angel

Running another promo on Amazon. 
Protection’s Prison, which I basically think of as Toch Island 1 1/2, is free on Kindle now through September 19thCLICK HERE to get yours.
If you don’t have a Kindle, the Kindle apps for your computer, tablet or phone are free. And this is a short read (about 20 pages) so no excuses ;) .
And please remember that honest reviews are much appreciated, as is spreading the word.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Flash Fiction - "Clay's Fire"

In honor of Friday the 13th, and to help ya start getting ready for Halloween (seven weeks away!), I've decided to post some of my short horror stories. This one is posted on Wattpad and is my most popular story there by a wide margin. Enjoy!

Clay’s Fire
 (originally published in The Four Horsemen by Pill Hill Press)

            Clay appeared in the bedroom doorway clutching a stack of papers, a wide grin set across his face.
            “Turn off the TV, Katie. I just finished my latest story. I want to read it to you.”
            I reached over the pillow and grabbed the remote from the nightstand. The flickering glow from the television snapped off, leaving the room in almost complete darkness. Clay walked over and turned on the small lamp clipped to the edge of the desk against the far wall.
            “Is this the one you were working on the other day? When you wouldn’t let me in the study?”
            “Yeah, that’s it. Now settle in. Close your eyes.” The chair creaked with the all-too familiar sound of him leaning back.
            “Just this once can’t you sit by me?”
            “Katie, come on. I can’t read with you watching me.”
            “I’ll keep my eyes closed, I promise.”
            Clay laughed. “You’ll keep them closed anyway.” The chair creaked again. “Now be quiet.”
            I pulled the sheets up to my shoulders and rested my head against the pillow. The last thing I saw before closing my eyes was the silhouette of the footboard that served as a wall between us.
            “Ready?” Clay said, his voice already deepening into the storyteller mode I fell in love with.
            Clay’s voice drifted through the room, deep and resonating. Smooth. His words caressed me, soothing me, even when he read something terrifying. I never felt safer than when he spoke in that mystical, storyteller voice…
            Charles entered the convenience store at exactly seven-thirty. The clang of the bell ended abruptly when the door slammed shut behind him. The store was crowded, and Charles felt heat climb up his neck.
            Too many people in this small space, with its narrow aisles stuffed full of junk. Bags and boxes of chemical-laden snacks in their neat little rows along the shelves.
            I knew that part of the story came from Clay’s own fear of small spaces. Claustrophobia to the nth degree in his case. Our house had gobs of windows and soaring high ceilings. I felt a pang of discomfort, knowing Clay had mentally put himself in Charles’ shoes and experienced the heat and fear of the crowded and confined store, the kind of place he’d never willingly enter in real life.
            People milled around, avoiding each other’s eyes, as if stopping in to buy a six-pack and a bag of Fritos were some sort of conspiratorial act. Charles lowered his eyes as well, tugging at the collar of his shirt.
            Tight…so tight.
            I pulled at the sheets. Hadn’t they only been up to my shoulders? Why were they pushing against my chin?
            His neck was slick with perspiration, and as he stood in front of the newspaper rack, beads of sweat popped up on his forehead. He swiped his hands through his bangs, the heat from his forehead surging into his palms.
            “I must have a fever,” he whispered to himself.

            The sheets suddenly smothered me, sticking to my legs. I folded the edge over and kicked myself free, trying to stay tuned in to Clay’s voice. Air, not quite cool enough, hit my skin and I settled back into my pillow... 

Continue reading on Wattpad. (No worries if you don't have an account--you don't need one to read it!)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Albert Einstein is quoted as defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Yet, what writers are told is to "keep submitting" stories that get rejected over and over.

And if you get published and your book is not selling? "Keep writing more books" and putting them out there.

And if those books don't sell? Keep writing and putting more out there...

Take what you will from this little observation--all I know is it's really hard to type in a straight jacket.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Local Talent Rocks

Inspired this week by some really talented local bands, so I wanted to share these links with you.

First, the Caleb Hyers Band. I first heard Caleb Hyers (center) sing at a church we attended several years ago. His acoustic version of "How Great is Our God" pretty much blew me away, especially because he was all of about 16 at the time. His band is releasing an album on September 17th.

Sample some of Lay Down Without a Fight on the Caleb Hyers Band site. (My favorite is "Come At Me". I've already listened to it like six times since finding the link today.)

Next is Midnight Fiasco. The guitarist and vocalist is Michael Holton (far right), who was a member of my homeschool group. Yeah, that's right--homeschoolers rock. Literally :D.

They've also got an album nearly ready for release. You can get a sample of their work on their Facebook Band Page.

Third is Sailing the Tragic. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitar is Drew Law (far left), a member of my church. They haven't quite gotten to the album creation stage, but they are playing some local gigs. They graced us with a few songs at the Back to School bash at church a couple of weeks ago, and performed a rock-edged version of "I'm a Believer" I really wish I could give you a link for!

But I do have this, a youtube vid of one of their original songs, "Black and Blue."