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Monday, September 15, 2014

Another one in the series

I think it took a little more than two months to write the first draft of A Little Magic, book seven in the Tales of Talifar series which is set in Josh Foreman's universe. This is fun.

Let's see, so far this summer I've spent two weeks in Pennsylvania with my brother Bob, a week in Cleveland with my daughter and two granddaughters (bringing along a grandson for the adventure, a week in Florida with a son and two grandchildren. I came back from Florida with bronchitis and sinusitis, and came home to a flooded basement. As I type this, someone is downstairs replacing some of the sheetrock. All you guys who had stuff stored in my basement might no longer have it. We've been tossing out a lot of ruined stuff.

The son in Florida loaned me a book for the night, and here is my quick review:
Level Zero Heroes:

I truly enjoyed reading Level Zero Heroes despite the occasional bouts of rage I felt during some of the episodes. The writing was excellent and vivid. If there were typos, I did not see them. I felt confident in the level of authenticity of what I was reading and rejoiced in the happy ending of the protagonist and dog. I generally like to know what ethical people who aren’t me are experiencing, and I felt submerged in an experience I will never be able to feel directly. I wish all the people who pontificate about matters military would read this. Everybody who enjoys true military stories will like this book.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Finished rough draft of a novel in TWO months



On 6-1-14 I finished the first rough draft of Finding Home. I started on 4-4-14. I finished a novel in two months. Can you believe it? Of course, the novel is short. And finished is a relative term. I’m not altogether satisfied with the escape through the woods part, but I decided to go ahead and stick a fork in it anyway. We can change things in the editing and rewrites.

So

Whooooooooooo!


Now to see if I can come up with anything like a plot for a wizard’s apprentice tale, possibly with Fencock starring as the wizard.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review of The Sands of Ethryn by C.S. Lakin

I love the poem "The Hound of Heaven" (one reason I so liked Doris Bett's Souls Raised From The Dead) and so I truly enjoyed The Sands of Ethryn. Lakin introduced us to some of the phrases of that poem on the first page, and like a good musician established a rhythm and repetition of those phrases throughout the book. Her use of phrases from the Bible and poetry and the constant circling of the two plot lines, reminded me of a concert.
One thing did bother me: since Lakin is a careful writer, I could not understand her using phrases that make one think she is endorsing the concept of reincarnation alongside all the Scripture she is quoting. Or maybe she was saying reincarnation is as real as this magician and magic. But I did not think she meant that, and indeed, when you reach the end of the book and see what she had to say about the inspiration for this story, she does not. In fact, I was thinking of the same Star Trek episode she was while I read some of the scenes.
I can recommend this book to anybody who enjoys fantasy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review of A Shadow on the Land by Krystine Kercher

A Shadow On The Land by Krystine Kercher:   I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book with a plot that strongly reminds you of when David was being chased around the country by King Saul. There is no particular one to one correspondence with the Old Testament story, other than the prophesied king, Bjorn Horsa, refuses to kill the evil king Olaf. Between King Olaf and his friends, the country is being rapidly depopulated by all manner of torture and slaughter. Bjorn and his men try to help the victims as they simultaneously avoid being captured by King Olaf. As I read this, I felt I had a better comprehension of what David and his men had to do to survive. I appreciated that the sorrows of the peasants are not ignored as they are in most medieval setting tales. I also enjoyed the lovely and appropriate use of Scripture throughout the book. Oh, I should mention that one is quickly and skillfully made aware that this takes place on a planet that is not Earth. The scholarly notes at the end of the book give a lot of clues as to how a medieval society came to be on a foreign planet. With elves. If you like high fantasy, or science-fiction that reads like high fantasy, I think you will like this book as much as I did.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cool story

Found this lovely story today: http://escapepod.org/2014/01/25/ep432-inappropriate-behavior/

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cut and paste article about ministry to children with autism in church

Doc provided a fantastic handout that answers the following questions:
Why is training important? 
Who needs training?
What should we talk about in training?
Doc’s handout provides a detailed blueprint for special needs ministry training events. To access the handout, click here: OC14_ Autism_Hunsley_Handout
Doc then walked the participants through 10 scenarios a volunteer might face and coaching for how to respond:
Agitated Student 
Get on child’s level.
Stay calm, talk them through what is going on.
Use simple language.
Let them know what is expected using First, then language: “First we are going to listen to the story, then we are going to have a snack.”
Have student repeat back the statement if they are verbal.
Give the student a choice as part of the solution “You can choose the red chair or the black chair for story time.”
Overstimulated Student
Take note of factors when student is agitated.
Give the student warnings ahead of time: “2 minutes left for this activity”
Give student the chance to acclimate/cool down ahead of time (remove from activity ahead of others.)
Large Group Challenge
Student appears upset, hands over ears, squinting eyes = sensory overload
Look for the trigger(s):  overcrowded room, lights, noise, smell
Try moving student to another part of room.  E.g. Nearby volunteer might have on irritating perfume.
Provide a sensory toy such as a squish toy or fidget. This gives them something to focus their energy on.
Massage on shoulder, deep pressure for some students is relaxing. (Ask parents for guidance.)
Keep noise reduction earphones on hand and provide as needed.
Allow student to participate in a more controlled environment while still feeling part of what is going on. (For example, student may be in a nearby room where they can still see and hear, but they have some distance from the intensity. Also, going to a room that provides a livestream of what is happening in large group.)
Objects in Mouth
If you offer snacks, this might be good time to pull them one out for student.
Student may need a way to “fidget” even if with hands, provide box of fidget toys
Clean your toys regularly!
If continual problem, ask parents how they address it at home. Parents may have preferred chew toy that can come to church.
Meltdown
If the are in danger of hurting themselves or others, it needs to be addressed.
Meltdowns can happen at any age.
Create distance between individual having meltdown and everyone else.
Take the classroom or small group out of the environment (suggest bathroom break.)
It is often easier to remove everyone else and not the person with the meltdown.
Try to figure out what the trigger or core problem that caused the meltdown.
When possible, remove the problem.
Recognize that you might be the trigger for the meltdown.
Call for help as soon as serious meltdown starts.
You don’t want to immediately call parents if you think this can be handled. (You will tell parents at pick-up.)
If student is in danger of others, be mindful of your own safety.
Talk soft, talk soft, calm.
Find way to talk about something they can look forward to…snack, favorite activity, when parents will arrive.
Look for obstacles to remove, ex. diminish the lighting in the room, lower noise, offer a weighted blanket.
(Homemade weighted blankets are great.)
Doc recently used a 15 lb weighted blanket to help calm a teen in their ministry who was showing early signs of meltdown.
When nothing else is working, do get the parents.
Runner
Be prepared for fast kids who could be locksmiths.
Recognize that some “runners” see it as a game.
Don’t chase a kid who runs because it is a game, you won’t win the race.
If it isn’t a game, then they are probably trying to escape something…look for the trigger.
Create a code word for your church security team for “runner”.
Church security should have a plan to cover every “escape route” and door.
Common for runners to hide…don’t be surprised to find a student in an impossibly small cabinet (away from all stimulation).
This is more likely to happen during transitions.
For identified runners, have someone walk immediately beside them and hold hand.
Look for opportunities to reward student for good behavior to motivate for continued good choice.
Parent Conversations
Try hard to look for positives to share with parents.
Most parents have been told they are “horrible” parent at some point.
The church needs to be place of refuge where parents know their child with special needs is loved on.
Find way to communicate acceptance and non-judgment in parent convo’s.
Ministry coordinator needs to be involved, to help determine if convo is needed and how it should be communicated.
Some “bad” days aren’t worth mentioning to parents.
If there is a Sunday that is out of the ordinary, the parents DO need to know.
Talk to parents in private, not in hallway.
Talk in “sandwich”: Offer positive for what the child did that day, then state the FACTS (no emotion) about the negative, then follow with different and additional positive
Peer Interaction (Verbal child is struggling to interact with non-verbal peer)
Recognize that students usually ask the adult helpers the question, not their peers (true for typical and neuro-typical).
As the leader, include the child who does not communicate verbally in the response.
Encourage the peer to ask “Yes” or “No” questions so that student can answer with head nod.
Unengaged Student
A student may be doing his/her very best just to be calm.
Don’t push a student to be involved, they may still be learning.
A student walking or playing in back of room may be annoying to teacher…but he may be learning.
Ask the student a question from time to time. You may be surprised in what he learns.
Recognized that an unengaged student may still be “getting” the Bible story.
Sometimes, it is okay to invite student to participate. Offer hand (hand over hand) to help do motions.
Recognize opportunities to “help” student have fun, dance, etc.
If student does not respond positively, leave them alone.
Let the student dow hat is comfortable.
Seizure
Most important thing is to look at the clock and time seizure.
The length of time for a seizure is the most important info for medical team.
(A five-minute seizure is an emergency.)
Help student to be safe, lay on ground.
Do not put anything in the child’s mouth.
Call for help. Call for parents after situation is secure.
Talk to parents ahead of time, always ask about seizure history.
Some kids have many seizures are not necessarily a “big deal”.
For other students, seizures are a huge deal.
Get coaching from parents on how to handle.
(Some parents will tell you they don’t need to be called out of service for minor seizures.)
After a seizure students will be lethargic.
Question:
Q: Do you ask parents about their child ahead of time?
A: Yes, every family of a child with identified special needs completes a “Plan of Care” before leaving their child in church care. In cases where child shows signs of special needs but they aren’t identified (family may not recognize or share issues), then Doc approaches parent with the idea to provide a buddy as a solution to help student experience success in church…and in this conversation Doc can interject questions that would be covered on the church’s Plan of Care (intake) forms.
Q: What age do you require buddies to be?
A: It is determined on an individual basis. We have one 8-year old peer buddy who is better than some of our teen volunteers. Teens are great, I just share it as an example to say that younger kids can be great.
Doc Quote: “The Church should be a refuge for families with special needs.”
You can connect with Doc on Twitter @DocHunsley or follow Grace Church’s special needs Ministry, SOAR, on Facebook.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Excited about the new book

At this particular snapshot of time, I am really happy about the new book I'm working on with the working title of Finding Home, the fourth (or possible fifth, depending on whether or not the division of The Scarred King into two books stands) book in The Scarred King series, set in my son's universe.
I think I told you before, but I'm going to tell you again, that we started this years ago when Joshua Foreman handed me a name, Bomar, a picture, and the situation set on another planet where the hero had to kill his best friend in a fight on a bronze disc set over hot lava. I asked, "Why would anyone DO such a thing?" He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know, I was the writer. Then he gave me the list of aliens and their pictures. And I tried to figure out a world in which such a thing was logical. Along the way, I invented an alien I am inordinately fond of, for in all my decades of reading science fiction I have never seen a similar alien. Joshua let him stay in the universe. And I changed the hero's name from Bomar to Bowmark. About halfway through The Scarred King, my son said, "Oh, and all through the book Bowmark needs to be chased by a Warrior Woman. Oh, beat my head against the wall! Well, Josh got half his order. The Warrior Woman chases Bowmark through half the book.

So here is our present procedure: I think about the world of Talifar and the peoples in it until somebody's story becomes urgent to me. I tell Josh my idea, he gives the okay, and I take forever to write the novel because I am a slooow writer. I get the story critiqued, and the first draft goes from dreck to something at least readable, and then I hand the book back to Josh. He goes through the book and corrects my depictions of aliens. ("What? Did you forget that (   ) is like this?" Yeah, I did forget.) We argue over names a bit. He checks for continuity errors and tries to fix my mess of directions people have gone off to. He even made me a map but I keep forgetting to look at it, and I still can't tell left from right. He lengthens and intensifies the fights. Sometimes he adds a scene. Sometimes he adds a character. He reads the novel to his teenage son who has the intelligence to recognize my genius. Sometimes the teenage son has a suggestion.

Now the new novel, Finding Home. And now I'm going to say something I hesitate to say because I fear greatly taking God's Name in vain, which is not so much cursing as it is saying that God said, (something made up) that He never said. But at this moment this feels like something God laid on my heart. This is a story I have to tell. I don't know that the story will be publishable. I feel like the other novels are publishable, thought they have not yet been picked up by a house looking for YA sf adventure. This one, I just don't know. I also don't care because this is the story I must write. When I finish Finding Home, I think perhaps the next novel with be a Wizard's Apprentice story. And after that, one about the Ice Sailors?

This world Josh made with a handwavium anomaly that makes a variety of species crashland on the planet is so interesting that a hundred novels could be set within it. I like that the little bits of technology dug up are treated like magic, so that although the stories read like high fantasy, they really are science fiction. Oh-oh, I may have given away something there I wasn't supposed to.