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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: teenagers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 75
1. Terminal, by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs | Book Review

The Morris Island gang is back in Terminal, the fifth and final full installment of Kathy and Brendan Reichs’ NY Times Bestselling Virals series.

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2. Teenagers aren’t scary – Lari Don

I spend a lot of time in primary schools, chatting to upper primary age children about adventures and monsters, heroines and heroes, myths and legends, and my Fabled Beast Chronicles. As a writer and storyteller I get on well with 10 year olds - we seem to enjoy the same kinds of stories.

The wonderful thing about primary age kids is their open joyful enthusiasm about their own imaginations.

So a roomful of 10 year olds, or 9 year olds, or 8 year olds (or 4 year olds, when I’m reading one of my picture books) is not scary for me. Not even if there are several hundred of them in a large school hall. That’s my natural environment, as an on-the-road author.

However, a room full of teenagers? That’s scary, isn’t it? It’s certainly not my natural environment, or not until recently.

Because I published a teen novel this year, the YA thriller Mind Blind, and this month, I took Mind Blind on tour, chatting to widely varying numbers of teenagers in secondary school libraries, English classrooms and school canteens.

And I thought this would be completely different from talking to readers in primary schools.

I really did expect teenagers in large groups to be scary. More critical perhaps, less open. Taller than me, certainly. Wearing more makeup and fancier shoes than me…

And I’ve certainly discovered that secondary school events are very different from primary events, but not for the reasons I expected.

So long as I make it clear I’m not trying to teach them anything, that I’m just there to share my passion for ‘what happens next’, and once I’ve shown that I’m not concerned about rules or exams, that I’m prepared to admit mistakes and make a bit of an idiot of myself at the front of the room, then the secondary pupils are usually very open and enthusiastic about sharing their own thoughts, ideas and questions. Just like the primary school pupils.

One striking difference from primary events is that as young writers grow, as they read and write more, they begin to develop a good working knowledge of their own writing style and opinions, which makes for fascinating discussions about different and equally valid ways of planning / not planning stories, what makes a satisfying ending, and how to treat characters and readers.

But the main difference I’ve found between primary and secondary events is the timetable! I usually spend an hour or more with primary children. I can usually see them from the start of the school day until playtime or from the end of playtime until lunchtime, or a nice long chat after lunchtime. Primary teachers can be delightfully flexible, and are usually very keen for me to have as long as possible with their pupils.

But in secondary schools the timetable is the boss. I may be told that I can see the pupils for period 3, which is 10.48 to 11.36 exactly, and that the class will have to go to their teacher to register first, so that might really be 10.54 to 11.36, and that they have to be packed and ready to leave when the bell goes, so that’s more likely to be from 10.54 to 11.32…

So I don’t get nearly as long as I’d like. I can’t just blether on, I have to be more organised, more focused, and get to the meat of what I want to do faster. But once I have got my head round the much shorter session time, then it’s fine. Because really, wherever I am, I’m just chatting to people about stories, whatever age those people are.

So now that I’ve accepted my subservience to the tyranny of the timetable, I’ve realised that teenagers aren’t that scary at all. Not even 170 of them in an echoey old school canteen. They are equally as imaginative and enthusiastic and full of adventure as primary pupils. They may just need a little extra encouragement to step out of the confines of the timetable themselves and let their imaginations fly free.

Lari Don is the award-winning author of 22 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. Lari’s website 
Lari’s own blog 
Lari on Twitter 
Lari on Facebook 
Lari on Tumblr

0 Comments on Teenagers aren’t scary – Lari Don as of 11/30/2014 1:42:00 AM
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3. Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery

What do we own?

A Lady Desires a Painting
Artwork by Christine Soltys

For the many who have asked, Ashlynn Acosta will be making her second appearance as the intuitive teen sleuth in Too Much of a Good Thing, a young adult mystery novel set in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the intriguing story, our heroine deals with issues of hoarding, ownership, greed and possessiveness that lead to a crime.

The problematic relationship with her single dad, a “just the facts” police detective, has healed through the challenges met and shared in Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Relishing this lively new connection with her dad, Ashlynn suspects any woman seriously claiming her father’s attention. When a beautiful redhead enters the scene, Ashlynn faces the need to solve a mystery in the midst of a budding romance between her father and this most surprising lady. Pressure builds when her buddy group divides into romantic couples and she is paired with a guy who evokes new feelings in her! She is overwhelmed by it all.

Ashlynn’s very first date takes place as she tries to uncover the real mystery in the midst of too much of too many good things. Intuition and real dreamwork are the tools Ashlynn uses to help her understand and act on her new feelings as well as unravel the secrets in a mansion on a hill where a rich old lady has been found dead.

In a Reader’s Guide at the end of the novel, you can learn more about the intuitive tools Ashlynn uses and learn how they can be employed to unlock your own mysteries and solve your own problems.

0 Comments on Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery as of 9/12/2014 8:16:00 PM
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4. Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery

What do we own?

A Lady Desires a Painting
Artwork by Christine Soltys

For the many who have asked, Ashlynn Acosta will be making her second appearance as the intuitive teen sleuth in Too Much of a Good Thing, a young adult mystery novel set in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the intriguing story, our heroine deals with issues of hoarding, ownership, greed and possessiveness that lead to a crime.

The problematic relationship with her single dad, a “just the facts” police detective, has healed through the challenges met and shared in Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Relishing this lively new connection with her dad, Ashlynn suspects any woman seriously claiming her father’s attention. When a beautiful redhead enters the scene, Ashlynn faces the need to solve a mystery in the midst of a budding romance between her father and this most surprising lady. Pressure builds when her buddy group divides into romantic couples and she is paired with a guy who evokes new feelings in her! She is overwhelmed by it all.

Ashlynn’s very first date takes place as she tries to uncover the real mystery in the midst of too much of too many good things. Intuition and real dreamwork are the tools Ashlynn uses to help her understand and act on her new feelings as well as unravel the secrets in a mansion on a hill where a rich old lady has been found dead.

In a Reader’s Guide at the end of the novel, you can learn more about the intuitive tools Ashlynn uses and learn how they can be employed to unlock your own mysteries and solve your own problems.

0 Comments on Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery as of 9/13/2014 1:56:00 AM
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5. This is one of those posts with a numbered list…

I read a great article today about youth pastors and how important it is for congregations to support them and their efforts to bless and teach our children. As the parent of a teen and two preteens – I am in 100% agreement! I’ve added a few things below from my own perspective. 1. You…

1 Comments on This is one of those posts with a numbered list…, last added: 9/22/2014
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6. Show Me The Teenagers - Liz Kessler

I guess this blog might be continuing that theme in a way. It’s about social networking. Only, this time, I want to pick your brains.

Next May, I make my YA debut with my novel Read Me Like A Book (which, incidentally, I just received the bound proofs for, and I am completely IN LOVE with this cover, designed and painted by my very talented artist friend Joe Greenaway.

This book is HUGELY important to me and I want to do everything I can to give it a good send off into the world. Because this is a brand new tack for me, I’ll be doing a lot of things differently. I’m already fairly active on Twitter and Facebook – and I do my monthly blog here – but there are all sorts on online hangouts that I know almost nothing about – and I think it’s time to get educated.

Currently, I use my author page on Facebook to write about my books, post lots of photos of sunrises and my dog and the sea, and have lovely chitchat about mermaids and faires and time travel, mainly with my readers, their parents, a few librarians and a bunch of supportive friends. On Twitter, it feels much more about chatting with my writing peers – other writers, bloggers, bookshop people etc. Think publishing party, only without getting drunk on free champagne and making a fool of yourself in front of the MD.

So that’s all well and good, and I enjoy it. But I want to spread my writerly wings. In particular, I want to talk to teenagers – and I don’t know where to find them!

So this is a question aimed mainly at teenagers, parents of teenagers, writers of books for teenagers who interact online…

Where are you? Where do you hang out? Which are your favourite online haunts? And what do look for or expect from in the different places you frequent?

I take a LOT of photos, and should probably be on Instagram. (In fact, I kind of am but I don’t really use it.) I have been told I should get onto Tumblr – and would love to go for it, but every time I glance at it, I feel overwhelmed and bewildered. I’m also kind of half-heartedly on Pinterest, but only so I can look for desks for my new office. And I have got a few videos on Youtube.

The thing is, though, when we try to keep up to date with ALL the places, there’s no time left to, well, you know, write the books. Which I kind of need to keep doing. So I don’t want to join them all. But I’d like to pick the best one (or at most, two) new social networking sites and give them a good go.

So, help me out here. What should I pick? What do you use? Where are my potential new teenage audience most likely to look for me? Any and all opinions on these questions will be gratefully received.

Thank you! :)

Follow Liz on Twitter
Join Liz's Facebook page

0 Comments on Show Me The Teenagers - Liz Kessler as of 11/24/2014 3:44:00 AM
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7. Ypulse Essentials: Facebook Puts Users’ Political Views On A Time Square Billboard, Blogging Is Therapeutic For Teens, More 90s Nostalgia

What matters most to young people in the 2012 election? (Facebook is calculating this in its new campaign “What Matters Most” where users rank the top three issues that are most important to them and their picture and thoughts can be featured on... Read the rest of this post

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8. Flutura Gets a New Look – $.99 through 1/17

Flutura Cover 011414

Our young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, has a new look.  Book one is completed and book two will be available this spring so get started with Flutura to follow the story of three best friends.  Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

This first book will be on sale for $.99 through January 17th.

You can also sign up to hear about our future young adult releases by joining our mailing list.

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9. The Great Search & Rescue

Our cat went missing. Not the new cat, the old cat. She’s a good yet reclusive pet. It took us weeks to integrate the two of them and I’m not just gonna let her go. Besides, can a family of six be complete unless they have at least four pets? Seriously, why would we ever have ten beings who consume and eliminate food living under one roof? Someone should have said no to this ridiculous increase long ago! Don’t ask me who – someone with more backbone than me.

We noticed she was gone Thursday. She has hidden for extended periods of time before, but after a thorough search of the premises, we realized she was not indoors. Thus began our search and rescue.

We started by walking up and down the street calling out her name. Wait, we would have started by doing that, but we never really have given her a name. So we just called Kitty and clicked a lot, completely ignoring the fact that she has never so much as inclined her head toward us when called…or clicked at. The only thing that came at our beckoning was our neighbor’s horse. I sized him up to see if he would be an adequate replacement, but he was completely the wrong color and I worried a little about the size of my litter box.

After the sun set, I posted two guards at the back door and commenced the stake out. The Commandant (me) made his rounds for inspection only to find the two teenage guards sleeping. It seems the batteries to their electronic devices had run out, leaving them nothing to do. I was about to rip into them like a monkey on a cupcake until I saw an eerie set of eyes through the window. The cat!


Assuming the cat wanted back in, we all rushed the scene noisily with search lights blazing and promptly scared the crap out of her. She ran away from us and we didn’t see her again that night.

Night #2. I set one guard along with her charger (fool me once) and went to bed. Around 1 am, I was roused and told the cat was back. Using a calmer approach, we slowly walked in her direction and sat down. She recognized us and without the high-beam flashlight blinding her out of her mind, allowed herself to be captured.

Once she realized she was safely inside her familiar home, she laid down in her usual spot and promptly slept for two days. The thrill of it all left me staring at the ceiling for an hour, pondering several things.

1. Does she care about us in more than a “feed me, then subject to me” way?

2. Did she really want to be caught?

3. What made us think that a cat who has never been outside could recognize the exterior of her home?

4. In case of a dystopian apocalypse, I need to trade in my teenagers on someone who will actually guard something sans electronics.

5. Why would anyone name a cat? One might as well name a roll of tape for all the attention paid to it.

Before drifting off to sleep, I recall having the strange sensation that I was being watched by the cat. I would like to think she was pondering her adoration of me, her rescuer. But I am fairly certain that after two days in the wild, the hungry feline was sizing me up for a snack.


Photo attribution:  Patrick Feller (Flickr)

Filed under: Dad stuff

5 Comments on The Great Search & Rescue, last added: 6/19/2014
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10. Epic Motivation

My favorite line, “the only thing holding you back is YOU.”

Yep. I concur.

So Brandon has finally gotten sick to death of his dishwashing gig. He comes home every day smelling like overripe food, nearly soaked from head-to-toe and did I mention that he’s allergic to the dishwashing soap they use? His arms look like a week-old heroin addict.

It’s not pretty.

In addition to the physical discomfort, he’s not getting breaks OR lunches, which honestly, I’m not sure how his employer is getting away with that – isn’t that against labor laws or something?

Anyway, he’s been doing this job for about 8 months now and he has finally decided he’s had enough. He’s been talking about quitting for about 6 months now (he has always hated this job), but was never motivated to DO anything about it, until recently.

We were sitting down to dinner the other night and when I called him to dinner, he said he couldn’t right at that moment because he was filling out an application for a popular retail store.

That’s when I knew he finally met business.

The store called him this morning to set up an interview. (Did I mention that his restaurant called him and hired him all within one week of him putting in his application at the place? He has scary luck with filling out applications, though there was a period of time he tried a few months back and didn’t get any bites and sort of gave up. But I’ve always had pretty good luck with filling out applications and getting interviews right away, too. Not sure what our secret is … other than WE’RE AWESOME! ha!)

He is interviewing for an overnight position. Granted, not ideal, but it will get his foot in the door and he’ll make $1.00 more an hour for the inconvenience. His interview is at 11:00 p.m. with the night manager this upcoming Tuesday.

I PRAY HE GETS IT! Not only will it be a better job overall, he’ll meet more people, he’ll get a discount on household items (more on that in a minute), and he’ll be able to transfer to a more cushy day shift at some point.

If he ends up working overnights, it’ll be quite an adjustment. We had a pretty good talk about how he’ll have to discipline himself to sleep whenever he gets off work, even if he doesn’t feel like it. And if he takes any classes in the fall, he’ll have to take early morning classes so he can just go to class as soon as he gets off in the morning.

AND maybe, at some point, he can put in a good word for Blake and Blake can work there on the weekends to make more money, give him something do on the weekends and to hopefully meet people and make friends. (I.E. GIRLFRIEND?!?)

So yes, I’ll be praying that he gets this job as I think it’ll be a really good move for him. He indicated he was willing to work full, or part-time on his application, so if he gets on full time, then we can get him on their insurance and take him off my insurance, thereby saving myself a little money, too. (Now if we can only figure out how to get Blake off my insurance. Because you know, he can only be on my insurance for another five years before he’ll HAVE to get his own insurance.)

And now back to the discount on household items perk …

We’ve been SERIOUSLY talking to the boys about moving out into their own apartment. It’s time. It’ll be a HUGE reality wake up call for them. Kevin has been taking Blake around to area apartment complexes and they have been going to their websites to get an idea of how much it’s going to cost. Then, they’ve been breaking down budgets and talking money to see if they can realistically make this happen. He can’t on his own but if both Blake and Brandon move out and split the cost, they can. (Though it’s going to be tight – hence another reason we’re encouraging this – to motivate them to either work more, and/or get better jobs that pay more).

We found an apartment complex literally down the road from us. This complex is within walking distance of a grocery store, a Chinese restaurant (Blake’s favorite food), Walgreens, Price Cutter, a coffee shop, and Sonic. WIN-WIN. They could even walk to our house if their cars broke down. AND, this apartment complex allows pets, which is something Blake is DYING to get – a Corgi. He LOVES those dogs, for some reason. The catch? If they want a pet, they have to pay $300 bucks UP FRONT, and then it’s an extra $25 per month. So though they can’t afford the pet right now, it’s an option at some point in the future.

That REALLY warmed Blake up to the idea.

I think the boys just assumed, when we first started talking about them moving out a few years ago, that they would move out and we would simply write them off. “Have a nice life!”

Um, no. They will be welcomed to come over and eat with us, they can bring their laundry over, they would still have keys to our house … again, when we explained all of that to them, they were both pretty excited about the prospect of being their own men … sort of.

Baby steps.

And if Brandon gets this retail store job, then he will get discounts on household items – furniture, cleaning products, etc.

Brandon really perked up when I mentioned that.

And to sweeten the pot … though I’m not sure how I feel about this option …

They pretty much grew up with the boy next door. The boy next door doesn’t live next door, but his grandparents do. So he would come over pretty regularly whenever he stopped by to visit them.

His grandparents are moving today (which is another story … should we buy their house as another investment? The big answer is NO for now, not sure we want to dig ourselves into that hole) and this boy is over there today “helping” them move, though he’s been over here most of the day catching up with the boys.

The thing is, this boy comes from a broken home. His mother is … an interesting and thoroughly messed up character. She’s nice enough, but she’s been a TERRIBLE example to her son. And Kevin has sort of taken it upon himself to be his surrogate father, since his real father died when he was three. (He’s almost 23 now). This poor boy has had a lot of drama in his life. His newest drama is – he just signed a year’s lease on an apartment with his long-time girlfriend. Only, for some reason, she isn’t ready to get serious with him and wants to go out and party with her friends. This boy, (Let’s call him Cory), doesn’t want her doing that. He’s ready to get semi-serious and to focus on building a relationship. I’m not sure if this girl is on drugs or what, but she’s suddenly abusive. She pushed Cory though a window. (Granted, we’re only hearing one side of the story – so we always take what he tells us with a grain of salt. NO ONE can be that unlucky with life … surely?)

It’s gotten so bad, he’s filed a restraining order against her and goes to court in a few weeks to finalize.

His girlfriend has kicked him out of the apartment. So now, he’s trying to figure out how to get his name off the lease HE JUST SIGNED.

When he found out the boys were talking about getting an apartment, he perked right up. It’s possible he may end up moving in with them. Which … I have mixed feelings about. He has a really good job, he’s a mechanic at a car dealership (he’s super good with cars) and he makes pretty good money. So, he could afford to move out with them. And he’s a good kid when he’s with us – I think he enjoys being in a stable, NORMAL family atmosphere, so I think Blake and Brandon would be a good influence on him … the question is, what sort of influence would he be on Blake and Brandon?

Drama seems to follow this kid around. And I’m SURE we’re not getting the whole story whenever he tells us about the crazy things that go in his life. So I’m SURE he would bring an element of crazy into Blake and Brandon’s lives …

But honestly, maybe they need a little crazy. One, to toughen them up. Life is hard and their lives haven’t been hard up to this point. And two, they need to learn to live a little and I think Cory would definitely introduce them to some fun. (Hopefully, LEGAL fun). And maybe he would teach them some confidence so they will make friends and even meet girls … (providing they are the right type of girls … but they won’t be able to distinguish the right ones from the “wrong” ones until they live a little).

So .. I ‘m nervous about the prospect of this happening, but I think, ultimately, it could be a win-win for all of them. Cory has practically been a part of our family since the boys were toddlers, so we could take him under our wing and hopefully teach him to make better choices in life. (As long as we didn’t have to deal too much with his messed-up mother. She both disgusts me and scares me, if you want the God’s honest truth).

But I look at this as an opportunity to do some good and possibly have a positive impact on Cory’s life.

We’ll see where this goes. We’re in the talking stages right now. The boys both have nice nest eggs saved up, so that they have something to fall back on if/when something comes up. Honestly, I think it’ll be a fun, teachable experience whenever it’s time to start shopping for furniture and kitchen items for their apartment.

The boys both have good heads on their shoulders and they really are good people, so now it’s up to us to (gently) push them out into the real world and trust that we’ve done our jobs.

Filed under: Parenting

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11. Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

9781447235910I have been meaning to ready Megan Abbott for ages. I’ve only heard good things, in particular her latest books, so thought I’d begin with her brand new novel. Abbott’s last few novels have all been set in the world of teenage girls, a world she has been exploring because ‘Noir suits a 13-year-old girl’s mind’

Not only is The Fever a fantastic noir crime novel but it is a great exploration of the secrets and lies of teenage life and the hysteria that can so easily get whipped up now in a world of social media, Google and 24 hour news.

One morning in class Deenie’s best friend Lise is struck down by what seems to be a seizure, she is later rushed to hospital and put on life support. Nobody knows what caused the seizure. When other girls are struck down with similar symptoms confusion quickly turns to hysteria as parents and authorities scramble for answers. Are the recent student vaccinations to blame? Or is it environmental? And what steps are authorities taking to protect other children?

Abbott tells the story from one family’s point of view alternating between Tom, a teacher at the school, his son Eli, who is the object of a lot of girls’ affections and younger daughter Deenie, whose best friend Lise is the first girl struck down with this mysterious ailment. Each point of view is almost a different world giving not only a different perspective to the story but a different emotional intensity and sense of urgency.

The secrets and lies of teenage lives coupled with the paranoid and hysterical nature of parenting in the 21st century make for a truly feverish and wickedly noir-ish read.

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12. A Call to Tech Support

The wifi in my eldest daughter’s laptop died recently. Being the home’s Chief Technology Officer, I worked through the handy troubleshoot on the system which told me it was working perfectly. Of course, the inability to connect to the internet and the distraught look on my poor daughter’s face told me it wasn’t. No worries, I bought a USB dongle and she was up and running.

Little did I know that my trouble-shooting skills would soon be needed again. A week ago, she informed me that her dongle wasn’t working. Of course, at 11:15, my system was shut down, so I didn’t pay much attention and went to bed. When I awoke, I realized it wasn’t her computer – there was a wholesale internet outage in the house!

I think that is mentioned in Revelation, isn’t it? The Mark of the Beast and the inability to access High-Speed Wireless is in chapter 13, if I remember correctly. I looked outside and it didn’t appear the Battle of Armageddon had begun yet. A check of the beds told me the wife and kids were still here, so the rapture hadn’t left me behind (Whew!)

But I still had no internet.

This has happened before and I fixed it. What did I do? Oh yeah, I unplugged it and it rebooted itself. So I pulled the plug and let it regenerate. Unfortunately, the light blinking was still red long after power was restored. So I called my ever-helpful internet service provider and got stuck in the web of automated attendants who sound helpful, but are very patronizing. Don’t they know I am the CTO? That should give me some status, I would think.

My biggest problem wasn’t the self-righteous know-it-all computer voice on the other end of the phone, it was the fact that my cell phone service is spotty in the basement where the router resides. So I put the phone on speaker and listened as best I could. Like a rat pushing through a maze, I found the tech support cheese after seventeen minutes and the new, smarter sounding Tech Support Weenie voice tells me we are going to have to restart the system.

TSW: I will now tell you how to restart your system. This is a medium level procedure and will take approximately 3-5 minutes.


TSW: Can you see your internet router?


TSW: Please find the power cable on the back of the router and say yes when you’ve found it.

Got it

TSW: I didn’t understand you.

Er…  Yes

TSW: Trace the cable to the electric outlet. Unplug the cable and wait 10 seconds before plugging it back in.

Well, that’s what I did before, but okay

TSW: Did this solve your problem?


At that point, my spotty cell service affected my ability to clearly hear the next steps in the process. What I am pretty sure it said was for me to disconnect all cables, kick the box across the room, plug it back in and see if any lights were blinking. Repeat until no lights function.


After I hung up, I went to work early and left this note on the floor:



The good news, there is free wifi at the hotel, but I really wish they would call.

Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

6 Comments on A Call to Tech Support, last added: 8/5/2014
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13. Virals, by Kathy and Brendan Reichs | Series Review

In Virals, acclaimed mother and son writing duo Kathy and Brendan Reichs have created a captivating and enthralling series by incorporating science fiction and crime with a contemporary perspective, via 4 teens who are navigating an unusually adventurous adolescence.

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14. Wanted: No Change by Tracy Alexander

Penny Dolan’s post Wanted: One Technical Geek made me think of how the departure of my three teenagers over the next few years will affect my writing. I have a technical director in the shape of my husband, so there’ll be no service interruption on that front, but many other problems may arise.

Being current
I use words that label me as a teenager from the 70s and 80s.
Fab. Cool. Get off with. Pictures. Snakebite. Purdey. Bimbo. Sloane.
With no idea what bands, series, gameware and social media are ‘happening’, I lazily slot in One Direction and Gameboy, knowing that my hopelessly yesterday attempts will be crossed out, sometimes with a sarcastic comment, and Que Sera by Justice Crew and Xbox One popped in.

Meal times are essential for solving problems with my plot, or lack of. I outline the issue and let the four heads around the table come up with the answer, for which I take credit. How well this works seems to be directly proportional to the number of brains involved. A decline is inevitable.

Writing for older audiences
My first four books were for ages 7-11. Uncannily, I had exactly that age range in my family. My two news books are YA. Uncannily, I have exactly that age range in my family. Does that mean my future will see me attempting an adult novel?

School visits
I take a dustbin of props on my school visits. Most of the props do not belong to me. I will lose my light-up skull, my night-vision goggles, the tardis and everyone’s favourite, Dangles the Monkey. I expect I will be allowed to keep the lime green fairy wings and the Harry Potterglasses.

I cannot write full-time, and sometimes hardly at all, because I have all sorts of important jobs to do with the kids, like watching The Great British Bake-Off together, going to Costa for hot chocolate, and making banana muffins. When I do not have anyone to do these things with or for, will I have to spend more time in my study?

The school day provides a fixed hour to get up, a chunk of time when I have the house to myself, and a reason to cook a meal sometime around six. I am grateful for the routine because left to my own devices I can imagine lolling around in my pyjamas until late in the day and then writing in the dead of night, still wearing boots.

If I’ve spent a good few hours in the study, I am desperate to talk to someone. This usually means I go to the local shops and talk to strangers. With less people to talk to in the house, the shopping trips and liaisons with strangers will increase.  This seems dangerous.

I moan about writing. When I moan, rather than telling me to shut up, my children say encouraging things.

Enough of the negatives.

In order to not end this post dreading what’s to come, I can see that all of the problems have potential upsides.

I may find writing in boots at three in the morning produces wonderful results.

I may, through my idle chats with fellow shoppers, find a friend, or a story . . .

I will, almost certainly, find new excuses like ice-skating, or trying out recipes from The Great British Bake-Off – that would certainly kill a few hours.

I may, take the plunge, and abandon my dustbin, because I have been doing the same thing for five years now and it’s probably time for a change. I can entertain without a tardis!

I won’t write for adults, because I don’t want to. And anyway, as Anna Wilson pointed out in her post Childish Things? "Booksellers now estimate that almost half of young adult books are being read by people who are over the age of 18,” so I’m there already.

There must be other people I know who might enjoy plotting in return for a meal.

And being current, well, there’s a novel set in the twenties that has been hovering . . .

There we are – I feel better now. Off to watch X Factor – with a child, obviously.

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15. College Concerns

I'm getting nervous. B19, in his first semester of college, is struggling.  (I wasn't sure about going public with this, but he has, on Facebook, so I guess I can comment.) The first semester of college is a big adjustment for most kids, and that's even more true for one who has required a fair amount of assistance throughout high school.  But I'm worried that this may be more than just an

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16. Long Time Coming

Friends, in the comments of this post, many of you said you enjoyed my previous posts on parenting.  Which made me cringe, I must admit.  We are certainly doing a lot of it, but parenting is a sore point with me, these days. This post has been a long time coming, but I think I am ready to share.

I read lots of books on parenting when my kids were all younger, but nothing really prepared me for teenagers.  In our case, our teens--especially #2 and #3--"came of age" just as we moved to a new state, pulling them away from established networks of Christian friends and adults in their lives, their church and Christian activities like theater and homeschool classes.

Without Christian friends at first, they struggled to make good choices.  Even now, with a Christian school and Christian friendships, we are still adjusting, and it's hard to sort out what is character stuff we would have been dealing with no matter what, and what is still regrouping and regaining what was lost in the year or so after our move.  It has required a lot of time and attention, and these struggles--so consuming and painful--just aren't topics one can post on a blog.

But maybe, as one "a little further down the road" now, I can share some of the feelings that have surprised and thrown me.  Maybe I didn't read the right books, but it would have been helpful to anticipate not just "dealing with teenagers" but "dealing with your emotions about having teenagers."  No one told me, but it's a double whammy:  their stuff, and your own stuff, simultaneously.

If you are a parent, you are probably aware of your own issues.  Parenting just brings out the control freak, the perfectionist, the idealist, the nag, the preacher, the drill sergeant or the ostrich in us. It brings out the best and the worst, and for many years, I think we have hope that the best in us and in our kids will win out in the end.

Having teenagers does a number on parents because we suddenly realize that the finish line with this child is in sight.  In just a few short years, they will be gone, and we worry more than ever about their deficiencies and the things we want them to have--character, skills, values--before they leave home.  We renew our commitment to character-buiilding at the same time that they begin to show interest in doing without our advice and help.  In fact, they often violently reject it.

We are so concerned for their well-being and for their future, that when they reject our concern, our wisdom, and our direction, it hurts.  It makes us angry.  Then we say things we're not proud of, and we are rotten examples of the character and values we want so badly to instill.  It's humbling.

Plus we want them to like us.  They aren't little kids anymore; you can have a grown-up conversation with them and enjoy grown-up activities with them.  They can keep up with you, physically and mentally. And you've put a lot of good stuff in there over the years, and you enjoy it as it starts to come out and become uniquely their own.  You can just see the fabulous human being that's in there, behind the attitudes and dumb choices they make, and you redouble your efforts to parent them wisely and helpfully.  And they push back, and it hurts, because we care so much, and we get angry, and the painful, humbling cycle continues.

We know we have to start letting go, start letting them make some of their own decisions and their own mistakes.  They become involved in activities that take them outside of our homes.  We lose some of the control that we've always had, logistically--they have teachers assigning their workload, employers arranging their schedules, other parents giving them rides.  They start telling us their schedule instead of us telling them what our family is doing this week.

It's all normal, but it'

6 Comments on Long Time Coming, last added: 1/21/2011
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17. Further Thoughts on Parenting Teenagers

I am so grateful for all the encouraging words of wisdom and blessing after my last post!  Thank you, friends.

It seems that so much of parenting teenagers is about doing the best you can, appreciating all that you can, and trusting--in God, in yourself, and in the best that's in your kids.  And finally, it's about accepting that there are no guarantees of "success." 

One friend, who's been through it already with his own teens, gave this helpful perspective:

There is so much advice out there, most of it predicated on a falsehood, i.e. if we just do the right thing, then our children will turn out right. That right there gets us off on the wrong foot with the wrong set of expectations. God always does the right thing and look at us!

It has been said that it is not the teens who are damaged in those wonderful years of parental conflict and confrontation, but the parents. I think there is a lot to that. ...Many parents simply do not find parenting to be that happy thing they thought it would be. Fact is, we are flawed human beings trying to raise other flawed human beings. That is not exactly a recipe for success is it?

I think that is another way that the ‘how to parent industry’ misses the mark. At heart it is a theological issue. It assumes more of the parent than should be assumed. Too, I wonder if God is not continuing to parent us as we parent our children. Which means that it is not a matter of the arrived helping the journeying, but the journeying helping each other. All of us in different places on that journey, yet all moving together. 

I really like those last ideas, especially.  As I said in my post, I have been surprised to come up so squarely against my own issues, not just those of my teens. It helps me to think of God using this challenge of parenting teenagers to parent me, to teach me to "grow up" in my faith by letting me experience how helpless I am without Him...just as I'm trying to teach the same kind of faith and trust to my own children.

We're all on the same journey--and none of us will arrive, this side of eternity.

But maybe we can help each other get a little further down the road!

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18. Teenager No More

Well, I managed to get in that post on parenting teenagers while I could still say that I had three of them.

But no more!

Today, my oldest turns 20.

He's been a relatively easy teenager.  Give him a computer or a book, and he's perfectly content for hours. Even days.

His birthday wishlist contained nothing but books, an assortment of graphic novels and encyclopedic reference books.

Oh.  No.  I mean these kinds of reference books:

Librarians love him.

For Christmas, he asked for (and received):

I know, it's hard to tell.  But it's a Lego set--the Corporate Alliance Tank Droid.

Yeah, his little brothers love him too.

He's a loveable guy.  Dad and I love you too, B20!

A birthday Scripture passage for you:

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
   Who created all these?
He who brings o

1 Comments on Teenager No More, last added: 1/25/2011
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19. Newslets

Besides the snow, what all is going on in our lives?

Let's start with the oldest child and work our way down.

Bantam20 seems to be getting off to a good start at college.  He learned some lessons last semester...and so did we.  Like what questions to ask!  Do you have every single book that you need?  Check.  Are you signed up yet for the tutoring program?  Check.  Have you met with your tutor?  Check.  Have you been exercising? What do you weigh? Have you missed any classes?  Do you have any assignments overdue?  Is there anything you are waiting on from a professor?  From your advisor?  Now if we can just remember to go through this list every week!  But his answers have been all good so far, and he seems really determined to stay on top of things.  I am so proud of him.

Blondechick18 is a busy gal these days.  Before Christmas, she left her job as a hostess at Perkins and took a retail job at a mall, and she is much happier at her new job.  She's working around ten hours a week and is managing her time well.  She's staying after school a couple times a week for pre-season women's soccer workouts, and she goes in early for NHS meetings and show choir rehearsals.  She also sings on the worship team at our church and in chapel at school.  Next week she and Bantam15 are performing at a fundraiser Dinner Show; they're singing "What I've Been Looking For" from High School Musical, and they've been practicing the original choreography:

Isn't that cheesy?  They have joked for years about how much fun the two of them could have playing these roles.  These two characters are brother and sister in the musical, and if you know Blondechick, you know she has a Sharpay side to her, and B15 in real life has played Ryan to her Sharpay more than a few times!

Blondechick also was accepted to TIU! (Trinity in Deerfield)  That's where her brother is, and it's a nice distance from home--about 35 minutes away.  She and her young man are having serious talks about their future as well.  It looks like he'll be continuing at the local university next year, and though she'd like to live at home and go there with him, we're insisting that she spend her first year at a Christian college (some thoughts here). She's resigned, but also cautiously optimistic.  TIU is the closest to her boyfriend, so it looks like that's where she'll be next fall.  She's undecided about playing soccer there or about her major, but she's thinking of communcations.  She just told me that her favorite high school class is English Lit, though, so she might explore an English major too.  (Of course that excites her mother, who started out as a Lit major; ended up an El Ed major, Lit minor.)  She's a good writer, too, when she takes the time to write...so we'll see!

B15 is being inducted into the NJHS (National Junior Honor Society) next week, so now in addition to morning show choir rehearsals, he'll start having NJHS meetings at the same time as Blondechick's NHS meetings.  I am so glad that they can drive together this year!  He usually stays and works out during her soccer workouts; he joins the wrestlers and is thinking about that sport for next year.  He's also excited about their choir trip to California in March.  (So is Blondechick.)  He finished driver's ed and just needs to get his learner's permit soon, since there is a 6-month wait before he can actually get his license...hopefully right before school starts next fall.  We thought about getting it earlier, so he can work this summer, but for what we'd have to pay in insurance premiums on a 16-year-old male, it's probably not worth what he'd earn, assuming he can find a job.  Plus he really wants to

2 Comments on Newslets, last added: 2/8/2011
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20. Review: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

All Janie wants is to be normal -- is that too much to ask? Well, yes, when you live on a goat farm. Yet, despite the odds, Janie is determined to have a "normal" high school experience, full of nice, preppy boys and mall-crawling girlfriends. However, when Janie picks up the bass to impress a guy and finds herself pulled deeper into the world of Jam Band, she starts to move father away from

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21. Teen Readers in Five States Get New Books

“With this grant, our library was able to purchase 100 books for our library collection, as well  as provide books for 87 preschoolers from low-income families. With proration hitting so many non-profits, it was truly a blessing to receive this grant for our library. HOOORAY to FIRST Book and Walmart for helping us!”

Debra Grayson, White Smith Memorial Library, Jackson, AL

Teen Readers in Five States Get New Books from First Book
First Book was able to distribute over 75,000 brand-new books to teen and young adult readers in Alabama, Florida, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Georgia, thanks to support from the Walmart State Giving Program.

Fifty programs in each of the five states received a $500 credit for the First Book Marketplace, our online store available exclusively to programs serving children from low-income communities. In addition, programs across those states received thousands more books – free of charge – from our National Book Bank.

“In the past we haven’t been able to provide books to older readers to the extent needed,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president and CEO. “But that’s changing fast; the selection of young adult titles we’re able to offer to our network of schools and programs is growing, and we’re on track to deliver even more resources to this under-served group this year.”

We know how hard teachers and program leaders are working to get teenagers reading, so we’re excited to be able to offer more books that appeal to older readers, and get them into the hands of kids that need them.

If you work with young adults, get in touch or leave a comment below, and let us know about the books they’re interested in and what we could do to help your program.

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22. The Penguin General Bloggers' Event

A guest blog from Olivia Scott-Berry from Penguin's teen site, Spinebreakers

I’ve never wanted to hate but couldn’t help loving so many people all at the same time.

Every now and then an event comes along and you think, you know what? My biology homework can wait, Masterchef can be recorded, dinner is reheatable- It’s a Wednesday night, but I’m going out! (It’s a phenomenon I like to call ‘the dilemma of the sixth-former’)

The Penguin General Bloggers' event then, was something pretty special. Imagine this: you receive an email telling you that seven of the most brilliant authors are going to be giving readings, and that you will get to talk to them afterwards and there are going to be goody bags. Can you honestly tell me that you would have said no, I have to finish this sheet on quadrat sampling?

Arriving at the event, I knew that I had made the right choice between my education and my passion for books, because not only were the free books stacked high, but the room was packed with people each with their own unique take on the publishing world- editors, bloggers, authors- people who I was really excited to talk to and hear their experiences and get some advice.

It was probably one of the most daunting things I’ve ever done as a Spinebreakers - by definition we are readers, which is an activity that calls for quiet and aloneness and the kind of imagination that thrives in that environment more than any other- but it was gratifying to see that the authors were just as true to their sixteen-year-old bookworm selves as I was and acknowledged the paradox of the modern author’s duties. (Not that any of that showed in their amazing readings!)

Equally gratifying was the real interest people took in Spinebreakers and what we do, and I only hope that I represented us well to this group of amazing people, who, after all, were not just composed of authors, but of bloggers too. It was incredibly humbling but also inspiring to see all these people who do what we do at Spinebreakers but to a whole other level, and who do it so well (as you can probably tell from the fact that I’ve written up my report the very next morning without going on iplayer once!)

If you’re anything like me, you probably want to hear all about the books, but I thinkthat whatI took away from last night was the knowledge that I can allow myself to meet the authors- it is not a sacrilege and it could in fact enrich the whole experience (even now I am itching to reread Anatomy of a Disappearance after hearing it in Hisham Matar’s own voice). So I’m going to compromise and tell you a little bit about the books (which you must read, all of them!), and a little bit about the authors:


Wild Abandon, Joe Dunthorne

If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to grow up in a modern commune, it sounds like (I haven’t read it yet- even the Penguin editors are waiting anxiously for their proofs to arrive) Wild Abandon will be the perfect book for you, and if you didn’t- you will now just to hear Joe Dunthorne’s comic take on it. The man himself? Two words: Funny. Shorts. (Get yourself down to one of his poetry readings now).

Landfall, Helen Gordon<

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23. A Story For Our Time - introducing a new generation of writers.

John le Carré is famous for writing dazzling novels about the contemporary world - whether he is writing about the Cold War in the 1960s, the 'War on Terror' in the early twenty-first century and, today, in Our Kind of Traitor; a story that could have come straight out of Wikileaks. Traitor To celebrate the paperback publication of Our Kind of Traitor, Penguin in collaboration with the Daily Telegraph launched a competition in February, inviting anyone in the UK between 16-18 years old to write a short story that reflects the contemporary world. It could be any genre and the word limit was 2000 words.

Two months and over one hundred entries later, Penguin are proud to announce the shortlist for the prize. It was judged by the fiction editors at Penguin, and the winner will now be picked by John le Carré. Ben Brusey, one of the editors who judged the shortlist had this to say:
'I'd like to congratulate all of the writers who entered the competition. To write a short story and create a whole world in just two thousand words is what some authors spend their whole lives trying to achieve. That you have been able to do this, with so much flair and imagination, and at such a depressingly young age, is extremely impressive. The stories ranged greatly in geography, subject and style, from revolutionary tales in North Africa, to civil unrest on the streets of London, to the perils of technology in our information age. Great characters were born, and touching relationships forged. You should all take enormous pride in the stories that you have written and I am certain that many of you will be appearing on many more literary shortlists in the future. As for the shortlisted writers, a special congratulations.'
The Shortlist

 A Tale from the Holy Land by Rory Tingle, Age 17, King's College School, London  

What the judges said: "A dramatic and harrowing tale of a young boy in the West Bank who witnesses a suicide bombing, only to discover that his father was responsible for the blast." 

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24. Teen Party

An illustration to the article talking about teen home parties and (sometimes unexpected) their consequences (ESS newspaper).

radek www.radekart.com

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25. Update on the Birthday Girl--Blondechick19!

She's a college girl now.

She got a music scholarship, so she's been taking voice lessons, participating in choir, and singing with the worship team in chapel.  She sang recently at our All-Church Talent Show:

She probably wouldn't want me to post this, since it wasn't her very best performance; she was at the Urgent Care the next day for an ear infection AND an upper respiratory infection.  But no one else could tell!

She's planning on switching majors, though.  She can still be in choir, voice lessons and worship team, and probably keep most of her scholarship, but she can tell she's just not cut out for the hours in the practice room that a music major requires.  She's not thrilled about her required keyboard lessons or Music Theory class either.  Music Theory is, in fact, the bane of her existence this semester.

And she's coming home tonight, on her birthday, for Thanksgiving break!  Her siblings are excited.

(I call this "the blonde team." Half our kids have the white-blonde hair, and we honestly can't figure out where it came from! No blondes among their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Yes, my husband is half Norwegian, but Grandpa says that out of the 11 in his immediate family, only one sister was blonde.)

Mugging for the camera is one of her favorite activities!

These two have always been close.  Ask either one of them who their BFF is, and they will name the other.

(It is one of my great joys and blessings that my kids all seem to like and enjoy each other.  I don't know if we've done something to cultivate this or if it's just a gift!  I think homeschooling has contributed to a great extent, and it's probably the right mix of ages and genders too.  Recently B16 told me that one of the best things about being home this year has been re-establishing his relationship with B12--they are enjoying each other a lot.  Too much, sometimes, given their school workload--but I am so grateful!)

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