Flying Cars…a Reality?

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I read an article that flying cars could be a reality in eight to twelve years. The year of The Jetsons has finally arrived.

As a writer, I was particularly interested in the article because I like to write fantasy…actually write about the real world with a twist of fantasy.  I have to make a mental note that in a few years a flying car could be a real thing. In this technological age it becomes harder to dream up gadgets and gizmos. Many visions are now part of our daily lives. Can you say video chat?

There are probably many people on board with this flying car idea. When I first saw the headline, it made me want to read the article – Plans to build flying car really need to be grounded. I didn’t understand why the writer wanted the cars grounded. I always wanted to see a flying car. She presented facts I hadn’t thought about. It made me think.

Reading on, I came to the main idea of the article. Just because we can make the cars, is it a good idea? Yes, it would help with big city congestion. Yes, it would take a shorter amount of time to commute. Yet, it could create larger problems.

People may choose to live farther from their jobs because they could get to them quickly and easily. Instead of reviving the inner city, people may spread out even further.

Another issue would be air pollution. All those cars in the air, traveling many miles, would emit more fumes. Just because we can build it…should we?

The best arguments for grounding the cars are these—denser living, public transportation and walkable or bikeable commutes. In other words, make our big cities user friendly. So many are not.

Yes, I grew up watching The Jetsons. I thought it would be really cool if someone invented those things I saw on the show. We heard by the 21st century things would be vastly different. In some ways they are. Computers rule. Technology is off the charts.

Still, I want to cling to some of the old ways of doing things. What’s wrong with that? Maybe that’s why I chose for my character to travel back in time instead of forward. I must be a good old-fashioned girl at heart.

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Four Novel Questions

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Today I am doing something a little different. I’ve been sent four questions to answer on my blog.

I want to thank author Brenda Ashworth Barry for the questions.

1.) What am I working on?

I just finished releasing my young adult trilogy—Waiting for Dusk, Call of the Canyon and Stealing Time. Many readers love the characters from 1927.  It suddenly made perfect sense to write a historical romance novel involving Anna and Lucinda, Kate’s friends from the past. They start their journey in boarding school and the reader will find out how they made their way out west and what caused their falling out. Look for it Winter 2015. Besides that, I am working on a contemporary novel with a touch of fantasy. My character goes to a Medieval Faire and has flashbacks to another life.

2.) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I like to write in a contemporary setting and then weave in a little fantasy. I hope the reader can visualize it happening to them. My Waiting for Dusk series is about time travel. A book makes the travel happen. There’s no time machine involved. I’ve read other novels where the main character drove through a storm in a car and ended up in medieval times.  In another, the character has no control when it happens and just vanishes. I haven’t found a novel where a book is the culprit.

3.) Why do I write what I do?

I was an elementary school teacher for 30 years. I gravitate toward children and young adult books.  I’ve always enjoyed the characters of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest and the lessons in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I never really planned on writing or becoming an author. I wrote short stories when I was in school. Then I was busy being a wife, mother and teacher.
Visiting National Parks became a recent passion. My husband and I had just returned from the Grand Canyon. A PBS series about National Parks was going to air and we decided to watch. My mind drifted to another place. I began thinking about the recent park visit, the history I just watched and how fun it might be to have a young girl move between the past and present. I had no intention of writing a novel. So it literally happened overnight.

4.) How does my writing process work?

It develops in my mind. I think the whole story through and where I want to take it. I also keep a folder on my computer for research I’ve done. When I begin the actual process of writing the story, the characters might have other ideas. I like the fact that sometimes you change your mind right in the middle of writing. That’s the fun part of writing a novel.

You can find more about me here: Amazon Author Page

Too Late to the Game

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I just started playing Candy Crush. I know what you’re thinking? Really? No one plays that anymore or they’re stuck on level 385.

I find it relaxing and a little distracting which helps when you write. Sometimes you need to get away from what you’re doing. Playing the game is not like writing a story. Your brain has to think differently.

The game is simple. Match sets of three or more candies. I admit I’m not the best player. It took me awhile to “see” the best possible move or when I could make more than a set of three. When you match four you get a striped candy which can eliminate a row. Make a “L” or a “T” and you create a bomb. Five gives you a color bomb, ridding all of that color off the board. You get the idea.

It’s hard enough playing on your own, but when someone watches over your shoulder it makes it tougher. “You missed making a candy ball, Mom.” “You could’ve had a bomb instead of a stripe, Mom.” A bomb is better than a stripe? Oh. I learn as I go. But, I would appreciate if someone told me before I made the move.

There’s a lesson to be learned here. Maybe it’s best if you learn for yourself. If someone does something for you, your brain doesn’t register it as well. When the move was made for me, I barely had time to process what happened. When I did it on my own, it registered. I may make mistakes or not get through the levels quickly but I’m catching on.

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be late to the game. Others are already familiar with it and can help you out. It’s still new to you, when it’s old to everyone else. And if you like it, what does it matter? So don’t hold back trying new things…even if they’re old or the rest of the population has moved on. You may learn something in the process.

And while we’re on the subject…can anyone send me a life?

 

Dad’s Day

 

outline-28723_640Unconditional love. Every time I think of my dad, those are the first words that pop in my head. Although he’s been gone a long while, I still feel it to this day.

When I started writing my new novel, one of the characters loses her father when she’s still in high school. The pain of losing him is hidden away until it comes bursting to the surface one day. I couldn’t let her be in total pain so I gave her the gift of unconditional love. She remembers and misses his love, knowing she may never have it again in her life.

So if you’re a parent, ask yourself. Do I give unconditional love to my child? Or do I have underlying motives attached? I think every child deserves unconditional love. It’s the greatest gift you can give.

So as Father’s Day draws near it becomes a good time to ask ourselves again if we are doing that. Don’t blame someone if you didn’t get it from your parents or anyone else in your life. Break the mold. Be the first.

Give that love to your children…unconditionally

Put to the Test

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Tests have become the measuring stick of a student’s educational life. They were supposed to show what the child knew and what topics needed more instruction. When did the test overtake teaching, and why are we letting that happen?

Before all this mandatory testing, my students were great learners. As they took more and more tests, I felt like the creativity was being sapped from them. I noticed it when they were given a writing prompt. If they were stuck, I’d tell them to make something up and assured them it was okay to use their imaginations. After getting the “deer in the headlights” look from their little faces, that’s when I realized what was happening.

We were teaching children to answer questions on a test, not to be creative thinkers. I never taught questions. I taught concepts. I felt like concepts were more useful in life and that knowing them was a much better skill.

My grade-level colleagues got together and decided to do something about it. We tore through the results of an old test and came up with three areas to concentrate on: writing, science, and social studies/citizenship.  We chose our area of expertise based on which class did the best in that area on the test. A block of time was carved out in our schedules and divided into half-hour segments. We would develop a lesson and teach it to all three classes. That way, each teacher had more time to focus on concepts and create interesting ways to present them.

I didn’t have to plan science lessons or find materials for experiments, but they were being taught to my class. I still taught writing skills, but the major objectives, like writing a summary or a form letter, were being presented by another teacher. The end result of our plan was constant high scores in those areas. We were still accountable for reading and math in our own classroom, but we shared ideas.

Teamwork, discussions, and oral reports were used as regular evaluations besides written tests. Children were given a leaf guide in science and asked to find as many leaves as they could outside of class. Classifying and comparing, writing about their findings, and reporting to the class made for a much better way of learning. Sending letters to a favorite person, such as a local celebrity, made the writing process real. Dividing the class into four wards of a city and having students campaign and run for council positions brought the governmental process to life. Each teacher found ways for children to learn concepts without paper-and-pencil quizzes and questions.

Recently, I was invited to a high school speech class as a guest speaker. I was a little early, and the teacher was finishing up her English class. They were taking a test. At the end of the period, she started collecting the tests, reminding the students that it was a big part of their grade. She said the tests would be sent to the board office and graded there. That sounded pretty scary to me. One giant test they worked on for a few periods would be most of their grade.

The pendulum has swung too far in one direction. The system isn’t giving students a fair, balanced education. Until there is one, what can be done? Encourage students to follow their endeavors outside the classroom — keep notebooks full of poems and sketch pads of art. Attend community artistic events and talk with people in those professions. Take classes outside of school. Do research on the Internet. Do anything to keep the creative side of the brain working overtime. Don’t let the tests get you down.

This was originally posted on Class Craft’s Tumblr blog which can be found here:

http://classcraftgame.tumblr.com/post/85933447003/teaching-students-to-be-thinkers-not-test-takers

I thank them for the opportunity.