October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Have you checked in with that teen in your life yet?

Our two young adult sons took on the adult role of and taking the docks out at our cabin without Jim or I going along. Passing the torch of an annual project. Becoming adults with responsibilities.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

This is a campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Originally a weeklong event, it was expanded to a month to help people across the nation and around the world unite with the powerful message that bullying should not be a part of childhood. Here is a link to their website National Bullying Prevention Center

Today is also

World Day of Bullying Prevention™ An initiative of STOMP Out Bullying™

It occurs the first Monday of every October. On this day students, schools. And communities all over the world go BLUE together against bullying and cyberbullying. It is the kickoff to National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month every October. Here is a link to their website World Day of Bullying Prevention™ An initiative of STOMP Out Bullying™

What Can You Do?

There are many initiatives and programs out there to help build awareness for this issue. By getting involved, you can help the teens in your school and in your community.

What can you personally do to prevent it? It may take you to change how you look at people.

People are just like you. They get up in the morning, they eat, they take the bus, they go to school, they play sports or video games. They may look different. Maybe they have glasses and you don’t. Or they have acne and you don’t. Maybe they are white and you are black. This is no reason to make fun of them.

We must treat people they way we want to be treated. Would you want someone to tease you because you are wearing a red jacket instead of a black one? Sometimes that is the reason why teens become the target of a bully.

Shawn’s Way

My second book, Shawn’s Way, due to publish in November, focuses on the teen challenge of bullying.

It is the story about a freshman at Mulston High School, Shawn Townson and how he becomes a taregt of a bully, just for being someone’s younger brother.

It is Book 2 of The Way Series and a sequel to my first book, The Hard Way. To find out more information about it, check out the books tab of my website.

Have a great week!

Writing Tip – Just Write Part 3

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog post Friday Edition.

Check in with that teen in your life yet?

There have been quite a few family dinners at our house this week. We got our youngest son a pair of waders for taking out the docks at our family cabin this weekend. When I watched him put them on, I realized how long they were and how tall he was. We could hear him walking around the house with them on singing “I’m a big kid now.” And that he is.

Just Write

Continuing on this week’s theme of Just Write, I thought of one more thing the Just Write method is good for. And that is journalling.

As a young girl, my parents bought me those little diaries with the lock and key for Christmas every year. Did any of you have these too?

I still have mine packed away in a box of things I have saved from my childhood. I was pretty good about writing something everyday. Notes and thoughts about things a young girl goes through while growing up. I take them out every once in a while and appreciate the things I went through in my younger years.

According to the VeryWellMind.com website, journaling involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. Remember what I talked about on Monday and Wednesday how writing about that desk stirred up some memories for me? Well, you can use the same method to ask yourself, “how do I feel today?” and just start writing what ever comes to mind. I have done quite a bit of journaling with my own thoughts and feelings and have found it works well to Just Write and see what I may discover about what is on my mind.

Journaling, like the Just Write exercise, can be done manually with pen and paper, or could be done on a computer or phone. There are journaling apps you can get to help guide you through a program to journal about specific themes like leadership or grieving. I’m a fan of pen and paper when I journal and like to pick up fun notebooks to journal in . This is cover of the one I’m currently writing in.

Sometimes writing is an easier way for people to share their thoughts than actually talking to someone about them. I received my diaries as gifts as a kid which I believe got me to start journaling. Maybe give a fun journal and a pen to your teen and see what they use it for? There are a lot of crazy things going on in the world right now and they may not have thought that writing about their feelings is an option. It might be a creative way for them to figure out how they feel.

Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Be sure to check out the Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival! It is happening tomorrow and Sunday! Lots of auhors and books to choose from. You will be able to see me there with my author page and on the YA Authors Panel tomorrow afternoon. Here is a link Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival.

The Hard Way

Looking for a coming of age novel that focuses on the teen challenge of peer pressure? Check out the first book in The Way Series called The Hard Way. It is available through Amazon (free on Kindle Unlimited) and through a link on the books tab on my website. I’m offering a free preview to chapter one when you sign up for my email list. Look for the pop up box when you go to my wesbite or fill out the information on the subscribe tab.

Have a great weekend!

Writing Tip – Just Write Part 2

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog continued…

Check in with that teenager in your life yet this week?

On Monday, I left you with the idea of Just Write. It sounds pretty vague, I’m sure. I talked about how to brainstorm ideas to write about. Either by using writing prompts you can find online by Googling the words ‘Writing Prompt’ or by looking up or across the room and start writing about the first thing you see. In my case, it’s our family’s antique desk and chair, one which was in my parents house growing up, but is now in mine.

In the Just Write format, I just write, not much editing happens in this method. It is more to get what your mind comes up with down on paper. So, here is my Just Write exercise for this morning.

Our Antique Writing Desk

The Writing Desk

It is a writing desk with a fold down top. The one which used to be in my parents’ living room in the house I grew up in. The antique chair that is with it now isn’t the original chair. The original chair was more square with a seat covered in black vinyl. I like the antique chair better. It seems to fit the look and maybe I like the rounded edges a little bit better.

Above the desk is a picture that we found while cleaning out some of my parents things. It also has a memory as Jim’s grandfather would mention wanting a Pierce Arrow, the kind of car which is featured on the print.

On the top of the desk we are displaying my oldest son’s high school dimploma. I remember the day he received it. It was a big day! It took him a little longer to get it done, but he did. He is a smart one, just needed a little more motivation to do it. I remember the struggle to get him up in the morning to go to school each day. Steps to get it done.

The other item on the desk is a ceramic bowl. This used to be where we kept the car keys when we lived at our prior place, the condo. Now we have our keys hanging from hooks close to the back door which goes out into the garage. It used to be only one set, now it is four. That reminds me of when the kids were learning to drive. Now they are almost 21 (in October) and 19.

That’s just a quick Just Write example. I keep these writing samples in notebooks or computer files. I do use them from time to time to help build a short story or a novel. But many times it turns out to be just a writing exercise that helps me get my creative juices flowing, or brings to mind some very beloved memories.

Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Be sure to check out the Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival this weekend! October 3rd and 4th. I will be participating, virtually. I’m really excited about being involved and also seeing how the whole event works. They have done a great job in over coming the obstacles put into place by COVID to make the festival happen. Here is a link to their site Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival.

The Way Series

The Hard Way – Book #1 in The Way Series

Make sure you check out my author page at the festival! You’ll be able to pick up a copy of The Hard Way and if you send me a copy of the receipt, you can get an autographed book plate to put in your book! There will also be a little teaser about book two, Shawn’s Way, available on my page. Not sure what The Hard Way is all about? Check out the books tab on my website and if you sign up for my email list, you can preview the first chapter of The Hard Way for free!

Stop by my website again this Friday to learn more about Just Write.

Hope you are all having a great week!

Writing Tip – Just write

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Did you get a chance to check in with your teen this week? What did they have to say? I had dinner with our two young adults last night. They like to go to the skatepark and ride their scooters there. I asked if there were any new tricks learned today. They both said no. They didn’t get much riding in as a big rain cloud came and make the park all wet. I asked if you can go riding right after the rain. They both said typically no. It gets kind of slippery.

DeepValley Virtual Book Festival


Less than a week away! Be sure to check out their website. The event runs on October 3rd and 4th. You are able to check out many author websites and there are panels to attend. Here is a link to their website. Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Speaking of the festival, one of the questions I was asked on the YA Author’s Panel was what advice I would give to a young author or someone who wants to get into writing. I responded, Just Write.

Just Write

Have you heard of writer’s block? Where writers sit down with all of the excitement to write and then draw a blank? It happens to the best authors too. There are many ways to work through writer’s block and get back on track. Some writers go on walks to get away and think about something else and come back to it. The Just Write method typically works for me.

When I say this, the first question is, what do you mean, just write? When I say Just Write, it is simply that. Just Write. Sit down in a comfortable spot with a blank piece of paper, notebook, journal or computer screen and just start writing or typing. Now the next question typically is start writing about what?

You can Google the words writing prompts. A writing prompt will give you a scenario to write about to get those creative juices going. I have used these before and come up with some really great ideas for things to write about.

But, my favorite method for Just Write is to look across the room and write about the first thing that I see. For me, it is currently a writing desk my parents had at our house when I was growing up and is now in mine. Be sure to check back on Wednesday and see what I write about that desk.

The Hard Way

What happens when a group of boys get together and want to create a little mischief? Pick up a copy of the first book in The Way Series called The Hard Way. A link is available on the books tab of my website. Want a free preview? Sign up for my mailing list and you will receive a copy of chapter one! Fill in the information on the pop up box or on the subscribe tab of my website.

Have a great week!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg – What reading meant to her

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a advocate for women’s rights. She was also an advocate for reading.

Did you know that September is Library Card Sign Up Month?

The American Library Association has chosen Wonder Woman as their ambassador this year. As a founding member of the Justce League, she is known for strength, compassion and truth. Just like Ginsburg was known for while she served on the supreme court.

As the ambassador, Wonder Woman is embarking on a new mission to champion the power of the library card. Do you have one? I do, and boy it came in handy during the COVID-19 stay at home times.

Since the libraries and book stores were closed, I found the Libby App. Through the app, you can check out ebooks from local libraries. Here’s a link to a prior blog post I wrote. It is book review where I mentioned the app. How Are you Doing on Our To Be Read (TBR) Lists

Wouldn’t have been able to do it without a library card. If you don’t have one, check on the website for your local area library on how to get one.

Be sure to attend the Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival on October 3rd and 4th to check out some amazing books and authors from the comfort of your own home.

The Hard Way will be available at the festival, but you can also head over to the books tab on my website and follow the link to get your own copy. If you want to read the first chapter for free, sign up for my email list. When you visit my website, a pop up box will ask you to sign up. Or you can click on the Subscribe tab and fill out your information there.

Have a great week and keep reading!

People in our country’s history – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Did you have a good week last week? Did you get a chance to check in with that teenager in your life? What did they have to say? We are in the process of painting our condo to sell it in the near future. Our youngest son came over and helped us out by moving some stuff for us to clear space to paint. With a little direction, we handed him the roller and gave him a lesson on how to paint a room. We took an opportunity to give him another life skill that will come in handy someday.

Speaking of learning, what else can we learn from others?

I enjoy reading memoirs. What is a memoir? Well, according to the Google dictionary, it is a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. I’m currently reading one of Barack Obama’s called Dreams from My Father, which is a collection of memories written by him. With the focus on racial inequality lately, reading Obama’s book is shedding more light some of those same themes for me. The memoir not only tells his story growing up and getting involved in the community around him; it also talks about his own personal experiences with racial inequalities he has either witnessed or experienced while on his own life journey. If you are interested in reading it, check it out of you local online library or purchase a copy from your local bookshop at Bookshop.org.

Not only do we have racial inequality in our country, there’s also inequality when it comes to gender. We lost a champion of women’s rights last week to complications from metastatic pancreas cancer.

People in our country’s history

Do you know who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was? She was

• An associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court
• Second woman to serve on the Supreme Court after Sandra Day O’Connor
• Attended Harvard Law School (only 9 women in a class of 500 men) but transferred to (due to her husband’s work transfer) and graduated tied for first in her class at Columbia University
• Became the first woman to be on two law reviews, Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review

The list of things above show just some of the things she accomplished in her life, she was also

• A wife
• A mother
• A grandmother
• And a champion for women’s rights

When she earned her law degree in 1959, it was hard for women to do the kinds of things she wanted to do. You would think that being at the top of your class at Columbia, you should have no trouble finding a job. If you were a man, yes, but no so if you were a woman. She wound up doing a lot of teaching before she was even able to practice law. She took on her first position as a professor at Rutgers Law School in 1963. She was informed that she would be paid less than her male counterparts because she had a husband with a well-paying job. If you are a woman in today’s society, would you want to have your salary based on what your husband does for a living? Or be paid a fair wage for the work you are doing?

She battled this type of gender discrimination throughout her life. Through her struggles, she pushed for and helped get many of the rights that women have today. She served on the Supreme Court for 27 years before she passed away and was seen as a champion of women’s rights. The results of that fight will live on in what she gave this country during her lifetime.

“Fight for the things you care about”

Without reading these life stories, we wouldn’t know about the struggles people have had to face in their life journeys. Obama and Ginsburg have made great strides towards equality in our government, but we still have a ways to go. Obama was working within our communities to try and make things better and then became the first black President of the United States. Ginsburg was breaking down barriers for women on her way to becoming the second woman associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. Sure, they both had people supporting them, but they also kept going after the things they personally wanted to achieve, even when challenges were put in front of them to keep them from getting there.

People like Barack Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspire me to fight for the things that I care about and want to achieve. Who inspires you to fight for the things you care about? Please let me know in the comments below.

Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Two weeks left until the Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival! Be sure to check into their website on October 3rd and 4th. There are many authors participating with a wide variety of books to purchase. There are also different panels to check out too! I am participating in the YA Author panel. I will have an author profile where you can purchase a copy of The Hard Way and get a little glimpse of book #2 in The Way Series called Shawn’s Way, due to publish in November of 2020.

The Hard Way

Can’t wait to pick up a copy of The Hard Way? Click on the books tab onmy website and follow the link to get your very own. You still have plenty of time to read it before book #2 is released.

Have a great week!

Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week? Did you check in with the teen in your life and find out what is going on with them?

One of my kids will be 21 next month and the other one is technically a teenager (for another seven months). We have dinner together with them 2 to 3 times a week. We do talk about what is happening with them and check in then, but I also like having those times when it is just a one-on-one chat. It makes a difference to show that we are present and avalable for them.

The Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

What is happening on October 3rd and 4th? I’ll be participating in the 5th edition of The Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

What is a virtual book festival? Well, it is one where you can attend online instead of in person. Due to COVID-19, it has been the way that events can still go on. It is set up to where each author has a book table (web page) in a big room (the event website) with many other authors. Each author page gives them a chance to tell the attendees a little bit about themselves, their books and have a short video with a reading or presentation. There will also be author panels (I will be on the YA Author panel, stand by for more information on that) and the headline author for the event is Matt Goldman.

Here’s a link to the website. Be sure to take a look around and check back on October 3rd and 4th to participate!

Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival

Through my author page on the festival website, there will be links to purchase The Hard Way and to a perview of Shawn’s Way, book #2 in The Way Series. Shawn’s Way is due to publish in November, just in time for the holiday shopping season. In case you want to pick up your copy of The Hard Way now, you can find it on the books tab of my website. Here’s a link,

The Hard Way

Have a great week!

Teen Challenge – Back to School and Virtual Learning

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog, the Tuesday Morning edition!

How was your last week? Did you get a chance to touch base with that teen in your life yet?

This week may be the last week of summer for teens who are heading back school after Labor Day. For some teens, schools are already back in session. How are things going?

There are so many different looks to going back to school this year. Are we all virtual? Are we doing a hi-bred model where it is virtual and in person part of the time? With those teens who are physically going back into the school building for classes, are masks going to be the new fashion statement? Or, the new thing kids can be teased about?

Masks from Shop Disney

Some virtual learning has already been happening with online testing and classes. It has its advantages. Just like working from home, there’s no commute, except from your bed to your desk or table, hopefully with a shower and getting dressed on your way there. A little extra time in bed and maybe more casual dress code. For now, it’s a step we are taking to help keep us safe from spread of COVID-19. However, is it the best learning environment for our teens?

For teens who have grown up with a phone in their hand and technology at their fingertips, they will have no problem with the hard skills (technology) involved in virtual learning. They are probably more savvy than some adults with setting up the computer and logging on. Keeping them engaged in the learning process and creating good interpersonal interactions, or soft skills, while sitting at a desk or table at home may be a challenge. It can even be a challenge when they are sitting in classrooms at school. But, a lot of the school experience is found in the comradery with your classmates day to day. Eating lunch and attending sporting events with them. Sure, you can do kind of the same thing online, but it’s just not the same.

Virtual learning is also affecting teachers. Sure, they can log onto a computer and teach from their home office, but physically being in the classroom with their students helps them to pick up on nuances in their students’ behavior. Are they are understanding the lesson? Or are they bored? Students are also able to pick up on things in the white noise of their classroom and through having more interaction with teachers and other students. We know, virtual learning is being done for safety reasons to curb the spread COVID-19, but it may have consequences that are yet to be seen.

I think the biggest thing that will be affected by virtual learning is the slower development of teen soft skills. We talk a lot about these in business circles, but they are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Remember all of the concerns we had with teens being so attached to their smart phones and possibly missing out on personal interactions to communicate with others? And how afraid we were of them not being able to communicate with others interpersonally? Now with virtual learning and teens not being in the class room, are we perpetuating their continual learning to interact better with a computer or a phone and not so well with other people? Let me know your thoughts.

One of the challenges of virtual learning is how do we engage teens to read things that are good for them to read? I have a good coming of age novel which talks about the teen challenges of peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends. How about picking up an ebook copy of my first book, The Hard Way. Follow this link to get a copy for you or your teen. The Hard Way It is free if you subscrible to Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. My second book, Shawn’s Way, is due to come out just before the holidays. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

What challenges do you see and face with virtual learning and back to school tasks this year? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Book Review – The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week? Mine was good. Second week of work at my day job under my belt and it was a good week. Confidence in my skills is increasing and I’m learning more every day. Did you get a chance to check in with a teen last week? Let me know what you found out!

After my post last week, I decided to pick up a book by Jason Reynolds, the novelist who did the remix with Ibram X. Kendi of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You for a young adult audience. It is fun when one book can lead you to pick up another. After reading it, I could see Jason Reynolds writing style shining through both books.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Boy in the Black Suit

Author
Jason Reynolds

Type of Book
Mid-Grade or Young Adult Fiction

Background
Reynolds is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He believes in empowering young people to “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story”. Part of the inspiration for writing this novel was the fact that his mom brought him to many funerals when he was young.

Summary of the book
The main character, Matt Miller, started by wearing a black suit at his mom’s funeral. Then he gets a job at a funeral parlor in New York City and continues to wear the black suit, not only for work, but also for how it makes him feel. He meets a teen girl named Love, who has lost her mom and recently her grandma.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed the book. The story and characters were very relatable. It is a coming of age story about how a teen would react to his mom’s funeral and how he reacts to things afterwards. Life changing events tend to make us change, and I think wearing the suit just helped him take on this new role as a young adult with some more real life experience. With everything that happens to Matt after the funeral, it shows how life really goes and how hopeful Matt’s reaction to it is.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the authors, here is a link to his website Jason Reynolds

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here’s a link to Amazon The Boy in the Black Suit

Are you looking for another good middle grade/young adult read? How about checking out The Hard Way? A coming of age novel about peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends. Follow this link to my website and get your copy.

The Hard Way

COMING SOON!

A little bit of news, Shawn’s Way, book #2 of The Way Series will be coming out later this fall. There is still time to read The Hard Way in preparation for Shawn’s Way.

What do you think is the one thing that challenges teens the most? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week.

Book Review – Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week? I was busy starting my new “day job”. It was a challenge to change my routine back to going to work every day. But it was nice to be going to my office (dining room table) to work from home. I’m excited to be working again, but with COVID still an issue, it’s nice to not have to go to an office yet. It is a part of the new world we are living in. We then took this weekend for some family time at the cabin.

Did you try and reach out to any teens this week? Take the time to check in and see if they just may need someone to listen? Please let me know in the comments below.

Read any good books lately? I have read quite a few more than normal due to the COVID stay at home movement. I have been trying not only read for enjoyment, but also to learn a little something too. With the recent racial events (which have been going on for a lot longer than the last few months), I’ve been reading books other than fiction to understand how much I really know about race and our history.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my What Ya Reading Wednesday? Instgram post that I was reading Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This book is a remix of the book originally written by Kendi called Stamped from the Beginning written for a young adult audience. And since that’s the audience I’m writing for, I thought I’d read that version instead.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You

Author
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Type of Book
Teen or Young Adult Non-Fiction

Background
This is a remix of a book originally written by Kendi called Stamped from the Beginning. This version was written for a young adult audience.

Summary of the book
The first thing the author tells you is that this isn’t a history book. And it isn’t. What it shows you is the other side of what we have been taught about our history in school.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed the read and found the book to be very informative. The remix was written in a very engaging way for teens and young adults. It tells the history of our country from a different angle. It’s like a court case, this book gives a chance to hear all sides of the case before we can confirm what actually happened. It seems like we have always had our history told from only one side. I would recommend this book for the young adult audience, however, adults, be ready to talk about it. They will have questions about why we let politics and the economy dictate how we treated citizens of our country. When I think about it, people protect what they have and don’t want it to change. They were taught not to trust these citizens, even though, these citizens wanted the same things out of their life in America as they did.

Link to the authors
If you want to learn more about the authors, here are the links to their websites – Jason Reynolds Website and Ibram X. Kendi Website

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here’s a link to Amazon Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. Or, you could go to Bookshop.org and purchase your book through your favorite independent book seller.

After reading this book, it made me approach the history of our country from a different perspective. It is like when three people see the same event. Each one has their own version of what happened. I’m not trying to discount any one version as being less important, we just need to be open minded to the other versions of the same story to form our opinion on what really happened.

The internet has given us the opportunity to see those additional sides of a story. For example, we’re able to get online and see what happened in France yesterday, basically real time. But, you can’t believe everything you read either. Some of these “sides” of the story can be exaggerated just to get your attention. Or, are told before the reporting agency has all of the facts, just to be the first one to get the story out there.

Writing for the teen/young adult market is kind of a group of readers that is forgotten about. There are many children’s and adult books out there. Teens are a hard group to reach. Many of them will tell you that they don’t even read the books they are assigned for class. But, maybe those books aren’t as engaging as they need to be? Or are written in a language that’s really relatable to them?

Authors can take the challenge of engaging teens to read through the books they write. I hope my books, The Hard Way and soon to be published, Shawn’s Way, are resources for teens to go to when they need help working through the challenges they are facing. Here is a link for you to pick up a copy of The Hard Way, a teen novel which discusses the challeneges of peer pressure and choosing the right friends. The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde

What books would you suggest as good resources for teens? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!