Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Need Low-Cost Entertainment? Consider E-Books!

My Kindle Fire

Need Low-Cost Entertainment?


With businesses and schools closed, reports are that many families are turning to books for entertainment and home education. The major problem with that is the cost.

The cost of a book is largely controlled by the manufacturing process. However, ebooks don't have as many costs as paperbacks, so they could be a better deal right now.

E-books


I read Amazon's Kindle ebooks on the Kindle Fire (see left) that I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Occasionally, I read on my computer screen.

However, Kindle books can be read on a phone, or on any device that can download the free Kindle Reader. These devices include Android, iPad, and Mac and Windows computers.


The Kindle App is available from the Apple App Store
Google Play, or download from Amazon for PC & Mac.
As of May 2019, Amazon had over a million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Personally, my reading is almost exclusively on Kindle Unlimited (KU).

With a fixed income, I don't have the funds to purchase as many books as I read. Nor do I have time to travel back and forth to the library. Even if I did, our town library, like most others across the country, is closed until the pandemic is over.

So, for $9.99 a month, I am able to read as much as I want to read in a huge variety of genre fiction categories and even in nonfiction.

Non-fiction available includes cookbooks, how-to, business, self-help, educational, and more. Kid's books are in KU, too!

KU subscribers can borrow up to 10 books at a time, then return them to borrow more. As far as I know, there isn't a limit on how many you can borrow each month, just those 10 books at any one time. If there is, I haven't hit it, yet, and I read a lot of books.

 


Amazon is offering a trial membership free for 2 months.

Just to be clear, I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on the links in this or any other article on this blog, and then make a purchase, I will receive a small advertisers fee at no cost to you.

As a fixed income family, this is one of many ways I use to bring in a little extra income to help cover living expenses and the costs of producing my books. If you'd rather purchase from a clean, unaffiliated link, simply go to Amazon and search for the products you are interested in purchasing.

All but one of my books, Viper Pit, is available in Kindle Unlimited, and that one is available at Barnes and Noble at no cost. I've tried to get Amazon to reduce the price to match, but so far they haven't done so.

One reader told me she'd rather buy my books than borrow them so that I would receive royalties. The good news is that Amazon pays royalties to authors whose books are borrowed through Kindle Unlimited, too. For each page read, the author receives a fraction of a cent.

It may not sound like much, but it does add up. Most of my author income comes from the royalties I receive for borrowed and read books. So, it's a win for the reader and a win for the author, too.

My sincere and heartfelt hope is that you and your family stay safe and healthy during these trying times.

Take care.

Later,

















Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series


Friday, March 20, 2020

Homeschool Isn't Really Scary



Karen Arnold/PublicDomanPictures.net

Homeschool Isn't Really Scary


To all the fans and readers of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack series, you and your families are in my prayers during this national and world health crisis.

As a former homeschool mom and grandmother, I want to reassure those who are now in this position without planning or desiring to be homeschoolers. It can be done, and it's not that hard.

My Homeschool History


I started homeschooling my son in the seventh grade without intending to. Gangs threatened him. In my opinion, the public school officials weren't taking appropriate protection measures, so I brought him home to homeschool. Over the next few years, I completed high school with him and the senior year for my daughter. I later had experience helping them homeschool their children from an early age.

First, take a deep breath and relax. It does you no good and it stresses the kids if you are overwhelmed by this. Take a week, or even two, to decide how to go from here. In the meantime, there are lots of cable television shows and documentaries the kids can watch and write short 1 or 2 paragraph reports on. Or even record a short verbal report on the computer.

Books and Magazines as Textbooks


Do you have books in the house? Magazines? These can be used as reading textbooks. Share your favorite age-appropriate books with your children. Take 30 minutes to an hour a day and read out loud to them. It gives you family time and will create memories they will cherish.

Next, take stock of what you can do. If you have Internet available, and if you're reading this you do, search for fun resources. There are lots of paid sites, but there are tons of free resources, too!

One of the most effective and appreciated (though not at the time) courses I insisted upon was Independent Living Skills. Both boys and girls need to learn to do basic cleaning, cooking, and maintenance. You might even teach how to sew on a button or make a garment from a pattern. If you don't know how to do these things, check out YouTube, and learn along with the kids. Make it a family affair.

Online Resources


Project Gutenberg
You have resources available to you that I didn't have when I first started homeschooling. We used the library extensively. Unfortunately, most libraries are closed, but that doesn't mean you can't get books to read or study.

You can even get old schoolbooks for the kids at Project Gutenberg. You can download text files, HTML files, PDF files, audio files, and sometimes MOBI files for your students to read or listen to. Click the image to the left to learn more.

They will have most, if not all, the classics. Books from Plato to Jane Austen and more are free. They also have some of the early Progressive Readers used by public schools many years ago.

Here are a few other online resources:

Funbrain.com
Puzzlemaker
Puzzle-Maker
The TeachersCorner
TeachersPayTeachers Free Worksheets
The Online Zoo
History for Kids
Cursive Writing Worksheets
K5Learning
Math Games


Have older kids? Try these: 

Goodtyping.com
Khan Academy
W3Schools Computer Programming Courses
Grammar classes
YouTube Training videos on everything from Karate to Sewing to Science and more


And check out the resources under the Homeschool Links heading on this page:

AroundMomsKitchenTable/Education

All these sites have resources that will make your homeschooling efforts easier. And you can find even more with a Google or Bing search.


Homeschool Isn't the Same as Public School


Remember, homeschool isn't the same as a public school. Because you don't have the bell interrupting, because you don't have twenty or more kids to wrangle, and because you don't have set schedules, homeschool is more relaxed. Or should be. Kids can read at the dining table, in bed, or on the living room floor. It doesn't really matter where learning occurs as much as it does that learning happens.

Have your children document their school activities using journals. Another great idea is to have the kids produce an online newsletter for family and friends detailing their activities and what they've learned. A friend of mine did this with her teens. Writing assignments were highlighted as feature articles. It can be done easily with Word, Google Docs, or OpenOffice.

OpenOffice is a free and open productivity suite that is free to download in Windows, Linux, and OS X versions.

OpenOffice.org

Relax and enjoy the opportunity to see what brilliant kids you have.  

Depositphotos.com
With all the resources available, homeschool can be fun for all involved. After all, if you include an Independent Living Skills class, you can get help with sewing, gardening, dishes, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and much more.

Even younger children can learn these things. Many lessons can be included, such as science/chemistry in cooking, engineering and building in sewing, and health in food preparation and cleaning. They learn and you get needed help. And they get a grade which gives a little incentive to be more active with helping.


Activities that also count as learning:

  • Making bread
  • Crocheting a potholder
  • Knitting a scarf
  • Sewing a purse
  • Building a model of a famous place with Legos
  • Listening to authors read their books on YouTube or listening to audiobooks
  • Learning or practicing cursive writing
  • Watching zoo videos about animals
  • Watching historical documentaries
  • Teaching children to use the washing machine and dryer
  • Loading the dishwasher while discussing health
  • Creating a personal cookbook of favorite recipes
  • Researching family history
  • Studying your Bible


Peter Griffin/PublicDomainPictures.net
Even playing games is educational. Yahtzee, Monopoly, Life, Clue, Candyland, Solitaire, Checkers, and Chess among others, all
help with thinking skills, and can give rise to discussions about math, money, and strategy.

Yes, math, grammar, and other school subjects are important, but these things are just as important.

My son once told me that if I hadn't insisted on the Independent Living Skills class, he wouldn't have been able to feed himself or keep his clothes clean after he moved out. Of all the classes he took in high school, he appreciated that one most.

Final Thoughts


My father was a carpenter. Years ago, my mom and I were working with my daughter and her friends to teach basic sewing machine skills by helping the girls make a simple apron. He made some comments on the quality of their work, and they challenged him to sew an apron. He did, surprising them. Dad told them, "Building is building, whether you're using fabric, plastic, concrete, wood, or steel. All require thought, measuring, and cutting. Each piece has to fit the next to make the whole work. The same concepts apply."

Homeschooling is similar, in that many pieces need to fit together. The good news is that they often overlap. Your kids enjoy Legos? Great! Have them build something for art class. Your kids love to draw? Great! Have them draw a scene from their favorite book or a historical event.

Homeschooling isn't just sitting down and doing lessons or worksheets. Homeschooling is broad and covers almost any activity the family can do. Make it fun for all involved.

Take care,








Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series

Monday, March 16, 2020

Sneak Peek: Wolf's Dragon Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Wolf's Dragon


I've had to stop writing for a few days to make some minor corrections to previously published books. 

By the way, if you ever find spelling or grammatical mistakes in one of my books, I would appreciate hearing about them, so I can fix them. Thanks!

Currently, I am working on two books, Tala Ridge Alpha, a young adult shifter urban fantasy, and Wolf's Dragon, a companion novella or novel --not decided yet-- to the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series.

For those who want to know more about Grant, the king's new son, Wolf's Dragon will add to his story.


Wolf's Dragon Snip:


Chapter 1


“Ulia!”

Shifting to her human form, Ulia slipped behind the fig tree in the back of the garden, dropped prone on the grass and rolled into the cubby hole she found beneath the fence when she was much younger. In the past hundred years, she’d almost outgrown it, but she managed, just barely, to pull her feet inside. If Grandmother Liah found her, she’d be punished for throwing flame at Jeric. She clenched her jaw. If the wyrmdung would leave her alone, she wouldn’t have to flame him. As grandmother’s feet tapped closer to her hiding place, Ulia held her breath, hoping the old one wouldn’t find her. Again. She almost always did.

And this time was no different. Toes wrapped in glimmering crystal below a shimmering fabric of flame stopped beside the fence. “Ulia, come out of there. Right now!”

Ulia crawled out of the hole, bumping her head. She moaned. I’m too old for crawling under fences. 

She ducked her head when her grandmother’s usually serene face clouded up. “You’ve ruined another dress, Ulia!” Sighing, her grandmother pointed at the castle. “Get inside and apologize to Jeric.”

“But . . ..”

“Now, Ulia!”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Grandmother Liah never listened. Never. Since Father died and Magnus left home after being promoted to King’s Protector, Grandmother kept a tight rein on Ulia. Ulia wanted to shout her disgust at having to apologize to that . . . that . . . wyrmdung! She still had three-hundred years before she could make her own decisions, but after that, if he bothered her, she’d flame him good enough to singe his eyebrows.

She flinched at the sharp rap on the back of her head.

“And don’t you be muttering!”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Shuffling her feet to slow her journey to the drawing room, Ulia tried again. “I wouldn’t flame him if he’d keep his hands to himself.”

“Did he hurt you?”

“No.”

“Did he insult you?”

Ulia whipped around to face her grandmother. “Yes! He said I have to join with him when the moon is full!”

Grandmother’s thin lips pressed into a line. “You are of age. Perhaps, with a mate to look after you . . ..”

“I won’t!” Ulia shook her head. “Not with him! You promised I didn’t have to mate until I was at least eighteen-hundred-years-old! I still have three hundred years to go!”

“Ulia, calm yourself.”

“If you make me, I’ll run away. I’ll go to Magnus!” Her brother, Magnus, lived on Earth since the Ruling Council answered the First Mother’s request and assigned him as protector and guardian to the Were King. After he failed his duty, twice, the Council decreed he must remain on Earth until he redeemed himself. The thought of her older brother, as always, left a dull ache in her chest. She missed him terribly.

“Go apologize then go to your room. We’ll discuss this later.”

Ulia opened her mouth to argue, then snapped her mouth shut when the drawing door opened. She turned to find Jeric smirking at her. Trembling, fisted hands pressed into the small of her back to keep from hitting the wyrm, she gave him a deep curtsy. “Lord Jeric, my apologies for flaming at you. It won’t happen again.”

When he opened his mouth to reply, she spun on her heel and raced up the stairs to her room, shutting the door firmly behind her. She really did owe him an apology. Flaming a visitor was a serious breach of etiquette. Not that it hurt him. Flames couldn’t hurt a dragon. She snorted, then giggled. No, but it did singe his fancy court clothes. The foppish lace melted right off. And his hair curled up so funny, too!

Before long, she heard the castle entrance door open and close. After several minutes, her grandmother opened the bedroom door without knocking and walked into her room. Concern in her eyes, she released a long sigh, then nodded. “I read him. I understand, now, Child. He wants you to gain hold on our family treasure and titles. I’ll be sending you to Magnus.”

Ulia’s mouth dropped open. “Really? But . . ..”

“You’ll be safe with your brother. Even Lord Jeric wouldn’t attempt to force a mating with Magnus around.”

“Will the First Mother allow me to go?”

“When I explain, I’m sure she’ll permit it.” Grandmother motioned toward her closet. “Don’t bother packing too much. Your clothes won’t be suitable for Earth, anyway. You may take one case, so get ready.”

The door closed behind her grandmother. Mouth still open, Ulia huffed, then giggled. She picked up her tiny, iridescent unicorn and hugged it tight. “I’m going to Magnus, Yassy!” She spun around the room then dropped on her bed. As much as she wanted to go, the thought scared her just a bit. Magnus left over a thousand years ago. He wouldn’t recognize his little sister now that she was almost grown.

Hugging Yassy tighter, she whispered, “I’ll take you with me, Yassy. You’ll have to travel in my bag, though, or Grandmother will make you stay here.”

Yassy whickered softly and nuzzled her neck. Jumping up, she set Yassy on her pillow, ran to her closet and pulled out a bag. After putting her jewelry case in the bottom, because dragons don’t travel without some or all of their treasure, she stuffed a soft blanket around it to make a nest for Yassy. She brought it to the bed and gently maneuvered the unicorn inside. Next, she pulled out her favorite sweater, the one her Aunt Peasie made for her for her last birthday and folded it gently around the unicorn’s neck and head. “You have to be silent, Yassy, if you want to go.”

The unicorn’s tongue slipped out and caressed the back of her hand, then he shimmered and disappeared. “That’s perfect, Yassy. I have to change, now. Just be very still and quiet until we get there, okay?”

*****

The book (not sure of length, yet) has over 15,000 words written in it. I'll get it published as soon as possible.


Other News


March 16 & 17, I have set Wolf's Heart and Wolf's Mate to free at Amazon. Be sure to grab a copy if you don't have it. Enjoy!

With the threat of Corvid-19, almost everything has shut down in my area. Even library meetings have been cancelled for the duration. Please, be safe and keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy.

Take care,









Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series