Red Jade Checkpoint

August 2010 I began crafting a saga that became known as Red Jade. The story follows Gabrion, a young warrior intent on finding his kidnapped girlfriend; Kitalla, a thief with a mind-influencing dance skill looking to improve her control; and Dariak, a mage determined to unite the pieces of the Red Jade so he will have the power to stop the wars.

Book one unites the initial team and sets them on their way to fulfill their personal aims, though not everything goes according to plan. From battling creatures, finding themselves imprisoned, and hunting down magical shards, the team’s journey has only just begun.

And so has mine. With deepest thanks to my family and friends who made it possible, today I submitted book one for editing. I’m super-excited to receive feedback from yet another source so I can continue to improve the overall quality of the story. It is expected to take four to five weeks for the first editing round. Then I will have further corrections to make before rounds two and three. Perhaps before Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween I’ll have something major to put out there for the world to see!

I could not have accomplished this without the love and support of all of you. Thank you so much!!

A Shocking Journey

One of the challenges of teaching seventh grade is conveying abstract concepts to a group that isn’t always ready for such things.  Back in May 2011 we were approaching the unit on electricity and magnetism, which is where we are today with this year’s class.  I decided then to present the information in a new way.  So I wrote a short story.

Each chapter focuses on something different.  Chapter 1 is mostly about grammar, actually, and the proper use of “your” vs “you’re”. It was where I came up with the “one simple trick” of rereading the sentence always as “you are” and if it does sound correct, then it does need the apostrophe.

Those are your shoes. = Those are you are shoes. (Nope, that doesn’t sound right, so no apostrophe.) = Those are your shoes.

I hope your feeling okay. = I hope you are feeling okay. (Wait, that does sound right, so I do need that apostrophe!!) = I hope you’re feeling okay.

Chapter 2 gets into the science.  Nathan is in his science class with his teacher, Dr. Lupino (wink, wink). The teacher essentially hypnotizes the class and the students visit a vast, open, empty desert.  There, Nathan sees giant dinosaur-like creatures: the Protosaurus and the Neutrodon.  The Protosaurus is beautiful and colorful and Nathan wants to run over and play with it, but a native of the region, Treesa, stops him, saying it’s dangerous to get too close.  She explains that her tribe has to stay near the dinosaurs because they know where the food is, but if they get too close they’ll be squashed.

This represents the atom, where Nathan and Treesa are electrons who are drawn to protons, a.k.a. The Protosaurus.  However, if the two were to meet, annihilation would occur, releasing energy and destroying both subatomic particles.  But electrons still follow the protons anyway, risk and all.  The boring, dull Neutrodons are the neutrons, which act as a sort of nuclear glue to hold the protons together.  I made the creatures dinosaur-sized, conveying a sense of immensity, because an electron has a mass of roughly 1/1838th the size of a neutron.  Huge difference. (Check out the chapter here: A Shocking Journey Ch 2)

From there I discuss conductors, insulators, and resistors in a racing scenario.  Voltage, current, and resistance are demonstrated through skiing, and so on.  I have used this short story each year since I wrote it and I do feel it helps some of the students to better visualize what’s going on.  At least it isn’t just a plain old boring textbook, though this year my kids suggested adding illustrations.  If stick figures are okay, then I can do that… Haha.

To help the weaker readers, I also created a reading companion to help them focus on various aspects of the story.  I purposely threw some harder vocabulary into the story to challenge them, and I tried to give some context clues so they could try to figure out the meanings on their own.  We will see how the next test goes.  I hope they are able to make those connections between the analogies and the science, and yes, we will discuss them in class next week too!

My point in posting this here, though, is to remind myself and all of us that when it comes to writing, we can do just about anything. Even science.

Click Carefully

We all enter new phases of our lives as the years pass us by.  Some of those phases involve major changes that shatter the world around us.  Others are exciting ventures into new realms.

I am currently in one of those new realms where I’m trying to learn, particularly about how the mechanics of this blog site work.  If you haven’t set up a site through WordPress then you may not be aware of all the plugins that are available.  That’s a good thing, but be careful.

I wanted to have a subscription option to the blog for all of you who want to receive updates. There are numerous options available. One of those prompted me with a list of options and I unfortunately clicked the wrong one! If you received an email from me with my Facebook photo asking you to join me… well, you were an unfortunate recipient. If you haven’t clicked on it, then you can just delete it.

I believe the new email box on the right panel of the main blog works better and is less intrusive.  If you’re on a mobile device, I believe it appears at the bottom of all the posts. I’m still working all of this out, and after three hours today troubleshooting, at least I think it’s mostly under control.

If you clicked that other link from the email, it’s through a plugin that is behaving oddly and so I’m not planning on continuing with it at this point. If you already did so and were accepted, please consider hitting up my main site and adding your email to the newer Subscribe button, and then tell that other service that you unsubscribe.  If you have any issues, please do let me know.

Each step is an opportunity to learn. I think it’s fair to say I will face other challenges here. I thank you for your patience, and for the occasional laugh at the absurdity of it all. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine, and I certainly don’t intend to be a pill.  😉