Foster Learning Beyond Classroom Walls

Foster Learning Beyond Classroom WallsIn the ever-evolving landscape of education, empowering your child’s learning journey extends far beyond the conventional classroom walls. This guide serves as your beacon, illuminating the multitude of pathways you can navigate to enrich your child’s educational experience. From creating a learning path that resonates with their unique spirit, diving into your own educational growth, to infusing fun, creativity, and exploration into their learning, every step is a leap towards nurturing a well-rounded, intellectually curious, and emotionally intelligent individual.

Tailor a Personalized Learning Path

Craft a learning journey that resonates with your child’s unique interests and passions. Understanding their preferences and inclinations is crucial in customizing teaching methods, thereby enhancing their engagement and fostering a deeper connection with the subject matter. This personalized approach not only addresses their current challenges but also amplifies their innate curiosity.

Embark on Lifelong Learning as Parents

One of the best ways you can help your child expand their horizons is by modeling that behavior yourself. Consider embracing the journey of continual learning and professional growth by delving into advanced studies, like pursuing an EdD degree online. This dedication to education not only broadens your grasp of innovative teaching strategies but also positions you to make substantial contributions to the evolution of curriculum and the shaping of educational policies.

Make Learning Fun and Engaging

Revitalize your child’s educational journey by integrating fun and engaging learning experiences. Transition from monotonous study routines to dynamic, interactive sessions that captivate your child’s attention and invigorate their desire to learn. This lively approach not only enhances their cognitive abilities but also instills a profound appreciation for the joy of learning.

Discover the World of Educational Games

Introduce your child to the captivating realm of educational games, where learning converges with play. These games are meticulously designed to stimulate your child’s intellect while offering an enjoyable and interactive learning environment. Engaging in these educational adventures encourages your child to embrace new concepts and challenges with enthusiasm and confidence.

Explore the Richness of Arts

Venture together into the vibrant world of arts, uncovering a spectrum of creativity and expression. Exploring art and music with your child not only broadens their artistic knowledge but also nurtures their emotional intelligence and cultural awareness, and it can even help them do better in school. This holistic approach to education enriches their understanding and appreciation of the world’s diverse artistic heritage.

Venture Out on Educational Field Trips

Transform the world into your child’s classroom by embarking on educational field trips. These excursions provide a dynamic platform for experiential learning, where your child can explore, inquire, and absorb knowledge first-hand. Each trip is a unique adventure, enriching their understanding of various subjects and sparking a natural curiosity about the world around them.

Immerse in Nature-Based Learning

Step into the embrace of nature, where learning harmonizes with the tranquility and beauty of the natural world. Engaging in nature-based activities provides a serene yet stimulating environment for your child to learn, reflect, and grow. This connection with nature not only enhances their environmental awareness but also offers a refreshing escape from the routine of indoor learning.

Embark on Reading Adventures

Nurture a lifelong love for literature by embarking on reading adventures together. Explore the enchanting world of books, visit libraries to uncover hidden gems, and dive into stories that spark imagination and curiosity. These reading journeys not only improve literacy skills but also open doors to new worlds, ideas, and cultures, enriching your child’s perspective and understanding.

The journey of nurturing your child’s learning is an adventure filled with discovery, growth, and joy. As you traverse this path, remember that each experience weaves a rich tapestry of knowledge and wisdom for your child. These multifaceted learning encounters not only foster academic excellence but also cultivate a deep-seated love for learning, creativity, and critical thinking. In the grand tapestry of education, you and your child are co-creators, painting vibrant strokes of knowledge, passion, and curiosity that will color their world both now and in the future.

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Thanks to Leslie Campos of wellparents.com for another informative and entertaining article.

On my blog, I provide book reviews as well as news and info about the literary world.

Techniques to Help Authors Get Recognized

Techniques to help authors to get recognized.Leslie Campos, of wellparents.com, gives us insight into techniques to help authors to get recognized.

GUEST POST
Within the expanse of literature, emerging authors grapple with the formidable challenge of bringing their literary works into the limelight. This piece delves into strategic approaches for writers, illuminating a path through the labyrinth of obscurity toward acknowledgment and triumph. By providing a roadmap, it serves as a beacon for wordsmiths, aiding them in their pursuit of visibility and achievement.

Craft an Engaging Online Presence

Establishing a strong online presence is paramount for emerging writers. Create an author website that showcases your portfolio, includes a captivating author bio, and features a blog where you share insights and engage with readers. Leverage social media platforms to connect with your audience and participate in online writing communities to expand your reach.

Embrace Literary Events and Conferences

Literary events, including writing conferences, book fairs, and author readings, offer a priceless avenue for writers to connect with peers, literary agents, publishers, and enthusiastic readers. Also, participation in these gatherings opens doors to forging significant relationships, exploring potential creative partnerships, and possibly securing book deals. By embracing these occasions, writers can navigate the intricate landscape of the literary world while fostering their craft and aspirations.

Submit to Writing Contests

Participating in esteemed writing contests holds the power to greatly enhance an author’s reputation. Emerging triumphant or securing a spot among finalists in well-regarded competitions not only enhances one’s credibility but also garners the interest of publishing experts on the lookout for innovative and promising talents. As a result, these contests serve as a vital gateway for writers to amplify their presence within the literary landscape.

Collaborate for Cross-Promotion

Engaging in collaborations with fellow creatives, whether they are illustrators, bloggers, or fellow authors, offers a powerful avenue to enhance your exposure. Through reciprocal promotion, you gain access to varied audiences, and cultivate a nurturing community that propels shared advancement. These partnerships become conduits for mutual growth and fueling creativity. They also expand your reach in ways that individual efforts might not achieve.

Engage Locally: Author Readings and Pop-Up Shops

Immerse yourself in your local community by joining book readings, author signings, and pop-up shops. These interactions offer a valuable opportunity to forge meaningful connections with readers, leaving a lasting impact. Beyond personal connections, these events also serve as a catalyst for organic buzz, amplifying the excitement surrounding your literary endeavors through genuine word-of-mouth endorsements.

Use Various Distribution Strategies

Utilizing various distribution strategies for your written work can significantly enhance its reach and impact. Diversify the way you distribute content, which allows you to target different audiences and platforms, maximizing exposure and engagement. For instance, you can opt for digital publishing on websites and e-magazines, social media sharing for quick snippets, or traditional print media for a more formal approach. Each of these methods caters to different reader preferences, ensuring that your work is accessible to a broader audience.

An essential part of managing these distribution strategies effectively is having the right tools to prepare your documents. Online PDF tools are particularly useful in this regard. These tools offer a variety of functionalities to edit and format your pieces for distribution. For example, if you want to combine PDF files – such as separate chapters or sections of a work into a single document – these tools make the process seamless and efficient. They also provide options for converting documents from other formats into PDFs and vice versa, which is crucial when dealing with different platforms and publication requirements.

Equip Yourself with Literary Business Acumen

Enhancing your understanding of the literary business landscape is pivotal for long-term success in the ever-evolving world of publishing. By earning an MBA degree through online courses, you can gain invaluable insights into effective marketing strategies, financial management, and navigating the complexities of the industry. Plus, this knowledge equips you with the tools to market your work, manage finances, and navigate the intricacies of the publishing world, while online coursework provides flexibility for workers.

For emerging authors, the journey from obscurity to recognition is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a blend of creativity and strategic initiatives. By cultivating a compelling online presence, participating in literary events, and strengthening literary business acumen, authors can forge a path toward a fulfilling and prosperous writing career. The fusion of artistic expression and purposeful action propels writers into the spotlight and positions them to leave an indelible mark on the literary landscape. As the realm of literature evolves, these techniques can assist authors toward the recognition they deserve.

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I want to thank Leslie Campos of Well Parents for providing another informative article.

Cultivating Your Child’s Love for Reading

A Guide to Cultivating Your Child’s Love of Reading
by Leslie Campos

Cultivating Your Child's Love of Reading
Photo via Pexels

Fostering a love for reading in children is a priceless gift that benefits their overall development and expands their understanding of the world. Instilling early reading habits not only enhances their academic skills but also nurtures their imagination and empathy. This article outlines practical strategies for cultivating children’s reading habits: creating shared reading times, offering a variety of books, setting up a cozy reading space, encouraging regular library visits, establishing a daily reading routine, balancing screen time, engaging in post-reading discussions, and modeling a love for reading.

Make Time to Read Together

Setting aside time to read with children is a fundamental step in cultivating their interest in books. Creating a routine for shared reading, such as a bedtime story or a weekend morning book session, establishes consistency. Prioritizing this activity amidst a busy schedule demonstrates the value of reading. This practice not only helps develop a child’s reading skills, but also strengthens the parent-child bond.

Ensure a Diverse Selection of Books

It is essential to provide children with access to a wide range of books. Diverse reading materials that include various cultures, experiences, and perspectives encourage inclusivity and curiosity. By introducing children to different types of literature, parents expand their child’s horizons and foster a more comprehensive understanding of the world.

Create a Cozy Reading Space

A dedicated reading area in the home can significantly enhance a child’s reading experience. Designing a comfortable, well-lit reading nook invites children to spend more time with books. Such spaces can be simple yet appealing, providing a serene environment that encourages reading, and you may even be able to add to the value of your home. Be sure to keep receipts and invoices to quantify any major changes you make to the space.

Regular Library Visits

Routine visits to the library is an enriching experience for children. These trips offer opportunities to explore new books and genres, and thus foster a sense of excitement about reading. Making library visits an enjoyable and educational family activity encourages children to view reading as a delightful pursuit. Not only that, but libraries offer much more than books; there are often family events and fun activities for kids of all ages.

Balance Screen Time

In the digital age, managing screen time is crucial. Setting boundaries for the use of electronic devices can create more space for reading activities. Encourage a balanced approach that includes both technology and books, allowing children to enjoy the best of both worlds. Setting these limits can challenge both parents and kids, so try reducing screen time incrementally at first so your child can get used to the change.

Post-Reading Discussions

Engaging children in discussions about the books they read is a powerful tool in deepening their understanding and appreciation of literature. Ask questions about the story, characters, and themes to promote critical thinking and comprehension. These conversations can also provide insights into the child’s thoughts and feelings, which further encourages their interest in reading.

Model a Love for Reading

Modeling a love for reading exerts a powerful influence on children’s reading habits. When children observe their parents engaged in reading, they are more likely to mirror this behavior and develop an interest in books themselves. Parents who visibly enjoy reading send a strong message that reading is a worthwhile and enjoyable activity. It’s important for parents to consciously set aside time for their own reading, whether to dive into a novel or explore a magazine. This practice not only reinforces the value of reading in the household, but also encourages children to embrace reading as a regular part of their lives.

Cultivating a child’s love for reading is a multifaceted endeavor that requires dedication and creativity. The strategies outlined in this article, from shared reading times and diverse book selections to creating reading-friendly spaces and balancing digital engagement, all contribute to developing a child’s reading habits. By implementing these practices, parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in nurturing young readers, ultimately enriching their lives with the joys and benefits of reading.

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Thanks to Leslie Campos of wellparents.com for providing this guest post.

 

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Although I will not be reviewing Ms. Daniell’s new book, I still wanted to pass on the following information.

Midlife Voyage to Transformation by Donna Roe DaniellThree Pillars of Personal Transformation Await You: Are you Ready?
by Donna Roe Daniell

How do you know when it is time to make a change in your life, to change a behavior, to switch gears and move in a healthier direction, to let go of a relationship, to notice your pain? The first pillar of finding this discomfort in your being, in your behaviors is to slow down, to do less and actually take time to notice what is happening. This step of noticing is mindfulness —paying attention to what is going on in this present moment and examining it closely. Can you stop and pay attention and allow yourself to be curious instead of judgmental, critical or self-blaming?

This brings us to the second pillar of personal transformation: Self-Compassion. Finding a way to be kind to yourself and patient and loving when you are struggling with a difficult situation, feeling a lot of pain, moving really fast to get through something, facing a shadow part of yourself rearing its ugly head is self-compassion: bringing in care to yourself when you are struggling. This also takes being willing to stop and notice what is happening, taking that first pillar of mindfulness to the next step of being kind and caring to yourself when you totally need it — instead of hoping you’ll get kindness from someone else soon. You can give it to yourself and hold yourself gently as you let your feelings arise and fall.

When you create this kind of healing container for yourself with these first two pillars: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, you are ready to utilize the third Pillar of Personal Transformation: IFS. Internal Family Systems Therapy is a healing roadmap and deep dive into yourself and all the parts of you that keep you moving through each and every day. It’s a total path to self-awareness and self-love and along the way you get to heal yourself too. It is a safe way to get an intimate connection with your feelings and your behaviors and to love yourself into a healthier place! You can learn about IFS from books and many resources, but the best way is to engage in working with an IFS Therapist or Coach who can empower you and hold you in Self-Energy and Self-Love until you can do it for yourself. You can also explore it in a safe container like my retreat.

And you can explore and develop all three of these three Pillars of Personal Transformation at my FALL RETREAT this October 28-31 and again October 26-30, 2022. Can you give yourself four days and three nights to just listen and allow these tools to manifest? Imagine what kind of shifts might bubble up and what layers might be lifted?

In addition, all three of these Pillars are also explained through the stories in my memoir: A Midlife Voyage to Transformation. When you read this book you will be able to understand more how to feel your feelings and experience them in your body. You will also be able to learn about the 5 Stages of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation. See what stage you are on in your midlife voyage right now—It will help you get so much more out of the retreat.
Are you ready? This is the moment to take action for yourself and start with purchasing my book on Amazon. Watch for my WORKBOOK/ BOOK GROUP GUIDE to A Midlife Voyage to Transformation coming out in 2022.

Gordon Jensen – Guest Post

The Way OutBeing a writer—as in a professional writer who has published some work—seems like a glamorous, elusive way of life to anyone who doesn’t understand that if you find that you express yourself best in written form, you are a writer. And you don’t have to be published, by a big publisher or on your own, to be able to call yourself that. I wrote for decades, even published other people’s books that had a lot of my writing in them, before I let myself say, “I am a writer.” It always felt audacious and risky to claim that. I guess maybe it was a bit of imposter syndrome. But the moment I allowed that, the moment I became brave enough to really see myself that way, was the moment my writing went to an entirely different level and my career began to flourish.

I believe being a writer means you think in words more than images. That’s not to say you don’t see images in your mind, but that you are more focused on what words can best describe what you see. How can you conjure that same image for another person by describing it when they can’t actually see it? The same is true with feelings, emotions, and sensations. What combination of words can accurately and most effectively convey what is intangible and inside of you? The beauty of language is that it has that power. A Polish independent bookstore created an ad campaign a number of years ago with the slogan, “Words Create Worlds.” No truer words have ever been strung together, in my opinion.

Colleen Story Interview

Colleen M. StoryEarlier this morning I posted a review of The Beached Ones by Colleen Story. I hope you enjoy this interview that takes us behind the scenes to look at a writer’s process and inspiration.

Colleen M. Story: The Beached Ones
Interviewed by Lauren Carr

What made you write a book about the bond between two brothers?
I grew up with three brothers—one older and two younger. I felt responsible for my younger brothers much of the time. I took care of them as we were growing up, which informed my portrayal of Daniel, who is the older brother in the story.

The bonds between siblings are unique and challenged by many factors including upbringing, parents, age, and personalities. Yet these are the longest-lasting relationships most of us will have in our lifetimes. When the character of Daniel came to me, it was always with his younger brother Tony. That relationship was there from the beginning and provided a great grounding point for the rest of the story.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
Inspiration comes to me from a variety of places, but often I can’t identify where when talking about a particular story. The main character will just show up in my mind first, and then over time, his or her story will start to develop in my mind.
In the case of The Beached Ones, though, I could go back and identify a couple of sources of inspiration. The first was the movie Sarah’s Key, which was based on the book of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay. The second was an experience I had myself as a child. My adoptive father committed suicide. The experience was traumatic, but when you’re young, you don’t have the maturity to understand or deal with it.

Later in life, that event came up again. I started thinking about it more, and I had a few dreams about it. I didn’t purposely write about it, but I can see echoes of that experience showing up in some facets of The Beached Ones.

What advice would you give budding writers?
One of the most common pieces of advice I share with writers is to focus on the work. It’s very easy to get caught up in the trappings of the writing life—getting published, having readers/fans, and chasing that golden ticket to writing fame. We all have those dreams, but if you’re called to write, it’s likely for another reason. (Your soul doesn’t care if you become famous, in other words.)

No matter if you become the next bestseller or never publish a single story, if you focus on writing as a daily (or almost daily) practice, you will notice positive changes in your life. I guarantee it. Writing is magical that way.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
If I could put myself as a character in the book, it would probably be Gus. He is a preacher at a cowboy church, and he just lives his life as he sees fit. He doesn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. He spends time in the beautiful mountains of Montana, and he likes to ride his four-wheeler around. Yet he’s kind and caring and offers a lot of support to Daniel (my main character) and his little brother Tony.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously in the mid-1990s. I got my first official writing job in 1997. I went freelance in 2003, and have been a professional freelance writer ever since. Meanwhile, I continued to write fiction and penned several novels, many of which never saw the light of day. I received my first traditional novel publishing contract in 2013, I think! Since then I’ve published five more books and plan to keep going.

Anne Beall Interview

Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever AfterGuest Interview: Anne Beall, author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After

Why did you write a book about fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and after a particularly bad day, I turned to them for comfort. As I read, I noticed some patterns, so I decided to analyze them systematically. I conducted statistical analyses and found that female characters were often weak, passive and terribly victimized, whereas males were brave, intelligent, and powerful. And powerful men were mostly good, whereas powerful women were often evil. Females married royalty largely because of their appearance whereas males married royalty when they showed tremendous feats of bravery or intelligence. I was surprised how many hidden messages about gender, power, agency and good versus evil.

Are you suggesting that children shouldn’t like Cinderella or other popular fairy tales?
No, not at all. These are good stories. I just caution people to think about what else they may communicate besides the basic plot. I don’t think we want to suggest to little girls that they should just wait for Prince Charming to save them from a difficult situation. That seems like a big message to give that could lead to a lot of disappointment.
I am definitely not against children reading fairy tales. In fact, I encourage people of all ages to read fairy tales because there are so many great ones. In some of them, the female character goes to battle, saves her handsome prince, and rescues family members. There are quite a few fabulous female heroines who are strong and inspirational.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! I’m a researcher and I own a research company that does market research for Fortune 500 companies. We do everything from surveys and focus-groups to complex statistical modeling. We do studies to help companies understand their customers better and to provide better products and services to them. It’s a wonderful profession and I work with very smart people.

Do you write anything other than non-fiction?
I’m writing a middle-grade fairy tale about a heroine who ends up battling an evil wizard. She is a lowly servant in a castle and believes she’s an orphan. A fairy comes to her and tells her she has a family, but they’ve been cursed. She must solve riddles and find enchanted items to lift this curse and be reunited with her family. Although she has some special gifts, she lacks confidence in her abilities and doesn’t think she can do it. And she only has 15 days, or the curse will be permanent!

What is your advice to anyone who thinks they have a book within them?

I believe everyone has an important story to tell. My best advice is to sit down and write it. You can get help in editing and crafting your story once you’ve written it. But for now, just sit down and get it out. I believe that there is a reason you want to write it and the world needs to read it. Don’t let a lack of confidence get in your way. Just write! That’s the best advice I have. If there is something that’s nagging at you, there is probably a reason.

Thank you so much.
-Anne Beall

Guest Post: Lauren Carr

Shadow of Murder by Lauren CarrEarlier today, I posted a review of Shadow of Murder. Now I’d like to present the author in her own words, outside of her novels. Presenting, Guest Post: Lauren Carr.

The Lasagna That Turned into a 900-lb Gorilla

by Lauren Carr, author of Shadow of Murder

I have learned that every author puts a little bit of themselves into their characters. No, I am not a murderer. Yes there is a killer in every one of my murder mysteries. After all, you can’t have a murder mystery without a killer in the cast of characters somewhere.

We’ll dive into that another time.

Today, I wanted to talk about Erica Hart, who I introduced in Shadow of Murder. Erica Hart is the Cold Case Diva, who works with Mac Faraday to solve a couple of murders in Deep Creek Lake.

One aspect of Erica Hart’s character is that she is a gourmet cook (like me!) and has a collection of family recipes going back multiple generations in a special cookbook that has been passed down throughout her family (also like me!).

Some of you may recall the famous saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” This is one of the many things that bring Erica and Dusty together as she charms him with her cooking talent. I confess, my husband swears it is my cooking that made him fall in love with me.

In one scene in Shadow of Murder, Erica passes on her secrets to a great lasagna to Dusty’s thirteen-year-old daughter. While writing that scene, I found myself recalling one of the multiple times that I wondered if being a great cook was blessing or a curse.

I think most of you are quite familiar with the tendency of adding just one more thing to your to-do-list —usually because you are a nice person. (You have my permission to reach around and pat yourself on the back for being a good person.) Or maybe because that little thing is something that you rather enjoy doing—like whipping up a delicious lasagna made from your own secret recipe.

The very thought of making a single lasagna seems quite minuscule while it is a thought inside your head. Then, it ceases being a thought and turns into a reality. Before you know it, that single lasagna grows until it is transformed into a 900-pound gorilla that has decided to sit down right smack in the middle of your kitchen.

One Sunday, my friend Gail requested food for a reception following a funeral. Instantly, my husband’s eyes lit up and he turned to me. “Lasagna,” he mouthed.

I thought, “Gee, I haven’t made a lasagna in quite a while. It only takes a couple of hours to prepare and assemble a lasagna.” So, I volunteered to make a lasagna for the funeral reception. At which point, Gail handed a huge pan—big enough for three lasagnas—to me.

Okay, my one lasagna is now three, plus one for my family.

Except, when I make a lasagna, I don’t just make a single lasagna. I make several lasagnas, cook one for dinner, and then pack up and freeze the rest. Then during the upcoming months, when I get busy and don’t feel like cooking, I’ll take one out of the freezer and pop it into the oven.

The day after I had volunteered to make the giant lasagna, my husband came home with six foil pans in anticipation of my culinary delight. In one day, my couple of lasagnas had multiplied up to ten. One enormous pasta dish for the church, six to be frozen, and one for dinner.

Just smile. It will only take a few hours, and everyone will be happy afterwards, I kept telling myself while trying to figure out where I was going to put all of these lasagna pans and hoping I had enough pots and pans to cook the noodles and sauces. I was seriously wondering if my kitchen was big enough to contain this giant gorilla (aka lasagnas).

As L-Day (Lasagna Day) approached, my husband kept requesting a grocery list of what he would need to purchase. Finally, on Saturday, I sat down to count up the lasagna pans and add up the amount of the ingredients. I came up with five boxes of noodles, five huge jars of sauce, a half a ton of Italian sausage, and a ton of various cheeses.

He came back from the store with five boxes of noodles, half a ton of Italian sausage, ground beef, and pork, a ton of various cheeses and one regular size jar of sauce.

“What happened to the sauce?” I asked.

“That’s plenty of sauce,” replied the man who has yet to figure out how to turn on the toaster. “Let’s not go crazy.”

“Dear, the time to suggest that we not go crazy has passed,” I said. “I’ve volunteered to make enough lasagna to feed an army, plus enough lasagna to feed us until the end of the next Ice Age, and you bring me one jar of sauce!”

He handed me the car keys and said that if I needed more sauce, I could go back to the store to get it.

So, I did exactly that. Grumbling the whole way, I drove to the store and bought four huge jars of sauce and a giant cheesecake.

You see, over the years, I’ve learned something about 900-pound gorillas. Best not to fight it. Embrace it, feed it plenty of cheesecake, and the two of you will get along just fine.

Lauren Carr

Lauren CarrI’ve just discovered Lauren Carr, a prolific author of cozy mysteries as well as other genres. In the near future, I’ll be reading and reviewing a few of Carr’s mysteries.

Gnarly is a character that appears in a few of the books in Carr’s Mac Faraday series.

Enjoy this preview of what’s ahead.

Ten Things You May Not Know about Gnarly
by Lauren Carr

Gnarly is a canine genius. In It’s Murder, My Son, Mac has Gnarly evaluated by a dog expert who determines that the German shepherd has reasoning and planning capability, which is why he doesn’t always listen to humans.

Gnarly is a kleptomaniac. When he gets bored, he plans and executes heists—just to see if he can get away with it.

Gnarly is a West Virginian. He was born at Beck’s Kennels in Inwood, West Virginia. His parents still live there.

Gnarly is lactose intolerant. Mac Faraday only recently made this discovery.

Gnarly was not in the first or even second draft of It’s Murder, My Son. While Mac Faraday had a dog, it was not become an actual character until a much later draft.

Gnarly has a squirrel friend named Otis. Occasionally, he and Gnarly will have spats. In Old Loves Die Hard, Otis threw acorns at Gnarly, hitting David’s police cruiser.

Gnarly was inspired by Lauren’s son’s Australian shepherd, which was given to him by a woman during halftime at a football game. Her big sales pitch: “You can keep him. He’s free!” The next day, the free puppy chewed through a $65 power cord.

There is a real Gnarly. After the success of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, Lauren got a real German shepherd and named him Gnarly, after his fictional counterpart. He was kind enough to model for the fictional Gnarly’s campaign posters.

The real Gnarly can open doors—even doors with round doorknobs like his fictional counterpart. For this reason, Lauren has to lock the door when she wants Gnarly to stay outside. He hasn’t conquered picking locks yet; but give him time. Most of Gnarly’s misbehaviors are based on real-life incidents involving Lauren’s dogs or dog stories supplied to her by fans.

While the fictional Gnarly is un-neutered, the real life Gnarly is. A friend of Lauren’s wanted to breed Gnarly with her purebred German shepherd, but before the “wedding” could take place, Gnarly developed an unhealthy obsession with a footstool. For the sake of her sanity, Lauren decided to get Gnarly altered. Luckily, Lauren’s friend understood.

Guest Interview – Arthur Herbert

Guest interview for Arthur Herbert, author of The Bones of Amoret

Bones of Amoret by Arthur HerbertSo I see in your bio that you’re a practicing burn and trauma surgeon. What’s that like?

Lots of stress. Not just the fact of dealing with patients who might die, but also of caring for their families as well. You need to be empathetic, but being that giving of a part of yourself takes an emotional and psychological toll on you, too. That’s one of the reasons that burnout is so prevalent in the field. You know, I’m constantly making that phone call that we all dread getting in which I wake someone up out of a dead sleep at two in the morning to say, “Hi, is this Mrs. X? I’m a surgeon working at University Medical Center. I’m afraid your son has been in an accident and he’s been badly injured.” Doing that over and over for a couple of decades takes a piece out of you.

How long did it take for you to become a surgeon versus a writer?

After college I did four years of medical school, followed by five years of general surgery residency, and two more years of burn and trauma surgery fellowship plus laboratory time. The writing thing on the other hand just sort of happened, though. I was an English major in college, and I’ve done a ton of scientific writing for my whole medical career. I didn’t start writing fiction until 2019 when I joke that I accidentally wrote my first novel. The Cuts that Cure started off as a Word document that served as a distraction from a really boring scientific protocol upon which I was laboring. It grew over several months until I realized I had almost 60,000 words. I literally googled “How long is the average novel?” and when I saw the answer was 80-90,000 words, I realized what I’d done. I invested in a developmental editor who made some key suggestions such as giving the main character a love interest and playing up the cat-and-mouse between Henry and the Detective as well as giving me several scenes to cut and several scenes to expand. After my revisions, I shopped the manuscript around and lo and behold got an offer on the contract. That’s when things got real in a hurry.

As busy as it sounds like you are as a surgeon, when do you find the time to write?

I get this question a lot, and my answer is always that I don’t find the time to write, I make the time to write. On the days I write fiction, I get up at 3:45 am and I write until I have to start getting cleaned up to go to work. I set weekly word count goals for new or edited prose, and I’m pretty compulsive about hitting those mile posts. The morning time is my most creative, so I really kind of have to do my writing then. When I come home in the evening, first of all I’m gassed and doing well to keep up my end of a conversation. Secondly, that’s my time with my wife, Amy.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen in your time as a doctor?

This is pretty gross, but it’s funny too. When I was a surgery intern, I got called to the ER at four in the morning for a guy who’d stuck a cucumber up his rectum and couldn’t get it out. While I got the guy curled up in the fetal position on the ER stretcher, gloved up, and went about trying to retrieve it, a colleague of mine who shall remain nameless stood nearby watching. It was like pulling Excalibur from the stone, but I finally managed to get it out and drop it on the steel tray next to the bed with a moist thump. My buddy looked at the feces-stained cucumber and said, “Sir, you have got to start chewing your food better.” It’s been almost twenty-five years and that still makes me laugh.

It seems like a job like that would be rich fodder for stories.

Absolutely. Some of them are sad, some are funny, some are weird, some are dark. But none of them are boring.

At first I’d assumed you’d write medical thrillers, but I don’t know that that’s necessarily true, is it?

I get that expectation from other readers a lot, too, for reasons that are understandable. But while almost all of my stories have some element of medicine in them, none of them, zero, are medical thrillers in the style of Patricia Cornwell, with brave doctors fighting evil drug companies or playing medical detectives. My stories are first and foremost suspense stories that happen to deal with medical scenarios. Take for instance, my new one, The Bones of Amoret. Yes, the protagonist Noah is a doctor, but I use his profession as a vehicle rather than a defining characteristic. Had my publisher come back to me and said, “You have to make Noah a plumber,” I think I could have made that work. I’m a lot more Quentin Tarantino than I am Robin Cook.