Screen Free???

I’ve been noticing lately how much time my child spends either asking to watch a movie/Netflix, or actually watching a movie/Netflix. You want to know what I found out? Here’s a hint…it’s more than I would said if you had asked a few weeks ago.

How much more?? A LOT! (Today a drawer got stuck and she asked if it had run out of batteries. :/ )

I’ve been working on writing, crafting, sewing, and so forth…and time slips away from me. Which is not excuse, I agree. When I tell her she can watch ONE EPISODE I need to pay attention and turn it off as soon as the credits roll. Sometimes, even when I’ve been sitting with her for the entire show, I don’t even realize that the episode has tolled over into the next. My focus isn’t just split, it’s almost completely gone.

The bottom line is, I need to do a better job. I watch where she’s at and make sure she isn’t playing near or with anything that could injure her. Now I need to make sure she isn’t just on the television all the time. In order to do that, I need to set a better example.

I’m rarely watching shows at the moment. Usually when I watch a show, I’m crafting or writing at the same time. It’s background for me, and often includes an element that I’m writing about. But she’s just almost 3 and, while whip-smart and gorgeous (she takes after he mother!), she isn’t mature enough (at all) to understand that Mommy’s job is to be on technology, but hers it to play.

How do I fix that? Well, Mommy’s job is to write and to craft and to PLAY WITH HER MONKEY! All things I can do without the computer or the television.

I thought there might be another parent or two (or auntie, uncle, grandparent, etc) out there that could be struggling with this same issue. No matter the child’s age, you can find non-tech things to do with them. In that spirit, here is a list of things to do with your children that does not involve staring at technology.

Quick Note: Please don’t be afraid! I promise that public places, sunlight, fresh air, real honest to goodness hold in your hands physical toys and books, glue, glitter, paper, etc are all fairly safe for your family. In fact, before the past 20 or so years happened, they were ALL THE RAGE for hundreds of years!

Screen Free Activities:

1) Pull out that old CD player (or if you’re lucky enough, tape/8-track/vinyl record player), blow the dust off the old cases, and have a ‘retro’ dance party! Kids from 0-Adult will pretend to be disgusted and embarrassed, and then will begin to emulate your moves.

2) Play dress up! Get out your old clothes, silly party favor wiggly headbands, etc. and dress up. OR Pick out outfits for each other and then have a fashion show.

3) Take the kid(s) thrift shopping, downtown to the cute local stores shopping, or to some other area of shops you have either always wanted to check out or have enjoyed without the little whirlwinds. Make sure its not a china shop, and go for it! Thrift shops are a great source for dress up items and cool painting projects! Combine #1-3 for an EPIC DAY that will have everyone forgetting their lack of screens.

4) Find nearby museums, petting zoos, kid zones, etc. There are more than you think and they often go unnoticed in our day to day existences. Search them out, drag the kids, and watch the fun happen. They won’t even realize they learned something in the process.

5) Art projects: This can be as simple as grabbing a few large sheets of paper, several colors of whatever drawing utensil you prefer (i.e. crayon, colored pencil, marker, finger paints), and the kids. Lay out on the floor, and CREATE! Add glitter, cut and paste objects, etc to create something unique and special. Then either frame them or just tape them up in a display area. Make a habit of it, change the artwork out, and save what you take down to either make a memory book from, or have screen printed on material for quilts etc. Or just, you know, use material to begin with.

6) Purchase plain material, fabric markers or paints, and embellishments. Have everyone take a piece or a section of the material, and let them decorate! The material can then be made into whatever you want it to be.

7) Story Time: Make up stories, write stories, read your books. Take a huge bag of books, some water bottles, a few apples (or snacks), and a big blanket. Sit outside and read together. Read to each other, read to the wind, read to yourselves, but read together.

8) Make a blanket fort. read in there. Play board games in the fort. Sleep in the fort.

9) WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!!! (’nuff said)

10) I don’t care how old the kids are…go play at the park. Seriously, Go. Now. Play. SLIDE

11) Go to the Lake. Build a fire. Eat S’mores. Crack Jokes. Sing Songs. LIVE

12) Learn how to turn a cartwheel. Think you still know how? Try. Now raise your hand if your kid needs to re-teach you when they can stop laughing and breath again.

13) Cook together. I know, I know. I can hear the toddler moms and the parents of teenage boys all lamenting about messes and knives. Here’s the deal…if I pick up after her, my Monkey forgets that she needs to pick up after herself pretty quickly. But the days I make her help me clean, she loves playing the cleaning games and she remembers how to put things away for a while afterwards. And the mixing, measuring, spooning, baking parts of how the mess got made? “Forget about it!” She created a baking song that she now sings when in her play kitchen. It goes something like “Mix, mix, mix, mix, OH I’M SO HAPPY! MOMMY AND ME MIX MIX BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY! Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix” (she also begged until someone got her one of those little miniature wire whisks. She has to be able to mix in her mini-bowls you know!) Go, cook with them, teach them, learn from them. Make your own pizza and put down that take-out menu!

There are hundreds of ideas out there for things to do without using screens. I’m not saying you can’t ever watch anything again. Please, I’m on the computer, looking at the screen while I type this! Just watch what you’re doing, see how many hours you are ok’ing for your family. Make sure they (and you) know what the most important things are in life. Because I promise you, the screen can be replaced if it breaks. It’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to replace the bridges we burned while everyone concentrated on the smart phone, tablet, laptop, and television instead of on their family.

May your life be blessed and full of love. May your inspiration never run dry, and your bridges stay firm.

I look forward to hearing from you all!

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – ESTyree style

This morning I discovered something fun and thought provoking…a blog post sharing quotes about writing, from writers. Silver Threading, a funny and talented blogger, posted a quote from Diana Gabaldon (The author of the Outlander series). You can find her post HERE. She also called other bloggers to post their favorite quotes about writing. So, since we do little in moderation when it comes to writing, I have brought to you of my favorite writing quotes. You’re welcome.

May they bring you inspiration, understanding, and maybe even a giggle.

If you want to join in on this awesome Quote ‘challenge’, remember to title your post “Writer’s Quote Wednesday” so we can all find you!

“Of course its happening in your head, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” I put two Albus Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling quotes here because they are both things that authors need to remember. As an author I need to know that it is not only ‘ok’ to be in my world while I write, but it is probably actually better. I couldn’t get my story out otherwise.

 

I feel these two are mostly self explanatory…if you want to be a writer BE A WRITER! Treat like you would being a CEO or a Teacher. It is a JOB or it is nothing and you don’t write, you take anti-psychotic medication and ignore the stories trying to come out.

This one…ahh, this one rings very true with me. This is a quote that I feel embodies my approach to writing, speaking, and anything else with words. I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to words, I feel the correct combination of words could make a can of tuna sing itself to the cash register. Ever wonder why most of the stories of fairies/witches/etc include ‘magic spells’ and ‘chants’? This is it…words are power, the words invoke the feeling.

This…just this. Joss Whedon has written so many amazing things…more than any of us will ever hear of, I’m sure. He is the man behind the cult classic movie and television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the spin-offs. There are still comic books and graphic novels going from those! Now he’s bringing us the Avengers…this man is amazing. So to see this quote from someone like that really brings it back to us. In the end, in the twilight hours as gray sneaks in, we are all just someone with a pen, a keyboard, and an idea.

I’m just going to leave this here for you and back away slowly. Gentlemen, you know you secretly want T-Hiddles to tell you this too.

Dragon on My Neck – For Teachers!

I am very excited to let you all know that, along with writing, I have now started a TPT seller’s page. This page currently includes reviews and quizzes for Barbara Hay’s The Ill-Gotten Catfish, and Tim Tingle’s How I Became a Ghost, as well as Quizzes, Pronunciation, Writing Prompts, and Lesson ideas for the first 3 chapters of Dragon on My Neck. 

While you can find all of these things on my TPT site: HERE, and find the books on Amazon.com: Here, Here, and Here; I have a special offer for you teachers.

I am well aware of how much money we make, and how much out of pocket most teachers spend to make the learning experience more fun and easier for all those involved. So here’s the deal: If you are a teacher looking to purchase one or more classroom copies of Dragon on My Neck, or an entire set of the Stone Dragon Saga, you are invited to contact me here, or message me via our Facebook page Tyree Tomes. I will give you a large discount on the books and, if you would like, will even have them shipped to my house, where I will autograph them for you before sending them on your class.

If you would like to utilize the quizzes, lesson ideas, and suggested vocabulary sheets I have set up, I will also provide those at a large discount for you! I am really not looking to make a fortune off of these things, I just want to get the books into hands that will enjoy and use them, and hopefully learn something in the process!

If you, or someone you know, might be interested, Please let me know! You can look at a few preview pages on TeachersPayTeachers if you’re curious about the set up.

**UPDATE** I forgot to put this in originally but I am willing to visit your classroom, either in person or through Skype/Facetime calls, and discuss writing, ELA, my books, and even the connections with other topics, such as Science or Social Studies. Possible activities include a ‘special’ lesson for me to teach (corresponding to your content area and current lessons of course), writing with the students, discussing books, discussing Dragon on My Neck (or the other books in the series), and so on. I would like to think that this could be considered a great reward for students who work hard or a classroom reward for everyone making a certain percentage on their quarter grades etc.

Thank you and have a marvelous Day!

Adult Children’s Books?

Do you like to read children’s books? What a silly question! Most people I know enjoy a good children’s book every now and again…whether that be a ‘classic’ such as Winnie the Pooh or Dr. Seuss, a new picture book about animals, or something completely different, children’s books often hold a piece of our childhoods. When we read these books, even ones we’ve never before read, it unlocks a bit of our inner child and we find pieces of what we didn’t ever know was missing.

You know what I’ve noticed about children’s books lately? They don’t contain as many references aimed at ‘adults’ as their corresponding movies do. Movies aimed at the 0-10 year old market often include soundtracks, artwork hanging on the walls, and little sarcastic jokes that are meant for the parents and older siblings being forced to watch these things. The books though, they don’t seem to have that same balance in them.

So here’s an idea…let’s tweak it a little! I’m not saying we should go as far as the movies go (some of them are to the point where I don’t let my toddler watch again!) but a little addition here and there would give the parents something while keeping the book clean. And yes, I do realize that there are a lot of books with adults who reference different eras…they also usually get made fun of by the kids.

I’m looking for honest to goodness exchange of ideas and great inter-generational moments for both my characters, and the people reading the story. Hopefully, my 9 year old adventure seeker’s story will be read out loud and the parents will get a little kick out of a line here or there. Take a look at a few lines I’ve written (below) and see what you think…and PLEASE let me know of any other children’s books that fit the bill! My daughter only has a hundred or so books, we definitely need more 😉

Here is a segment from my current WIP –

Grandpa Punk has been teaching Paulonious Punk (grandson) to ride a unicycle while Paulonious’s best friend, John, gets used to riding an antique two wheeled bicycle…both with large wheels and ‘ape hanger’ handles. 

“Put your helmets on boys,” he plopped his fedora shaped helmet on with a flourish and a grin, “It’s time to ride!” 

So they pedaled their way out of the fort and down the street, following Grandpa as he hummed some old song by Foghat (what a weird name!) and Grandma yelled after them to remember supper in an hour!

The Shelf

Deep in a secret room, high on the back wall, there is a shelf.

Far from mocking eyes and sticky hands,

this shelf is home to my memories.

Not pictures,

for they are displayed proudly throughout the house.

Not priceless Heirlooms…

no one trusts me with those.

No, these memories are mostly small

and made of plastic.

A Jem and the Holograms barbie,

A Lumiere smiling his cocky smile,

A flaming red haired Chucky.

his happy grin and terrible green shorts making me smile.

A Doug pen, A Spritelet,

Ninja Turtle Action Figures,

3 copies of the Labyrinth,

The list goes on and on.

Wonderful, Amazing, so bad they’re good, so good they’re perfect,

80s and 90s shows, the soundtrack of my childhood,

on a dark and dusty back shelf,

hidden from all,

Waiting for me to turn on the light

and Come Play.

Coming Soon…

There are a lot of fun things going on in the Tyree Tomes world right now! Three of the most exciting (to me anyway) are the new line of quizzes and lesson ideas to go along with the Stone Dragon Saga books, Leonard’s Wildlife Picture Book Series (name still a work in progress!), and the Little Monster’s Story (also a name WIP).

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ve probably heard about both of those first two items. I am very proud of my dragons and their story, and I am incredibly excited for Leonard and his friends to join our bunch. However, the Little Monster has been under wraps for the most part. Want to know a secret? I didn’t write it! I will be making sense of the story, setting it up in book form, and presenting to you very soon…but the real author behind this adorable early (EARLY) childhood picture book is my daughter.

That’s right, my one month from being 3 year old Monkey has written her first book. She started telling the story as a bedtime story to her baby dolls. At first, I didn’t pay much attention since she makes up cute stories and scenarios all the time. However, this was different because, after the third night in a row of the exact same wording to the story, I realized that this story was one of THOSE. You know, one of those stories/poems/art pieces that you find doodled all over the edges of your notepads or menus until you just write it out and complete the silly thing. So that’s what we’re doing. Her goal has been to ‘be like Mama and Papa‘ and write and ‘Be like Gaga’ and draw/illustrate. You will see her story and her illustrations in the next few weeks (Hopefully the Good Lord allows us to get it done so quickly!).

That’s most of what’s new in the Tyree Tomes world.

Summer Sundays

My short story compilation, Summer Sundays, is FREE for ebook download for the next 3 days. You can find it HERE. Tomorrow the other 2 short story compilation books will be free as well. You can find them Here and Here.

These books are full of stories that span genres, but they are all meant to be a quick, fun read for the audience. As such, my short stories are all short shorts, most only taking up a page or two in the book. I hope you find something (or many things) to enjoy!

Rump Review

Rump:

The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Written by: Liesl Shurtliff

Printed by Scholastic Inc. 2014

Age Range: Middle Grades (8-13 years old)

 

Book Review by:

 Elizabeth S. Tyree

(www.alaynabellesmom.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes

www.amazon.com/author/elizabethtyree )

 

In Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin the audience is introduced to Rump, a 12 year old boy living in a world where your name is your destiny…and he’s named after the rear end of a cow.

Rump is trying to find his destiny and, along the way, discovers family secrets, friendship, and the real power of names.

At the beginning of the story Rump is a small-for-his-age twelve year old that is the *ahem* butt of the town’s joke. Liesl Shurtliff has created a world in which nothing has a unique name, except for the people inhabiting it. Rump lives in The Village on The Mountain, wherein no animals have names and no town in THE KINGDOM has a real name, known only as Yonder, The King’s City, etc.

On the Mountain, villagers dig for gold to trade with the Kingdom for their rations. Pixies, who love gold, become excited around veins of gold, but haven’t been active lately…that is, until Rump turns 12 and they become agitated every time they’re anywhere around him.

Cue zany antics and the search for his true name! With the help of his only friend, Red, her grandmother, and his family, Rump searches for his real name, learns his special gift, and begins the journey that will lead him to becoming a well-known and sometimes villainized fairy tale character.

I give this book 5 out of 5 dragons for the awesome cover art. The whimsical depiction of a dark wood, a castle, pixies, and two young people on the cover caught my eye before the title did!

As for the story, I give it 4 out of 5 dragons. I enjoy a good twist on the classics probably more than a lot of people I know, but this had little to do with the old story I always enjoyed. In fact, I rather like the character of Rumpelstiltskin and this supremely likable character, whom the audience will identify and empathize with, threw me for a loop!

Over all, though, I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to reading other works by Liesl Shurtliff. (I’m getting ready to go get Jack now!)

 

 

3 Ways to Tell that this is THE ONE (partner) for Writers

With the exception of a few close writing friends that I used to do ’round writing’ with, I have never worked with other people for the writing process. The story, and all of it’s parts, have remained my own. Even going so far as to make up cities in the approximate area of actual areas just so I don’t have any ties to them later on. However, that changed a bit today, and I am so incredibly excited about this new adventure!

Today My father (Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree) and Myself (Elizabeth S. Tyree) met with the director of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, a privately funded wildlife park/refuge that is beautifully cared for and well loved in Kansas (just 2 hours from our home in Oklahoma). Now one of my favorite characters will be housed in the facility for our books. I’m so excited to get this book together now! (If you want to donate something to their park, or just check out the kind of things these animals might want/need you can see their multiple wish lists HERE)

Thinking back over it, there were 3 real reasons that I abandoned the ‘all on my onesie’ approach for this book. If you are also a ‘loner’ but think that you might want to work with someone, or somewhere, for your next project, these might help you decide!

1 – I could SEE my story happening there. Its not just that my character is a lemur and they have a great little island for lemurs. Although that was a big draw! In reality, I could see my main character interacting happily with the entire park. (also, my Lemur’s name has always been Leonard, and they have an ambassador lemur by the same name! Talk about matches made in happy places!)

2 – It felt welcoming (for animals and humans). This park felt like a place I would happily visit often. When working with someone (or somewhere) else, you need to be relatively certain that you can work closely with them

3 – I felt pulled to contact the director/assistant director. This was the biggest indication for me that I should go ahead and ask if they might be willing to work with me. Whether or not you believe in ‘following your gut’, if you are thinking about a particular partnership often (or can’t get it out of your mind) then that is a good indication that you should pursue the possibility.

I hope that this helps you decide if grabbing a partner or plopping your story down in a certain place might be the right answer for you!

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments! I leave you with a few pictures from today’s productive trip:

Bintorung - from South Easter Asia.

Bintorung – from South Eastern Asia.

Indian Rhinoceros - this one is excited for feeding time!

Travis the Indian Rhinoceros – this one is excited for feeding time!

Red River Hog looking for bugs in the mud!

Red River Hog looking for bugs in the mud!

A Black Howler Monkey--he refused to howl for me, but finally decided  to come down and make faces!

A Black Howler Monkey–he refused to howl for me, but finally decided to come down and make faces!

Sky, the 9 year old female White Tiger. She loves her ground beef

Sky, the 9 year old female White Tiger. She loves her ground beef

Baby Javan Langurs having fun

Baby Javan Langurs having fun

Meet Emmet, the 30 year old tortoise who was so well loved in the feeding arena that he outgrew the area and was put in with the Kangaroos this week! Love hearing things like that!

Meet Emmet, the 30 year old tortoise who was so well loved in the feeding arena that he outgrew the area and was put in with the Kangaroos this week! Love hearing things like that!

A little Advice

Lately it seems like every time I go out to the store or to grab a bite, someone recognizes that I’m an author, a teacher, or both. I live in a small community and there are only so many times you can purchase colored pens and notebooks before people start asking questions! Recently, a student at the local college asked me what boils down to the same questions everyone else asks but phrased it so well that the questions inspired this post! (Way to go, random friend of a friend of a kid I used to babysitter, well played!)

Here are her questions, phrased as closely to her actual words as I can remember it:

Aren’t you Beth Tyree? That goes to church with….? They were telling me that you’re a writer. That’s pretty cool…I’ve never heard of your stuff but I’m thinking of looking it up. (Ok, that part doesn’t count toward the ‘phrased well’ portion!). I like to write too. In fact, I am taking a class this fall that includes a lot of writing. Do you have any advice on how to get it all done? 

Why yes, yes I do. Thank you for asking.

*WARNING – Longer Post than Usual in 3-2-1-ACTION:*

Advice for Students:

1) Whatever the reason for your writing is, always ALWAYS do your best. There absolutely no excuse for a strong writer to execute weak and horribly written essays just because you didn’t feel like writing to your class topic.

2) Likewise: DO YOUR READING!! Make sure that you are researching, reading, and working everything the teacher assigns, and possibly a little extra. I know the thought of all that work panics you (especially at 2 am Sunday when the project is due by 7 am Monday) but I promise, it is worth it! Take it from someone who flubbed off a lot in College…You NEED to pay attention!

3) Use your time wisely. Most professors include projects and their due dates IN THE SYLLABUS! That means that unless something drastic happens to change things, you have known about that insane presentation since the first day of class (or possibly earlier considering friends, online chats, etc connected to the school). I’m not saying to get hyper and do all the classwork week 1 (MOM!) but use that schedule book you bought with the school logo on it for something other than girl’s nights and dress up at the bar weekends. When you organize it all out and do the work in small segments, you tend to get it done earlier and with better grades. (You also impress teachers).

BONUS:  Realize that most teachers are not being ‘mean’ or ‘hard on you’ because they don’t like you or think you’re stupid. Most teachers are hard on you because they believe you can do better. I am speaking from experience here…I had a couple of professors who rode me hard about showing up, taking the time to work on my assignments, writing style, etc. At the time I thought they must hate me, but now I realize that they loved me. Students that show potential but don’t live up to it will get more guff from their teachers than students who work hard but just don’t get it.

Advice for Teachers:

1) Make your expectations very clear from the beginning. Unless something drastic happens, don’t change your rules or plans in the middle of the semester. That is unfair to the random student that might actually have started work on their projects…and creates more work for you in the long run (even if its just repeating your reasoning for the 543rd time)

2) Remind students of upcoming deadlines, projects, etc. Speak about it in class, often. Use the last five minutes of your time to ask if they have questions or comments. Make sure you maintain office hours and have an email account they have access to. Most students won’t utilize this availability, but the few who do will thank you later!

3) Show your students that you aren’t just being ‘mean’ or ‘hard on them’! Share some of your work in class. This may just mean that you discuss how a similar class helped you finish your degree, or a book/article/play/song/equation(ugh, math!) you are currently working on. Let them be your beta audience. Grammar class? Drop the normal (i.e. BORING) paragraphs about Sally’s cupcake stand and have them edit an intentionally messed up page from your most recent story. Some sort of Mathematics teacher? Assign a house plan or put your remodel blue prints on the board and work through the issues with them. Use real life experiences and show them tat you are also human and, as all teachers are, a perpetual student.

Advice for Authors:

1) Just write already! I know that as a student or a teacher, (or a full time CPA or a Mommy, or whatever it is that you do) your time is precious and limited. Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that takes up your time, you will not be completely satisfied with yourself until you take the time to write that idea out! The question that usually riles me up the most is: I have this great idea I’ve been kicking around for years, want to hear it? NO! If you really like the idea that much, I’ll be more than happy to READ your drafts, but I don’t want to hear an idea you’ve had for that long and never written down. By this point it has probably disintegrated so much that I wouldn’t even be hearing the real idea that started you thinking anyway.

2) There will always be someone pushing you, nay-saying you, or ignoring you. That is life, no matter what you do. Writers are the brunt of a lot of this! Friends and family ask why you haven’t finished that new novel yet (you know, the one you started writing last week?) and in the same breath with ask how you plan on living as an author, ask what ‘real’ thing you’ve done lately, and tell you about 3 other people who are authors but just got published in a magazine or hired to write ads for some major television syndicate. DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU! Get discouraged, be sad, be mad, but don’t be done. Take a break if you need to, clear your head, then get back to writing. Everyone has a different story and it is up to you alone to write yours!

3) Finally, allow yourself to take that break without guilt. Honestly, the breaks will help your writing grow and thrive. And, real talk here, your characters will go with you anywhere all the time. No matter what you do or where you go, they’re part of you. Taking a ‘break’ doesn’t mean that you walk away and completely put them out of your mind. It means your mind needs to focus on something else for a bit and that is perfectly acceptable and, I would say, encouraged. Have fun, meet your friends, get some fro-yo and ride in a carriage just because. Go to the lake or the zoo…but take a notebook and some pens along because you never know when the next idea or chapter will pop up and need to be written immediately even though you are on a ferry watching dolphins jump off the coast of the island you’re visiting.

Do you have any stories or questions? Let me know! I can’t wait to hear from you all!