Blog Tour: Soul Blade by Aaron Hodges

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Title: Soul Blade

Author: Aaron Hodges

Series: The Sword of Light Trilogy

Genre: Epic Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery

Release Week Price: $0.99

Page count: 300 pages

Soul Blade Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Blade-Sword-Light-Trilogy/dp/0473375184/

Giveaway: http://blog.ravenpublicity.com/giveaways/sciencefiction-fantasy-win-3-paperbacks-giveaway-kindle-amreading/

Website: http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz

Soul Blade Excerpt Link: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AiW-Qzg6KJmRgbp3yl1h_Rh42xWgcw

Synopsis:

The Three Nations are crumbling.

Darkness is gathering.

And only Eric remains to stand against it.

 

Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic. If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.

 

Meanwhile, Gabriel is locked in the cells beneath Ardath. The darkness presses in around him, absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, tempting him with promises of freedom.

How long can he resist its call?

 

Author Bio:

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and see the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School – titled The Sword of Light – and began to rewrite the story. This book, Soul Blade, marks the final conclusion of that epic tale.

author-picture

 

Fans of Aaron can signup for updates and special offers at:

aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup/

 

 

Sunset and Inspiration

I did try to edit this video so that everything turned the proper way…unfortunately I don’t know enough about video editing yet to have done a really good job. If you can ignore the fact that I’m sideways, however, I think the content is pretty solid. Especially since I got the idea and recorded on the spur of the moment without an outline or much of an inkling as to what I would say.

In this video I mention my first novel, Dragon on My Neck. During this month (December 2015) my books will all be available for free e-book download, at various points, through my amazon author’s page so be sure to check those out as well. The 4th book in The Stone Dragon Saga will be available sometime during the first few months of 2016 so now is great time to get caught up on the story thus far!

Next time I’ll try to do a better job of watching camera angles!

 

Absent

I have been called away for a few days and don’t have anything prepared to post for the 3 days I’ll be gone. If I get the chance to find wifi, I will try to post up something. If not..Forgive me and I’ll be back in a few days.
Family emergencies take precedence.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.
May you all have a wonderful week!

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!

DIY: Pretend Play Shakers

I don’t often post Do It Yourself projects on here, and with good reason. While I am a little crafty and a lot cheap, I feel like there other people who far surpass me with their amazing DIY abilities! However, this project was so fun and simple that I really wanted to pass it along.

First let me tell you that I know my child is spoiled! This is not news to me, but she generally behaves very well and I enjoy making or purchasing interesting and fun new things for us to play with. That’s where this post comes from…I am always looking for nifty new toys and accessories for her that can show off her style + be tons of fun. She enjoys things that are a little retro and her favorites are housewares type toys, so when I saw the Salt and Pepper Shakers on Homemade By Jill and Nap Time Journal I knew I wanted to give it a try!!

Supplies:

Wooden spools (you can buy these at craft stores, we had several in a drawer)

Domed Buttons (again, you can choose to purchase 2 or 4 holed buttons with a slight dome, we have several waiting to be used!)

Acrylic Paint (I purchased Apple Barrel Paints by Plaid *affiliate link*)

Glue (I used some Aleene’s tacky glue, with some glitter glue for the holes to look ‘realistic’)

Letter Stickers (I used Stickers meant to go on ‘foamies’ so that the adhesive is much stronger. Optional)

Seed Beads (optional)

Small disk (optional—you can cut these from cardstock or other heavy material. Dad cut thin disks from an old wooden dowel to make sure they were sturdy. Not pictured)

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Here are my supplies and beginning set up.

First, I glued the buttons to the wooden spools (before painting anything)

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Next, I painted everything with two coats of white. (I took a handy nail file and roughed up the buttons a bit, but that is not necessary).

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The third step paints the very top with a coordinating color for our—I mean—for her kitchen. Her playroom is a bright green color so I chose this fun green to match. Two coats covered well since I had base coated everything to begin with.

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The Fourth, possible final, step is to add the “S” and “P” to these adorable little shakers. Since my handwriting is not the best, I used letter stickers meant for foam decorations, so the adhesive is very durable. The other best option would  be to draw on the letters yourself.

And that could be where your DIY ends…an adorable little set of salt and pepper shakers ready to be loved by the little in your life. However, there are a few more ways to add pizzazz to these guys:

Step Five is to add dabs of glitter glue to the holes on the buttons. Not only does this seal the holes a little more, it adds what looks like spice to the top. Now it REALLY looks like salt and pepper (and cilantro and mint and cinnamon etc etc etc)

The sixth and seventh steps walk hand in hand, and those are to fill the spool with seed beads (or other noise making bits) and secure your circular disk over the bottom hole. Now when your little shakes out spices onto their food, the event is a multi-sensory extravaganza!

Finally, use a clear sealer to give that glossy safety to your paint job!

If you have any cool DIY ideas, I would love to hear them! Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve done (or seen)!
I hope you enjoyed this post.

Parenting New Year’s Resolution

Ok, so I’m a few weeks early. But Courtney DeFeo’s new book In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life has me anxious to get started.

DeFeo has offered up a book on parenting that is not only applicable AND virtuous (which are occasionally difficult traits to find now a-days) but is also GODLY. She has come up with advice, anecdotes, memory verses, and activities for each of 12 virtues, and then outlined a month’s worth of focus for each.

Since my daughter is only two, some of the activities may have to be put on the back burner for a bit but I am very excited to see how this wonderful book can help me teach her to be a Godly and virtuous girl. The advice and anecdotes are already helping me to see that I’m not only mom in the world who does the hurry up offense every day (among other things).

If you are a parent/grandparent or even aunt/uncle I would highly suggest giving this a few moments of your time. Throughout the entirety of the book the one thing that has struck the biggest chord with me is that she cares about her readers and their families. This is not a self help book designed to make the author a little richer, but a family life book designed to make the reader’s life a lot richer.

There were a few areas that came off a little bleeding heart preachy to me, though that could just be coming from a woman who teaches hyper fifth graders all day! But overall I truly enjoyed the read and am excited to implement some of the ideas provided.

I give Courtney DeFeo’s In This House We Will Giggle 4.5 out of 5 dragons!

*I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Frustrations and Blessings

*Warning – Christian Spiritual Post Starting Now!*

There are some days that drain every last bit of energy, caring, and hope from my being (or so it seems). Days in which every student is on a crazy attitude bender, my child is exhibiting both the terrible twos of lore AND the clinginess associated with a sick toddler (third round of antibiotics and 4th of cough medicine for my 2 year old…NO FUN!), and no one seems to feel as though I can make my own decisions about anything.

This past week I have had people, NOT TEACHERS, telling me my lesson plans need to be looked over because I’m doing them incorrectly, people trying to take over my lessons or classroom, and well meaning family members telling me everything that is wrong with my parenting style, my daughter, and even my fashion sense (If they remembered what I used to wear 5 years ago, they would applaud my current style!). I have been stressed out, at the end of my tether, and left with no time to breath, let alone write. In short, I’ve been drowning. Oh the pleasures of being a teacher and single mother during the “Holidays.”

But these are also the days that I look back on and Praise God. Even as near by as 3 years ago, I would have either walked out or been so abrasive to these (hopefully) well meaning yet mostly un-helpful and under-educated or un-informed (at least about my classroom and lessons) people that I would have lost my job, had students removed, and probably lost the ability to be a teacher. My reputation would have been ruined because I was physically and mentally exhausted. However, God and The Monkey have helped me change my outlook drastically and I am more patient and less defensive (at least on the outside) than I was then.

It doesn’t stop there, however. You see, when God changes things and shows you what there is to be grateful for even the seemingly worst days can bring little blessings through your sad and frustrated outlook.

Take Friday for instance. I had teachers trying to give me advice that I cannot understand and which doesn’t really have much bearing on what I’m teaching (I’m Writing and Science and the only tech I have is a Smart Board that was just fixed a few days ago…so telling me about a great Apple TV MATH app is no help at all). I had a sick child and grandparents coming that night and I was NOT in a great mood. With all of the progress monitoring and practices for programs my students are not getting enough time in my class and it is now only one week to break…craziness ensues daily. But I bought a copy of my series for the classroom and my students were so sweetly excited that I couldn’t help but smile. Then a student who has been a big whirlwind of trouble since the beginning of school was withdrawn to move back to his home state. Though excited to see his mother soon, this young man was tearing up at leaving us. He hugged me tight and I gave him the new class copy of Dragon on My Neck, which he proudly showed off to every person he saw on the way out the door. The class will never be the same without him and, though they will be a lot quieter and a bit more on task, I know that he has left his mark on us all. He may have been trouble, but he was a blessing as well.

Then yesterday, on Short Story Sunday, as I was spending a lazy morning not going to church because the rainy weather was messing with both of us, I wrote a little whimsical poem about sheep on the bathroom wall…and within a couple hours I had 4 new followers for the blog. It astounds me how that happens. I am humbled and blessed beyond measure to have this outlet for my writings both short and not so short (like today!)

So even though I know that this week will be INSANE and FRUSTRATING and CRAZY…I also know that it will be full of hidden blessings and chances to realize just how amazing the life God has given me is. For the record, the week after this is reserved for naps and long writing sessions!

Have a not-too-manic Monday and a HAPPY Pre-Holiday Week!photo

Toddler Quotes

There are many lovely things that happen with the “terrible” two era. One of those things, at least in my house, happens to be a plethora of quotables to keep my daughter embarrassed well through her teens and beyond.

Here, for your reading pleasure, are the contenders for this week’s top spot:

1) on the occasion of explaining a red mark on her neck
Monkey – “Jesse hit me”
Me (Mom) – “why?”
Monkey – “I don’t know. Jesse hit me.”
Gaga (grandma) – “what did you do to Jesse?”
Monkey (exaggerated and very Southern) – OH NO! MY PONY FALLED DOWN!”

2) when choosing a cd in the car
I hold up Jimmy Buffett and Taylor Swift. She almost always wants Taylor Swift. Not this time! The reason? Jimmy Buffett’s case is yellow with red writing which, according to Monkey, makes it Curious George and The Man’s favorite cd. Or in her words “Jooge and the Hat’s music”

And

3) Gaga – “which button is the mute?”
Monkey – “the one that says MUTANT!”

Bonus – uh oh wait Mommy the monsters are coming…THE MONSTERS! (FYI-she’s talkin Monsters Inc. and we have to let them catch up most of the time. Though she randomly decides to play scared…I guess of Randal)

Do you have a favorite toddler saying? Want to vote on one of these? Just wanted to stop by and say hello? Leave a comment and let me know!

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First Snow Fall

“The first snow of the season!” Lexicon Grant crowed, wading through the 6 inch accumulation with glee. “I am SO READY for this!”

“Watch out,” Thessy (short for Thesaurus) Grant warned the hapless Lucas mere seconds before a wad of wet  slid down his cheek. “Your girlfriend lives for winter and snow ball fights.”

“Thanks,” Luke grimaced and swiped at his face with a mittened paw, “I thought her competitiveness was mostly left on the courts.”

“Nope,” Thessy grinned and side stepped calmly, once again allowing a large snow ball to hit Lucas in the face. “She holds the record for most snow balls fired of in a single minute.”

“How many is…” SPLAT. Another one.

“23.”

“Grea…” BLAM!

“Maybe you should move.”

“She likes a moving target,” he grumbled. “Good thing she’s cute.”

“I heard that!” Lexi taunted, “Just wait until we teach you paint snowball laser tag.”

“I miss summer.”

Middle School is WorseThan Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff

Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff

Written By: Jennifer L. Holm and Elicia Castaldi

I purchased Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf on a whim at our school’s first book fair this year. I suppose I was just excited to be back in the classroom and wanting to find a few things that could beef up my class library. Meatloaf seemed to fit the bill…and then I read it. This book takes the concept of ‘show, don’t tell’ to a whole new level!

A Year Told Through Stuff is amazingly insightful and I feel as though I really got to understand the core of the main character, Ginny. By seeing notes written between Ginny and her family, friends, and teachers; as well as mini-journal type entries I feel more emotionally connected to the story.

I also feel as though students who dislike reading will be able to build ‘word stamina’ enjoyably since this is laid out to look like a brightly made scrapbook, as opposed to the ‘normal’ look of a novel.

On the whole, I loved this set up almost as much as the story! I give this book 5 out of 5 dragons.