Sunday Salon: Nanowrimo - writing, writing, writing

Getting all my tools together to start NaNoWriMo.  A fresh, clean notebook, sharpened pencils and a fat pen.  A new laptop computer arriving this week that hopefully won't totally distract me with wanting to explore all the new widgets the very minute it arrives.  The house is clean, the bills are paid, laundry is done, lessons have been planned. The decks have been cleared.  The family warned. Now if I can just psych myself out to getting up a couple hours earlier.  Wondering if the time change is going to help at all.  Hmmm!

James has chosen not to participate this year, but I can see those wheels turning and I'm sure he'll be disappearing into his room every night after dinner to write.  Father's been complaining about not having enough time to work on his mic preamp design and he really, really, really wants to finish it.  I've suggested he do his own version of nano.  What shall we call it?  NaMiPreDeMo - National Mic Preamp Design Month.  

What's my story going to be about?  So glad you asked.   *grin* 

Sabrina Carmichael is the Vice President of Carmichael Enterprises and their software financial security expert.  She's a genius and designed the financial software used by many banks, brokerages and governments.
(yes, that's a wig manikin. The closest picture I could find that represented what she looked like)

Matthew Jordain, (left) one of the members of the board decides he wants to take over the company.  When the hostile takeover is thwarted, he kidnaps her and forces her to work for him and his brother Henry, (right) using her expertise to steal from his competitors.   She's constantly guarded and can't escape.  The only thing she can do is give Matthew what he wants It's the only way she can gain his trust and access all his secrets.  Perhaps she just may find a way to use it against him.

Jake Hunt and Richard Delasante have been deep undercover in the Naxsoft Conglomerate working for the crime family, Henry and Matthew Jordain.  They've worked their way up to trusted positions.  Jake is now Henry Jordain's 2nd in charge and Richard head of security for Matthew.   They are closing in on discovering their Asian and European connections, getting all the evidence they need to bring the cartel down. 

Richard (left) and Jake (right)  both know how ruthless the brothers can be and are concerned about Sabrina's safety.  They have a choice.  Rescue her and blow years of work or use her, without blowing their covers, to obtain the information they need to bring them down.  Little do they know she has an agenda of her own and may force them to make a choice when they least expect it. 

This story has been floating around in my head for years, but I wasn't quite ready to commit to it.  Of course, wouldn't you know while I was figuring it out, other ideas popped into my head for a series that would continue with characters from Eyes in the Ashes. *face palm*     Father says I need to quit coming up with new stories and edit and finish the other stories I've started.  I keep telling him, it's all practice and with each story, I'm improving.   Soon, I'll be able to decide which story has the most potential and edit the heck out of it.  Which is another learning process in itself.

The Sunday Salon.comI'm going into crazy writing mode for the month and will be posting once a week on Sundays.  I'll be attempting to avoid the internet (easier said than done) as much as possible which means not turning on the computer until I've reached the daily goal of 1667 words. Lots of neat things going on around the blogosphere for Nanowrimo.   Check out the forums on Nanowrimo and nano sprints on twitter for some writing blasts.    Last night I discovered the Facebook group created by Lia Keyes, NaNoWriMo Warriors which is almost 200 people strong.  Need advice or just want to chat - Be sure to check it out.

Posts to ponder while I'm in the midst of a planning, plotting and pondering

I'm in the midst of planning, plotting and pondering and thought I'd share a few posts discovered in my meanderings about the blogosphere.  Yep, we'll just call it research.  *grin*  

From my favorite group mystery author blog - Murderati, J.T. Elison's  If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It. Which is a lovely reminder I need right now, because my new laptop is about to arrive which has Windows 7 and lovely new widgets to explore. I'll have to restrain myself from playing and exploring until after I gotten my 1600 words written for the day.

Thanks to K.M Weiland, I found The Heart and Craft of Life Writing with Sharon Lippincott.   She has this nifty widget, Life Writing Tip of the Day that I've added to my sidebar.  But most of all,  many posts that make you think.   And also Amber Starfire (don't you love her name) Writing Through Life. Both well worth checking out.

Allison Brennan, you gotta love her.   As we all know THE election is coming up November 2nd and everyone is encouraging everyone to vote.  Amidst the mail fliers and computer generated calls and political commercials, she brings a bit of sanity with her post And First Do No Harm to the process.  Yes, it is important to vote.  But don't just blindly vote to vote.  Give it some thought, do your research and vote with confidence.

Do you follow the Lipstick Chronicles?  Another great group author site that I've discovered.  Diane Chamberlain's post about eavesdropping from her chair at Starbucks "Overheard At The Opium Den" makes me want to check out my local coffee shop.  

Three more days til NaNoWriMo.  Are you ready?  Let me know if you are participating and we'll cheer each other to the finish line.   My handle on the site - mytwoblessings.

Winner of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for Christine Fonseca's Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students.   I plugged all the names into and the winner is.

Congratulations, John.  Please email me your address and Christine will personally send you a copy of her book.  

For those who would like a copy of the book, you can order it directly from Prufrock Press.

Stumbling on other people's dumbness

"I know. I'm just like a chair you stumble over in the dark." Elizabeth said. "It isn't the chair's fault, but you kick it anyhow."

Nat blinked.  "What are you talking about?"

"Your brain. It's too fast.  So you stumble on other people's dumbness.  And - you want to kick something." 

Nat felt his face get hot.  "But I shouldn't."

Elizabeth agreed.  "No you shouldn't, because even if people are dumb, they aren't chairs, are they?  They do have feelings."

Carry On Mr. Bowditch - Jean Lee Latham (pg 82-83)

Bouchercon 2010 - Declan Hughes Play "I Can't Get Started"

One of the major highlights of Bouchercon 2010 was the reading of Irish Playwright and mystery writer Declan Hughes play "I Can't Get Started  by Hughes and an all star cast of authors.   The cast included Declan Hughes, Martyn Waites, Alison Gaylin, Brett Battles, Megan Abbott, Christa Faust and Mark Billingham.  I wish I could have recorded the whole thing because found out later that they didn't arrange to have the reading recorded.  And it was a memorable event.  All the authors put their hearts and souls into the reading.   It was touching, hilarious, entertaining, and educational.  I managed to catch a few snippets with my digital camera

Martyn Waite and Alison Gaylin

Brett Battles and Declan Hughes

Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham, Christa Faust, Martyn Waite and Alison Gaylin

Brett Battles and Megan Abbott

The reading was the brain child of writer Ellen Clair Lamb and you can see the whole story here on how it came to fruition. 

Bouchercon 2010 - Day Three

View from the window at the end of the hallway from the 11th floor

After a completely filling breakfast down in the Eclipse restaurant where they served cowboy proportions of delicious food, headed over to Grand Ballroom Foyer.   I had volunteered to work for two hours in the Registration area.   Turned into more of an information, pointing out where to go person than registration, since most folks had registered by Saturday. However they did end having over 100 walk-in's come in for day passes.  According to Karen, a most wonderful hard working volunteer, there were over 1400 people pre-signed for the conference, 200 walk-in's on Friday and 100 on Saturday.  Lots of people.  Had a blast helping folks out, and if I ever do another conference will volunteer more time. 

Walked down to the Port of San Francisco with Laura of I'm Booking It where we feasted on taco's from Mijita Cocina Mexicana and then wandering through Ferry Building Marketplace and explored Book Passages and picked up some delicious chocolate from Scharffen Berger.  

Headed back to the conference to the Grand Ballroom where Jacqueline Winspear interviewed Guest of Honor Lee Child.   Among many things, Child talked about his research and writing process. He mentioned how folks thought the ending of 61 hours was a cliff hanger and it really wasn't. He assumed people would be able to use their imagination and figure it out without him having to spell everything out. The answers are all right there in the book.  When he decided to write The Killing Floor and have the setting in Georgia, he didn't have the money to go to Georgia, so what did he do. He watched My Cousin Vinny, which even though it was set in Alabama was close enough. He said it didn't matter whether he actually went to the locations his books were set in, because he received complaints that he hadn't gotten it right.  

After listening to Lee Child, went on to sit in on a Continuous Conversation about the Business of Books with a large group of panelists including Seth Harwood, Elizabeth Sims, John Goodwin to name a few.  Then moved on to a 30 on the 30 which was a 30 minute presentation by Dennis Palumbo on How to address writers' block, procrastination and other perils.   

I could have listened to Dennis for a couple hours.  He was a screenwriter for the first two seasons of Welcome Back Kotter back in the 70's and is now a licensed psychotherapist for screenwriters, authors, directors, etc.   His viewpoints on writers block made a lot of sense.  In a nutshell:

Writer's block is an inevitable developmental process for writers.  A block general happens before a big growth spurt. It is that tension between stages.  Once you have gotten past the block, you have grown as a writer.  Are you a worse writer after that. No, you are a better writer.   Whatever is blocking you, write about it. If it is fear or worry, then write about your character fearing or worrying about something.  If you feel like you are drowning, then write about the character drowning, figuratively or literally.  Don't give writers block a negative meaning.  It only means something if you let it.   Dennis has three cosmic rules of writing.

1st cosmic rule:  "You are enough."   Quit with the if only's.   Everybody thinks the party is happening somewhere else.     You have everything in you to be the writer you want to be right now.

2nd cosmic rule:  "Work with what you are given."  Use who you are, your personal voice, your experiences and emotions.

3rd cosmic rule:  "Writing begets writing."   Quit thinking and worrying about it, do it, write.  If you get to your computer and along the way, stumble over the cat in the morning, and then sit there and can't think about what to write.  Start with the cat.   

He gave us all quite a bit to think about.  I'm looking forward to reading his book:  Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within.   

From there, I headed over to the Grand Ballroom for a reading of a play by Irish playwright and mystery author Declan Hughes called I Can't Get Started with an amazing all star author cast of Megan Abbott, Brett Battles, Mark Billingham, Christa Faust, Alison Gaylin, Martyn Waites and Declan Hughes.  Highlights of the play to be continued in the next post.  

Bouchercon 2010 - Day two

I was awakened by room service delivering my breakfast which is better than a wake up call any day. The first night, Hyatt had a neat door hanger thing you could circle what you wanted for breakfast and what time you wanted it delivered, hang it outside your door before midnight and wallah, breakfast delivered.  Plus, when I looked out the window  I was treated to this beautiful sight.  What a way to start the day. 

My first panel of the day with one of my favorite authors - Michelle Gagnon. I've been wanting to know what happened to Kelly ever since I read her last book "Gatekeeper."  Her newest book "Kidnap and Ransom" answers that which is coming out November 1st.   But guess what, I got a copy. Yeah!  The panel Runaway discussed the use of horror and violence as plot points with authors April Smith moderating and Michael Ayoob, Jonathan Woods, Michelle and Shane Gericke.  I unfortunately forgot my pen so don't remember a whole lot of things they said. It's all a blur except yep you guessed it. More authors to add to my want list.

Next stop - an unscripted conversation between Hank Phillipi Ryan and David Baldacci.  David's newest book "Hell's Corner" will be out November 9th.  Interestedly enough he said he doesn't know the ending of any of his books when he starts them.  Writing for him is a totally spontaneous, creative process.  His best advice - "If action doesn't help the characters or the enhance the plot, leave it out."  And Scholastic has asked him to write the very last book in the 39 Clues series.  When he asked them what made them think he could write a young adult novel, they said they were impressed by his character Willa in First Family.  

From there, I sat in on the Interlude Panel talking about a story is more than just action with authors Chris Knopf moderating, Robert Gregory Browne (one of my favorite murderati blog authors), Michael Dymmoch, Bill Crider and Todd Ritter.  These guys were quite humorous, played off each other quite well and Bill Crider has a delightful Texas accent which reminded me of when I used to live in Texas.   Lots of talk about intuitive writing, emotional action, and the quiet times in the book between moments of action and how to handle it.  Bill Crider's favorite - have your character play with their dog.  This seemed to come up quite a bit in panels. Animals are favorites.

After lunch and taking a short nap, went to Mulholland Books (the new imprint of Little, Brown and Company)  Murder By Proxy presentation introducing marketing director,  Miriam Parker (just as bubbly and nice in person as she is on the blogosphere including squeals and hugs on both our parts when we met) and editor John Schoenfelder.

Miriam Parker and John Schoenfelder 

They introduced the authors who will be writing for Mulholland books including Mark Billingham, Marcia Clark,  Duane Swierczynski,  Daniel Woodrell, and Sebastian Rotella

Mark Billingham and Duane Swiercynski Both men are just hoots and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing their books.

Marcia Clark.  Yes, the prosecutor from the infamous O.J. Trial.   Her debut crime thriller novel "Guilt by Association" will be out in 2011. 

Then I was the unofficial water girl, official bearer of name badges for the Crossfire Panel about putting your protagonist in jeopardy.  

 The panel included professor Randal Brandt moderating for authors Lori Armstrong (squee), James Rollins (double squee) and Dianne Emley, Karen Olsen and James L. Thane.  I've read most of their books except for Dianne and headed right down to the bookstore to buy "The First Cut."  

Randall and Diane

Lori Armstrong And James Rollins

I lurved Lori's Julie Collins Mysteries and she now has a new series, the Mercy Gunderson Mysteries with the first book out "No Mercy."   Can't wait to read it.  They talked about the cost to characters for escaping jeopardy whether it is physical or emotional.  James Rollins also talked about the sympathy builders. He has a list of 7 things - he shared two but then made available the link to his website with the list. 

(1) Have the character demonstrate exceptional skill at his/her profession or some other task.
(2) Have the character be funny/humorous.
(3) Have character treat others well.
(4) Have the character demonstrate kindness to pets/kids/elderly.
(5) Have the character afflicted or suffering from undeserved misfortune.
(6) Show other people demonstrating affection for the character.
(7) Give the character some physical/mental/educational handicap, or make them a massive underdog.

After all those panels, I was pretty much wiped out for the day.   Had dinner and retired to my room and watched a movie, Knight and Day, then passed out. 

Bouchercon 2010 - Day one

I just spent the past three days geeking out at my first ever mystery writers convention "Bouchercon By The Bay" in San Francisco.   I enjoyed getting to meet my favorite authors, new to me authors and readers from all over the world.  

I arrived Thursday afternoon, registered and headed over to my first panel.   

Commitment Panel: Conversation with William Link and Lee Goldberg
Lee Goldberg, producer of diagnosis murder, writer for Monk and author of several Monk books interviewed William Link who is the creator of multiple movies and tv shows such as Columbo, Mannix, Murder She Wrote, et al.  

After the panel, I explored the hotel for a bit, then meet Maria Alexander, an old friend and roommate who I haven't seen in 20 years.  We had a wonderful time catching up over dinner and she is trying her hand at writing mysteries, rather than the horror fiction and poetry she is known for.   She introduced me to her good friend,  Christa Faust who just happened to be hanging out with Jason Pinter and I have two more authors to add to my must read lists.

I wandered down to the reception in the grand ballroom and unfortunately my introvert geekiness kicked in.  I didn't see a soul that I knew and it didn't help that the badge only listed people's names.  There were people there that I knew but didn't recognize because I knew them by their twitter or blog handles and not regular names.  I remember when John and I went to the Consumer Electronics Show reception.  We'd be able to identify folks we've worked and talked with on the phone by their badge. "Oh, honey, there's such and such from Stereophile or there's whosiwhatis from Audible."   Then we'd go up and talk to them.   Nor did I have my extroverts around to help ease me into conversations with complete strangers which completely stressed me out so I headed back up to my room and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Although it did give me the idea of conventions having a Designated Extrovert program.  If you're an introvert, you'll totally get it.   Once I quit worrying about forcing myself to go down to the bar or to the after parties alone, I had a completely wonderful time. 

Bouchercon Swag

Swag bag contained:  Graham Moore's ARC of The Sherlockian, Laurie R. King's Locked Rooms, Rita Lakin's Getting Old is Tres Dangereux and Meg Gardiner's The Memory Collector.  Plus magazines - RT Book Review, Mystery Scene, The Strand, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and the Baker Street Journal.  And oodles of bookmarks.  And volunteers (worked a couple hours in registration and had a blast) received an ARC of Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile.

After attending panels with some of these authors, headed right down to the book room and purchased their books.   Sasscer Hill walked up while I was looking at books, fixed a book so it displayed better on the shelf and handed me her card.  Of course, I just had to buy her book.  :)   I picked up Cara Black's first novel "Murder in the Marais" while exploring Book Passages at the Port of San Francisco. 

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students


Christine Fonseca

Back cover:  Designed to provide support for the difficult job of parenting and teaching gifted children, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings provides the resource parents and teachers need to not only understand why gifted children are so extreme in their behavior, but also learn specific strategies to teach gifted children how to live with their intensity.

Presented in a an easy-to-read, conversational style, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students uses real world examples through case studies and role plays that show parents and teachers how to interact with gifted children in a way that teaches them how to recognize, monitor, and adjust their behavior.  Worksheets, tips sheets, and checklists are included to help parents, teachers, and the students themselves learn to cope with the explosive feelings that often accompany giftedness.  Specific strategies for stress management, under performance in school, perfectionism, and social anxiety make this a must-read for anyone wishing to make a positive lasting impact on the lives of gifted children.

If you have an emotionally intense child, gifted or dually exceptional this is a book for you.   When James was born, he was the guest of the NICU for a few days and the nurses all told me - he goes from 0 to 60 in one second. Good luck!   Yes he is a spirited child and I've read every book out there imaginable.  For the longest time, Raising your Spirited Child was my bible - very well thumbed, revisited time and again.  When you have a perfectionist child that is all the mores - intense, sensitive, persistent, and perceptive, life is challenging. Not only for them, but you.

So you can guess how excited I was last year when Christine started talking about her new book - Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students.  Aha - something specifically related to gifted kids and their emotions.

Part 1 begins with What it really means to be Gifted.  There are three cases studies in which we are introduced to three gifted students: Andrew, Meredith and Emily.  Christine dives into the intellectual characteristics, personality traits and emotional characteristics of giftedness.  And how those characteristics jive with school, peer relationships and emotions.   Plus throw in gifted children intensity, their temperament, introverts versus extroverts and those who are twice blessed.   One particular part stood out for me since we deal with this almost every day.

"Another aspect of emotional intensity lies in a strong affective memory.  This refers to a memory of not just the events of a situation, but the feelings associated with the event as well.  Gifted children often will relive the feelings of significant moments in their lives, such as a move, or the loss of a pet, over and over again.  Strong attachments to people and things coupled with their strong memory often can make transitions very difficult."  pg 38

Both James and my husband John are gifted, so they tend to hang on to things and revisit the past  and try to figure out things.  James has a memory of an elephant though and will come to me and say for example:  "Mom, on September 5, 2003 you said (fill in the blank), what did you mean by that?"        Wait...what?  Mom's brain explodes once again as try to remember the situation. 

Which brings us to part 2 is Great Information, But Now What?    Worksheets!!! There are some wonderful worksheets in the book that will aid you.   How do you coach your child?  Do you know what your expectations are as a family, for yourself, for your child.   Does your child know what your expectations are, the consequences for his/her behavior and what the boundaries are.  Do you or your child know how you will react in certain circumstances.  We are currently working on the worksheets so will have to let you know how things work out there.

Christine provides some great advice for dealing with explosions.    How do you get your child to recognize that they are spiraling up or going to blow - both their emotional and physical feelings.   What do you do when they explode and how do you deal with it afterwords.   What are your hot button issues?  She also provides strategies for how teachers can handle explosions, coach their gifted students and deal with a whole classroom of kids as well.

Part 3 Being your Child's Coach-Specific Strategies.  I was raised by a very strict mom and military dad, so no talking back, no yelling, period. Very authoritative.  Unfortunately the authoritative style and "because I said so" doesn't work with my kid.   And for a period of time there, I turned into a yeller.  And it's hard to impress upon your child that his yelling and using the wrong tone of voice is wrong, when you are doing exactly that. The only thing it was teaching is that yelling was okay.Which brings us to the strategies for a good coach:  modeling, prompting, cueing, reflection and debriefing.

Christine says:

Parents are in a great position to act as coaches to their child, teaching everything from understanding the unique characteristics of giftedness, to coping strategies, to managing the intensity that comes with being gifted.  (pg 125)
With gifted children facilitated learning particularly is effective because it makes use of their superior logic skills as an avenue to retrain their emotional responses.  Furthermore, it helps the child learn to become more aware of why he makes the decisions he makes and deliberately choose a new response--definitely a win-win for everyone involved. (pg 131)
You can't tell your gifted child how to act, you have to teach them how to act. You can't fix them, because they aren't broken. They are unique and one of a kind.  Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students is a wonderful book full of tips, strategies, worksheets, a sample dialogues with kids on how to coach them.  I highly recommend it.  It will become your new bible on how to help your gifted child. Be prepared - this is one book you will read over and over again.  Plus you'll want to have your yellow (or color of your choice) highlighter with you because you'll find plenty of things you want to remember.   Buy it for yourself, your best friend, your child's teacher or school principal.  I highly recommend it. 

Christine is having a special giveaway: She will draw a random winner from all commenters throughout the tour AND the reviews. Contest ends Sunday at midnight, and she will announce the winner on Monday, 10/18. The winner gets book swag consisting of a t-shirt, bookmarks, magazines, notepads, sticky notes, and a signed copy of the book.

To find out more about Christine and her book, check out the following links.


Thank you to Christine for not only writing the book, but also providing me with a courtesy copy as well.  

Post to Ponder while I'm at Bouchercon

The day has finally arrived.  Tomorrow I'm off to San Francisco for 3 days to attend the Bouchercon World Mystery Writers convention where I'll get to meet some favorite authors and get to know some new to me authors.   So be on the look out for pictures, recap of panels and possibly some books to giveaway when I return.  In the meantime, here are a few posts to ponder.

National Novel Writing Month is quickly approaching.  I've been thinking a lot about my story, writing it in my head.  Somehow I started in the middle and been thinking my way back to the start of the story and think I've just about discovered the beginning.   Jodi Cleghorn of Write anything has a wonderful post - Thinking as writing.

Alexandra Sokoloff, whom I'm hoping to meet at Bcon has deemed October to be Nano prep month and has been posting a series of articles to prepare yourself and your story to begin writing in November.

Check out the blog of The Office of Light and Letters (Chris Baty), the organizers of nanowrimo: Are you a planner or a pantster.

Friday is my review of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca and she is having a special giveaway. Don't miss it.

Sunday Salon: Homeschool, Harry Potter and Happenings.

Life has returned to normal (as we know it) and we finally started 5th grade lessons this week.   James has fully recovered and is back to being talkative, inquisitive and feisty.   We've been reading "Carry On Mr. Bowditch" for English and the story is giving both James and I much to think about.  In the story, Nathaniel enjoys learning and is curious about everything. When he wants to know something, such as astronomy or math, he picks up a book, studies it and writes down everything he learns in a notebook.   So lately, when James starts asking me his various questions as he does, I refer back to the book (nudge nudge wink wink) that he needs to start searching for the answers himself and not use me exclusively as his encyclopedia.   I've been pushing him to be more involved in his studies and be a bit more independent.   In that vein, I realized some of the curriculum I had chosen was too teacher intensive, which allowed him to sit back and let me do most of the reading and explaining. 

He loves looking information up on the internet. Especially when it is a subject that interests him, such as Harry Potter, Bionicles, Toy Story 3, etc.    Previously he had told me he wasn't interested in doing online or computer studies.  Guess he thought it would take the fun out of it.   So, I tried an experiment. I loaded up Math Blaster on my laptop and started the program.  He came running when he heard it and said, let me try it.  He sat down and an hour later, he was still going.   Did the same thing with Typing Instructor Deluxe.   So I took the plunge and after hours of researching different programs, decided to go with Alpha Omega's Switched on Schoolhouse History and Geography.  Luckily it picks up where we are with history right now, is computer based, challenging, multimedia based so lots of different ways to learn information and most importantly, student led.   We'll also be trying out their workbooks - Lifepac Health Quest and a couple units of science. 

Assigned reading has really been a hassle up til now.  If he isn't interested in the story or doesn't hold his attention, then he doesn't retain any of it.  Until he discovered Harry Potter.  I have all the books and all the movies and he's been wanting to watch the first movie for a while now.  But I didn't think he was quite ready for it yet.  I told him in order to see the first movie, he had to read the first book. That way he would know what is going to happen in the movie and be able to understand it better.  We ended up reading the book together, me reading it aloud and answering all his questions as we went along.  Then we watched the movie.  He loved it and wanted to watch the rest of the series.   We've since watched the next 3 before reading the books and as I expected, had to explain alot of things.  His assigned reading at the moment is reading 2 chapters a day of The Prisoner of Azkaban.   After each chapter, he narrates to me the who, what, where, when and why so I know he is getting the story.    The Harry Potter series has turned into a great teaching tool as we discuss good and evil, friendship, bullies, magic, love and he who must not be named - Voldemort. 

So, I think we've got enough variety now that will challenge James, keep him from getting bored and save my voice.   Speaking of challenges, I just finished reading "Emotional Intensity In Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca and will be posting my review on October 15th.  Be sure to check out her post below and enter to win the book.  I love the book because it is all about coaching your gifted child in how to deal with his emotions versus trying to fix things for him.  How to deal with explosions - before, during and after.  And also how to deal with our push button issues.  I tried using some of her strategies and have had some interesting results.  Well worth reading!

Guest Post: Christine Fonseca, author of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students

I am so excited to welcome Christine Fonseca today to My Two Blessings.   Christine's book Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students:  Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings was released on October 1st. Her Epic Blog tour runs through October 15th and will end with a multiple blogger review, including mine, on the 15th along with a special giveaway.  I am particularly happy to get a chance to review Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students since we are always looking for ways to deal with, teach and help James how to handle his intense emotions.  Loving what I've read so far, so be sure to check back on the 15th for my review. 


Helping Gifted Kids deal with Stress and Anxiety.

First off, I’d like to thank Robin for hosting this stop on my blog tour. Be sure to check out the great contest at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed copy of EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. Now, on to the post –

Robin asked that I write a post relating to gifted kids and anxiety. Ah yes, stress and anxiety – common plagues in our all-too-busy world. All of us are well aware of stress and anxiety. It is something we deal with daily. But with the natural emotional intensity of our gifted kids, stress and anxiety often take on a whole new meaning.

Let’s start by defining both stress and anxiety. This is a bit trickier than it sounds, as there are a wide variety of working definitions for both. My favorite one for stress comes from the Time Thought website:

"(Stress is) a physical, mental, or emotional response to events that bodily or mental tension."

I like this definition because it does NOT say a negative event that causes tension - because, really, stress can be equally caused by negative and positive life events. Anxiety is the natural reaction to a stressful event, and includes physical, mental, and emotional responses.

Okay, now that we are using the same vocabulary, let’s talk about kids.  All kids feel stress and anxiety to some degree. Maybe when there is a test, or when the teacher calls on them in class, or when they have gotten into a conflict with a friend. Common feelings may include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, labored breathing or fear.

For the gifted child, these feelings are significantly more intense. Butterflies in the stomach become man-eating birds, a tense digestive system becomes an ulcer, a racing heart feels more like a heart attack. Even the highs are bigger. All of this relates to the naturally occurring emotional intensity that is typical among gifted kids.

Not surprisingly, gifted kids tend to struggle with anxiety more then their non-gifted peers, often struggling to bounce back after setbacks. Sometimes this anxiety can be so intense, the child will get sick before a big test, or refuse to go to school altogether.

Fortunately, there are ways to help.

First - we, as parents, need to check our own expectations of our children. Behavior in children is one of their primary forms of communication. As such, we need to pay attention to their responses to stress and try to figure out what they are communicating to us. And this means being willing to examine our own expectations and whether or not they are appropriate.

Now, don't get me wrong - I am not suggesting we drop our expectations for our children when they are stressed. Gosh knows, I have very high expectations for my kids. But we do need to be willing to look at them and make SURE they are appropriate.

Ok, after that, what can we teach our children to help them better manage their stress response?

Here are some of basic strategies that can make a huge positive impact on your child:

1.  Listen - teaching your child about their stress requires a good foundation of communication with your children. Set aside time to stop the busyness in your own life and check in with them. Encourage them to tell you what the problem is. If they lack the emotional vocabulary to do this (something not uncommon with gifted kids), teach them the right words.

2.  Perspective - children often have an all-or-nothing approach to life...things are ALL BAD or ALL GOOD. Very little in between with them. This is the time to help them learn that nothing is really ALL BAD. And that slight change in perspective can help...more than you could possibly realize!

 3.  Mental rehearsal - If the stress is related to performance issues, try practicing (role-playing or mental rehearsal) the event or situation. Help your child mentally go through each step. Pay close attention to when they appear stressed and bring their awareness to it.
4.  Problem solving skills - teach your child how to problem solve. With gifted kids, open-ended solutions are impossibly hard to wrap their brains around. So help them make things more concrete for them.

Notice how I NEVER say fix things FOR your child. This does not serve them. If you do for them, the message you subtly give is that they are incapable of solving their own problems. Instead, focus on guiding your child - emotionally coaching them towards their own self-monitoring, self-reflection, and relaxation techniques. You will give them an amazing gift in doing so.

A few more things to keep in mind:

If your child does not know their specific stress response (most kids don’t), help them learn to recognize it. Things like being overly tired, breaking into a rash, changes in appetite, being irritable or sad, having difficulty concentrating, and experiencing racing thoughts are all common indicators of feeling overwhelmed.

Teach your children that although they will never be able to control everything around them, they will ALWAYS be able to learn to control their reaction to them.

Teach children to prepare themselves for the world by doing the following: Get plenty of rest (most preteens and teens require 9 to 11 hours of sleep nightly), avoid all forms of caffeine, create a bedtime routine that helps clear the mind of stress prior to going to bed, eat healthy foods that include well-balanced meals (not eating on the run), exercise often, and share your feelings (through a journal, a conversation, even crying)

Teaching these things will go a long way to helping your child learn the basic lifestyle skills necessary to deal with stress in any form. It will help YOU as well!

For more information about emotional intensity and gifted kids, check out my newly released book, EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS.

Thanks Robin, for letting me stop by your blog during my tour. This has been great!


Thank you so much, Christine.  Now is your chance to win a copy of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students.  All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and email address.  The giveaway will be open through October 15th until 11:59 p.m. and is open internationally.   And check out the rest of the tour for more chance to win as well.

To find out more about Christine and her book, check out the following links.


Sunday Salon: A Nocturnal Upon Autumn

I have something special for you today.   My brother is Baron of Erud Sul in the Kingdom of Atenveldt for the Society of Creative Anachronism.  The kingdom recently had it's first Arts and Science Competition.  He won in the Novice Division for Performing Arts and for Writing.   Below is the poem he wrote for the competition.

A Nocturnal Upon Autumn


Baron Christopher Fitzarthur
Aka Chris Walsh

On the first of Autumn, in fading light,
I gazed upon one tree in a wood,
Pondering seasons it withstood,
Before we both succumbed to night.
Inside it, is Spring;
The sap of youth marked in concentric rings.
The precious fruits borne of blossoms past cling
To boughs which remember stretching forth,
Seeking possibilities of endless worth.

In the trees deep roots and branches strong,
I see the growth of a good Summer spent.
Still in the air, a clinging scent
Of those days nurturing and long.
Beneath its wide crown
Flowers and saplings enrich the dark ground.
Shielded from harm when storms thunder down,
New growth flourishes beneath, unaware
Of the scars their shelter willingly bears.

Yet here a leaf is turning to shining gold,
Here the brilliant red of a burning fire.
This tree, it appears, cannot tire
Wearing a leafy mask so bold.
And while still I could,
I gazed upon that tree in a wood,
that years and storms have withstood.
As Autumn has finally come to stay,
Never again shall we see a Summer day.

Just call us the Bird Whisperers

Our cats like to bring us gifts - rats, dragonflies, praying mantis, pieces of paper found wherever, and birds.  Usually the rats are dead, but we've managed to save most of the rest. Some days we're too late.  This morning, I glance up and look out the patio window and see Gracie. She's playing with something and figure I better get out there and save whatever it is.  It turned out to be a hummingbird.  They are real teases, flying down and around the cats heads, chirping at them.  They've come and hovered in front of me a few times for a chat when I've been sitting out on the patio.  Friendly little buggers, but not too terribly bright.   Surprisingly, Gracie manages to catch them.  This time, I caught her before she did any harm.    Unique experience, getting to hold and sooth a hummingbird.  Beautiful shiny green feathers that sparkled in the sunlight.  I've discovered birds are trusting souls, especially when you've save them from the cats.   She sat quietly in my hand, tiny little claws clutching and holding on to me. 


After a few minutes, she tried to fly and fluttered clumsily across the patio table.  She tried a couple more times not making it very far.  However, we could tell nothing was broken and hoped she'd get up the energy to fly out of the yard, safely away from the cats.  A few minutes later, she tried again and made it to one of the trees, hanging on to a tiny branch upside down.   She dropped into my hand and after resting a moment, took off, up and over the fence and was gone.  Yeah!  

 It's not everyday you get to pet a hummingbird!