Monday, December 26, 2016

Life in HyperSpace is Out!

The book that’s taken twenty plus years and a lot of hard knocks to write is finally complete and edited. If you have ADD/ADHD kids of your own and are in need of a laugh or maybe a little help, check this one out...
Christmas Eve, I finally launched the book about our life at home with four ADD/ADHD kids.This is packed full of laughs and advice from parents who have been there in the trenches.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Spraypainting the cat? What was he thinking?
With four year college degrees under our belts and a dab of training in Child Psychology, my wife and I thought we were ready for anything when it came to this parenting gig.
We had no idea we would be outnumbered and outgunned. From diet to riot, meds to charts, we’ve tried it all, to train up our kids in the way they should grow.
From the Home School of Hard Knocks, our four ADD and ADHD kids have taught us more about coping and planning ahead than any four year college degree could have, especially when it comes to understanding what goes on in the mind of a five year old in a Buzz Lightyear costume flying on a treadmill. To Infinity, and Beyond.
Links are available on my author website at

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Discernment - Satan vs God

Most of us are familiar with those silly cartoons reflecting an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. And we laugh, because we can SO relate to the situation. After all, God tells us to do nice things, while the Devil, or our sinful flesh, tells us to do something not-so-nice. Our flesh finds the not-so-nice things to be funny. The redeemed side of the Christian's nature might also chuckle at ourselves for the situation we find ourselves in, and the opportunity to do right rather than wrong.

But one of the things that is NOT so funny, is that it can be sometimes difficult to determine which voice is which, especially when it comes to the times when the voices are directed inwardly, toward attitudes and responses, rather than outwardly, toward actions.

I know a lot of Christians who struggle with a feeling of self-condemnation, or feelings of low self-worth. And the guy in the mirror can often BE that guy. The one who thinks he's worthless and broken. So, for all of you who struggle with that, and for the guy in the mirror, here's a punch list of ways to tell the difference.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Melatonin at Midnight

Our youngest, now eleven, is the most hyperactive of our brood, there is no doubt at all. The little guy could be hooked to a treadmill and generate enough electricity for the neighborhood. Reminds me a bit of Hammy from Over the Hedge.

Because of his propensity for zipping through life, we give him Vyvanse to calm him down (yes, a stimulant actually slows him down, much like Hammy did when time slowed down for him when he drank the Mach 7 drink. (You HAVE seen the Over the Hedge movie, yes?))

A negative of that is that when he comes down from the meds he takes in the morning, he's too wound up to go to sleep. We've given him multiple things for that, starting with a teaspoon of Benadryl, but settled on Melatonin, a healthier solution that's a natural hormone, one that regulates sleep. John takes a dose in the evening and is ready to crash about an hour or so later.

When he doesn't get his dose, he's chasing cats down the stairs at 2am, something Papa Bear doesn't approve of. And when Papa Bear ain't happy, well...

Papa Bear can get pretty ugly when he's woken up from hibernation. Just sayin...

This appears to be a common solution to the age old problem of put-the-kids-in-bed, so much so that they now make GUMMY Melatonin, which looks a lot like gummy vitamins, or the friendly kid-approved Dots candy. So much so that it's easy to confuse the two. Whereas, if you eat a box of Dots, you might get a bit of a sugar rush, but if you ate an equal number of Gummy Melatonin, you might sleep for a week.
Here's a comparison of what they look like... pretty similar, right? Ha, and they call it Adult Gummies. But the dose is small enough where it takes several to knock the boy out.

This story is not how my youngest OD's on Melatonin and has to visit the vacuum cleaner at the local hospital. Or another call to the Poison Control Center. But looking at the two, hey, it could happen. I mean, what were they thinking??

One evening, we forgot to give John his dose, and he was running around at midnight and woke up Papa Bear. So he got his dose then, and after a bit, he went to bed, and slept through morning bible, breakfast, and probably homeschool.

Recently our family started going to bed significantly later than usual, since we have new adults in the house, that is, not that we've added family members but that we've fed some of them and, gasp, they've grown up.

So my oldest boy, Justin, now 20, is often gone with friends or has them over, and so does my daughter, now 18. We usually get to evening prayer time quite late, and I'm wiped before they are ready to shut down for the night. My son Justin would just as soon play Uncharted 4 until 8 am and sleep through the day. Me, not so much.

I've taken to telling them I 'turn into a pumpkin' right about 10:31pm, a reference to Cinderella's carriage turning back into a pumpkin at midnight, and cranking it back to a Halloween time because Midnight JUST AIN'T HAPPENIN any more for me.

Or rather, until last night. My 18yo daughter just got on a plane to head out for a Mission Trip to Northern Ireland with YMI, and her red-eye flight left at 5am sharp, which meant we had to be at the airport about 3am, which meant if I was going to get any sleep, I needed to go down by 9pm. But with company over, and my daughter wanting to watch the end of a show, it just kept getting later. We finally turned the TV off about 11:30pm, and prayed. I went up to bed for a few hours sleep, but Justin wanted to play his video game, and he wanted me to watch him. So I stayed up, and so did John, watching Justin gun down baddies while hunting pirate treasure, until it was time to take my daughter to the airport.

So I am running on about 1 hour sleep. Whereas, John, well, this time he didn't need any Melatonin...

And I'll leave you with this verse, which applies to all of us I guess:

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. - Psalm 127:2

(cross-posted from my ADHD family Fun blog)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Distractions, Cherry Blossoms, and Peace

This morning we were doing a family devotion together, as we do every morning, reading God's Word together as a family. We are currently working our way through 2 Corinthians 5, on an annual reading schedule called iFit supplied by our Awana Club church.

The passage concerns how we are new creatures in Christ, and how old things are passed away, and all things are become new. It also talks about death, in how we have to put off this old tent someday, and go be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

There is a beauty in heaven that is beyond description. The passage got me to thinking about heaven, and I gave a glance out my back window at the sky.

It was a beautiful morning, and I was struck by the Mimosa blossoms on one of the trees growing in our back yard.

The mimosa has some of the most beautiful flowers of any tree here in the South, and it is a very common and hardy tree.

This time of the year the blossoms break out in vibrant pink and white cascades, which will eventually make a much less appealing carpet of brown underneath.

Being ADD has its disadvantages, of course, and while my daughter was reading her portion of the chapter before passing it over to my youngest son, I was off in the past, thinking about a similar tree that stood in front of our old house over two decades ago, a cultivated magnolia with beautiful pink blossoms of a slightly different nature.
Gazing at that tree each morning while drinking my coffee gave me such a feeling of inner peace and contentment and communion with God in His creation, a feeling shared, obviously, with millions of Japanese who gazed out similar windows at the cherry blossoms each Spring.

When we moved to our new home, one of the things I missed the most was that tree and its beautiful pink blossoms in the Spring. I had made comments about this loss to my Father-in-Law, who was a decent artist and sculptor, and it struck him so much he gave me this painting for my birthday one year.

The photo here doesn't do it justice, it's huge, about three feet by two feet. My wife had it professionally framed, and we hung it in the bedroom, sort of a window to an alternate dimension where it's always Spring, and I wake up many mornings and stare at it in contemplation of God's design and the beauty of His creation, including the skilled work He creates through us.

Years later, my Father-In-Law passed away, and I was thinking about that as well, and how his funeral coincided with my wife's birthday, a poignant and tragic combination. At that funeral I played a song I wrote for the occasion in honor of the talented somewhat starving artist, a song you can hear by following this link.

So I thought on that and the fact that Heaven is waiting for us, a place more beautiful and tranquil than a thousand Japanese cherry orchards in full bloom, and that I only have the hope of seeing it because of the last verse in that chapter that my eleven-year-old was just getting done reading:

For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2Cor 5:21 NKJV

(cross-posted from my ADHDfamilyFun blog...)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Memory, Memory Sticks, Memory Loss, and Loss

Attention, please.

What I mean is, I probably need to pay more, ahem, attention. Unfortunately, the memory bank is overdrawn, and I cannot afford to pay attention, not with all the dreams, projects, stories, outlines, songs, and games in progress.

Since my memory at 50+ isn't what it used to be, I've taken to storing it on these little USB memory sticks. You see them in the stores, by the register, currently running around 16GB for 8 bucks, or 64GB for 30. The problem really is keeping track of where you put them.
Image result for usb memory sticks
So, this is what memory looks like these days, when you crack the cover and look inside. Of course, when you crack the cover, you've usually lost your mind, too. At least, I did, when I did that. About 2 years ago, setting the laptop down, it cracked the case on my missing memory. I lost three month's work on a novel that day, because I ONLY stored my books on my memory stick. Easier transport.

You would think I'd learned my lesson. I bought another stick, and copied my work to it, and went on with life, happily rewriting, until that stick didn't have enough memory for my stuff. So I bought a bigger one, carried it around on my keys.

About four weeks ago, while in Pensacola I somehow lost my memory again. This time, I lost about four months' work on a novel and six months' work on a video game. Aargh! Hate this ADD! I looked everywhere, and could only conclude it was in our hotel room. But they never found it, so they say, anyway. It had other stuff on it, important stuff, like family pictures and bank records and all kinds of gee I hope nobody finds this stuff.

So when we got home, guess what, I bought another memory stick, a 64GB one, and started trying to catch up on the work I'd lost with the other one. Took a few weeks, but I finally started getting traction on the story I was writing, and a little on the Game I was designing.

Last night, I... Oh, I almost can't say it.

I lost my memory again.

And without having backed it up anywhere.

Honest, I do have an IQ over that of a potato bug. But maybe I've been storing that on these little sticks too.
Sandisk Cruzer Glide - USB flash drive - 16 GB - USB 2.0 - SDCZ60-016G-A46
The USB stick must have slipped off my keyring carabiner when I was getting my keys out. Another months' work, flushed. So today I've gone to the store and bought a few sticks on clearance. SanDisk, with Encryption Vaults to store my Don't Read my Bank Records stuff in.

I'm going to commit to putting anything and everything in the little Vault, and backing this stuff up daily that I've been working on. Otherwise, I think I'll lose my mind again, maybe this time for keeps.

Anybody else been there, done that??

Monday, April 25, 2016

Video Game Addictions

(Cross-posted from my ADHD Family Fun blog...)

Video Games are an addictive pastime, and there are several generations of 'kids' now addicted to them. The fast-moving digital media can be unhealthy, too, because overexposure to it can reprogram the brain for rapid-fire, rather than cognitive thinking. See this article on it...

I for one have many that I've enjoyed over the years, on many platforms including the Commodore 64, the Atari 2600, the PC, the Playstation 1 and 2, the GameBoy Advance, and Nintendo DS. I'm even currently working through level 150 of ToyBlast on my iPhone. (A very addictive little game).

In our loving madhouse, we sign off from Electronics on Sunday, from morning until after evening services, to focus on God and unplug for a bit. Maybe do some healthy brain activity like read a book. Like, maybe, the Bible! Or work puzzles.

But little Johnny doesn't quite get it. Could be the ADHD, perhaps he wasn't paying attention. Since we confiscate his Nintendo 3DS for the day, he's leveraged the Color printer and a roll of Scotch Tape to create one we WON'T confiscate.

Believe it or not, what you are seeing here is the OUTSIDE cover of a Three-Dimensional, realistic, PAPER Nintendo 3DS. I'll open it up for you so you can see the inside...
Please forgive the rotated nature of the pictures, my iPhone created the pictures in landscape, and I'm having trouble rotating them back. Notice how John has a PacMan game going on his PaperCraft Nintendo 3DS. He's also got all the controller buttons, and along the sides of the unit, he has all the connectors to plug in power (a big no-no during no electronics) or an audio cable.

I gotta say, his PaperCraft Nintendo 3DS is so realistic, it's fooled several people in the family, and even visitors, and I've even managed to fool John himself with this expertly taped together game system.

It's certainly 'street legal' during our electronics fasts, but the only game that will probably play on it, other than PacMan, would be Paper Mario.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Focus, Dishes, Tea, and ACTS Praying Revisited

(Cross-posted from my family blog, ADHD Family Fun...)

Image result for herding cats gif
Ever tried to force an ADHD kid to have focus to complete a task?

So last night, it was John's turn to do the dishes. Actually, we have chores on rotation, so each week we rotate, with Justin (20) doing one chore, Rachel (17) doing another, and John (10) doing a third. Mom and Dad picking up the slack.

The three chores we rotate through are (1) Dishes, (2) Laundry, and (3) Sweeper.
The prized job is Sweeper, because we rarely force whoever is sweeping to actually sweep. It is usually just feed the animals (no cows and chickens, just Cats and Dog). Oh, and take out the trash. And maybe scoop the cat litter. Slack = scoop cat litter for the kids, and put a liner in the can for those who forgot. BEFORE you throw trash in the can and discover there's no liner!

Laundry is is a no-brainer. One load, make sure the washer has nothing molding overnight.

Dishes ought to be a no-brainer, but when the dishwasher went south shortly before Christmas, rather than buy a new one, we decided to hold off and wash by hand. We're still holding off, partly to make sure Rachel finishes funding for a Mission Trip, and kids have college. But we have one picked out, I think...

Anyway, whatever chore John is on is a sharing chore, because, well, he's ten. And ADD. And Hyperactive. And all boy. A wicked combo, especially when he's wrapped around the axle from too much video gaming.
Image result for washing laptopI usually give the assist in the evenings, and don't mind dishes. My mom would die of shock, I used to hate hate hate hand dishes. So, I wash, and John dries and puts away. But what occurred last night was, I washed, and John played his game. When the dish racks were fully loaded, therefore, since John was on his game when he was supposed to be helping, I sent him to completely empty the rack while I finished reading The Ghost Box by Mike Duran. :-)

I had to break away from reading seven times to send John back in to dry. First, he couldn't find a hand towel, so he just chased the cat around the house. So, I got him a dishtowel, and sent him back (he knew where these were!) Then, he chased the cat with the dishrag. Trying to pop him, I think. So I sent him back. Then, he marched around the house with a towel and a glass.

You get the picture. He was so hyper he did a flying tackle on the cat, snagging him with the towel. It's a wonder we weren't back at the ER for a broken bone or Cat Scratch Fever. Or at the vet for a crushed rib...

I had to get a chair, and block exit from the kitchen, while reading my book, until he was completely done drying and putting away. Funny how being trapped in a five-foot by five-foot kitchen will give you focus.

After chores came the usual ACTS praying.

Image result for praying hands
ACTS Praying is a thing our family does in the evening to wind down, focus on God, and get our hearts ready for sleep. It's an acronym for (A)doration, (C)onfession, (T)hanksgiving, and (S)upplication.

(A)doration is where we praise God for one of His attributes, like 'You are Holy'. Or one of the other Nine Billion Names of God.

(C)onfession is where we confess something we did wrong to God, try to make it right with each other if it's an offense against another family member. This one can be hard to draw out, or to nail down, especially with John. But, he's ten.

(T)hanksgiving - should be obvious, except when you're tire, you might end up saying Grace for a meal you've already eaten...

(S)upplication - 2 rounds. One for others, and a second round to pray for yourself.

John was still wound up tight, even after 10PM, so when we got to Thanksgiving, he just said, for Tea. I told him that the Tea in the fridge had been there too long, and was probably fermented. Thankfully, he didn't ask what that meant or we'd have been exploring beer and other fermentation.

But he said he meant T. As in, the letter T. I never really thought about thanking God for a letter before, but T is not a bad one, as it's used in so many things. It's even used four times in this sentence.

So, flashback to Sesame Street: Today's ACTS Praying time was brought to you by the Letter T.
Image result for Letter T Vols
We all got a big laugh out of that. You would too, especially if you were a Vols fan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life in Hyperspace

Image result for hyperspace
Life In Hyperspace is a book I've been meaning to write on these misadventures with my family, and I'm finally getting traction on it.

Some of the chapters in the book will reflect stories you can find on the pages of my family ADHD blog, ADHD Family Fun, and some of them you have never heard. Unless you lived them, with my family.

I've shared some of these laughs with coworkers and extended family, and they've all said I should put this in a book. Or a Movie. Or a reality TV show.

Well, I couldn't possibly let TV cameras into the home. Besides the fact that we have the usual ADD clutter issues we don't want to share on TV, I couldn't cover the liability to their cameras, laptops and sanity as my kids bounce off the walls around them.

But putting it in a book is safe enough.

Just for fun, I'll put the lead-in here to whet some appetites:

Only in Our House…
“What do you mean, is Clear Coat poisonous?”
My wife paused. “You left the spray can out after you were done with the Grand Prix car.”
I took a deep breath. “And?”
“And, well, John spraypainted the cat.”
I gripped the steering wheel. “He what?
“You mentioned this morning that his coat looked dull. He was just trying to help.”
“The can was almost empty. Brush his coat to pull off as much as you can.” I hung up and shook my head, staring ahead at the evening rush hour traffic.
Spraypainting the cat? What was he thinking?

After about five minutes, the phone rang again.
“Hey honey. Did you get the cat cleaned off?”
“How far out are you?” She sounded troubled.
“About five minutes, I think. Why?”
“Want to meet us at the hospital? Rachel almost cut her finger off in the van door.”
I swallowed. “What?”
Rachel’s voice cut in. “I was looking for the DVD remote like you asked me.”
“In the van?
Justin called out from the background. “It’s pretty bad, Dad. We’ve stopped the bleeding, but you can see bone!”
My head swam. “Justin, you know how I am about blood. I’m driving on the expressway.
Rebecca took a deep breath. “I’m taking her to the E.R. Want to meet us there?”

“I’ll be home in three.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Giving Your Characters Personalities

One challenge authors face is making their characters believable and three-dimensional. After all, characters represent people. And people are complex.

So the challenge is to get a character from an idea on paper to be a 'real life' individual. Authors do this through several methods.

Sphere of Contact:
Friends, relatives, Frenemies, enemies, associates and coworkers. Customers and business contacts that you know well can become characters in your books. However, be warned that they can and do read, and might read your novels, recognize themselves (though twisted jammed and pounded to fit in a pear-shaped hole) and express their anger that they've been defamed in some slight way. Especially if they are made into the 'villain'.

Head to the mall or other public venue. Observe closely the people around you. How they act and behave, what they look like and how they relate to the others around them. You don't know these people, so they won't get angry that you used them in your book, they will have no idea. But they certainly won't be any more real than your 30 second exposure plus your amazing imagination as to what they are like.
Watch Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
Public Figures and Other Creative Sources:
An author might base a character from a movie they've seen, or a book they've read. Or a public figure like a past President. (Abe Lincoln, Zombie Hunter, anyone??)

Personality Types:
My family has been spending a bit of time reading up on Personality Types and throwing around four letter words like INTP, ESFJ, ISFP, and IMHO... and I was so confused. I mean, I think I know ADHD now, and ROFL, but all these were something new. And they would ROFL when I would try to figure out what they were up to. But I saw the site 16Personalities on the iPad, so now I have some idea, and so will you, if you follow the link.

The site has a very good quiz and description of the 16 standard personality types that are the product of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators. And it's a pretty good way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of characters in your books, without having to resort to 'using friends and coworkers'. These strengths and weaknesses, of course, mainly just give base flaws and strengths, and they bridge the types, but they are a starting point. Also, there are examples, real and fictional, on each type, as well as how common the types are.

So, in a nutshell, there are 16 of these, mostly opposites in four categories:
(I)ntrovert vs (E)xtrovert. - should be obvious, do you feel recharged in a crowd, or alone?
I(N)tuitive vs (S)ensing - how do you obtain data to make decisions
(T)hinking vs (F)eeling - how do you respond to the data?
(P)erceiving vs (J)udging - how do you make decisions based on the data?

That's probably all wrong, but their website has a wealth of information on it, under the heading link 'Read About Our Theory'.

I'm not a psychologist, nor do I agree with many of the methods or theories driven by Pavlov and Freud, but I certainly consider character development and believability a plus, and pigeonholing my characters into these 16 types probably won't insult them, and might make for a better read.

I'll probably have my characters take the quiz, to find out who they really are. What about your characters? Have they taken personality quizzes? Or have you posted a quiz for your readers to find out which character they are most like?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Video Games, anyone?

So, these days I am writing something completely different than a new novel. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still working a bit here and there on finishing the editing of Book 3 in my Prince of Lynvia series, Of Pretty Plots and Princesses. And still trying to resolve the end of the fourth in that series, Of Dragon Tales and Dopplegangers.

But, as Monty Python used to say, And Now, for Something Completely Different.

My son (the oldest one) got me started on making an RPG video game, when my YOUNGEST son (now 10) completed one of his own. Yes, that's right, my 10 year old doesn't just play games, he writes them too. Shown up by your pre-teen.

Now, for those not in the know, RPG is not just a programming language I created programs in for 20 years, it is also short for 'Role Playing Game'.

GASP! Yes, I mean the old 'Dungeons and Dragons' type game, repackaged with the computer as the 'Dungeon Master' and you as the character.

Far from being the demonic occult-promoting choose-your-god all-nighter paper and dice game of the old days, the RPG games I played as a young adult mainly focused on the character development and plot.

Kind of like a Story.

So, I cut my teeth on games like Final Fantasy. (And Final Fantasy II, III, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, and X. Can anyone please explain to Square Enix the meaning of the term 'Final'??)

The game I'm working on is going to be based upon the characters in my Fantasy series, and carry the plot from the end of the series forward. To where, I'm just NOT SAYIN.

But I have several family members and folks in the RPGMaker community helping out with the monster. Still, I imagine it's going to eat up spare time all year. I expect it will be worth it.

For a little teaser, though, I'll give you some pics of some of the characters below...

(SPOILER ALERT: some of the information below you won't know until you finish the first book in my series, Of Secrets and Sorcery. Or, actually, unless you read the... um, information below.

Kyne, the main character, no longer a Prince, now he's King, but still, obviously, a young and wet-behind-the-ears kid with a crown he's going to have to do a lot of growing into.

He's super-strong and invulnerable to most physical attacks. At least, that's the plan...

Lavik, His sassy Tutor, quick with a quip or tidbit of information, always instructing, because, well, Life is your classroom, and Lavik is your... tutor. He's also quite handy with his sword, which proves useful throughout the game.

Anne, one of the bullies that made Kyne's life at Middle School a wreck, has become one of his best friends. She's pretty good with a knife, thanks to years of bickering fights with her older sister, and she also has the ability to predict the future. Well, sorta...

Her faith isn't really out on her sleeve, but it's definitely there. But don't tell anyone, it might tarnish her tough-girl rep.

Destiny, another girl from Middle School, not so much a bully, has become a good friend of Kyne's, and also of his counterpart, Jason, who will be introduced a bit further, below. She's a strong Christian but shy as a Mayfly. Her ability is to disappear when she gets embarrassed. Comes in handy to slip by enemies unnoticed.

Jason is Kyne's counterpart. He's been running for his life for years, and is fed up with that. Now, he mostly just wants a normal teen life. But that's a bit hard to do when you have the ability to Stop Time.

Zip is Kyne's best friend. He's running track, and is very quick on his feet, and just as fast with his wit. Well, not exactly. Not easy to talk faster than 250 MPH.

Zip is very strong in his faith and isn't afraid to share it with anyone who asks. I mean, he's not going to be pushy, but if you ask for it, you're gonna get it.

Anyway, that's it for now.

Reply in the comments to the following question, if you have the time:

Have you ever played any RPG games, and if so, what was your favorite?