Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

Stop Comparison in Its Tracks: Parenting in the Digital Age

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I’ve written a few times about the ways in which social media has an effect—both positive and negative—on children today, and how we as parents can best help them navigate through it. But the one thing I think we can’t separate from social media is the rise of the problem of comparison in our youth.

Every time they open Instagram, they have the opportunity to see someone who is living a life “cooler” than their own. Your child can come home thrilled about an A on his math test, and then feel crushed moments later when he sees on Facebook that someone else got an A+. With their self-worth tied up in how many likes their newest post gets instead of being the best version of themselves, it can be hard to figure out what to say and how to get children to see that comparing their lives to someone else is a sure path to misery and low self-esteem. (more…)

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Should Your Book Be Made Into a Series?

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I’ve written one blog post before about making the decision to write a children’s book, (link to that post here) but I didn’t mention that the decision to write a series of children’s books was actually a separate decision. You see, most authors don’t take on writing a series the way J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter—we don’t plot out seven books, fully detailed from beginning to end, and expect that they will all reach publication. In fact, most series of books become a series due to luck, demand, or by accident.

J.K. Rowling; author of the most popular modern book series, Harry Potter.

J.K. Rowling; author of the most popular modern book series, Harry Potter.

When I first wrote Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, I knew that my story was complete. It is a self-contained book, has a firm beginning, middle, and end, and doesn’t require further books to make the story whole. But I also realized that when I was finished writing it, I had more ideas in mind for my characters. My story was done, but their stories could continue through multiple books. I didn’t have a set number in mind, I didn’t have all the stories planned out, and I didn’t want the stories to be interconnected. All I knew, and still know, is that my characters are vibrant enough (in my eyes, at least) to carry out a series of adventures.

And that’s when book number two, Night Buddies and One Far-Out Flying Machine, began to be written.

Maybe you’ve decided to turn your beloved book into a series because you aren’t ready to be done with your characters, or because your readers are begging for the story to continue, or because your publisher thinks they can capitalize on your success by writing a continuation (cheers to you, if that’s the case). My point is, a series can be created out of what you thought was a stand-alone book; it doesn’t always need to start with the intention of writing a series. The only difficulty with creating a series out of a stand-alone book is deciding whether your story is worth continuing.

Deciding to continue your work throughout a series of books comes with the challenge of developing your characters with every new adventure, keeping your same writing tone and voice through each book, and always bringing fresh takes to old ideas. It is difficult to always stay excited about the same characters you’ve been working with for years, but when you are capable of finding that excitement, it’s always worth the struggle. Night Buddies became a series because I knew this was the story I was meant to write, and I hope to continue releasing new Night Buddies books for as long as Crosley and John remain exciting, fresh, and fun characters for me to hang on to. I sometimes feel as though I’m in a long-term relationship with these characters and these stories, and with that comes the hard days or the boring days, but with that also comes immense love, commitment, and happiness.

If you’re deciding whether or not you should begin a series, I’d recommend just writing the first book, getting acquainted with your characters, and treating it like a first date. After you’re finished with that one, decide whether taking on those types of stories and those characters will be worth standing by long-term. And when you find those characters you never want to leave behind, be thankful; they don’t come by often.

What is your favorite book series? Let me know in the comments below!

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Shelfie Time!

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I started as a Harry Potter film franchise fan. From the beginning, I always saw the movies exactly one week after they came out (needed to wait for the big crowds to thin), and I couldn’t get enough. They were full of such high excitement, fine acting, Highlands scenery, and film spectacle—I was completely taken in.

And that’s when I began to read the books.

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Some of my contemporaries teased me when I told them what I was doing.  “There’s nothing original in it,” they said. “Wizards, dragons,

magic wands, flying around on broomsticks—–Come on!”

I had to agree with those particular complaints, but there’s a lot more to Potter than what my contemporaries pointed out. Miss Rowling’s style is engaging, her plots are full of clever twists, and her characters are downright memorable. Not just Harry and Dumbledore and Snape and Hagrid and McGonagall, but dozens of others, like Luna and Longbottom and the Weasleys and the Malfoys, stuck with me long after I set the books aside.

My favorite elements in the stories are genuine, warranted originals, thank you very much.  I’m talking about the more incidental things—the “howlers” that parents send to their kids that yell at them before exploding. The portraits and newspapers that come alive.  The house elves.  The Sorting Hat.  And my all-time favorite, Moaning Myrtle, the melancholy ghost who lives in the toilet!  Don’t dare tell me this stuff isn’t original!

Now it’s your turn: What are your favorite elements in the Harry Potter books? Are you as big a fan as I am?

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Children's Museum of Alamance County
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