I Love Indie Authors

The other day I discovered that one of my favorite indie authors follows me on Twitter. It’s pretty awesome. Most of what I tweet are links to my book reviews on my other blog, including reviews I’ve done of her books.

This discovery started me thinking about just why I love indie authors so much.

1.) I get to be the gatekeeper for what I want to read. Traditionally, with books published via publishing companies, it’s those publishing companies that decide what is good and what isn’t. Make no mistake: There is a whole lot of independently published junk out there. December and January always sees a bit of an uptick of terrible books completed during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month which happens every November). But there is also a whole lot of amazing independently published books. Many of these authors give away the first in a series on Kindle. After reading that first book I am the one who gets to decide if I want to keep reading the series, find other books by the author, or never download anything by them again. Let’s just say some indie authors have been paid well for that freebie I downloaded!

2.) The cost is usually a whole lot lower. Rick Riordan is a traditionally published author and I enjoy his books. But I refuse to buy his new ones as they come out because I don’t enjoy his books enough to justify the $14.99 Kindle price. That is nuts. Indie authors generally run $4.99 or less per book. Often much less. A couple days ago I got a box set of 5 of one indie author I like’s books for 99 cents. (These are Kindle prices… I pretty much exclusively read on my Kindle because I just prefer it.)

3.) Probably because indie authors are not as well known, interaction with them is a bit more personal. They often tweet a lot. I’m on a Facebook group run by one indie author I like. She’s always having conversations with fans on there. Last fall another indie author I like was making his way across the US and stayed at our house for a couple days.

Some Indie Authors I Really, Really Like: Andrea Pearson, Tony James Slater, Heather Sunseri, Karen McQuestion, Beth Labonte, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Julie Oleszek

ADORAble Dishwasher

The dishwasher that came with our house started leaking and wasn’t cleaning the dishes very well so we got a new one a couple months ago. I’m pretty sure GE called it an Adora because it’s totally adorable*. The only problem is I hate to run it at night because then I miss the cute little tune it plays at the end of the cycle.

*Possibly more importantly, it is not leaking, cleans the dishes very well, and is a whole lot quieter than our old one. The one we got has a tiny top drawer for silverware which is pretty cool. Also, instead of running our dishwasher 2-3 times a day, I only have to run it 1-2 times a day (usually 1) and the wash cycle is about an hour shorter than our old dishwasher (yeah… we were running that thing most of the time). Our water bill dropped about $25 a month because it uses so much less water, so that was an extra bonus.

History in April

We started off April learning about Ancient China using Year 1, Unit 10 of Layers of Learning.

We colored two maps of China at two different points in time. Adrian found modern day China on the big world map on the wall.
History in April

We learned about shadow puppets and made some.
History in April

We copied our names in calligraphy.
History in April

We learned about pagodas. The boys acted out the story of why they started being built.
History in April

We talked about The Great Wall of China and built walls (Fritz picked cups and Adrian used Magna-Tiles).
History in April

We learned about Hundred Schools of Thought and the boys made garlands with images representing philosophies and things they chose.
History in April

Then we moved on to Early Japan using Year 1, Unit 11 of Layers of Learning.

We learned about the Shinto creation story and talked about how it compares to the creation story we know from Genesis. They drew pictures of it.
History in April

We learned about pit houses. Cameron reminded us how he dug a big pit on the hill by my parents’ house several years ago. He intended it to be his house. They built a pit house for Woody.
History in April

We talked about what our names would be if we suddenly had to give ourselves names based on where we live or what we do. I’d be Roundedroad. Cameron would be Kickler. Fritz would be Babieslaugh. Adrian would be Tabler.

We learned about Jimmu and the three treasures. We chose three things around the house to represent valor (mint), wisdom (chess set), and benevolence (money).
History in April

We talked about the Yamoto Court and cultural exchange. We drew pictures of three things we would give to a tribe without access to technology. We chose matches, electricity, and toilets.
History in April

We colored a map of ancient Japan.
History in April

The third week of April, we learned about the First North Americans using Year 1, Unit 15 of Layers of Learning.

We learned about the Native Americans that lived in the San Antonio area and also about the six flags Texas has been under. This was not part of the planned lesson, but the little boys needed to do it for their Texas Cub Scout patch and it fit well with this week’s topic.

We learned about land bridges. We used clay to make two continents and then connected them with a land bridge in a pie plate. We dyed water blue and poured it into the pie plate making sure to keep our ocean below the level of the land bridge. We talked about how people would cross the bridge to get from Asia to North America. Then we added ice cubes to our water. Within about an hour, the ice cubes had melted and the water level had risen above the land bridge demonstrating how the two continents were now cut off from each other.
History in April

We colored a map of some early North Americans.
History in April

We learned about the giant Olmec heads and came up with a story of why they are there. Fritz thinks they are monuments to their great generals. Adrian thinks they represent their gods. Cameron thinks they are just heads because carving a whole body would be too difficult.
History in April

We learned about the Mayan hierarchy (classes) and drew pictures to go with each group.
History in April

The final week of April, we learned about Ancient South Americans using Year 1, Unit 16 of Layers of Learning.

We learned about some of the ancient South American groups and placed them on the map.
History in April

We learned about the importance of jaguars (and eagles) to the ancient South Americans and made jaguar masks.
History in April

We learned about camelids and chose to learn extra about alpacas and teach each other what we learned to each other.

We learned about the Nazca Lines and drew our own.
History in April

I Read a Lot

I ran across an old journal entry from several years ago where I wrote about how happy I was to have read 5 whole books in a single month and how I wanted to spend more time reading. Old me really amused current me.

And I have definitely increased the amount of time I spend reading.

So far this year I’ve read 51 books. That’s 11 in January, 12 in February, 20 in March, and 8 so far in April. I think old me would faint to know current me reads that much (granted, old me had much littler children and so had a lot less time to read!).

More Lesson Planning

A few days ago Facebook’s On This Day thing told me that I had finished my lesson planning for the 2016-17 school year on that day last year. This year… Not. Even. Close.

But I have been working on them!

I’ve got grammar, spelling, and vocabulary for all of them and Adrian’s writing all done. Now I’m working on Cameron’s creative writing. We’re going to use The Well-Trained Mind’s Creative Writing I and it just has the lessons divided into 36 full weeks all at once so I’m having to split it up into daily activities however it makes sense to me.

I made a list of what subjects I still need to plan and I’m pretty sure our 2017-18 school year plans will be done sometime before 2019.

The Boss Baby

On Saturday the little guys, Jamie, and I got to go see an advance screening of The Boss Baby. Because there is no guarantee of getting into an advance screening (they overbook the theater), I didn’t tell the boys ahead of time where we were going. I assured them they’d enjoy it and if we didn’t get in, we’d find something else to do.

As we were getting out of the car at the movie theater, Adrian asked if we were going to see Boss Baby. He was so excited when I said we hopefully would be. He has seen the ads and had said more than once he wanted to see it. Luckily, we got in (with some parents volunteering to hold their very little ones on their laps, they were able to squeeze everyone who showed up into the theater).

The movie is very cute. The premise is when babies are made (by BabyCorp), each one is tickled and if they giggle like most of them do, they are sent to a family. If they don’t giggle, they are sent to management. They stay adorable baby-sized adult humans by drinking a special formula. Sometimes they need to go to a family in order to carry out a mission as directed by the big bosses at BabyCorp.

Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) joins a family with parents who work for PuppyCo and a seven-year-old brother named Tim. Tim absolutely does not want a baby brother and feels like his parents don’t love him anymore since all their attention is focused on the baby. Eventually Tim and Boss Baby must team up with the end goal of Boss Baby leaving their family forever. Tim just wants to be an only child again while Boss Baby wants a promotion, a corner office, and his picture on the wall at BabyCorp.

The story is told by Tim as an adult (voiced by Tobey Maguire) and while he admits he had a very active imagination as a child, he is telling it just the way he remembers it happened.

There were a lot of children in the theater from toddlers on up to pre-teens and, yet, for the entire nearly 1 hour and 40 minutes, the kids were so quiet. They really paid complete attention to the movie. Everyone laughed a lot. In fact, I think the adults laughed more than the kids. The moral was lovely and the end was perfect. The animation was amazing with Boss Baby’s mannerisms being totally adult, yet totally baby-like at the same time.

I highly recommend seeing The Boss Baby. It’s a great family movie. You won’t be sorry.

Note: It is rated PG for some mild rude humor. Usually, it is funny, but there is one point where Tim and Boss Baby are in a dog-shaped bouncy house and they escape through an interestingly placed air hole and so look like they are being pooped out of the dog. That crossed the line from funny to gross and judging by the reaction of a lot of the people in the theater, I am not the only one who thought that.