Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How to Help Your Kids Improve Their Writing Skills


Writing is an important part of everyday life. Kids need to master it as it contributes to their future success as students. Moreover, the more proficient they are, the better they can express themselves. Besides, this skill is something they will use as adults. People who can eloquently put their thoughts into written words sound more professional. 

However, learning this skill will take time and effort. That’s right; no one is born an excellent writer. People learn it by practicing. Writing is akin to a muscle that you have to flex if you want it to grow. If you want your children to be proficient writers, you need to hone this craft early. The following suggestions can help your children become stronger writers.


Encourage Them to Read Various Materials

One thing excellent writers have in common is they are avid readers. After all, reading expands horizons and helps build knowledge. Thus, you must encourage your kids to immerse themselves in the written word by having a home library filled with various themed books, from illustrated board books to light novels. You can even try reading together! 

Remember, with a reading habit, your kids shall be exposed to new words, building their vocabularies. Later on, they can use the stock knowledge productively when they write. On top of that, reading exposes your children to different writing styles, sentence structures, and contexts, which they can eventually imbibe in their own work. 


Provide the Necessary Materials and Inspiration 

If you want your young children to write, provide materials from paper, pencils, crayons, and even a computer. Make sure a dictionary is always there and provide spelling help when necessary. Then it would help if you did fun activities together then ask your children to write about the experience. 

Another helpful trick is to consider “copying” activities. Of course, emphasize that this is different from plagiarizing. However, copying favorite quotes, passages, and poems can inspire your children. The act of writing things down also allows them to focus their attention on the form and structures used in work they transcribe. Keeping a collection of these words will encourage your children to improve their writing, too

Jumpstart the Journey with Cool Activities

A blank page is very intimidating, so you must always help your children to start writing. Even adults find it difficult to start! As such, you must help your children write the first few words or sentences that keep the creative juices flowing. Try the following tricks:

Ask thought-provoking questions.

* Start writing birthday cards. 

* Make a list of ideas and brainstorm together. 

* Construct a map of topics that interrelate with each other.

* Make a cool comic book. 

* Encourage keeping a journal or diary. 

The key is to encourage them to let their ideas flow. Let go of the sentence structure and just let them feel the joy of self-expression. You can worry about sentence structure, editing, and revisions later. The important thing is to crush the stigma that writing is difficult. With that, you’ve conquered half the battle. 


Provide Responses for Ideas

To encourage your children to keep on expressing themselves, you must respond to their ideas. You can say it out loud or write it down, too. Make it very clear that you are interested in what they have to say.

Instead of dissecting writing errors, focus on the message. It is not how it is said but what is said that matters in the early stages. Later on, as your children become older, you will notice improved grammar and even stronger idea development. 


Make It a Point for Mom and Dad to Write Too

Children learn best through imitation. You cannot just tell them to be a good writer if they don’t see you enjoying the craft. Thus, your children must see you enjoying this process as well, may it be through writing work reports, crafting emails, making lists, or even sending text messages.

If possible, encourage your kids to write with you, may it be making a grocery list, sending letters to grandma, or writing to a pen pal. When your kids see you doing it, they will understand why writing is critical for daily life

Monday, March 15, 2021

Tips for Aspiring Children’s Book Authors to Succeed in This Niche


Writing for children is a noble vocation because you’ve got a curious and impressionable audience waiting to learn from your words. Children are enthusiastic, engaged, energetic, and excited. They’re a fun group to write for, keeping you inspired. However, before you quit your 9 to 5 job and live off your prospective book royalties, you must be aware of the intricacies in this niche. To help you get started, note these suggestions, which you need to imbibe if you want to get a children’s book deal and go for mainstream publication.

Assess Your “Why”

You must find out the reason why you feel passionate about this craft. It’s not easy to get into this career because you will face a lot of rejections. The road to getting published is a rough journey, so you need to toughen up. If you love what you do, it will be a lot easier to plow through the hard times. Most of all, figure out what niche you can successfully fill. Will you be writing nonfiction biographies for middle-schoolers, or do you feel more comfortable with illustrated books for preschool kids? Answer these questions so you can map out your strategy. 

Be More Patient

Writing for kids is akin to starting a business because you invest so many resources. Unfortunately, the return on these investments doesn’t come swiftly. Remind yourself not to expect tons of money right away. It will take time to make a best-seller, so be patient. Hence, it may take a while to live your dream to become a full-time children’s writer who makes a decent living. Better yet, keep your part-time job so you can keep on writing without worries. 

Keep on Reading

Reading is the foundation of writing. How can you write well if you don’t know your market? For example, you want to create nonfiction for kids, then keep reading biographies and similar articles or journals. If you want to master your craft, you must read the books you want to write. Study the famous authors to assess what makes them click. If possible, take a class to hone your craft. 


Join Various Groups

Consider joining a writer’s support group. Though writing is a solitary career, it helps to have a network for the days when your muse runs dry. The other members share their experiences, give feedback, and provide encouragement when you need it. You will certainly find good friends in this group as you shall be in the company of like-minded individuals. Moreover, you must consider joining professional organizations like the SCWI or Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Having a group where you belong provides an edge when you send a query letter to a publisher. Affiliation is proof of credibility. You also have access to organization conferences, workshops, and resources. Though you need to pay membership fees, it is an affordable and worthwhile investment that helps establish your career. 


Conduct Thorough Research

Writing and publishing are businesses. Thus, you must research the various publishers to see which ones print the kinds of books you write. Take a look at “Books in Print,” which is often available as an actual book or database in your library. You can also check out the annotated list of children’s book publishers released by the Children’s Book Council. Similarly, the Writer and Illustrator’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishers and Agents will also give you a detailed list of information on the kind of manuscripts that various publishers accept, along with submission guidelines.


Follow the Guidelines to a T

Finally, once you’ve identified who you want to send a query letter to, you must follow the publisher’s submission guidelines. Some want an outline, the first few chapters, or the whole manuscript. Find out what they want before you send anything so as not to waste anyone’s time. This can also help you save postage! Double-check the address, name spelling, and other pertinent details to assure your submission is free from errors. Above all else, including a dynamic pitch that allows you to shine must be your priority. Remember, it’s okay to submit multiple proposals to various publishers. And, of course, keep busy writing. Soon, you will be amazed to see you’ve signed several contracts with a publisher. Happy writing!

Monday, February 22, 2021

How to Teach Kids to Share in the Responsibility of Caring for Pets

Often, children express their desire to have pets thinking they're cute and cuddly. However, most kids don't understand how hard it is to care for animals. If your kids are serious about having a family pet, you must delegate pet care chores. Rearing pets can teach kids about love, kindness, patience, and compassion, but above all else, it can reinforce a strong sense of responsibility.

Of course, when choosing a pet, you have to ascertain that the animal's temperament matches your family dynamics and lifestyle. When done with proper care and consideration, your family will have a glorious time making memories with a pet. Consider the following age-appropriate tips to help you encourage your kids to care for the pets in your home:

For ages 3 and below

When children are still very young, they are not mature enough to care for a pet independently. Instead, remind your children that pets are not like stuffed animals. They are living, breathing creatures that feel pain. Remind your young kids:

* Never pinch or pull their tails. 

* Don't pick them up without supervision.

* Avoid teasing pets when they are eating.

* l  Watch out for uncomfortable signs like hissing, growling, or squawking. 

Doing the above teaches your young kids’ boundaries. Moreover, at this stage, your kids learn best from modeling. Instead of telling them to be a good pet parent, show them how it is done. Include them when you're feeding your pets and show them where the supplies are. More than what you say, it is what you do consistently that matters. Model positive behavior by being a responsible pet owner. 


Preschool (4 to 6 years old)

At this age, children are slowly learning what's right and wrong. They begin to realize that they can get scratched if they accidentally step on your pet. Having one around reinforces that every action has a consequence. Now, they can gently cuddle, pet, and play with your pets. You can also instruct them to drop a treat or two during playtime. Children at this stage are still far too young to walk or feed a pet without your supervision. To make them active participants, you can walk the dog together or even ask your children to refill the feeder bowls in your birdcage. Preschoolers begin learning phonics, so it's a good idea to print a picture chore chart to keep your young ones motivated. 


Early Elementary (7 to 9 years old)

Though your young kids have grown, they still need parental supervision. You can start by teaching your kids simple commands like asking a pet to fetch a ball. Asking your kids to play with your pets in a secure backyard is a great way to vent excess energy. You can get your kids off their gadgets while providing your pet attention and stimulation. Apart from that, you can teach your children simple cat or dog grooming, such as gently brushing the fur or putting food on the pet bowls. Doing this assures they feel a sense of ownership for your pets. Apart from that, this teaches delayed gratification as they may have to feed or play with their pet over watching TV.  


Older Elementary (10 to 12 years old)

By the age of 10, your children can properly walk your dog in short distances near your house solo. At this age, your kids can already safely groom your pets or play with them without you. You can give them bigger responsibilities like poop scooping or changing the kitty litter. Though it may seem gross, this chore builds character and helps foster humility. If you have an aquarium, you can give them a schedule of when to feed the fish. You can also ask them to clean the tank and change the water. At this age, teaching proper pet care hygiene is crucial. Though your kids may grumble and complain, setting expectations will assure that you teach important life skills they will used until adulthood.  


Middle School (teen years and beyond)

When your children hit the teen years, a whole new set of responsibilities open up. At this age kids, your kids can understand animal cues. Kids become more mature so that you can delegate bigger responsibilities. You can regularly assign pet care tasks and follow up to ensure everything gets done. It is highly reasonable for you to expect your older children to help with pet upkeep and their habitat maintenance in the teen years. 


Monday, February 1, 2021

How Parents Can Encourage Children to Love Reading


Literacy is the foundation of all disciplines. If your child struggles to comprehend a text, it can affect other areas of studies like math problem solving, geography, history, and more. After all, kids need to read books to learn about different subject areas. It would be beneficial to encourage your children to LOVE reading. Though schools ingrain the devotion of reading to our young ones, our kids often associate reading with homework. The act of opening up a book becomes a chore instead of a pleasurable hobby. If you want to make sure your kids stay interested and immersed in books, check out the following tips:

Start on the Right Track by Reading Aloud

The most effective and efficient method in getting your kids to love books is doing read-aloud activities. Even small toddlers can see big picture books, hear you, and flip cloth or cardboard pages. As early as you can, please sit with them and read books. If you make it a habit, it becomes a part of their routine. When they become older, you can read them storybooks before you put out the lights. You will be amazed to realize that reading aloud is as pleasurable for your kids as it is for you. After all, bonding with your kids through a book is a magical experience. Should this be your foundation, your children will keep on picking up a book even when they can already read independently.

Keep Books Displayed Around the House

Make sure you have reading materials in your house. If kids see these various reading materials, they feel like books are part and parcel of home life. Make sure you always have age-appropriate materials in your home that your kids can handle freely. Remember, keeping an arsenal of books in your house will spark your children’s curious mind.

Take the Time to Pick Books Together

Give your children the chance to choose the books they like. You can go to the library together to peruse the collections. Ask your kids to pick the books they would like to borrow. In the same token, you can go to the bookstore or pour through the selections at Amazon to see which new books you can add to your home library. When children are empowered to choose their reading materials, they feel more motivated to read the books from cover to cover.

Create a Reading Corner or Cozy Nook

You can set up a reading spot to inspire your children to make friends with books in your home. Put a theme based on their favorite characters like a mermaid’s cove or rainforest to keep your kids excited. Your kids will feel inspired to hang out in their fun reading corner, and it shall make reading time more appealing.

Furthermore, you can shake things up by doing appropriate activities in their nook. Try making a puppet show or arts and crafts using favorite characters. When you bring the books to life, your kids can truly appreciate the wonder of books.

Model This Behavior to Keep Kids Inspired

If you want your children to become book lovers, you must practice what you preach. When young kids see their parents pouring over books, they have a strong urge to mimic the behavior. Over time, how you handle your collection of books will influence your children. After all, kids always imitate what you do, so when they see you treat your books gently, chances are they will do the same thing. Ask yourself, how often do you pick up a book and read?

Final Wrap Up

Nurturing a deep love for reading is one of the best things you can gift your children. When children have excellent comprehension skills, they learn faster, concentrate better, score higher on tests, and improve their overall knowledge. But more than that, reading is a fundamental aspect of communication. The more you read, the better you can improve your writing, listening, and even speaking skills.


Monday, January 25, 2016

First Fifteen in 2015 (3)

Okay! This is the last part of my reminiscence and promise I'll create more memories this year :)

AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, Nov. 12-13, 2015, Orlando, FL
For more photos of my first dog show please visit my FB page.

5. I attended my first dog show. Of course, I already saw a dog competition before. But, only on TV. It was a very different feeling when you can see those cute fellows competing against each other in swimming and other categories where they can shine. It's amazing how they can jump over obstacles, model their shiny hair, do some tricks and make everyone happy by just showing how beautiful and well-groomed they are. What is more amazing I believe is the hard work of the trainers. They do everything they can so their dogs will be on the spot-light even they just stay in the shadows. Their dogs' success is everything to them. It doesn't matter how tired they are on the training - the months of preparations and the money they spent just to enter the competition. There are things that are unique among us and that includes the priceless enjoyment and happiness trainers could get from seeing their dogs in the competition whether they win or not.

4. I rescued my first stray cat. I hope you remember my first cat, Rebel. Please read more about him by clicking here.

3. I received a card from a fan. I never expected my book to rank #4 in Amazon Bestsellers let alone receive a message from a very happy fan. It's enough for me to create something that I can be proud of but to learn that people also love what I worked hard for is indeed a blessing. Thank you!

Grandpa Bill and His 1000 Dogs ranked #4 in Amazon Bestsellers

2. I read for the public for the first time.  Writing is a solitary work. I love being by myself. It makes me think and reflect about my life. It gives me the peace that I need and the serenity that brings in the muse of writing. It welcomes deep thoughts, intense emotions and new ideas.

I'm not scared of people. I just  feel more comfortable if I'm on my own. So, to read in public is such a foreign thing for me. It's one of my fears. But YES, I did it!

I'm so proud conquering my fears in 2015 - the year when I can proudly say that I've been brave - that I was able to do the things I never expected that I can achieve. Kudos to that strength. Keep going. Work harder. There's a lot more to conquer in 2016!

1. I published my first children's dog book.  Publishing a book is next to impossible. Who would have thought that I would be able to really do it? I'm out of words. This is one of the greatest achievements I could ever have. There are a lot of things I needed to give up just to come up with this book. Though I have my disappointments, moments of giving up - of frustrations, angers and fears, still I made it!

I'm not even near to being wealthy. I can't still live by just selling my book, Grandpa Bill and His 1000 Dogs, but who says that I can't make it. There's no limitation on what we can do. It's only our fears that limit us to create something - to achieve something - to be something- to be someone - to be a bestselling author - to be whoever I would like to be - or to be simply me.

Lexus (dog) and Rebel (cat),  my precious babies, posing with my book.
With all these experiences, lessons and realizations, I am finally moving on. I'm letting you go 2015. Thank you! 

I formally Welcome 2016 before January ends! Don't worry. I'm not even late yet. Chinese New Year will be on February. Yey!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fifteen Firsts in 2015 (2)

Here's the second installment of the Top 15 First Experiences I had in 2015:

10. I went cruising with someone special. The first boat experience I had was a scary one. It was on a small boat covered with a big tarp. It was so wavy that day and so cold. My whole family was throwing up while the waves are crashing to our tiny boat. I swear I was dying. It was a miracle that we survived that rough sail. I thought I'll never ride any kind of water transportation again. But it changed when I found someone who is willing to be nauseous with me. Nothing a pill of love can't cure eh?

9. I attended my first aerial yoga class. It seems like I love throwing up. This class was so memorable. I felt so dizzy  hanging upside down in a hammock so I slowly let go and slump on the floor while my eyes were closed. I heard my instructor asked me if I'm okay. I worked so hard to open my eyes even everything was still spinning so I could tell her I'll be fine. Suddenly, bile went up my throat. I vomited a little in my mouth! I swallowed it instantly so I won't spill everything on my instructor's face and won't embarrass myself more in front of everybody. I pretended nothing happened thought it was so nasty! I hurried home to throw up everything inside my body.  Ewww!

8. I visited Ernest Hemingway's house. This was a surprise from someone special. I thought we are just going to Florida Keys to go sight-seeing but he knows how much I love writing and a house of a well-known writer will certainly inspire me and excite me more than the popular beaches in  the Keys.

Photo by Iris Pickler

7. I met Mitch Albom. I love Mitch Albom. He's a superstar. A rock star. He's someone I adore and wish to be like. Just to have even a little bit of his writing talent is such a precious gift, I could die.

6. I met my favorite young adult author. I wrote about this experience in one of my entries. Please read my crazy story about meeting Melissa De La Cruz.

Photo credit:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fifteen First in 2015 (1)

My 2015 was a blessing. I experienced so many things for the first time. That's why it's already the second week of the New Year and I'm still having a hard time to say goodbye. Before I formally welcome 2016, let me reminisce my Top 15 Firsts in 2015:

Here are the FIRST FIVE:

15. I wore a two-piece swimsuit. I grew up in a conservative country where people wear t-shirts and shorts at the beach. Some even wear long-sleeves, afraid of becoming too dark and too exposed. I would say not all countries consider tanned skin as sexy and pretty. If you find these weird, you may want to know why Chinese women wear face-kinis.

Anyway, wearing two-piece at the beach is not just to be different. It's me proudly saying that, "I accept my body even how disproportionate it might be and whatever skin color I have, I am beautiful."

14. I endured the pain of threading and waxing. This is something I'm proud about where I came from, we don't care whether a woman has a mustache or hairy legs. Having hair in different parts of our body is just natural. However, when I moved here in the USA, it seems that most men are disgusted to see even one tiny hair on a woman's upper lip.

To fit in, I gave eyebrow threading a try and also used over-the-counter hair remover for my legs. Then I realized, why women need to go through these painful grooming just to acknowledge their beauty? Men go around with their long beard and hairy legs and no one cares. Threading and waxing can stay in 2015 forever.

I selected Hamsa or Hand of Fatima as my henna tattoo.
It symbolizes patience, loyalty, faith and resistance against difficulties.

13. I got my first tattoo. Conservative country means conservative people which includes my parents. They are so against tattoos that mentioning even a plan to have one will make them fuming mad. No explanation will make them change their minds. It was really odd because tattoos during our ancestors' time are like medals of honor.  The more success you have in battle the more tattoos you have and of course the more respect you gain from your community.

I actually just had a henna tattoo with my girlfriends. Still, it was liberating and I finally understand why my ancestors see being tattooed as beautiful and brave.

12. I conquered my fear of heights. I don't mind going up but going down is another story. I think I'm not scared to be in high places but I'm terrified to the thought of falling. Who is not afraid of falling anyway? Even falling in love is associated with pain and even death.

To face my fear, I agreed to join my aunt and cousin to enjoy different rides and slides in Orlando theme parks. I'm really amazed that I was able to get out alive from the scary roller coasters and 48 ft. + slides.

11. I went to the happiest place on earth. I promised to go to Disney World only when my aunt and cousin from Canada visit me in Florida. And it finally happened last September!

I haven't seen my aunt for 25 years and it's the first time that my cousin and I met each other in person. My grandma showed me a lot of his pictures and we even talked on Skype but we never had a chance to enjoy being together since they lived so far away. That's why Disney World really became the happiest place on earth for my family.

I'll share more about my firsts on my next post. Please visit me again soon. Thanks!