Peace Talks: 101

lioness with open mouth showing teeth
Children can sometimes make you want to scream!

Do your children like to argue with one another? Are you at your wits ends to stop the fighting and want to scream yourself? Today, we have our favorite child psychologist to help our children learn the art of peace talks.


Dr. Valerie Allen

Licensed School Psychologist ~ Case Manager


Peace Talks :   101

Part of being a child is “testing the waters”, with siblings, peers, parents, and authority figures. Children can quickly hook us into a debate or refereeing to settle their disputes. There are strategies which encourage youngsters to stop and think before they take action. We can use these skills to help children think for themselves and solve their own problems.

  1. State the facts. Avoid the who, what, why response. Questions such as “Who started this? What are you into now?” and “Why did you do a thing like this?” focus on blame and gathering evidence. It also puts you in as “judge and jury” to decide the issue. Stating the facts helps children distinguish between fact and opinion.
  2. Seek solutions. Simply state the problem and invite children to offer ideas to solve it. Don’t be critical of their suggestions, no matter how wild or inappropriate. Talk them through it with responses such as “If we did that, what do you think would happen next?” or “How do you think so-and-so would feel it we did it that way?” or “How do you think that would make things better?” Considering various solutions helps children see things from another perspective and fosters responsibility for their decisions and behavior.
  3. Words as tools. Teach children to use words to express their thoughts, emotions, and needs. Eventually, they will learn to use language to express their point of view, negotiate a compromise, and persuade others. Help them label their emotions beyond “happy” and “sad”. Expanding their emotional vocabulary will enable children to identify and discuss their feelings more accurately.
  4. Stand their ground. Children must learn when to stand their ground. They need to know in some situations it is alright to tell someone to go away or to stop bothering them. It is okay to tell a friend they do not want to play or share their things. They need to be able to say they need time to be alone or their feelings have been hurt. Knowing what they need, how they feel, and verbalizing it helps children become self-confident and self-sufficient.
  5. Zero tolerance. Children must develop a firm belief that it is never alright to hurt others, physically or emotionally. Along with this is the fact it’s never okay for someone to hurt them, call them names, or take or destroy their possessions. Zero tolerance helps children learn that aggressive behavior should not be denied, minimized, or justified.
  6. Calling in the troops. There are circumstances when the wisest thing a child can do is walk away, ( perhaps run!) Youngsters need to learn when the situation is beyond them and the best choice is to get someone else involved. Asking for help teaches children there is a difference between tattle-tales and needing adult intervention.

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!

Children’s Author Interview & Books with Imaginary Friends

picture of Children's Author, Asia J. Crandall
            Children’s Author,                  Asia J. Crandall


I’d like to introduce you to a new children’s author that I met recently at a book event. Her name is Asia Crandall and she writes wonderful books that are creative, has a sense of humor, and help kids be better kids.

Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun besides writing, as little or as much as you want).

Well, I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I moved to Orlando four years ago with my son Jahlil and daughter Nyasia. Fun for me outside of writing would be Karaoke, shooting pool, amusement parks and I love trying new restaurants I’ve never been to before.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was in elementary school. I dreamed of becoming a Journalist. I wrote poems and plays in a black and white composition notebook.


What have you written? Tell me about them.

 I wrote My first published play in 2008 titled Collect Call. I was part of an adult literacy program in New York and entered a writing contest and actually won. My first self-published children’s book Along Came Maddie: Football Tryouts was released last year 2016 it’s a series about a boy named Josie and his “know it all” sometimes bossy imaginary best friend (a girl) Maddie. their relationship and the many fun adventures they go on. I’ve written six books of the Along Came Maddie series. Other titles I’ve written still in manuscript forms are; Loud, Rhonda and the Great Escape, and several poems.

Along Came Maddie Football Try-Outs Book Cover
A fun children’s book

What is your favorite genre to write?

Fiction! I use to exaggerate the truth a lot as a child. I could make up a story just like that from the top of my head without thinking about it LOL. Once I was old enough to know what fiction meant there was no stopping me. I stuck to writing fiction stories for children.


Tell me about your writing process.

Oh gosh! No music, no people, a pencil, and notebook. I clean before I write which sounds weird, but cleanliness keeps me focused. I ask myself “what should I write about?” the first thing that comes to mind is always what I write about. When I begin to write, I do not stop until my heart says enough. It’s like blowing up a balloon, you know when to stop and tie it up.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

My inspiration comes from family and my childhood. For example; when my three nephews were younger they always pretended to be superheroes. Well, one summer they vacationed in Florida and kept telling my daughter how they would destroy her and turn her into things. I thought it was hilarious so I named one of my books Along Came Maddie: Superheroes in their honor. When I was a child another family member used to wet the bed, I titled this book Along Came Maddie: Queenie Wets the Bed. I have stories for days.


What sort of research do you do for your novels?

 I read books in my genre, I attend webinars, conferences, listen to podcasts, and I’m also a member of multiple writing groups. I read blogs and community boards and I always ask questions.


Do you have a special place where you write?

Yes, my dining room table alone during the day, or my bedroom late at night. Home is where I love to write. In my own space.



Do you have any type of music you listen to while you write?

No, I do not.



Do you have any rituals before or while you write?

Yes, I must clean my apartment first.


How long does it usually take you to complete a book?

With the Along Came Maddie series, it took me two hours to complete each book.



What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

One morning my family and I were talking laughing at one another’s corny jokes when my daughter says “we should write a book.” Later that night when everyone was asleep I did just that. And that was the birth of the Along Came Maddie series.


Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part time lol, I must admit, I procrastinate. Not as much as I use to, but I’m still working on myself.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I love being creative, it’s part of my DNA. I work as a Program Coordinator for afterschool programs. My job allows me to be as creative as I want to be. I work with little humans which also helps with my creative development.


What are you passionate about?

My Faith, family, self-development, and kindness.



Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

No, not a book, but I wrote a poem titled Note to Self. It’s a letter I wrote to myself that chronicles my life from being bullied in kindergarten to the very moment I conceived my daughter at the young age of nineteen. It’s about one thousand words and pretty deep.


What can we expect from you in the future?

I love writing for children. I’d say plenty of picture books, and maybe a memoir.


 If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you?

I would be negotiating a deal with a popular TV network to turn my stories into cartoon series for kids.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Honestly, I was an amateur and did not know the difference between traditional and self-publishing at the time.


How do you market your book?

I use social media; I contact schools I offer discounts I attended conferences and sign up for book reviews.


Do you design your own book covers?

Yes, I found an illustrator from her name is Goodaughter. She’s wonderful. 


Thank you for joining us today and learning more about Asia and her books. I know your kids are going to LOVE them!!

Is Your Child Anxious? Here’s Help Today!

Anxious Child
Is your child showing signs of anxiety but you don’t know it?


How do you know if you have an anxious child?

Some children show signs of anxiety that are obvious but others show signs that aren’t that obvious.

Natasha Daniels is a Child Therapist and has a blog, website, and YouTube videos to help parents who have children that are anxious. Her website is called appropriately

She loves to help parents and kids. So, she created a 5 part video series to help parents “see” the less obvious signs of their anxious child.

Once you know your child has anxiety, you are better equipped to deal with it.

And don’t worry, in case you don’t know what to do to help your child who has anxiety, Natasha will help you help your child.

Here’s a link to the first video in the 5-part series.

You can read more here

anxiety and children
Is your child showing signs of anxiety but you don’t know it?

Want to Write an Amazing, Knock-your-Socks-Off Picture Book?

Think Like a Child—Write Like an Adult

      What You Need to Know BEFORE You

Write For Children


Today I would like to introduce everyone to a lovely woman that I recently met at a book event. Her name is Bobbie Hinman and she writes the cutest books for children that I’ve ever seen!

All 5 of Bobbie Hinman's Fairy Picture Books
Bobbie Hinman’s Fairy Picture Books

If you’ve ever thought about writing a children’s book, here’s some of her helpful tips. For even more of her suggestions, buy her book How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book–available on Amazon.


One of the advantages of writing for children is that this gives you permission to think like a child and get away with it. But, how do children think? Having been a teacher, mother, grandmother and successful children’s book author, here are some of my observations about how children think:


Children are enthusiastic, creative and self-centered. They are eager to know what’s coming next in a story. They are excited when good things happen to the characters, their imaginations allowing them to almost live in the world of the story. Ask them what they think will come next in a story, and their thoughts run wild. Most of all, children enjoy reading books that relate to them, finding it exciting when they can picture themselves as the characters.


Children love illustrations, adjectives, fantasy and rhyme. Thriving on visual stimulation, children love bright, colorful illustrations, and prefer pages with more pictures than words. They will react far more positively to a description of a “roly-poly, yellow duck” than to just a “yellow duck.” Instead of “a big monster,” they love a “hurly-burly monster.” Children have no trouble at all believing that chickens can talk or rabbits wear clothes. They have fun believing in make-believe, so why not let them believe as long as possible? They also love the rhythm of rhyming lines and are often able to memorize a rhyming story after hearing it just a few times.


Children live in the present and seek happy endings. It’s fine to have your story take place over a few days, but when you talk about “three years later” or “when he grew to be a man,” children have no point of reference; they are not able to identify with what is happening if your story extends over a long period of time. As far as the ending of a book, I can’t think of any reason ever to have a children’s book with a sad ending. Childhood should be a time of optimism and fun. I’m not saying you should completely stay away from important issues that children encounter, such as divorce, but stories should offer young readers a resolution and conclude with a sense of hope for the situation.


Children have short attention spans. Generally, the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. However, even older children are easily bored if the material itself is boring. For this reason. it’s essential to have things happening on each page. One of the beauties of a picture book is that both the words and pictures are “talking” and “moving,” giving the young reader a lot to look at.


So, if you have an idea for a story, start by writing it down. Then find yourself a group of children — perhaps the children of your friends and neighbors, or in your local library, perhaps even a class in a local elementary school. Read them the story, watch their faces and, if you have the courage, ask for their opinions. Above all, listen to what they have to say and adjust your story accordingly. Remember that your goal is to think like a child; they already do!


Bobbie Hinman






Bobbie Hinman has a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and has been a speaker and presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals all across the United States and in Canada. Her 5 rhyming picture books have received a combined total of 27 children’s book awards. In her new book, How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book, Bobbie tells you how she self-published and sold over 50,000 copies of her books. Her picture books are titled The Knot Fairy, The Sock Fairy, The Belly Button Fairy, The Fart Fairy and The Freckle Fairy. The premise of her books is simple: Who better to blame it on than a fairy? You can see more about Bobbie and her books at

6 Must’s for Teens to Land a Summer Job

one dollar bill on countertop
Want to Make Money this Summer?


The Joy of Summer:  Teens at Work


Dr. Valerie Allen


            For many teens the joy of summer is exceeded only by the thrill of cash. If you are thinking, your teen should be thinking about getting a job, the time to start is now. Adolescents may hesitate to approach the world of work for many reasons. We’ve all had that feeling of being overwhelmed when we first begin a job search. We’ve all experienced uncertainty when we complete a job application. We’ve all had fear of rejection when we go for an interview. We’ve all had that frightening first day on the job. Somehow we made it through and so can your youngster–with a little help from you.


Support and encourage your teen to improve his/her chances of getting a job and hearing those two magical words “your hired.” Help him/her make that trip out into the big, hard, cold world, a little less threatening by using these tips.


  1. Dress for the occasion. Look as if you really want this job. How to dress? Look at the other employees; consider the type of work you will be doing. Sure shots: take a shower, get a hair cut, eliminate the jewelry, downplay the makeup, cover tattoos and be conservative (forget style!). Make sure all body parts are fully covered, no midriff reveals or saggy pants. Remember the interviewer will probably be someone like your parents!


  1. Be prepared. Show you are organized, detailed, and task oriented. What to bring? A pen, a pencil, a note pad, your Social Security Card, driver’s license, and a list of classes or certificates that are job related. Other things that might give you an edge: proof of previous employment, letters from teachers, coaches, scout leader, or your pastor, awards from extra-curricular activities or other certificates of achievement. A list of volunteer work where you have been involved with community service. Note any special skills such as handling pets, babysitting, yard work, computer skills, bike repairs, sewing, jewelry making, etc.


  1. Have a positive attitude. No one owes you this job; prove you want it. Convey enthusiasm and a good attitude. How? Shake hands, introduce yourself, smile, have eye contact, speak clearly, listen carefully, show an interest in the company, and ask questions. Go online, find and read information about the company. During the interview be sure to mention something you found while visiting their web site. Bonus points if you address the interviewer by name; be sure to use Mr. , Ms, or Ma’am , Sir.


  1. Show self confidence. Consider your achievements. What have you done well? What have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What do others say are your strong points? How can these accomplishments relate to on-the-job tasks? Let the interviewer know you are eager and willing to learn new job skills.


     5.  The 3 R’s: Responsibility, Respect, Reality Check. Demonstrate responsibility by       making an appointment for the interview, call ahead to confirm the time, bring important documents with you, be on time, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Show respect, be courteous, pay attention, take notes, respond verbally and don’t interrupt. Do not use slang words or profanity. Do not make negative comments about others.


  1. Remember: you will probably be completing with many others for an entry level job, at minimum wage, requiring unskilled labor. If you want to be the “chosen one” remember why you want a summer job!


            You have to work hard and learn at lot to get that first paycheck. When you finally land a job, give it your best. Work every minute you are being paid for. Prove to yourself and others that you are worth it.


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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!

Children’s Books with Time-Travel Theme

I “met” Don Canaan online and he writes awesome books about time travel. He has a children’s book called Conceived in Liberty: A time-traveling romp through the history of the Union of Royal American States (Timeless Romps Through History Book 1). It’s free on Amazon if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member; otherwise, it’s only $2.99!

children's book called Conceived in Liberty
Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Join 2063’s most famous time traveler, Tamar Weaver, as she takes part in a hilarious, sometimes romantic, romp through history as she tries to save the Union of Royal American States.

He was gracious enough to share about my newest release, Gloria and the Unicorn, on his blog. Time travel is inevitable when you mix the natural world with the magical. Find out more on his website at


10 Must-Have’s to Make Camping with Kids an Epic Adventure

car with luggage box on top driving through a small creek out West in the US
Summertime Camping with Kids


Hey parents!

So you want to take your kids camping? Do you worry how to make it fun for the kids?

Do you remember camping when you were a kid?

What did you like best about it?

Time with family?

Time outside?

The food?

Sitting around the campfire?

Roasting marshmallows?

The flashlight stories?

Not having anything you had to do but just have fun?

When you plan your camping trip, here’s a surefire way to make sure your kids have a great big grand time.

  1. Research National Parks, KOA sites, AAA list of campsites, and State Parks. Most have camp sites and are awesome places to visit.
  2. Pack travel-sized board games and a deck of cards for those slower times (while kids are waiting for the grown ups to get dressed, etc.). (Leave the electronics at home–I know, nobody can go that long, so if you must, bring them but leave them in the car. Have rules for checking them once or twice a day only). Be sure you have a source to re-charge your electronic devices because I know you’ll be using the camera on your phone.
  3. If you’ll be near water, bring water toys (canoes, kayaks, boogie boards, inflatable toys and floats) and water safety items (such as water wings, swimsuits with floats sewn inside, life vests, etc.)
  4. Bring a flashlight for everyone and back up batteries. Bonus Tip: You may want to bring a telescope to enjoy a night sky full of wonder.
  5. Don’t forget the marshmallows and long sticks for roasting (don’t rely on finding sticks lying around at the campsite). And if you family like s’mores, bring chocolate bars and graham crackers. Be sure to research the use of fire at your campsite. Some limit campfires due to droughts.
  6. Toiletries are a must. There may not be a camp store to purchase such items. Pack them in a separate bag. Bonus Tip: Be sure it has a handle for ease of carrying to the restrooms.
  7. Be sure to plan your meals in advance and keep them easy such as spaghetti, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwich items, cereal. Bonus Tip: Pack individual small snack bags so kids can grab and go. Extra Bonus Tip: Bring a plastic bin to put all your dirty dishes in to corral them as well as carry them to the water source. You may want to bring a wagon for this chore). Don’t forget the environmentally-friendly soap.
  8. Plan some “outdoor” related crafts such as whittling (if kids are old enough to handle a sharp knife), dream-catchers, butterfly nets, lightning bug jars.
  9. Don’t forget the big items–tent (be sure you have stakes and tie downs and a fly over in case of rain). (Bonus Tip: A mat to put right outside the tent, helps to keep dirt at bay and provides a relatively clean place to leave your shoes), sleeping bags or blankets/comforters, blow up mattresses or cushioned mats, and pillows.
  10. Plan activities to explore the area. Hike, swim, tour, etc.

If you do all of these things, your kids will have a great time and you will too! You can relax knowing everything is taken care of which will free you up to just enjoy your kids and the area you are visiting.

Be sure and share your pictures and stories from camping in the Comment Section.

What’s That in the Cat Pajamas? Book Release Today!

Who's That in the Cat Pajamas? Book Cover Banner
New Release Today, June 2nd! Download and Enjoy Now!

Write You a Children’s book? Well okay, I will.


What do you do when your seven-year-old granddaughter asks about your writing career? When she wants to know all the details about your work of fiction that is not suitable for a seven-year-old to grasp? If you are me, you share with her all the tender moments of the book. You tell her of the strength of the characters and share how much you loved these characters.


Then comes the moment when she asks, “When are you going to write a book for me?”


Truthfully, I had never thought about that. The idea appealed to me even as it scared me a bit. But she asked so sweetly and so seriously.


“I will do that as soon as I get back to writing in March. Will that be okay? Do you have anything special you want in a book?


“No,” she says, “I just want you to write a book that I can read. Can you do that Grandma?”
With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I assure her, “You better believe I can.”


The six-year-old, asks, “Can I read it too Grandma? Can you make it where I can read it too?”


“Me too, Me too!” Calls out the four-year-old, as he races over to the computer desk where I am sitting.


The room is abuzz with talk about books, characters and sight words. I assure each child, “Any words in the story you do not know, you can look up online and I am sure Mama will help out if hey you are all reading together.”


With the book considered a fait accompli, I left the state of Michigan, traveled back to Kentucky with children dancing in my head. As them miles stretched out in front of me, an image came to my mind.  A little face, a face I knew in real life, but it was different, it was not the face of my granddaughter, it was the face of a new creature. I had my main character. Her name, Dolcey.


Before long, I had a blurb rattling around in my brain. It was perfect for these children. It was perfect for children a little older. It was playing out like a movie and I was captured by the story.


I was active on a project which left no time for writing so I noted everything and placed it on my desktop. For the next month I would add words, scene sketches and images as they came to me.  As I am not one to outline or plan by nature. When I began this process, it was exciting and new to me. It was like building this story one scene at a time. Dolcey was becoming real to me. She was unique and she had a story; a story I felt worth telling.


I live with another little seven-year-old. Which means I must keep my writing tucked away from her little blue, curious, and prying eyes. If she catches a glimpse of me writing, she will sneak over to peek at the words.


The search is on for an illustrator, the words written so far, are fun but children will enjoy seeing the faces come to life, the scenes in living color and I wanted illustrations.


I reach across the ocean to a young artist that after reading the synopsis of the story wants to illustrate the book. She has high praise and that swayed me as she could see my vision on the scenes I sent. Off we go into the unknown of how to deal with an illustrator. As the writer, I saw these characters a certain way, but I wanted her to have creative freedom. I believe we compromised well enough that we are willing to follow Dolcey on another few stories.


Dolcey is already speaking to me, and Ellie the illustrator loves drawing Dolcey, so this seems to be an exciting new road we are taking.


When the cover was finished and I was uploading it for the cover reveal the blue eyed seven-year-old saw it and she hugged me and told me she loved it. I was sold. If she loves it, so will other children.


June second, the book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? will be released and I hope that children will find the characters warm and loving. I hope that children and their parents will connect with Dolcey and enjoy her magical abilities that help Emily to solve a very serious problem in her life. Dolcey is not able to take away the problem, she is simply there to assist Emily in making peace with her situation.


The beauty of the story is the strength that both girls have in this journey. As they both grow and learn while solving a big dilemma.


Sojourner McConnell is releasing her first children’s book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?  on June 2 and hopes you will enjoy the story of Dolcey.


Amazon link: for the paperback and on Kindle Unlimited


Sojourner McConnell Amazon Profile:








Who's That in the Cat Pajamas Children's Book Cover
New Release June 2nd!