Book for Kids Who Love Video Games

Oct 27

Book for Kids Who Love Video Games

I am obsessed with video games.  It’s true.  But not the way my kids are obsessed with video games.  Rather, I am obsessed with how much my kids play video games.  That’s one of the reasons that I decided to write a book for kids who would prefer playing video games to just about anything else (if I’d let them.)   

A couple years ago, after failed attempts to publish an earlier children’s book I’d written, I was ripe to begin a new book, and thus, Danny in a Newfangled World was born – on two sheets of lined paper.  When I shared the story at bedtime with my three boys, they’d insisted that I turn it into a book as soon as possible.  At the time, I was pursuing a career as a short story writer and freelancer with moderate success and was eager to begin a novel for adults.  But their eager insistence that I begin a new project to their liking altered my priorities and I started to write my latest book, Danny in a Newfangled World. 

The most intriguing aspect of my story was that the hero gets sucked inside his computer.  At least, that’s what intrigues kids enough to pick up the book and start reading.  But my greater goal in writing the book was to create a modern-day fairy tale that imbues some important lessons about the new reality, or should I say virtual reality, of today’s children. 

In the story, Danny embarks on one madcap adventure after another and ultimately learns that his fantastical digital world isn’t all fun and games after all, and the choices he makes have consequences.  The toughest part of writing this book was in creating the perfect balancing act between a page-turning suspenseful adventure with deeper messages about internet safety.  After all, there’s no sense in writing a book for kids that kids don’t want to read.  Thankfully, a number of parents have admitted that their kids devoured the 105-page book in one day, they were so immersed in it.  And what did these kids learn about internet safety?  Well, the messages are subtly woven through the story in the hopes that a child will naturally absorb the understanding that bad things can happen while surfing online.  It will not magically change a child’s behaviour over night, but rather help grow that seed of caution that’s been planted in their minds. 

I’m still obsessed with how much my kids play video games and enforce tough rules around computer usage to ensure they develop healthy online habits.  But, like all parents who struggle with finding the appropriate boundaries of the internet, every little bit helps… And Danny in a Newfangled World is so much more fun than another lecture. 

Find out more about this cyber-tale at Dannyinanewfangledworld.com

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Changes to Porridge Report

Sep 27

Wow.  I can’t believe I haven’t posted since June!  I have some good excuses… I’m launching my kids’ chapter book, Danny in a Newfangled World, this fall.  That web site has gotten more of my attention this summer.  And, I’ve been working on a new non-fiction book for parents on how to survive a road trip with kids.  And, just to add more work to my pile, I created a blog to go with that book!  Feel free to check that out if you plan in heading on a road trip, it’s .

This blog, which I began a few years ago as an experiment will be undergoing a change over the next week.  It will continue to concentrate on issues surrounding the media and how it affects kids and families.  However, there will be a new, personal focus.  I will be chronicling my daily struggle with my three boys around screen time.  Every parent knows what that means.

Remember the days when all we had to do was fight with our kids about tv shows?  There was only one thing to turn off back then (way back when my ten year old was just a little toddler.)  Now, I have three boys and many, many more screens to ask them to turn off.

  • TV
  • Wii
  • Two computers (because they steal time on my laptop when I’m not looking)
  • DS Nintendo (three of them)
  • iPod

I know there’s gotta be thousands of mothers and fathers struggling along with me as they battle their kids to shut off a screen and GET out and PLAY.  I’m so looking forward to starting this!  You can follow my tweets, too at

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What’s in a Title?

Sep 03

My middle grade novel has officially been rejected by every New York literary agent that I’ve submitted to.¬† I am awaiting responses from several Canadian publishers, however, and perhaps one of them will recognize the “brilliance” of my writing.¬† Or, at least think that they can mould into something brilliant with enough editing.¬†

The longer I pursue my writing aspirations, the more I realize¬†just how perilous this path is.¬† I know, what could be hazardous about sitting in front a laptop and punching out word after word after word after word?¬† It’s the mental injuries, I’m talking about.¬†¬†The rejection¬†and forced optimism that must follow can be quite taxing.¬† Many nights I go to bed thinking: why am I still writing?¬† But, inevitably, I’ll wake up at 5:30 (that’s when my alarm goes off), force myself out of bed (within an hour of that buzz), and turn on my computer.¬† Then get to the task of writing my latest project.¬†

For me, one of the best things about writing in the morning is that it’s too damn early to consider why the heck I’m up at the crack of dawn to write a short story about a dejected woman who married a convicted killer.¬† Will anyone ever read this?¬† I mean, other than members of my writing group or the judge for the latest short story contest.¬† But I can’t help but think that if I keep writing and sending my stuff out, something’s going to finally stick.

And this brings me back to my children’s novel.¬† I am about to embark on another slew of queries to publishers and perhaps a few more agents – all American.¬† A writing colleague of mine has suggested that perhaps I should consider changing the title of my book.¬† I’ve given it some thought and have decided she’s onto something.¬† Here is a brief summary of my book for kids 6 to 10 years old:

When a button on Danny’s screen magically invites him to enter into his computer, he goes for it!¬† Drawn into a wild world where things are not as they appear, he explores freely – something he’s never been allowed to do online, thanks to the restrictions of his paranoid mom. He meets kind Jingo, who cautions him to beware of the tricks of this world and spunky Desmond, who dazzles ten-year-old Danny with his thrill-seeking ways.¬† Danny soon learns, however, that his freewheeling has led him into danger and the tough choices he must make will ultimately determine if he can ever return home.

Now – the three potential titles are:

  1. Danny in a Newfangled World

  2. Danny the Daring Computer Intruder

  3. The (mostly) True Tale of a Video Game Genius

Any thoughts?  My youngest two kids prefer #2, while my oldest son likes #3.  Which title would most likely pique the interest of a boy between the ages of 6 and 9 years old?

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