Our Home School Journey- The First Week of School!!!

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The First Day of School! Both of my kids sitting at their own work space; my daughter is on her father’s computer and my son is working on the brand new computer sent by the Georgia Cyber Academy.

A few weeks ago, I announced on my blog and other social network platforms, that my husband and I made the decision to take our two youngest kids’ education into our own hands. After several months of disappointment and watching the standard of education grow increasingly worse, we decided pulling them out of the traditional brick-and-mortar school and enrolling them into a home school program was what we needed to do. And after one week, I am more than sure that our decision was the best for our kids!

Before I go any further, I have to say this: When I un-enrolled my kids from their middle schools, (my son was in a regular middle school, while my daughter was in a Magnet middle school), I was not only irritated, I was very disappointed in the negative feedback the schools counselors gave me when I told them about our decision. Did I walk in the door singing the praises of home schooling and telling them to their faces how disappointed I was to ask my kids every day what they learned and their faces went blank, only to hear about all the negative issues they experienced when NOT getting their questions answered or understanding what an assignment was all about? Did I go in throwing teachers names around, complaining about the lack of communication, help, and attention my kids had received? No, I didn’t. I simply walked in, notified them of the need to withdraw my kids. Simple. Then the conversation went like this:

Counselor: So what school are they transferring to?

Me: We’re home schooling them. They’ve been accepted into the Georgia Cyber Academy.

Counselor: Home school? Do you know how many parents pull their kids out, get tired of it and come running back crying to enroll their kids? They should have left them here.

Me: *Quietly fuming and holding my tongue, trying my best not to tell her exactly how I feel about this school because going off on her would not be setting a good example for my children at this moment.*

Counselor: Some parent’s bite off more than they can chew. Well, just know, once they’re enrolled, you can’t bring them back until next year.

Me: I don’t plan on bringing them back. My husband and I have made a decision that’s best for our kids. We’ve got this.

Counselor: *smirks as she walks off to get the paperwork completed*

I can’t tell you the amount of cursing that went on under my breath! Did I ask this woman for her personal opinion? Who was she to tell me that I would fail in undertaking this journey? I carried my children in my womb for nine months. I gave birth to them and have taken care of them all of their lives. My husband and I know how intelligent our kids are and how to work with them to help them understand in ways teachers don’t. All we need are the tools to guide them in the right direction. And that is exactly what the Georgia Cyber academy has given us. For FREE!!!!

Sorry to rant a bit, but that seriously pissed me off! So, parents…if you decide this path is what you want to take, your school is going to feel the need to have something negative to say about it. I’d like to think it was because they were truly concerned about my kids’ education, but let’s be real. It’s all about numbers. The more kids they have enrolled in their school, the more money they can get from the state. Period. Personally, I prefer my tax dollars to go to the program that’s working for my kids!

Now, onto the good stuff! There is so much information to share! I can’t do it all in one post, so for now I’ll stick to the basics of this week.

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‘Live’ Life Science class where the teacher is revealing blacked out answers to questions she’s asked the students.

Our first day back from Christmas Break starts with enthusiasm from my daughter, and grumpiness from my son, who was under the misguided impression that ‘home school’ meant sleeping in and getting work done when he decides to get up….NOT!!!

I dive in with gusto and make a nice breakfast, excited to get the day started. Once the kids wipe the sleep from their eyes, they realize they are about to embark on a new experience. It’s no longer something we talk about…it’s happening…right now! Their eyes beaming, they are in their seats by 8:30 and ready to go! (My goal is to keep them on as normal  a schedule as possible, so they don’t feel the need to forget the daytime is about learning, not chilling out and getting to it when they feel like it.

Like all schools, there is a brief adjustment period for new students and their teachers to get to know one another. My kids are enrolling in the new semester, joining other kids who have been here since school started in August. Just like enrolling into a brand new school, it takes time to get schedules set up, and home room teachers assigned. But with the Georgia Cyber Academy, they take it a step farther.

The first week is all about the teachers assessing the students and their individual learning abilities. The kids have their own log in profiles, (to which the parents have complete access to through an account of their own), and a day-to-day outline of activities in Science, Math, English/Language Arts, and Social Studies. The assignments for the day are outlined in their student accounts, and is also available in the parent’s account.

The program has sent everything they need to ensure they have full access to the state’s mandatory curriculum. Test books, student work books, literature books for reading assignments (no need to run to the library or book store for a specific novel!), as well as the fun stuff, like a microscope, slides, rocks, sand, and various other items typically found in a Science class room. And my favorite….a brand new computer and Ink Jet printer! The point is, my kids have everything they need to continue getting the same type, if not better, education in the comfort of home, as they would if they were in a brick-and-mortar school.

My husband and I have access to books of our own – learning coach guides- which deal with the breakdown of each subject they are studying, along with answer keys to the worksheets done for practice. There are also plenty of online recordings for us to take advantage of when we need help, live support classes, and the ability to email the teachers or other parents for one-on-one assistance and encouragement if we get confused or discouraged.

The first thing my kids do when logging in to check their daily schedules is see what classes require online ‘live’ class participation. Simply put, that means they follow a link from their schedules which takes them to a virtual class room filled with other students in their grade. There are two teachers in the room along with however many students log in at that time. The classes are recorded for those who may not be available to join at that time or for students to return to in case there is something they don’t understand. Awesome, right?

Instead of the traditional chalk board seen in brick-and-mortar schools, the teachers present Power Point presentations. They can use a virtual mouse to point to different things and use a virtual ‘pen’ to write on the ‘white board’. At times, they turn on a function that allows the kids to use their mouse and write on the board as well. All of this can be seen by other students. There are many opportunities for class participation through reading out loud. How is this done? The teacher can pick a student, or they can raise their ‘virtual hand’, and the teacher will turn on their microphone (also provided by the school) so they can read from the slide presentation. How cool is that? My son loves this and takes advantage of it as many times as he can.  There are also review questions asked where the students answer by putting their comments in the chat box. The teachers are quick to acknowledge their responses by calling their names as their answers hit the screen. Students are also sent study guides and the Power Point Presentation which they can save to their computer for quick reference, or print out for their folders.

As I said, there is a lot of stuff to share, but one thing I know for sure, this next week will be different. Remember when I stated the work they did last week was a part of evaluating their learning abilities? The teachers have reviewed their test (yes, they have online tests taken per unit, and believe me, how that works is an entirely different story!) From now on, the teachers will tailor their weekly assignments to them specifically. Can’t wait to see how that goes!

Oh and one more thing, and this is amazing….

My son and daughter, ages thirteen and twelve, who have fussed and argued nearly every day during Christmas break, spent the week laughing, helping each other if there was something in an assignment the other didn’t understand, and even worked together doing chores….only ONE ARGUMENT during the entire week!!!! If I had to guess, it was because for once, they were not under any negative influences or stress they dealt with during a regular school day. And that among everything else, makes this entire experience worthwhile!

Look out for my next post in two weeks!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Home Schooling vs. Traditional Schooling…Yep, We’re Making the Change!

homeLast week, I posted this message on my Facebook page:

Over the last few weeks, my hubby and I made the decision to pull our youngest kids out if school and sign them up for home school. They just got accepted into the program this week. So after Christmas break, no more traditional education.

This morning I got an automated call from the middle school saying they have upgraded security. You can no longer walk into the building without announcing your presence by calling the number listed on the now locked front door. The building had already been locked down, only allowing access to the front office. At this moment, I couldn’t be any prouder with our decision!

To my surprise, thirty-one people liked it and many commented, sharing the fact that they too were home schooling their kids. I had no idea!!

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of home school off and on for the past five years. Then our oldest got accepted into a Fine Arts Magnet program for Orchestra when in the ninth grade. For four years he participated in the program and we watched what started out as a wonderful opportunity start to slowly go downhill as the county had issues with funding and teachers. At the beginning of his senior year, the amazing Orchestra teacher who had been a part of the program left just two weeks before the start of the school. For several months, the program was without a qualified teacher and my son, who had worked hand-in-hand with his teacher, stepped up to handle the class as much as he could until they found a replacement. But, it was never the same. He has since graduated and is now attending college to get his Bachelors Degree in Music. His goal: become a music teacher.

One of my daughters followed in his footsteps and joined the Fine Arts Magnet Program three years ago and is taking Art. Her skills are amazing and she has learned a lot. Now in the eleventh grade, she has only one year left before graduation.

My youngest children are in the sixth and seventh grade, one in a Fine Arts Magnet Middle school for Art, the other attends the local middle school. School has been in session for five months, and we are not satisfied with what our kids are learning or how the teachers are handling our children’s education. After listening to my kids, it seems more time is spent on handling class disruptions than education. The teachers are stretched thin, underpaid, and expected to stay on track with the curriculum. When a student doesn’t understand something, chances are they may or may not get a chance to ask questions and fail assignments because the teacher does not have time to go back over it. Yep, pretty sure a lot of parents have heard this story. So what happens? Your child is frustrated because they fail an assignment, their confidence is destroyed, and it’s harder to encourage them to see the value of their education.

Add the issues of bullying, disrespectful children back talking to teachers, threats of violence, and drugs…

Ask your child what they leaned today and the most you get is a story about yet another fight in class or the fact someone has on the latest Jorden’s and you have to wonder, what are you sending them to school for???

This year, my husband started a concerted effort to learn more about home schooling process. After several phone calls, emails, and online chats with the program coordinators with the Georgia Cyber Academy, we made the decision to sign up our youngest children for the program. Imagine our happiness when we got the approval email saying they were accepted! They have only one week left in traditional school. After Christmas break, they will be learning from home!

The whole concept of the Georgia Cyber Academy is new for me and is going to be as much of a learning experience for me and my husband as it will be for the kids. Here are a few of the preconceived notions I had in the beginning and what I’ve learned so for:

MYTH: You have to have a background in education in order to teach your kids from home.

False! The online programs are set up so that your children receive assignments and take their classes at home, on the computer. They have teachers assigned to assist them. They have scheduled online, real-time class participation with their teacher. If they have questions, they can call, email, or chat with their teacher directly at any time. Learning is more one-on-one than having your student get lost in a sea of 30 plus kids in a classroom. If your child has a learning disability, they have Special Education teachers who will work with you weekly, ensuring your children’s continued growth and education. Entrance exams are given which enable the teacher to develop a system of learning specific to your children’s learning abilities. So whether you child is gifted or needs a little more help, it’s all about them!

MYTH: As a parent, it’s your responsibility to sit and hold your students hand all day while they work in class.

FALSE! Yes, some of your time will be involved, but you will not have to hold their hands. As a Learning Coach, your job is to prep your students for their daily assignments, assist them as they need help, and from time to time, assist them in certain assignments (such as science experiments, etc.) With the higher grades (middle school and high school), and especially if your children are proficient with the basics of using a computer, you don’t have to sit holding their hands throughout each assignment. You are responsible for keeping track of the time it takes to complete an assignment and enter this information as part of their attendance record. There are parent/teacher conferences, Parent Support Meetings with other parents, and the ability to connect directly with the teacher if you need help explaining something to your child.

MYTH: My kids won’t have any friends.

FALSE! The home school community has plenty of programs, clubs, and activities that allow the students, and parents, to connect online and in person. Field trips, parties, and other activities are designed for not only the student, but the parents as well. It’s like a whole new hidden world!

MYTH: They won’t graduate.

FALSE! Home school students must still take the same standardized tests as children do in school, including the Graduation Test, and yes, there is a graduation. (Not sure off the details of the graduation, but I read about it. LOL, with a sixth and seventh grader, I’ve got a ways to go before we get there!)

And last but not least:

MYTH: I can’t afford to pay for the program.

FALSE! The program we are participating in, the Georgia Cyber Academy, is F-R-E-E!!!!!! They will be providing all of the equipment, books, even a computer and printer needed in order to get online.

So, 2014 is going to be an interesting year for my family. Did I mention we gave our kids the option of doing school online versus staying in school? When they found out the difference in the education (online interactive learning vs. standard textbook), the fact that they will have more one-on-one learning opportunities and be able to work at their own pace, they jumped on board! No coercion, no special promises or begging. My oldest, which has one year left before graduation, opted to stay in school and she has our continued support. You can believe there will be blogs coming out of this experience!

So, what about you? If you’ve had experiences with teaching your kids at home, I’d LOVE to hear them!

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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This Writer’s Life…Update!!!

As an author, I must say, the past few weeks have been amazing and unbelievably busy! I remember a month ago looking at my calendar and stressing trying to figure out how to manage it all without running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Did I succeed?

Well….it all got done, and successfully I might add, but I couldn’t avoid the headless chicken! 🙂

So, what happened? Oh where to begin….

IMG_0695[1]The month of July was spent doing another world wind blog hop promotions tour for my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, which is nearing its first publishing birthday next month! Can you believe it? It’s almost been a year since words that I wrote were published and shared with the world! And to this day, it is still on and off of the Amazon Bestsellers list after staying there and holding it’s own for six months straight!  I am happy to have written a story that not only entertains, it captures readers emotions and leaves them wanting more! Believe me, it was not an easy feat!

I also had the privilege of hosting a Writer’s Workshop at my local library where I shared my experiences and tips on how to handle the query process without losing your mind. I got great feedback from that workshop. I also wrote a blog about it to share with those of you who were unable to attend. You’ll find it here: A Guide to Landing a Publishing Contract the ‘Write’ Way.  Be sure to read the entire post and take advantage of the downloadable handouts attached to the blog.

I also had a lot of fun with several groups I am affiliated with on Facebook! This is the part that makes writing worth the hard work! First, there was the W.R.S.R.G. (Writer’s Review and Support Resource Group) book chat which gave readers and fellow authors a chance to get to know more about me, the author. I was able to share my experiences and go into depth about why I write and what inspired The Butterfly Memoirs series, as well as offer some of my favorite writing tips.

Next came hanging out with my friends on the B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships around Books). This is a fabulous group or readers and authors. I got ‘called out’ to participate in an Author DJ Book Battle. Crazy right? But a ton of fun! I went head to head with author Loretta R. Wells as we shared songs that either inspired our book or best represented the story or characters. The twist? We didn’t get to decide which book was used and the songs had to be at least ten years old. Talk about a mental work out! I’m happy to report I won! 🙂

***And here’s something that made my year: I have been selected as a finalist in the B.R.A.B. Book Awards in the categories of Best New Author and Breakout Author! I am honored to have been nominated with the other talented people in the categories. I’d love to have your support! To cast your vote, visit this link to see the nomination form, then email it in! I’ll report back once the winners have been announced!***

The biggest event of my writing career happened last week when I was featured by the lovely organization, The Virtuous Women. LLC, as they hosted their first annual Author Workshop that was co-hosted by Barnes & Noble. It was a wonderful experience, and I had the opportunity to meet such talented and record setting authors within the community. People such as Coach William “Buck” Godfrey, who not only has an outstanding career as a football coach with an amazing championship record, he’s also assisted many of his players to see their dream of attending college and playing for the NFL. He also has a a Masters in English and has published three books. To learn more about him, visit this link where you can find more information about his career. 

I also meet Mr. Coleman R. Seward. Mr. Seward is a Chemist who worked for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and has received the highest award that position can achieve: the FDA Award of Merit. He has published over thirty scientific papers in leading national and international journals. His book, The Chemistry of Change and Growth is his memoir.

So, what is next for M.J. Kane?

A LOT!

I’m currently working on the third novel in The Butterfly Memoirs, Lonely Heart,  and will be announcing the publishing date in the next few months, so, stay tuned! I also have a few projects I’m holding close to the chest, but the moment I’m ready to share, believe me, your going to love it!

If your not already, be sure to follow my blog so you can get on my monthly newsletter email list. If you want updates on what’s happening with me or to be in line for private contest only to be offered to my newsletter followers, SIGN UP TODAY!!!  Also, if your a lover of all things social networking, I am now on Pinterest and Instagram!

Pinterest: There are four boards to chose from. There are quick links to current blog post as well as seeing what books I like or am reading. My favorite board of course is the one dedicated to The Butterfly Memoirs. Ever wondered how I ‘see’ Brian and Ebony, Yasmine and Zach, and Kaitlyn? Stop by and check it out!

Instagram: While I write the memoirs of my characters, I figured it would be fun to share my own pictorial memoir. Get instant updates of what is going on in M.J.’s World when I’m not writing, or when I am. Here’s your chance to get inside of MY head! Have fun!

Well, that’s it for now! I’ve got WORK TO DO!!!! Time is of the essence because the kids are back in school and my schedule is now written around drop offs and pick ups, making sure homework is done, and getting dinner cooked on time. So much for the days of lazy summer!

Now, if would only stop raining I would be so darn sleepy! 🙂

Happy Writing and Reading!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#WriterWednesday- Interview with Nikki Walker!

Welcome to another #WriterWednesday! Today I introduce Nikki Walker, who writes Contemporary Romance and Inspirational Fiction. I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki on Facebook and have enjoyed our conversations. So, grab your cup of coffee, sit back, and get to know her!

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Welcome, Nikki!

Wordsmiths Interview Questioner

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Don’t forget to send a photo, cover of your latest book, a brief book blurb, and where you can be reached in cyberspace!

 

What inspired you to write?

Much of my writing starts with, ‘what if?’  Sometimes, it just comes to me in a desire to write and once I get in the process of writing, the story will unravel or be refined from that point forward.  Sometimes I can see it play out in my mind like a movie. It’s really good when the story comes to me like this—the chances of it being completed and not thrown into the Eternal WIP File is slim. There is some of me or an experience of mine in every story that I’ve ever written.

 

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write Contemporary Romance and Inspirational Fiction.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Lately, it’s been very late at night into the early morning.  This started out as insomnia—well that is what it is.  However, it has become the time when my desire to write is the strongest.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hmm, my writing quirk?  The only one I can think of is to be in a zone free of “Ma-ma-ma-mommy-heyma!”  I think that will pretty much do it for me. 🙂

MJ: LOL! Pretty hard to do during summer vacation, that’s for sure!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I am a pantser.  I am only beginning to loosely outline some direction and that only lately.  I love the story to flow freely from my pen or now my keys. But I am considering your advice MJ!

MJ:  It never hurts to try something new in order to find out what works best for you! 🙂

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

Every one of my stories has some of me in it.  There was one event that shook me.  A young couple that I met were in a car accident.  I would only see the family in my bible services and some get-togethers, but I didn’t really know her—it was something that I intended to do.  She was very much full of life, just glowed all the time.  The couple had a beautiful little girl that my daughter loves as well.  The wife did not survive the accident.  That hurt me to my heart.  It made me wonder so many things that we all wonder when we hear about tragedies like that.  For one, how every day is a gift, and what we would like our last conversations with our loved ones to be.   That was the beginning of the idea for my story, A Love Worth Waiting For.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Some may be starting a little more prepared than I was, but the best advice I’ve been given is to write as often as one can and recognize that it’s all a learning process.  I would also advise that they invest in themselves as much as they can afford financially and with as much time and balance as they can manage in every other area of their lives.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I am Self-pubbed.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on In Search of a Healing Place.  It is the follow up to Redemptive Acts, the second in the Redemptive Series.

ISOAHP Cover

 Tyrone has some major adjustments to make. He is fresh out of jail and has been turned away from the life of luxury that Wheeler Industries, the family hotel chain, used to afford him. His days of being the spoilt younger son are over. He transitions from jail to working for his father as a Mail Department Manager. Not exactly what he envisioned while serving his time. Nor did he think he’d be living in a rental that he would have to pay for out of his new, greatly-reduced salary. Farryn Grant, his father’s personal assistant, has been assigned to help him transition to a much simpler life. Neither of them anticipate how this arrangement will affect their hearts.

Most importantly, Tyrone has to figure out how to make peace with the pain he has caused his brother and sister-in-law, Cherise whom he raped during a frat party. This assault continues to fracture his family, who are in the process of healing. None of them have quite figured out how to deal with the fact that while he is the father of Diamond, the child that resulted from the assault, it’s his brother who is raising her. This story leaves one wondering if there can be redemption for Tyrone. Will he and his hurting family ever find a healing place?

 Amazon    Other Books 

 About the Author: 

I am a writer of African American Contemporary & Inspirational Romance. Long before I had an impulse to write, I was reading. Reading was my EVERYTHING! Reading was my escape and means of entering new worlds. Everything was possible between the covers of a book, especially to a little girl growing up in Newark, New Jersey in the 70’s and 80’s.  A 4th grade contest helped me put my first words on paper and eventually it became a means for emotionally venting when I began to journal. Something Oprah Winfrey said on her show reignited my desire to write stories in my twenties.  Then I discovered that with a pen, I could re-write endings to situations in my own life. Now writing is not only a conduit to healing, it’s a means of hugging others through words. Still for a long time, I was too shy to show my work to people beyond close friends and family. Long before I had an impulse to write, I was reading. Reading was my EVERYTHING! Reading was my escape and means of entering new worlds. Everything was possible between the covers of a book, especially to a little girl growing up in Newark, New Jersey in the 70’s and 80’s.  A 4th grade contest helped me put my first words on paper and eventually it became a means for emotionally venting when I began to journal. Something Oprah Winfrey said on her show reignited my desire to write stories in my twenties. write stories in my twenties.  Then I discovered that with a pen, I could re-write endings to situations in my own life. Now writing is not only a conduit to healing, it is a means of hugging others through words. Still for a long time, I was too shy to show my work to people beyond close friends and family.  That all changed nearly three years ago with the writing of Finding You.  Then a year ago my muse woke up and I’ve been writing ever since.

Twitter     Facebook     Google+        Goodreads        Email       Blog/Website

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Farewell to High School Class of 2013!!!

IMG_0637[1]After six years of watching my son go from an excited sixth grader who’s lifetime goal it was to play the music he heard while watching The Lord of the Rings, and learning to play the bass, we have reached another major milestone: graduating from high school.

Into The Woods- Youth Orchestra- 2011

Into The Woods- Youth Orchestra- 2011

For the past four years, Kris has matured not only as a young man, but also as a musician. His musical accomplishments are dreams that have come to fruition. Some of the most memorable high lights included: winning the position of Principle Bass Player for the Alliance Theater production of the Broadway musical, Into the Woods (2011), and a spot in the 2012 and 2013 Statewide Honor Orchestra. He was also a member of the Mount Zion High School Jazz Band and has won awards there as well. But as I write,  my eyes fill with tears knowing  my son, whom I have watched grow from an infant with long legs and arms, to a 6” 2′ man, is about to embark on another journey in his life…college. In the fall he will start his pursuit of a Bachelor of Music degree and has been accepted into the Clayton State University Music Program. His goal is to become a music teacher and give back to the community and youth by teaching the benefits of music in our lives.

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Chilling at home playing the bass guitar.

Watching him walk the Georgia Dome football field among the other talented kids (his friends) who have come in and out of my home over the past few years was a moment I will never forget. Tears didn’t come to my eyes until after the ceremony when we found him in the courtyard. It was a moment of tears for our entire family: our first born has moved into adulthood.

One down…three more to go! 🙂

Here are some of my favorite musical highlights: 

The Mount Zion High School Jazz Band performing Livin’ My Life Like It’s Golden by Jill Scott

Palladio, by Karl Jenkins. This song was featured in a diamond commercial, one I am sure you’ll recognize the moment it comes on.  These was performed by the 2013 Georgia All-State Honor Orchestra. By the way, they learned this and three other difficult pieces of music in 8 hours! As the orchestra director, Thomas Joiner, pointed out, professionals often take weeks to learn these pieces. I couldn’t be prouder!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Fall in Love with a New Series This Holiday Weekend!

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!

KICKBACK and get your READ ON with this 5 STAR RATED SERIES!

****THE BUTTERFLY MEMOIRS****

 

A Heart Not Easily Broken Release Party!!!

Book 1- A HEART NOT EASILY BROKEN

What secret would you keep to protect the ones you love?

Ebony Campbell has a decision to make. After falling for the last man she expected, the idea of being in an Interracial Relationship takes a back seat to the secret she’s forced to keep. Sometimes, the repercussions of bad decisions and ruin everything…

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY  for $3.99! 

Jaded

Book 2- Jaded

Once burned, twice shy?

Unable to trust another man with her heart, Yasmine Phillips mind is on one thing: taking care of her. An unexpected friendship with a man who understands her pain leads to a fling that should have no strings. But once that line gets crossed, both must decide if the secret that comes between them is worth losing it all.

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY for $3.99

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     iTunes      Paperback 

 First chapter, Character Bios

Wanna chat about what you’ve read? Join me and other readers on Facebook on Sunday, May 26 from 6-8 pm EST as we Dissect the Butterfly Memoirs! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Music to Fuel the Muse…

Nearly every author uses music when they write. Some use it to drown out the noise of life around them, while others use certain songs to inspire emotion and action in a scene. Numerous songs have found their way into book titles and inspired  entire novels.

Music is a part of my family, a part of my life, and has defiantly found its way into my writing.

Both of my sons have had a love of music since the day they were born. My oldest, who graduates high school next week, (and I am proud to say he will be starting college in the fall to get his Bachelors in Music), has played in the Orchestra since he was in sixth grade. Over the years he’s learned to play, and mastered,  the Bass, and the bass guitar. He also plays the acoustic guitar and keyboard. My youngest son, who is completing his first year in middle school, has taken the path of percussion. Part of me is dreading the day we buy a full set of drums! But like watching my oldest son mature as a musician, watching his younger brother do the same will be a joy!

My husband is a recording engineer and music producer. His studio is in our home and located across the house from my office. Over the years I’ve watched numerous talented artist – from rappers, singers, poets, lyricist, and musicians – cross my doorway. They have eaten with my family, and crashed on my couch.  (Visit this link to hear some of the music he’s produced and artist he’s worked with.) One of my favorite songs he has produced is Off The Chain performed by Immo Stax. If you love Rap/Hip Hop, you have to check this one out!

Now, with each new artist comes a story and inspiration for some of my characters.  Brian Young of A Heart Not Easily Broken, is one to be exact.

In my latest novel, Jaded, neither character is a musician, yet the entire story was inspired by one song. Love Calls by Kem.

While the story has the premise of friends who choose to sleep together and a relationship that leads to more, Jaded is NOT your typical friends-turned-lovers story. The story doesn’t end with the moment they decide to sleep together….that is the moment the story truly begins.

Love Calls found it’s way into my writing not only as the  theme song, but as the defining moment, catalyst if you will, of two people letting their guard down long enough to realize there could indeed be more to their relationship. Watch the video and read this excerpt….and let yourself get lost in the song and dance….

Excerpt:

Our slow circuit brought us near the open doors leading inside where the reception was in full swing.  We watched the party goers enjoy the music. A popular song involving a complicated two-step routine had the older couples on the dance floor while younger ones moved aside to clap and cheer.

“I never have been able to do that dance,” I commented.

“It’s not difficult. I can teach you if you want.”

I smirked.

“What? My mom taught me.”

This time I laughed. “Why does that not surprise me?”

He extended a hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

I studied his palm, then his eyes. “Why the hell not?” I shrugged out of his jacket, setting it neatly on an empty patio chair.

Zack wasted no time walking me through the steps. Within minutes, he had me twirling and laughing. I was impressed. Not only was the man a good teacher, he had some good moves. Two songs later, we were laughing like children.

What would I have done if he hadn’t come tonight?

As promised, he’d done his part in distracting me from dwelling on the depressing aspects of my life.

All too soon, a slow song played, giving the couples a break. Both of my hands were in his when I released my hold.

Zack didn’t. I looked at our hands, then up into his eyes. The deep hazel irises darkened as his gaze went from fun to something else.

“We should sit down,” I managed, trying to convince myself the increased heartbeat was a result of dancing.

“I disagree.” He released one of my hands and slipped a hand around my waist instead.

It was impossible to escape the sensual smell of his cologne up close and personal mixed with the musk of flesh damp from dancing. A rush of desire covered me from head to toe.

“What are you afraid of?” he challenged.

Um, being this close? Wanting him? Falling for him?

“Nothing.” I put as much steel in my voice as I could muster. Liar, liar…

Zack pulled me close, taking control, moving our bodies as one. His gaze never left mine. It was as if we were the only two people listening to the music. The clinks of glasses, short bursts of laughter, the sound of children running around the room, were inconsequential.

I became a slave to the sultry sound of a bass guitar, the hypnotic rhythm of drums, and melodic voice of the singer. Zack assumed full control of my body as he guided us in a seductive sway.

Okay, I was used to the strength of a man’s arms and feel of firm muscles pressed against me. I could handle the ripples of desire running through me, making my knees weak.

What I could not ignore was the heat from his gaze as it explored my mouth, the warmth of his breath against my cheek, or the gentle slide of fingers along my waist as he enveloped me in his arms.

To make matters worse, the lyrics of the song hit every nerve. They spoke of ignoring the pain of past relationships and accepting love again.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to find pieces of the wall I had built around my heart. It was impossible; Zack had chiseled them away in the short time we’d known each other. The pain plaguing me from past relationships was easily forgotten while in his arms.

“Yasmine…” His whisper was husky, the laughter from earlier gone. “Look at me.”

I did.

Never had a man’s gaze pulled me in this hard. Desire replaced reasoning, a feeling so strong it could not be ignored. How did this happen? Was it the theme of the day, the alcohol consumed, or the fact this man seemed to have eyes only for me?

Zack gazed hungrily at my mouth and licked his lips.

Panic built inside. This could not be happening. I couldn’t ignore the fact I wanted it, maybe even needed it to happen.

“Yasmine…”

My lips parted of their own volition as Zack lowered his mouth to mine.

The moment our lips connected, the world stood still. Breathing ceased as desire exploded inside of me, drawing me deep into forbidden territory.

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Buy a copy of the  5 Star Reviewed JADED today to find out!

Autumn landscape

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

Reviews, Free Chapter Samples, All Sales Links

New to The Butterfly Memoirs Series? Catch up with A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book One of The Butterfly Memoirs)

Reviews, Free Chapter Samples, All Sales Links

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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#TeaserTuesday- Getting Ready for the First Date

I was watching TV, a pastime that has gone from pure entertainment to a study of television writers style of story telling. The episode of the show I was watching was entitled First Date. During the episode, the main character talked to her best friend about the nervous jitters she had in anticipation for the evening. It made me think back to a conversation held by Ebony Campbell and her best friend, Yasmine Phillips in A Heart Not Easily Broken.

Since when has it been simple for a woman to pick out clothing for a first date?

Excerpt:

“What does he like? You know, what has he commented on? What has his roving eye looked at when he’s not staring at you?”

“Um, his attention is always on me. Plus, he says I look good in anything, even my work clothes.”

“What the hell?” She rubbed her eyes. “Okay, he’s one of those.”

“One of what?”

“A man who’s always giving compliments to suck up.”

I loved Brian’s compliments. He never gave the impression of trying to get something in return. His facial expressions made it obvious that what he said came from the heart.

“Alright, what has he seen you in?” She eyed the clothes pile. “Jeans?”

“Not exactly, Capri’s, yes.”

“Dress?”

“That skin tight number the night we met.”

“Told you it would work.” She gave me a smug smile. “Shorts?”

“Yes, on Sunday, the day we kissed.”

“Hmm, how about this?”

I turned to see what she held. “Perfect.”

“Now for hair and make-up.”

At exactly two o’clock, the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Yasmine yelled from downstairs.

I finished tying the strings of my wedge heels around my legs and made sure I sprayed perfume in all the right places. I took a deep breath and stood in front of the mirror. Yasmine had a hidden talent for dressing people.

“Well hello, Brian, right? I’m Yasmine It’s nice to meet you.”

I could hear Yasmine’s voice floating up the steps.

“Hi, Yasmine. I’m here to pick up Ebony,” he replied.

God, I loved to hear him say my name.

“Sure, come in. She’ll be down in a minute.” The door closed. “Take care of my girl.”

“I will.”

When I heard her coming up the steps, I counted to ten and composed myself.

She stopped at my doorway and winked. “He’s a keeper. Nice lips.” She laughed and disappeared into her room.

Brian’s back was to me when I walked down the stairs. He appeared relaxed with his thumbs hooked in the pockets of his jeans. He had the same black sneakers and a deep blue shirt that was the same shade as his eyes. Blue was fast becoming my favorite color. His blond curls with dark undertones were shorter than when I last saw him.

“Hi,” I said upon reaching the bottom step.

He turned around and his eyes traveled over my outfit. “Damn.”

I wore a floral print halter-top accented with red lace trim that molded to my waist and breasts perfectly. The tan background complimented my skin and the floor-length skirt fit like a glove. A long, sexy slit ran from the hem to the middle of my thigh and gave him an eyeful every time I moved my leg.

“You look,” he cleared his throat, “amazing.”

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Buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

M.J.Kane- Women's Fiction/Interracial Romance/Contemporary Romance

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jaded, visit this link! 

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Even Fictional Characters Appreciate Their #Mothers!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting my day off sleeping in for as long as possible, then waiting to see what drawings my young artist have worked on all week and been dying for me to see.

When I write, I put my supporting characters in their lives that help them grow along their journey. What  relationship is more pivital in your life than the one with your mother? Good or bad, there’s always something to learn from the woman who’s given you life. In the case of Zachariah Givens and his mother, Ms. Belinda, she never hesitates to set tell him like it is.

Here’s an excerpt of Zachariah Givens as he talks to his mother about his relationship with Yasmine. Enjoy!

Excerpt: 

I arrived at my mother’s house, surprised to see my mom sitting on the front porch.

I walked up the steps and gave her a kiss on the cheek before joining her on the swing. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.” She studied me, a look of curiosity on her face.

She wore the same expression on her face as she did when I was a child.

“What?”

“I had a visitor today.”

“Who?”

She turned to face me, her eyes narrowing. “Melissa.”

I froze. “Melissa?”

She nodded.

I sat back on the swing, closed my eyes, and massaged my temples. “What did she want?”

“She was looking for you.”

“I’m in the same place I’ve been since the day she left.” I opened my eyes. “She hasn’t come by.”

My mother shrugged. “Maybe you weren’t there. Who knows?” Her attention went back to the empty street.

I huffed. It’s funny how life worked. I hadn’t seen nor talked to Melissa in over a year. At first, I waited for her to come back, call or text, something to let me know our relationship had not been a waste of time. I wanted her to tell me even though she could not handle the emotional turmoil I endured, she at least still loved me.

It never happened.

Now that Yasmine was in my life, she appeared. Part of me needed to know what she wanted. The other part didn’t give a damn.

“Did she leave a message?” I kept my voice even.

My mother shot me a sideways glance. “She wants you to call.” She pointed to the small table sitting across from us.

I started to look at it then stopped, unwilling to mess around and memorize the numbers on the paper.

We sat in silence.

“Are you going to call?”

“Why?” Unexpected rage spewed from deep inside. “Why the hell would I want to talk to her? The last thing she said to me was her number changed and not to contact her again.” I shook my head in disgust.

“Don’t hate her, Zachariah, it’s not worth the effort,” Mom advised.

She was a far better person than I was.

“Yeah, well…it’s not something I can forgive. Leaving me…no, us, when we needed her the most.”

She reached over and patted my knee. “No, baby, she left you. I know that’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you’ll get over it. If I’m not mistaken, you’ve begun getting over it already.” A sly smile spread across her lips.

“What do you mean?”

She laughed at my feigned innocence. I could never lie to my mother. Somehow she always seemed to know when I was not telling the truth.

“Play coy all you want, but I know my son. Since the day you brought Yasmine here, there’s been a smile on your face, especially when I say her name.”

I smirked. “You’re making that up.”

“Oh, really?”

I turned to look at her.

“Yasmine…see! You just did it! Your eyes lit up!” She laughed and smacked her knee.

I couldn’t help but laugh as well. My mother had this amazing way of being able to read my mind. It had to be motherly intuition.

“Fine, what can I say, she is amazing.”

“What you can say is you’ve told her how you feel.”

My attention turned back to the street and the car driving past. “No.”

“Why not?”

I glanced over and saw her hand resting on her hip, and a serious question in her eye. “Because… I don’t know how I feel.”

A sigh of exasperation came from her side of the porch. “Young people wouldn’t know love if it bit them in the ass.”

####

Buy a copy of the  5 Star Reviewed JADED today to find out!

Autumn landscape

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

Reviews, Free Chapter Samples, All Sales Links

 

New to The Butterfly Memoirs Series? Catch up with A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book One of The Butterfly Memoirs)

Reviews, Free Chapter Samples, All Sales Links

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Guest Post: Adrienne Thompson – How to Handle a Negative Review

Thanks, MJ, for the opportunity to be a guest on your fabulous blog!

Today, I want to talk about something that’s been on the mind of probably every writer who has ever presented his or her work to the public—negative reviews.

No one wants to receive a negative review. Many of us are very sensitive about our work. We put our heart and soul into every page, paragraph, sentence, and word. We work hard. Our pen bleeds straight from our soul. Our books and stories are like children to us. And no one wants someone criticizing their child.

Seriously, who among us has received a negative review that didn’t bother us at least a little? I remember when I received my first negative review—a 2-star assault on one of my dear babies. First I just sat there—shocked. It was unbelievable to me that someone didn’t like my work. My work? How could someone not like my work? How was that possible?

After I read the review over about ten times, I called a friend and told them about it. Being my friend, of course they thought the reviewer was crazy. She agreed with me—how could someone NOT like my work? Were they insane?

Days passed, more favorable reviews were posted, and the sting of the negative review began to fade away. I went on with my life of writing and had nearly forgotten about the negative review when…bam! Another one. Different book—different reviewer. What in the Sam Hill was going on?! Two people didn’t like my work? What was the world coming to?

I read this review and my heart ached and my head hurt and then as with the first one, time healed that wound as well and I went on with my life. I continued to write and market and publish and checking reviews became like a scene from a best-selling thriller. I would close my eyes and wish for a good review when I saw that another one had been posted.

Okay, don’t get me wrong. My good reviews far outweigh the bad ones. My books average from 4.5-4.8 star ratings. All of my books have been Amazon bestsellers. I get glowing emails and messages all of the time. I’ve been nominated for awards and invited to speaking engagements.  But like most things in life, no matter how much positive feedback you receive, the negative just seems to speak louder.

Then one day I had this huge epiphany. I was reading a book that had come highly recommended to me. It has an average 4.6 stars out of a ton of reviews on Amazon. Reviewers use words like excellent and marvelous when describing it. A friend of mine liked it so much that she bought a copy and gave it to me. That’s how good it is. Or how good it’s supposed to be. Well, guess what? I don’t like it. No, I don’t like it at all. Couldn’t even get through two whole chapters. And that’s when it hit me.

The fact that someone doesn’t like or didn’t enjoy a book takes nothing from the writer.

A bunch of people LOVED that book, but I just didn’t like it at all. I just didn’t.

Does that mean the author is not good? No. Does it mean that the book is not good? No. It just means that I didn’t like it—point blank, period. And the same goes for the people who didn’t like my book. Their dislike is not an indictment against me or my writing. They just didn’t like it—point blank, period. Nothing personal. Nothing malicious. Just subjective criticism.

I can’t tell you how freeing that revelation was for me. Lots of people like my work and some people love it. Some don’t. And what do I do with that knowledge? I write on. And so should you.

bsl2cvrwebsite

A woman, her husband, her ex-lover, and the ties that bind them together…

The drama continues in this eagerly awaited and highly demanded sequel to Been So Long. Married for three years, Mona-Lisa and Corey face normal, everyday marital issues. But with a past like theirs, normal can spiral out of control at any second. Will they be able to hold things together or will Mona revert to her old ways?

Purchase links:

Kindle and paperback      Kobo       Nook     Website

me websiteAbout the Author:

Married at sixteen, a mother twice by seventeen, and thrice a mother and divorced by twenty-four, Adrienne Thompson is no stranger to adversity. Not your typical teenage mother, she went on to complete her college degree and to earn her nursing license. She attributes God’s faithfulness as the catalyst for her success in life. Now, having raised two children as a divorced mother, with a third fast approaching adulthood, she is sharing a long hidden talent and passion with the world. Using the lessons that life has so expertly taught her as a guideline (betrayal, abusive relationships, self-esteem issues, witnessing the deteriorating effects of drug abuse), she has created stories that will both entertain and inspire the reader.

Adrienne currently resides in Arkansas with her daughter. Formerly an RN, she now writes and publishes her stories full time.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email