Originally published February 20, 2015 at Diary of a Work-at-Home-Mom.
Learning to read backwards and upside down is how I learned to reorient letters. I seriously thought everyone could do it until I asked a coworker about something on a sign posted outside our window, and they responded by questioning how I could read the sign. It was only five years ago, when C. L. was taking the Ortton-Gillingham training that I learned it was one of the earliest methods of helping children with dyslexia learn how to reorient letters. Unfortunately, it's also a method that's effective for just 5% of those dealing with dyslexia, and while I might be part of that percentage, the girls aren't.
The only thing I can compare letter reorienting to is looking at a 3D model that's been spun around. It looks different from the back or upside down, but it's still recognizable if you can shift your perspective mentally.
I'm relatively lucky in that from my perspective, the letters usually appear in the right order or with only a couple of letters swapped around, but I often see letters flipped on either the X or Y axis. (Numbers are a different matter entirely.) Spelling/sound inversions only happen, for me, between the brain and either hands or mouth. In essence, I'll think the word or sentence correctly, but it will come out in a jumble. This is why I depend on muscle memory to spell for the most part since there's less reliance on the sequencing center of the brain.
Reading upside down takes a few more seconds to get going in because you aren't just reading left to right but from the bottom up. And reading something written normally is more difficult than reading anything in all caps since more letters look similar to one another. For instance B, D, P, and Q look very different when capitalized, but depending on the type face, b, d, p, and q can look virtually identical in the lower case if you have issues with orientation.
For those who have problems solely with orienting letters, the rest of the letters and text can be used to help shift the problem letters back around. Context clues also play a large part, particularly with words like bare and dare were both versions are words, but only one would make sense in context.
From what I can tell after reading with Nichole over the last few years, she experiences the written word differently. There are days she does just fine, but on others, a page of text looks like one gigantic word scramble puzzle. Whereas I see letters in the correct order but flipped and on occasion with the spaces between them in the wrong place, her mind can't seem to decide where each letter is on the page. Let's take the highlighted text here as an example. When she's trying to read the word "order," she might see the "l" from the word "place" from below it or "like" from above it in place of the "r." Therefore, she'd read the word as older instead of order.
Using cards to cover all but the line of text she's reading at the time has helped a good deal. However, context clues and an extensive vocabulary are going to be crucial to her gaining full reading fluency as she progresses to more complicated material. That's one area where she has trouble now because of her age. She's forever coming across new words in her lessons, so she isn't yet confident in discerning between seeing a word wrong and coming across a new term.
I've been hearing from parents who suspect their child may have dyslexia or who have received a new diagnosis. It's not something that's talked about much, even in this day and age. And all the different variants thereof still aren't that well understood by many. If any of you reading this have any questions, please feel free to comment or message me. I'm far from an expert, but I'll try my best to help.
If you're in the thick of it now with your child, please remember that they're trying and keep an eye out for patterns in their "mistakes." While the various "disorders" beginning with the dys prefix are caused by the same difference in "wiring," they are experienced differently from one person to another. It might take months to figure out how they are seeing the text and the patterns behind it, but once you do, figuring out ways to work with their mind versus fighting it can open the door for massive improvements.
A lot has changed for Nichole since I originally wrote this. She's reading on grade level with a lot less trouble than she had even a year ago. Spelling, particularly with English's reluctance to follow its own rules, is still a challenge, but we've found a method that works for her a few months ago. So she's making great strides there now as well.
* Originally published on March 8, 2010 via Diary of a Work-at-Home-Mom.
Sunday evening was singing night for our congregation, being the first Sunday of the month, and one of the songs sung was "How Great Thou Art." The song has never failed to drag "Oh What a Grace" from the recesses of my memory. Not that I compare the songs but because I had a tune similar to its melody running through my head when I penned the first draft.
It's hard to believe that was nearly a decade ago now. I don't remember exactly which Sunday it was, but I seem to remember it being sometime in late spring or early summer of 2000. I was listening to our preacher speak on a particular Psalm one Sunday morning when the words started nagging me. By the time we were heading home, I was desperate for a piece of paper and a pen. The lines came tumbling out, and a half hour later, I had the first draft.
I spent a few weeks trying to put music to it to no avail. I asked a friend for help, but nothing seemed to work. So I asked the congregation's preacher if he knew of anyone who could put music to lyrics, thinking he might be more familiar with local talent considering the years he'd helped organize The Musical Explosion. He gave me Mr. Stevens' name and number, and the rest is history.
Looking back on it, it feels like ancient history. I was barely out of high school, only in my second semester of college. I was still smarting over having to swap a chemistry major for English because I was having these uncontrollable shaking spells that nearly resulted in a big accident in the labs. I had yet to meet C. L. and was just starting to seriously consider writing as a career.
Even then there was a surreal feeling about this piece. It came quickly and with an ease I rarely associate with any bit of writing, let alone anything outside of fictional prose. I'm not a poet. "Little Eyes" and "A Day in the Mind of a Child" are flukes. I found it difficult to believe I'd written this one then, and I find it next to impossible to believe now. I barely remember it, and what memories I have are more impressions of where I was, the need to get my hands on paper now, and the scratch of graphite across the page. I don't remember the writing of it at all other than the occasional feeling a word was off and counting the measure.
Maybe that's why I was so embarrassed when song leaders would make sure to point me out when they'd lead it. What did it matter I happened to be there? What did it matter who wrote the words or the music? The song was meant for the praise of God.
There are three things these three works have in common. First is their form. These are the only poetic pieces I have ever done and not immediately destroyed. Second, they come from a different place. I don't know how to describe it, but I was in a different head space when I wrote these poems/lyrics than I'm typically in when I write my stories. Instead of brainstorming, painstakingly building them up a concept or a word at a time, I saw or heard something and they seemed to spring fully formed onto the page. And finally, they have a different purpose. While I did feel the need to share them through publication, I haven't seen them as work to be sold. The poems were published in nonprofit college journals, and the song was spread from hand to hand. As far as I know, it's never been put into a songbook, but it's not like I'd ask for payment if it was. That's not why I asked for Mr. Steven's help finishing it. I just want it to be sung somewhere by someone, by congregations or just someone going about their daily work, I'm happy either way.
I've heard it's still sung at some congregations around the Tennessee Valley. Personally I haven't heard it in years, and I doubt I will. Mom told me years ago song leaders find it intimidating to lead a song when someone that wrote the words or composed the music is sitting on a pew. I suppose she might be right, though I find it disheartening to think they'd believe I'd be insulted or something if they didn't get it note perfect.
Though remembering how much of a nitpicking Grammar Nazi I used to be, at least when it came to pet peeves like double negatives and subject/verb agreement, before I grew up and learned to control those knee jerk reactions, I can see where they might think I'd be a little snippy. But really, as long as it can be followed, it's good.
A couple months ago, I found myself teaching an environmental science class where we were discussing the different niches animals fill within their ecosystems and how this relates to competition. Part of this was discussing fundamental niche versus realized niche, which can be more or less summed up as the dream versus the reality. Now, I had these same students at first for English and/or advanced literature, and later for all but math for like a week, which included the adult and geriatric development units in psychology. So it was a concept that came up as a way to illustrate points a time or two between that original class and when everything ended.
This notion of life's expectations versus the reality of things has played on my mind quite a bit since I did the lesson planning for that environmental science chapter. I mean, is there any of us who didn't have expectations for what their life would be like as an adult? How many of us actually had our expectations play out the way they hoped?
I remember being completely convinced I was going to be a veterinarian from the earliest time I can remember all the way up until about eleventh grade. Growing up in the country, I've always been around animals, and I loved them all. I must have watched every episode of Nature ever aired a half dozen times and annoyed the living daylights out of my grandparent's poor, patient dogs studying their paws, faces, and teeth as a kid.
* Originally posted on The Tekaran Lady on June 1, 2009.
Thursday night we were searching for a movie to watch together, and we decided on Dragonheart.
I remember being extremely excited to go and see it in theaters with my aunt when it came out, and it's been on of my favorites list ever since. However, it's been a long time since I've watched it. I think the last full viewing was when I was on bed rest before Nichole was born, so about three years ago now. And like I did when reviewing Escaflowne, I realized Dragonheart was a major influence on my writing.
Originally pubished on The Tekaran Lady blog April 16, 2008.
One major drawback to both my love of music and beginning the prewriting stages for The Icarus Project is that I now seem to constantly have “Never Too Late” by Three Day’s Grace stuck in my head.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the song. It’s haunting, and even more so if you’ve seen the video. I have, but I try to put the video itself out of my head. As a mother of a young girl who is expecting another daughter in a matter of weeks, I find it disconcerting to say the least.
I first heard the song, oh I guess it was about two and a half months ago now, and The Icarus Project immediately popped into my head. Those of you who read the original when it was being published on The Writer’s Hood likely remember the desperate situation of the surface survivors and the desire of the main characters to save them. As such, “Never Too Late” has embedded itself in my mind as a type of theme song for the developing series, and I can’t seem to shake the melody.
It comes in handy when I sit down to work on Icarus, but it’s rather annoying at other times, especially when I’m trying to get into the rewrites for Succession. The tone of the song doesn’t fit with that one at all.
Anyone have ideas about shoving a song out of your mind without getting another stuck in its place? I'm open to suggestions.
* Originally posted on Diary of a Work-at-Home-Mom on May 3, 2010.
Nichole wrote her first book at the end of last year. She'd been entertaining C. L. and me with tales she made up for months, so I suggested making a book to give her grandparents for Christmas. She loved the idea.
Nichole told me one of her stories, and I wrote it out for her. Then, after asking for a few clarifications on the details, I drew out some rather pathetic pictures she and Brooke colored. C. L. and I scanned them into the computer and put them together into the book.
You should have seen her when her Pops and Nana and Gammy and Papa read the story. I recognized the expression. She has the bug, and she has it bad.
She's been drawing comic books and making skits ever since. (Hey, she's not even four yet and only partway to reading and writing. So, she tells her stories through pictures and actions for now.)
Originally published on March 18, 2010.
I discussed how housework acts like meditation for me and often leads to bursts of creativity on Tuesday. Today I want to talk about an instance that helped me come to the conclusions I reached.
A couple weeks ago my grandparents asked to look after the girls for a while, so I had the afternoon to myself. As I often do on days like these, I decided to get ahead on my tasks for the next day. So since we sold our stereo along with some other things and furniture when we moved, I set up the computer to use for music. I found a Buffy, Angel, and Supernatural play list on YouTube, set it to playing and went about my work.
Originally published March 28, 2010
I must have asked myself what the hold up is on Right of Succession a thousand times over the years. I mean, I started on the thing about this time of year back when I was thirteen, and I'll be 29 in a few months.
Filled with the self-assurance of the immensely amateur, at first I was sure it was simply the time eaten up with class and homework holding back the rate I could write. Then my family bought our first computer my freshman year of college, and I began researching publishing online and participating in writers' groups. After a couple of years and many blows to the ego, I realized I had a lot to learn about writing in general, let alone creating readable fiction.
I’m beginning to understand why Anne McCaffrey took to only mentioning her horses and leaving out her successful career as a novelist whenever a stranger would ask what she does for a living.
When someone finds out I write fiction, one or two things invariably happen. First, they look at me and, not all but most, assume since I’m a woman and mother I must either write romance novels or children’s books. I’ll admit to adding a bit of romance now and again if the story calls for it, but I’ve never written a story centering on a love affair. I have no plans to in the future either. It’s just not me, and although I am enamored of my girls and very fond of children in general, that’s not me either. I’ve tried writing for children and teens, and it doesn’t work.
Today's post was originally published on September 5, 2011 in response to a writing challenge for the 2011 Writer's Platform-Building Campaign.
The challenge was to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long beginning with the words "the door swung open." For an extra bit of challenge, the piece should end with the words "the door swung shut."
My entry is below. It is exactly 200 words long and is set in the Yekara universe about a week or so before Right of Succession begins.
A. B. England is a small business owner, home-schooling mom, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves fantasy, mythology, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
69061 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Trilogy Book 2
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4