Category Archives: Author Interviews
Guest Post – Social Media Safety
by Kim McCabe, author of From Daughter to Woman, parenting girls safely through their teens
My daughter’s phone died. I braced myself for her panic at being disconnected. It didn’t come, she quite liked having a social media ‘holiday’… for a few weeks. Then she needed to get back in the loop, she was missing conversations, photos, gatherings. But after not having a phone for a while, she was a bit more aware of how easy it was to lose time on it and how it didn’t always make her feel too brilliant.
Teen depression. We all like to blame social media. We’re a bit afraid of it when we see the hold it has over our kids. We’re right to be cautious, it’s definitely having an impact on teen mental health. We don’t want our girls to be basing their opinion of themselves on how many ‘likes’ they can earn. Or ending up exhausted before the day has begun because they were messaging until 2am. Or doing things for the boys because that’s what they’ve all seen online.
Our children are growing up in a world that’s populated by digital delights that we never knew. We’re going to have to learn about how they work before we can teach our kids how to stay healthy in this new culture. This is nothing new, parents have always struggled with whatever’s the latest craze. Kids love it and we tend to see the downsides of it.
If you want to be able to influence your child’s social media habits you can’t be completely down on it. Think about it from your child’s point of view: if you don’t have control over your home, own a car, or have much money and here is a device which puts you in touch with your friends and a world that you don’t have easy access to any other way. What’s not to like?
Here’s the way forward:
• Ask her to teach you about the platforms that she likes.
• Sign up to some yourself so that you can see what’s going on.
• Find out what you need to teach her to stay safe (like turning off location functions, not giving personal details and not meeting people you’ve encountered online; there’s more, find out).
• Ask her what she sees online that bothers her and discuss it without being judgmental or she’ll clam up.
• Find out what happens to everything digital, so you can explain it to her.
• Give her the 1-second-check idea, suggesting she pause before pushing send to ask herself what would my granny or boss think of this?
• Show her videos of how photoshop changes what we’re shown.
• Reassure her that it’s normal to be curious but if ever she sees or hears anything she wishes she hadn’t, she can come to you, no blame.
• Have a night-time parking place downstairs for phones. No phones at bedtime; buy an alarm clock.
• Suggest a ‘mood check’ after time spent with social media so she’s aware of when it’s doing her good and when it’s not. Encourage her to notice what feels positive (the connection, the fun) and what doesn’t (comparing, mean comments).
• Set a good example yourself.
Our duty as parents is to take care of our children and gradually to hand that job over to them. So, when she’s little you install software safeguards and set rules. As she gets older, the safety filters are going to have to come from inside her, so your job turns into how to help her do that. First. She’s going to need to understand why she’d want to. Then, you’ll need to guide her how to use social media safely.
If you think she’s running into difficulties, you need to show that you’re on her side. If she’s not having a nice time online, chances are she’ll feel like it’s her fault and shame will make it harder for her to tell you. If she seems to be relying on ‘likes’ to feel good, and then feels low after the high, help her to notice that. If you think she’s got a bit hooked and you judge her, she’ll just get defensive. Telling anyone of any age that they’re addicted to something is the last way to get them to stop. Never make her wrong. If you want to get through to her, the two of you have to be able to talk to each other without accusing or criticizing. If you want an easy way to get these conversations going, go on a Mother-Daughter Date once a month.
It’s the way to get real-life ‘likes’ from her!
Wow. What a great post. Thanks Kim. Some useful pointers for social media using adults here too!
This book aims to make the adolescent’s journey just that bit safer, kinder, and better supported – so parents and teens can enjoy the teenage years more.
The teen years are tough – for teens and for parents. Many parents dread the moodiness, dishonesty, preference of friends over family, exam stress, and the push for greater independence. Mothers have a pivotal role to play; this is a guidebook for parents and mothers of girls in particular as they navigate the rocky teenage landscape with their daughters aged 8 to 18. It aims to help them embrace the potential of their child’s teenage years by marking this time of growing maturity for girls and celebrating it with them. We celebrate birth, marriage and death, but this important life-transition from child to young adult is nowadays rarely acknowledged within an appropriate community.
Kim McCabe is the founder of Rites for Girls. As the originator and facilitator of Girls Journeying Together groups, she offers guidance to preteen and teen girls and simultaneous support for their mothers. In training other women to facilitate these groups, her dream is that every girl grows up expecting to be supported and celebrated in adolescence. Kim was commissioned to write a section in Steve Biddulph’s latest best-selling book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free.
Kim is a home-educating mother of two boys, one girl, two cats and a colony of aloe vera plants; she is wife to a Kiwi, daughter to itinerant parents, friend to a cherished few, and lover of time alone, too. She lives in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex. She sometimes shouts at her children, accidentally steps on the cat’s tail and forgets to water the plants, but she loves her work, her family and her life. She has always had deep affinity with teenage girls, and by sharing her wisdom and compassion she infects the reader with her enthusiasm for this life stage.
From Daughter to Women is out July 18th published by Little Brown and is sure to be invaluable for those raising teenagers. It includes topics such as puberty, periods, relationships and wellbeing and I love the concept of Mother-Daughter dates.
Do check out the rest of the blog tour.
Thanks to Faye Rogers for also proving a PDF which I’m looking forward to reading.
I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post by author of the The Hidden Bones Nicola Ford. Nicola is a real life archaeologist and has used the adage “Write what you know” to share a thrilling mystery with us. I’m just over half way through (and needing to know what happens!!!) and will share my thoughts soon. But for today let’s hear from Nicola.
Digging Up Bone, Digging Up Secrets
The dead can tell fascinating tales if you know how to listen. It’s a truth at the heart of many modern murder investigations. And it’s also central to the way Clare Hills, David Barbrook and their team of archaeologists in the Hidden Bones go about their work.
Twenty first century forensic science draws heavily on the techniques employed by today’s archaeologists. So important is it to police investigations that over the past two decades forensic archaeology has become a discipline in its own right. A discipline that has not only introduced archaeologists into police inquiries, but to the investigation of war crimes, and the aftermath of major disasters. And those techniques have revolutionised what we can learn about the lives of individuals who lived and died, in some cases, many centuries ago.
In the Hidden Bones the ability of Californian osteo-archaeologist Dr Jo Granksi to read the remains of the dead reveals secrets both ancient and modern. The scientific techniques that she applies are approaches that I rely on in my day job as the National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. As an archaeologist I’ve sometimes been called upon to investigate the scenes of ancient killings. And it’s that experience that I draw upon in my crime writing.
I worked on a Bronze Age enclosure site at Velim in the Czech Republic that contained the remains of over a hundred people who’d died over three thousand years ago. Some were adults – men and women – but the vast majority were children. Skulls and parts of skeletons had been strewn across the site, and thrown into ditches. Whether we’re archaeologists working on the skeleton of a child killed millennia ago or forensic archaeologists working as part of a scene of crime team we want to answer the same questions. Who were they? How did they live? How did they die, and why?
When Velim was first discovered there was a raft of theories about what had happened here. Had the site been attacked? Were these the victims of warfare? Some of the remains were disarticulated. Could they have been victims of cannibalism?
That’s where meticulous excavation and the work of the osteo-archaeologists applying the same approaches as Jo Granski come in. Many of the people who died at Velim had been subjected to severe head trauma which was visible on the crania. But there were repeated patterns in the fracturing of the limb bones too. And the wear and disarticulation on some of the bones, taken with a host of other evidence gathered by the bone specialists suggests that the children that I excavated, and their companions, were the victims of ritualised sacrifice.
The past worlds I unearth as an archaeologist can sometimes prove to have been dark and dangerous places. But the present too has its shadowy secrets. And it’s some of those secrets that I dig deep to reveal in the Hidden Bones.
Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.
But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth for ever.
Huge thanks to Nicola and to Ailsa from Allison & Busby for my review copy. Do check out the other posts on the tour and come back soon for my review.
My name is Sam. I am nothing special but apparently if I don’t wake up, both this world and that other one will be destroyed. Nice One! All I wanted was to disappear into my own world and be left alone. But, No! Even THAT was taken away from me.
Well just wait. You want me to fight? I’ll show you “fight.”
You took the most important thing in my life away from me, and now I am coming for you.
Hidden away in your mountain stronghold, even the rocks around you will not stop me getting to you.
You started this war.
I am going to finish it!
Seventeen year old Sam just wants to be left alone!
He has enough to cope with in his invisible, suburban, existence without having some fantastic and, frankly, unasked-for, alternate reality drop into his life asserting that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. And that unless he does something, both his world, and that of Muanga-Atua, will come to a horrible end.
A terrifying episode one blustery night may be enough to start to erode the impregnable shell he thought he had built up around himself. A shell, not to keep others out, but to keep the rage in. Could he afford, as was the norm now, just to do nothing?
About the Author
Living in Petersfield, Hampshire, Julian Cheek has worked for over thirty years as an architect working on several major projects including Mercedes World, a competition for Battersea Power Station, NikeTown and most recently a high rise, Versace branded residential building in London. When not designing he is embracing his other creative interests, writing. His first book, You should not wake a hibernating Puff-Adder (2011) was a series of short stories inspired by his childhood growing up in South Africa.
After a short while, he pushed past the last of the branches and came across the source of the noise. A pond lay in front of him, surrounded by moss-covered, shiny stones and pebbles, haphazardly strewn around and disappearing into the water. A small waterfall bounced over the rocks above him, landing into the pond in front, casting ripples into the mirror of the water, reflecting its surroundings. He felt the soft spray on his face and hands as it glistened in the air around him, slowly painting him in a sheen to match the surrounding area. He knelt down, reaching his hands out into the water, sensing its coldness as his fingers dipped into the liquid. And cupping his hands, he drew a few eager mouthfuls into his mouth. The silence of the surroundings now eased by the subtle sounds of the falling water and droplets from the surrounding fronds falling into the water’s edge.
As he was drinking, he sensed, rather than heard, a subtle disturbance in his immediate environment. For some reason he felt the hairs on the back of his neck start to lift and a feeling of danger began to weave itself into his mind. There were no apparent changes to the noises around him, no shadows casting strange shapes into his field of view, but something was not right. Something was here, he was sure of it. And that “something” was not wanting to announce itself! He slowly lifted his gaze up from the water’s edge, scanning the surroundings, searching for a clue to his sense of danger, but nothing was there. The branches of the trees still bent down to touch the water’s edge, the moss and ferns lay quiet opposite him, the water still bubbled down the rock face above him, landing into the water. There was nothing obvious about his surroundings that advertised danger. I must be imagining things, Sam thought. The quietness is starting to get to me. His gaze fell back to the reflections on the water, seeing the tree line, the pebbles just below the surface. But something didn’t gel, and his brain made his eyes focus on the surface. Focus on the surface of the water just in front of him. Focus on the reflections on the water just in front of him. And looking back, coming into view, now that his brain, like a radar, had picked up its target, was the shape of an animal. Small, furry, sleek bodied, a long sweeping tail brushing the grasses, talons gripping the rock face. Large eyes, looking straight down at him.
Straight down at me!… With a shock, Sam sprang back defensively as he realised that this creature had crept up behind him and was even now above him on the rock face of the mini waterfall, intent on getting closer without him knowing.
His world exploded as a scream powered out of his mouth, and instinctively he jumped up, grasping a rock in his hands, and throwing it in the direction of where he thought the animal was, all the while screaming out in shock, hoping to scare this “thing” as far away as possible. Arms flailing and legs kicking out instinctively, Sam shouted and cursed in pure, adrenaline-induced terror.
No noise, no scrabbling, no whimpering. Nothing. Whatever it was, Sam thought, had been scared away by his antics and probably long since disappeared down the hole it had scraped itself out of in the first place. His breathing calmed down a notch and he allowed himself a brief grin, thinking he had scared off whatever terror that “thing” was. He cracked out the tension from his shoulders, which had been building up whilst at the pool, and again turned towards the water, as if to seek some release there.
On the opposite side of the pond, sitting calmly and serenely on its haunches, and not more than two metres from him, the “creature from hell” gazed across as if, for all the world, this screaming banshee, that had been Sam, was a common occurrence here. Its eyes were intelligently gauging Sam’s next movements. A thin tongue snaked out, licking its ears, and those big eyes fixed Sam with steely gaze… and then it smiled!
By smiling, its mouth opened, and the most lethal looking row of sharpened, death-dealing fangs shone out from the dark pit of its mouth………
If that’s what your appetite do pick up a copy and check out the other stops on the blog tour