My Favorite Kids Books – 1

I read with my kids every night. It’s part of our bedtime routine and they love it. I do too, most of the time. Most of our books have come from school activities, playgroups or my sister, who is a librarian and much more familiar with the published works of popular writers than I am.

Most nights, every night really, my kids choose what books we are going to read. I try to steer them one way or another but it’s ultimately up to them. The real treats are when they choose a book that I love to read.

Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is one of my favorites. It is goofy, and fun with just the right amount of made up words. Rhyme is never easy, in my opinion. I really wish I had a knack for it. Supidta does great though. Two orangutans just want a snack. Instead they go on a bit of an adventure, bringing along a yak and a boar and a tiger. The kids love it and so do I. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone with kids.

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Why My Family Uses Kindle Fire Tablets

We have 3 Kindle Fire tablets in my home, yes three. Over the years we have gone through more tablets than I care to think about.

We’ve never been an iPad type family or any apple product really. They’re just too expensive. Our first tablet for the kids was a piece of junk from Ebay many years ago. That lasted maybe a month before it died. My wife has also had nicer Asus tablets but the kids ruined both of those. Fortunately, we got several years of service out of each of them.

We still have a cheaper walmart tablet that we use but it doesn’t hold a charge very well. Mostly, it’s how we control the chromecast (the Amazon version of Netflix doesn’t cast to Chromecast, which sucks).

Our first Kindle Fire tablet was a Christmas gift from Grandma a year or two ago. It has held up surprisingly well. And the big kid proof case has helped tremendously. With four little boys, these tablets have held up to a lot of abuse. I can’t recommend these enough.

The Amazon interface is different from other Android tablets. It took us a while to get used to this change but the kids don’t seem to mind. We also have a ton of apps that can be installed on any of the tablets because they are all registered to the same account. This is great because I was a big follower of the Amazon Free App of the Day feature when they still did that. All those apps (mostly games) are available for my kids now. Amazon has pretty much every popular app out there anyway so the kids have lots of choices.

My favorite feature of the Kindle Fire tablet though is the parental controls. I have no fear of my kids racking up unexpected bills or purchases because the tablet requires my password to buy anything, even apps with purchasing built in. I have also blocked the other features of the tablet that my kids don’t need like “Newsstand” and “Music”. The only tabs my kids have active are “Home”, “Games”, and “Apps”.

2017-01-16-16-39-31We did opt for the Kindle Fire with offers. It saves a few bucks and there is an option to keep the offers kid appropriate. My kids are good at ignoring ads, we’ve taught them well. If you’re looking for a sturdy, low cost tablet for your kids, the Kindle Fire with the kid proof case is a good bet.

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An Update on My Writing

I’m writing. I swear. It’s slow going, maybe a hundred or two hundred words per week. Three hundred if I’m really on a roll. The point is it’s happening. I’m writing part two of The Qori, The Illia and Michael Sanders.

Originally, I thought I’d write a sequel. I knew there was more story there but ultimately I decided that the first book just wasn’t done. So whenever I get around to finishing this project it will be a re-release of The Qori, The Illia and Michael Sanders, only with two parts and hopefully almost twice as long.

Did I mention that it’s going very slow. My best guess right now is that I’ll finished and release the new version around 2019. Of course, I’d like to have it out sooner than that. I just find it difficult to make the time. Also, I’m procrastinating, writing posts like this that no one will ever read. OK, back to work.

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Choosing a Kayak for 2017

One of the perks of my current job is getting to use lots of different types of kayaks. This has been the family activity we didn’t know we needed. Not only is it a fun way to be outside and active with family, it’s also a relatively low-cost activity that keeps on giving. A kayak is like an investment, one up-front expense that provides hours of fun for the whole family. (I know a kayak is an expense not an investment. There is no chance a kayak will increase in value. I should just rewrite the whole paragraph but I don’t want.)

71sgspmwlel-_sl1500_A family favorite has been the Camino, a sit-on style kayak from Sun Dolphin. This kayak, sized for kids or smaller adults is about 8 feet long. It is very stable and easy to paddle. When we’re out as a family my eight-year-old loves this kayak. All the kids use it as a floating platform too when we’re swimming. It’s easy to climb around on and jump off into the water.

My wife also likes the stand up paddleboards, or SUPs. Sun Dolphin offers the Ahala (I’m pretty sure that’s a made-up word), and the SeaQuest. Both are very stable, comfortable boards for beginning paddlers. The Ahala is a little more sporty and we honestly like this better than the SeaQuest, which is just a little slower on the water. Both make great beginner SUP boards though.

We’ve found several places nearby that make for fun daytrips or short family nights out.

Of course, don’t forget your personal flotation devices and know the rules of the water where ever you’re paddling.


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Born in northeast Ohio, Donald Squire has loved reading and writing since middle school.  Squire has a degree in English from BYU in Utah and currently works as the Marketing Manager for a small manufacturing company in Michigan.

His first full length novel took years to write and was mostly completed during lunch breaks when he would go to the local library.

Squire’s goal as a novelist is to create clean, fun adventures that anyone can read and trust the content is safe for any age.

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An Interview with Donald Squire

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, since I was a kid.  For years I wrote short stories but my wife finally convinced me that I needed to just jump in and write a book.  It was a learning experience and I’m grateful for her inspiration.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think so.  When I was in 8th grade our English teacher had us write in journals every day.  The idea was to be creative, to make stories from the prompts she would give us.  For extra points we could read what we wrote to the class.  I read every day.  People would compliment me and comment about how I could write so much so fast.  I like it.  I think that’s when I first wanted to be a writer.

How did you come up with the title?

The title was difficult.  I wanted something unique and easy to find.  I didn’t really want to use the made-up words from the book but once I had a final draft I had to make a choice and this is what stuck.

There are some strange words.  What inspired those? 

I wanted words that would evoke some mystery.  I came up with a premise, that the words were of Incan origin.  From there I found an Incan dictionary online and looked for words that seemed to fit.  I was looking for words with a certain sound and feel more than a definition.

How do you pronounce the words in the title?

This is just my version but Qori is pronounced just like the name Cory. And Illia is just how it looks, Ill-ee-a.

Are parts of the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Oh yes.  All of the characters pull from myself and people I know.  Many of the events in the book are also inspired from my life or stories from others.

Do you have any specific examples?

Sure.  At one point the two boys, Michael and Gavin are talking about embarrassing situations, throwing up in school actually.  I did that.  I threw up in the school office just as someone offered me a trash can to use.  The can didn’t make it in time.  It was a mess.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Maybe.  I didn’t really write it with a message or theme.  I just wanted it to be fun to read.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a sequel to this story.  It’s fun, creating these characters, and I feel that they have a lot more to offer, adventure wise.

Do you want to offer any hints about the plot?

It’s still pretty early in the writing process so I don’t think I can say very much.  Everything is up in the air.

Do you see writing as a career?

That’s the goal, eventually, right now though it’s just a hobby.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I’m sure I would.  One of the hardest things about writing for me is being done with a project. I knew I could never get it just perfect so I had to get it good enough and walk away.  If I didn’t it would probably never see the light of day.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The biggest challenge now is finding time to write.  This book was written almost entirely during lunch breaks.  I would go to the local library and write.  It’s hard to keep a good work flow an hour per day.  I also used some evenings and weekends, especially for proofreading.  It was exciting to be so close to the end of the process.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Oh yes, the whole process was a learning experience.  Moving from short stories to full length novels had a lot more challenges than I expected.  Length was particularly challenging.  I feel like this book needed to be longer to meet the reader’s expectations.  On the flip side I feel like the whole story is there and extra length would just slow it down.

How would you make a book longer?

For the next book I’m going to put a lot more time into planning and outlining.  I still haven’t figure out a great way to map out the plots but I’m getting better at it.  I want the next book to be a little more complicated with more twists and turns.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t really consider myself a role model if that’s what you mean.  I would just say the same thing that I’ve always heard; write.  If that’s what you want to do you have to practice and do it all the time.

Do you follow that advice?

I though you’d ask that.  I try.  One of the hardest things for me is sitting down to write.  Once I start I can keep going.  It’s just starting that’s hard.  And I always feel better, more accomplished, when I’ve made some progress.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Being a new author, and self published at that, I’d just ask them to tell their friends.  If they like the book, share it.

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Moving Day

My web page is an anchor. I’m not happy with the interface, and honestly, it’s too expensive. I’m going to try wordpress for a while. I’m even going to copy my few blog posts over. Maybe.

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Press Release

Originally published August, 2013:

For Immediate Release:

Local Father Hopes for More Book Sales

Today’s wavering economy leaves many of us looking for more but afraid to venture too far from what we know is safe. As the job market continues to struggle more and more people are searching for alternative incomes. Everything from starting their own businesses to freelance work to unique creative ventures, people are looking to improve their income despite these trying economic times.

One local father has his own idea of how to bridge the gap between his personal goals for life and what he has so far through his current employment. Donald Squire of New Era, Michigan has used what little free time he has to write a book that he hopes will open doors that he couldn’t access before.

When asked about his motivation Mr. Squire told us, “I’ve wanted to be a writer since middle school. For a long time I wrote short stories, then I didn’t write anything at all. Kids and work and life just got in the way. When I decided I wanted to start writing again my wife said I should write a book. She compared me to a documentary we had seen about Pixar making Toy Story instead of more short films. It’s the same process, just bigger.”

Mr. Squire says that writing the book during his lunch breaks from work took almost two years. During that time he welcomed his third child into the world. Recently his fourth child was born. “Being a dad takes priority and having four boys at home is a lot of work. My wife does a great job and I try to help any time I’m home. I’m trying to write another book now but its slow going. Marketing this book has also been difficult.”

We asked Mr. Squire if the book has made a difference yet. “So far it’s just something else I’m trying to juggle. I’m proud that I finished it but it’s just the tip of what I’m trying to accomplish. The book has been well received but it’s not taking off on its own. Finding time to try and market it beyond my Facebook friends is difficult.”

Mr. Squire’s first book titled The Qori, The Illia and Michael Sanders is available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats. “Search ‘Qori’ and you should find it pretty easily,” added Mr. Squire. “I wrote the book for middle school kids. That’s the age I started to love reading and writing. I actually had a couple of teachers at an elementary school read the book to their classes and it was very well received. I know I have at least those kids looking forward to the sequel.”

In addition to his Facebook efforts, Mr. Squire also has a blog,, where you can find links to his book, read other interviews and contact him. His twitter handle is @donaldsqu

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What The Heck Is This

Today I remembered that I had this wordpress site. So visit my webpage why not…

Twitter too… @donaldsqu

Or just send me money.

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