Millions of kids love Minecraft, and the game can be both fun and educational. The game has sparked my own imagination: I write books for Minecrafters, and I see them reaching both bookworms and kids who might otherwise not want to sit down with a book.

            I notice when kids say they don’t like to read, it often means they either need more help getting down the basics of reading, or they haven’t found books that speak to them. If Minecraft speaks to them (or any other topic), it might just be a matter of finding them appropriate books for their interests. 

            So far I’ve written two Minecrafter series, with eight books currently out and four more coming out this year. The main character is 11-year-old Stevie, a boy who lives in the Minecraft world and accidentally finds a portal to Earth. There he befriends a sixth grade girl named Maison, who is artistic and strong-willed, but who feels bullied and left out at school. Despite being from different worlds and different cultures, they hit it off, and go on a series of adventures. 

            These adventures include fighting the Minecraft mob Herobrine, finding crystals that help unlock the mysteries of the Overworld, and stopping cyberbullies from taking over Minecraft and turning it to eternal night. I want the books to have lots of adventure and chapter cliffhangers, but I also want the books to talk about real-world stuff, like friendship, school struggles and bullying. The books are aimed for ages 7-12, though I do have older and younger readers. Audio books narrated by video game/cartoon voice over actor Dan Woren are available for the first three books, and I know of classrooms using these to get students motivated about reading. I love it when I hear from kids who say they found the books engaging, and when I hear from parents who say their kids (“who don’t read”) can’t put the books down and want more. I hope it can light the way to kids reading more and finding a love of reading. 

            The first series, which is also available as a box set An Unofficial Overworld Adventure Series Box Set, includes the books Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine and Battle with the Wither. In the spinoff series, which takes place right after the first series ends, the first two books are out: Adventure Against the Endermen and Mysteries of the Overworld The rest of the series, Danger in the Jungle Temple, Clash in the Underwater World, The Last of the Ender Crystal and Return of the Ender Dragon, will all be released in the following months. It turns out Minecraft is a great place to set up a fictional world. Who knew? Well, I guess millions of kids did. 

Former MTV writer Danica Davidson who writes fictional stories inspired by the wildly popular video game Minecraft. In addition to giving kids fast-paced action-adventure, Danica uses her novels to address social issues that kids can relate to, like cyber-bullying, attending a new school, gender roles, and insecurities.

What makes Danica’s series of Minecrafter novels different are that hers promote literacy to kids who have a harder time with reading, so this type of format works well for strong readers as well as for kids who might otherwise rather play video games. Danica is passionate about literacy and her books include cliffhangers, twists, unique characters, and all the adventures take place as if Minecraft is real. Two of her books have been selected by the prestigious Scholastic Book Fair, and the series has also been featured by NPR, Forbes, Women's Health, Booklist, and MTV, and called "Recommended Reading" by School Library Journal.

Danica’s focus is to provide educational, empowering, and fun adventures with a subject that is already popular and kids love. She’s even had parents approach her and say that their kids never were strong readers, but have read every book that she has written.

Sick For 5 Days Put My Photo Challenge on Hold But I Am Back

I have been trying to take at least 1 photo a day this year. I was so sick last week but did take pictures. They are not the best of pics but here they are.

Day 9 - I baked eggs for the first time. It was so easy. 400 degrees for 7 minutes and they came out exactly like I like them (over easy).

Day 10
My daughter asked for Nutella/Banana crepes. I love making them it makes me feel like I know how to cook.

Day 11
My sickness haul. CVS was my very best friend. I needed all of this and then some.

Day 12
Luna totally judging me and all my coughing. She couldn’t sleep with my hacking, sneezing and nose blowing.

Day 13
When you have a cat these kinds of scratches are inevidable. She was laying on my chest when the front door opened. She is a rescue so still sccared sometimes. Her back paw got me good!

Day 14
I made carrot, ginger, lemon soup. It was amazing and exactly what my cold asked for. Never made it before but pllan on making it again soon.
Day 15
It was time to take the tree down so although we were all going to miss it we decided today was the day. I was feeling better and it was above 30 so the attic wouldn’t be too bad.

Eric Lefkofsky Joins Forces With CancerLinQ and Precision HealthAI To Provide Better Analytics For Patient Data

Tempus is a company that has made remarkable improvements in the way information is stored for patients who are diagnosed with cancer. Recently, the company took it a step further by entering into an agreement with CancerLinQ and Precision HealthAI. The deal was so that Tempus can help these two companies in their ventures and so that they could have better databases for the patients who are being treated under their care. CancerLinQ for one has an extremely large database of patients, which spans over a million different records. The technology that Tempus is providing them will enable them to better store and use the patient data that they have. This new form of database management will also help CancerLinQ improve the efficiency of the work that they do, enabling them to provide better care to the patients who come to them. 

Eric Lefkofsky, the founder and current CEO of Tempus came forward to talk about the recent agreement that has gone on between the companies. By merging the work that CancerLinQ, Tempus and Health AI do, they can analyze and process information in a better manner, which could help them, not just with the current patients, but with the patients who come to them in the future as well. In addition, the information can be used to assist researchers and healthcare companies in identifying the patterns in patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, so that they can provide a better course of treatments to them in the future. The progress that the companies together are making is massive and is allowing researchers to get access to large pools of information that is accurate and prevalent.

Eric Lefkofsky founded Tempus in 2012 after seeing that the scope of development that could take place in the medical field. This revelation incurred upon him after he saw the treatment of a close one when they were diagnosed with cancer. He realized that the patient information was not being stored in the right way, which was preventing it from being analyzed in an efficient way. Having an ample amount of experience in the sector of information technology, he soon realized the steps that he could take to be able to bring about change and refine the systems which at the time were being used. His efforts led to the formation of Tempus, which was a company that offered database and analytical solutions to healthcare providers and hospitals across the country who were treating patients with cancer. 

Eric Lefkofsky never did have any plans to enter into the sector of healthcare but decided that it was the ideal next step for him to take in his career. He has previously worked at large companies in the field of information technology, but never anything in the field of healthcare and patient analytics. 

The technology that Eric Lefkofsky has provided has been able to transform the way that doctors treat patients who are diagnosed with cancer. Moreover, doctors are now able to identify various aspects of a patients files and backgrounds a lot faster than what they previously did. The change that he has brought about has been massive and has pushed the medical industry to a more technological future. 

Eric Lefkofsky has a degree from the University of Michigan and now resides in Chicago, which he calls his home. In addition to running Tempus, he is also the founder of his charitable organization known as the Lefkofsky Family Foundation. He stated this foundation along with his wife, and together the two of them have been able to extend a helping hand to people all over the country.

The Shoe Dryer That Made My Life Easier

Over the past week and a half I have been using a shoe dryer for my husband’s boots and my son’s sneakers. They have had to do some shoveling lately and the boys always come in drenched. The work boots usually get placed near the wood stove and the sneakers tossed in the dryer for a few. Now we just toss the boots or sneakers onto the shoe dryer. 

My husband’s work boots take 25 minutes and my son’s sneakers 35. I wasn’t sure how good this would work but it is easy and can be dismantled when not in use and stored in a box. I love it. We haven’t put it in the box in over a week though. In fact, my son just put his sweaty gym sneakers on it now.

What I love:
The ease of use
How it can be totally dismanted
The Ozone smell you get when you turn it on. Just turn the switch and disinfect those sneakers.
It is safe! It the temperate reaches 105 it turns itself off
That you can use it to dry shoes, sneakers or boots

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To Purchase:

3 Ways To Prepare For A Troubled Teen’s Return From A Treatment Center

Raising a teenager can be a challenge under the best circumstances.

But when a teenager’s addictions, learning disabilities, or emotional and behavioral issues become more than parents can bear, the young people often are placed in residential or wilderness treatment programs where professionals help them work through their issues.

Success can quickly unravel when the child returns home, though, if parents aren’t ready with a game plan to help with the transition.

“Parents often fear that their son or daughter is going to relapse into old, unhealthy or dangerous patterns,” says Dr. Tim R. Thayne, a marriage and family therapist and author of Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen’s Success In and After Treatment (
“They have fears about how their child will connect socially with other people and whether they will find the right friends. They fear their teen will fall further behind in academics.”
Thayne suggests a few ways to help parents ease the transition:
  • Identify natural mentors for your teen. A natural mentor – such as a neighbor, teacher, relative or coach – is typically more effective than an officially assigned mentor. “Studies suggest that most formal mentoring relationships last less than a year,” Thayne says. “In contrast, natural mentoring relationships, which come from the church, school, family and neighborhood, are far more durable, with the average lasting nine years.”
  • Know when and how to grant back privileges and freedoms. Don’t let your teen pressure you into promising the return of certain privileges. Long before they come home, teens in treatment often begin asking what they are going to be able to do and how soon. “They want back the freedoms they once had, such as cell phone and car use, sleepovers, computer time, dating, time with friends and so forth,” Thayne says. “If there is ever a time not to buckle under pressure from your teen, it’s now while they are still in the program. If your teen is going to be angry, let the program deal with the fallout.” When they do come home, don’t make a rule you aren’t willing to back up. Consistency is key. Over time, as your trust grows, be ready to hand out rewards before being asked, but this doesn’t have to be done all at once. “Things can be handed out for a weekend trial, or at a level of 50 percent of what your child initially pushed for,” Thayne says.
  • Find someone to talk with. “Parents should have someone they can open up to about their emotions,” Thayne says. He suggests finding a therapist or a coach who has experience working with parents in this situation. “That counselor will be better equipped to help you through this transition,” he says. “Nothing will surprise them; not your fears, not your questions, not your situation.” In addition to an expert coach, Thayne says, it also helps to have a trusted friend you can vent to as well. 
“Long-term success doesn’t come about by chance, by hoping or simply because you shelled out a lot of money and sent your child away to get help,” Thayne says. “It requires work and changes on your part, and it takes a concrete plan.”

About Tim R. Thayne, Ph.D.
Dr. Tim R. Thayne, a marriage and family therapist, is author of Not By Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen’s Success In and Out of Treatment ( He also is the founder and CEO of Homeward Bound, a leading program in early intervention and in-home transition from treatment services for families of troubled teens. He has a master’s degree from Brigham Young University and a doctoral degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Tech.

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