Monthly Archives: April 2019

10 tips for getting your child away from their video games and productive.

What can you do about your son/daughter’s gaming habit? They spend hours on their device and refuse to come off.

We’ve all been there. I suspect all parents of tweens and teens have. Your son/daughter is passionate about the latest video/computer/phone game and refuses to come off it. When they do, their mood has changed, and all they can think about is playing again. Here are some tips for how to manage the situation and strike a balance. From experience, this approach works provided we as parents are firm, fair and consistent.

1. Change the rules – so your child has to earn all game time on each and every platform.

Yes, that will be a sea change for some. No earning means no game time. The most important currency then becomes ‘how’ to earn game time. It can also be a valuable lever for getting homework, etc. done. It will most likely lead to a reduction in gaming time as well.

2. Enforce the ‘earning’ of game-time by making your child earn it upfront before they play.

No earning = no game time. Harsh at first, but guess what? Your child will learn and adapt provided they know you mean it.

3. Agree start and end times to gaming – and give a count-down ten and five minutes before ‘off-time’.

This is important. It is the deal. It goes something like – ‘it’s now seven o’clock, you need to come off your <device> by eight o’clock. Agreed?’ And when that time arrives – ideally on a clock next to the gaming screen – the session is declared over. Fresh air and exercise straight afterwards is a great idea – to calm them down.

4. Off means off – pull out the plug if necessary and be strong.

When the pre-agreed session is over, it has to end. By reason, then cajoling, and if all else fails by pulling out the plug/broadband. There are limiter devices out there if needed.

5. 60 minutes a weekend day maximum – and mean it – beware the 60 to 90 to 120 time creep. Should there be any game time allowed during the week? Your call.

It’s your call on how long a gaming session is allowed to be. My view is that 60 minutes a day at weekends is plenty. Week day gaming is probably not a great idea, because of homework, focus on school etc. Or perhaps you could agree the frequency upfront. Daily to me is a straight no way. Late night gaming is also a no, no. Sleep is important and gaming impairs sleep.

6. Bring in healthy and fun alternatives as well.

A reading hour – with a physical book (it’s why I began writing btw.). A walk. A sporting activity. A visit to somewhere fun. A fun TV program with the family. It’s your choice. I suggest including some of these as the means to earning gaming time as well. e.g. read a decent book for an hour. Swim ten lengths, etc.

7. Share their passion (within reason).

I suggest it is better to know what games they are playing, and to occasionally join in, than to disapprove of their gaming altogether. If their choice of game is completely unsuitable (e.g. 18 and immoral) withdrawing/uninstalling the game is clearly a good idea. You are in charge and you set the limits.

8. Grounded also means no gaming time.

If our child has earned a grounding that also means no gaming time. It may well be the most valuable currency you have to barter with for better behaviour.

9. No gaming machines in their bedrooms at night. And avoid outright bans if possible.

Whatever we think about gaming, I suggest it is better to suggest/promote a healthier game than to try and eliminate gaming from children’s lives. Prohibition tends to lead to rebellion, stand-offs and finding ways around the ban. Just as with adult bans.

That said, a gaming machine (of any kind) in their bedroom is just asking for an all-night session when you are asleep or the babysitter is in charge. If you allow it, you are allowing free-reign for your child in my humble opinion. Remember, games are fun and addictive.

10. The currency they have to ‘earn’ is what you decide. It is also your biggest bargaining chip.

I suggest it should include a mixture of: doing their homework, instrument practice, chores, having a good attitude, going for a run, working hard at school. walking the dog, tidying their room. Anything within reason provided the measures are ‘fair’ and ‘measurable’. This is where the balance comes in – which is where you set the standards as parents. Work = reward. Just as in life. You may find they work harder to earn the currency they want. If not, take a step back and review your options. Putting the games in the loft for a while is a possibility…

I hope you find these tips useful. From experience, they can lead to a win-win, with a few (inevitable) tantrums along the way.

I write books to encourage youngsters to read (and also because I enjoy it).

Best of luck,

D.M. Jarrett






12 easy tips for editing your book

Hi there, after months of editing and updating here are some tried and tested tips for how to edit your draft book. I found this needed multiple passes, constructive feedback and dispassionate discipline. I also needed to re-learn key parts of grammar to understand what ‘good’ looks like.

1. Get the structure right first with feedback from others, check for consistency.

By this I mean – the plot, characterisation, events, scenes, order of events, plausibility of events, story arc for each character, etc.

Consistency of proper nouns, places, character names, etc. is also a key check. Word spellchecker can assist by highlighting those variants which are yet to be accepted into your dictionary. A Find and Replace can bring things back under control.

2. Screen your own writing for overuse of words and phrases.

I recommend running Wordcounter and the Hemmingway app on chapters of your work and noting the findings.

3. Use a tool to find your crutch words, then edit them to a minimum using better alternatives.

Everyone has a tendency to overuse certain phrases and words. Find out what they are with Wordcounter and other tools. Then use a Find and Replace approach to reduce and vary their frequency. One of my pet foibles is using ‘Well,’ to start a section of speech.

4. Aim to cut out thousands of words by using the test ‘does this word, phrase or sentence add anything?’

As you work through chapter by chapter, anything that reads out loud as clunky or embarrassing needs to be improved. Sometimes whole sections. Cutting text which adds little or nothing is normal and necessary. Make a note of your original word count and target reducing it by at least 8 to 10 percent.

5. Reduce all the following to the bare minimum using a Find & Replace approach.

That, then, with, all, up, down, well, really, completely, very, quite, seem, even, just, almost.

Variations of speech attributions: said, mumbled, roared, crowed, guffawed, huffed etc. They add less than a well-written expression of reaction or better speech text.

In addition, reduce your use of adverbs substantially, so that only those which are essential for the story are left. The Hemmingway app is useful for highlighting and counting adverbs for review.

6. Re-write in passes to improve your own use of language, having read good examples.

Having a benchmark in mind helps to focus the mind. I suggest finding a comparable book in a genre aimed at a similar readership. The aim is not to copy their style, more to tune into ‘good’ or ‘better’ writing. The time away from your work is also helpful in gaining perspective.

7. Use a tool to detect cumbersome structures and simplify them.

I recommend Grammarly, Scribens and Hemmingway in parallel. Yes it can be cumbersome to have three tools open at once. However, for spotting all the issues in a chapter in one pass it is quite powerful. After a while, I found that I dropped Hemmingway having addressed the major style issues.

8. Hire a line and copy editor if you can afford one.

An experienced editor can help spot a lot of things the author will miss. My pet gripes are with ‘orphaned’ words and correctly spelt words used out of context. Word, in particular, is rubbish at spotting them.  Again, Grammarly and Scribens can help you to correct most things. However, word and phrase choices are beyond their reach.

9. Copy edit last, once you are happy with what you are saying.

In other words, bear in mind that while you are re-writing your text. There is always another pass that is necessary to spot copy and grammar errors once the text is stable. No matter how amazing the writer, missed commas, etc. will be overlooked in the earlier rounds of re-writing.

10. Use tools to assist your line and copy edits.

While self-editing, your own eyes are great. Word is ok. Grammarly and Scribr are better. I also recommend After the Deadline. There are plenty of other tools out there. They help. I suggest using more than one, because each will have its own strengths and weaknesses depending on how they are programmed.

11. Wait and do a final pass as a ‘distant, disconnected reader’ some months later.

Coming back to a piece of writing after a period of time helps you to see it for what it is. Not what you hoped it would be. If you are embarrassed, you can rectify the situation with a re-edit. If you are impressed, great news – you are nearly ready. After your final copy edit.

12. Be brave enough to go back and re-edit earlier work – it is a learning experience.

Once I’d learnt more about parts of speech and ‘better’ writing, I found it cathartic to go back and re-edit a book from six years earlier. Being a self-published, authorpreneur this was much easier than I expected. It also addressed those fears at the back of my mind.

Hope this helps,

D.M. Jarrett


The summer of Sean Yeager Adventures is coming!

It’s all about to kick-off in style for Sean Yeager Adventures, thanks to readers’ feedback from around the world.

I’m delighted to announce a new, improved Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief (3rd edition) will be launched this summer in print. It is an enhanced and expanded ‘director’s cut’ version of the story first published in 2012. The plot is broadened and improved and has been completely re-written, drawing on reader’s feedback. Also, for the first time, there will be UK English and US English versions available in the respective territories.

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is an action, adventure, mystery with secret agents, sci-fi and humour. It is written to excite and entertain young readers from 8 years upwards, including young adults.  I’ve taken great care to ensure it is an easy read, while at the same time asking questions of the reader. The story has been described as a roller-coaster ride and an action movie in book form.

For those unfamiliar with the Sean Yeager Adventures series, each book is self-contained and builds on the previous books in the series. They tell the story of how Sean and Emily make sense of what is happening to them and how they discover their purpose in life. The stories are set in a near-real world like our own, with one major difference – there are sleepers, androbots, and secret agents hidden among us, and there is a secret battle waging between two ancient enemies.

Meanwhile, the earlier e-book versions of Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief will continue to be available as ‘beta’ versions at the lowest price possible. Since they have been pirated, I will not be updating them for a considerable time.  For those interested in the deluxe version, the print books are therefore the best choice.

Watch out for more exciting news coming soon.

May the mighty Quel shine kindly upon you.

D.M. Jarrett