Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dry Run "Find My iPhone"

Stolen iPad
Recently we had our iPad stolen. I know... ouch! We left it at an outdoor cafe on a black table camouflaged by its black cover. It was about 30 minutes before we realized we didn't have it. We immediately called the cafe and had them look for it to no avail.

Time to use Find My iPhone. This valuable little app created by Apple locates any of your computing devices from Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac). But don't let what happened to us, happen to you.

My husband had not setup his devices on iCloud. If all your devices are automatically syncing up, you know you've set up iCloud. But there are additional steps you need to take to assure you are prepared to find your device once it's missing.
Find My iPhone

Find iPhone

First, you need to turn on Find My iPhone (iPad, iPod or Mac) for each of your devices.

Second, if you want to locate a missing device from your iPhone, iPad or iPod, you need to install the Find My iPhone Free app from the App Store on each of those devices.

Once you've done those two steps, you're ready to find you device if it's lost or stolen.

Practice Finding Your iPhone

Okay! Now let's practice. Do a dry run of the process so you know what to expect and what to do.

Step 1
Pick a device to use to find your "missing" i-device. Locate the Find My iPhone app on your home screen and tap to open. Note: if you use your Mac to find your device, go to, log in and select Find My iPhone.

Step 2
Enter you Apple ID and password. The Devices screen will display all your devices. Tap one to see your device on a detailed map.
Find My iPhone Device Screen
Step 3
On the map, tap the blue circle to display the Info screen. From there you can:
  • Play a sound on the "missing" device
  • Send a message
  • Remote lock
  • Remote wipe (reset to factory settings)
Find My iPhone
Step 4
If you don't already have a passcode on your device, Remote Lock allows you to set one. If your device goes missing, you'll want to do this first. It will keep the "finder" from getting to your personal data.

Note: don't test the Remote Wipe function unless you want to reset your device to factory settings.

Step 5
Next, try out the Play Sound or Send Message feature.

Send an alert and a message. You'll hear the Sonar sound, which plays continually until you stop it or the device is powered off. If your device is missing and locked, the "finder" must power off the device to silence it. Note: if your device is powered off, the alert will not sound until the device is restarted.
Find My iPhone
Congratulations you are now Find My iPhone certified!

How did our story end? By the time we got to use Find My iPhone, more than 90 minutes had passed. Our iPad had come to rest in a four-plex in mid-town Sacramento, twenty miles from the cafe where we left it. We filed a police report and met the police at the location. They hassled the only tenant that came to the door, but got no where.
Find My iPhone
We sent the alert and a message, however the police were unable to hear it or spot the device from the front door. Without any audio or visual on the device, they had no probable cause to enter and could go no further.

We were at a disadvantage not knowing what the alert sounded like or how loud it wasthat's why you need to practice.

In the end, we wiped the iPad and moved on. We included the serial number in the police report in case it shows up. Also we reported the device as stolen to AT&T who now keeps a black list of stolen mobile devices. If someone shows up intending to activate the cellular service for the iPadthey'll get nabbed.

Although our story had a bad ending, we learned a valuable lesson. Be prepared! Time is critical when your device is stolen. Had we been able to locate the iPad in transit from the cafe, we would likely have recovered it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back to School Preparedness

Back to School
Believe it or not it's Back to School for kids across the nation and the world. Parents are in a frenzy getting kids new clothes and school supplies so they get off on the right foot when they enter the classroom.

This fall the new "kid" in the classroom may well be the iPad. There will be anywhere from 1 to 10 in a classroom with more classrooms adopting a one-to-one program. Research shows that well-integrated technology where kids can interact has a positive impact on student learning outcome.

The kids app developer community backed by Moms With Apps is preparing for a school year where iPads are more common and quickly becoming an integral part of the learning curriculum.

Introducing the launch of AppyMall where all things kids apps can be found. Back2School is the first promotion where oodles of educational apps and books are discounted for the classroom.
AppyMall has Smart Searching so you find what you're looking for. It categorizes apps by appropriate age and category. It will launch with 5 anchor stores or “AppyStores” including: the Preschool AppyStore, Elementary School AppyStore, Middle School AppyStore, Speech and Language AppyStore and Special Needs AppyStore. Each AppyStore will have a comprehensive stock of apps, highlighting select apps chosen by Siva (creator of AppyMall) and his expert team as being exceptional in a category.

Of course The Prisoner of Carrot Castle will be featured on the AppyMall under books for ages 3 - 8 years old. We're excited about the mall where parents will be able to do precise searches to find what they want without all the clutter of adult apps.

Doors Open – August 2, 2012


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life is More Important

Social Media
As a writer, do you find yourself exhausted and stressed out by the social media push? Many do! Ask yourself, is it worth it?

Stress takes it's toll on the body.

I took a forced hiatus last December to move. I found it refreshing and believe me it was a hectic move. We had little notification and needed to move out in 10 days!

On the many trips to and from the car, I soaked in the sun that shined above. I relished the thoughtfulness of friends who showed up everyday to help. I took the opportunity to pare down some of life's clutter. What a refreshing time. And I built up some pretty good core body strength by the end of the 10 days.

So next time you feel you need to jump on Facebook or tweet 20 times each day by loading up Hoot Suite with a train of tweets or post to your blog site three times a week.


Life is more important. Sunshine is good. Touching friends lives in the flesh is better.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to Do a Book Launch Party

Author, Keli Gwyn
My writer friend, Keli Gwyn, graduated to author with the release of her first novel this month—A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. This historic romance takes place in our own backyard. Keli held her book launch and old fashioned ice cream social in Shingle Springs, a rural community mentioned on page one of her novel. Just down the road is the historic town of El Dorado, where the story takes place.
Book Launch Party
Period Pictures, Games and Companion Book Display
Before opening the door to the event, I heard singing. Inside the hall, people bustled about buying books, entering a drawing for prize-filled baskets (romance movies, candy, candles, musical items, etc.), viewing the other books in the Bride series from Barbour Publishing, waiting in line to have Keli sign their book and building an ice cream sundae.
Book Launch Party
Ice Cream Sundae Buffet
Book Launch Party
 Keli's husband Carl and Daughter, Audrey, in Victorian Dress
While Keli obliged her fans lined up to get a signed book, a continuous performance of music took place on the stage behind her. The entertainment reached a peak when the Gold Rush Barbershop Chorus performed historic tunes topped off with their version of the Beatles "When I'm 64."
Book Launch Party
Keli and Fan
Book Launch Party
Gold Rush Barbershop Chorus with Gwyn Victorian Family
Keli wore a stunning purple dress with matching hat. The outfit, similar to the one worn by the heroine Elenora Watkins at the end of the book, was appropriate for evening wear in the Victorian era.

One more thing. Lest you think this book is for wimps and tells stories of limp characters. On page one, the stagecoach carrying Elenora and Tildy, her daughter, are held up at gun point. You'll have to read A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado to find out what happens.

I left thinking Keli really knew how to do a book launch party right.

Have you been to a fun book launch party lately?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Draw the Carrot ~ Chance to Win iTunes Card

Purple Carrot
Calling all kids! Draw your best picture of the Super Duper Purple Carrot for a chance to win an iTunes Gift Card. Send your drawing to

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle

And that's not all! From now through the 4th of July you can get The Prisoner of Carrot Castle for the iPad for $.99. Kids love the action adventure with Aiden in his imaginary world. This five-star interactive picture book is becoming a classic.

Dress a Knight of Carrot CastlePlus, Dress a Knight of Carrot Castle for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is always FREE! Kids love the dress-up game for all languages. For giggles and smiles, download Dress a Knight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Face To Face For The First Time

Chris Pedersen and Kate Jeong
I'm typing this blog on the last leg of a trip my husband and I made to Vancouver B.C. via a cruise ship being repositioned from San Francisco to Vancouver.

After working over a year with Kate Jeong, the illustrator for Purple Carrot Books, I was determined to find a way to meet her in person. We had never met face to face. An email from Princess Cruises presented the perfect opportunity—take a cruise for two nights, spend a day with Kate and her family and fly back home.

Jeong Family
The Jeong family (Kate, husband Don and their three boisterous boys, Steven, Danny and Harry) met us after we disembarked from the ship at the docks in Vancouver. It was like a reunion with a long-time friend. Up to that point Kate and I had only communicated via email and Skype video conferencing.

Granville Island Market
They took us to Granville Island where we browsed through the Public Market then had coffee and visited while the boys chased pigeons along the waterfront. Later we found a kids park where the boys played until they collapsed with hunger.

Chris Pedersen and Kate Jeong
After lunch we checked into our hotel and rested until Don and Harry picked us up to deliver us to their home where Kate and Don put the finishing touches on a traditional Korean dinner with lots of vegetables served on a bed of rice. Delicious!

Today Kate and I spent two and a half hours working on our latest app, Goldilocks and The Three Bears. We worked through the storyboard and added all the animation, interaction and sound notes. Now Kate can begin producing the finished color scenes. Kids are going to love this app.

Have you had a relationship where you didn't meet the person face to face until some time later?

Have you seen The Prisoner of Carrot Castle iPad app with Kate's beautiful illustrations?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Catch A Falling Star

Meteor fragments?
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.
Never let it fade away.
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.
Save it for a rainy day.
Dateline Sunday, April 22, at approximately 8AM, a meteor exploded over Lotus, California waking some with a boom and pelting rocks on rooftops. By Tuesday morning renowned meteorite hunter Robert Ward arrived and promptly found the first meteor pieces in the parking lot of Lotus Park. Over the next few days several others were found in the vicinity. Soon scads of locals and amateur meteorite hunters combed the area wielding magnets on sticks and metal detectors. Several finders were rewarded with cash offers to buy the black space rocks on the spot.

Among the locals were yours truly and my obsessed... I mean... fascinated husband, Bob. Returning from an appointment on Thursday, he approached me with a familiar slight smile, raised cheeks and starry eyes.

"We gotta go looking for meteor rocks."

I looked up from my laptop, "No, really?"

The thrill of finding a meteorite 15 minutes from our home was too much to ignore. The next morning we ended up in Lotus Park talking with Robert Ward.
Robert Ward, Meteor Hunter
Robert Ward, Meteorite Hunter, Showing Meteorites to Excited Young Boys.
We formed an alliance, a la Survivor, to help Ward get onto various properties in the area that fell in the meteor drop zone.

On Tuesday (nine days after the meteor fell), while walking on a 1500-acre property west of the original discovery site, Ward found a very small fragment. He and Bob walked four feet abreast down a dirt road when he called out the finding.

Ward exhibits a childlike passion for the thrill of the hunt and unbridled exuberance when he finds a meteor. Fuel to further the hunt, which requires tenacity and drive. It's a lot of looking between finding anything.
Carbonaceous chondrite meteor fragment
Meteor Fragment (center) Compared to GPS Device
I decided to return to the hunt this morning with Bob. Having heard rumors of someone spotting a fragment in Rescue, we stopped first at the post office there. That's where I found the handful of fragments (photo above and below). We quickly called Ward and he and one of his team met us in the parking lot. I showed him my find to which he quickly said, "No. That's just yard rock." What most know as lava rock.
Lava Rock
Okay, more lessons in becoming a trained observer (or should I say hunter) of space rocks.

In case you think anyone would be happy to cooperate in the advancement of science and allow hunters to search their property. Think again. There were a few landowners that weren't too keen on the recent spotlight to their rural, sleepy community. The South Fork of the American River that wends its way through the area has posted quiet zones along residential areas of the river's shores. Just a reminder to the daily armada of rafters that paddle their way through the churning white waters.

The meteor that exploded over Lotus, according to NASA scientists, was the size of a mini-van, weighing over 77 tons. Most meteors seen in the night sky are tiny rocks leaving a visible trial for only seconds. The Lotus meteor exploded with the force of one-third the energy of the bomb dropped over Hiroshima in World War II making it visible in the morning daylight for hundreds of miles.

The thrill of the hunt dies quickly after drudging over acres of land all day and coming up empty handed. I wasn't interested in spending 120 hours per meteorite that one hunter divulged it took him to find some of his collection. I'll be staying home back at my laptop, leaving the meteorite hunting to the experts.

In case you're interested in learning how to hunt for meteorites here are five steps to finding a meteorite.

Have you ever been involved in a hunt for something rare? Shopping doesn't count. :-)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Seeing Cinderella Book Review and Launch

Book Launch
February was a big month for Jenny Lundquist whose debut Middle Grade novel, Seeing Cinderella was released. I attended her book launch this past weekend at Barnes & Noble and happily waited in line with quite a few other fans anxious to get a book signed. Jenny is a fellow member of Inspire Christian Writers and there were some of us at the event to cheer her on.
While chatting with Keli Gwyn (whose debut romance novel comes out July 1st), a curious patron asked what the crowd of people was all about. "I'm here to get a gift for an eleven-year-old," she said. "Seeing Cinderella sounds like the perfect present." We steered her to the book signing line.
Being in the same critique group as Jenny, I had the privilege of reading most of Seeing Cinderella. Once I returned home, I settled into my comfy leather chair and read. I couldn't wait to find out how the story turned out.

Book Review
Seeing Cinderella is an entertaining book every middle school student would enjoy reading. It tackles the serious issues that mark the middle school years—namely self-doubt, low self esteem and flawed thinking about what others think. Through a delightful kind of magic in the form of special glasses, Callie (real name Calliope Meadow Anderson) learns to see that things aren't always as they appear and you can't believe everything you hear.

Callie's nickname by some is Polka Dot aptly describing her freckled face, offset by her frizzy hair. So when she adds a hideous pair of thick, dark-rimmed glasses to her look, she continues to assume kids are making fun of her.

Ellen, Callie's best friend going into middle school, signs her up to take drama instead of art—the first of many manipulating scenarios by Ellen. Callie learns as she maneuvers through the fall semester that her magic (aka super freaky) glasses unlock a whole new way of thinking and communicating.

The story culminates with the drama class's production of Cinderella. The frenzied scene has twists and turns that bring meaningful and satisfying changes to each character. At one point in the story, Callie's eye doctor (Dr. Ingram who supplied the super freaky glasses) remarks, "I suppose there are those who see, and those who do not want to see." A fitting lesson for a middle school student to add to their toolbox for life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aiden Goes to School and Travels the World

Great Way to Launch a Book
Reading the newly released Prisoner of Carrot Castle to five classrooms of 1st and 2nd graders at the Arlene Hein Elementary School in Elk Grove, California was a great way to launch a book app. Local authors were invited to read during the school's annual Read-a-thon. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle wowed the kids being the only digital interactive book at the event.

The students and teachers loved it! Most had never seen an iPad storybook app before. Having a passion for storytelling and a heart for children, I enjoyed reading with enthusiasm—getting into each character of the story.

A red cape and an over-sized wooden fork served as a costume for one child to "become" Aiden as I read the story. What a perfect way to enjoy the story of a boy who loved to costume play. Everyone wanted to be Aiden.

At the end of each reading, I allowed the children to play the games included in the app. They really enjoyed the hands-on experience. I explained the “Read to Me” feature and showed the students how to use it.

After school, the authors convened in the multi-purpose room and signed and sold books. I signed and sent home colorful postcards of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle with details on the app and how to order it.

The children had many questions. (These are bright kids with a great future!) They wanted to know: How long does it take to build an app? How did you come up with the story? Is it a regular book, too? Are you making other story apps? Can I dress the knight next?

Aiden Travels to More Countries
Aiden's been busy showing up in more countries around the world. Add Ireland, France, Norway and Indonesia to the countries enjoying The Prisoner of Carrot Castle.

Would you like The Prisoner of Carrot Castle read at your school?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The World Enjoys The Prisoner of Carrot Castle

Great Zooks! The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is being purchased throughout the world. The world is so big, it boggles my mind. See all those little Aiden's dotting the world map?

In case you can't see all those countries where Aiden's adventure is being read to boys and girls, here's a list:

United States
United Kingdom
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
New Zealand

Who do you know in another country that might want The Prisoner of Carrot Castle for their iPad?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle on the App Store

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is now available for the iPad on the App Store for only $2.99.
Grab your cape and join the fun! Aiden is just an ordinary kid—loves costume play, watching clouds pass by, seeing castles in the sky… and he doesn’t like vegetables.

In The Prisoner of Carrot Castle Aiden’s imagination transports him to a far away place where he finds himself a prisoner in a cell made of carrots. What will he do? Must he face the angry King? Will his hate for vegetables get him in trouble? Come along and help Aiden as he tries to escape from Carrot Castle.

When Aiden gets stuck, kids play a role in helping him move ahead in his adventure. The story comes alive as the text is read. Find silly animations and sound effects as the action unfolds.

Through creative storytelling, kids learn that eating vegetables is good—it can actually help them.

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is an original story written and illustrated for the iPad. Targeted for kids 3 to 8-years-old, the story’s interaction and games help them develop fine motor skills.

Download your copy of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle, please tell your friends, rate it and write a review.


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