TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Keeping the Awe

tree

 

When I was growing up in the swamps of Louisiana, this was about the time my father would load my mother and the four kids into the car to go in search of THE CHRISTMAS TREE!

My father owned a small tract of marsh land outside of town and there were some trees on it. Every year we would make that trip to select a sturdy tree, chop it down, and bring it back home. There, mother would hammer the red and green tree stand to the bottom of it, toss a couple of aspirin into the water to help prevent the needles from shedding and then she would let us loose with the decorating.

Children today would not be impressed with our cut out decorations wrapped in shiny foil and tied to the branches with bits of yarn. They wouldn’t spend hours threading popcorn and holly berries on string before laying it on the branches. And they wouldn’t have created color garlands from strips of construction paper stuck together from vats of homemade glue paste. 

Finally came the strands of tinsel that would clump together if you didn’t throw them around the tree just right. I was in awe of how a simple tree cut down from the swamp could be turned into a magical stopping point for Santa Claus every year.

I hope as I grow older, I continue to remain in awe during this time of the year. To drink in all the magic of the season and hang on to the simple memories of what is important during Christmas…sharing the magic and making memories…

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

 

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Amelia is traveling the world to let everyone know HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams and HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck is on sale right now…just in time for Christmas! But hurry, only 16 more days until Christmas!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING YA’LL

 

Happy Thanksgiving 4

 

To all my friends who are celebrating Turkey Day today…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

I have much to be thankful for:

 

FAMILY…

 

Those people close to my heart, whether by blood or heart connections…you know who you are and I am thankful you are a part of my life!

 

 

Thanksgiing 1

 

 

FRIENDS…

 

Those people who come into my life…sometimes for a moment…sometimes for a lifetime…but always with love to share and life lessons I can take with me wherever I go.

 

Happy Thanksgiving 3

 

GOOD HEALTH…

 

I have my moments…don’t we all…when I’m not 100 per cent, but I get to wake up every day thankful I don’t allow health obstacles to get in the way of my life’s goals. It’s certainly better than the alternative…lol…

 

 

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A ROOF OVER MY HEAD…

 

I worked hard to keep a roof over my head for years and now I’m blessed to have a mortgage-free home in which to spend the holidays. I love my solitude and my home is my sanctuary.

 

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MY WRITING, MY READERS…

 

How can I not give thanks for my writing? It allows me to connect with others all over the world and provides me a way to share the worlds in my imagination with a new generation of readers. It’s one of the things I’m most thankful for.

 

 

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AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST…

 

I’m most thankful for YOU!

 

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TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Turkey Day Means Turkey Tails

 

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I consider Thanksgiving week to be about the middle of my holiday season. It starts with the month of October and hopefully cooler weather, leading into Halloween. Then comes November with the dip in temperature, frosty mornings, and the sense of time running out before the big man in the red suit arrives come December.

Friends close to me know I’m rather touchy about Thanksgiving. Some people gloss over celebrating during this month, saying, “Thanksgiving’s only one day”. I would argue Halloween is “only one day” as well, but I know a lot of people who decorate or celebrate that spooky holiday all throughout October. 

When I was growing up in Louisiana, I would wring out every ounce of holiday celebrating I could so the more reasons to celebrate…Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas…the better my childhood!

My mother really threw herself into the holidays…allowing us to celebrate each month in it’s own way. Turkey day on the bayou would include traditional side dishes like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, etc.  However, you could also find things like jambalaya, or dirty rice on the menu. But the one thing you would ALWAYS find at our table is the turkey tail. 

My father and I were the main enjoyers of this particular part of the bird. We would have a yearly debate over who would get the prize and most of the time I would win. Even as an adult today, I get excited when November comes around. I go to one of the grocery stores in my area that actually carry multiple turkey tails in a package…just like they knew I was coming!

There may even be some people out there reading this post in horror at the mere thought of trying that poultry delicacy, but the way I look at it, I’d trade you a leg for that turkey tail any day…

 

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books

They make great stocking stuffers!

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams
HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck

 

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donna - Copy

 

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

 

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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GIVING YOUR REVISIONS THE 1-2-3 PUNCH OF SUCCESS!!

by Donna L Martin

 

In November 2015 I challenged myself to write a novel in one month and LUNADAR: HOMEWARD BOUND was born. In December 2018 I challenged myself to create an early reader chapter book series based on historical events and HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams was born. In May 2019 I challenged myself to write book two in the series and HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck was born. Now I’m researching my historical facts for book three, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris. As writers, some of us may think we can create the perfect masterpiece the first time we lay fingers to keyboard, but for the rest of us, we know where there’s writing there’s revisions.

You can either play it safe and do a quick once-over before you say revisions are done or you can give your manuscript the actual 1-2-3 punch it needs to give it the best chance to attract the attention of an agent or publisher.

 

PUNCH ONE…STANDING ON YOUR HEAD

 

One way to revise your story is by changing how you view things. You don’t really have to stand on your head to look at things in a new way. Change the setting. Pick an alternate point of view. Even write a new beginning. Lying on the floor will give you another view of the world so why not stand your manuscript on it’s head and see what you can see differently from down there?

 

PUNCH TWO…PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS

 

Solitaire may be a game best played alone but when it comes to writing, it’s not as solitary an endeavor as one might think…or at least it shouldn’t be. If you have taken the time to become friends with other writerly types you have access to potential critique partners. Two sets of eyes can catch a lot of things going wrong with a story but twelve sets of eyes might even be better. Taking the time to cultivate CP relationships gives your manuscript its best chance of becoming polished perfection.

 

PUNCH THREE…BECOMING EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

 

Don’t you love it when Edward Scissorhands takes the time to create those beautiful ice sculptures? He’s not afraid someone might laugh at him. He’s not worried about the outcome because he’s confident the end result justifies what it takes to get there. Don’t be afraid to leave unnecessary words on the cutting room floor. Don’t hesitate to kill one of your darlings or even rewrite the entire first chapter of your manuscript if that’s what it takes to make that baby shine!

No one ever said writing would be easy. No one ever said the path to publication was lined with simple solutions to achieve that coveted book contract. But then, again, no one’s ever said we writers aren’t fabulous WORD WARRIORS capable of executing perfect prose if we put our minds to it, so grab your story and treat it to a 1-2-3 punch of success!

 

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books

They make great stocking stuffers!

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams
HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

 

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Stephen Krensky

 

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Title: Dinosaurs In Disguise
Author: Stephen Krensky
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers
Ages: 4-8

Synopsis:

 

What if the dinosaurs never really went extinct?
What if they’ve just been in hiding for 65 million years?

Why you should read it:

 

There are many levels and many reasons to enjoy author Stephen Krensky’s tale of DINOSAURS IN DISGUISE. The story itself is told through the eyes of a young “explorer” on a hunt to prove his hypothesis that dinosaurs never became extinct, but are hiding somewhere in the world all around us. It’s just up to us to coax these timid creatures out into the open.

Such a whimsical theme is enhanced by the colorfully detailed artwork of illustrator Lynn Munsinger. Whether it’s a desert sphinx or even a participant in the first thanksgiving feast, readers will enjoy discovering the many ways dinosaurs have made their way into our more modern world through Ms. Munsinger’s illustrations.

Even early elementary educators will find DINOSAURS IN DISGUISE of great use in their classrooms as children will love the guessing math work of determining just how many hidden dinosaurs can be found on each page.

Our imaginations are allowed to run wild and the possibilities are endless in this delightful picture book. It not only challenges young readers to search for the hidden dinosaurs lurking all around them, but to also join one young man’s promise to keep those hiding places a secret…at least for now…

A great addition to any home library!

Like-O-Meter Rating: 5 out of 5…grab it!
***Rating Scale***

5 out of 5…grab it!
4 out of 5…think about it.
3 out of 5…take or leave it.
2 out of 5…maybe not for you.
1 out of 5…forget about it!

 

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books

They make great stocking stuffers!

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams
HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck

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donna - Copy

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: The Stranger

Rainy weather

 

Amy glanced again at the clock on the mantle. Where was he? she wondered. Her friends were wrong. It’s not the knowing that kills your spirit. Its the gut-wrenching waiting and  not knowing that slowly breaks you. When she got the call he was finally coming home, she decided she would just wait.

No judgement.

Just the mind numbing waiting as she counted the raindrops sliding down the window. When is he going to get here? All she had were random letters between deployments. He said it was better if he stayed away, rather than drawing her into his madness. But now he had no choice. Injured, he was coming home and if Amy was honest with herself, she didn’t know if she still loved the stranger he had become.

No judgement.

Having to do something…anything…Amy began pacing back and forth. Never taking her eyes off the rain coated window. Any minute now he would walk up those steps and ring that doorbell. Just like a stranger in his own home. Would she open the door? Of course she would. You can’t just turn your back on thirteen years of marriage like it never happened. But what about the next thirteen? How would she get through them?  Yes, her friends were all wrong. It was the not knowing that ate at her like a poison, until there’s nothing left but crippling doubt. And oh, so many questions.

The sudden peal of the doorbell ringing startled Amy out of her daydream. She’d been staring out the window the whole time, but was buried too deep in her thoughts to see the military car pull up to her curb. A stranger was standing on her doorstep and the time had come for Amy to decide what those marriage vows really meant.

Taking a deep breath, she slowly opened the door to the stranger standing there. All it took was one glance at the fear hiding behind the doubt in his eyes and she knew. 

No judgement.

Opening her arms wide, Amy stepped into her future…

 

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books

They make great stocking stuffers!

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck

 

****************

 

donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Don’t Rain On My Parade

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Fall is probably my favorite time of the year. I’m far enough north to enjoy the beautiful fall colors. Far enough north to have to wear a jacket to ward off the crisp autumn breeze once the season changes. And Fall always reminds me of growing up in the swamps where my mother performed the same ritual every school year when the weather changed from muggy, humid summer to cooler, wetter Fall.

I love rainy weather. The steady drum of raindrops on tin roofs. The drip, drip of droplets off leaves and gutters. And the sidewalk puddles to dance around or stomp through. But the further into Fall, the greater the chance my mother would have to prepare for her “babies” to slosh into the house after battling wind and rain on the way home from school.

There were three things I could always depend on after a long, rain drenched walk home on a chilly Fall afternoon…

 

HOT TOWELS

 

Our houses always had space heaters. Those clunky…take up a lot of space…heaters that could burn a layer of skin off your backside if you got too close, but offered little other warmth outside it’s immediate vicinity. But the one thing those heaters COULD provide was super toasty warm towels Mother would wrap us in once we shed our wet clothes, steam rising from shivering bodies as we dried off.

 

HOT COCOA

 

Cooler weather always meant the arrival of Mother’s homemade hot cocoa. Using a large gumbo pot, she would always have a vat of that chocolate deliciousness ready for us once we were in dry clothes again. 

 

A WHOLE HEAP OF LOVE

 

My mother wasn’t a person to shower her children with words of love. She was a no nonsense woman who fiercely protected her children and did everything in her power to provide for their health and well being. To me, those towels and mugs of hot cocoa wrapped me in more love than words ever could. Even now, decades later, all I have to do is close my eyes during a November rain to bring back the warmth and love of my childhood homecomings…

 

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***WINNERSS***WINNERS***WINNERS***

 

The winners of the Ship of Dreams Amazon reviewers contest have been selected. Congratulations to all the winners! I only have “handles” for many of you. Please private message me with your names and addresses so I can send you your prizes! 

@thewytchinghourblog

@drdeacondog

@bryanlunsford3425

@aliciafreeman40

@shayleenem

@roseharrydawson

@deerwood

Carrie Belaire

Holly McCoy

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.