FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Donna L Martin

Feel Good 1

 

When the pandemic hit the US back in mid March, no one really knew what was going on. Some people still believe the virus is a hoax. Others know all too well this virus and COVID-19 are real.

Whether you believe everything that is going on or think the world is overreacting, I think everyone can agree 2020 has turned out to be a very stressful year. By the time April came around I decided to help bring a little positivity to the world by creating this FEEL GOOD FRIDAY series.

Beginning with Jarm Del Boccio’s post on April 17th to Jennie Lou Harriman’s post on July 31st, I hope this series has brought a smile to your face. Hopefully it has helped connect us all during a time when it feels like we are all alone in our fear and concern over an unknown future where so many people are struggling to adjust to a “new normal”.

I will be continuing this series on my own for as long as I am able and invite other authors and friends who follow this blog to reach out to me if you have an uplifting post you would like to add to this series. Let’s chat and see if we can continue to spread a little light of kindness and cheer during these grey times.

For now, I leave you with a few things that made me smile today…

 

 

30 Cute Baby Animals That Will Make You Go 'Aww' | Bored Panda

 

ᐈ Goofy stock images, Royalty Free photos of goofy pictures | download on  Depositphotos®

 

I hope you have a FEEL GOOD FRIDAY…and remember to SMILE!

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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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 flash fiction, 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.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Before The Age Of Technology

technology

 

Before Xbox and IPads…before smartphones and even smarter televisions there was a time when neighbors actually knew each other’s name and children could play outside without supervision while doors were left unlocked at night.

I grew up in an age before technology. When I started to think about it there was a long list of things my own son had access to during his childhood that either wasn’t even invented when I was a kid or only families far wealthier than ours could afford it.

Color TV…not only were all the shows in black and white at our house, there was no such thing as Cable TV. There were only three channels to choose from and aluminum foil wrapped around the rabbit ears of the antennae sitting on top of that small TV helped bring in better reception. Oh yeah, TV shows didn’t run all night long either so if I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay up later then I could watch my favorite channel go off the air while playing “Look Away Dixieland” or some upbeat song I wished I could remember as a horse and buggy trotted off into the sunset.

Refrigerator…there was no such thing as a refrigerator at my house when I was little. We had an icebox where you literally had to place a 50 pound block of ice in the top compartment so things in the bottom compartment could stay cool. Once a week we would ride in the back of an old black truck to the ice plant where a man with huge ice picks would throw that block of ice onto a blanket laid out in the back of the truck and we would rush home to get it in the icebox before it started to melt in the muggy hot summer sun.

Washer & Dryer…nothing electronic there. My poor mother’s hands were rubbed raw as she used an old washtub with scrubbing board for years where she had to squeeze the water out of the clothes herself. We finally graduated to a wringer washing machine. Mother still used the scrubbing board to wash the clothes but she could now push the clothes through the two rollers while I turned the crank and out the clothes came flat as a pancake and ready to hang outside on the clothesline.

Air Conditioner…I never even knew what an air conditioner was growing up. We had one window fan to try and cool the entire house and we had open windows at night to hopefully catch a breeze. I would go to sleep on a muggy summer night fanning myself with a piece of cardboard or a homemade paper fan until either I was too tired to fan myself any more or I finally fell asleep.

Cell Phones…these things weren’t even invented yet when I was little. Every house that could afford a telephone had one large, hard-wired black monstrosity that had a ring on it loud enough to wake the dead. Black was the only color to choose from, and the handle was so heavy you probably could kill somebody with it if you hit them hard enough. You were out of luck if you were away from home and wanted to call somebody if there wasn’t somebody willing to let you use theirs.

FM Radio…the only stations available was AM because FM wasn’t even invented yet. And just like TV, the stations would sign off around midnight and come back on around six the next morning. Song choices were monitored in my house and for the longest time I thought the only singers out there were Buck Owens, Minnie Pearl, Roy Clark, The Oak Ridge Boys, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn. In other words, the Grand Ol’ Opry and western music was basically the ONLY music allowed in the house when I was a child. We didn’t even have access to a portable radio until I was in high school when my father brought a small boombox home just so we could hear Charlie Pride on the radio. Oh yeah, eight tracks were the thing to buy and reel to reel tape players…no such thing as CDs or cassette tapes when I was really young…they weren’t invented yet!

Computers…those were things that filled up a room at large college universities or government offices. You would never find one in a private home. Laptops and wireless connections weren’t even invented yet. Nether was the internet so if you wanted to look something up you could grab the Encyclopedia Britannica if you were lucky enough to have a set at your house (we had a really old set) or get yourself down to the local library and ask the librarian to help you out!

Online Games…there was no Atari, no Nintendo, no Xbox, no PlayStation, no GameBoy, or any other gaming systems. I was an older teenager before even the simplest games like PacMan or Joust was even invented and the only place you could find them was in a larger city at an arcade usually near the movie theater. Games were actually played outdoors with the other kids in the neighborhood or was a product of one’s imagination. No batteries required!

Kindle…Tablets and E-Readers like the Kindle or Nook hadn’t been invented yet. Libraries were the place to discover a good book and to a voracious reader like myself, I would blow through at least 100 books every summer beginning at age 5 and quite literally counted the days until the annual summer reading program at my local library. I can’t imagine fostering such a love for the written word without being able to touch, smell, and almost taste a good book held in one’s hands.

Those are just some of the things I did without growing up before the age of technology. I didn’t feel I missed out not having those things around and quite honestly I KNOW my own son didn’t have nearly the strong memories of his own childhood as I have. Without technology I was forced to actively be a part of the world around me instead of passively sitting back and watching the world come to me. I was the master of my own destiny instead of being at the mercy of a battery held device. And I became a better, stronger me because of it.

What things did YOU do without when you were growing up? Share your non-technology stories in the comments…

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

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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 flash fiction, 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.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Jennie Lou Harriman

stove

 

Sequestering Without a Stove

by Jennie Lou Harriman

 

When I lost my home suddenly during the COVID-19 situation, the house I moved into needed a stove. I didn’t feel comfortable, or have the energy while moving, to go out shopping for one, so I used my creative problem solving skills. This whole experience has gotten me even closer to using “back to basics” skills. When I’m not writing, I teach arts and crafts classes for children and people with disabilities. I love teaching “back to basics” classes: sewing, woodworking, and cooking. You never know when you might need them, as many people have learned this spring.

When it came to eating when I first moved into the new house, I ate some food that didn’t need to be cooked. To stay as healthy as possible with a disability, I mostly eat whole foods close to their natural state. I do not purchase many processed or prepared foods. You don’t need a stove to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheese, granola or yogurt.

And to cook, all I needed was heat. My biggest challenge–I love tea. Tea makes everything better. If it had been summer, I could have made sun tea by putting water and tea bags in a glass jar on the porch. But it had been a wet, chilly spring, and I wanted hot tea to warm me up. The first few days, I heated my tea water in a slow cooker. It took a loooong time, but helped me work on staying calm and patient during this hectic time. I also used the slow cooker to cook rice, sweet potatoes, and soup. I even baked a loaf of whole grain bread in it!

I have a little Jet Boil stove for camping. I thought I knew right where it was, because I knew I would need it for tea. But you know how it goes with moving…which box was that in?? I was so excited when I found it! This lightweight one-burner gas stove is one of the best cooking investments I’ve ever made. And it heats water in one or two minutes. Yay for tea! I also cooked oatmeal by pouring boiling water over a bowl of oats and putting a cover on it. I did the same with frozen peas.

I didn’t have internet for over a week. In fact, I christened this 30-year-old house with Internet when I had it installed. That was an important reminder to me during this time. Not everyone has internet. I enjoyed that week with little online access. I limited my phone data usage to save money, only using it to check work email and do a bit of research for a stove. It was refreshing, especially since my new house is in the country, and I hadn’t lived in the country since I sold my house in Vermont and moved to Tennessee four years ago. I feel more myself than I have in years–less getting caught in the worldwide web and more observing plants and creatures coming to life in the spring.

Once I had full internet access I did more research, and after contemplating the pros and cons, decided to purchase a nontraditional stove. My kitchen is small, so I ordered a countertop oven that doubles as a dehydrator. But due to slow delivery times, it took three weeks to arrive. During that time, I borrowed a Pampered Chef grill from my aunt and uncle (it was electric or could be used with charcoal) and did all kinds of creative cooking. Some of my favorite meals were: grilled salmon with a spicy maple syrup glaze, whole grain blueberry pancakes, and tomatillos sautéed in bacon fat.

One day I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie. I decided to take on the challenge of cookie making without an oven. I don’t eat many sweets, so even with a typical oven, I don’t often make a whole batch of cookies. Usually, I just want one or two. So here’s a recipe that not only satisfies a craving for a small family, it proves that chocolate chip cookies can be baked on a grill!

 

Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (or two!)

By Jennie Lou Harriman

2 Tbsp softened butter

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup self-rising flour

4 Tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat grill on low-medium setting.

Whisk one egg. (Use leftover egg later to make a scrambled egg snack.)

Combine softened butter, brown sugar, one tablespoon of egg, vanilla, and flour.

Mix in chocolate chips.

Place one or two mounds of dough on a cast iron pan.

Put the pan in the grill, and put the cover on the grill.

Bake until golden brown. The amount of time will depend on your grill setting.

(Enjoy your warm treat even more, knowing you just baked a cookie on a grill! I’m not sure how this would go using another type of grill. Perhaps the pan would need a cover. Or maybe smoked chocolate chip cookies would be delicious…or not–an experiment yet to come!)

 

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Jennie Lou Harriman

 

Jennie Lou Harriman is an artist, educator and entrepreneur. She enjoys writing nonfiction that helps children have fun while learning. Her passion for interacting with children led to her first six picture books-five of them were created in collaboration with children. The other was part of an intergenerational program that also included residents from a retirement community.

Jennie Lou writes profile articles, recipes, how-to activities, and curriculum. She loves teaching hands-on activities in person, seeing what emerges in the moment, and developing written curriculum so others can join the fun, too!

Jennie Lou was raised in both Vermont and Tennessee, giving her an awareness of different perspectives of life.

 

saw hammer drill

 

My Hammer, Saw, Drill website: hammersawdrill.com
My main art/teaching/book website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com/about
Blog on this website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Crawfish Boils & Mudbug Races

crawfish

 

Anyone who tells you crawfish taste like lobster is wrong. Crawfish tastes better and if you ever lived in the bayou areas of southern Louisiana you would probably agree with me.

Outsiders to life in the swamps might look at this picture and think, “I would never eat that!” But if you come from a poor family and wonder a lot where you next meal is gonna come from, that plate represents some tasty times in the Lavergne family while I was growing up.

There was a small creek cutting through the back yard of a house I lived in as a child and after a heavy rain, I would run out back with my siblings to check for crawfish holes. Those crafty mudbugs would bury themselves deep into the wet ground and there were only two ways to get them out. One was by tying something like a small piece of bread to the end of a string before lowering it into the crawdad hole. If you were lucky, a crawfish would clamp down on the bread with one of it’s claws and you could pull them out of the hole. Crawfish are ornery critters and almost always refuse to let go once they’ve latched onto something.

The other way (one I NEVER chose to join in on) was to walk barefoot through that creek and hope a crawfish would find one of your toes appealing enough to clamp onto it! I use to watch my brother and sisters walk the creek trying to catch crawfish but was never foolish enough to try it myself!

Every so often my father would bring home huge bags of crawfish for the family. I’m not sure if he bought them, trapped them himself, or if they were a gift from someone taking pity on us. No matter…it was three hundred pounds of instant fun for us.

For racing, I would pick whichever one seemed to be crawling around the fastest and then pit it against my siblings’ choices. For fighting, the champion would be the one with the largest pinchers. Either way, they all eventually ended up in a large cauldron of boiling water flavored with crawfish boil seasonings, new potatoes and corn on the cob.

Then there would be a mad dash to cover our dining room table with multiple layers of newspapers as Mother began dumping pan after pan of delicious crawfish onto the papers and everyone could eat their fill. Tails were pulled from whatever was left over and put in the freezer for later. Many a night Mother would watch her TV shows while cracking open the shells until her fingers bled just so her children could have food for another day.

I didn’t realize the sacrifices my mother made back then but I do now. There aren’t many crawfish holes around the hills of Tennessee but whenever I do get the chance to enjoy some crawfish, I always remember the wonderful crawfish boils made possible by a parent doing everything she could to keep her children fed.

Thanks, Mom.

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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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 flash fiction, 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.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

 

kaitlyn

 

 

Creative Ways to Get Your Kids Reading

by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

For a while when my daughter was two, she didn’t want to sit still for a book but she LOVED baths. She didn’t want to get out, in fact. So one day I decided I’d bring some books to the bathroom and read to her there. She was already sitting in one place, and I needed something to occupy me when she kept asking to stay in longer. Bonus: a way to get her out was to say, “Okay, one more story, and it’s time to get out.” Boom! 

Creative ways to get your kids reading can be hard to come by, so hopefully some of these will spark something for you and your family.

Another thing that’s worked really well for us is to get books that are about the shows or movies my daughter loves. I know that can be difficult to get right now, but if you already have some books that match with shows or movies, just drop them in front of your child after you start the show. It’s highly likely his or her unoccupied fingers will start flipping through the pages and realize, “Omg this is what I’m watching!” Then you can read it with him or her or them again after the show or movie is over, get the TV turned off, AND that lovely pile of other books you conveniently placed next to them all read, too.

Finally, incorporating books into play has been a successful way to get my daughter reading. Just the other day, my daughter wanted to make doughnuts–she has a felt matching book with food and we got creative! We got a wooden spatula from the kitchen and an recently emptied Gold Fish crackers box for the oven (ok I know doughnuts are fried but just go with it ;)). As we were pretend baking, I thought, “Grandma would love this,” so of course my brain went straight to a refrain from a wonderful book by Anika A. Denise that we received from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library “It’s baking day, it’s baking day, it’s baking day at Grandma’s.” So I found the book and asked her if she wanted to read it, and she did!

Another thing we’ve done recently is actually incorporated my daughter’s toys into books. My daughter has been all about her toys lately, so one day when we were sitting on the ground playing PJ Masks with her figurines, I reached for a book. Of course, my daughter didn’t want to read, she wanted to play. But what if the toys want to read? Ohhh, now we got the toddler hooked. I put one figurine on the page and as you can see, my daughter started adding more in and creating her own story. We got the chance to explore a book in a whole new way. Double score: Mom worked in reading AND creative play!

One of the best things about times like these is they really inspire us to think outside the box, so while these ideas of connecting reading to something else aren’t new, what you come up for your child will be. And then you can pat yourself on the back and say, “Wow, I’m smoother than I thought.” Or at least, that’s what I did 😉  Whatever you do, just know, we’re all struggling with trantrums and worries and way too much tech use. Just try your best; that’s all anyone can ask for.

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Additional interviews with Kaitlyn:

https://www.pbspotlight.com/single-post/2020/01/24/Author-Champion-Spotlight-Kaitlyn-Sanchez

https://anafiction.com/2019/06/21/kaitlyn-sanchez-and-her-journey-to-get-her-agent/

https://www.wordsandpics.org/2020/02/special-feature-how-inspiration-spreads.html

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Sanchez

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is an associate agent at Olswanger Literary, mom, wife, math teacher, and picture book author represented by Joyce Sweeney at the Seymour Agency.

She is also the co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as the creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest.

In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when her husband and daughter cozy up so they can all read together.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Sweets For My Sweet

sweets

 

Growing up in a poor family didn’t give me many chances to cater to my sweet tooth. I am a chocoholic from early childhood when I drank mug after mug of hot cocoa on a cold rainy school day while drying off in front of a fire.

Occasionally my mother would scrap enough change together to give each of her children a nickel and we would walk down to the corner grocery store to fill a bag with our choices for the day. As much as I loved chocolate, I knew even at four or five years old that sweet tarts and bubble gum at three or four pieces for one penny would last longer than one Hershey’s kiss for that same penny.

But those candy trips didn’t happen often so my sweet tooth had to be satisfied with whatever my parents could cook up at home.

My father spent many years as a cook for offshore oil drilling rigs and he was better suited for preparing meals for one hundred people instead of the six in his family. But occasionally he would decide to make homemade lollipops for us kids.  If I think about it now, it probably wasn’t too hard a task to mix the few ingredients together and pour it onto sticks lying on sheets of wax paper but to me, it was like someone had dropped me smack dab in the middle of Willy Wonka’s factory.  Oh the anticipation of waiting to be told I was able to grab my own sucker. To finally clutch that lollipop and be able to bite into that crunchy sweetness was well worth the wait.

But it is my mother’s donuts that I remember most growing up. Mother’s attempt to provide a special treat for her children came with good intentions but it was the execution that always seemed to be lacking.  Preparing the dough didn’t take long but when it came to the actual frying of the donuts, Mother had to use the only thing available to her. That was usually old bacon grease or old oil used to fry chicken or fish and then stored in a metal can on top of the stove. Let’s just say those donuts came out of the pan with an unusual flavor added to what should have been a sweet treat and not even a hearty dunking in sugar afterwards could quite mask the aftertaste.

There was no complaining allowed in our house where food was concerned since it tended to be a rare commodity so I always said thank you and made the most of a sticky situation. But you can bet to this day if I’m going to indulge my sweet tooth by buying a doughnut, it WON’T be fried in old bacon grease!

 

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Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORYS MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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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 flash fiction, 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.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Debbie LeCroix

dungeon

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

The Family Dungeon (It’s not what you think)

by Debbie LeCroix

 

Growing up, I watched my brother play Dungeons and Dragons.  They never asked me to play.  I probably would have. But as an adult, my interest is about as deep as watching paint dry. But, D&D has always been something my son Billy enjoyed. Alex (my college student) always wanted to learn. So when we got stuck in Quarantine, guess what?  Family Dungeons and Dragons every Sunday and Wednesday.  Let me repeat… every Wednesday and Sunday.  (My husband told me if I wanted out to roll badly so I’d get killed off.  His technique has not worked. We are all still in the game 4 weeks later, and I have to admit, it’s kind of fun.) And I’m learning so much. Who knew that there were so many variations and shapes of dice?!

Alex picked a Wizard.  My husband, Todd, is a Fighter, and I’m a lovely Rogue.  Somehow we all picked the same name: Fig.  That’s what happens when you are listening, but not listening to each other.  We all have variations of Fig.   I’m actually Figly, the Rogue. And I’m pretty good with a crossbow.

I have amazing stealth skills, which I use to “borrow” ale.  Billy, the Dungeon Master, makes me role every time I choose to do this, to see if I’m as efficient as I can be.  I think it’s his way of teaching me consequences.  I’m not a huge drinker in real life, so I’m using my alternative reality to build up my tolerance.  Some rolls of the dice is better than others.  I’ve also learned with my strong persuasion skills and card game abilities, that I’m great at gambling to get what I want or save us from a situation.  Of course, I think my son changed the rules for me.  I’ve never liked the violence of attacking goblins, giants and Bugbears with axes and bows. I’d much rather friend them and read them a bedtime story.  This is difficult to do as Bugbears are like hobgoblins, but bigger and scarier (I think.) I’m learning an entire new world here.

It’s really fun to watch Billy as our Dungeon Master.  He loves to act out all the attacks.  It’s like watching a YouTube video, but in real life.  I really need to get some of these on camera.  (I almost said tape, but that would be irrelevant since we no longer have tape.) 

Along the way we saved a Goblin, named Droop.  I want to call him Doby.  House elf/goblin….  Droop has actually saved us a few times.  He doesn’t have much confidence, but has been just what we need to win against a encampment of orcs and one ogre. Please note for any real die hard D&D players, if I misspeak your language, it is not intentional.

Family Dungeons and Dragons is a really great bonding experience.  Since we have no activities in the evenings and all my events have been cancelled, we are using our time to bond and try something new.

It’s also really great for opening up the imagination, learning to world build, and creating story scenarios.  If you are looking for something to do, and this sounds fun, I say go for it! It’s all about the experience points.

 

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Debbie book

 

REVIEW:

Children’s Literature – Jodell Sadler

This is a title that looks like it’s all about telling time, but it’s actually about anticipating time. And really celebrates clocks, clock sounds, such as various cuckoos and tick-tock sounds, and movements to the rhythm of the day. It also brings up the various lullabies, serenades, and unique sounds that can come booming out every sixty minutes. This story is told through the interactions of two unspoken characters, a blue bird and a horse that step in time together, hang from pendulums, who remind each other to listen, sleep to lullabies, and wake up in time to start their day. This book is a nice reminder of all the sounds of many kinds of clocks: cuckoo, alarm, grandfather, hall, kitchen, and anniversary clocks, that kids might find in their lives and the roles they play. Kids who enjoy this title may also enjoy 10 Minutes to Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann, which shares a fabulous unspoken story in the illustrations.

 

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debbie picture

 

Author Debbie LaCroix writes picture books and is a playwright. She’s currently working on her first middle grade novel.  She also sells Usborne Books & More.  With her free time, Debbie reads Tarot cards and interprets dreams to help empower others and help them find their stories.  You can find her at www.debbielacroix.com for her writing, www.goreadtoday.com for her books, and at www.facebook.com/dreamcatcherdragon for her Tarot.

 

 

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Yay Summer Vacation

vacation

 

When I was growing up in the swamps of Louisiana, my mother created a summer time routine that never varied until I was in my late teens. Every year mid summer she would get an urge to visit her brother and his wife in Oklahoma. Aunt Betty and Uncle Elmo owned what I would call a farmer’s market/souvenir shop on the outskirts of the Cherokee Reservation.

I can remember her coming into my bedroom in the middle of the night to wake me up just so I could wedge myself between my parents in the front seat of our old car and go back to sleep while my siblings crammed themselves into the back seat. My father drove all night and most of the following day while my mother read the maps and dangled her feet out the window. There was always fried chicken and bologna sandwiches to munch on so the long trek from the Louisiana swamps to the hills of Oklahoma was never interrupted by sightseeing detours. Our destination was our relatives’ house and since my father wasn’t fond of driving all that way in the first place, he wanted to arrive in the shortest amount of time possible.

Once there, I knew I would get the chance to see some real, live Native Americans as they frequented my uncle’s store almost daily. To a young kid from the swamps, it was like seeing aliens dropped down from the Mother Ship. I would hide behind the counter and then peek out to see what they would buy. Eventually, as I got older, I would help weigh the fruits and vegetables on an old-timey set of scales before bagging the produce for them. My uncle treated everyone the same…all were welcome at his store…and this was during a time when others might not have treated their neighbors from the reservation so kindly.

There are many holes in my memories of those trips but there is one memory so vivid all I have to do is close my eyes and I can summon both the sight and the smell of it. On every return trip our trunk would be loaded down with fresh apples and oranges as well as other produce to help supplement a poor man’s dinner table. My favorite part about those apples was the fact they were packed in cardboard boxes with slits in the tops and on the sides. If you lifted the top lid and quickly pushed it back down while holding your nose really close to the top slit, you could drink in the delicious aroma of crispy sweet Red Delicious apples picked fresh from the orchard just a few days before. To me it was one of the most heavenly smells on earth and if I had the chance to smell it again today I know it would bring back flashes of those lovely summer vacations with my Oklahoma kin.

I think it might be time to go grab me an apple and reminisce …

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORYS MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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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 flash fiction, 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.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Natasha Wing

 

kids laughing

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Using Joke Books to Lighten the Mood and Teach at the Same Time

by Natasha Wing

 

Like sneaking grated vegetables into a recipe, joke books are a great way to get your kids to read without it feeling like reading. There’s no chapter to finish. No stressful plot or conflict. But skills are still being learned. Kids learn about humor and what’s funny and how to play with language. They learn how to read aloud and get comfortable in front of an “audience.” They learn how to memorize. All while building their vocabulary.

Here’s an example of the fun you can have with a joke.

Why do Europeans walk funny?

They convert feet to meters.

This is silly on several levels. First, picturing people walking funny IS funny!

Then having their feet change into something else like meters is silly. Adults may think of meters as a measurement, but younger kids might imagine a real object like parking meters.

From here, you can now turn this into a learning experience. Find out the conversion rate of feet to meters. Then go around your house and measure things in feet and see if your child can convert to meters. See, you snuck in a little math, too!

If you want to extend this further, you can have your child draw a caricature of a person walking with meters instead of feet. Look up what caricatures are and study the different exaggerated styles, then draw. Now you’ve snuck in an art class!

Here’s a way to expand language. When writing jokes you don’t want to give away the answer in the question, just hint at it. For example, there’s a joke in Saltwater Sillies: 300+ Jokes for Buoys & Gulls about seals. If I had written, “What branch of the military did the seal enlist in?” it would have been too simple to guess. (Navy Seal) Rather than using the word “seal” in the question, I used another word for seal which is pinniped. Pinniped means fin or flipper-footed and refers to the marine mammals that have front and rear flippers. This group includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. Finding this out allowed me to substitute pinneped for sea lion and walrus jokes, too. Your child will now know another word for seal, sea lion and walrus!

Here are some fun ways to use joke books while sheltering in place.

  1. Make sure your household and the grandparents’ household each has the same joke book. Then during Facetime or Zoom chats you can take turns telling each other jokes. It’s a fun way to connect and make each other laugh. Plus it gives your child an opportunity to ask their grandparent what a word means.
  2. Challenge your child to come up with a new joke.

Give him or her a list of words that sound alike such as:

See

Sea

Si

C

Then see if they can come up with a joke using one or more of those words. Have them share it out loud with someone to test it out.

  1. Have your child write a joke on a postcard and mail it to a friend or teacher that your child misses. Ask the friend to mail one back.
  2. Play a game of make up the answer.

Write down three joke questions. Then ask your kids to supply their own answer. Have everyone vote on the funniest answer.

  1. Play act out knock-knock jokes. Two people can participate in this: one says knock-knock and the other asks the question, Who’s there? The children can dress up by wearing hats, or can act by pretending to be a character and change their voices. If you want to add music to this stand-up comedy act, have another child with a drum, harmonica or a kazoo make a funny noise with their instrument after each joke answer. Record it and send it to a friend or family member.

While you’re at home teaching, use joke books to lighten the mood, and feel good about developing your child’s sense of humor and vocabulary.

 

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Natasha book

 

Where do king crabs live? In sandcastles! Hundreds of ocean-themed jokes for kids ages 5-10. Knock-knocks, tongue twisters, one-liners, and puns will keep them laughing all the way to the beach. Also includes fun facts, and kooky caricatures for kids to color in. Packable size to take on trips. Crack your friends and family up with a gift of humor!

Available on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2XsuFez) and other online retailers.

 

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Natasha picture

 

Natasha Wing is the author of a funny children’s book using bakery puns called Bagel In Love. She has also published three joke books: Lettuce Laugh: 600 Corny Jokes About Food; Buzz Off!: 600 Jokes About Things with Wings; and Saltwater Sillies: 300+ Jokes for Buoys and Gulls. More of her books can be found at natashawing.com. Friend her author page: facebook.com/natashawingbooks.

 

 

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Take A Ride On The Soul Train…

 

record player

 

I discovered early on that I was born to love music. I don’t mean I’m able to tolerate it or that I simply enjoy listening to songs. I LOVE MUSIC! 

I was born to a mother who was part Native American and Cherokees sure do love their music. Then there was my father who was part Cajun and most people have heard of the Zydeco thing. Add to that the fact my maternal grandfather was a composer who built his own violin and my father would play the accordion for me growing up, I had no choice but to learn to appreciate the beauty of listening to great sounds…everything from the Grand Ol’ Opry to Doug Kershaw.

I didn’t know there was any other kind o music until my middle teens when I was allowed to start watching shows like American Bandstand to Soul Train and The Midnight Special.

There’s something about music, no matter the style, that connects with me and lifts my spirit. Even when it was time to grow up and leave my hometown I made sure my records traveled with me…a lifeline during hard times and a way to light up my future. Even today…years later…you can still find me rocking out to a good tune in my car and remembering some of the good musical moments from my childhood down on the bayou…

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORYS MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

++++++++++

 

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 flash fiction, 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.