THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Racin’ & Writin’

 

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What does the horse racing world and writing have in common?

Handicaps…you know, those obstacles placed in the way as an attempt to either “level” the playing field or hold something back from achieving a higher goal.

I don’t really follow horse races like the Triple Crown races anymore. But I have been fascinated with one race horse for as long as I can remember.

Man O War.

Why, even the name seems as regal as the horse himself. No one had any idea just what amazing feats this one horse could do when he was a foal. That is, no one but the horse himself. And once Man O War starting showing the world what he could do, everyone began putting handicaps in his way. Despite all the handicaps, this horse managed to win every single race during his career…except one…and that was the rider’s fault, not “Big Red’s”. His own owner refused to put this horse in the Kentucky Derby because he judged him to be “too young” for such a race. And yet Man O War went on to win the other two races of the Triple Crown. The HORSE knew what he was capable of, but his OWNER decided to throw a handicap in his way of superstardom. Officials within the racing circuit would even add lead weights to his saddle…up to 30 pounds and more…just to try and slow him down because apparently he was “embarrassing” the other horses by being faster than them.

Wait a minute…isn’t that the point of horse racing? To SEE who is the fastest?

Writing can be seen as a sort of race as well. A challenge for the individual to get to the finish line…whatever that may mean to that individual. Maybe the goal is to write the next great ________ (fill in the blank with novel, play, song, etc…you get the idea) or maybe the goal is to be the family historian and capture those moments in a personal history before they are forgotten.

My goal is to become a great children’s books author. I don’t mean “great” as in well-known, although I certainly wouldn’t turn my back on that…lol…but I mean the BEST I can be without allowing handicaps to stand in my way. I’ve realized in the past that one of my MAJOR self-induced handicaps was the fact I doubted my own writing ability. That wall of “what ifs” held me back from embracing the love I have for writing. What if no one likes what I write? What if I fail at becoming a children’s book author? What if I succeed??? The many “what ifs” weighed me down until I simply stopped trying.

Then I decided it was time to let go of the handicaps and do the thing I love to do…to write. To learn how to become better at this and allow others to participate in my journey should they decide to come along. To take the critiques given with an open mind for all the lessons to be learned and to NOT see them as a “handicap” holding me back, but as an “incentive” to keep pushing me forward toward my own finish line.

So what is YOUR handicap? That thing you have placed in front of you to slow down your own race? Wouldn’t it be more fun to enjoy the ride as Man O War did and leave the “handicaps” for other people to worry about? Well done, Man O War, for not letting others tell you how GREAT you could become but just believing in your own ability…well done!

 

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HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known secrets. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in this latest volume of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES!

In Book One, Ship of Dreams, ten-year-old Margaret can hardly wait to see the largest ship ever built visit Southampton! Life is already hard for her family in the spring of 1912, but the coal workers’ strike could turn a bad situation into a deadly one. Margaret hopes to see the great Titanic leave on its maiden voyage, but will the strike prevent it from happening?

 

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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 book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also coming soon to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Trusting My Instincts

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The world of martial arts is demanding. Techniques, forms, mindset…all of these things come together to form the foundation of a martial artist. Pretty much like the world of writing. A writer must have good story lines, strong sentence structure, and the right mindset to pull it all together. I think that is where trusting one’s instincts come into play.

 
I’ve trained and taught TaeKwonDo for almost twenty years now. When I began that journey, I had no clue of what I was doing. I didn’t know a crescent kick from a jump spin side kick and I sure didn’t feel I could trust my instincts I was on the right path to this new life I had chosen. It took me some time and a lot of hard work to get to a point where I am comfortable being a martial artist. I now trust my instincts where my teaching is concerned and I try to encourage and mold my students into a better martial artists every time they step onto my mats.

 
I think writing is a lot like training in the martial arts. Everyone has to be that “white belt”. That beginner writer just starting out with an idea…a vision of creating something new…if they only knew what they were doing. It’s hard to trust one’s instincts when you are a beginner writer and unsure of protocol regarding the written word.

 
That’s where hard work and constant practice comes in. New writers are eager to learn everything there is to know about this world they’ve stepped into and if they are smart, they will choose strong teachers to show them the way. With each lesson learned in developing their own writing style, that new writer will start to trust their own instincts about what is right for them on that path they chose for themselves.

 
Although I have been writing for over 45 years, I consider myself a “new” writer. One who is committed to learning as much as I can about the “techniques” of being a good writer, cultivating a pool of strong story ideas, and greeting each day with the right mindset to mold that nugget into a polished, finished product. But while I’m doing all that, I think what I will work on the most, is learning to trust my “writer’s instincts” of what is right for me. Because when the day is over and I look back on what I have written, I want to be proud of my work. I want it to say a little bit about the person I am and to show the world that I learned to trust my instincts as a writer.

 
What about you? Are you letting go of the self-doubt and learning to trust your own instincts about the writer you were meant to be?

 

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HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known secrets. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in this latest volume of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES!

In Book One, Ship of Dreams, ten-year-old Margaret can hardly wait to see the largest ship ever built visit Southampton! Life is already hard for her family in the spring of 1912, but the coal workers’ strike could turn a bad situation into a deadly one. Margaret hopes to see the great Titanic leave on its maiden voyage, but will the strike prevent it from happening?

 

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

 

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 book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, will be available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers on October 14th, 2019.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: My Favorite Day of the Week

 

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Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Twenty-four hours of silence filled with the feeling of being wrapped up in words and nowhere to have to go.

No appointments.

No commitments.

No one tugging at me, asking for my help or demanding my time. Just the words are there…waiting for me…like little puppies lined up for a belly rub and I dive into the middle of them, drowning in the visions and sensations all the lovely words have to share with me.

Sometimes I don’t know where to start. I’ve fought my way through another hectic week and my mind searches for the words I know will feed my spirit. Softly they whisper “come follow me” and soon I’m down the rabbit hole on some grand adventure to visit the Mad Hatter or the Queen of Hearts.

Or maybe they call to me to take a leap of faith and we fly to Never Land where the lost boys are. Words dancing and prancing across the pages, leading me on a merry chase until I fall exhausted onto my bed. Wrapping myself up in the soft words of a bedtime story, lulling me to sleep with their stories of the night.

Words.

You have the power to hurt, the power to heal, and the ability to create a little magic in the mind of one weary time-traveler. So for now, I’ll catch my breath, say a prayer of thanks for the ability to read because so many in this world can’t, and go in search of some words…

 

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HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)     HM The Chocolate Train Wreck front cover

SHIP OF DREAMS (OCT 2019)                THE CHOCOLATE TRAIN WRECK (NOV 2019)

 

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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 book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, will be available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers on October 14th, 2019.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Step By Step

 

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It’s mornings like today that remind me of walking to school when I was a kid. We only had one car in the family and my mother didn’t drive…not because she didn’t want to but I think because that was one more responsibility she didn’t want to add to her overloaded plate.

So I walked. Everywhere.

I’d like to say the walk to school was at least a mile from my house and maybe it just seemed that long to a little kid toting a backpack full of books, but every morning I would head out and make my way through town to the elementary school. I never minded the walk because I LOVED to learn and it got me away from the house for a few hours. Despite the fact that I was incredibly shy, had no friends, and was constantly teased because I always managed to become the “teacher’s pet”, school was a sanctuary for me in those days.

Gueydan is an extremely tiny town, population around 1500…numbers which might actually include residents of the local cemetery…and nothing exciting ever seem to happen there. Except during the fifth grade when my elementary school burned to the ground.

I remember walking with my sister to school that day. Everything seemed normal until we got a couple of blocks away and we heard the siren from the firetruck. We were both shocked to finally get to the school to see smoke billowing out of the building as they tried to put the fire out that actually began in MY homeroom. The entire building was destroyed and we spent the rest of the school year attending classes on half days. Our high school building was located next door so I ended up going to school from 7:30 until around 11:30 each day and then Janet, being in ninth grade at the time, would have her classes from 11:30 until 3:30. It was a challenging school year until the new elementary building was completed but somehow we made it work.

Walking home the same way every day could become boring so I liked to change it up whenever I could. Mother expected me to get home quickly. If I took the longer route that cut through the park so I could sneak in a couple of twirls on the merry go round, I had to make up for it by running the rest of the way home. Sometimes I would even start running straight from school to the park because that was where the library was and if I was lucky, I could sneak in and visit the books.

Even then books held a spell over me. I would dash in just to say hi to the librarian and maybe take a quick look at the newest arrivals so I could start dreaming of which book would I check out next. Then it was a mad dash to get home before Mother suspected I hadn’t walked straight home like she expected me to.

I wonder what the kids I went to school with would think about me now that I am a children’s book author? So many steps taken from those old school days to where I am now and yet I find all those steps STILL lead me to the one thing I’ve always loved more than anything else…books.

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

 

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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 book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Don’t Get Too Comfortable

mason

 

When I was growing up, my family moved around a lot. With extreme poverty came the constant need to find living arrangements that matched my paren’ts dwindling financial funds.

My father worked every type of job from construction to offshore cook, but it was hard to get comfortable when you never knew if next month you would be moving again.

Finally my parents saved up enough money to put a downpayment on a century old home and we could put down roots. Their mortgage was $50 per month, but it could have easily been $5000 as I watched my mother struggle each month to come up with enough money to keep her children comfortable in their “forever” home.

Being comfortable and knowing the wolves are no longer at the door is okay when you’re a kid, but as a writer, the worst thing we can get is too comfortable with our stories.

When we stop striving to challenge our characters…stop throwing obstacles in their way to overcome…we short change ourselves and fall short of the stronger writers we can become.

And what’s the fun in that?

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

 

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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 book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: A Case of Mistaken Identity

 

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I grew up surrounded by animals. Just about everything that crawled, swam, or walked, found it’s way into my childhood at one point or another.

When I was about 12 years old, one of my pets was a chihuahua mix dog we had had for many years named Penny. She was a sweet, tolerant animal…but then again, she had to be with four children always vying for her attention.

As she grew older, she tolerated the peskiness of a pure bred chihuahua named Chi Chi we added to our family, and even my poor attempts to teach that old dog some new tricks. Penny always tried to please me and would eagerly run to me whenever I called her name.

But one day, my poor dog developed a case of mistaken identity that brings a smile to my face whenever I think of it.

Back in 1974, Elton John released a single titled “Benny and the Jets” (https://youtu.be/p5rQHoaQpTw). If you’ve never heard of it, it was a weird, catchy tune, but then all of his songs were great to dance to when you’re a kid. I would take my transistor radio outside in the back yard to hang out with Penny and every time that song started playing, I would crank up the volume as high as it would go and wait for the chorus.

My poor dog would hear Elton John and think he was calling HER, instead of Benny, and she would take off running for the radio…barking at it every time she heard “Benny”…as if to say “I’m here! I’m here! Can’t you see me?”

I’m pretty sure poor Penny was glad when that song fell off the charts and wasn’t played any more.

We writers sometimes deal with mistaken identities as well.

Sometimes our main characters aren’t really the main character at all and it takes a good critique to shine the light on who is really driving our stories.

Sometimes we send out submissions and classify our story as a new age when it’s really a steampunk…or a middle grade when it’s better classified as a young adult.

And sometimes we even classify ourselves as a failure just because we haven’t been published yet. We think we have a mistaken identity daring to call ourselves writers on those days when our negative thoughts cause us to doubt our own abilities to weave a story.

But we need to be more like my dog, Penny, and at least SHOW UP every time those ideas call out to us. We need to hang out with them for a while and see if, just maybe, it wasn’t a case of mistaken identifty at all, but more of a new way to see ourselves…even one day to be able to call ourselves by our new identities as published authors!

 

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donna

 

International 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 book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Hiding In Plain Sight

 

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Up until about the 5th or 6th grade, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants in my school. The dress code allowed skirts just above knee level (although a lot of girls…myself included…would roll up the waist band a time or two to shorten the length of those skirts to a more “acceptable” level for pre-teens girls attempting to catch the eye of pre-teen boys.

One year I began the school year only to discover the school board changed the rules and girls were now allowed to wear pants in school. Everyone quickly went out to purchase a hefty supply of cool looking blue jeans.

Everyone, that is, except me.

Coming from a poor family and being the youngest of four children, the chances of a snowball in Hades was greater than my being able to avoid going to school in hand me downs. But a girl’s gotta have a dream and I dreamed of a bright blue pair of jeans so I could dress incognito to hopefully blend in with the “in” crowd at school.

I still remember that Christmas and how excited my mother was for me to open one particular present. At first I thought all my youthful dreams had come true when I uncovered a beautiful pair of blue jeans in just my size. I was thrilled. That is, until I took it out of the box and discovered it was trimmed at the bottom with about three inches of a tacky plaid cuff. My mother was waiting to see my reaction and for a moment I couldn’t speak.

I KNEW if I wore those pants to school I would be mocked and ridiculed for not only being poor, but now I would be considered a dork as well. But one look at my mother’s face and I also KNEW it had taken her time and precious money she didn’t have in order to, for once, give me a chance to wear brand new, store bought clothes.

What else could I do but thank her and wear the jeans?

Sadly, my peers were just as unforgiving as I expected and whenever I was forced to wear those jeans I wanted to become incognito for an entirely different reason…

Writers sometimes hide inside their main characters in order to see the world through their eyes…to better understand what they might be going through as they deal with their own struggles. Writers may want to wave to the world from inside their story, but experien0ced authors realize to stay hidden is to stay objective to the potential twists and turns of every situation the main character encounters.

Readers should never have even a hint the author is living incognito, somewhere within the pages of their manuscript. The audience doesn’t necessarily want to be influenced by the writer’s persona, but rather, wants the freedom to slip on that cloak of being incognito right along with the main character and hopefully experience the adventure of a lifetime.

And who are we to say they shouldn’t do just that?

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

 

International 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 book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.