Temporarily Closed For Construction…

This year has been quite the roller coaster ride for many people…hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, murder hornets, furloughs from work, unemployment, and of course, a pandemic!

In the middle of it all, I’ve worked hard to juggle three careers…running a martial arts school, researching and writing book four of my HISTORY’S MYSTERIES series, President Lincoln’s Balloons, and finishing the publishing details of the re-release of my picture book, The Story Catcher. I also have a number of other projects and events I’m juggling, including the Star Catcher Young Writers Contest in October, the creation of my quarterly newsletter, and my upcoming year-long PAY A BOOK FORWARD event.

In order to be able to meet all my writing deadlines through the rest of 2020, I will have to step away from my blog for the next three months in order to focus on those writing commitments. I will continue all the activities I do on Facebook but will return to my blog with the new year and hopefully the world will have settled into a new “normal”.

Here are the plans for the rest of my 2020:

  1. My picture book, The Story Catcher…My illustrator, Estella Hickman, has completed all the new illustrations for the re-release. I’m currently working on the editing & formatting of the manuscript and with a little luck, I will have it ready for the 2020 holiday season.
  2. My Star Catcher Writers Contest…the second annual writing contest for ages 10-18 would normally take place during the month of October. I have a few more days to determine if I will be able to run the contest again this year or if I delay it until the fall of 2021. This contest would create 25 winners in five different categories for an anthology to be released by the spring of 2021.
  3. My book four, President Lincoln’s Balloons, of my HISTORY’S MYSTERIES series…this book is behind in the research stage. I need time to finish the research and complete the manuscript before editing, formatting, sketching, and setting up the book for production. Estella has already sent me the book cover but it’s the guts I need to work on.
  4. My website…there are some updates I want to do with my website and decide the continued direction of my blog for the new year. I will be creating a FB poll to find out what my readers want to see so I can ensure I’m providing quality content for my blog.
  5. My most ambitious project to date…the PAY A BOOK FORWARD event happening for the entire year of 2021. I have been blessed to be able to donate over $165,000 worth of books to different school and local libraries over the years. Beginning in January I will be giving away 10-15 books a month for FREE by authors from around the globe! I will also have a few signed or extra special books to be given away. A TOTAL OF 200 BOOKS TO GIVE AWAY! Home school groups, pre-schools, elementary schools, middle schools, and even individuals will be able to have a chance to win one or more of these books as my way of giving back to the Kidlit community while continuing to support children’s literacy. More details to come!
  6. My house…I live in a 95 year old house. The passage of time has created a number of repair jobs that can no longer be put off so in the middle of ALL the things going on in my life, I get to spend the rest of this year with various strangers coming in and out to fix things around the house.
  7. My drawings…I’d like to get back to my sketches sometime in the not too distant future. I have an evergrowing stack of ideas and pictures I’d like to get my hands on and see where they take me.

Fall brings with it cooler weather, but I’m hot on the trail to complete several projects at once. Like my Corona-Crazy World isn’t hectic enough, I have a whole new level of “Jumanji” to deal with through the end of the year.

All I can say is…bring it on…and I hope you will send me a friend’s request through Facebook so we can keep in touch until I return after the beginning of the new year!

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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 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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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: Cleaning House…

My mother was a woman raised knee deep in tradition and old school ways. That way of thinking usually meant whenever she got an itch to change things up at the house, we would all be dragged into a cleaning frenzy. Most of the time it happened in the springtime, but the change in seasons from summer to fall didn’t stop her from taking stock of her surroundings with the idea “out with the old and in with the new”.

Anything worn out, broken down, or just outgrown would be tossed to one side to make way for upgrades. Clothes were tried on and handed down the line so you can imagine, as the baby of the family, how many times I actually got to wear brand new clothes in our poor family. After summer clothes were gone through, Mother would drag out the winter clothes that had been stored since the last cold snap, and the whole process would start over until all four of her children could walk into the new school year knowing they would be prepared no matter what Mother Nature threw at them.

Then came the house.

We literally would scrub that 100 year old house from ceiling to floor as my mother took the saying “top to bottom” quite literally. I thought a lot about those childhood cleanings this past Labor Day weekend as I went through my own home and tossed out items I no longer needed. I’m finally getting a chance to upgrade things a little around my house and what better time than in the middle of a pandemic?

I’m joking of course…why in the world would I add home repair stress to the rest of my Corona Crazy world I deal with every day? Because in the midst of all this uncertainty I’m dealing with when it comes to my day job, my writing career, my publishing house, and just life in general, it’s kinda nice to focus on improving the atmosphere inside my home. For the next few months, I will have some projects completed to turn my own nearly 100 year old house into the “beach house” of my dreams.

I am taking “before” pictures now as I tear everything down to the bare walls and will take the “after”pictures once everything is done. It’s kinda nice to have some “normal” decisions to have to make like what color paint, or where to put the new bookcase I ordered.

Simple.

Normal.

Just the kinda thing to put a smile on my face and make me think of my mother’s own cleaning days…

++++++++++++

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?

+++++++++++++

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: Walking In The Rain

rain

 

As kids are going back to school, it makes me think of my own school day memories of first day anticipation.

Louisiana and parts of Texas had to delay their school beginnings last week as two hurricanes barreled their way through the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall on Thursday. In the twelve years I attended school in southern Louisiana, we NEVER began our school year on schedule because of some hurricane coming through our area. 

Most of the time my father was stuck out in the Gulf…being a short order cook on an oil rig afforded its own challenges and most of the time he was ordered to remain off shore instead of being dropped in the middle of a tropical storm tearing a path up the coastline.

When Mother wasn’t filling up bathtubs with water or gathering up the kerosene lanterns in case of the inevitable power outages, she was stocking up on raincoats and galoshes. Late summer, early fall was a very rainy season for my hometown. Since the only way I was going to get to the elementary school half a mile from my house was to walk there, I had to be prepared for anything Mother Nature threw at me. 

One of my memories of first grade was my teacher, Miss Madelene, and her low tolerance of any student who failed to grab their galoshes from the cloak room at the end of the day. These were the days of strict obedience of the rules and swift justice at the end of a wooden paddle for the child who neglected to follow them.

I only forgot once.

Walking in the rain at the end of the school day helped shield my tear stained face from anyone wanting to tease me about my forgetfulness. It also gave me the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Fred Astaire as I danced and sang my way home…splashing through puddles in my hard won galoshes from that first grade cloak room.

Ahhhh, the memories of my youthful bygone days…

 

puddles

 

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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?

 

+++++++++++++++

 

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: Be The Light

lighthouse

 

I’ve always had a fascination with lighthouses. I don’t know if it’s because they symbolize standing alone against the elements which I’ve had to do a time or two in my lifetime. Or maybe it’s because they are also a symbol of welcome to anyone looking for shelter. It even could be the fact that lighthouses provide protection to those out on the sea against the perils of a foreign shore.

But lighthouses can also be a symbol of hope when the world is just a little bit darker than it was before.

Like our world has been for the past six months.

Political turmoil. Civil unrest. A worldwide pandemic. Mother nature rebelling with wildfires and hurricanes. Reopening schools or online learning. Take your pick. It’s all enough to make a person want to scream in frustration.

But there  is something ALL of us can do during these uncertain times.

BE A LIGHT.

It doesn’t require money or influence to be a light…although the more money or influence you have, the greater your light can shine.

BE A LIGHT.

All it takes is a willingness to put others first. Share a smile with a stranger because you don’t know if it’s the only light in their day. Hug your child to let them know while the rest of the world is tilting, THEIR world is still rock solid.

BE A LIGHT

Pray for those on the front lines of our lives. Doctors, nurses, police officers, child care workers, teachers…anyone who’s job is to serve others when sometimes the natural instinct is to bunker down inside.

BE A LIGHT

Call a friend in quarantine to let them know they aren’t alone. We’re all in this together. Send a card to the soldier serving half way around the world…and those serving down the street…to let them know we fully understand their sacrifice in serving our county in these darker days.

BE A LIGHT

There are as many ways to be a light in the darkness as there are people in this world. And you never know…YOUR light might be the one to push back the darkness surrounding someone else’s world. A beacon of hope to shine on the hopeless.

Makes you look at a lighthouse with newfound respect, now doesn’t it?

 

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Light

REMEMBER THE LIGHT

 

cat light

LOOK FOR THE LIGHT!

 

bird light

SHARE THE LIGHT

 

 

BE THE LIGHT!

 

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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?

 

+++++++++++

 

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: Don’t Worry…About A Thing

Just when I thought my world couldn’t get any stranger, my local news says there’s possibly a tiger roaming free on the east part of town. They don’t know where it came from and it could be hiding anywhere. Well THAT got the rumor mongers spinning their tales and the next thing I knew, the tiger was seen behind a middle school in the south part of town. Then I heard it wasn’t really a tiger, but a cougar. And then things got really confusing because I thought cougars could be found mainly out in the western part of the country, but what do I know? I guess it could have been just as likely someone telling me they sighted a black bear in their neighborhood and then someone else saying, “Oh no, it was actually a Grizzly on the prowl out west of town!” Grizzlies certainly live out WEST but I don’t think MY town’s “west” is far enough WEST for that!

See how rumors can run wild if you let them?

Then there’s my little friend up above…just sitting in a bird’s nest like it’s only natural for a CAT to be resting there. Does that make it a CATnary?

After nine months of 2020 where anything could go wrong…and it usually did…where every possible punch from Mother Nature could come along…and it has…where so-called experts have tossed around advice on how to deal with the surreal world we now find ourselves in…and most of their “wisdom” is wrong…I’ve decided to listen to the one person who seems to have figured things out…

Bob Marley.

I listened to this song and realized Marley had it right. Why am I tossing and turning at night worrying about things I have no control over? Why have I stopped LIVING because I’m worried about where my LIFE these days will take me?

“Don’t worry about a thing. Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

So from now on, I’m going to lean a little more on my faith and stop worrying about things I have no control over. And should I forget, I’ll just crank up this song…

++++++++++++

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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 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?

++++++++++++++++

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?

++++++++++++

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: All Creatures Great And Small

cricket

 

Growing up, my love for animals wasn’t just for stray pets like cats and dogs. Oh no, my fascination with all living things expanded far beyond the ordinary and I spent a lot  of time outdoors studying nature. If it crawled, hopped, flew, or otherwise moved I was interested in it.

Hot summer days now remind me of Mother’s wash days. Whether she was using the old ringer washer and scrub board or the washing machine she finally got when I was much older, Mother never had a dryer in the house. She would carry the wet clothes out back and hang them on the line. I don’t know if it was the fact the clothes were wet or if it was all that flapping in the wind, but you could always count on dozens of dragonflies to make a stop on the clothesline…dancing in the hot summer sun along with the clothes as they dried. I was mesmerized by those creatures and would spend many an afternoon trying to sneak up on one so I could examine their dainty, translucent wings as they fluttered in the breeze.

I like to think it’s the Cherokee blood in me that connects with nature but I’ve always hated to see any harm come to one of God’s creatures.  Even things like going fishing bothered me. While I enjoyed the actual fishing part, I never had the heart to be the one to send a worm to its watery demise. Either my parents or my brother had to load the hook and cast the line before I could be tempted to hold the pole.

But one Saturday afternoon, I took my love for all creatures great and small to a whole new level…

I was in elementary school at the time and every Saturday we would gather around the television to watch westerns like Bonanza and Rawhide. It was during one of those shows when a small cricket managed to get into our house and make it’s way into the living room where I lay on the floor watching TV.

I don’t remember who heard the chirping sound first but all I wanted was to capture the little guy and put him back outside. My brother, on the other hand, decided he was going to do what most boys his age would have done and hunt the cricket down like prey. Before I could stop him, David had killed it and I was devastated. I cried my little heart out and begged my mother to allow me to have a burial service for the cricket. Not only did she say yes, she found a matchbox to bury him in and made us kids go outside in the middle of the shows so I could have a proper funeral for him.

I’m sure my brother wasn’t too happy about missing his westerns, but you can bet he never tried to kill another critter that managed to get into the house as long as I was around!

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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.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: The Kid Next Door

chocolate

 

Growing up in a small town allowed me to get friendly with our neighbors every time we had to move to a different house. I grew up during an era where you didn’t have to lock your front door at night. Heck, most nights during a hot Louisiana summer we wouldn’t even close the door in the hopes a light breeze would makes its way through the house since we didn’t have air conditioning either. 

The last house I lived in before I graduated was next door to a lady named Rowena and her young son, Damian. Rowena worked at the local beauty shop and was a single mom. Not something you saw much back then, but she was friendly and seemed to have money for the kind of luxuries I could only dream of.

Sometimes when Rowena worked late she would ask me to babysit her son on the weekends. The first time she asked if I could watch Damian I was shocked to hear my mother give her permission. I was never allowed to go anywhere, but I suppose the fact I was a mature 12 year old and it was only for a couple of hours at the house next door, Mother was persuaded it was okay. It didn’t even matter much to me that any money I made would end up buying cigarettes for Mother…the freedom and independence from being away from the house was intoxicating enough.

Damian was about 6 at the time and a cute kid, but I quickly realized the first time I went over to his house that his station in life far exceeded anything I could ever hope to achieve. That kid had every toy known to man and I took full advantage of playing with as much of his stuff as I could. My favorite was the Fisher Price Family Play Farm. I could play with that thing for hours and even confess to loving the animal sounds coming from the barn doors as I swung them open to let the critters out.

But it was what was in the kitchen that kept me going back every chance I could. Rowena was an extremely indulgent host and told me I could eat anything  I wanted whenever I looked after Damian. Her son, not used to wondering where his next meal was coming from or what ingredients might be in it, was quite content to eat hot dogs when I came over. 

I, on the other hand, stumbled across one drawer in their refrigerator that literally stopped me in my tracks. Pound after delicious pound of chocolate candy was stuffed in one of the crisper drawers.  Free for the taking and take it I did. By the handful. To someone like myself who only saw candy on the rare holiday, I simply couldn’t fathom the reasoning behind having a treasure trove of goodies whenever the sugar high mood struck you.

I don’t remember much about those babysitting days beyond that toy farm and the candy, but I do remember two things…

 

  1. Damian never had any interest EVER in eating any of that candy.

 

  1. I knew Damian HAD to be an alien from outer space.

 

It was the only way I could figure out why he would turn his nose up at the chance to dive into all that chocolatey goodness…

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

 

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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: A “Military” Family

 

Daddy soldier 1

 

Today is Memorial Day. A time in the United States when we honor those who paid the “ultimate sacrifice” while serving their country.

But I say there is more than one type of “military” training and more than one way to serve one’s country. I thought I would share how my family have served this country for more than 100 years…

 

Daddy young boy                        Daddy soldier

 

I’m not sure if my father dreamed of going into the military when he was a young boy living near the bayous of southern Louisiana. But by 1950 he was a young man serving in the Air Force as part of the military police division. While he never served his country overseas during the Korean War, he did manage to offer up his two front teeth in a home front battle. He caught a beer bottle with his mouth one night while trying to stop a bar fight. My father adapted to the changes a military life provided but I’m not sure he was prepared for the pretty little thing who crossed his path during those war years.

 

Mother young woman

 

My mother came from sturdy country folk living in the hills of the Ozark Mountains. Her lineage included full blooded Cherokee Indian and an ancestor who served in a distinguished Cherokee division of soldiers during the Civil War. When she was 17 and living in California, World War II broke out . My mother, who once sewed together baby bibs, geared up to do her duty for the war effort when her factory began to create war time fighting equipment. She further “served” her country by raising three children and three grandchildren to follow a “military” lifestyle while serving their country in different ways.

 

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup                                  David soldier

 

My brother joined the Navy once he turned 18 and served for twenty years with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise before retiring as a Naval officer. He continued serving as a high school teacher before retiring again a few years ago.

 

Patrick and Robert young boys

 

Patrick soldier                  Robert soldier

 

My brother raised two of his children to become military men as well. Both followed in their father’s footsteps, joining the Navy once they graduated high school and served their country for a few years.  The one on the right continues to serve during the pandemic by becoming a long haul truck driver.

 

Carol young girl                          Carol soldier

 

My oldest sister joined the Navy a couple of years after my brother. She spent a tour serving in the southeast and married another Navy man. 

 

Donna young girl                                  Randy young boy

 

Randy & Donna tkd

 

And then there is MY family. My son and I both began training in the ancient art of Taekwondo years ago. It is a self-defense program based on military training and a code of ethics which promotes service of others.  The two of us served our school and the children who came there for years, before my son chose to change career paths. He is now a traveling nurse serving in Missouri during this pandemic. For myself, eighteen years later I continue to serve my community…my country…in various ways. I continue to teach children how to become strong community-minded individuals who have the confidence to defend themselves should the need arise. I also serve others by supporting children’s literacy  and proud to know I’ve helped donate over $130,000 worth of books to local elementary school libraries as well as worthy literary causes all over the country.

My family is steeped in decades of military duty or service to others, but it all started with my father’s decision to join the military and eventually marrying my mother. When my father died, I was put in charge of his estate and I thought it fitting he receive a 21-gun salute at his funeral. There is nothing so haunting as the echo of a military farewell to a fallen soldier, whether from the ravages of battle or the end of a long life. It will be a memory I will take with me to my own grave. Besides a heartfelt thank you for service to his country, there is only one other thing I can think of to say to my father…

Good bye, Daddy. I hope you are at peace now. 

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

 

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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: The “New” Normal

 

normal

 

Before I started writing stories in my youth, I wrote poetry. Some of my poems were good. Many of them were not. But they all served a purpose. It gave me a way to express my feelings when the world around me stopped feeling normal.

Since nothing these days seem very “normal” to me, I thought I would change things up a little with my TALES FROM THE BAYOU post. I’m sharing two poems with you this week. “Carry On” was written when I was twenty years old. I wrote it for a friend of mine at the time who lost his younger brother to a sudden heart attack while he was playing touch football. For my friend, his “normal” changed that day as he struggled to come to terms with his “new” normal.

The other poem, “The New Normal”, came to me last night in my dreams. When I woke up this morning, the first two lines played over and over in my mind until I had to write them down. It reflects how I’m feeling right now as I struggle to adjust to my own “new” normal.

Maybe one day this “new” normal we are all dealing with will become old again.

 

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CARRY ON

 

When the clouds turn grey

And the path seems long,

When your will to fight

Doesn’t seem that strong,

When the world turns away

And you feel like you don’t belong;

Just  keep your head up…carry on.

 

When the turn of the card

Doesn’t come your way,

When you want to give up

At the end of the day,

When friends start to leave

Though you wish they would stay’;

Just keep your head up…carry on.

 

When the night draws near

And darkness will find you,

When you feel all lost

And don’t know what to do,

When something brings pain

And you discover others hurt, too;

Just keep your head up…carry on.

 

When you lose someone you love

And you have to say goodbye,

When the truth begins to hurt

And you start wondering why,

When you know it’ll get better

Yet still feel the need to cry;

Just keep your head up…carry on.

 

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THE NEW NORMAL

 

Where I once lived, flowers grew,

Among the rocks and grassy dew,

There, families hugged

And laughed

And loved,

Living the only “normal” they knew.

 

But now the world seems so tilted,

With dreams on pause and lives all stilted,

Where some will cry

And mourn,

Ask why?

Towering faith suddenly wilted.

 

Yet sounds of nature are still there.

Songs of life still in the air.

Where families still hug

And laugh

And love.

This “new” normal where people still care.

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris

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

NOW AVAILABLE IN EBOOK, PAPERBACK & HARDBACK ON AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, BOOKS A MILLION, AND OTHER FINE RETAILERS!

 

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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 three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is now available in ebook, paperbook & hardback everywhere!