FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Margot Finke

survival

 

(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)

 

Margot’s Magical COVID-19 Survival Kit!

by Margot Finke

 

The threat of COVID-19 has changed the way we must live.

 

***Ways to alleviate the stress of being isolated indoors***

 

I go out into my garden and work among the flowers, soak up the sunshine, and take many deep, lung-enhancing, breaths. My husband mows the grass, cooks, and is setting up the usual small seed pots on every windowsill and available space – for spring plantings!

We read books on our Kindles (Library is closed), and I catch up on cupboard cleaning while I listen to music. Groceries and fruit are ordered on line and delivered into the trunk of our car – no humans contact! I am always reminding Hubby to wash his hands. I am also in charge of sanitizing everything we buy or touch. We are older, so we protect ourselves to the best of our ability. Doing this gives us a great comfort. 

 

***Take advantage of  “Contact” that is Virtual and Safe.***

 

In the Internet age, no need to feel isolated!

Using Skype or Zoom will put you in touch with friends and relatives. Just Google them, download the program, and you can enjoy virtual visits! FREE. Grandkids feel closer when you Skype together, suggest books for them to read, or play online games together. Most teens (or even younger) know their way around the Internet. Ask them for computer help. They will love you for making them feel so smart and useful.

Use your email or text, and reach out to anyone you feel like chatting with. And for the really techie challenged there’s always your phone. A neighbor who lives alone would love a call from you, or an offer to order their groceries and have them delivered. They will feel less alone, and you will feel the power of friendship, and doing a good deed.

 

*** Keep your sense of humor sharp, and ready for any fun that “virtually” floats your way!***

 

Join Facebook’s Social Distancing Society for giggles, jokes, and good information. Choose TV shows and movies with uplifting themes.  Search online for places and people who realize “This too will Pass.”

Decide to make the best of a really scary and dreadful situation. Gather those you love into a large virtual community that shares ideas, help, and the determination to beat this virus – no matter what!  With a little online help from the INTERNET, BOOKS, FRIENDS, PHONE, TEXT, and FAMILY, you can do it, and feel proud of yourself as well.

 

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Margot picture

 

I am children’s author, Margot Finke, originally from Australia. I now live in the US with my husband, three children, and four perfect grandchildren. 

Margot’s Magic – my 16x Books, for ages 4 to 14 years, are all on Amazon. Some of my books have Aussie themes, and I also offer “Content” Editing  +  Writing Guidance.

My Book Catalog is FREE  —  Email: mfinke@frontier.com 
https://www.margotsmagic.com/2019/11/margots-books.html

 

Margot books

 

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Barbara Renner

 

birds

 

(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)

 

FLOWERS KEEP BLOOMING AND BIRDS KEEP SINGING

WE WILL BE OKAY

by Barbara Renner

 

Arizona has two seasons, Spring and Summer, and most people think it’s nothing but rock lawns and brown dirt. But when the calendar marks the beginning of Spring, the desert bursts with color of flowering wildflowers and cacti. Sometimes along with the blowing pollen comes allergies, and this year 2020, the COVID pandemic, which has forced the desert rats and rest of the world to hide inside their homes under a strict quarantine.

As a nature lover, I can get pretty restless cooped up in the house all day. Luckily, I can still go on my long walks and enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors the desert offers this time of year. Walking makes me happy, and I can step in stride to my favorite Pandora tunes through my ear buds. On my walks, the blooming wildflowers look like carpets of yellow and orange, and the bougainvillea bushes climb the block walls with candy apple red. Even the Palo Verde trees, which means green stick, grow a bushy head of yellow blossoms this time of year. Recently, I picked some wildflowers to put in a vase by my window. They only lasted a few days. Like me apparently, they also need to be outside in the fresh air.

Another benefit to living in the desert is being able to open the windows during our lovely 70-degree Spring weather. Being a bird lover, I enjoy listening to the birds as they announce dawn. Birds sing to attract potential mates and defend their territories. Some people believe that birds who sing loudly first thing in the morning are proclaiming that they are strong and healthy enough to have survived the night. It sounds like a good philosophy for us to follow, especially during this pandemic.

Sometimes I make up words to the birds’ chirpings, “pretty me, pretty me” or “tweedle dee, tweedle dee.” It’s the small things that keep me occupied. As a matter of fact, The Cornell Lab of Bird Academy is offering a course on how to identify birds only by their songs using mnemonics like “drink your tea” or “sweet, sweet, sweet, isn’t it sweet.” With all this extra time on your hands, perhaps you will want to make up phrases to the bird songs too – or maybe not.

What am I doing to keep a positive outlook during this strange time of depressing news, mask wearing, and toilet paper hoarding? I go for walks in the mornings, marvel at nature’s bounty, breathe fresh air, and soak up the Vitamin D the sun provides. I sit outside in my wicker rocking chair in the early evenings realizing that after every rain, the sun will continue to shine and the flowers will still bloom. I marvel that the birds go about their business without a care in the world, singing their songs and nesting so their species will survive. Tweedle dee.

 

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loon

 

Spring! Time to Build a Nest, A Story about Trumpeter Swans

When Pen and Cob realize it’s time to find a place to build their nest, they are shooed away by a beaver and a muskrat.

 

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Barbara

 

Barbara and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years, but travel to Minnesota in the summer to escape the desert heat and fish. After retiring from teaching, Barbara pursued a career writing children’s picture books about wildlife. Even though her stories are fiction, they contain interesting facts about the main characters as well as QR Codes so readers can hear actual animal sounds and calls. Not only does Barbara love nature and wildlife, she adores all breeds of dogs. Larry is a Yellow Labrador mix who came to live with the Renner family almost 7 years ago. Barbara is currently creating a book, Larry’s Words of Wisdom, that includes his cutest photos and most profound words of wisdom. A portion of sales will go to the facility where Larry was rescued. Information about Barbara and her books about Lonnie the Loon, Quincy the Quail, and Trumpeter Swans can be found on her website: www.RennerWrites.com. She is also a member of SCBWI. Keep in touch with Barbara on her social media sites:

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Amelia Griggs

 

goal

 

 

(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)

 

 

Setting Goals and Self-Publishing Tips

by Amelia Griggs

 

          2020 is a leap year, and what a strange year it is indeed! While we are practicing safe social distancing, we can use the extra time to write down some goals, plan for the future and strive to do something we have never done before. If you’re thinking about writing a book, now is the best time. If something is holding you back, let go of it. There is no time like the present to follow your dreams and make things happen. Make 2020 the year you make your dreams come true. Dream a little…dream a lot! January 13, 2020, was Make Your Dreams Come True Day, but it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. Dream a lot and dream big to prepare for September 25, 2020 which is World Dream Day!
          If you have an idea about something you want to do in 2020, write it down before it flies right out of your head. I keep journals and notebooks, both paper and electronic all over the house, because you never know when the next big idea will pop up.
          I’ve been getting a lot of questions about KDP vs. IngramSpark, and which is better. KDP is free to create, upload and update a book listing. IngramSpark is usually $49 for a book listing and $25 to upload updated files; BUT if you use coupon code INGRAMSPARK2020, all fees are currently waived. I have used KDP for most of my books (which are tech books and children’s books so far), but for the hard cover versions of my children’s books, I used Ingram Spark since Amazon’s KDP does not currently have a hard cover option. The quality is good with both but there are some differences. I created a video comparing quality of both which you view here if you are interested.  
          If you could go back in time, what advice would you tell the Amelia who was just starting on the self-publishing path?
          I would tell myself that it takes time, so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly for all aspects of the writing, formatting, and self-publishing process. Also, it’s important to build your brand and become familiar with the marketing and promoting process as well.
           What advice, in general, do you have to give novice writers of picture books who would like to self-publish them?
           Proof, proof and proof again. Hire an editor as well as a proofreader, and always be sure to order your proof copy to review and approve before you put your book live and announce it to the public.
          For more self-publishing advice, I would like to give a shout out to Picture Book Planet for interviewing me and publishing this article about the self-publishing process: https://picturebookplanet.com/self-publishing/
Happy Writing!
Amelia
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Amelia book
***The Bella and Mia Adventure Series! ***

The third book in the series: Snowflakes With Sugar

Mia and Bella are decorating for the holidays and decide to make a special treat which is a family tradition. Mix flour, eggs, vanilla, sugar, a little of this and a little that, plus lots of love, and what do you get? Can you guess what it is? When the doorbell rings, Bella and Mia wonder…who can it be? This charming holiday-themed rhyming story includes the recipe and a little history about this surprise treat!

The Bella and Mia Adventure children’s book series is designed to foster love within families by promoting fun activities with parent and child. It also introduces rhyming to children. Rhyming helps children with memory and promotes learning. Reciting rhyming is also an excellent bonding activity for parents and children, or in a group setting with children.

Each story is inspired by warm childhood memories of me watching my mother cook all kinds of scrumptious foods and the fun times we had in the kitchen. Recipe included in the back of the book!

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Amelia picture
Amelia Griggs is a Learning Design and Development specialist, Instructional Designer, Writer and Authorpeneuer. She enjoys researching, designing and developing all kinds of educational materials, writing instructional articles, blogging, and composing fictional short stories. She is currently working on educational eBooks, how-to guides, instructional YouTube videos, and children’s coloring and activity books. Amelia has always loved writing for as long as she could remember. She also loves writing short stories, rhymes and poems, and there’s even a historical fiction novel in her future.

She has a Bachelors of Business Administration with a Major in Computer Science, and a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology.

Please visit all of Amelia’s websites and social media:  https://linktr.ee/ameliagriggs  

Reach for the stars and be all you can be. 🙂
May success, happiness, good health and prosperity be yours!
Happiness is doing what you love!

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Debbie Dadey

Debbie quote

 

(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)

 

Pandemic Swing

By Debbie Dadey

 

I spent a lot of time on my swing when I was a kid. It wasn’t a fancy wooden one like you seen in the backyards of MacMansions today. It was red metal with a painted wooden frame my daddy had attached to the bottom. The frame was supposed to keep it from rising off the ground or turning over. It didn’t work. We never turned over completely, but we did lift the frame off the ground almost every day. We would swing for hours. Sometimes I’d sing or sometimes I’d talk with my brothers or friends. The wooden frame made a seat for me to tell all my troubles to my dog, Spike.

On a really good day, our neighbor, Dougie, would come over. He would stand in front, on the frame stage, and give us a comedy show that was better than the Brady Bunch. It didn’t matter if I’d flunked a spelling test or I was in trouble with my mom, the entertainer would help me forget it all.

I realize I’ve been on a pandemic swing lately. Perhaps you have as well. My frame has been wobbling up and down, making me nervous the whole thing will tip over. I admit I’ve been singing around the house perhaps more than usual. On Easter morning, I stood on my porch looking at the sunrise and sang, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today!” at the top of my lungs. Not sure what my neighbors thought about that.

I’ve also called and texted my family and friends more than usual, just to make sure they aren’t sick. It’s comforting to face similar problems, like neurotic hand washing, with someone else. It’s not the same as sitting side by side on a swing set, but it’s still a comradery that’s soothing. My dog has even suffered through some teary talks and came out wagging her tail.

But mostly, what has helped me to keep moving has been entertainment. My husband and I have been watching a movie a night, when we would normally watch one a week at the most. I am averaging a book a day, when usually one might last me a week. I tried reading classics, but I needed comfort fiction, which for me is Christian Historical Romance. I needed books I enjoyed and swept me away like an old Calgon bath commercial. After all these years, I still needed the diversion of the arts to take me away from the troubles of the day. I keep my regular ‘work at home schedule’, but I make allowances for ‘comfort time,” because we must be kind to ourselves as we face this pandemic swing. We will not tip over, but soar on.  

 

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Debbie book

 

Pearl needs her merfriends’ help when she’s named Winter Princess and finds out she’s going to be a big sister in this sparkling Mermaid Tales adventure.

Pearl is over the moon when she gets the fin-tastic news that she’s been picked to be the next Winter Princess! She can’t help gushing to Shelly, Kiki, and Echo about the beautiful dress she’ll get to wear and how all eyes will be on her when she makes her big speech at the Winter Festival. She can’t wait to tell her parents!

But her parents have some news of their own…Pearl is going to be a big sister! They’re adopting a baby boy, and he’ll be coming home with them right around the time of the Winter Festival. Suddenly, instead of glittering gowns and princess tiaras, Pearl has to talk about new cradles and baby toys. How can her new brother be stealing all of her parents’ attention before he’s even here?

Can Pearl convince her parents that a messy, noisy baby is the last thing they need? Or will she discover she’s more suited to being a big sister than she thought?

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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Debbie picture

 

Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 176 traditionally published books, including the upcoming Mermaid Tales book, The Winter Princess. It is available for pre-order before the July release (pushed back because of the pandemic). Debbie is working to help homeschooling needs by providing content on her website and with a YouTube live reading every Friday at 2:00 Eastern through the end of May, which will be available on her YouTube channel afterwards. During National Library Week, Debbie will read aloud an entire book, Marty the Mudwrester, on FacebookLive at 9:00 Eastern, which will be available afterwards in her Facebook library. Find out more about Debbie on debbiedadey.com, Facebook.com/debbiedadey, Twitter.com/debbiedadey, or youtube.com/debbiedadey

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Sue Bradford Edwards

battery

 

(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)

 

Recharging Your Creative Battery

By Sue Bradford Edwards

 

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, picture books or novels, writing takes emotional energy.  That is why I advise my writing students and critique partners to charge their creative batteries.

To do this, it helps to know your character strengths.  To find out what they are, visit the VIA Institute on Character and take the Character Strengths Survey.  This isn’t a quick Facebook quiz to learn what job you held in medieval Prague or which House the Sorting Hat would assign you. This psychological evaluation rates you on twenty-four personality traits.

My five top strengths are:

  • Creativity which includes artistic creativity and developing new ways to think of and do things.
  • Love of Learning new knowledge and also new skills.
  • Judgement, which might also be called discernment, meaning an ability to think things through and examine them from all sides.
  • Gratitude which includes being aware of good things and expressing thanks.
  • Bravery in acting on or speaking up about what is right. 

Knowing your strengths can help you chose ways to recharge your batteries. One of my favorite things to do is take MOOC (massive online open courses), most often at Coursera.  I’ve taken classes on Osteoarchaeology, The Science of Well-Being, How to Organize an Empire the Assyrian Way, Ancient Marine Reptiles and Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life.  I enjoy myself because I’m learning something new and I very often find new story ideas as well.

I also like to make things.  In the winter, I bake bread and desserts. I bead, knit and crochet. Last year, I bought a loom. That’s been the most challenging of my hand crafts, but I always come away from my weaving ready to write. 

What should you do to recharge?  It will depend on your strengths.

Maybe your top trait is gratitude.  Spend some time thanking people for the things they do that you appreciate.  Write a note to the friend who dropped off a fresh loaf of cinnamon bread.  Send a message to a neighbor whose front garden is a cheery addition to the neighborhood.  Or pass on kind words to someone who put a lot of effort into something that benefited your community. 

Or your top trait might be humor.  Spend some times reading a collection of humorous essays.  Or watch your favorite comedian on YouTube.  Or you could watch an episode of your favorite sit com.  Spend some time laughing out loud and you will discover new energy. 

If kindness is your top trait, practice random acts of kindness.  Or even not-so-random acts. Pick up the litter in your neighbor’s front yard. Give a stranger a compliment. Reconnect with an old friend – this can be as simple as messaging someone through Facebook.

Charging our battery means that you are taking a break in a meaningful way. Find ways to use your strengths every day. Do this and you will keep a positive charge on your creative battery. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just saw a video on how to make a paper rose. I feel the urge to try something new.

—SueBE

 

roses

 

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hero

 

“​Hidden Human Computers discusses how in the 1950s, black women made critical contributions to NASA by performing calculations that made it possible for the nation’s astronauts to fly into space and return safely to Earth. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards. Essential Library is an imprint of Abdo Publishing, a division of ABDO.”

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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Sue

 

Sue Bradford Edwards is a nonfiction author with twenty-six books ranging from The Ancient Maya and The Evolution of Mammals to The Who. If you are interested in writing children’s nonfiction, but don’t know where to start, she teaches Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults at Women on Writing and is creating a new class on writing nonfiction for children and teens. To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards, check out her blog, One Writer’s Journey

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Heather Kauffman-Peters

dog

 

(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)

 

Put Your Imperfect Face(book) Forward

By Heather Kauffman-Peters, author of Blizzard on the Plains

 

Don’t be so hard on yourself has become my mantra during this once-in-a-century pandemic. While those not directly impacted by the virus are posting quarantine accomplishments online – for writers that includes conferences they’ve attended, word counts they’ve added to WIPs, promotional videos they’ve recorded, and poems they’ve written – you may be tempted to feel like a slacker or, worse, a wastrel. I know I have.

During lockdown, I’ve felt compelled to explore the ever-multiplying options for bettering myself and my craft from re-forming a writers group that disbanded years ago, to attending free author seminars, and even writing this blog; but, I’ve also spent days binge watching Legends of Tomorrow and not showering or changing out of my pajamas. Does that make me lazy? A bad person? I don’t think so and I hope you don’t either. Let me explain why.

As a member of my state’s cooperative preschool executive board, I’ve been gathering supportive advice from teachers to share with parents who are feeling overwhelmed. One message keeps coming up – parents don’t have to be perfect. Preschool teachers want to reassure parents that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel anxious, and it’s okay to forgo any formal learning or school activities during quarantine. In other words, our teachers want parents to be kind to themselves above all. The same sentiment applies to everyone – parents, writers, employees, spouses, students, etc. We may be witnesses to a terrifying and fantastical history but that doesn’t mean we need to accomplish Herculean feats. Instead we can choose to savor extra time with our kids, read, journal, relax, get outside, lie on the couch. Do what we can or do nothing. It’s all okay. History will count us as survivors either way and that’s the most important accomplishment we can achieve at this time.

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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blizzard

 

FREEZING TO DEATH IS NOT AN OPTION WHEN YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEPENDING ON YOU TO SAVE THEIR LIVES… On January 12, 1888, the people of the Dakota territory were enjoying an unusually warm day, the first break from the snow they’d had in weeks. Children walked to school and homesteaders did chores completely unaware that a dangerous storm was barreling toward them. That morning, new immigrants Carl and Carrie arrived at their one-room school house. Carrie was eager to practice English while Carl secretly plotted to return to Norway and leave America and its hardships far behind. He’d been attacked by a wolf, bullied by a classmate, and over-worked by his father who’d insisted Carl help carve the family’s new farm out of the tough prairie sod. But, soon, 14-year-old Carl would face something far worse – the deadliest blizzard in U.S. history. 

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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peters

 

Heather Kauffman-Peters is the author of Blizzard on the Plains, an adventure novel for 3rd through 8th graders about a group of one-room schoolchildren who find themselves in the center of a historic and deadly blizzard in 1888. To survive, the children are forced to rely on their pioneering ingenuity. Blizzard on the Plains is available through Amazon, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Kauffman’s second book, Fire on the Island, is scheduled for release in January of 2021 and is about a 12-year-old boy and his firefighting mom who battle an unexpected volcanic eruption on the island of Heimaey, Iceland in 1973.

For more information, visit www.firstcirlcepress.com.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Someone Throw Me A Lifesaver

 

lifesaver

 

You would think a gal who was raised in and around the swamps of southern Louisiana would know how to swim like a snapping turtle, but that was one life skill I never quite learned how to master.

When I was seventeen, I traveled to San Diego to spend some time with my older brother. He was in the Navy and stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.  I thought I would have the time of my life, romping on the beach and cultivating a tan.

I was wrong.

My first day at the beach, my brother and one of his Navy buddies decided it would be funny to grab me, drag me out to water over my head and dump me in the Pacific Ocean to see if I could get back to shore. What they didn’t bargain on was my getting disoriented and nearly DROWNING before they realized what was going on and had to drag me back to dry land.

That is one memory I’ve carried with me for almost forty years, coloring my fear of water I can’t see through and preventing me from enjoying the local pool each summer.

A worldwide pandemic can turn everyone’s world upside down. It can instill fear in some; frustration in others.  As writers, we sometimes allow all the daily tasks and writerly deadlines weighing down our plates to try to drown us to the point of immobility.  We can’t seem to see a light at the end of the tunnel and allow our fears to drown us in a sea of overwhelming uncertainty and lack of confidence in our ability to achieve our daily goals.

Here are some of the things I have done to help keep my head above water during these challenging times…

 

  1. Find a way to write daily whenever possible. In the past, when my computers have gone haywire, my boss generously allowed me to use the school’s computer to write my weekly blog posts so I wouldn’t get behind.  My local library also allows access to their computers in two hour blocks for quick tasks I can do there. It also gives me a chance to check out the books and do research for book four in my HISTORY’S MYSTERIES series!
  2. Set priorities. If there are submission opportunities with deadlines, I made sure I found a way to meet those deadlines in time.  Some of my other writing projects will have to wait until next month.
  3. I’m taking this “down time” to work on either researching book four in my HISTORY’S MYSTERIES series or revising/cleaning up old manuscripts that I have hard copies on hand. I can always transfer the info to my files and databases later, but for now, I’m staying productive.
  4. Use my smartphone for keeping in touch with my social sites so my friends and other connections won’t begin to think I really have drowned.
  5. Take this time to make sure I’m getting extra rest and ready to hit the ground running next month when hopefully, things return to something closer to normal. I’ve been going to bed well before my usual midnight lights out, and have actually found time to do some leisure reading this weekend that I NEVER get the chance to do anymore!

Some of these ideas might work for you, and maybe you will come up with some ideas of your own to prevent you from drowning under the stress of dealing with quarantines during this pandemic.

If you come up with something that really works for you, please share in the comments below. You never know when you might be saving another writer needing a helping hand!

 

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sale

 

***SALE***SALE***SALE***SALE***

 

From May 1st through May 15th, book one of my historical fiction series for 8-12 year olds, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, ebook edition is on sale for only 99 CENTS! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go here and grab it… https://www.amazon.com/Historys-Mysteries-Dreams-Donna-Martin/dp/173232784X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ship+of+dreams+donna+l+martin&qid=1588549888&sr=8-1

 

HM HGG ebook cover jpeg 3-16-20

READER’S FAVORITE 5 STAR REVIEW 

 

SoD Reader's Favorite 5 star seal (web)

 

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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: Heidi E Y Stemple

letter

 

 

(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 and 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 )

 

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A LETTER TO YOU

by Heidi E Y Stemple

 

Owl Cottage on Phoenix Farm

Western Massachusetts

April, 2020

 

Dear Socially Distant Creative Friends,

There is one thing writers say all the time. It comes in many forms. “Someday, I’ll get to that story.” “Someday, I’ll find a way to fix that manuscript.” “Someday, I’ll figure out what to do with that idea.”

Guess what—“Someday” is today.

It can be difficult to jumpstart a new project when your routine changes–more people in your house or fewer. Anxiety levels are high. Speaking engagements (those things that keep us afloat financially) and conferences (those things that feed us emotionally) are cancelled. We’re all counting toilet paper rolls and milk and eggs. It’s hard not to be consumed by the fear of the unknown future.

The first week I was home, I did what I always do with my anxiety—I organized. Shuffled books, cleaned out desk drawers, recycled a million pieces of paper. Then I had to come to grips with the fact that I needed to write. When I say “needed,” all you writers reading this know what I mean. Creative people function better when they are creating.  I needed a kick in the pants artistically. For me, it’s always a poem that gets me up and running. I wrote this:

 

Quarantine with Cats

The cats don’t care

that my hair is growing gray

and my nails

are too long

because the nice man,

Ken,

that’s not his real name,

isn’t around to cut them down

to a reasonable length for typing.

They could not care less

about my

stress-organizing

and my

obsessive cleaning,

or even that I made sure to have 4 extra bags

of cat food.

They don’t know running out is a possibility

because they never have.

They are just happy

that their human

has learned,

by necessity,

and under duress,

                                to webinar                                 

and YouTube

and Zoom

because it means

I am here.

All the time.

And though, I’m sure

they miss the nice little girl

that checks on them when I’m gone,

and plays with them,

which I never do,

they prefer

me.

Here.

And to be honest,

through the worry about both

mother and daughters,

and every tickle

at the back of my throat,

I am not unhappy

quarantined.

Slow is not something I’ve done

recently.

I’m thinking of knitting

or needlepoint.

I should write, but

creative hasn’t come yet.

And, I’m past worrying

when it disappears.

I know,

it always returns.

Fear and sickness both have the same

effect.

But, neither last long enough

to scare the muse

too far gone.

I’ll write again

when I can.

For now,

I’ll just sit with a couple cats.

HEYS

3.24.20

 

When I write poetry like this, I give myself permission—permission to write without expectation, without revision, without caring what others think. I posted it on Facebook because I thought others might be helped by it. I sent it to my mom who told me I needed to change the line “too far gone” because it didn’t make sense and wasn’t needed. You see that, though she is right, I didn’t change it. Permission—to do something imperfect.

And, just like that, I was ready to tackle some other writing. Let the Someday projects begin!

Here’s what I have done since:

  1. Finished a manuscript that had all the right plot points but only about 20% of the right words. Sent it out.
  2. Revised and resubmitted a manuscript that an editor wanted completely changed and needed lots of research.
  3. Un-gendered (is that a word?) an entire manuscript from being about a girl (very specifically, not just pronouns) to being about a kid. I’m still fiddling with the ending.
  4. Worked on/reworked the first half of a nonfiction picture book with a co-author. It’s my turn to work and will do that today (I promise!)
  5. Reread and prioritized all the half-manuscripts on my desktop. Found 2 I would like to look at again.
  6. Made piles of the research books and articles I want to read to see if a couple ideas I have could be made into books.

None of these things took huge chunks of concentration, though some did take me into that wonderful headspace where everything but the project at hand melts away. They were all in some form of in-the-works. I have yet to start a brand-new story. But, I am working. I am writing. And, it is certainly helping get me through the now, month-long quarantine (I am not, technically quarantined—but I like a good word and “stay-at-home order just isn’t as good). It feels good to be writing—creating.

Think about some of those projects you have in your Someday pile. It’s time to revisit. Perhaps, that is looking through those saved tidbits that made you think, “this could be a story.” Maybe, it’s returning to a story that didn’t work. Or, your project could be going back and throwing out things that, now that you are further in your learning or your career, you know are not viable—and finding that one that may still be. Maybe, it is finally finding a critique group of trusted friends now that we are all developing new technological skills for not-in-person meetings. Maybe it’s re-envisioning an old, rejected picture book manuscript into a chapter book or a chapter book manuscript into a graphic novel. All these things are forward movement.

The anxiety and fear of the future unknowns are going to be with us for a while. The kids are going to be out of school longer than first guessed and they probably need help with math as you read this. Or, like me, you may be alone and missing humans. (The cats are nice, but…) We will all be touched by this illness and there is death all around us. I can’t help with that—I am in that rocking boat on the roiling seas with you.  What I can tell you is that the muse is not lost forever. If you are struggling with her absence, looking back is a step towards moving forward. Grab something from your Someday pile or file. See if it sparks you to reimagine.

You got this. I believe in you.

xo Heidi

 

storm

Coming October 2020

 

A tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane are met, in turn, with resilience and awe in this depiction of nature’s power and our own.

In the face of our shifting climate, young children everywhere are finding themselves subject to unfamiliar and often frightening extreme weather. Beloved author Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple address four distinct weather emergencies (a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane) with warm family stories of finding the joy in preparedness and resilience. Their honest reassurance leaves readers with the message: nature is powerful, but you are powerful, too. Illustrated in rich environmental tones and featuring additional information about storms in the back, this book educates, comforts, and empowers young readers in stormy or sunny weather, and all the weather in between.

www.amazon.com/author/heidieystemple

 

heidiHeidi E.Y. Stemple

 

Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than twenty-five books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.

Heidi lives and writes on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with one very small cat who lives inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside.

www.HeidiEYStemple.com

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Thanking My Lucky Stars

 

stars

 

When I was about four years old, my mother owned and ran a local ice cream stand across from the high school’s football field. My grandfather built it for her soon after she married my father and it was THE place to hang out after school and on the weekends.

All the kids called us LUCKY because they thought we could eat ice cream any time we wanted.

The reality was that if we were LUCKY, the store brought in just enough money to help pay the bills, and by the time I was in school, my mother was forced to sell the business.

There were two things she took with her when she locked up for the last time. One was the famous framed mirror of my ghost story and a five foot wide plate of glass that had fit in a window separating the kitchen area from the small jukebox dance and game room.

A couple of days after leaving the ice cream stand, my sister and I were jumping up and down on some mattresses that were stored in an extra room at our house. I can remember how LUCKY I felt to have this homemade trampoline at my disposal.

That is, until we heard the horrendous cracking sound…

Apparently my mother thought storing that plate glass between two thick mattresses would ensure nothing would happen to it.

She didn’t factor in my notorious bad LUCK.

I guess you could say I was actually LUCKY that day though.

No one got hurt and I actually got to walk away from that “adventure” with my backside still intact!

LUCK is a tricky thing. Some people like my son seem to have the good kind in abundance. And then there are others, like myself, that have nothing but the frustratingly annoying kind that seems to test one’s patience every day.

But being the eternal optimist, I’d like to think we have a hand in determining our own LUCK, so why not wake up each morning with the idea that Lady LUCK is on YOUR side? I can think of many ways I can count my LUCKY stars…

1. I have a skill for storytelling and continue to strengthen that skill every day.

2. I have people I count as dear friends who support my writing dreams.

3. I have seen my stories published in the past and God willing, will do so again in the future.

4. I have many stories running around in my head…though not always enough time in the day to write them down.

5. I feel the love and support of this wonderful writing community and I’m truly blessed to be able to count myself a part of it!

I hope you have an AWESOME day today, my DCSPeeps, because you deserve it

 

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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.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: An Unlikely Hero

 

MOM.png

 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and all around the country I’m sure mothers everywhere celebrated with family or friends. I lost my own mother when I was 21 and when she left this world, we were on slightly strained speaking terms. More like two strong spirited women who didn’t always appreciate the other’s point of view.

But when I think about my mother now, I’ve come to realize the many gifts she gave me while growing up in the swamps of Louisiana…

 

CREATIVITY

 

I can only imagine what went through my mother’s mind each day as she struggled to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs. As a child, I hated to sit down for a meal because I was never sure what would be waiting for me on my plate. Things most people disposed of would end up on the menu…fish HEADS, chicken FEET and rooster COMBS, pig’s INTESTINES…and we were expected to eat it or get beaten for refusing it. As a child I often wondered why Mother was so cruel to force us to eat those things. As an adult I now realize it was either eat that or NOTHING. I now realize the sacrifices my mother made so her children had something… anything…in their bellies each day. As an adult, I have a very simple palette where food is concerned and appreciate the fact there are some foods that will NEVER have to cross my lips again!

 

INGENUITY

 

My mother was the queen of patching things up…making things last (a result of living through the home front challenges of World War II I imagine)…and being the youngest of four kids, I was usually stuck with everyone else’s hand me downs. It was bad enough I had to walk around in my sisters’ cast offs, but when I was forced to attend school in a dead woman’s dress, I wanted the ground to swallow me up! Mother had one of those old trundle sewing machines, and one day when she’d heard about a yard sale for a neighbor who recently died, she decided to buy all those old lady’s dresses just so she could rip out the seams, cut them down to our size, and sew them back together for our new school wardrobe. Can you imagine what went through my ten-year-old mind when I was forced to wear THOSE hand me downs? As a child I was teased and bullied just for the clothes I wore and I know I felt anger at times that my mother would do this to me. As an adult I can appreciate the fact my mother had little money to clothe her children and was only doing the best she could at the time. As an adult I do not covet expensive clothes and appreciate the fact I have enough to wear in the first place.

 

PIONEER SPIRIT

 

My mother loved being outdoors. Mother communed with nature and grew everything from vegetables to flowers at every rental house we lived in during my childhood. Mother had been raised on a farm in the Ozarks and was used to hard labor just to survive in a family of eleven. I spent many long hours during hot Louisiana summers either working in Mother’s garden, or visiting a neighbor just to harvest figs and berries from the trees in their back yard. On Sundays we would all pile into an old black truck, riding around the countryside checking our crawfish and turtle traps or even bringing home a stray snapping turtle or armadillo we’d found along the side of the road. As a child I hated all the hard work necessary to keep our family fed. As an adult I am strongly connected with nature because of all those years working outdoors.

Life was not easy back then for a family of six living deep in the swamps of southern Louisiana with very little money to their name. But when I think back to all the things my mother did every day to care for her children, I realize she was a most unlikely hero of my childhood. She instilled me the very foundation that allows me to tackle the obstacles in my own life with the same creativity, ingenuity, and pioneer spirit my mother inherited from her own mother. 

It’s sad to think I did’t realize the precious gifts of spirit my mother gave me as a child, so I never had the chance to thank her while she was living for all I’ve learned from her over the years. The best I can do to honor her now is live my life to the fullest since she worked so hard to make sure I had a chance to even have one…

Happy Mother’s Day Mom…

 

mom

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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.