There are some kids who do nothing all summer long but hang out with their friends, chug glasses of coke or iced tea, and watch the days drag by. Hot sunny days stacking up on top of each other, one by one, until it’s time to head back to school.

I was never one of those kids. I loved to read and spent every waking second pouring through books whenever Mother let me.  Thankfully she was a voracious reader as well but her tastes ran mainly to westerns written by Zane Grey while I was into everything else.

But it was the variety of jobs done around the house as well as offered around the neighborhood for pocket change which occupied the bulk of my summer days.

One of the first jobs I can remember doing…and it was probably just to help my brother out…was rolling up tons of newspapers and putting rubber bands around them before stuffing all of it into his carrier. I think my sister, Janet, went on some of his routes with him but I definitely remember my blackened hands from all that ink and a few sore fingers from broken rubber bands.

We also used to cut a few of the neighborhood yards and I can remember actually cutting the grass but don’t remember being able to keep much of the money afterwards. Unfortunately my mother had a rather large cigarette habit and I have a feeling a good portion of the yard money was used on tobacco products.

Jobs around the house included literally scrubbing all the walls down in each room, shucking corn that sometimes nearly reached the ceiling of our enclosed porch, climbing mulberry trees at our neighbors to have canned or frozen berries during the winter, pulling weeds from the vegetable garden or harvesting the crops, cutting back the bamboo that grew between our house and our next door neighbor’s (THAT job earned me five massive hornet stings on my head and more over my body when Mother unexpectedly stirred up their nest), and babysitting my next door neighbor’s young son. 

As I got a little bit older I had the chance to work at the local cafe but that only lasted a short while because the owner quickly realized my sister and I made a better team than their own children. We were way more popular with their customers and they couldn’t have that so I was let go and my sister quit shortly afterwards.

All those summer time jobs taught me a number of things…

1) The important things in life usually come with a price whether it’s actually dollars or sweat equity.
2) A hard day’s work never killed anybody but sometimes it really FELT like I was gonna die.
3) Cherish the down time because you never know when someone’s gonna yell at you to get back to work.
4) Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today cuz Mother still has more plans for you tomorrow!
5) Do the job you hate the most first. That way the rest of the work will seem like fun.
6) Even the most demanding job will eventually come to an end and when it does, there is always iced tea and a good book to read!

My summers these days are crammed full of work and kiddies and not as much reading as I’ve done in my youth, but at least I’m not running from hornets any more and I still get the chance to sneak in a book or two when my boss isn’t looking…;~)



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: Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez





Creative Ways to Get Your Kids Reading

by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional interviews with Kaitlyn:






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

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

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

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TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Summer Time Reading




Summer is almost here and for me that means BOOKS! It’s not like I don’t read books the rest of the year, but during the summer I read to my Adventure Camp kids at my TaeKwonDo school every day for the ten weeks of summer. I read 3-4 books every day so by the time the new school year comes around, we have gone through at least 200 books…and this is sometimes the ONLY time some of my kids get to enjoy a book!

Reading to me has been the foundation of my childhood. It let me escape from the drama surrounding me. It allowed me to visit new places…meet new people…all from the comfort of my bedroom or front porch. I lived in a very small town and this was the library I visited as often as my mother would allow.

I still remember the day I was finally old enough to check out my own books. I was about 5 or 6 and there was a special row of books located behind the librarian’s desk where first timers could go and pick out ANY book from that shelf. It’s not like today where there are literally millions of books a kid could get their hands on, so those 20 or 30 books I was allowed to browse as a first timer was like giving me a golden ticket to OZ and I just had to figure out which train to catch!




It might find it hard to believe, but the very first book I selected to take home was a DICTIONARY! I was fascinated with the illustrations and wanted to learn more about the words hidden inside. The librarian gave me a funny look because why would a little kid want to read a dictionary, but today I wonder…why did she put it on the first-timer shelf for me to select it? ;~)

I ran home with my treasure and it took me a week to read through the entire book. Granted, it was a small beginner dictionary but when I told my mother the next weekend I was ready to go back to the library for another book, she didn’t believe I had read it. She sat me down and literally gave me an oral test on random words from that book. I don’t know who was more surprised..my mother because I answered every question correctly…or myself because I remembered what those words meant. In any case, she let me go back to the library that day and from then on I made it my summer time goal to always read a minimum of 100 books before going back to school in the fall.




The summer I turned 9 or 10 my library ran a writing contest. The theme was something about being proud to be an American and I entered the contest. I was big into horses back then…even thought I would either be a vet when I grew up or would one day own my own horse ranch…so when I found out first prize for my age group was a copy of MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE, I just had to enter! I don’t remember what I wrote about but it must have been impressive because I ended up winning first place and have read my copy of Misty many times since that day. It holds a special place on my bookshelf…a reminder of how books have been a life long friend to me.

The Gueydan library is still open for business, still tempting children with tantalizing dreams of adventure to faraway lands. And I’m sure they probably still have an old dictionary or two just waiting for another little girl to come in and discover the magic hiding within those well worn pages…








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.