TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Rainy Day Sunday

 

storm

 

My weekends are always so busy, it’s hard sometimes to simply slow down and catch my breath. I try to slow down on Sundays…taking a moment to calm my spirit and reconnect with the things that are important to me.

Like the rain.

Wait…what?

When I was growing up in the swamps of Louisiana, a summer time rain was something my sister and I eagerly watched out for. It was a three step process…

PREPARATION

 

Whenever Mother  told us it was going to rain on a particular day, we would scramble to find  just the right rainy day clothes to wear. Nothing too heavy to weigh us down, nothing too skimpy to give us a chill and cut into our play time.

 

ENGAGEMENT

 

If there was no lightning, we were allowed to dance out in the rain. We would race each other around the front yard and simply enjoy connecting with Mother Nature. Buckets would be set out to collect rainwater because everyone knows washing your hair in rainwater makes it so much softer! If we were lucky, we would get a few chances during the summer to  play in the rain so we took advantage of every chance we would get.

 

CHALLENGES

 

When you grow up poor, everything is a challenge. Putting food on the table, keeping the wolf from your door, and even something as simple as going for a swim. Summertime rains gave us a chance to do just that. If the rainfall lasted long enough, the very deep ditches dividing our front yard from the road would fill up, creating a little river inviting us to jump in. We would run to the local appliance store down the street and beg for their refrigerator boxes. Cutting them flat, they made the perfect slip ‘n slide into the ditches.

The things kids will do to have a little fun on a hot summer day. No electronics. No battery operated gadgets to do our thinking for us. Just some kids using their imagination to create a little summertime fun…

Writers use the same process to create their writerly worlds. Research and brainstorming helps them prepare to write their stories. The words they juggle with finesse and skill allow their characters to engage their readers and entice them to come with them on their journey. And if they come across challenges along the way, the confident writer doesn’t allow it to get in their way of crafting the ultimate ending to keep readers coming back for more…

 

***********

HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)

Nine-year-old Abigail thinks nothing exciting ever happens in Hamilton. But things change one stormy night when an airborne train and twenty tons of chocolate shower down on the sleepy village. Even local police and the FBI are puzzled over what caused the train to derail. Abigail and Billy team up to find out who’s behind the CHOCOLATE TRAIN WRECK, but will all they find is more questions?

There’s a mystery hovering over Hamilton—and it smells like CHOCOLATE!

 

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

 
donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, will be available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers on October 14th, 2019.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: On A Book Bender

 

library.jpg

 

Summer always reminds me of the public library in my hometown…

Summer meant freedom from tests and scholarly expectations.

Summer meant a chance to occasionally escape from my mother’s watchful eye and head over to the public library a few blocks from my childhood home. My sister and I would make a morning of it. Grabbing our bikes and heading out in the bright bayou sunlight. We both were voracious readers and every summer we were some of the first kids on our block to sign up for the summer reading program.

I learned to read when I was about four years old. Once the librarian realized I was very comfortable making my way around the written word, she no longer restricted me to “baby books”, and gave me free rein to explore the entire library. Every summer from age five until I left home at seventeen, my goal was to read at least one hundred books before I went back to school.

You read right.

ONE HUNDRED BOOKS.

Even at age five, I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and read everything I could get my hands on.

Picture books

Chapter books.

Non-fiction books, although back then the children’s section didn’t have the wonderful diversity kids can find nowadays.

And, yes, even encyclopedias. I read them all because I even enjoyed researching random topics that crossed my young mind.

I would stuff as many of my book treasures into my bike’s basket as I could and race home to sneak into my bedroom to start on those imaginative journeys before my mother would drag me outside to work in the garden, or trim the hedges, or cut the grass, or any number of endless jobs she came up with to occupy my summer daylight hours.

I read about Black Beauty and Huckleberry Finn…about Horton and the Whos or the Lorax or even what happened on Mulberry Street. The first summer I was allowed a library card, I literally read every available book for my age and then some. The librarian started picking out different books I might like and I thought that building was the most magical place on earth (Sorry Disney!).

These days I still read hundreds of children’s books each year. Especially during the summer when I work with 40-50 children ages 4-12 years old each day at my Taekwondo school during our summer camp. Many of these children are either struggling readers, come from families where parents don’t enjoy reading so they never fostered a love of reading in their own children, or simply too young to even grasp the art of reading yet. 

So we read together. 

Usually over two hundred books a summer.

TWO HUNDRED BOOKS.

My younger goal driven ME would be so proud of today’s ME…

 

*********

 


 

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

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: Summer Time Reading

 

library

 

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!

 

dictionary.jpg

 

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.

 

misty.jpg

 

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…

 

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

 

 

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

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: More Than Just A Cardboard Box

 

cardboard box.png

 

Poor is a state of being. A label placed on those pitiful souls carving out a life on the edges of humanity and hoping one day to discover the secret others seem to keep hidden from them.

Poor is a way of life. A threadbare cloth wrapped around bony shoulders in an attempt to keep the chill away. Scraping together a meager existence, paycheck to paycheck while fighting the wolves at the door.

But being poor can mean something more.

Poor is the key to creativity. When a tablecloth can become a hidden cave full of treasure and a plain cardboard box is the gateway to adventure.

When I was growing up cardboard boxes could morph into many things…cars for dolls to ride in, holes cut for legs so a pretend Cinderella could go to the ball, and super slides before such a thing existed.

One of the houses I lived in had a steep ditch in the front yard that served many purposes when you had only your imagination to work with. Sometimes after a thunderstorm rolled through the area, I would pretend to go fishing in that ditch. But it was the summertime and the call of the outdoors when I enjoyed that ditch the most.

We lived not far from an appliance store that would throw away large refrigerator cardboard boxes once a week. As soon as they dumped those boxes at the back of their store, my siblings and I would sneak a couple home. Ripping them open and laying them flat on the incline of the ditch, we took turns running across the front yard and leaping onto that cardboard to slide down into the ditch. Over and over we would slip and slide until we had quite literally destroyed our slide. No matter…it was back to the store for another box and the fun to begin again.

Funny thing about those boxes. No money exchanged hands for the sake of a little laughter on a warm summer day. No batteries required. No vegging out in front of the television to kill a few brain cells watching endless commercials.

Just fresh air, a little laughter, and some cardboard.

Poor is a state of being. To make of it what you will. To let it help mold the person you are to become but to never define you.

Oh no, never that…

 

art.jpg

**********

 

 

***********

 

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.