TALES FROM THE BAYOU: What Is That Smell?

 

cook.jpg

 
Any teenager will tell you there is a heady feeling that first time you find yourself home alone without someone looking over your shoulder. It’s a chance to spread your wings and prove to the world you’re all grown up.

Well, maybe not…

One summer during my early teen years, Janet and my mother took a week long trip and left me at the house to fend for myself. My mother made plans for me to stay with some neighbors but I was determined to stay by myself. The first few days went by without a hitch. By the end of the week, I decided one night to celebrate my independence by baking some cookies.

 

Mistake number one.

 

The last house I lived in before graduating high school sat next to the mayor’s house. Right across the little alley running behind our two houses was the town’s only police station and fire station housed in one building. And right outside it was a massive emergency siren that would blare over the town every Monday evening at six. It always made me jump because the sound was an ear piercing screech. You need to remember this because that night I didn’t.

I knew the basics of how to cook so when I didn’t have actual cookie dough, I just substituted cake mix instead.

 

Mistake number two.

 

I noticed the “cookie dough” was a bit runny but figured once I got it in the oven and it started to cook everything would be all right. I headed to the other end of the house to lay on the floor and watch some TV while my cookies baked. Funny what the mind forgets. Like what was so fascinating on TV that I completely forgot what was happening in the kitchen.

 

Mistake number three.

 

Slowly I began to smell something peculiar. It was the smell of something scorched. I glanced toward the kitchen in time to see rolling black smoke heading in my direction just as the acidic stench of dough burnt far beyond any hope of recognition attempted to set the kitchen on fire.

You would think I was sprinting for the gold.

I hit that kitchen in mere seconds…just in time to yank what was left of the dough out of the oven before a coughing fit overtook me. I threw the back door open and frantically tried to dispel the smoke.

I stood on my back porch, adrenaline pumping, as I looked up in horror at the emergency siren and realized if anyone was looking out the back window of the fire station, they would presume my house was on fire and would blast that horn for the whole town to know what an idiot I was!

Luckily, I’ve spent the rest of my life secure in the knowledge that God, in His infinite wisdom, took mercy on one bumbling teenager that fateful night. No siren added to my panic. No mayor rushed over to pull me from a burning house. No questions to answer from my mother when she returned home.

There were many things she found out about over the years but THAT one…I’ll take it to my grave…

 
grave

 

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

 

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 
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: Call of the Wild

 

 

pigeon

 

There could be many stories told about adventures with animals during my childhood but the one that will probably interest my readers the most is the tale about how Christy came into my life.

I was about nine or ten at the time and absolutely crazy about animals. I read every book I could get my hands on about various creatures and had an assortment of different pets over the years. I even KNEW I was going to become a veterinarian when I grew up so when I saw a lone pigeon land on the roof of my front porch one day I immediately set out to catch it.

But how does one trap a wild bird?

I ran into the house and told my mother there was a pigeon outside and I wanted to catch it. My mother didn’t think I could accomplish such a feat…she should have known me better than that…but still gave me permission to use some bread and her laundry basket. Gathering my supplies, I ran back outside and placed bits of bread on the sidewalk in plain sight and waited patiently for that pigeon to fly down so it could check out the banquet I had laid out for it.

Minutes passed and I was beginning to worry whether my plan was going to work when suddenly down swoops that pigeon to check out the bread. Slowly, cautiously I approached with my laundry basket ready. Someone else with less faith would have thought it impossible to catch a wild bird in this way but I just knew in my heart I could do this. Yet I was still surprised when I successfully placed the basket over the bird.

I already had a rabbit and some bobwhite quail as pets so finding an extra cage in our garage was not a problem. I named my pigeon Christy and proceeded to “tame” her. The first thing I noticed was the engraved band she had around one of her legs. My mother told me that was so someone could track her migration patterns. I decided I was going to train Christy to do tricks but the first thing I had to do was convince her to stay with me. It seems kinda cruel to me now, but back then I tied a ten foot long piece of string around one of her legs and the other end to her cage. For the first couple of hours she attempted to fly away but every time the string would remind her an invisible barrier kept her tethered to my house.

Christy soon came to love being with me and I enjoyed her company. I caught her during the summer and soon trained her to ride on my shoulder as I would ride my bicycle to the grocery store and back home. She would fly to the roof of the store and wait while I went inside, constantly checking the faces as people emerged until she saw me and would then fly down to land on my shoulder for the ride home.

She lived with me for about a year before the call of the wild enticed her away. I was devastated one day when I went to check on her and found her gone. I even decided to go in search of her and spent the next two days riding my bike around my hometown searching for her.

Fate is a funny thing and not one to be ignored. Late in the afternoon of the second day I was riding past a house on the other side of town and I noticed a group of pigeons feeding in the back yard. Could Christy have been lonely and gone in search of some friends? I got off my bike and stood in that front yard calling her name. Silly to think I had found Christy and that she would come to me. But I have always been a person of tremendous faith and so I tried it anyway. Suddenly one pigeon out of the group rose into the air and flew over to land on my shoulder.

Christy!

She started cooing as she always did before but this time I think she was trying to tell me she had found her family. I was sad to have to say goodbye but I knew Christy would be happier with her own kind so I petted her one last time and sent her back to her family. I rode home thinking that was the last time I would see her.

But like anyone who ever listened to Paul Harvey’s REST OF THE STORY, my own Christy tale did not end there.

About a week later I walked outside to discover a flock of pigeons waiting for me on my roof. Like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds, Christy had convinced her entire family to come back for a visit. Amazed, I raced into the house to grab birdseed and for the next two months Christy would bring her family over to the house once a day for a meal before they all flew back to their other home on the other side of town. It was like Christy was trying to show a young girl that she was okay…that she was with others who loved her.

I know there are people in this world who think animals are just dumb creatures who can’t comprehend the world as we do. But I know from experience that when it comes to the things that matter in this world…love, compassion, friendship…all of God’s creatures big and small have the ability to not only feel it but to share it across the boundaries of space and species.

In my mind Christy turned out to be a wonderful grandmother, telling her offspring stories of the time she went on a grand adventure and met a little girl who became her friend. She will live forever in this girl’s memories where she soars freely above us all.

Fly on, Christy, fly on…

 

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

 

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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.12

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: The Witching Hour

midnight.jpg

 

It’s hard being the baby of the family sometimes. Especially when the only playmates you’re allowed to have is your own sibling and she’s four years older than you. When I was just learning to walk, Janet was getting ready to start school. When I was entering high school Janet was graduating and about to make her mark on the world. My whole childhood I had a path laid out before me by footsteps larger than my own. All I had to do was step into them.

So I did.

I don’t think my sister ever realized how much I looked up to her. How much I admired her fire, her drive, her spirit to follow her own dreams without regard to the consequences. She was outgoing and had friends and I could never understand how she did it. The mere fact she took pity on a terribly shy kid so much younger than she and played many a toddler game when she really would rather have been climbing trees with our older brother put her on a pedestal in my eyes.

There was a bond forged in those younger years that carries over to today and can never be broken. Too many amateur singing engagements, entertaining the pretend troops listening from the grass in our front yard as we strutted our stuff down the sidewalk. Too many tea parties on the front porch where Janet pretended to like playing with her younger sister when she could have been curled up somewhere with a good book.

But it was the game we played on our back steps which holds a special place in my memories. I’m sure Janet was the one who created the game but the Witching Hour was a way to be transported to a magical place outside the realm of our otherwise sad existence. As we laid on those steps and conjured up a world of witches and warlocks, we began our training in storytelling which I know is the foundation of all I am able to do as a writer today.

I can’t tell you how the game was played or even how long we would allow the magic to swirl around us but I DO remember how special it made me feel. For one solitary moment in my childhood I could be as brave as my big sister and slay the demons in front of me. No, I’m sure Janet never realized back then how much it meant to me to have her take the time to hang out with me during the Witching Hour.

But after reading my latest tale, hopefully she will…

 

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

 

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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: The Sounds of Home

 

musical heart.png

 

 
I’m a very visual person so I was quite surprised by the list I was able to come up with when working on this week’s bayou tale. Some of the sounds on my list I still hear today while others were only heard during my childhood and will live forever in the corners of my mind.

 

1. BONANZA THEME SONG…

 

My mother loved westerns. I  mean REALLY loved westerns. So I knew every week when Little Joe, Hoss, Adam, and Ben Cartwright was on the television I would be humming that theme song for days afterwards.

 

2. GRAND OLD OPRY music…

 

My mother also loved country music. I don’t mean the contemporary artists of today but ones like Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones…you get the idea. Why I didn’t even realize there WAS anything other than the Grand Old Opry style of music until I was way into my teens.

 

3. ACCORDIONS & FIDDLES…

 

My father was extremely proud of his Cajun heritage so if I wasn’t listening to old country artists, I was listening to what people these days call Zydeco music. My sister doesn’t care for it much but I LOVE the sound of accordions and fiddles when I’ve got the time to listen.

 

4.  CICADAS, GRASSHOPPERS & CRICKETS…

 

Summer nights on the bayou would be filled with those sounds…sometimes loud enough to drown out conversations but mostly more like white noise in the background of my childhood. I even had a funeral service for a grasshopper once but that’s a story for another time.

 

5. WINDOW FANS…

 

This sound is probably one of my favorites because Janet and I would play a game all summer long with one particular fan at our house. There was no such thing as central air conditioning back then so if you didn’t want to die from the sweltering heat and humidity, you had fans all around the house. One of us would stand in front of the fan on the inside of the house and the other would be outside. Just like the distorted voices you could hear through those childhood tin can telephones, my sister and I would take turns shouting into the fan blades from the outside and then fall into giggle fits as the rippling, distorted voice tumbled into the house from the whirling blades. You can do the same thing with a oscillating floor fan but there was danger involved in our game because there was no protective covering on the back of the fan so you never wanted to get too close to those blades.

 

6. TRAFFIC FROM THE HIGHWAY…

 

When my grandmother was still alive, I would sometimes visit her house that sat next to one of the two main roads leading through our little town. At night I would lie with the bedroom windows open and listen to the sound of traffic swooshing past Grandma’s house. I would wonder what faraway places all those people were traveling to and eventually be lulled to sleep by the big rigs passing by.

 

7. DINNER BELLS…

 

I grew up during a time of sitting on front porches on lazy summer days, knowing your neighbors by their first name, not having to lock your front door at night, and realizing when Mother sounded that dinner bell you had about 5 minutes or less to drop whatever you were doing and get home. She didn’t have to shout and beware the consequences for ignoring it but there was still a comfort in hearing the sound of that bell.

If I think real hard this list could continue to grow with the sounds echoing from my distant childhood. Some of the sounds are not ones I would care to hear again but we all have the freedom to choose how our past will be remembered. I choose to cherish the good sounds of my youth and let those memories shine a compassionate light on the darker days. After all, what kind of writer would I be if I can’t spin a positive tale for my readers?

 

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

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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: How About Some Fish Head Soup?

 

fish

 

 

There were times growing up when I heard people complain about what they ate for dinner at their house…

“I’m tired of having to eat pork chops three times a week.”

“Awww, not chicken again! We just ate that night before last.”

I should have been so lucky! But no, ours was a six member family on a one member salary and fifty years ago that particular salary didn’t add up to much. So my mother did what anyone would have done in her shoes…she made do.

If anyone would have stopped by on a Sunday at our house, they would have seen a banquet of southern delights…fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob…all the goodies to be found in a southern Louisiana home. A day to enjoy Mother’s good cooking and go to bed knowing your belly was full.

Not so much on the other days of the week.

You never knew what would be waiting for you in the kitchen when you got home from school. Sometimes it was a metal wash tub full of pig’s guts just waiting to be cleaned for your next meal. Or maybe it was a cow’s stomach lying in the kitchen sink just waiting for someone to tackle it. And then there were the half rotting vegetables my mother bartered from the local farmer who made the rounds with produce on the back of his truck to all the families in the area. We were the last stop on an otherwise profitable route. What other families would consider unpalatable often found its way to our dinner table.

There was a term used by the elders in my hometown…”awfuls”…and in Cajun talk that meant the parts of a critter that should have been thrown away. My mother wasn’t a proud woman when it came to trying to feed her four children. When Daddy’s paycheck didn’t stretch enough and the government’s monthly food subsidy ran out before the month did, Mother relied on whatever could be found to fill our stomaches…even if it didn’t exactly enhance our taste buds.

First was a mystery concoction that one might possibly call chicken soup, except for the fact the parts of the chicken being used were the rooster combs and the chicken feet. I kid you not…I can laugh now, but it was a strange thing to sit down to eat and try to eat a meal made out of that! Then there was Mother’s fish head soup…where you could lift the lid and literally see that fish staring back at you with it’s bulging eyes.

I can even remember walking home from Sunday school one day and seeing an armadillo being hit by a passing car. Not knowing what we might have been forced to eat when we got home, my brother decided to accept what the good Lord placed in our path and we took turns dragging that thing by its tail down the back alleys to our house. I was only 4 or 5 at the time and I can still remember taking my turn to help bring food to our table.

Some reading this week’s tale might find what I was forced to eat as a child revolting, but that was just a small sample of what was done to survive. I understand why people would feel this way. But growing up back then in such desperate times enabled me to grow into a person with an extremely compassionate nature toward my fellow man.

I’ve known the fear of not knowing where the next meal would come from or if I could even keep it down in the first place. I’ve known the humiliation of being teased and tortured at school because my mother could only clothe me in old lady dresses she bought for pennies after our neighbor had died. And I’ve known the stress of not knowing if I would have a roof over my head at night when we moved from house to house as my parents struggled to come up with fifty dollars a month for rent on a poor man’s paycheck.

A life of little means helps me to appreciate all God has seen fit to bless me with now. It has helped keep me humble. I take nothing for granted and I share what little I may have with those around me because I still remember the scars of my childhood. And with the understanding as an adult myself of just what my mother went through for the sake of her children, I actually consider myself lucky…and grateful I had a chance to eat some fish head soup…

 

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

 

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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: A Bicycle Built For Two?

 

bicycle.jpg

 

Despite living in a small town, there was a lot of ground to cover if the only means of transportation were your feet. Gueydan had only two main roads running through it with two segregated schools on one end where poor folks like my family lived and the “upper class” folks living on the other end of town. Our houses on McMurtry Street were only a few blocks away from the library where my oldest sister worked during the summer.

Usually I didn’t mind walking all the way from our house to the library and back. It gave me a few moments of freedom away from my home life, but it also gave me a chance to fill my head with dreams of faraway places and worlds where my life had more meaning. But my favorite time going to the library was when my mother used to tell me to walk my sister’s bike to her so she could ride it back at the end of her shift.

I was only about eight or nine at the time but thought I had the perfect plan for being able to teach myself how to ride that bike. You see, Carol was the only one who had a bike. Mother thought I would hurt myself trying to get on it so she forbid me to ride it over to the library. So I walked it…that is until I thought I was out of sight of the house…and then I would hop on and wobble my way down the road several blocks until the library came into view. Then I would hop off and walk it the rest of the way.

Day after day I rode the bike that summer, never realizing my mother was actually watching me from the safety of our front porch, until I became quite proficient at handling it without running into the parked cars along the way. Oh the thrill of those clandestine rides, summer sun warm on my cheek and the wind lifting the ends of my hair like little bird wings as I soared down the street toward my daily destination.

I truly thought this would be my only chance to travel by any other means than my own two feet, so imagine my surprise when Janet and I received two bright blue bicycles from Santa Claus that Christmas. We could hardly contain our excitement and Mother let us ride it in front of the house on Christmas Day but told us we were never allowed to ride it when she wasn’t around. A simple enough rule to follow…that is if you didn’t count the temptation for two eager children full of the need to test the speed of their new bikes.

Later that day my parents had to make a run to the grocery store and wouldn’t be back for about an hour. Just enough time for two girls to hatch up a plan to ride our bikes some more without Mother’s knowledge we were breaking her number one rule. There was a narrow gravel road that ran for several blocks behind our house and we thought it would be safe to ride our bikes there for just a few minutes. There would still be plenty of time to return the bikes to the garage before Daddy and Mother returned home.

Everything started out fine and we rode side by side until we suddenly came upon a car parked in front of us. We were going too fast to stop in time but there was just enough room for us to pass on each side…me going to the left and Janet to the right…and we would continue down the road once we got past the car.

Or so we thought.

Imagine our horror when we miscalculated the distance between our front tires and with a sickening crunch, crashed into each other just as we cleared the car in our path. Tumbling to the ground, we sat for a moment in stunned silence and almost too afraid to check for any damage. Knowing we couldn’t just sit there forever, we got up to inspect our brand new bikes and discovered both front tires were badly bent.

It’s moments like those that make a kid want to run away from home and never look back. We KNEW this was a beating offense should our mother discover our misdeed and yet we desperately tried to think of a way to conceal it from her without any luck. Unfortunately this is where I have to leave my story an open ended tale as I honestly don’t remember what happened next other than I remember having to walk our brand new bikes back home because they were too damaged to be ridden. Maybe Janet can help my memory out and let us all know if we ended up not being able to sit down for a week or if, by some miracle we managed to keep Mother from finding out. All I know is by the time the dust settled from our foolish accident, there was only enough good parts left of those two bikes for ONE bike for the two of us to ride…

 

bike.png

 

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

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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: A Cup of Love

 

cocoa.jpg

 

My mother was a very strict disciplinarian. Many, including a younger version of myself, would have labeled her an abusive parent. But with age comes wisdom, and over the years I have come to realize that upbringing and circumstances molded my mother into the person she had become by the time I had joined an already crowded family. I hold onto some of the better memories and recognize now my mother’s attempt to show her children how much she cared…like when we came home on cold, rainy school days.

By the time I was in first grade, I pretty much knew what would be waiting for me after walking home in the pouring rain. I was the youngest of four siblings and as a toddler, watched as Mother would go through the same ritual every year for my two sisters and brother as they walked through the back door in their rain-soaked clothes.

Hours before Mother would be in the kitchen with her trusted collection of recipes and whip up a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa. Food in our home was always carefully rationed out…except for on Hot Cocoa Day.

On Hot Cocoa Day a bone-chilled, dripping wet kid could always count on two things. A towel warmed by a gas space heater to wrap up in and an endless mug of Mother’s hot cocoa. I wouldn’t be far off saying I lived for Hot Cocoa Day. As a pre-schooler I would watch as she mixed all the ingredients into a huge stock pot and impatiently waited as it slowly simmered into a rich brown vat of childhood delight.

Once I began school I would walk home a little faster on rainy days because I knew what was waiting for me. After stuffing newspaper inside our wet shoes to help them dry, we would hover in front of that one tiny heater in the living room while Mother took turns holding the towels up to the flames to reheat them until we were dry. Then, and only when she made a new batch of hot cocoa, we were allowed to fill our mugs with as much of that chocolate goodness as we wanted. Any leftovers was stored in pitchers to be rationed out for days afterward. If we were lucky, there would be slices of homemade bread straight from the oven, topped with fresh churned butter or maybe even some snickerdoodle cookies to nibble on.

While my mother was not one for showing much affection, I now know this was one way she showed her children how much she cared. And even though it’s been more than forty years since I’ve had my mother’s hot cocoa, every time I sit down to drink some on a cold, rainy day I think of her and realize there was a lot of love in that cup…

 

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

 

cookie.jpg

 
Snickerdoodle Cookies
by Ferol Lavergne

1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix shortening, butter,sugar, and eggs. Blend all dry ingredients.

Stir in with shortening, butter, sugar and egg mixture. Roll into balls the size of a small walnut. Roll in mixture of 4 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown and still slightly soft. Allow to cool completely and store in airtight container. Makes 16 dozen.

 

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

 

 

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

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

$16.99

 

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

 

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.