TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Entertaining The Troops

 

Live Concert, Concert, Stage, People, Crowd, Audience

 

One of the houses I lived in when I was growing up among the bayous of Louisiana had a sidewalk running off the front porch. It split the front yard into two sections which, to my young mind, provided the perfect venue for my world of make believe.

My sister, Janet, and I would spend hours using that front yard to share our budding talents with our “audience”. Whether it was dressing up for an impromptu fashion show or grabbing a hairbrush microphone to sing to the troops, we spent many a summer day hanging out on that front porch.

When I wasn’t with my sister, I would sit in that front yard and watch the lazy bees flit from one patch of clover to another. I would make flower necklaces and lie in the cool grass, watching puffy clouds float by. Sometimes, if I was really lucky, I could just make out some magical creature smiling back at me from the sky above.

Funny how simple childhood games come back to me during these fearful days. The whole world holds its breath to see how this pandemic will ultimately change their lives. And as the world around us gets so small we can’t see beyond our front yard, I’ve made a place of my own to be able to sit and watch new clouds go by…

 

patio2

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris

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

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

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is available in ebook and paperbook everywhere!

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Dreaming On…

band

 

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother was a true, hard-core country music lover. I mean shows like The Grand Ole Opry, and Hee Haw was ALWAYS on at our house. The radio only played classic country artists like Dolly Parton, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette. I didn’t even know there was any other kind of music until I was a teenager.

The summer I turned 14, my mother allow me to start working part time at a cafe downtown that served true Cajun food as well as hamburgers and french fries. There was a small jukebox and dance floor in one corner of the building. I really enjoyed my job because I got the chance to work with my sister. 

One day while I was serving a customer, someone decided to drop a dime in the jukebox and selected a song that would change my life forever. Aerosmith’s “Dream On” started playing and it literally stopped me in my tracks. 

That voice.

That guitar.

Those drums.

The lyrics were hypnotic to me, and I spent the remaining time I worked at that cafe spending half of my paycheck each week on that jukebox. I was never told anything but you would think the owners would have gotten tired of hearing that song. Maybe they thought some other customer was dropping all those coins in the machine. Or maybe they loved the song as much as I did.

Either way, more than forty years have passed since I first heard that song, but even now, when I hear the first chords of that tune, I’m transported back to that little cafe, dropping nickels in the jukebox and dreaming on…

 

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris

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

Coming to a bookstore near you in the spring of 2020!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is scheduled to be released later this spring!

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Mud Puddles & Mud Pies

mud puddle

 

Rainy days like today remind me of my childhood back in the swamps of Louisiana. I was raised to be a country girl while living in a small town on the edge of the bayou. We weren’t the poorest family in town but came pretty darn close.

I had a few toys to my name, but had to use my imagination just as much to entertain myself on a rainy day.

If it was really storming outside, Mother would let my sister and me take over the dining room and turn it into our own private fortress. We would take covers off the beds and drape them over the table top to create an instant cave to hide in. Dining room chairs could be turned over to make walls to protect us from the monsters waiting in the other room. Flashlights for reading in the semi-darkness, and if we were lucky, some of mother’s cookies and Koolaid to tide us over til lunch time.

If it was a light, summer rain, I would hang out in our garage. There was a large pool table there where I would challenge Janet to a game, but most of the time I just sat on the hard, dirt floor and played house with my dolls. Mud and grass mixed together made some fine mud pies and all my stuffed animals would always ask for more!

It didn’t take much during those kind of days to keep me occupied.

Just a little bit of rain and some mud…

 

mud

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris
Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He left behind a treasure box with six secret compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also told her to watch out for the gris-gris while he was gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing was hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee coming to stay at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt for the gris-gris a secret with a stranger hanging around?
Coming to a bookstore near you in the spring of 2020!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is scheduled to be released later this spring!

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Killer Cures

sick

 

My mother was a strong willed woman who had little to no tolerance for sickness in her house. With four children to raise pretty much on her own because my father was away from home so much, she always seemed to approach sickness with one of two approaches…

 

TOUGH LOVE

 

Unless there was some evidence of a fever or body parts falling off, Mother presumed one was healthy enough to carry on. Sniffles, coughing, or a slightly scratchy throat would be ignored and the child in question would be bundled up and sent off to school with the usual determination. A good education rated high on my mother’s list of life’s accomplishments, and the barometer of the day if one didn’t have a fever was, “Can you make it through school?” If I hadn’t contracted the plague, I knew my butt would be sent to school whether I wanted to stay home that particular day or not.

 

KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS

 

I was by no means a sickly child growing up, but there was one thing I could always count on during the fall and winter months. At least 4-5 times a year I would develop tonsillitis or strep throat.  The doctor told my mother I needed my tonsils removed, but with our family being so poor, she knew there was never any chance of that happening. She barely had the money for antibiotics so when they were purchased, I was never given the full dose…just enough to make me feel better because the rest would be saved for the next round the next month to help stretch the money.

There were three things I could always count on if I truly got sick. An alcohol rub down to help break the fever. Tepid, strong tea with little sugar. And poached eggs on dry toast. While I hated the constant battle with tonsillitis and strep throat, I hated even more my mother’s “home remedies” for trying  to cure what ailed me.

To this day, I like my toast heavily buttered, my eggs fried, with my weak tea boiling hot and sweet! Don’t even think about trying to serve me one of Mother’s “killer cures” the next time I get sick…

 

egg

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Leaving A Mark

eyeglasses

 

I want to warn everyone that this week’s tale might be disturbing for some people. It won’t hurt my feelings if you choose to skip this week and come back next time. If you choose to read on, remember…I warned you.

Growing up when I did, I knew each school year where I would sit in the classroom and even who I would sit behind. Teachers always arranged their classrooms by alphabetical order and since my hometown was small, there weren’t any new faces at the beginning of the new school year to disrupt the order of things.

Every year I sat behind the same boy. I don’t know if he had an issue with me because I was a girl, because I was poor, or maybe he was just a jerk and it had nothing to do with me. But one particular year when I was in fifth grade, there was two incidents that literally left their mark on me and changed my life forever.

I don’t even remember what caused our argument. Bickering between school mates over something dumb I’m sure. Before I knew what was happening, the boy turned around in his chair and stabbed his pencil in my arm.

I was surprised, to put it mildly.

The teacher was more excited than anything and proceeded to drag me to all the classrooms in our building where she showed off the pencil still sticking out of my arm. She hadn’t bothered to pull it out before creating the pathetic circus performance I became a part of. I”m pretty sure nothing ever happened to make that boy accountable.

Then came the next pencil encounter.

Later that same school year, again there was some disagreement between this boy and myself. I don’t know why, because I liked his older brother very much. Anyway, the bickering escalated until the boy swung at me again with another pencil.

This time,  it wasn’t my arm that was his target. 

The pencil was stuck in my eye!

It landed in my left eye near my tear duct and luckily this time, it wasn’t left in place while I was paraded around like some monkey in a cage. I really don’t remember if there was ever any repercussions for him, but by the sixth grade I was forced to wear glasses and now years later, I have issues with that eye which might eventually lead to blindness down the line.

Either way, that boy left his mark on me and I will never forget him. I hold no ill will. Kids can be dumb sometimes and lash out in anger or stupidity. But no matter his reason, when it comes to being blessed enough to  see the cover of my eleventh book being released later this spring, I’m seeing just fine!

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris HB cover

 

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris

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

Coming to a bookstore near you in the spring of 2020!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is scheduled to be released later this spring!

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Slip Sliding Away

Rain, Boots, Umbrella, Wet, Rain Falling

 

I’ve always loved rainy days. Especially when I could just hang out and listen to it or watch it fall. I especially liked when it would hit one of the metal awnings around my childhood home…pinging and slapping the metal in a rhythmic sound that always had a calming affect on me.

I’m not a huge fan of lightening though. Storms in southern Louisiana can get pretty intense and the lightening was almost always followed by the crashing, booming  rolls of thunder that would drive me under the covers when it happened in the middle of the night. 

But then there were those times when there would be a light rainfall and my mother would let me go outside to play in it. Donning galoshes and a raincoat,  I would dance in the rain…not a care in the world…and create streams in the mud where leaves with stick sails would travel to another world in my mind.

If I was really lucky, the water would collect in the deep ditch in our front yard. My sister and I would then take a thrown away refrigerator size cardboard box confiscated from the local hardware store dumpster and cut it open to create a homemade slippy slide leading from our front yard into the pond created in that ditch.

It didn’t matter we were poor and didn’t have a real pool. It didn’t matter that the water wasn’t crystal clear surrounded by white, sandy beaches.

In my mind, I was diving into a blue lagoon on some deserted tropical island and having the time of my life! My mother didn’t choose the life of poverty her children were born into, but she did allow us the freedom to use our creativity to have a little fun on a rainy day…

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris HB cover

 

***COMING MARCH 20, 2020!***

 

Book three of the HISTORY’S MYSTERIES series, Hunting Gris-Gris, is scheduled to be released this spring, just in time for Easter!

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.
Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?
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donna - Copy
Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book three, Hunting Gris-Gris, is scheduled to be released later this spring!

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Back To My Not So Italian Roots…

 

pasta

 

Life on the bayou wasn’t always all about crawfish and gumbo.

There were other times when my mother threw together other ingredients in her attempt to put food on the table. Sometimes it worked.

Sometimes it didn’t.

I lived for Sunday afternoons because I could identify what was on my plate. I loved mother’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I wasn’t so lucky the other days of the week. Sometimes I would come home from school to fish head soup. Yes, you heard me right. NOT fish soup…fish HEAD soup. Do you know how freaky it is to look into a pot and have your meal LOOKING BACK AT YOU?

Then there were the rooster COMB and chicken FEET meals placed in front of me. Just in case you’re wondering…no, there is NO meat on chicken FEET, but you can have lots of fun playing with the tendons like a theater puppet to make the claws clinch up!

Occasionally, mother would try to make a  traditional Italian meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Most of the time we didn’t have the ground meat for meatballs so she would substitute diced chicken. Then there was the fact she usually didn’t have enough spaghetti to feed six people so she would substitute rice on the bottom of the dish. Being raised in the middle of rice country had it’s advantages. Seasoned tomato paste topped off the dish instead of homemade spaghetti sauce, and I imagine the “cheese” that was sprinkled on top came from the government subsidized cheese handouts we would travel to the next town each month to receive.

Any true Italian would have been horrified to have that concoction placed in front of them, but in our house, it was WAY BETTER than the grease dripping pancakes or turnip rice dishes I had to choke down to avoid being hungry.

Luckily, pasta dishes are much easier to make these days…

 

Close-Up, Pasta, Pesto, Italian, Fettuccine, Cuisine

 

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Donna's Books

 

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s easy to pick up a quick read to share with a loved one! Check out my author page on Amazon…https://www.amazon.com/Donna-L-Martin/e/B00KA7DS02

 

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donna - Copy

 

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