TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Falling In And Out Of Love

 

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In my current day job as Program Director and Center Manager of a martial arts school, I don’t really worry too much about the shoes I wear. Most of the time I’m barefoot out on our mats so nothing stays on my feet long enough to really matter.

But when I was a kid back in the swamps of southern Louisiana, it was almost like a status symbol to have some cool shoes to strut around in. And my sister had what I thought was the coolest pair of shoes in our hometown.

I’m pretty sure my sister didn’t realize just how much I admired her when we were growing up. I thought Janet had it all…a witty personality, a bevy of friends, and the coolest wedge sandals I had ever seen.

I’ve been 5’10” since I was eleven years old. Tall enough to tower over most of the other students in my class which didn’t win me any popularity contests, but the thought of adding another 5 inches to my height was too tempting to resist. Besides, to a gangly pre teen, those shoes represented about the sexiest thing I had ever seen.

My sister let me borrow those shoes one day and I strutted around the playground like I was the Homecoming Queen. That is, until I tried to turn the corner of a building and ended up falling off those shoes.

Hitting the concrete face first.

In front of a group of cute boys.

Who started to laugh and point at the goofball on the ground trying to gather her dignity and her high heel wedges before slinking off to hide in the girl’s bathroom for the rest of recess.

For one moment in an otherwise mediocre elementary school career, I was on top of my world! But after falling off those shoes, I fell out of love with the notion of walking on stilts and stayed closer to the ground the remainder of my school career…

 

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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: Weathering The Storm

 

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As I watch the news channel talk about all the turbulent weather currently sweeping the country, I thought it would be timely to talk about all the times I had to deal with bad weather as a kid.

Growing up so close to the Gulf of Mexico made it almost a sure thing I would see a hurricane or two roar through my hometown. It seemed like every fall I would never actually get to go to the first day of school because we were always under a hurricane watch.

Sometimes, we would just get a little rain, but on September 16th, 1971, Hurricane Edith bore down on my hometown of Gueydan and only my mother stood between me and the storm.

My father, an off shore cook, wasn’t always around when hurricanes came to town. My mother would hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Filling up the bathtub with water to drink, buying extra kerosene for the lanterns in case the power went out, and storing up enough canned food to feed an army.

Mother never showed fear, even when the wind howled and the roof threatened to tear away from our house. She was the rock in the proverbial storm. I never felt afraid even when Edith caused a water surge of up to 8 feet in some areas, and I watched the wind spin trash cans like frisbees before crashing them into houses across the street from our home.

Writing a good story can be a bit like riding out a great storm. Ideas sometimes swirl around in our brain and characters crash into each other as plot lines rain down on us. We wade through the debris of false starts, and ride out the storm to a shaky ending.

But sometimes everything becomes a perfect story storm surging out of us to touch the lives of others…

 

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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: Murder On A Saturday Afternoon

 

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When I was growing up in the swamps of Louisiana, there wasn’t much to watch on TV during a heat drenched Saturday afternoon. Mostly just old John Wayne movies involving a lot of dust, some Indians, and quite a few gun fights. The killing wasn’t real and the good guys always won.

Except for one Saturday afternoon when a murder happened right in front of me and for a moment in time one little girl changed how others saw the world.

Another cowboy was riding the range and more Indian were planning another attack when I hear a strange sound close to where I lay sprawled on the floor in front of our old TV.

My brother heard it too and before I could stop him, a lifeless cricket lay crushed at my feet.

I was inconsolable.

Fortunately for me, my mother loved nature as much as I did. When I decided to have a service for that little cricket, Mother found a matchbox casket for its final resting place. She even made my siblings attend the funeral out in our front yard.

One cricket was sent properly to its final chirping resting place and for just a moment on one hot Saturday afternoon down on the bayou, a little girl changed the way others saw the value in ALL living things…

 

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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

 

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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: Tulip Hunting Can Be Dangerous

 

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My mother loved springtime. She loved planting flowers everywhere and always had a vegetable garden wherever we lived. I guess it was probably the farm living in the Ozarks when she was a child that instilled a love of watching things grow as an adult.

One year she decided to plant tulip bulbs (her favorite flower) all around the base of a large tree in the front yard. Carefully, she dug holes and made a circle of what she hoped later on would be a burst of tulips she could enjoy from the hanging swing on the enclosed front porch.

One morning, however, my mother discovered something had dug up some of the bulbs during the night…but what? She replanted some more bulbs but discovered the next day that the thief had struck again. Eventually my mother figured out that a momma armadillo and her babies were finding her tulip bulbs a delicious midnight snack. She didn’t want to keep providing them with a tulip buffet but she wasn’t sure about the right way to solve her problem.

Just how does one convince an armadillo to go away?

Mother’s tulip thief problem was surprisingly solved the following evening in a frightening way. Just around the time the sun was setting, we suddenly heard this strange sound coming from under our house. Deep and loud, that rumbling roar could be heard a block away from my house and my mother knew in an instant what was making that scary sound.

Living so near the bayous usually meant lots of rain and with that came the occasional visit from critters living in the marshy lands surrounding my home town. Evidently the last rain we’d had made our nighttime visitor leave the comforts of his cozy home in the bayou to find refuge under our house. All through the night we listened to the song of the swamps as we waited for the game warden to arrive the next day and take that critter back to where it came from.

Everything eventually returned to normal after that. We got to enjoy the rest of our spring and my mother got to enjoy her tulips.

And the armadillo family?

Unfortunately our six fool long visitor needed a late night snack before he returned home…

 

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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: Smell That?

 

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With the rising temperatures announcing the arrival of Spring, my thoughts turn to vegetable gardens. One image I will always have from my childhood is my mother planting her vegetable garden no matter where we lived. Small yard, large yard, she always found the space to supplement her meager grocery allowance for our family of six with food fresh from the garden.

Every spring I would look through the Burpee seed catalog as my mother made plans for her latest endeavor. Green beans to potatoes to carrots and radishes, everything had a place in my mother’s garden. But the one vegetable I remember the best are her tomatoes.

No starter plants would do except for the free ones she could get from the local sewage processing plant. I imagine most people stayed away from that place due to the overwhelming smell alone.

But not my mother.

Every year, we would make our way to the fields surrounding the processing building, and my mother would dig up the young tomato plants that had managed to make it through the sanitation process to start their new lives among the rich fertilizer to be found nearby. Maybe not the sweetest smelling beginning, but those plants provided some of the juiciest, most flavorful tomatoes around come harvest time. I guess she could have bought them from Burpee, but the hard work put into the initial harvesting of those young plants made the ending worthwhile.

I’ve planted my own tomato plants since my childhood, but can’t manage to duplicate the deliciousness of my mother’s plants. But after remembering exactly what I would have to do to replicate my mother’s tomatoes, that’s okay…I think I’ll pass…

 
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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: On A Book Bender

 

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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…

 

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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: If Dreams Were Horses…

 

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Every summer growing up, I used to race to my local library to join the reading club and begin my journey through the lands of faraway places. But the day I read BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell, I began to nurture the idea I could one day raise beautiful horses for others to enjoy.

I started collecting every toy horse I could get my hands on. My father, who was a heavy drinker, would bring home small, plastic white horses he removed from the whiskey bottles he got from the local bar.

Next I graduated to dime store versions until I had quite a collection. My favorite was a golden palomino until the day my mother gave me a thoroughbred model kit. I had discovered Man O’ War and now considered him to be the greatest race horse in history. The only problem…I had trouble assembling all the pieces of that kit.

One piece in particular.

You see, my Man O’ War model was anatomically correct and my naïve ten year old mind had no clue why the manufacturer had given me two noses.

It finally dawned on me that I was trying to apply the second “nose” to the wrong end of the horse!

 

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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.