Monday, May 25, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE: THE HOMECOMING


***To all those who gave their all in service of their country...we salute you***
THE HOMECOMING
by: Donna L Martin

Walk softly through the creeping vines,
And never lead your heart astray;
‘Til the last dancer touches the floor,
And the fiddler has had his pay.

Play softly ‘til the golden sun sets,
And never let the rains come;
‘Til the last tune sings no more,
And at last they bring you home




Lie softly on your bed of green
And never give up the fight;
‘Til the last flower has had it’s bloom,
And the day leaves with fading light.

Sleep quietly in your darkened abode,
And never stop casting a stone;
‘Til all the stars have lost their shine,
And you find yourself all alone.




Dream sweetly in your world of dreams;
And never let them out of your sight;
‘Til the last mourner has shed a tear,
And at last you welcome the night.

Live forever on in the hearts of men,
And never stop ‘til warriors roam.
‘Til the last hope is cast away,
And they finally bring you home.





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: David Miles

 
 
 
 
Title: Adventure Bible: Brave Queen Esther
Illustrator: David Miles
Publisher: Zondekidz Publishing
Ages: 6-9
 
Synopsis:
Queen Esther is brave! When she hears of an evil plan to hurt the Jews in the kingdom, the queen must go to the king and fight for her people. Will she have the courage to ask for help?
Why you should read it:
Being raised in a Christian household, I had the opportunity to read many Bible stories but I must admit Queen Esther was not a person I knew very well. When you take a moment to look past the obvious biblical slant of this book, you will discover a story with a universal theme: finding the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even when others disagree with you.  
Children need role models to identify with and look up to as they struggle to find their place in this world. They could do much worse than following the lead of someone like Esther. For the family looking for ANY books to support strong moral character, this one would make a nice addition to their home library.

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 4 out of 5...think about it.

**Rating scale**

 5 out of 5...grab it!

 4 out of 5...think about it.

 3 out of 5...take or leave it.

 2 out of 5...maybe not for you.

 1 out of 5...forget about it!
 
 
 
(Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book 
review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the 
Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx 03/16cfr255 03.html ("Guides Concerning the use of 
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.")

Monday, May 18, 2015

CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL OF READING 2015






This past Saturday was the day I look forward to all year long. In case you are new to my blog, every year in May my city gets together at World's Fair Park for the Children's Festival of Reading. Usually more than 15,000 people show up each year and this past weekend was no different.




I arrived bright and early at 8:15 am and there were already people starting to set up. The event didn't start until 10 but you could already feel the excitement and anticipation in the air.





Over by the regular playground there were people setting up a special obstacle course for the kiddies as well as areas for chalk drawing and face painting.





I didn't have to worry about whether I would be safe among all those people...these superheroes had my back!





Kids visiting my front booth got a chance to create beautiful pictures and then we would turn them into butterflies. I brought material to make 1000 butterflies...and hoped I would have enough...







The back booth had information about my book, my fan club, and specials running at my martial arts school. It was a two ring circus and I was very grateful my sister was there to help.






Children's authors are invited from all around the country to come to this event. There a performance stage, the main stage, a music stage, a signing booth, and different genre book panels.





My booth was across from the book signing tent and down the way from the main stage. All in all a good location...prime real estate in terms of festival traffic...














There's a parade of books, complete with 10 foot tall stilt walkers and circus performers. I tried to count how many of those wonderful authors I've read before and how many I needed to add to my "to read" list...;~)

I had a great time hanging out with everyone but there were a few things I missed out on:


1. My booth was so slammed all day long I never got to visit with Dan Santat...;~(

2. The public library was selling discontinued books for 50 cents to 1 dollar each and I couldn't get away long enough to check them out. I just know there were books over there calling my name...begging me to take them home with me...and I was too busy to answer the call.

3. I missed out on lunch as well but was reminded of it all day long as I was caught in the cross winds of barbeque, funnel cakes, hot dogs, and nachos.


But despite some of the minor disappointments of the day, there were some incredibly touching moments that I will cherish forever...



1. The young lady on the right, along with her sister, stopped by my booth to make their butterflies. Mom signed them up for my FREE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB when I noticed one of the sisters started to draw another picture but when I asked her if she wanted me to make it into another butterfly, she just shook her head and turned the picture towards me so I could see it. She had drawn a pretty butterfly down one side and across the top wrote the word "autograph". I realized she wanted to have my autograph but was too shy to ask. That was a request I certainly had to fullfil.

2. Mrs. Williams from the Knox County Public Library system stopped by my booth to say hi and confirm she ordered a number of copies of my book so children will be able to read it in the local branches in the near future. When I thanked her for her kindness in voting for my book's inclusion in the system's inventory, her reply was, "It was a good book and you are one of our own." That was very sweet to hear and validated my hard work at this writing thing.

3. A young man was brought to my booth by his mom because she was told she HAD to look me up. Thanks, Lisa Wade, for your kindness in helping spread the word about my book!

4. But by far, the sweetest thing to happen to me this past weekend was when an older lady stopped by my booth to chat with me about THE STORY CATCHER. She mentioned she had many stories crowding her brain and asked me many questions about writing and publishing in general. At one point she took out a large flip pad notebook and started taking notes of our conversation. I gave her one of my postcards and mentioned that she will be able to check out my book from the public library. She said the Ebook was already available because my book was REQUIRED READING at some course she was taking. I was stunned! Required reading? I was almost overwhelmed with emotion and managed to tell her how she made my day telling me that. Who knew? Her reply? "No, YOU made MY day by talking to me."

I may never make a penny off THE STORY CATCHER. I may never sell another book. But I can sleep well tonight with the knowledge that at least one of my stories have touched the hearts of some people...maybe helping to make them feel less alone with their particular struggles...and it doesn't get better than that!







Five fun-filled hours later, it was almost as if we had never even been there but I will always remember...




Blurb:

Addie comes from a long line of readers or "story catchers" as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own the wiggly words play tricks on her. She tries different ways to make those words sit still but it will take a little faith for Addie to become the next STORY CATCHER.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle ¦ Paperback ¦ B&N ¦ Smashwords



JOIN THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB!

Membership includes:

Membership Certificate

Bi-montly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news, and other goodies
Reading Log for earning STORY CATCHER AWARD
Short story starring YOU!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Allan Zullo







Title: Titanic Young Survivors
Author: Allan Zullo
Publisher: Scholastic
Ages: 9-11
 
Synopsis:
Young people from all walks of life climbed aboard the Titanic for what should have been a wonderful maiden voyage. Now, on the night of April 14, 1912 they all face a life-or-death crisis aboard the Titanic. When the unthinkable occurs, how would these ten children survive?
 
Why you should read it:
 
If you are as fascinated with everything Titanic like I am, Mr. Zullo's book of ten true tales involving children who sailed on the Titanic will definitely be one to add to your own collection. 

The Titanic was considered a ship of wonders, virtually unsinkable, so when this modern marvel of early twentieth century ingenuity struck an iceberg and sank in less than three hours, millions of people around the world just couldn't believe it. I've read many books covering this tragedy and yet I was still pleasantly surprised to discover new things about some of names I had read about over the years. 

TITANIC YOUNG SURVIVORS will give children, and adults, a glimpse into the lives of some of the brave children who faced the possibility of dying that night and lived to tell about it.
 

 
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5...grab it!

**Rating scale**

 5 out of 5...grab it!

 4 out of 5...think about it.

 3 out of 5...take or leave it.

 2 out of 5...maybe not for you.

 1 out of 5...forget about it!
 
 
 

 


 

 
Blurb:

Addie comes from a long line of readers or "story catchers" as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own the wiggly words play tricks on her. She tries different ways to make those words sit still but it will take a little faith for Addie to become the next STORY CATCHER.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle ¦ Paperback ¦ B&N ¦ Smashwords



JOIN THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB!

Membership includes:

Membership Certificate

Bi-montly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news, and other goodies
Reading Log for earning STORY CATCHER AWARD
Short story starring YOU!
 

Monday, May 11, 2015

IT'S JUST YOU AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN

 
 
 
 
 
It's just you against the mountain.  What are you going to do?

The summer I turned 18, I visited my brother in San Diego, California.  He was an officer in the Navy and stationed aboard the USS Enterprise.  David was six years older than myself and it was my first adventure since graduating high school.  I was a shy, introverted country girl dropped into the middle of a big city and completely out of my comfort zone.  To add to my confusion, one of my brother's Navy buddies had taken a liking to me and wanted to go on a date.  A date.  Something that I had NEVER been on in my life (thanks, Mom, for making me a social dork...lol) but I decided what could it hurt to go out with him?  I was expecting something to eat, maybe a movie, and then back to my brother's apartment.  Something cookie-cutter safe for the first time out with a virtual stranger.

But noooo...

I should have realized I was going to be out of my comfort zone when he picked me up in a muddy jeep.  My date decided he wanted to test my adventurous side.  Just how adventurous was a "mouse" going to get?  Trying a new flavor cheese, perhaps?  After driving to a local quarry, he thought it would be "fun" to challenge his jeep against a mountain of gravel with a straight vertical climb of about 200 feet!  I don't think I have ever been more scared in my life.  At least up until that point.  We managed to slide our way to the top and while he was exhilarated by the challenge, I was simply glad to still be alive!  Now, I thought, we will somehow make it back down this slippery slope and I can go back to my brother's apartment and never go on another "date" in my life.

I was wrong... 

Taking my silence as a sign I approved of his plans for the day, my date decided we should then tackle a REAL mountain so we headed to the Devil's Punch Bowl.  The name should give you a clue what I was in for.  Once again, I was taken out of my comfort zone.  For the next 2 hours I hiked up the side of a mountain as we used a trail that, at times, was little more than following goat tracks through brush.  We finally made it to the top and yes, I must admit it was worth it as I looked out over the beautiful "punch bowl" valley below us.  I had not let my doubts or fears hold me back and this was my reward. 

To this day, I can close my eyes and I can be back on the side of that mountain...breathing the fresh air and soaking in the tranquility of being one with nature. And I say a word of thanks to that person who did not allow me to hold back, but encouraged me to keep moving forward until I had overcome not only the mountain itself, but all my doubts and fears as well.

What mountains will YOU face in this year? And more importantly, how will you handle them?




Are you going to let your self-doubts or fears stop you from achieving your goals for 2015?  There are a lot of things you can do to keep moving forward...





You can climb over every obstacle that prevents you from becoming the best you can be.






You can find constructive ways to bridge old ideas with new ones to overcome the obstacles which prevent you from completing your stories.






You can tunnel through the years of wondering if you are good enough to be a writer, wondering if anyone will want to read your work and just create the best work you can so you can go from there.




Or you can simply fly over those obstacles like they never even existed!  Moving straight ahead, eyes forever focused on the prize, you can simply ignore all those silly bumps in the road that strain to hold you back and sail into this new world with confidence!  And when you reach that summit,  you will know that in the battle between you against the mountain, YOU will always come out on top!





Blurb:

Addie comes from a long line of readers or "story catchers" as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own the wiggly words play tricks on her. She tries different ways to make those words sit still but it will take a little faith for Addie to become the next STORY CATCHER.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle ¦ Paperback ¦ B&N ¦ Smashwords



JOIN THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB!

Membership includes:

Membership Certificate

Bi-montly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news, and other goodies
Reading Log for earning STORY CATCHER AWARD
Short story starring YOU!
 
 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: MIKE BERENSTAIN

 
 
Title: The Berenstain Bears' Country Coobook
Author/Illustrator: Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zondekidz Publishing
Ages: 9-11
 
Synopsis:
Cooking with Mama Bear and the rest of the Bear family is as easy as pie with these 40 kid-friendly recipes including breakfast, lunch, main meals, and desserts.
 
Why you should read it:
I am by no means a gourmet cook. I was raised in a larger poor family in a small town and my mother's goal was simply to provide filling meals for her children.
When I opened this latest Berenstain Bears' book, it was like opening my mother's favorite recipe book and it brought me back to the years of my youth when I would sit at the kitchen table watching Mother share her love of cooking with me.
Children and adults alike will enjoy  whipping up delicious dishes like Tasty Toboggans for breakfast, Bear-y Good Mac & Cheese for dinner or Banana Pops for dessert. There's even a cute Berenstain Bear story woven throughout the book to keep younger chefs focused while waiting for a new family tradition to bake!

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5...grab it!

**Rating scale**

 5 out of 5...grab it!

 4 out of 5...think about it.

 3 out of 5...take or leave it.

 2 out of 5...maybe not for you.

 1 out of 5...forget about it!
 
 
 
(Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book 
review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the 
Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx 03/16cfr255 03.html ("Guides Concerning the use of 
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.")
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

STEPPING INTO THE PAST TO SEE MY FUTURE




Years ago my son and I used to watch the TV show DR WHO. Who doesn't know about the famous time-portal tardis? Well, this weekend I didn't use a tardis but I did go back in time when I ventured downtown to check out the activities.




 Even the buildings were celebrating the past as this one let the world know it's been around for more than 100 years!


 

 There were also many people celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the contributions made by both Caucasian and African American soldiers in this time of civil unrest. Ben Vereen, known for his role as "Chicken George" in Alex Haley's ROOTS, was in town to talk about the struggle of slaves on the road to freedom as well as his role in the epic movie.  Locals chatted with Confederate soldiers while I tried to chase down a Union Captain but he got away from me.



 


 There were many musicians celebrated their own musical "roots" and I got the chance to listen to everything from Bluegrass on the left to old style Country on the right.




 In case you were wondering where he was, I even found Elvis! The guy on the right was a little Jewish fellow playing beautiful Hebrew music on his violin and singing in his native language.




 People's toes were tapping when the Ragtime band got started but it was the Scottish performer that had me glued to my seat. I had already circled downtown trying to find the way back to my car and was on my  second trip after getting directions from one of the street vendors when the sound of bagpipes literally stopped me in my tracks. I would have recognized that sound anywhere and made a beeline to Krutch Park where I listened to this lovely man with the Scottish accent play and chat with the crowd about the upcoming Scottish Games that will be happening in a couple of weeks in Maryville. I even have a recording of him playing the bagpipes but it wouldn't load properly so you will just have to imagine it.




There were street vendors everywhere selling everything from handmade pottery to veggies to beautiful jewelry. There was something for everyone and reminded me of a time long ago when there was no money and people bartered for the things they needed.




I even ran into this unique street vendor. There was a huge line waiting to belly up to the bar which surprised me. People in Knoxville really enjoy their liquor but it was nice to see there were still plenty of people, like myself, that enjoy a cold beverage of another type!



 













After getting yet another set of directions...this time from two police officers...I found myself heading in the right direction towards where my car was parked and stumbled into a lovely indie bookstore called Union Ave Books. Of course I just happened to have one of my cards on me and chatted with the lovely ladies behind the counter about my picture book, THE STORY CATCHER. They gave me information to follow up for an author visit and I got a chance to check out their inventory. Of course, I made a beeline to the children's section. Union Ave Books had part of the back of the store set up for picture books and another section set up for chapter books. I saw a lot of books from many of my author friends and even saw some that were calling my name to take them home!  I'm currently doing research on one  aspect of the Titanic that has never been covered and I was pleasantly surprised to actually find a Titanic book there I didn't have so I quickly grabbed the only copy to take with me.




Union Ave Bookstore even had a local author section that I will try in the near future to convince those lovely ladies to add my book to that shelf...;~)

 I had a wonderful "play" day Saturday but I realized by stepping into the past, hearing the sounds and seeing the sights of another time, I ended my day being more focused on where my future lay. I heard stories that I wanted to share with future generations. I saw memorials to the human spirit that made me proud to call myself a writer because I will be able to share those lives with others so that they may not be forgotten. And maybe, if I'm really lucky, I will have more stories to add to the shelves of bookstores like the one I found on Union Ave to be discovered by young readers some time in THEIR future...





Blurb:

Addie comes from a long line of readers or "story catchers" as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own the wiggly words play tricks on her. She tries different ways to make those words sit still but it will take a little faith for Addie to become the next STORY CATCHER.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle ¦ Paperback ¦ B&N ¦ Smashwords



JOIN THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB!

Membership includes:

Membership Certificate

Bi-montly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news, and other goodies
Reading Log for earning STORY CATCHER AWARD
Short story starring YOU!