Mama Diaries

Monday, June 18, 2018

Power Washing the Boys

First of all, congratulations to Virginia, Cammie, and Liz who are the winners of the giveaway of my upcoming book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China. Thanks to all who entered!

Now for the story:

The other day, my husband decided it would be a good idea to power wash the driveway, the sidewalk, the porch, and anything he could reach. I don't know why he thought this was a good idea, because it was 95 degrees outside. The last thing I'd want to do is heavy work in the heat!

Somehow he convinced my son, Bubba, to join him. By the time they were done, they were both disgusting, sweaty messes.

When they were finished, they came into the house.

I took one look at them. "I think you missed a couple of things."

"We didn't miss anything," they said.

"Yeah, you did. Yourselves. You both are in dire need of a power wash!"

So they each marched into a shower and power washed themselves.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Giveaway and Saga of a Snail

Before I begin, I'd like to let you all know that I'm doing a giveaway of my upcoming book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China. The publisher has three extra review copies, and we thought it would be fun to give you a chance to win one. This is open to US residents only. If you are interested, please say so in the comments below. The winners will be selected on Monday, June 18th. If you are selected, I will contact you for your email address, which I will give to the publisher. The book will come directly from the publisher. Good luck!

Now for the story:  Some of you who are friends with me on Facebook may have seen the photo of a snail crawling up my back door. We had affectionately named this snail, Gary. Here he is:

Gary was a very messy house guest. He left trails of snail poop all over the door. When he disappeared for a day, we thought he was gone. But he wasn't. He reappeared leaving more trails of snail poop. Quite frankly, I was getting tired of cleaning up after Gary. My husband decided he'd had enough, too. He peeled the snail off the top of the door and relocated him under a bush. 

But poor Gary didn't fare so well. If you are a sensitive soul, you may not want to read the rest of this story. Our ferocious cat, Bootsy, decided to take matters into his own paws. Bootsy is a critter killer. He kills anything he can find:  frogs, chipmunks, birds, cock roaches (which we don't mind). . . and snails. We found poor Gary's shell in pieces, deposited outside the back door. We are quite certain that Bootsy is the guilty party. Guess Bootsy didn't like the poop on the window, either! 

One more thing I heard about which I thought was interesting:  Do you remember how I told you that my son had to get a permit to sell lemonade at his stand? Lots of kids get fined if they don't. Well, Country Time Lemonade is taking a stand to raise money to pay lemonade stand fines. It's called Legal-Ade. Kids can get help here. 


Monday, June 4, 2018

Special Guests: Stephanie Robinson and Jessica Haight, Co-Authors of the DMS Series

Today I have two very special guests:  Stephanie Robinson and Jessica Haight, the co-authors of the DMS Series. Their newest book, Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library was recently released. They are here to tell you a little about it.

The Talking Library is so imaginative with many Alice In Wonderland-like qualities. What inspired you to write the book?

When we decided to start The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow we had a plan to write a series. We began Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library right after we’d finished the first book. The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow has a general theme around The Wizard of Oz, so we thought it would be fun to have each book in the series loosely based on a classic children’s story. Alice and Wonderland fit well with our ideas for the storyline in Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library.

That's clever. I'll have to re-read the Secret Files of Fairday Morrow and look for the Wizard of Oz similarities.

Talk about the writing process. How did the two of you work together to write this story?

We collaborate using the Google Drive and Google Docs. It’s a fantastic way to write together and keep projects organized. Our writing is done on the cloud, so we have flexibility to work on our projects any time and from any place that has the internet. We’ll chat on the phone, discuss a chapter, and then pick away at three chapters we keep up in the “queue”. One is almost finished, one is in the middle, and one we’re just beginning- this makes for smooth chapter transitions, and it’s easy to see where you are in the story.

Google Drive is great for sharing files. You two have done a terrific job of making the collaboration work.

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

The Talking Library was super fun to write. There’s lots of literary magic, and many of the scenes were inspired by situations that occurred while we were promoting The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, so that makes it special. We are very good at drawing story ideas from our personal experiences. Plus, it’s super fun to create stories with a friend.

Creating stories with a friend does sound like a lot of fun!

How did you come up with all the riddles that needed to be solved?

Jessica thinks in rhymes and both she and Stephanie love words and stories. Writing riddle clues with literary references was fun and challenging. Luckily, Jess gets a lot of practice writing riddles for Fairday’s book blog each week.

I love the riddles on your blog. They're cute!

Will there be more adventures for Fairday Morrow and her friends?

The next case in the DMS files is Fairday Morrow and the Master’s Emporium. 

Awesome! Sounds like fun, and I can't wait to read it!

Describe your earliest memories of writing.

Jess: There is story I wrote in 6th grade that I won a “Young Authors” award for. I remember the cardboard cover had a pegasus and a rainbow, but can’t recall the story. I wish I could! That is my earliest memory of completing a writing project. 

Stephanie: My first memory of writing has to do with getting in trouble in first grade for writing my paper the wrong way.  I wrote starting at the bottom right hand corner and make my way left and then up- so the opposite of how we write in America. I didn’t understand that there was a right way to write and and wrong way, and I remember my teacher reprimanding me and having to go back and redo the assignment the correct way. Although this memory has stayed with me because I was embarrassed and ashamed, it didn’t deter me from wanting to put stories on paper. I loved storytelling and writing in general. In 4th grade I created a picture book about my cat, Kitty Calico, and her adventures at an amusement park. I even did the illustrations (and drawing isn’t my strong suit). My mom had the story for a long time, though I am not sure where it is now.

I wrote a story that involved unicorns and rainbows when I was eight. Must be something about those two things that makes young girls want to write about them. Congrats on the Young Authors Award! And the story about writing the wrong way is funny - you were just flexing your creative muscles! 

What were your favorite books when you were kids?

Jess: My favorite children’s book is Frederick by Leo Lionni. I also adored fairy tales and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. My first chapter book ( I still have the original) was Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary.

Stephanie: After taking a while to learn to read, I became a big fan. I tended to get hooked on an author and read all of their books. Some of my favorites were: Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, and all of the Nancy Drew books.

I don't believe I've ever read Ellen Tebbits. I'll have to check it out. The others listed are all great books!

What do you do when you're not writing or promoting your books?

Jess: I enjoy nature photography, meditative drawing, spending quality time with my cats, and working in my garden.

Stephanie: I love to travel and hope to one day see all 50 states. Only 4 states left- Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana, and Alabama. I also spend a lot of time getting lost in books!

Those all sound like good, restful activities! Stephanie, you're making great progress on visiting all the states. That's on my bucket list, too! 

What advice would you give to new writers?

Jess: First and foremost, finish your story to your satisfaction. Hire professional editors to polish your words. Believe in yourself, and love the process of your work. Protecting creative space is the key.

Stephanie: Don’t be afraid of rejection. As a writer, you will need to build tough skin. Because reading is subjective there will be people who love and dislike what you write. That is okay- be open to criticism, but believe in yourself and know that there are a lot of different types of readers out there. Everyone gets rejected. Make sure to dust yourself off when it happens and put yourself back out there.

Great advice from both of you!

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Jess: I would want to fly.

Stephanie: Invisibility. This would come in very handy when I want to run a few quick errands.

I think I'd want to fly AND be invisible! :)

Thanks so much for being guests on my blog!

Blurb for the Talking Library: Fairday Morrow had no clue that moving from Manhattan to the small town of Ashpot, Connecticut, would lead to an unsolved mystery. Her parents’ dream of renovating a crumbling Victorian, called the Begonia House, into a bed and breakfast had seemed like treachery at the time. But Fairday found out that her new house kept secrets, and once inside its twisted front gates, anything was possible. When mysterious notes start showing up warning that a librarian is in trouble and a bookworm is eating words, Fairday thinks the Begonia House has more skeletons in its closets. What happens to stories when their words get eaten?

Back quote:
“Remember to consider all angles. Just as shadows are revealed by light, truth lies betwixt the lines.”

My Review: In this second book of the Fairday Morrow Series, eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow and her friends (the DMS squad) have to figure out why words are suddenly missing from their favorite stories. The search takes them deep into the walls of the mysterious Begonia House where they discover the Talking Library. Using their riddle-solving skills, they must discover the identity of the bookworm who has been eating the words and stop more books from being altered.

The Talking Library is a very imaginative book. Many of the fantasy aspects are reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. With poisonous punctuation characters and a shadowy rook, the world building is this story is unique and fascinating. Readers will also enjoy the sprinkling of illustrations throughout the book. It's a good, quick read for middle grade kids who enjoy mysteries.





Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson are co-authors of the Fairday Morrow series. They met freshman year of high school in English class, where they discovered they liked the same books. Their friendship grew, and over the years they went on to work as servers together, go to the same college for a short time, and they even became roommates for a while. Many books were discussed, but none were ever written. Now, after the release of their first middle grade novel, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, Stephanie and Jess are continuing to build suspense in book 2: Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stuck in a Tree

First, I'd like to thank my awesome friend, Tara Tyler, for the shout out on her blog. You rock, Tara!

Now for the story:

My fourteen-year-old son thought it was a good idea to climb the maple tree in the front yard. He wasn't happy getting to the middle of the tree. Oh, no. He had to go as high as possible.

"You know, cats get stuck doing things like that," I shouted up.

He laughed it off. "Yeah. But I'm not a cat."

Uh huh.

After he had spent about five minutes swaying in the breeze up there, he decided it was time to come down. Except he had a little trouble.

"I'm stuck," he admitted after several attempts to find a descent route.

I analyzed the situation. "If you shimmy down like a fireman's pole, you can probably get your foot into the next fork."

Apparently, that suggestion was too terrifying. "You need to get the ladder, Mom,"

I sighed then fetched the step ladder and brought it out. It wasn't nearly tall enough.

"Get the painter's ladder."

Let me tell you how heavy the painter's ladder is. I can barely lift the thing. And I'm pretty strong for a middle-aged woman. Anyway, I dragged the darn thing out, and then spent the next five minutes trying to figure out how to open it up and brace it against the tree. I got it opened, but bracing it safely against the tree for him to get down was not possible.

"Dude, I don't know what to say. You're either going to have to figure this out, or we're going to call the fire department." 

He tried the shimmy thing. But his foot got caught on a smaller branch. He put his weight on it and promptly snapped it off.  It was a terrifying slide down to the before-mentioned fork. 

Somehow, he managed to get out of that tree. But not without some scratches, bumps, and pain to his man-parts.

I think he learned his lesson.     

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Organic Dirt

Before I begin, I want to take a moment to help spread the word about my author friend, C. Lee McKenzie's new book, Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. She lost her husband two days after the book was released, and hasn't been able to market it. So, I'm giving her a hand. I would have included a review, but I'm still in the middle of reading it. I can tell you that I'm enjoying it and that it's well-written! I'm sure she'd appreciate a few sales!

Here's the scoop on the book:


By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

Barnes & Noble

Now for the story:

The other day, I was doing some gardening. I bought a bag of "organic" soil. As I poured it in the container, some spilled out. My nosy German Shepherd, Schultz, had to see what was going on. He sniffed the dirt and decided it smelled so good, he had to eat it.

"Schultz!" I hollered. "Cut it out!" I wasn't sure if eating dirt would make him sick, but I didn't want to risk it.

He trotted off and I cleaned up the dirt before he could eat more.

A little while later, the dog was standing next to the container where I had planted the flowers in the organic soil. Do you know what he was doing? Eating the dirt!

I had never seen him eat dirt, so there must've been something extra special about organic soil. Makes me wonder what's in it!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Scaring Away the Ghosts

My kids are convinced our house is haunted. I have to admit, sometimes I wonder. We've had shutters open by themselves, loud knocking on doors when nobody is around, and a sense of seeing something out of the corner of our eyes when nothing is there.

My daughter decided to do something about it. The other day she came home with this:

"What the heck is that?" I asked. I was concerned it might be some kind of drug.

"Sage," she answered.

"And what exactly are you going to do with it?"

"Burn it. Sage gets rid of ghosts."


So, the girl lit an end of it on fire and walked around the house, letting the smoke fill the air.

Let me tell you, that thing stunk!

I couldn't believe how bad it smelled after her little ritual.

"Well," I said. "I don't think anything is going to live here now. Including us!"

(I'm happy to report that we haven't had any more strange occurrences. So maybe it worked.)

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you think sage gets rid of them?   

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Spoonful of Sugar

Before I begin this post, I want to take the time to thank all of you for being here and being so supportive. I'm always amazed by how many of you visit the blogs where I am a guest and leave such thoughtful comments. You're awesome and I appreciate every one of you!

Now for the story:

The other day, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. The recipe I have makes four dozen. I didn't want four dozen. So I split the recipe. Everything went fine until I came to the sugar part. For some reason, my brain turned off and I dumped in the amount of brown sugar and white sugar the recipe called for, which ended up being about two cups: twice the amount I should've put in.

Fortunately, I realized my mistake before it was completely mixed into the batter. I tried to scoop out half of the sugar, but inevitably, there was more sugar than there should've been.

I baked the cookies anyway.

When they were done, they looked slightly different. The extra sugar gave them a shiny glaze. Hmmm, I thought. I wonder if they're edible.

I tried one. It was actually good.

My kids smelled the cookies and ran into the kitchen to get some.

They thought they were good, too.

"Mom these are the best cookies you've ever made!" my daughter said. 

Isn't it funny how sometimes a mistake ends up improving something? Have you ever unintentionally messed something up to discover that your mistake improved it?