Mama Diaries

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

IWSG Post of the Month

It's time for the IWSG post of the month. The question is, "What's going on in your life?"


I'm not sure you really want to know what's going on in my personal life. It's been rough. But I will say that my children, ex, and I have survived the virus, and we're just fine. It blows my mind that all these people are dying from it.

Lots going on with writing:  I finished the first draft of the 3rd book of my Bubba and Squirt series. It's called, Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones (set in Paris). I also started writing the 4th one, Bubba and Squirt's Shield of Athena (set in Athens, Greece).   The second one, Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure comes out on September 15th. And Voyagers: The Third Ghost comes out in May. I have a story in that anthology.  Lots of marketing going on and preparations for those releases!

Since we've all been quarantined, the music lessons I teach have all been online. That's interesting, for sure! Somehow it works. All of my orchestra performances have been canceled. Sad about that, but life goes on. Hopefully, this social-distancing won't last into the summer!

What about you? What's going on in your life?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Strange Kind of Zoo

My son, Bubba, recently went to a zoo up in North Georgia.

When you think of zoos, I'm sure you picture lions, tigers, bears, elephants, giraffes, and hippos. There were absolutely none of these creatures at the zoo.  What was at the zoo were chickens. Free-range chickens. And there were some dogs. In cages. And some cows and ponies. And a couple of wolves and an owl. Maybe the wolves made it a zoo. I don't know.  This zoo even had a zoo guide. Like the kids who went really needed a guide to tell them what a chicken was!

All I have to say is that I hope the chickens had the sense to stay away from the wolves, or things could get a little messy!

And now for something completely unrelated. Since many of you are home because of covid-19, I thought I'd share a video from a recent performance I did with the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra. I am playing the Bruch Double Concerto for Viola and Clarinet. The clarinetist is my friend, Diane Hargreaves. (I'm the violist.) I hope it entertains you!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Guest Author, Tara Tyler

Today, I have special guest, Tara Tyler, at my pad talking about bullying. She's the author of the Beast World series.   

Taking Back Beast World, Phase 2. Disney/Pixar's Onward comes out Mar 6 with a setting eerily close to BEAST WORLD. It's time to speak out again--in a positive way!

I'm so glad I've gotten to know Sherry IRL. She's a strong, determined woman with a huge heart -- and you can see it in her fabulous stories! So happy for your successes and your triumphs, Sherry. And thanks for helping me out with my campaign.

Aww, thanks, Tara! I'm so glad I've gotten to know you, too!

by Tara Tyler

I've taught kids from Urban Atlanta to Rural Ohio and tons of Suburban Meccas in between. And I can tell you one thing: teens are essentially the same.

I became a Math Teacher to help kids who inherently dislike math (I know some of you groaned when I mentioned my paying job!) But as a teacher, I see and help with so much more than just academics.

Teens struggle in many ways. I've pulled apart fights, reported weapons and suicidal thoughts, and listened to so many hearts being poured out needing to be heard. It's in my nature to help, and I wish I could do more. But it's just little ol' me - what can I do?

So I put together an anti-bully "Stand Up for Yourself" presentation! Here's a sample (one of my first... sort of a dress rehearsal):

I've only done a few with my busy schedule (and now full-time job) but I'm going to keep at it! I'm determined to reach as many kids as I can. Through my teaching, presentations, and books I hope to inspire and motivate our youth who need more encouragement that they can overcome and accomplish anything!

Ever done/thought of doing a school presentation?
Kids are wonderful--how can we show them?

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over the US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her husband and one boy left in the nest. She has two novel series, Pop Travel (sci-fi detective thrillers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures), plus her UnPrincess novella series where the maidens save themselves. She's a commended blogger, contributed to several anthologies, and to fit in all these projects, she economizes her time, aka the Lazy Housewife—someday she might write a book on that... Make every day an adventure!

How to find:
twitter: @taratylertalks
Instagram: taratylertalks
newsletter: tara tyler news

Here's my review of Windy Hollow, the third book in her series:

Windy Hollow is the third book of the Beast World series. Gabe, a goblin, and his assortment of friends, are invited to a wedding. Little do they know that an announcement will be made that humans and beasts are interacting with each other, even though it is forbidden. On top of that, they learn that an evil scientist is conducting ruthless experiments on beasts. It's a recipe for a whole lot of trouble.

Excitement and adventure abound in this creative tale of teenage friends who learn that friendship, courage, and trust can save the day. Recommended for middle grade readers. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

IWSG Post of the Month

This month's question is, "Have you ever used a family tradition in one of your books?"

Short answer:  No.

Then I did some thinking. What family traditions do I have other than holiday traditions? The only thing I could think of was celebrating half-birthdays. I baked cakes for my kids when they were exactly x.5 years old. That's it. So boring! What about you? Have you ever used a family tradition in one of your books? Do you even have a family tradition other than whatever you do to celebrate the holidays? If so, what is it?

Before I go, I'd like to let you know I'm a guest on the When Angels Fly blog. If you have a moment, please stop by and visit.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Guest Author, Mary Schmidt

Today, I have a special guest, Mary Schmidt at my pad. I met Mary in Miami at the Readers' Favorite Book Awards. She was one of the winners. When I read her book, When Angels Fly, it broke my heart. Losing a child is the hardest thing a mother could ever go through. I know there are other moms out there who have experienced this loss, and I wanted to bring her here as a person who knows that grief and could in some way offer comfort to others by letting them know they're not alone.

When Angels Fly is the heartbreaking story of your son’s battle with cancer. You wrote it as a journal while you were going through the ordeal. At what point did you decide you wanted to share it with the world as a book?

I never intended to share it with the world or make it into a book. When I was forced to hang up my registered nurse hat, due to long term illness, I came across my old journals from 1990 and thought I should put them into digital format for my living son. I wanted my son to have the legacy of digital format should he be able to read what I wrote at some point in his life. He was age six when this time frame of our lives happened. I wanted a legacy for him, and I wanted to do it while I could – reliving each journal entry was hard, to say the least.  He has yet to read this book due to PTSD from the entire situation. After inputting my notes, I decided to write it smoother as a book format for readability. Next thing I knew, I was a best-selling author. I never saw that coming at all.

What advice would you give to other parents who have children facing a serious illness?

I touch on that in When Angels Fly and I wanted to help other parents, especially those without a nursing background. I shared how to be an advocate for their ill child. It was important to me that other parents should know when to pick their battles with staff. For instance, if a nurse brings in an antibiotic one hour late, no need to pick on that nurse for being late as you don’t know what happened on the unit to cause this, and your child still received their medication. Now, if your child is in pain without pain medication for 30 minutes or has the wrong bag of medicine or nutrition hanging, then that is something to complain about. Advocate for your child but don’t alienate the staff. Choose battles carefully or you risk having staff not wanting to go into your child’s room. Learn how to do your child’s dressing changes, if any, and everything you can learn to do for your child so that you are more involved as a parent. Your child will love you even more for helping them. Be proactive. Learn about medicines and illnesses. Research all of this and be informed.

You had mentioned in the book that it seemed there were a high number of children with cancer in the Colorado area where you lived. Do you know if this was investigated? If so, what were the results? Is it still a problem?

Oh yes, I did write that, indeed. Due to the nature of my memoir, I had to change all names and locations, including the state. To that end, nothing ever happened in Colorado nor had I ever been to Colorado at that point. In the actual state and medical center, this was a true trend, and to me that was alarming. Of note, a certain military base alarmed me. In the 75-mile radius of that base, more children had cancer and more rare cancers at that. Parents that lived on or near the base brought the facts up to the “powers that be”, and they were rebuffed at every chance. Who knows what was happening during night maneuvers, and what contaminates landed on the ground, and in the water supply? Any investigations, if done, came back as normal. It was a cover-up to this very day. Was it investigated? I don’t know. The results? If investigated, all was “normal”. Is it still a problem? 30 years later, I have no idea. In that 30-year span, the base moved to Germany for many years, then it moved back.

Another part of the story involved the abusive relationships you endured with your ex and your mother. What advice would you give to those who find themselves in a similar situation?

My mother was irritating and my ex abusive. Okay, they were both heavily abusive in every way. I had left my ex and filed for divorce. Six months later my son was diagnosed with cancer. My living son remembers seeing my head get smashed into a kitchen all at age five. I would advise others that they can leave, help is out there, safety is possible and paramount to one’s well-being. It took me nine years to move out with my boys (June 1989), and my divorce wasn’t finalized until after my son passed away (died October 1990), and finalized March 1991. No one should be abused. I just knew my ex would kill me as he threatened to do so quite often. I finally became strong enough to leave. The reasons are in my memoir.

So that readers can get to know you a little better, what kind of things to you enjoy – hobbies, interests, etc.?

Are you working on another book? If so, please tell us about it.

In the last few years, I’ve written 15 plus books. I never saw that coming, either. All of them are children’s books and illustrated, except for When Angels Fly and a small cookbook.  I’ve always loved art and I’ve done digital design since 1995. I was a one-book author for a long time, then I decided to bring out and into the world issues dealing with children such as bullying and sexual molestation, both of which I was qualified to write. After that, my husband, Michael, and I decided that we (meaning me) should write a children’s adventure series starring our backyard wild squirrels. We have nine books in that series. Each book is also a stand-alone picture book.
I just published book nine in a children’s adventure series.
Shadow and Friends Visit the Enchanted Forest
“This enchanting fairy tale, Shadow and Friends Visit the Enchanted Forest, brings forth children’s vivid imaginations after receiving an Enchanted Invitation and Enchanted Key that unlocks a hidden door in an Enchanted Tree. Finding the secret door, they open the door with the magical key and are greeted by an Enchanted Fairy, Lisa, whom they give the key to. Amazing sights are seen such as a Mushroom Family, a beautiful Festival of Lights with speaking butterflies and flowers, time spent at an Apple Harvest Festival, and Mushroom Houses. Truly a land of make-believe and children’s faces alight with pure joy. Children love amazing adventures and this one is full of all kinds of make-believe stories.”

Thank you for being a guest on my blog, Mary! As she mentioned, she animates images. If you'd like your book cover animated with "sparkle" she can do it. I believe it costs $5 and she gives you several versions. Contact her for more details. 

 Mary L Schmidt aka S. Jackson is a retired registered nurse, winner of the Leora Stroup award in Nursing for academic excellence and community involvement, as well as graduating with high honors and inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She has written 17 books and has been included in three anthologies. Many of her books have won international medals and awards. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She is a member of the Catholic Church, and has taught kindergarten Catechism; she has worked in various capacities for The American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Cub and Boy Scouts, (son, Gene, is an Eagle Scout), and sponsored trips for high school music children. She loves all forms of art but mostly focuses on the visual arts; amateur photography, traditional, and graphic art as her health allows. Together with her husband, Michael, the like fish, read, play poker, travel adventures, and spending precious time with their grandchildren, Austin and Emma.

Book Links:

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Banana Muncher Part 2

If you recall, there is a thief in my apartment. One that likes bananas. Whenever I leave bananas on the counter, said thief chews the peel off and devours the fruit. I wondered if the thief was a mouse, a roach, or a lizard.

I went with the mouse assumption. The activity I heard going on in the wall also supported this conclusion.  Ready to do battle, I armed myself with an assortment of mouse traps. I wanted to be humane and catch and release the little bugger far from my pad so it wouldn't bother me or my bananas ever again. I put in the peanut butter and set the traps everywhere, figuring the smell of peanut butter would be too much for the little critter to resist.  I safely hid the bananas in the refrigerator while this operation was in place.

For at least 2 weeks, I waited. Nothing. Not even a sound in the wall. Maybe the creature invaded another, more well-stocked apartment. I decided to bring out my bananas because I was tired of dealing with browning, cold bananas. Yellow, room-temperature ones are much better. I left out all the traps, just in case.

Guess what? The very first night, the banana thief struck again. And the traps which were around the bananas were untouched. What the heck? So, ladies and gentlemen, I am either dealing with a very street-smart mouse who doesn't like Jif creamy peanut butter and only eats bananas, or I'm dealing with a rat who's too big for the traps. Or maybe a mini-monkey or other such alien.

What do you think? Should I get rat traps and put bananas in them?

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I am a guest on the IWSG anthology blog talking about my short story, Ghosts of Pompeii, which is part of the Voyagers anthology which is coming out in May. If you'd like to read the story behind the story, go here.   

Monday, February 3, 2020


It's time for the IWSG post of the month. This month's question is, "Has a work of art ever inspired you to write a book?"

As a matter of fact, yes. A long time ago, my daughter had received a birthday invitation. On the card, the parent who invited her had drawn pictures of silly little birds. They were adorable. At the time, I had been contemplating writing a picture book to teach counting and classifying. But I hadn't figured out exactly how I'd do that. When I saw the birds, the idea popped into my head to have the characters be ten zany birds. Some with spots. Some with stripes. And one with polka dots. They'd be having a party. One by one, they'd get distracted and leave.

Originally, I'd asked the mom who drew the pictures if she'd like to be the illustrator for the book. She'd said yes, but unfortunately, it never worked out. Then I met Charu Jain from India. She loves painting watercolor birds.  I thought she'd be a perfect illustrator for the story. She was. Here's the cover:

And here are some of the illustrations:

If you'd like to learn more about the book, you can go here.

And for those wondering about the culprit who has been eating my bananas – I believe it is the mouse. I heard something shuffling around in the wall by my laundry closet. I've set out the peanut butter in the mouse-catcher contraption (I'm trying to catch it alive and release it because I'm such a humane individual.) So far, no luck catching it. And I don't hear it anymore. Perhaps it has invaded another apartment. I'll keep you updated.