Mama Diaries

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Guest Author, Dennis Higgins and Question of the Month

Today, I have special guest, Dennis Higgins, at my pad. He's going to tell us a little bit about his wonderful new book, Pennies from Across the Veil. He's also going to give away a copy to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, just leave a comment below.

Blurb: Pennies From Across the Veil is a love story… about death. Karl Himmel tells the story to an unknown presence, of how he met, fell in love, and married the woman of his dreams, Jenny Engels. But at the time of the telling, Karl and Jenny find themselves on different sides of the veil—the separation we call death.

But not even death can stop true love.

Powerful signs come to those from loved ones who have passed. They can be found any and everywhere, we just need to look for them. The most significant for Karl and Jenny was the finding of numerous wheat-back pennies. However, could there have been many others, and did these signs have a deeper meaning?

Word from Dennis about Pennies From Across the Veil:

Out of all the books I have written, none are as important to me as Pennies From Across the Veil. Its influence came from every person I ever knew, loved and happened to die. This is especially true when my own mother passed away in June of 2014. Things started happening immediately after her death. In her house, coins were found daily, where the room had been cleared the day before. I had strong feelings that she was with me, leading me to things. When we got the call that first night, our canary sang at the top of his lungs (which he never ever did at night before). None of these things were scary because I knew they could only have come from her. It made me recall when my dear sister died years before, and the things that happened at that time. In fact, with each and every person I ever knew who passed from this world to the next, came signs, dreams, and occurrences, especially right afterwards. Then I discovered, it happened to other people as well. Sometime the similarity of the occurrences were striking. There were often common themes, such as butterflies, feathers late night phone calls and yes, pennies.

I was deeply moved to take all these experiences and combine them into one romantic love story about death. This is not a ghost story, but a story of love, passion and survival. 

The seemingly paranormal phenomena recorded in this book, are entirely based on true events.
My review:
Pennies from Across the Veil opens with protagonist, Karl Himmel, in an unknown, dark place, sharing the story of his lost love, Jenny Engels. Jenny has died and is on the other side of the "veil." But even in death, the bond of love is strong. Signs, some in the form of pennies, tell Karl that Jenny is still present in is life. The story twists and turns, revealing much about the relationship between Karl and Jenny, as well as other key players in Karl's life. The end is quite unexpected.

Pennies from across the Veil is a difficult story to put down. The voice of Karl is such that it feels like he is actually talking to the reader. The characters are very well-developed. It's easy to become emotionally involved in their story. Not only is it a compelling love story, but it's a story that makes one think about the nature of death, life after death, and love. Highly recommended.  Five Stars.
 Hi Dennis!  Welcome to my pad!

Sherry, Thank you so much for having me today. 

Pennies from Across the Veil is an intriguing story of love that transcends time, a love that goes beyond the grave. What gave you the idea for this unusual story?
It started years ago when people I loved would pass away. Things started happening, dreams, signs, voices… I also witnessed other people in my life having things happen to them, such as my dad when his wife died. But it was when my own mom died last year that I experienced amazing signs. It was her death that influenced my writing this story. The romance part, well, that’s just me. I have a romance with love, lol! 

You mentioned that you have experienced signs and occurrences which happened after loved ones in your life died. Can you share some of those with us?

Sure Sherry. Everything found in the book happened to me or someone I knew. I changed them slightly to make it a fictional story, but they all happened. Here are a few things that happened to me personally:  

When my sister died by her own hand in 1980, I heard her voice calling my name as clear as a bell. I could even point to the direction the voice came from. Then one night I had a dream which was Purgatorial in nature. She was there and I saw her taken to heaven. This dream comforted my family very much, because of the nature of her death. It was a very powerful dream. It then created the base for my story.  

Fast forward to last year when mom passed away. I felt her presence in her condo as I went through her pictures, I could hear her talking to me in my head and leading me to find lost things. Then the coins started. My wife and I both found them. This in itself is not a big deal to find coins lying around in a condo…at first. But it became eerie when I would leave the place clean, go back the next day and find a coin sitting in clear sight, like on a counter or the bathroom sink. When I knew the house was clean the day before. I would look around real well, leave, come back the next day and there would be a coin. Only I had the keys. The last one we received was months after her death when my wife found one in the pew at church, right where my mom would always sit with us. She handed it to me and said, “Here, your mom wants you to have this.” We both got chills. I carry a silver dollar we found with me every day. Sorry Sherry, once I start talking about these things, I can’t stop. But I have one more I’d like to tell you about.  

The night my mom passed. We got the phone call in the wee hours of the morning when the house was pitch black. Our canary started singing at the top of his little lungs. He never ever sang at night. He sang for her.

 Wow! Those are really amazing things! I have to believe that loved ones can communicate with us even after they've died. I've had a few interesting experiences myself.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 

I have to modestly say, I like all my books, but as I was writing this one, I knew it was special. I could feel it, like I was being guided. I was also free to write it in a more adult way than my NA series Time Pilgrims. It reminded me more of my first book, Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66) in that sense.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 

I always did well in school with writing assignments, however, my grammar and spelling wasn’t good at all. I had to learn that over the years. I had a big imagination and would fantasize about being in another time, perhaps falling in love with a woman from the past. One fantasy that nagged away at me was time traveling to the great Chicago Fire. I talked to a man whose grandparents watched the glow of the fire from their back porch. I would always think, I should write a book about that one day. It eventually became Katya and Cyrus Time Pilgrims. But first I wrote about seeing Route 66 in two different timelines. I have always loved things or events that no longer exist or have changed so much you don’t recognize them. I would love to go back and see these things as they once were. That is why I mostly write time travel stories, except for Pennies of course. But as you said, even that transcends time. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

There’s life beyond writing? Well, I like to take photographs, watch movies, spend time with my wife, travel. In fact, we would like to visit my self-adopted sister, Author Virginia Wright in Maine one day. Maybe this summer. Both Virginia and I lost sisters, so we adopted each other as siblings.

 Virginia is a wonderful lady and friend! I hope you do get to visit her this year.

If you could sit down and talk to one person who has already passed from this life, who would it be? 

That’s a tough question and it changes over time. Before, I might have said, Author Jack Finney who is the daddy of time travel authors, or Jesus, or Elvis, lol. Now I guess it would be my mom. It’s not like I was a mamma’s boy, I wasn’t. But she lived close by and we were together every Sunday morning for church and breakfast. She was there at every birthday I ever had, including the very first one. She was there for all my Christmases, Easters and Thanksgivings. I never knew I could miss someone this much.
It sounds like you had a great relationship with your mom!

Are you working on any other projects?

Yes, in fact this goes along with the last question. When my mom passed away, I found an intriguing 1940s, World War II scrapbook in her possessions. I didn’t know the people in the scrapbook but then realized it was made by a women who was engaged to my mom’s uncle. The only thing I knew about him was that he died in the war. But I had to find out who the woman was, who put this book together and suffered such a loss. I so wished I could have sat down with mom to talk to her about this. However, months of research finally paid off when I was able to find the woman’s children through one little hint in the scrapbook itself. Talk about guiding my hand, now I had my mom and the woman from the scrapbook. The novella will be out soon, in the early part of 2016. I call it simply, The Old Scrapbook.

Sherry, how would you like an exclusive early cover reveal? It will be seen here and only here for your readers.

Thanks, Dennis! What an extra special treat! This sounds like it will be a great book!
Where can we buy your books?

Pretty much everywhere, especially Pennies From Across the Veil. It’s easier to go to my website, where I have all the button links to the sales portals.

Where can readers connect with you?

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog!

Sherry, Thank you for having me and writing a wonderful review on Amazon for my book.
Award winning author, Dennis Higgins is a distant relative of Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier. He has travelled the world over, collecting story ideas. As a native of Chicago, Illinois, Dennis Higgins has a passion for things that are gone but not forgotten, a romance with the past. For him, time travel is the answer. If not for real, then in the pages of his books.
Quote: “I once had a passionate affair with an Irish lass back in 1871 Chicago. I broke her heart. It just wasn't our time.” 
He now lived in the Chicago suburbs with his lovely wife, a dog and a couple of birds.
The winner of Dennis' book will be announced on January 6th.
I have to do one more thing before I go. It's time for the question of the month, hosted by Michael D'Agostino.
 The question is, "What is your New Year's Resolution?"
Uh, I don't do those things.
So the next question is, "Why not?"
Mostly because I don't want to get depressed if I don't keep them. So I set goals instead. My goals are usually writing-related. For the next year, I want to revise five manuscripts and begin work on a novel.
Questions for you:  Have you ever experienced unusual occurrences after someone you know has died? Do you think those who have died can communicate with the living? What are your resolutions or goals?
I wish you all a happy, healthy, and productive 2016! Happy New Year! 

The Stressful De-stressor

For Christmas, I got my daughter one of the mandala coloring books with some colored pencils. They are reputed to be the big the big stress-relief item of the season. Supposedly coloring them is a relaxing activity. Since my daughter is typically quite stressed out, I figured she needed something relaxing to do.

Apparently, it didn't work out quite as planned.

She sat on the sofa coloring one of the pages. After about an hour, I could tell she was beginning to get frustrated. "Why does this thing have to take so long to color? It's making me angry!"

She frowned and colored some more.

Twenty minutes later, she was finished. "I can't take it anymore," she said as she tossed the coloring book and pencils to the side. "This thing is stressing me out!"  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Renegade Drone

My son had gotten a remote-control drone for Christmas. It was one of those cool ones that could take pictures. My husband went outside with the boy to give it a test run. Of course, my husband had to test it first.

He flew it high in the sky and navigated it above all the houses. When he wanted it to come back, he pressed the "return home" button.

But it didn't return home. It accelerated in the opposite direction. In no time at all, the drone had disappeared into the woods, never to be seen again.

My boy was shocked and disappointed. His Christmas present was gone. We've been searching for the drone, but still haven't found it. My guess is that it's in space photographing alien life forms. It'll be back with some interesting pictures, I'm sure.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Schultz and the Wrapping Paper Incident

In case you don't know, Schultz is our hundred pound German Shepherd. He likes to chase things. Especially cats. So when he saw a roll of wrapping paper on the ground that had cute little cats in Santa hats, he knew he had to chase them.

It began with him trying to tear them to shreds.

Then the paper unrolled - all the way across the family room floor. He pounced on the paper, trying to stop the perceived fur ball invasion. The ordeal ended when the wrapping paper was nothing more than a few slobbery shreds.

"Are you pleased with yourself, Schultz?" I asked, after witnessing this nonsense.

He wagged his tail and trotted off.

Apparently he was. Mission accomplished. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Winter Storm

Making a gingerbread house is not easy. Usually, we opt for graham crackers and cake frosting to create one. This year, we decided to try a store-bought kit.

My daughter and her friend were responsible for building it. It started off just fine. They got the stencils out and made elaborate frosted swirls all over the roof and walls. Then they attached candy pieces. It looked like it might be a successful endeavor.

But then the hard part came. Putting all the pieces together. They managed to get the four walls up, but the roof was a challenge.  No matter what they tried, the roof kept sliding off. This made my daughter mad.

"I'm done with this!" she said as the roof slid down once again. "We're just going to say it was hit by a tornado!"

"Okay," I said. "What are you going to do with the wreckage?"

She grabbed a wall and bit off a piece. "Eat it!"

In case I'm not back before Christmas, I'd like to wish all of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deja Vu Blog Fest

D.L. Hammons is hosting the Deja Vu Blog Fest. It's a chance for a redo. Participants select a blog post from 2015 that they think deserves to be read again. I've selected a post that features guest author, Virginia Wright. Earlier this year, she had a book come out called Wild Animal Sounds. It's really cute, and one that would make a nice gift for anyone who has little ones in the family.

This post is from  February 5, 2015. (But the end is something a little different. Be sure to read that!)

Today, I have a special guest at my pad, children's author, Virginia Wright.  She has an adorable new book out, called Wild Animal Sounds.

Before I start the interview with her, I'll give you my quick review of the book:

Five stars:  Wild Animal Sounds is a book that phonetically recreates the sounds wild animals make. Animals include the elephant, warthog, bear, lion, and hippopotamus. Some animal sounds readers will be quite familiar with - "Ort-ort-ort-ort-ot-ot" of the sea lion. Others may be new - "Mooo-oooh-moo-ma-nuck" for the moose. Children are invited to repeat each sound after the animal makes it. At the end of the book, is a coloring page and a short quiz to see if the child can match the animal with its sound. The illustrations are cute and colorful, and compliment the text nicely. Wild Animal Sounds is a book children ages 3-7 would enjoy.

Hi, Virginia!  Welcome!  I love your new book, Wild Animal Sounds. It's so perfect for introducing animal sounds to kids.  The sounds in your book are unique. They are spelled the way they sound in real life. Where did you get the idea to do that? Sherry, I didn’t get the idea to spell the words the way they sound in real life from anyone or anything. I just knew that I wanted Wild Animal Sounds to be unique. When writing Wild Animal Sounds, I listened to hours of wild animal sound clips. I wanted to give my readers what I felt was a human interpretation of an animal sound. I would listen to animal sounds and then write down what I felt I was hearing.

You did a great job recreating the sounds! Would you give our readers some examples of the sounds in your book? Yes, I’d love to, Sherry.  I didn't want to simply say that an elephant trumpeted, so after listening to several animal clips of an elephant, I decided that the elephant sounds like “E-reow.” Another human interpretation of one of my animals in the story is the coyote that sounds like “Rup-rup-rup-aroo.” 

I didn't know a coyote could sound so cute!  Do you have a favorite animal sound?  My favorite animal sound, Sherry, is the sound a moose makes—“Mooo-oooh-moo-ma-nuck.  In Maine, we have moose in the wild. I live fairly close (a couple of hours) from the Canadian border. I felt that if a moose could talk it would have a little bit of a Maine accent and Canadian accent mixed.  ;-)

Haha!  Before reading your book, I really had no idea what a moose sounded like.  What other kind of animal sounds do you hear where you live? I hear many animal sounds where I live Sherry, I will name a few: Coyote, Osprey, Loons, Raccoons,  Deer, Seals, Grey Squirrels, and Chipmunks.

I noticed one of your sounds is a cockatiel.  Do you have any pets, or did you have any when you were a kid?  No, Sherry I do not have any pets.  I have owned dogs in the past though and loved every one of them!

Dogs make a lot of noise!  So do frogs.  My African clawed frog croaks all night, and makes it sound like I'm living in a jungle!  How did you decide which animals to use?  Sherry, I based which animals to use in Wild Animal Sounds partly on a few of the animals we have in Maine, but also based on animals I wanted to illustrate. The cockatiel was added to Wild Animal Sounds because of my granddaughter, Julie.  My son’s family has a cockatiel and my granddaughter asked me if I would put hers in my book.

I'm sure your granddaughter is thrilled about seeing her pet in your book!  Are you working on any other projects? Yes, Sherry. My latest WIP is titled: Timothy the Christmas Mouse. I am hoping (**fingers crossed**) for a 2015 release. I am also stepping away from the children’s genre at some point to finish a cookbook.

I can't wait to read the new Christmas book.  And a cookbook sounds good, too.  You've shared some excellent recipes on your blog and Facebook, so I'm sure you'll have some awesome recipes in the cookbook!  Where can we find Wild Animal Sounds:  My First Book? Thank you for asking, Sherry. Wild Animal Sounds can be found at many online book stores, I will list a few: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million .

Thanks for telling us about your new book!  I'm sure kids will love it!  Thank you, Sherry.

Follow, Tweet, Friend, Comment and Like Virginia here: 

 Twitter                                                                                               Pinterest                                                                                     
Now, here's a little something that is not Deja Vu: I'm giving away free Smashwords downloads of two of my books:  Ten Zany Birds and That Mama is a Grouch.
Ten Zany Birds:  Coupon code JZ45L, expires January 18, 2016
That Mama is a Grouch:  Coupon code UZ55P, expires January 19, 2016
And if you'd like to try to win one of two paperback copies of Ten Zany Birds, you can visit my SCBWI party page. (This is open to US residents only.)        

Friday, December 18, 2015

Marshmallow Fight

Yesterday was my son's classroom Christmas party. One of the activities was a marshmallow toss. The kids were supposed to toss marshmallows into a bucket to earn points. Well, that little activity went sadly awry. The kids decided that marshmallows would make much better snow balls.

They whipped the sugary white things at each other, instead of into the buckets. Pretty soon, the entire class was in a marshmallow frenzy. There was no stopping them.

The marshmallow fight lasted several minutes.  When they were finished, they had satisfied grins on their faces.

My son had this to say about it:  "What do you expect, Mama? There's no snow in Georgia for a real snow ball fight, so marshmallows were the next best thing!"

Of course!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rocket Balloon

"Guess what we did in school, today?" my eleven-year-old son asked.

"What?" I replied.

"We made a rocket balloon!"

That sounded interesting. "How did you do that?"

"We took 1000 centimeters of kite string and attached it to the top of the flagpole. Then we staked the other end on the ground, so it went up at an angle."

I didn't want to know how they got the string to the top of the flagpole. Hopefully they raised it like they would raise a flag, and nobody had to endanger their lives actually climbing to the top of it.

"Then what?" I asked.

"Then we attached a balloon to a straw and attached that to the string. And guess what?"


"I got to blow up the balloon."

That didn't surprise me. He has the most hot air, I'm sure!

He continued. "You should have seen that thing rocket to the top! It was awesome!"

I'm sure it was. In case you'd like to see one of these balloon rockets in action, you can watch the video. (I'm sure my son's version was even way more exciting than this!)


Monday, December 14, 2015

Let the Dog Sleep!

A couple of nights ago, my daughter and six of her teenaged friends had a sleepover in our basement. In case you don't know this, teenaged girls can be rather noisy. These teenagers were no exception. They chatted, giggled, and made a general commotion until two in the morning.

Meanwhile, our poor German Shepherd, Schultz, was trying to sleep. Apparently the girls were keeping him up. Finally, he couldn't take it any more. He started crying.

I heard the dog's plaintive moans and came to his rescue. "Okay, ladies. It's time to wrap this thing up. When the dog starts complaining about your noise, it's too much. Time for bed!"

I looked at Schultz. "It's okay, boy. You can go to sleep, now."

He looked at me with his droopy brown eyes, gave me a little wag of the tail, and went to sleep.

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that my book, Ten Zany Birds is part of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators) inaugural launch party. You can visit the page, like it, comment in the guest book, and even win one of two copies of the book (US residents only). Click on the link to get to the page.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Cotton Picker

My son and I recently visited a plantation. It was a proper plantation, complete with cotton plants. And there was plenty of cotton still hanging off of them.

My son couldn't resist. He had to pull some off.

"Just a couple, Bubba," I said.

Well, a couple turned into an entire hand full.

I gave him my mommy evil eye. "What are you going to do with all that cotton?" I asked.

He looked at his fist-full of white stuff. "I don't think it's enough to make a shirt. So I think I'll go home and plant it in the backyard. Then we'll have a lot of cotton. Next year I can pick it, and you can make the shirt."

Uh, right.

Before I go, I would like to let you know that I'm also over at Erin Fanning's Blog, where she interviewed me. Please stop by to find out what zoo creature I'd be if I could, and what super power I would have if it was possible.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bubba Bulldozer and Winners of the Give Away

First, I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by for author, Virginia Wright's guest post. The winners of her books are  Christine Rains, who won the coloring book, Deanie Dunne, who won a coloring book, and Tracy Campbell, who won the story book. Congratulations, ladies!

Now, for the story:

We had gotten a new dishwasher recently, because our old one finally died. As you all know, dishwashers come in big boxes. And as you also probably know, my son, Bubba, likes to play in boxes.

Bubba had a perfect new box. He parked himself in the box, right next to the Christmas tree which had just been put up and decorated. All was fine until Bubba decided that the box would be a perfect vehicle.  He used his body to rock the box back and forth until it moved - right into the Christmas tree.

I sprang into action and stopped the tree from timbering. I barely made it. Somehow, the only casualties were a few ornaments and some Christmas bulbs.

"Bubba," I said after the situation was under control. "You're supposed to rock around the Christmas tree. Not into it!"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guest Author, Virginia Wright

Today, I have special guest, author Virginia Wright, at my pad. She has an adorable new Christmas book and coloring book out. She's giving away one copy of the book and one copy of the coloring book. If you'd like to enter the contest, leave a comment below indicating such. If you want bonus points, share your favorite Christmas memory. The winners will be announced Monday.

Without further ado, let me tell you about Virginia's book and let her share some thoughts with you.

Blurb:  Join Timothy, a house mouse, on Christmas Eve, as he tries to survive a cold winter's night, all alone in an old Maine farmhouse. To eat, he must venture out into a terrible snowstorm. Come along with Timothy and meet other interesting forest animals in this delightful children's holiday story.

* Great Christmas Eve bedtime story!
My Review:  It's Christmas Eve. Timothy the mouse is alone in an empty house. The residents have moved, and now there are no crumbs to eat. Timothy must venture out into the cold, snowy night in search of food. Timothy fills his bucket with acorns, but is surprised when other hungry forest creatures help themselves to his stash. Things look bleak until Timothy discovers a delightful Christmas surprise.

Timothy the Christmas Mouse is a lovely Christmas story to share with young children. They will enjoy the illustrations of all the forest creatures, and will want to know if Timothy manages to find a Christmas Eve meal. Also included, are some coloring pages. Children will have fun adding their own artistic expressions to the book. Recommended for children ages 3-7.  Five stars.





Buy the books:
You can watch the video trailer here.

1. Thanks for joining us, today! What was your inspiration for writing this book?  The inspiration to write Timothy the Christmas Mouse came after my family bought  an old New England farm house in Maine some years ago.  The house had been empty for about two years before we  moved in. There was a big breezeway and  a barn attached to the main part of the old house.  The former owners had chickens, horses, goats,  and… house mice. I know this about the mice, as we found one mouse after another.  We think that the mice were attracted to the hayloft where it was warm—it was this experience that prompted me to write Timothy the Christmas Mouse.
Sounds like a very cool old house! I don't know about all the mice, though. I'm glad at least they served as an inspiration for your story!

2. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?  Sherry,  as a writer yourself, you know that writing every book evokes different feelings.  With that said, I not only write, I also illustrate my own books.  I want to speak about the illustrations, as I created pages purposely anticipating giggles.  Anticipating the giggles is definitely what I enjoyed the most about  creating Timothy the Christmas Mouse.
I bet there will be a lot of giggles from kids reading your book!
3. Share your favorite Christmas memory. I would love to share my favorite Christmas memory, Sherry.  I was just  four or five years old, and living on a farm in a small country town in Swanville, Maine.  It was Christmas Eve and my parents told me to look out the window as Santa and his reindeer were outside.  I crawled up on a stool and looked out of a frosty window pane just in time to see a red light bobbing up and down in the field by my house.  Of course I assumed it was Santa with Rudolph, so I climbed down off the stool and ran to my bedroom to go to bed for the night as I knew Santa would not come to my house if I did not fall fast asleep.
That's a great memory! I remember my uncle used to take me up to a room on the top floor of my grandparents' house and tell me to listen to the reindeer on the roof. The tapping sounds were pretty convincing!

4. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I always wanted to be a writer!  Ever since I have been a young girl― I put words to paper. I can remember sitting on the veranda of my parent’s house writing, first it was a little diary with a lock and key, later, as I started growing up it was a pen and pad in hand—back then, I wrote mostly Poetry and Haiku’s. My excitement for writing was realized in 1981, when I sold my first writing to a regional publication Washington County Magazine, but the excitement for writing didn’t stop there, it continued to grow!
So many writers start out when they're kids. I was the same way. I had no idea I'd ever be a published author, though! You've written a lot of wonderful books for children. I'm so glad you've continued writing! 
5. What secret talents do you have? Secret talents…  hmm. I am not certain some would call this a talent, but I hold an “FCC Amateur Extra Radio License.”  In order to receive this top US license,  which by the way is the highest class license you can make, I had to first pass a 5-WPM (word per minute) Morse code exam, then earn other  class licenses, and in the end, to get Amateur Extra License, I had to pass a large theory exam,  and pass  a 20-WPM (word per minute) Morse code exam. I had to decipher words like SOS with dots and dashes, and all other words used in sentences. Those who hold an Amateur Extra license have all privileges on all US amateur radio bands.

That's pretty cool! I don't know too many people who have that ability. Maybe your next book can be a spy book and use some of this knowledge you have!


Virginia Wright (born Virginia Brown March 19, 1958) is an American author and illustrator of children's fantasy fiction and non-fiction books. She first became a published author in 1981 when she sold her first writing--Faith, to a regional magazine in the state of Maine. Faith, The Blessing, and Rosarium are published in an anthology--Soundings by the Poetry Fellowship of Maine. Wright received a World of Poetry Merit Award-- with Rank: Honorable Mention (1987) for her poem, Faith. The poems Picture Memories and Life, Love, Inevitably Death are published in Our Day of Passing Anthology by Ingrid Hall, Franco Esposito, Dennis Higgins, Virginia Wright and a collaboration of 30+ other talented co-authors around the globe. Besides poetry Wright has written six books, her first a children's book, "The Princess and the Castle, A Fairy Tale" (2010) and this was followed by three other fairy tales, The Prince and the Dragon, Crying Bear, and a Christmas classic, The Christmas Secret: Mikey's Story. Wright is the author of an educational non-fiction, short book for all ages, Buzzzzzzzz What Honey Bees Do. Her latest book, Wild Animal Sounds, was released November 2014. As an illustrator, the cover Wright, illustrated for Steampunk Alice by Dennis Higgins won the AUTHORSdb Gold Award (2014).
Connect with Virginia:



Thanks to Virginia for being a guest here!

Before I go, I would like to let you know that as part of my World of Ink  Book Tour, my book Ten Zany Birds, is being reviewed at Families Matter. These are some of the bloggers who organized my tour. If you are a children's writer, and are looking for a company who will promote your book specifically to people who are interested in children's books, World of Ink Network, is a great place to go.    

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Crossing the Log

A few days ago, my daughter and I were roaming around in the woods behind our house. Eventually, we came to the wide creek that flows though the area. There was no way to cross the creek, other than wade though it or walk across a very long log that stretches over it. Since it was rather chilly, wading through it really wasn't an option. That left the log.

I looked at that thing. "I don't know about this," I said. "It looks pretty dangerous."

"I've done it before with my friends," my daughter said. "The first time it's really scary. But then you get used to it. Watch."

She slid down the muddy bank to where the log was wedged into the dirt. Then she climbed up on the log and very carefully made her way across the creek. It took a good five minutes. This was no narrow creek, and the log was elevated at least four feet above it.  "Your turn," she said when she was on the other side.

I sighed and made my way down the muddy bank.  I crawled up on the log and stood there. The sun on the water ripples was affecting my depth perception. "Uh, I'm not sure I can do this," I said.

"Just stare at the log at a spot a little ahead of you, and walk."

I tried, but then stopped.

"Mom, your knees are shaking."

"No, they're not," I said. They couldn't possibly be shaking. I'm not afraid of heights, and a stupid little log shouldn't bother me.

"You'd better turn around and try again," my daughter instructed."The best way is to do it all at once and not stop."

I frowned and turned around on that log - which was no easy task.

I tried again. And again, the ripples of the water messed with my vision. I couldn't focus on the darn log.

I turned around. This time, I was mad. There was no way a stupid log was going to get the best of me!

The third time, I plowed ahead. I really didn't care if I fell off the log and broke all my bones. And guess what? I did it. I walked all the way across that thing.

My daughter grinned. "Way to go, Mom! You're the only mom I know crazy enough to do that!"

Yeah. All it took was me getting mad!

(In case you're wondering, going back across was much easier. The light was behind me, so it was easier to see.)       

Today, as part of my book tour, my book, Ten Zany Birds, is being reviewed by Writer Granny's World. It is interesting to read the blogger's nine-year-old grandson's comments on it!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book Release, Question of the Month, Winners of Give Away

Lots of stuff going on at my pad, today. First, I'd like to let you all know about a  new Middle Grade book that will be released on December 1, 2015. It's called The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow. It's by my blog buddies, Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson. It looks so cute! I can't wait to get my copy!

Release date: DECEMBER 1, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE/ ages 10 and up

ISBN: 978-0-385-74471-3

Authors: Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson

Illustrator: Roman Muradov

Publicity contact: Samuel Terris




Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.


As if leaving Manhatten and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad, weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past. 


Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where she finds an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a curious portrait of a red-haired lady. These seemingly unrelated items prove to be the first in a series of clues that takes Fairday, the visiting Lizzy, and their new squad member, Marcus, on an amazing adventure.


Can the members of the Detective Mystery Squad piece together the puzzle before it’s too late? Or will whatever’s causing trouble find Fairday and her friends first? 



Catch the Book Buzz...


"I really enjoyed this book. It was a marvelously done, debut, thriller novel. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Haight are great authors that really pull you into their story. I couldn’t get out until that final sentence. And, by then I wanted more. To say I want a second book is an understatement. The writing style is compelling, and makes me feel as if I was there with Fairday and her friends. I really like the illustrations in the book. They are like the ribbon on a present, or the icing on the cake. I give this book five out of five bookworms!"
~ Erik Weibel/ This Kid Reviews Books  


"Mixing realism and fantasy, Haight and Robinson’s debut opens with 11-year-old Fairday’s move from Manhattan to a small town in Connecticut, where her relentlessly cheerful parents plan to turn a dilapidated Victorian into a bed and breakfast. No sooner has the family arrived than eerie sights and sounds begin to haunt Fairday. The house turns out to hold dark secrets that everybody in town suspects but nobody can explain: a perfect mission for Fairday and her best friend Lizzy’s Detective Mystery Squad (DMS)."
~ Publishers Weekly


"Fifth-grader Fairday Morrow's new home lives up to its spooky reputation, but she and her companions in the Detective Mystery Squad find out why. At Begonia House, strains of bagpipe music issue from behind a padlocked door, grains of sand in an hourglass have stopped falling, and a malevolent weeping willow looms in the backyard. A magic mirror shows an invisible door; a wardrobe hides secrets and a portal. Ruby Begonia vanished more than 50 years ago. Is there also a ghost? Fairday has a new, helpful friend in classmate Marcus, and her best friend Lizzy can visit on weekends to help solve the mystery. What more could readers want?"
~ Kirkus Reviews

Jessica Haight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts.



Stephanie Robinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. 





Second, it's time for the question of the month, hosted by Michael d'Agostino. This month's question is, "What social custom bothers you that you would you like to get rid of?"

Well, I have two. Both are social greetings. The first is that thing European people do, where they kiss each cheek when they greet. What's that called? Fortunately, it's not done in the United States, but my relatives are from Europe, and I have to deal with that every time I see them. I'm so worried I'm going to break my nose when I do it. My second is the deal where guys kiss my hand when they greet me. I really, really, really, dislike that! I have a thing against womanizers, and when a guy does that, I put him right in the womanizer category. So, if you meet me, please do not do that European greeting thing, and please do not kiss my hand!

Last, but not least, the winners of my give away have been selected. Congratulations to Chrys Fey and Nick Wilford, who have won copies of Ten Zany Birds. Congratulations to Dawna who has won a copy of That Mama is a Grouch, and congratulations to Tracy Terry, who will be receiving a copy of That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN! 

So, what social customs do you dislike?