Mama Diaries

Monday, September 26, 2016


My twelve-year-old son had a class field trip to a place called Biz Town. At Biz Town, the kids are given grown-up jobs. They spend seven hours that day working their grown-up jobs. My boy's job was as CFO (chief financial officer) of Delta Airlines. I don't know how the boy got selected for that one, but he was the man.

He had one of the largest offices in the place, and a steady stream of "employees" consulting him about budgeting and payment issues. The boy was kept busy the entire day. While he enjoyed one of the highest salaries, he was not thrilled with the small amount of free time he had. "Everyone else got to check things out, while I had to sit behind the desk and deal with piles of papers!"

"So, how did you do?" I asked.

"We didn't go bankrupt," he said.

"That's good," I said.

"But we only ended up with $200 for operating costs for the next day."

Hmmm. Well, at least it's nice to know that Delta Airlines has lived to fly another day.

Before I go, I want to let you know I'm giving away free downloads of my book, Ten Zany Birds, on Smashwords. If you'd like to get one, follow the link and use coupon code WJ95M. Offer expires October 26, 2016.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Rude Awakening

My teenaged daughter doesn't like to clean her room. Ever. I keep telling her that if she doesn't clean it, and she keeps bringing food up there, she's going to end up having bugs. She didn't believe me. I'm just the Mama. What do I know?

Well, last night, she got a rude awakening.  Literally. While she slept, a rather large insect was prowling around her room. It ended up in her bed. She was unaware of its existence until she felt something tickling the palm of her hand. Do you know what it was? A centipede! A big one! The thing was crawling in the of the palm of her hand. 

She screamed and threw it on the ground. Then she tried to kill it. But it escaped - under her bed among the piles of trash.

Now she's terrified to be in her room, because of course the centipede is going to seek revenge. And we're quite certain there's an army of critters under there to help it.

"I have to clean my room!" she said. "And not just my dressers. Everywhere! The bugs must die!"

Yes, indeed. Thank you, Mr. Centipede! 

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that my blog friend, Robyn Proctor has featured my book, That Mama is a Grouch, on her blog. That was so nice of her! If you'd like to read the review, please go

Friday, September 16, 2016

Question of the Month and Burning the House Down

I'm a little late this month for the Question of the Month. But hey, better late than never. Host, Michael Agostino's question is:  What kind of music speaks to you the most?

Classical. It's more complex than most of the popular music your hear on the radio. I actually get kind of annoyed with the same I, IV, V chord progressions that are used in popular music. (I know, if you're not a musician like me, you have no idea what I just said.) I've been known to turn off popular songs because they're too boring, musically. My brain likes complex things. And I really enjoy performing classical music, because in doing so, it evokes an emotional response. I feel music when I play. 

What kind of music speaks to you?

Now for the story.

My twelve-year-old son, Bubba, likes to cook. Yesterday, he decided he was going to make dinner. He began cooking. A short time later, I smelled something funny. I came downstairs and found the kitchen filled with smoke.

"What are you doing, Bubba?" I asked, opening the back door to let the smoke clear. "Trying to burn down the house?"

"No, Mama." He pointed to a box on the kitchen counter. Bubba Burgers. "I'm making Bubba Burgers. The directions said to fry them three minutes on each side."

"And did you?"

"Well, maybe one side was four minutes."

Uh huh. (In case you're wondering, Bubba said his Bubba Burger was delicious. I can't verify that, because I didn't try one. You'll just have to take his word for it.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Timeless Maiden of Time Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Today, I get to reveal Crystal Collier's cover of her new book, Timeless. It looks awesome! Check it out!

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier

Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Not-So-Bloody Mess

My twelve-year-old son plays tackle football. And he gets banged around a lot. After each practice, he always has a new bruise to show me. Last night's practice was a little over the top. When I picked him up, he had some very real bloody scratches . . . and red stains all over his white Nike t-shirt.

"Oh my God, Bubba," I said when I saw him. "What happened to you? Are you okay?"

"I got hurt, again," he said.

"Hurt? From the looks of your shirt, you should be in the hospital! Is that blood?"

I made him pull up his shirt so I could see the extent of the damage. When he did, all I saw were a few scratches. Not enough to make all that "blood."

I narrowed my eyes. "That's not blood, is it?"

He grinned. "No. It's cupcake frosting. I dropped a cupcake on my shirt."


And now for a special little surprise:  Recently, I performed for a concert at Dragoncon, in Atlanta. Here's a video where you can see me performing the song, Firefly, with a small group. I'm the violist on the far left.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Guest Author, Mark Noce

Today at my pad, I have a very talented guest: author, Mark Noce.  His new book, Between Two Fires, has just been released. And let me tell you, it's good! It hooked me from the beginning, and kept me interested to the end.

Here's my review:
Lady Branwen is a sixteen-year-old woman who enters an arranged marriage with the Hammer King, a powerful warlord. The marriage is supposed to unite two kingdoms, but Lady Branwen is nothing but a pawn in an elaborate game. Treachery abounds as many attempts are made to take her life.

Between Two Fires is a compelling historical romance that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fantastic characters and continuous action combined with an authentic setting in sixth-century Wales, makes this a truly memorable novel. Highly recommended for historical fiction enthusiasts.

Here's what others have to say:

Praise from Bestselling Authors for Between Two Fires

“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter

“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin.


Synopsis of Between Two Fires

Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.

But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.


Places to Order Between Two Fires

Release Date: August 23, 2016


And now for the interview:

Thanks for stopping by, Mark!

What inspired you to write a historical fiction/romance set in sixth century Wales?
For me, it’s the first line of a book that really gets me going, and once I had the first line of my novel I could see the whole thing in my head. “Today I will marry a man I have never met.” That line provoked images of Branwen and medieval Wales in my mind and I simply had to write it all down. Plus, who doesn’t love history and romance?

 That's a fabulous first line! It amazes me that you can come up with an entire story based on one line! 

  How much research was involved?

I certainly read all there was on the subject, looked up archaeology, etc., but part of what drew me to the time period is just how little actually survived. We have very little physical and textual evidence to go on, which as an author, allows me some comfortable leeway in crafting my story. For me, it was essential to use a good dose of commonsense, and ask myself what would I do in certain situations? Where would I find food, what would I consider a safe or dangerous decision given the knowledge of the era.

I think you did a great job in making everything seem realistic, even though there wasn't a lot of historical documents for you to utilize.  

 How long did it take to write?

My first draft usually comes pretty fast, maybe 3-4 months. Then another month or two of edits before handing it off to my publisher. My publisher of course had plenty of rewrite suggestions which I acquiesced to as rapidly as I could, but it would often take months before my publisher was ready to read those rewrites. So the process can get drawn out over a pretty length period of time.

Considering the length of the novel, I'd say that's an incredibly short period of time. You must've been a writing machine!


Do you have any other projects you are working on?
Well, I do have the sequel already written and in the publisher’s hands. It’s entitled The Long Defeat, and chronicles the Welsh dealing with a new threat, the Picts. There’ no officially release date yet, but it’s part of my two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press, so it’ll definitely hit bookshelves eventually.  

That's terrific! I look forward to reading it when it comes out.
Fun Questions:
1. If you were an animal in a zoo, which would you be? Cheetah, I love to run fast!
2. If you had a superpower, what would it be? I wish I could talk to animals (yes, beastmaster-esk).
3. If you could live in any period of time, past, present, or future, which would it be? I really do enjoy modern plumbing and hygiene, but aside from that the wild beauty of the colonial frontier in America has always intrigued me.

4. Where is one place you'd like to visit that you haven't been before? Everywhere! I’d love to take a cruise down the Nile in Egypt someday. Or maybe Tahiti too.


Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.

His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.


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