Mama Diaries

Friday, May 29, 2020

Graduation: COVID Style

My daughter has graduated! And as fate would have it, she graduated during the COVID pandemic.

All things considered, I think it was a very nice graduation ceremony. The first part involved a parade. Seniors decorated their cars with balloons, posters, and paint and drove down the street to the school.

Onlookers cheered with noisemakers, posters, and more balloons. After stopping at Point A to check-in, the Seniors pulled around to the front of the school to receive their diploma. And of course, due to COVID safety regulations, the volunteers who distributed the diplomas all wore masks.

I was concerned there'd be some fender-benders. Put together a bunch of crazy high school Seniors and make them drive on the left side of the road -what could go wrong? But somehow it all seemed to work out.

The following day there was an online graduation ceremony. We sat there in the comfort of our home as the principal, Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and district supervisors gave their speeches. And then we watched as each student in the graduating class was announced and the pictures of about 400 Seniors went across the screen. The whole thing took about an hour.

It was kind of nice not having to go to downtown Atlanta, fight the traffic, and deal with the crowds. They should do it like this every year!

Have any of you had graduating kids in your family? If so, what was the ceremony like?

Friday, May 15, 2020

Guest Author, Stephanie Faris and The Popularity Code

Today I have a special guest, Stephanie Faris at my place talking about her new release, The Popularity Code.

Hi, Stephanie! Welcome to my pad! 

Tell us about your latest book, The Popularity Code.

The Popularity Code focuses on an app called SlamBook, which allows students to anonymously post comments about each other online. Many of the comments are mean, which puts the main character, Faith, in a tough position. She figures out how to hack into the app and see who’s posting what, but she doesn’t know what to do with the information.

Online bullying is such a relevant topic for toady’s middle-grade kids. What do you hope they’ll take away after reading your book?

We seem to think that bad-mouthing others is a way to bond with others and win over friends. But those words have consequences. I would hope that readers would see that even when they’re posting anonymously, there’s someone at the other end of those messages, and words have consequences.

Without giving away too much of the story, tell us who your favorite character in the book is and your least favorite and why.

My favorite is always my main character. In this case, I really admire Faith’s determination to become a successful computer programmer. My least favorite is Janelle, the popular best friend. I started out rooting for her, but in the end, she’s half the person Faith is.

What challenges, if any, did you encounter when writing The Popularity Code?

That’s easy! The biggest challenge was writing a story where most of the action happens online. I had no idea how challenging that would be. I had to find ways to describe what was happening through the characters’ reactions, rather than just showing what was on the screen.

Do you have any advice for authors who write middle-grade stories?

So much of a person’s life at that age is tied into friendships. The way we all navigate those relationships at that age sets the stage for how we’ll handle relationships later in life, I think. Most of the best middle-grade books have friendship at their core.

Are you working on anything else?

I have three books in various stages of development right now: a spooky chapter book series and two middle-grade books. Fingers crossed on all three! 

Mean Girls meets The Clique in this relatable M!X novel that tackles the effects of online bullying.
Faith Taylor is popular by association, thanks to her BFFs, Adria and Janelle. When a new website called SlamBook targets her school’s popular kids, Faith gets sucked in. And when she discovers her own page on the site, she finds herself obsessing over the comments people are posting about her. Some are good, some are…not so good. Faith becomes determined to match the negative comments to the people and begins to retaliate by posting negative comments of her own.
Soon, Faith finds that people are talking about the comments she’s leaving. Even though she does feel guilty, it’s just so easy to be mean behind the anonymity of her laptop. But when her comments go too far, she realizes she must figure out a way to make things right before it’s too late.

My Review:
When a new website called Slambook starts up at Faith Taylor's school, kids become obsessed about seeing what others write about them on their pages. Under anonymity, they can write things about other students too. What starts off as a place to share sweet comments about each other, soon turns to ugly bullying. So ugly that it sends one person into a serious state of depression. Faith needs to use her coding skills to figure out who is behind all the nasty comments and change things for the better.

The Popularity Code addresses a real problem middle-school kids face: Cyber-bullying. This book sheds light on the problem and shows how harmful hurtful comments can be. Perhaps those reading it will think twice before "slamming" someone when they realize how serious the consequences can be.

This is a well-written book with a topic that's very relevant to middle-school kids. 5 Stars.


Stephanie Faris is the author of the middle-grade books 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the Piper Morgan chapter book series. When she isn't writing books for children, she writes technology, finance, and business content for a variety of websites. She currently lives in her hometown, just north of Nashville. Visit her online at

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Voyagers The Third Ghost Book Release and IWSG Post

I am super-excited that the IWSG anthology, Voyagers, The Third Ghost is being released!  Here's the latest blog post about it where I  share a little about the inspiration behind my contribution, The Ghosts of Pompeii: Click here to read.

Voyagers: The Third Ghost
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Journey into the past…Will the third ghost be found before fires take more lives? Can everyone be warned before Pompeii is buried again? What happens if a blizzard traps a family in East Germany? Will the Firebird help Soviet sisters outwit evil during WWII? And sneaking off to see the first aeroplane – what could go wrong?

Ten authors explore the past, sending their young protagonists on harrowing adventures. Featuring the talents of
Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis, Rebecca M. Douglass, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Louise MacBeath Barbour, Beth Anderson Schuck, and L.T. Ward.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales
will take readers on a voyage of wonder into history. Get ready for an exciting ride!
Release date – May 5, 2020
$13.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 168 pages
Print ISBN 9781939844729 / EBook ISBN 9781939844736
Juvenile fiction – historical/action & adventure/fantasy & magic

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter. A Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writers and The Write Life’s Best 100 Website for Writers
Links:Amazon -
Barnes & Noble -
ITunes -
Kobo -
Goodreads -

And since it's time for the IWSG post of the month, let me do that.

The question is, what do you do to get in the "zone" for writing?

I grab my notebook, pencil, and all of my notes and park myself on the floor with my legs stretched out. I never sit at my desk when I write. I'm stuck there with my computer all the time for my other jobs. Getting away from my desk gets me into the writing zone.  Sometimes I'll take my notebook outside. My favorite place is to write is at the beach. What about you? What do you do to get in the writing zone?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Guest Author, Beverly McClure

I’m delighted to be participating in author Beverly Stowe McClure’s Blog Tour today for her latest release, GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL.

Beverly is offering a tour-wide giveaway. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

by Beverly Stowe McClure
* Paperback: 214 pages
* Publisher: Freedom Fox Press
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 1939844665
* ISBN-13: 978-1939844668

Gabe Montana is clumsy. He's overweight, and he's dyslexic. Worse yet, the bullies make his fifteen-year-old life even more miserable-so miserable he wants to die.

Charley, his guardian angel, says no to that idea and comes up with a different plan. He'll give Gabe self-confidence so he can solve his problems, not run away from them. But Gabe wonders why the angel doesn't just help with the bullies. What's with this self-confidence stuff?

Can Charley help Gabe stand on his own two feet? Will Gabe give up hope life can improve for him? Or will he finally listen to the angel's advice?

GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL is available at the following sites:AMAZON PAPERBACK 

Hi, Beverly! Welcome!  What gave you the idea for the book?

Several things. I retired from teaching in elementary school many years ago and hadn't really kept up with what was happening in town or the schools. But a newspaper article woke me up to the facts. It seems that some boys were bullying another boy and they told him to "go kill himself." So, he did. How sad he must have been to take his own life. I couldn't help that young boy, but perhaps I could help others. But how? Maybe write a book showing how precious each life is? So, GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL was born.

My heart breaks for kids who are bullied like that and choose to end their lives. It's a horrible problem! I hope your book helps!

Have you ever felt that a guardian angel was watching over you?

Yes, I have. Nothing big or major, but he's always with me. When I'm taking a walk, he walks with me. Sometimes I talk to him. He doesn't answer in words but I sense his presence. A  peace flows over me. When a crazy driver whips his/her car in front of me, my angel keeps me safe. When I'm thinking how dumb I am, my angel sends me encouragement. The little things each day comfort me. I bet your angel walks with you, too.

It's nice to think that someone or something is watching over each one of us.

What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?

I hope readers will see that sometimes, maybe, not always, a person who bullies others may be a victim also.  Some people are basically sour with life and the world and find nothing good about it. Perhaps, however, a bully has problems of his/her own that make him/her take their frustrations out on others. I'm not trained as a specialist, but it's my idea and Gabe has a lesson to learn as does the bully. And us all.

Yes. A lot of times bullies are being bullied by adults at home. It's so sad!

Are you working on anything else? 

I have four ideas sketched out, roughly.  Two are middle grades and one is a young adult and another I'm not sure about.

I'm sure you'll come up with more great stories!

Thanks for visiting my space and sharing your book!

Here's my review of Gabe's Guardian Angel:

Fifteen-year-old Gabe has no self-confidence. He's overweight, clumsy, and dyslexic. The bullies at school see that he's an easy target and torment him relentlessly. It brings him to the point of wanting to commit suicide. Fortunately, his guardian angel is there to save him. Gabe takes this second chance on life and grows, not only bettering himself but the lives of the bullies.

This is a heart-warming story with likable characters and a positive message that can help teens struggling with self-esteem and being bullied. 5 Star Review

For those who aren’t familiar with Beverly, here’s a bit of background on her.

Most of the time, you’ll find Award-Winning Author Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers, and clouds.

She’s affectionately known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why. To relax she plays the piano. Her fur babies don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.

Beverly is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church.


Author Beverly Stowe McClure is giving away one print copy of GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL to a lucky US winner.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Beverly on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. Do you think Guardian Angels come in all shapes and sizes?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Goodbye, Schultz and a Giveaway

(Weird combination, right?)

My heart is broken right now and I have very little energy to do anything.

We had to put our dog, Schultz down on Saturday. If you recall, he had bone cancer which resulted in his leg being amputated nine months ago. A recent x-ray showed he was still cancer-free. I'm not so sure he was. The downhill spiral over the last couple of weeks was unbelievable. Finally, he just could not get up. We had no choice but to end his pain.

The hardest thing was to watch him go. It was almost surreal. Because of the COVID virus, we were required to wear neon-yellow bandanas with paw prints on them over our faces. I had my sunglasses on because I knew I'd be balling my eyes out. It looked ridiculous. I can't even imagine what poor Schultz thought about it. But I know he was scared. I could see it on his face and hear it in his breathing. He knew. He was such a smart dog. We did our best to comfort him. The process was quick. Almost too quick. One minute there was a breathing creature with energy, feelings, and a personality, and the next, nothing.

There is a great emptiness now. No more jingling of his collar, no more sound of his footsteps against the wood floor, no more barking at the deer.

He was a good, loyal animal. Funny, playful, and smart. I am grateful for the time we had him and for all of the stories about him that I have shared with you. He will be missed. Rest in peace, dear Schultzy!

Here is the last picture I took of him a few days ago when we carried him outside to enjoy the sunshine and being on the grass. Love his little smile!

And now for the second part of this post, since the show must go on.  My publisher has some copies of Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure which will be released on September 15, 2020. We're doing a giveaway now. If you'd like to enter to receive a free copy, fill out the Raffelcopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 13, 2020

Ode to Croaky

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring tidings of bad news. Croaky, our pet frog has croaked. Alas, he is no more. After 12 years of entertaining us with his frog antics, he has bit the dust and departed to the frog swamps of heaven.

Here is an ode to Croaky:

He slurped and burped in Marshy Tank.
I  held my nose because he stank.
No more we'll hear his alto croak.
I sure will miss that happy bloke!

RIP, Croaky!

And now for something totally different to entertain you. . .  How I make music virtually because of COVID-19.

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.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Who is the Banana Thief?

Something very strange has been going on at my pad. It involves bananas.

This morning when I awoke, I went into my kitchen and noticed that one of the bananas in my basket on the counter had its peel surgically removed in one spot, and the fruit inside eaten. It looked like this:

This is the second time it's happened. The first time, I wondered if I had just purchased a defective bunch of bananas. There is no way I would've purchased defective bananas twice. Something is sneaking around my apartment in the middle of the night, eating my bananas!

Who could it be?

Here are the possible suspects:




4. Other, possibly alien life form?

I have never seen a mouse in my apartment. And I can't say I've seen a space for one to crawl in. But the fact that the peel was removed in a perfect rectangle makes me wonder.

I have seen cockroaches in my apartment. In fact, exterminators came twice this summer to get rid of them. Those little buggers can crawl in from the pipes. I'm not sure about the surgical removal of the peel, though. Can cockroaches do that?

And then there's the lizard. There is actually a family of 5 living in the siding outside of my apartment. Could a lizard remove the peel from a banana like that? And would a lizard even eat a banana? Somehow, I don't think so. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, who do you think is the banana thief? 

And one more thing:

You may or may not know about the upcoming anthology, Voyagers:  Third Ghost. My story, The Ghosts of Pompeii will be part of it. There is a blog where you can learn about the authors and the story behind their stories. This week the featured author is Yvonne Ventresca, the overall winner. Click here to read her interview.  


Monday, January 6, 2020

IWSG and Caught in the Act

It's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post of the month. The question is, how did you know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted you?

This is a question I answer every time I do school author visits. I ask the kids to raise their hands if they want to be an author when they grow up. And the young kids always do. Middle-schoolers, not so much. Guess what? I didn't want to be an author when I grew up. I wanted to be an astronaut or opera singer. I'm neither. This is probably a good thing because the world is much better not hearing my singing voice!

So, how did I get here? You can thank my daughter and my son for that. Here's the story:  When my son was a little baby, he didn't sleep. Neither kid did. Talk about a serious case of sleep deprivation. Four years of less than 4 hours of sleep a night! When you're that sleep-deprived, weird things go on in your head. Like poems. That's what happened. At 3:00 AM one night, a poem popped in. For the rest of the week, I spent my nights in the rocking chair with my 3-month old son, composing the entire story in my head. Later, I shared the poem with my daughter, who was three years old at the time. She said, "Mom that's really good! You should make it a book!"

My sleep-deprived mind thought that was a brilliant idea. So, here I am, 15 years later, still writing. My sixth book comes out this September:  Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure.

The name of the first book?   That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN!  

Now, for the story:

If you recall, our German Shepherd, Schultz destroyed his Beaver toy by ripping the seams and taking out all the stuffing. We thought for Christmas, we'd get him a brand new Beavie. Ladies and gentlemen, it took Schultz all of two hours to destroy it. Here he is, in action:

And yes, that is Beavie's heart. Schultz ripped Beavie's heart out! I think Bootsy, the cat has been a terrible influence on him!