Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making A List and Checking It Twice



Merry Christmas everyone! Are we all ready? I must say that I am. This year, not sure why, I had all my decorating and shopping done, wrapped and shipped two weeks ago! And am so glad I did because it was already expensive enough to ship everything the cheapest way. If I'd waited much longer, I'd be paying double just to get things there on time. And when all your relatives live far away and you have to ship every single gift...it pays to force yourself to get organized and done in good time. So I'm giving myself a big pat on the back this year. Just hope I didn't forget anyone?

Have you ever done that? Forgot to get someone a gift? I have never actually done that but have NOT gotten someone something who got me a gift. That is not a good feeling. You wonder...should I run out and get something? And if I do, will they think I only did it because they got me a present? Who knows what the right answer to that is. This year I had a friend get me something but I hadn't gotten her anything. I decided to let it be and just enjoy the fact that she thought of me! I'll just make sure to reciprocate next year. No clue if that's the right way to handle it or not but I know she's ok with that.

I read something the other day, I think it was in 'Miss Manners' column that this person is fed up with people giving her lists of things they want for Christmas. She wondered had all the magic and wonder of Christmas gone away? What happened to people going through the joy of opening a gift and not knowing what was inside? I have mixed feelings
about that. I do love to be surprised by what's in the package. However, it is so much easier to shop for someone who gives you a list!! Especially when you don't know what they have, like, or need. I must admit though, that it irks me when I get a list from someone and I didn't ask for it! To me that's awfully presumptuous.

For me it really isn't as much fun to open a gift that you know exactly what's inside. We used to have a relative who used to send us kids the same exact thing every year. I was appreciative but have to admit, I tried to open that gift first because it just wasn't exciting! I loved this relative dearly though and did like getting a new pair of hose and $20 each year, it just wasn't that fun to open.

So how do you feel about lists? Do you like buying off them or do you like to ignore and get them something they aren't expecting? And do you like opening a gift that you already know what's inside?

Even so, I hope that everyone has a delightful, safe, fun and magical Christmas! Enjoy the moment and I'll see ya in 2015!






Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spotlight on Children's Author, Bill Smith

Well did you all think I ran away? Actually, sometimes I thought about it so I could escape the crap going on with AT&T. Our internet has been in and out, mostly out, for three weeks now and lets face it, our lives revolve around all things "internet" these days! Anyway, I won't bore you with all the details, I just wanted to explain why I haven't updated my blog in awhile. But hopefully the nightmare is over and I can get back to business!

Today I'm honored to introduce you to a new children's book author, Bill Smith. He has just recently released his first picture book, Sue The 'Mingo'. This is such a cute and creative story, I wanted all of you to know about it.

I asked Bill a few questions to help us get to know about him and his book a little better:


I understand that it was your daughter’s love of flamingo’s that possessed you to write Sue the Mingo? Can you tell us a little more about that?

Our daughter loves flamingos. When we first took her to the zoo, they became her favorite animal!  She loves pink.  When she was little she would call them ‘mingos ( and since then, so have we, still today!)

Do you have pink flamingo’s in your yard?

We currently have one 6 ft tall inflatable flamingo in the front yard, and about a dozen or more in the house (including a large metal one that is in the living room.


What made you decide to have Sue the Mingo change her colors throughout the story?

With regard to the story, my intent was to target preschool and early elementary kids, so learning their colors is an important lesson that I felt we could help with in a fun, entertaining way.


Did you take any classes or anything to help you become a writer?

I have a degree in Business Administration, so the only formal writing education that I have came from Southeastern.  I think it’s important to use your imagination like when you were a child; don’t limit yourself.


Have you written anything else?

This is the first project that I have actually published.  The second Sue story is written; “Sue The ‘Mingo Visits Mardi Gras”;  hope to get it published at the first part of 2015.  (we hope to make this a continuing series, letting our ‘Mingo’s imagination take us where she will!);


Where can people find your book?

The book is available at our website, www.suethemingo.com, on eBay, at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs (on their website as well), Persnickety in Zachary, Oak Point Supermarket in Watson and Central, and at Saunders Lux Jewelers in Bocage.


Sue The 'Mingo' is a 32 page, large format (8 1/2" x 11") paperback, full color, and is perfect for kids preschool through elementary age. The story is about a flamingo named Sue who wonders what it would be like if her feathers were colored anything but pink! Sue was inspired by my daughter. She has always loved flamingo's. (She actually has always loved pink, and after our first trip to the zoo, fell in love with the pink birds, which she called "mingo's!") So at our house, "mingo" became a word that we use very, ver often! Sue uses her vivid imagination to dream, therefore we chose "Dream Like A Mingo" as our motto.



W. J. Smith, Jr. lives in Denham Springs, LA with his wife and 2 children. “Sue The ‘Mingo” is his first book in a continuing series. (The second, “Sue The ‘Mingo Visits Mardi Gras” will be out in the spring of 2015.) Graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, bachelors degree in Business Administration.  A life long writer, motivated to action by my family. Bill enjoys the marketing and promotion of this book almost as much as writing it.




Thank you, Bill for letting me feature you on my blog today. I wish you a bright and rewarding future with Sue The 'Mingo' and all of Sue's new adventures!











Thursday, November 6, 2014

Futureword Publishing's New Picture Book Contest

Did you hear the good news? Futureword Publishing is having their 2nd Children's Picture Book Contest. It's open to published, unpublished, and self-published authors. All you have to do is enter!


If you happen to be the lucky winner, you'll receive a contract with Futureword Publishing which includes publication and the chance to work with the award winning illustrator, Valerie Bouthyette who will bring your book to life. But it doesn't end there! The 1st place winner will also win a $500 cash prize. The 2nd place winner will win $300 plus their story will be included in a book of short stories. The 3rd place winner will win $200 plus their story will be included in a book of short stories as well.

I have two books published by Futureword Publishing and a third on the way. I can honestly say that I am so happy Futureword gave me a chance and published me for the first time. They gave me all the encouragement and attention I needed as a new author.

So what are YOU waiting for? Get your story ready and submit by Feb. 9th and the entry fee will only be $35. If you enter after that, the fee is $45. Closing date for the contest is March 1, 2015.

Click here to read all the details.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gearing up for November

Welcome back to me!


I just got back from visiting my family in Virginia and must say, although I'm glad to be back to home-sweet-home, I'm also sad inside. My parents are aging, Mom is turning 87 in a few weeks and my dad turns 89 this Saturday. They are both in pretty rough shape physically and have a hard time getting around. On top of that, my dad has Alzheimer's so it's doubly rough on my mom. However, she is making the best of it and just takes things one day at a time. Thankfully with a lot of hard work and research, my sister and brother were able to find my parents some really great and dependable help. We have a home health specialist coming in 3 days a week and my dad goes to Eldercare twice a week. Both of these have been huge blessings to both my parents and us kids. It was hard to leave them but much easier knowing they were in capable hands.

Now that I'm back, I'm trying to gear up for some upcoming book events. This weekend, Saturday, Nov. 1st, I will be at the Louisiana Book Festival in downtown Baton Rouge. I look forward to this every year because thousands of people walk the sidewalks of this event. It's wonderful seeing so many people that have a love of books.

November 15th I'll be at the Livingston Festival in Livingston, LA and then Nov. 21 & 22nd you can find me at the Broadmoor Arts & Crafts Festival.

I'll also be participating in this years PiBoldMo (Picture Book Idea Month). This will be my first year participating and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll be able to come up with some great story ideas!


That's it for me. I'm going to be a busy beaver this month but I'm ready! How about you? Do you have any big writing events coming up?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Welcome Fall!

Finally one of my favorite seasons is here! To those of you who live up north, it's probably been visiting you for a few weeks already. Down here in Louisiana, it visited us for two days last week but summer has pushed it's way back. We are back in the high 80's to 90's. GO AWAY SUMMER!! I am in desperate need of fall.

What I love most about fall is the gorgeous colors of the leaves, which in Louisiana we don't get to see much of. But a girl can dream!



Getting out the boots. I love my boots. To me they are the most comfortable shoe to wear and besides, they sure look cute!



It's time to warm up some chili! I love chili, Yum! But only when the weather is cold and crisp.



Sweats! Like boots, I love throwing on my sweats and romping around. They might not show off our women's physique but who cares! They are comfy. (I'm not posting a picture because let's face it, we all look like crap in them!)

Taking walks with my dogs and looking at all the Halloween decorations.



Candy corn! Love that stuff especially the fat orange pumpkins.

 
 
The new TV season begins! Thank goodness because I get so sick of summer reruns! This year I'm enjoying the new show The Mysteries of Laura. Has anyone else been watching it? Also, I really look forward to seeing the new episodes of shows like Revenge, Nashville, Scandal, Greys Anatomy, The Millers, and The Voice. I'm happy now!
 
 
And I love, love, love attending the Louisiana Book Festival that happens every November. It's so enjoyable to me to sit outside in the crisp cool air, and watch people's reaction to my books. I hope they enjoy my new book, Kailee Finds Magic IN Words. Wish me luck!
 
 

 
 
Another thing I love about fall coming is going to visit my family in Virginia. I usually do that every fall. My husband stays home so I get my own, real quality time with my parents, sister and brother. In fact, I'm heading up there this week so that means I will not be updating my blog until I return.
 
What do you like best about fall?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Discoveries by Allyn

Remember Hints by Heloise? Well today I'm blogging about some really cool things I've discovered this year that are making my life easier! And I'm all about anything that is quicker, better, and more efficient. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my discoveries with you.

Some of you may already know all about them but they are new to me! The first two are things my mother-in-law told me about.

Washing windows with newspaper: When my mother-in-law told me she's been doing this for years... well I thought for sure she'd lost it. Wouldn't the black from the newsprint get the window all dirty? This didn't make one bit of sense to me. However, I tried it and shazam!! My windows have never sparkled so much. The newsprint doesn't rub off onto the windows, not one bit. Dummy me has been using paper towels or a cloth all these years and was always left cussing at the dust residue left on the window. The newspaper method leaves no residue whatsoever. Just clean, sparkling, beautifully clean windows. However, if you don't use plastic gloves, your fingers may end up with black on them. Anyway, I'll never use paper towels again! Thank you mom!

Making bacon in the oven:  I've always fried my bacon and then gotten so upset at the messy grease you get everywhere. Again my "very wise" mother-in-law told me she puts hers in the oven. So I tried it and it works just fine. And so much less mess. I put my bacon in a broiler pan so that the bacon grease will drip into the bottom pan. Cook at 350 for about an hour. Works great! I usually do that whenever I'm making bacon for a salad or something like that. I still prefer the taste of fried bacon but this is a great secondary method.

Put your paint brush in the freezer: I don't know about you but when I'm painting a large area I hate the fact that when you stop for the day or even a few hours you have to wash your paint brush for the next days painting or it will get all dried up on your brush. Well someone once told me to put foil around the brush and stick it in the freezer. Then about 20 minutes before you're going to paint again, take it out. Once it thaws out a little, your brush will be nice and moist and ready to go again. I do this all the time now. Works wonderful! I know now that there are some things you can buy at the store to wrap around the brush giving it the same effect but why pay money for something when you don't have to. Just wrap it in foil!

Hairspray for your eyelashes: This is probably my favorite discovery this year. And no, I'm not really talking about hairspray but this works just like it. All my life I've spent an extra 15-20 minutes on my make-up because I wanted my eyelashes to look curly and long. I would curl them, put mascara on, curl them again...and again and even then I wouldn't be truly happy because 10 minutes later they'd look like I hadn't done anything to them at all! So the last year or so I've been playing around with different mascara's. I even tried using fake eyelashes for awhile until the glue was
ruining my own lashes. FINALLY I discovered primer for lashes. The kind I use is by Dior called Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum. It shows up white on your lashes until you put the mascara on. This stuff is a life saver! It works like hairspray for the lashes. I then discovered a fantastic mascara that lengthens the lashes. It's also by Dior and it's called Iconic Overcurl. Now both of these products cost about $20 each, which is more than I like to spend on mascara, but they both last forever and are worth their weight in gold. Here's what I do. I curl one eyes lashes, then put on a generous portion of primer. Not a lot, but enough to where all the lashes look white.


Then I curl the other eye and do the same. Once the primer has dried just a little bit I apply a very thin coat of mascara and my eyelashes look marvelous! Long and curled just beautifully and the best part is...they stay that way all day. I have cut down my 15 minutes of messing with mascara down to about 5. Well worth the money!








Oven mat for the oven: If you're like me, my oven is always getting crap all over the bottom and I absolutely hate cleaning it. One day I found a silver non-stick ovenliner that has saved my life from ever having a filthy oven bottom again! All you do is place this liner (which can be trimmed to fit your oven) on the bottom rack of your oven. Then anything that drips off your food will now end up on this liner, leaving the bottom of your oven clean. The liner can just be wiped off or even put in the dishwasher. I think I found mine at Bed-Bath-and Beyond. Love it!


Ring around the toilet: I don't know what the heck is wrong with the water in our house but it's constantly leaving a ring around my toilets that wont come off. I'm constantly using cleaner and my toilet brush but it just won't come off. Finally I discovered the Pumice stick. Works beautifully, however you need to make sure you keep it nice and wet while your scrubbing. But it does the job and leaves your toilet nice and sparkling!

Ok, that's it for me. This was fun! So if I come across any other "life saving" discoveries in my life I'll pass those along sometime again.

Have any of you discovered something lately that has made your life a little easier?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spotlight on Children's Author, Sherry Alexander

Today it's a real honor to feature an author who is not only very talented but has a heart of gold. She has written a new children's picture book, Oliver's Hunger Dragon and is donating a portion of the proceeds to help end childhood hunger. Now THAT is someone with a warm heart. Meet Sherry Alexander.




Sherry Alexander, a 2013 graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, is a writer, author, blogger, and child advocate who writes both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. This is her first picture book, and comes from her own childhood memory of two Portland Police Officers who brought her family a food basket when they were in need. It is her dream that someday no child will ever experience hunger again. She lives with her husband of 45 years on a small SW Washington ranch with their two horses, two dogs, and the occasional pack of coyotes.  Visit her online at www.sherryalexanderwrites.com
 
ABOUT HER BOOK:
 
Oliver has a Hunger Dragon who rumbles and grumbles. He wants it to go away, but Hunger says he plans to stay. Is Oliver the only one who has a dragon deep inside?

Join Oliver as he discovers the power of friendship and the sharing spirit in Oliver’s Hunger Dragon by Sherry Alexander and illustrated by Amy Rottinger.
 
MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK:
Oliver has a secret that he’s never seen! But boy does it make loud rumbling and grumbling noises. What could it be?
In this adorably illustrated rhyming book we travel through the life of Oliver who is suffering from hunger. This story makes us realize there is a lot more to feeling hungry than just the dragons in our belly.
Oliver and his friends unite together by sharing what they have and making those nasty, loud dragons disappear!
The biggest lesson in this wonderful story is teaching kids to realize if they have something to share, it could really help another person.
I loved this book both in the style of writing, the message it sends and the beautiful illustrations. I highly recommend it to everyone not only because it’s something kids will enjoy but because the author wrote with her heart, unselfishly, and for the sole purpose of helping, one step at a time, the problem of world hunger.
Don’t forget when you buy a book a portion of the proceeds go to:
The Clark County Washington Food Bank
Feeding America
The Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division of Oregon

Olivers Hunger Dragon is available at the following locations as well as Barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers.
 
Congratulations, Sherry! I hope Oliver's Hunger Dragon is a tremendous success and that we'll see more of your wonderful books in the future.