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 It's open to published, unpublished, and self-published authors.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.
 

 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Spotlight on Author, Courtney Rene

Have you ever wished you could disappear away from everyone and everything into the shadows? Wouldn't that be awesome? Well if you've read any of the Shadow Dancer series, you'd realize it isn't all fun and games.

Today I'm so excited to be spotlighting the very talented author, and good friend, Courtney Rene. She has just released her 5th book! As I read the words Courtney writes, I find myself stopping to chuckle and think to myself, I can so hear Courtney saying that! She has a very subtle way of bringing out some of her own personality in her characters. But even if you don't know Courtney, you'll enjoy her style of writing as she always sprinkles in a little bit of humor and makes your heart and soul get involved in her characters.

Courtney's Bio:



Courtney Rene lives in the State of Ohio with her husband and two children.  She is a graduate and member of the Institute of Children’s Literature.  Her writings include magazine articles, short fiction stories, several anthologies, as well as her young adult novels, A Howl in the Night and the Shadow Dancer series, published through Rogue Phoenix Press.  For a complete listing, visit www.ctnyrene.blogspot or feel free to contact her at ctnyrene@aol.com








This latest book titled Shadow Fire, is the 4th book in her YA Paranormal Shadow Dancer series. The first three books were told from Sunny's perspective who is her female protagonist. However, in this book she's added an interesting twist and is telling the story from a man's POV. For those of you who've read her series, this is Leif's story. Remember, he was Sunny's love...well for awhile, until he watched her die!







Here's a teaser to get you excited!

No one really knows who Leif is. They know the man he portrays and the things he has done, both good and bad. He was a boy that came from nothing and grew into a man full of rage that almost killed the one person he set out to save. He roams the realms waiting for death,. Waiting for an absolution that doesn't come. Then a rumor surfaces. A threat has been made against Sunny. Leif sets out to try to right the wrongs of his past. He sets out to do what he was meant to do from the beginning, save the queen. Can he do it alone or will he have to do the one thing that is hardest for him, which is: ask for help.
 
 
 
Shadow Fire is available at the following locations:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Congratulations, Courtney!
 
 
 







 
 
 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pushing Ourselves

As many of us writers know, creating a good book is all about pushing ourselves. Sure, most of us have done our research on what it takes to write a good story. The right way to do it, the wrong way to do it. We work hard at perfecting our grammar and punctuation so it's as flawless as we can get it but what makes us different from other authors?

The bottom line is we need to push ourselves to accomplish our uniqueness.

 

When I was writing Kailee Finds Magic IN Words, I sent a good story to my publisher, she loved it. But I was using the typical magic wand, and a creature that's been used a dozen times before. My publisher reminded me that maybe I should make the story more unique. You know, throw out the magic wand and come up with something different.

When I read her comments, I thought to myself, "What's wrong with a magic wand? What the heck else is there?" Then after hours of thinking, thinking, thinking, a magic light bulb finally popped on in my head and said, "Come on, you're a fiction writer, use your imagination to create something that fits the part!"

So I racked my pea brain for what magical instrument would a chipmunk need fixed? That's when I decided I needed something a chipmunk uses on a daily basis and that I could make current with todays decade. And suddenly a magic "broken" nutcracker appeared and Oliver the chipmunk needed the password to reboot it.


I felt good about coming up with something a little different. I patted myself on the back but quickly took another big "sigh" when I realized that my job wasn't done. I needed to invent someone special who could fix it!

And that was when the Grand Garoogle came to life. Check back with me later and I'll share with you how I created that creature and where its name came from.





And no, I didn't do the illustrations, that was all Valerie Bouthyette's talent coming to life. She was able to take the picture in my head and make it come alive.

I have to admit, pushing myself was tons of fun. It was a lot of work but very uplifting and left me feeling much more satisfied with the story.

So, I'm curious. Have any of you had an experience where you really had to push yourself? And what did you come up with?