Sunday, January 31, 2010

26 books = $3.05


Don't you just love a bargain? Now don't get me wrong -- I spend way more on new books, especially from authors I know and want to support. Just the other day I bought a Garfield comic book to add to my collection. That sucker cost nearly $15! So, whenever I get a chance, I check out the Salvation Army thrift store for children's books. They sell them for a DIME! I got a couple of other books for a quarter a piece. There are only 23 books pictured here. I found three Wiggles books that I already had, but just couldn't leave them. I'm sure one of my friends would love to have them.

I found some Magic School Bus books that my boys really enjoy. We also collect Little Golden Books and I found one of those on planets. Neil is really into Hello Readers and other early readers, so I got a bunch of those. He also loves cats, aliens, and books on Halloween. I found some of those for him. I found Nathan a book on Ripley's Believe It Or Not. He loves books like that. He couldn't put it down last night. I was working on a story and he kept running into my room to show me something new -- like a man who could put 25 quarters in his ear, or another man who could put his whole nose in his mouth. Judging by the two-headed cow on the cover, I can tell that book is right up his alley -- he lives for weird stuff like that.

As an author, I can't help but wonder how sad it would be to see my own book in a thrift store bin for a dime. However, that would mean that the book has been published, bought, read, and probably circulated around a bit. At least someone else could enjoy it. And if they really liked it, perhaps they would do a search to see what else I had. You just never know, but you always need to look for that silver lining when it comes to things like this. So anyway, looks like my boys will have plenty of reading to do this snowy Sunday afternoon! I hope you have a great day too!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oh, Leonardo ...


The boys and I have been doing a study -- more of an introduction -- to Leonardo da Vinci. I have a great book called Leonardo da Vinci for Kids that features the story of his life, his ideas, and twenty-one projects to do. It includes simple projects, from sketching a horse or painting a bird, to making a kite or growing a herb garden. My girls worked through the book when they were younger, so it's fun to go back and do it again with the boys.

One thing that we've all found sad is Leonardo's family life. His parents never married. He was sent to live at his father's farm when he was two, but his father was rarely home. He was raised mostly by his grandfather and uncle. He often walked by his mother's home. She had married and had more children, which made Leonardo feel sad and left out. When he was fourteen, he was sent away to work as an apprentice for Verrocchio, where he was exposed to the training and skills he'd become so famous for later in life. Leonardo's life was complex and controversial for some people, but I keep it simple for the boys. They can study him futher as they get older.

There are many of Leonardo's paintings that I love, but The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa obviously stand out. Though he is said to not have any close relationships with women, he painted so many of them. The one pictured above, Madonna and the Carnation, is on the cover of the book we use for school. It's interesting how so many of his paintings feature women and children, without any father figures around. Not surprising, considering his upbringing. I can definitely relate to that, come to think of it.

Do you have a favorite Leonardo da Vinci painting?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling puzzled?


Today is National Puzzle Day. I don't know if that means all puzzles including jigsaws, or just the other problem-solving type puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku, riddles, or whatever. I like crossword puzzles, providing their fairly easy and don't leave me feeling too stupid. If they're about famous actors, television shows, or movies -- forget it. I'm so out of the loop. Animals are more my thing, or maybe national parks.

My favorite puzzles are the old, traditional jigsaws. I have always loved putting puzzles together. I don't do them as often now, but I have a few I'd like to put together sometime. My eyesight has been a little blurry lately, and the last thing I need is another reason to sit for long periods of time. However, I do enjoy them and so do the boys. Their puzzles are only around 100-200 pieces, so they're easier. I should probably stick with those myself.

On another note, I had to go to the doctor for blood work this morning. I don't know what's been going on with me, but I feel all out of sorts. My blood pressure is still high, even with the meds, and I'm often out of breath and dizzy. Yesterday I became very jittery just totally out of the blue. It might be my thyroid, or lack of it, so I'm having that checked. I'm supposed to be on meds for that, but I stopped taking them because I was lazy -- or an idiot, take your pick. So, whatever is going on with me is very puzzling, but hopefully we can get it figured out soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It was this big!


On this day in 1887, the largest snowflakes ever recorded fell during a snowstorm in Fort Keogh, Montana. That's in the southwestern part of the state. Now, I don't know if this is accurate or not, as I'm getting it from Wikipedia. However, if it is true, these snowflakes must have been something to see. They were reported to be 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. Dang! I've only lived in Montana three years, but I've never seen a snowflake that big. I sure would like to though, just to say I have.

We have snow on the ground at our house, but I don't think any new stuff is expected until the weekend. That is, if we get that even. It's been a mild winter for NW Montana. I heard it would be with it being an El Nino year. I'm not sure why that is, but I heard we'd probably get less snow this year because of that. Last year we had so much that we had to shovel some from our roof, and it's slanted even. But still, if I saw a snowflake 8 inches thick, I would probably be pretty impressed. Definitely a Kodak moment.

I love this snowflake graphic. I saw it online and have used it for the boy's school schedules before. It looks like the snowflake is saying, "It was this big!" It cracks me up how his eyes are all wide, like he's telling some great fish tale. And yes, snowflakes have eyes -- of course they do! I guess I'd be doing the same thing if I saw a snowflake that was 15 inches in width. Just think of a ruler and add 3 more inches. That would be one big snowflake!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Did you like school?


Did you like school? I hated it. It wasn't so much the classes, but I had real problems with getting up in the morning and just getting there. It didn't help that my mom worked long graveyard shifts. By the time she got home from work, she was too tired to fight with me about getting to school. I stayed home sick a lot, but only because I was lazy. Besides, all the good cartoons were on from 7am to 8am. School just got in the way of that. One good thing was that when I joined the work force, I rarely called in sick. Most of the jobs I had didn't allow that because there was no one else to fill in for me. But school -- nope, didn't like it, didn't want to go.

I am playing around with a story idea at the moment and have been thinking about my experiences with school. I surprised myself when I realized how many bad things I remembered. There are very few good things that stick out. I can recall unpleasant things from as early as preschool and all the way through my senior year of high school. I'm really tempted to write them down. If I were to write a book about my experiences, it would probably be the most depressing book ever written. I didn't have a horrible childhood. I know people who did and who have really suffered, both physically and mentally. I guess it was less than ideal and a lot of negative things stand out. School just wasn't fun for me. I graduated by the skin of my teeth and only with the help of a teacher who didn't want to see me fail because he knew I wasn't stupid. Had I gone to class more, I probably would have gotten really good grades. I got A's in psychology, but failed tennis class. I suppose the teachers had a lot to do with that, not to mention that I hated getting all sweaty at school from PE. I went to Catholic school for a year and a half and that was just one of the worst times. The nuns were incredibly mean. Not just strict, but mean ... and cruel emotionally.

Ironically, I didn't go to college and get some big career. I stopped working outside the home as soon as I got pregnant and I've been a stay-at-home-mom since. Those psychology, typing, and home ec classes paid off. Tennis -- ummm, not so much. It's just funny that I've chosen to homeschool my kids. If you think about it, I've been in school for over 24 years. And with Neil only in 2nd grade, I have 10 more to go. That's a lot of school time, especially for someone who never liked school. I chose homeschooling for a variety of reasons -- not because I'm anti-school system. My own personal experiences really don't have anything to do with my decision. My main wish is for my kids to be happy and to enjoy the process of learning. I know the boys would sometimes rather play PS3 all day rather than do their school work, but I try to make it fun for them. I don't want them to despise school like I did. And who knows, maybe I'll write down all those horrible experiences and see if I can make some sense of them someday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cloudy With a Chance of ...


Peanut brittle? Today is National Peanut Brittle Day, which I blogged about last year here. Okay, so what made me think of that? It was the movie Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I watched that the other night with the boys and there was a scene with spiky peanut brittle in it. Doesn't take much to instill a craving in me. I love peanut brittle.

I love kid's books even more. I think it's every author's dream for people to love their book. Even more so for a book to live on for so many years. But the ultimate is to have your story idea be turned into a film. What an awesome feeling that must be. It happens all the time with novels, but for it to happen to a picture book is pretty darn amazing. The movie was great, by the way. I loved Steve, the monkey. He finally gets his gummi bears.

Ironically, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is one book I don't own yet. That's not surprising though because it came out the year I was a junior in high school. I was more interested in hanging out with Rick and doing all those teen things than I was in reading children's books. However, things do change and this book is next on my list to buy. After that I plan to get the sequel, Pickles To Pittsburgh. And, in the meantime, I'm going to keep on writing. After all, you just never know ...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Need a fine-tooth comb ...


I spent most of yesterday sorting through my documents section of my laptop. What a mess. I had stuff everywhere. There were duplicate items, unfinished projects, even stuff I didn't recognize. Ever since the 90s, I had been using Adobe Pagemaker for most of my work. They no longer make that -- In-Design replaced it awhile back. I've changed laptops so many times that I can no longer open my old Pagemaker documents. So, I had to open them through In-Design. If it's a story, I want it in Word. I had to open the PM file using In-Design, copy and paste it, and then format it all over again in Word. Talk about crazy. I'm happy to say I managed to clean up the documents area over 2/3 of the way. Now all my manuscripts are in their own folder and other items are filed away. I deleted a lot of stuff too. I use folders for my photographs, so it's puzzling to me why I had manuscripts scattered all over the place. Folders -- what a novel idea!

Last night I printed up a few of my stories that I'd like to submit. They are pretty old stories, which have seen a lot of revisions. Even after transferring them from Pagemaker to In-Design to Word, I still ended up making a lot of changes. Right before bed I decided to read a few of them and I STILL made some changes. So, now I have all these manuscripts by my bed all scribbled on with pencil marks. It makes me wonder -- is a manuscript ever perfect? Or will I always find something to change no matter how long it sits collecting dust? What do you think? I know I'm neurotic -- my family tells me that all the time. I'm one of those nuts who looks at a magazine ad and wonders why they used that particular font or why they didn't move something over just a bit to the right. Having issues like this is hard for a writer. Even when I think something is fine, I'll look at it later and see something I don't like. Is anyone else like that, or am I just a loon? Is there such a thing as perfect?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We're all crazy ...


I'm a control-freak. I like things a certain way. I'm one of those weirdos who would rather do something myself than have someone else do it their way. Not always the best characteristic to have as a writer, when so much is out of your hands. However, it's the simple things that drive me crazy -- like how the towels are folded and stacked in the cupboard, if the pillows are facing the right way, or whether the kitchen cabinet doors are shut all the way. I literally drive my family nuts. I feel sorry for them at times -- poor, misguided souls. Now get over it and shut the darn cabinet all the way!

This picture is of Neil's bed. He's a little guy, so there is usually enough room for him to sleep there too. A few weeks ago his bed was all messed up, so I tore it apart and remade it. It was getting late though, so I told him I'd leave the stuffed animals on the floor until morning. Nope. That wasn't going to happen! So, I start complaining and Nathan decides to help him to make the job go faster. Nope. He wasn't doing it right. Neil goes on to explain to his brother how you have to put all the animals into groups. "The tigers go here. The leopards go over there. All the kitties go right here."

Honestly, I don't know where he gets it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sit down!


How much of your day is spent sitting? Think about it. You sit to eat your meals, to watch television, to work on the computer, to do crafts, even to read. There are other things you sit for like going to the dentist, waiting for your doctor, driving your car, getting a haircut, and so on. This doesn't even include most people's employment and how much they sit at work. One thing is for sure -- we spend way too much time on our butts!

Yesterday I read an article called Sitting Too Much Can Be Deadly. I never thought of it that way. I do know a sedentary lifestyle isn't healthy, but can it really be deadly? Studies show that people who sit for a long time might not only be overweight, but could also have a heart attack because the genes that regulate fat and glucose shut down after long periods of sitting. Regular exercise helps, but the studies show it would be more beneficial to exercise throughout the day rather than in one bout.

Which brings me to another article called If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online. Check that one out. It says that kids ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using some sort of electronic device. And that doesn't include the 1.5 hours many kids text or the half hour they actually talk on the phone. Computers, phones, video games, televisions -- the list is staggering. The study in this article goes on to say that kids who spent the most time using electronic gadgets were more likely to complain of boredom, sadness, not getting along with parents, and doing poorly in school.

If we sit a lot as adults, technology has advanced so much that it's even worse for our children. What are they going to be like when they're adults? Will they be like me -- up at 2am, sitting hunched in a chair, blogging? And why am I up? My back hurts and I can't sleep because of it. Why? I sit too much. So, I'm going to think twice next time Nathan wants to balance on his tippy toes in his chair doing his history, or when Neil gets frustrated because he can't concentrate and wants to lay under the table to do his math. If they want to stand on one leg to read, fine! Sitting is overrated.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spike & Chester


I woke up at 7am with back spasms again. This is getting really old. Usually, I get them in the middle of the night, not the morning like this. So, I took my meds for it and now I'm a zombie. I'll try to get the boys done with school today, but it's not happening very fast. I think I'm going to go lie down again. In the meantime, I was thrilled to find this video clip online. It's one of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons. I laugh when Spike says, "Ha ha ha, the pussycat's gonna scratch me!" Too funny ...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Critter Cups!


A cup of critters gave me the jitters.

If you've read my book, Lemur Troops & Critter Groups you know what I'm talking about. I got this mug yesterday. I can't believe how fast Zazzle is with orders. I thought it would be fun to make coffee mugs with my book covers. I have two so far, and five more to come. I have one of those free standing wooden mug holders in my kitchen, so I thought it would be cool to display them there. The Marshmallow Man will be probably be my next one, though I'm not sure when that book is due out yet. If you would like to order something with my books on it, you can check out the link here. Like I said, Zazzle has been great so far and I've gotten my order within days.

Nikki and I are planning on doing a blog tour for Lemur Troops & Critter Groups soon. If you have a blog and would like to participate, please let me know. We haven't worked out all the details, but we'd like to keep it fun and maybe have some contests and such. Everyone was so helpful when I did my blog tour for A New Job for Dilly, which was a lot of fun.

Today is a sad day for us. Nicole just left to go back to college in Florida. She's been home since mid December and the time flew by way too fast. I know she's excited about returning to her classes and friends, but she was sad to leave home as well. It's one of those bittersweet things we have to deal with in life, I suppose. We really miss her when she's gone. As it looks now, there's a chance she might be staying through the summer to work on campus. The good thing is that it would help pay for her school. The bad thing is that we might not see her until next Christmas. That's a long time away! Anyway, she'll be in the air most of the day, so if you could keep her in your thoughts and prayers, I would really appreciate it -- thanks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snowshoeing in Glacier --


I took this picture yesterday inside Glacier National Park. This is the southern end of Lake McDonald. As we were leaving, the clouds began to clear away and there was an amazing sunset. The water was like glass and looked like a gigantic mirror at times. We went snowshoeing for a few hours and walked along the lake. Even though it was cloudy most of the time, the views were spectacular. We saw an otter cruising around, a raven, some grebes, and a few squirrels. There were people in the park, but we didn't cross paths with anyone while we were walking around. We went with a friend of Rick's from work named Blaise. The boys had fun snowshoeing with her little girl, who I think is the same age as Nathan.

There's a funny story about Blaise. When we first moved to Montana, Rick had moved us up here, but had to return to California to finish work. The boys and I took him to the airport and then we proceeded to drive home. As I was pulling out of the airport, our van stopped right in the middle of the highway. There were cars zooming by both sides going 70+mph. The van was dead and I didn't even have time to get it pulled to the side of the road. I called Rick's cell, but he had turned it off. He was going through security and figured he wouldn't need it. I was trying not to panic, which was hard with cars zooming by and two scared little boys in the back. I called 911 and being new to the area, I was lucky I even knew my new phone number, more or less where I was and what direction I was facing. A policeman arrived and parked behind me so no one would run into us while we waited for the tow truck. In the meantime, I called the airport to see if they could page Rick. As I was talking to someone, they were writing down Rick's name when I hear someone say, "Rick Jones? That's me." Rick was going through TSA when the message came in. Blaise was working for TSA and was talking to Rick at the exact time. Ironically, Blaise later came to work for the Department of Corrections in the same office as Rick. Talk about a small world, huh?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Missing CJ ...


There was just something about this cat. I miss CJ so much. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. It's hard not to with his pictures everywhere. He just had something special about him. Maybe it was the way he meowed when he walked into the room. It was like he was saying, "Hi guys! Here I am!" Maybe it was the way he'd lie on my chest, push his nose into my throat, and knead my hair into a tangled mess. Maybe it was how he was always by my side. Maybe it was all of those. All I know is that I miss him.

Rick and I found CJ by a brick wall near my house one day. We were coming home from school when I heard this slight mew sound. He was a tiny ball of fluff. There were rumors that a man had been seen dropping kittens off in the area, so I'm sure that's where he came from. He was barely weaned and wasn't interested in eating much that first day. All he wanted to do was sleep in my arms. This picture above was taken later when he had gotten a bit bigger. He continued to sleep in my arms like this all his life. After my kids came along, I always referred to him as my first baby. He was treated just like one of the kids. I mean, really -- just look at that face!

CJ had an interesting life -- from being abandoned as a kitten, to getting hit by a car and needing extensive surgery, to digging up his ashes so I could move him to Montana. I've often wanted to write a book about him. In fact, two years ago I did write one for my NaNoWriMo project. There's over 50,000 words written down about my little cat. It would be awesome to revise it into something worth publishing. I just don't know how well that would do. I see books written about people's pets all the time, but I'm not sure if it's something a publisher would want to work with. However, CJ touched so many people, not just my own. He is truly missed by many.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Burn Your Name


Well, it took me nearly forever, but I finally have it. Okay, so the CD came out in November, but since Powderfinger is my favorite band, two months feels like forever. I was all excited when I got some iTunes giftcards for Christmas because I'd been waiting to buy Powderfinger's new CD called Golden Rule. Imagine my disappointment when I got them and realized they hadn't gotten the CD up on the US site yet. It was only on the Aussie site. So, I've been sitting around debating whether to order the CD from Australia. Then yesterday I decided to check again, just to make sure, before buying something else and -- there it was -- whoohoo!

I've blogged about Powderfinger before and posted a few of their videos. Just last October I posted All of the Dreamers from this new CD. I love that song. But this one below is just as good and it's also from the new CD. If you go to YouTube and click on this song, there's a description of what was going on in this video. Apparently, Powderfinger traveled to Thailand to film the video during their Yi Peng Festival, or Festival of Lights. As part of the festival, the people of Thailand launch these personal hot air balloons as a symbol to send all their troubles away. It's a beautiful video. You can read more about the festival here. And in the meantime, here is the clip ...



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pipecleaner Dilly!


The other day Neil was looking through our collection of craft books and came across these cute little mice made from pipecleaners. We immediately thought they could be rats just as well, so we made a couple. Neil made a red one and I made Dilly. It's a really simple craft project. It only requires 4 pipecleaners, 2 google eyes, and a dab of glue. Pipecleaner Dilly is sitting next to his twin brother, Dilly Fingerpuppet in our classroom. They are both sitting right in front of his book, of course.

I made some changes on my website for the activities that go with A New Job for Dilly. If you go to my site and click on links, you'll find there are now 2 links for Dilly. One features activities your kids can do, such as write the alphabet, color Dilly, answer questions, learn about jobs, etc. The second PDF is for Dilly's Crafts. I hope your kids have fun with those and check back from time to time because I could add more to both. The links are ...


I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series -- A New Friend for Dilly. Like the first one, this will be illustrated by Lisa Oakman and published by 4RV Publishing. In this story, Dilly searches from A to Z to find the perfect friend. Also, thanks to everyone who has ordered my other book -- Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. Nikki Shoemaker and I are going to do a blog tour soon, so if anyone would like to participate in that, please let me know. Anyway, I'm off to work on another story idea. Funny how these ideas hit me in the middle of the night. Have a great Saturday!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Whoever invented ...


The other day I was in a weird mood -- no surprise there. I posted a few dumb things on my Facebook status. Again, no surprise. One of them was, "Whoever invented gummy vitamins for kids was a genius." I've never been able to get my kids to take vitamins until the gummies came out. What a great idea. The other status was, "Whoever invented chocolate covered liqueur cherries was a genius." I love those things. My sweet friend Gale sent me two boxes from Trader Joe's for Christmas this past year. Good stuff!

This got me thinking about other great inventions and/or discoveries. I thought it would make a fun blog post to see what crazy things come to people's mind. They can be serious or silly. Just fill in the blank and if you like, explain why you think that product or idea is genius.

Another one for me would be ... Whoever invented Fanci-Full was a genius. That's a temporary hair color. Oddly, I've seen it in stores for years, but never bothered to pick up a bottle to see what it was. It's found in the hair color section. I've always thought it had something to do with permanent solutions. Well, they changed the packaging and it caught my eye the other day. I couldn't believe something like this existed. I've seen touch-up sticks for hair coloring, but never something like this. And since I'm the type of person who needs a touch-up in between my touch-ups, this is an absolute genius invention. So, what comes to your mind?

Whoever invented __________ was a genius!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A New Mug for Dilly


The other day I posted about my books being up on the Zazzle site. Ironically, a day or two prior to them getting up there, I ordered this mug from the site myself. I can't believe it has already arrived. Talk about fast service. I have several coffee mugs that have family pictures on them, so I thought it would be fun to have Dilly as well. The colored handle and rim really make a difference and I'm happy with how this turned out.

4RV Publishing has put both my books on the Zazzle site. Right now just the cover is available for A New Job for Dilly. We're working on getting a few other images. I think the one of Dilly hugging the pickle would be really cute. Lemur Troops & Critter Groups is also up there. Nikki's illustrations are adorable and I can totally see little girls wanting to wear her ballerina cows on their shirts. So cute! What's cool is that if anyone buys from the site, I get paid a percentage, like selling a book. I might have to get a few more things. Dilly could really use one of those travel mugs for work!

Anyway, nothing major today -- just wanted to share my new coffee cup with you, really. Thanks to everyone who voted for my books in the P&E Poll. The voting ends today, so if you still want to vote, you might have time. Click here for details. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Feeling Ducky?


Today is National Rubber Ducky Day! Yes, that's right -- National Rubber Ducky Day! And no, I don't make these things up. Other people beat me to it, but I would if I could. Did you have a rubber ducky as a kid? I did, but it was a simple one, not like the fancy ones they have today. The picture above is of a few of the boy's rubber duckies. I think these are Disney, so they must have come from my mother-in-law. Oriental Trading Company has a nativity set of rubber duckies that I'd love to get sometime. The only bad part is that I'd have to buy a bunch of sets just to get one. Maybe someday. If you click on the link above, there is an interesting story about rubber ducks washing off a cargo ship during a storm and arriving at different places around the world. I bet that was a sight to see. And of course, National Rubber Ducky Day wouldn't be complete without Ernie ...



Voting Update -- A New Job for Dilly is still holding at the #3 spot. That's better than #5 like it was, but not as good as #2 where it started. If you haven't voted yet, the polls are open until tomorrow, so there's still time to move little Dilly up a bit. Click here to vote -- thanks!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lemurs & Dilly on Zazzle!


My publisher has my books up on the Zazzle site now. That's a place to get custom printed items, such as t-shirts, mugs, posters, and so forth. Both Lemur Troops & Critter Groups and A New Job for Dilly are listed. Right now the only image for A New Job for Dilly is the cover, but others should be added soon, including the one of him hugging the pickle. I've already ordered a coffee mug with Dilly on it. I can't wait to get it. I picked a mug that had a burgundy colored rim & handle, so it matches the letters of the book title really well. Here are the links to the site ...


I hope you will check them out. I might have to get the boys some shirts so they can advertise my books for me. Now only if I could talk Rick into buying Belle a t-shirt too ...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book talk ...


What is it with me and books lately? I keep losing them! This is really unlike me, because I rarely lose things. I'm one of those fanatics that has to have a place for everything. However, last night I picked up my laptop case and found a book I had been missing since July. So, that was where I put The Shack! I knew I had taken it on my trip to California, but I checked all my suitcases. I obviously didn't check my laptop case. Now only if I could find the copy of On The Far Side of the Mountain, which I bought in West Yellowstone this past September. That's the sequel to My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. The boys and I really want to read it. I thought it was in our travel trailer, but I haven't been able to find it. Maybe it fell behind the couch. I'll have to check again. I hate losing things.

I also went through some of my old manuscripts last night. Talk about scattered! I have them on so many different programs. Some are on my old PageMaker program, which I can't even access anymore. Those I have to open up using In-Design and then tweak them to make them right again. Others are in Word, which is where they all should be. It's fun to go back and read them. One of the best advice I ever got as a writer was to set your story aside for awhile and come back to it later. You always see it differently. The more time passes, the more different it looks. I found a few manuscripts I really should toss. Or at the very least, keep the basic idea and start over. I also found a few I'd love to see published, so maybe I can work on revising those. Some of my titles are The 3 Little Squirrels and the Big Bad Turkey, Shaggy Dan, Twilight Visitors, Sara Makes A Difference, and Too Many Worms! Who knows -- maybe someday they'll find their way to publication. Not to mention a 4th Dilly book I'd love to see come to life!

Also on the subject of books -- yesterday Rick helped me set up my website so I can sell my copies of Lemur Troops & Critter Groups using PayPal. I only have a small quantity and I sold 5 of them yesterday. Once my supply runs out, the link on my website will revert back to 4RV Publishing. So, the book can be bought through me for a short time. It's also available through 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, or can be ordered through any local bookstore. If you'd like an autographed copy from me, order soon because I don't have a lot of books right now. Or, if you've ordered the book somewhere else and would like a signed bookplate, just send me a SASE and I'll send that out to you to stick in your book. Just let me know how you want it signed. That offer is good for A New Job for Dilly as well.

And speaking of Dilly -- I checked this morning and it looks like A New Job for Dilly has squeaked its way up to the #3 spot again. Whoo-hoo! We were at #2, but then fell all the way down to the #5 spot. Thanks to everyone who has voted so far and helped get us back up. If you haven't voted yet, there are 3 days left to do so. The polls end on January 14th. Click here to cast your vote, and thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to do so. I appreciate it. Don't forget you can also vote for my book's wonderful illustrators -- Nikki Shoemaker (Critters) and Lisa Oakman (Dilly) as well as my publisher, 4RV Publishing. Thanks again!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bear with me ...


I had another dream about bears early this morning. I'm starting to hate those. You would think I'd have a nice dream about Elvis or something, but no -- bears. And they're never cute, cuddly teddy bears either. Maybe I should listen to Elvis sing, "I just wanna be your teddy bear!" before bed. The bears in my dreams are always trying to get into the building I'm in. The doors never lock and the windows never close right. It's always the same.

This time I was in a building with the boys and there were bears all over outside. We were trying to get the doors shut. I look out a window and see a man hammering a sign into the ground saying he had killed three bears so far. There was more writing on the sign, but I didn't get to finish reading. Right as I was trying to read it, a large bear cub was trying to break its way through my door. I pushed on the bear's nose, but it was too strong for me, so I picked it up by the scruff of the neck and hurled it. Not a good move. Out of nowhere, this HUGE mama bear shows up. She was not happy. Next thing I know, the man with the sign hops down with a rolled up newspaper. He's holding it in one hand and tapping it onto his other hand, kind of like a baseball bat. It was almost like he was saying, "C'mon, you wanna piece of me?" Again, not a good move. The next thing I remember was the bear approaching him and then suddenly Jack Hanna is with him. The bear is just about to go for Jack's throat ... and then ... I woke up.

Man, I hate those dreams. There was an earlier part where one of the bears actually bit me and I remember feeling teeth on my hand. It had to have been a cub. The teeth were sharp, like a puppy, but 100 times worse. Crazy stuff. I dream about bears a lot. We have bears in our neighborhood. We didn't have any problems with them this past summer -- not like we did the year before, but they were still around. I have also read my share of bear attack books, which I'm sure doesn't help. It's kind of funny though. Out of all the picture books I've written, I don't have any about bears. Ironic, huh?

Rats must be less threatening. I never have bad dreams about rats. Thanks to everyone who voted for A New Job for Dilly in the Preditors & Editors Readers Polls. Dilly has managed to squeak his way up to the #4 spot again. I hope he can get even higher, but the polls are only open 4 more days until Janaury 14th. If you haven't voted, there's still time. Click here to cast your vote, and thanks again to everyone who has done so. Go Dilly, go Dilly!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

So, Elvis & I ...


... were hanging out on his birthday yesterday. You know, just chillin', doing the usual. We ate some cake, took some pictures, had a few laughs. After seeing this photograph however, I came to the conclusion that we both need to get outside more and work on our tans. I mean, seriously!

Don't you just love sites like FACEinHOLE and TAAZ? Talk about a crazy way to waste time. I'm so darn goofy looking that I look like a dork in just about all of them. The only ones I can come up with are for Elvira and Cher. I did turn myself into Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd though. Johnny and I looked good in black & white. Yeahrightsure ... not even in my dreams. I decided not to post the wedding picture of me and Elvis. (I told you we had fun yesterday!) The picture turned out okay, but he's looking the other way. I think his suspicious mind was on other things -- the rat.

Speaking of rats -- A New Job for Dilly has slipped to #5 on the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. If you haven't voted, there's still time. The polls are open until January 14th. Please help me get Dilly back up by clicking here to vote. In the meantime, I promise I will spare you the Elvira pic ...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Elvis!


Today would have been Elvis Presley's 75th birthday. There's a big celebration today on the north lawn at Graceland with Priscilla and Lisa Marie cutting a birthday cake. One of these days I'll get myself to Memphis to check it out; I've never been there. I have however, seen Elvis live in concert quite a few times. Not many people I know can say that. My mom used to take me to see him perform at the International Hilton in Las Vegas. I saw him once in Los Angeles, but it wasn't the same. There was a certain magic to his Vegas shows -- I didn't feel it in LA. I still get goosebumps whenever I hear 2001: A Space Odyssey. Elvis always opened up with that song and the atmosphere in the showroom was incredible. His '68 Comeback Special is probably one of my favorites of all time ...


Thursday, January 7, 2010

What the heck ... ???


Silly squirrel -- he didn't realize I put out a little container of seeds by my door, which are not covered with 6-7 inches of snow. He climbed all over this mass and then finally dug his way down for a frozen snack. Maybe today he'll find the other stash. It's cold this morning, so I'm sure those seeds are frozen solid. The thermometer says -11, but I'm not sure if that's right. I'm not about to go outside and find out though. Still warmer than some places. I heard ND had windchills of -52 today. Now that's chilly ...

Sad news for Dilly -- his book has slipped in the polls and he's now at #3. He's being beat out by a dog named Tilly and a turtle named Tommy. If you haven't voted, please do. You can vote not only for A New Job for Dilly, but also for Lemur Troops & Critter Groups, the illustrators of both books, as well as my publisher. All of the nominations that relate to me are here. If you have voted, thank you. I believe you can only vote once. If you vote a second time, your last vote is the one that's counted. However, if you could pass the word around, I'd appreciate it. Tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, strangers on the street ...

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wooo wooo!


I was listening to my iPod before bed last night. I have over 9000 songs on that silly thing and it's a pretty eclectic collection. I rarely put it on shuffle because one minute I can be falling asleep to Mozart followed by, "Hi! We're The Wiggles!" blasting in my ears. One thing I love are soundtracks, especially animated film soundtracks. I just added Tim Burton's "9" and "Coraline" to my collection. Another one that I listen to all the time is the soundtrack to "Corpse Bride". That one is really cool.

I have a lot of showtunes on my iPod too -- from motion pictures to sitcoms to cartoons. Nichelle was a baby when Ducktales came out, so we didn't watch it when it first aired from 1987-1990. We caught it in syndication later on. However, it has to have one of the BEST cartoon theme songs ever written! It's such a catchy song and you can't help from tapping your toes or singing, "Wooo wooo!" when you hear it. Check it out for yourself ...



And don't forget to VOTE!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

They're here!!!


Last night I was sitting on my bed typing an email to a friend telling her that my books hadn't arrived yet. I hit send and then my doorbell rang. It was 6:20pm. Sure enough, it was the UPS man with my new books. I had given up on the thought of them arriving because it had gotten so late. It was completely dark outside. Had it not been for our Christmas lights still being on the timer, he probably wouldn't have been able to see to get up our steep stairs. However, I am absolutely delighted to announce that ...

Lemur Troops & Critter Groups is here!

Just as I was thrilled beyond words when A New Job for Dilly arrived, I'm the same way now. Lemur Troop & Critter Groups is a bit different because it's not so much a story like Dilly is, but more of a collection of rhymes that teach animal congregation names. There are 21 different animal groups and each one has a story in itself. As I've said before, Nikki Shoemaker has done an incredible job. Her illustrations are adorable. She's put so much detail into each one. My family all grabbed a book last night and was going over each page, pointing out different things. From the cheesy fingers/face of one of the mice, to the annoyed look on the male ferret's face after having to stop and ask for driving directions -- Nikki has truly done an amazing job. Belle, Kitty, and Allie (Nikki's cat) are also featured on the cat page. Belle's already asking when she will receive her first royalty check.

In addition to getting the books and seeing them for the first time, I discovered another review on Amazon yesterday. That makes three 5-star reviews for Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. Please check them out here. I want to thank those who have left reviews. If you've bought the book, please take a moment to leave a review as well. The book is also available at Barnes & Noble online as well as Amazon and through 4RV Publishing, LLC. I do have some copies myself, but not a bunch. My ILs don't order online, so I wanted to have some for them as well as one for each of my kids. That takes up quite a lot, but I will have a few to sell. If you order a book online and would like it signed, send me a SASE and I'll be happy to sign a bookplate for you to stick into your book. Just let me know how you'd like it addressed. That offer is good for A New Job for Dilly as well.

One last thing -- if you haven't voted on the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll, please do. The polls are open through January 14th. The links that relate to me are listed on the post below. Last time I checked, A New Job for Dilly was still holding its spot at #2 for the Children's Book category. Let's see if we can get it to #1! While you're at it, please take a moment to vote for my book's wonderful illustrators, Nikki Shoemaker and Lisa Oakman, as well as for 4RV Publishing, LLC. Thank you so much!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Please vote!


Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to vote for my books on the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. If you haven't voted, the polls are open through January 14th. Both of my picture books, A New Job for Dilly and Lemur Troops & Critter Groups have been nominated. Sadly, you can only vote for one of them because they're both in the same category.

However, my book's wonderful illustrators are also nominated in other categories, as well as the artwork and publisher. Besides voting for the book, please take a moment to vote for the others as well. 4RV Publishing has lots of nominations. The ones listed below directly relate to me, so if you wouldn't mind casting a vote, I'd really appreciate it.

CHILDREN'S BOOKS -- A New Job for Dilly and Lemur Troops
ARTWORK -- A New Job for Dilly and Lemur Troops
ARTISTS -- Lisa Oakman and Nikki Shoemaker
PUBLISHERS -- 4RV Publishing, LLC

Please look around the other categories too because lots of 4RV Publishing books are listed. I would love to see the company get the recognition they deserve because they've all worked so hard this past year. Thank you again for taking the time to vote!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Spike did it!


We took the entire family shopping yesterday afternoon. Everyone had giftcards burning holes in their pockets, so they were anxious to spend them. I didn't spend all of mine, but that was mostly because I was acting as a human calculator for the boys. "How much do I have left?" I did get a new pillow and the Tim Burton film "9", so that was cool. Nathan surprised me by wanting to save the last $10 of his Target card for a later time. Then at Borders he picked out a field study guide on insects and a movie he's been wanting. Neil was pretty thrifty too and found a pirate toy at Borders that was 50% off. He also got 3 Berenstain Bears books to add to his collection.

Another thing Neil picked out was the toy in the picture above. Has anyone seen those huge dinosaur toys by Fisher-Price/Imaginext? It's called Spike the ULTRA Dinosaur. Neil has been wanting that thing forever. He even put it on his Santa list, but didn't (gasp) get it. He didn't seem to mind too much, because he knows it's really expensive. I think that thing is over $100. It's huge though and stomps around. Well, to Neil's delight, he found the above toy last night. It's basically just Spike's head. It growls, burps, chews on a bone, lights up, and so forth. It's sort of like a puppet. As soon as Neil saw it, he knew that's what he wanted to spend his money on. Nicole cracked me up when she said maybe they'll come out with the rest of the body parts one at a time. Neil already has the mini version of Spike Junior, but he was thrilled when he saw this head toy. I heard some commotion in the car on the way home, followed by, "Spike did it!" Yep, I'm sure Spike will be quite the troublemaker in this household -- even if it's just his head.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jack Hanna


Today is Jack Hanna's 63rd birthday. I've always liked him. I grew up watching Jack on his Animal Adventures shows as well as the Tonight Show and others. There is just something about him that I have always liked. Maybe it's the way he lets animals crawl all over him. I still laugh when I see the clip of the camel licking his head and making his hair stand up all gooey. Here are a few interesting facts about Jack Hanna ...

  • He volunteered for a veterinarian when he was eleven.
  • He majored in business and political science in college.
  • Jack got in trouble for keeping ducks in his dorm room.
  • He also got in trouble for housing a donkey behind his frat house.
  • Jack married his wife, Suzi in his senior year.
  • They opened a pet shop and petting zoo on his father's farmland.
  • The petting zoo was closed after a child was mauled by a lion.
  • Jack became the director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978.
  • He has published many books for children.
  • Jack and Suzi have 3 daughters.
What a lot of people don't know is that Jack Hanna owns a home right here where I live. I live in the town of Bigfork and just down the road is a small town called Wood's Bay. Somewhere in between the two places (less than 10 minutes apart) is Jack Hanna's ranch. He's here quite often, but I have yet to run into him. It's believed he will retire here soon, so hopefully I will catch a glimpse of him one of these days. And how cool is this picture above? I just had to post this one since my new picture book is out now -- Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. Who knows, maybe I'll run into Jack one of these days and give him a copy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!


I hope everyone is having a great New Year's Day and that you had fun last night. I ended up in bed around 8pm. I know, what a party animal! New Year's Eve has never been a big deal for me, mostly because Rick worked in law enforcement for so many years and often had to work. I'm perfectly happy staying home and going to be early. Yawn -- I'm such a bore.

I couldn't see the blue moon last night, but I knew it was out there. Between the full moon behind the clouds and all the new snow, it was really bright outside. I took the above picture just about a half hour ago when I first got up. It looks blue because it was kind of dark outside and I had to use the low-light setting. There were actually 2 bucks walking on the hill by my house. You can see part of the second one on the right side behind a tree.

I haven't made any real New Year's resolutions this year, other than the usual stuff. I need to lose some weight, exercise more, and eat healthier. I know that's what everyone claims they want to do each new year, but I have to. My blood pressure is still high, even with the medication, so I have to get it down. Last night it was 161/105 with my heartrate 125. Not sure what the heck that was all about. So, I guess my main resolution is to get that down somehow, whether it be meds, exercise, weight loss, foods, etc. How about you -- any resolutions? Have a great holiday weekend!