Monday, May 16, 2011

I Can Breathe Again...For Now

It's been awhile since my last post, and I vowed not to let this happen, but how was I to know the upheaval that would be my life over the last month.  This will be a non-bookish post, as I haven't done much of that lately either, so it's up to you if you continue to read or not.

Life is getting back to some kind of normal, although that may change again soon.  As of today, we have completed all of our adoption training, turned in all of our paperwork, and we have our fire & health inspections on Sunday.  After that, we just wait!  Now, I'm not a patient person, which is why we're done with it all, because I was determined not to drag this out.  If we're going to wait, it's going to be on a baby, not the fact that we couldn't get the training or paperwork taken care of.

I'll tell you that the most stressful part of this whole thing has been the home study.  We are a simple couple, don't live in an elaborate house, and we raise horses.  Would the agency want someone like us?  Would they not want to place a child in our home because it's not high dollar?  You can't even imagine the thoughts that went through my head before the visit.  What was I worried about?  I just had to get over myself and get through it.  They weren't looking for perfect couples, just couples who would love a child.  Well, that's us!  We got the house ready and got through it...what a relief when it was over!  I thought you'd like to see some pictures of the nursery so far...

Curtain that my mom made

Crib sheet my grandmother made

Shelf that I painted and hubby hung for me

We painted the room a pale yellow and the material is mostly browns with yellows, pinks and blues, so it's gender neutral, since we won't know the sex of the baby until we get a phone call.  We don't have a preference one way or the other, so we wanted something that would work either way.  It's called Baby Animal Talk and has baby farm animals on it.
We did have to tell the agency what kind of a child we would like, race, age, etc.  Our hope is for a newborn, but we told them that if the infant had a toddler aged brother or sister, we wouldn't want to split them up.  Our family of 2 will grow to 3 or 4 in an instant.  Just the thought makes me nervous and excited at the same time!

I'm ready to start blogging again, now that the training and paperwork are over.  Yes, coupled with the end of the school year, waiting for state test results and adoption jitters, it's going to be sporadic, but I need it.  Blogging is therapeutic for me, the other bloggers my sanctuary in a sometimes crazy, hectic life.  I'm thankful to be part of such a welcoming, loving community.

I can breathe again, for least until the phone call comes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blog Tour - Broomsticks

Today I bring you 2 authors.  Sean McHugh and Katie McHugh Parker are the co-authors of Broomsticks.  They were gracious enough to stop by today and tell you the back story of the book and a little about themselves.  Check back next week for my review of Broomsticks.  Thanks to Diversion Press for allowing me the opportunity to host these authors and review their books.

Sean McHugh was born and raised in Maysville, Kentucky. He graduated cum laude from Morehead State University with a BA in Art. He lived in Lexington, Kentucky for ten years where he was the head writer and cartoonist for the Rock-A-Billy Cafe's Kid's Club Newsletter. In 2000, he moved to Florida and has since been working as a caricature artist at Walt Disney World.   You can find him online at

Katie McHugh Parker was also born and raised in Maysville, Kentucky and graduated from Morehead State University with a BA in Elementary Education and a Masters in Elementary Guidance Counseling. She has been teaching at St. Patrick's School since 1997. She resides in Maysville with her husband Ricky and daughter Sophia. You can find her online at

Broomsticks was originally conceived as a comic strip that I created in the mid-90s. Since childhood, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was obsessed with Peanuts by the great Charles M. Schulz and I equally loved the classic TV series, Bewitched. So, I took some inspiration from two of my favorite things, mixed with personal experiences and friendships and POOF!!! Broomsticks was born!

I submitted the comic strip to all the major newspaper syndicates but it was never published. I did, however, receive a lot of positive feedback from some of the editors. Two, in particular, said they liked it but thought it would work better as a children's book.

I had written several children's stories by that time. Along with my Charles Schulz dream, I also dreamed of being L. Frank Baum. I even took a children's writing class taught by Marcia Thorton Jones and Debbie Dadey, the authors of The Bailey School kids series.

Still, I had never tackled a chapter book before. I had worked with a co-writer before on a project and really enjoyed it. But Stamp & Pocky, the lead characters, were my babies. I couldn't just trust anyone with my babies! There was only one person I knew who had a great gift for writing, shared my love for fantasy and comedy, and who I could trust with my babies!

My niece, Katie McHugh Parker, always had a talent for writing and a love for children's literature. She was very excited when I asked her to co-author Broomsticks. Everything was falling into place. Unfortunately, I had just moved to Florida the same year that we wrote the first book. So, we had a long-distance partnership. There were a lot of phone calls and letter writing between us.

It worked out even better than I imagined. Katie and I work very well together. I would usually come up with the plot and storyline. I'd then break them up into chapters. Katie would work on half the chapters and I'd work on the other half. Then we would send each other our chapters to review. I write my chapters in script form. Katie then suggests changes and adds her beautiful narratives to my chapters. She then sends me her chapters and I add my suggestions to hers. It worked beautifully. If we do edit each other, it usually consists of Katie telling me that a nine-year-old wouldn't say that, or me telling Katie that Stamp wouldn't say that. I admit, I'm rather parentally protective over the two main characters and Katie respects that. The personalities of Stamp & Pocky were established early on in the comic strip, but there were no supporting characters in the strip. So, Katie co-created all of the characters in the supporting cast. Once our story is finished, Katie types it, and I do the artwork. It works like...magic!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Tour: Flip

This has been a month for blog tours and I am pleased to be working with yet another wonderful author, as he tours the blogosphere.  Please help me welcome, Martyn Bedford, author of Flip, to the blog today.

Martyn Bedford talks about M.C. Escher's Connection to Flip

Since I first came across M.C. Escher’s work, I’ve been a fan. I love the way his optical illusions draw you in, making you see the picture first one way then another, until the layers of sense and interpretation pile up.

One of my favourites is “Hand with Globe”, in which a bearded man with an intense expression is gazing at his reflection in a glass sphere. We see the hand holding the sphere but otherwise everything else in the picture is contained in the surface of the glass and, as a result, appears to be trapped inside.

There’s the man, of course, as well as the room he’s sitting in, with its chairs and bookshelves, but everything is distorted by the fish-eye curvature of the glass so that, in fact, the picture takes on the appearance of a surrealist work. I had a post-card sized print of this picture on my wall for years and, later, on my writing desk.

It chimes with one of the ideas I wanted to explore in FLIP – this notion that if we look at (or inside) ourselves closely enough, we begin to see ourselves differently. Who are we, really? Are we actually more interesting, more complex, more strange than we – and others – assume? Are we forced by the conventions of society to present a false image to the world which distorts the “true” us trapped inside?

Similarly, “Drawing Hands”, another of Escher’s better known works, has long been a favourite. Two hands in the final stages of sketching one another, each hand simultaneously creating the hand which creates it . . . it’s a wonderfully impossible puzzle. And if we assume they are the right and left hands of the same artist then it has something to say, too, about the interplay and interdependence of the right and left sides of the brain in creating works of art. This interests me very much as a writer.

In relation to FLIP, the image informs another of the novel’s themes, as Alex’s mind and Philip’s body become increasingly intertwined until it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Is this hybrid Alex-Flip actually two separate boys or are the two slowly merging into one and, if so, how can Alex ever break free?

About the Book:  One December night, 14-year-old Alex goes to  bed. He wakes up to  find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country, and it's the middle of June. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.And when he looks in the mirror, another boy's face stares back at him.  A boy named Flip. Unless Alex finds out what's happened and how to get back to his own life,  he may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else.  Questions of identity, the will to survive, and what you're willing to sacrifice to be alive make this extraordinary book impossible to put down.

Here are the other stops on the blog tour, if you'd like to go back and visit them:


Monday, April 18th

Tuesday, April 19th
Cracking the Cover 

Wednesday, April 20th

Thursday, April 21st
The Children’s Book Review 

Friday, April 22nd
Random Acts of Reading 

I have been given 3 copies of Flip to give away to 3 of my readers.  Please let me know in the comments if you would like to have one and will choose the winners on Friday, April 29th.  You can enter until Thursday, April 28th at midnight CST.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blog Tour: Halloween Kentucky Style

I am pleased to be partnering with a new to me publishing company, Diversion Press, for some blog tours this month and next.  Hopefully it's the start of a great relationship!  Today's guest is Charles Suddeth, author of the book, Halloween Kentucky Style.

Although he was born in Indiana and grew up in Michigan, he has spent most of his life in Kentucky. He lives in Louisville with his two cats, Binks and Wendy (Wendy says it should be Wendy and Binks). He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He has also done graduate work at MSU, Spalding University, and the University of Louisville. He is a member of Green River Writers of Louisville, a PAL member of SCBWI (children’s books writers and illustrators), and is active in the Midsouth division (Kentucky and Tennessee).

About Halloween Kentucky Style:  For Halloween 1959, best friends Mike and Timmy try to scare their cousins, Alice and Rose. The trick’s on them when a homeless man and their younger neighbor team up to give them a Halloween scare that they will never forget! It’s Halloween Kentucky Style!

Stats on Halloween Kentucky Style:

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Diversion Press, Inc. (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English

For today's tour stop, I asked Charles to tell us the back story of Halloween Kentucky Style.  Here is what he had to say:

The Birth of Halloween Kentucky Style

I write for only one reason. Joy! I love writing stories, and I want kids to love reading. Once reading becomes fun, they will read more and read better and exercise their minds. Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s dark and scary so thoroughly mixed up with fun and silly that you can’t tell one from the other. And you don’t want to.

“Halloween Kentucky Style” is not true but….Some of the people, places, and events bear ghostly resemblances to some real ones. And horses? While I live in the suburbs, and I’m not a horse person, I love the critters. And what would a story taking place in Kentucky be without them? 1959? It was a simpler time. And Halloween 1959 fell on Saturday, which is the perfect day for Halloween because school is out. Boo!

Charles Suddeth

I hope that you will visit the other stops on Charles' tour and look for more Diversion Press tour stops and authors on the blog, in the future.

Diversion Press April 25
Buried in Books April 26

Tales from the Bayou May 3

Outrageously Wonderful Literature From the Middle Grades  May 10

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blog Tour: Fifo "50 States"

I am pleased to be participating in another Pump Up Your Book Promotion's Blog Tour.

Author:  Hayley Rose
Review Copy Provided by:  author

About the Book:  Fifo s been bitten by the travel bug! Digging up diamonds in Arkansas, looking for fossils in Kansas, enjoying a delicious bowl of gumbo in Louisiana, and even seeing a Broadway show in New York. America is an exiting place! In Fifo s second book, told in rhyme, Fifo dreams about visiting all 50 states. A colorful reference-like book, Fifo discovers the wonders each state has to offer. He learns along the way each state s capital, shape, flag, motto, and much, much more. The possibilities are endless! So, come along with Fifo and you ll soon discover the beauty of America one state to another.  

My Thoughts:  What a great way to share facts about the 50 states!  Fifo the Bear takes children on an alphabetical field trip through each state in the United States.  Each state is described, through poetry, with references to state flowers, mottos, capitals, etc.  In the border of the page is the name of the state as well as the motto.  The illustrations give even more information about each state.  They show the shape of the state, the state flag, and other pictures that are indicative of that particular state.

I can definitely see this book being used in the classroom.  Young children want to learn about the states, but there aren't many books out there that are kid-friendly.  Hayley Rose has solved that problem along with her illustrator, Jessie Orlet.  Kids will love this book because of the rhyme and vivid pictures.  There is also a pattern to each page that young children can pick up on:  "It's a wonderful place to visit, I'd like to go there, wouldn't you?"  Even if they were unable to read all of the other words, they would catch on to the last lines quickly and be able to read along. 

There are so many facts loaded in the pages of the books, that it is a goldmine for the child traveler!  He or she, along with Fifo, will learn many things about the state they live in along with all the other states in the US.  Kudos to Hayley Rose and her book; it's a winner!

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Moonglass

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


By Jessi Kirby
Publication Date:  May 3rd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

from Goodreads:

From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.
While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

I actually have an ARC of this one that I'm just dying to get to!  It seems like a great summer read and I am getting summer ready! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday - I'll Be There

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

I'll Be There
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publication Date:  May 3rd 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn't been in a classroom since the second grade. He's always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It's said that the two boys speak with one voice--and that voice is Sam's. 

Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell's home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it's too good to last.

Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel offers readers fresh voices and a gripping story, with vivid glimpses into the lives of many unique characters. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I'll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that our lives are woven together.

I'm very intrigued by this one because it deals with a child who has not been in school, forced to take care of his younger brother.  The fact that the younger one doesn't talk and the older one still knows how to communicate with him fascinates me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Not a Good March

I have never done end of the month wrap ups on my blog.  Yes, others do it, yes, I read them on others' blogs, yes, it's fun to see the stats, but I just don't do it.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe this past month is a good reason why I don't. 

March was not good to me as far as reading went.  For what it's worth, April hasn't taken off with a bang either, but my plan is to remedy that before the month gets away from me.  Anyway, back to March.  Did I even finish a book?  According to Goodreads, I did...Adventures in Nowhere, but it was at the very beginning of the month, so it's just a blur in my memory.  Did I do a lot of reading?  Not as much as I would have liked, but I started some books:  Alice in Zombieland, Hailey Twitch and the Great Teacher Switch, and The Wilder Life.  These are all good books, but they just didn't hold my attention.  I've been in a reading slump before, but enough already!  I want a book that will "catch" me.  So, last night I started reading Hourglass while I took a bath.  2 chapters in and so far so good...let's hope it lives up to all the blogger hype.  I really need to get through this one, for me, for my reading inspiration, for the love of blogging.

April is a busy work month for me, but I've got to learn to prioritize so that it doesn't consume me.  For those of you with children or who are in the education industry, you know that states give standardized tests.  The end of the month is the TAKS, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, test in Math and Reading for our 3rd and 4th graders.  They have been busily preparing, we have been anxiously stressing over practice test scores, etc.  Once it's over, I'll be able to breathe a whole lot easier and so will my teachers.

After that, it's adoption anticipation.  We went for our 2nd and final day of PRIDE training yesterday.  Now, we have CPR/first aid on Friday, our home study on the 13th, psychotropic meds on the 14th and then behavior management on the 23rd.  We've got almost all of our paperwork turned in, so after the 23rd, she can submit for our license and then we just wait on a phone call.  My oldest step-daughter is coming over today to help me clean out and redo the middle room for a nursery and my mom's coming to go get the material for all the nursery "stuff."  My grandmother and I will spend next Saturday sewing everything.  It will make for a long day, but in the end, it will be so worth it.  This is the material that we will be using.

It's gender neutral because we won't know if we'll be getting a boy or a girl until the phone call comes.  We don't have a preference one way or the other, just a healthy baby to love.  It's amazing to think that our life will change overnight and I'm trying to prepare for it in a month.  Pregnant women have 9 months to do all of that...hmmm...maybe I'm crazy!
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