Mama Diaries

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Birthday and Off-roading Part 2

We have a birthday to celebrate at my pad! It's the birth of my new picture book, Don't Feed the Elephant!

Blurb:  People say you're not supposed to play with your food. But the adventurous little elephant in Don't Feed the Elephant never got the message! This charming children's story won't just entertain kids with its hilarious descriptions and zany main character. It will also educate them about the alphabet and help them learn the order of letters. As the elephant works his way through food stuffs, each new dish features a new letter of the alphabet. From animal crackers to zebra cakes, the elephant is enthusiastic to gobble everything up, even when it lands him in hot water.

Here are some sample illustrations:

It's available on Amazon as a Paperback book.

Also, my publisher for Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China (release date September 2018) asked that I promote my Amazon Author page. If you would please visit and "Follow," it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Now for the story:

Some of you had asked that I share more about the return trip from my last hiking adventure. If you recall, my son, Bubba, and I hiked to see the Papermill Ruins.

It was a precarious journey, because a tree had fallen and blocked our path. We had to off-road it, wandering through the woods along the steep bank of a river. We weren't exactly sure how we'd make it back to the parking lot. Do you know why? Because I didn't know where the parking lot was. It was a wild guess. By the time we left the ruins, the sun was getting low in the sky. It would set in about an hour.

I looked around and listened. I heard cars. Civilization! We followed the river toward the sounds and arrived at a bridge.

"That's the bridge we drove over to get to the parking lot," I said. "We could probably follow this road. It's about a mile or two, I think. But'd we'd get there."

Bubba shrugged. "Sure, Mom. Whatever you think."

Then I thought some more. The road had no sidewalks. It was hilly. And there were lots of twists and turns. Probably not a great road to walk along, especially since it was getting dark.

I scanned the area. "There has to be a path along here somewhere."

Sure enough, there was. And it followed the direction of the road. "Let's take this. It'll be safer."

For a while, all was well. We were going in the direction we needed to go and made good progress. But then we saw the sign: "Closed for Re-vegetation."

Our trail was closed. I frowned. It was the middle of winter. What kind of re-vegetation could possibly be going on?  "This is brilliant," I said. "Now what?"

We spotted another trail to our left. It went further into the woods, away from the road. "I don't think we have many options here," I said. "Let's see where this goes."

It twisted and turned and finally came to a fork. I'm really bad at forks. Inevitably, I take the wrong one. There were no trail markers to point the direction, so I had to make a wild guess.  "I think we should go that way." I pointed to the right, because that made sense. We wandered that way for a while, but then it curved. It was heading in the wrong direction.

"Ugh!" I said. "This is ridiculous!"

Meanwhile, it was getting darker. I was worried. Would we ever make it back to the car? We could retrace our steps can find the road. But then it would be black outside.

To make a long story short we kept going on the path. Then  we came across some other hikers.

"Excuse me," I said. "Could you tell me how to get to the parking lot?" (Being a woman, I wasn't afraid to ask for directions!)

"Yes," they said. "We're going that way, too. Follow us."

They seemed harmless enough–two kids, a mom, and dad, and two dogs–so I figured it would be okay.

It was. We had to go on yet another trail, and another, but we finally made it back. And we did it before the sun completely set! 


Thursday, January 11, 2018


I like to hike. So does my son, Bubba. We often find ourselves in some rather interesting situations when we take a wrong turn, or the path abruptly ends. The last adventure involved a hike to see the Papermill ruins of Marietta, Georgia. I saw the hike listed in the local newspaper under fun outdoor things to do. It sounded interesting. So, I told Bubba, and he agreed to come. This was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Usually we don't go out that late, but I thought we'd be able to complete it in plenty of time before the sun went down.

When we got to the trail head, I looked at the map. The thing had numbers of points of interest. It also had some paths marked with solid lines and others marked with dotted lines. There was no legend to say what all these things represented.

I looked at the map and shook my head. "Dude, I have no idea which path to take. My guess is that we have to go to number 26 or 27. But I'm not sure."

Bubba shrugged. "Let's just follow everybody else. They're probably going to the ruins."

We did. But they weren't going to the ruins. About a mile in, I looked at another map. "Okay," I said. "We were here," I pointed to a number. "Now we're here." I pointed to another number. "We want to go here." Where we wanted to go was definitely not the direction we we headed.

"What does that mean?" Bubba asked.

"It means that if we keep going on this path, we're going to end up in Timbuktu. We'll be at least five miles away from the ruins."

We turned around.

When we came to another map, I looked at it. We had been on a solid-line path. This path was for bikers and hikers. (That's a whole story to itself.) The dotted lines, I ascertained, were for hikers only. I discovered that there was a footpath that led up to where we wanted to go. A shortcut.

"We're taking this path," I announced. I looked at the sky. The sun was getting lower. I only hoped we'd make it to our destination.

We climbed up steep hills and trekked along deep ravines. Coming across other maps, I knew we were going in the right direction.

Then we had a problem.  This was the problem:

A giant tree had fallen across our path. It had even crashed into the map sign, destroying it.

"Now what?" Bubba asked.

"I'm not going back," I said. "We've come too far." I pointed past the tree. "We have to go in that direction."

That's when the off-roading started. We found the river and climbed along its banks. It was precarious, but I figured the mill should be situated next to the river. We'd find it eventually. Sure enough, we did.

At first we saw this:

And the we saw this:

We had reached our destination!

(Going back was another story. It included paths closed for "revegetation." Somehow we managed to get back to our car before it was completely dark!) 

And one more thing:  Here is the cover reveal for my picture book, Don't Feed the Elephant!

Release date:  January 16, 2018. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Flaming Crimes Blogfest

My blog friend, Chrys Fey, has a new book in her Disaster Crimes series. It's called, Flaming Crimes. In honor of the book's release, she has put together a blogfest. Participants will answer one question:  What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?

After making sure my family was safe, I would save my viola. You might think that's ridiculous, because it's just a piece of wood with strings on it. But it has been my instrument for over 30 years. I've traveled the world with it. I've made my living teaching and performing with it. I love the sound of it, and it's the perfect size for me:  15 1/2 inches. Most violas are too big, and the small ones don't have the sound that mine has. For me, it's irreplaceable. I would be very sad if something happened to my viola, so I would do everything I could to save it.

What about you? What would you save from a fire that other people might think is ridiculous?

Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 


BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just go up in flames…

About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Furball on the Loose

The construction project continues. I'm not sure if it's ever going to end. Our German Shepherd, Schultz is having some doubts, too. All he wants is a nap. An impossible thing in our abode. The saws and the hammers and the general chaos are too much.

So, he's been taking matters into his own paws. I believe I've mentioned that the doors are routinely left open as the workers come and go. We've had creatures wander in. Now we have a creature wandering out.  That creature is Schultz. Usually we leave him in the basement, so he's not underfoot. But when the workers have to go down to turn the power off, he manages to escape. Right out the front door.

The other day, Mr. Schultz walked out the door all the way to the bus stop at the corner of the street. Fortunately, Bubba was there, getting off the bus, and spotted him. He brought the wayward creature home.

Yesterday, he escaped again. Since the kids are out of school for the holiday, there was nobody to meet him at the bus stop.  We thought we were doomed. Nobody knew how long Schultz had been missing.

One of the workers decided to try whistling. "All dogs come to my whistle," he said.

This dude had the loudest whistle I'd ever heard. I think even the man in the moon heard it. We waited a few minutes. No Schultz. He whistled again. A few minutes later, Schultz came, trotting down the sidewalk like it was no big deal.

The worker grinned. "I told you he'd come!"

Yay for the whistle! 

Before I go, I have two announcements. Actually three.

1.  My book, That Mama is a Grouch is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

2.  My book, Ten Zany Birds is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

3. Don't Feed the Elephant, my upcoming picture book, will be published in 2018. We have some formatting issues we're still trying to work out. My apologies to anyone who might've wanted to get it as a Christmas gift. I'll let you know when it's here.

Hope you all have a very Happy New Year and a terrific 2018!   

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Talking Gibberish

My son, Bubba, is experiencing a voice change. He's a teenager now, and he's starting to sound like a man. Scary! Anyway, sometimes his voice cracks. When that happens, it's difficult to understand what he's saying.  That, along with the low pitch, makes it all sound like gibberish. We tell him he speaks Gibberish all the time.

The other day, he was in the kitchen talking to our dog, Schultz. I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I listened very closely, and whatever language he was speaking, definitely wasn't English.

"Dude," I said. "Is that supposed to be English?"

He laughed and shook his head. "No, Mama. I'm speaking Gibberish. It's what I do best. And Schultz understands it."

I looked at the dog. He sat there in front of Bubba, looking at him intently with his head tilted. Bubba spoke more Gibberish and opened the door. Schultz trotted outside.

 "See," Bubba said. "I told him to go outside, and he did!"


Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I'm a guest on the ePublishing Children's Book Blog. I'm talking about my upcoming book, Don't Feed the Elephant. If you'd like to visit and see a sneak peak of a couple of the illustrations, visit here.

Monday, December 4, 2017

You-know-who Knows You-know-what

If you've been visiting this pad for a while, you know that our German Shepherd, Schultz, is a rather intelligent animal. (For the most part.) We have recently discovered that he is smarter than we thought.

The hundred-pound beast loves playing "flashlight" every night. "Flashlight" is the game where we take him outside when it's dark, and he chases a beam of light around the yard. It's his favorite thing to do. If you even mention the word, "flashlight," he goes crazy.

Playing "flashlight" is definitely more fun for the dog than it is for us humans. Sometimes nobody wants to take him out. Especially when it's cold. So, if the question is asked, "Who wants to take Schultz out to do 'flashlight?'" and nobody wants to, doggy gets upset, because he's heard the word, "flashlight" and nobody is taking him out to do it.

We thought we had gotten around this by asking, "Who wants to do 'you-know-what?'" It worked for a while, but then Schultz figured out that "you-know-what" means "flashlight." So now he gets upset if he doesn't get "you-know-what" or "flashlight."

I guess we're going to have to start spelling the words.   

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Open Zoo

As I mentioned in my previous post, we're having a lot of construction done in my house. Workers go in and out, hauling machines and materials. For several days, our front door was left open. Fortunately, the weather was good. Unfortunately,  it was an open invitation for all kinds of critters to wander in.

The first such creature was a lizard. He strolled in, like it was perfectly natural to be in my house. He wandered around the front hall and then scurried off when he spotted me. I'm not exactly sure where he went, or where he is, but I do know that where he scurried was not outside.

Before I tell you about the second visitor, let me paint a picture of what my dining room currently looks like. Completely covering the dining room table is an assortment of plates, cups, and utensils. Some paper, some plastic, some china. There is also an row of cereal boxes and snacking items that were once in our pantry.  On the floor, is a bunch of pet food, pots, pans, dishes that are sort of clean, but not quite, because I had to take them out of the dishwasher before they were done so the workers could demolish our kitchen, and an assortment of stuff that had been under our kitchen sink. It's a mess! I can't even believe that I've been living in this condition for a month now. And it's not even close to over.

Anyway, when I walked into the dining room, I discovered a bee buzzing around the half-washed dishes on the floor. And he brought a buddy. Two bees.

"What do you think this is? A party?" I asked.

Of course they didn't answer. I have no idea where they went. Hopefully out. Along with all the other bugs and critters that have invaded our abode. If not, our cat, Bootsy, is going to have a big extermination project when this ordeal is over. (Because our dog, Schultz, wouldn't lift a paw to chase them out.)