Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Did You Know Tuesday: Ziegfeld Girls and Pogo Sticks

Here's a fun retro trivia tidbit for you.  Remember pogo sticks?  They were a fun and popular toy in the 1950's - 1970's, and they are still around.

Here's a peek at a 1969 Sears catalog page featuring pogo sticks.

This toy was invented in 1919.  It was promoted by the Ziegfeld girls in their stage show in 1920.  They performed a theatrical wedding ceremony on pogo sticks.  I tried and tried to find pictures of this, but could not!  But it is amazing to picture.

The Ziegfeld girls were theatrical glamour girls. They starred in Ziegfeld Follies, directed by Florenz Ziegfeld, on Broadway.  These shows were a mix of variety show, musical review, and vaudeville. Here is a photo of some Ziegfeld girls from this vintage:

So there you have it ... a little bit of pogo stick history!

I had a pogo stick as a child.  It was fun, and I could keep going for a few minutes.  Did you enjoy pogo sticks?  Were you good at using them?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Book Review: Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson

One dress, five women, a lifetime of memories.
Five single, fiercely independent women live together in a Chicago apartment in the early 1950s but rarely see one another. One Saturday afternoon, as they are serendipitously together downtown, they spy a wedding dress in a storefront window at the famous Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. After trying it on—much to the dismay of the salesclerk and without a single boyfriend or date between the five of them—they decide to pool their money to purchase it. Can one dress forever connect five women who live together only a short time before taking their own journeys to love and whatever comes happily ever after?
My Review

I find the 1950's a fascinating time in American culture, so I looked forward to reading Five Brides, which is set in early 1950's Chicago (and onward).  This book really captures the feeling of a time and place.

Five Brides tells the story of five different women who take turns using the same wedding dress on their special day.  We learn about their lives and their romances.   Eva Marie Everson does a fine job at differentiating the characters so we feel we know them all individually.

The book jumps forward in time to continue their stories.  I loved the early 1950's setting so much that I was a little sorry to leave it!

The storyline and plot of Five Brides felt fresh and new, and the writing is well-crafted.  I enjoyed stepping back in time with this novel, and think other readers will, too.
Meet the Author
Eva Marie Everson is a multiple-award-winning author and speaker. She is the president of Word Weavers International, vice president of BelieversTrust, director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and enjoys coaching new authors through her company, Pen in Hand. Eva Marie and her husband are the parents of three fabulous children who have blessed them with the world's greatest grandchildren. Visit her at evamarieeversonauthor.com.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Music Monday - "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys (1966)

I have always loved the Beach Boys.   They are second only to the Beatles in my list of musical favorites.  I change my mind from time to time about my favorite of their songs, but I keep coming back to "God Only Knows."  This is such a beautiful song, written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, and featured on the album Pet Sounds.  The lyrics and harmonies are beautiful.  The song begins:

"I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you"

I also  love the instrumentation, which includes French horns, violins, cellos, and even accordions.

This song was featured in the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.  I saw the movie this weekend, and if you love retro music and the Beach Boys, it is a must see!  I think it may be my all-time favorite musical biopic (and this is a genre I love).  It is beautifully written, with strong performances from Paul Dano, John Cusack, and Elizabeth Banks.  The way that love brings Brian Wilson back to his life, and ultimately saves him after a breakdown, is both moving and uplifting.  I've included the trailer from the movie for you:

Do you love the Beach Boys? Have you seen Love & Mercy? I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Review - Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett

Head back to 20th-century San Francisco as the city rises from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and Ruby and Gerald face their fears in book two, Beyond the Ashes, of Karen Barnett’s The Golden Gate Chronicles series. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes?
Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.

Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.

Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

My Review

This novel is set in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquakeThe historical setting of this book interested me.  California history from the late 1800's on is one of the settings I always enjoy.  The historical details in this book were well researched and fascinating to read.

This book is the second in a series (The Golden Gate Chronicles).  I have not read the other books in the series, but this novel worked well as a standalone.

Ruby is a strong, likable protagonist.  I enjoyed seeing her romance with Gerald blossom slowly as she learned to love and trust again.

As a lifelong dachshund person, I also loved the scenes that involved Ruby's dachshund!

This is a heartwarming and inspiring story, and it would make a great Hallmark movie.   I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy a historical novel told with warmth, great characterizations, and a compelling story.

Karen Barnett

More About Karen Barnett

Karen Barnett is the author of “Beyond the Ashes,” “Out of the Ruins,” and “Mistaken.” Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.

Find out more about Karen at http://karenbarnettbooks.com.

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books - Children's Books and Vintage Valentines

Hi fellow fans of all things vintage! I have a few fun little vintage additions to my shops to share with you.  As always, you can find these goodies online:

Birdhouse Books on Etsy
Birdhouse Books on eBay

Saying Thank You Makes Me Happy is a cute little Happy Day Book illustrated by Francis Hook.   You will recognize her illustrations from 1960's Northern Tissue packages.
The Family That Grew is a 1963 children's book about adoption by Florence Rondell and Ruth Mitchell.
This cute little unused parrot Valentine reads:  "Hi Valentine - you fill the bill."
This vintage Valentine features a mouse holding an apple and dialing an old fashioned telephone.  This is a card for a teacher.
Here is another mouse card for teacher.  A little dressed mouse stands at a blackboard with a pointer.
This is a cute card from the 1920's.  It features two little girls, and the card opens from the center of the heart to reveal a garden with a white picket fence.
This Valentine, also 1920's, features pink roses, and it's very sweet.  (Would look great framed!)
This Valentine may be my favorite this week.  A little wide-eyed girl on ice skates holds a heart.  "A Token of Love."  This is a 1920's card.
I hope you enjoyed peeking in the windows of my shop with me.   I always love hearing from you in the comments, below.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dear Abby: ThunderShirts and Summer Fireworks

Dear Friends,

It is me, your favorite Doxie-Jack, here to spend a few minutes with you visiting and catching up.

My friend Barbara wrote:  "Abby, can we see you modelling your Thunder Shirt? We have heard about them, but really don't know exactly how they work. Perhaps you can explain, as many pups out there are afraid of loud noises, fireworks & of course, thunder."

I am very happy to talk about ThunderShirts!   I have no affiliation with them, but am available if they ever want a real life spokes-dog.  :-) The ThunderShirt is made of a sturdy, felt-like material.  Momma wraps it tightly around my body with velcro.   It fastens securely at my chest, and around my belly.   The gentle pressure of the shirt makes me feel like a baby who has been swaddled.   I feel secure when I have it on.

Because of my background (rescued stray) I am very frightened of loud noises.   My list includes thunder, fireworks, tree surgeons, and roofers.   Before, I would pace and hide and almost make myself sick because the noises upset me so much.

Now, when the noises start (or on nights where we KNOW there will be noise, like 4th of July fireworks), I get my ThunderShirt on.  Momma still puts on music and fans to make happy noise to distract me as well ... but this really helps.  We keep the shirt in the bedroom closet, and I go sit by the closet door when the noise starts ... I know my shirt is waiting there for me.  Thankfully, I have Momma trained and she always goes right there to get it for me.

You can read about the shirts at the official website:  Thundershirt.com.  They are available at any pet supermarket or pet specialty store.

Fireworks have been legalized in our area this year, so we are already thinking ahead to ThunderShirts and the summer holidays!

How are you doing this week?  Do you have any questions for me?   I look forward, all week, to chatting with you here.  I always love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Love from your friend,

Abby xoxo

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Jungle Gyms

When I was a kid, we had jungle gyms.  They were on the playground at school, at public parks, at campgrounds ... and I never met a jungle gym I didn't like.  You see that little girl climbing on the top of the jungle gym below?  That is exactly what I would have done on this climber.  You rarely see these now, with playground safety concerns, but they sure were fun!   Do you remember retro jungle gyms?  Were you a playground daredevil who hung upside down on jungle gyms and stood up on swings?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Review and Giveaway: Axel & Theo: My Dog is The Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the lower middle grade book "Axel & Theo: My Dog is The Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy" by Amberly Kristen Clowe from June 22 to 28, 2015. This one is a great choice for reluctant readers!

Axel and Theo - Blog Tour Button  

About the Book

Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy  
Title: Axel & Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy | Author: Amberly Kristen Clowe | Publication Date: November 15, 2014 | Publisher: Smooth Sailing Press | Pages: 44 | Recommended Ages: 6 to 10  

Summary: Theodore Howard wants a white flag. The kind of white flag that will show Riverwood Elementary’s biggest bully, Theo’s given up on ever surviving the fourth grade, and achieving his dream of becoming a real-life astronaut. But, Theo’s seemingly pathetic future gets a glimmer of hope in the form of a very talkative weenie dog named Axel. Theo learns that his best friend on four legs, is actually an alien from the planet Doglin, and just when he begins warming up to the idea of having an alien for a best friend, Axel is kidnapped by two cats from the planet Catlat. Theo chases after Axel and his kidnappers, embarking on an adventure he could have never imagined.

Amazon * Goodreads

Book Preview

My Book Review

Readers of my blog will know that I am slightly dachshund-obsessed.  From the moment I saw the cover of Axel & Theo: My Dog is The Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy, I wanted to read this book.  The cover art even features a little boy and his red smooth dachshund buddy.

This is a charming read for children.  It will appeal to early readers as well as reluctant readers a bit older.  I think the reading range of 6 - 10 years is spot on.

Young readers will love the story of Theo, who escapes a bully with the help of his brave dachshund ... and then ventures to outer space on a great adventure with him.  Axel, the brave dachshund, is the emperor of planet Doglin.  Unfortunately, Doglin is being threatened by cats who want to rise to power.   How the boy and dachshund escape danger and emerge victorious is a fun read.

The book is very clever, with short chapters and dialogue that moves the story along.  Descriptions are creative and sure to appeal to a child.  For instance, on planet Doglin flowers smell like rib-eye steaks so they appeal to dogs, and the ocean is full of strawberry soda.

I would enthusiastically recommend this book to children who love fantasy adventure stories, and to adults who love dogs.  Five stars from me - and four paws up from my doggie friend Abby! 
More Buzz About the Book
"When I saw the subheading of this book — My dog is the Emperor of a faraway galaxy, I knew I had to read it. After all, how often do you see a sci-fi kid’s book? Being the sci-fi nut that I am, I couldn't pass this one up. I was not disappointed."~ Shari T., Amazon
"Fun book!! The story is imaginative but told with enough familiar themes to make young ones think, "I can see how this could happen!!" And in a world jam-packed with princesses and girl power, it's nice to see fun stuff for boys, too." ~ Valerie S., Amazon
"What a nice story! Got this for my son and he chuckled through it all. He loved the characters and their adventure. He is looking forward to the next one." ~ Nathalia G., Amazon
"It is a great book! My kids loved it (as did I). I can't wait for the second adventure!" ~ John, Amazon

About the Author: Amberly Kristen Clowe

Krissy-CloweAn avid story writer since elementary school, Amberly Kristen (Krissy) Clowe truly discovered her passion for writing after enrolling in a college, children's literature class, where they read and analyzed children's books. After completing her BA in early childhood education she began her teaching career. "After my first year of teaching second grade, I had so many ideas swirling around in my head, I had to write. I might have gone crazy if I didn't!" Clowe tells. Axel & Theo is the first chapter book series written by Clowe, though she already has two other children's picture books in print, and another due for publication in 2015. Today, her children provide the inspiration to her many stories, along with everything else she loves in life.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads


Axel & Theo Blog Tour Schedule

June 22

June 23
June 24
June 25
June 26
June 27
June 28

* Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: July 5, 11:59 pm, 2015 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, SmoothSailing Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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I received this book from Mother Daughter Book Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Did You Know Tuesday: Slinky

Here's a fun Did You Know right out of your childhood toy box.  The Slinky toy was invented in the early 1940's by naval engineer Richard James.  It was originally marketed in Gimbels depeartment store (Philadelphia), and it was an immediate hit.  Richard James and his wife Betty marketed the toy until Richard left his wife in 1960 to move to Bolivia as an evangelical missionary.  At that point Betty took over the company, and the business soared.

The average Slinky has 63 feet of wire ... and it is the state toy of Pennsylvania.  (Who knew that there are state toys?  Neat!)  I found a fun 1962 commercial for Slinky.  Near the end of the commercial, you'll also see a cute Dachshund checking out a Slinky dog toy.   Do you remember Slinky?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Book Review - Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding

About Royal Wedding

Print Length: 448 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015) 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding—but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare. For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui. But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch.  Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?
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Purchase Links

My Review  
I read, and loved, the first few Princess Diaries books.  I am so glad to return with Royal Wedding.  It was a joy to meet Mia, her friends and family again, and revisit the Princess Diaries world.

Mia is still bright, quirky, sometimes impetuous, and fun.  I loved her gratitude lists.  The book also has texts from Lilly and Michael, grocery lists, and more.  Did I mention this book is a fun read?! 

It was enjoyable to see Mia navigate the adult world of engagement, an upcoming wedding, and being a future ruler.  The writing, as always with Meg Cabot, was clever and breezy, and moved at a brisk pace.   I am not sure whether I enjoyed the conversations between characters or Mia's internal dialogue and thought process more ... but both were delightful!

If you read any of the Princess Diaries books in the past, you will enjoy the ongoing story of Mia, Michael, their families and friends.  If you are new to the books, then you have a treat in store!  I really enjoyed this book and enthusiastically recommend it, especially as a fun summer read.

About Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction series, The Princess Diaries. More than 25 million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband. Find out more about Meg at her website, follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Music Monday - "Summer Breeze" - The Isley Brothers (1974)

If I ever make a 10 favorite songs list, "Summer Breeze" will be included.  I love the Seals and Croft originals original (1972), and also love the Isley Brothers cover (1974).  Pop culture has brought the Isley Brothers version back to the forefront with me.  It was featured on Scandal last year.  It also must be on some type of tape loop at Chipotle.  Every time I go in for a Sofritas (spiced tofu) bowl, this song plays.  I take that as a sign ... at least as a sign that I should share this with you.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books

Hi vintage friends!

I've added some cute vintage children's books and Valentines to my shops this week.  You can find them:

Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce is a 1978 Scholastic paperback about gerbils.
Roundabout Train by Betty Ren Wright is a little picture book distributed by Burger King.
You Read To Me, I'll Read To You is a book of poems for children by John Ciardi -- illustrated by Edward Gorey.
This cute vintage Valentine features a pink elephant who is dressed as a waiter.  "Hi there cookie - you are just what I ordered Valentine."
 A little bee buzzes by in this vintage Valentine:  "Be My Valentine, Honey!"
 A little girl wears flowers in her hair and holds a sweet Siamese cat.  "You're the purr-fect Valentine for me."
I would love to hear from you in the comments.  Wishing you a great weekend!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dear Abby: On the Delicate Matter of Puppy Potty Pads

Dear friends,

I have been excited all week about chatting with you here.  I will be sitting down each Friday to answer a question readers have sent.  If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask in the "comments" section below.

Mary wrote and asked this question:  "A friend of mine has a really bad problem with her little boy Maltese who is named DD. DD doesn't like to go outside to potty. He prefers to potty on drapes, shoes, or behind chairs. My friend bought DD some potty-training pads but DD doesn't like to use them. What should my friend do? Thanking you in advance."

Dear Mary,  I am sorry that DD doesn't like to do his business outside.  I enjoy my constitutionals with time to keep track of all the neighborhood news and visit with friends.  I have puppy potty pads for "just in case" times when weather makes it dangerous to go outdoors - ice or thunderstorms.  (I certainly would not want to venture out when it is loud and stormy!)  My advice for training DD to use the potty pads is the same thing I would do to train a pup to potty outdoors.  I would advise keeping DD right by your side constantly, with his collar or harness on.  Then, at frequent intervals (starting at an hour, then 2 hours, etc.), I would snap his leash on and get him either outside to potty or to his potty pad.  I would make sure he knows the word "potty" - and I bet he would like a little bit of kibble or crunchy treat when he does his business like he is supposed to.   Please keep us posted how this goes!

If other friends have suggestions for DD, please leave them in the comments as well.  Thank you!

I'll close for now, but will leave you with a little vintage doggy humor, courtesy of an old postcard.  It is apropos for the blog theme today!
Have a great week and talk to you again next Friday!


Book Review and Giveaway: How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir

Book Description:

Transform Your Blog into a Book!

The world of blogging is rapidly changing, but it remains one of the most efficient ways to write and share your work with an eager audience. But how do you purposefully hone your blog content into a uniquely positioned book that will be noticed by an agent or a publisher?

How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that will increase your chances of publication and maximize your visibility as an author.

In this revised edition you’ll find:

• The latest information on how to set up, maintain, and optimize a blog
• Steps for writing a book easily from scratch using blog posts
• Advice on how to write blog posts
• Tips on gaining visibility and promoting your work both online and off
• Current tools for driving traffic to your blog
• Extensive information on how to monetize your existing blog content into a book or other products
• Profiles with authors who received blog-to-book deals, including four new “from blog to book” success stories

Book Review:

I am a blogger and a creative writer, so the title of this book immediately caught my eye.  This is a wonderfully practical book full of useful tips and advice.   To give you an idea of what the book covers, the chapter titles are:

Book Blogging Basics
Why Blog a Book?
How to Prepare to Blog Your Book
Your Book’s Business Plan
Creating Your Blog
Writing Your Blogged Book
How to Blog a Book
Driving Traffic (Readers) to Your Blog
I’ve Finished My Blogged Book, Now What?
How to Repurpose Your Blog Posts for Profit and Promotion
Blog-to-Book Success Stories

I found this book very helpful because it truly takes bloggers step by step in the process.  It answered all my questions in a thorough, clear, and helpful manner.

The tone of the book is upbeat and inspiring.  It features success stories.  I finished the book feeling that yes, I could blog a book.

I would recommend this book to other bloggers, to creative writers, and to anyone who has considered writing a book.  It will inspire you and give you lots of positive, practical information. 

Author's Bio:

Nina Amir, the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, is a speaker, a blogger, and an author, book, and blog-to-book coach. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. Some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. As a hybrid author she has published 15 books and had as many as four books on the Amazon Top 100 list at the same time. 

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Where to buy the book:
Win one of 7 books How to Blog a Book, one winner will also win a $25 Amazon gift card and another winner will win a free course from the Non-fiction Writers University (Open to USA & Canada) Ends June 27
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I received this book from iRead Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview and Giveaway: Footprints in the Frosting by Laura Pauling

Cheesecake, Love, and Murder!

It’s the Grand Opening for Holly Hart’s new business, Just Cheesecake. When footprints in the frosting lead to a body facedown in one of her cheesecakes, Holly becomes a prime suspect.

With her opening day delayed, Holly deals with a nosy no-good reporter and the local cop, the handsome Officer Trinket, as she puts her sleuthing skills to the test to save her business and her name. With the help of her dog, Muffins, she needs to find the real murderer, before the killer looks to frost someone else. 

View from the Birdhouse Interviews Laura Pauling 

Birdhouse: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Laura: I’ve always loved to read. The only time I didn’t read a ton for pleasure was during my college years, because I was too busy. I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until about ten years ago, but the seeds were there. I was an elementary education major, so obviously I enjoy working with kids. But the other aspect I loved about teaching was the curriculum. It was fun and exciting to put together creative units. That aspect completely transferred over to the plotting process of writing. It wasn’t until I was home with my kids, reading them books, that I got the bug. Honestly, it was only a matter of time. Most writers I know love to read, so the next step is creating a story of your own. I never looked back.
Birdhouse: What was your favorite book as a child?
Laura: I remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew. I remember Roald Dahl. I was obsessed with the Black Stallion series. Today, a couple of my favorite children’s books are Holes by Louis Sachar and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, but I love reading any and all humorous mysteries at the middle grade level.
Birdhouse: What is your writing day like?  Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
Laura: I start my day by slamming my alarm clock off and mumbling, “Time to make the lunches.” In all seriousness I start my day seeing my kids off to school and then I get to work. My day is very scheduled, but I’m always flexible. That’s one aspect I love about being self-employed and working from home. If I want to have lunch with my parents, I can. If my kids are sick, I’m here. The morning hours I reserve for writing first drafts. Then, I take a break and run or walk and then clean. In the afternoon, I work on publishing/marketing. I might format books, edit, proofread, brainstorm new ideas, or beta read for my friends. I don’t think have writing quirks that are too different from other writers--like staying in my jammies until noon. J
Birdhouse: What was the most surprising thing you learned while creating this book?
Laura: This is a good question. Maybe not just this book, but in creating the Holly Hart Cozy Mystery series, I learned that it’s all about the mystery and the characters and emotion. A cozy mystery is not the place to pull out all your purple prose and beautiful description. The best cozy mystery writers make it look easy. The prose is straightforward with simple writing, yet you want to keep reading. This style of writing may look easy, but it’s not. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
Birdhouse: Who are your favorite authors?
Laura: That’s a really tough question because I have a lot, but I’ll name a few. I really like Denise Grover Swank and the Rose Gardner Mysteries. I always pick up the newest Sophie Kinsella romantic comedy. I’ve enjoyed many of the newer cozy mystery series independently published. I’ll be honest. Even though I always read my tried and true authors. My favorite thing to do is discover new books and new authors and new writing styles.
Birdhouse: What is your next writing project?
Laura: I have the first four books in the Holly Hart Cozy Mystery series completed, even though the fourth won’t be out until October. Right now, I’m experimenting with the start of a new mystery series and hope to have the first one finished by the end of June, but it will have to wait its turn to be published--as in next year some time. I’m still debating about this summer. I enjoy having my kids home, so I write early in the morning and that’s about it. I’m debating between two different YA humorous romantic mysteries, or I might write the next Holly Hart mystery. I’ll have to wait and see!

About the Author
Laura Pauling writes about spies, murder and mystery. She’s the author of the young adult Circle of Spies Series, the Prom Impossible Series, the time travel mysteries, Heist and A Royal Heist, and the Holly Hart Cozy Mystery Series: Footprints in the Frosting and Deadly Independence with more coming.

She lives the cover of a suburban mom/author perfectly, from the minivan to the home-baked snickerdoodles, while hiding her secret missions and covert operations. But shh. Don’t tell anyone. And she may or may not actually bake cookies. You decide.

Visit Laura at http://laurapauling.com to sign up for her newsletter and receive a free Holly Hart cozy mystery novella.

Author Links

Purchase Links
Footprints in the Frosting
: Holly Hart Cozy Mystery 1
Deadly Independence: Holly Hart Cozy Mystery 2

Prize:  $15 Amazon Gift Card

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday - The Banana Splits

If you were a child in the late 1960's, you will remember the Banana Splits.  This Saturday morning tv show was produced by Hanna-Barbera with costumes and sets designed by Sid and Marty Krofft.  It ran from 1968 - 1970 and featured four anthropomorphic animals who had adventures (some scenes at amusement parks) and sang bubblegum pop music.  A little trivia -- the characters were named Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky.  I've included the tv theme song intro below.  I think this was filmed at Six Flags Over Texas.  Do you remember the Banana Splits?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Luna's Lost Ball by R.A. Milnes

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the picture book "Luna's Lost Ball" by R.A. Milnes II (June 18 to 20, 2015).

Luna's Lost Ball by R.A. Milnes II  

About the Book

Title: Luna's Lost Ball (Shiloh and Friends | Author: R.A. Milnes II | Publication Date: April 30, 2015 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 36 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8 Summary: Luna is a Labrador retriever and she has lost her most favorite ball. Follow Shiloh and her friends in a tale of friendship, teamwork, sharing, and reward as they help Luna find her lost ball.

Amazon * Goodreads


The Buzz About the Book

"Wonderful book for small children! My twins are 4 years old and loved the story and colorful backgrounds! We are anxiously waiting the next in the collection!" ~ Marianne H., Amazon

About the Author: R.A. Milnes II

R.A. Milnes I am a business professional working in the healthcare industry. Luna's Lost Ball began as a gift to my niece and nephew. I have such love for them that I wanted to give them something that they can hold on to. The beauty of this work is that I am able to incorporate my dogs, Shiloh and Luna, into telling a story of friendship, teamwork, sharing, and reward. I hope that you enjoy this story and it brings your family joy each time you read it. My goal is to continue to write more stories under the Shiloh and Friends brand.

Website | Goodreads


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Giveaway ends: July 2, 11:59 pm, 2015 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, R.A. Milnes II and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
  MDBR Book Promotion Services