I love thrift stores! I think it's because it's like going on a treasure hunt, and it's rare that I don't find treasure I can't live without. Today was my first thrift store haul of the New Year, and I found some really cool stuff to take home with me, including an awesome Halloween Blow Mold figure for five dollars. I'll be adding it to my Halloween décor in my office space, which reminds me... I need to make a video of my work space. Coming to my You Tube channel soon. So, do like to shop at thrift stores? What was the best thing you ever found?
Happy New Year everyone! Hope yours is off to an awesome start. I actually started mine with a humongous pimple that decided to show up in time to ring in the New Year. I mean, I rarely had a zit in my high school days, so my guess is that this pimple, which happened to take residence alongside my nose, must be a late bloomer. Hope it doesn't have any pals, because I don't want to have to spend my five dollar Target gift card that I won at our family Christmas Eve BINGO game on a tube of Zit-Be-Gone. But despite the blemish, which also sits just below the lens of my eyeglasses, so it's magnified, I decided to make a new video for my You Tube channel. You see, I had promised my viewers a follow-up vid from last New Year's goals for 2013. Not one to break a promise, I forged ahead, pimple, et al.
Do you set yearly goals? What are your goals for 2014?
For months, I've been trying to get back to working on my R.M.S. Titanic project, but somehow I am always distracted from things like mundane household chores to getting ready for our summer vacation to reorganzing my craft room to spending too much time on Facebook and making Youtube videos (though, I love making new videos!).
Busyness or procrastination?
Then two weeks ago, I googled a poetry workshop that I attended about a dozen years ago. I had joined the group the year after I had left my job at the newspaper to pursue writing for children. It was the year, I read poet Natalie Goldberg's 'Writing Down the Bones.' I not only read her book, but I also purchased the audio and listened to it religiously while doing dishes, running errands, and it was the last thing I listened to as my head hit the pillow at night and in the morning before I rolled out of bed. This was the year, I wrote 'the bones' to about 80 poems based on my Latina family/roots. And it was the year, I immersed myself in poetry and attended readings in the basement of a coffee house where university students gathered to read their words.
Then, I was determined and hungry to learn how to string words together like Dr. Maya Angelou and Sandra Cisneros. Words to evoke emotion. Concrete words to drum up images.
There's something about poetry that breathes life back into the soul. So, this afternoon I decided to stop procrastinating. A few hours before the workshop, I emailed a writer friend, Melissa Salazar, from our critique group and she was enthusiastic about attending the meeting as well. It was great fun to meet new poets and to give feedback on their work. And it was awesome to get constructive critique on one of my Titanic monologues. I left with fresh ideas!
Now, it's full steam ahead with my collection of Titanic monologues.
How about you? Are you easily distracted from everyday life? How do you stay on task?
Now, that my tween novel, 'Butterfly Hollow,' has been released, on Amazon, it's full steam ahead on my currrent Work in Progress (W.I.P.), a collection of monologues about the R.M.S. Titanic. So, I hopped in the car and headed over to our library and picked up a couple of books about the subject. I love research!
Anyhow, to get back to the library, I was happy to see so many people taking advantage of its resources. Growing up, many of my summer days were spent at our local library. Most of the books I checked out back then had collections of ghost stories (still a favorite subject of mine). And in my early high school years I discovered my first classic, "Wuthering Heights," also still a favorite.
Today, I had fun catching up with our librarians in the children's department where I discovered these fun posters to encourage reading.
So, what are you reading this summer? Do you have a special library memory?
Happy reading everyone!
The Toth's summer started off with a Disney bang. Hubby (Joey) and I met our son and his family in Orlando, Florida for four fun filled days at all of the Disney themed parks. Aside from the high humidity, which this Southern California girl is not used to, it was a total Buzz Lightyear blast! There were plenty of roller coaster thrills at all four parks and Joey (Grandpa) rode all of them with the grandkids!
We kick started our vacay at Disney's Animal Kingdom. There was plenty to see including the awesome 'Tree of Life' with all of its intricate and fantastic animal carvings.
The second park we hit was 'Disney's Hollywood Studios.' From the moment we stepped into the park, I fell in love with it's Art Deco buildings on the main street. It was a real blast to the past.
Our third day was spent at Epcot.
Next....the Disney park we all had our hearts set on--the Magic Kingdom! Yay!
(Look for more Disney 'Haunted Mansion' pics in October. I'll feature both spooky fun mansion for Halloween.)
The park closed at midnight, though, Main Street stores remained open till about 1 a.m. The Toth family were literally the last few stragglers to leave the park.
Now that our children have grown up and moved out of the house, hubby and I have enjoyed raising our canine kidlets, Jack and Sally. Though, you can’t tell by looking at them, Jack and Sally shared the same womb. Jack is the handsome spitting image of his chihuahua pop, and Sally is as cute and lovable as her terrier mom. They’ve been a part of our family for seven years, and they make us laugh as much today as they did when they first arrived at our home.
Here they are modeling the latest Halloween garb from Target.
Oh, oh! Where did Jack go? Jack! Jack!
Woof! Woof! Jack and Sally wish you a Haunting Halloween filled with lots of fun treats!
T’was the nightmare before Christmas and all through the house, not
a creature was peaceful not even a mouse. The stockings all hung by the chimney
with care when opened that morning would cause such a scare. The children
nestled all snug in their beds would have nightmares of monsters and skeleton
My hubby and I are big kids at heart. We love Disneyland especially at Halloween when the park is decked out with pumpkins of all sizes and friendly ghosts on Main Street U.S.A. But most of all, my heart pitter-patters as soon as we approach the Haunted Mansion which has now been deliciously transformed into Jack Skellington’s house through the holidays.
This year was extra special because we got to meet the Pumpkin King, Jack, himself. Talking to Jack was the BEST treat ever for this Nightmare Before Christmas fan. I totally felt like a kid meeting Santa Claus!
Hope you enjoy our pictures. And just for dropping by for a pumpkin spell, you’ll find a fun virtual ‘treat’ waiting for you at the end of this blog post.
Now, I promised you all a treat…all you need is 10 minutes of your time for a fun, virtual ride through Jack Skellington’s Haunted Mansion. Just click and enjoy!
Have a fun ride & hurry back! And be sure to bring your Sandy Claws hat!
Happy halloween & haunted holidays everyone!
Ghosts, goblins, and a surprise marriage proposal. Oh, my!
Last night, writers from three Inland Empire critique groups were greeted at the second annual “Ghostly Gathering of Writers” by our gracious ghost hostess and author, Marissa Perez and her family.
As we arrived, everyone oohed and awed over the creepy décor and fun and spooky treats. There were sticky cobwebs draped everywhere. And lots of creepy eyeballs, skeletons, and spiders! EEK!
After we filled our plates, we gathered on the patio where paper lanterns with skulls swayed in the cool fall breezes from a mock graveyard with headstones guarded by skeletons. We’re writers, so naturally our imaginations zipped into overdrive. Soon barking neighborhood dogs became a pack of hungry coyotes and
With the eerie mood set, we quickly got into the spirit of the evening and the storytelling began. One-by-one, guests stood at a large, glowing orb and shared their haunting tales.
After a dozen stories, Marissa’s boyfriend, Brian, stood at the bright orb and read his version of T’was the Night Before Christmas with a quirky Halloween twist. Midway, he became serious, his voice began to crack, and his
hands started to tremble. Brian’s a non-writer so I understood his uneasiness to read before a group of writers. But as he continued to read, he pulled out a small gift box and asked Marissa to join him at the glowing orb.
A puzzled look crossed Marissa’s face. Then a smile.
At this point, we all glanced at one another and fumbled for our cameras. Just in time, too, because Brian dropped to one knee and proposed marriage. Marissa said yes. And we all leapt from our chairs to congratulate the newly engaged couple!
It all happened so fast. None of us caught the proposal on video. But I did capture the endearing moment with a few photos along with pictures of the ghost story party.
Close to midnight as the other writers dispersed, I lured Marissa back outside to the glowing orb to tell just one more ghostly tale. I heard her tell this true story several years ago and it’s still one of my very favorites. This,
I was able to capture on video. Hope you enjoy it.
When it comes to writing for children, author, Lynn Kelley, knows how to turn
on the magic. She twists the literary faucet and a stream of tummy-tickling
words and kidlike situations gush forth. Her newest book, Curse of the
Double Digits, is full of belly laughs. And though the book is written for
early readers, grown-ups will gasp and chuckle as the main character, Becky,
braves her way through turning 10-years-old—double digits.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lynn since we were scribbling our
manuscripts with sidewalk chalk. Kidding. Though, we do go back to the turn of
Why does that sound so Victorian? Let’s try again. Lynn and I go way back
before e-books and blogs became popular. Better.
So much for memory lane, Lynn…now, let’s talk about your new chapter book,
Curse of the Double Digits.
Sidewalk-chalk sisters, I like that! As far as memory lane, well, you
know how bad I am at directions and I get lost traveling down Memory Lane,
Spill it sidewalk-chalk sister. Tell us how you hatched the idea for
The idea that sparked the whole book was a real life incident. My niece
was about six and her bangs were way too long to look presentable for a family
event. My sister-in-law tried to trim them, but the scissors were too dull, so
my brother had a light bulb moment and grabbed his electric razor. . .
To avoid a spoiler here, let’s just say the event made me wonder how a
ten-year-old would react. And of course I left the parents out of the scene and
had Becky, the main character, ask her best friend Jenna to do the trimming with
the electric razor.
Becky is the main character of your story, so do you think boys will
be able to relate to Double Digits as much as girls?
Many ten-year-old boys prefer books with a boy protagonist, but this is a
humorous story, and I think boys will laugh as much as girls at the pickles
Becky finds herself in. Plus, being embarrassed in front of the whole class is
something boys and girls can relate to, along with all the other humiliating
events Becky faces.
Do you outline your stories or do you write by the seat of your
I only outline when I’m co-authoring the Monster Moon books, written
under the pen name BBH McChiller.
Otherwise, I write by the seat of my thread bare, tattered old pants.
How long did Double Digits take for you to write? How many
Would you believe it took a decade? I kid you not. I worked on it off and
on for ten years. It’s been a fun journey and got better with each revision. I
have no idea how many revisions. Far more than ten.
When you’re writing for kids, how do you get yourself into a kids’
frame of mind? Does it come easy? What’s your process?
I remember certain moments from my childhood quite well, how I felt and
what I thought. Raising four kids also helped. Part of me is still a kid at
heart and always will be.
This is Alanna Heck’s debut as an illustrator. How did the two of you
talented ladies team up?
We’re both in the same writers critique group. Alanna is artistic, so I
asked her if she’d be willing to give it a shot. She said sure. It was like the
blind leading the blind since neither of us had ever worked with illustrations
for a book before, but I think her drawings look great.
When you sit down at the computer, do you have any writing rituals?
You know, like tying your shoe laces together, then forgetting they’re fastened
when you get up to get a snack? (Please, tell me I’m not the only who does
You’re a hoot, Maria! I’m usually barefooted or wearing flip-flops while
writing, so no worries about tangled shoe laces. As far as rituals, no, I don’t
think so. Maybe making sure my glass of water isn’t empty. I’m always
Warning: Getting down to some serious author’s dirt
Oh no, you’re scaring me! My knees are knocking…
As a kidster, your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
The Jetsons. Something about that futuristic world fascinated me. Flying
cars, a house in the clouds with a conveyor belt for walking the dog, Astro, on
the edge of thin air. A robot maid and all the gadgets and gizmos, like
telephones with screens to see who you’re talking to, pills that turned into a
whole meal. Lots of crazy, wacky stuff. Plus, it was funny.
In Curse of the Double Digits, the main character Becky
experiences a series of mortifying events which overshadow her upcoming
party. Did anything similar happen to you as a kid?
Nah, nothing like Becky has to deal with. I do remember I had a mole on
my neck that I hated and was self-conscious about. It wasn’t that big, but in my
mind it was as big as a mountain. I know that’s cliché.
I must have whined about it a lot because for my 8thbirthday, my mom gave me a choice. I could either have a
birthday party or get the mole cut off. We didn’t have enough money for both.
I’d never had a birthday party before and that was a big deal, so I chose
the party and lived with that ugly mole until I was 25.
I mean, c’mon, what kid wouldn’t have chosen a party? Imagine if I
didn’t. My friends would ask, “What did you get for your birthday?”
“Uh, I got a mole cut off my neck.”
What kind of a kid were you at 10-years-old? Shy or class
Neither. I was Little Miss Teacher’s Pet, loved school, looked after my
younger siblings, played outside, part tomboy. Kind of spunky. . . until junior
high when I turned into the dorkiest of dorks and wished I’d had that ugly mole
cut off for my 8thbirthday!
Speaking of clowns, I understand you were a clown in another
I had always liked clowns and loved costumes and playing with makeup at
Halloween, so while going to court reporting school, I tried to start a
clown-magician business to make extra money.
I wish I’d found some kind of clown class because I didn’t know what I
was doing. Buffy (my clown name) didn’t earn enough to make it worth while. How
sad, having to admit I failed as a clown.
But nothing is a waste because Buffy the clown is part of Curse of the
Double Digits! And learning the clown makeup paid off years later when my Funny
Bones character was created for some of our writer’s events.
You seem to have a natural, quirky sense of humor. Where does it come
My dad is Mr. Funny Guy. He always told jokes, which I used to memorize
and loved to tell. (These days I can’t remember the punch lines so I don’t tell
many jokes.) My whole family is a bunch of jokers and pranksters.
I hear you’re a fan of the Three Stooges? Which one’s your
Yes, I admit I’m fond of the Three Stooges, mainly because my brothers
were always imitating them, which to me was even funnier than the real Stooges.
I’d have to say Curly is my fave. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!
Your grandfather was a professional magician. I mean, how cool is
that? As a kid, how did this influence you? Did he teach you any amazing magic
tricks you could share? (Hint, hint!) Did you ever think of following in his
Actually, he wasn’t a professional, but a very serious amateur who
belonged to a club with other magicians. He never taught me any tricks. My
family moved away from him and my grandmother when I was eight.
He passed away when I was 14. I was sent to Pittsburgh for the summer to
stay with my grandmother and help her prepare to move to California to live with
us. During that time, she taught me some of his tricks, and gave them to me.
When I had my kids, I taught them Grandad’s magic tricks. A couple of the
tricks have survived through the years, like the snakes that pop out of a can of
candy (the label is long gone), but the sword through the neck trick, I’m sad to
say, bit the dust about 20 years ago. Darn, because that was such a good
If you had a magic wand, what would you make disappear, appear, or
Oh my, what temptation. Like a genie in a bottle! Somehow I don’t think
my magic wand could make all the problems of the world disappear, so allow me to
be selfish, okay?
I’d say, “Abbracadabra presto picheelo!” (Grandad’s magic words) and make
Dr. Seuss’s Thing One and Thing Two appear to finish unpacking boxes from when
we moved, hang the pics on the walls, and remove all the dust and dog hairs
permanently. Permanently with a capital ‘P,’ please.
Goofiest thing you ever did as a kid?
Hmm, I didn’t think this was goofy at the time. I didn’t even realize it
was stupid. With a capital ‘S.’
I had a friend in Pittsburgh named Sheila Monahan. When I’d go to her
house, she’d ask me if I wanted to eat some spinach. I always said yes, like it
was a real thrill or something. I didn’t even like spinach (sorry Popeye), but
this was different.
We’d sneak upstairs to the pencil sharpener. Sheila would open the little
drawer that caught the shavings, and we’d each eat some. I don’t know if I was
six or seven, but in my mind, I knew it wasn’t spinach, even though she said it
was. But it didn’t register that it was pencil shavings. I was gullible and
Like I said, Stupid with a capital ‘S.’
(Hmm… I see. That explains a lot, Lynn. LOL!)
Hey, I heard you once dragged your little sister along to set up a
lemonade stand without your mom’s permission? Can you tell us about it, or is it
still a sore subject with Mom? Did you get punished? No Brady Bunch? Care to
name the rat who tattled?
Actually, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong at the time. Back in
those days, kids were more free to roam the neighborhood. My sister usually went
wherever I did. And it was Kool-Aid. Much easier to make.
We set up business on a corner in front of a little store a couple blocks
from our home in Shadyside. Pam was so cute and shy. Really adorable. I decided
to use her as bait, so I hid in a niche a couple stores over. I peeked out,
waiting for customers to come. Then I ran over to pour the Kool-Aid and collect
the money. But there was hardly anyone around, so we packed up and walked from
Shadyside, crossed the huge bridge that went over the railroad tracks, and
didn’t stop till we reached a busy corner in East Liberty.
The way our mom found out was when I told her there was a robbery at the
bank we were selling Kool-Aid in front of. (It was actually the phone company,
but because it was robbed, I thought it was a bank. And it was only five bucks.
My grandmother read about it in the newspaper. No mention of the kids selling
We didn’t even see the guy, but police officers asked us if we saw a man
running away. I said no, but offered them free drinks. What a kiss up! See,
teacher’s pet syndrome?
Mom flipped when I told her we were in East Liberty. She forbid me to go
wandering off that far again.
Ever have to march to the principal’s office? Stay after school?
C’mon. You can tell us.
Honestly, no. Little Miss Goody Goody me would have freaked to get in
Who is Funny Bones?
Like I mentioned above, Funny Bones was a character we invented to go
with yours and Kathy’s witch getups, Batsy and Frizzelda. Funny Bones has a bag
of bones, and each bone has a joke glued to it.
I didn’t realize it until about a year ago that Funny Bones is actually a
clown. So, ha, my clown dream is being fulfilled as Funny Bones! I didn’t plan
it. It just happened.
Definitely. Sweet fang is more like it when it comes to
My literary spies say you’ve been known to devour scorching
jalepenos. How many can you wolf down in one sitting? Have you ever done it
without a glass of water? (I dare ya. C’mon.)
You crack me up, Maria! I like to cut them up and put them on burritos,
tostadas, and quesadillas. I don’t eat them by themselves. Are you loco? Haha!
Seriously, though, I believe they’re one of the healthiest things we can
eat and keep me from catching colds or the flu. No studies to back me up here,
just my gut feeling!
If you starred in your own reality TV show, what would you call it?
What would it be about and who would star with you? (Me! Me! Me!)
Oh, definitely you for sure. Two quirky women trumps just one any day.
I’m not sure what I’d call it, but our reality show would feature our writers
critique group. We’d be a hit, no doubt about it. Crazy writers who come up with
some humdingers that I’m not going to repeat here. Nuff said.
What other books have you published?
Funny you should ask. I have these two wonderful, wacky co-authors, Kathy
Sant and Maria Cisneros Toth. We wrote the first two books in the fun, spooky
Monster Moon mystery series (ages 8 – 12) under the pseudonym BBH McChiller
(Stargazer Publishing). Curse at Zala Manor is the first book in the
series, and Secret of Haunted Bog is the second title.
I also authored a picture book, Merry as a Cricket (WhipperSnapper
So, tell us what’s next on the drawing board. Other works in
As you know, the next two books in the Monster Moon series are in the
works. Once those are finished, I’m giving my full attention to a young adult
book I’ve been working on for years. I’m itching to get back to it and finish it
once and for all. I’ve also got ideas percolating for another chapter book or
Best thing about being a children’s author? Have you ever thought of
giving up the dream?
Best thing about being a children’s author is children! They crack me up,
lift my spirits just being around them. I enjoy doing author visits at schools.
Hearing that a child loved reading my book is ultra rewarding.
Yes, I’ve thought about giving up the dream. Usually when I’m in the
middle of a meltdown over technical issues. But I know I’ll never stop because
the ideas are endless and my muse would never let me rest!
Do you have any advice for writers thinking about going the
traditional or e-pub route?
It’s a lot of work either way you go with many ups and downs. My advice
is, don’t have high expectations of making tons of money. The chances of that
happening are slim.
Give it your all. There’s so much competition, so you need to polish your
work as much as you’re able. Join a critique group where there’s good chemistry.
You’ll learn so much from others and they’ll learn from you. Most important,
enjoy the journey, and keep writing.
How can readers and writers find you without having to use a GPS? Get
There are links to all my books on my blog and my website:
Blog – Lynn Kelley – Random Acts of Weirdness: http://lynnkelleyrandomactsofwriting.blogspot.com/
Website – Lynn Kelley, Children’s Author: http://www.lynnkelleyauthor.com/
Here are the links for Curse of the Double Digits:
Amazon – Link for paperback ($4.99) and eBook ($2.99):
Smashwords – Formats for all eReaders. They’ll distribute it to Barnes &
Noble and other eStores soon, but the formats for all eReaders are available
Thanks, Lynn! And super congrats on your awesome new book, Curse of
the Double Digits!
Thanks so much, Maria. I’m honored to be the first interviewee on your
new blog, which looks awesome, by the way. It’s always a hoot hanging out with
you, and this was a blast
And thanks everyone for stopping by to congratulate Lynn on the
release of her new book. To show the love, Lynn is offering a give-away. It’s
easy to enter. Just leave a comment along with which format you prefer, eBook or
signed paperback. A random drawing will be held on Oct. 30th. (Sorry, paperbacks are only for the U.S. and Canada. Ebooks for anywhere.)
Like every morning, I awoke to the usual radio banter. I drifted in and out sleep, then suddenly I was jolted wide awake to a news report--author Ray Bradbury had died at the age of 91. Even though, I knew he was getting along in years, I had a hard time grasping the news of his passing. I'm still tearing up as I write this.
The author of one of my very favorite novels, "The Halloween Tree," the man who inspired me to keep writing what I loved to write most, no matter what anyone else thought, was gone.
The emails began to fly between members of our critique group. Someone remembered him as a literary giant. Another recalled when she wrote Mr. Bradbury a letter and how she was surprised when he telephoned to answer her question. Another writer shared how Mr. Bradbury would stay at a writer's conference for the entire week and give advice to novelists. Another author recalled how generous he was with his time at the library where she works.
Personally, I am grateful for having met him several times. Once while at a tradeshow at the Pasadena Convention Center, I learned Mr. Bradbury was at Vroman's Book Store. I literally bounded out of the building and ran for blocks to the narrow alleyway where fans waited to get copies of their books autographed. I was one of the last in line. I'll always remember how gracious and friendly he was when it was my turn to get my copy of "The Halloween Tree" signed by him. If he was tired, he didn't show it.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet him again. This time he was in a wheelchair. I worried about his health. But as soon as he began talking about what he loved to do--writing--the wheelchair seemed to disappear from the stage. And the standing room only auditorium became silent as though we were afraid to break the magic. When his talk concluded, the lines snaked up the asiles to the back of the historic building and like at Vroman's he signed everyone's books, pausing now and then for photos.
Afterwards, some of us headed over to Starbucks still under Mr. Bradbury's spell. We didn't want the evening to end. But it did. And we all went our separate ways, hanging on to the threads of inspiration that all writers need to keep doing what they love to do most--write!
Thank you, Mr. Bradbury. I'll never forget you. May you rest in peace....