Monday, December 9, 2019

Huge Batch of FREE Picture Books for Kindle!

I love picture books. I read them to my kids and read them for myself. Even when I didn't have kids, I admit I had several on my bookshelf. Certain children's books can instantly transport me to my childhood, and I can hear the patient voice of my mom, dad, grandparent or babysitter reading it out loud to me.
Today you have the opportunity to download 13 beautiful books for you or a child you love (Free in digital version only). These books were lovingly written by 9 talented authors from all over the globe. Please see below for Amazon links. But hurry! These books are only FREE for two days, December 9th and 10th! (P.S. Two are mine!)

All of these books are also available in paperback, hardcover, or both on Amazon. And most have FREE shipping with Amazon, with a guarantee to arrive by Christmas (check each book for details).

When You Feel Better: A Get Well Soon Gift 
By Misty Black
Your favorite patient will love cuddling up to this sweet get well soon story showing the power of empathy and kindness. 

Unicorns, Magic, and Slime, Oh My! 
By Misty Black
Mystery, magic, and mishaps make for an exciting story your kids won’t want to put down.

Your Thoughts Matter
By Esther Pia Cordova
Your child’s mindset matters, more than they realize. Help them understand the power of a growth mindset.

Little Bears Can Do Big Things
By Esther Pia Cordova
Is it okay for boys to feel afraid? Is it okay for them to need help? Jimmy shifts his thinking, faces the challenges and is able to make good choices with the help of his friends. He’s even brave enough to talk about his feelings with his Dad

Unicorn Jazz
By Lisa Caprelli
A best-seller, Unicorn Jazz is the most unique unicorn in the world. You can also grab the Unicorn Jazz Plush toy with this book for the perfect gift. Celebrating individuality, play, friendship, belonging and the power of believing in others!

Bee-ing Happy With Unicorn Jazz and Friends
By Lisa Caprelli
Unicorn Jazz and animal friends in this happiness book with a bee named BEE HAPPY, who all show imaginative happy ideas for kids.

Little Narwhal’s Day
By Angela Castillo

Learn about secret creatures of the arctic with Little Narwhal and his adorable friends.

Tiger’s Can’t Open Doors
By Angela Castillo

Join two brothers as they evade a goofy-shape-shifting monster and learn the importance of imagination and creativity.

Save the Ocean
By Bethany Stahl
Learn about the importance of recycling with fun ocean friends including a loveable sea turtle and a mermaid!

Save the Arctic
By Bethany Stahl
Go on a journey with a polar bear, beluga whale and little girl to learn about renewable energy as we help save the arctic!

Flip, the Fainting Goat
By Alicia Stenard
It’s a hard life for a fainting goat. Loud noises make Flip faint and he can’t control it. Will he ever fit in?

It's not easy being Santa! A Christmas tale about kindness!
By Pragya Tomar
"Ever wonder what Santa's job is like? Wishes do come true..." affiliate link
Little bug and the Noisy New Neighbor
By Melanie Hawkins

What will happen when a very noisy new neighbor moves in next door and disrupts Little Bug’s quiet, simple life? Can he learn to get along with such a bug? 

Little Bug and the Christmas Surprise
By Melanie Hawkins

Will a big snow storm ruin Little Bug’s Christmas party? This is a sweet story of friendship, dealing with disappointment, and finding our what truly matters at Christmas time!

Marien’s Wish
By Cinthia Wild and Colin Wild

Three incredible friends - a Firefly, a Dragonfly and a Dung beetle work together as a team to fulfil a dream for their friend Marien, a Ladybug.


Are you a Unicorn . . . or a Dragon?

As the child of an extreme introvert and an extreme extravert, I have lived with two warring factions inside of me for my entire life. The part of me that wants to talk to everyone and blurt out whatever comes to mind. and the part of me that's instantly sorry for rash words. Hasty words have led me into trouble more than once.

Dunfer the Dragon is like that. He's very sweet and happy-go-lucky, but sometimes his actions drive his new neighbor, Isadorn, up the wall.

Isadorn is a very caring and loving creature, but she's also a creature of habit. And when Dunfer comes stomping along, she's not quite sure how to address the problem.

Isadorn the Unicorn and the Sloppy Dragon is my latest children's picture book, illustrated once again by the amazing Indira Zuleta. Children will love the fantastic illustrations and fun story, while also learning about conflict resolution and how to let someone know when their feelings have been hurt in a gentle and productive way.

Isadorn the Unicorn is available today in paperback on Amazon, with free shipping from Amazon Prime HERE. The Kindle version is releasing this Wednesday, but you can pre-order it for a special price HERE.

Happy reading! 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Working Towards Gratitude

Sometimes Thanksgiving can be a lovely time for parades, pies and peaceful gatherings with family and/or friends. But sometimes Thanksgiving can get lost in an avalanche of anxiety and pumpkin-spiced laced meltdowns. I always deal with some form of this during the holidays (probably because I set a million writing deadlines for myself). Here are some ways I've learned to diffuse my anxiety and enjoy the season the way God intended, with a grateful heart. 
  • Allow people to manage their own expectations and emotions. We are never going to be able to make everyone happy. Each person is responsible for creating an enjoyable day for themselves and not relying on everyone else for it. Set healthy boundaries and work with what is best for you. 
  • Don't try to do everything. Do you find yourself dreading the holidays every year? You may need to scale back and say no sometimes. For instance, if you host an event at your house, try delegating dishes. Ask people to stay and help clean up, or hire a maid service, just this once. If you have ten people requesting ten different favorites, send them each the recipe and tell them you'd love to see their take on the dish. 
  • Discuss the day with your immediate family. Let everyone pick one or two traditions that are their favorites. Make a list with top favorites, medium favorites, and optional favorites. Then try to cut back on a few things, replacing them with less stressful alternatives. 
  • Spread things out. Instead of trying to see every single family member on an actual day, try planning get-togethers throughout the month. 
  • Cut back on gifts. For years now, I've given my kids about three things each. Something to wear, something to read, and something they want. Along with stocking stuffers and gifts from relatives, this is always plenty. 
  • Find a way to volunteer as a family. Help out at a soup kitchen, wrap presents for Blue Santa, collect food for a local food bank, or read Christmas stories at a local nursing home. There are always ways to give back. 
  • Have gratitude. Every time you begin to feel overwhelmed, no matter what, think of five things to be thankful for. 

Hope these ideas are helpful! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order!

I'm so excited! Not only is it finally fall and we've had a few sweater-wearing days here in Texas (was it seriously 30 degrees the other day?) but I've FINALLY put my Oregon trail story up for pre-order!

Here's the beautiful cover, designed by the amazing Elaina Lee from For the Muse Designs!

Compared to an arranged marriage to the odious Bernard Regent, a prairie schooner on the Oregon Trail doesn't seem like such a bad trade to Amethyst Kent.
When desperate Martha Davis reveals her need for a mother's helper on the trail, Ami decides to up and leave the pampered life she's always known for a land of freedom. But trail life is hardly a tea party, and Ami must draw from the deepest wells of her faith to survive. With the sunset always before her, and Shiloh Talon, a handsome trail scout, guiding the way, she might just make it through.

Up for pre-order on Amazon today; will be released December 15th. 

I'm so excited to release Amethyst Kent out into the wild. This book took me FOREVER to write, longer than most trips down the Oregon trail, but I learned so much while researching it. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Why Kindle Unlimited for Picture Books?

In the land of digital everything, many parents prefer to keep old-fashioned paper books around for the littles. For one thing, a paperback book is much cheaper to replace than a Kindle or iPhone if it accidentally gets flushed down the toilet.
But there are some nice things about Kindle books for kids.

  • It's a great way to see if your kid likes a book or series for less (sometimes for free). 
  • Kindle books are great for car rides and long waiting room times.
  • Some kid's Kindle books include interactive links for more learning opportunities.
The best way to check out children's picture books for a small amount of money is through a program Amazon offers called Kindle Unlimited. Authors offer certain books through this program for a small subscription amount per month. Readers can read up to 10 books at a time, and return them for more books whenever they like.
The best part is, the first month with KU is free!
But what books can you get? Are there any good ones?
Here are some of my top picks.

When the Clock Strikes on Halloween by [Ferland, Lisa]

The Elephants and the Leaking Tap: A fun story to introduce professions to kids (Toddlers with Trunks Book 2) by [Vijayakumar, Balachander, Balachander, Janani]

From the Cave Wall: A Stone Age Story (The Source Stories Book 1) by [Jones, JG]

Toto is Home Alone by [Mykhalevych, Viktoriia]

So there's 20 great books to get you started with Kindle Unlimited! For more information about the program, check out this link.

Happy reading! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Texas Critters You May Have Never Seen

The other day, a friend of mine posted a picture of a nutria she'd seen at a nearby Central Texas riverside. She thought it might be a beaver, which is completely understandable, as they are about the same size. So I thought I'd compile a collection of the craziest critters in the area. And I know they're all here, because as a lifetime Texan, I've seen them all! How many of these creatures did you know were here?

Barn Owl

If you've ever heard a bone-chilling cry in the middle of a Texas night, well . . . it could be a lot of creatures. But if you then see a white, round face hovering in the mist, it's probably a barn owl. They are found all over Texas and nest everywhere, not just barns. But most people never see one because they only come out at night. You can find out more HERE. 

Photo by: Cherie Haines

I've seen some beautiful animals in my life, but bobcats are about the top of the list. Named for their 'bobbed' tails, they can be found throughout Texas and are divided into two subspecies, the desert bobcat and the Texas bobcat. They are shy and are generally only on the prowl at night, so you'll be lucky to see one! Find out more information HERE. 

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Funny thing about Alligator Snapping Turtles–I've had several wildlife experts swear up and down to me they don't exist in Central Texas. But I've had the fortune to see three in my life, two in Austin and one in Manor. The two in Austin were fighting in Shoal Creek and looked like two prehistoric creatures in some kind of epic battle. They are on the endangered list. If you are ever lucky enough to see one, keep your distance, their bite can snap a log in half so imagine what it could do to a human arm. Well, maybe better not. For more information about these guys, look HERE.

Tarantula Hawk 

Up on the list of 'fiercest insects ever' has to be the tarantula hawk, a type of wasp found all over Texas. They can be up to three inches long and have one of the most potent stings of any wasp (I mean, they have to be able to take down a tarantula, after all). The good news is most of the time they are non-aggressive. So if you see one, best to walk the other way. More information HERE.

Flying Squirrels

Ask a Texan if they've seen a squirrel and they'll probably blink rapidly and point to the backyard. Ask them if they've seen a flying squirrel and they probably won't even know they exist . . . and yet flying squirrels outnumber regular squirrels in some area. 
Flying squirrels can't truly fly, they glide from tree to tree by stretching out their skin like a sail. These creatures are adorable . . . too bad they're hard to find. 
For more information about flying squirrels, go HERE.

Picture by: Cherie Haines


Very few animals look so deceptively huggable as a porcupine, but as we all know even a tiny squeeze would bring pain and maybe even death. Porcupines have up to 30,000 quills. They are mostly slow-moving, easy-going creatures, but if they fear a threat they will swing their tail at an assailant, leaving the would-be attacker with a face full of quills. Ouch. Find out more about Texas porcupines HERE. 

These beaver-like creatures are considered an invasive species because they burrow through roots and destroy water vegetation important to other species. However, they are extremely fun to watch if you spot them on the banks of the river. Just look at those orange teeth! 
Find out more about nutrias HERE. 

So that's my list! How many of these animals have YOU spotted in the wild? Which creatures would you add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cultivating Childhood Creativity

"Mom, I'm bored."

If you're a parent, you've heard this or the equivalent what seems like a million times a day. If your house is like my house, once the screens blink off the complaints begin. "I have nothing to do." "Can I watch something?" "Can I have a snack?"

As a mom of four, I don't believe in always solving my children's problems. However, I do:

Surround them with books and activity books
Provide them with craft materials. You don't need tons of stuff. Save cardboard boxes and tubes and have crayons, glue, scissors and other basics. (My kids also love clay)
Encourage them to go outside.
Visit the library often.
Allow them to watch craft tutorials
Give them dress-up materials that aren't pre-made costumes, like shawls, hats, belts and scarves. Encourage them to create their own superheroes or characters
Give them two board games with missing pieces and tell them to make a new game with their own rules.

The times I step back and leave my children to their own devices are the times they create the most amazing games. Not sure what was going on here with my daughter and son, but I'm sure it was a: dire and b: epic.

A book about Creativity
When I was a kid, we played a game where we'd think up a dangerous situation and then say what we would do.
"What if the house was on fire?"
"What if you were in a bank during a robbery?"
"What if a monster was coming after you?"
My kids play this game, and one day, I heard my daughter growling, and then a door slammed, as my son yelled, "tigers can't open doors!"
So a book was born, and after much time and effort, and with the help of an amazing author from Vietnam, Trandang, Tigers Can't Open Doors has become a reality.
If you'd like a copy, you can find it on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Look HERE. 
Tigers Can't Open Doors is about two boys who face a goofy, shape-shifting monster. They keep thinking of creative ways to thwart each creature, but in the end, they might just need help from mom.