Cover Reveal of The Swift by Alex Banks

 The Swift

Comes out June 2nd
The Swift Final Cover Front in RGB

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

“The night twelve-year-old Pete planned to shoot the winning goal in the championship hockey game was the same night his dad was lost at sea. Now, eight months later, his mom still cries all the time, his beloved grandfather, stricken with Alzheimer’s, can’t even remember him, and they’re about to lose their crappy old house to the bank. To make matters worse, his twin brother Henry blames Pete for all of it. After all, they were a family of fishermen—if Pete had gone to help on the boat instead of to the game, their dad might still be alive.

While searching the attic for stuff they can sell, Pete finds a battle-torn ship-in-a-bottle. When he and Henry show the bottle to their grandpa, the three of them are transported back in time—on board the very ship that’s going down.

Battling pirates and the raging sea, the boys must learn to work together to help their grandpa save his past. If they don’t, they won’t have a future to return to.”

Amazon – Paperback

Do you like time travel tales? If you could travel back in time and change something in your past, what would it be?

Posted in Books, Giveaways, Kids, Pirates | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Bathroom Bling For The Mother Who Has Everything!

Are you stumped as far as what to get your mom for Mother’s Day? Last March I found the perfect gift for the mom who has everything. It was at the Spring Boutique in Brea, California.

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Can you guess what these are? Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Look at this photo. Now can you guess?

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If you guessed toilet bolt toppers, you get a cookie!

 

 

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Aren’t those the neatest? What fancy bathroom would be complete without a set of these?

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Who is so ingenious and creative that they thought of this?

Donna Hoover and Lindy Stanton, two Southern California women, that’s who. Their business is called Bathroom Bling, For The Girl Who Has Everything.

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Their bathroom bling displayed at the Spring Boutique caught my eye. I had to show my sisters.

Ooh-la-la, they thought these were impressive, too. We pitched in and bought a pair for Mom for Mother’s Day. $25.00 a set, which includes tax. And every pair is unique.

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We couldn’t wait until Mother’s Day to give them to Mom, so we had her open her gift right there at the boutique. She loved them. So much so that she had to go buy another set for her other bathroom!

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Then my sister gave in to temptation and bought a set for her own guest bathroom.

 

If you want to buy a set for your mother (so she can be the coolest mom on the block), or to buy them for yourself, you can email Donna Hoover at donnajohoover at roadrunner dot com, or contact her by leaving a message on her Facebook page here.

The Bathroom Bling comes in a wide variety of colors, so have at it picking yours out! Easy to install – They fit right on top of the bolt toppers. Easy to clean – Just lift them off and rinse under the faucet.

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Pam, Cindy, me, and Mom

Here I am at the boutique with my sisters, Pam and Cindy, and our mom.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I already gave Mom the fancy toilet bolt toppers. Now I need to get her something else.

Hmm. Any ideas?

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll sign up to subscribe to my blog. Fill in your email address in the window in the sidebar.

Posted in Arts and Crafts, family, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Dance – It’s National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month. It’s been many moons since I last wrote a poem, but I found one I wrote years ago. It’s one of my favorites, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Dreamstime Photo (All rights reserved)

Dreamstime Photo
(All rights reserved)

The Dance

I danced as a babe
in lullaby dreams

Danced with lightning bugs
in the stars’ bright beams

I danced in the cold
with a man of snow

Danced in the splendor
of my first rainbow

I danced in my skates
through the crispy breeze

Danced like a mermaid
in the salty seas

I danced with desire
watching birds in flight

And danced and romanced
as he held me tight

Danced to the music
of the moonsong’s spell

Danced to the chimes
of the wedding bell

I danced with my hips
where all life begins

Danced as my babies
grew and danced within

Danced with my children
filled with giggling glee

Danced in the sunset
as I set them free

Danced in the fragrance
of the garden rose

Danced in dewdrop grass
on my tippy-toes

The dance lamented
through voids of despair

Till the dance of hope
wiped away each tear

Danced in the moment
of epiphany

Won’t you join
in the dance with me?

~Lynn Kelley

Do you write poetry? Do you have a favorite poem?

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | 37 Comments

The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour

Welcome to The
Stone of Valhalla
Blog Tour!
A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.

Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post

for a chance to WIN a $25 Amazon Gift card and other great prizes!

Standing Alone

A guest post by: Mikey Brooks

I get asked a lot if my personal childhood affected my writing in any way. In order for me to answer this question I need to tell you a little about my childhood. I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri. Our nearest neighbor was about a mile down the dirt road. It took about 30 minutes to get into town where they had one stop light, a grocery store, a bank, an elementary school, and high school (which consisted of grades 7-12). Because we lived so far outside of town, I didn’t have many friends. We had a very dense forest surrounding our farm and those woods became my Wonderland. I’d go into them and make believe I had found doorways to hidden worlds where new friends awaited there for me. I find it funny that so many years after leaving those woods and growing up I write a story about a boy who goes to another world where new friends await him. So, yes, my writing is very heavily affected by my childhood.

I find a lot of similarities with my main character, Aaron, and myself. Not only does he suffer from asthma (as I did when I was a kid), but he is incredibly good looking. Aaron also shares my sense of humor. He also has a hard time making friends. In fact, he tries to pretend to be something he’s not in order to make them. Looking back at some of the friends I had when I was a kid, I see that I did the same thing. My supposed “friends” teased me and made me do things like steal just so I could belong to their group. Aaron
learns a similar lesson that he doesn’t have to change himself for others to like him. He learns if friendship comes with prerequisites, then it’s not really friendship at all. My favorite line Aaron says to these supposed “friends” is that he’d rather be a loner than a loser. Although it’s easier to stand with a crowd, it’s better to stand alone when it is right.

I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest middle-grade fantasy-adventure: The Stone of Valhalla. I hope you love Aaron as much as I do. Yes, he has a lot to learn in the beginning but the excitement comes as we see him grow throughout his journey.

Synopsis:

Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of
losing his own.

Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?

Check out what these talented authors
are saying about it:

The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn’t just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you
asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”

—J.R. Simmons,
author of Ragesong: Awakening.

 The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is
reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve ever experienced!”

—BBH McChiller,
author of The Monster Moon Series

The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end. Fantastic!”

—L.R.W. Lee,
author of The Andy Smithson series.

Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:

Exclusive price for the eBook
release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)

And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)

On April 12th
2014 the price will return to the List Price

Another special offer:
 

During The Stone of Valhalla
Blog Tour

Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low
price of just $0.99!

The Dream Keeper:

Kindle | Nook | Kobo

The Dreamstone:

Kindle | Nook | Kobo

 

You’re Invited to PARTY!!

The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.

What’s that? Another Party!
 

That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We
are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of
course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are
the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad
Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party
is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at the Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah.

Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to
daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of
children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!
  

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Easy Prank For April Fool’s Day

Okay, April Fools pranksters, this one’s for you.

Warning: Please don’t pull this on anyone with heart problems.

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Dreamstime Photo – All Rights Reserved

We don’t want anyone to get hurt, just a little startle, a scream, and lots of giggles.

I need to find my plastic spiders. I’ll report back if I’m successful. Hee-hee!

If you try this, too, let me know how it goes!

Tip: Don’t forget you set this up. You might end up pranking yourself! Yes, that has happened to a few pranksters. If you’re going to dish it out, you’ve got to be ready to take it, too!

Are you a prankster? Would you do this? Are you usually the brunt of April Fools jokes, or are you the joker? What’s your best April Fools joke so far? 

P.S. I have a quirky writing prompt post today over at the Emblazon website – Ugly Foot Finds Its Doppleganger. It’s a good one for kids. They just might run with it!

Hop on over and check it out.

Posted in Creepy, Holidays, Jokes and Pranks, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Middle Shelf – Cool Reads For Kids

This post is reblogged with permission from Susan Kaye Quinn’s March 7, 2014 post. I, too, planned to write a post about Middle Shelf, a wonderful new digital magazine featuring cool reads for kids, but Susan’s post is so well done, I couldn’t have covered as much as she has, so here you go:

I am pumped that both Faery Swap and the Emblazoners are in the March issue of Middle Shelf!

“Middle Shelf is a digital-only magazine featuring the best books for middle grade readers. Each bi-monthly issue includes author interviews, reviews, excerpts, and photo essays. Subscriptions are free.

Look at this gorgeous ad they ran for Emblazoners! 

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Ad designed by Emblazon member, Dale Robert Pease.

And a full-page excerpt for Faery Swap!

 The Emblazoner Ad

The folks at Middle Shelf offered us a great discount for our ad (Middle Shelf is new and they’re just getting started, but they’re an off-shoot of the larger Shelf Unbound company). This is where having an indie group of authors is a great advantage – the ad was more than any one of us would spend individually (even at the discount) but together, it was a no brainer. Plus we’re (hopefully) building some brand-recognition for our group, as authors who strive to emblazon our stories on the hearts of children. Check out our group and subscribe to receive our catalog to see what other great things we’re doing! Check out Middle Shelf’s Facebook page to see how to advertise with them.

The Faery Swap Excerpt

I was surprised when Laurisa, Editor-in-Chief at Middle Shelf, reached out to me, saying she had read the sample chapter of Faery Swap and thoroughly enjoyed it! And wanted to feature an excerpt in their March edition! Of course, I was happy to do that, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out. It’s possible I may be in a future issue as well with an interview about being an indie MG author.

Two things impress me about Middle Shelf – that they’re actively reaching out to indie authors and that they have the super-glossy, top-shelf look a professional magazine should.

From their premiere issue last fall:

“Good books have the power to entertain, to spark imaginations, and to transform lives, which is precisely why Middle Shelf came into being. We want to connect middle grade readers to the very best books, whether they’re on the bestseller lists, published by small or indie presses, or self-published.”

Amen.

I wish Middle Shelf all the success possible in their mission – they’re off to a great start!

* * *

Thanks so much, Susan, for permission to share your post on my blog. Well said! Cheers to many more fabulous issues from Middle Shelf!

 

 

Posted in Books, Kids, Libraries, Schools, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Bish Denham’s Spider Hair and New Book!

You’re in for a treat today. Meet Bish Denham, author of Anansi and Company. 

Bish Denham with spider hair!

Bish Denham with spider hair!

Don’t you love that do? She did it herself. It goes with her new book about Anansi, the trickster spider.

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About Anansi and Company

How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble.

But who is Anansi? It was the Ashanti of West Africa who brought the spider into the Caribbean. He clung tight to the web he wove in the minds of those who had been captured, surviving not only the harrowing passage across the Atlantic Ocean, but hundreds of years of slavery.

As a trickster, Anansi has both good and bad traits, which makes him very human. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses. When he wins he dances and sings for joy. When he loses, he shakes it off and keeps on living, a lesson for us all.

Isn’t that book cover cool? I love it!

You can get the eBook on Amazon.

Here’s the book trailer:

Lynn:  I just have one question for you. About how long on the average did it take you to retell each tale? I’m thinking this was a pretty time consuming project for you, huh?

Bish:  A few years BEFORE Hurricane Marilyn tore through the Virgin Islands in 1995, my sister gave me for safe keeping, our old book of Jamaican Anansi Stories. It was compiled by Martha Warren Beckwith who went to Jamaica in the early 1920s and recorded people telling Anansi stories. She then faithfully transcribed the stories in their original Jamaican dialect and published them in 1924. Hurricane Marilyn tore the roof off the family home and most of my sister’s books were destroyed.

It seemed serendipitous to me that the old book survived because I had it. So I began to try to read the stories, with the idea of translating and/or retelling them. They proved difficult to read; almost like reading a foreign language. But I persisted.

First I had to decipher them, then pick a few, and rework them. Most of them are more like fragments of a few hundred words or less, rather than real stories with a true beginning, middle and end.

From my first attempts to read the stories to this published edition, I’d say it took at least 12 years. That’s almost a year for each story, which seems ridiculous. But the thing is I wasn’t working on them all that time. I worked on them on and off while I was writing other things.

Lynn:  Wow! All that hard work sure paid off. I love Anansi and Company, and I gave it 5 Stars on Amazon.

The following Author’s Notes at the end of the book are quite interesting:

“In translating and retelling these stories, I have tried to retain the flavor and flow by using words and sentence structure natural to the way people in the Caribbean speak.

“Most of the original tales are quite violent. Because they were told by slaves who, more often than not, suffered from hunger and deprivation, the majority of the stories have to do with acquiring and eating food. Characters are often being caught, killed, cooked, and eaten. One of the ways I have changed the stories is to eliminate most of the violence.

“There are also many riddles included in Jamaica Anansi Stories. I have chosen a few of my favorites. They are all traditional, though some hint at being European in origin.”

Coral Shower Mustache

About the Author

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over a hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there and visits them regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named them, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Pirates plied the waters and hundred of years of slavery left its indelible mark. It was within this atmosphere of magic and wonder that I grew up. My hope is pass some of that magic and wonder on to my readers.”

You can learn more about Bish by visiting her blog: Random Thoughts.

She can also be found on: FacebookTwitter (@BishDenham), and Goodreads.

 

 

Posted in Books, Kids, Libraries, Schools, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

When Laughing Isn’t Appropriate

Have you ever been in a situation when something struck you as awfully funny, but laughter wasn’t kosher for that time and place? Seems like it happens to the best of us.

Lynn Kelley Author, Lynn Kelley, children's author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon Mysteries
I don’t have a photo of the worship leader, so I came up with this to help you visualize the scene!

My sister Cindy and her husband Jim were at church one time when one of those tickle-your-funny-bone moments struck my sis.

At one point during the service, everyone greets others with a friendly handshake or a hug.

The worship leader hugged Cindy, Jim, and others, then went back to the stage to lead the music for the rest of the service.

As the worship leader raised her arms to lead the next song, Cindy noticed a name tag had become stuck under the worship leader’s arm. It said, “Hi. I’m Jim.”

My sister giggled, then checked her husband’s chest to see if his name tag was missing. Yes, indeed, it was his name tag appearing on the animated, enthusiastic worship leader’s armpit.

Cindy covered her mouth and did her best to stifle her chuckles.

Jim wasn’t amused since they were seated in the front row. “Shhh!” he warned.

As the worship leader waved her arms more and more passionately, Cindy’s laughter became harder and harder to control, to the point her shoulders rose and fell and tears streamed down her cheeks.

Finally, Jim grew so embarrassed, he insisted she leave. So Cindy went outside to ride out the laughing fit.

One of my Facebook friends, Cora Ramos, posted the following comment one time:

1654270_10201413784771840_1286897938_aI went to a Zen retreat and everyone was deep into meditation and a bee buzzed me. I jumped three feet in the air (I don’t respond well to stinging insects) and my friend next to me jumped after I did. That started a giggling phase between us that forced us out of the room/house and into the woods to laugh uproariously into tears. That ended up being a better source of relaxation and peace–laughter, the best. (Visit Cora’s blog.)

I know what you mean, Cora. Laughter releases endorphins. If we could laugh like that every day, just think how much healthier we’d be!

I’ll share one last story, although I could share a lot more, but I’ll save those for another post.

Jake (names have been changed) and his wife Barb attended the funeral of  a friend who had passed away while sitting upright. By the time he was discovered, rigor mortis had set in.

Their deceased friend was placed sitting upright in the casket. Jake and Barb looked at each other and wanted to bust up because it was so unexpected, awkward, and surreal.

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Someway, somehow, both Jake and Barb made it through the service without losing it. They missed out on releasing a good dose of endorphins, but their integrity and self-control remained intact.

How about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t help but giggle, but it was not the appropriate time or place? Or was there a time you wanted to laugh so badly, but you held it in?

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you liked this post, I hope you’ll subscribe.

Posted in family, Friends, Funny, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments

Faery Swap Blog Tour

Psssst! Susan Kaye Quinn, one of my favorite authors, has published her first book for middle grade kids. Check it out! I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.

March 3rd – March 21st
A little about Faery Swap
 KindleNookPrint

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services–an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father’s reckless plan to repair the Rift–a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn’s body to fight off his father’s seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body… and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.

NOTE TO TEACHERS: Check out the Virtual Author visit video and Common-Core-Aligned Teacher’s Guide for Faery Swap here.

2 minute book trailer

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Signed Paperback of Faery Swap

Two Faery WandsENTER TO WIN


Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she’s up to.
Faery Swap
Kindle | Nook | Print
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut. 
Posted in Books, Giveaways, Kids, Libraries, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Beauty of a Woman 2014 – My Morphing Body and Mind

This post is part of August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman BlogFest 2014.

Closeup decorative grunge vintage woman with beautiful long hair

I’m excited yet nervous to be taking part in this BlogFest. I confess that I’m stepping out of my comfort zone big time.

Scared

As nervous as I am, I think my story is very much any girl’s story. Just change the details, incidents, and issues, but the feelings and raw emotions are similar. Tender and vulnerable. We reach an age when we become aware of our physical flaws, often thanks to someone else pointing them out to us.

I didn’t have to do eeny, meeny, miny, moe to pick which beauty/self-image issue to write about. Never mind the hairy arms and the time a boyfriend told me I had hairy knuckles. And never mind my ugly legs. I learned they were ugly at age four or five when some adults were laughing and making fun of them. There are numerous flaws from head to toe that have challenged me through life, but for this post, I’ll focus on the biggie, the one that has probably shaped me more than the others.

First, meet Lynnie. Pretty much a typical happy-go-lucky little girl with an older brother, a younger brother, and two younger sisters. I played mother hen to my younger siblings, and life was good.

My father used to sing this little chant about me that made me giggle my head off:

“Skinny Lynnie, there she goes,

walkin’ down the street like a bag o’ bones!”

He wasn’t making fun of me. It was sweet and silly, and I still smile when I think about it.

Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon Mysteries

Second grade

At some point I morphed from happy-go-lucky to severely insecure. It’s vague as to when it happened, but I’d guess somewhere around–somewhere around . . . the “P” word. Deep breath. Just say it! Okay, somewhere around puberty. Ugh, what is it about that word that still makes me uncomfortable? Kind of telling, huh?

Lynnie on stilts

Sixth grade

Above, I was in sixth grade, I think. Gotta love those bell bottom flood pants and mismatched outfit. Never was much of a fashionista. Ah, to be so carefree.

I was a late bloomer. Skinny and underdeveloped in seventh grade wasn’t a happy scenario. One of my friends wore a size “D” bra. She was proud of her body because her mother made sure she didn’t feel ashamed of it. I had no desire to be that busty and have people stare at my chest, but a little something would have boosted my self-esteem greatly.

I might have escaped mean insults.  One time a boy I didn’t know rode past me on his bike and said, “You’re a carpenter’s delight. Flat as a board.” His laughter echoed in my head as he pedaled on his merry way. It took a moment to sink in. Ouch!

Seventh grade was a terrible year. Way before sixth grade ended, my friends and I whispered about how we dreaded going to junior high and would have to take showers after P.E. (physical education). The first shower was worse than I’d imagined. Our teacher sat up on the lockers and watched us to make sure no one skipped out.

She looked at me as I stood buck naked, skinny and flat, trying to become invisible under the stream of water. “Turn around,” she said, making a circle motion with her hand. Cringe, cringe, cringe. So much for going unnoticed.

Somehow I adjusted to the shower routine, just like the other girls did. We had different body builds, but inside most of us were self-conscious and learned to deal with it.

Some of us dealt with body issues better than others. At one point we learned gymnastics in P.E. One of my passions. I had long before taught myself how to do a cartwheel, headstand, handstand, handspring, back bend, and forward flips. I was a shining star. We had to come up with a routine, according to our abilities, to be graded on. No sweat!

Or so I thought. We were required to wear a leotard for our routine. A tight, body hugging black leotard. I put it on but felt naked. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the locker room. While the other girls went outside for the big test, I sat on the bench and cried.

My friend Tricia came back into the locker room to get me. “What’s wrong?”

I didn’t answer, but cried harder.

“Is it because you’re flat?”

Sniffle. Sniffle. “Uh-huh.”

I honestly don’t remember if I wore that stinking, revealing leotard for the test. My mind has blanked it out. Somehow, I see myself performing my routine in my P.E. blouse and shorts, but I’m not sure. I remember I got an A, and the student teacher told me to go for a team. A gymnastics team! That was one of the worst and best days of my life.

Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon Mysteries

Age 13. Do I look like a bubble dancer?

Another ugly incident happened in seventh grade. (What a banner year.) My teacher was a man. Mr. X was considered cool by most students. One day he was joking around and announced, “Lynn’s going to become a bubble dancer someday.”

I had no idea what a bubble dancer was, but I knew Mr. X was making fun of me. I held my tears in the rest of the school day, but as soon as I got to home sweet home, I broke down. My mom asked what was wrong, so I told her.

She grabbed her purse, told me to get in the car, and headed straight for the school. Mr. X was still in his classroom. Mom chewed him up one side and down the other for saying something so inappropriate and humiliating to me in front of the class. I later learned a bubble dancer is a stripper. Why would he say something like that?

Mr. X apologized just to appease Mom, but I didn’t care that he was insincere because my mom had my back. She has always been and always will be beautiful to me, but even more so that day. She was my hero and set an example for the mother I would one day become.

By eighth grade, I still failed to blossom. Mom took me to the doctor to find out what was wrong.

“She’s perfectly normal and healthy,” the doctor assured her. Have patience.

At the end of eighth grade, Granddad passed away. My parents sent me to Pittsburgh to live with my grandmother for the summer and help her get ready to move to California.

That summer, Aunt Flo visited me for the first time. (I’m avoiding that other “P” word, period. My generation wasn’t open about periods like younger generations are now.)

Mom was so relieved I returned home with hips. And a tiny bust. Those little bumps were just big enough to boost my self-esteem and get me through high school.

Thankfully, I made it through puberty, got used to Aunt Flo overstaying her visits, and lived by a common saying of the times: “Just keep on keepin’ on.”

George and I married when I was 20. At 23, I embraced another “P” word. Pregnancy. The times they were a changin’, and I discovered the changes a woman’s body goes through are both fascinating and amazing.

In the photo below, I was three months pregnant with my first child. Still Skinny Lynnie, but not for long.

Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon Mysteries

Age 23 – Three months pregnant.

For the first time in my life, I became plump and busty. Being pregnant made me feel beautiful. No, not because I was busty, but because I was going to be a mother, and as my body blossomed, so did the new life within me.

Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's author,

Almost nine months pregnant and loving it!

With each pregnancy, I plumped up, then morphed back into Skinny Lynnie a few months after childbirth.

Lynn pregnant with Susie

Wow, I got huge with the fourth pregnancy, and that dress isn’t flattering, yet still I felt beautiful!

Lynn - skinny and sickly

I remained Skinny Lynnie until age 50. Here, in my 40s, I was stressed, skinny, and sickly. Not beautiful inside or out. Stress can suck the life right out of us.

With menopause comes a whole new crop of body and mind morphing issues. They sneak up on you until one day, BAM, you take notice. I think it took two years to notice the cellulite in my upper arms. I thought cellulite only invaded our buns and legs. Ha! It can strike anywhere. Probably our brains, too, because forgetfulness nails us, beginning with perimenopause.

Another time while looking in the mirror with the light reflecting a certain way, I discovered peach fuzz on my face. Egad! Great. I had a face to match the hairy knuckles, but hairy knuckles and peach fuzz ain’t got nothing on the monstrous varicose veins snaking above the surface of my hands.

At 58, I can laugh at these flaws (usually) because, frankly, I’ve never been more content in my life. Finally, my perspective (love that “P” word) on life and beauty is what it should be. That old saying, “Keep on keepin’ on” doesn’t cut it anymore. No way.

As care giver of two of my four grandchildren, I’m blessed to view life through a child’s eyes again. So many new things to learn, beautiful family and friends to engage with, laugh with, comfort. There’s an entire wonderful, wacky world to explore (even if only in books, movies, or through cyberspace).

I’m not saying everything is hunky dory. Far from it in this imperfect world. I’m surrounded by so many hurting souls and I wish I could help them, but all I can do is pray and try to spread some kindness. I love the ripple effect just a little bit of kindness triggers. Those are the times I feel beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong. I can be as feisty as the next woman, but it makes me feel ugly. Who likes to feel ugly? No one I know.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I catch a glimpse of the inner beauty behind my eyes, and I smile because life is good and life is beautiful, even in the midst of this broken world.

How about you? Are beauty and body issues easy for you to talk about? What makes you feel beautiful? Do you know any women you admire for their inner beauty?

Be sure to visit August Mclaughlin’s blog to read the other blog fest posts and for fun, inspiration, laughs, and more. You might also win one of two $50 gift cards!

(Note to parents of young girls: I highly recommend the NY bestselling book Reviving Ophelia. It will help you understand why so many girls lose themselves in adolescence. You’ll be better equipped to help her, guide her, and empower her. Knowledge is power. I wish I’d known about that book when my daughters were young, so I’m giving you a heads up.)

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