A Reading of The Jobo Tree – My Short Story in Highlights Magazine

Eleven years ago my short story “The Jobo Tree” (pronounced Hobo Tree) was published in the September 2006 issue of Highlights for Children magazine.

Soon after it was published, I received an award in the mail for “Author of the Month.” I didn’t know Highlights gave out such an award, but it’s pretty cool, an engraved eight-inch pewter plate. I framed it  so I could hang it on the wall.

At the time the story was published, I didn’t have any grandchildren and would have to wait a good four years for the first grandchild to be born.

Twinkle Eyes (my nickname for her) will be eight in February. There are four more grand darlings: Grasshopper – age six, Sweet Pea – age four, Ninja Doll – age four (they’re cousins, not twins), and Chatty Girl the youngest is two.

Twinkle Eyes, Grasshopper, Sweet Pea, Ninja Doll, and Chatty Girl

The eight- and six-year-olds know how to read now, and the younger ones enjoy books and stories, so it got me thinking I should record myself reading my short stories and some chapters from my novels, especially since Grasshopper and Ninja Doll moved across the country and I don’t get to see them very often.

Now they can enjoy Grammy’s stories on YouTube anytime they’re allowed to watch them. They can also share them with their friends. What’s really cool about making videos of my stories is that it makes them accessible to millions of children. Yahoo!

“The Jobo Tree” is a sweet story. Grownups enjoy it, too, because — well, I’m not going to give away the twist, but it’s  a feel good, happy tale.

Here’s a video about the Author-of-the-Month award:

I also got some press coverage. The Daily News (High Desert in California) published an article:

So, here we are heading full speed into the holidays. I’m never ready for them.

This coming week my husband George and I will find out the results of the testing he had done last week (whole body PET scan and MRI of the brain). I’m expecting no change from two months ago, which means, yes, there’s still a trace of cancer in his brain, but it’s not spreading. I’m kind of holding my breath waiting for the good news.

George is doing quite well, enjoying riding his bike and doing a bit of gardening, but he will be scheduled for maintenance chemo next week. We’re hoping he tolerates it much better than the last time, which was the end of May.

If George gets a good report on the PET scan and MRI, our lives will be that much closer to our old normal and I’ll focus more on writing again and maybe even get my health coaching business launched, and George will be relieved knowing there will be many future opportunities to spend precious time with family.

I’m supposed to be writing blog posts about this journey we’ve been on in dealing with his cancer, but it’s challenging me to relive the memories. I promise I’ll have a decent post updating you before the end of the month.

My husband George with his beloved bike. He says it’s as much fun now as it was when he was a kid. Go, George!

In the meantime, I view each day as a miracle. It gives life a whole new perspective. I’ve also been reflecting on where we’ve been, where we’re at now, and where we’re going. Maybe I’m crazy or maybe I’m in denial, but I remain ever hopeful and thankful that George is active and making the most of each day. He’s pretty incredible and quite inspiring!

What are you up to? Getting ready for the holidays? Do you enjoy children’s stories? Do you have children or grandkids who bring joy and laughter to your life? I’d love to hear what’s happening in your neck of the woods. 

 

Posted in Authorly Stuff, family, Writing, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mom’s Scary Prank

Hello everyone! Today I have a Slice of Life – True Story to share with you. I recorded it so you can get the full effects, but for those who can’t watch the video, the text is below.

I finally received a photo a couple weeks ago of this freaky fake feline. Would this creature scare you if someone pranked you with it?

I bugged my sister Cindy for about three years to send me a picture of this scary cat her neighbor Shelly uses for a Halloween prop and to prank her friends with. Being a prankster herself, Cindy didn’t fall for it.

However, she did borrow it to pull a few pranks of her own.

Cindy put the cat in her daughter’s room. Bella, then age 13, wasn’t startled at all, but it was still daylight.

So Cindy set the cat on her son Brent’s window sill. By the time the high school jock jetted up the stairs to his room, it was dusk. Next thing, Cindy heard a loud, “Agh!”

Pause.

“Mom, I hate you!”

Cindy giggled, and after the initial shock, Brent being a joker, too, chuckled that Mom got him good.

That was fun, but Cindy wasn’t through with that spooky cat. This time she put it in the master bedroom on her window ledge. With that, she was off to Bella’s dance lesson and forgot all about the freaky cat in her window.

Returning home a couple hours later, she found her husband, Jim, in the rocker-recliner in the family room. Clearly, he was upset about something. “What’s wrong?”

“Cindy, sit down.” He was dead serious. She braced herself for whatever bad news Jim was about to tell her. She noticed a baseball bat in the middle of the room and wondered why it was there.

“What is it? What happened?” she asked.

“Don’t ever do that again.”

“Do what? What did I do?” She’d forgotten all about the cat.

Jim explained his eventful evening. After arriving home from a long day at the office. He entered the bedroom to change and noticed something on the window sill that gave him quite a start.

“He focused on it and thought it was an owl that somehow got in through the window screen. Its eyes looked eerie and it didn’t move. Jim wanted a closer look, but the light switch was near the creature, so he couldn’t risk turning it on and having the thing fly off throughout the house.  He pondered how to catch it.

A baseball bat might do the trick. After grabbing one, he got on hands and knees and slowly approached the owl, baseball bat at the ready to nail it. Creeping slowly on all fours, he made a ‘Ch-ch’ sound from the side of his mouth, hoping to frighten it enough so it would escape back out through the screen, but it still didn’t move.

‘Ch-ch, ch-ch.’ Jim cautiously approached, staying low. ‘Ch-ch.’ Upon closer look, he noticed it wasn’t an owl at all, but a cat. A stiff cat that never moved. Was it dead?

Puzzled over how a cat got onto the window sill and died in a such a petrified state, Jim finally managed to flick the light on. Only then did he realize he’d been pranked.

Furious, he called Brent and chewed him out. Brent laughed and said, “It wasn’t me, it was Mom.”

“Your mother wouldn’t do that to me,” Jim said.

Brent laughed harder. “I swear it wasn’t me, it was Mom. She put it in my room first.”

Jim stewed in the rocker-recliner until Cindy and Bella returned home.

Cindy apologized just for the sake of it, but had a good laugh later that her prank was such a huge success!

Jim never laughed, not once. Not amused in the least.

Two years later, Shelly pranked Cindy again, leaving the cat in her refrigerator.

Cindy got a big kick out of it, but when Jim saw the cat, he told Cindy to get that thing out of there and wanted nothing to do with it.

Have you ever been the victim of a prank like this? Are you a prankster?  Would you be mad, too, if this happened to you?

Posted in Creepy, family, Funny, Humor, Jokes and Pranks | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

The Heirloom Vacuum – Slice of Life Real Story Plus Why I’ve Been MIA the Past Year

Hello friends. I’m hoping to get back to blogging again. The past year has been overwhelming, heartbreaking, and mind boggling, so much so that I’ve wondered if my hubby George and I have been thrust into an alternate universe.

Basically, George was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in December 2016. Strangely, we received the diagnoses in stages. First, we were told Stage 2, then Stage 3a, and then in December when the MRI of his brain revealed it had metastasized to his brain, it became Stage 4. I need to double check the various stages, but I will get into the entire journey in future posts.

There have also been complications. Many.

The good news is, George has dodged more than one bullet and is doing amazingly well, considering in January 2017 he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer: leptomeningeal disease.

That still remains the diagnosis, but he’s not showing any neurological symptoms. There’s just too much that’s happened to share in one blog post, and, besides, this is a happy post. I just wanted to give you a heads up about why I’ve been MIA and let you know I plan to use this window of opportunity while George is doing so well to get back to writing and share our journey with you, the mistakes we’ve made and the things we’ve done right. I hope it will help others who are facing similar struggles.

I’m also making YouTube videos. Lots and lots of videos on a variety of topics. I’m putting ads on them because, hey, the medical bills are adding up, and all those pennies from the YouTube ads will eventually help out. I’m also an Amazon affiliate and will add links to some books or products I will be posting about.

First, before I share a slice of life true story video with you, I want to thank everyone who has supported George and me through the crazy journey we’ve been on. There are people all over the world praying for him, and I will be eternally grateful for all those prayers and the way God has been answering them.

September 2016 – Celebrating 40 years of marriage.

September 2017 – Celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary. So thankful George is still with us.

One thing that’s helped George and me deal with his health issues is humor. Humor is healing (when it’s appropriate). It also helps us stay somewhat sane. We all need a little giggle getaway, right?

So, how have you been? What tools do you use to get you through the hard times?  Have you ever had a vacuum cleaner that drove you to the edge? I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in family, Funny, Health and Wellness, Humor | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Mystery of the Strange Ticking – A True Story in Honor of My Mother

So much has happened in my life the past year, so I’ve been MIA from this website. Sometimes life events trump keeping up with blogging, but I hope to write about it soon. For now, we’ll keep this post on the light side.

I’d like to share a true story with you. This is about a gambling trip I went on with my mom to Laughlin, Nevada in June 2011. So many strange things happened, starting with a strange ticking sound in the wall of our hotel room, so of course I had to write about it. Here’s the blog post from back then if you’re in a hurry and can’t watch the video below, although I highly recommend watching the video to get the full effects of the story.

I recorded it for Mother’s Day in honor of my mother, Marilyn Powell, and published it on YouTube.  See if you can figure out the answer to the mystery before I reveal it at the end of the video.

So, did you guess what caused the strange ticking sound? Have you ever had sleepless nights from weird noises keeping you awake all night? I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Authorly Stuff, Creepy, family, Holidays, Humor, Uncategorized, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Fascinating Facts About Octopuses

Today is the last day of International Cephalopod Awareness Days, and I’ve written a blog post for the Emblazoner’s website. Check it out to learn some fascinating facts about one type of cephalopod: octopuses. 

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Photo by Tracey Alvarez, Flickr WANA Commons

The Emblazoners are a group of children’s authors who write for tweens (kids age 9 through 13). You don’t have to be a tween to appreciate amazing facts about octopuses. Guaranteed to blow your mind. Enjoy!

Posted in Authorly Stuff, Creepy | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Dance of Life and Girls Just Want to Have Fun – #BOAW16

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

I’m thrilled to be able to take part in this year’s Beauty of a Woman blogfest.

I’ve done tons of reflecting back on my life since I turned 60 in March. Funny that no matter how old we get, we still feel young inside. My mom turned 80 last October, and she feels the same way. The trick is getting our bodies to cooperate.

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One of the things I love most in life is dancing to good music. It lifts my spirits like nothing else and makes me feel joyful and beautiful.

I’m not talking about dancing at night clubs since I don’t get out much, but dancing at home while cleaning works for me.

I danced with each of my four children when they were babies and while they were growing up. My three daughters and I loved to dance through the house to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”  My son didn’t get into dancing like his sisters did. (He takes after his father.)

Dancing With My Daughters Collage

2002 – Dancing with my daughters at hubby’s 50th birthday party. Best of times!

These days I have five grand-darlings to groove with! Hubby dances with me at wedding receptions and occasions like that, just to make me happy.

Below is a poem I wrote a few years ago. I thought it might be appropriate to add it here for the Beauty of a Woman celebration. Our sense of beauty and self-worth begins long before we become women.

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

Here’s a short video from my 60th birthday. My mom and my sister Cindy took me to lunch, but first I got them to dance.

“The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.”
~Barbara de Angelis

Below, check out the picture I took of Mom when we were celebrating her 80th birthday. She’s holding up the wonderful photo book Cindy gave her. Mom was only 16 in that photo on the cover.

She eloped at age 16 to get away from her evil step-mother. No kidding. My grandma died when Mom was 13.

Dad was 19 when they married. They’ll celebrate their 64th anniversary in July.

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Mom when she as a little girl. What a little darling!

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Marilyn – Still a beauty at 80 years old

Mom has been a beautiful woman (on the inside and outside) for as long as I’ve known her. *grin* She’s a mother of five, grandmother of 16, and great-grandma of 14.

I asked her what makes her feel beautiful. “A lifetime with a large family is real beauty, all the love that’s passed around,” she said. “I’m more beautiful when I’m around my kids and grandkids, doing things, being with them, enjoying them.” She thought a bit longer, then said, “The beauty of a woman is giving birth to a baby.”

How cool that the Beauty of a Woman blogfest is right before Mother’s Day this year. What a perfect time to tell my mom I wish her the best Mother’s Day ever.

Thanks for dancing with me, Mom, and for filling my childhood and my life with fun, laughter, and joyful memories. Love you forever!

 Happy Mom’s Day to all!

Let’s celebrate!

Tap your toes and snap your fingers to your favorite tunes.

Thank you, August McLaughlin,
for hosting the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.

Go HERE to read the other posts, enter the giveaway
to win prizes, and for more fun and inspiration.

Do you like to dance? What’s your favorite song? What makes you feel beautiful? Do you still feel like a kid no matter how old you are? What are you doing to celebrate Mother’s Day?

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to have you subscribe to my blog. Just fill in your email address in the “Subscribe” window toward the top of the sidebar. Thank you for stopping by!

 

Posted in Blog Fests, family, Holidays, Poetry, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Benefits of Learning to Juggle

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When I discovered all the benefits of learning to juggle, I had to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. It’s great fun and feels wonderful to conquer each baby step along the way. I’m in it for the long haul and I’m inviting you to join me.

Here’s the YouTube video of the speech I gave at a recent Toastmasters International meeting. I messed up, forgot where I was in the middle of the speech. I didn’t edit it out because making mistakes is part of the process and we can’t let it stop it us from continuing on. And, yes, I felt pretty awkward and stupid at the time, but then pulled myself together.

For those of you who aren’t able to view the video, here’s the text from the speech:

Do you know how to juggle?

Learning to juggle is one of the best things you can do for your brain.

Photo on 7-5-15 at 4.33 PMIt makes you smarter. Juggling is good for all ages. According to the January 2004 issue of Nature magazine, juggling increases gray matter. Just practicing the movements improves your brain and coordination even before you succeed.

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The process of learning to juggle exercises your brain and your muscles at the same time. It’s a fun workout that’s amusing and rewarding, plus it reduces stress and anxiety. Some studies claim it may even prevent Alzheimer’s.

Tonight I’m going to teach you how to get started on your juggling journey. If you have children, you might want to teach them, too. It can help their developing brains.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 10.39.29 PMObviously, you need props to juggle. You can use scarves, balls, bean bags, socks filled with beans or rice, or something similar. Chain saws and flaming torches aren’t good choices, at least for beginners.

I’m a beginner so I picked bean bags because they don’t roll when I drop them. Plus, they’re adorable. How about a hand for Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch?

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I want to teach my grandkids how to juggle, but preschoolers are too young. However, bean bags are great for them to practice catching, throwing, and tossing into a bucket.

For my two-year-old granddaughters, just passing the beanbag from one hand to the other is good, or cupping it with two hands and barely tossing it upwards an inch or two.

When you first learn to juggle, you’re going to drop the props. A lot. This is hard for some children, like my three-year-old grandson. At first, he got mad every time he fumbled, but dropping is part of the process.

To avoid frustration, say a funny word or expression. Grandson doesn’t get upset anymore when he drops the beanbag. Instead, we smile or giggle.

Make a silly face to add humor and turn those giggles into full-blown laughter.

Keep practicing. Odds are you’ll eventually catch the beanbag.

For older kids and adults, you’re going to start with one prop. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Bend your arms, keeping your elbows near your waist, not outstretched in front of you and not out at your sides.

Now imagine an invisible rectangle about here.

Juggling Point A, B, CTo start, throw Prop 1 from Point A upwards at about forehead level, targeting the opposite corner, Point B.

Next, throw the same prop to the other hand, aiming for the top opposite corner of the imaginary rectangle.

Practice tossing the beanbag from one hand to the other, over and over again until you get the hang of it. Keep your eyes focused slightly upward where the beanbag arcs. Don’t look down or you’ll mess up.

Now you’re ready for two props.

Juggling Point A, B, C, D

Leading off with your dominant hand, throw Prop 1 to Point B and then release Prop 2, aiming for Point D. Notice the blue arrows. I find that counting helps me get the timing right. Unless you’re ambidextrous, you’ll need to practice leading off with your dominant hand over and over until your throws and catches are consistent.

Then move on to leading off with your other hand. It will be awkward at first. My left hand is a loose cannon. The tosses are wild and can end up anywhere. Get ready to duck! This is why practicing in a hallway is good. It saves you a trek across the room chasing a runaway prop.

If you get tired of bending and stooping to retrieve, you can stand in front of a table or bed.

Or, if you’re barefooted and have prehensile feet, use your toes to pick up wayward props.

When you’re good at leading off with your non-dominant hand, practice alternating leading with both hands. Once you get this down, you’re ready for three bean bags.

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My club liked the speech even though I messed up. Best Speech and Best Time!

Practicing ten to 15 minutes a day will pay off. There might be bad days. Juggling definitely has its ups and downs.

You have the benefit of learning from my mistakes. This is how you should move your hands and arms.

Here’s one of my bad days. Notice how my hands are all over the place. (See video clip.)

Don’t let a bad day stop you. Keep trying.

That was recorded about a month ago. Here’s what practicing ten minutes a day can do. This is the three-ball cascade. (See video.)

I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and incorporated the various tips and techniques that seem to work for me. I hope they work for you.

One instructor said the youngest age a student learned to juggle was six years old and the oldest student was 80. Some people can learn in an hour or so. Others take years.

I first started four months ago, but practicing a few minutes a week didn’t cut it. Again, devote ten to 15 minutes a day and you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make.

Once you master the three-ball cascade, you’re not finished. In order to continue building your brain, you need to constantly be learning something new.

That’s what’s so great about juggling. There are so many varied routines to learn that you’ll never run out of new challenges.

Try juggling standing on one foot. Two bean bags with one hand. How about a four-ball cascade? Then five, six, or more. The world record is 11 balls for 23 consecutive catches.

Throw one ball behind your back or move on to throwing more difficult objects. No, not chain saws, but rubber chickens would be a kick.

For a better workout, there are one-pound juggling balls. If you like to run, you can become a joggler. I kid you not. Jogglers are joggers who juggle or jugglers who jog. How impressive is that?

Keep your brain and body fit. Be creative. Have fun and enjoy your juggling journey!

This guy is amazing. He not only juggles while jogging, but also while swimming and riding a bike. Wow!

Did I convince you to give juggling a shot, or do you already know how to juggle? Are you learning something new right now? What are you working on? Do you think that triathlon juggling video is awesome?

 

 

Posted in Health and Wellness, Speech, Toastmasters, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Altered Art Book For My Aunt Val

This is a small altered art scrapbook I made for my Aunt Val for her birthday a few years ago.

Materials/medium:  Small children’s board book (about 4″ x 6″), scrapbook paper, ribbon, pressed flowers, tiny seashells, photographs, scrapbook accessories, acrylic paint, beads.

The cover says,

“Aunt Val,
If you were here
or I was there . . .”

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

Torn paper can add a cool edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding a pocket allows you to add photos or anything you’d like to include or for the recipient to add little keepsakes.

Use the tip of a pencil or non-brush point of a paint brush, dip in acrylic paint, and add dots for an easy border around photos.

Braided ribbon makes a nice border.

Pressed flowers picked from your garden make an inexpensive embellishment. I set the flowers between two sheets of waxed paper and let them dry out in the pages of a book for a couple weeks.Stack heavy books on top of the book with the pressed flowers.

Entries from my childhood diary!

Minimized photos of old magazine covers are tucked into the pocket on the back cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find scrapbook embellishments at discount and dollar stores in addition to regular craft stores.

Posted in Arts and Crafts | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Werewolves – Fact or Fiction

Rumors of shape-shifting creatures have haunted humans for ages. Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes, along with vampires, are the most well-known shape-shifters.

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The word “werewolf” comes from two Old English words: “wer,” which means “man,” and “wulf” for “wolf.”

Here are some common folklore beliefs about werewolves:

  • They’re able to shape-shift from human form into wolf form
  • Their shape-shifting usually happens during a full moon
  • They possess superhuman strength and speed
  • They’re basically evil

The belief that the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet or silver object started with modern literature.

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Long ago, people believed a person could turn into a werewolf for the following reasons:

  • Being bitten or scratched by a werewolf
  • Falling under the curse of a witch or evil spirits
  • Wearing a wolf skin
  • A magic ointment applied to their bodies

Nowadays, there are still reports of werewolf sightings around the world. In areas where wolves never existed, there are reports of other types of man-animals. In Africa, it’s werehyenas. In India, it’s weretigers and werepumas. In South America, there are werejaguars.

Are werewolves and other were-animals real or just a myth?

Scientists believe they’re myths and they’ve come up with explanations to prove werewolves aren’t real. Here are a few scientific points:

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Petrus Gonsalvus (1648), the first recorded case of hypertrichosis – This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.

There’s a rare disease, hypertrichosis (also known as Wolfitis), which causes excessive hair to grow all over the body, and in super bad cases, all over the face and neck, too. This disease can make a human look like a wolf, but they don’t have animal-like behavior.

One of the ingredients in the magic ointment people used to turn into a werewolf was a poisonous plant called belladonna, which causes hallucinations. Hallucinations can make a person think he or she is either turning into a werewolf or is seeing a werewolf.

Another thing that causes hallucinations (and even death) is a fungus called Ergot, which infects the grains of wheat and rye. Hundreds of years ago, people were unaware of this fungus. The infected grains were used to bake bread. Eating bread containing the poisonous Ergot caused mass hysteria and hallucinations.

Some scientists believe the legend of werewolves is the result of constant low levels of Ergot poisoning in some locations, causing many villagers to have visions of being chased by werewolves. Ergot poisoning might explain how the belief in werewolves became so strong in some areas, but wolfmen have been reported in places where no Ergot-infected grains ever grew.

Another possible explanation for werewolf sightings may come from rabies, a viral infection caused by being bitten by an infected animal. People with rabies can have hallucinations and strange behaviors, which make them want to bite other humans, so rabies has played its part in werewolf legends, too.

These explanations probably wouldn’t change the minds of many people in the state of Wisconsin who claim to have seen werewolves or other creatures with wolf features. Between the towns of Delavan and Elkhorn near Bray Road, there is widespread belief that werewolves are real. They are called the Bray Road Monsters. You can read more here and here.

Witnesses say they’ve seen werewolves. Scientists say there are other explanations. What say you?

Do you like werewolf tales? If you do, grab my free ebook, Trio of Haunting Tales, Spooky Short Stories for kids ages 8 and up.

Trio of Haunting Tales, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's eBook, Scary stories

Free on Amazon

In Night of the Howling Werewolf, Eric Lung searches out the bullies who jumped his best friend, Ben, and stole his bike. Things get weird on Slaughter Hill, the bullies’ favorite hangout.

And you might enjoy the other two short stories. Cyclops Clyde, a freaky computer monster, wreaks havoc both on and off screen, taunting and paralyzing his victim.

Ghost Warrior kicks the fright factor up and will creep out even the bravest of souls. Connie worked overtime and now worries that she’ll be punished with extra pushups for being late to karate class, but pushups become the least of her problems when rival ghost gangs that haunt the parking structure claim first dibs on this mortal prey.

Here’s a not-so-spooky book teaser. I had fun making it a few years ago. It features another werewolf, Wild Hairy. It’s actually me (Shh, don’t tell anyone) with a bad case of Wolfitis.

So, do you think werewolves are fact or fiction? Does reading this stuff creep you out and give you the heebie jeebies? I think it’s spoo-oooky! Watch the video. It’ll shake your fears away. 

Posted in Authorly Stuff, Books, Creepy, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Kissed by an Angel – Our Labor of Love

I’m doing a happy dance over the moon because our anthology of short stories, Kissed by an Angel is here at last! This is a dream come true for a very worthy cause.

Cover illustration by Yvette Carol and Graphic design by Lynn Kelley

All proceeds will benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation. Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that can cause seizures, blood clots, stroke, glaucoma, blindness, paralysis, and more.

“The Kissed by an Angel anthology includes 10 stories and one poem featuring children who are gifted or have special powers. Some are ordinary people, others are extraordinary, and several aren’t what they seem to be. Read on and be enchanted.

Illustrated by Catherine Johnson

“Wander with us onto a magical island ship, uncover an amazing secret, and solve a very fishy mystery. Discover a World War II codebreaker, captivating garden, time machine, undercover agents, bug master, plus more. And meet a special boy who was kissed by an angel.

KBAA - Flying Fish Mystery

The Flying Fish Mystery illustration by Ellen Injerd

“This anthology benefits the Sturge-Weber Foundation. Children who have Sturge-Weber are born with a port wine birthmark, which varies in color and size, and stays with them their whole lives. “You were kissed by an angel” is how author Robyn Campbell explained to her son Christopher, who suffers from Sturge-Weber syndrome, about his tell-tale birthmark. He is the creative genius who helped choose some of the names of the characters, and he is our inspiration.”

Ivy's image for KBAA anthology

Illustration by Ivy Campbell, Christopher’s sister

In the words of one of our authors, 13-year-old Erik Weibel (This Kid Reviews Books blog):

“This anthology is dedicated to my buddy, Christopher Campbell, every other person who has been kissed by an angel, and the people who work to find treatments to help those with Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

“These stories are dedicated to every kid with different abilities and the people who advocate for them. I want to grow up in a world of inclusion, opportunity, and equality for everyone.”

Very well said, Erik!

Our anthology begins with this beautiful poem:

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Deep breath
Don’t overthink it
Learn to be patient
With myself
And others
And live
In this moment
And all the moments that God gives me
I will cherish this life

~ Catherine Johnson

Baby Christopher

Robyn Campbell, Christopher’s mother, wrote the Foreword:

“When my son Christopher came into the world, he looked different. A dark red birthmark covered most of his body.  The doctor thought the birthmark would go away in a few days. That was not to be. It was a port wine birthmark and was a sign of a devastating genetic condition—Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

When he was two weeks old, he turned blue and was unresponsive. We called the pediatrician and rushed him to the hospital. The doctor met us there and explained about Christopher’s seizure. He said he’d only seen one case of this disorder. And that was in medical school forty years previous.

The next day I went to the library, and I found a medical book that had one definition for Sturge-Weber. The brain will waste away. Armed with this knowledge, I made life great for Christopher while his father and I waited for his brain to dissolve. It was then that a neurologist told us that Christopher would die before he was two years old. Not great news for a momma and daddy to hear.

ChristopherHoldingBabyFast forward to thousands of seizures later, an excellent pediatric neurologist, Dr. D’Cruz, family love, and much prayer, Christopher is still with us. His brain is still intact.

Sure, the seizures hurt him in more ways than one, but he loves life, and he loves the authors of this anthology. He can talk, think, count money, and he does a lot of chores around the farm. Christopher graduated from high school and works for his dad and me. He can take care of himself (for the most part).”

Christopher and Dr. D'Cruz3

Robyn’s foreword is compelling and so is her anthology story, which is told from Christopher’s point of view. Writing it was extremely difficult for this mother of seven. All the emotions of the close calls they’ve lived through came flooding back, but the story is beautiful. It’s about a very special and brave little boy.

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been an easy road for the Campbell family or other Sturge-Weber families.

A few months ago Christopher was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm after going through a battery of tests. Imagine the despair this family suffered, only to find out it was a mistake. Sheesh! This will be an extra-special Christmas, knowing he’s not dealing with such a life-threatening condition.

While the port wine birthmark is a common sign of people with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Christopher’s is unusual in that it covers about 90% of his body. It gets thick and becomes brittle and painful, so he has to have laser treatments on the birthmark every two to three months. The procedure itself is painful, but it’s necessary.

What a trooper he is. I’m amazed that he endures so much and still remains such a gentle, loving soul.

The gene that causes Sturge-Weber was discovered in 2013. It’s GNAQ. We’re all hoping this discovery will lead to a cure.

If you’d like to help raise money for the Sturge-Weber Foundation, plus be entertained by some wonderful short stories:

You can purchase Kissed by an Angel
on Amazon.

Available in both print and digital formats.

The Campbell family and the other Sturge-Weber families thank you for purchasing this anthology and supporting them.

“Face” – A beautiful piece by Bianca Wood. This is her first single.

Robyn says, “Bianca is from South Africa and has Sturge-Weber Syndrome. Clearly, she doesn’t have a lot of the problems that most have. But that’s why she did this song. To speak for the ones who can’t talk for themselves. To teach people that this is diverse too. Don’t stare. It hurts.”

Kissed by an Angel – Contributing Authors:

Robyn Campbell – Kissed by an Angel Short Story
Yvette Carol – Grandpa and Loor
Catherine Johnson – Kissed by an Angel Poem
Lynn Kelley – Invisible
Vivian Kirkfield – Travis and Talia – Time Traveling Twins
Ellen Leventhal – Codebreaker
Suzy Levinson – Lucky Huck
Hope Lim – Master of Bugs
Theresa Milstein – The Captain’s Call
Cheryl Secomb – The Flying Fish Mystery
Erik Weibel – The Accidental Agents

Special thanks to Mikey Brooks for taking over the formatting when I got stuck and couldn’t go any further. He’s also a professional illustrator and children’s author. You can find him at http://www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Also, thank you, Kathy Halsey, for blogging about our book, Thanksgiving?Writers Giving! You Giving? and for your patience and support while hanging out in our FaceBook group. We had to wing it (pun intended), but our lovely angels guided us through the process, slowly but surely.

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It’s great to finally hold this baby in my hands!

Did this year go by as fast for you as it did for me? What are your plans for the holidays? We haven’t put up any decorations yet. Do you think the grandkids will believe me if I tell them reindeers stole our Christmas tree? Ha-ha!

Merry Merry to you and your family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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