Growing Gardens & Writing Books: 2012   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Books of Elsewhere - The Second Spy

I just finished reading the third installment of The Books of Elsewhere - The Second Spy. If you have not discovered Jacqueline West and her incredibly creative books then you need to! Olive Dunwoody is a very funny and quirky little girl that has just moved into a unique house. The former owners, the McMartins, are still trying to reclaim their home. However, all the McMartins are dead. Olive stumbles onto a pair of spectacles that allows her to go into the magical paintings that Mr. McMartin painted. This leads to an amazing adventure that Olive finds herself getting into. She must protect the home from the McMartins. These books give fresh life to the subject of magic and the hilarious situations (and sometimes scary) that Olive, the cats, and her new friend Rutherford gets themselves into. It is a must read for your young reader and for any adult!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is the Grass Greener?

I am learning new things everyday. For once though, I would like to learn how to make my grass greener!! I employ anyone that has some basic ideas to please help me out. The shaded areas tend to be lush and green but the spot that is beat with the sun all day is crunchy and brown....most of the time. A friend said to me, "The grass isn't always greener on the otherside. If you want your grass greener then you need to water it". Now, we weren't talking about gardening but I thought the point was awesome none the less! I have a tremendous amount of weeds in the death zone so I fear watering would only encourage their growth. Do I put up a sail to shade the area? Do I use chemicals? HELP!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Book App Coming!!!

Howdy folks! I am so excited!!! I hired my first illustrator (Korey Scott) to help me with my next book. Instead of doing a traditional paperback book, I have decided to give the world of book apps a try! So, I will keep ya posted and give you any tips I learn along the way. Feel free to ask questions! More to come!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Victory is Mine!

I finally beat those pesky squirrels! It took a whole lotta patience and one heck of a Tomato Palace (as mom mother named it). But finally, I get to declare victory over those not so Disney like thieves. I will finally have my first ripe tomato in a couple days and I can say...I will enjoy it. The funny thing is, I really don't like tomatoes. Why bother? I am highly competitive and refuse to be outsmarted by Chip N' Dales distant kin! Victory is sweet!

This one is before. I added the canopy this year and it has been awesome! Protected those guys from the direct sun and yielded loads of tomatoes...for the squirrels. 

Here is the after! Tomato Palace and squirrel proof!

I have however lost the war on my pumpkins, squash and cucumbers this year. I have a plan in place to treat my soil with a tonic recipe I got from Jerry Baker's Terrific Garden Tonics. If it does the trick I will share them here with ya! I plan on planting now just to see if it will help. I will keep ya posted!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Any Jane Austen Fans?

If you love Jane Austen, like me, then you will enjoy this book I just finished. I borrowed it on my iPad from my local library and it was a good read. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is a story about a divorced single mom, Chloe Parker, with a failing business and one last hope to save her home, business, and love life. She wins a trip to England to take part in what she thinks is a documentary set in Regency (19th century) England. What she quickly learns is that she has signed a contract to be on a reality show and compete with other women to win the heart of Mr.Wrightman. Now, I was able to very quickly guess the twist but I was still eager to see how it would unfold. I will say, I am not a fan of books or movies ending the way this one did (I want to know exactly how they rode off into the sunset) but I still very much enjoyed it. Karen Doornebos did a great job capturing my attention, engaging my love of Jane Austen, and writing a love story that I want more from. I am certainly hoping Ms. Doornebos is working on the sequel!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Squirrels and Bugs!!!

As you know, I love my garden. I also love animals but just realized this year...I love them to a point. I really enjoy teaching my kids about our natural environment and how everything has a purpose or a job if you will. However, if those darn squirrels steal one more tomato they are going to be introduced to my friend Kristal and her BB gun! We do live in Texas ya know! Well, thankfully it has not come to that. I purchased some Deer Off and have applied it liberally to my tomatoes, fencing, canopy, etc. I am ashamed to admit that I did see a squirrel in my neighbor's garden and I hosed it down with water! Oh, I am awful, I know. At least he did not get a meal from her garden nor mine! So far, so good. I have over 18 tomatoes coming in and I better have all 18 there! Battle of the tomatoes, round 2 has begun.

The other nuisance in my garden are those adorable rolly pollys! My daughter loves them (I did too when I was her age). Now, I just see hungry little pests that like to eat their way through EVERYTHING! I have been tolerating them but yesterday I caught one eating my green bean! Does he not know how many I have to grow before I can make one meal? Humph! I will continue to tolerate them but they should be warned, I am watching!

Very soon I will have my potting table built and I will post pics. I found the picture of one on Pinterest and loved it. I was able to get some cedar posts from a friend for free and my husband and I have spent all weekend stripping the posts to get them ready for lacquering. Almost there!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So many shades, so little time!

I just finished reading the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy...can you say nonstop steaminess?! I have heard so many things about the books and I had them on my reading list for a while now. I finally got around to them and boy am I glad I did! Now, I have heard things like...filthy, what's all the fuss about, mommy porn, etc. I agree with everyone except the "what's all the fuss about" comment. Yes, it gets good and dirty, yes it is nonstop sexcapades, yes, yes, yes...oh sorry. Anyway, E.L. James (click on her name for link) did a great job of introducing two intriguing characters that could not be more opposite if you tried, added A LOT of steamy bedroom (or playroom) scenes, and still managed to tell a very romantic love story. Personally, I loved it. If you get uncomfortable with reading steamy (or kinky in a lot of cases) encounters then these books may not be for you. Erotica novels can be difficult but I think Ms. James told a different love story with out a lot of cursing or raunchy language. It stayed seductive enough to hold your interest without being over the top and making you feel more like a voyeur than just a reader. I did catch myself a few times wondering if Hollywood could turn these into a film without the XXX rating. Maybe like a Two Moon Junction or even 9 1/2 Weeks? You can find out more about the author, E.L. James at her website or just head over to your local book store and pick up a copy. You can also download a digital copy on your Nook, eReader, or iPad. I purchased two of the three on my iPad and downloaded one from my local library. Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Event Today!

Hey everyone! I will be at Hastings in San Marcos from 1-3 for my book What Kind of a Name is That? Please come out and see me! 917 Texas 80 San Marcos, TX

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Raised Beds

I simply love my raised beds! Oh, I feel I should mention that I live in the Texas Hill Country which means digging is just not an option. So, raised beds it is. Now, some may run out and purchase a complete raised bed "kit" but you can do it much cheaper. I purchased treated 2X6X8's and cut them in half to make 4X4 beds. These worked great and so the next year I made 4X8 beds. I now have 3 of each and they are growing like crazy.You will notice that the middle 4X4 has a canopy. Last year we had such high temperatures and were in a major drought that my tomatoes just couldn't handle it. This year we covered them and are easily getting 4 times the amount we got last year. The three 8X4 beds are in a nice partly shaded area and everything seems really love it. I started these about a month after I planted the smaller ones so we haven't gotten any veggies or fruit yet but we have loads of blooms! I have to say thanks to my husband and family for helping me out with my garden. Love you guys!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Yahoo Article Published

As a new author there have been several exciting milestones. Of course the best was when I received the acceptance letter from my publisher! Knowing that your first book was going to be published is an amazing feeling. Once you come down off that high, there are several exciting moments along the way. Your first book event, getting the first copy of your book, etc. One thing that seems to keep haunting me is the title, Author. I feel awkward and unworthy of the title...kinda like at any moment someone is going to jump out at me like that scene from the Princess Bride when Buttercup is dreaming and the old lady starts booing her. Although instead of calling me "slime, filth, muck" she would be saying, "fake, phoney, untalented". Geesh! Anyway, in a more positive direction, I did get some very exciting news last week! I have already published two articles on Yahoo as one of their Yahoo Contributors and now they have actually accepted an article that they...drum roll please...prepaid me for! Holy Mackerel! I couldn't believe it, money up front. Now that is the big time, huh? LOL. Well I would love for you to read my article so take a look. Please share it with all your friends and family.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Summmer Reads and How to save some Cash!

My mother and I love to read. So essentially we have our own book club. We may get my sister Heather to read (or listen to the audio book version) some of the books too but the best part is talking about what happened in the books. What I would like to do here is share some of my favorite reads (so far) and also share some ways to save costs while still getting to read all the books you want!
My Favorites
  • The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West- There are two books in the series that are currently released (Book 1 – The Shadows; and Book 2 – Spellbound; Book 3 – The Second Spy is released July 5, 2012). These books are great chapter books for kids that love creative story telling.
  • The House of Night Series by P.C. & Kristin Cast- I can thank my teenage niece, Tabatha, for getting me hooked on these books! These are a great series for teenagers and adults. I started reading the first book in the series, Marked, because I wanted to make certain what she was reading was appropriate. It was ADDICTIVE! There are currently 10 books published with book 11 due out in October 2012. There are also 2 Novellas that go with the series and are a must read! This mother-daughter team have done a great job of taking a vampire story and putting a whole new twist on it.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Series (TrueBlood on HBO) by Charlaine Harris- If you have seen True Blood then you know what I am talking about here! The books are way better than the series simply because you can get more Sookie and Bill, or Sookie and Eric, or Sookie and Alcide, or Sookie and…. you catch my drift. The latest book, Deadlocked, was released May 1 and is book 12 in the series. There are so many companion books and short stories that will keep your Sookie appetite satiated for a long time. There is also a book that has a collection of short stories from 4 different authors. Charlaine Harris has one short story in this book, Must Love Hellhounds, as does Ilona Andrews.
  • Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews – Thank you Megan (my hair stylist) for this recommendation! If you love the world of the paranormal, then you have come to the right place! The Kate Daniels series collides the worlds of magic, weres, vampires, and Ilona only knows what else! You will quickly get caught up in the battles Kate faces as a Merc and the passion between Kate and Curran. Currently, there are 5 books released in the series and 2 novellas (one is in the author compilation, Must Love Hellhounds). The next book is due July 2012, however, this book will have Kate’s best Friend Andrea as the main character. The next Kate book is expected to be released in February 2013.
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins – I am sure you have read the Hunger Games trilogy, right? If you haven’t… you should! Suzanne Collins teaches our youth the perils, sacrifices, and importance of war through her Hunger Games Trilogy. In Gregor the Overlander, she has created an amazing underland in which Gregor has “fallen” into with his 2 year old sister Boots. He quickly gets caught up in a Prophecy and a war. In the Underland, Gregor must go on a quest to find his dad with humans, roaches, a rat, bats, and spiders as his companions. There are 5 books in this series and all are available now.
There are of course so many amazing stories out there so if you have read one you think I may like, please let me know!!!
Saving some Cash!
So, I love to buy a hard copy of a book, turn the pages, and use my beautiful Brighton bookmarks my hubby got me for my birthday! But this can be expensive. Here are some great ways to save on your books this summer.
  • Hard Copy Books – Start with Half Price Books for all books that have already been released. I was able to get the House of Night books for less than $5 each. If you are in a book club or have a friend that likes to read the same kind of books, share books! Don’t forget to check your local library!! If you have finished your book and want to share it with others, donate it to the library. Most libraries have a Friends of the Library component that you can donate your paperback books to and check out others you haven’t read. Great way to save money.
  • eBooks – If you have an eReader of some sort (iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc) then you know the joy have getting your books instantaneously! Here is a little tip that I did not know until about 2-3 months ago. I bought my mother a Nook Color for Christmas and did you know you can “Loan” your Nook books to friends? This is another great way to save money! I have an iPad but got the Nook app so now I can purchase Nook books, borrow, and loan books out to my friends and family! Don’t forget your local library! At most libraries you can now check out books to your eReader! Visit your local library for more information. Prefer to listen to the audio book? There are loads of books available in audio format too.
Whether you purchase a hard copy or on your eReader, I hope you enjoy these books I have recommended and have a wonderful summer!!! Happy Reading!

Hello readers!! My name is Shawnna and among the many hats I wear (wife, mommy, employee, etc) I am a newly published author of children's picture books. I have loved reading from a very young age and am still inspired by amazing creative authors. I will use this blog to share my thoughts and opinions on books I am reading, events I will be at, or even tell my readers about my new releases! Please take a minute to visit my website and maybe even purchase my book! I always love to hear about great books to read so please feel free to share some of your favorites with me too!

That's all for now!