Bumps in the Road: This year’s new PTA regime

When I registered Jase for kindergarten, there was a sheet asking people to sign up if they were interested in the PTA. I knew nothing about joining the parent-teacher association but wanted to be involved in Jase’s school, so I signed up.

The next day, I received a call from the president of the PTA, and all of a sudden I was in charge of doing the student directory the following year. It is six years later, and I am on my third year as a PTA officer.

Two years ago, I became Treasurer and one of six officers. We attended a Leadership conference in Houston before school began that year. I think that is one of the things that helped us bond as a group of leaders. We were away from home, and it allowed us to spend a lot of time together.

I feel that group of ladies worked hard together despite our differences. However, you can only hold a position for two years so of course everything had to end. Our second VP in charge of fundraising was going to become president, and the president was going to move down to the second VP spot. And I was moving from Treasurer to first VP.

Then a month after the election, everything fell apart in terms keeping our group together. Our newly elected president was moving. Luckily, someone else stepped up to take on the role of president. It is not a position that I want, and I originally had feared I might have to take over since I was the vice president.

Now each president does things differently and has their own priorities. And our new president is a by-the-books, rule-follower type. She took one look at how we were doing things and decided that our procedures are too lax if not flat-out wrong.

rough-road-aheadTo say my transition from Treasurer and active officer to my new position has been bumpy would be an understatement. The woman who was to be president but moved away and I had known each other for a few years and would have worked well together. I would have known where I stand with her and what was expected. Not so with the new pres.

I don’t know if it is because conference was not in another city requiring us to travel and stay together in a hotel, or if I just shouldn’t expect to feel the same camaraderie as I did with the last group but something is off this year. (Leadership conference was in San Antonio, and since we didn’t travel, it allowed more board members to attend so there was that as a plus.)

I hate the feeling of not knowing what my position entails and what is expected of me. I don’t like not knowing what is going on. I have the distinct impression that the new president doesn’t like me, though she is nice to me whenever we meet. (There was a blow up last spring before she came president, and we were on opposite sides of the issue. I think she holds this against me.)

I don’t know what it is about this year, but PTA doesn’t seem fun. It is stressing me out, and the kids are noticing. I have even considered just quitting, but we haven’t got to that point just yet. Part of me knows I may just have to accept she is only going to tolerate me, and that I will never be as involved or as connected as I was in the past two years. Only time will tell.

Today’s Featured Author – Louise Wise

Please welcome author Louise Wise to my blog. She is busy at work preparing her latest novel, which is due out by Christmas.  Today she is sharing an excerpt from her debut novel, the sci-fi romance, Eden. Both Eden and its sequel, Hunted, are available on Amazon.

Excerpt

Dizziness swamped her. Then, sunlight fell on her in a burst of fresh, cold air as the door opened. She opened her eyes, and tried to speak but found her voice was nothing but a gurgle, and could only watch, helpless, as Bodie and Matt stared open-mouthed.

They staggered backwards, shouting and swearing, before spinning around and running towards the base of the depression.

Jenny was hurled to the floor. Winded, but managing to crawl outside, she glimpsed Bodie turning to look and calling for her to run. Matt picked up a rock and threw it at the alien as it ran towards them.

She made to stand, but dizziness swamped her again. Trying to ignore the sensation, she staggered away from the spacecraft, but the ground shifted under her feet. Time was measured for Jenny, yet around her things were moving fast.

‘Jen! Move!’ yelled Bodie. The alien was in between her and the two men who, by now, were at the top of the crater. She couldn’t see them anymore, but could hear Bodie yelling.

‘Go! Go! GO!’ she yelled, the movement making her eyesight pixilate. She gritted her teeth against the dizziness and stood. ‘I’m coming!’

‘She’s behind us,’ yelled Matt from somewhere in the distance. ‘Get in your buggy, Bo. Get the fuck in!’

Then, the ground rose up and her head struck a lump of metal debris protruding from the ground.

There was no more shouting. All was quiet and peaceful. Jenny opened her eyes and, in a sudden moment of realisation, she flipped to her side and looked to the top of the hill. With a sick feeling of dread, she rose and scrambled to the top of the crater. It felt like a mountain, and she slipped several times. Expecting to find Bodie and Matt dead; their bodies torn in frenzy under the clawed hands of the alien, she was relieved to find the men and the buggies were gone.

A glint of sunlight reflecting on something in the sky caught her eye. The buggies, now small space shuttles, were on their journey back to Taurus, as if being hauled back up by an invisible string.

Jenny climbed into her buggy. With shaking hands, she pressed the controls; nothing happened. She spoke into the transmitter, but remembered that Kate was malfunctioning.

Her buggy was immobilised.

‘Shit,’ she said. She pressed more buttons on the screen display. She pumped the accelerator, but nothing happened. She couldn’t even close the buggy up; instead, it remained open-topped.

She climbed back out, her hands in her hair as panic momentary claimed her.

‘It’s OK,’ she repeated to herself. ‘It’s OK. It’s OK. Breathe.’

Her forehead hurt; she touched it, expecting her fingers to come away bloody, but they were dry. A lump was beginning to protrude, though, and she suspected she had alien finger-marks around her throat.

She glanced around her. Might it be possible that the alien had gained access to one of the buggies and was inside Taurus? Kate was programmed to destroy an intruder immediately, but…

She closed her eyes briefly. She couldn’t think that way. She climbed back inside the buggy. She’d be OK. Bodie would realise she’d been left behind. He’d override Kate to get her buggy operational. She’d wait.

She looked upward at the now empty blue sky.

Won’t be long, she thought. Around her, all she could hear was the pounding of her heart. It was a lonely sound. She sat for a long time with her head tilted back, looking up at the vastness, the emptiness, of the sky.

Book Blurb

edenImprisoned for brutal crimes against his wardens, Fly became an unwilling experiment and was transported, with other criminals, to a hostile planet. Full of mutiny, anger and a desire for revenge the experiment was never going to be successful and Fly became the only survivor when the craft crashed.


Then the human ship arrived — and Jenny.


With a malfunctioning spacecraft she was in for a fight for her life, but her problems were only just beginning when her crewmates abandon her on Eden.


Jenny’s on her own—or so she thinks.

About the Author

Louise Wise is a British author. She lives in the Midlands with her husband and four sons, and works as a pharmacy technician.

Her debut novel is the acclaimed sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

Her other works include A PROPER CHARLIE (romantic comedy), OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE! (dark, comedy romance), and SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

Her latest novel, currently untitled, will be out in time for Christmas 2016. In this novel she has mixed time travel and romance with her on-going theme of solitude.

You can find out more about Louise on her blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can buy Eden on Amazon and other e-book stores.

Holidays are a great time for a book promotion

If you have been in any major store in the United States for the past few weeks, you have seen the Halloween decorations up. And you know what that means…Christmas decorations will soon be following.

Yes, it is now the time to start thinking about promoting your books for the holidays!

I scoured the Internet for ideas about holiday promotions and there weren’t many.

Pre-Holiday Sales

Several sites suggested hosting holiday book signings or to offer your book at a discount during Cyber Monday.

gifts-of-books-with-ribbons-and-bows1If you do have a physical book to sell, you can of course promote it as a great gift, but I don’t have a physical book. My novels are all offered as e-books. While I know people can gift e-books, I am not expecting my novels to be under anyone’s Christmas tree this season.

Another option that takes a little more planning is to write a Christmas novella or short story. Many authors have published shorter works that have a Christmas theme or setting, and they sell well each holiday season. If you are writing a series, perhaps you can take some of your characters and write them their own holiday story. If you are going to do a holiday story, publish it in November and then make sure you advertise it well to get it in the hands of those holiday readers. (More on this subject in two weeks.)

Post-Holiday Sales

Instead of trying to find readers before the holidays, sometimes it is easier to approach the new owners of Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers or tablets. And there are quite a few others out there with gift cards waiting to fill up their e-readers.

Of course, the trick is to reach those new readers and let them know about your book sale. As with any promotion, you need to know how to reach the readers of your genre.

Another idea is to create a bundle or box set of books and offer them at a reduced price. Or perhaps get a few indie authors together and offer some of your books as a bundle. (I wrote about box sets last week. If you missed the post, check it out here.)

No matter how you plan to do some holiday promoting, just make sure you take advantage of this book-buying season.

My son decides to join Fifth Grade Strings and play the violin

One Monday in September, Jase bounced home and announced that he wanted to join Fifth Grade Strings. He held in his hand the pink paper announcing that a free concert by the Middle School Orchestra would be held for fifth graders on Friday. This concert would allow students to hear the four instruments offered – violin, viola, cello and base.

So Jase eagerly awaited Friday. He came home struggling to decide whether he wanted the violin or the viola. His best buddy also was interested in joining strings. The boys discussed their choices and both decided on the violin.

So I signed Jase up online. The class is taught by the middle school orchestra teacher. He comes to our elementary school on Tuesday for violins and violas and on Thursdays for cellos and bases. He does the same for a neighboring elementary but on Mondays and Wednesdays. Classes are after school and at no cost. The reason he does this is he is hoping these fifth graders will join middle school orchestra next year.

(Realizing many places break up their schools differently, here elementary school is kindergarten through the fifth grade. Middle school is grades 6 thru 8 and high school is grades 9 thru 12.)

So after signing him up, I attended parent orientation so the orchestra teacher could go over what the student’s needed and the rules of the class (you miss more than 3 and you are kicked out). The flyer didn’t say anything about bringing your child. It was after all a “parent” orientation, so I left Jase at home.

Wrong call.

Everyone else brought their kids. And you needed your student so they could be fitted with the proper size instrument. The instructor had invited four vendors to the meeting and they all had instruments for the students (or should I say parents) to rent.

Well, lucky for me, the step-mom of Jase’s best buddy was there. Since her daughter already played the violin, she knew what questions to ask the rental companies and knew which offered a good deal. It also benefited me that Jase’s friend was there as the boys are the same size and build. We used his measurements to pick Jase’s violin.

violinJase was excited when I brought home the violin. He actually was able to pull the bow across the strings without making it sound like he was killing a cat or something. Of course the first class they only learned how to care for their violin and how to hold it. But in the other two classes he has had they have learned the notes and begun so rudimentary playing.

So far he seems to be doing well with the violin and is excited to be learning how to play. They give their first concert to parents in December (unfortunately the same night as Lexie’s third grade performance). Then they will have a bigger concert at city music festival in April.

Here is to hoping that Jase continues to do well and enjoys playing. I am not sure he will continue after this school year but I love that he wanted to try something new.

Today’s Featured Author – MRoyale

Today I welcome author MRoyale to my blog. Please enjoy a sample of both her books – her young adult book Ignominy-Chapters of Chargin and her children’s book Color Land.

Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin is available for $1.99 & Color Land – From Play School to Color Land is available for 99 cents as Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon thru October 10th.

Excerpt – Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin

Chapter 2

“CHAGRIN”

Chagrin – The intense feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or disconcerting events.

When Mr. Aggressive met Ms. Passive (Ace and Ms. Phoenix), it was an all-out get-down-with-ya-bad-self smoking and drinking, do-not-tell kind of party. Soon thereafter, Roxie was born. She was a tiny, sick looking baby at the time of birth. See, Ms. Phoenix hardly ever took care of herself during her pregnancy. How could she?  Especially with all of the mental, emotional, and physical abuse she tolerated from Ace. She barely ate and never took her prescribed prenatal vitamins. She refused to receive the proper medical care she needed when she was pregnant. Ms. P seemed to be hiding bruises and ugly black eyes, under huge designer sunglasses, from all the doctors—knowing that they would alert authorities. Soon thereafter, an unplanned Alex was born. Ms. Phoenix was not only cute and bodied, she was also shy and naïve.  Ace took those qualities for granted and used Ms. P as his own personal punching bag, whenever he felt the need to overload on a few alcoholic beverages. She had everything from busted lips, bloody noses, and even a broken collarbone. They constantly argued and whenever Ace had one too many, the boxing match would begin. Afterward, he would just beg for forgiveness and promise to never do it again. Yet, it definitely and violently happened over and over again.   Ms. Phoenix made a vow to herself to never, ever let Ace physically and verbally abuse her in front of her baby girl because one day she would be old enough to see and understand what was really going on. You know what they say, “When a woman’s fed up!” All Roxie could remember, on one horrific day of fighting and arguing, was her father picking up a huge metal crab pot off the stove and throwing it at Ms. P. Ace smacked and punched her face until it turned purplish blue.  Roxie and Alex started screaming, forcing Ms. Phoenix to grab them with only the clothes on their backs, throwing them into her car. Ms. P started running for dear life as her bell bottoms swung with the wind. She jumped in the driver’s seat of the vehicle and drove away as Roxie and her brother looked out the back window in shock and sadness. Usually, when they looked out of the back window, they would cheer for their mother to race past the other cars while yelling, “Go Momma Go!” This ride was very different in every way. It was the last time, in a long time, that they would ever see their father, Ace, again.

The experience was quite easy for them since Ace neither signed his kids’ birth certificates nor married their mother. In the streets, Ace was known as this popular community spokesman who affected many people’s lives in a positive manner. Yet at home, he was mean, abusive, sarcastic, and an alcoholic. He was “The Man” on the outside, though. A good singer, dancer, and a well-dressed ladies’ man too. He always kept his wardrobe sharp— making sure his shoes matched his belt and his socks matched his suit and tie. Along with his wit, sense of humor, and his intelligence, people everywhere loved his style. You could walk down the street with him and someone from every corner would say, “Hello!” shake his hand, or give the nod to say, “Hey, what’s up?”  No one but his immediate family knew the demons within him. Once he began to realize there was a mental mania in his own head, he became more and more difficult to deal with. Most of the time he was a recluse. It would just be Ace and his happy drinks.

Book Blurb

Ignominy-Chapters Of ChagrinRoxie Nicole Phoenix aka “Roxie Brown Eyes” is the epitome of “individual vs. self” in this fascinating Story. Roxie’s character captivates us all as she communicates through her beautiful, yet intimidating brown eyes. Throughout her abusive life, she makes choices and decisions that would live with her for the rest of her existence. Her mother’s life choices allowed her stepfather, Leon Miny, to use ‘chastising’ as his excuse for child abuse against her and her younger brother, Alex. This lead Roxie to dwell in her own realm of imagination—sometimes not fully aware of the difference between reality and fantasy. When engulfed by her environment, a path of destruction seemed to be the only walkway towards every devastating encounter. She also experiences a few sensually enticing moments in her life {which fed the naughty side of her appetite} that she would not trade for anything.
In this Urban Short Story, Roxie is an example of a girl destroyed by her childhood—the ignominy or shame, and peer pressure—also her attempts to fight through the chagrin of humiliation surrounding her. Though resilient, she could never duck the darts thrown at her and it cost her everything—or did it?

 

Excerpt – Color Land – From Play School to Color Land

“Where am I?” “Can anyone hear me?” Renee’s voice echoed loudly. As she rubbed her eyes in disbelief, she looked around nervously and wondered what place could be so beautiful. She was sitting on a heart-shaped leaf floating on bright blue water. There were bright crayon colored houses and trees that had beautiful flower paths with butterflies nearby. Meanwhile, brightly colored balloons floated in the sky. Renee’ was excited as she was getting closer to land.  She jumped off of the heart shaped leaf in amazement. “Wow!” she said, “What a different place!” “I wonder where I could be.”

Renee’ started to walk down a colorful flowered path while admiring all of nature’s beauty. This unknown place gave her a feeling of acceptance that she never felt before, and she loved it.

“Hi,” says a little boy who is kneeled down below a lively tree. “Who said that?” says Renee’. “I did. My name is Marty and who are you? You don’t look like you are from here in Color Land”, said the little boy. Renee’ jumped for joy. She said, “So that’s where I am! Color Land. Yay!” “Well you definitely look like you are from here with your orange-red hair and your blue high water pants!” said Renee’ proudly. She noticed that Marty began looking sad and realized that what she just said to him wasn’t very nice. She also knew that she was treating him the same way the other children at Play School treated her.

She did not want to be mean anymore so she asked the little boy, “Why are you knelt down underneath a colorful, lively tree?” He said, “Whenever Big Head Harry Monster is selfish or doesn’t play fair, the more my land‘s colors begin to fade and the people lose their joy. So I found one of the last colorful trees in the land.” “Well that bums me out knowing your land is being bullied here and I am not being treated so nicely at my school back home. We need to learn how to stick up for ourselves without being hurtful. So, are you in?” says Renee’. “Yeah, let’s go get that big headed monster and teach him a thing or two!” said Marty.

Renee’ knew she had to do something about it. So, off they went in search of Harry the monster who was stealing away all the color from Color Land. That was pretty mean and selfish of him, also quite unfair. As soon as they reached the darkest and gloomiest part of Color Land, they knew they were near the big headed monster. But, he found them first.  “Rrrr!” said Harry as he jumped from a gray tree. “Who are you and what are you doing on my land?” said the big headed monster. “Uh, my name is Renee’ and this is Marty. Why are you so mean, selfish, and not playing fairly? You are erasing all the color from Color Land and making everyone sad. The people from Color Land are losing their happiness because the world is not bright anymore—it’s becoming dark and gloomy. You are nothing but a big headed hairy wannabe!” Said Renee’. “I am what I am and I’ll erase what I wanna! Don’t you mess with me little boy and girl because I’ll turn this whole land into its darkest gloom! Especially, since that’s how I feel inside” says Harry the monster as he began to cry. Marty asks the monster why is he such a sad bully and Harry replied, “Because I don’t have a mommy and daddy to love me and make my life bright and colorful like everyone else does.”

Book Blurb

colorlandColor Land is an amazing story of how a special little girl, named Renee’, was determined to overcome her experiences of bullying at Play School. She was being made fun of which really hurt her feelings. One afternoon, Renee’ drifted off into the world of pretend—unaware that she would dream all of her wishes true. During naptime, she traveled to a delightful place called Color Land. There she met a friend who was even more unique than herself, named Marty, whom she helped defeat a major challenge—all while experiencing exciting adventures. Once Renee’ realized she can do anything she sets her mind to, she wanted to solve all of her problems at Play School, make new friends, and finally be accepted for her uniqueness. Renee’ wanted more than anything to help her playmates understand that the make-believe world is much more fun than laughing at others. She also needed them to know that being different can be cool.

About the Author

mroyaleMRoyale♔ is an ambitious Author, Entrepreneur, Student, and former Recording Artist—as well as a Wife, Mother, & GrandRoyale. She has been writing books for over four years while attending two different colleges. Her interesting life and educational background have allowed her to explore many topics of fascination. Her wishes are to touch people’s lives and entertain them with her heart filled, overflow of imagination.

You can find out more about her on her Amazon Author page.

Both books can be found on Amazon. And be sure to pickup them at their low discount prices good thru Monday!

Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin is available for $1.99 & Color Land – From Play School to Color Land is available for 99 cents as Kindle Countdown Deal thru October 10th.