Monday, April 30, 2012

Qualilty Time

My Sweetheart is on vacation this week so we will be enjoying some quality time together and working outside.  The weather here in the Blue Ridge has turned beautiful and there is much yard work needing to be done.  Hope all of you have a wonderful week as well!  ; )

Monday, April 23, 2012



The story behind the story

My Church is doing the “ONE MONTH TO LIVE” series and it’s really making people think.  But, I already know what I would do, because I already did it.  You see, I was diagnosed with cancer just before I published my book.  I have to say that I was more determined to see it published than ever during those dark days.

I not only wanted to make my life-dream a reality, since I had written the original story during my junior year of High School (1979).  But, I also wanted to leave behind a means for my grandchildren to know my heart if I wasn’t around to show them myself.

I never cared for bullies of any sort and written within the pages of my book you will see my main character Lana struggling with her differences and empowered when she discovers who she really is and the purpose for her life.  She has the opportunity to meet others that are different from her and she learns to love them as herself.  She also learns to care for the environment, especially the ocean where she eventually comes to live.

I taught my daughters to respect themselves and our planet and to respect and be kind to others also.  I believe that they lived that out well as they were growing up and becoming women themselves.  I am confident they will continue to teach my grandchildren to do the same, but I also wanted to leave behind a lesson or two of my own.

Now that I’m living cancer-free, I’m enjoying the adventure of Princess Lana and Prince Titus all over again as I write the sequel.  There are more lessons to be learned and more characters to join in the journey, as they travel to Safe Harbor Island and to the South Pacific.  My plans are to have it completed by November (2012).  I hope you’ll join in the fun!  ; )


1         What was the inspiration for your book?
          There were many things; I think I’ve always been a people lover.  My parents taught my brother and me to love and respect everyone.  Even though I grew up knowing people with physical challenges/special needs, I realized at an early age that they might not be having the same experience in life I was because of their differences.  I saw other people who treated them cruelly.  I know that’s when my character Lana was born in my heart.
Later, between my sophomore and junior year of High School, I had the opportunity to be chosen to attend a Yearbook conference at the University of Hawaii.  That’s when my love for the Hawaiian Islands, her people, and the ocean birthed my mermaid story.  I would begin to write it that next year in my creative writing class.
2         What is your favorite scene from your book and why?
Oh my goodness, there are so many!  I’ve always liked the third chapter (The Mer) when Lana finds out the truth about herself; she puts her fingers to the stinging sides of her neck and feels the tiny open slits of her gills and says, “Okay, if this is real then I really must be part fish!”
3         What works in progress do you have?
          I’m currently writing the sequel (LEGEND OF THE MER II ~ The New Guardian).  The first book was written more from a teen girl’s perspective, so I decided to make the second from a teen guy’s.  He’s Lana’s half brother Jedediah.  I do also continue the story of Princess Lana and Prince Titus and the struggles they face in the mer Kingdom.
          Someday I plan to write an elven love story which is a combination of two stories I had written.  On my Pinterest, you will see several elves, fairies, etc. helping me to keep my muse at bay!  Lol!
          I also have a King, Queen, Knights, etc. story that I pretty much dreamed during the dark days before being diagnosed with cancer.  I guess it was my minds way of coping with the debilitating pain I was going through.  At least I could escape it through my dreams.  I even have a complete map of the castles/lands within my story that I drew in ink.
4         Which characters in your book do you like the most?
          Of course I like Lana; she’s comprised of me and my daughters.  I also like the wisdom of King Titan; there’s a bit of my grandmother in him.  Prince Titus is ever valiant and strong; which are some of my husband’s characteristics, but also some of my brother’s as well.  Prince Makoa is the comedian of the mer and he’s from the Native American descents that first married into the mer long ago.  He’s also a pretty tough guy.
5         Who is your favorite author and why?
          I would have to say J.R.R. Tolkien; a close second is C. S. Lewis.  I had read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy at the age of 9.  There-in began the creation of my own fantasy worlds.  Elves were my first love (my husband knows this) and I can see some of that inspiration in my mer.
6         What is your favorite movie ~ the one you can watch over and over again?
          Not a hard one to figure, definitely the Lord of the Rings trilogy and cannot wait for the Hobbit to be released.  I know they’re not entirely as Tolkien had written the story in the books, but at least we get a taste of his genius and enjoy a rather lavish get-a-way.
7         What do you hope readers will take with them from your writing?
          Just like Lana, I hope they’ll enjoy a wonderful adventure that takes them from Safe Harbor Island, NC to Kaloki Island in the South Pacific.  I love to encourage and make people smile.  I hope they’ll have a deeper appreciation of other people, no matter their differences and also the ocean as they experience life under the sea!  ; )

Thursday, April 19, 2012

GUEST BLOG ~ Barbara Ehrentreu

Today's Guest Blogger is a fellow She-Writer and member of the Blooming Late Group

Keeping Secrets
In the YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the main character, Carolyn Samuels, has to keep a lot of secrets from her friends and family. Have you ever had to keep a secret? What was the reason?
Carolyn finds herself in the middle of a very bad situation. She learns a terrible secret about the mean girl who has been bullying her since middle school and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Jennifer Taylor, the mean girl, is no one to cross. So Carolyn starts doing things she would never do. She winds up doing things for Jennifer and she lies to her parents and her best friends. Yet she keeps the secret.
Should she have kept Jennifer’s secret? Maybe she should have told someone. If you find a person who has a serious problem, when is it right to tell on them so they can get help? Are you being helpful by keeping that person’s secret or are you hurting them by keeping the secret?
As the author I felt I had a responsibility to write this story as true to life as possible. In my own life I have had to keep secrets. Sometimes these secrets were very painful, yet my friend or relative depended upon me keeping that secret for them. I felt I could not let them down. Carolyn goes through a lot of soul searching about the secret and in the process of keeping the secret winds up needing to cover up more and more of her own activities to protect the secret. In other words, needing to keep the secret caused a series of events associated with the secret. None of the things that happen to Carolyn happened to me, and also I was a little older than she. But she does have some pretty tempting moments when all she needed to do was reveal Jennifer’s secret and her life would go back to normal.
Does she give Jennifer’s secret away and face the consequences or does she keep it? All the answers are in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor released by MuseItUp Publishing and available at The Muse Bookstore and Amazon, Barnes and Noble and almost all other internet sources.
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

Also please visit my blog, Barbara’s Meanderings:
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Please leave a comment about your own experience with secrets to be in the drawing to win a free ebook.

(I am giving away a free ebook to the person who wins the comment drawing)

Barbara Ehrentreu Bio
Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was published by MuseItUp Publishing, September 16th and was inspired by Paula Danziger. This novel recently won 2nd place in the Preditors & Editors Poll for the Best Young Adult Book of 2011. In addition, Barbara has a story in the anthology, Lavender Dreams, also published by MuseItUp Publishing. All proceeds from this anthology go to cancer research. Barbara also writes poetry and three of her poems are included in the anthology, Prompted: An International Collection of Poems, a collaboration of members of The Anthologists.  Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts RRWL Tales from the Pages (Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages) on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor available from MuseItUp PublishingAmazon, Kindle, Nook.

Barbara's Meanderings

Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages

NY Literature Examiner for

Feeling my old hatred of gym, I glance across the locker room and see Jennifer in red designer shorts and a tight sleeveless shirt to match. She's standing in front of the only mirror in the room turning back and forth.
Becky and I slide into our loose camp shorts and a T-shirt, and once they're on, we race onto the gym floor. Always better to be early for gym the first day.  You never knew what kind of teacher you'd have. My athletic ability is zero, so I don’t take chances. Once I was a few minutes late, and the gym teacher in middle school made me run around the gym ten times. It took me the whole gym period.
 "Maybe it won't be so bad this year, Carolyn." Becky always tries to cheer me up now. This wasn’t true a few years ago. I had to cheer her up a lot. Becky’s brothers are just turning five, and they’re both in kindergarten. Her mom remarried after being divorced for ten years. Becky was just getting used to her new stepfather when her mom got pregnant. I remember how miserable Becky was the first year of middle school when her mom spent so much time with her twin brothers and didn’t have enough time to help Becky with her homework. Luckily, Becky’s stepfather is a history teacher, so she got very interested in history and current events.

Becky and I sit on the low seats in the bleachers, but Jennifer and her group saunter into the gym and choose the highest seats avoiding the rest of us. Miss Gaylon, the gym teacher introduces herself and gives us a few minutes until the last stragglers come from the locker room.  For those few minutes, I almost feel comfortable. My breathing returns to normal. I hear giggles from Jennifer and her group, but I ignore it.

"Right, Becky, and maybe I'll learn to be a gymnast in ten minutes. Reality check, remember last year?"

"Okay, I'm hoping it won't be so bad."

"You mean like the dentist finding you only have one cavity and filling it the same day?"
"You’re so lame, Carolyn. Since we're all older, maybe she'll treat us differently. People change over the summer you know."
"Look at her, Becky."
Becky turns to look over at the group at the top of the bleachers and then turns back to look me in the eye. “You know you have to put that stupid day behind you.”
I pretend not to know what she’s talking about. “What stupid day?”
Like I don’t remember every detail.
“The zip line day.”
“Oh, that day,” I say with a combination grimace and smile. “The day I wound up having to climb off the platform. I wanted to bore a hole into the ground so I wouldn’t have to walk past them but couldn’t, and everyone screamed at me: ‘Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’”
“You have to admit it was funny the way the gym teacher ran up the ladder like a squirrel to rescue you. Everyone laughed at how stupid she looked. Jennifer got the whole class going with that ridiculous ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’” Becky looks behind her to Jennifer. “You know I wanted to run over and punch her, but I couldn’t because I was still on the platform, and it was my turn to go.”
“Yeah, if I had a few more minutes, I would have been able to get up the courage to grip the zip line and hook myself to it. Stupid teacher didn’t give me a chance. This not breathing thing when I get nervous really sucks.”
Becky nods because she knows me so well.
“So then Jennifer started with that horrible chant, and of course, the whole class followed her, like always.” My eyes fill with tears as I remember, and my breathing is getting worse by the minute.
“I thought it was a dumb idea to do ropes course stuff in school. We did it at my camp the summer before, and no one was forced to do it. Anyone could get nervous with Jennifer in front of them,” Becky comforts me.
I continue talking as if I’m in a trance. “Remember how last year whenever I ran into Jennifer she would whisper ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe,’ so no one could hear it except me. Once she did it just before I had to go up in front of the class in math.   Sometimes she would do it in front of everyone and, of course, get a big laugh while I wanted to turn into a piece of furniture.”
Becky grabs my arm.  “Do we have to go back over this again? You need to forget about it.” She takes her hand away from my arm as I continue to speak.
“Becky, I can’t. The thing is it’s this bad movie in my brain looping the same horrible scenes. The funny thing is, most of the time, she would ignore me. I would never know what she was going to do. You have to admire someone so single-minded she managed to get to me at just the right time.
You remember don’t you? And today did you see how she wore the same outfit as me? It’s spooky.”
My funny breathing returns as Miss Gaylon tells us to line up on the yellow line alphabetically. I hope there will be someone to go between Jennifer and me. No luck. Jennifer is going to be behind me all year. I hold my breath. I couldn't stand more of the same this year. I pray for the day to end soon. A glance at my new watch shows me fifteen more minutes left of the period. Is Miss Gaylon's voice getting lower?  What is that pounding in my ears?
Jennifer turns to face me, and I hear, "Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then my world turns black.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Laughter of Children and Clouds

I was talking with my mother the other night (who still works by the way) about how so many things have changed over the last 20 years or so.  She lives in California and I live in Virginia.  We talk nearly every evening; that alone was something that was not feasible in the past.  We both agreed that my grandparents would never believe, that we can not only take our pictures on our phones, but also print them out when we get home.  With all that new technology comes added work!  Lol!

We were discussing todays economy and how it must be hard on the elderly.  Most are living on a fixed income and they're not able to keep up with the cost of living.  We agreed that can get a person down these days.

Then we discussed the things that seem to lift your spirits no matter the situation.  We agreed that there is something about watching a toddler.  They are always so happy and laugh at any little thing.  She said that children are what keeps us young.

I know that I can just watch my grandchildren for hours playing with toys, animals and especially the great outdoors.  They remind us what it was like to be a child ourselves.  They seem to not have a care in the world and love every other child they come in contact with.

As I was pondering all this yesterday, I couldn't help but look up to see the puffy white clouds on a bright blue sky; I can also stare at them for hours and are ever amazed at their intricate and fluctuating patterns.  My brother and I used to lay in a grassy field as children and look up at them and try and guess what shapes they were.  They remind me that there are things bigger than myself or any problems that I might have.

Just thought I'd share that with you!  ; )

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Family Easter Tradition

Our Family celebrates Easter a little earlier than most; in fact, we celebrate on Palm Sunday.  The reason being that our five daughters and their families have other houses to visit and this way we get to slow down a little and enjoy the day together.

Also, many of our children have ministries of their own within their Church and this allows them freedom to do their ministries with one less obligation on that day.  I always say that my family are of the Levite sort.  We work in some capacity to help our Church family.

We did celebrate together with our kids and grandkids last week.  And it was a joyous time.  It always brings back memories of my own Easters with my grandparents.  We used to watch the Davey and Goliath programs, but the Easter one was always my favorite (Davey & Goliath Happy Easter).  I couldn't help but smile when I saw that my husband had put it on for my grandkids.  I felt like my grandmother was with us in this small way.

Hope you all have a Happy Easter!  ; )