Monthly Archives: October 2012

Transient Billets, a True Ghostly Tale

It’s been more than a decade since I left my post at the newspaper. While there, I kept an ongoing journal in my work computer. When I left my job, I printed a copy of these random ramblings, tucked them into a folder and stuck it in my file cabinet.

Goal for 2013, clean out file cabinet.

Last week, while searching for some old Halloween art, I came across the forgotten folder. Inside, a ghostly tale which I had recently shared from memory with friends. But the one thing about memory, sometimes it becomes cobwebby and we forget the important details. And you know that old saying, the ghosts are in the details.  (Okay. I made that up.)

Anyhow, after reading my printed ramblings, I realized I had left out parts of the story.

So, grab a cup of hot cider, dim the lights, and read this ghostly tale by the glow of your computer screen….

It was November and the weather was gloomy when my sister and I arrived in Germany to visit her daughter serving in the U.S. Army. We stayed at a hotel in Giessen which is about an hour and a half drive from Frankfurt. The hotel was actually a transition house for incoming and outgoing American soldiers and their families. But originally, during W.W. II it had been occupied by German soldiers. There were tunnels beneath the hotel boarded by thick, steel doors.

Before I go on… keep in mind I knew nothing of the building’s history prior to what I’m about to tell you.

Within minutes of checking into our room, I opened the window and door, then began to burn sage to rid the small, cramped room of any negative energy (I had learned about smudging at a Native American retreat.). If some moody/cranky person (the living) previously occupied the room, I didn’t want their negative vibes to spoil our visit.

My original clay smudging bowl.

My sister and niece laughed at my quirkiness. Then my niece returned to her army base across the street while my sister and I decided to catch a cat nap before dinner. Jet lag.

That’s when I had the most peculiar dream, a dream that seemed so vivid and real. I found myself wandering along the long corridor which led to our room. There, sitting on the floor, in the small alcove in front of our door, was a young soldier dressed in a drab, green uniform and wearing military black boots. He had reddish hair and his face was solemn, almost expressionless.

I hesitated then slipped past him, making my way into the room. I shut the door, but wasn’t quick enough. The soldier pushed from the opposite side of the door as I threw all of my weight against the door from the inside. He repeatedly said, Billy. Hungry. Billy. As I struggled to keep him out, I glanced over my shoulder and saw my sister dead asleep on the twin bed. I called out for help, but it was as though she couldn’t hear my pleas. At last, just as I managed to shut the door completely and twisted the old-fahioned lock, I awoke to a sharp rap. It was my niece.

I let her in and shook off the strange dream.

Before leaving for dinner, we stopped at a pay phone in the lobby. I called my husband to let him know where we were staying in case of an emergency. When I asked my sister for the name of the hotel, she darted outside to check a sign post she had seen hidden by overgrown shrubs.

The name of the hotel….Transient Billets.

During our stay we visited places like Nuremburg and Paris. We had a great time. The morning before leaving for home, we packed our suitcases. We were joking around when all of a sudden I noticed the antique doorknob slowly moving back and forth, back and forth.

Click. Click. Click.

“Oh, someone’s here,” I said, thinking it was my niece again.

I flung the door wide ready to greet her. No one. Hmm. I looked down the long hallway and didn’t see anyone. (We were the only guests staying in that part of the building on the second floor). I found it odd since the old, wooden floorboards creaked and groaned whenever we walked across them. So, why didn’t I hear anyone coming or going?

Then, my sister fessed up. She had witnessed the doorknob jiggling back and forth several times during our stay. And each time she opened the door, no one was there.

“Remember my dream,” I reminded her. “The soldier trying to force his way into our room?”

“I don’t believe in those things,” she said as she continued to pack her suitcase.

And I dropped the subject.

Is it possible that when I opened the door and window then cleansed the room with the blessed sage that I shoved the earthbound soldier out of his space? The hungry earthbound spirit whose name I thought was Billy?

A few years later, I learned that billet is another german word for room. Billy… billets? Coincidence? Maybe. And maybe the wandering soldier just wanted to take back what belonged to him…his room.

I suppose in this ghostly encounter, my sister and I were the intruders.

Happy Halloween!

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly experience you’d like to share?

Halloween Junque Journal

Next to writing, I love crafting.

So, whenever I take a mini-break from the keyboard, I search for fun and easy crafting tutorials on Youtube. I like the kind of crafts I can make in an afternoon.

This past summer, while taking a break from editing my novel, “Butterfly Hollow,” I had a blast creating these cool junque journals.

I found Tangie Baxter’s tutorial the easiest to follow. Tangie has a series of three videos starting with a Junque Journal Introduction. I love the fancy way ‘junque journal’ is spelled. Though, I’ve also seen it spelled ‘junk journal.’

So, what’s a junque journal? It’s like a junk drawer tucked away in a book. And it starts out as a composition book just like this one.

Then, with a little scrapbook paper, glue, ink, and some ribbon it’s transformed into a scrapbook/journal where you can tuck away paper ephemera such as photos, concert tickets, postcards, or anything else flat that can be glued or clipped onto a page.

Since I love Halloween, I used all of my favorite Halloween paper and created two journals. I know I’ll have fun filling them up. Junque journals also make great gifts. And with the holidays around the corner, I’ll be sharing a few more with you soon.

Here’s my Youtube video featuring both of my journals. Sorry about the rainbow discoloration in my video. My iPad acts goofy sometimes.

Do you like to make crafts? If so, what type of crafts do you like to make?

A Halloween tribute to Ray Bradbury

I don’t remember how I found out about the new writer’s group forming in our small mountain community, but I looked forward to spending Sunday afternoons with fellow wordsmiths. It was through my writing group that I learned about author Ray Bradbury presenting a lecture at the Hilton Hotel, in Lake Arrowhead, California.

Ray Bradbury. I only knew of him from reading Fahrenheit 451 in freshman English class. And our oldest son had read The Martian Chronicles several times as well as other Bradbury paperbacks.

At the lecture, as soon as Mr. Bradbury began speaking, it was as though he were talking among old friends. I was mesmerized by his storytelling, the way he spoke of his youth and his love of comic books, carnivals, and his passion for writing.

To this aspiring writer, his words sparked like magic.

Afterwards, I purchased a copy of The Halloween Tree then had Mr. Bradbury sign my book.  That day, I became a Bradbury fan.

The Halloween Tree is one of my all time favorite reads.

Here’s the blurb on the back of the book…

On Halloween night, eight  trick-or-treaters gather at the haunted house by the edge of town, ready for adventure. But when Something whisks their friend Pip away, only one man can help the boys find him. Join the sinister Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud as he takes them on an unforgettable journey through space and time, deep into the mysteries of this spookiest of all nights. Can the boys save Pip before it’s too late?

In 1993, a Hanna-Barbera animated version of The Halloween Tree narrated by Ray Bradbury and featuring the voice of Leonard Nemoy as Mounndshroud became available on VHS. To my knowledge, it’s never been released on DVD. If you find a copy, treasure it. Your best bet of finding the video is on eBay.

And during that time of year, when Halloweenistas make a beeline for the Haunted Mansion, when it becomes Jack Skellington’s house, there’s an oak in Frontierland with jack o’lanterns hanging from its branches. It’s the official Ray Bradbury Halloween Tree.

Me (Maria) in front of the Halloween Tree at Disneyland, in Anaheim, California

The oak tree is dedicated to the famous author and his beloved book.

With Ray Bradbury’s passing earlier this year, my hubby and I wanted to pay tribute to the author who loved Halloween as much as we do.

Here’s our version of The Halloween Tree.

Hubby made a long pole with a hook, wire hooks for each pumpkin, then carefully placed each one in just the right spot.

After a second trip to Target to buy more pumpkins, our Halloween Tree is completed.

At dusk, hubby flipped on the lights to our Halloween Tree. Neighbors smile as they drive by.

Santa Ana winds began to pick up and pumpkins sway as though ready to come to life.

Happy Halloween, Ray Bradbury. And thanks for everything!

Sally Bell’s art is a sweet Halloween treat!

Meet former Disneyland artist, Sally Bell.

Here are the cool Halloween art prints hubby treated me to during our recent visit to the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch, in Redlands, California. The illustrations are creations by artist Sally Bell. I can hardly wait to shop for frames, so I can display them in my work space and enjoy Halloween all year long.


Headless Moon

Monster Treaters

City Witch

1313 Grimsley Lane

Late Arrivals

Headless Horseman’s Playground (Because of its size I split this one up into two pictures.)

Headless Horseman’s Playground

For more cool art by Sally Bell, you can drop by her Web site at

Former Disneyland artist, Sally Bell, tends to her garden where Halloween grows all year

October is the month for ghosts, goblins, candy, and fun, spooky surprises. So, meeting artist Sally Bell at the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch was a special treat for this Halloweenista.

Maria (me) with artist Sally Bell

Sally’s pumpkin-orange tresses tucked beneath her awesome witch’s hat and quirky get-up caught my eye. As soon as I stepped inside her crafty booth The Witch’s Garden, I fell under her magic spell. My gaze quickly shifted to the Halloween art sprouting all around me.

Sallys paints on gourds grown at the Pumpkin Patch, in Redlands, California

Beckoning were fantastic images of dancing skeletons, black cats, witches joy riding on broomsticks, lively haunted houses, graveyards, spooky trees, and the legendary Headless Horseman. The Halloween scenes are all captured on gourds, hat boxes, original art prints, canvas, and ATC’s (artist trading cards). And did I mention she designs cool potion bottles?

And all of her prices were in my mad-money price range, so this girl was in Halloween heaven!

Sally, who worked for Disneyland, in Southern California, as a decorator and designer inherited her passion for all things creative from her mother. While working for The Mouse, she designed window displays throughout the theme park including the store windows on Main Street U.S.A. The same windows I’ve oohed and awed over for years.

I totally love this orange cape with the blact cats!

She also designed and installed the uppermost room of the Tarzan Treehouse where her artwork can be enjoyed throughout the attraction. She even painted a picture of herself which sits on the dresser in the Gorilla Room.

“It was a fabulous creative job,” she said. “I will always love Disney.”

Sally’s other love—Halloween. She created her first haunted house when she was only twelve years old, and every October she transforms her family’s home into a haunted mansion. I mean, how cool is that?

Sally’s artistic motto—if she hasn’t done something creative, she feels the day has been wasted. A good motto to live by. Where are my sticky notes? This writer is jotting that one down and posting it by my computer.

It was fun meeting you, Sally Bell! I love your hat. And your artwork is awesome!

Stay tuned… tomorrow’s blog will feature close-ups of the artwork we purchased from  Sally Bell.

To learn more about Sally Bell and see more of her fabulous artwork, visit her at


Pumpkin Picking Time

Yippee! Halloween means pumpkin picking! Aside from dressing up in cool costumes and trick-or-treating, there’s nothing more fun than picking the perfect pumpkin and turning it into your very own glowing jack o’lantern.

Recently, on an early Sunday morning hubby and I ventured out to the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch nestled against hills covered in a blanket of dry Califonia brush. The farm is one of my ultra favorite places to hang out during the month of October.

I love the varieties of pumpkins and gourds grown at the farm in Redlands.

And I especially look forward to visiting the gift shop featuring unique seasonal items.

On weekends, the farm bustles with families roaming the fields of low-lying, tangled vines, searching the grounds for just the right pumpkin.

And to add to the fun, fall festivities, there’s a corn maze, life-size real monsters, hayrides, bounce houses, and a petting zoo for little ones, and so much more!

Joey and I had a great morning at the pumpkin patch!

Happy pumpkin picking everyone!

Arrrooo! Happy Howl-o-ween from Jack & Sally!

Now that our children have grown up and moved out of the house, hubby and I have enjoyed raising our canine kidlets, Jack and Sally. Though, you can’t tell by looking at them, Jack and Sally shared the same womb. Jack is the handsome spitting image of his chihuahua pop, and Sally is as cute and lovable as her terrier mom. They’ve been a part of our family for seven years, and they make us laugh as much today as they did when they first arrived at our home.

Here they are modeling the latest Halloween garb from Target.

Aw, but I wanted to be a princess.

Do I really look as pretty as peacock, Mommy?

I don’t wanna look at the camera.

Huh, treat? Okay. I’ll look at the camera, but only for a second.

Oh no! How did a skunk get into the house?

It’s s’mee, Sally!

Oh, oh! Where did Jack go? Jack! Jack!

Woof! Woof! Jack and Sally wish you all a Haunting Halloween with fun, spooky treats!

Welcome Foolish Mortals to the Halloween Haunted Mansion

T’was the nightmare before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was peaceful not even a mouse. The stockings all hung by the chimney with care when opened that morning would cause such a scare. The children nestled and snug in their beds would have nightmares of monsters and skeleton heads! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha….

My hubby and I are big kids at heart. We love Disneyland especially at Halloween when the park is decked out with pumpkins of all sizes and friendly ghosts on Main Street U.S.A. But most of all my heart pitter-patters as soon as we approach the Haunted Mansion which has now been deliciously transformed into Jack Skellington’s house through the holidays.

Welcome foolish mortals…

This year was extra special because we got to meet the Pumpkin King, Jack, himself. Talking to Jack was the BEST treat ever for this Nightmare Before Christmas fan. I totally felt like a kid meeting Santa Claus!

My hubby Joey, Maria (me), and Jack Skellington.

Hope you enjoy our pictures. And just for dropping by for a pumpkin spell, you’ll find a fun virtual ‘treat’ waiting for you at the end of this blog post.

What’s that on the rooftop? Sandy Claws’ sleigh!

Hmm… some of those Jack o’lantern’s look strangely familiar.

Oh my gosh, we’re getting closer! There’s still time to turn back.

C’mon. it’s not that scary!

Something’s up with Jack!

Board your doombuggies everybody!

Do not open till Christmas. No fair peeking or you’ll turn into a toad!

Um…sir, could you please tell me where the ladies’ room is?

Uh, nice family portraits! No, really. They’re nice.

On the 13th day of Christmas my ghoul love gave to me…

Ooooh, presents for me!

I want an annual park pass. I’ve been good. Um, well, sort of.

Oooh, pretty! Halloween angels!

Halloween angels coming to turn you all into Jack o’lanterns! Augh!!!

Oops! Too late. Hey, Joey…isn’t that Lynn and George Kelley over there? And there’s Yvette Carol, and Carol J. Amato, and Kathy Sant! Wow, the whole gang is here !

Now, I promised you all a treat…. all you need is 10 minutes of your time for a fun, virtual ride through Jack Skellington’s Haunted Mansion. Just click and enjoy!

Have fun ride & hurry back! And be sure to bring your Sandy Claws hat!

Happy halloween & haunted holidays everyone!

A Ghostly Gathering and a Marriage Proposal

Ghosts, goblins, and a surprise marriage proposal. Oh, my!

Last night, writers from three Inland Empire critique groups were greeted at the second annual “Ghostly Gathering of Writers” by our gracious ghost hostess and author, Marissa Perez and her family.

As we arrived, everyone oohed and awed over the creepy décor and fun and spooky treats. There were sticky cobwebs draped everywhere. And lots of creepy eyeballs, skeletons, and spiders! EEK!

After we filled our plates, we gathered on the patio where paper lanterns with skulls swayed in the cool fall breezes from a mock graveyard with headstones guarded by skeletons. We’re writers, so naturally our imaginations zipped into overdrive. Soon barking neighborhood dogs became a pack of hungry coyotes and howling werewolves.

With the eerie mood set, we quickly got into the spirit of the evening and the storytelling began. One-by-one, guests stood at a large, glowing orb and shared their haunting tales.

After a dozen stories, Marissa’s boyfriend, Brian, stood at the bright orb and read his version of T’was the Night Before Christmas with a quirky Halloween twist. Midway, he became serious, his voice began to crack, and his hands started to tremble. Brian’s a non-writer so I understood his uneasiness to read before a group of writers. But as he continued to read, he pulled out a small gift box and asked Marissa to join him at the glowing orb.

A puzzled look crossed Marissa’s face. Then a smile.

At this point, we all glanced at one another and fumbled for our cameras. Just in time, too, because Brian dropped to one knee and proposed marriage. Marissa said yes. And we all leapt from our chairs to congratulate the newly engaged couple!

It all happened so fast. None of us caught the proposal on video. But I did capture the endearing moment with a few photos along with pictures of the ghost story party.

Close to midnight as the other writers dispersed, I lured Marissa back outside to the glowing orb to tell just one more ghostly tale.  I heard her tell this true story several years ago and it’s still one of my very favorites. This, I was able to capture on video. Hope you enjoy it.

Do you have a surprise marriage proposal story or ghostly tale to share?

Abbracadabra Presto Picheelo! Meet Children’s Author Lynn Kelley

When it comes to writing for children, author, Lynn Kelley, knows how to turn on the magic. She twists the literary faucet and a stream of tummy-tickling words and kidlike situations gush forth. Her newest book, Curse of the Double Digits, is full of belly laughs. And though the book is written for early readers, grown-ups will gasp and chuckle as the main character, Becky, braves her way through turning 10-years-old—double digits.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lynn since we were scribbling our manuscripts with sidewalk chalk. Kidding. Though, we do go back to the turn of the century.

Why does that sound so Victorian? Let’s try again. Lynn and I go way back before e-books and blogs became popular. Better.

So much for memory lane, Lynn…now, let’s talk about your new chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits.

Sidewalk-chalk sisters, I like that! As far as memory lane, well, you know how bad I am at directions and I get lost traveling down Memory Lane, too!

Spill it sidewalk-chalk sister. Tell us how you hatched the idea for Double Digits?

The idea that sparked the whole book was a real life incident. My niece was about six and her bangs were way too long to look presentable for a family event. My sister-in-law tried to trim them, but the scissors were too dull, so my brother had a light bulb moment and grabbed his electric razor. . .

To avoid a spoiler here, let’s just say the event made me wonder how a ten-year-old would react. And of course I left the parents out of the scene and had Becky, the main character, ask her best friend Jenna to do the trimming with the electric razor.

Becky is the main character of your story, so do you think boys will be able to relate to Double Digits as much as girls?

Many ten-year-old boys prefer books with a boy protagonist, but this is a humorous story, and I think boys will laugh as much as girls at the pickles Becky finds herself in. Plus, being embarrassed in front of the whole class is something boys and girls can relate to, along with all the other humiliating events Becky faces.

Do you outline your stories or do you write by the seat of your bell-bottom pants?

I only outline when I’m co-authoring the Monster Moon books, written under the pen name BBH McChiller.

Otherwise, I write by the seat of my thread bare, tattered old pants.

How long did Double Digits take for you to write? How many revisions?

Would you believe it took a decade? I kid you not. I worked on it off and on for ten years. It’s been a fun journey and got better with each revision. I have no idea how many revisions. Far more than ten.

When you’re writing for kids, how do you get yourself into a kids’ frame of mind? Does it come easy? What’s your process?

I remember certain moments from my childhood quite well, how I felt and what I thought. Raising four kids also helped. Part of me is still a kid at heart and always will be.

This is Alanna Heck’s debut as an illustrator. How did the two of you talented ladies team up?

We’re both in the same writers critique group. Alanna is artistic, so I asked her if she’d be willing to give it a shot. She said sure. It was like the blind leading the blind since neither of us had ever worked with illustrations for a book before, but I think her drawings look great.

When you sit down at the computer, do you have any writing rituals? You know, like tying your shoe laces together, then forgetting they’re fastened when you get up to get a snack? (Please, tell me I’m not the only who does this.)

You’re a hoot, Maria! I’m usually barefooted or wearing flip-flops while writing, so no worries about tangled shoe laces. As far as rituals, no, I don’t think so. Maybe making sure my glass of water isn’t empty. I’m always thirsty.

Warning: Getting down to some serious author’s dirt here.

Oh no, you’re scaring me! My knees are knocking…

As a kidster, your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?

The Jetsons. Something about that futuristic world fascinated me. Flying cars, a house in the clouds with a conveyor belt for walking the dog, Astro, on the edge of thin air. A robot maid and all the gadgets and gizmos, like telephones with screens to see who you’re talking to, pills that turned into a whole meal. Lots of crazy, wacky stuff. Plus, it was funny.

In Curse of the Double Digits, the main character Becky experiences a series of mortifying events which overshadow her upcoming 10th birthday party. Did anything similar happen to you as a kid?

Nah, nothing like Becky has to deal with. I do remember I had a mole on my neck that I hated and was self-conscious about. It wasn’t that big, but in my mind it was as big as a mountain. I know that’s cliché.

I must have whined about it a lot because for my 8thbirthday, my mom gave me a choice. I could either have a birthday party or get the mole cut off. We didn’t have enough money for both.

I’d never had a birthday party before and that was a big deal, so I chose the party and lived with that ugly mole until I was 25.

I mean, c’mon, what kid wouldn’t have chosen a party? Imagine if I didn’t. My friends would ask, “What did you get for your birthday?”

“Uh, I got a mole cut off my neck.”

How embarrassing!

What kind of a kid were you at 10-years-old? Shy or class clown?

Neither. I was Little Miss Teacher’s Pet, loved school, looked after my younger siblings, played outside, part tomboy. Kind of spunky. . . until junior high when I turned into the dorkiest of dorks and wished I’d had that ugly mole cut off for my 8thbirthday!

Speaking of clowns, I understand you were a clown in another lifetime.

I had always liked clowns and loved costumes and playing with makeup at Halloween, so while going to court reporting school, I tried to start a clown-magician business to make extra money.

I wish I’d found some kind of clown class because I didn’t know what I was doing. Buffy (my clown name) didn’t earn enough to make it worth while. How sad, having to admit I failed as a clown.

But nothing is a waste because Buffy the clown is part of Curse of the Double Digits! And learning the clown makeup paid off years later when my Funny Bones character was created for some of our writer’s events.

You seem to have a natural, quirky sense of humor. Where does it come from?

My dad is Mr. Funny Guy. He always told jokes, which I used to memorize and loved to tell. (These days I can’t remember the punch lines so I don’t tell many jokes.) My whole family is a bunch of jokers and pranksters.

I hear you’re a fan of the Three Stooges? Which one’s your fave?

Yes, I admit I’m fond of the Three Stooges, mainly because my brothers were always imitating them, which to me was even funnier than the real Stooges. I’d have to say Curly is my fave. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

Your grandfather was a professional magician. I mean, how cool is that? As a kid, how did this influence you? Did he teach you any amazing magic tricks you could share? (Hint, hint!) Did you ever think of following in his footsteps?

Actually, he wasn’t a professional, but a very serious amateur who belonged to a club with other magicians. He never taught me any tricks. My family moved away from him and my grandmother when I was eight.

He passed away when I was 14. I was sent to Pittsburgh for the summer to stay with my grandmother and help her prepare to move to California to live with us. During that time, she taught me some of his tricks, and gave them to me.

When I had my kids, I taught them Grandad’s magic tricks. A couple of the tricks have survived through the years, like the snakes that pop out of a can of candy (the label is long gone), but the sword through the neck trick, I’m sad to say, bit the dust about 20 years ago. Darn, because that was such a good one!

If you had a magic wand, what would you make disappear, appear, or reappear? Why?

Oh my, what temptation. Like a genie in a bottle! Somehow I don’t think my magic wand could make all the problems of the world disappear, so allow me to be selfish, okay?

I’d say, “Abbracadabra presto picheelo!” (Grandad’s magic words) and make Dr. Seuss’s Thing One and Thing Two appear to finish unpacking boxes from when we moved, hang the pics on the walls, and remove all the dust and dog hairs permanently. Permanently with a capital ‘P,’ please.

Goofiest thing you ever did as a kid?

Hmm, I didn’t think this was goofy at the time. I didn’t even realize it was stupid. With a capital ‘S.’

I had a friend in Pittsburgh named Sheila Monahan. When I’d go to her house, she’d ask me if I wanted to eat some spinach. I always said yes, like it was a real thrill or something. I didn’t even like spinach (sorry Popeye), but this was different.

We’d sneak upstairs to the pencil sharpener. Sheila would open the little drawer that caught the shavings, and we’d each eat some. I don’t know if I was six or seven, but in my mind, I knew it wasn’t spinach, even though she said it was. But it didn’t register that it was pencil shavings. I was gullible and trusting.

Like I said, Stupid with a capital ‘S.’

(Hmm… I see. That explains a lot, Lynn. LOL!)

Hey, I heard you once dragged your little sister along to set up a lemonade stand without your mom’s permission? Can you tell us about it, or is it still a sore subject with Mom? Did you get punished? No Brady Bunch? Care to name the rat who tattled?

Actually, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong at the time. Back in those days, kids were more free to roam the neighborhood. My sister usually went wherever I did. And it was Kool-Aid. Much easier to make.

We set up business on a corner in front of a little store a couple blocks from our home in Shadyside. Pam was so cute and shy. Really adorable. I decided to use her as bait, so I hid in a niche a couple stores over. I peeked out, waiting for customers to come. Then I ran over to pour the Kool-Aid and collect the money. But there was hardly anyone around, so we packed up and walked from Shadyside, crossed the huge bridge that went over the railroad tracks, and didn’t stop till we reached a busy corner in East Liberty.

The way our mom found out was when I told her there was a robbery at the bank we were selling Kool-Aid in front of. (It was actually the phone company, but because it was robbed, I thought it was a bank. And it was only five bucks. My grandmother read about it in the newspaper. No mention of the kids selling Kool-Aid!)

We didn’t even see the guy, but police officers asked us if we saw a man running away. I said no, but offered them free drinks. What a kiss up! See, teacher’s pet syndrome?

Mom flipped when I told her we were in East Liberty. She forbid me to go wandering off that far again.

Ever have to march to the principal’s office? Stay after school? C’mon. You can tell us.

Honestly, no. Little Miss Goody Goody me would have freaked to get in trouble!

Who is Funny Bones?

Like I mentioned above, Funny Bones was a character we invented to go with yours and Kathy’s witch getups, Batsy and Frizzelda. Funny Bones has a bag of bones, and each bone has a joke glued to it.

I didn’t realize it until about a year ago that Funny Bones is actually a clown. So, ha, my clown dream is being fulfilled as Funny Bones! I didn’t plan it. It just happened.

Sweet tooth?

Definitely. Sweet fang is more like it when it comes to chocolate.

My literary spies say you’ve been known to devour scorching jalepenos. How many can you wolf down in one sitting? Have you ever done it without a glass of water? (I dare ya. C’mon.)

You crack me up, Maria! I like to cut them up and put them on burritos, tostadas, and quesadillas. I don’t eat them by themselves. Are you loco? Haha!

Seriously, though, I believe they’re one of the healthiest things we can eat and keep me from catching colds or the flu. No studies to back me up here, just my gut feeling!

If you starred in your own reality TV show, what would you call it? What would it be about and who would star with you? (Me! Me! Me!)

Oh, definitely you for sure. Two quirky women trumps just one any day. I’m not sure what I’d call it, but our reality show would feature our writers critique group. We’d be a hit, no doubt about it. Crazy writers who come up with some humdingers that I’m not going to repeat here. Nuff said.

What other books have you published?

Funny you should ask. I have these two wonderful, wacky co-authors, Kathy Sant and Maria Cisneros Toth. We wrote the first two books in the fun, spooky Monster Moon mystery series (ages 8 – 12) under the pseudonym BBH McChiller (Stargazer Publishing). Curse at Zala Manor is the first book in the series, and Secret of Haunted Bog is the second title.

I also authored a picture book, Merry as a Cricket (WhipperSnapper Books).

So, tell us what’s next on the drawing board. Other works in progress?

As you know, the next two books in the Monster Moon series are in the works. Once those are finished, I’m giving my full attention to a young adult book I’ve been working on for years. I’m itching to get back to it and finish it once and for all. I’ve also got ideas percolating for another chapter book or two.

Best thing about being a children’s author? Have you ever thought of giving up the dream?

Best thing about being a children’s author is children! They crack me up, lift my spirits just being around them. I enjoy doing author visits at schools. Hearing that a child loved reading my book is ultra rewarding.

Yes, I’ve thought about giving up the dream. Usually when I’m in the middle of a meltdown over technical issues. But I know I’ll never stop because the ideas are endless and my muse would never let me rest!

Do you have any advice for writers thinking about going the traditional or e-pub route?

It’s a lot of work either way you go with many ups and downs. My advice is, don’t have high expectations of making tons of money. The chances of that happening are slim.

Give it your all. There’s so much competition, so you need to polish your work as much as you’re able. Join a critique group where there’s good chemistry. You’ll learn so much from others and they’ll learn from you. Most important, enjoy the journey, and keep writing.

How can readers and writers find you without having to use a GPS? Get your book?

There are links to all my books on my blog and my website:

Blog – Lynn Kelley – Random Acts of Weirdness:

Website – Lynn Kelley, Children’s Author:

Here are the links for Curse of the Double Digits:

Amazon – Link for paperback ($4.99) and eBook ($2.99):

Smashwords – Formats for all eReaders. They’ll distribute it to Barnes & Noble and other eStores soon, but the formats for all eReaders are available here now:

Thanks, Lynn! And super congrats on your awesome new book, Curse of the Double Digits!

Thanks so much, Maria. I’m honored to be the first interviewee on your new blog, which looks awesome, by the way. It’s always a hoot hanging out with you, and this was a blast

And thanks everyone for stopping by to congratulate Lynn on the release of her new book. To show the love, Lynn is offering a give-away. It’s easy to enter. Just leave a comment along with which format you prefer, eBook or signed paperback. A random drawing will be held on Oct. 30th. (Sorry, paperbacks are only for the U.S. and Canada. Ebooks for anywhere.)