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Thank you so much for caring. Instead of an award, won't you Follow an' share your comments? I'm truly glad you are here. ~ Yaya

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Little This And Little That

     For the last little while, I've been way too busy.  There have been deadlines and updates and all kinds of things to do and I haven't had much chance to blog.  More than that, I haven't been able to do much in the way of commenting on any of your blogs.  I'm really sorry about that.  I love going to your blogs and reading what you've been up to.

     Last night, I started moving furniture around.  It was great fun; always is.  Just knowing that my new look is gonna' brighten up the room always makes me wanna' hurry.  Do you feel that way when you rearrange a room?  Do you imagine, ahead of time, how lovely everything will be?  I used to have a friend who would suddenly start shifting everything around and, just as suddenly, she would stop.  She never seemed to plan ahead and there was no rhyme or reason in the way she worked; just suddenly started and suddenly stopped.  When she stopped, though, it was as if everything quickly fell into place; even the dust bunnies knew where they belonged to best enhance the room.

     When you come to visit, I do hope you know that, though I don't always get to read my comments immediately, I do always read them.  I enjoy your visits so much and, in case you don't know, I send a virtual hug to each and every one of you.  Thank you so much.

     Lynette at Crazed Mind made some very nice comments and I'd like to say thank you.  Thank you, Lynette.

     I was also blessed with a Virtual Easter Basket from Debby at Just Breathe.  I'm afraid I don't entirely understand how the Virtual Easter Basket works, but I do wanna' help The Children's Miracle Network and Hershey's is donating $10 for each blog that links to them (I think).  Please help by going to Debby's blog and reading up on the rules, then linking up.  I'd love it if each of you would take a basket and share.  Thank you for your help.

     I'm gonna' try to get back into posting more often.  Oh, yeah.  And I almost forgot to tell you about the fun, fun site that has some of the puzzles I created.  Its at  When you get there, go to the bottom of the page and click on About Us.  Next, look to the left and you'll see several places where you can go on the site.  Choose Conference Packet.  When you get to that page, you will have several choices, so just have fun.  It would really be great if you could become a fan of the site, too.  Thanks for looking.

     Until the next time, keep a hug on.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

What IS That, Anyway?

     I've been gone from Bloggy World for a few days.  As a dedicated writer, I find myself happily faced with deadlines and new venues for writing.  Blogging has become one of my very favorite activities and I thank my Heavenly Father, every single day, for this new way of meeting and making friends with so many wonderful people.

     I'd like to introduce you to the world that bloglandia has become to me.  Picture, if you can, a quiet, sort of quiet, not entirely quiet, shy, slightly outspoken, rather talkative author and cruciverbalist, sitting home with her good hubby-buddy, writing stories that might be read by as many as twenty, twelve, one person.

     There she was, whiling away her life, with no one to visit and no one to talk to, except Hubby-Buddy, who didn't really talk all that much.  So, she wrote stories and dabbled in cruciverbalist games.

     What?  What's that you're asking?  What's a cruciverbalist?  You don't know what a cruciverbalist is?  Have you been here before?  Unh, huh.  So, this is your first time here?  Oh.  Well, then I guess you haven't heard me tell about what I do, have you?  Have a seat, there, why don'tcha'?

     You see, I am an author.  I have always thought of myself as an author...

     What?  You can't tell that I'm an author from my writing?  You don't think I'm a real author?  What do you do?  You're an astronaut?  Unh, huh.  You're an astronaut.  You're not wearing one-uh those funny little suitsWhy should I think you're an astronaut?  Just fly in from space, did you?

     Just take my word for it; I'm an author.  I was published in the family newsletter, I'll have you knowThat means I've been published, so I'm an author, thank you very much.  You just haven't been reading my work long enough to recognize my writing or you would know that I'm an author.  You still wanna' know what a cruciverbalist is?  You do?  Okay, then, no more interruptions.

     You ever read the Sunday Paper and do the crossword puzzle?  How about a word search puzzle?  You like doing them?  There are lots and lots of different kinds of word puzzles and that's where a cruciverbalist comes in.  See, the person who creates word puzzles or does them a lot is called a cruciverbalist.  And that's what I do; create word puzzles.

     What?  You haven't seen any evidence that I'm a cruciverbalist, either?  You will, you will.  In fact, if you come back, I'll show you where you can see several of my puzzles.  If you keep cutting in, though, I might not tell ya'.

     Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah; the beautiful place that is Bloglandia.  Let's see, now.  How do I explain this so you get the real picture?  hmmmmm.  Oh, here ya' go:

     Once upon a time, a girl with red hair, riding in a Little Red Wagon, loved to play in her back yard.  Her very favorite thing to do was to play in her sandbox.  She played with cars and trucks.  She played with shovels and scoops.  Sometimes, she even pretended to take her dolly to the beach in her sandbox.  She had heard that the beach was a marvelous and magical place to visit, but never having been to a beach, the little girl with red-hair could only imagine how wonderful it must be.

     One day, the little red-haired girl was invited to a party at the beach.  She was told to bring a towel and to wear her bathing suit.  When she finally arrived, she was so surprised that she almost couldn't breathe.  The beach was more wonderful than anything she had ever imagined.  No matter which direction she looked, the sandbox went on forever.  There were people building castles and some who were digging holes; BIG holes.  Some people were running up and down the beach and others were playing in the water.  The little girl with red-hair vowed that she could never feel this much happiness again, in her entire life.

     Many years later, after writing yet one more story for an audience of twelve, one, she stumbled onto a brand new world on the internet; Bloggy World.  Upon entering Bloglandia, the little girl with red-hair was filled with joy such as she had not felt since that first visit to the beach.

     With a blog, the girl with red-hair could write every single day, if she wanted to.  And not only did no one try to stop her, but some people actually came to visit and read what she had written.  In case you haven't figured out the end of the story, here it is: 

     The girl with red hair, riding in the Little Red Wagon began going to Bloglandia nearly every day to write and she lived happily, ever after.

     And that's how I feel about finding Bloglandia.  Until the next time, keep a hug on.

 ~ Yaya

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Comment Queen Has Noticed Me!

     I am very grateful and honored to have been chosen by Lynette, The Comment Queen over at Crazed Mind, for the lovely Lemonade Stand Award.  Thank you, Lynette.  There's only one tiny little drawback; mine is an award-free blog.  However, I am very happy to link to Lynette and have added her to the links in my alphabetical collection of photos that follow below. 

     Unfortunately, my blog is not letting me upload pictures, at the moment, so to see the award, please click on the Lemonade Stand Award link, above.  I don't know why I suddenly cannot upload pictures.  Very frustrating.

     Lynette is quite entertaining and, in fact, you won't want to miss out on the fun to be found at her home on the web.  One of her more comical posts involved the joy of this most recent winter and how she manages to stay warm on those cold, cold nights.  You'll be surprised by her ingenuity and even more amazed at what a thoughtful wife she is.

     No, no.  I can't tell you more than that.  You'll just have to go take a peek for yourself.  Its always fun to visit Lynette, so I do hope you'll head on over there and check out her home on the web.  You'll be glad you did.

     Now, because mine is an award-free blog, I wouldn't feel right in passing out individual awards.  On the other hand, there's this lovely award, just looking for a new home.  I enjoy reading all of your blogs, so I hope you'll consider this as my award to you.  Please take it and pass it on to others whom you feel are doing their part in making Bloglandia a better community.  As for my part, I am making an effort to make life easier by creating a shortcut to each of your homes on the web.

     And, Lynette, thank you so much for your kindness.  I am truly touched by your generosity.  To each of you, be happy and 'til the next time, keep a hug on.

 ~ Yaya

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That's One Amazing Log!

     Its Spring!  Well, almost, anyway.  The snow is almost gone and I can see dirt.  Dirt, dirt, dirt.  I never thought I'd be so happy to see dirt.  We are s'posed to have rain tonight, turning to snow.  I'm thrilled.  NOT!  Ah, well.  Maybe this is the last-ditch effort of Mother Nature for this year's winter blast, ya' think?  I surely hope so.  I love winter, but I am waaaaaaaaay tired of struggling to get out of my driveway.

     Wanna' hear somethin' funny?  We have a woodburning stove.  We've been very thankful for it, since this is how we've kept warm, this winter.  Well, its still kinda' chilly, so of course, we're still burning wood.  Running dangerously low, so I really hope we will get to stop soon.  I mean, we will get to stop burning wood on accounta' we're about to run out.  But I mean, I hope the weather cooperates so we can stop burning wood 'cause we wanna' and not because we hafta', ya' know?

     Anyway, the night before last we put the largest piece of wood we could into the stove.  Its one of those old-fashioned cookstoves with the little shelf.  To load the wood, we lift two little round parts and a center piece, all of which keep the fire from letting smoke into the room.  So we loaded this piece of wood, about a foot and a half long and a little bigger around than a large coffee can.  Since there were coals left-over from the previous sticks of wood, it wasn't necessary to go through the steps of starting a fire under the new wood... we thought.

     Naturally, we did add a little bit of extra paper to the coals, just to be sure.  After we were sure the fire was going good, we went upstairs; each to our own office to write.  That's what we enjoy doing, writing.  In about an hour, we heard the sound of treats and drinks, calling our names.  Back downstairs and, as long as we were there, anyway, we checked the stove to see if more wood was needed.  More wood was NOT necessary because that one log was just setting there.  NOT burning.

     Now, I could stretch this story out for forty years and forty nights, giving you every little detail during my long and ridiculous night-fight with the woodstove.  I don't wanna' do that, though, on accounta' you might get bored and just up and leave.  So I'm gonna' give you the shorter version.

     Eight times, throughout the night, I poked and prodded, stabbed and fed that woodstove with everything I could think of to get that fire going.  I am not one to use ugly names, but I can tell you, I was sorely tempted to give that stove and/or that log a whole new vocabulary.  When my good hubby-buddy woke up, it was his turn to play at keeping the stove lit.

     So, here's the short version (finally?).  Thirty-one hours ago, we started burning that log.  It burned so slowly (yes, it actually burned the whole night and day) that there are still, now, embers from that same log.  I have never seen a log burn that slowly.  If you ask me, that's something of a miracle.  After all, we're running out of wood and tonight its gonna' snow.  Wouldn't you say that's a miracle?  Stay warm and 'til the next time, keep a hug on.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Thank Goodness, Its Monday!

     Whew!  The weekend is, more or less, over.  Sunday is my absolute busiest day of the week.  Well, that is, unless you count Monday through Saturday... then, its just a contest as to which day is the busiest.  I don't know if you manage to stay that busy.  I often wonder if the reason I'm so busy is because I don't think like other people; you know, organized.  Actually, I don't really think that's the reason, though, because I know so many people who are just up to their earlobes in busy.

     How d'ya' s'pose we got this way?  So busy, I mean?  As I understand it, our ancestors did all their own baking and cooking, cleaning, making their own clothes... by hand, hunting, fishing and who knows WHAT ALL.  Still, they had time to sit down in the evening and enjoy a sunset, once in awhile.  Don't believe me?  Just ask Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Or, Anne of Greene Gables.  They knew how to find time for relaxing.

     So, what am I doing wrong?  I mean, my good hubby-buddy does everything in the house, just so I will have time to sit and write.  And that's pretty-much all I do, too.  Yet, here I am, scrambling to keep up with... MYSELF.  There's gotta' be something wrong with that.

     If you happen to walk by and see me doing something that is counter-productive, won't you please just step in and get me pointed in the right direction?  Surely, you could help a fellow-blogger get back on track, couldn't you?  Thanks.

     Until the next time, keep a hug on.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Books In The Water-Closet

     I work in a  H - U - U - U - G - E  office, the likes of which would drive you insane with jealousy, if you could see it.  Here, let me give you a mental image.  Close your eyes and picture, if you can, a room the size of two small water-closets... if your water-closet is a three-quarter, like ours is.  No, no.  Let me correct that.  This room is so big, it could almost be called a walk-in closet... except, its too small for that.

     "What's that," you ask?  Am I complaining?  No, of course not.  That's just jealousy speaking, isn't it?  I love my house.  Truly, I do.  I live in a big ol' 1906 Sears and Roebuck Kit House on two-and-a-half acres of land.  Not quite as much land as I would prefer, but I'm not complaining.  I consider my life one continuous blessing.  But that's another story.

     Okay, we were talking about my office.  You're jealous, right?  You wish your office were as big as two small water-closets, don't you?  Well, I'm really sorry you don't have this kind of luxury.  Yeah, I am.  Whaddya' mean?  No, I'm not being sarcastic.  I don't DOOOO sarcasm.  Why, you can very plainly see that I am just over-flowing with sweetness.  Look at this smile:  :-)  Now, I ask you, doesn't that look like the sweetest smile you've ever seen?  See?  I'm over-flowing with sweetness.

     Oh, yeah; the office.  So, here in this H - U - U - U - G - E  office, you know what surrounds me?  Books.  Books.  Books and more books.  And ya' know what?  I still want more books.  Yeah, its true.  More books.  Just as if I don't have enough, already.  Are you like that?  Do you live and breathe books?  Aw, c'mon.  You know you do.

     Don't you love it when you walk into a bookstore and the smell of new print meets you?  Inhale.  Deep.  Deep.  Inhale, deep.  There ya' go.  You're with me, aren't you?  Now, you're in the mood, too, huh?  You want more books.  Good.  Let's all meet at Barnes and Nobles.  They have bigger water-closets.

     Until the next time, keep a hug on.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Update And A Drawing

     Yesterday, Donna Aviles was back with us and shared more about her family and the many experiences that developed as a result of her grampa's trip on an Orphan Train.  I have tried to imagine what it must have been like for so many children to be separated from everything they knew and be dropped down among strangers.  There simply is no way I can draw a proper image of how difficult it must have been for those children, even in the best of circumstances.

     Of course Oliver, Donna's granddad, and her Uncle Edward fell far-shy of the best circumstances and it affected them in every aspect for the rest of their lives.

     After Donna left, yesterday, I thought of more questions I wanted answers to and she was kind enough to allow me some extended time for answers.  In fact, she has been most helpful and encouraging since I met her.  Below are her responses.  You'll want to read to the end because there is a surprise at the end of this post and I truly hope you will join in for some fun.

     Here, then, are the things I still wanted to know and Donna's very informative replies.  Don't forget to read yesterday's interview to learn quite a bit more about Donna's family and the Orphan Train experience.  Now, let's begin.

Yaya:  Donna, this is the most intriguing title from any of the three books. PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES.  Could you please tell us how you came up with this and was this something that popped into your mind, long after you began writing. Or, did the name of the book come first?

Donna:  The "working title" was OLIVER'S CHILDREN.  The idea for the title, PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, came to me after I wrote about the time Benny was in school and for lunch he brought his usual, peanut butter on bread.  It was all he ever brought.  Another student - one of wealthier means - opened up his lunch bag and brought out 2 cupcakes with green icing.  Benny tried and tried to convince the boy to trade a cupcake...or even part of a cupcake... for his "delicious, creamy peanut butter" but to no avail.  He told himself that someday, he'd have all the cupcakes he wanted. (and as my father, I know that he still has an insatiable sweet tooth to this day and he just turned 81!)  So the title refers to that story.  But in fact, it has a second meaning as well. Oliver's children lived what could be categorized as a "peanut butter" sort of life.  But in the end, they all found the sweetness of "cupcakes" through hard work and love of family.

Yaya:  Do you have any of the items that were owned by Oliver from his childhood or any of his children's articles from their childhood?

Donna:  Yes, we have his tiny, pocket size book of Bible verses and prayers that he carried with him on the train. He carried it with him even as an adult. We also have his favorite belt buckle.

Yaya:  I don't know if Donna will be able to stop in, but if you're listening, Donna, this has truly been a wonderful time of learning for me.  As much as I thought I knew about the Orphan Trains, my education has been increased so much by visiting your blog and your website and having you here to share your story.  I am anxious to have you back here soon to talk to us about your last book, some more.  I feel that there is so much more to discuss.  You have certainly enlightened me on many aspects of what the children went through during that forgotten period in American history.  I am, in fact, in the process of reading your books again.  I'm sure that anyone who reads them will learn a great deal and enjoy the trip, in the process.
     Now, my friends, I promised you a surprise.  You see, I so believe in Donna's books and in the work she is doing in spreading the word about seventy-five years of forgotten history that I want to help her in her efforts by having a giveaway.
     So, here's what I've come up with.  Donna is a new blogger and I remember how difficult it was when I was starting out.  The most mysterious part of blogging, for me, was the elusive Follower.  Donna has no idea that I am posting this message on my blog, but I really want to help her out.
     These books are amazing.  I think everyone should have a chance to read them.  Now, I can't quite afford to get the whole set and give away, but I will buy Donna's third book, PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES and give it away to the winner of this next contest.
     All you have to do is follow Donna's blog and get one other person to follow her blog (and if you aren't yet a follower on mine, it would sure make me feel good if you followed me, as well).  I don't want to go into a lot of elaborate rules for entering.
     1) All I'm asking is for you to follow this blog.
     2) Follow Donna's blog and
     3) get one more person to follow Donna's blog
          and you will be entered to win her book, PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES.  
     Drawing ends on Tax Day.

     Please tell me in a comment on This Post that you have met these three requirements because I'm kinda' lazy not able to find everyone in posts all over the place.  Whoever wins this book is in for some exciting reading, so please tell your friends.  And you might enjoy checking out Donna's website, too.
     I look forward to reading all your comments.  Now, hurry out and follow Donna's blog and get one friend to follow her, as well.  You'll be glad you did.  Until the next time, keep a hug on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beyond The Orphan Train

I'm really glad to welcome Donna N. Aviles back for another visit.  Her books, FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY, BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN and PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES tell the true story of Oliver, an Orphan Train Rider.  If you haven't yet read these books, you really are missing out.  Be sure to go to Donna's website and her blog to read more. 

Hi, Donna.  We're awfully glad to have you back to share more of Oliver's story with us.  We're looking forward to hearing more about the many adventures Oliver had and the lessons he learned as a result.  Please get comfortable in my big comfy chair and have some cookies and hot cocoa while we visit.  I also took the liberty of bringing in a bowl of some of the candies your grandad always kept available. Please, have some and enjoy yourself.  The bowl is never empty.

Donna, I seem to recall that the candies your grampa' kept on hand were small mints, but I'm not certain that I remember correctly.  Could you help me out, here?  Thanks.

Donna:  I can’t remember the name of them but they are about the size of a nickel but taller and they are pink…they come in white too but Oliver always had pink :-)  Anyone know the name of that mint????

Yaya:  When you started writing Oliver's story, you only planned on writing one book.  You mentioned that reader's reactions actually helped you to realize there was still more that needed to be written.  Would you mind expounding on that subject for us, a little bit?

Donna:  Mostly what readers were concerned with was Edward’s welfare and whether or not Oliver is able to find him.  The story left them wanting more.

Yaya:  My feelings about Edward were that, in prison of all places, he was finally able to meet people who treated him with the respect that every person deserves.  Did you ever get to meet Edward?  If so, what was your impression of him?

Donna:  I’d have to say you’re right about that, unfortunately.  Other than Oliver of course.  I never met Edward.  He died in July of 1958 – I was born in May of that same year.  Sadly we do not even have a picture of him.  My father and uncle described him as a quiet man who found enjoyment in books.  He undoubtedly carried a lot of scars.

Yaya:  Have you ever thought about expanding your stories or adding to the set by writing about Edward or some of the other family relationships?  I can just imagine how colorful and informative such a story would be.  You do have a remarkable story-voice.  Your approach has been incredibly fun to read.

Donna:  Yes. I have considered re-writing the first 2 books on an adult reading level with an expanded story for Edward.  That portion of the book would be mostly fiction, however, and that is what’s holding me back.  These books are narrative non-fiction and I’m pretty sure they are going to stay that way.

Yaya:  In your second book, BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN, we see how Oliver met Estella, who would eventually become his bride.  Considering Estella's age when she met Oliver and Oliver's apparent shyness, do you suppose this was the only romantic involvement either of them ever had?

Donna:  Yes, that is the presumption.  Oliver never talked about any girls or interest in girls prior to meeting and talking with Estella on the train to Elmira.  He really didn’t even know HOW to talk to her.  Since Estella was just 15, she probably did not have any boyfriends prior to Oliver.  Estella actually traveled as a young girl with her mother to the pacific northwest where her mother worked as a cook in a logging camp.  We have her diary from the trip.

Yaya:  After Estella passed away, did Oliver ever come close to remarrying?

Donna:  No, never.  He did have an occasional girlfriend here and there that the boys remember but he never considered marriage again.

Yaya:  Donna, there are so many angles from which you could approach your writing.  The whole Orphan Train era carries with it an air of mystery and intrigue.  How would you feel about writing fiction? Personally, I would love to see your imagination take wing and fly.  It seems that you have researched and know so much about the Orphan Trains that you could write almost anything and present it in an interesting way.  So, whaddya' think?  Will we ever get to see the stories of Edward and some of the others, from a creative aspect?

Donna:  Probably not. There are many very good fiction books that take place during the Orphan Train  Movement. I wrote these stories to honor Oliver, his involvement in this piece of American history, and the type of life he ended up living, having come from such difficult beginnings.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t write a different book that was a work of fiction though.

Yaya:  In your travels, have you come across many people who were the adopting parents of Orphan Train Riders?  What kinds of reactions, if any, have you heard to the actual adopting?  I know there were some who truly wanted to love and help one or more children.  Will you share what you have learned?

Donna:  Given the time period of the orphan train movement, it would be nearly impossible to find someone who took in a child from the trains.  The last train ran in 1929 which would make the youngest rider – if he/she was an infant when they rode – 81 years old.  A foster parent of that child would be near 100.  A large majority of the children who rode the trains through the Children’s Aid Society were not, in fact, adopted by the people who took them in.  It was more of a foster care arrangement with the parents signing indenture papers.  The children who rode the Baby Trains sent out from the NY Foundling Home were much more likely to be adopted.  Thoughts on this vary, but one main reason is that they were actually REQUESTED by the family prior to leaving NYC.  Add to that that they were always young…under the age of five, and that explains a lot.

Yaya:  Donna, do you have a work in progress, now?

Donna:  Only in my head I’m afraid.  I really loved writing from a social history viewpoint in these three books and am always on the lookout for other individuals who lived through extraordinary times.  I also have considered writing a book about raising a child with severe disabilities.  It would be of a humorous nature but also strive to let those who have no exposure to people with disabilities realize that our lives are not so different from yours – we just have a different definition of “normal” that we live every day.  We have a secret that I would like to share with everyone who looks the other way when they see us in the mall, or makes the comment, “oh that’s so sad, or oh that must be so hard.”  But it’s a secret – if I write the book you’ll learn what it is-lol!  Sorry, I got off track.  This is about the orphan trains.  :-)

Yaya:  No problem.  I hope you'll write that book.  And now, Donna, I've saved my most curious and exciting question for last.  I see on your blog post that you have begun doing Author Visits to classes by way of Skype.  How did you come up with this idea?

Donna:  Quite by accident! I received an email request from a teacher in Ramsey NJ (which is in the northern most, very congested part of NJ) that I didn’t actually want to travel to.  BUT….I promised myself years ago that I would let this story take me wherever it wanted to go, so I replied that I would come (but quoted a very high price, and said I would need overnight lodging, hoping that he would turn me down).  Having just observed my daughter having a “SKYPE chat” with members of her mock trial team during a snowstorm which kept them out of school, I foolishly ended my conversation with this teacher saying, “Or we could do it via SKYPE for $100.00.”  (I didn’t really know what SKYPE was, I was just trying not to have to travel to Northern NJ!)

The teacher, however, knew all about SKYPE and replied, “Oh that would be great! I could write that check myself!  Let’s go with that!  The students could view you on the white board with your PowerPoint projected next to you, it will be great!”  Mind you….I had NO IDEA that this included video in anyway.  BUT, I answered, “Oh yeah, it will be great! Let me get something to you in writing and we’ll go from there.”

THEN….I proceeded to stall him until I could find out just what I had gotten myself into!  I learned that SKYPE is a way to call people over the internet and that it is free…that was lucky.  AND I learned that to see one another I would need a webcam.  Further research told me what webcam to buy for the quality I would need, I bought it on Amazon and proceeded to learn how to use it before I emailed the teacher back.

In the process of researching SKYPE I found a website called that was an actual clearing house if you will, of authors who do webcam/SKYPE presentations.  So…NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING GAINED….I signed up, put together a page, and already have a SECOND webcam presentation lined up for May 17th with a class in Illinois!

Yaya:  Please tell us what needs to be done from our end so that we can have you visit a classroom in our area.

Donna:  The school would need the equipment to project the video onto a large screen or whiteboard, microphones of course, and the computer equipment necessary.  What I am finding out is that even schools in low budget districts often have what’s needed.  It may well be the future of Author Visits to schools since it is so cost efficient compared to actually having the author come to the school….especially if the author has travel expenses to get there.

Yaya:  Being a writer, myself, I am well-aware of how involved family members can be in writing projects.  With that in mind, how involved is your family with your writing?

Donna:  Not so much involved with the writing but they are certainly helpful with their opinions and input with regards to marketing.  I just had a company develop a Book Trailer for the first 2 books and family members are giving their input and ideas to improve it before I send back the draft.

Yaya:  Thank you so much, Donna, for the wonderful answers you have given and for sharing so much of yourself with us, today.  I must say, I continue to learn more about this curious era in American History.  Of course, we're looking forward to our next visit with you when you return to talk about the third book in your series, PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES.  You've truly been a wonderful guest.

Thank YOU Yaya!  I am looking forward to our next chat – all about Oliver’s children and the Great Depression!  See you then.  :-)

     I can't say enough about these books.  And Donna is such a fun and inspiring person.  You will want to experience this piece of American history, told in her words.  Its remarkable what a human being can live through and still have such a positive attitude.  Donna N. Aviles, an author whose books you will not want to put down.

     Until the next time, keep a hug on.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whaddya' Do With A Log In The Fog?

     I'm sure you're gonna' be surprised by this next bit of news, but I'm gonna' tell you, anyway.  Yes, this will come as quite a shock, I feel certain, but when I looked out the window awhile ago, there was a wall of somethin' akin to Pea Soup.  Can't see East.  Can't see West.  Can't see up and can't see down.  (You thought I was gonna' say North and South, didn't you?)  In other words, unlike some of those recent days, when we had fog beyond belief, we have been separated from the rest of the world by a thick cap of... Yup!  You guessed it:  FOG.

     Now, I ask you, did I put in an order to feel as if I am the only one left in the world and hit send... then, forget that I had sent it?  Because I sure don't remember making this request.  I mean, I do admit to having a certain degree of Hermit in my blood.  And, although there are times and situations when I like being around people, I do like some alone time, too.  If you're a writer, you prob'ly understand that.

     But, you know, there's kind of a limit to all things... even good things.  And my good hubby-buddy and I have been in a fog for a long, looooooong time.  No, no.  Not that kind of a fog.  Well, him maybe We are beginning to think there are no other people in the world.  We certainly can't see them.  Shoot!  We can't even see across the road to the next house.  How can you expect us to see other people?

     So, here's the deal:  we've decided to start with a log and build an ark; try sailing towards civilization.  We'll take a few animals; not Slacker... he cannot ride in my ark.  We'll sail for a month or so, until the Pea Soup thins and drops us somewhere.  Then, I'll send some birds out to see if we have reached civilization.  hmmmmm.  You know, that scenario sounds oddly familiar.  hmmmm

     So, if you want me, I'll be in the workshop, carving out the ark.  I have an idea that this project could take awhile.  But at least, it'll take my mind off the fog.  C'mon out to the workshop, if you happen to be in the area.  We can have some cookies and hot cocoa, whilst we visit and wait-out the fog.  'Til the next time, keep a hug on.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Frogs In The Fog!

     I'm hiding indoors.  Shhhh!  Don't tell.  I don't want that Ol' North Wind to find me.  He's out there, waiting.  Blowin' at about a million miles an hour and lookin' for me.  That's why I'm in here, hiding.  I thought about hiding behind the snow, but its cold out there.  If you see Ol' North Wind, don't you tell 'im where I'm hidin', k?  Maybe someday, you'll wanna' hide from him and I can keep YOUR secret.

     Funny thing about this whole Extended Winter thing... it seems to have put me into a really silly poetry-writing mood.  Naturally, I had to post one of my silly poems, just to show you how the weather is messing with my brain.  One can only hope that you are not having the same problem with unruly weather.

     Someone, pleeeeeeeeze... SAVE ME!  I don't wanna' do Winter Any More.  HEEEEEEEEELLLP!!!


Fog Spit

Fleeg, flag, flog,
I think I ate a frog.
The weatherman
Said, "Get your Tan,"
But I'm wrapped up in fog!

I cannot see before me!
I cannot see behind!
But just before I heard a croak,
My mouth was open, wide!

EW, Ptooey!  EW, Ptooey!  EW, Ptooey, SPIT!
I cannot think of other things with Frog Juice on my Lip.
When this fog's gone and I get home, I'll wash and spit and clean.
Until that time, the fog is thick and I just wanna' scream!

     I hope you're surviving winter.  Stay inside, where its warm and cozy.  And, until the next time, keep a hug on.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Weathermen Become Flogs

     It is not Spring!  Two days ago, the weatherman promised I would get to see Spring, but his words have not held true.  I believe that pickles... very dill pickles... would make him think about being kinder in his predictions, don't you?  I think that if he is going to promise me Spring, then he should give me Spring.

     Suppose I had decided to cast-off my jacket and run around in short sleeves, just because of that mean weatherman's prediction!  There I would be, short sleeves and all, caught outside when it started snowing... again.  It does not snow in Spring.  That is the rules.  I know because I MADE the rules.  And nobody can change the rules that I, myself, made.  That's another one of the rules; that no one can change my very own rules.  'Cause I said.

     I think that weathermen who telltalltales should be flogged.  On accounta' that's a word I like; Flogged.  It prob'ly means being turned into a frog, only with a lisp, on accounta' the L.  Can't you just see it?  A weatherman promises I'll get to have Spring and, right away, he is turned into a Flog.  That's 'cause the real weather knew that the weatherman wasn't gonna' keep his promise.

     Next thing you know, there are all kinds of little, tiny Flogs running around, everywhere.  And everybody would know that those were the guys who used to be weathermen.  MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

     Until Spring arrives, keep a hug on.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writers, Agents and Friends Unite

     ::Yaya comes screeching into her office, slipping on the waxed floor, anxious to say hello to her smiling guests::

     ::Grabbing her keyboard as she sliiiiiiiiiides by, she begins doing the one-finger dance to try and type a message to her friends::

     Hello!  Hello!  Hello, everyone!  I'm so glad you're here.  I've been having troubles trying to find the time to write, but I am sooooo glad to have squeezed out a few minutes to be able to sit down and visit with you.  Thank you very much for being here.  I am so very happy whenever you drop by to visit.  And your comments are like a hug... thank you so much.

     Which reminds me; wasn't that just the most fun, the other day?  Donna's grampa' had so many adventures.  And Donna really knows how to share those stories.  Oliver and his family will always be a part of my heart.  I'm reading the books again.  Such fun.  I do hope you have also begun reading them.  Each one is a treasure, all its own.  I know you will enjoy every single word.


     I have not had a chance to tell you about my amazing visit with Agent Mark McVeigh.  So many really amazing things have been happening, lately, that I am truly running (in my internet virtual world, actually).  I don't know how the rest of you keep up with everything.  Any advice would seriously be appreciated.

     Mark and I talked a couple of weeks ago on Skype.  If you don't have Skype, you don't know what you're missing.  It was just like sitting in my living room, talking to Mark.  The only thing missing was the hot cocoa and fresh-baked cookies.

     I was able to ask Mark many questions about the publishing process and what those most important factors are.  He was easy to talk to.  Very relaxed and easy-going.  Although Mark was very helpful in answering my questions, I never felt that he lost the sense of caring.  He was also interested in what I was doing as a writer and I can honestly say that I look forward to contacting him when my book is ready to go to market.  May I just say that if you are looking for an agent, don't be shy about getting in touch with Mark McVeigh.  I do believe he will treat you right.

     I love blogging.  This whole experience has been much more than I ever imagined possible.  Each day seems to bring new and exciting surprises.  I surely hope you will be here to enjoy every minute of the excitement as we move forward.  And don't forget, Donna Aviles will be back with more for us, very soon.  So, until the next time, keep a hug on.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thank you, Donna!

     Wasn't that just so exciting, yesterday?  Donna, I want to thank you, again.  Your books are amazing and I am looking forward (rather impatiently, I might add) to reading more about Oliver and his family.  It is amazing to me how he could be faced with so many challenges and still have such an upbeat attitude.

     Oliver has certainly changed my life with his positive attitude.  Donna, I know that your books will be read and enjoyed by many people for a long, long, loooooooooong time.  I'm so thankful for your kindness in being here and sharing Oliver's story with us.  Whatever you do, don't stop writing.

     So keep watching, everyone.  Donna will be back with more.  And 'til the next time, keep a hug on.


Monday, March 8, 2010

True Story of an Orphan Train Rider

An Afternoon With Donna Nordmark Aviles

     Hello!  Hello, Everyone!  I'm so glad you're here to meet our esteemed guest.  Please pull your chairs in close and have some refreshments while Donna N. Aviles shares with us the stories of her very own grampa'.  Oliver Nordmark was an actual Rider on one of the Orphan Trains and I know you are all anxious to hear of some of his experiences.

Donna:     Thank you so much for having me here today Joany. I am so appreciative of your posting on the orphan trains and it is my wish to spread the word about this missing piece of history, so I thank you for helping me with that mission.

Yaya:     Everyone will want to read Donna's books, of course, as there is so much more to learn than can possibly be shared in just one visit.  You can get her books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and any other bookstores where great authors impart pieces of their souls.  I just learned that Donna's books are now available for your Kindle, as well as in hard copy!  Of course, you can also buy directly from Donna by going to her website and scrolling to near the bottom of the page. All of the books are listed and there is an option to have Donna sign each book. Shall we begin, then?

Yaya:     Donna, I'm so happy to be able to visit with you.  Thank you for agreeing to be here.  I recently posted a message on my blog about some of the history of Orphan Trains and was surprised and thrilled when you commented, saying that your grampa' was a rider on one of the orphan trains.

     Naturally, I could hardly contain my excitement long enough to contact you.  I have enjoyed the emails back and forth as we've gotten to know each other and become friends.

     You've written three books, all about your grampa's unique experiences.  Your first book is called FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! and tells the story of Oliver and his little brother, Edward, traveling on an Orphan Train from New York City to Kansas.  We see them uprooted, at seven and four years old, from their home and parents and placed, after Oliver's brief stay in prison, into a very strict orphanage.

     Did your grampa' ever share with you what it felt like to be thrown into prison at such a young age?

Donna:     Yes, he was frightened and confused.  He had no idea that playing hooky from school was a bad thing and that it would land him in a detention center.  He had overheard older kids talking about doing it and how much fun they had and Oliver thought it was something that every kid was allowed to do - sort of like a personal holiday.  So he just picked a day for himself to play hooky and spent the day walking up and down in front of the school with no idea that he was doing anything wrong.  He got caught of course and was taken the very next day to the prison.  His exact quote about the incident was, "That was the ruination of me right there."

 Yaya:   I read your first book, FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! and I'm in the middle of your second book, BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAINS.  I must say, you do have a knack for drawing your reader into the story and making them a part of the action.  I'm anxious to read your third book, PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES. Could you tell us a little bit about this book?

Donna:     Thank you so much Joany, I'm glad you're enjoying Oliver's story! PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES begins eleven years after the ending of BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN, my second book.  Oliver and Estella are married and they have six children ranging in ages from 1 1/2 (my father Benny) to 10 1/2 (my aunt May).  The year is 1930 and it is about six months after the collapse of the stock market. Oliver, who had a job working in the silk mill, has been laid off and things are getting desperate.  When Estella sees a sign in the window of the coffee shop at the Indian Queen Hotel, she convinces Oliver to let her apply for the job.  He reluctantly gives in and Estella interviews for and gets the job, but with tragic results.  Having had no real parents of his own from which to draw on to raise his children, life with Oliver is full of fun and adventure one minute but marked with poverty and abandonment the next.  It is a story that will give the reader a deeper understanding of what life was like in the 1930's - a social history if you will.  But as with all children, "boys will be boys" even in the hardest of times.

     PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES can be read by itself - no need to have read my first 2 books in order to figure out what's going on in the story.

Yaya:     Donna, were Oliver's experiences what ignited your desire to write?  Or, did you already aspire to be an author and realized your grampa's life was a story just waiting to be told?

Donna:     I have enjoyed writing since I was a young teenager.  I started first with poetry and songwriting.  I had one teacher who, although she questioned what I had written as my own work, nevertheless encouraged me in my writing.  These particular stories were handed to me in oral history form after my father, with great foresight, decided to sit Oliver (his dad) down with a tape recorder and record everything that Oliver could remember from his childhood.  As soon as I heard the tapes, I knew they would make a great book.  Most everyone I ask has never heard about the Orphan Trains and are very surprised that this happened in the United States.  I am still amazed that an event which lasted 75 years (1854-1929) and relocated over 250,000 children from East coast cities to every state in the nation, somehow has managed to escape our collective consciousness.

Yaya:     Would you mind sharing that moment when you decided to write about your grampa' Oliver?

Donna:     I put the tapes aside, since at the time my children were quite young.  Carlo was 10, James was five and Estella was a newborn.  James was born with multiple disabilities and spent most of his first five years in and out of the hospital and he never slept through the night so I did not have the energy or time to work on the book at that time.  The idea never left me though, and when Estella was ten, the time was right.  James was healthier and Estella was an avid reader.  I began writing the story at the 5th grade level and she would read each chapter when it was finished and give me her thoughts.

 Yaya:    You mentioned that you had plenty of opportunity to get to know him.  What do you remember most about your grampa'?

 Donna:    Mostly I remember his adventurous spirit.  He always was ready for the next thing and never acted like an old man.  I remember water skiiing with him on the Delaware river in the Pocono mountains of PA where he lived.  He was in his late 60's at the time and he would ski just like the rest of us.  He traveled a lot and we would sometimes go with him on road trips.  We went to see the Mammoth Caves in KY and traveled to Colorado where we drove to the top of Pike's Peak.

Yaya:     I'd love it if you'd share some of your favorite moments with your grampa'.

Donna:     The trips we shared were wonderful memories.  Some other little quirky things I remember were once when we were in a campground...I think I was around 15 years old...I was eyeing a cute boy in the next campsite over.  He saw what I was up to and said to me, "Go and talk to him.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained."  It was a motto that he lived his life by.  His house in Stroudsburg, PA - which he built himself with no "plans" was furnished with old burgundy and blue velvet furniture.  He wasn't much of a housekeeper and we used to love to slap our hands on the arms of the furniture and watch the dust billow up.  He had steer horns above his fireplace (my son Carlo who is now 26 and has his own house is the proud owner of the steer horns now) and pictures of us grandchildren on the wall.  He used to keep a clear candy dish with a lid full of pink mints which he called "Granddad's pink pills for pale people" and we could always have as many as we wanted.  My father has continued the tradition and has the same candy jar and mints on his living room table for his own 13 grandchildren.

Yaya:     When you started writing about Oliver, did you imagine it would take more than one book to tell his story?

Donna:     No I had no idea.  When the first book was published and people began to read and respond to it, they always asked, "What happened to Edward?  Where did he go?  Does Oliver find him?"  These were questions that were left unanswered at the end of FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY!  I left it that way intentionally, leaving it up to the reader to imagine as they would.  Since so many sad things happened in the first book I wanted to end on a hopeful, upbeat note.  But with all the questions, and since I knew what happened next (it was all on the tapes), I decided to write the second book to answer the reader's questions.

Yaya:     When I began reading the first book, I was curious about the title.  Imagine my shock when you shared the scene from Oliver's childhood that inspired the title.  Was this something that you knew from the start would be the name of your book?

Donna:     Oh no.  Of the three books, the only book that kept it's "working title" was BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN.  The working title for FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! was "Riding the Rails" and the working title for PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES was "Oliver's Children".

Yaya:     Your family has had some very challenging encounters.  I've been curious if your grampa's experiences have given you any interest in genealogy?

Donna:     Yes, my father and I both became interested in genealogy in the mid 80's.  We were able to trace our roots on Oliver's side back to Sweden and Ireland.  We could never find Oliver's father on a ship's manifest though.  Amazingly, long after the first two books were published, a reader and genealogist from Arizona contacted me through AUTHORSDEN to let me know how much she enjoyed the stories.  She asked if there was any place in my research where I had hit a brick wall and I thought right away about Oliver's dad.  Within fifteen minutes - I'm not kidding - she emailed me a copy of the ship's manifest with Otto Nordmark's name listed.  As it turned out, we were looking at ships from the wrong port in Sweden.

     Oliver himself traveled to Sweden in his retirement to see what he could find out.  He had no real plan, just said he would talk to people along the way.  He enjoyed the trip, traveling to a town in Sweden called NORDMARK and learning about how records were kept, but he never found any additional information about his father or grandfather.

Yaya:     You dedicated your first book to your father, Benjamin Nordmark, thanking him for listening and sharing Oliver's childhood stories with you.  Do you mind describing your father's first reaction to the news that FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! had been accepted for publication?

Donna:     I didn't tell him until I had a book in hand - just in time to give to him for his 75th birthday.  He was overcome.  That was six years ago and his original copy of FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! still sits, dog-eared from reading, on the table next to his easy chair.

Yaya:     You also thanked your sister, Allison Bricker, and your daughter, Estella Aviles, for their help in seeing that book through to publication.  Can you share a little bit of that with us?

Donna:     My sister and my daughter were the only ones who knew that I was writing the first book.  Estella helped with reading and giving me her input, and Allison helped with encouraging words and a teacher's insight.  She is an elementary music teacher.

Yaya:     Donna, do any of your children aspire to follow in your footsteps and write?

Donna:     Carlo is a high school history teacher at an inner city school in Wilmington Delaware and enjoys writing short stories.  Estella is a junior at Wilmington Christian School here in Hockessin and is an honors student in English and History.  She is an excellent writer but does not seem to aspire to a career in the field.  At this point she would like to double major in college - computer programming and music (she's a beautiful piano player.)

Yaya:     And finally, will we get to learn more about Oliver and his children in future books?

Donna:     Absolutely!  His children have all had very colorful lives of their own.  Four of his six children are still living and all are enjoying the success of the books, checking with me periodically to see, "What's new with the books?"

Yaya:     We will be doing two more interviews to learn more about the next two books.  I'm really looking forward to being able to visit with you further.  Thank you for taking the time to be with us.

Donna:     Thank YOU Joany.  I've so enjoyed talking with and getting to know you as well! I truly hope that your readers have enjoyed learning a little more about my books. "See" you in the next interview!
Yaya:     To my readers, I hope you've enjoyed learning about Oliver and his family as much as I have.  As I said, there will be at least two more visits with Donna, where she continues in her narrative about her grampa'.  Its remarkable to me that seventy-five years of American history could have become almost invisible to the bulk of the population.  Hopefully, having had a chance to get to know Donna, you will seek to learn more about her family, as well as the more than two hundred and fifty thousand children and families whose lives were changed by a small group of caring people.
     Never let it be said that one person cannot make a change.  After all, look how many lives the Reverend, Charles Loring Brace and Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon affected for change.  If you have questions for Donna, please post them in your comments and I will be sure to include them when Donna returns to enlighten us further about her second and third books, BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN and  PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, A TRUE STORY FROM THE GREAT DEPRESSION.
     In the near future and from time to time, I will also be posting some very fun word games that center around Donna's different books and information about Orphan Trains, in general.  Now, may I just say that if there's someone you love, hold that person close to your heart.  And 'til the next time, keep a hug on.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Test     Test     Test    Test 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Winner Revealed!

     Boy, is my face red!  PJ, from PJ's Prayerline helped me to realize that I didn't do my word search puzzle correctly.  You know, I was all done with it and I made O-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-e  L-i-t-t-t-t-t-t-l-e  adjustment and POOF!  Two words disappeared and the whole hidden message was changed.  Hmmmmmm.  I'm sorry.  I shall do better, next time.  Maybe.

     On the other hand, I'll bet this is one puzzle no one was able to solve.  So that makes me the winner, right?  haha.  You see?  You didn't think there was a positive side to this, did you?  Anytime I win, that's a positive side.

     The two words, Microscope and CSN were mispelled because of my last-minute adjustment, so I must apologize for my accidental winning streak.  Even if it is only one win.  However, that doesn't make me sorry that I won.  Mwahahahahahaha!

     I'd like to congratulate for winning My First Drawing and choosing the Hoberman Sphere as her prize.  I have sent her address to CSN Stores Online and she will soon receive this wonderful treasure.  I think I am just the littlest bit jealous am so thrilled for Roni.  Thank you, Roni, and everyone for playing along.  I don't know about you, but I have had the most fun.  Thank you all soooooo much.


     I do hope you will all be here on Monday.  I have the most marvelous surprise for you.  Do you remember when I told you a little bit about the Orphan Trains?  There is so much mystery surrounding this era in American history.  I was only able to tell you a little bit, but Donna N. Aviles will be here on Monday to share so much more. 

     Donna's grandfather was a Rider on one of the Orphan Trains!  She has so much to tell us!  So don't be late.  I'll be back tomorrow and I look forward to seeing you, then.  But you'll absolutely want to be here on Monday!  Eeeeee!  I'm so excited.

     Until the next time, keep a hug on.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winner To Be Announced Soon

     I've been gone for awhile, due to illness and other things.  I do hope you don't mind, but it will be a few days before I can announce the winner of the drawing.  In the meantime, please help me spread the word that I will be consolidating all of my blogs into this one.

     Thank you all for following and commenting and for all the support you have given me.  As it turns out, three blogs are just a bit much for this person to try and keep up with, so over a period of time, I will be moving all of my posts into Yaya's Changing World, where you can read them all in one place.

     I won't be around much, this week.  I hope to post a couple of times, but it won't be every night, as I had been doing.  On Friday, or sooner, I will post the winner of the drawing.  I do hope you will understand, as I didn't really imagine I would be as sick as I have been.

     Now, I'd like to ask a favor of each of you.  Would you please choose five of my followers from Red Wagon Flights or five of my followers from Word Designer and help me spread the word that all of my activity will be moved to Yaya's Changing World?

     I will be posting as much as I can, between now and Saturday and hopefully, by then, I'll be able to get back on track and visit with you every day.  I do enjoy our visits together and always like to think that you do, too, so if you could please help me spread the word, I would so much appreciate it.  Thank you, in advance, for anything you can do that will help me get the word out.  Oh, yeah!  And you will want to be here on Monday because we have a very special event for Monday that I think you will all enjoy very much.

     Keep watching 'cause I'll be back whenever I can.  I'm posting this same message on both my other blogs, in hopes that many of you will help out.  Thank you so much for all you do.  Until the next time, keep a hug on.


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