Tuesday

New Book Release "GRUMPY KYLE"

Hello all my lovely fans and blog followers! I'd like to thank all my..... does this sound like an award speech? No, I haven't won a real award but my newest picture book Grumpy Kyle, has just been released by Guardian Angel Publishing and to me, that's just as exciting!



One of the most exciting things about this new book is that one of my favorite illustrator's, Jack Foster did the art work on it. He did a fantastic job and really captured my vision perfectly. I wish I had his talent! And he's such a nice guy to boot. Normally, the author and artist never speak or have any connection, but Jack is one of those artists that seems to love his job and is willing to associate with his authors. I'm honored that he worked on this book for me.

I dedicated this book to my mother-in-law who very recently passed away, so it has special meaning to me. I only wish she could've seen it and read the story. She would love the message I tried to portray. That being kind to other's can make you smile! It does me, and I know it did her as well.

You can purchase a copy of Grumpy Kyle at the following locations:

guardianangelpublishing.com/grumpy.htm

https://www.amazon.com/Grumpy-Kyle-Allyn-M-Stotz/dp/1616338482/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497369580&sr=1-1&keywords=grumpy+kyle%2C+stotz

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grumpy-kyle-allyn-m-stotz/1126416109?ean=9781616338480

If you'd like an autographed copy, just email me at allyn_stotz@yahoo.com or click on the comment button to the right of this blog.

Thanks and remember to smile!



Thursday

Life Is Rough Sometimes

Did you miss me? I can't believe it's been so long since I posted something. However, I've had a lot of things happen in my life to take me away from writing. I'm not making up excuses, I'm only trying to explain why I've taken such a long break.

In the last two years, the father that I adored, passed away. That has hit me hard and I still cry most every day thinking about the wonderful person our family lost. In fact, I've been crying for over forty years worrying that someday we would lose him and how horrible it would be. After my father passed away, my husband retired and we made the decision to move out of state to Texas to be near my oldest sister and her family. This was a wonderfully happy decision of ours but as most of you know, moving is a complicated and stressful period. But we are all moved in and loving it. However, next came the passing of my sweet adorable Yorky, Beemer who was my best buddy for twelve years. She followed me everywhere and always wanted to be with me. Two months later, my mother-in-law passed away and both of those deaths are still fresh on our minds. I couldn't have asked for a better MIL whom I've known since I was a young child. She was one of my best supporters and was always so excited when I had a new book come out. Her death still doesn't feel real to us.

So, all those reasons are why my writing has been suffering. I couldn't find inspiration or the strength to go to my computer and write a happy children's story or even to market myself. Trust me, I've been beating myself up over all of this. Does taking such a long break mean I'm no longer a dedicated, serious writer? Heck no. I'm human! I needed this break to refocus. Everything you read about being a writer, however, tells us that we need to write everyday but sometimes it's just not possible. It doesn't mean I don't love what I do just as much as I always did. It just means... I was sad and had too much on my plate to dedicate myself to much of anything. All I can do now is try to get back into the swing of things. I owe it to my publishers and all the little kiddos out there that enjoy my stories.

We writers really are hard on ourselves even with no tragedies in our lives. It's a stressful occupation because we face so many rejections everyday in some form or another. But it's also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life that I have no intention of giving up. It's just going to be difficult getting back up to speed. I hope you all will be patient with me and still want to read my posts. I do have a few more books coming out soon so with God's help along with my dad and MIL's help from heaven, I know I can get my Mojo back. More from me soon!

Pumpkin Squash is released

My new picture book, Pumpkin Squash is finally available! And just in time for Halloween, imagine that!

 
When an ugly stuffed witch tells Pumpkin that he could end up squashed on the side of the road like all other pumpkins, Pumpkin takes off. He is determined not to let that happen to him so he runs through trick-or-treaters, hides in bushes only to encounter a big hairy monster. Can he find safety or is he destined to end up squashed!
 
Pumpkin Squash is suitable for 4-8 yr. olds and can be found on amazon.com, guardian angel publishing, other online retailers or through me. 
 
Now for an update on our possible move to Granbury, TX. We are making our 2nd trip up there soon to see more houses for sale. We love the area so that is definitely where we plan to retire. I've already seen and imagined plenty of great opportunities for book signings in that area as well as Ft. Worth and Dallas. Even talked to a store owner on the town square of Granbury who told me she'd love to have me do a book signing there once we move.
 
 
Things are looking up for us! My sister and her husband just made an offer on a house so they'll most likely get there first. My dream of living close to family is beginning to look like a real reality and I couldn't be more excited. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we'll find our new retirement home soon!

Wednesday

Missing In Action

I know, I know, I haven't posted in quite awhile. Did you think I've given up writing on my blog? Did you think I'd been kidnapped because I'm such a beautiful, interesting person that of course someone would want me?




Did you wonder if I'd won the lottery and flew the coup with all my millions (I wish)? Did you think that from my last post my husband and I loved New York so much we just up and moved there?

Well all of those are wrong. The boring truth is, I just didn't do it! Remember when I posted that my husband and I were trying to decide about retirement. Whether we should move someplace beautiful or choose to live near family? Truth is, we still aren't sure. My husband did, however, officially retire the end of June. Woo hoo!

Anyway, my mind has swayed away from writing and is totally concentrating on retirement. In my small mind, I have already chosen to move to Texas near my sister and nieces. However, we haven't even seen the area yet. We have a trip up there scheduled in a week or so. But I am so excited at the thought of living near some of my family, that I can't seem to concentrate on writing. I have never taken such a long break from writing but I think I need it. Plus, us writer's need to learn to forgive ourselves if we just "aren't feeling it" all the time.

On top of it, things haven't gone well for me in almost a year now as far as my writing career. Yes, I've gotten three new books out but all the events I had scheduled last fall, failed because of weather. I had 6 or 7 big events and every single one got rained on and/or cancelled. Rain stops people from coming out. And those that do decide to brave it, quickly run for cover and end up leaving. So no people around, makes for poor book signings. I ended up losing money, which was very disappointing.

And now that I have our potential move coming up, it's been really hard to focus on anything else. You have to understand, I haven't lived near any family in over 35 yrs. (waa waa waa)



That means 35 yrs. of never celebrating a birthday, the superbowl, Halloweeen, Christimas only when we could go visit or they could come to us, and the same with every other holiday or major event in our lives. I couldn't even have a party to celebrate my husbands 60th or his retirement because we simply have no family close by. We've met a lot of great people and good friends along the way, but nothing beats family.



So you can imagine how excited I am at the prospect of living near some family again. Plus, it's my big sister, husband, their two daughters and grandson and I absolutely adore them all! We will have such fun. And to top it off, I'll get a new house in a new community and to me, that's exciting and fun. It's a new beginning for this third portion of our lives.

Some of you probably think it sounds horrible to just up and move to a new community, but my husband and I have been doing this for 35 yrs. because his job was always transferring him. So that's old news to us and we've learned to enjoy the new adventure.

To conclude, that's why I haven't been updating my blog and I will most likely be inconsistent until all of this comes to an end. I will try to update you every once in awhile on our new adventure so if you're interested, keep tuning in.

One bit of good news I have to share about my writing is my new picture book for Halloween, titled Pumpkin Squash is being finalized so look for it soon!




Thursday

Our trip to New York City

My husband and I finally took a real vacation last week. We've been married 35 yrs. and only taken two real vacations. Once to Cancun, once to an Alaskan cruise and now to NY City. We aren't big travelers but never had the option to be when I was working. I wasn't able to stay on a job long enough to get more than two weeks vacation because my husbands job was always transferring us. So with only 10 days all year and both our families living in different places and far away, we've always had to use up my 10 days visiting family. Not that we didn't love doing that, but once in awhile a person just needs to get away from everything and go have some adventures and see new things!

Anyway, New York is a place I have always wanted to see so my husband decided we needed to go there to celebrate our anniversary. And I'm glad he did. We both really needed the break.

New York is a spectacular city and there is certainly a lot to see! We didn't get to see everything we'd planned because some of the lines to get in were just too long for two people who have zero to no patience!




We had quite the adventure on the ferry boat to see the Statue of Liberty. What we could see was quite magnificent but mostly what we saw were people crowding in front of the views taking selfies! What has become of us! People are obsessed with themselves these days. (Hmmm, do I see a "selfies" picture book in my future!)





We saw a few people who never sat down. Never once even took in the views. All they did was pose for selfies. It was insane! We just had to laugh because if we didn't do that, I would've lost my cool and started yelling at people. We couldn't even take a picture of ourselves because every photo we took had a stranger in it. So we both just decided to jump on board and include strangers. Here is one of a family taking a photo and I just decided I'd jump right in. Don't I look like them?


And here is one where my husband just held up his hands and said, "What the heck!" The lady behind him in red has no clue what anything looks like. She never stopped taking her selfie once during the entire cruise! Where is she going to put all those photos of herself!



One of the most beautiful, but chilling things we saw was the new Freedom Tower. It's magnificent but gave me goose bumps realizing that is where thousands of people lost their lives on 911. So sad. But New York really did a great job of memorializing this event.


The two waterfall holes where the actual towers stood, was magical. You may not be able to get the full affect from this photo but this is a waterfall with water running from all sides and down into the hole in the middle. Each person that lost their lives name is engraved on this memorial. You couldn't help but feel sorrowful but proud that we will never forget those people who died in that horrible tragedy.

This is a cool photo that is kind of "eerie." It's the reflection of the freedom tower from a building across the street. Neat. 













And as amazing as it was, here is a 200 yr. old church that sits right in front of the towers but was never damaged. Incredible!












A dream of my husbands was to step inside the Yankee Stadium and see a game. We did! And I even got to sit beside a very interesting couple who were from Australia. This was her first baseball game, ever!






Central Park was absolutely gorgeous. A lot of walking, but worth it.



This next photo, I don't remember exactly where it was but it's a tunnel waterfall. My husband is standing inside it. There is water on top and all sides flowing down. So cool!


The last place we went to was Grand Central Station. It was cool but I was a bit disappointed. I guess I've seen too many movies with it in there. I expected benches in the middle where people were waiting for their trains, there were none. I expected to hear the choo choo of trains, I heard nothing but the masses of people moving about. But it was still exciting to know I was there!

Lots and lots of fun stuff to see in New York. I especially enjoyed seeing the Lion King musical and a comedy play called Shear Madness. One of my most exciting moments was when I got to look through the window at the Good Morning America studio and saw Amy, Robin, George and Lara. I watch them every morning while I wake up and drink my coffee. So it was great to see them and the studio in the flesh. However, they sure make everything look bigger on TV!

The crowds of people in Times Square was unbelievable. I thought New Orleans and Chicago were nuts, but they are nothing compared to Times Square. I felt like I was in the center of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and that is a mess, let me tell ya! We did NOT enjoy the people everywhere part of Times Square at all or the traffic. But I was very surprised how nice all the people were who actually lived there like the restaurant people, hotel people, etc. etc.  And for a person who has lived in Louisiana and Texas where people hug you after meeting you once, that is saying something!

We loved our adventure but there's nothing like getting back to our "Home Sweet Home" and hug our doggies.



Happy Mother's Day

First off, I'd like to let everyone know that I am now offering critiquing services for picture book manuscripts. Picture books are my passion and I would love to help others polish up their stories and get them ready to send off to publishers. Click on my Critiquing and Design Services tab for more information.

But more importantly, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, especially my own mother and mother-in-law. My mom had a rough week last week but came through it like a champ. It's great to hear her talk about plans for the future and all the things she has to look forward to. My mom is a strong woman who knows who she is and has always made her children feel loved. We've had our differences in life but have always overcome them and become closer. Now that we have our writing in common, we have tons to talk about and constantly give each other encouragement. My mother has always had faith in her kids and never failed at giving us the confidence we needed to conquer our fears. I love you mom!

I admire my mom and also my mother-in-law. Even though neither she nor my own mom were crazy about my husband and I getting married, she has always welcomed me into her home and made me feel like a part of her family. Her love and support have been very precious to me and I am one of the lucky people who wouldn't trade my mother-in-law for anyone! I love you too, Vi!

Mother's are a special breed. Not everyone is cracked up to be one and even those that are mother's, may not do it well. But if you have love in your heart for your child (or pets, in my case) and they feel that love, than in my opinion that's the most important part of mothering. Even when my own mother and I disagreed or got in an argument about something, there has never been a moment when I doubted her love for me or my siblings. And that love has carried us all through some difficult times.


To all of us who are fortunate enough to still have our mother's, let's give them an extra big hug this year. And to those that have lost their mother's, blow a kiss towards heaven, I'm sure they're waiting for it!



Wednesday

Retirement: Beauty or Family?

I can't believe where the time has gone! I still feel like my husband and I are in our 30's but the truth is, we are way past that age. We are within 2-3 yrs of retirement.

Retirement is something we dream of all our lives! No more working. No one to boss us around except each other. Freedom to do exactly what we want! But the fact is, retirement is scary. Oh the no working part sounds wonderful but the fact that we won't have the same income we have coming in now, is frightening.  So is the fact that we are living the last quarter of our lives.

My husband and I have a big decision to make. Where to live? We are not from Louisiana, we just live here because of his job. I hate the summer weather down here so I'll be darned if I'm going to spend the last part of my life suffering in this heat!

We are both from the same town, Edgerton, Ohio. The winters are brutal up there, at least for my husband as he hates the snow and cold. But that's where most of his family still live.



My dream is to retire someplace beautiful. I've always wanted a home where I could look out my back window and see hills, water, or trees. The view from our last few houses have just been the tops of peoples roofs.

We've contemplated and made a few trips to Tennessee between Chattanooga and Knoxville areas to look for a place to retire and found a few areas we love. It's certainly beautiful there with all the scenery on my wish list. And it's at least 8 hrs. closer to his family and mine. However, for the umpteenth time in our lives, we'd have to start all over from scratch. With no family or friends around. We've been doing this for 35 yrs. now because of his job transfers. And it's gotten mighty old.

Our dilemma is, do we want to do it AGAIN!!?? Today, we are thinking not. It's on our minds that we should move closer to Edgerton. Maybe 1 hr. or so away. That way whenever there is a Stotz family event...we can actually attend. Plus we both have people in the area that we still consider good friends and would love getting together with them once in awhile.

But...you knew there would be a but didn't you? But, I would have to give up my dream of hills and probably water, plus the mild weather that Tennessee offers. Ohio and surrounding areas are as flat as Louisiana. Pretty farm country, but we aren't farm people. And my husband would have to deal with freezing to death.





So although we are excited for retirement, we are also soooooooooo confused!

I'm curious to see what some of you would do. Would you give up your dream of beautiful scenery and gorgeous mild weather or would you give that dream up to be nearer family and friends?