Summer Storms

September 13, 2017

Summer Storms

We are an outdoor thrill-seeking kind of family.  So, what do we do when the winds die down and there is water everywhere?  (And the kids are stir-crazy because it’s been thundering for most of the outside-time hours?)

We go outside…

In our bathing suits…

And get muddy.

Sometimes we ride boogie boards on flooded lawns. (Last year we “boogied” where hurricane Matthew created a pool in our front yard that reached 10 inches deep!)  Sometimes we march through the trough of water in the driveway. (This year, new place, new storm, new water adventures.)

The screams of “I found a real pool!” happen when a puddle is more than 3 inches deep.

The big girls make a funny Lego video about Hurricane Irma preparedness.  (My favorite part was the guy in line behind the mini-cooper!)

The most fun after the storm  is discovering the unique toys the yard (Like the two felled trees that became “teepees” covered in branches shed by other trees.)  and the new “swing.” (A grape vine attached to the maple tree but hanging enticingly low enough and sturdy enough to be used as a temporary swing.)

After a storm, especially a major one, I always try to help everyone focus on the positive.

Bored?  We can help the lady next door by cleaning her yard.

An oak tree is gone.  But it became a teepee! 

The chinaberry tree, a favorite climbing tree, split and fell.  But the leaves make a great mulch for the chicken yard and help reduce odor. 

The power was out for two days.  But we had plenty of maple and oak wood to grill yummy meats and tin foil to bake sweet potatoes!  And we had good no-see-um screens & strong, cool breezes!

We couldn’t get out of our street to go to work because of three big trees blocking the roads.  But that meant we could stay home and play every board game in the house!  (We shifted to the backlit electronics with like Scrabble Twist and Catch Phrase once the sun went down.)

We thank God for family, for the opportunities to help others as they presented themselves, for teaching us to find joy in any situation, and for keeping us safe through all summer storms.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Ghost Town

September 10, 2017

Ghost Town

Walking through our town, we felt like we were in a ghost town.   The streets, normally flooded with tourists, were instead empty.

In between the bands of rain, what started as gentle winds of about 15 miles an hour began building strength.  By the time we walked from the Village Inn to the Fort, the winds were tossing waves over the seawall and shooting spray and rain into our faces like atomic arrows.

At the wooden walkway at the north edge of the Fort, we stopped to watch the ocean beat against the seawall.

Lucas spied every vehicle that slowly drove down the small river that used to be Avenida Menendez and squealed “Big truck!” or “Police truck!” (Sport utility vehicles are trucks to Lucas.)  Three or four big jacked-up trucks moved through the river.  A police SUV appeared to be patrolling.

The girls raced up the Fort’s hill.  The walkway was underwater!

We didn’t check the depth, but the people behind us with the cute black and brown dogs were wading along the walkway up to their knees!

 

We stood on the Fort hill and surveyed the area of downtown in our sight.  Outside of those few vehicles, there were only a handful of scattered walkers.  (Our party of 8 made up about 50% of the walkers.)  The beautiful city was boarded up and sandbagged.  Colorful tape blocked the few windows that didn’t have boards or shutters.

After spying water in the moat, the girls decided not to roll down the hill because of the giant “lake” of water.

So off we went toward St George Street. (Back toward the car, because now the icicle raindrops were “too hard.”  This also meant no more pictures as our camera isn’t waterproof.)

On our way back home, Rebeccah said, “Mom, that was like a real ghost tour through a ghost town.”  With that began the ideas for what will soon  be released as another in the Five Alive: Funny Sisters series!  Gale at the Ghost Town

We left praying for those who would be affected as the flooding we observed was over 12 hours before the storm’s highest winds and storm surge were to reach us – and our city wouldn’t be the hardest hit.  Hurricanes display such raw, natural power that a mere human can only stand in awe.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

The Shelly Seashore

September 4, 2017

The Shelly Seashore

In Sisters at the Seashore, the Funny Sisters, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill visit the seashore with Mom and Daddy.

Like the Funny Sisters’ home, this seashore is actually a real place!

As a family, we end up meeting our family at this specific beach because it’s closer to most of them.  It isn’t the girls’ favorite beach because of the tiny broken shells that replace sand as the shoreline.  They have a special nickname for it: “the shelly beach.”

Whenever we go there, these shells get everywhere!  They get stuck in between toes, in bathing suits, and I think they even use the salt as a glue to attach themselves to human bodies.  Oh, there’s a beautiful stretch of pretty white sand up to the waterline, but past that are tiny shell fragments that carpet the beach even out into the water.  One must carefully step so as not to cut the bottom of one’s feet.  The good news is that, just like a carpet, the shell blanket is not very deep.  Usually, someone has already shuffled their feet through the shells like a bulldozer to make a thin shell-free sandy path into the water.  We look diligently for these tiny safe-foot-paths.  If we can’t spy one, we make one.

The water here is slightly greenish and usually clear enough to see various sea life in the shallows.  Often as the tide changes the younger girls will dig for various mollusks and crabs.  These tiny creatures are usually less than a quarter of an inch in length!

Once, though, we saw a giant conch!

Rebeccah loves to collect very small complete shells; these you have to uncover in the sand as the water grounds them to fragments quickly.

This is the beach that the Funny Sisters visit.  We have many fun cousin-time days here!  Because of the unique properties that make this one of my favorite beaches to play at, North Vilano Beach at the walkover has become “the beach” for the Five Alive series!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

A Storm and Chicken Story

August 26, 2017

A Storm and Chicken Story

One day we were playing outside and a storm came up.  Not a cute little Pooh bear thundercloud with a few raindrops, but a giant, hurricane-wind, flash-lightning-fireworks-in-the-sky, shake-the-whole-house-thunder, all-people-hide-inside kind of thunderstorm.  (Okay, it was a simple, everyday, Florida thunderstorm.)  The winds were swirling chicken feathers and fluffing them out like towel-dried cats.  Smaller chickens were hop-flying to stabilize themselves as they fought for the safety of the henhouse.

After drying off from the first wave of rain, the girls peeked outside and giggled at the chickens until the raindrops were so large we couldn’t see the henhouse anymore.  The late summer winds blew the tree limbs around like strong autumn breezes scatter just-raked leaf piles.

“Mom, can you tell us a story with a storm?” Asked Rebeccah.

“A Long Tail story!” yipped Kimberly.  She was five, and she loved Long Tail.

So we snuggled on the couch with lightning flashes illuminating the room through the big windows and started what would become “Long Tail and the Big Storm.”

The chickens of the yard were ruled by Long Tail, the great yellow chief, and guarded by Long Tail and Alfredo, the white rooster imported some time ago.  Under this rooster team, the hens and pullets scratched and gossiped and laid eggs all day with no worries.

On one autumn day the bright sky darkened with angry clouds.  The sun hid.  The birds in the woods started crying warnings and flying away.  Two small humans who were playing in the henhouse with the baby biddies, heard a booming crack of thunder and jumped!  They put the baby biddies back in the safe brooder and left the henhouse.

“Look at those little humans!” cawed Alfredo, laughing, “running like rabbits!”

A giant bolt of lightning lit up the sky just behind the woods and a cannon-loud BOOM of thunder shattered the air.  Alfredo scrambled into the henhouse and hid under the brooder.

All the hens laughed at the silly rooster.

Even Red Feathers and Golden Eye, two of the youngest pullets, laughed at him.

Long Tail strutted by, “when the water falls from the sky, we come in.” Long Tail was not afraid.

A big wind shrieked through the henhouse.  It blew the people door open!

Can Long Tail save his flock?  Be sure to check out Long Tail and the Big Storm to see just how this courageous rooster accomplishes this brave feat!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Eclipse Adventure

August 25, 2017

Eclipse Adventure

This story all started about six months ago.

We discovered that there was to be a full solar eclipse!  Since the viewing area where we could see the totality of the eclipse was only a four hour drive away, we decided to take a road trip.

At just after midnight, in the wee hours of August 21, 2017, we loaded the last of the snacks, water, and spare clothes into the van and began our journey.

About 5:30am we pulled into a truck stop next to a Shoneys and woke everyone up in turns.  Lucas was already up, racing around the van expelling some magical two-year-old energy.  Mommy took Lucas and Jillian to the potty where, on the way out, Lucas spotted a policecar and shrieked “Wow!  Police car!  Cool car!”

Owner of said car (a tall, probable ex-football linebacker) growled playfully, “you noticing my car, buddy?”

Lucas played shy for a few seconds, then said, “Policecar, where green men?”  (This almost stumped me… until I realized this officer had a black uniform and our St Johns County officers wear green!) So I told Lucas this policeman wore black clothes instead of green, and yes, it was his car.  Lucas grinned at the officer, “police car!”

“High five for my cool car?” The officer grinned.  Lucas screamed “High five!  CAR!”  This made everyone laugh.

Since we were less than 5 miles from Santee State Park, our original destination, we found star constellations, played guessing games, and chatted about the science behind eclipses.

Finally, tummies growling like we had swallowed starving lions, we joined the small mob that entered the Shoneys as the sweet hostess unlocked the doors.  Even Lucas’ policeman friend had mentioned that it was a great spot for breakfast.

Breakfast was yummy!  Lucas’ new food word is “disgusting!” (Lucas was eating an apple and someone said “don’t eat the seeds, they are disgusting” so Lucas has this new word on continual repeat.)  Lucas would taste something, say “dis-gust-ing!” and chow down on said food item.  Lucas seems to think “disgusting” means “yummy.”  (Our waitress caught this two or three times and tried not to let everyone see she was giggling.)

Sip of chocolate milk.  “DISGUSTING!” Big grin and

he drained the cup.  A mouthful of bacon.  “DISGUSTING!” and the rest of the bacon vanished from his plate, Christina’s plate, and Mommy’s plate. (We were his left and right neighbors.)  The girls would say “Mmmm!  Yummy!” in an attempt to make Lucas follow their example.  But Lucas is at the stuck-on-one-word-for-weeks stage.  Finally he heard the vroom of a big truck.  “BIG TRUCK” and that was the end of “disgusting” for a while.

We ended up in a huge parking lot next to a giant waterslide and pool complex about a mile from the Dollar General and Food Lion down a lovely sidewalk bordered with assorted wildflowers, quaint houses and yards, and huge pine trees.  There were a scattered few vehicles with others camping out in the wide open space.  The city hall had a much larger audience (an entire field of cars!) as they were doing music and entertainment leading up to the eclipse.

Including finding this almost 4 inch insect!

After a full morning of games, exploring, and resting, the moon began to slowly cover the sun!  Lucas napped up to the last ten minutes before totality.  It was amazing!  At first, we could barely tell through our dark glasses that anything was different, but within the next few glances, the girls cried out things like “it looks like a pac-man!” and “it’s an eye from the science book!”  We had read legends from various places and their favorite was one where the sky dragon swallows the sun but it burns the dragon up and reappears.

Through the glasses, half of the sun was gone.  Everyone jumped up to look again.  Between peeks, we hid from the ninety-seven-degree heat by ducking into the van with all the windows open, explaining and discussing the phenomena as it was happening.  Then it happened.  The air began to cool.  The colors of the cars and grass lost their vibrancy.  We grabbed our glasses. This glance was a few minutes before the total eclipse.  All of the sun was shadowed except for a sliver of a crescent.  The dark came.  Lucas had finally woken up and was playing with rocks.  All the girls and Mommy and Daddy got him to look at the sun – he was hooked!  He pointed out the stars (two visible planets in the sky) and the fireworks (lightning in the distance) and “Puppies!” (three or more dogs howling and whining)  For what seemed like an eternity, we listened to birds and insects who perceived it was night time.  Everyone was excited but quiet.  Then the shadow started to ease off.  The entire parking lot exploded in applause, whistles, and exclamations – praise, thanking God for letting the light come back.  Children danced!

We loaded up our van and headed out.  We excitedly replayed our video recordings, discovered stars in our photos of the total eclipse, sang fun songs, and chatted on and on about the fun experiences of the day.  Everyone agreed seeing the total eclipse was well worth the half-day drive.  We even started making plans to road trip to the next one!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

The Board

August 13, 2017

The Board

The fun of off days is being able to spend time with family!  After I got done working Saturday, we planned on meeting up with Aunt Becca and Anastasia. (Jillian calls her “my almost-my-age sister cousin” because Anastasia is 4 and Jillian is 5.)  Our start time got delayed, as usual, but that happened on both ends. (Secretly, I love it when that happens! It’s like it was orchestrated!) We were “sardined” into the van with sand toys, boogie boards (which originally belonged to my sisters and brothers), towels to line seats, the canopy tent (usually used for craft and book shows), and two camp chairs.  Oh yes, and add the apples and cherries from our 3-minutes stop by the Produce Market.  (Our part of the snacks – we remembered Lucas’ water cup but forgot the gallon of water.)

And we had the surfboard.  THE.  As in, there is no other like it.  It was my Dad’s ages ago.  He rode it up and down A1A before the overgrown beach houses obscured the ocean view.  It is bright yellow with a blue “arrow” on the front. (The girls claim this gives it extra speed.) It has a few bumps and dings – yes, see that?  That one was from my only-ever attempt to stand at North Vilano Beach where the wave dropped me on the shells.  I like to call it “mine” but invariably it is referred to as “Granddaddy’s surfboard,” because everyone knows where it came from.  Christina tries to call it “mine” and Kimberly is starting to call it “mine” so maybe that is the official name, “Mine,” since I’m not done with it yet!  Honestly, we compromise; it is “ours,” and we all love to share it.

When our sardine can turned into the beach park north of the pier, the girls spotted Aunt Becca’s car behind us and started screaming, “Yeah! Aunt Becca!” and “I see Grandma’s hair!”  Lucas napped through all of this commotion.  We played musical parking spots until we found two side-by-side and the troupe tumbled out of the vehicles, hugged and squished each other in greeting, grabbed their assigned items, and paraded up the walkover to the beach.  Lucas and I took up the rear, but Grandma stopped to help another little one.

Lucas spied Grandma.  “Mommy!  MY GRANDMA is HERE!!”  That woke him up!  Anastasia ran past and he squealed “my ‘STASIA!”  Now squirming with excitement, he heard my sister.  “Mommy!  Grandma!  My Aunt Becca HERE!”  He didn’t get down, but twisted around to see her.  “Mommy, THE BEACH!” He yelled as we started going down the walkover steps.  He then announced to everyone else who chose to hear that he was at the beach and named everyone he came with in a very quickly smashed up string of excited words.

Set up was fast and the children launched into the ocean in twos and threes while the adults paused to relax and say hello in the shade.  Lucas discovered Anastasia’s sand toys.

Jillian and Anastasia hit the surf on boogie boards.

One visible head is part of the three heads in the distance belonging to Jaquline, Kimberly, and Rebeccah.

Christina took the surfboard out and after a couple of rides to discover the safety of the sand bar and how shallow the water actually was.  She started giving tandem rides to the older girls and “baby wave rides” to the littler ones.  Mom got to tow the middle ones out one at a time to catch waves.

When everyone paused to refuel, the surfboard doubled as a comfy sand-free bench.

We enjoyed rain in the water and played shipwreck.  The two littlest were in a boat, the others on boards, and Rebeccah, Christina, Aunt Becca, and Mommy guiding and swimming out “in the deep” just before the sandbar.  We pretended we were shipwreck survivors trying to navigate the waves (as if there wasn’t a beach 20 feet away) and keep each other afloat while Grandma watched for approaching ships and held down the fort. (Quite literally, as the wind was picking up the canopy!)  Christina, Jaquline, Anastasia, and Lucas built a big hole in a tide pool and played like the Funny Sisters in Sisters at the Seashore. (Lucas kept jumping in it!)

Join us next time, another adventure awaits!  (And everyone slept all through the night!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Conquering Ticks

August 10, 2017

Conquering Ticks

We live on what we call a tiny farm.  It’s just over an acre.  It was abandoned before our landlord bought it, spruced it up, and cut down all the brush.  When we arrived in April, we discovered that a twenty-foot walk from our carport to the front step attracted lots of ticks!  Not the big, easy-to-see dog ticks, but tiny ticks the size of a period!  (Yes, some are so small they can fit on the head of a sewing pin, the girls have tried it – they also are fascinating to look at under a microscope because the light goes through them!)  Some were slightly bigger.  (No, we’ve never taken pictures of them!  We are usually inside when we find them and we smash, burn, or flush them, instantly!)

Research taught us these were a variety of deer tick.  The small ones are called “seed ticks.”  In part of the tick’s life cycle, they are newly emerged in their tick form (small adult form) and need just a little blood to finish growing.  So they bite and release.  The duration of this bite is between ten minutes and an hour, so sometimes we caught them and got them off.  We got very adept at distinguishing tick bites from the bites of other minuscule horrors of Florida, like sand gnats, mosquitoes, fire ants, and yellow flies.  We all know that ticks attach themselves once they are full adults.  (For this variety, full adult size is about 1/8th of an inch in diameter – the size of a small print “o”.)

I hate ticks.  (Who doesn’t?)  I don’t like pesticides.  (We want to eat food from this yard!)

Luckily, I have chickens!

Chickens are opportunistic omnivores (aka, scavengers).  This means while most people envision them eating dry seeds and corn, they actually have a palate that inclines them toward consumption of living organic material such as insects, microscopic organisms, fresh new plant shoots, and anything moving that is small enough to fit in their beak.  My chicken flock has always been known to hunt actively for mosquitoes and flies.  (Yes, they run along under the flying insect and jump to attack once they perceive catch is possible.  Several times they have smashed into a fence or wall while hunting in this manner.  Side-effect: human entertainment.)

Roosters (grown-up males) seem to find ant larvae a delicacy and get all excited digging up ant beds and telling the others, “here, some awesome food!”  (A few hens join in this feast, but others look at the ant-larvae-loving chickens with “eww, gross” expressions.)

Our laying hens (females) and breeding roosters stay in the covered henyard.  Our “biddie-babies” (the girls have made-up terms for every stage; this is newly hatched to 6 weeks) and “baby-toddlers” (6 to 10 weeks) share the brooding pens so they can be protected from rain, draft, and heat in the pre-feathered chick stage (biddie-babies) and to protect them from our area’s population of kites (beautiful, small hawk-like birds who hunt young chickens).  The “big toddlers” (10 to 15 weeks) and “teenagers” (15 to 24 weeks) roam near the henyard because they are too big for the kites to carry away.

They will forage all day for insects and leave the free-choice feed completely alone.  They stay within about 25 feet of their water source at all times (during or just after a light rain, they may wander a bit farther, but not normally).  They LOVE seed ticks!

Within two weeks of our natural pest control plan, we could walk to the carport with zero ticks!  Within a month, the strip of back yard where we hang clothes and the kids play was nearly tick-free!  It’s been five months and they have cleared an expanded circle that includes parts of the front yard.

(My bulb beds helped grow the circle as they love to eat insects that eat the bulbs and the plants hold dew.)

Slowly, our chickens are conquering the tick population in the rest of the yard!

In closing, if you have a tick problem and don’t mind chickens scratching through your plant beds, maybe consider a pest control plan that rewards you with organic fertilizer… and eggs too!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Imagination Playtime

August 8, 2017

Imagination Playtime

This morning was a surprise of miniature proportion.

First off, when I stumbled into the kitchen to start my coffee at 5:20am, my preteen was awake!

Secondly, the playroom was spotless (toyacts was creating a few new videos in the playroom the previous night).

This sparked an idea.

“Let’s play legos, want to build something together?”  My suggestion was met with rocketing jumps where my five foot tall eleven-year-old banged her head on our roof.   “Yippee!  Ouch.”

We discussed all things building; like which pieces came from which sets, which sets were missing pieces (thanks to the vacuum, Sheba’s mouth, or teething younger siblings; Rebeccah is the lego master and knows where everything went – much like me with my childhood bricks), and whose head and hair I had mismatched on my mini-figs.  (Once, I had Elron’s hair with Commissioner Gordon’s head, the result looked like a sweet old lady to me.)

Our building progressed to a tree fort with crazy entrances and exits, three towers, complete with the tallest one having a princess locked inside where her puppy is trying to save her while the Barbarian ax man is considering Chinese food. (See picture, if you can find it!)

The blue magician conjures up a storm and an adventurer seeking the everlasting flame (in the bowl, middle, second tower) will accidentally be shot by a kid bowman’s awry trick shot from the top of the bridge.  We goofed off until it was almost lunchtime.  The girl elf hair ended up paired with a repaired face that looks like it has feathery bangs to make a crossbowman.  (She was going to be an archer – my favorite – but the hair wouldn’t fit with the quiver and I couldn’t have her without ammo!)

I love delving into imagination (last night it was duplos to build tunnels for Lucas’ train and car tracks) and discovering how my kids’ brains see problems.  Building blocks bring that out.  They help teach children to think around their problems (yes, that they created, like “Mommy, I want two cars to go under it!” Jillian, last night.  Or “How are we going to camouflage this huge tree fort effectively?” Rebeccah, today.)

Oh, and don’t forget the sharks patrolling the island fort (notice the blue water on the plates?) as Rebeccah claims the most important part of any lego set are the critters included.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Doing the Boogie

August 6, 2017

Doing the Boogie

Wild edge of tropical storm winds and the distant threat of rain do not deter my kids (or me) from the ocean!  So with a scrap of time before dusk, despite the rain (we’re going to get wet anyway) we were the one crazy group playing on the seashore.  There were three or four surfers and a couple in bathing caps with frog flippers who would walk way north of us, swim out, and less than ten minutes later be south of the pier!  I pointed them out several times as an example of the strength of the ocean.

We like to stand in the edge about ankle deep and let the ocean yank the sand around us, bury our feet and ankles, and giggle at how far we move.  The bigger girls get about knee-deep and toss themselves into the breaking surf.  It’s fun, sandy, and exhilarating.  Jaquline, Jillian, and Lucas divided their time between building wet sand forts, watching the rain wash the shells into the wave’s path, and “doing the boogie.”  According to Jillian, this is lying on a boogie board in the sand and waiting for the wave to pick you up and swirl you around for a few seconds while you scream.

We get to play until the first lightning bolt shows up or when it gets close to dusk.  Everyone watches for lightning.  Three other kids joined our group and they spread out like squealing smidgens jumping into the tumultuous white water.  We always talk about the ferocious power of the water on days like this.  One of the girls inevitably drones “see the power of water” in a deep dragon voice.  They create obstacles for it out of shells and sand.  They watch the waves rip entire mountains of sand like a hungry vacuum and suck it out to sea.  They are doing construction near where we play so even bits of rock are grabbed and siphoned out to sea.

Rebeccah says the ocean reminds her of God’s power.  It’s vast, almost everywhere.  Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water.  It can be calm and friendly and is the safe harbor for thousands of creatures.  It can be rough and destructive – nothing can stand in its way.  But after the destruction, the beach is always better.  Cleaner.  Smoother.  She says it reminds her of how when we surrender our mess to God, He demolishes it and restores something better than what was before.

I love that thought.  The ocean always astounds me.  I respect its power and love its beauty.

Lucas sees fun.  That is all.  He sees “doing the boogie.”  Of course, on wild windy days, he only “does the boogie” board with Mommy or big sister holding his back and the boogie board string.  Lucas has such trust and he doesn’t need to analyze everything to appreciate it.  Sometimes I wish I could step backward into that trust.  Turn my analytical mind off and just bask in the fun.  Sit on a boogie board and giggle when the waves try to move me.  Okay, maybe that just works for those who can’t order off the big kid menu yet.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

My Illustrators

August 3, 2017

My Illustrators

I love to write.  When it comes to drawing, I’m not an artist.  So when I’m ready to finish a story, I enlist the aid of my team of illustrators.

The latest releases, “The Mystery of the Strange Chip” and “A Clue in the Barn” were illustrated by a team.  Christina Tart sketched the design and Kimberly Tart used her new favorite medium, pastels, to color it in.  They turned to a computer editing software package to add text for the design.  The results are the new covers for what they call “old” stories.  (Old, well, they were written when I was dating and just after I was married – so they are older than the illustrators!)

It’s interesting for me to see what my illustrators come up with when they draw.  Sometimes what they see is not what I would have seen, but it’s usually much better!  When Ann Pearson (one of my little sisters) illustrated for “Long Tail” her images of Long Tail and Red Hawk looked different than what I pictured, but they were so perfect for the series!  Those images were colored by Christina and Rebeccah.  Crayon drawings gave the perfect texture to the childish, fun, read-along Long Tail stories.  (Ann’s running farmer was just perfect – you can see him in the DVD book and handmade book versions.)

Another new release is “Sisters at the Seashore” one of the Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters.  Jaquline did her first illustration job on that!  She’s excited because “now I’m published too!”  Christina thinks it’s neat that their names show up on the ebook websites as illustrators or colorists (depending on their role).  Rebeccah loves getting commission on her work!  (I pay my illustrators 10 to 50 percent commission depending on the number of illustrations in the work.  The “Jilly and Luke’s Block Adventures” are 50 percent commission works because they are picture books – an illustration almost every page!)

At one bookshow I did, a fellow author expressed interest in my illustrations.  Her favorite was “The Living God” because she claimed the “abstract art is amazing” and she commented that it looked like the open jaws of a lion.  I’d honestly never seen it that way, but now, I can’t not see the open lion jaws when I see the book cover!  I previously just saw it as colorful geometric shapes.  (Christina’s favorite book cover illustrations appear to be random flowers, geometric designs, and scrollwork.)

As of the latest release, I now have five illustrators on my team: Ann Pearson, Christina Tart, Rebeccah Tart, Kimberly Tart, and Jaquline Tart.

Oh, and Jaquline’s second book cover illustration will be published shortly too – she redid the cover for “Birthday Present!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart