New Story Release!

October 30, 2017

New Story Release!

Welcome to the ninth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Happy Hurricane Helpers.”

Following Hurricane Irma’s attack on their town in Florida, the sisters join with their neighbors and help clean up.

Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes usually decrease in power as they travel over land.  Hurricane Irma had traveled almost straight up Florida’s peninsula from the Keys.  When this storm hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

In coastal areas like Saint Augustine, most hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  The strong winds can fell huge trees, rip debris off houses, throw limbs through windows, and cause heavy damage as well.  Trees falling on power lines caused the sisters to be out of power.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, how about a preview of two scenes from “Happy Hurricane Helpers!

Kim awoke this morning before the sun even started to turn the edge of the sky pink.  Last night, the power had gone off and the sisters had camped out in their sleeping bags under the huge, sturdy wooden table in the safe room where there were no windows.  Last night they had heard the deep rumbling that sounded like standing next to train tracks when the train raced by.  Last night Hurricane Irma had hit Saint Augustine. 

   As soon as the tree on the dirt road was clear, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill followed Mom and Daddy and started helping with limb cleanup.  Some of the Tree family kids were out cleaning limbs too.  Two other children from a house down the paved road joined in the fun.  The Tree men had left a trail of sawed-off branches scattered where the big trees had fallen.  They had stacked big round stacks of trunk wood by the road because those were too heavy for little kids.  But the branches were perfect for kids! 

   Six-year-old Kim flexed her muscles. 

   “I can drag this BIG one to the road!” She challenged, dragging a limb to the edge of the road. 

   “I got a bigger one!” said Tina. 

   Becky and Ellen laughed.  “We are doing teamwork!”  Ellen announced.  She was four and her blankie was draped over her shoulders like a boa.

   “Me too!” Jill called.  Jill was only two but she loved to help.  She had a two-year-old-sized branch and was making funny faces as she fought it to the edge of the road.

   “Let me help you, Jill,” offered Tina. 

   “No!” Jill yanked the branch and it flew out of her hands and right to the edge!  Jill stood up straight, brushed her hands on her jeans, and said, “I can do it myself!” 

   … (continued reading Happy Hurricane Helpers here!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

September 27, 2017

New Story Release!

I’m excited about a new release!  This is the eighth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Gale at the Ghost Town.”

In this story, the sisters walk through their town as a gale is descending upon them.  A gale is a storm with winds between 50 and 65 miles an hour.  It is a nautical and meteorological term.  Most people refer to this today as “tropical storm force winds” because a tropical storm is defined as a storm with sustained winds between 39 and 74 miles an hour.   (www.amol.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/A5.html)

The storm in this story is Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes generally lose power once they travel over land, so when Hurricane Irma hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

Although the winds from hurricanes can be powerful, in coastal areas, it is usually the flooding that causes most damage.  Residents in low-lying areas try to protect their houses or businesses with sandbags to keep the water out.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, for a preview of “Gale at the Ghost Town” read below:

This day was when the colors on the radar map hid the entire Florida peninsula.  Schools were closed for the hurricane, but Becky’s school didn’t take a break.  She was nose-deep in her science book when Daddy announced, “Let’s go see downtown!”

“Yeah!” Shouted Kim, darting into the room in shorts and a workout top.  “I’m ready!”

Becky laughed.  It was cold for Florida summer and Mom came around the corner with “oh no you are not, young lady.  If you are going out in this storm, you are wearing long pants, a jacket, and socks and shoes.”

Jill, who was two, came to the shoe box and grabbed her Minnie Mouse flip-flops.  “Flip-floppies! Ready!”  She squealed. 

Tina, who was the biggest at ten, laughed and said, “but you need real clothes” and hopped like a bunny rabbit into the bedroom to find Jill’s clothes.  Pull-up-only-clad Jill followed in her best froggie-attempt at bunny impersonation.  

While the girls scrambled to find jeans and convince four-year-old Ellen that party dresses were not suitable for walking about in stormy winds, Mom pulled out the winter suitcase.  This big fat, suitcase smelled like Grandpa and baby powder.  It held all of the snow clothes.  They lived in Florida so this was the bag they grabbed in winter when they decided to drive to freezing climates like Middle Georgia.  The snow clothes were water resistant.

 … (continued reading Gale at the Ghost Town here!)

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

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

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

Funny Sisters

May 23, 2017

Funny Sisters

“That never happens in real life.”  Have you ever thought that watching a movie?  The girls always say that when we watch certain movies.

Then we had a day that wouldn’t have been believed without recording. (Still, people would have said “it’s been altered.”)

But it wasn’t!  This particular day and a half of painting the house, so many funny things happened trying to slow us down. The girls kept saying “no one would believe this.” One of them says, “Mom, you have to write this story down so we can remember it.”  Another chirps, “but not with our real names!”  And the baby yips “yeah! A story about us!”

The Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters series was born with “Chase in the Echoing House.”

The description claims the stories are “exaggerated situations based on real life.”  (Honestly, some are toned down and some are exaggerated!) A shopping trip became “The Big Shopping Adventure.”  “Christmas Decorating Challenge” was an adventure among light bulbs.  Currently, three more stories round out the group: “Becky’s Crazy Day,” “Tina’s Too-Embarrassing Day,” and “The Great Poker Tournament.”

The girls love these stories.  For the series, they will always just be five sisters (no baby brother yet!) and live in a house that isn’t there anymore with pets who’ve passed on.  They read them to each other. They have illustrated the covers themselves.  These are tiny “exaggerated” memory boxes to open and laugh at.  We published them so you can share their escapades.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart