My Texas Book Tour. Alone. With THREE Kids- or- The Diary of a Crazed Author

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It’s been awhile since I posted last.

Because I have been in recovery, y’all.

My tour to Texas was amazing. I met so many wonderful people, saw old friends, made connections and met sweet young fans. I loved it.

But.

I went alone. With my three kids.

I knew this going into it.

I’ve traveled alone with my kids before. But this was hard. This made me question my sanity.

The first day of travel from NC to TX went fairly well. The kids were excited. They were happy. They joked. They laughed. They happily listened to their audio books. The older two journaled about what they saw. We hit no traffic. We flew from state to state.

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They absolutely loved stopping at each state line to pose for a picture.

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In all honesty, it was fun. We were all truly enjoying ourselves.

We stopped for dinner that night in Birmingham, Alabama. The kids were chomping down their food when I heard thunder. I wasn’t worried. I spent six years living in Texas. I’ve been through storms. I was sure we’d be back on the road soon. Then the rain came down in sheets. I still didn’t worry. Surely, the storm would pass and we’d get back on the road soon. Then I checked the weather app on my phone. I found out that we were in the center of a severe thunder storm with a tornado watch and it would be moving towards Louisiana along the same path we would be taking. The storm worsened as we ate and when we finished eating, I found a hotel nearby and we called it a night. Slightly defeated, I went to bed vowing to get up early to make up for lost time.

Which of course didn’t happen. The kids were not looking forward to another day on the road and my oldest kind of lost it. He wanted to stay in bed. Then he did not want to eat breakfast. Then he didn’t want to leave the hotel dining area to get in the car. When all the tears and tantrums stopped, we were about an hour behind schedule.

Determined not to let it upset me, I sang silly songs with the kids. I played a new audio book. I pointed out interesting landmarks as we drove. We entered Mississippi early in the day.

Soon we were closing in on the Mississippi River and the Louisiana border. The kids were gleefully trying to spell Mississippi in the back seat. A sign indicated we would be to the border in about 20 minutes.

Then it happened. 

My map app chirped at me that my ETA was four hours later than before. Confused, I thought I had missed a turn. Just then, the traffic stopped. Not slowed. Stopped. We were stopped on the freeway. I checked the app and saw that the traffic was stopped for about five miles.

We stopped behind a truck load of livestock. Very stinky livestock.

We waited. The kids started to get fussy. My daughter cried about the smell.

(I wanted to cry about the smell, but I am a grown-up and I am not supposed to cry about such things.) 

After about an hour my three year old began to scream,

I…have…to…POOP!!!”

Over and over again.

He’s well potty trained. I did not bring diapers.

I looked around me, cursing the landscape for not providing trees to poop behind.

More screaming. For another TWO HOURS.

My map app chirped that I could save time if I got off the highway.

The exit was ahead about 1000 feet. Maybe more. I am a terrible at judging distance. I’m a writer, okay? It’s not my thing.

I drove on the freaking shoulder, desperate to get off the highway and to a a toilet.

I don’t do that normally. Usually, I silently curse the people who think they can create their own lane on the road by driving on grass. But I did it. And I am not sorry.

So I get off the highway and realize that there’s not a toilet in sight. There’s nothing in sight. In fact, I start to worry that my map app has tricked me into a slow death in backwoods Mississippi, because this is the road it took me on:

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For three miles, I drove down this dirt road, fearfully wondering what I’d gotten myself into.

After what felt like hours, the dirt road intersected with a real road and took me back to the highway. And a gas station. With a toilet.

And you know what happened?

My son refused to poop.

He “didn’t like” the toilet, so he would not go.

After bashing my head into a wall repeatedly,(*not really*), I got gas, got back on the road, and soon found myself in Louisiana.

We didn’t stop for a picture.

We made it to the Texas border before sunset and made it to Dallas before bedtime.

My eye may or may not have been twitching when we got there.

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(Yes, we stopped at the TX border. My three year old still had to poop. He didn’t like the toilet in TX either.) 

We had a great time in Texas. The tour was wonderful, really. I had so much fun meeting young fans and hearing what they had to say about my book. One sweet little girl came up to me, hugging her copy of my book and told me it was her favorite book ever. It made my day week year.

I loved the actual tour part of the trip. I can’t express fully how much I love these speaking engagements.

We also saw so many great friends and got to visit some of our favorite parts of Dallas.

 

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The drive back was filled with more storms, but otherwise went okay.

Plus, we got to stop in Bucksnort, TN. Don’t be too jealous.

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(In all seriousness, Bucksnort seemed like a nice little town, but what is with that name?!) 

We made it safely back home to North Carolina and we were all relieved.

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And here’s the part that makes me question my sanity:

I can’t wait to do it again.

 

Dallas, TX Book Tour Schedule!

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I am so excited for my Dallas-area book tour! I love Dallas! My family and I spend nearly six years living in the area. I am happy to announce the schedule for my tour. Other events may be added. I will be sure to update this post if that happens.

Thursday 3/3 1:30 PM- Private Event for a Homeschool Group

Friday 3/4 3:30- Private Event at an Elementary School

Saturday 3/5  8:00 AM-12:00 noon- Chestnut Square Farmer’s Market, McKinney TX Public Event!

Monday 3/7 2:3o  PM Robert Muller School for Ethical Living, Fairview, TX Public Event!

Tuesday 3/8 11:oo AM. Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Frisco, TX Public Event! 

Come on out, listen to me read and speak a bit about the book, the process of writing a book and girls in STEM!

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This is absolutely one of my favorite parts of being an author. I LOVE to meet young readers and interact with them. I am ecstatic that I get to go back to one of my favorite places in the world to share “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” with the community.

I hope to see you in North Texas!

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“Nellie Nova” Author Events

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I have been doing a lot of book events and it is so much fun. I absolutely love meeting young readers and hearing what they have to say. Today, I did a reading and presentation about writing at St. Michael School in Cary, NC. I met kids in the 3rd and 4th grades and I was really impressed with these kids. They had a lot of great questions!

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I have events coming up in NC and TX. Events I have done or have scheduled range from homeschool groups to schools to science centers. These speaking engagements are quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of being an author. Upcoming public events include:

Academy for the Performing Arts, Apex, NC  Feb 25th at 6:00pm

Robert Muller Center for Ethical Living, Fairview, TX- March 7th at 2:30 pm

Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Frisco, TX- March 8th at 11:00 am.

I also have several private events coming up in NC and TX at homeschool groups and schools.

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It’s great to be with young readers and see them react to my story. I love talking with them before and after these events. At many of these events, I give a quick talk about writing or world-changing women. It is great to be able to connect with kids and hear their thoughts on these subjects. I hear a lot of people complain about “kids today,” but I have met so many bright, engaged kids. I think the young people of this generation are amazing!

If you are interested in hosting a reading at your school, homeschool group, or any other venue, feel free to contact me at stephie.peterson@live.com. I am local to Raleigh, NC, but I am open to travel.

 

Learning on the Road

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I am preparing to take “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” on tour! As this is my first book and first book tour, this is a new experience for me. I will be heading to the Dallas, TX area in early March. I am just a little excited. Or a lot.

So are the kids.

I am taking them with me. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have a lot of options other than to take them with me. Thankfully, I picked Dallas as a destination because we lived there for almost six years. We have friends there who will help me out during events. That will make our trip so much easier. This trip is basically a trial run to see if I can handle touring with the book to other destinations with my sweet little brood tagging along.

My kids are great travelers. We’ve done a lot of road trips with them. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much that can’t be learned at home or in a classroom. It’a one thing to read about dolphins. It’s another thing all together to watch them jump and play in the Gulf of Mexico. But where there’s lots of driving, there’s often antsy kids. And when kids are away from their routine, be it homeschool or traditional schooling, a lot of parents get anxious about learning. I thought I would put this post full of tips together to help remind myself of all of the great experiences we’ve had on the road and to help other families as they embark on their own adventures.

Stephenie’s Tips For Keeping Learning Alive and Keeping Parents Sane on the Road: 

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Two of my three kids are great readers. They will happily read for hours, at home or on the road. We always bring stacks and stacks of books with us on the road. If you are worried about keeping up a school schedule, this can be a great way to keep up on assigned reading. We usually bring books they’ve chosen as well as some that relate to our destination. On our last few trips, we’ve added audiobooks as well.  There is something wonderful about audiobooks. They keep everyone happy and engaged and as a bonus, their eyes are free to take in all the changing scenery. We’ve been going through the “Harry Potter” series on car trips and I enjoy that as I am also a huge fan of the books. It makes the time pass by more quickly for the parents as well as the kids.

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If you will encounter geological features vastly different from those in your hometown as you drive, this is a wonderful time to discuss and explore geology. The depth of this discussion will obviously vary based on the ages of your kids, but if you are going to be passing somewhere like Mount Saint Helens or the Grand Canyon, you can learn a ton!

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Whatever your natural surroundings may be, take time to stop and explore. First off, as much as you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, your kids will be happier if you stop and stretch your legs from time to time. Also, kids can benefit a ton from nature study. We always bring nature journals with us on the road. That way they can make observations about the world around them on a short hike. Younger kids may just doodle, but older kids can take notes on animals they encounter, plants they want to identify later, or tracks they find in the dirt. And did I mention they can get out some pent up energy? Because that matters on a a long trip. A lot. 

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If you pass a battleground, get out of the car and explore. Go slightly off course if it will make a trip to a great art museum possible. Get out of the car and enjoy new areas as you pass through them. There’s always something to learn if you just look for it.

FUN

While driving and when you get to your final destination, don’t forget that it’s okay to relax! You don’t have to schedule every moment. You and your kids will be happier and more open to learning if there’s time for fun as well!

I hope these tips help you enjoy a roadschooling adventure! I can’t wait to get on the road for my “Nellie Nova” tour with my sweet little assistants by my side.

 

15 Fantasy Writing Prompts For Kids

After yesterday’s post, I thought it would be fun to share more writing prompts. If you have a reluctant writer who loves fantasy, check these out! I hope you enjoy them!

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1. You wake up one morning and find that unicorns have taken residence in your backyard. What do you do?

2. You follow a rainbow to the end. What do you find?

3. Your cat speaks one morning and tells you that she is really a girl who had a spell put on her by an evil witch. What do you do? How do you help your cat?

4. On a trip to the beach, you meet a young mermaid named Coral. She invites you to visit her undersea home. Do you go with her? If you go, what do you see. If not, why not?

5. You’re given a magic paintbrush. Anything you paint will come to life! What do you paint? What happens?

6. On a hike with your two best friends, you decide to explore a cave. Inside the cave, you find a dragon! What do you do?

7. Your Great Aunt Matilda has a large collection of garden gnomes. You begin to suspect that they are actually alive when one throws a pebble at your little brother. What happens next?

8. A huge storm hits your town. Thunder and lighting rage for hours. A bolt of lightning hits your local library and inexplicably brings your favorite literary character to life. Who is it and what do you do together?

9. You think that your piano teacher is actually a wizard. Your suspicions are confirmed when he puts a spell on you for not practicing! He shrinks you to the size of an ant for two hours. What do you do?

10. One day, you wake up to find that you have wings! Where do you fly?

11. At a birthday party, the hired magician accidentally turns the birthday boy (your best friend!!) into a toad! What do you do?

12. You little sister tells you that she thinks your father is a ware wolf. What do you do?

13. You hear beautiful music coming from your garage every night at midnight. What do you find when you get brave enough to explore?

14. One day, the fish in your fish tank start talking to you. What do they tell you?

15. While playing in the forest behind your home, you find a village of fairies. Do you approach them? What do you learn about these tiny creatures?

15 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts for Kids

My oldest child is a reluctant writer. As a homeschooling mom and an author, that’s really hard for me. I want him to share my passion! He is the kind of kid who needs a little push to get started when it comes to writing. I know a lot of kids have similar struggles when it comes to creative writing. Sci-Fi can be a great way to pull in some kids who may not usually want to engage in creative writing. With that in mind, I compiled this list of fun Sci-Fi writing prompts. I hope you and the little ones in your life enjoy them.

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  1. Imagine you wake up on a strange planet. What might you find there? How would you get home?
  2. A strange creature followed you home from the park. It’s green, has three heads, twelve eyes, and scales. It seems to be friendly. What do you do?
  3. You found an alien spacecraft in the woods behind your house. Would you fly it? If so, where would you take it?
  4. There is a portal to another dimension in your laundry room. What adventures do you have in this new land?
  5. A 45 foot tall flamingo has moved into your neighborhood. What do you do?
  6. One day, you build several alien creatures with Lego. You begin to think that they come alive when you are not looking. What might they do when you turn your back?
  7. You father brings home a robot butler. At first, it seems great. It cleans the house, makes you snacks, and helps with your schoolwork. Then, something goes terribly wrong…
  8. You’re an astronaut on a mission to Mars. What do you see on your long journey?
  9. Your dog speaks to you one day and tells you that he’s come from the future to prevent you from making a mistake. Do you listen to him?
  10. You have a dream about a strange land where everything is yellow, there is little gravity, and everyone speaks in riddles.  When you wake up, your house has turned yellow. What do you do?
  11. You keep hearing a strange noise in your closet. You get brave and check inside. What do you find?
  12. You find out that if driven in reverse, your mom’s minivan can take your to the past. What time do you visit?
  13. For your birthday, you godfather gives you a jetpack! What do you do with it?
  14. While playing in the park, you find a green egg the size of your head. What hatches from it?
  15. You begin to suspect that your karate instructor is actually a cyborg. What do you do?

STEM-Inspiring Gifts Under $20 for your Little Valentine

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not skip all the candy and stuffed animals and foster a love of science in your little Valentine? I’ve included a list of products under $20 as I know most parents are always looking to save a bit of money.

This post include affiliate links. 

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

All three of my kids love Snap Circuits. They are a great way to encourage STEM play and enjoyed by a wide age range.

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

Lego and STEM- need I say more? My oldest got this for Christmas and we’ve been LOVING it.

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set

Why not give them science tools made for their little hands?

ScienceWiz DNA Experiment Kit

Extract DNA from fruit! Build a double Helix! Help your kids to learn the basics of molecular biology in a fun, easy to understand way.

4M Eco Science Toys

I love eco-friendly toys! The kit can make up to seven different toys, including a race car, a gravity-powered walking robot and a tornado inside a bottle. All for under $10!

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

Ok, you knew I had to throw it in the mix, right? If you don’t know about my book yet, here’s the premise:

Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!

If you don’t have a copy yet, it is a great way to encourage kids, especially girls, to love science.

STEAM: Preschool Activities for STEM Enrichment

This book looks great for the five and under crowd!

KEVA Brain Builders Game

This looks great for little engineers over the age of seven!

Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling

Families choose to homeschool for a variety of different reasons. Some are looking to escape bullying. Some want the flexibility so that they can travel. Some want to be able to use a religious curriculum with their kids. Whatever the reason they start, people often find some unexpected benefits along the way.

1.Board Games For Learning

I mean, who wouldn’t rather play Scrabble than write out lists of spelling words over and over again?

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2.Grade-Level Means Nothing

My son decided that he wanted to play the cornet last year when he was in 2nd grade. I can’t tell you how many people acted totally shocked that we were “letting him.” The local school started band in 6th grade and people were taken aback that he was allowed to start an instrument “early.” His teacher said he played better than most of his middle school students, so obviously, waiting would not have changed that! We have the flexibility to decide when the right time is to learn an instrument, write in cursive or learn Algebra.

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3. No Dress Code

Why not learn German wearing a princess dress or shark costume?! I mean isn’t it easier to remember that shark is der Hai if you are dressed like one?

 

 

 

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4. Nearly Empty Museums

Have your ever been to your local science center on a Tuesday morning? It’s great! There’s almost never a crowd. Better yet, the staff has time to answer questions and give demonstrations you may not get to experience on a busy Saturday.

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5. Sibling Bonding

My kids are so close. They love to be together and always look out for one another. I have no doubt that homeschooling has helped that. (Also- see Number 3. We obviously love the lack of dress code around here!)

 

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6. More Time in Nature

We love being outside. Homeschooling means that we can read in the backyard or take a day off for sunny weather. Trust me, they learn plenty on a nature hike.

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Obviously, a lot of these are little things and probably not a deciding factor in education. That said, these added bonuses make our days happier and I am so happy that my kids are having these experiences.

Homeschoolers- what are your “Unexpected Benefits?” 


Rave Reviews for “Nellie Nova Takes Flight”

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After a few weeks on the market, reviews for my book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” have started to accumulate on Amazon.  I am so happy that it’s been well-received!

“This book is rich with empowerment and keeps you hooked throughout the whole story with it’s quirky adventures. There is never a dull moment in the Nova family!”

“Nellie Nova is a character who exemplifies what it means to be an intelligent young person. Such a wonderful story. Well written, keeps your child engaged throughout”

“This entire book and story line is an attention grabber.”

“Stephenie Wilson Peterson tells an amazing story that’s just great for kids. In a world full of male protagonists, story for our daughters that really tells them, “you, too, can do anything you set your mind to” is a great thing! I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.”

“I read this aloud to my 6 year old son, and he was intrigued the entire time. He enjoyed the suspense of the unknown, and I agree the storyline was engaging. I appreciate an author that ties in history with fiction – It’s inspirational.

I am so happy to hear that people are enjoying my book!

If you hadn’t had a chance to do so, check it out!