Last month, when I was visiting family in Seattle, I got an email inviting me to be a guest on Radio Active Kids on Asheville FM. I gladly accepted and started planning quick trip to Asheville, NC with my family. I thought that the kids would really enjoy seeing how radio programs are made, plus the whole Asheville area is ridiculously beautiful.
A few days before the show, my husband suggested that I go alone so I could have a relaxing trip.
Okay, moms. You get this. ALONE.
Friday afternoon, I returned home from a reading at a local elementary school, packed up my stuff and headed out the door. Even though I had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of me, I was excited. I had two new audiobooks on my phone. I listened to an entire book on the way there. (“Your First 1000 Copies” By Tim Grahl) Even though I was basically working while driving for hours it was great. It was quiet. The scenery, while it was still light out, was beautiful. The book was interesting and seems like it will be helpful.
I got to Asheville about 9:00pm. I’d booked a room with Air BnB and stayed in the home of some local musicians halfway up a mountain. It was gorgeous and my host was friendly. IE she offered me an adult beverage after my arrival. This is glamorous stuff for a homeschooling mom of three. The wild woman that I am, I took my single drink to my room and worked some more. It was so quiet. I loved it. (Also- my Educational Activity Guide to go with “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is really coming along!)
The next morning, I awoke to realize how much colder it is up on a mountain than it is in Raleigh. Duh.
I didn’t pack for 40 degrees. It was in the 60s when I left Raleigh. So I got dressed and shivered my way to the car. I was pretty excited when I found my husband’s winter jacket when I got to the car. I mean, I looked ridiculous wearing a cute dress with little birds all over it, heals, and a large ski coat, but at least I was warm.
I drove to the radio station and got there 30 minutes early. I was excited. Can I admit that? This stuff is still new to me, so being interviewed on the radio was a really cool to me. Yes, I said cool. I may sound like an overzealous teenager talking about meeting a boy band, but I felt that way. I got to be interviewed on the radio!
The interview went really well and was actually a lot of fun. It can be found here until 4/16/16. Scroll to “Listen.” It’s about 36:30 into the episode.
Afterward, I wandered around Asheville a bit and did some shopping. I was able to get some birthday gifts for my son, who turns nine today. Then I had to head back to my husband, who had come down with a nasty virus and did not want to be alone with the kids any longer.
I listened to Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?” on the drive home and enjoyed all the beauty North Carolina has to offer. I was happy and feeling pretty good about myself. I stopped for gas and snacks in some tiny little town. As I got back on the freeway, I was thinking about how maybe, just maybe, my writing career could take off. I picked up a piece of candy and unwrapped it, only to find that it was stuck to the wrapper. There’s nothing like trying to pry a grape Laffy Taffy out of its wrapper with your teeth to knock you back down to reality and make you think that maybe you have a long road ahead before you’ll be successful.
And that’s okay. I get to write books. I get to speak to kids about writing! Kids have told me I have inspired them to write or read more often! And I still get to teach my own kids. Things are pretty great.
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.
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.
They absolutely loved stopping at each state line to pose for a picture.
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,
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:
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.
(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.
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.
(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.
And here’s the part that makes me question my sanity:
I can’t wait to do it again.
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!
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!Read More
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!
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.
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 email@example.com. I am local to Raleigh, NC, but I am open to travel.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?Read More
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.
- Imagine you wake up on a strange planet. What might you find there? How would you get home?
- 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?
- You found an alien spacecraft in the woods behind your house. Would you fly it? If so, where would you take it?
- There is a portal to another dimension in your laundry room. What adventures do you have in this new land?
- A 45 foot tall flamingo has moved into your neighborhood. What do you do?
- 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?
- 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…
- You’re an astronaut on a mission to Mars. What do you see on your long journey?
- 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?
- 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?
- You keep hearing a strange noise in your closet. You get brave and check inside. What do you find?
- You find out that if driven in reverse, your mom’s minivan can take your to the past. What time do you visit?
- For your birthday, you godfather gives you a jetpack! What do you do with it?
- While playing in the park, you find a green egg the size of your head. What hatches from it?
- You begin to suspect that your karate instructor is actually a cyborg. What do you do?