No More Goblin's Apprentice

After much thought, I have decided to remove all my book titles from Amazon.

If you find my stories anywhere, then they are being issued without my knowledge or permission.

If you would like to read one of my stories (check the tab under The Goblin's Apprentice for the blurb), feel free to email me at Margaret . golla @ gmail . com  to request a PDF file of a story. I will send it to you. I love these stories, and always will, but with the current glut of stories available, my small tales are hard to find unless you specifically look for them.

I am still writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, the Mystic Elements, and the odd techno-thriller, but I'm not actively trying to publish them.

I want to get back to my writing roots and the publishing end of the business stressed and depressed me.

Who knows?

Maybe, I'll start posting my new stuff here . . . which is where my stories got their life, starting with LOST LEPRECHAUN LOOT.

Later, Peeps!


Lose Ten Pounds in Ten Seconds!

That got your attention, didn't it?

And actually, what I'm about to tell you can do just that . . . IF YOU PAY ATTENTION!

Remember those days of schlumping on the couch watching the Bugs Bunny cartoons?

But then, we countered the effect by playing outside, and at my house, not having excessive amounts of food.

Well, those times have changed with the advent of computers, video gaming systems, and high-fat, high-carb diet. In fact, there's a whole new job classification called ergonomics that address this issue in the workplace.

Pretty soon, humans devolved to look like this:

bad posture cartoon 300x287 bad posture cartoon
Courtesy of CartoonChurch.com and Dave Walker
And if you're the typical American, add between 30-70 pounds per person in this cartoon. 
So how do we return to looking like this

oImage result for swimmersor this

Well, okay, most of us won't ever look like the people in either of these picture.

Let's get real.

BUT you can improve your image, lose weight, gain self-confidence and improve your attitude in less than ten seconds by do a couple of simple things.

1) Stretch your entire body--unless the government approves the Medieval rack torture device into a viable heightening machine, I won't grow beyond my 5'1" height--and that's if my hair isn't squished down. I'm in my 50's so all I can look forward to is shrinking more due to normal aging spinal compression.

So how do you stretch your body?

It's easy to do. Pretend a string is coming out of the top of your head to lift you up. Now, let's focus on the pieces involved, starting with your head.

No, don't tilt your head back, lift it up. Be proud. Be confident.

Don't jut your chin forward. You look like a chicken looking for food. Your neck should be relatively straight up and down, not angled forward.

There you go. Your chin is level with the ground. And, hey, you only have one double chin, not two! Good for you!

Shoulders should be back and down. When you stretch up, the tendency is to lift your shoulders--DROP THEM. Do a small shoulder roll toward the back. When you do this, you should feel your shoulder blades in the middle of your back. This movement places your upper body over your pelvis where is should be along with your arms at your sides.

This should have also gotten rid of that computer hump on your upper back. Keep working at it. You'll get it.

Breath deep. Stretch tall. Shoulders back. . . hey, your stomach is flatter! Lookie there! Simply improving your posture pulled your stomach into place with all your guts sitting in your pelvic cradle where it's supposed to be!

Now we're looking good!

Watch yourself in the mirror when you start this technique. Normal, slumpy-dumpy, depressed, brow-beaten, hang-dog you instantly changes into a supremely confident, taller and more fit version of you.

Voila! Ten pounds lighter!

Now, comes the hard part.

2) Do this ALL the time--when you sit. When you stand. When you walk. When you drive your car. ALL THE TIME.

Eventually, it will become second nature.

All it takes is a little bit of practice to look and feel better.

Later, Peeps!


Happiness is . . .

Being the best ME I can possibly be.
So many people go through life unhappy.
I'm too fat.
I'm too short.
I'm too ugly.
My nose is too big.
Heck, there are a couple of industries (plastic surgeons, to name the main one) that prey upon the population who thinks 'fixing' stuff will make them happy.
In case, you wondered, IT DOESN'T.
Happiness has to come from inside yourself.
Other people can't make you happy. And it isn't your job to make others happy. Oh, your new positive attitude might help make others happy, but don't take it personally if you're shot down or called a Pollyanna.
So how does one become happy?
It really isn't hard.
All you have to do is focus on the positive things in your life. Reduce the negativity in your own thoughts, words, and around you.
I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "One bad apple will ruin the whole bushel." Well, there's a reason, it's sage advice . . . because it's true.
Have you ever people watched a group trash-talking their spouses? Or making mean comments about various people? Yes, I have to say that women tend to be the worst instigators of this.
Negativity breeds negativity.
So how does one become HAPPY?
The first step is to try to remove outside negativity. If you have a friend that tends to be negative or causes you to stress out every time you see her, then you need to distance yourself from this person. Remove them from your contacts. Block them on your texts. Hide their Facebook messages, or even unfriend them.
YOU DO NOT OWE THEM A REASON. You need to worry about your mental health and happiness. Do not allow them to undo the positivity your are sowing by opening the mental door to allow them back in.
The second step is to try to change your own mindset. If you are unhappy in your job or school, then find the positive things at your job or school to keep from dwelling on the negative aspects.
Perhaps you don't like a particular teacher's teaching style? Just try to figure out what they want from you as a student and provide that . . . And get a calendar to count down the days that you have to deal with this particular teacher.
Now, it's time to look inward and meditate over what aspects of your life that make you happy.
Focus on the simple things.
Here are a couple of things that make me happy: walking, making candy, my rose garden, gardening, crocheting, reading, writing, and when I was able to ride--my horse.
When I'm walking I enjoy nature around me. The sound of birds, the burble of the creek, the wind through the trees . . . just nature in general.
Gardening is back-breaking labor, but I can reap the reward of enjoying my backyard oasis.
Making candy is also back-breaking, but it makes me happy making others happy when they eat it. Erm, I wished more people would stroke my ego by telling me how good it is, but I can't have everything, right?
And the list goes on . . .
An interesting change happens when you become happy--more people want to hang with you, your self-confidence sky rockets, your visage and posture change reflecting your inner happiness.
You discover that all those things you hated about yourself don't really matter any longer. You start caring about your health, which in turn, allows you to lose weight. You start exercising because it makes you happy, not because you have to.
And just like negativity breeds negativity, the opposite is also true.
Positivity breeds positivity, which is the secret to happiness.
Think about it.


Amusement Park Walking

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog piece, I've been on vacation--at a couple of different amusement parks.

Actually, vacation was three mini-vacations in one. And by the end of the two weeks, we were EXHAUSTED!

In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be an ingenious idea to go to WDW (Walt Disney World) and UF (Universal Florida) immediately after school was out for the summer. Actually, the idea had its merits, considering I found out that many Florida school systems and numerous northeastern states (winter weather days) were still in classes until June.

I had forgotten to factor in the entire southern section of the country, the fact that the UK was on it's mid-term breaks, and a whole slew of South American residents were enjoying their breaks. . . oh, and those lucky, lucky kids who lived close to the big amusement parks to have their 8th-grade/senior/band trips there.

In other words, it wasn't even summer yet and everything was crowded.

Here are a few simple suggestions for going to big amusement parks.
  • RESEARCH and READ about the park and the rides. If you have a young family, then your ride choice will be different than a family with grandparents or teens. Find online maps of the parks.
  • PLAN your day--Disney allows you to make three Fast Pass reservations 60 days prior to your vacation if you stay at an on-site property (30 days for off-site hotels). Do this with the rides you definitely want to ride.
  • GO EARLY. Yes, I know this is vacation, but unless you love crowds, heat and humidity, then go to the parks early as there are fewer people there. Now, this doesn't mean there aren't any people, oh, no, it will be crowded, but less crowded with less 'hangry' (hungry, angry, i.e. tired) people and kids.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE that it will be crowded and you probably won't be able to do everything you want to do.
  • PARADES--If you don't want to see the parades plan to be in line for a big ride because many people start camping out along the parade route 1-2 HOURS before the parade. We actually rode two Thunder Mountain rides while people were pushing for position for the Electrical Light Parade. We were heading to Pirates (there's a cut through near the edge of Liberty Square) when we stopped about three people deep and watched the parade.
  • CHARACTERS--If you want to see characters, then you can Fast Pass the lines, or do a character meal. Princesses are found in EPCOT's Norway along with Cinderella's Royal Table.
  • PAY ATTENTION-- I lost count of the times groups of people would randomly stop in the middle of walking to have a conversation. Take it to the edge, People! It's too crowded to be oblivious of the other guests. We all paid money for the park, be considerate of others. It's not hard. All you have to do is be conscientious.
  • SMOKING--I don't smoke. My family doesn't smoke. Smoke triggers my asthma. All amusement parks have provided smoking areas. USE THEM! Quit being selfish for once in your smoking lives and think about how your smoke might effect others.
  • BIG STEPS AND LITTLE ONES--I might have walked over 20,000 steps daily, but many times they weren't active steps. Nobody walks at the same pace. Some people are slow. Some groups string out effectively blocking the entire walkway. Learn to shoot the gaps. People are oblivious especially in large groups. Take a chill pill and figure out how to make it work without getting frustrated.
  • NOT BATTERING RAMS--Look, I know strollers and electric scooters are big and unwieldy. The least you can do is to NOT use them as battering rams. My hubby had his Achilles tendon rammed hard enough that momentum caused the stroller to lift up in the air. It's not nice. It hurts. Learn to be patient.
  • WINE--helps. After you leave the park. Enjoy an adult beverage. Just sayin'.
I've talked about all sorts of do's and don'ts with amusement park fun over the last several years. The main thing to remember, especially in the Florida summer, is to keep hydrated. You don't have to buy a bottle of water, you can just go into a food place and request a cup of water.

Chill out. Enjoy time with your loved ones. And realize that you probably won't get to see or do everything you want to see or do. Even 'off season' isn't very slow any more. Just plan to return again. . .
Because in 2016, Disney's Animal Kingdom is scheduling the opening of Avatarland. Just saying.


Summer Reading Freebies

Since school is almost finished for the year, and parents will be desperate for kids to do some summer reading, I'm putting books up for FREE!

Download now. Load your Kindle. Load your computer. Give your kids something to read instead of playing games on their phone/Ipad/computer/etc.

Download the FREE Kindle app.

The books are listed below in chronological order with a short blurb under each book.

They will be available FREE from May 21-25.

Kindle download only. Spread the word.

If you liked, didn't like, or were indifferent about the stories, then do me a favor and write a short Amazon review. It will be much appreciated!

To Gnome Me is to Love Me
Book one, The Goblin's Apprentice
Amazon Kindle
When Kyte Webber finds a very real garden gnome, her life will change forever. Gnomes aren't supposed to be real, are they? But Kyte's gnome is in danger of becoming the last ingredient in a witch's magical Mythical potion and she's the only one who can save him! With the full moon tonight, Kyte must save the Mythicals, destroy a witch, and get home in time for supper!


The Fast and the FAERIEous
Book two, The Goblin's Apprentice
Amazon Kindle
Kyte Webber's life is turned upside down on day two of the sixth grade when she rescues a faerie princess from her nemesis, Lisa Morris. But when a water nymph nearly drowns Lisa's sister, well, everything gets complicated. It doesn't help matters when Lisa tags along with Kyte to the faerie's kingdom and nearly starts a Mythical War of the Worlds!


A Maze of Monster Mix-ups  
Halloween short story/prequel to book three, The Goblin's Apprentice
Halloween is a little different in the country, and this is Kyte Webber's first Trunk-or-Treat Carnival. It has everything from a Jupiter Jump to a goblin dunking tank to a haunted corn maze. Problems arise when a few 'unexpected' guests crash the party. 

For Whom the Bell Trolls
Book three, The Goblin's Apprentice
Amazon Kindle
The war for Celestia isn’t going well—for the good guys, that is. But Kyte Webber is more concerned her missing Celestian friend Mike, who disappeared on Halloween night. After experiencing a Night Mare, she knows what she has to do to rescue Mike. It’s simple. She has to break into Mike’s house, find his journal, travel to Celestia and rescue him out from under the noses of a garrison of trolls stationed at Castle Dragonskull.
Easy-peasy, right?
Book three, The Goblin's Apprentice

Sugar Plum Disaster
Christmas short story
Amazon Kindle
A squillion frantic faeries awaken Kyte Webber from a sound sleep on Christmas Eve. The Sugar Plum Faerie is missing! Kyte will never get to sleep with all their zipping around and sprinkling faerie dust on her when they collide, she agrees to check it out. When the faeries fly Kyte to the Sugar Plum Faerie’s kitchen, she finds a crime scene worthy of investigation.  

Lost Leprechaun Loot
St. Patrick's Day short story
Three leprechauns need eleven-year-old Kyte Webber to find their pots-o-gold, but this adventure isn't as straight forward as it seems as the leprechauns want their gold and the reward they promised Kyte, too. They will try every trick in the book to deceive Kyte, but she has a few tricks up her sleeve and plans to beat them at their game.
Enjoy your summer reading!


A Gardener's Work is NEVER Done

58 bags of cedar mulch have finally been strewn throughout my garden beds. . . FINALLY.
To tell you the truth, I'm glad it was only 58 bags because traditionally it's been closer to 90 bags.

A couple of weeks ago, I was going all gangbusters getting the front beds finished. It took me three days of back breaking labor with all the trimming, moving and removing plants, planting new plants, fertilizing, and just all around maintenance.

Here's the result of the front yard:
front view--the hedges on the right were bears to clip as they are holly and barberry--no garden glove can keep those thorns from poking you!

Petunias around the maple tree, dianthus (carnation) and geraniums in front of the barberry bushes.

Side yard to the left of the front of the house. I ripped up about 40 surprise lilies and transplanted them to the back yard, and moved the hydrangea closer to the gate, plus the annual plantings of a different variety of coral dianthus, and I totally forgot what the purple stuff is called.

The next weekend I only managed to get half of the other beds in the back yard done, namely the back bed, the roses on the fence, and the entire bed by the pool.

This is what it looks like:
The phlox was beautiful this year, but it needed a little taming. This was the bed where I planted the surprise lilies. I'll be 'surprised' if they live because this bed is chocked full of gopher and mole tunnels. I'd rather they eat the bulbs instead of my roses.

Fireplace gardens are pretty quick and easy to fix.

Transplanted some grasses that had been growing into each other and whacked the ground rose and day lilies back. Of course, now I need to deadhead the peonies and iris . . . a gardener's job is never done, it just changes with the season.

My rose garden is on the fence, and hubs had to fixe the bubbler.

Different angle--other end of the pool. And ditto, time to deadhead the roses now since I took this picture about two weeks ago!

This bed really needs some color, but I'm at a loss as to what to put in here. The clematis is just getting started and the daylilies will follow.

I did buy a few roses to fill in a couple of spaces that I lost a couple of my roses.

Then, finally, with my hubby's help, I finished the pond garden, the strip along the deck, and the entire side yard.
I love my pond garden. I will confess that I chopped my toad lily back because by the time it blooms in August, it's unruly, so I'm fixing it before it starts to set blooms.
Different angle of pond.

Down the deck edge. We've had a time with moles and gophers, thus the bucket covering the mole trap because the dog would probably get her nose sliced off sniffing around it. Grass has also been difficult with the little critters constantly digging it up!
This is the side yard. It's still a bit of a work-in-progress. Some things I planted did well when they were first put in the ground, but with the tree growth from our oak and crepe myrtles AND the neighbor's bald cypress, well, many of them simply can't tolerate that much shade.

Side garden. Hubs built this new fence while I was working on the garden beds.
And that is how I've been spending most of my free time during the month of May . . . when it hasn't been raining!

Later, Peeps!


Writing 101--Choices

Throughout our lives we make choices.

Some choices are easy ones, such as do I choose a healthy salad with dressing on the side or a sandwich that could feed a family of four.

But then there are other choices, and dilemmas, we must face in life and many of these choices involve the easy choice or the hard choice.

Have you ever noticed that the RIGHT choice is often the harder one?

The easy choice might seem good at the time, but it can lead one onto deep, dark paths that will only mire your soul in regrets.

While the hard choice might be difficult to stand firm over in the beginning, it becomes easier as time moves on. The hard choices temper and mold you as you grow and mature, to live life, giving you hidden strengths.

No matter what choices we make in life, it is within our character to be accountable for our choices, good or bad.

The same can be said for our story characters.

When writing a story it's our job to force our characters into various situations. It's how our characters make choices in the heat of the moment that reflects upon their character throughout the story.

And no matter what happens in the story, those choices your character makes will sit with them forever.

For example, in my current project, my character has one bullet in her gun that she can use. When she shoots the noise from the gun  will alert the bad guys to her position.

My character escapes along with a young girl. The girl falls behind. One bad guy catches up to her and will, 1) brutalize her for escaping, 2) rape her, and 3) torture her because she was the only one they caught, and more bad guys are on the way.

The question is, What does my character do?

Does she kill the potential rapist? He's evil. It would be justified. But this would leave the young girl in the hands of the bad guys who aren't far behind.

Or does she make the more difficult choice? Does she choose to kill the child? The innocent who had no power to change her destiny?

No matter the choice my character makes, she will have to ALWAYS live with the consequences of her actions, and this choice will color all the subsequent choices she makes in life.

Think about it.

Are you pushing your characters to make the hard choices? Or are they coasting through the story because you want them to live happily ever after? Only by emerging from the fire of change can your characters truly grow in your story.