All posts by lynnkelleyauthor

Cephalopod Awareness Days

October 12 is the last day of International Cephalopod Awareness Days, which is celebrated each year from October 8th through the 12th.

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Copyright photo

In case you’re wondering, cephalopods are a class of mollusks that include octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses.

The timing of this celebration has nothing to do with the spooky Halloween holiday, although cephalopods have been haunting oceans for millions of years. No, the dates were chosen because cephalopods have either 8 or 10 appendages.

cephalopod-days

Cephalopod Awareness Days celebrate our curiosity and love of books, movies, and TV shows that feature cephalopod characters. For instance, ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,’ ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,’ ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘SpongeBob Squarepants,’ and the Harry Potter series, to name a few. Video games like Minecraft and Pokémon have cephalopods, too!

For the sake of keeping this post from growing as long as a giant squid’s tentacle, I’ll share with you just a few interesting facts about octopuses:

They’re extremely intelligent and have excellent memories. It’s no wonder they’re so smart since they have nine functioning brains, one behind the eyes and the others in each of its eight arms. They have four pairs of arms, by the way.

Some octopuses have been known to use tools. Watch the 39 second video below. Home sweet home!

They’re so smart, some have been observed opening everything from screw-top jars to the cap on a childproof medicine bottle.

If an octopus gets bored, they’ve been known to eat their arms. Ew! Do you think that’s gross? It might make you feel better to know that they’re able to regrow their limbs.

They have three hearts. (I wonder if they love Valentine’s Day three times as much?)

They have blue blood. (For a tongue twister, try saying “blue blood” three times as fast as you can.)

Octopuses can change colors to blend in with their surroundings and hide from their enemies. It takes less than a second for them to change color. They can also change their texture to disguise themselves. This is a cool 24-second video:

If a predator confronts them, they can squirt dark ink to dull the sense of smell of their attacker, giving the octopus a chance to escape.

They also have venom, but only the blue ringed octopuses’ bite can be deadly to humans.

They don’t have a skeleton, so they’re able to squeeze through small spaces. Their bodies can fit through any cracks that their beaks fit through. This 1:42 minute video shows an octopus slithering through a crack in a boat:

Do you think Harry Houdini would have been impressed by that escape?

The last interesting fact I’d like to share is kind of scary, like something right out of a horror story. Once a male octopus mates, it dies soon after. The females can lay up to 400,000 eggs, which they guard with their lives. When the eggs hatch, the mother’s body quickly deteriorates until she dies. A haunting tale, for sure.

To learn about other cephalopods, here’s one website among many about these amazing creatures.

So what do you think of cephalopods? Do you find them fascinating? What’s your favorite creature, either real or fictional? Can you think of a book or movie that has a cephalopod in it?

If you love fun, creepy stories, my Monster Moon series coauthor, Kathryn Sant, and I have three thrillers you might like. We write under the pen name BBH McChiller.

Book 1 – Curse at Zala Manor (Great read for Halloween):

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“This tale will rattle yer timbers, squiffie, and chill ye to the bone!”

It’s almost Halloween, and twelve-year-old AJ Zantony’s world is threatened by an ancient curse that releases wicked pirates who had been trapped for centuries in his Aunt Zsofia’s creepy mansion, Zala Manor.

Available in print or eBook formats.

 

Book 2 – Secret of Haunted Bog (Fast paced and full of action):

Lynn Kelley Author, BBH McChiller, Secret of Haunted Bog, Monster Moon mysteries

“Beware the bog, landlubbers.

If ye venture into that haunted place,

Yer every step be filled with danger. Yarr!”

Available in print or eBook formats.

 

 

 

Book 3 – Legend of Monster Island (Perfect for Cephalopod Awareness Days):

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Cover illustration by fellow Emblazoner, Mikey Brooks

“Listen, swabbers, to this kraken tale.

Treasure and scoundrels and setting sail.

Sinking ships and a ghostly wail.

Can AJ survive, or will the beast prevail?”

Available in print or eBook formats.

 

 

 

 

lynnprofile

Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals, but nowadays she’s a goofball in the highest degree who’s susceptible to laughing jags. She tries to control herself out in public, but it’s not easy. She’ll jump at any excuse to wear funky get-ups. For instance, making wacky YouTube videos, entertaining her grandkids, or hanging out at  a costume party.

She recently became a Master Certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

 

 

Tips For Reading Aloud at School Visits

Visiting schools and connecting with students is rewarding and inspiring, especially if the kids have read your book and are excited to meet you.

Every speaker has a mouth; 
An arrangement rather neat.
 Sometimes it’s filled with wisdom. Sometimes it’s filled with feet.  ~  Robert Orben

I’ve found using visual aids or props (such as a funny hat) works well in grabbing the kids’ attention . Once you’ve got it, you want to keep it.

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Werewolf hands and storytelling cloak piqued kids’ curiosity at this reading.

Here are a few simple tips that can help to engage your audience while you read short excerpts or whatever you’ve chosen to share:

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  • Practice reading your material aloud beforehand. You’ll sound polished and will nail the pacing. Pause for a second to emphasize certain parts. For example, a line or phrase that’s spooky. The pause adds drama and anticipation.
  • Introduce yourself. Tell them you’re a children’s writer and what ages you write for. Even if you’re not published yet, you’re a writer. They’ll be impressed. Add some interesting, fun, or silly facts about yourself.
  • Give a quick explanation about what you’ll be reading. If it’s an excerpt from your book or anthology, give a brief description about what part of the book you’re reading from. For example, if I’m reading from Secret of Haunted Bog, I tell the kids, “This is the part where AJ Zantony and Freddy ‘Hangman’ Gallows are lost deep in the bog.”
  • Make eye contact often.
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Make eye contact.
  • Mark the spot you’re reading from with your finger or thumb so you don’t lose your place.
  • Avoid speaking in a monotone voice.
  • Speak loud and clear so everyone in the room can hear you. I get a big kick out of startling the kids when I read a short excerpt from Curse at Zala Manor that begins with a shouting “Arrggh!” from Musky, the zombie.
  • Be dramatic. Kids love it, and they’ll pay closer attention. Use different voices for the different characters. I love doing Stumpy the peg-leg skeleton’s scratchy voice when he says, “Give me back me key, wench!” from that same Zala Manor excerpt. It always gets a good reaction.
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Be dramatic and animated.
  • Keep it short. The length should vary according to what grade level you’re dealing with.
  • Variety is the spice of school visits. Depending on how much time you have, switch it up and read a few different things.
  • If you’re speaking into a microphone, it’s much easier if it’s propped up in the stand instead of trying to juggle it plus hold the book or papers you’re reading from.
  • Keep making eye contact and try to cover all areas of your audience so they feel like you’re talking directly to them.
  • If you make a mistake, smile and shrug it off. Kids don’t expect you to be perfect. We all mess up when reading something out loud. They’ll take your cue and follow your example the next time they stumble over words when reading out loud in class.
  • If you have props that go along with the reading, be sure to use them. I had a cheap plastic pirate’s hook from the dollar store that I held while reading Shel Silverstein’s poem “Captain Hook” from Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I used it to touch my toes and put it up to my nose as I read those parts. Arr! The rascals loved it!

Each visit is different, and getting the students’ feedback on their interests and ideas can turn out to be a gold mine for you! So have at it. And pat yourself on the back for taking the time to make a difference and touch young lives.

Do you have any other tips to add? Do you have a favorite anecdote from one of your school visits? Do you love connecting with kids? 

Lynn Kelley Author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon mysteries
Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals, but nowadays she’s a goofball in the highest degree who’s susceptible to laughing jags. She tries to control herself out in public, but it’s not easy. She’ll jump at any excuse to wear funky get-ups. For instance, making wacky YouTube videos, entertaining her grandkids, or hanging out at  a costume party.

Her first chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits, debuted in October 2012. Under the pseudonym BBH McChiller she and co-author Kathryn Sant write the fun, spooky Monster Moon mystery series for ages 8 to 12.  Book 1 – Curse at Zala Manor,  Book 2 – Secret of Haunted Bog, and Book 3 – Legend of Monster Island.

Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream

Have you ever visualized a goal? If so, you are not alone.

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Dreamstime – All rights reserved.

In 1912, Native American Jim Thorpe and the others who qualified to compete for the USA in the summer Olympics headed to Stockholm on a long voyage across the Atlantic. While the others trained on ship’s deck, Jim regularly kicked back in a lounge chair, relaxing with his eyes closed.

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          A writer named Francis Albertani asked, “What are you doing, Jim? Thinking of your Uncle Sitting Bull?”
          “No,” Jim said. “I’m practicing the broad jump. I’ve just jumped 23 feet, eight inches. I think I can win it.”

Jim Thorpe actively practiced creative visualization.

          What is creative visualization? It’s like daydreaming. It’s using our minds to help us achieve our real dreams. The power of the mind can aid people to achieve their goals, to become successful, be healed of illness, manage pain, grow spiritually, or accomplish anything they wish, simply by envisioning the desired result in their mind.
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           According to Rich Avery of Life Compass Blog, “It’s not just about seeing it clearly, but hearing, smelling, and tasting it too.” He explains, “When you continuously focus on an idea or image in your mind, you program every cell in your body and mind to work toward achieving that idea or image. Once you impress it into the subconscious part of you, it eventually becomes ‘fixed’ and you automatically attract and move towards that which you desire.”
          So you want to become a successful writer? Visualize yourself finishing a book, finishing several books, and then winning awards.
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           Author and Writing Coach Jennifer Blanchard says, “I want to be a writer. So I imagine 1,000 people waiting outside a bookstore for me or that I’m signing a contract to make my book (NY Times bestseller! Nobel Prize winner!) into a movie… But visualization is more than just imagining the end product. It can help you get unstuck if you’re currently mired down in a work in progress or it can help you jump-start a new story.”
          She explains how visualizing a scene from your character’s point of view and imagining them applying the five senses to their world will help you write your story. Check out Jennifer’s blog on visualization here.
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          A guest post by Nathan Kash on the WriteToDone blog agrees how important visualization is to successful writing. “Visualization can be the single most important silver bullet in a fictional writer’s arsenal. Your goal would be to engage the reader’s five senses, which means you have to be highly descriptive. Make them see what you want them to see, hear what you want them to hear and feel what you want them to feel etc.”
          Also, check out a good post on visualizing hooks on the WriteToDone blog here.
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          Psychology Today magazine actively promotes the power of visualization. In this article, Angie LeVan says, “Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success! For instance, Natan Sharansky, a computer specialist who spent nine years in prison in the USSR after being accused of spying for US has a lot of experience with mental practices. While in solitary confinement, he played himself in mental chess, saying: ‘I might as well use the opportunity to become the world champion!’ Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!”
          Research shows that for any skill, mental practice is nearly as effective as true practice. Check out the link to the study here.
          Successful people from all walks of life attain their goals through creative visualization and so can writers. It can help us get ideas, get started on a project, overcome writer’s block, finish a book, and successfully promote it. We can all achieve our dreams if we just dare to visualize it.
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          Jim Thorpe’s lounge chair visualization worked. He did win in the 1912 Olympics, taking the gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon.
          Creative Visualization can help you become the person you’re meant to be, so set your goals and dream of attaining those goals, over and over and over . . . until it’s they’re no longer dreams, but become reality.
          So time to start visualizing….
          What are your dreams and goals? Have you ever practiced creative visualization?

New Emblazon Release by BBH McChiller!

Listen, swabbers, to this kraken tale. 
Treasure and scoundrels and setting sail. 
Sinking ships and a ghostly wail. 
Can AJ survive, or will the beast prevail?

We’re excited to announce Legend of Monster IslandBook 3 in the Monster Moon Mystery series (for ages 8 to 12),  by BBH McChiller (Kathryn Sant and Lynn Kelley).

Special price on the eBook today and tomorrow for 99 cents:  Amazon

Also in paperbackAmazon

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Slimy tentacles slither out of the toilets and tangle with 12-year-old AJ Zantony and his younger cousin, Jasmyn, while they’re visiting Zala Manor, their great aunt’s creepy old mansion.

AJ’s buddy, Vlad, the pirate rat, stops by and pleads for help in saving his species from the creatures invading the sewers. AJ, Jaz, and their friends decide to risk everything to assist Vlad, plunging deeper into sea monster lore and facing the mysterious legends firsthand.

Is it worth sailing into an otherworldly storm and confronting evil scoundrels, scarred souls, and the most nightmarish beast imaginable? The dangers mount, increasing the chances that AJ and his friends will fall victim to the Legend of Monster Island.

Watch the book trailer:

Get the first two books, too:

Monster Moon Book 1
Curse at Zala Manor
Perfect read for Halloween!

“This tale will rattle yer timbers, squiffie,
and chill ye to the bone!” ~Vlad

Curse at Zala Manor, Monster Moon mysteries, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, BBH McChillerAvailable in:

Paperback:  Amazon
Hardback:  AmazonBarnes & Noble
eBook:  AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords (formats for all e-readers)

Monster Moon Book 2
Secret of Haunted Bog

MONSTER MOON - Show Me The Bounty!

“Beware the bog, landlubbers.
If ye venture into that haunted place,
Yer every step be filled with danger. Yarr!” ~Vlad

 Hardback:  AmazonBarnes & Noble
Paperback: Amazon
eBook:  AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords 

Do you like spooky, fun children’s books? What’s your favorite?

BBH Kathy and Lynn

The unusual name BBH McChiller is actually the pseudonym for two authors living in Southern California: Lynn Kelley and Kathryn Sant. The mystery series began one Halloween during a discussion at a writers’ meeting about their greatest fears and ended up being one of their most rewarding experiences.

 

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Kathryn Sant is a retired Obstetrician who has witnessed the births of thousands of future readers. She has published a middle-grade novel, Desert Chase (Scholastic), and written for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s newsletter. She is currently working on a middle-grade boys’ adventure novel and the next Monster Moon book. Her interest in adventure, accurate research, and genealogy has led to a love of world travel, but she also enjoys quiet evenings reading with her dogs at her side.

Lynn Kelley Author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon mysteries

Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Whittier, CA at age eight. She now lives in Southern California. Most of her time involves books – either writing books, reading books, or making altered art books. The highlight of her life is time spent with her grandchildren.

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Illustrated by Emblazoner Mikey Brooks. He’s a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books includingBEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURESseries, and the author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.

Writing Prompt – Ugly Foot Finds Its Doppleganger

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”
~ Albert Einstein

Inspiration! It can happen anywhere!

Ideas are born in the strangest places, ignited by bizarre objects or strange people. Or a random photo from my daughter’s honeymoon pics.

Here’s the scoop: Lily was excited to get a window seat on the plane for their honeymoon trip. Then the passenger behind her rested his/her ugly, bandaged foot on Lily’s armrest. She couldn’t stomach the sight of it. Her hubby gave in and traded seats. (After all, a happy wife is a happy life, right?)

BBH McChiller, Lynn Kelley, Kathryn Sant
Almost anything can be used as a writing prompt. Even a photo of an ugly foot!

If you were in an English class and were given an impromptu assignment to write a story based on the photo on the left, what would you write?

Nonfiction? How to politely elbow that foot off your armrest? The importance of cleansing wounds? *yawn*

Sci-fi/Paranormal? Ugly Foot Finds Its Doppelganger in an Alternate Dimension?

Horror? Remember the movie The Crawling Hand? It scared the heck out of me when I was a kid! How about writing a sequel called The Prowling Foot?

Humor? Is there anything that could possibly be funny about that foot?

 

 

Hmm…what would Erma Bombeck have written?Erma Bombeck could write about anything and make it humorous.

 

 

 

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Romance? Good grief! I’m not going there.

Mystery? One with lots of subplots and dead bodies with missing toes? That might be horror, too. *Shudders* Definitely not a story I could write!

“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it,
and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
~ Sylvia Plath

You know what that photo of an injured foot inspired me to write? A crazy blog post!

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Could you stomach sitting next to that ugly foot?
Do you find ideas in weird places? What inspires you to be creative?

Lynn Kelley Author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon mysteries

Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals, but nowadays she’s a goofball in the highest degree who’s susceptible to laughing jags. She tries to control herself out in public, but it’s not easy. She’ll jump at any excuse to wear funky get-ups. For instance, making wacky YouTube videos, entertaining her grandkids, or hanging out at a costume party.

Her first chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits, debuted in October 2012. Under the pseudonym BBH McChiller she and co-author Kathryn Sant write the fun, spooky Monster Moon mystery series for ages 8 to 12. Curse at Zala Manor is the first book in the series, and Secret of Haunted Bog is the second title. Book 3, Legend of Monster Island, will be out shortly.

Website | Lynn Kelley Author Facebook |BBH McChiller Facebook | Who is BBH McChiller? | YouTube Channel