Monday, December 21, 2015

Always on the Nice List: Nuclear Power!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Looking Dumb Wearing An Ugly Christmas Sweater? Look Smart Reading Nuclear Power!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Up on the Roof Top: Promoting Nuclear Literacy!

Oak Ridge, TN Christmas Parade 

Part two: The Perils of a Small Independent Children’s Book Publisher and Author.

Despite the power failure that blew out the lights during our first public appearance in East Tennessee, the Nutcracker Publishing Company’s children’s book characters still radiated! The city of Kingston, Tennessee’s City Council awarded Nutcracker Publishing Grand Prize, or what they called the Mayor’s Award, for our parade entry.  

We invested the prize money we received from our award in a larger, more powerful inverter and prepared to shine our literary brilliance on the Secret City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee--  A pro-nuclear city if ever there was one!  

Needless to say, our white lab rat from Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power PlantReally Works! could hardly wait to light up his larger-than-life hard hat and promote nuclear literacy for its citizens.

We arrived early and got to work transforming my son’s green jeep into Chubby the white lab rat.  This time, my husband Randy was our driver. He’s also our in-house electrician, and he was going to make sure the lights did not dim on this parade!

So, of course, after wrapping the jeep in Christmas lights, we plugged in our super-sized inverter and it DOES NOT work!  I should be writing TV sitcoms instead of children’s books, because this is the sort of thing that always happens to us.

Randy rushed to the store where we had purchased our inverter and where I’m sure the guys empathized with his need to appease his crazy wife and bring back an inverter that actually WORKED! This would be the fourth time he got me an inverter and he wouldn’t leave the store until they tested it out and he was sure it would light up a tractor-trailer-- not to mention a jeep.

By the time he got back to the parade venue, my daughter Tabitha and I had Chubby dressed, Tickles Tabitha ready to wave, bookmarks and enough parade candy to sicken Santa ready to distribute. We watched as Randy connected the inverter and turned on the lights… which glowed magnificently!   

Tickles Tabitha climbed onto the rooftop of our jeep (a.k.a. Chubby the nuclear lab rat) and just as I had hoped parade bystanders in the Secret City of Oak Ridge were blinded by nuclear literacy radiance-- 

                                                    and Christmas lights! ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         That's the end of  this tail!

Obligatory Selfie

Monday, December 14, 2015

Give them Something Interesting to Debate: Nuclear Power!

Got my table Christmased and Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump taped to the back of my dining chairs. Usually it's moments like this when I get an unexpected guest at the door like the new neighbors, the UPS guy, or most recently the electrician who wired our house.

They never ask, or say anything, but I can tell they think something is seriously wrong with me.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Power Outage at Nukie Nuclear Power Plant!

Just prior to their first public appearance in East Tennessee, Nukie Nuclear Power Plant employees experienced a sudden power outage.

The power outage had nothing to do with nuclear power… but I couldn’t resist that headline! It’s just the type of sensationalized news I’ve grown accustomed to seeing when it comes to nuclear power plants.

The only thing our power outage had to do with nuclear power is that it prevented us from lighting up the giant hard hat our lab rat-inspired parade float (jeep) was wearing. It did not prevent us from shining a light on nuclear literacy or wowing the children lining the streets of Kingston, Tennessee.

Riding atop our Chubby jeep was Tickles Tabitha the character from my children's book about cancer. My daughter Tabitha portrayed her children’s book self; I sat in back and tossed out candy. My son Jordan was our driver.

I don’t remember when I got the bright idea to turn my son’s green jeep into a white lab rat, but I spent Thanksgiving doing it.  

Everything was good to go or so we thought until we cranked up the jeep and turned on the power supply that- according to our in-house experts- was plenty powerful enough to light up our lights. Instead they blinked and went out.  

As they say, the show must go on… so we took off all our Christmas lights 
and fell in line behind the Senior Citizen transit bus!

Despite not having any Christmas lights, the kids loved Tickles Tabitha and Chubby. As it turned out, the adults did too. The Monday morning after the parade weekend, I received a notification from Kingston Tennessee’s Park and Recreation Department that our parade entry won grand prize!

Chubby Rat along with Tickles Tabitha received the prestigious Mayor’s Award.  While I’m not going to brag about how much, it was a CASH reward which we invested promptly in a larger more powerful inverter for the jeep. 

The Kingston Tennessee City Council sponsored the parade float competition and floats were judged on the following criteria:

           1.  Was a theme covered?
                 2.  Are there any special effects to enhance it?
                 3.  Does it incorporate a unique or creative idea?
                 4.  How is the public appeal? Does the crowd seem to relate to it?

The following award-winners were announced:

Mayor’s Award          Nutcracker Publishing Company
Council’s Award        Starnes Wood Stove and Patio Store
Band Award              Roane County High School
Youth Award             Tri County Roll Arena
Honorable Mention   Dr. James Walmsley, DDS
Church Award           Impact Church

Nutcracker Publishing's next parade is December 12, in the Secret City, known as Oak Ridge, Tennessee. With any luck there will be no power outage, and parade bystanders will be blinded by nuclear literacy radiance and #Christmas lights! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

How Does a Reindeer Glow his Nose? NUCLEAR POWER!

Nuclear Power…where does it come from; where does is go?  At Nutcracker Publishing Company we think everyone needs to know!  This holiday season Crack Open a Book about Nuclear Power! 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Don't want coal in your stocking? Stuff it with Nuclear Power!

Tis the Season for a little commercial-ism! 

One of my favorite Christmas memories is when my children helped put together this video for Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! 

As always, my daughter Tabitha directed, and my son Jordan starred  in our video production. Here's a few behind the scenes phtos I found:

Jordan playing Santa
Tabitha giving him tips on  exhibiting a jollier belly.

Chubby our lab rat 

Don't want to get caught with coal in your stocking!  Ho Ho Ho....or as Santa says, "Go Go Go" to Nuctcracker Publishing.  

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Happy Hanukkah from Nutcracker Publishing!

The trouble with relocating every few years is there is always something or someone you love that you can't bring along.  I'm missing my BFF Wendy, who is Jewish....not to mention the latkes and chocolate she's probably devouring right about now! 

She taught me about Hanukkah and I shared St. Nick's Day with her.  A tradition I'd never heard of until I married my Catholic husband-- which perhaps explains why my children celebrated St. Nicks day on December 10th!  

Wishing Wendy and all my Jewish family, friends, and colleagues a Happy Hanukkah!   

Happy St. Nicks Day from Nutcracker Publishing!

Friday, December 04, 2015

National Cookie Day: How does Mrs. Claus cook her cookies?

Mrs. Claus always cooks her cookies using Nuclear Power!

Ho Ho Ho!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Celebrating the National Christmas Tree Lighting by plugging into Nuclear Power!

Nuclear Power…where does it come from; where does is go?  At Nutcracker Publishing Company we think everyone needs to know!  This holiday season Crack Open a Book about Nuclear Power! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How do Santa's elves charge their gadgets for Cyber Monday? Nuclear Power!

After all the Thanksgiving feasting I could use some charging up myself. Any leftovers are now in the compost pile. Trying to find the energy for what my son calls “over-decorating” for Christmas.

So long scarecrows…hello Santa Clause!   Let the shpping begin!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Radiating Crazy!

The children I penned Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy for are all grown up. Last January, after almost 15 years, the Cancer-tankerous Mommy (in other words, me) wrote what would be her last blog with that moniker.

I am grateful that cancer is no longer the first thing I think about upon waking up each day. Nor is it the only topic I blog about.  As anyone who was Facebook friends with me when Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! was released can attest, I have a range of interesting topics.
While I’m not claiming to be brilliant myself, some of my topics are!  A few years ago, I did a campaign to promote nuclear literacy called Radiating Brilliance! The campaign and I did radiate the brilliance of nuclear education. I thought radiating brilliance was a great tag line.  

It’s just not what I always radiate.

Lately, I've been radiating the crazy that comes with migrating to a new webserver, the scathing critiques of my in-house editor, and worrying about what art and/or copy people will find offensive.

For the past several years I've been off the social market grid. My creative energies have gone into all the DIY projects that come with relocating and building a new home. I’ve been seen doing so much manual labor that our builder and new neighbors had assumed I must be retired. 

My family wishes I had stayed retired! But books don’t just jump off the shelves and sell themselves.  

Instead of preparing for Thankgiving, I've been preparing to enter Nutcracker Publishing's book characters in the local Christmas parade.  

'Tis the season for marketing and promoting. 

Nutcracker Publishing is lighting up the holidays with... (sound the trumpets)

Nuclear Power!   Crack Open a Book  Hotter than a cup of coffee!  

Monday, January 26, 2015

On the outside my cancer-tankerous self is like most other 55 year old women, but on the inside, I just turned 21.  Or at least my cancer diagnosis did.  

Even after all these years feeling nauseated still feels normal. Anytime I am not, I find myself waiting for another pair of cowboy boots to knock me backwards!

Twenty-one years ago, I was sitting on a sofa, inside the first house my husband, and I built together. It was on top of a mountain overlooking the TN River. I was 34 years old, and living a life, that had not been my own; I would have been green with envy.  At 34, my life appeared to loom ahead of me; it was easy to feel invincible, and smug. Happy and content were easier to take for granted.

I was watching my children as they raced to see who could get to me first.  My daughter, Tabitha,  won by pushing her brother out of the way, and jumping cowboy boots first onto my lap.

I put a hand up to protect my breast, and felt a lump the size of an acorn. That lump was breast cancer.

Cancer changes how people perceive things, and my life did not appear so envious after that. I was not so smug after that.  In 1994 most of us knew more people who died of cancer than survived it.

Cancer is not the worst thing that could happen to you. The worst thing is anything, and everything that adversely affects your children. I was terrified I would not live to see my children grow up.

My oncologist joked, my odds were good, but he would not go to Las Vegas with them, if he were me. 

A middle-aged, breast cancer survivor was more optimistic. She told me that I could get through it, and one day cancer would not be the first thing I thought about when I woke in the morning.

I shook my head in agreement, gave her what my kids call my fake smile, and thought to myself, “Lady, I ain’t ever getting over this!

In retrospect we were both right.

It took less than two years for my cancer not to be in the forefront of my thoughts. It was when my oldest brother’s, infant daughter, who was born with severe complications, died.

Life is filled with mountainous highs and hellacious lows.  

By 2001, when Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy was published, the nausea, and uncertainty my own cancer diagnosis had provided me, upon waking, had been replaced with marketing a book about it. Just as the book was about to hit the shelves, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Despite what is depicted in my children’s book about cancer, I never lost my hair due to chemo, but a decade later at a Texas book release event, I was hiding a big bald spot on the back of my head.  

I was thrilled to be able to celebrate the release of my book about nuclear power, with family members, in the Texas town where I had worked in the nuclear industry, but in my life, sometimes the highs and lows collide.  The year prior to my books release there had been one personal crisis after another, and I was recovering from stress alopecia.  

Although some anti-nuclear advocates would be happy to think otherwise, my alopecia had nothing to do with my proximity to any nuclear power plant.

Last year, I traded in the anxiety of public speaking events, and nuclear power hecklers, that accompanied my career as a children’s book author,

I joined my husband, Randy, in Alabama.  Where I turned his (corporate provided) apartment into a storage facility for everything from light fixtures to toilets. The two of us spent 2014, haggling over every detail of new home construction. My husband likes to say, people who agree on everything lead uninteresting lives.

I write this from our interesting new empty nest house. We moved in during the holidays. Like that first house we built, 21 years ago, it is located on a mountain in East Tennessee, overlooking the Tennessee River.  It is for most people, including me, a dream home.

I have lived to see my children grow up, and I sit alone on the sofa, listening to our dog snore, remembering January 1994.

My cancer diagnosis obliged me to exchange invincibility for hope, and smugness for gratitude.

I sit here waiting for the cowboy boots.  This time, the hand I put up is to protect my heart.