Friday, December 29, 2017

Adventures of Harriet

Meet Harriet. She's a little girl with a big imagination. She loves adventures and really doesn't fear anything!! Your kids will love going on adventures with Harriet...especially if they don't like vegetables!!

In Harriet's first adventure, she is asked to try a new food.  She isn't really keen on trying new things, especially spaghetti.  Will she have to sit at the dinner table until she's old and gray?  Find out in Harriet and the Spaghetti Snake!

But wait!  There's more.  Harriet has a second adventure you won't want to miss.  Do your kids hate vegetables?  So does Harriet!  But wait til your kids find out what Harriet does and how she overcomes her hatred for these veggies in Harriet the Brave.

Tracy Kushwaha is a children's author who created the character of Harriet. She is a fun-loving mom who loves children and has a big imagination. You can find Tracy's books on Amazon (click on the photos above to take you right to the order page!). You can also follow her FB page at Adventures of Harriet.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Meet Tina

Do you love reading books? Check out my friend's FB page called Read n' Reviews where you can get some great ideas for reading materials and join in on reading events (we just did a book reading and discussion!  Next one begins Jan 1st!). If you are an avid reader, you will not be disappointed!

Tina also has a blog called Tina's Live and Laugh – you can find her FB page “Read n' Reviews” there as well as ways to save money, win free stuff, and even find some inspirational posts!

Tina is my friend, one of my #1 supporters in my children's book writing, and my children's book editor (an author should not edit their own work completely!). Tina is always there – sharing my work and getting my name out there.

Yes, my friend is a go-getter for sure, and I support her just as much as she supports me.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Little About My Books

I have written and published three children's books (which can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble). I love to write, and writing children's books is especially fun since I ran a daycare for many, many years. I would love to finish a novel that I've been working on for a few years, but for now I'll stick with children's books.

Let me tell you a little about my books.

The idea for first children's book, Hammy's New Home, was derived from a real life “Hammy”. My friends, Donny and Hope, had a little pig named Sir Hamalot (aka, “Hammy”) and one day when my husband and I were visiting, I met Hammy. He was an adorable pig, tucked away in his large muddy pen, and super lovable. After talking to him and doting on him, we (the humans) sat on the back porch having coffee while visiting, and our friends' dogs lay at our feet. During this visit, I kept hearing Hammy snort and make all sorts of cute pig noises in his pen. I felt bad and at one point said “he wants to be on the porch with us, not all alone in his muddy pen!”.

My friend, Hope, actually mentioned that I should write a story about Hammy and we joked about it. I didn't write the story until about a year later!

This book took a lot of time, not only to write and have illustrated, but to finalize for Create Space submission. Writing and self-publishing is a lot of work, but it can be fun and rewarding.

Illustrations were done by my friend, Chris Strange, from Little Falls, NY.  Chris did a wonderful job of capturing the expressions I needed from the people and animals in this book and I am happy about how Hammy looks.  Just a cutie!

My next book, If I Were A Duck was a fun one. Those who know me know that I am a silly person (I get that from my mother!) and I love to have fun. One evening, my husband and stepdaughter, Amber, and I were at a restaurant called Ninety-Nine and we had a bit of a wait until we got a table. We stood outside and watched the ducks swim in the pond and roam on the grass around it. At one point I said “wouldn't it be neat to be a duck for a day?” and proceeded to tell my husband and Amber what I would do if I could be a duck....for one day. That turned into a silly rhyme and BAM! An idea for a book.

Haven't we all, at one point in our lives, wished we could be some sort of animal?

Illustrations for this book were done by my friend, Sam Wittman, who did a wonderful job of capturing the idea of how fun it would be to be a duck!

And last but not least, Annie to the Rescue. I am a volunteer for a local animal rescue organization called Pause 4 All Paws. My husband and I have fostered (and adopted) from this group and I have been to a few of their events, volunteering and showing my support. One day, while talking to their founder, Johanna, the idea clicked and I sat right down that evening to write it! Of course it took longer than an evening.......I had to tweak it and re-write, proof and edit (thanks to my friend Tina Sanders who proofs/edits all of my work and is my #1 supporter!!) but finally, the story was finished.

15% of proceeds for Annie to the Rescue is donated to Pause 4 All Pause!  You can also find them on Facebook Pause 4 All Paws and become a volunteer, foster, or just give a donation.

Illustrations were done by my grandmother's cousin, Elaine Schmidt, who did a wonderful job of showing how dedicated Annie was to rescuing the dogs, as well as drawing the dogs (hey, I can't even draw a stick figure!).

Someone recently asked me if there was a specific reason I had for having a different illustrator for each book.  The reason is, I feel that each artist is unique in his/her own ability and why not use the right one for the job?  What I wanted from each one was exactly what I got.  I highly recommend all three of them!!

Stay tuned for my newest to be released in the new year!!

Thank you for your support! Please like and share my Facebook page Melanie Lopata - Author/Editor and visit my web page

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New Web Page

I have a wonderful new web page to promote my children's books, blog and freelance editing career!  Please check it out......

Melanie Lopata - Author and Freelance Editor

My wonderful friend, Paige, created this site for me and she gave me a wonderful testimony (scroll to the bottom of the main web page).  I was hired to edit her first book (not yet published) and she is a wonderful writer. I look forward to promoting her book once it's published.  It's a wonderful story and will be a series.  I'm anxiously waiting for the next one!!!

Thank you all for your support!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Coffee Woes

I had a bad coffee day on Friday. Those who know me know that I LOVE coffee and am an avid coffee drinker. Can I survive without coffee? Sure. But I really don't want to test that one.

Friday, though, was not my coffee day.

Woke up too late to enjoy more than half cup of coffee. Realized I left my travel mug at work so I couldn't take any with me. Decided to try to stop at Dunkin and get a pumpkin spice coffee...nope, every Dunkin from here to there was packed. Tried to use the keurig at work and ended up breaking the top off of the little plastic insert you put your coffee grounds in (of course I didn't have a k-cup). Snagged a cup from the other offices and it was completely watered down.


I did finally get ONE good cup that day but the struggle was real.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Did You Know Part XI

Concerning Ice Cream

~ I hate sherbet ice cream, especially ORANGE

~  I love strawberry ice cream but not the chunks (do they make SOFT strawberry??)

~ I have never tasted pistachio ice cream (what the heck??) 

~ There are over 1,000 flavors of ice cream!!

What's YOUR favorite??

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Good Times

My Facebook account was recently hacked. Good times. NOT.

Normally, if you get a friend request from someone you're already friends with, THAT is the “virus” or “hack”. Nope, not in my case because this is my life. 

My normal account was hacked and then it locked me out and I have no way of getting back into it. So I had to create a new account, same name. Of course everyone was confused!

And of course I couldn't just be hacked and that be the end. The night I found out about the account, my youngest dog (and smallest and fastest) sneaked out the back gate when the garbage was being taken out, and he ran. And he is fast.

I ran after him and when I was just about close enough to grab him, I took a leap.

Bad idea.

It all happened so fast. I landed on my knees and arms, skidding along, scraping my hands, and the grand finale was the face plant. Yep, face on pavement.

Thankfully, I didn't break anything. My glasses are a little scratched but not broken. A small scratch near my nose and slightly tender, but no break.  Some scratches and bruises on my arm.

My left knee was torn to shreds and I'll spare you by not showing you a pic. It's grotesque.

So all is fairly well now. I have a new FB account; still answering questions people have about the accounts and confusion; and I'm pretty sore from landing on the pavement. BUT! I did catch my dog and I'm not broken so hoo-rah.

This has been a fun two days {again....sarcasm}

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Did You Know Part X

I have some fears/phobias and one or two may be irrational........

~ Sinkholes

~ The earth losing all oxygen and us slowly dying

~ A train from the nearby track (2 blocks from my house) derailing and rolling into my house (while I'm in the shower)

~ Being on an elevator and the cables breaking and the car crashing down and I die

~ Being at a stop light and the truck that is turning onto the street that I'm on tips over and crushes me
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What fears/phobias do YOU have??

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Coffee Preference....Don't Judge

I'm going to say something that is going to make some of you GASP or shake your head but here goes.....I'm not a fan of coffee in the keurig. There, I said it. I don't like k-cup coffee!! I think it has the watered-down taste. And frankly, I'd rather brew a pot and grab a cup throughout the morning or afternoon than making a cup then another then another.

My favorite coffee is any kind brewed in a percolator. Ah, the good old days. I have one, I just can't make it properly. But my grandma still makes coffee in her percolator and it's awesome. I grew up on perked coffee until my grandma finally broke down and bought a Mr. Coffee {eyes rolling}. We had so much company we needed the Mr. Coffee. Now she uses both.

So I'll take perked or brewed coffee any day. Keurig? Eh. If I have no other choice.

What's YOUR favorite type of coffee?

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Have You Read........

In the last two years, I have written and self-published three children's books. I am very proud of my accomplishments, as it's something I have wanted to do since I was able to read and write. Writing is one of my passions and I'm happy to be able to share it with others.

My first book is called Hammy's New Home. This book is about a young pig named Hammy, who gets into some mischief on the farm where he lives. This idea came from the real Hammy who belonged to my friends, Donny and Hope. We were visiting one day, sitting on their porch drinking coffee, and I could hear Hammy snorting in his pen. I made a joke about him wanting to be on the porch with us and their two dogs. Well......a book idea came to mind!!! Hammy is an adorable pig thanks to my very talented illustrator, Christopher Strange. Everyone loves Hammy and perhaps one day Hammy will reappear in a sequel.

My second book is called If I Were A Duck. What child doesn't dream of being some sort of animal? Well this idea came from watching the ducks outside of one of my favorite eating establishments and I was thinking about how much fun it would be to be a duck for one day. And there you have it! Another very talented artist, Samuel Wittman, drew the pics for this fun rhyming book.
And last but not least, my third book is Annie to the Rescue. This story is about a little girl who wants to have a pet to take care of and love, but her parents think she is too young. One day, while exploring, Annie finds......well, I'm not going to tell!! You'll have to read the book to find out! This book is dedicated to an animal rescue group called Pause 4 All Paws (find them on Facebook, Pause 4 All Paws!!) and a little girl named Anecia who sometimes attends P4AP events, helping her mom. A percentage of all proceeds for this book will be donated to this group. Much thanks to my talented illustrator, Elaine Schmidt, who is also my grandmother's cousin, on taking the time to draw the pics for this book.

You can find my books on Amazon to download as an eBook or purchase a printed copy, and also on Barnes and Noble (online).   Check out my Facebook page Melanie Lopata Author/Editor for updates on books, book signing events and more!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ceiling Fan DON'TS

We have a ceiling fan in every room of our house. I enjoy the fans as they circulate cooler air, but you do need to be careful when using them. I've learned this first hand............

Exercising: Well of course you can't do a jumping jack under a ceiling fan unless you're super short!

Carrying things (like tall lamps) across the room: I smashed my beautiful lamp because I wasn't paying attention when moving it across the room and the glass smashed to smithereens. Actually, this happened to two lamps. I wonder if I learned my lesson?

Balloons: I blow up balloons on occasion for my daycare kids to play with, but we learned that we cannot have the ceiling fans running while playing with balloons or POP!!!

Balls: Same thing as balloons only they don't pop as easily.

Kids: Ummmm....ok, I haven't had an incident but you know how sometimes you swing a kid into the air and they laugh and scream “more!”? Yeah, just be careful that your ceiling fan isn't running when you do that. I was JUST about to swing a kid when I noticed the fan was running. OOPS! That would not have been pretty.

So there you have it. The “what not to do's” while your ceiling fans are running!! Be safe everyone!
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Friday, May 19, 2017

I Failed My Banana Bread!

If you know me, even just by reading my blog posts, you know that I am not savvy in the kitchen. And that's an understatement.

But today I decided to try to make banana bread since I had five disgustingly brown bananas. I've made banana bread in the past and it came out so-so. What did I have to lose?

First, I preheated the oven. Easy thing, right? Stay tuned.

Next, I mashed the bananas in a big bowl and then realized I had no eggs in the house. So I covered the bowl and ran to the store. No big deal, right?

When I came back, I tried to hurry the process a little since the Dunkin Donuts coffee that I grabbed on the way home was getting cold and I HATE cold coffee.

Hurrying does no good.

I read the opposite page and added one cup of milk to the mix. Oops. Oh well, maybe the bread would just be creamy?

Mixed in other ingredients and realized I only had bread flour, no regular flour. Well gee, bread flour makes things rise, right? RIGHT??? Sure, so I added that. Next came baking soda. Ugh, I didn't have THAT either. Who cares, it was only like a tsp so I skipped it.

Finished mixing ingredients, poured batter into a baking pan, and opened the oven. OOPS, I forgot I had cookie sheets in the oven. Ugh, they were nice and hot. And gross since they needed to be washed (hey, I put them in there when I was in denial about washing dishes).

So the bread baked. And baked. Anddddddddddddddddddddddd baked.

Here is the end result, pictured below. Moist inside, sunken outside and, DISGUSTING.

So from now on, I QUIT!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Poor Clothes!!

On Easter weekend, my husband and I drove down to Washington, D.C. to meet up with my stepson and spend time with him (he lives further down south and attends college). I love D.C. – partly because I was born there 30-something years ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and partly because it's gorgeous down there!

My husband and I took off Friday after work. We enjoy road trips and usually we have no mishaps either on the road or during our trip. This time there were a few. I call them “Clothing Mishaps”.

On the ride down, I tried using my new coffee travel mug from Walmart (and not cheap either!). For some reason I couldn't get the coffee to come out smoothly. I eventually burned my lip and spilled coffee all over my face and my new Lularoe shirt (also not cheap). I smelled like coffee for the rest of the ride, which you would think I would love, given my love for coffee. No. I did not smell good. Not at all.

I tend to pack a few different outfits based on what we might do on a trip. Included were two tops from Khol's; one sleeveless and one long sleeve but very light fabric. On Saturday, I decided to wear the sleeveless top as it was going to be warm. Nope. Couldn't wear that top. It had somehow SHRUNK in the wash (I never put any clothes in the dryer so I cannot fathom how this shrunk by washing it). It had shrunk so much it was a belly shirt. That went in the trash.

I tried the other Khol's shirt. That one had never been worn. If I had tried, I would have noticed the SECURITY TAG that was still attached to it!! Grrrr, how mad was I??? How did they not take that off?? That shirt also went in the trash. It was marked down to $6.00 on clearance and not worth my time and effort to take back to Khol's and ask them to remove the tag.

Good times.

The rest of the trip went well, despite the protestors downtown (don't get me started). I figured the ride home would be nice, despite the fact that I had major allergy issues due to the horrid pollen down south. Did the trip home go without mishap? Almost! I spilled coffee on my NEW shirt (this one from Khol's that had not shrunk and that had no attached security tag). I'm not sure how I managed to spill again since I was not using my travel mug. But somehow I did.

Lessons I learned from the trip:
    1.  Before packing, check all clothes for security tags and shrinkage.
    2.  Test out a new travel mug before using, or just stick to Dunkin' Donuts styrofoam cups AND wear a plastic bib.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Just DO IT!

My recent endeavor is becoming a freelance editor.   I have completed the college course and have experience through my book writing.
I am close to publishing my third children's book and will continue to write children's books and hopefully a novel or two in the future.

You can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Just persevere!  Life will knock you down; sometimes over and over. But get UP and just do it!  Live your dream and don't stop until you're happy.  Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it because you CAN.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Snack Time!!

There are a lot of tasty snacks that are easy to make using ingredients that you would probably have on hand. Here are some of my favorites.

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Triscuits topped with a piece of cheese and pepperoni, heated up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. My childhood friend showed me this yummy snack and we ate them all of the time.

Put one or two slices of cheese on a piece of bread and put it in the microwave for 10-12 seconds. The cheese melts and it's super tasty!

Ritz crackers with peanut butter and/or jelly. My mom used to make this snack for me when I was a kid and I still do it now!

And if you want healthy snacks like fruits and veggies.............

Apple, cut up, and dipped in honey (or peanut butter if you prefer, though I personally don't like that).

Raw veggies dipped in salad dressing. Any dressing is fine but I happen to love Ranch, French and Thousand Island for dipping.

What are some of your favorite snacks?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Things I Hate

There are many things I cannot stand but these make the
top of the list!

One apartment I had before I was married, and our house after we were married, both had doorbells. I hated them! They're loud and intrusive and if you don't answer right away (or at all), the person rings it again.....and again. I'd rather have someone knock!!
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Phone Ringing!
I cannot stand the sound of a phone ringing. I keep my cell phone on vibrate all of the time. I hate talking on the phone so why would I want to hear a ring?
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Gross me out. I think they're very pretty but they're also creepy to me. Their delicate wings can rip off so easily. GAG!

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Lady Bugs!
Hate hate HATE. I hate any form of beetle and these things seem to just DROP out of the air and PLOP! I know they cannot hurt you and supposedly are “good luck” but gross me out anyway.
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New Author, New Friend

I recently met this wonderful young woman through a Facebook group that we are both in regarding children's books and illustrators.  She lives in a different state than I do and we've been chatting daily.  I feel like we're close friends already!! 

My friend, Tracy, is working on a children's book series and you will not want to miss it!  The story is fun (from the sneak peak that I got) and the illustrations are spot on!  

 photo courtesy of Tracy Kushwaha

Please check out her FB page and web page.  Lets support our children's authors!!

Harriet Facebook Page

Harriet Web Page

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Blog Block

Have you ever experienced “Blog Block”? It's like Writer's Block except with your Blog. I'll admit, I don't blog as much as I should, but I'm very busy. And I think that is what has me blocked lately.

I am a very busy person with my jobs, writing, and home life; but there's no reason I should be so busy that my mind is blank!

I am burned out.

I love what I do, all that I do, and I wouldn't drop any of it. But sometimes because I AM so busy, my mind gets blocked. I don't know what to write. I can't even concentrate on reading fellow blogger's blog posts.

So my message is this. If you're going to be busy whether with work like I do, or if you have kids and little time, or whatever is going on in your life, make sure you take time for YOU. That means blogging, reading, taking a nice walk (without dogs!) or a bubble bath (unless you're like me and taking a bath is frightening). Life is too short to rush around and get your mind in a fog.

Take it from me, I'm blocked.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A New Book!

I recently wrote another children’s book.  The illustrations are finished and I am in the process of putting the book together to prepare for printing.

I’m excited about this book because of how I ended up writing it.  I occasionally do volunteer work for a group in my hometown called Pause 4 All Paws (find them on Facebook, Pause 4 All Paws).  They are an animal rescue group and do wonderful and hard, and sometimes heart-breaking, work.  This group rescues animals from bad situations or sad situations, finds foster care and/or adoption.  They do fundraising events and help people who are looking to adopt or looking to find their pet a new home.

This group is made up of a wonderful group of people, one who is co-founder of the group, Johanna Stock.  One day, Johanna and I were having a conversation about my children’s books and I jokingly said I should write a book about a little girl who rescues animals (based on Johanna's daughter). Johanna’s daughter is a fun little girl who loves helping her mama with events and loves the animals.

After our conversation, I sat down with my laptop to work on another book I’m in the process of writing but I couldn’t concentrate.  Instead, I brought up a new sheet and began typing.  I was so excited about this story!

The book is called Annie to the Rescue.  I don’t want to give the story away but it involves a little girl named Annie and two dogs.  This book will be dedicated to Johanna, her daughter, and Pause for All Pause.  I am an avid animal lover (and called a “foster failure” as my husband and I have adopted two fosters and rescued two others).

I look forward to the printing of this book (look for it this Spring!!) and in the meantime, check out Amazon for my other two books, Hammy’s New Home and If I Were a Duck!

Find me on Facebook Melanie Lopata - Author or check out my Author Website!