Saturday, June 18, 2016

Curious World - HMH

There's an app called "Curious World" from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It's for the iPhone and iPad.

Here's the the link to the App Store:


From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a leader in classroom education for over 100 years - start your child’s learning journey with a FREE TRIAL and get unlimited access to nearly 1,000 fun and educational books, games, and videos, perfect for your child’s discovery or family time! Designed for kids ages 2-7, Curious World brings you: 

• Over 500 fun and educational games, videos and books
• Favorite characters like Curious George and Gossie
• New activities added every week
• A safe and ad-free environment
• Content curated by early learning experts across key learning areas
• A personalized experience based on your child’s age

Games, videos and books are curated by early learning experts across the following key learning areas:

• Science
• Math
• Literacy
• Executive Function
• Creative Expression
• Social & Emotional
• Family & Community
• Health & Wellbeing

Subscription details:

Curious World is free to download with access to select content and features.

With a Curious World subscription, you will receive:

• Exclusive access to unlimited games, videos and books – new content added weekly!
• A personalized experience for your child
• Ability to create up to 5 child profiles
• Access to the Parent Dashboard to track your child’s activities
• A safe and ad-free learning environment


Friday, June 17, 2016

Updates and such...

Hey there!

It's June and school has officially been out for two weeks. That means I get to sleep in (for an extra hour or so) and spend a lot of time with my boys. I'm working on a setting up a steady writing schedule this summer. This has been difficult in the past because MY CHILDREN ARE AT HOME. Even if I put the "Writer Cave" sign on my door, they still knock. And I answer. Because parenting and being present for my kids is more important than writing. So...I need to find a way to write AND keep them occupied.

Fortunately, we have an awesome public library in city. I can bring my laptop into the children's library and write while my sons play "learning games" on the computers, gather up books, do them summer reading program fun, and READ. It's a win-win.

Here's a recap of some favorite things that I've read/watched/done these last few months.

I was part of the "B-Fest" at Barnes and Noble, Fullerton. I was on a panel with Meadow Griffin (author of LEGENDS OF ERIN) and Valerie Noble (author of THE ENERGY CRUSADES). Thank you to Jen Loomis for making this an awesome event!

"Doctor Thorne" - produced by Julian Fellowes. It's a four episode mini-series, similar to BBC adaptations of Jane Austen novels. My sister-in-law told me about this show and I'm SO happy! It was fantastic.

"Doctor Who" - seasons 4, 5. I'm rewatching "Doctor Who" with my teenager. It used to be on Netflix but left! Sad day. But we found it on Amazon Prime! Yes!

"Lark Rise to Candleford" - I just started this series and I like it already. It's fairly obvious that I'm a Angliophile. I don't think about it until I'm saying things like, "These earbuds are rubbish. Throw them in the bin." I've been reading a fair amount of British novels, too.

"Captain America: Civil War" - Of course. Cap is my favorite Avenger. This movie. AMAZING.

"Love and Friendship" - The movie adaptation of Jane Austen's story "Lady Susan." I saw this with a friend who is also a Janeite. It was so funny and perfect. Austen's wit was sharp when she was young.

HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: Summer of Love - We have another short story collection out! It's wonderful to read the stories that my fellow authors have written. Jennifer Becton started to do a read/tweet along with the stories. I joined in. Hang out with us on Twitter! #holidayswithjane

An assortment of books. Now that's it's summer, I'm starting to read books for the next school year. (A teacher's work is never done!) I'm considering adding FRANKENSTEIN to the AP English 12 class. I would also like to teach FAHRENHEIT 451 this year. I'm also looking at my "To Be Read" pile that has stacked up over the last school year. I need to do some fun reading. :-)

I'm still formatting Book 3, THE CURSED BLESSING, to be in paperback. I thought I had it all done...and then discovered that all of the italics were stripped out. HOW?! I have no idea. So, I've had to go back and read the whole book again and add italics to all of the thoughts my main character has. THERE ARE A LOT OF THOUGHTS. I will *hopefully* be done today. Then I will be able to get it to CreateSpace and work on all the other aspects of publishing it.

New writing? Yes, I hope to have something new. And soon! I have a finished story that I need to revisit. I have a fairy tale that I need to finish outlining. I have another fairy tale that is just an idea right now. Perhaps while I am on vacation this summer...

Enjoy your time this summer! I know that I will.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Holidays With Jane: Summer of Love

A new book is out in the wild! The fourth book from Indie Jane Press is now available:
Available on Kindle (and Kindle app) now. Paperback will be out soon.

For all of the blog posts about it, visit the site. We're hosting a giveaway and have a music playlist for you.

Holidays With Jane on Facebook

Giveaway on Rafflecopter

Happy summer, friends!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pinteresting Fall Crafts

In preparing to write my newest short story for the HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: TRICK OR SWEET collection, I wasted hours browsing Pinterest researched fall crafts that Emma could make for the Fall Ball fundraiser. There are a few that would certaininly be regarded as "Pinterest fails" if I tried to accomplish them in a short amount of time with a small budget. (I mean, really, who can afford to make some of these crafts?!) are a few things that I was able to make using either 1.) items I already own OR 2.) inexpensive items from the dollar store.

I saved some glass soda bottles because I'm that girl who saves glass bottles for *possible* future craft projects. (It drives my husband batty but I remind him that we're saving money!) ;-)  I saw this very cute craft idea using glass bottles and spray paint.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Melissa's Creation:

So...I didn't look at the reference pic before I spray painted. And I don't eat candy corn so I forgot what the color design was. Grrr. It's fine. Really. What I learned: Possibly try out different shades of orange and yellow?

I also save old pickle jars, jam jars, etc. for craft projects. I had this candle jar from the dollar store. I spray painted the outside with "pumpkin orange" and wrapped raffia around the top. I stitched a few fake autumn leaves together and then hot glued the bundle to the raffia. *Be sure to glue the leaves and the twine away from the top edge of the jar!* You don't want it to catch on fire, right? (That would surely be the end to my crafting days, guys.)

Melissa's Creation:

I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. :)

In "Emma Ever After", Emma "borrows" Knightley's drill and makes some cute centerpieces.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Melissa's Creation:
IT DIDN"T HAPPEN. Crafting fail, guys. Lack of time on this project. Maybe I can get a few more hours in my day? Please?

HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: TRICK OR SWEET published by Indie Jane Press is available now for Kindle reader/app and will be soon available in paperback. 

We're also hosting a blog hop! Here's your clue for the blog hop giveaway: AUTUMN LEAVES

See the rest of the blog hop schedule at 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Halloween Costumes FTW!

published by Indie Jane Press is available now for Kindle reader/app and will be soon available in paperback.

Halloween costumes

When I was young, my mom made the costumes for my brother, my sister, and me. I distinctly remember the bunny costume I wore for kindergarten.

I *kinda* knew how to sew as a kid and teenager but didn’t really know how to machine sew well until I was pregnant with my oldest son. My mom taught me how to sew and I’ve made many, many items since then. Some of my favorite (and most difficult items) were Halloween costumes! Here are a few of my favorites.

Little shepherd boy for VBS

Jack Sparrow! This is one of my favorite costumes that I’ve made. My son was totally in love with pirates for years. He wore his Halloween costume for his birthday party. This is his pirate birthday party at age 5. The buttonholes on the vest, though... I might have cried making them. No joke. (And that pirate ship cake. Hours of labor.)

The whole piratey family at C’s birthday party.

I’ve assembled costumes for parties with items from thrift stores over the years. I have a blog post on my Austenesque ball gown I made from a thrift store dress. 

Costuming for “Alice in Wonderland” at the school I teach at. I made the Queen of Hearts costume last year.

A Queen Elsa costume for my niece. This was made WITHOUT a pattern because I’m crazy. (And they didn’t make the pattern for it until about 2 weeks after I finished the dress.)

Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan

Superhero Day!

My boys have learned how to machine sew from me. They made costumes for a cosplay costume hosted by the Fullerton Public Library last year. They loved it so much that they did it again this summer.

What are some of your favorite costumes that you have made or worn?

Collect the clues and enter our giveaway at Indie Jane!

Clue: What was my Halloween costume when I was in kindergarten?

See the rest of the blog hop schedule at

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Writing Tips

I have a friend who recently asked me for some writing tips that I wished someone had told me when I started writing. Here's what I sent back to him. What do you think? Agree? What are some tips that you would pass on to a new writer?

So...thoughts on being a writer...

-I wish someone had told me how many drafts go into writing a story. There's the first draft and you rejoice that it's done! And then you read it and wish someone had told you what a terrible writer you are. A friend talks you off the ledge and then you revise and rework the story. You re-read this second draft. It's not so awful. Maybe you can still save it. Seven drafts later, you're pretty happy with the story you've written. Writing is an act of passion. Editing is an act of patience. 

-Not everything you write will be published. And that's okay. I've heard of people who have never shown anyone their first attempts at novel writing. 

-Make sure to have a support group of readers/editors that will tell you the truth. It's a great thing to have friends to encourage you and listen to your plot twists and character shenanigans.

-Write a story that you want to read. If you don't, you'll hate it each time you read through it. But don't write something so precious that any attempts to change it / edit it will lead to you self-combusting.

-Write what you know. This is a tried and true fact. If you don't know about xyz, it will show on the page and the reader will know that you don't know what you're talking about. Pause the writing, research the time period / clothing / weapons / readings of mass spectrometers, and then continue writing with confidence.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Austen Tea at Mysterious Galaxy

I happily hosted an Austen inspired tea party at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore on June 27. It was so much fun! We ate scones, drank tea, and talked about Jane, her books, pop culture, reading, and many other topics. It's wonderful to get out and meet other Austen fans.

Thank you to Maryelizabeth at Mysterious Galaxy for allowing this to happen and to all of the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) friends who came out to the tea. I hope you enjoy your copies of HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: SPRING FEVER.

Available online now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free Kindle Book!

The first book in my YA fantasy trilogy, THE SEVENTH BLESSING, is now *free* on for a short time! Hurry on over and pick it up. And, you know, read it. Love it. Tell your friends about it. All that good stuff. <3

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Book 3 in The Tales of Gymandrol series

Hi friends!
I'm happy to say that all of my YA fantasy books are now available on Kindle, including the 3rd book in the series, THE CURSED BLESSING. Here's a bit about it!

Can a rebel princess break the curse before it breaks her? 

As the youngest daughter of King Edric and Queen Chrissy of Lagola, Holly’s blessing ceremony is anything but ordinary. Her blessing—or curse—condemned her to keep her word or otherwise face dire consequences. The result forced her to grow up as an honest, forthright girl, making her an anomaly with courtly life. 
Now sixteen, Holly would rather spend her time camping, pulling pranks, and perfecting her archery skills with her brothers instead of dressing up and attending royal balls. In hopes of changing Holly into more of a lady, King Edric takes both Holly and her brother, Rowan, to visit the neighboring country of Shald for Prince Donovan’s birthday celebration. But things go awry when Holly disguises herself and enters the archery tournament Prince Donovan has hosted in order to determine the top ten archers for his dangerous quest to save his kidnapped sister. Holly ranks within the top ten and because of her cursed blessing, she is forced keep her word by joining Prince Donovan, Rowan, and a crew of other worthy gentleman on a treacherous quest to seek the missing princess. 
But upon gathering leads for Prince Donovan’s missing sister, Holly and the crew stumble upon dark happenings that threaten the peace in the north of Shald. Holly must find a way to cope with her growing feelings toward Prince Donovan, unravel the darker mystery of the north, and, perhaps, seek to save not only a princess, but an entire country. 

Full of adventure, romance, and magic, THE CURSED BLESSING is the final installment in Melissa Buell’s Tales of Gymandrol trilogy. 

And all of The Tales of Gymandrol are available on Kindle for only 99cents!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

HWJ: Weddings!

I love, love, love weddings! I've helped out with quite a few wedding for family and friends. Here are some of my favorite things about the most recent wedding that I helped out with. I drew inspiration from the location for my short story "Whine and Wineries" that is in Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever.

Special request wedding cake - Irish Cream Wedding Cake!

Similar to Elinor in my story, I love helping with weddings. Like Marianne, I love taking photographs. Like Meg, I love baking cupcakes. I split up bits of me into my characters. A wee sprinkling of Melissa. ;-)

Enjoy an excerpt from my story...

Elinor gaped at the hive of activity on the green space in front of the winery the next morning. Marianne jogged in place next to her.
            “Let’s go, Ellie,” Marianne urged, stretching her arms out. “I want to get this run in before it gets too hot.”
            “It never gets too hot here,” Elinor replied, her eyes focused on the people streaming in and out of the main building. “Didn’t you hear what Cousin Jack said last night at dinner? That’s what makes it such an excellent place to grow wine grapes.”
            “Hello, girls!” Jack’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, called from the double doors into the tasting room. “Come on up here!”
            “No, Ellie,” Marianne groaned. “Didn’t we get enough of her last night?”
            Elinor ignored her sister and joined Mrs. Jennings. She took in the sight of the tasting room overflowing with buckets of flowers, yards of tulle, and rows of candleholders.
            “Is this the wedding you mentioned last night?” Elinor asked Mrs. Jennings.
            Mrs. Jennings’ eyes glittered. “Yes, isn’t it going to be amazing?” Her face darkened. “Now if my wedding coordinator, Winnie, would only show up, that would be fantastic.”
            “I can help you until she gets here,” Elinor found herself saying. She felt Marianne pinch her arm and she winced. “And Marianne will be happy to help me.”
            “You girls are lifesavers!” Mrs. Jennings exclaimed, clasping them to her ample bosom. “Winnie was in charge of the flower arrangements and the decorations. Her husband is the photographer so we were able to book it as a package for the bride and groom. Oh, I see the catering truck has just arrived. I have to go meet them and tell them to use the elevator at the basement level by the Cave.”
            She bustled away as Marianne scowled at her sister. “Why, Ellie? You don’t have to save everyone, you know. We were all set for a run and then getting settled in the house.”
            “Just think of the bride, Marianne,” Elinor insisted. “That poor girl will show up here soon and see all of this. How would you feel?”
            “We’ve never done a wedding before,” Marianne protested.
            “We have helped Mom with enough Junior League luncheons, Ladies’ Teas, and Christmas parties to know what to do. And don’t forget all the wedding shows Rosa would watch while she was cooking. We can do this. We owe this to Cousin Jack for his hospitality to us. And it would make Mom happy,” Elinor added.
            “Fine,” Marianne grumbled as she lifted a handful of tulle from the tasting counter. “But you owe me.”

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