Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture, by Donna Dillon

The Snake Pit: Jr High Can be Torture is an important piece of work because of its content and subject matter. It’s not an easy, fun read, but is a book that every student, teacher and child advocate should read. Donna is very passionate to do what she can to stop bullying in the school system and MKSP has joined her in her quest. 

Donna Dillon published her first book in October 2010. When Master Koda Select Publishing approached her with a publishing contract, she took the opportunity in hopes to expand her reach and build her brand.

Together, Donna and Master Koda Select Publishing will be re-releasing her first novel today with updated editing and a fresh new cover.

The Snake Pit: Jr. High can be Torture Synopsis:

Cinda doesn't look like other twelve-year-old girls. A facial defect, and the surgery to correct it has left her face scarred and disfigured. When she walks into Hargrove Junior High for the first time, Cinda knows the other kids won't see how smart she is, or what a good friend she could be. The other kids will see her as a monster, and her life will be torture.

The school cafeteria, or The Snake Pit, as the kids call it, is the prime location for bullying. One pretty girl in particular takes an instant dislike to Cinda. Day after day she is pushed, tripped, and laughed at. Not all the other kids bully her, but only one tries to help.

Charlene Carsten is Cinda's only friend. She tries to stop the bullying, but the other kids won't listen. She tries to tell the Principal, but he only sees what he wants to. She tries to tell the teachers, but they all say the same thing, “kids will be kids.”

When Cinda falls victim to a vicious prank at a school dance, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Donna, why did you write this book?

Cinda, the character in my book, The Snake Pit, was born with a cleft palate, and so was I. The things that happen in the book are fiction, but how she felt was exactly how I felt growing up. Being bullied for something you can't possibly help, or change, is horrible. I chose to turn it into something positive, but many bullied children do not. I'm 47 y ears old now. I can still hear the bullies voice in my head. But, the thing I remember the most, the thing that bothers me the most: the silence from those who just stood by and let it happen, and did nothing to stop it. That is why I wrote this book.

Five things people might not know about Donna
1. I can ride a unicycle.
2. I can write as fast backwards as I can forward.
3. I once played Miss Mona is a stage production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
4. I can't breathe through my nose and I have never had a sense of smell. I can taste, though, don't ask me why, it's a mystery.
5. When I was 22 I was flown out to Hollywood and made a make-up commercial for Victoria Jackson cosmetics that you can still catch on TV late at night. I also met Johnny Depp and had my picture taken with Heavy D on that same trip.

Author Bio:

Hello everyone! I am Donna Dillon: Author, Illustrator, and M&M connoisseur. I am the author of 5 and 1/4 books thus far. I have been writing in the young adult genre with The Snake Pit and Return to the Snake Pit which both deal with bullying in the public schools, and the children's genre with Why Did It Have to Rain Today? and My Special Christmas Child. My new book is a leap into the thriller/suspense genre so I'm anxious to finish and see how that goes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lunatic Luau, and Rick DeJesus of Adelita's Way

For my son's 14th birthday present in March, I got tickets for the whole family to go to the local Lunatic Luau in Virginia Beach. Which actually fell on my husbands birthday in May, a two-for-one deal, and that worked out just fine with me.

What is the Luau all you ask? Well, I had no earthly idea. I was skeptical and not sure I'd enjoy myself, but I love my family and so off we went. There were twelve bands on two different stages playing one after another from 3pm-10pm. Here's the line-up from that day. I pictured a bunch of metal heads, strange people, drunkenness, and smoking. And that's exactly what was there, boy I had  field day people watching. I absolutely loved that no matter the person (older in khaki's and a polo shirt, or youth in leather) everyone was their own person comfortable being in a hodgepodge of a crowd, and comfortable in their own shoes. Just like any other concert I've been to, music brings people together. But there were no issues during the Luau, no fights, no ill mannered people around us. Drunk yes, but otherwise things were fine.

Adelita's Way
Before we arrived I had a mental list of what bands I didn't want to see, and so I set off to watch the others. Out of all of them, it surprised me that I liked what I heard, and really enjoyed myself that night. One of my favorites that I heard was Adelita's Way.

I contacted the bands founder/vocalist/song writer, Rick DeJesus after the Luau, and asked him for the set list for that night, because I wanted to buy some of the songs. He's a super nice, down to earth kind of guy. So I asked him for a brief interview, and being the cool guy that he is, he said yes.

Before we get to that though, I need to say I've known the Adelita's Way song, Alive for years, and just never knew it was them. But now I know...

Interview with Rick DeJesus:

Q. Is there a book that you’ve read that you can’t forget? Why?
A. Game of Thrones it's pretty hard to forget because it's absolutely amazing.

Q. I know a busy man like yourself doesn’t have a whole lot of time to read nowadays while on tour, but if you had time to read what kind of books would interest you?
A.I think I'm gonna read Heaven next my wife is reading it now and I'm very interested in it.

Q. You write songs, I write books. We write. I’ve read interviews where you say inspiration for the songs you write comes from everywhere. It’s the same for me writing books, but when I write I need complete silence, no distractions, I even dim the lights, and have a drink on hand with a snack nearby. Is there anything specific you need while writing a song/album?
A. I just need to be able to focus, the original idea always comes at odd times, when I'm running, or cooking, I take that idea then I focus and help it become a reality.

Q. When I write I see the scene, I see people, I see the setting…What is it that you see when writing? Do you actually see a scene playing out in your head?
A. Of course, I see every person who feels the way I feel, it's almost like I'm connecting with them right there and they don't know it.

Q. Do you think of the words first, and then the tune, a chord, or a riffOr the other way around; the sound first with the words to be filled in later?
A. I start a lot of songs off with lyrics first and the song built around that.

Q. Is every single song you’ve written based on or inspired by something that has happened to you or someone close to you? 
A. Every song written is inspired by life, through my eyes, or I can feel the pain of others and tap into it.

Q. What do you love most about your job? And with the good comes the bad, what do you like the least?
A. I just love every aspect of music, it's good for the soul. The music business is the worst business I have ever seen, but the connection to music is so strong, that artists just deal with all of the downside.

Choose only one from each with no explanation:
Cats or Dogs- dogs
Red or Black- black
Hot or Cold- hot
Coffee or Tea- tea 
Vanilla or Chocolate- chocolate 
Top or Bottom- top

Share two things that the average person doesn’t know about you:
1 I was a star baseball player. 
2 I moved to Vegas when I was 19 years old, and had my own Las Vegas show.

**I'd like to thank Rick for taking the time to answer some questions for my blog, and to remind him he still owes me a set list :) But that's okay because I have it all figured out now. 

If you'd like to see if Adelita's Way is in your neighborhood, check out their events page, or "like" them on Facebook. If you do, say hello, and tell them Natalie sent you.

Here's their latest video, if you enjoy the song stop by iTunes and buy it.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Have you ever been stuck somewhere, and didn’t know when you’d get out? And I don’t mean rush hour traffic. Although, sometimes in Hampton Roads it can be disconcerting when there’s a big traffic jam that goes on into the dark hours of the night. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Some of you might remember we purchased a new RV camper this past November. And a few repairs need to be made. It’s still under warranty so we decided to bring it in before camping season kicks off for us next month. We contacted the dealer and set up an appointment. They were aware of a couple of things before we took it home off the lot to begin with (the bathroom door sticks, and a sticker on the outside was torn). Then after some trips we managed to sneak in before the cold winter showed up, we had a few issues: some lights went out, a bracket on the table was weak, and a storage drawer gets stuck. Probably easy fixes but it’s covered so we will let them deal with it. The biggest problem was with our awning, it somehow has a scratch that tore through the material. We needed to go to the storage lot where we keep our RV to take photos to email to the dealer so they could determine if the awning is covered under warranty.

Okay so we got to the RV Storage Lot on base at 6:10PM (they closed at 6). Hubs read the hours on the website and was was going by “spring” hours – which don’t start until April 1st. Yeah, I know spring is before April 1st. Tell that to the yahoo who makes up the schedule.

But the man at the desk said we could go ahead and log out a key to the RV lot because he was going to be around working on repairs for the skeet shooting range for a little while, and that he’d be there. The RV lot we park in is at the back of the property out of sight, and it’s locked and has its own key. We said we wouldn’t be too long.

We went to the camper, opened it up, and took the photos we needed to. After locking the camper and the lot back up, we went to the front office to turn the key in. That was at 6:45PM. We knocked the place was locked, we looked all over the skeet area, the archery range, and the boat and RV lots. Couldn’t find the man anywhere.

We sat and waited figuring he went to get dinner and he’d be back because all of the storage sheds were open, the truck was there with the windows rolled down, the golf cart was out, and all of the lights were on in the building. All the makings of someone still working.

After half hour of waiting we decided to drive around the property again. I had my current manuscript I was working on to keep me busy, and hubs had been playing games on his phone. No big deal. We drove around, and nothing, no one. We honked the horn. No one showed face. We were concerned with having the key signed out in our name and didn’t feel like wasting the time or gas to return it the next day. We really wanted to get rid of it then and there.

Finally we figured we would have to suck it up and bring it back another day, we drove back around to leave the property (down a different road). And as we neared the front gate it didn’t look good. It was closed. When we got close up. It was locked. Not just with one lock, but three huge Master locks. Nice. I am mildly claustrophobic. So needless to say I went into panic mode the second I saw the cluster of locks. My brain went into survival mode, even though I knew we’d get out, and things would be fine. But this is how my brain works. I planned my escape several different ways, and then I felt better knowing there were options.

So we went back to the office to read all the notices and papers on the building to find phone numbers for emergencies. Or something, or anything. The only number listed was for the front desk there. And of course no one answered that earlier when we tried. We tried it a of couple of times.

I contacted my son who had a friend staying the night at our house, and my daughter who was with a friend watching a soccer game, to let them know our predicament. Worst case scenario we were stuck overnight until 8am when the lot opened for business again, which would still get us home to collect our son and his friend to get them to their soccer game at 9am. We had the key to the RV lot so we were gonna hook up the battery and open the camper for the night. Hubs would kick back on the bed and watch TV, while I worked on my books. It's not a bad place to be trapped in.

That was our fall back plan, after I found a pizza guy to deliver pizza through the locked gate. Because other than a half a cup of water, this was all we had:

So we called information and got the number for the base police. We called the number and got a voice mailbox. Uh, yeah, no. Hubs looked through his phone numbers looking for one that he might have had listed in his cell for MWR. But no such luck. I called information again and got the non-emergency number for Virginia Beach police. They couldn’t help of course it’s not their jurisdiction, but they gave me a different number for the base police.

Someone answered that number, thank goodness. This was at 7:30. We were told to go wait by the gate someone would be there. Hubs joked that they couldn't find the keys... At 8PM two guys show up with keys. None work. They chuckle about it while we talk through the fence looking like prisoners. They told us another unit would be on the way soon with more keys.

The Gate

It got dark, and we sat listening to the F-18 fighter jets do touch and goes. The vibrations shook the truck. I love that!

At that point we were having a “Money Pit” moment…if you don’t know what that is, watch the video, and yes we did laugh like that:

At 8:40 the second base unit shows up. He was some nice eye candy, so that was a plus. He gave us each forms to fill out for the call. Hubs waggled his eyebrows at me and said it was a ploy to get my phone number. Haha, I love that man. He makes me laugh daily.

As we were talking with cutie pie a message came over his radio that said the proprietor had been located and he was on the way, it would be 25 minutes.

So we went back and sat in our truck and 20 mins later, at 9:10PM we were freed with a bunch of apologies and one angry manager, and some other car pulled up too, I’m guessing another employee got a call. Amazing how they all three showed up at once. Not one sooner than the other.

The sight of freedom

Turns out the guy we needed was already on base in the movie theater watching a movie. He had his phone turned off for the movie I guess.

He explained what happened that evening. He was at the front desk and knew we were on site, a little while later he was going to head out and asked the other worker if we had turned in our key. The kid said we did. But he must've been talking about the people on site before us. Then all the employees left. Ten minutes later is when we rolled up to the office.

They have procedures in place to prevent this from happening and we are classic examples of what happens when one doesn’t follow them. Before anyone left they are supposed to inventory the keys to the boat and RV lots. Supposed to.

Oh, and that puddle behind the truck wasn't from the truck. Just sayin'.
So, have you ever been locked in somewhere? Let me know in the comments.