Introducing Denise Grover Swank!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways


This week I am honored that my good friend, Denise Grover Swank, has agreed to write a guest blog post. I’d like to congratulate her for her recent achievement, the publishing of Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. Way to go, Denise!

Honestly, I can’t pinpoint what it is about Denise that I find so intriguing. Perhaps it is because she is a super mom to six children–two THREE who were adopted internationally. (and we all know that is a fascinating subject to me!) or is it the dry humor that is evident in all of her blog posts? (She reminds me of myself) It might have a teensy weensy bit to do with the fact that I laughed out loud when I stumbled across her blog for the first time when she mentioned that she was trick or treating around the neighborhood dressed as her favorite author. (Guess who!!)

Or Seriously, it could even be the fact that she has proven what a strong woman she is; surviving the tragic and unexpected death of her husband and instead of living the life of a victim, has reinvented herself in a way that her hubby is probably looking down and beaming with pride over.

I love to bring ways for you to support each other in the IA Community and this is my latest brag moment. Denise, I’m so proud of you. Now here is a bit from her in her own words. And go buy that book! You can get the Kindle version for only 99 cents right now! Please leave her a comment of congratulations— it is amazing how hard she has worked for this release. For anyone who leaves a comment, I’ll put your name in to win one of my 1st edition Silent Tears books, autographed to whomever you would like to give it to. Drawing to be held Monday, August 1.—-Kay Bratt

A Message from Denise:

I’ve always been a writer ever since the fourth grade when I started a novel in a wide ruled spiral notebook. I didn’t finish it. I made a few attempts at writing a novel in my twenties, never finishing those either. And for a while, I gave up my writing dream, thinking it was foolish. What made me think I could write a book? 

In September of 2007, I first started a blog, There’s Always Room for One More. I was preparing to fly to Vietnam to adopt my daughter Emma and I knew a lot of families had blogs to record their journey. I’d also recently discovered the blog of Dawn Meehan, who wrote the blog Because I Said So. After years as a frustrated writer wanna-be, I thought, “Here’s something I could have fun with.”

And I did. For two years the majority of my blog was devoted to our daily family life, the misadventures of a single mother raising six children. I wrote with humor, sarcasm and the bittersweet moments in life. I prided myself in the transparency of my life. If I felt that way, 10:1 odds someone else did too. And while writing my blog posts, I perfected my writing. Plots had always plagued me when I tried to write anything of length. But with my blog posts, I learned the fine art of telling a story, that a story has a beginning, middle and an end. I learned about pacing. Sure that sarcastic comment I just wrote was funny (if only in my own head) but it slows down the story and interferes with the flow.

But while I loved the writing, I found I lived my life through a filter. As a situation occurred, I’d think, “How can I make this a blog post?” and to be honest, it began to bother me.  While I loved creating stories, I felt like I lived my life watching my children so I’d have something to write about.

In the fall of 2009, I heard about NaNoWriMo, which occurs every November and stands for National Novel Writing Month. People all over the world sign up to write a novel* in the 30 days of November. (Their definition of a novel is 50,000 words. Most novels are actually 70,000-100,000) If you finish your 50,000 by the 30th you win! (A certificate, LOL) But it was the push I needed and I decided it was now or ever. 

So in October, I plotted a book, a romantic suspense about women who died from heart conditions after going to a holistic diet clinic. I started on November 1st, eager and excited. On November 30, I had 69,000 words. I finished on December 10 with 94,000. And when I typed The End. I cried like a baby.

I did it. 

Pretty awesome, huh? So why isn’t it published? To put it bluntly, it’s crap. Situations were completely contrived; there were plot holes big enough to drive a semi-truck through. But guess what? That’s okay because I needed to know I could do it. Perhaps I would have been more upset when I realized how bad it really was if I hadn’t already started novel #2—Chosen, my paranormal thriller/urban fantasy that will be out this September. I learned a lot with that first novel, titled So Much to Lose (diet clinic, get it? LOL) and I learned that sometimes things we think are “it” are only stepping-stones to what we’re really supposed to achieve.

But honestly, isn’t that what life is all about? Obstacles fall into our path, that seem so insurmountable at the time, but really steer us the direction we need to go. 

When I finished that first novel, I fell in love. HERE was the job I’d been searching for my entire life. So I devoted my heart and soul into it, writing five books over the next year and a half. The third book I wrote, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, a quirky southern mystery with a paranormal twist, was released on July 12.  Out of all of my books, Twenty-Eight is most like my blog. Sweet, but not sappy. Humorous, but bittersweet. 

The reality is I wouldn’t be in this spot, with a published book, if my husband hadn’t died five years ago. That’s how I became friends with Kay, while I was attempting to write a memoir about my experience. She offered encouragement and support while I floundered. As I reevaluated my life, I realized that life is short and if we have dreams we need to live them now, not put them on hold for “later.” Because sometimes later never comes.

I also learned to take the bad and turn it into something good. I never chose to lose my husband, but the time I used to spend with him I now devote to writing. Life changes and moves on and we need to learn to move on with it.

And so I’m moving on. I have two more books coming out this fall, the first two books of a paranormal thriller/urban fantasy trilogy. And I have at least three more books planned with Rose, the main character of Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. My children, who’ve watched me hunched over my keyboard, are now excited and proud, finally seeing the results of Mommy’s late night hours.  Hopefully, they’ve learned that life is hard and things don’t always go our way, but sometimes when we work hard, dreams do come true.

Happy Father’s Day!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories, Contests and Give-A-Ways

This coming Sunday will be Father’s Day and in many households means a huge celebration.  In the adoption community, this day can be bittersweet as the child gets older and begins to understand that somewhere out there is (or was) a man who was instrumental to their creation.

We have touched on the subject of acknowledging birth mothers and the special ways that many have implemented that gesture into their lives—and I am interested to see if Father’s Day is similar. Do you help your children remember their birth father on Father’s Day? Is the subject of a birth father broached? If you feel you want to share ideas, how old is your child(ren) and what gesture does your family use to acknowledge their birth father?

Let me take this opportunity to say Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who in the moment that they have taken on that responsibility for a little one—have changed their lives to become a better man in order to protect, guide and mentor the child in their lives.

In recognition of all the amazing adoptive fathers out there, I’d like to give away a book published by an interesting and talented adopted father of Chinese daughters.  Photographer Richard Bowen, the adoptive father of two Chinese girls, is a founding member of the board of directors of Half the Sky Foundation. I keep his book, Mei Mei; Little Sister, on display in my house and when I feel myself forgetting the little faces I knew so well in China, I only have to open the cover to be transported back to those days. It truly is an amazing and emotional book.

If you participate in this post by commenting about how you celebrate Father’s Day or how you acknowledge your adopted child’s birth father, your name will instantly be in the drawing for the Mei Mei; Little Sister photo book. Drawing will be held Sunday, June 19. So comment below!

And..if you don’t know what to get the dad in your household, a copy of my book inscribed with  a note or even little scribble (or even their traced handprint) from your child would make the perfect gift—and you still have time if you order today. Here is the link—what  are you  waiting for?  

Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage

Kay Bratt and Fly Away Home Clothing Giveaway!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

Fly Away Home Boutique has probably got the most adorable China inspired line of clothes I’ve ever seen and the amazing part of it has to be the fact it is completely organized, orchestrated and fulfilled by one tenacious mom! This mom has turned to her life-long love of sewing to alleviate the financial part of her dream that brought her daughters home from China. Now this mom of four (two away at college) uses her basement as her design shop, her daughters as her models and their heritage as the inspiration to create some of the prettiest clothes you’ll ever see.

Jen has once again agreed to donate one of her most popular dresses to a Kay Bratt GiveAway! The dress will be custom made to your specific size requirement (up to a girl’s Size 8). All you have to do to get in the drawing for this Panda Dress is three things: FIrst follow the link to Jen’s Fly Away Home Clothing Boutique Fan page become a fan and leave a comment on one of the pics of the outfit you think is the cutest. Second, link this url on your facebook page or blog and title it “Kay Bratt Giveaway”. Lastly, leave a comment here on this post stating you have completed step 1 & 2 so that you can be in the drawing! (You HAVE to see the pillowcase dress at Jen’s blog!)

Come back here Sunday night to find out who the winner is. (Randomly drawn from those who participated)

And please visit the website of Fly Away Clothing and support another IA family member by making a purchase that is sure to make your little one smile!

Win a Mandarin Picture Word Book (Coloring Book)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

I love how my sites can be used to share information between many groups of adoptive parents—those who know each other from other sites, and those who don’t. One discussion we had in the past that proved to be very interesting and enlightening is ‘How your children handle discovering they are different.” I’ll be giving away 2 Mandarin Picture Book to help your children learn Mandarin words — and have fun coloring while they do it. Just follow the following guidelines and thanks for your participation and willingness to use your stories to help others:

1. Comment below if you remember either when your child suddenly discovered they were different than you, or when they were faced with ignorance of someone teasing them about their ethnicity. How did you handle it?

2. Post this url to this contest on your blog, site or face book.

I’ll draw for the winners on July 4!

Vintage Pearl Give-A-Way for Mother’s Day!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

I absolutely love the pieces that Vintage Pearl does–especially the necklace with the pearl and engraved names of your children– and I want to help you win one! For Mother’s Day, I’d like to promote the following giveaway:

Win a $30 Vintage Pearl Gift Certificate!

On your facebook profile page, post a picture of one of your way-too-cute children holding my book, Silent Tears, with a message saying something to the effect of “Silent Tears was written to raise awareness about children in institutional care and would make a great Mother’s Day gift!” and for an extra chance to win (get your name in twice) post it on MY facebook page, too!

*If you do not wish to involve your children in the contest, feel free to only use a jpeg of the book cover, which you can swipe from Amazon or any of my sites. (But we’d love to see your cute kids!)

Most importantly–okay…maybe not MOST importantly but fairly importantly—come back here and comment that you have posted on your site (and mine if want two chances) so that your name will go in the drawing which we be held on Mother’s Day!

Kay Bratt Giveaway A Nest for Celeste

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

A Nest for Celeste; A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole. [Hardcover with flap, 342 pages]

Celeste is a mouse who is looking for a home. Is it nestled in the toe of a warm boot? In the shirt pocket of Celeste’s new friend, Joseph, who is Audubon’s apprentice? Or is home the place deep inside Celeste’s heart, where friendships live?

Okay, ya’ll. This is going to be one of my favorite giveways, I just know it is. I am a book lover–especially the kind that you take with you to put your child to bed, then snuggle into the covers with them and make a memory by reading it aloud. This is that kind of book, and it has such a beautiful cover and is small enough to not be over-whelming to a child’s hand. It has enough chapters to keep them anticipating bedtime for weeks and that is always a plus!

So this is the deal.

Many of you have really done me a favor by writing me a review on Amazon for Silent Tears. This giveaway is for you! [And for those of you who haven’t but want to get in on the deal!]

If you have written me a review (good or bad…either one..I promise, no more whining about being misunderstood) then let me know by either commenting here and telling me what nickname you wrote it under or by emailing me the same information. I understand some of you may not want everyone to know what name you use to write reviews so if you email it to me, I’ll keep it hush hush….pinkie-swear.

So before this coming Friday, either comment that you have already wrote a review or go ahead and get it done! I’ve skimmed this book and it is adorable—really, it is.

Drawing this coming Friday!

To write a review, just click here and then click the Write Your Own Review button. Thank you!

Skippy Jon Jones over here and get in the Kay Bratt Giveaway!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

One of the most common misconceptions I’ve come across in the 7 years I have been advocating for China’s orphans is that only girls are in the orphanages. In the SWI I worked in, it appeared that we had just as many boys as girls! Perhaps the numbers could be a little higher on females but not enough that I noticed if it was true.

So in celebration of cute, feisty, grubby little boys everywhere…my latest giveaway is for BOYS only! If you have a boy under 10 years of age and feel like he would like to win a Skippy Jon Jones book gift set, this giveaway is for you to enter.

And TUESDAY is launch day for the Encore edition of my book, Silent Tears, so of course we have to filter that in to this post, so here is how to get in the drawing:

1. Post the link to my Amazon page on your blog, website or facebook profile page. Click HERE for the link.

2. Come back and comment to this post on the website here (NOT on facebook). In your comment tell me you’ve posted my link as well as tell me something cute, funny or amazing about your little boy.

Example of comment to get in the drawing:

Hi Kay, I’ve posted your amazon link to my facebook page (or blog) and my little boy’s name is Ralph. When Ralph was 3, he was found watering my neighbor’s tulips. The funny part is that he did not have any water, if you know what I mean!

(I just made that up..I don’t know any little boys named Ralph but you get the picture, right?)

The drawing will be this coming Friday, April 2. Don’t try to cheat by telling me you posted my Amazon link when you really didn’t, ‘cuz I’ll be checking! Sort of like Santa, I know when you’ve been naughty or nice.

Fancy Nancy Easter GiveAway

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

UPDATE: The Winner of the Fancy Nancy Easter GiveAway is…..drumroll, please……Kelly with Truly Blessed! Please email me your address and who you want the envelope addressed to. (I know kids LOVE to get mail!)

So that I can get it to the winner in time for Easter, I am doing the Fancy Nancy giveAway now! The winner will receive the Fancy Nancy’s Elegant Easter Lift-The-Flap book and a Fancy Nancy A Flutter of Butterfulies Reusable Sticker book. To be entered into the drawing:

1. Post the link to my short story titled “The Bridge” [found here] on your blog, website, or facebook profile page

2. Become a Kay Bratt Fan by clicking Here

3. Come back to this blog post [located on my website NOT facebook post] and comment that you are a fan and you have posted The Bridge by kay Bratt.

Drawing for the Fancy Nancy books will be on Friday! Come back here to find out the winner!

Kay Bratt GiveAway of Boutique Bows!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

Update: And the WINNER is…..Leslee Dockery! Kimberley will be contacting you to arrange shipment of your bows!

The latest Kay Bratt GiveAway comes from Kimberley at Sophia Jane Boutique who has donated a bundle of bows to one lucky winner!

Hello everyone! My name is Kimberley Girvin and I make the hair bows at Sophia Jane Boutique. I am the mother of 3 boys and I waited over three years to bring my daughter Sophia home from China, who is my inspiration for all the fun, girly things I create. While I was waiting for Sophia, I learned to make hair bows from a dear friend and blogger Meredith Teagarden. She posted a wonderful tutorial on her blog that I printed off and then followed the steps to make a darling bow. As my wait continued, I just kept on making bows! Eventually, friends asked me to make them for their daughters and word of mouth spread and I decided to start the Sophia Jane Boutique. I have been having a wonderful time ever since.

Sophia is home now and she is just a dream come true for us. My husband used to tease me about what I would do with all of these hair bows if she was a tomboy. But thank goodness she loves them!

Kay says: To be entered into the drawing to win the bows shown, become a Fan of the Sophia Jane Boutique [click here] and then come back to this post and comment that you are a fan. The drawing for one winner will be Wednesday. Good luck and thank you, Kimberely, for your donation!

Kay Bratt GiveAway of My Story Lifebooks

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

And the WINNER is….Chris Mathison! Congrats and please use the Contact tab to email me so that I can connect you with Kristen to get you started.

Mama, why do I look different than you? When that question finally rolls off of your child’s tongue, a lifebook will help you to tell the story in a way that will show your child how your life together came to be. The lifebook is the story of your child’s life from birth – and is a beautiful keepsake and such a great resource for handling important conversations about adoption and birth parents.

My Story Lifebooks is a lifebook creation service started by an adoptive mom to a daughter from China. Kristen created a lifebook for her daughter using Shutterfly and was very happy with the results. Soon she found herself helping other parents with lifebooks for their children, and that’s how My Story Lifebooks began.

The template option is economical and so easy. A Shutterfly Lifebook Photobook template is emailed to you, and you save it to your own Shutterfly account. It is a photo book that is already set up as a lifebook – you just fill in your child’s information, add photos, save your photo book and order it on your own through Shutterfly.You can change the color schemes, layouts, and backgrounds to really personalize it for your child. With the template guiding you, it makes it so easy to get complete. The best news is the template option also includes technical support from Kristen, if needed. Her goal is to help you complete your chid’s lifebook as quickly as possible so that you can start sharing it with them. You can check out more details at the My Story Lifebooks website:

Are you adoptive parent? Have you been meaning to create a lifebook for your child? If so, this giveaway is for you! Kristen has agreed to donate one lifebook template AND a $30 Shutterfly Gift Certificate so the winner can complete a lifebook!

To enter: Become a Facebook Fan of Kay Bratt (click here) AND Become a Facebook Fan of My Story Lifebooks (click here)

Once you are a fan of both pages, come back to this post and comment, “I’m a Fan” and your name will be added to the drawing to be held on Friday, February 19.

And if you don’t win, please consider creating your child’s lifebook through My Story Lifebooks and supporting another IA family!

[Additional note from Kristen to you: I’d like to let people know that if they have an adopted child – from the US or any other country – go ahead & enter the giveaway. I will work with you to customize the template for your child, and add all the details specific to that country/adoption. You might just have to help me a bit by providing information about the process – city traveled to, etc. But I would be happy to do it!]

*disclaimer* Kay Bratt has not been paid by either Shutterfly or My Story Lifebooks, the GiveAway is done to assist members of the IA community.