Monthly Archives: November 2015

Hello, dear readers!

Just wanted to bring all of you up to date on our weekend with Just Plump Penelope.  She and I definitely enjoyed our time at the Ephrata Merchants’ Association Small Business Saturday event.  We met some lovely folks — Susan Lewis ( we bought some of her yummy homemade mustard and a jar of bacon dressing, which we haven’t had the opportunity to try, but we’re sure it will be good!) and a lovely woman named Ann (I don’t think we exchanged last names) who had beautiful handmade handbags and scarves.  We also met John Northeimer, and Kamille (my 13-year-old granddaughter and faithful technical assistant at these events) and I treated ourselves to some of his gorgeous sea glass jewelry.  And of course we could not pass up some of Stephanie Harley’s Intermezzo chocolate-covered pretzel sticks — they are works of art that are absolutely delicious.  As if all this were not enough, I saw a number of my wonderful Ephrata friends and fellow Women of Valor:  Betti Bell, Stephanie Harley, Joanne Ressler, Diane White, Bonnie Northeimer, and Denise Banko.  Who could ask for more?  Thank you, again, Stephanie, for inviting me.

Is it possible to have two wonderful days in a row?  Yes!!!  Today, our awesome illustrator Sue,  our equally amazing graphics expert Jen, and I spent the afternoon with JPP at the Antler Ridge Winery in Mertztown.  We were joined by Josh (Jen’s husband), John (our business manager and my husband), and once again sweet Kamille, who handles the Square like a pro and is always a delightful traveling companion.  We are so grateful to Jane and Justin, who invited us to come to the winery for a signing and who made not only us, but everyone who came to see us and to have a book signed feel totally welcome.  If you have not yet visited this gem, you must make a point of doing so soon — you will be very happy that you did.  I saw a lot of great Christmas gifts for wine lovers!

Jen, Sue and I were delighted to welcome all of the folks who came out to see us.  It was something of a reunion filled with laughter and reminiscing and hugs and promises to get together again —  and there was very tasty wine (no, neither JPP nor Kamille imbibed!) and delicious snacks supplied by the folks at Antler Ridge.  Thank you again, Jane and Justin, and we look forward to another signing when Just Plump Penelope Goes to Kindergarten comes out!

I’m sure by now all of you are tired of reading — my apologies for being so wordy, but we hear so much bad news today that I rather enjoy sharing the happy moments in JPP’s life with you.  Watch later this week for an update on where we will be this coming weekend — we hope we’ll see you there!

Wow!  The turkey has been picked clean; the dishes are all washed and put away; the football game has been won — or lost — depending on which team you hoped would win, and so now it’s time to talk about what JPP will be up to this weekend.

Penelope will be making her official Lancaster County debut at the Ephrata Lovin’ Locals Small Business Party on Saturday, November 28th, at the Ephrata Pioneer Fire Company, 135 South State Street, Ephrata, PA.  The event will run from 1o a.m. to 2 p.m. and we hope that you will come out to get your own signed copy of our book for your personal library!  There will be a variety of vendors ( there are rumors of gourmet chocolate by Stephanie Harley’s Intermezzo) and two other local authors participating, so please come out and make this small business event a huge success!

On Sunday, November 29th, Penelope will return to Berks County for an appearance at the Antler Ridge Winery in Mertztown, PA.  The winery has graciously invited our creative team — awesome illustrator Suzanne Oswald; amazing graphics designer Jennifer Conrad Fink; and yours truly to do a signing from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Now really, what could be better on a brisk autumn Sunday afternoon — delicious wine, three signatures in one proverbial swoop, and the opportunity to win a shawl like Penelope’s crocheted by your humble author?

Oh, gosh!  It’s nearly midnight on Black Friday Eve.  I’ve got to get to bed so I will be ready for annual “Shop Till You Drop Day.”  Have an awesome BF, and we’ll see you in Ephrata or Mertztown.  We can’t wait to greet you!

From all of us — Sue, Jennifer, John, Mary Ann, and of course Just Plump Penelope — to all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Hello, dear readers . . .

Hope you are all enjoying this fine Sunday afternoon.  My chicken is roasting in the oven, so I decided that this would be a good time to add a new post!

Here is a brief exchange I happened to overhear while I was at a recent signing event:

Woman #1:  (slowly paging through Just Plump Penelope):  This is a really nice book.  I think Ill buy a copy for my granddaughter.

Woman #2:  (peering over the shoulder of Woman #1 to see the book):  It is a nice book.  The illustrations are beautiful.  But I don’t want a copy — we don’t have any fat people in our family!

So who should read Just Plump Penelope?  Well, definitely Woman #2, and if she is representative of her family, all of her relatives need a copy, too!  JPP is not just for children who struggle with their weight or for their families who also feel the hurt inflicted by others when they hear a child they love called “fat.”  No, they already know the lessons that Penelope hopes all of her readers will take away from her story; they know all too well that the old cliché “Sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true!

What is more, they know that bullying directed at anyone who is “different” in any way — the person who is extremely tall or thin; the person with the unusually large nose or ears that stand out a bit farther from his head; the person who wears super-thick glasses; and the list goes on — hurts.  In fact, sometimes the hurt can even be deadly, especially in this age of cyber bullying!

So who should read Just Plump Penelope?  Well, if you know someone like Woman #2, please present that person with his or her very own copy of Penelope’s story and then offer to spend some time talking about childhood/adolescent obesity and bullying.  You just don’t know how far-reaching the impact of your actions may be!

Blessings . . . I’ve got to head downstairs now to see if that chicken looks as good as it smells!




The bookshelves at Firefly Bookstore.

Yes, dear readers, it is true!  For all of you who have been asking where you can buy Just Plump Penelope we have good news!  Our book is now available at Firefly Bookstore, 230 West Main Street, Kutztown, PA.  If you’ve never visited Firefly before, you must go; their selection of books, new and used, and games, also new and used, is amazing.  If you want to be certain that they have not run out of JPP, you can reach them by phone at 484-648-2712 or online at  Happy shopping and reading to all  and to all . . . oops!  Sorry — that’s someone else’s book!

Just Plump Penelope Goes to Kindergarten

The delicious molasses cookie we shared during our meeting!

Yes, that is exactly what it looks like — a delicious, almost-eaten molasses cookie as our nearly 4-hour meeting at Kevin’s wonderful Cloud 9 restaurant just off of Broadcasting Road is winding down.  I won’t tell you who took those last 2 bites, but I am excited to tell you what we were meeting about!

We — that would be illustrator Sue Oswald; expert on all things related to graphics and technology Jennifer Conrad Fink; business manager John Hayes (yes, he IS related); and yours truly — met to outline our strategies for getting the first Just Plump Penelope book out there to as many readers as we can.  As you’ll see on our website, we have a number of signings coming up over the next month or so, and we are very excited about that.  But we feel so strongly about the message that Penelope’s story has to share that we truly want her to go everywhere — out of the county, out of the state, out of the country!

We also talked about JPP’s second book, Just Plump Penelope Goes to Kindergarten, and its anticipated release date.  We’re hoping that book 2 will be in your hands before the end of the summer 2016.  In fact, the book is already written and Sue has already designed the cover, which you will see if you come to one of our signings.

Oh, and then one other piece of news — it’s never good to be too wordy — our hope is to introduce you to another character who is not related to Penelope at all in time for Christmas 2016.  He doesn’t really have a name.  We just call him The Christmas Pumpkin and we all think you’ll find him very lovable!

So that’s why we actually needed two of these cookies after our soup-and-sandwich lunches.  The energy around the table is always high whenever we meet to talk about what we’re working on.  Is it any wonder that none of this really feels like work or why I love our creative team?

Penelope and I have been waiting forever.  It seemed like the day would never come.  And now our appearance at the St. Paul’s UCC Christmas Bazaar this Saturday is less than 48 hours away, and we can hardly wait to greet those of you whom we already know and to meet those of you whom we don’t!  We’re bringing lots of our newly published book, Just Plump Penelope, and plenty of pens so that we can sign copies for each and every one of you.  The doors open at 9 a.m. and the bazaar ends at 1 p.m., so please don’t be late.  And while you’re visiting with us, stop by to see our bazaar neighbor’s newest book, The Bunny Brothers’ First Thanksgiving; I know that Dori Hoch will be happy to sign any of her books for you.  What awesome Christmas gifts for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews!  And who knows?  One day they may be able to say, “I have a signed copy of one of her books before she became famous!”

See you on Saturday!

A lot of people are very excited about the premiere of Just Plump Penelope, and we are very pleased that is the case!

We are proud to announce that Just Plump Penelope can now be purchased through the M A Hayes Writes online store! Visit the store to order your copies of the book!

If you would like to purchase your book in person, Mary Ann will be appearing at several local events in the upcoming weeks and she will be happy to sign a copy of the book for you! Mark your calendar to visit her at one of the following locations:

Mary Ann Hayes

Mary Ann signing books at the York Book Expo.

St. Paul’s UCC – Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, November 14, 2015; 9am – 1pm
5 W Arch St., Fleetwood, PA 19522

Ephrata Lovin’ Local
Saturday, November 28, 2015; 10am – 2pm
Ephrata Pioneer Fire Company
135 S State St, Ephrata, PA 17522

Antler Ridge Winery Tasting Room
Sunday, November 29, 2015; 1pm – 4 pm
951 State St., Mertztown, PA 19539