Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Author Guest Post: Amy L. Peterson, Author of From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds

In association with Tourz De Codex, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Amy L. Peterson, author of From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds!

First, thank you, Kathleen, for giving me this opportunity and for being a host for my April 8-28th book blog tour. Since I wrote this posting in advance of your review, I have to thank you for reviewing my book ... and just hope you found something you liked about it. I'm kind of impartial to the cover, myself. I'm sure you noticed that the fishing pole the bride is holding is connected to a larger fish than the groom's. My husband never noticed that when he saw the cover. Of course, he didn't notice it on our wedding cake, either. Poor fella.

One of the reasons I wrote From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds is that there weren't many humorous stories out there about falling for a guy who had four kids, and Army cot for a bed and a boat load of fishing tackle. My beau ate more macaroni and cheese than a second grader and cooked with pots and pans given to him by his therapist. The kids were 3, 5, 13 and 15; I was 30 and clueless about kids - big ones and little ones. And even though I had nice pots and pans, I still managed to mess up the first batch of rigatoni for the kids. Through trial and a lot of errors, I discovered "Tip #46: If you don't know your limitations, you will discover them." And "Tip #30: What's obvious to an adult will never be obvious to a teenager." About all I did figure on was "Tip #56: You can't get a refund just because you're not having fun."

My book is a love story and a memoir and is intended to help other stepmoms and future stepmoms realize that even if they, too, are clueless, it's all worth doing with the right guy. (I know I have the right guy because I got some really nifty fishing lures for Valentine's Day). My goal was to provide a few good laughs and a whole bunch of sound, light-hearted advice. Take "Tip #70: You won't be able to predict what the kids remember, or what they'll like the most. So try to enjoy it all!" My stepkids' favorite trip was captured in Chapter 15: Family Reunion in Disneyland Hell, which was my least favorite family outing ever. Go figure.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 9, "Can't We Just Duct Tape Them Together and Send Them Outside?" It includes "Tip #37: Children have no sense of time or space." I discovered this the morning after the four kids moved into a two-bedroom apartment with Mark and me for the entire month of July.

The moved in on a Friday evening.

Saturday morning went something like this: at 6a.m. Conrad knocked on our bedroom door.

Mark said, "Who is it? Whattaya want?" Conrad said, "Conrad, to snuggle." Mark told him it was too early, to go back to bed.

"Thanks," I mumbled. I rolled over and fell back to sleep on out futon-bed. At 6:30 I was awaken by another knock at the door. This time both Elizabeth and Conrad answered. Mark got up, unlocked the door and stepped aside.

"Do you know how early it is?" I asked as four feet pounded across the floor and leapt onto the bed.

"We always get up this early," Conrad said.


Nobody answered, because a Squirm Fest began as two squiggly, squirmy things fought for "the middle!" between Mark and me. A pillow fight broke out and soon there were no covers on the bed. I sought refuge in my morning shower, all the while wondering, "Why?"

What was really wrong about the morning routine was that after we all ate our cereal together, the little kids sat down on the futon and watched TV. Mark, who was obviously used to this idea, curled up on the futon with the two kids, while the Power Rangers sparred with bad guys.

"I don't get it," I said.

"What?" Mark asked.

"They get me up at 6:30, ask for food, and now they're going to sit on their butts and watch TV. What'd I get up for?"

"To feed us," Elizabeth said.

"Silly me."

By late morning, all four kids were up, had eaten and were glued to the tube. I was restless by this time, so, after cleaning up the kitchen, I opened the blinds and headed outside. I had no particular goal or plan, but that never bothered me and I just wandered around down by the water, taking in the fresh, quiet air. Within an hour, all four kids wandered out because Mark finally lost patience with them and kicked them out.

Mark and I had two things in common regarding the kids: one, we were always within minutes of each other from losing patience with them, and two, since we had always found endless numbers of things to do outside when we were kids, we didn't understand why Mark's kids didn't just venture out like we had.

We were equally surprised by their reaction to being kicked outside.

"But, what are we supposed to do?" one of them asked with a sad face.

"It's a beautiful 75-degree Michigan summer day," I started. "What would you do at home?"

"Stuff with our friends," Conrad said.

"Whatever you do at home with your friends, you can probably do here with each other. And with me." And when nobody suggested anything, I offered a long list of activities I could think of: swimming at one of the three swimming pools around the lake; looking for frogs; feeding the mallard ducks; throwing each other in the chemically-correct, yucky lake; and on and on until I hit upon something that occupied their time for, say, ten minutes. After ten minutes, the same question was repeated and I told them to go out in the street and play with plastic bags.

While the big kids discussed whether I was serious, and Conrad explained to Elizabeth that my suggestion was probably a bad idea, I escaped on my Rollerblades. Around and around the lake I went, all the while wondering, Why?

That was early on. At a garage sale a week into the kids' stay, Mark "got a deal" on Rollerblades for the two big kids. Before I knew it, the teenagers were skating with me. My escape route no longer as escape, I decided I either needed to find a new escape route or try to have fun with this new challenge.

Mark had told me that to really have fun with teenagers, I must know their weaknesses. Samantha, for example, doesn't like giving in or giving up. When she went inline skating with me the first time she was still at that wobbly stage and seemed winded after the first lap around the lake. But I usually did two laps, I explained, and asked if she wanted to do another lap with me.

"Sure," she puffed. So we went on. Since I felt pretty good after that second lap, we did another . And another.

I believe we could have done ten laps around the lake before Samantha would have admitted to being tired, but after the fourth lap her face was beet red and I "gave in" so she wouldn't die on me. Some days, I'd go skating and still dread returning to the confines of the tunnel-shaped apartment.

So, I'd find Conrad and we'd go catch frogs in the lake. Or I'd try to entice one of the kids to go for a walk, like out on a nearby peninsula where there weren't any apartments, townhouses or houses. Or I'd suggest we all go to a nearby park.

Between what I considered to be "normal outdoor activities" the kids invented "alternative" activities. One morning, as I was getting bread from the cupboard to feed the mallards, Simone stepped outside with a long piece of rope. The other three kids followed and before I knew what was happening, Simone, whom Mark had described as both his "most sensitive kid" and "the instigator", was attempting to snare ducks using the rope. Conrad and Samantha were throwing bread to the ducks, enticing the ducks into the loop.

"Oh Mark!" I called.

"What are they doing now?" he asked, appearing from the back of the apartment somewhere.


He looked outside just as "Limpy", the lame-legged duck, reached the inside of the loop. I saw Simone pull on the rope and looked away. Mark said, "Fchew!" and I looked back to see that all the ducks had scattered. Even Limpy had gotten away.

Mark opened the door and told Simone to leave the ducks alone, that it was time to head to the swimming pool.


We were, of course, a force to be reckoned with at the pool. But to learn what happened there, you'll just have to buy my book at It is available as an e-book and a paperback. Other review comments are summarized on my web site.

About The Author: 

Amy L. Peterson is a happily married wife, stepmother, author, amateur photographer, outdoors woman and keeper of numerous spoiled fuzzy animals. Her writing is diverse, her photography of animals and wildlife unique, and her pets have trained her how to get what they want.

Amy met Mark at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the early 1990s and married him after he carried a rubber raft, oars, foot pump, camping gear, and fishing gear to 10,000 feet while backpacking in Montana. In addition to his prowess, Amy was attracted to Mark's limitless supply of fishing tackle, and his interest in every kind of critter. The fact that he came with four children in denial about it until she married him.

Amy summarized just some of the fun of entering into instant stepmotherhood in From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds. This humorous, entertaining book includes over 70 tips for stepmothers and women thinking about taking such a plunge. These tips are tried and true since all four of Mark's children survived their time with Amy. Amongst the kids is one social worker, one mechanical engineer, and two college students.

Between bouts of being a wife and stepmother, Amy spends way too many hours photographing and writing about wildlife. Her publications and photos have appeared in Grit, Moxie, Montana, Travel Impulse, Women's World, Bonaire Nights, and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. Her article about Nunavet wildlife was featured on the Nueltin Lodge web page, along with a photo of a monstrous pike she claims to have caught.

Amy has also co-authored numerous technical documents for the State of Michigan, all of which are really quite boring. Her favorite past time is writing mostly true stories of the various animals she's spoiled or encountered in the wild. She is currently working on a book about all the animals Mark "always wanted."

Her blog is focusing on her book excerpts and many a review she is receiving every day.

This is Amy's humorous and compelling story of becoming a stepmother. The book has catchy chapter titles like "Can't We Just Duct Tape Them Together and Send Them Outside?" And it contains over 70 tips including "Tip #44: You can't exchange a bad child for a good head of lettuce." This book is a must read for stepmothers, and a fun romance that might just make you giggle somewhere along the way.

Amy L. Peterson's From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds Virtual Book Tour Page On Tourz De Codex

BUY THE BOOK: From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds

Book Description: From Zero To Four Kids In Thirty Seconds

Amy is a 30 year-old woman who spent many years polishing an unapproachable outer shell and maintaining a long list of reasons why not to have children. She keeps a canoe on her front porch, a mountain bike in her kitchen and a balance in her checking account.

Mark is an older, divorced man with four kids. He sleeps on an Army cot and eats out of pots and pans given to him by his therapist. He has a Ph.D. in stream ecology, a VW Rabbit with 285,000 miles on it and enough fishing tackle to sink a small boat. 

Amy falls for Mark hook, line and hundreds of dollars in sinkers.

Virtual Book Tour Giveaways
April 8-28, 2012

- 1 Free Ebook giveaway on the first tour spot (INT).
- 5 Paperback review copies at the last tour spot (USA).
- 2 Createspace final quality physical book, one at any two spots (INT).
- 2 Beautiful necklaces will be given as a grand prize to two (2) of the winners randomly selected from all of the giveaways above (INT). 

*Post a comment (with your name and a valid email address) below and click on the tour page for the full tour schedule!* 

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