Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to ALL.....

 This writing is from my latest book--Thoughts from the Heart. So appropriate for a Christmas Day Message:

Pay It Forward With Kindness

Last weekend I received an email from a dear friend telling me a story of a boy she met a long time ago.  She has always volunteered her time in children shelters as she has such a soft heart for misplaced children.  She has six of her own.  As she told me of Kyle, who was a regular there for over five or six years, tears came to my eyes.

Kyle was born with two parents who should have loved him but didn’t.  They were abusive and decided to put him up for adoption at a young age.  Luckily at seven years old he was adopted by a couple who said they wanted Kyle but after a few days decided they didn’t want a child that wasn’t “theirs” and the abuse continued.  He went back to the shelter at 12 and stayed there until he was old enough to get on his own at 18.  My friend took him home from time to time for a weekend break and then brought him back hoping someone would take him home permanently.

Unfortunate for Kyle, he had no place to go after being on his own and slept in abandoned houses or cars until the he was arrested for sleeping in the wrong car.  He is spending 18 months in jail but has made a way for himself there. He washes the cars for the sheriff’s department and feels trusted. He is so grateful for the job. 

As my friend says, “This young man, now almost 21, was thrown away by his parents when he was a young child, lived in foster homes and a shelter, and has never felt unconditional love.” Yet when he feels trusted by someone, anyone, it means so much to him.

We never know what pain someone is feeling.  We never know what someone is going through in life.  A smile, a kind word, or even a compliment when standing in line at Walmart or McDonald’s may be what someone needs to get them through the rest of their day.  I think we have all been recipients of someone’s kind words and smiles and those unknown angels will never know how much they have touched a life. As Kyle continues to serve his time and learn that being trusted is a great privileged, he can learn to be a contributing citizen to his community and help himself.  There are many Kyles out there trying to find a place in life for themselves.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” With all the failing markets and financial institutions we hear about today, the best we can do for each other is be kind. Pay if forward with kindness and a smile because you never know what will help another person who is truly in need.

Merry Christmas to all.....and to all a good night.  Pay it forward with kindness.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Checkin’ It Twice: A Terrific Collection of Christmas Stories

 Congratulations to Donna McNeil Gonzales for winning a free e-copy of Checkin' It Twice

This just out...... a terrific collection of Christmas stories to read each night in December before going to bed.  All of them entertaining and heart warming as this is a wonderful book for the family. There are lots of ways to buy this book and lots of bonuses so read to the end of the post!!!

From the back cover:

Can Santa learn a lesson from the Savior?
Can a foreign exchange student help you see Christmas a little more clearly?
Do things really look better from a distance?
And just how many holiday ornaments does one woman need?

Get in the Christmas Spirit with Volume 2 of award-winning stories from LDS Publisher's 2010 and 2011 Christmas Story Contests! Sixteen short stories from popular LDS authors to help you remember the reason for the season!

What I like about "Checkin' It Twice"
The stories written are devoted to the true meaning of Christmas and entertaining. One of my favorite from the list is "Foreign Exchange" by Teresa G. Osgood. This story hits your heart as Paul and his family, learn a lesson about opening their hearts to those we don't know well and the blessing of doing the right thing for the right reason.

Fishing Buddy by Rob Smales is a delightful story of a fisherman and his interesting evening with a special fishing buddy.

Broken Things by Angie Lofthouse was a heartwarming story of redemption and forgiveness.  Christmas time is when we think of family and the closeness we feel --even if we haven't been good. It brought tears to my eyes and I thought about it the rest of the day.

Most of the stories have a wonderful, unexpected twist and leave you wanting to read more. This collection is a great combination of humor and thought provoking ideals.

Featuring LDS Authors:

Amie Borst • A Soldier’s Christmas
Angie Lofthouse • Broken Things
Brenda J. Anderson • Milkshakes and Mittens
Brian C. Ricks • Third Strike Christmas
Gussie Fick • Substitute Santa
Janice Sperry • Slushballs
Jennifer Carson Shelton • With Wondering Awe
Jennifer Ricks • Christmas Stash
Jennifer Ricks • The Two Hundred Forty-fourth Ornament
Kasey Eyre • Gifts from Jesus
LeeAnn Setzer • Christmas Bus
LisaAnn Turner • The Real Magic
Michael Young • Checkin’ It Twice
Rob Smales • Fishing Buddy
Teresa G. Osgood • Foreign Exchange
Weston Elliott • Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Win A Free E-book Copy: 
Comment below on your favorite Christmas tradition you and your family do every year and your name will be entered to win a free copy of "Checkin' It Twice".

There are even bonuses when you buy!!!
 Anyone who purchases a print copy of Checkin' It Twice from Amazon.com before December 15th can get the Bonus Goodies package. All they need to do is send a copy of their Amazon receipt to citbonus@rosehavenpublishing.net. Details can be found at: http://bit.ly/UgfMTi

Check out other links with reviews:
• Amazon (print & kindle): bitly.com/ViEc22
• 5 format ebook bundle: http://www.ldsebookstore.com/checkin-it-twice

Check out the "Checkin' It Twice" blog

Lots of Giveaways.....

Click to Buy the Book Here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Letter To Al Franken

As I was reviewing some of my WORD files--I came upon this letter that I wrote over 3 years ago when Al Fraken "won" the senate position in Minnesota. I found the letter  quite amusing and I remembered that I actually mailed it off to his office because I was so disguised with his cheating .  I wonder what he thought......

August 4, 2009

Dear “Senator” Franken:
  I write weekly editorials for a local paper in Alabama.  Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on the importance of integrity and surprisingly on the same page, a political cartoon was published about you right next to my editorial.

Al Franken
How appropriate I thought this was as I feel that you, among other senators, should review and ponder the importance of integrity in all aspects of life.

As a comedian, you are a funny person and I have enjoyed watching you on Saturday Night Live---but as a Senator, you are no senator.  You basically stole the votes from the other candidate and lied your way through to the Senate floor.

You wrote a nasty book (Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat, Idiot) to belittle another person which, by the way, was all untrue.  By calling other people names, especially in public, shows your true character as one who has no integrity.  So, take a tip from this mother, your mother, and many other mothers trying to teach their children to be honest in life; lying and cheating might get you some where in government but it won’t get you anywhere in the life hereafter.

 Valerie J. Steimle

Friday, November 23, 2012

Being Thankful.....

A blurb from my latest book: Thoughts from the Heart: Writings from the Gulf Coast of Alabama
Being Thankful
       Yesterday was Thanksgiving which causes me to reflect on what I am thankful for in my life.  As our long fought freedoms slowly slip away from us due to legislature, I have to remember to be thankful for living in this country.  I don’t know what the end result will be for our lifestyle in the next few years but right now I am thankful for all the freedoms that I am enjoying in my life.
            Alfred North Whitehead, who is an English Mathematician and philosopher, once said: “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”  So true a word has been spoken.  We are all dependent upon each other for successes in our careers, hobbies and pursuits. How ungrateful we would be if we didn’t feel truly thankful for those people who have helped us get to where we are today.
            Those who complain incessantly about everything are not taking the time to ponder about the blessings received over the last year: our health, our family, the place where we live, the food we eat and our jobs.  Now, if you don’t have any of those things then maybe you would have reason to complain but for most of us, we live in a great world and whatever short term trials we have to live through, they soon will be over.
            It’s too bad we don’t have Thanksgiving more than once a year because as a people we only seem to be thankful when we are reminded. We live in such a great country, it’s easy to take it for granted.
            Another thought for being thankful is by Jim Rohn who says: “To receive more you must first be thankful for what you already have.  Thanksgiving opens the doors for good ideas to flow, while cynicism blocks the door of good ideas.”
            Jim Rohn was just a regular guy back in the ‘30’s who wanted a better life for himself and his family.  He teamed up with another man who was an entrepreneur and became very successful at motivating people to work towards a better life.  Through his “Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle, he has influenced many for good.  These five pieces are:
Philosophy-how you think.
Attitude-how you feel
Action-what you do
Results-measure often to see if you are making progress and,
Lifestyle-the kind of life you can make for yourself out of the first four pieces.
            So whether you need motivation for a better life or are living a life of contentment, we should remember to be thankful for what we already have and tell others in our life how we feel about them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My latest book......

I have published another book. This one is book number 5!!!  It's called:

Thoughts from the Heart: Writings from the Gulf Coast of Alabama

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

The Gulf Coast of Alabama has had its share of trials and triumphs. As a Gulf Coast Newspaper Columnist, Valerie J. Steimle, has seen it all: from hurricanes, the BP oil spill to Supper on the Beach, festivals, concerts and beach life.  Living on Alabama’s gulf coast has been an interesting life journey.  “Thoughts from the Heart” was a column especially written for the gulf coast of Alabama with inspirational stories, small town politics and federal government antics.  Read one hundred of the best of “Thoughts from the Heart,” an insightful collection of honest, humorous and heart-felt writing.

Here are a few reviews from a few fellow authors:

Margaret Turley

Valerie Steimle shares her editorial articles written for a newspaper column in Alabama: The Independent, the Gulf Coast Newspaper and the newspaper's website. Her views on family and marriage, local and federal government, education, entertainment and the media, health care, and patriotism are unapologetic and very conservative. Reading her book brings me back home to how I was raised in a different "A-state", Arizona. Though the scenery may be different, and I am from the Southwest part of the United States instead of the Southeast, the issues are the same. It is good to be able to read articles by someone else who thinks like I do. Thoughts From The Heart: Writings From the Gulf Coast of Alabama

Donna K. Weaver:
Mrs. Steimle, in her book, Thoughts from the Heart, Writings from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, takes readers through a series of pieces previously published as columns for the Independent, a Gulf coast newspaper. She opines on a variety of subjects ranging from educating children, families, the media, politics, etc. Mrs. Steimle voices her strong, conservative feelings without apology. In a world where too many people applaud freedom of speech but scorn ideas that don't match their own, this book is a refreshing and open look at one woman's thoughts.

It is possible to glean insight and understanding from other people without agreeing with their personal philosophies. While I have my own strong feelings, I like to think that I am teachable. As a small child who lives close to the ground will notice things I do not, I find that trying to see the world as others do opens possibilities I might have otherwise missed.

Thoughts from the Heart may reinforce your own worldviews or make you stretch. Personally, I think both are good for us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Goldenrod Oil....

Over the past few years, I have become more aware of the availability of food, water and other resources in my area and how I can use them for good.

One of those resources is Essential Oils for medicinal purposes.  Let's face it the world is in turmoil and how can I get food, other supplies and doctor's help for emergencies if we have a major catastrophe.  I certainly can't depend on government and other emergency agencies--as much as they do try to help-- because of the time factor and availability.

Reading about what was happening in the New York/New Jersey area and learning from my own personal experience on the gulf coast during Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, agencies who try to help are sometimes impeded because of availability and travel.

So it is up to us to take care of ourselves as much as possible in all areas of living.  This journey has been both informative and fascinating. One area I was led to learn about was wild plants in our area which can be used for medicinal and eating purpose.

One of those is Goldenrod. This plant grows profusely every where in the area in which I live.
Goldenrods are very common wildflowers throughout Virginia and North America. It is difficult to describe only one, because there are over 50 species of Goldenrod in North America and most of them are very similar and hard to tell apart. All Goldenrods are late bloomers, flowering in late Summer into the Fall. Most species have spectacular displays of bright yellow flowers. (from www.fcps.edu)

With instruction from several sources, goldenrod oil can be produced and used right in your own home.

How To Make Goldenrod Oil:
   First you find goldenrod plants which can be picked for your oil. The best would be away from the road as the car fumes would not make the plant pure.

Pick goldenrod plants away from the road like this one and let dry for a few days
Then you dry the plant for a few days and it looks more like this:
The oil absorbs more when the plant is dried......

      Cut up into pieces and place in pint sized jars.  Pint sized works the best and you don't even need a lid.  Place the flowers, leaves and stems in the jars about an 2 inches down from the top so the oil won't over flow.  Then pour extra virgin oil or castor oil in the jar to cover the goldenrod plant.  I have only used olive oil as I have heard the horror stories of drinking castor oil. But some people use it. Then cover with cheesecloth or burlap squares and rubber band and sit in the sun for 6 weeks.  It seems like 6 weeks is such a long time to wait but it's worthy every minute.  After 6 weeks in the sun, strain the oil through a cheesecloth into a bottle and VIOLA!!!  You have goldenrod oil.

Jim and I both use goldenrod oil. I have allergies and asthma issues and he has urinary tract issues. It works wonders.... Read more about it below.

Uses of Goldenrod Oil
Goldenrod oil is used as an antiseptic and anti inflammatory ointment. Good for the circulatory system, a massage with goldenrod essential oil works wonders for various aches and pains. The oil is also good for the skin, and is effective in healing various skin conditions.

During the Boston Tea Party, the colonist drank Goldenrod tea, which was nicknamed the “Liberty Tea.” In the past the oil was used for treating digestive disorders, throat problems and disorders of the nervous system. The fresh, balsamic and peppery smell of the oil is very relaxing.

 The Genus "Solidago " plant name is derived from the Latin word “solide,” which means “to make whole.

Goldenrod oil is used for hypertension, liver congestion, hepatitis and fatty liver, circulatory conditions, and urinary tract and bladder conditions. Goldenrod is a little-known essential oil made from a plant that grows as a prolific weed in areas of Canada. The oil has a very distinctive fragrance, rather strong but not unpleasant, and its main use is in its anti-allergy properties, for conditions like hay fever, allergic reactions, coughs, and respiratory system infections. It is also reputed to be a lymphatic system conditioner, a regulator of the autonomic nervous system, and a healer of wounds, insect bites and inflammation.

Goldenrod’s most profound use tends to be directly on the muscles, healing pulled muscles in amazing time periods with repeated application (every three hours or so), and often soothing strained or spasm muscles with only a single application.

The oil is used for the treatment of allergies, sinus infections, hay fever and other related respiratory conditions. The calming and soothing effect of the oil has found use in various aromatherapy processes for nervous disorders. It is also used for dispelling stress related effects.

Goldenrod oil promotes the proper functioning of the circulatory system.
If you troubled by acne and eczema try using the oil for treating such skin conditions. It is also beneficial, when applied on wounds and sores.

Tips for using goldenrod oil
Medical Properties: Diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, liver stimulant
The oil should be properly diluted before using. For best effects apply on joints or inhale through the diffuser.
It is best not to use goldenrod oil on damaged and sensitive skin.
It is suggested that you do not use the oil on children.
The usage of the oil should also be discontinued during pregnancy. Conduct a patch test on your skin before applying, to eliminate possibilities of skin irritations and allergies.
Dilute 1 part Goldenrod Oil with 1 part Massaging Oil or other safe oil. Apply 2-4  drops on compress. Directly inhale/Diffuse or take as dietary supplement

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing!!!

 Today I'm talking about the Mormons 
and the Jews!!!

What??? That's right. What is my next book going to be......... I was tagged by Donna Weaver
from http://donnakweaver.com to post my Next Big Thing!!!

My next WIP---meaning my Work in Progress as in my next manuscript to publish!!!!

1) What is the working title of your book? 
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Synagogue: A Study of Judaism and Mormonism

2) Where did the idea come from for the book? 
Its from my life--who I am and what I have become.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Non-fiction-religious study

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The Characters would be me: Marisa Tome and
my two husbands: (Deceased) Butch: John Goodman
                            (Current) Jim: Jack Nickolson

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
May we see an intro?
 Living in both the Jewish world and the Mormon world I have
come to know how closely related they are and yet they seem
 miles apart. Read about the culture
of the Mormons and the Jews

                 Part of the intro---

Living in both worlds, I have come to understand that the 
God of Abraham, Jacob and Moses is the same God of 
Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Thomas S. Monson.
 It is fascinating to study both worlds and how they relate to each other.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Looking for an agency

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
Still writing but about 4 months so far

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jews and Mormons: 2 Houses of Israel-published in 2000
Also back in the '90's sometime there was another Mormon/Jewish 

book but I can't seem to find it.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?
 I feel impressed to share what I have learned from both worlds.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Jewish and Mormon humor and recipes from both cultures.

Who would like to post The Next Big Thing????  I need 5 authors to want to talk about
 their WIP or their NEXT BIG THING!!!

Or as they say in the south...The Next Big THANG..
I'll post your names and blogs or websites right here in the next day......
email me: valeriesteimle@yahoo.com

Rules of The Next Big Thing:

*Use this format for your post
*Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged. Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Discovering the Writer Within

Back in July of 2006, I did a writer’s workshop for the American Night Writer’s Association’s annual summer retreat based on a wonderful book I found called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan.

So without further ado, I am presenting to you: Discovering the Writer Within—a creative way to restore creativity for all artists searching for their best self.
Whether you believe it or not, we have all been born with creativity.  Not only have we been born with creativity in writing but in other avenues as well.  Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way has had conversations that went something like this…….
            “When people ask me what I do, I usually answer, “I’m a writer-director and I teach these creativity workshops.” 
            The last one interests them…..
            “How can you teach creativity?” they want to know.
            “I can’t,” I tell them.  “I teach people to let themselves be creative.”
            “Oh. You mean we’re all creative?” They ask in disbelief.
            “You really believe that?”
            “Yes, I do.”

    Yes, she really does believe it and so do I.  We are the channel for novels, nonfiction writing, young adult stories, children’s stories, inspirational articles and the list goes on and on.  We have been chosen by our Heavenly Creator to share with others the inspirations that we receive on all subjects.

  Giacomo Puccini once said:  “The music of this opera (Madame Butterfly) was dictated to me by God; I was merely instrumental in putting it on paper and communicating it to the public life.”

I have felt that way many times over the course of the 20 years I have been writing to be published.  God dictates to me what to say and I write it down.  I think many of us do this as well. We are given our stories, our articles, and our writings from God and we dictate it on paper to communicate it to public life.

  There are some basic principles to learn in helping ourselves to become our best creative self for all areas of our lives and Julia Cameron goes through step by step to help us recover the creativity we already have within.  You do have creativity in you.  You just need to learn how to recover it.

  Although we are given certain gifts, sometimes we need a little nudge or encouragement to keep our creativity going.  There are two pivotal tools according to Julia Cameron that we can use to keep our writing going. 

Tool # 1:  Morning pages: In Julia’s words: (We are on a first name basis now) “In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the morning pages. Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of long, hand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.”

You have nothing to write, you say??? It doesn’t matter. You can start off writing, “I have nothing to say. I need to do laundry. My curtains are dirty. Blah, Blah, Blah.” This small every day task drains your brain of garbage and is not meant to be art.

Julia says: “These pages are meant to be simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind.  You shouldn’t read them back and nobody else is allowed to read them either.”

Theodore Roethke says: “A mind too active is no mind at all.”  I think we can all relate to that.  Julia also says: “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity.  Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your spouses eyes—this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days.  Get it on the page”

And it works!!!!  I’ve been doing morning pages on and off since I read this book in 2006.  I was better at doing it every day from the start but now after 5 filled up notebooks of stream-of-conciseness writings, I try to write in my morning pages notebook at least 3 times a week.  It is amazing how it works.  The trash and worries of the day are on paper and you are ready to get some real writing work done.

Tool #2: Artist’s Date:  An Artists Date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.  In its most primary form the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers.
Julia suggests you don’t take anyone with you.  But with children and husband and our busy schedules I found it was easier to take children or husband with me than to not do it at all. But there were weeks that I found myself a two hour block where I could get away to some artistic time.

“Suggested Artist’s dates: long country walks, expeditions to the mountains or beach, see a concert, opera or play. Go dancing or watch a ballet. Even spending time in solitude with your artistic child is self-nurturing. There are museums, old houses, antique stores—the sky is the limit.  You are filling your well and it should be fun. Do not do what you should do, do what intrigues you.  Explore what interests you; think mystery not mastery.”

This has helped as well.  Although with a busy schedule of children and husband, I don’t get to do this every week but, it does do wonders when you do get to indulge in an artist’s date and creativity will come bouncing out in no time at all.  Feel free to find The Artist’s Way, as there are more ideas waiting to be used to restore our creative self. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and refer to it all the time. 
Happy Writing!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Listen to a prophet's voice.....

An Angel telling the disciples of Jesus Resurrection
This is the testimony of Ezra Taft Benson.  A beloved prophet who loved liberty and truth.  Listen to the prophet's voice this weekend during General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The liberty in this land is becoming smaller and smaller and as citizens, we need to stand up to those seeking to destroy it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzales

 One of my writer friends has published her first book!!!!!  So exciting and I'm helping by dedicating this post to her new book and information for her blog tour!!!

We hope this is a great success for Shaunna---You go girl.

Dark Days of Promise:

Thirty-four year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying.
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father--a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes--she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent. 

ISBN: 978-1-61252-218-0

 Interview with Shaunna:

Me:  Thank you for giving us your time today, Shaunna. We are excited for your first published book, Dark Days of Promise. We would love to know more about you and how you feel about writing and being an author.
 Shaunna: It's good of you to invite me, Valerie

Me:  Why should we read Dark Days of Promise?? 

Shaunna Gonzales
Shaunna:  I've toyed with writing since a teenager but have only written in earnest since 2005. Like most authors, the first attempts were awful but this one was different. It is not what I started out to write, but certainly what Heavenly Father wanted me to write. In an effort to give Dark Days of Promise an authentic feel I endeavored to include some experiences of veterans I know and could often be found discussing the realities of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in their lives and how it could honestly be shared in this project. On the evening of this books first promotion, a woman approached me, excited to find someone who knew enough that she could have a listening ear. I realized that the scope of PTSD reaches deep into the core of our society and includes infants, children, housewives, the working and unemployed as well as veterans; in short, all of us. In an effort to treat this subject fairly, I altered my writing course from "romance with a twist" to helping our society, sufferers and innocents alike to becoming aware. It is more than those who experience the violence, more than the victims who experience this debilitating disease that are affected. It is their families, the bystander of violent crime and all of us who dare to care for and love them.

        ME: It sounds very interesting. Tell me when did you first start writing and why??

    Shaunna:  About seven years ago, after reading most of J.K. Rowlings, Harry Potter series I craved more great reads and went to the local library. After spending months wading through awful fiction, one touting its prize winning status, I threw it across the room. (In my weakened condition it only made it to the bed for a soft landing.) "I could write better than this!" I grumbled. My hubby, ever understanding of my turbulent moods answered with a calm, "Then why don't you?" It wasn't long before I set out to do just that!

ME:  Good for you!!  How do you find the determination to continue to write?? 

Shaunna: I love to write. When I get fatigued, which happens a lot with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), I only have to find the strength to look outside myself, to reflect on the conversations with PTSD sufferers and the peace they find in sharing their stories with me. Of course, not everyone is in a place where they feel they can share the dragons that haunt them every waking hour, but it is my hope that there will be more communication, if not with me, then with someone.

ME: You are an inspiration!!! How do you come up with ideas for your books? 

Shaunna: You really want me to tell that story. Okay. I wrote a Christmas romance that when I thought I had it finished, bored me to tears, literally. I knew it needed help. Not in the writing so much as it needed to fly. It needed to give the reader (and me) a reason to turn the page. Tears streaming down my face, I turned to prayer. Prayer guided a downtrodden me to my keyboard. There a scene flew from my fingers. I knew it was exactly what my ailing story needed! I remember reading it over and thinking, "Where did that come from?" I had to know if what I'd written could really happen and started asking questions. Those questions carried me to vets and some active soldiers. I've never changed a word of that scene. Punctuation? Yes. You can find that scene, in its entirety in Dark Days of Promise. I'll give you a hint which scene I'm talking about. (Vicki flys.)

ME:  What a journey you have traveled. Did you have a mentor?? 

Shaunna: One specifically? No. I have several authors whose work I admire. I read and that is how I learn, by mimicking what I see that works. This is why I refuse to read on the same day that I write, it is too easy to plagiarize with my method of learning. I have to be really careful.

ME: What do you love about writing??

Shaunna: Writing is an escape for me, whether it is into someone else's troubles or another time. Yeah, I love the escape.

ME: What do you dislike about writing?? 

Shaunna: Right now? The promoting and the energy it takes away from my writing. I'll be in the middle of an on-line chat and glance over at my notes for my WIP (Work in Progress) with longing and an apology that I've been away too long.
Valerie, this has been a joy to be here. Please invite your readers to visit my blog for posts of where I'll be on this blog tour. Sometimes I'm not sure where I'll be until the last minute. 
ME: Shaunna, thank you so much for your insights and inspiration.  Good luck with the sales of your new book and I hope it helps many people suffering from PTSD.

Here is Shaunna's Blog:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fifty Shades of What?????

Throughout my travels this past month, I completely missed out on a disturbing phenomenon: Fifty Shades of Grey. All the early morning show interviews, all the hoopla for a "wonderful" sweet love story, all the media hype for what??? A book that professes that a sick kind of "love relationship" between a man and a woman is great read for everyone? I don't think so. Even worse this book is the first of a trilogy of three stories. The other two titles are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

The story tells of a college graduate, Anastasia Steele who becomes romantically involved with a young business entrepreneur, Christian Grey set in the city of Seattle. They meet, they date and then the trouble begins.

Fifty Shades of Grey, the first in the series started off as a fan fiction story based on the "Twilight" novels. There is a small controversy whether this series infringes on copyright issues of Stephanie Myer's creations but as of late not under investigation.

It has become the fastest selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series which is very surprising.  Some people call this series of books a sweet love story.  I just call it erotica smut and hope to God that young girls don't pick it up to read this very disturbing story.  How can we as women promote the ideals of this book as a way to show love in a relationship to young girls who won't understand what real love is in a healthy relationship between a man and a woman?

This story has sick messages of how a man inappropriately treat a woman during intimacy.  What used to be considered pornography is now mainstream literature. If we, as mothers, laud this series as "enjoyable" and "in a class by itself" as Entertainment Weekly has written, what does that say for our society's mores in relationships?

This is a major concern for many parents as the issue of its depictions of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism (BDSM) are not appropriate for teens to read as has been reported by major news services. The examples of the relationship in the book isn't real life but a fantasy and it doesn't mean women want this kind of experience.

Some libraries have banned the book but as the public demanded the opportunity to read it, these libraries  later changed their policy to shelve the book as in the example of the Broward County Public Library in Florida.

This is a sign of the times.  What was regarded as unfit for all good men is now mixed in society as a sweet love story.  It is unbelievable to me that anyone would allow their young daughter to read such garbage spreading over the earth. Parents: be forewarned, this is a terrible story not fit to be read by anyone.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Home Canning 101

Fall has come and our thoughts turn to harvest, garden clean-up and What can I save for the winter? I have the opportunity to teach a class this week on home canning for our Emergency Preparedness Expo in Loxley. There will be many workshops and free information given out on how to prepare for any emergency.  Here is what I will be teaching for those who are far away.  I also included some great links to websites which are very helpful.
Happy Fall Everyone!!
Home Canning: A great way to preserve what you grow in your garden!!!

Tools: Water Bath or Pressure Canner, Lids, rings/bands, jars, butter knife or plastic spatula, lid holder, plastic funnel, paring knife, towels, measuring cups, Recipe ingredients, small pot with water to boil.

Water Bath                  Pressure Canning
Pickles, Relish              Pumpkin/Squash
Pickled vegetables         Corn
Tomatoes                     String Beans
Pears                           Peppers
Peaches                       Meats-Chicken/Fish
Apples                         Most Vegetables
            Online Sources

Points To Remember:
1.   Wash all jars, lids and bands. Boil lids only for 3 minutes.
2.   Always wipe top of jar before placing lid and band on jar.
3.   Always start timing  water bath at rolling boil an inch over jars
4.   Slide butter knife inside jar against glass to remove air bubbles
5.   Never run cold water over hot jars.
6.   Always invert jars to cool over night on towel.
7.   Make sure lids are on “down position” to keep stored on shelf.
8.   Always label jars with date and contents.
9. Remember to follow recipe exactly for correct preserving.

Christie makes the most delicious Pepper Jelly and I wanted to include this recipe for anyone who has a lot of peppers in their garden.  They don't have to be all hot!!  This is so good.
Christie’s Pepper Jelly                
1-1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar   
6-1/2 Cups Sugar                     
5 to 7 cups minced                     
    Hot and Sweet Peppers           
Orange Zest                                
Directions: Add all ingredients to pot and cook for 45 minutes. Have hot pint jars and lids read and pour into jars. Water Bath jars for 10 minutes. Remove and place upside down on towel over night.

My children love this jam.  In the South--we have figs everywhere and this jam is so easy to make.
Valerie’s  Strawberry Fig Jam 
3 Cups Smashed Figs
3 Pkgs. Strawberry Jello-(Smaller Size)
3 Cups Sugar

Directions: Place all ingredients dutch oven pot and stir well.
    Heat to boil and cook 3 minutes stirring occasionally.  Turn off
    heat and pour into hot pint sized jars.Water Bath jars for 10 minutes.  Remove and place upside down on towel overnight.