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.