Author: Shannon Symonds

Christmas is Best Served with a side of Friends and Good Books

I have been gifted with some of the best friends an author could have! We have a critique group of geeks who happen to be authors. We work hard together. Okay- we also laugh and chat about kids, cats, books, jobs, and a few other things. The best part of our little group is getting to preview some very talented author’s current works in process while wearing pajamas and eating pancakes. Several of us will be launching our books over the next few months.

Deb Goodman is launching her new book,  The Billionaire’s Christmas Fling: A Sweet Christmas Novella (The Billionaires of Gramercy Book 1).  

Buy the Kindle version on Amazon HERE. 

Meet Deb Goodman, Sweet Clean Romance Author, and one of my favorite geeky authors.

I asked Deb to share 10 things about herself. I love this list and getting to know Deb.

Ten Things You May or May Know about Author Deb Goodman: 

*She must have missed something in kindergarten because she can’t cut a straight line to save her life.

*Some of her favorite authors include Lucy Maude Montgomery, Josi Kilpack, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Barbara Kingsolver, Shannon Hale, Jane Austen, Jerry Spinelli, Gail Carson Levine, and Heather Vogel Frederick. But, come on, who doesn’t love them?

*She is 4’10” tall. She has to use an actual hook to grab the laundry out of the bottom of the washing machine and ask random strangers to reach items on top shelves in stores. It’s embarrassing.

*She just published her first book, The Billionaire’s Christmas Fling, and has written three more that are in various stages of development and will be out soon. She knows you’re dying to read all of them.

*Her household consists of four terrific kids, one top-notch husband, a little dog, and balls and other sports equipment (depending on what sport is in season) that fly past her at all hours of the day and night.

*She thinks the secret to becoming a better writer is to join a critique group or two. They force you to pay attention to deadlines, take constructive criticism, and better analyze what works and what doesn’t in your own and your partners’ texts. Plus, they help you grow great relationships in this often solitary writing life.

*Cooking is one of her hobbies, but her fear of undercooked meat means she burns things way too often. Sorry, kids.

*One of the things she wishes she could change about her writing habits is her propensity for procrastination. She’s working on that, though.

*Because she grew up in Idaho, she got to take two weeks off of school in the fall and work long days in the “spuds.” The summer after high school, she worked in a potato processing plant where she spent eight hours a day cutting rotten spots out of potatoes. Good times.

*She’s wanted to be an author for as long as she can remember. Writing makes her happy. And writing romance makes her the happiest.

Here are some places you can find Deb Goodman:

Deb Goodman Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dPZblT
Instagram: @Debgoodmanwrites
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Hello Operator Can You Help Me Please

Today, sleep eluded me, and I was up and on my knees talking to my Father in Heaven. Just like so many of us, I was feeling overwhelmed with my list of responsibilities. I felt I was failing. I listed the things I am thankful for and asked for a few massive miracles. On my list was, “Please give me more hours in this day.”

I am in the middle of editing my next novel, Finding Hope, and it is taking much longer than I thought it should. Editing is a long process for me. Errors don’t jump out at me, they hide. I have to hunt them down by reading my entire book out loud. I beg saints to be beta readers who correct a copy which I integrate into my master copy. And then, after another read through and a second, third, fourth, edit I can send it off to a professional editor.

At 4 this morning my brain woke me up to think about editing. I had a whole conversation with myself. It went something like this:

Me: You should just get up right now and edit until work and then through the next night. You could get it all done.

Also Me: Right….like that time you were writing in the night and woke up to find out you had typed a whole paragraph of a dream? Editing is not something a sleep-deprived person like you should be doing.

Me: I can push harder. Let’s see. Editing from 4:30 to 7:30, Workout 7:30, work 8:30 (looking really bad), Editing from 5:00 to Midnight. See, it can work.

Also Me: Why am I am so anxious. Why isn’t it done? Everyone else in the whole world, I mean every single person, could do this faster than me.

Satan: You’re not good enough. This is a waste of time. You should be spending time cleaning the house or with your family. You should just quit. Quit. Quit.

It was at that moment that I decided to roll onto my knees and give all my worries to my Heavenly Father.

One of my favorite spiritual leaders, Deiter F. Uchtdorf said,

“We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.”6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.

Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”

This morning, I didn’t get my answer on my knees. All I could do was give my challenges up in prayer, say Amen, and get on with my day.

I work at a nonprofit that sits a few blocks from the ocean. Weekly, we have the gift of a wellness hour with free yoga. Today, however, was bright and sunny so I opted to take a walk. I put my headphones in, turned on a good book and walked to the beach.

Somewhere on the walk, I remembered I needed to call Deseret Book and update my platinum membership. Ironically, I am on a tight budget, but it felt important.

Because I was walking, (And I am a new age girl who can walk and text), I googled the customer service line and got on with an Operator.

Me: Hello? I think I need to renew my platinum membership so I get Bookshelf for less. I might have been charged more this month. Someone there called me last month, but I forgot to call back. My name is Shannon Symonds.

Operator: That was me! I called you last month. I remember because after we talked, I bought your book, Safe House, and read it. I have been wanting to tell you I loved it. It was good. I think it will help people.

Me: You just answered my prayer! I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I was pretty discouraged this morning and wondering if I was doing the right thing.

Operator: You are! Keep writing.

Me: Tears of gratitude for a Heavenly Father who answers prayers and for a sweet woman who listens to the spirit and blessed my life.

When it feels like you are overwhelmed, and your burden is too hard to carry, remember the operator. Call Heaven and ask for help. Maybe you will get the operator, maybe you will get a miracle, or maybe, if you are patient, you will find a mountaintop and look back to see the Lord was with you every step of the way, and the journey was for your own good.

Wait! Did I use too many commas, not enough? I should edit this again.

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How to get Cinnamon Rolls and the Keys to Dad’s Car

Do you want to see this author geek out? Just tell me you read something I wrote in a newspaper. It is like Christmas morning! Yes, I wrote the article. Yes, I thought it might be published. And yet, every time I cannot contain my joy. It is like opening a new book and smelling the pages (Confess true book lovers, you know you’re closet book sniffers).

The Deseret News Mormon Times (I know- didn’t we all rebrand ourselves?) published an article by several authors detailing the way they prepare for General Conference. It is filled with wonderful ideas. But, as for me and my house? We prepare with Celestia Sappenfield’s Cinnamon Rolls, lovingly known as Mom’s or Grandma’s Rolls. They have kept us together for General Conference for more than 40 years.

The only person happier than me to see the newspaper story was my dad, Jeffrey Sappenfield. You see, there is nothing my father loves better than reading a newspaper. Not on a Kindle, but a real paper newspaper. The kind that is thrown on your porch.

Growing up, my brother’s and sister’s knew that for my father, his mother, and all of the relatives, newspaper reading was to be taken seriously. All pages were to be read. Every front page story was to be discussed. And then the paper was folded lovingly for the next reader. My job was to cut out all the good political cartoons and paste them in my notebook.

We also knew that dad came home after 5 PM. He would walk in the door with the paper. He would sit in his lounger and read, cover to cover. if we wanted the keys to the car, we let dad finish the paper before we asked. It felt like an eternity.

Today is my father’s birthday. I won’t give away his age, but I will say the older I get, the younger he seems. It may be silly, but seeing an article in a newspaper about his family by his daughter (me!) was the perfect gift. Tonight, when I say my prayers, I will thank the appropriate person.

And here is the recipe!

Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls

Preheat Oven to 425

In this century – Use parchment paper on a thick Costco Baking Pan

In a very large bowl (Yeast hates metal)  add 1 and 1/2 cup water. Make sure it is 110 degree (Yeast likes warm)

Add 3 Tablespoons Yeast (Rapid rise is okay – use fresh new yeast)

Add 4 Tablespoons….or more…sugar

Let this rest for 15 minutes. Yes – the ENTIRE 15 minutes. Let the yeast have a party.

Add 2 eggs

3 Tablespoons oil (I like to use melted and cooled real butter)

Add 2 cups warm milk – 110 degrees (Not too hot! You will kill the yeast)

Mix

Take 1 Tablespoon of Salt and add it to a cup of flour and set it aside.

Gently mix in 4 cups flour

Add your 1 cup salt and flour

Add 3 more cups until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl

Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Let the dough rise until double.

On a clean surface (There is more dough than you think) roll out the dough until it is a thick rectangle. Pour melted and cooled real butter allllll over it.

Mix a bag of brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Sprinkle it generously all over the butter. Roll the dough and slice into cinnamon rolls.

Place them on the parchment paper on your baking tray and let them rise for a few minutes.

Bake 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees

Frost with a mixture of powdered sugar, 1 TBL real butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and water. Serve hot with MORE butter.

Next week- The Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cinnamon Bun recipe for me…sigh…

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The Making of the Cover Art for Finding Hope by Shannon Symonds

Do you believe in answers to prayer? I do! Recently I discussed cover art with the talented author of the Buxton Peak series and other clean adult fiction, Julie L. Spencer. She gave me some great tips. I hung up the phone and wondered how I would ever get cover art done in Seaside, Oregon on the edge of the world?

I actually prayed out loud, a name came to mind and the phone rang. One of those rare friends, the kind you meet and feel like you’ve known a hundred years, was calling – Haley Miller of HisNames.org and Captures Photography. She said, “I’ve been thinking about you. How can I help you?” I felt like Angels were in the room singing.

Haley was there for me when I launched Safe House. I was so happy to see her!

Today we went to a little known local spot. I had the privilege of watching Haley, a talented photographic artist, create the cover art for my next novel, “Finding Hope.” She asked about the characters, the story, the feelings, and went to work. I can’t wait to reveal the cover.

Here is a sample of her photographic art from the release of Safe House. You can find out more about HisNames.org and Haley’s artwork here. Haley is also an Operation Underground Railroad supporter!

Finding Hope is a clean stand-alone novel which takes place in the same beloved town as Safe House with everyone’s favorite characters, Grace and Officer Joe Hart. Maybe this time Grace will find love.

17-year-old Hope Experience Flanagan thought she was escaping danger when she walked away from the Yeti Haven Trailer Park and the Rat. But, the world is a dangerous place, unless you have Grace and a little help from friends. Grace James and Officer Hart work together to help Hope find her mother and a place to call her own before she becomes easy prey for traffickers and finds herself in deep water.

So I leave you with this thought, Can Grace find Hope, while Hart saves Grace?

Comment below if you want to know the location of the shoot and maybe, just maybe, I will share one of my favorite local (and often missed) beaches on the Oregon Coast.

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I was Never a Mormon

I was never a Mormon. Mormon was an ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon* who has been dead for many years. To top it off, someone once bought a handwritten manuscript of Mormon’s abridgment for 35 million dollars!** Trust me… I have not come close to making that kind of money as an author and no one wants to buy my messy original word doc for ten cents.

I have always been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Recently our Prophet announced we were no longer to be called or call ourselves, “Mormon,” or “LDS.” This was major news to the world. We were being “rebranded.”

This was not major news to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had been hearing this for years! Here is a little history behind the shortened or slang term or name, “Mormon.”

In the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, according to Deseret News *** and everything I have been taught, “The church has had a complicated relationship with the term Mormon since its restoration in 1830. Church leaders long chafed at antagonists calling them Mormons and, early on, Mormonites, but in recent decades they have been more accepting of the nickname.”

Let me tell you what I think this means. In early history, there was an Extermination Order allowing people to legally kill “Mormons.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were burned out of their homes, run out into the snow and driven across state lines, massacred, and generally misunderstood. “Mormon” was a slang term used in derision that we adopted ourselves and used.

However, I have speculated, as others have, that it created confusion around whether or not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were Christians. We are.

Here are a few facts about me and some of my friends who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are not perfect. We are human. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I go to church in an effort to become more Christlike and grow.  At church, I have been taught we can all return to live with our Heavenly Father, and I know from many church meetings, that we want everyone to be together as one big happy family again.  We are taught to love everyone, no exceptions, unconditionally. We only ask the same in return. Love us as we are and let us work towards the next life as we choose. If you have questions just ask, and I will find someone who knows more than I do to answer them.

I personally don’t need rebranding. I do need people to stop calling me “Mormon.” He is a dead but respected prophet. I also need people to ask me questions, instead of guessing what I believe or telling me what they think I believe.

In all honesty, not much has changed in history, except we have stepped into the light, stopped hiding, and want you to know we hold firm to our belief in the Savior. I want my friends, co-workers, and neighbors to know I was never a Mormon, but I was always a Christian and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

*https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/explanation?lang=eng

**https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/26/book-of-mormon-sets-new-record-for-most-expensive-manuscript-ever-sold

*** https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900028401/the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints-issues-new-name-guidelines-dropping-term-mormon-in-most-uses.html

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Run to Break the Chain – Seaside 2018

I will never give up. I really believe that love is the answer. I believe that we can learn to love each other so much we can no longer tolerate harming each other and that eventually, light will outshine the darkness. I believe absolutely we can end human trafficking by bringing it to light, outshining the darkness, and then giving our love and light to survivors.

August 18th, 2018 almost 60 runners and their children came together for the Run to Break the Chain and to raise funds to end sex trafficking, to bring training to the Pacific Coast, and to fund healthy activities that keep kids connected to the community.

Funds went to 2 organizations:

  • Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) whose promise reads,”To the children who we pray for daily, we say: Your long night is coming to an end. Hold on. We are on our way.And to those captors and perpetrators, even you monsters, who dare offend God’s precious children, we declare to you: Be afraid. We are coming for you.”
  • Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation (SEPRD) who organize healthy activities for Seaside kids and families. Staff at SEPRD  did an amazing job of organizing events, facilitating registration, timing, and identifying the race winners.

Sponsors included:

  1. Sam’s Seaside Cafe
  2. Providence Seaside Hospital
  3. Clatsop Community Bank
  4. The Human Bean
  5. Tora Sushi
  6. Tongue Point Job Corp (M.T.C.)
  7. and me 🙂

The first place winner: Kendal Sawa, CEO of PSH with a time of 21 minutes and zero seconds (3 7-minute miles)

Find the Run to Break the Chain Photo Gallery Here!

 

A great time was had by all!

 

Medals were handcrafted by Tongue Point Job Corp Students using the O.U.R. logo.

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Cedar Fort Author Appreciation Dinner

Do you ever wonder what happens behind the curtain? Are you ever curious about what it takes to publish mountains of quality family entertainment and education? I did, and so I flew to Utah for Cedar Fort’s Author Appreciation Dinner.

Not only did Cedar Fort feed us great food and entertain us with wonderful prizes, they gave us a peek behind the curtain and shared what goes on in the Cedar Fort house.

As an author who writes alone on the Oregon Coast, I had never been to the building or met the staff. It was great to see all the support we have.

I don’t know why, but whenever I called the office, I pictured a small office with books stacked in a closet. Boy, was I wrong! Cedar Fort is a talented team whose CEO, a second generation publisher,  is putting into place new and exciting ideas to support clean, quality entertainment.

My sister Sara came as my date for the night. We sat with Nikki Zacharias Trionfo, author of “Shatter,”  wonderful Cedar Fort family members and more. Table 8 rocked the house.

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Safe House funds for Freedom

In honor of my favorite holiday, July 4th, and Safe House’s first birthday on July 11, I am donating 100% of my ebook profits to Operation Underground Railroad and reducing the cost of my ebook to $0.99 for the ENTIRE month of July.

Cedar Fort is supporting the cause and donating 1 signed copy of Safe House to Operation Underground Railroad for their aftercare programs, auctions, or to give away for every 50 ebooks sold during the month of July.

The Singing Librarian is helping by giving away a signed copy of Safe House and promoting the sale on her Christian & Clean Fiction Summer Reading Safari, as well as a ton of other giveaways and fun!

July 4th is my favorite holiday! Since 1921, our family has gathered on the Seaside, Oregon Beach and lit a massive bonfire, made s’mores, and celebrated Independence Day together. So, of course, I want the same for everyone in America, including victims of human trafficking!

Comment below or on my blog, FaceBook page, Instagram, or Twitter, with the word Freedom and I will enter you into a Facebook Live drawing from a jar! One of my beautiful family members will help me on the 4th of July.

Remember, the fight for freedom is far from over. Somewhere out there are children who need us to care. Learn more at OurRescue.org.

And watch for the first annual Seaside, Oregon family fun run on the historic prom on August 18th. I will be there and we will be running to raise funds for Operation Underground Railroad, as well as our local Seaside Sunset Empire Parks & Recreation- providing safe programs for kids!

Sponsored by: 

  • Sam’s Seaside Cafe
  • Providence Seaside Hospital
  • Clatsop Community Bank
  • The Human Bean

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The End! My Two New Favorite Words & A Preview

It is 1 AM and I had to write and tell you, I just typed the last two words I plan to type on my next novel. The End. What lovely words they are! Not only is the story written, but it has been read and re-read.

This morning early, I finished reading my book out loud. I momentarily panicked when I realized several corrections hadn’t been saved, but then I decided it was an opportunity to do it all again, and better.

I could spend every second, or forever, fixing one more thing, trying one more time to make something, anything, just a little better. Perhaps, I will decide later,  I should have worked longer or smarter, but for now. Finished.

Because it is better to take the leap of faith than to never leap at all.

My wish? This story becomes another opportunity to serve and give to

Operation Underground Railroad. 

 

FINDING HOPE by Shannon Symonds

 Hope Experience Flanagan had to get out of the Rat’s trailer tonight. It made more sense to wait until her 18th birthday, or until the cold Oregon Coast weather warmed, but everything told her the Rat was dangerous and she was out of time.

“Come on Hope! I just want you to watch a movie with me.” the Rat begged from the other side of her locked bedroom door.

“I’m not coming out until Mom’s home!”

“See how nice I am! Your Mom hasn’t been home for weeks and I let you stay with me.”

“Just let me finish my homework,” she said nicely, trying to hide her frustration.

The flimsy bedroom door in the timeworn 1967 Rancho trailer shook angrily. Poised to move, Hope held her breath until it stopped. “You promise?” he yelled.

Finally,  she heard the Rat shuffle down the little hall. Five foot one Richard Culligan, ironically known as ‘Rich’ to his friends, and Rat to her, was her mother’s latest partner in a steady stream of companions. Hope hated them all.

The lacey ice on the windows of the Rat’s ancient trailer was as much on the inside in winter as on the outside. The trailer hadn’t moved for more years than Hope had been alive. It was parked in the Yeti Trailer Haven among other molding heaps of aluminum hidden by forest, vines, and foliage which obliterated their existence. Hope thought it was the best part of the coast. Magic green that erased every sign of man if you gave it long enough.

She sat on an old sleeping bag on a bare mattress, headphones in, music playing, when hailstones began pelting the aluminum walls. Gradually the torrent picked up. Larger and larger hailstones assaulted the windows so loudly it broke through her music and then it stopped.

Everything else she owned was packed in her old orange backpack including a Ziploc bag with a picture of her missing mother. Quietly, she pulled back the red rug, moved a loose floorboard, and dropped her pack into the black hole. Then, Hope slid down through the same hole and out from under Rich Culligan’s trailer forever.

***

Grace James had a smile painted on her face, but her nylons had gradually fallen until she was sure the crotch was at her bony knees and below the hem of her skirt. She had been wearing two hour high heels for four hours and her feet begged for mercy. She stood tall, at the end of her thirties with her long blond hair sprayed into submission on stage next to her boss in the old Victorian Church, now the Bay City Performing Arts Center.

Grace’s boss Eunice had the microphone. Her gray bob looked purple in the spotlight. She took off her bedazzled cat eye glasses, and said to the audience, “Next I want to introduce our senior advocate, Grace James.”

Hailstones started pelting the large stained glass windows in the ancient hall.

Every head turned to look at the row of 20-foot windows lining both sides of the room as a cascade threatened to break through the glass. The echo was deafening and then ended almost as quickly as it started.

 

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