Listen to Valerie Loveless interview me about both of my books, Safe House & Finding Hope, on Cedar Fort's Behind the Scenes Podcast!
During these difficult days authors like me wonder what we can do for you. Because I wish I could do more, I’ve priced my latest release, Finding Hope, for 0.99 cents on Kindle (The lowest amount Amazon allows).
Let me know how you are. It matters.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Link to more free books for days like these from Cedar Fort-through Book Funnel: https://mailchi.mp/60e151a229fa/shannon-symonds-author-newsletter-625851
Today the World Health Organization declared the “novel” Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. This is one novel I hope you never have to read.
When we originally heard about it, we noticed that the shelves were empty of toilet paper and had a wonderful chuckle. Then our family welcomed a new baby. Suddenly, germs seemed a bit more serious. One of us has CKD or Chronic Kidney Disease, and others in our tight-knit family have weaknesses that make us worry.
We realized the problems surrounding the virus were bigger than we thought when my daughter went to a big box store to buy toilet paper. Ironically, after 3 stores she ended up snatching one of the last cases off a pallet in a Walmart and in a game of chicken with another shopper.
We all cope in our own way. My kids cope with humor. I don’t know who created this meme, but it’s priceless. I hope the creator doesn’t mind sharing.
For the first time in my memory, on a recent workday, I went to a big box store to get some things for the new baby. Our small town Costco was packed, on a day it should have been empty. Carts were full of toilet paper, water, and interestingly, televisions.
At first I smiled, then I noticed the people pushing the carts were the same age as my parents, who are ordering their groceries delivered for the first time in their life. And I wondered, would we lose one of these family faces? Even one would be too many. The drinking water is safe and our bathrooms are stocked, but still we seem to all be nervous. It has become a small world, indeed.
And so we have cancelled the world. Meetings are online, school is online, stadiums are empty, and so are my friends restaurants. We are all going to be impacted, either through our health, finances, or loss of loved ones. It is a forced slow down and as you can see, everyone who can has stocked up.
My hope is that you get more time at home around the dinner table, more time with good books, and more time to write and collect your thoughts. I also hope that you look around and realize that time with loved ones is priceless, that person matters, and cherish each other just a little bit more. And most of all, I pray you and your loved one’s stay well.
“I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.” Moroni 8:3
Stay tuned for the first few chapters of my next book. We will be sitting by the fire, walking by the ocean alone, and writing a book about a small beach town, Grace’s daughter, her hilarious friend, and the kids and families of Oceanside High.
Have you ever wearied the Lord in prayer and wondered when he would answer your prayer, or if he would answer? Have those answers come in unexpected ways? I know I have. I have wanted more time for family and writing. I think I have my answer and it will mean more time to write.
I love to write stories about characters that have deep needs, face insurmountable odds, are tried during the storms of life, face destruction, and still find their happy ending. I write about unexpected heroes and heroines, who after the storm is over, realize the hand of God was at work the entire time. And the events they thought would annihilate them were actually the best thing that ever happened to them.
Why do I love to write stories about people who face impossible odds? Because that is the ongoing story in my life, and I would bet a few of you have been caught in the rain before. But I believe in miracles and I believe in happy endings, so here we go! New job and more writing.
Today, I found one more survivor. This afternoon, the sun was out, and I worked in the garden. I weeded and pulled out the plants that hadn’t made it through the wild coastal winter months. We have had snow, fierce winds, and record rainfalls. I opened the gate to put my tools away in the backyard and look what I found. While everything else turned brown and withered, this beautiful little plant flowered through the dark winter months on the north side of the house. It blossomed against all odds, just like the heroines of my stories.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak on Hope in church, while I was praying and working on making more space for family and writing. It was a great opportunity to explore one of my favorite words-hope.
More on hope later-for now, here is one of my favorite quotes:
In honor of my 29th birthday, Cedar Fort and I are giving away copies of my books on Kindle between January 7th and 11th, 2020!
Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway!
But, if you entered the Goodreads giveaway and didn’t win, you can check out:
Thank you for being a part of 2019, a great year. May 2020 be a year of reading, fun, and personal growth for you and yours.
You can also win, Finding Hope, and, Safe House, by joining the Storytellers in Zion Polar Bear Plunge Reading Challenge. Join the fun HERE!
Here are the rules:
#findinghopebyshannonsymonds #novel #cleanread #suspense
#romance #mysterythriller #safehousebyshannonsymonds #cedarfortauthor #giveaway #contest
Merry Christmas from us to you!
This year we celebrated early so that some of us can hit the road for Utah and celebrate with the rest of the family.
2019 was a great year for the Symonds family! I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of our lovely chaos with you. Funny, when the noise in the room is made by people I love, it is music to my ears.
I was raised in a large and very close family. We are still very connected through Lassie Hame, our family home on the beach. We text, chat and visit often. Christmas was a time of chaos, good food, and cousins everywhere. I loved it.
Then, later in life, we moved our family to our first home on the Oregon Coast. Although we were just down the road from the beach house, we had quiet Christmases. Traveling to the coast from Utah and even Portland is difficult in winter. Even though we had six children, I missed the constant party atmosphere of my youth.
As we celebrated our early Christmas, I realized I had recreated the big family of my youth. Even though we only had half of our grandchildren and four of our children, it was – in the words of little Maddy, “Glorious Chaos!”
Whether you have a small family, chosen family, a church family, or spend your Christmas in the service of others – I wish you a day of glorious chaos and love!
For those of you who are thinking life at the beach is sand and sun, I thought you might enjoy a little authentic Seaside, Oregon travel conditions! We started out for the airport yesterday! After a three hour drive, a night with my cousins (the best!) we arrived at the airport this morning. Here is a little peek at our drive. Please don’t judge the backseat driver in the passenger seat (me) wearing her lucky Uggs and giving the driver absolutely sound advice.
Shannon’s List of Favorite Holiday Reads, Fun, and Family Stuff!
Here are a few things I am LOVING this Christmas season.
Each morning, I love to ground myself by starting the day with quiet study. I highly recommend the non-denominational group, Multiply Goodness. Their current study, Advent, O Come Let Us Adore Him
- Find Multiply Goodness on Instagram for daily video messages and beautiful artwork
- Check out their, Advent: O Come Let Us Adore Him, Study Guide and ideas for your Advent
- Follow Multiply Goodness on Facebook and join in when they announce their next scripture study group topic
I am a huge fan of, Don’t Miss This, with Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler. They have partnered with LDS Living to provide daily video inspiration and study ideas for families. Do you want to introduce your children to the characters in their nativity scene? Check this out!
#LightTheWorld Check the Hashtag! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has created some beautiful content to help you and your family feel closer to Christ during the Christmas Season. You can find #LightTheWorld here. Here is a beautiful video of the nativity.
I have also been enjoying Emily Belle Freeman’s, Inklings, studyguide for women who want to know more about their role in the Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Last of all! Have you ever wanted a Life Coach? Meet Lisa Lewis. She has been guiding participants through their 40-day Journey to the New Year. It still isn’t too late to take the journey with us.
Favorite Christmas Movies in 2019
Take a look inside my head! This movie tells the story of how Charles Dickens wrote the Christmas Carol. It is like taking a walk through an author’s mind. I LOVE it! The Man Who Invented Christmas on Amazon.
REVIEW COPIES FREE. For reading all the way to the end of this LONG, LONG, List, if you would like to join my review crew and receive a free copy of Safe House and Finding Hope for an honest and fair review on Goodreads AND Amazon, email me at email@example.com. Put review crew in the subject line. I will reply ASAP with Kindle versions of my books for the first 20 people who ask.
And don’t forget! My birthday is coming! So until then, I am giving away 100 Kindle Copies of Finding Hope on Goodreads. No hook and a great chance of winning since I am a small town beach author who knows almost no one! Enter here.
In honor of the Savior’s Birthday, Christmas, and until my January 7th Birthday, I am giving away 100 kindle copies of Finding Hope on Goodreads. If you don’t use Goodreads, check it out. The Giveaways are a blast. And! As I only know about 100 people in a tiny town on the Oregon Coast, the odds are with you.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine!
She’s hiding in her present.
With nothing but her guitar and a few belongings, Hope Flanagan escapes the abuse and negligence from her mother’s boyfriend. Hope’s lucky enough to find a warm exhaust vent in an alley of her coastal town and blessed with help from a coffee-shop employee who sees her desperate situation. But Hope is determined to stay under the radar from social services and the other homeless kids, who seem to go missing once they fall under the notice of the local homeless tough girl.
She’s hiding from her past.
Grace James works with the police to help survivors of abuse while desperately fighting to keep her own family safe from her vindictive ex-husband. News of her husband’s release from prison pushes her to accept help from the handsome and secretive Officer Joe Hart. But then her mother brings home a stray from her coffee shop, and Grace finds herself catapulting through her fears to do for Hope what she just might not be able to do for herself—find out who she really is to save her before it’s too late.You can find "Finding Hope" on Amazon:Paperback, OR Kindle, Kindle Unlimited
Open Read More to listen to Hope's Playlist
I will never forget the moment I realized that everything I believed about my sweet life was wrong and that I needed to leave behind my marriage, my adorable little home, and essentially everything I was or thought I was. I stood in a therapist’s office on the phone. I was calling my mother to ask her to watch my children overnight so I could go home for the last time and pack to leave my innocence and shattered hopes. The conversation went something like this…
“Hi Mom. Can you keep the girls one more night?”
“How long is this going to take, Shannon? I have a lot of things to do.”
“An eternity, mom.”
The line was silent. She knew where I was. She knew what I meant.
At that moment in time, more than anything on earth, all I needed was someone to hold me and tell me we would be okay. That we might be homeless and helpless, but that they would be there for us and that our Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost would never, ever, leave our side. But that isn’t what happened.
Heaven will forever bless my family. Even though my parents had their hands full, they made room for us. And may God forever bless the members of my mother’s church, who knew me as a young woman, and never doubted me or my decisions.
But, may Heaven forgive the people at church who said the darndest things.
I wish I could say that my experience of having people at church make unbelievable statements is rare. It isn’t. Survivors of domestic abuse, infidelity, spousal addiction, and those of us who struggle to keep difficult marriages together, and all the other things life throws at us, have heard it all.
Have you ever said something to someone at church and regretted it? I know I have. Do you wonder what to say to your fellow church members who are struggling with challenges like mine? Or do you wonder why people care so much about what other people say? Shouldn’t we just buck up, get over it, and do what is right?
Five months into my divorce, I rented a house and began attending church in a new town. They had all seen the single mother and her five small children move in. From the moment I crossed the threshold at the neighborhood church, people said the darndest things. Here is a short list:
“Have you ever been to church before?”
“I heard you’re divorced. There are two sides to every story.”
“I think people should try harder.”
“You should go home and put your marriage together as God intended.”
And, “Why did you marry him? There are always signs. You should have known.”
Gradually I stopped talking to people. Eventually, I would randomly go to my mother’s church. At one point, I stopped talking to anyone at all except a kind neighbor and my family. Then, to avoid a complete mental breakdown, I began hiring a sitter so I could run once a day because my therapist said it would help.
My sweet father held a garage sale so he could buy me very expensive Nike running shoes and the best in Nike running gear for the over one hundred degree summer temperatures. One of the local clergy said a prayer in a meeting, and in the prayer blessed that I would stop running through town in shorts (honestly. I would have laughed if I wasn’t so concerned for the clergy’s mental health).
I am tough. In fact, I have pretty thick skin. The topper will not be repeated here. Suffice it to say, I left the church and didn’t return for more than a year.
I wish I could say I was alone. Recently, I have spoken to several women who are struggling with the things family, friends, and church members are saying to them at their most vulnerable moments.
I had come to church, bruised, beaten, broken to fill my soul and find connection and sisterhood. I had found something I would learn later was, “Victim Blaming.”
We have all done it. We have seen a couple in our little church get divorced. It rocks us. We look at them and wonder what happened. We think things like, if it happened to them, could it happen to me? They seemed so perfect.
Then, out of fear, we look for ways we are different. We think and actually say things to each other like, “It happened to them because he drinks. We don’t drink so it can’t happen to us. I would have left him too, the poor Alcoholic.” or worse, “Of course he cheated on her. Have you seen how she treats him or keeps house?”
We are engaging in typical victim blaming. It is more obvious, when we examine situations containing abuse. It is easier to see when people say things like, “She was sexually assaulted because of how she dressed.” She was sexually assaulted because the perpetrator made the choice to assault her. Only one person is responsible. The person who hurt her.
Victim blaming is how we make sense of our world. If random abuse can happen to people due to other’s random agency or choices, then we might get hurt. But, if we can find the reason it happened to “someone else” we can exclude ourselves from harm. We look for the difference between us and them, because it is like looking for Dumbo’s magic feather.
As survivors, we are already looking for a way it is our fault. It is our fault because we are loud, fat, or made bad choices. Just like others, who victim blame, we are desperately seeking a way to make sense of the senseless.
Here is what Elise Lopez, a researcher said in DomesticViolence.org’s article, Why We Blame Victims for Domestic Violence:
“Why do some people jump to blame the victim? At its core,…victim-blaming is about self-preservation.
Compare these reactions to how some people respond to seeing a photo of an overweight person, says Lopez. “People think, ‘If I were overweight, I’d go to the gym every day and I would lose that weight.’ They don’t think about how hard that would be,” she says. …They think if somebody is being abused, they probably did something to incite it.” In essence, if people can find a reason why abuse is the victim’s fault, then abuse is something that can not only be controlled but prevented. And, in turn, it won’t happen to them.”
So, what do you say to people whose lives are falling apart?
Speak honestly, from the heart. You don’t understand. You can’t, unless you have lived their life. Only one person understands, the Savior. Avoid judgment. Try to be a judgement free and shame free friend. Leave the judgment to the Savior.
Things to say to domestic violence or sexual assault survivors:
- I am glad you survived.
- It isn’t your fault.
- Whatever decision you make, I will support you. I know you know what is best for you.
- I may not know how you feel, but I am here to (list anything you are willing to offer including time, provide service, be a friend, always be by their side).
- Listen (No words necessary).
We all have friends who are making serious decisions or engaged in heartbreaking challenges. LDS Living’s article, The LDS Divorce Experience talks about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They share statistics which show prior to divorce nine percent of those surveyed were less active and eight percent were not attending church. After, six percent occasionally went, eight percent had a short period away (that was me), six percent stopped going, and then two percent increased their activity.
Interestingly, even though I was too tender to deal with the looks, the words, the strange things people said, I personally felt an increase of the spirit. Although, I was wrestling with who I was and how I wanted to live; I prayed more, read my scriptures more, and felt the sweet peace of the Savior’s love for me in miracle after miracle. I admire the two percent who increased their activity and developed the ability to seek what they needed to connect and heal. Maybe, because I write, words mattered too much to me.
During the years I was putting my life back together, I develop compassion for people who struggle. I gradually got my feet back underneath me. I was not only running for sanity; I was running towards the Savior. I experienced the mightiest miracles during my darkest times.
While I was still inactive, I was blessed to have the rare opportunity to meet with an Apostle in my church, President James E. Faust. President Faust spent an hour asking me about my experience as a sister in the church during my trials. At the end of the meeting, he very gently asked me why I was inactive. I shared the things that had been said and transpired. He was straightforward and honest in his opinion. he was compassionate and caring.
He said the darndest thing. “Why aren’t you active?” Four little words said with love and compassion, a listening ear, and an honest response.
That was it. I went back.
People say the darndest things. Things like, “I love you,” or “I don’t care what you choose, I will be here for you.”
“The reality is, the depth of our relationships is correlated to the time in which we’re willing to spend together. It’s marked by our honesty and vulnerability with one another, by the things we have in common, and in our service to one another.” MultiplyGoodness.com
It was my privilege to be a guest on Valerie Loveless's podcast! Valerie is an author and a world changer. Learn ways to support survivors, tips for keeping teens safe, and why I love Oregon's services for survivors. Hear about Safe House, and my next novel with the same characters and setting, FINDING HOPE.