Tag: seaside oregon

Our Pandemic Bingo Card & Blessing Card~Free Read by Kierstin Marquet

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Hello from the beach!
I hope you and everyone you care about is well. I’ve finished the first two books in my new series. Book three is underway. We are still sheltering in due to Covid-19. Books (writing and reading) are our only form of escape.

I am excited to share Kierstin Marquet’s book, Shattered Lives. Read on, get your free copy, and meet an author I am learning to love.

LINK TO FREE COPY

On January 1st, 2020, I chose one goal. I was going to go into this year with fearless faith and hope.

You might be laughing right now. My extended  (huge) family has laughed about winning Pandemic Bingo. So far we have experienced:

  • Job loss
  • Major illness diagnosed in our immediate family
  • Earthquake
  • A kidney patient in complete quarantine
  • A tree falling on two vehicles and the roof
  • The great chicken massacre of 2020
  • Business closed
  • Protests and riots about issues we really care about and impacting people we love
  • Murder hornets in the neighborhood
  • Homeschool chaos
  • First responders still at work in health care and law enforcement
  • Sewing hundreds of masks for first responders and family
  • Babies born during a pandemic
  • All travel canceled
  • Feeling like we are personally supporting Costco by hoarding food, Lysol, and toilet paper
  • Cutting–no–butchering our own hair
  • But so far, we are well and grateful to God for that blessing. All the experiences on our Pandemic Bingo cards have
  • only brought us closer together. We met each fresh challenge on our knees.

When my future was as clear as mud, time, and time again, I went forward with fearless faith. Either I should be careful for what I pray for–or grateful the Lord inspired and prepared me.

On those big days—those life-altering moments–I recited a scripture my sister taught me after she learned she was dying of cancer.

I am guessing you have your own bingo card. But, do you have a blessings card? Through it all, we have experienced so many blessings.

  • Financial miracles allowing me to write a new series of books
  • Staying close to family than ever before through video chat
  • Watching my adult children support each other because our family is all we have
  • Home church with extended family
  • After praying for years, we received direct answers and blessings
  • Feeling closer to God and grateful for the good things
  • Daily tender mercies from Heaven

I would love to hear how you are doing. I read every comment.

🙂 Shannon

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A Week in My Life & 30 Plus Plus Free Mystery Thrillers!

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LINK to FREE Kindle Reads!

Someone once said life is like a rollercoaster. Well if 2020 is a ride, do you want off yet? Summer is here and 2020 goes on. Vacations are canceled. The relatives aren’t visiting because the thought of hundreds of miles of germy rest stops is horrifying. And yet, I see some beautiful things happening among the challenges.

I have decided it is better to ride and have the lessons, the light, and the tender mercies that happen while on the wild ride of life. I am in until the end. Buckle up!

Eight-year-old Elliott said a wise thing after months  of sheltering at home. “Nana, I miss our adventures like kayaking, bike riding, hiking, and the lake.”

And so I decided the Nana adventures must continue! 

During May I completed almost all but the last 3 chapters of the second book in my new series. But, I also made time for life with the family. Here are a few of the adventures we had last week.

I tried to help my daughter move playground equipment after they closed their private school for the summer. It didn’t go as well as planned. Nope-we didn’t drive this baby down the highway. Nana got scared.


Here is a photo of another leisurely walk with Elliott. It goes something like this.
Me: Stay close and don’t wade above your knees. Do you have your mask?
Elliott: Okay. (Mask on)
Me: Elliott wait! Elliott come back! Must run faster…. (Best workout ever!)

A limit of clams in 20 minutes. We dig them in the dark sand on low tides. Another great workout followed by an hour of cleaning clams. Delicious!

Hanging with my granddaughter at my girl’s little farm. This is great fun. Her mom and dad have salted the creek with fancy rocks. We found them over and over again. On rare 90 degree days on the coast, the creek feels wonderful.

My summer project list includes staining the deck. So far my husband has replaced the rotten boards while I write books.

We decided to refinish my favorite wicker reading chair. We had a little difficulty transporting it. Here it is spread all over the old highway.

If all you see are tiny pieces of wicker, then you see what was left. There was one leg and scrap. Pretty sure I am done moving anything for the summer. 😉 I guess you can’t be good at everything. Right? So-scratch cooking and moving from my talent list.

Last week I wrote to you and let you know I wouldn’t be doing any promos with suggestive titles or erotic content. The struggle is real! I still don’t like one cover in this week’s books. As an author, I seek out promos that are limited to clean reads. The authors are on their honor. I don’t have time to read all the books in our groups. Please let me know if you find anything questionable

In my last newsletter, I let you know my values around clean and wholesome books and invited you to unsubscribe if I offended you. You must be an amazing group of people. Only two people unsubscribed.

I received the following letter from a reader and loved it so much, I wanted to share it with you.

“Good for you, standing with our God. I have seen promos with suggestive titles and pictures, I get out fast. God Bless You.”  Reader -E

I would love to hear how your summer adventures are going!

Hope All Things

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Going Viral doesn’t mean what I thought it meant…

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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.

Writing to you from here, behind closed doors, with pasta, lots and lots of pasta.
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Happy Birthday to Me!

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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!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Finding Hope by Shannon Symonds

Finding Hope

by Shannon Symonds

Giveaway ends January 08, 2020.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

But, if you entered the Goodreads giveaway and didn’t win, you can check out:

Shannon Symonds, Author Page!- All my books are FREE on Kindle between January 7-11, 2020

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:

1. Anyone can participate as a reader. They do not have to be LDS to play and win.
2. Although these are books by LDS authors, few of them actually have LDS content. **My books are Christian (LDS) Fiction”
3. Minimum books required to read: 1.
4. Readers can join any time—even if it’s the last day of the challenge.

#findinghopebyshannonsymonds #novel #cleanread #suspense

#romance #mysterythriller #safehousebyshannonsymonds #cedarfortauthor #giveaway #contest

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Merry Christmas from the Oregon Coast!

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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

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 symondsbythesea1215@gmail.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.

 

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Time Spent Together is Never Wasted

By lifting others, we all rise. People are always more important than problems. Problems can bring us together, or tear us apart. In this case, being vulnerable and authentic, sharing my heart work has brought me closer to family, friends, and a whole new community.

Read more

Wait By the Gate With Me

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“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

-Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Not long ago I found myself crying alone on a bridge. As there are many bridges in Seaside, that isn’t as odd as it sounds. I still haven’t decided if I was crying because I was heartbroken, betrayed by my own people, or just plain furious. You see, writers make a grand joke of rejection. We are experts at querying agents and publishers and being told our stories are, “Not what we are looking for,” or “you don’t have a large enough following,” or even, “your work needs more work.” But this rejection was personal.

I was told by an editor that my work contained characters who were members of my religion, and no one buys books with characters of my religion. They just don’t sell. And so, they’d voted and wouldn’t take any more novels that weren’t secular or contained characters who were members of my church.

In a knee jerk reaction, I offered to obliterate my religion from my story and thankfully they declined. You see, they said, my followers already know what church I belong too, and it was too late to go back in the closet. So, I countered, I read Anne Frank’s Diary, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and would have read 7 years in Tibet, except Brad Pitt starred in the Move, so I watched it 2 or 3 times. People read novels with religions in them.  But, apparently, they don’t sell.

So, channeling Brene Brown, and in the spirit of authenticity and vulnerability, I am perhaps one of the few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be rejected by an unnamed publisher for writing about characters that belong to the aforementioned church.

Most authors would just counter, oh well! That’s rejection number 666. Then they would either take out their religion or keep submitting. But, not the very successful authors and members of my critique group. Sometime in the evening, wearing pajamas and reading our work to each other over Google Hangouts and chatting over Facebook Messenger, I confessed – rejected because some of my characters went to The Church.

Immediately, I got the best advice of my life, “Wait by the gate.”

I replied, “Wait by the gate?”

The reply was a quote from a song.

“They came to a place which was named, Gethsemane

And Jesus saith unto his disciples, sit ye here while I pray…”

Lamb of God, Gethsemane by Rob Gardner, London Symphony Orchestra, Spire Chorus

In those few lines, I experienced greatness. You see, these lines came from a fellow author who also writes about characters in The Church who navigate the challenges of life, are regularly misunderstood for their beliefs, and yet cling to them. She waits by the gate, true to her beliefs, authentic, honest, hilarious, and a true friend. We write about what we know.

I decided to join her and wait by the gate. I will be true to my beliefs, to who I am and I will keep the strange little bishop who interferes with the love interest in my book and the funny lady who has never had a cup of coffee, but… well you’ll just have to read the book.

I don’t know what you believe in, but I hope whatever gate you choose to camp out at,  you are faithful to it. I hope you are brave, honest and honorable about who you are and what you believe. If you write a book, I will read it.

As for me and my friend? We will be waiting by our gate, with laptops, good books, good friends, family, laughter, and tears of joy. Because it isn’t about how many books we sell (Okay, we keep score and compete a little) as much as it is telling a great story. Not the greatest story ever told, yet. But then, you’ll just have to read the book.

 

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Hello Operator Can You Help Me Please

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

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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

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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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