Friday, September 23, 2016

Keeper of the Plains - Inspiration for a new story

A couple of years ago I visited the "Keeper of the Plains Plaza" in Wichita. The power in that place was so real it stayed with me for days and ultimately inspired me to write one of the most beautiful chapters I've ever imagined. Desperately wanting to share a piece of my experience with my readers, I tried to "force" the scene into a couple different projects. It didn't work. It needed a home of its own... and now, after stewing for a bit, I think I've found it! - I don't know how long it will take to finish this book (it's got a few other projects in front of it), but at least it has a home now...and it's a beautiful one!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tough As Nails

When I was a kid my dad would often joke that he was too ornery to die. He'd growl and scowl as if that was needed to drive home his point. I'm not sure I ever bought into his theory - after all, his own father was as ornery as they came and he died at the tender age of 50. I did, however, always think he was tough as nails (and sometimes meaner than dirt!) In all seriousness, I don't think grit or stubbornness have much to do with the miracles we saw unfold this week in my dad's behalf. 

As I understand it, the pain started Tues night - actually it started several days before that and escalated til Tuesday night. (Though the grin on his face Saturday afternoon when he was out "Jeeping" was no indicator.) Around 11:30 Dad told Mom he probably needed help. Having inherited the "stubborn, don't need to see a doctor" gene, I know this was a big deal. She took him to the ER where they assessed his pain and ran the standard tests. Multiple EKGs came back negative, however other signs indicated that something was definitely wrong. Around 4:30 Wednesday morning he was taken via ambulance to the Coronary ICU at the IMC (Intermountain Medical Center) in Murray, Utah. 

By Wednesday afternoon they still didn't have many answers. Around noon, via the help of a catheter, they determined that he had 100% blockage of his left anterior artery (aka: Widowmaker) and two 80% blockages on his right artery. Typically a blockage of this type would have called for triple bypass surgery, however, all three were miraculously able to be fixed with the placement of stents.

I saw my dad shortly after the procedure. He looked great. Normal even. The relief was immediate. His heart rate and blood pressure were back to normal and he certainly didn't look like a man who'd stared death in the face just hours before. They kept him overnight for observation then sent him home the following day. 

Not many people survive a 100% blockage of their left anterior artery. Most don't even make it to the hospital, hence the name "Widow Maker." Even less walk away without any - and by any, I mean 0%! - damage to their heart muscle. What my family saw this week was the unfolding of many miracles. I offered a prayer early Wednesday morning and received instant comfort. I knew things were going to be okay (I didn't necessarily know what "okay" meant, just that things would work out as God intended them.) 

Dad is home and as good as new. Prayers and faith work. 


Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Secret of Secrets novella series - From Concept to BEST SELLER!!



In the fall of 2014 I attended a writing retreat in the mountains above Heber, Utah. I did a bunch of writing, made some great new friends, and took advantage of the opportunity to learn from others. Near the end of the conference, mention was made of a new anthology endeavor that was on the horizon.  


At first I didn't think much of it. The idea of writing a novelette (a story about 1/3 the length of a typical novel) didn't really appeal to me. I tend to be a wordy writer - often having to edit out a serious amount of text from a typical manuscript to get it to an acceptable novel length. But I stewed on the idea. Could I do it? Would it be fun? Was it worth a try? 

In the following days I went on a road trip where I introduced the idea to my hubby. Not knowing how serious to take it, we brainstormed some ideas. By the time we reached our destination we'd brainstormed a pretty decent outline for a story about an awkward, computer geek girl, with a seemingly boring job with the NSA. 

After returning home from our trip, I pulled out my laptop and started writing. Before long Samantha Perry came to life. Within weeks I had written my complete novelette, HACKED. It was soon after accepted for publication by the Sweet and Sassy Anthology group for their "Secret Identities Collection".

But there was a hitch. There was more to Sam's story. And so, I kept writing. 

As it turns out, writing within the guidelines of a shorter format was a great exercise for me. I needed to do this project more than I ever imagined. Not only did I love exploring Samantha's introverted, awkward, sassy character, but I learned so much about telling a story without a bazillion unnecessary words. I saw measurable improvement in my craft... and I fell in love with Samantha, the man she knew as Seth, the idea of halibut fishing (read the series and you'll understand), and some beautiful parts of the United States. 

HACKED proceeded HUNTED, then shortly afterward HOOKED came to fruition. And all three books are now available on kindle and in paperback. They are short and sweet and sooooo much fun. 

And the best part? Within days of its release, HACKED hit #2 on the best seller list. HUNTED and HOOKED followed suit with their releases. Apparently readers are really liking the fast paced, quick, in-and-out of a story they can read in a day! Wow, am I ever grateful that I took the challenge and brainstormed that first story. 

To find out what the buzz is all about, visit www.stephanieworlton.com .

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rock It!

Fireplace after. Natural Stone. 
I have a confession to make...  

While I love writing, I find it hard to sit still for very long and would much prefer to be designing and building a project. So, I reward myself for completing my writing tasks by tackling projects around my house. (Whether they are things that actually need to be done is negotiable. Just ask my hubby. Have I ever told you how patient he is? 😉

Since releasing my book HUNTED almost a month ago, I've been working on a couple of things in our rec room. First I tackled the fireplace. If you remember, our rec room has been an ongoing project. About a year ago we worked on the custom built ins along side the fireplace. (Check that out here)  

I then built the coffee table. Wow, was that a fun project! I took four antique (well-weathered) apple boxes, secured them together and added industrial castors to the bottom. This is probably one of my all-time favorite projects. 

The latest project was to make the fireplace rock... as in literally, rock! And so, I rocked it!  

Fireplace before. Faux painting and slate. 
Fireplace. During construction

Next I moved on to the kitchenette. I'd initially chosen a different natural stone but when I went to pick it up, my daughter found this one. It was instant LOVE! So we switched gears. My original choice was a little more simple stone but I absolutely couldn't resist the range of beautiful colors and texture in this one. 


Kitchenette. Starting backsplash. 
Kitchenette. Backsplash complete. 




And now the basement is done (except for new paint... there's always new paint on the horizon where this girl is concerned!) 

My next project is my garden cottage (aka: shed). It's been on the docket for awhile. I'm so excited that it's finally time to start building... Of course, I have to finish some writing first, which means I may have to lock myself in my room for the next few days. Donations of Peanut M&Ms and Junior Mints would be greatly appreciated 😉

Friday, October 23, 2015

Directors Notes - The story behind the story - All the Finer Things


The Story Behind the Story

I sat up with a shock. The morning sun had yet to pierce my room, yet as my eyes flung open I could feel the sweat forming on the back of my neck. Hyperventilation squeezed at my chest. I could see her face. Feel her pain. And, as the rain pelted her windshield, I could feel the love she had for her child.

What I wondered about was her love for herself.

I sat in the darkness of my room processing it all for a minute. Eventually my heartbeat slowed to a normal pace but not before I’d logged onto my laptop. Furiously my fingers began to rap at the keyboard.

Before sunrise, the character of Megan Hamilton was given life.

The abuse Megan suffered was only the start of her problem. Mistakenly she’d calculated the riches and possessions in her life as the measure of her worth. She defined her value by the price-tag on her jeans, the car she owned, and even the number of shoes in her closet.

It didn’t take long to realize that I’d met Megan. She’s the trendy girl at the mall, the beautiful young mother at the park, the perfect lady at church. Maybe you’ve met her a time or two too. Maybe she’s your neighbor. Maybe she’s your best friend. Maybe she’s you. From the outside Megan had everything. With a perfect husband, a flawless figure, and seemingly everything money could buy, how could her life be anything but rosy?

The truth of the matter is, I think every woman - to one degree or another – has a little bit of Megan inside her. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that money, or fame, or whatever our personal vice is will bring happiness. Sadly we often set our sights on things that we think will make us happy when, in fact, real peace and joy have nothing to do with the quantity or quality of “things” we manage to gather.

And that’s why I had to tell Megan’s story.

I’ve witnessed the horror of physical and mental abuse in the lives of women that I love. And it’s not always a spouse or a loved-one that deals that abuse. Often women are their own biggest oppressors. But I’ve also witnessed the strength and the beauty in those women as they’ve conquered their fears and moved past the oppression.

I couldn’t wait to introduce Megan to the people that would help her get to that place of peace, joy, and self-love. I wrote All the Finer Things for me, for you… and for every woman out there fighting to find the beauty within herself and the value of the simplest joys in life.



Stephanie Worlton is the author of All the Finer Things and Hope's Journey. She lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where she enjoys frequent opportunities to observe nature and feed her creative spirit. She spends her days designing, building, painting, drawing, landscaping, and snuggling with her dogs. She has her own collection of power tools, a plethora of camera equipment, and a passion for shoes. All the Finer Things is her third published work.To learn more about Stephanie and her other books, please visit her website.




Thursday, September 24, 2015

But it's Just a Little Sand... What a little hike taught me about life.

There is a beauty in nature that no human - regardless of his/her skill set or talents - can mimic or recreate. It is this beauty, coupled with the promise of adventure, that make us an outdoor kind of family. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, you will find us choosing fresh air and sunshine over pretty much any other activity. 

Needless to say, with so much experience and exposure, we are familiar with nature and very comfortable in many different terrains. Even so, every time we venture out, we needfully prepare for obstacles and challenges that might come our way. 

On a recent outing, we packed plenty of water, snacks, a whistle, rope, and a small first aid kit into our packs and headed to one of our favorite corners of the world. Though familiar with the area, we were going to hike a new trail, so before we left, we took time to familiarize ourselves with the map and made sure we had a functioning GPS. 

With our supplies in our pack and my camera charged and ready, we started on our journey, full of hope and wonder at what we might find on our way. 

Not far up the trail, the path turned very sandy. The sand was soft and fun to walk in. Our feet slid around a little and we all shared some laughs about it. Sure, a little sand got in our shoes, but not enough to be bothersome or to slow down our pace. 

As the ascent continued, so did the sand. I chose not to be overly bothered by it and simply adjusted my stride to accommodate. And, as one might expect, with each sinking step, my shoes filled more and more. 

Several minutes passed and the sand in my shoes settled into the tip of my sock. It felt a bit like "sand pillows" under my toes. Soft. Squishy even. But still not bothersome enough to stop our progress so I could do a clean out. I simply adjusted my stride and kept moving. 

Eventually, however, the nuance of the sand pillows started to become a nuisance. It wiggled away from my toes and began to rub at the side of my foot. Irritating. Chaffing. But, I reasoned, it'd be pointless to stop and clean it out, because surely around the next corner, there is going to be another sand hill and my shoes will just get full again
So, I ignored the problem and just kept hiking.

By the time I made it back to the bottom of the trailhead, my shoes and socks were completely loaded down with sand. And, my feet were sore.

With great relief, I slid my tired feet out of my shoes, grateful to at long last be free from the irritation, but perhaps too late to avoid some long term effects. 





- Like the sand in my shoes, we often have little things in our life that at first don't seem to be a big deal. Sometimes, in fact, they may seem to be amusing or entertaining. But, after long periods of dragging those little grits along with us, they can build. And, as they build, they start to move "deeper" into our soul. Because of the Savior's Atonement, we are free to stop at any time to dump that sand out and start fresh. So, why don't we? Why do feel like we need to carry that sand all the way to the end of the trail?

As with me on the mountain, I simply didn't want stop because it seemed unnecessary and even pointless. As soon as I'd clean them, my shoes would surely fill up again, so why bother? 

Part of human nature tells us that it's pointless to try to be better because, surely around the next corner, we will mess up again. But, we know that our Savior has provided a way for us to be clean - not just one time, but as many times as we need it. Just as there is no reason to walk around with sand in our shoes, there is no reason to carry around our burdens, our sins, our frustrations, our shortcomings, or our heartaches. We don't need to reach the end of the trail, chaffed and sore. He has provided a way for us to be clean, if only we will take the time.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole

We hosted a brunch a couple of weeks ago, serving upwards of 70 people. A crowd that size demanded a quick, easy main dish that could be prepared before hand. This Casserole was perfect. Make it the night before and simply bake in the morning.

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole  (*Sugar free if your bread is sugar free)

Ingredients: 
8 slices of bread
1 1/2 lbs ground sausage, browned and drained
2 cups mild cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard


1. Butter bread. Remove crusts and cut into cubes.
2. Place bread in bottom of greased 9x13 pan.
3. Cover with cooked sausage, then top with grated cheese.
4. Beat eggs, milk, salt and dry mustard together. Pour over sausage/cheese.
5. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Bake
Remove from fridge. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for additional 15 minutes.

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