Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Virtues of Successful Parenting

I'm asked from time to time when I'm going to write a book on parenting. After I finish laughing, I am humbled by the compliment. I suppose those queries are a testament to the great children whom I'm blessed to have in my home. I'm not sure the credit is mine or my husbands to take alone, but I am sure there are some keys - virtues if you will - that have helped us along the way: 

Patience - Patience, while being a virtue, is also a process. I use to think that I fared pretty good on the good ol' patience scale... Life has since proved me wrong! Regardless of the chapter you find yourself in, parenting can be the ultimate test of patience. And, it's not like your children purposely try to dance on your nerves... oh, who am I kidding? Yes, they sometimes do!! But most of the time, the knot-wrenching they cause is inadvertent and honestly innocent.  

Be patient. Bite your tongue. Breathe. The most valuable lesson I've learned as a parent is to pick my battles. Ask yourself if the supposed infraction is really that important. Is your child hurting himself or others? Is he causing damage to property? Or, is he simply exploring his world, learning its natural boundaries, and in the process, making a mess of your pristine home? Be reasonable, rational, and realistic with your expectations. Not only will your children benefit as you step back and relax, your physical wellness will thank you too.

Humility - I remember the first time I screwed up as a parent... Okay, probably not the first time, but the first blatantly obvious time. While we may not like to give breath to our weaknesses or our failures, lets admit it, we are not perfect. I don't care who you are, at some point you will take a wrong step in your parenting adventures. Painful as it may be to your pride, admitting your faults is not a sign of weakness. In fact, little words like "I'm sorry," or "Can you please help me?" are imperative to becoming a good parent. If you are unwilling to recognize your faults, how can you improve upon them? Successful parents are teachable parents. Learn to apologize when you fall - especially to your children! Be teachable and understanding. 

Pride - I'm not talking about the "puffed up" kind of pride that the Bible so importantly reminds us to avoid. Talents, success, beauty, and even smarts should not be the target of our affection. While it's important to recognize our children's strengths and abilities, it's also important that they know you are proud of them regardless of the trophies, honors, or accolades they receive. I've been in several situations where parent's play the "one-up" game using their children as their pawns. "My kid does x,y, and z..." "Oh yah, well my kid does a, b, c, and D!!" What if your child doesn't do x,y, z, a, b, c, or d? Does that make him/her an invalid person? What if Johnny doesn't play football but instead finds joy in serving others? What if Janey doesn't like to dance but loves to lose herself in books? 

My children may never earn a Pulitzer, a Heizman, or a Grammy, but that doesn't negate the fact that they are amazing people. Be proud of who they are, not what they can do. Thankfully we all come with our own personalities, talents, and interests. Our hobbies and interests may not be the same as our children's... and that's okay! At the end of the day, the potential size of your child's future paycheck or the number of trophies that adorn his/her wall are not important. Their ability to love and to feel love, however, is. Rather than trying to force your interests on your children, why not let them discover their own? Embrace their uniqueness and find pride in the gift of parenthood. All children - both yours and mine - have the potential to do much good in this world. Teach them to love and respect themselves and humanity, and you will always have cause to be proud.  

Humor - Laugh. Life's too precious and too short to be serious 100% of the time. Sure, there's a time and a place to be all buttoned up and serious, but there are also appropriate times to let loose and laugh! Find joy in your parenting journey. Fill your home with laughter. Children are delightful. Parenthood is tough, but it can also be fun! Play  with you kids. Kick back and enjoy a good belly jiggling, tear-invoking, snort-inducing laugh. 

Gratitude - Every night I hit my knees to thank my Heavenly Father for entrusting me with the care and nurture of His beautiful, valuable children. Parenthood is not an opportunity any of us should take lightly. As parents - and even grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends - we have an obligation to teach, prepare, and ultimately love the little people in our lives. While most of my children are no longer technically "little people" (three of them are as big or bigger than me) they are still precious children of our Heavenly Father... and they will always be my babies! 

I know that there are certain phases of your child's progression where time may seem to drag by, but believe me when I tell you to cherish those moments. Nobody loves tripping over collections of baby dolls or having little legos brutally lodged into the sole of your foot, but be grateful for them, for that chapter of innocent chaos will close sooner than you expect. I know it's cliche to say so, but they really do grow up soooo fast. Diapers turn to playdates, then homework, then real dates and driving, and then.... sigh... 

Be grateful for each step of the journey. Be humble, teachable, patient, loving, and full of joy. Cherish every moment, create memories, and look forward to each amazing chapter! 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unbelievable - by Sherry Gammon

I'm honored to be part of the blog tour for author Sherry Gammon's Unbelievable. 
Unbelievable is the second book in Gammon's Port Fare series, however, it does quite well as a stand alone. (Note: regardless of the order you read these first two books of the Port Fare series, once you read one, you will want to read the other!)

I read this book in two days - not always an easy task for this busy mother of four - but, a sure testament of its quality. I was hooked right away by the sassy Delilah and, if that wasn't enough, the quirky, klutzy Doctor Cole was instantly irresistible. I found myself in awe of Gammon's ability to seamlessly  weave such an intricate, plot thick story into such an easy, page turning read. The dialogue was fun and snappy. The back and forth between Booker and Maggie was reminiscent of the way I banter with my brothers. (I only wish that one of them could've be labeled a kitty cat!)     

I've noticed Unbelievable being billed as a YA novel, but if YA isn't your thing, don't shy away. While it is certainly appropriate and surely appealing to a YA audience, I think it could better be classified as a ROMANTIC SUSPENSE. With twists and turns throughout, I thoroughly enjoyed every page. I look forward to future books from Gammon... especially ones in this series. 

(As part of Unbelievable's blog tour, there are some pretty fun giveaways. Make sure you read all the way to the end of my post to check them out!) 

About the Book: 

Delilah Lopez Dreser’s in town to take care of family business. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but there’s more to Lilah than meets the eye. Cole’s in danger of losing his heart when this firestorm throws sparks his way. However, is she simply playing him for the fool in order to exact revenge for her brother’s murders?                       
Maggie and Seth’s reaction when the truth is revealed pushes friendship to the limit. And this time around it won’t be a Dreser causing an uproar in Port Fare. It will be Cole's good friend Booker. But does Booker have it all wrong?  Usually not!

About the Author

Unlovable was Sherry's debut novel and quickly rose to many top seller lists on Amazon. She is pleased to announce that Unlovable is currently being made into a movie. She has added three more novels to her body of work. Souls in Peril, the poignant story of Max Sanchez who is on a journey to help the struggling JD Miller survive high school, and Pete & Tink, a fun, light-hearted novella of a manga-loving geek and and five-and-a-half inch fairy. And UNBELIEVABLE, Book 2 in the Port Fare Series
Sherry and her husband, along with their children and a couple of crazy dogs, call Upstate New York home. It is where she spends her nights writing instead of sleeping {:

Don't forget to enter for your chance to Win one of Sherry's fabulous Blog Tour prizes!!
ONLY THREE entries are Mandatory, the rest are optional on the Rafflecopter!


1. A Signed paperback copy of Unlovable and Unbelievable 
2. An Ecopy of Unbelievable
3. A signed book wreath made from the pages of Unlovable

 4. Swag

5. Sheppard's Hook Bookmarks
6. An ecopy of Author Cindy C Bennett's new anthology Enchanted Fairytales

7. Ecopies of part one and two of Author Camelia Miron Skiba historical anthology.

I was here...Before You came and Born in Sin (due to be released in June)

Blog Tour Schedule

April 15 Review
April 15
April 16 ~ Review
April 21 ~  Review
April 22 ~ Review
April 23 ~ Review
April 24 ~ Review
April 24 ~  Review
April 24 ~ Review
April 26 ~ Review
April 27 ~ Review
April 28 ~ Review
April 28 ~ Review
April 29 ~ Review
April 29 ~ Review

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Called to Serve... Getting the fateful mission call

Last night, in a much anticipated event in the Mormon culture to which I happily belong, our family gathered to open my son's mission call. Over the next few years, I'm sure I will find occasion to share some experiences from his mission on this blog. Realizing that not all of my awesome readers share my faith, I feel that perhaps a little explanation may be necessary:

What is an LDS missionary? 

LDS Missionaries are young men (18-19 year olds) and women (19-21 year olds) that leave their homes and devote two years (18 months for females) as representatives of Jesus Christ. These young people leave their families, their friends, their internet, and even their cell phones. They postpone their work/schooling, pay their own way, and most often live in very humble circumstances. They do not choose where they will serve, and it is anything but a two-year vacation. So why, you may ask, would they volunteer their service? It's really quite simple: As members of the LDS (Mormon) church, we strive to keep the Savior, Jesus Christ, as the center of our lives. We have faith in Him, love Him, and find joy in His service. Because we have felt His love and know the peace He can bring to our lives, we invite others to learn of Him and accept Him in their lives For more information about missionaries and their work, you can visit

Talk of my son's mission has filled the walls of our home for years. Since he was little, his desire to serve the Lord has been humbling. As his mother, I am so pleased with the young man that he has grown into. I am excited to see him prepare himself to be worthy and willing to dedicate his time, talents, and the fullness of himself in the hopes of bringing others to Christ. I am just beginning to realize the scope of this commitment and the sacrifice it will be for both him as well as for our family and I am honored to be the mother of such an amazing young man.

What does it take to be a missionary?

There is much preparation that must take part before a missionary can serve. One must first learn of the Savior, develop faith in Him, and strive to live His commandments. Missionaries are not perfect; however, just like other faithful Christians, they are striving to live as Heavenly Father would have them live. This is not an overnight process but a life-long journey. There is much learning a missionary must do to prepare to serve. He/she should know and understand the commandments, faithfully read and be familiar with the scriptures (both the Bible and the Book of Mormon), and attend their church meetings to further their learning of the gospel. A missionary also must be clean...clean from drugs, alcohol, sexual relations, unhealthy habits, and unlawful acts. 

Prospective missionaries essentially apply for their mission by submitting their "papers" to LDS Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. These "papers" include documentation from their doctor and dentist stating their physical eligibility, recommendations from their bishop and stake president (local church leaders) about their worthiness, and a series of personal questions. Upon receipt, members of the First Presidency prayerfully make each mission assignment. 

My son completed his papers and his interview with our bishop and stake president a week and a half ago. Typically it takes two weeks to receive your call (aka: assignment). However, because of the recent age change for prospective missionaries, the influx of submitted papers has spiked, thus slowing the process in some cases to 6 weeks. Imagine our surprise when, after only a week and a half, we got his fate-filled envelope in the mail!!!

We gathered our family together - some via phone - to share in the experience as he opened the envelope... and, essentially the unveiling of where his next two years would be spent. Having no control over where your 18 year old is going to be for two years is a bit nerve wracking for any mother. Honestly, for me, it was a HUGE test of faith. 

As we waited on pins and needles, I could only imagine where he might go. Would he be going foreign or domestic? Familiar or completely new? Tropical or perhaps even arctic? Would he have to learn a new language? What kind of cultural changes were in store?

I know I'm not the only one that was shaking with anticipation as he gently tore into the envelope! 

Though I'm not a crier, I was prepared for tears. What I got instead was an overwhelming confirmation that Heavenly Father does, indeed, know my son! His call wasn't one that I'd even considered, but as I looked at my beaming son, I KNEW it was exactly where he was supposed to go. 

Because of the public nature of this blog, I've chosen not to share the location to which he has been called. He might be legally an adult, but my mama instinct tells me I still need to protect him. To those who know my family personally, I will be glad to share. For the rest of my amazing readers, I will tell you this: he has been called to serve in one of the beautiful countries of his ancestors  He is both excited and qualified for the experience that lies before him. I have no doubt that he will touch the lives of those whose paths he crosses. I also have no doubt that the Lord will always be mindful of him. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Jeweler - by Ken Murray

Today I am honored to participate in author Ken Murray's blog tour. 


By way of introduction, Ken Murray lives with his wife Beth in Winter Park and has sons and daughters and three grandchildren. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he served in a top secret cryptographic unit of the U. S. Army in the Pentagon during the Korean war organizing intelligence from codes deciphered by the National Intelligence Agency. He moved to Florida in 1958, retired early, and for the past fifteen years has been writing novels and poetry. You can learn more about Ken by visiting him at

Now on to our Interview: 

[Stephanie]: Ken, as an author my stories and characters are often influenced by events, experiences, and even people in my life. Is the same true with your writing?

[Ken]: Yes, Stephanie - all three. Rock and Carla Hard, the jewelers I met through our daughter, Jennifer, up in the Florida Panhandle are a prime example. They inspired me to write the novel - his youth and background were just too good not to build that into a story.

[Stephanie]: Is there a character in The Jeweler that shares some of your own personality traits? Which one? And how?

[Ken]: No. There's no one in the novel that touches the cusp of insanity, that walks on the edge of the envelope, a dreamer of tales, who frequents the cosmos and finds himself seeing the world and people through the eyes of new characters that invade my senses - all of whom are conjured by witches I employ.

[Stephanie]: Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

[Ken]: The character I most enjoyed describing and developing was Jacob Turley. The little British recruiter for the CIA. He's introduced on page 115, and as I write the reader slowly gets a vivid picture of the pipe smoking Brit with the English accent and unusual humor that he builds into asking a man to become an assassin.

[Stephanie]: Where did you draw your inspiration for The Jeweler (or any of your writing for that matter)?

[Ken]: Inspiration in most cases comes from imagination - true for several other novels such as 'Fort Knox Heist,' 'The Final Plan,' and my just completed sci-fi, 'The Second Creation,' that will be available at ebook sites quite soon. But all of them involve lots of facts developed by research which is extensive in all of my writing. I believe great fiction should be based upon a lot of fact which gives credibility that leads to acceptance by the reader.

[Stephanie]: What drives you to write? Is it something you've always wanted to do or something you stumbled upon during the course of your life?

[Ken]: Sheer boredom after retiring early lead to my interest in writing. I've been an avid reader all of my life, and then in a muddle a few years ago, I stumbled into poetry. That's a wow. I mostly write romantic poetry, but some spiritual. John Updike said 'poetry is the most intense and the most satisfying.' I know what he meant.
[Stephanie]: Do you have any particular habits or rituals that help you get in "the zone" for writing?

[Ken]: When I'm into writing a novel, like the sci-fi I just finished, I just sit down and it flows from where I left off. I write at different times of the day, lots at night - less disturbance, and I don't write from an outline, that's way too confining. I like the freedom of ideas or new characters that just come to me, then I get inside their heads and they tell me what to write.

[Stephanie]: Thanks, Ken. It's been fun to get to know a little more about you. Creativity is certainly something I think we all can respect and when that creativity comes forth in the form of a book, that's even better.

About Ken Murray's The Jeweler

Cole Hanson learned the jewelry trade early in life. Dealing in emeralds in Columbia, Hanson is kidnapped and taken to the mountain jungle lair of the Black Jaguar, a cocaine drug lord. He witnesses a horrible triple murder, executes the killer, and escapes. Hanson is overwhelmed by a euphoric rush and struggles with this discovered Jekyll and Hyde personality. Hanson is recruited to become an assassin for the CIA who learns of his strange predilection for death and uses this alter ego to press The Jeweler ever deeper into espionage and assassinations around the world. Murder occurs in England. Diskettes with top secret information about the Soul Catcher are stolen. Incensed, Hanson seeks the killers, but is on his own without CIA approval as clues take him across Europe and to the Vatican for revenge. After twenty years of service The Jeweler attempts his toughest sanction. Hussein is well guarded moving between palaces and seems an impossible target until fate deals a hand. Hussein flees on his mega-yacht. Hanson battles his way on board for the final action and twists in the Persian Gulf.

Find Ken on  Facebook @KenMurrayAuthor on Twitter, and Goodreads

Purchase a copy of  The Jeweler  on Amazon

Enter to win Ken's Rafflecopter giveaway here.

·         First prize: Autographed Copy of The Jeweler; $20 Amazon Gift Card
·         Second prize: Autographed Copy of The Jeweler
·         Third prize: Autographed Copy of The Jeweler

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Unexpected Adventure... Vegas Style

I had quite the eventful week, full of new opportunities and - though I had no idea how profound they might be - new adventures. What started off as a simple writing retreat ended with a little opportunity that involved a touch of laughter, a little bit of welding, and a midnight run to In-and-Out Burger all in the parkinglot of an abandoned warehouse in North Las Vegas.  And, though at times it was a little intense for this control-freak girl, I didn't walk away empty handed...

Here are five of the (very!) precious jewels I collected from my adventure:

1. Smashed Frosted Mini-Wheats look an awful lot like sawdust.  - Don't ask, lets just leave it at that. Haha!

2. Good friends are priceless.

3. Good friends with special skills and a full toolbox are even better.  - Especially when they drive 6 hours to help you out!

4. Don't judge a firearm-brandishing, redneck, vocabulary-challenged stranger by his cover... he just might be a gentleman. And, he might even be the answer to your prayers.

5. You don't need to wait til the 4th of July for fireworks, just fire up the welder at midnight and watch the sparks fly.

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