Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Check out the first 5 chapters of a fabulous new book!!

Laurie has generously posted the first five chapters of Oh, Say Can You See? at the link below. Even though this wonderful book is part of a series, you can enjoy it as a "stand-alone" historical novel as well.

This will give you a taste before you buy it!
Read the first 5 chapters here 
Watch the book trailer here:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Say Can You See? BLOG TOUR DETOUR!!

Today I was scheduled to post a review of L.C. Lewis' new book, Oh Say Can You See? (a stand alone historical novel, as well as the 4th in her series Free Men and Dreamers). However, life sometimes has other plans. I'll spare you details (everyone is fine, just got an unexpected monkey wrench thrown at me) but I won't be posting that review today - Laurie Lewis graciously suggested I post it later so check back BUT in the meantime, you should just buy the book anyway - in time for Christmas - because it's fabulous!

You may or may not know that I am actually starting another blog dedicated to book reviews and author interviews.Stephanie's Book Reviews & Author Interviews ~ and that's where I'll be posting future book reviews - I may continue to post some here until people get used to going to the other one. I will definitely post my review of Oh Say Can You See? as soon as I can here as some people are being directed to this blog as part of the tour. Thanks for your patience. :)

You can also expect a review on The Waterfall Concept soon - am waiting to find out about "First Rights" to another place that will be publishing my review before I can proceed. So, guess most ventures start out with a few surprises, but stay tuned, I have lots to share with you ... soon. Become a follower!! Thanks and I'll "see" ya' later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"The Sharp Edge of the Knife" - author contest

Hey, everyone ~ thought you might like to know that one of my author friends, Nichole Giles, a.k.a. D.N. Giles, is having a contest on her blog: http://nicholegiles.blogspot.com/ ~ Just go and read about her new book, "The Sharp Edge of a Knife" - based on the true story of a Good Samaritan who gets kidnapped, follow the instructions and you will get entered in her contest. Good Luck!

can read the first chapter online for free - once you do, you'll want to read the rest. I was fascinated to read the interview she gave and realize that it was her grandfather who was kidnapped at knife-point - but I'll let you go to her blog and see for yourself. Be sure to read the rules on her blog on how you can enter her contest. I love author contests - I've gotten several free books and other cool prizes that way. Have fun!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Higher Way

According to Wikipedia (such as it is, but this is a pretty good definition), “‘Social issues’ are matters which directly or indirectly affect a person or many members of a society and are considered to be problems, controversies related to moral values, or both.” The list of hot topics in today’s society runs rampant: health care, abortion, human rights, immigration, the homeless, unemployment, bankruptcy, loss of homes, welfare, business and trade scandals, terrorism, pornography, drugs, sexual preferences, child abuse, and addictions, just to name some of them.

Look up the word “social” in the dictionary and the first definition says, “pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations.” Next, search for “issue” and you will find over thirty definitions but the one that most closely fits the bill for this topic seems to be, “a point, matter, or dispute, the decision of which is of special or public importance.” The funny thing is most “social issues” are not friendly and too many people act as if only their view of the matter is the one that is important.

It may be surprising to learn the “social issue” that is of importance to me. I yearn for tolerance, empathy and understanding. I can’t think of a single person whose mind was changed by listening to the mud-slinging political ads, watching debates, or reading op-ed pieces in the newspaper, online, on FaceBook or their friends’ blogs. No one I know changed their vote as a result of the constant barrage of recorded phone messages or any other method people used to try to get their point across during the recent elections. Why can’t we all just get along?

We will never totally agree with each other because we all bring different life experiences, perspectives, upbringings, and religious or other persuasions to the table. But do we really have to agree in order to live harmoniously with one another? Surely there is another way. Clearly, force and/or belittlement are not working. Why not try understanding each other?

I think it is a glorious thing that we are all different. How boring it would be if we really did all think alike. None of us look alike, but should we be treated differently because of that? Hopefully, we have come far enough for people to say, “No.” How about if we have different abilities, interests, skills, intelligence, opportunities, education and socio-economic levels? What if we see different ways of accomplishing the same goals? Is one way inherently better than another? Not in my opinion. Why aren’t we embracing and celebrating our differences? How else will we ever learn about different cultures, religions, ethnic foods and traditions and new ways of doing things if we do not allow people to practice them and to share it with us?

I really like this recent quote by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, among many other titles: “Election results in the U.S. show a lot of losers and a lot of winners. However, what we really need is win-win thinking, empathic listening for understanding and seeking mutual respect and benefits, which will lead to synergy. Synergy means ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’ Synergy produces 3rd Alternatives, ‘not your way or my way but a new or higher way.’"

A higher way, one, that respects each other regardless of our politics, our religion or lack of it, our education, our experiences and our cherished opinions. Now, more than ever, shouldn’t we be seeking first to understand and then to make ourselves understood? Shouldn’t we pool our collective thoughts and expertise and come up with solutions that work for every citizen? I think it’s time we put “united” back into the United States of America and worked together for our common good.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What a difference a YEAR makes!!


It's been almost a year since loquacious, always-has-something-to-say Stepha
Abney posted anything on her blog, well, MY blog - that sounded weird. Well, it's been a weird year so no biggie.

Things I never wrote about this year (in a nutshell - a "Stephanie-sized" nutshell):

~ I finished off a wonderful, stressful, lack of sleep, and frequently ill year of teaching 4th grade at ALA (American Leadership Academy) - last day was June 2nd. (LOVED, LOVED, LOVED my students and working directly with Theresa Sneed, the other 4th grade teacher and all of the staff at ALA).

~ During Spring Break (in March) this year I went to Guadalajara, Mexico for a week to visit Kaci and Adam and the grandkids because Adam is a student at the medical school there (just finishing up his 1st year - SO PROUD of him)!!

~ We went to a fun Family Reunion in California near San Diego around the 1st of July - had a blast - Matt's family, Kaci's family and Mandy's family made it - rest of our family couldn't come due to conflicting reunions on other sides of the family and such.

~ Adam flew home to go to school after HIS family reunion, which was on the heels of OUR family reunion, also in CA and Kaci and the kids stayed with us for the rest of the summer through most of September ~ SO GREAT TO HAVE HER AND THE GRANDCHILDREN HERE. We miss them! (Adam flew back to AZ on Sept. 23rd, his sister got married Friday, Sept. 24th, and the following day - they all drove back to Mexico).

~ Went to a 3 day writer's retreat in July at Christopher Creek, AZ (PERFECT).

~ I thought I figured out my health issues - after some research, it LOOKED like I might have Celiac Disease (I missed 21 days of school during the 2009-2010 school year). I seemed to have all of the symptoms so I took it upon myself to start eating "gluten-free" and things were much improved. When I got an appointment with a GI doc, and got blood tests and scoped "coming and going" (endoscopy and colonoscopy), it turns out I do NOT have Celiac. Go figure. Doc says I obviously do better on gluten-free (he said I have carbohydrate issues/sensitivities) and maybe a hint of Chron's disease but to just eat gluten-free and check back in 5 years. Hmm. Okay. I REALLY love this doc so I followed that, still got sick, just not as often and not as severe, which led me to further research and I landed on the SCD eating plan (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and I'm just starting out on that one - will have updates as they occur. Hope this is the answer. Looks good.

~ I changed grade levels and moved up to Middle School and when the new school year started (still at ALA) I was teaching 2 classes of 8th grade English, 2 Creative Writing classes, 1 Drama class, and 1 Journalism class ~ very soon the demand for Drama was so high that we changed one of the Creative Writing classes to Drama so then I had TWO drama classes. All I can say is, "Oh, wow." Fun times, for sure!!!

~ I was considering going part time after the 1st quarter ended in order to get a better handle on my health when I discovered the SCD plan shortly before the end of the 1st quarter. I knew I needed to really focus on it and my health in general, plus I still need to take a few classes to complete my certification, etc and it came to me that I should just take a "leave of absence" and get everything taken care of and return NEXT school year, healthy and ready to go!! And ... that is what I did. (With the blessing and understanding of ALA school director, Paul Sinclair). PLUS, by the time I come back - the new school buildings should be all finished!!! :)

~ My students were so sweet and cute with all the notes they plastered all over my whiteboard and that they gave to me at the end of the 1st quarter last week. I will miss them and teaching terribly, but I know for a fact that this was the correct decision for me.

So, that's my "nutshell" version of the past year. Now that I'm not teaching, I plan to keep up with my blog MUCH better and it should prove interesting with all the dietary things I'm trying - NO wheat, NO sugar, NO corn, NO rice, NO potatoes (that's the worst), NO to a bunch of stuff (very little dairy and quite specific about it MUST be homemade 24 hour yogurt, most hard cheeses are okay and YAY ~ butter is on the list). I'm actually surprised at how good some of the recipes look; there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meats, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, etc. You just have to start out very bland with just a few things and slowly add the allowable items back in and watch for reactions. Most people can handle all of the "legal" foods but NO to all the NO's in this paragraph. So, we shall see.

OKAY, I'm actually done! Glad to be back posting - love to all my amazing family members and friends. Talk to you later!! :)