Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stories for Stepmoms with Shawn Simon

An interesting new author named Shawn Simon has become an online friend of mine. 4RV Publishing Co. recently offered her a contract for her debut book, so first of all, I wish to congratulate Shawn. She offers inspiration and help for the new or soon-to-be stepmoms in Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms.

I would suspect this would be a difficult transition. This author gives hope.

Shawn, can you tell us your personal story of how this book came to be?

After moving in with my husband and his children,

my goal was to be the best stepmom ever. I never

wanted to hear, “You’re not my mom! You can’t tell me what to do! “


So, I started asking friends for advice and

suggestions, and I logged online to find step-parenting advice books. There wasn’t much, except for self-help books; I prefer reading stories. But, being desperate, Idecided I’d buy a few.


My husband found me upstairs and asked what I was doing. I told him I was buying

books to help me as a stepmom. He looked at the

computer and my “shopping cart” and exclaimed, “You

need six books?” I argued, “Well, I want to be the best

stepmom I can be!” He said he understood, but

suggested starting with two.

Later, a friend and fellow stepmom told me about a

book by Sally Bjornson that became my “bible”. It is

funny and heartfelt, about her journey. One part

especially resonated and became a catalyst for writing

my book. To paraphrase, she said, “When a woman gets

married, she is given a wedding shower, when she gets

pregnant, she is given a baby shower, but when she

marries a man with kids, she is given a bottle of wine

and told, ‘Good luck!’” This is so true! No one tells you

what you are in for. No one has sage, helpful advice. In

fact, no one really talks about this mysterious role of

stepmom. This is odd to me as more than half of all

families are “blended”. The traditional family barely

exists anymore, yet the topic of step-parenting is taboo.

Over my stepmom years, I gathered stories of my

experiences, and every week at the salon, I shared a

story. One day, my manicurist said, "You should write a

book. You tell great stories.” At lunch with a friend, I

shared a story about my stepdaughter, and she said,

"You should write a book. I think your experiences

would be inspirational." On another occasion, a

stepmom friend and I were at lunch sharing our trying

experiences, when we decided that I should write a

book including other stepmoms’ experiences as well as

my own. Well, my belief is that when we hear something

several times, there must be something to it. So, I

decided to write a book.

Those moments led me to this point, with a book

that is a compilation of stories from real life stepmoms'

adventures. It was a therapeutic experience, hearing

these women tell their stories: some are stepmoms with

no kids of their own, some have blended families, and

some started as stepmoms and then added to their

families. Hearing their stories was akin to being in a

stepmom support group.

My goal is to eradicate the idea of the “evil

stepmother”. That fairytale is ridiculously old, yet, sadly,

nothing has come along to replace it, even though there

are thousands of blended families. I am not an “evil

stepmom”. I love my step-kids. It took time, of course,

but over the years that love has grown. I joke saying,

“Why should I have kids of my own? I couldn’t love

Jessie more if I’d given birth to her, and Aiden and I are

so much alike, I might as well have given birth to him.”

My hope is that this book of real stories from

stepmoms will lessen the fear of this taboo subject and

will start us talking about the struggles and successes of

stepmoms everywhere.

10 years ago, Shawn Simon met her husband, who came
with two kids. As an educational therapist teaching children,
Shawn thought becoming a stepmom would be easy. She was
wrong. However, as someone who was born with only one
arm, she has learned to overcome obstacles. Therefore, success
in this chapter of her life would happen, too. From learning to
navigate her way in a world designed for two hands, she knew
she would navigate her way as a stepmom.
When Shawn discovered there was no support for stepmoms,
she decided to write her book, Stepping into a New Role,
Stories from Stepmoms. Shawn is thrilled to have her book
published by 4RV Publishing. Currently, she is working on
her second book, Stories from Stepdads. Shawn lives in
California with her husband, step-children, her dogs and cat.
Shawn's book should be out next year. Until then, find her at:

Facebook: Shawn Simon
Twitter: @shawnsimon44

Thank you, Shawn, for telling us your story. I know there will be many ladies eager to purchase your book. Be sure to return to Writing with God's Hope blog when the book releases.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Haunted Jed Johnson Lake, Oklahoma

A favorite day trip from Wichita Falls, Texas is the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in South Central, Oklahoma, near Lawton. If we travel a little over an hour, we reach a destination filled with wonder and fun. Buffalo, deer, and Longhorn cattle dot the plains. Mountains, tall on the Oklahoma horizon, rise in jagged peaks and form rocky canyons. For the fisherman, the park sports thirteen lakes. Children ooh and ah over the animals and run free over the boulders. The view from the peaks is breath-taking. For Christians, one area is reminiscent of Israel during Jesus' time on earth. Each year, this Holy City is the setting for an outdoor Easter pageant.

My husband and I drive to the top of Mount Scott, the highest peak in the Wichita Mountain chain. The next stop is usually the Holy City. Once, when we had our grandsons for a visit, we parked and hiked around Jed Johnson Lake. An old tower built in the 1930s stands guard over one end of the lake. The youngest grandson wanted to climb up the tower steps, but the way was blocked.

Since then, I have discovered that perhaps there's more than one reason why the steps are closed to that tower. The ghost of a woman who ran her car off the road and into the lake to drown was seen in that tower by explorers and workers alike. Wow, am I glad we didn't venture in. The outside was strange enough with its tall, thin stature like a park sentinel.

Still, it's rather fun to imagine a ghost in this remote location. When you're there, few people pass your way. An imagination could play tricks on those who dare.

For information on many other Oklahoma ghost legends, go to the blog for Haunted Oklahoma at:

Do you have a ghost legend a day trip away?

Saturday, March 21, 2015


My thoughts trouble me and cause all manner of difficulty. My overeating, my self-condemnation, my sharp tongue all stem from my mind, and what I think about.  Romans 12: 2 urges us to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind."  As Christians, it behooves us to renew our minds and seek the mind of Christ.

Is that possible?

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
                                                                            1 Corinthians 2:16

Salvation takes away our sin and provides us eternal life.

What then must we do to have the mind of Christ?

    1.     Meditate on God.

I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
I will meditate also on all thy work, and talk of thy doings.     Psalm 77: 11-12 

Meditation is simply soaking in God, dwelling on what He's already done for us, listening to His voice, and obeying His Word..

  2. Give up our critical nature nd words. Be an encourager.

****If it’s not good or uplifting, don’t say it and don’t think it.
          Divine Dining, my devotion book and Worth Her Weight, my new women's fiction seek to
         encourage the readers.

               3. Keep an attitude of gratitude.

In everything, give thanks.
A simple thank you can solve a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

4.  Remind yourself daily how much God loves you.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we look down ourselves, we negate God’s love.

What I am and what I struggle with are not the same thing.
                                         Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild
We need to separate those two things. I battle compulsive overeating. I also tend to use negative self talk about myself, calling myself a failure. But that’s not who I am. I’m a beloved child of God who seeks to follow His will and touch other lives with His love flowing through me.
    5.  Be positive.
I'm not talking about just positive-thinking, but positive because I trust Him to make it right.
                  Think of the problems you're facing today. How many of them would wither in the
                      light of God's love if we sought to renew our mind, to possess the mind of Christ?

                        I feel the need to fall on my face and seek the "mind of Christ."

                        How about you?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Lady by the Lake

All my life, I've heard stories told about a ghost appearing around White Rock Lake. The lake is a small body of water bound on all sides by commercial and residential properties in North Dallas. Sail boats dot the blue waters especially on a pretty Sunday afternoon. My husband and I lived blocks from there when our oldest daughter was young, and we hadn't yet had the two younger girls. Trees circle the lake. It's one of Dallas' most scenic areas.

This ghost story has many versions, but they always include a young woman in a white evening gown. She is dripping wet and asks to be taken home. Somewhere along the way while they drive this young lady to her destination, she disappears. The story dates back to at least the 1930s. In 1943, it was printed in the Texas Folklore Society's newsletter.

For more information on the Lady by the Lake, go to:

This lady is believed to have been a warning to people driving on the road around the lake when they're inching too closely to the water's edge. Some claim stopping for her saved them from plunging into the depths themselves. This will usually happen on nights with a full moon.

By the way, a full moon is due on April 4, so if you're in Dallas on that day, be careful if you cruise around White Rock Lake.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Visit with Children's Author, Donna M. McDine

I'm so excited to have as my guest award-winning children's author, Donna M. McDine. I first "met" Donna online when I submitted to her my article about dreaming. She published it in her newsletter "Write What Inspires You." I subscribed to the newsletter and have been a fan of Donna's ever since.

Donna offered to write an article today about How a Book Comes to Be, so here it is. Be sure to scroll all the way down because Donna has a free offer for you.

One of the most popular questions children ask me when conducting author visits is “How do you come up with your ideas?” Today, I’m sharing just that…


The creation of a book starts at the basics, an idea…

·         Imagination

·         Playing Games

·         World History

·         Music

·         News Articles

·         Art

·         Playing Sports


The list is endless.


My ideas for my books come to me in different ways…

For example, my book Hockey Agony was created from my lifelong interest in sports and watching my children, nieces and nephews compete in one sport or another. I chose hockey because two of my nephews and a niece are passionate hockey players.



The Golden Pathway and Powder Monkey were created from a publishers call for submissions regarding the Underground Railroad and the Royal Navy Press Gangs.


View the book trailers for…




A Sandy Grave came to life from a newspaper article I read about a dead whale that washed ashore of a California beach. What fascinated me about this article was the police needed to guard the whale, until the local marine biology institute could arrive to determine what the whale died from. The reasoning for guarding the whale astounded me. Apparently, poachers would take the opportunity to steal the whale’s teeth to sell to artists to create scrimshaw on the teeth and then sell for a profit.

View the book trailer for A Sandy Grave



Once an idea comes to mind the research and outline begin…


It’s important to conduct research to stay accurate to the details of true life, especially when it concerns laws or facts.  Just because an author’s story may be fictional, accuracy is a must to make it entertaining and educational at the same time.

Create character profiles and conduct character interviews to learn how each character will respond to a certain situation.

Blending the facts with well-written characters and scenes using all the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) will have an enjoyable story leaping from the pages.


In the creative writing process it helps to know what you want your character to accomplish even before you write the story…


ü      Write a beginning that makes your reader want to keep reading.

ü      The middle of your story should happen in the right order.

ü      The end of your story should make sense.


Once you have your first draft written now it’s time to share it with a fellow writer to have a fresh set of eyes to read through your manuscript. Writers often become so invested in their words they don’t see what can be reworded or deleted to make a scene stronger.


Editing Process…


Don’t be afraid to edit and cut portions of your manuscript. The tighter your manuscript the quicker your story will flow.


The road to publication is a long one. Now the waiting truly begins…


ü      Once the acceptance contract is received, more edits from the publisher begins with their editing department.

ü      After the final edits the publisher determines the break of scenes for the page layout.

ü      For children’s books an illustrator is then assigned, and the creation of the illustrations begin.

ü      The book marketing process begins well before the release date with the publisher’s marketing department and author.

ü      It is a complete team effort to see the final creation of the book.


From acceptance to publication it can take anywhere from six months to two years to hold your published book in your hands. It’s a long time, but oh so worth the wait.


Soak up the World Through Books…


Embrace the written word and suggestions your teachers may have for your writing. Explore the world at your fingertips through the adventures of reading and writing. The joy of immersing yourself in a good book is one to share with everyone.


Special offer, opt-in for my FREE newsletter, Write What Inspires You! and receive two FREE e-books:


·         The Story Behind the Book

·         Marketing Tips by Donna McDine



Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. With four early reader children’s picture books to her credit, A Sandy Grave (January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) and a fifth book in the publishing pipeline with Guardian Angel Publishing her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, New York State Reading Association and Family Reading Partnership.


Keep reading and writing,


Donna M. McDine

Award-winning children’s author


Janet, thank you for hosting me today. It has been a true pleasure and honor to be here.

Thank you, Donna, for being such a wonderful guest. I loved the book trailers, and your words should help a lot of would-be authors that might be viewing today.

I highly recommend subscribing to Donna's newsletter. It's chock full of helpful, inspiring articles. And what a generous free offer, so don't miss out on that.

Any questions or comments for Donna today?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Dark Story from My Childhood Home

     Well, it's Weird Wednesday, and I'm running late. Last week I promised a post about a ghost legend from my old childhood stomping ground. The place I chose was Texas Theatre. In 1931, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas opened the largest suburban theatre in the nation.. The address was 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. Ahead of its time, it boasted a real water-cooled air system built into the ceiling.

     In the late fifties and early sixties, I walked up and down Jefferson Blvd looking for some place to have fun. The Texas Theatre was a frequent weekend stop. We were told the basement was haunted. We kids believed it. Some told tales of ghosts below. I was never willing to ask to go down and double-check.

     However, the Texas Theatre gained notoriety from something else besides its ghosts.  On November 22, 1963, the store manager from next door spotted a man sneaking into the theatre without paying. A clerk called the police while the manager went inside and kept his eye on the criminal. That man was arrested and found to be Lee Harvey Oswald who hid in the theatre away from the police after he shot President John F. Kennedy.

     I thought you might enjoy this dark piece of Dallas (Oak Cliff) history. There was suspicion about the theatre's making expensive repairs after that incident. The theatre increased in fame. In 2003, it was put on the National Registry of Historical Places. Since it's still open and functioning in 2015, employees are often asked, "Can you point out the seat where Oswald sat?"

     Oak Cliff was a quiet, peaceful place to grow up. Who would have know it had a dark side?  Does where you grew up have a dark side?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What's the Solution for Depression?

Think depression is something new to the twenty-first century? Think again. Ever since God kicked Lucifer out of heaven, that mean-spirited, beautiful ex-angel has been using every weapon in his arsenal to defeat God. One of those is depression. Listen to Elijah's story back in the time of the Jewish kings.

     So, Elijah fled for his life; he went to Beersheba, a city of Judah, and left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day, and sat down under a broom bush and prayed that he might die.
     "I've had enough," he told the Lord. "Take away my life. I've got to die sometimes, and it might as well be now."
             1 Kings 19: 3, 4 Life Recovery Bible
        But the Lord said to him, "What are you doing here Elijah.
     He replied, "I have worked very hard for the Lord God of the heavens, but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you and torn down your altars and killed your prophets, and only I am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too."
             1 Kings 19: 9, 10 Life Recovery Bible

Another prophet of old by the name of Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. He wrote a whole book about his sadness. At one point in his ministry, here's how he felt.
      All hope is gone, my strength has turned to water, for the Lord has left me.
           Lamentations 3:18 Life Recovery Bible.

Symptoms of depression include:
     Insomnia or sleeping all the time
     Inability to concentrate or make decisions
     Loss of appetite or Inability to control overeating
     A feeling of emptiness
     Unconcern for normal enjoyments of life
     Change of habits
     Crying over inconsequential things
     Outbursts of anger
     Panic attacks
     Thinking about suicide
     Inability to pray

Not everyone will have all these symptoms. There are degrees of depression, anything from “a little down” to physical, chemical depression requiring medication. All form of depression brings a wedge between you & God.
My devotion book, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness, shows my depression at the time I wrote this.
     I call out to God but only trust in my own abilities, because He is far away. I lost thirty pounds with a weight support group, but put it back on, plus some. I whittled off forty pounds with shots and pills only to find myself in deep depression and succumbing to old behavior patterns. When I purchased a diet franchise after losing a hundred pounds, the stress of keeping off the weight drove me to underground eating and gaining, until I lost my business. I had failed. I couldn't lose. I couldn't maintain what I lost. I was worthless.
Like Jeremiah, the only remedy to depression is soaking in the Word of God, allowing His Words to soothe & encourage, & reminding yourself of His faithfulness in the past.

On page 843 of the Life Recovery Bible, this note tells us, "Turning our life over to God includes giving him our pain and suffering. In our times of grief and shames, we can hope for the time when God will overcome the problems we face. God is strong enough to lift our burdens and loving enough to mend our broken heart."

Lamentations 3:21-23 gives us the solution to depression.

     Yet, there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord's mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day. 

Tara Johnson's book Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie tells us "Here's the thing about depression: you cannot operate based on how you feel. You have to cling to what you know." 

One Scripture that ministers to many of us comes because of Jeremiah’s struggle with depression.


“For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, plans for good & not for evil, for hope in your future.”
                              Jeremiah 29:11


I look through the table of contents in The Freedom of Letting Go by Donna Clark Goodrich for all the things we must learn to let go of and deal with.
and the list goes on. One of the hardest things to let go of is control. Allowing God to take control.

I love Goodrich's quote from that book, "If God never sleeps, why should both of us stay awake."

Another promise from God to cling to:

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up--the flames will not consume you.
                   isaiah 43; 2-3  Live Recovery Bible


Let’s list the things that verse says about what troubles we might face.


When we face waters – – He will be with us.

When we face rivers – We will not drown.

When we face fire – We won’t be burned.


Notice God says "when" we go through these things, not "if."

In life, we will go through bad things. So, we must remember God's solution that He gave us through Jeremiah.

Are you teetering on the brink of depression? Is the darkness calling you away from worship? Has there been a time in your past when depression has been a part of your life?

Do you need to remember the solution?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


This has been a week of two contests going on here at Writing with God's Hope blog. I know, I know, it's Weird Wednesday, and this isn't weird, but it is fun.

Today, we announce the winners.

The winner of Stephanie Burkhart's children's book Brady's Lost Blanket is:

     ****Charmaine Gordon

The winner of Gail Kittleson's e-book is:

     ****Patti Shene

Gail, Stephanie, thank you for being my guests and offering a giveaway on my blog. Congratulations to the two winners.

Next week, I'll be back to Weird. In fact, I'm hoping to have a ghost legend from the stomping ground where I grew up, so stop back by when it's again, Weird Wednesday.