Posted on

Joyce Carr Stedelbauer – SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Joyce Carr Stedelbauer

I gave a surprise birthday luncheon yesterday for a dear friend who is always giving me any day surprises.  She makes beautiful earrings and often has a tiny packet of swinging beads for me.  It was two days after her big # 65 and I wanted to celebrate her in a special way.  Gathering 4 more enthusiastic friends we agreed to keep her in the dark.  Their husbands helped with taxi service so no telltale cars in our driveway when her husband said he needed to come by our house.  Yes she was happily surprised.  He made sure she was all-dressed up by telling her they were going to a special place for lunch.  Then he disappeared and left us to the fun and the flower pot desserts.

Ladies like surprise parties much more than men. But that’s OK it’s a girly thing.  Party food, pretty gifts, even a fun round or two of drawing special questions—”Where in the world would you most like to meet friends for a drink?  Favorite restaurants, movies, books and memories of childhood parties.”  Some children have never even had a birthday party.

Years ago I used to give a monthly birthday party for all the mothers-to-be in a Salvation Army Home.  Most had never had the special gift of a birthday party in their young lives, gifts, ice cream and cake, candles to wish on to let them know they were loved.

My birthday friend is helping me, along with the others, in promoting our new book from HighTide Publishers.  THE AWESOME ALPHABET ANIMAL PARTY.  Everyone who has
seen it is excited.  Most have purchased more than one copy for grandchildren, friends, teachers and a perfect birthday surprise.  The reports from kids are great.  “My new favorite book.”   They love the interactive questions, opportunities to draw themselves into the party, and even babies delight to the rhythm, rhyme and color.


JOYCE CARR STEDELBAUER is the also the author of four previous books of poetic meditations on Biblical People.





Posted on

Cindy L. Freeman Blog – Freedom from Violence

Cindy Freeman

Why Me?

Since writing my book, The Dark Room, I’ve been thinking about why some women become victims of abuse. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect. It is important for abused children and women to understand that the abuse is not their fault.

In preparing to write The Dark Room, I researched the reasons people become abusers. To characterize the abuser, Hank, authentically, it was important to understand what created his need to over-power and control his wife, child and grandchild through physical and mental brutality.

But what about the victims? Are there qualities that contribute to making them targets? More importantly, are there practices that girls and women can adopt to prevent themselves from becoming targets? I’m happy to report that the answer to these questions is a resounding, “yes.”

What Abusers Look For

From studies, we know that batterers seek out people they can over-power easily, people they can groom to believe they are worthless, inferior, stupid, and responsible for the abuser’s behavior. The abuser’s attitude of entitlement may or may not be conscious, but unless he is truly psychotic, the behavior is learned.

Abusers convince their victims to believe falsehoods like, “If only I were better, prettier, smarter, more perfect, he wouldn’t have to hit me or humiliate me. If I do everything he wants, keep my opinions to myself, and serve his every need, he’ll stop.” No, he won’t stop!

It’s important for victims to remember that real love does not hurt. If someone is hitting you or putting you down, he is not acting out of love, no matter how many times he tells you he loves you and insists that your behavior is what causes him to lose his temper.


So, what can we teach our daughters and granddaughters to prevent them from getting sucked into destructive relationships? I believe the answer is self-love. is “an online volunteer and activist network offering flexible action opportunities to improve the lives of women and girls.” This organization’s website describes self-love as “naming and claiming all of who you are—even the scariest parts.” In other words, to protect themselves from becoming victims of child abuse and future violence, girls and women must learn to tell themselves the truth and believe the truth about who they are.

A good tool toward achieving self-love is journaling. In her new book, The Writing Rx, Ann Eichenmuller, another author published by High Tide Publications, Inc. recommends journaling to identify issues and express one’s honest responses to them. She even provides specific suggestions for how to get started.

In her book, Ann says, “Something about the act of writing gives you a sense of power over the subject.” It seems to me that writing self-affirmations in a journal would be a positive tool for empowering women and girls.

It’s Never too Late

What if you are in an abusive relationship or a survivor of past abuse? suggests it’s never too late to learn to love yourself. Self-love is not the same as selfishness. Self-love is about discovering that you are worthy of respectful treatment no matter what anyone else tells you. It’s about listing your qualities and talents and believing you deserve to be treated with dignity.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Diary in the AtticUnrevealed and The Dark Room. Coming September 2018 from High Tide Publications: I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through or

Posted on

Peter Stipe – Father’s Day

Peter Stipe

It’s odd.  I don’t remember much about Father’s Day from my own childhood.  When I was growing up, my family never made a big deal of what my parents called “manufactured holidays,” celebrations they believed were created by Hallmark to sell cards.  I recall one year, Father’s Day came and we went out to Fenway Park where, back in the olden days when I was a kid, the Red Sox players played a short baseball game with their children on the infield.  It was fun.  There were no gifts or cards or cookouts when my family got home from the game.  That might have been for other families.  For us, it was just another Sunday afternoon.

Then I got married and had a son and a daughter.  That made all the difference.  But the cataclysmic events of their births, those life-changing moments were only the beginning.  Their births were the first few steps of a long journey.

Being a parent is hard work.  Keeping children fed and safe is only the fundamental part of parenting.  How we raise them, how we teach them is so essential to helping them become good people as adults.  Today my children are married and successful adults.  I have grand-children.  I am proud of how both of my children are as adults and I love watching them with my grandkids.

Yesterday on Father’s Day I celebrated with my son and his family.  During the day my son said, “I love my kids but I worry every day about what they do.  I worry about what they’ll be like when they’re older.”  He and his wife are doing a good job raising the grandkids.  The little ones are fine.  But that’s how it is.  I still worry too, and my kids are well along on adulthood.

Families and family dynamics are key themes in many of my stories.  A writer friend finished reading The Art of Love, my second book, a few weeks ago.  He said he liked that there were at least four different kinds of relationships at play in the book.  He’s right.  No two relationships are the same.  No two families are the same.  And relationships, whether parent to child or between a couple are never easy.  But they are worth the struggle.

Peter Stipe is the author of Finding Our Way; a collection of short stories, and The Art of Love, a novel.  Both books are available from Amazon and from and from   Peter   Facebook: PeterGStipe

Posted on

Susan Williamson – Horsing Around

Susan Williamson

I am so fortunate to be a substitute riding instructor for Legacy Saddlebreds. I work very hard for a week, meet and visit with many wonderful children, teens and adults and then go home, realizing that I won’t be there when the temperature dips or swelters, the horse colics, the water freezeds, or the tractor breaks down. (Been there, done that.)

I had a good week. No one fell off and hopefully most riders enjoyed their lessons. I went to the Blowing Rock Horse Show and helped to put 26 riders in the ring in academy classes. These are classes in which the riders compete on lesson horses, with the rider being judged rather than the horse. All of our riders had good rides, some had great rides. The classes were large and competitive. I saw many friends from the horse world.

Teaching for a week reminds me how good riding is for everyone: physically, obviously, but also emotionally and mentally. I see little girls come in and hug their favorite horse. I see riders work through a challenge on a difficult horse. And most impressive are the riders who earn lesson and show privileges by working at the barn. Catching horses, grooming, tacking up, washing horse laundry, feeding and doctoring horses, hosing down a hot horse—they undertake a tremendous responsibility and are happy doing it. Our children grew up that way and I’m glad to see other children and adults take on those responsibilities. They are truly character building.

Some of the highlights of my week:

Me: “Why should you walk around the front of the horse instead of the back?”

Student: “He might poop on you.”

Me: “What are you doing in the middle of the ring?”

Student:  “It’s my eye’s fault.” She had gotten dust in her eye.

Adult Student: “Why is my horse not listening?”

Me: “Because you aren’t telling him what to do.”

My wish for everyone is to be as happy as an intermediate rider being permitted to canter.

Susan Williamson is a novelist and freelance writer as well as a former extension agent, riding instructor, newspaper editor and food-coop manager. She is the author of How to Get By As Time Goes ByHow to Buy Your First Horse, published by High Tide Publications. She also the author of the novels Turkmen Captives and Dead on the Trail. She is a contributor to Next Door Neighbors Magazine as well as Tidewater Women.z

Posted on

Susan Williamson – Vegas for Low Rollers, Part 2

Susan Williamson

Sun City, AZ was the first of the Sun City complexes built for retirees by Del Webb in 1960. The community includes homes, shops, recreational complexes, parks, golf courses and more.  Sun City residents must be 55 and over.

The story goes that at one time a gentleman owned a home for, shall we say, a friend who was considerably younger. Since he didn’t live in the home, and the friend didn’t meet the age criteria there was a problem. Youngtown is a town that seceded from Sun City and has no age restrictions. The story is not corroborated by Wikipedia, but I like it better than their version.

Although Sun City is self-contained, it is close enough to enjoy all of the big city benefits of Phoenix.

We bid our friend farewell and headed back to Vegas. We drove up to as close as we could to the West rim of the Grand Canyon. The West Rim access is owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. From the visitor center, you can book bus trips to the rim, helicopter rides, airplane rides and Skywalk tickets. We arrived late afternoon and there was a long line for shuttle bus tickets so we opted not to go. We have both been to the South Rim and had a magnificent view on the drive up.

We arrived at our resort which was lovely and located a few miles from the strip, with several shuttle buses per day. Next stop was a grocery since we had a full kitchen and planned to eat only one meal a day out.

The strip was much more impressive—clean, beautiful and family friendly—than I expected. My favorite was The Venetian with its canal and beautiful painted ceilings. The ceilings over the squares were duplicates of famous Italian ceilings, but the cloud laced blue sky over the canal looked very real.

Our big gambling venture was my husband’s $3 win at the slot machine. I then proceeded to lose the same $3. We found a wonderful breakfast place for Sunday brunch and a very good Mexican restaurant within walking distance of our resort. We saw Cirque Du Soleil Mystere, a great performance with half price tickets bought in advance.

We were caught off guard by a $4.50 bottle of water in one of the hotel gift shops, but we were mostly frugal.

Red Rock Canyon is very close and well worth the time. You can hike, rent horses, or drive through the area. We also went to Springs Nature Preserve which helped us to identify the desert flora and fauna. The Butterfly enclosure cost extra but was worth the visit.

Although Las Vegas wasn’t really on my bucket list, it was a fun place to visit and I would return happily.


Susan Williamson is a novelist and freelance writer as well as a former extension agent, riding instructor, newspaper editor and food-coop manager. She is the author of How to Get By As Time Goes By, How to Buy Your First Horse, published by High Tide Publications. She also the author of the novels Turkmen Captives and Dead on the Trail. She is a contributor to Next Door Neighbors Magazine as well as Tidewater Women.