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HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE: A Foodie Fiction Novel ~Stacy Ballis

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

I want to start by saying I loved reading HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE every single page!  Perfect timing, fabulously written and not the least bit insulting, as the emotions were real and appropriate and they were not acted out in petty, small or mean actions.  This is how folks can best make change and it is also very fun – very fun.

The food is amazing and I can also state that I did not gain weight while reading even though there are some of the top recipes at the end of the book and a reading group guide!   I did make the quick Lemon Chicken pasta dish for two that was made for one of the characters for a lonely Friday night and even without a recipe spelled out, it was yummy.


Author page at Amazon

Three 39 year old friends meet at their favorite teacher’s memorial service and renew their friendship.  They found each other when their birthdays were all the same week in May and those dates were used as a sorting tool for group work in high school. They have not kept in touch as well as they would have liked and now are working on revitalizing their friendship.  They all share their thoughts and one suggests that they pick out something they wish to change and accomplish before their 40th birthday celebration.  Theresa is an Italian Mother who wishes to broaden her horizons and work on finding a part time job, Lynne is a successful entrepreneur who wants to purchase a house and land a 7-figure contract, and Eloise a chef, would like to start dating after a break up and enlarge her social connections.  Each one adds a dynamic to the other’s change list and they check in on progress regularly.   They add a bet that the loser must pay $5,000 to their former teacher’s foundation funds.  The tension mounts as they work on their lists and expand their horizons.

Theresa is the negotiator who keeps the friends connected; they all speak kindly to each other and recognize their emotions readily.  They are for the most part happy to have suggestions and to help discover other options or change their thinking on most problems.  This was so encouraging to read.  None of this current “mean girls” nastiness; the three women were mature and thoughtful and recognized how their differences enhanced their relationship.   Refreshing and yet made the read dynamic and optimistic. I was encouraged and I found lots of chuckles and clever moments to capture my attention. I am giving this book to at least 3 young women for holiday and birthday gifts this year. With a little help from our true friends we can certainly change and enjoy our life more.

Roxanne-Jones, Associate Publicist at Penguin Random House

“With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis’s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious”  -Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of BY THE NUMBERS

Fudge and Jury
Family Tree
Life From Scratch


Monday, June 19th, 2017

AMONG THE LESSER GODS was a story I enjoyed reading very much.  The writing was clear and the story straightforward as it explores the ‘blame game’ and how blame changes the lives of individuals and the surrounding characters and community.  We begin at the end of university in California for Elena Alvarez and a gap year arranged by her Grandmother in Colorado; space to figure out what comes next.

Elena has been living a very tense life with lots of adversity.  As a child, she accidentally set a deadly fire and this caused her family great disruption and a great deal of blame.  Her mother abandoned her and she has led a life of blaming herself and now finds herself pregnant and no plans for life ahead.  Her Grandmother has found her a volunteer job caring for two young children who have lost their mother to a car accident while the father figures out all the changes he will need to make and still accomplish a living wage; long haul trucking is no longer a working option.  Elena’s Grandmother has a permanent house in Leadville, but choses to live in the Ghost Town where she reared her children and lost one.  The family is full of mystery and unknown factors.

Elena who is mathematical and scientific is not sure about caring for children and yet her conversations with them are magical and revealing allowing the story to unfold in a gracious connection.  The community is a place with lots of adversity as the mining company is slowing down and evolving into new directions.  The characters unfold the realities behind the adversities and the strength of character and community bonding is a boon to self – discovery.  The mysteries are compassionately uncovered.  What a good story and first novel and yes I have to agree with other quotes – I want to read Catts’ next book for sure.  The power of listening – potent answers are uncovered.  AMOUNG THE LESSER GODS has the power of redemption.

“Margo Catts has a sharp eye for the intricacies of family, love, and tragedy. In luminous prose, she deftly explores the impact of the past upon our lives. This is a heartfelt book that will break your heart at times and at others fill you with joy.” — Daniel Robinson, author of After the Fire

TLC Book Tours review book

About the Author:

Margo Catts grew up in Los Angeles and has since lived in Utah, Indiana, and Colorado. After raising three children in the U.S., she and her husband moved to Saudi Arabia, where her Foreign Girl blog was well known in the expat community. Originally a freelance editor for textbooks and magazines, she has also done freelance writing for business, technical, and advertising clients, all the while working on her fiction. She is a contributing author to Once Upon an Expat. Among the Lesser Gods is her first novel. She now lives in Denver, Colorado. (TLC page)

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Margo Catts Web

The Passage
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Unfinished Business

Satisfying Conversation

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Basic Communications Model

Conversation, good solid conversation, real conversation, deep thinking conversation, historic conversation, and fresh and invigorating interpretation was just what I needed this past weekend. I set out to achieve just that at the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (PNW-UCC) annual meeting in Pasco, Washington.  I was content and satisfied by the conversations I experienced.

Clergy in the UCC church are highly trained to listen, interpret, read, research and are able to communicate well in a variety of arenas.  These individuals are keenly aware of the culture, news, politics, and how people interact and need to understand situations and events in order to live their lives fully and participate in the world as good stewards, leaders and parents.  There is a great deal of attention paid to teaching the youth how to be in conversation, interpret and keep thinking and learning.    There is a curiosity and a freedom to question.  I watched an 8 year process towards change in governance being discussed and challenged right up to the call for the vote.  People truly felt heard and respected.  There was no yelling or shouting.  There were no age restrictions or gender bias.  There was a respectful honoring – lots of contemplation and debate.  I was planning on voting one direction and after the discussion and good night of sleep, I changed my mind.  It was satisfying.

One thing I cherished in the weekend, that there were no “sound bites” except in the humor of the speeches and lectures, which were extremely fun, funny and informative.  It was wonderful to hear folks clarifying what they heard so they could respond to the idea shared and move the conversation in many directions.  It was savory to witness true heart/head and head/heart connections being made.

Now the group was not perfect, no way! Lots of the young folks did not even speak to the elders.  Several groups came together and did not connect with others.  Several people boldly stated that they did not receive an answer to their question even when it was restated.  That conversation went on past my bedtime, and I was heartened to see it had created new friend bonds in the morning, when they had reached a point of understanding that enabled them to disagree and to agree upon their disagreement.

I was hungry for the conversation and the depth.

In so many of my daily interactions, I am being told, “Oh I never discuss religion or politics,”  “I always keep the conversation positive”; “I don’t know”.   These statements assume that discussion or discussing change is negative, religious or political.  How does one improve their society without knowing that there is something different that could be accomplished? Without learning the new?

We know that the brain does not make a decision or a change without new research and having conversations about it.   I have written about how we make decisions and change several times.  If you are just following orders or directions of suggestions and ideas of others – you are just memorizing another path and not choosing; there is no dialogue or integrating of concepts.

I was hungry to have a meaningful, heartfelt conversation.

I have returned home satisfied and fulfilled.

When was the last time you had a heart to heart, mind to mind satisfying conversation?  Do you hunger for these?  Some people are happy on a restricted diet, I know I am weary of conversation these days, I need to establish trust, how about you?

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Related Reading:
Food as Spiritual Practice
The End of Overeating
Shiny Objects