New Website! A Tale of Shanna, Joy and Toban (and Me)
On November 5, 2018 | 2 Comments | blog, Crossfit, Joy, Shanna, website |

Ta-da! Welcome to my Brand New Website.

In fact, if you have read this far, then you have likely already arrived and are seeing it in its brand-new glory, with its lovely fonts and clean pages. And photos. Ever so many photos. Of me. (More on that shortly).

Welcome. I’m delighted you’re here, and delighted and grateful that this website has been created, a process that has taken Some Time–largely because of me.

But this post is not about that. Neither is it about me. Instead, I want (again) to welcome you here. Welcome! When you’ve finished reading this post, please take time to explore. Click on all the site’s click-able links, read the various blurbs. Sign up for my newsletter (details about the newsletter in a later post). Check out the countdown (at the bottom of the home page) to my next book’s release. Peruse old blog posts you may have missed. And just generally enjoy yourself.

I think you’ll agree that it’s a beautiful website. I can freely say that because, like you, I am (mostly) on the receiving end here. I didn’t make this website. Not really. Not (hardly) at all.


Instead, first credit for this creation goes to Shanna Stevenson, my daughter-in-law. Without her, I never would have thought of getting a website. I would have continued happily–as I had for years–with my blog: a place to craft and then post short pieces of writing; to talk about my book(s), among other things; to write in a public space on the off-chance that someone would want to read it.

I never bothered much about the blog’s appearance because, truth be told, design is not my thing. No, the blog–for me–was always about the writing.

But Shanna understood it differently. A great fan of my work, she convinced me that it was worthy of a beautiful platform. “You’ve already got the content,” she said, by which she meant the writing. What’s more, she pointed out, you have a book to sell. On-line presence is pre-eminent, she said. Your work needs an honest-to-goodness website.

And so the idea for this site began.


Yes, I had the words, but a website of words might actually just be the blog I already had. I would be needing pictures.

Enter Joy, a beloved friend from CrossFit, partner for a workout or two (or six) in a competition in fall of 2017. The kind of gym friend who always has me lingering for at least an extra twenty (or forty) minutes after class because we just have so much to talk about.

And also a stellar photographer.

But not just a stellar photographer. Joy is the kind of photographer who can almost (very nearly) make you forget you are getting your picture taken–and this was something I needed, because having my picture taken (in various places and poses) for the better part of two hours made me feel weird.

I know, I know. Millennials do photo shoots with their friends All The Time. What’s the big deal? And I shouldn’t be so self-conscious.

But I am no millennial, and I am self-conscious–maybe not about many things, but very definitely about having my picture taken. Again. And again.

Somehow, Joy knew how to get me to pose without feeling like I was posing. She got me to laugh or to reflect, to shift my posture to make it look natural. To think about other things so that the expressions on my face were genuine. In truth, she made the entire process a pleasure.

It was two hours of her time for the photos, and then who knows how many hours for the editing, but the results are pretty stellar. Which is a reason why there are so many of them on this website.


Still, the website would not exist At All if it were not for Toban of Penner Web Design. His was expertise I desperately needed. Left to my own understanding, my website would be a barely customized template with occasional personal photos plugged in here and there. Its information would be haphazard in presentation. It wouldn’t guide the viewer or feature anything in particular.

But from the outset, Toban knew the questions to ask about my work and my hopes for it. And he is experienced such that he knew what to include and highlight. In fact, our conversations at the beginning were as much about marketing as they were about websites.

And yet it wasn’t long at all before the website was taking shape. I really trusted him more than myself about most decisions, but he was nonetheless readily responsive to my questions. When something needed an adjustment, he often fixed it before I’d had a chance to check for his answer in my inbox. And from my collection of favorite photos, Toban distributed them across the website such that they are a good reflection of who I actually am. This helps so much (So Much) when it comes to that whole self-conscious thing I mentioned earlier.

And Me

Really, it’s the self-conscious thing–the Me thing–that, if anything, has been the problem. I am the one who delayed this project that was born (way back) in April.

April. That’s more than six months ago.

But when Toban was needing text (and he needed text, as you’ll see from your perusal of the website), I was dragging my feet. I like to write, yes. The production of text, per se, is not difficult for me. But writing “About Me,” or crafting blurbs about the book I wrote or the book I’m writing–these things trip me up. Knowing these are “due” can make me suddenly busy in all sorts of other directions.

And then there’s this other bit–the many (many) pictures of me. I’m self-conscious about those, too. Should there be so many? What difference does it make where I live or what I look like when it comes to the words on the page (or screen)? Writing is writing, and you like it if you like it. You could conceivably find me annoying or even hate my guts and still appreciate Healing Maddie Brees.

But here is where your marketing, website designing experts can help you; this is what the best photographers know; and this is what the millennials–even your old-soul, profoundly wise daughter-in-law–might open your eyes to: we live in a visual age. And maybe, to some extent, the whole world always has. What’s the adage? A picture is worth a thousand words, or something like that.

Here’s my hope: that this website makes you feel welcome. That, stopping here, you know I am grateful you’ve come. That regardless of who or where you are, there are ideas here that interest and hold you, ideas that might start a conversation–on these pages, or with a friend, or even in your own head.

So when you see my face on (almost) every page, hear, too, what I’m saying: Hi. Welcome. Thanks so much for being here.




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Comments 2
Richard Brewster Posted November 5, 2018 at4:12 pm   Reply

Very Impressive!!
Love, Dad

Rebecca Brewster Stevenson Posted November 9, 2018 at6:58 pm   Reply

Thanks so much, Dad!

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