Living Life Without Regrets

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Patti Pokorchak sharing the adventures of her multi-layered life.

Here’s Patti!

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First Act

Patti at her IBM Graduation[/caption]Until I was 25, I was a pretty normal but driven kid. I skipped Grade 4, graduated with a computer-programming diploma from Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (college) and started working at IBM when I was still a teenager. Having vowed to never go to university, I returned to Ryerson to get not one but two degrees. My first never say never episode. Returned to IBM where I proceeded to make too much money at a young age.

Patti at her IBM Graduation

Patti at her IBM Graduation

What triggered the need for change?

The fear of regret was the impetus to leave everything behind including a promising career, boyfriend, and lifestyle that was supposedly everything most people would ever want. But, I was neither happy nor content. Having spent six weeks in Europe between my two degrees, I had vowed to return for a longer period of time. I had saved $20,000, so money was not the issue. It was not waiting around for someone else to come with me. Time to act or regret it for the rest of my life!

Second Act

After my year of travel, I didn’t want to go home, back to all that was so familiar to me. I found a job and place to live in Munich where I had an established base of friends that I had made. My German was pretty basic, but my IBM training was a great foundation. My MBA was not recognized at that time in Germany but my tech background was attractive to startups. Being a foreign female in the technology world had its challenges AND perks. I rapidly made a name for myself, got headhunted for my second job by the American President because my English was so poor (yes, it is my mother tongue but I had so integrated myself into the German language, that my English was rusty).

After four years of working at three start-ups in Germany, it was time to leave, as I had had to change my personality in order to succeed in business in Germany. Life’s too short to do that for long. Plus I had a British boyfriend who lived in Geneva and I loved the British sense of humour as well as their more open and equitable business culture.

With a few months as a ‘homeless’ person (British car, German driver’s license and Canadian passport but officially did not live anywhere), by the time my UK work permit came through, I was ready to be laid off again. Technology – gotta love it. My second company proved to have more staying power and I finally returned to help start their Canadian operation, based in Ottawa.

Third Act

After trying another large tech company for a horrible seven months, in 1992, I finally said enough and started the first of several businesses. I helped start and run a software company for 10 years before moving to the country and opening up a garden center and hobby farm (Act 4?).

Patti on the farm

Patti on the farm

Where are you now?

Back in Toronto, my hometown after my 30-year detour, I’m now the Small Biz Sales Coach — my final business (I swear it is!). After 35 years of selling and starting from being a geeky shy insecure introvert, I know what it’s like to be scared of selling and eventually learning how to have fun with it. I love helping others get over the fear of sales and asking for more money!

To have fun and make money is the only way to live!

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Imagine yourself at age 95 – what would you regret not having done? Those are your dreams of today.

Remember you’ll regret NOT having done something when you’re older and no longer able to do whatever that is.

Just do it!

Coming Soon

My Book – The Reinvention Rebel – Live Life Without Regrets!

Make your passion profitable with my proven practical advice!

Where to find Patti…

Website: http://SmallBizSalesCoach.ca

Telephone: 416-951-3842

Email: Patti@SmallBizSalesCoach.ca

Joanne here!

Patti, thank you for sharing your adventures. You are definitely a poster child for reinvention. I look forward to the release of The Reinvention Rebel.

Spotlight on Erin Bevan

I am happy to spotlight Erin Bevan and her debut novel, The Ranch Hand. Sit back and enjoy Erin’s delightful account of a writing journey that spanned two continents.

Here’s Erin!

erinI honestly still don’t feel like a real writer. I read all these blog posts from big name authors and they talk about how they spend hours upon hours a day writing because it’s their job and they knew it was their calling since they were a kid. That, my friends, was not me!

I starting writing about three years ago. Growing up, I hated to read. Loathed it, and writing, no way. When I was 25 I moved to South Korea with my husband and four month old baby girl. Living in a small town in South Korea, there wasn’t a large expat community, and hardly anyone in the town I lived in spoke English. My husband worked most days 12-14 hours, so I spent much of the time by myself with my daughter without the creature comforts of a car, a cellphone, a job, or friends. We had a television, but only two or three channels had English shows, and Netflix doesn’t work if you are outside of the US. What was a girl to do?

I started reading. Reading a lot. Then, one day, I got this bright idea I could write a book, so I did. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t very good! But, I learned that I loved writing and honestly, doing so saved me. Writing took my mind away from being lonely or feeling isolated. Within my stories (all of course in my head) I had tons of friends, hero’s, and enemies. I would walk around the apartment complex we lived in and think of scenes in my mind and my characters would start speaking to me. I guess that tells you I have voices in my head that talk to me.

Over the course of these past three years, I’ve learned a lot, about me and what type of writer I want to be, even what type of person I want to be. I joined writers groups and learned about submission calls for anthologies. In fact, that’s where the idea for The Ranch Hand came from. I read about a call for cowboy romance stories. I threw something together and submitted my story, only to be rejected. I decided since I wrote the story, I might as well try to submit it to other places, so after some revising, that’s what I did.

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In December of 2013, I was so fed up with being rejected and told my work wasn’t good enough, that I had started to lose faith. The Ranch Hand was still out with one more publishing house for review. I had told myself that if this story get’s rejected again by this last editor then I was hanging up my hat as a writer. When I received the email from my editor, I almost deleted it. The first two paragraphs were nice ways of saying I sucked. My finger hovered over the delete button until I say the large “BUT” in chapter three. Chapters three and four told me that if I was willing to put in the work to make The Ranch Hand something better than what it was in it’s present state, then this editor was willing to work with me and she extended me a contract.

What a wonderful Christmas present that was!

I try to spend as much time as I can writing, but sometimes that only happens once a week. First, I’m a mother and wife. I suppose that’s why I don’t feel like a “real writer” because I sprinkle it in between the laundry, the dishes and dirty diapers. My life isn’t glamorous, but it’s a good one, and I’m so thankful I have found something that I love to do and that I didn’t give up.

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Blurb

Jason Haverty is looking forward to the fall horse drive, until his boss and uncle informs him one of the new cowboys coming in to help will be riding his favorite horse. His annoyance is furthered when the cowboy turns out to be a cowgirl—a quick-witted and confident blonde beauty. Trying to avoid her doesn’t work. The more time he spends with her, the more an unexpected protectiveness toward her grows.

Bobby Jo’s Texas upbringing taught her to give just as good as she gets, a quality Jason finds frustrating and all the more endearing in this Southern Belle. When an accident on the trail places her in possible danger, Jason realizes she means more to him than he thought. The question is, does she feel the same?

Bio

Erin Bevan is a wife and mother of three. An avid reader, one day she decide to try her luck in writing stories of her own, and the idea paid off. She spends her days deep in the heart of Texas, fighting mosquitoes, cleaning dirty faces, and writing when the kids nap. If it’s a really good day, she even finds time to brush her hair.

Where to find Erin…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy Release Day!

Happy Autumn!

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Whenever I look out at Nature’s breathtaking fall palette, I am inspired and invigorated to start anew. Anything and everything is possible during the cool, crisp days of autumn.

Some of my favorite quotations…

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. George Eliot

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face. John Donne

Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile. William Cullen Bryant

Autumn, the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. Samuel Butler

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn. Emily Dickinson

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all. Stanley Horowitz

Autumn asks that we prepare for the future—that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness. Bonaro W. Overstreet

I’ve never known anyone yet who doesn’t suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around…We’re all eight years old and anything is possible. Sue Grafton

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. Albert Camus

Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn. Elizabeth Lawrence

Spotlight on A Pretty Penny

I’m thrilled to spotlight Neva Brown’s second novel…

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Blurb

Wealthy, arrogant Clayton Brandt knows well the costs of a woman. Not until Penelope (Penny) Jones comes into his life does he know the value of a woman.

Anger at Clayton, her new boss, causes Penny to snap out of the lethargy she’s experienced after seeing her husband killed. She puts to use all her innate abilities, learned skills, and intuitiveness to cope with the overbearing Clayton and the women in his life. Penny, in time, knows she loves him, but will not become one of his women—not on his terms.

On her terms, they marry only to be parted by federal agents before they leave their wedding reception. The ensuing intrigue, danger, and antics of Clayton’s ex-wife play a part in Penny being in eminent peril. Even after their love survives all this, it is once again threatened by a letter from a vindictive woman who is dead. The letter devastates Clayton and crushes his hopes for happiness.

How Clayton and Penny find their happy-ever-after is a breath-holding adventure at times and a breathtaking love story at other times.

Excerpt

Awestruck and wondering how a rodeo producer managed to have such a grandiose personal jet, Penny jumped in surprise at the clipped, commanding voice behind her. She turned and focused on the imposing man who extended a lean, hard hand for her to shake as he towered over her.

“I presume you’re Wilma’s little friend.”

His emphasis on “little” implied so much more than the fact that she was only five foot two, one hundred five pounds. She stiffened.

“I’m Penelope Ann Jones. And, yes, Wilma and I are friends.”

“I’m Clayton Brandt, your boss.” His icy stare chilled her from head to toe.

“Are you another of her projects, or can you do a day’s work for a day’s pay?”

Her haughtiness probably added to his irritation, but she wasn’t about to cower before this arrogant tyrant.

Stretching her neatly clad body and raising her eyes from his chest to his cold, gray eyes, she answered with an indifferent tone.

“I can do the work Wilma said would be expected of me, sir.”

She bit her tongue to keep from adding that she had a master’s degree in finance, held a CPA license, and had worked as a secretary all the way through college. Just because she had been following the rodeo did not make her incapable, just besotted with love.

He curtly dismissed her. “Get buckled up. The pilot is ready to take off.”

***

His woodsy scent and the feel of his hand still lingered in her memory. From her luxurious lounger, she continued to watch. He frowned at Wilma. His words became clear enough for Penny to hear.

“I thought we got through your ‘mother hen’ phase a few years back. Where did you find this one?”

Wilma’s longsuffering look made Penny strain to hear the reply.

“The ‘mother hen’ periods as you call them passed a long time ago. Penny is different. She was Jason’s wife, but none of our family even knew they were married. They’d been married almost a year when that bull killed him.”

“Then she’s a rich young widow. Why does she need to work?”

“Things aren’t quite what they seem. Jason never got around to changing his will and never had her sign a signature card to draw on his account at the bank. Being his usual distracted self, he just gave her cash. She had money but no permanent financial security.”

“So I guess you’re paying her bills. No wonder you want to put her to work.”

“Clayton, she was my baby brother’s wife and was ‘holed up’ in that fifth wheel at a trailer park with nothing but crackers and peanut butter. She’s smart and willing to work. You know I wouldn’t ask you to hire her if I didn’t believe she could do the job.”

He scowled at Wilma as she added, “I’d bet six month’s wages she’ll do a good job.”

“You may not have six month’s wages if she messes up. I don’t suffer fools and lazy people, as you well know. Right now, she looks like both to me,” he growled.

Penny let her eyelids shut completely at the hostile sound of his voice. A surge of adrenaline made her ears ring and her muscles twitch. Her anger churned, and her thoughts raced. Just who does this aging Adonis with a Neanderthal attitude think he is? Wilma thinks he hung the moon, and he acts like she is just some inconsequential employee when, in reality, she shields him from all kinds of thorny situations every day. She’s always telling me about the mountain of work she does to smooth the way for him. What an insufferable man!

Bio

NEVA profile pic (2)Neva Brown, a retired secondary teacher/administrator, now enjoys the challenge of writing romance novels and doing editing for other romance writers.

Neva spent most of her life on West Texas ranches and uses that culture and environment in many of her stories. She and her husband now live at Rio Concho West in San Angelo, Texas. They enjoy visits from their two sons and their families, are always delighted to hear from old friends, and are amazed at how well they have adjusted to ‘city’ living.

Where to find Neva…

Website | Amazon |Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Neva loves to hear from her readers. She can be reached at joneva@suddenlink.net

Your Time to Shine

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate Author Gay Yellen sharing her extraordinary journey from high school Economics class to literary publication via Hollywood.

Here’s Gay!

gayyellen1Thanks, Joanne, for inviting me to share my Second Act, though my journey feels more like a full-on odyssey. But I’ll try to keep it to two.

First Act: I’ve always written. Dr. Seuss was an early influence, and I still write silly verse for fun. In high school I wrote my best poetry in Economics class, to the chagrin of my teacher. But my writing career didn’t begin until after I got Hollywood out of my system.

The need for change: Performing came naturally to me. After college I moved to L.A. and began an acting career. While I managed to get film and TV work, I hated the life (yes, it’s as tough as the stories you hear).

First Act, Part 2: I decided to apply to the Director’s Guild, which led to a job behind the camera as the Assistant to the Director of Production at The American Film Institute. I worked with thesis film students on their productions, helped cast actors, secure and manage location shooting, arrange with major studios to use their back lots for filming, their props, costumes, etc., and facilitated editing and post-production.

The need for change: I loved working at AFI, but the pay was meager.

Second Act, Part 1: A friend heard that a magazine needed a last-minute substitute to cover a story over the weekend. I jumped at it, even though I didn’t know a thing about the subject, or about magazines, for that matter. After I turned in the article, the magazine offered me an editing position. It paid much more than the AFI job, so I took it. In a couple of years, I moved to another magazine, where a series I wrote won a national journalism award.

Second Act, Part 2: A book! I helped write an international thriller, Five Minutes to Midnight, which was my first taste of book publishing. Soon after, I fell in love, married, and thought I was finally free to try my hand at a solo novel.

Second Act, Part 3: I’d just completed the first draft of The Body Business when my husband asked me for help with the advertising for his new national marketing firm. “Can you come up to the office this afternoon and tell me why my ads in The Wall Street Journal aren’t working?” he pleaded. “You’ve been in magazines, so you know about advertising.”

I tried to explain that editors don’t normally deal with the ad department, but he was my husband, so I went. Fifteen years later, after creating countless marketing pieces, ads, and even investment prospectuses, we sold the company, and I retired as its V.P. of client and media communications, and advertising.

Second Act, Part 4: Finally, I was free to do my own work. I dusted off the old rough draft of my book and discovered that it had become a period piece, with pay phones, typewriters and snail mail playing pivotal roles in the action. I updated it to the 21st Century, put it through a critique circle and found Soul Mate Publishing. The Body Business was published in 2014.

Where are you now?

I’m working furiously on the sequel to The Body Business, and there are other projects in queue. I’m happy to finally affirm that writing is no longer my first, second or tenth act. It’s what I do.

Affirmation

Work to be as good as you can at what you do, and believe that your time to shine will come.

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Blurb

A great career. Fantastic boyfriend. Samantha Newman has it all, until her best friend vanishes, and doubt creeps in. Forced to choose between the success she’s worked hard to achieve and the hidden truth behind it, she risks everything and discovers a dark secret that could destroy her life forever.

Where to find Gay…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Joanne here!

What a whirlwind! If you ever run out of ideas for novels, consider writing your memoirs. Thank you for an entertaining and inspiring post.

Life is for Living

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author and Acquisitions Editor Katie Hamstead chatting about a very early second act.

Here’s Katie!

katie-teller-author-photo-2-3 (2)Briefly describe your early acts.

Early acts… Well, I feel like I’m still fairly early in life since I’m 27. So I guess my acts consist of school, post high school to marriage, then married life. High school days were tough, but fun. I had the bullying and isolation going on, but to be honest, I’m kind of glad I went through all of that. Not that I enjoyed it, but the bullying made me stronger, and the isolation made me understand what real friends are and the qualities in people I enjoy associating with and that uplift and strengthen me. But high school was fun, in that I could explore my talents and hobbies. Along with writing stories on scrap notebook pages, I loved singing and sports, which I don’t get much chance to do either of any more. I miss playing and performing terribly.

After high school, I kind of went into “party” mode. Finally I was free. I did a stint as an exchange student (BEST choice I ever made, I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance) I got a job, I traveled, I moved around, I sought out higher education, and I made friends with people who really helped boost my confidence and let the real me shine out. My years from 18-22 were a blast, even though there were moments of pain and grief unlike any other period before. But with all negative experiences, I try to glean lessons from them, to help me grow.

I married at 22, so have been married for just over 5 years. When I married, I migrated to the USA from Australia. I’m an Aussie, born and raised! And my hubby is a Native American (Navajo). This act eventually led me to my writing when I a) wasn’t allowed to work due to visa restrictions and b) got pregnant right when my restrictions got lifted, so no one wanted to employ me. As a result, I found myself with lots of time on my hands, so one thing led to another and I picked up my writing again.

What triggered the need for change?

It my last act, boredom mostly. I needed something to fill the time while my hubby was at work. I’d grown tired of being homesick, so wanted to get productive. Actually, that’s kind of what triggers most of my changes. I get bored with what I’m doing with my life. That’s pretty honest, right?

Where are you now?

Now I’m in a pretty good place. I love writing, acquiring for CQ and being a wife and mother… although I am getting restless. I think we need to move or do something to shake things up a bit.

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Go ahead! Life is for living, pursuing your dreams, and growing. Why just exist? Make your life worth every breath you take.

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Blurb

Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.

Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.

But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.

Bio

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She currently works as an Acquisitions Editor with Curiosity Quills Press to help support her family.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Where to find Katie…

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Joanne here!

I am impressed by your can-do attitude and ability to deal with boredom. Thank you for sharing your journey and best of luck with all your literary endeavors.

What’s In a Name?

The topic of pseudonyms came up on a discussion board. Several writers expressed an interest in using pen names and wanted more information about the legalities involved.

I was surprised to see so much interest in the topic. I had always associated pseudonyms with female writers such as Mary Anne Evans/George Eliot, who used a male name to ensure that her work would be accepted by publishers and the public.

While researching the topic, I discovered many more reasons for using pen names.

Authors who regularly write in more than one genre use different pen names. Romance writer Nora Roberts writes erotic thrillers under the pen name J.D. Robb.

A pen name may be used if the author believes that his/her name does not suit the genre. Western novelist Pearl Gray dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his last name to become Zane Grey.

In some countries, authors use pen names to write about controversial topics that could be politically unsafe.

Writers of romance novels are often advised to use pen names to protect themselves against stalkers.

In the past, prolific authors were asked to use pen names to prevent flooding the market with too many books in one year. Stephen King published four novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. After critics pointed out style similarities, the books were reprinted with Stephen King’s name. One of his books, Thinner, sold twenty times more copies after the changes were made.

Some writers wish to keep their writing career separate from their everyday life. Comic book writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber. He used the pen name Stan Lee because he intended to save his real name for more serious literature. His career as a novelist never materialized so he changed his name legally to Stan Lee.

A collective name or house name is used with series fiction such as the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins series. The first book in each series was written by one writer, but subsequent books were written by ghost writers.

Collaborative authors like to have their books published under one name. Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini write their Coffeehouse Mystery series using the pseudonym Cleo Coyle.

Last year, J.K. Rowling was outed as the author of Cuckoo’s Calling, which she published under the pen name Robert Gailbraith. In an interview, she commented: “”I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre to work without hype or expectation to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.”

Regarding the legalities…

You don’t have to file any forms or hire a lawyer. Simply put the phrase “writing as” on your manuscript and let the publisher know your real name to ensure that you receive payment for your work.

Any other interesting pseudonym stories out there?