The Reinvention of AND(REA) (Y) (IE) (I)

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have The Wild Rose Press author Andrea Downing sharing several spectacular acts and introducing her recent release, Dances of the Heart.

Here’s Andrea!

andredwoningIf a butterfly can undergo metamorphosis from a creepy crawly caterpillar into something beautiful and extraordinary, why shouldn’t a human being, with all his/her numerous sensibilities, be able to change at will?

I’m not quite sure how many Acts, exactly, there are to my story, but Act One was certainly as Andrea, a girl born into a quite ordinary, suburban New York family. “Andrea” didn’t last very long; I always hated the name, at least until an acquaintance told me she thought it a very glamorous appellation and also wanted it. But I digress: Andrea became Andy very early.

I wasn’t sure about that spelling. It looked boyish. Commonplace. Pedestrian. And I had dreams of going on stage, attended drama school one summer, and generally tried out for every play at school. So Andy became Andie, which looked and felt a bit more suitable. That was Act Two.

everthingbritishAnd that lasted until the Beatles came on the scene. S-x, dr?gs & rock ‘n’ roll. Anything British was “super” and so Andi, minus the ‘e’ (slightly more exotic that way) headed off to live in England. Act Three? Maybe. Or perhaps that was the real Act Two. I’m not sure to be honest, but it lasted a very long time between getting an M.A., getting married, having a daughter, moving eight times (or was it nine? No ten!), getting divorced, and watching daughter head off to university back in the good ol’ USA. Somewhere in there I started writing. A bit at first—the odd story (odd being a useful word here in both senses), poems, travel articles, a novel or two now in boxes, even a screenplay. And, over forty or so years, I became totally Anglicized! Parking lots became carparks, sidewalks became pavements, elevators morphed into lifts before my very eyes. Not only that, but I actually learned to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. But now comes Act Four: The Reinvention of Andi…

Cristal, my darling daughter (named for the champagne), decided to stay in New York after graduation, and I was faced with the reality of living on another continent away from her. The situation came home to roost when I got ill, and we thought Cristal might have to take leave from her job for a while to look after me, and then the British Government also started to get nasty about what they called non-domiciled aliens. See my antennae? What’s a girl to do? Head home and reinvent again!

It wasn’t easy leaving friends of many years, abandoning a place I had called home and a way of life I knew. Good-bye Branston Pickle, HP Sauce, Cadbury’s Twirls and TCP. I now live five blocks from my daughter when she returns to live in her New York apartment from working for the UN in Colombia. But here’s the crux of Act Four, the Reinvention of Andi Downing. I finally decided I had nothing to lose by sending off my writing—a western novel—to a publisher, and guess what? I now have two published western novels and two published historical western novellas under my belt. As author…Andrea Downing!

So, is Act Four the Finale? Shakespearean dramas have Five Acts!

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Blurb

Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.

Buy Links

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes & Noble

Bio

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, came out in February, 2015.

Where to find Andrea…

Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon

Joanne here!

Andrea, I’m impressed and inspired by your journey. If you ever run out of storylines, consider writing your memoirs.

Chatting on Twitter

5737870_sWhat is a Twitter chat?

While many descriptions abound, I like the following: Imagine a business networking event without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar.

Or to be more precise…

A group of Twitter users meet at a pre-determined time to discuss set topics using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. The moderator of the chat poses questions (Q1, Q2, Q3,…) to prompt responses from participants (A1, A2, A3, …). Each chat usually lasts an hour.

When I first joined Twitter, I shied away from participating in chats. To be truthful, I found them intimidating. I tried to follow the flow of several conversations and wondered how anyone could keep up with the constant flow of information. I had read somewhere that participating in a Twitter chat is like trying to navigate rapids while white water rafting. Not something I’ve ever tried or even considered.

Continue reading on SMP Authors blog.

The Tao of NGU NGI

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have The Wild Rose Press author Peggy Jaeger sharing the rich and varied experiences of her first act and her emerging second act.

Here’s Peggy!

peggy jaegarWhen I discovered Joanne’s SECOND ACTS blog, I felt like I’d walked into a virtual room decorated just for me. Reading through the entries of the wonderful and artistic women she’d spotlighted made me a little nervous about what I could add to this glorious mix of wisdom, guts, tenacity and talent. For days I thought about what I should write. What could I possibly impart to the readers and writers to inspire them during the next phase of their lives – be it a writing life or one in general.

It came to me – like many ideas do – in a dream.

A little backstory about my Act 1, first.

I was an only child of divorced parents who didn’t like being on the same planet together, much less in the same room. They split when I was an infant. Like many children of divorce, I shrouded myself from hurt with a very busy fantasy life. When the harsh reality of my divorced world became too much to deal with, I would slip into my room and write. And write and write and write.

Pure escapism and very cheap therapy.

My adolescence wasn’t much better. I was obese, shy, the class “brain,” and teacher’s pet. My one way of avoiding a trip to the dark side of teenage angst? Writing.

In college I found my voice, my love of caring for people, and my true self. I worked for several years as a Nurse and was lucky enough to incorporate my profession into my writing life. I had many nursing articles published in professional trade magazines. I completed my Master’s Degree in Nursing, got married, had a kid and continued to write everyday I could.

I like to joke that during my 30’s and 40’s I was a wife, mother, nurse, cook, chauffeur, nanny, contact lens technician and business owner. And most of all, writer.

While banging out the magazine articles on motherhood, empty nest syndrome and ophthalmic care, I was also secretly writing fiction. I say secretly because I never – ever – showed those works to anyone, including my husband. Fiction writing – particularly romantic fiction – was my secret candy stash: my one guilty pleasure. Since I’d read my fist Nora Roberts book I’d had a secret ambition to be a romance novelist. I was twenty at the time when I penned my first romance story. Suffice it to say it was awful and leave it there.

But I never gave up on my dream to write romance and have it published.

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So enough backstory. Here’s the present day 411.

When I was deciding what to write for this posting I had a dream about a phrase I developed during a particularly rough patch of my life. I used to repeat the phrase numerous times during the day just to keep me sane and focused. That phrase I laughingly call THE TAO OF NGU NGI (pronounced na-goo na-guy). It stands for Never Give Up, Never Give In. When all looked bleak and times were shaky, the Tao pushed me through to the other side and helped me come out stronger, more able, and a victor.

As I enter this next phase of my life there are many changes coming. Fast! I retire in April from a job I have held for over 15 years. I will be having 2 books published in 2015 by the Wild Rose Press and have 3 more in line for the continuation of the series, and three more in development. I will be eligible to get an AARP card ( if I want one). All because I vowed to never give up on my dream of being a published author, and to never give in to all the voices and advice of people who told me at various times that I was : too old, not a good enough writer, too verbose, writing popular pap and not real literature, and ( my favorite) no one wanted to read a romance by a woman over the age of 50.

God puts dreams in our hearts for a reason. It is our duty and responsibility to see that those dreams come to fruition. One of my favorite quotes is “every set back is a set-up for something new and exciting.” Don’t give up on your dreams. Ever. Practice the Tao of NGU NGI and doors and opportunities will open for you. My best advice to anyone pursing a dream is just this: never give up on it. It may take 5 minutes, 5 years, or a generation to fulfill, but I truly feel you are never too old, and no dream is ever too big, to pursue.

I know this firsthand.

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Blurb

I know this firsthand.Figure skater Tiffany Lennox is busy with rehearsals for an upcoming ice show when the only man she’s ever loved comes home after a two-year overseas stint. She needs him to see her for the woman she’s become and not the child he knew to ensure he stays home, this time, for good. With her.

I know this firsthand.For all his wanderlust and hunger for professional success, Cole Greer comes home wanting nothing more than to rest, relax and recover. He is delighted in being Tiffany’s hero and has a special place in his heart reserved for her. But faced with the oh-so-desirable woman she’s become, he starts questioning his determination to keep their relationship platonic.

I know this firsthand.When forced by the television network to go back on assignment, Cole – for the first time in his life – is torn between his career and his heart.

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook | The Wild Rose Press

Bio

Peggy Jaeger’s love of writing began in the third grade when she won her first writing contest with a short story titled THE CLOWN. After that, there was no stopping her. Throughout college and after she became a Registered Nurse, she had several Nursing Journal articles published, in addition to many mystery short stories in Literary Magazines. When her daughter was born, Peggy had an article titled THE VOICES OF ANGELS published and reprinted in several parenting magazines, detailing the birth and the accident that almost turned this wonderful event into a tragedy. She had two children’s books published in 1995 titled THE KINDNESS TALES and EMILY AND THE EASTER EGGS, which was illustrated by her artist Mother-in-Law. While her daughter grew, Peggy would write age appropriate stories for her to read along with, and finally, to read on her own. Her YA stories are usually mysteries involving smart and funny 12-13 year old girls and an unusual collection of friends and relatives. They all take place in the 1980’s.

In 2005 she was thrilled to have an article on motherhood placed in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR VERY MOTHER’S SOUL edition. She has won several awards in various Writer’s Digest short story and personal article categories over the years. Recently, she has placed first in the Dixie Kane 2013 Memorial Contest in the Short/Long Contemporary romance Category, and in the Single Title Contemporary Category, and third place in the ICO Romance Contest for 2013.

A life-long and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Peggy has embraced the techno age and writes for three blogs, all detailing events in her life. One titled, 50 pounds for 50 years is a personal blog about weight loss, one about her life as an EMPTY NESTER and her most recent one MOMENTS FROM MENOPAUSE, a humorous and informative guide through this time in a woman’s life.

Her first romance novel, SKATER’S WALTZ will be released on March 4, 2015 from the Wild Rose Press.

Where to find Peggy…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Joanne here!

Peggy, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. You are an excellent role model for reinvention (at any age). BTW…I have decided to embrace NGU NGI as my mantra.

Cover Reveal: Torn

I’m thrilled to present the cover for Kate Sparkes’ novel…

Torn

Aren Tiernal knows that safety is an illusion, that his cruel and powerful brother Severn will never forgive his betrayal. Still, returning to Tyrea to challenge Severn for the throne would be suicide. It’s not until Severn himself comes to collect what’s owed to him that Aren decides to risk everything in an attempt to bring down the most powerful Sorcerer Tyrea has ever known. It’s a mission that seems doomed to fail, but it’s Aren’s only chance to save himself, his country, and the woman who thawed his heart.

Rowan Greenwood has troubles of her own. Though she has potential to become a great Sorceress, years of being closed off from her magic have left her unable to control her incredible power. When a pair of ominous letters arrive from her home country, Rowan has to choose between her new life and a chance at saving a family member’s life—and just maybe changing an entire country’s beliefs about the evils of magic.

Torn apart by separate quests, Rowan and Aren will have to discover untapped strengths and confront their darkest fears in order to overthrow a ruler determined to destroy them both.

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Release Date: March 31, 2015

In the meantime, take advantage of the following sale…

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Purchase Links

Amazon (U.S) | Amazon (Canada) | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Clean Jokes for Toastmasters

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Use one of these jokes at your next meeting.

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When my husband got pulled over by a policeman on a trip in Switzerland, he wondered what the trouble was.

“Didn’t you notice the flash from the speed-control camera?” asked the officer.

“Ah, that’s what it was,” said my husband, unaccustomed to this technology. “I thought it was a lightning strike.”

“Well,” said the officer before handing him a ticket with a hefty fine. “Here comes the thunder.”

Source: Ursula Helfer, Reader’s Digest

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As a woman entered the elevator at a hospital, a disheveled-looking man rushed in, carrying a blue baby bootie filled with carnations.

She smiled and asked, “Does he look like you?”

“I hope not,” he said. “I just deliver the flowers.”

Source: Reader’s Digest

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When the waitress at an upscale restaurant brought a patron the soup of the day, he was dismayed. “Good heavens,” he said. “What is this?”

“Why it’s bean soup,” she replied.

“I don’t care where it has been,” he sputtered. “What is it now?”

Source: Reader’s Digest

Cover Reveal: Cookie Cutter

I’m thrilled to present the cover for Jo Richardson’s novel…

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Blurb

Iris Alden and Carter Blackwood couldn’t be more different. Change-averse Iris likes her life neat and organized, while Carter’s itchy feet mean he doesn’t plan to stay in the same place for long.

When Carter moves into the house across the street from Iris, to renovate it, she fights the disruption it causes in her life. Before long, though, it’s not simply the house Carter’s rebuilding, but Iris’s heart, too.

Teaser

“What are you doing here?”

It’s Carter freaking Blackwood. Of course.

He smiles that ridiculously bright, white smile of his and lets out a soft snicker. “I’m fixing a floor for a friend, what are you doing here?”

It’s completely obvious what I’m doing here, seeing as I’m carrying two huge trays of sugar cookies in my arms.

“A friend? You just moved in. How do you have friends already?” I say it a bit harsher than I probably should but honestly, how does he have friends already? James and I were here a good six months before people started really talking to me. It was a year before I could call any of them friends. The edges of Carter’s mouth turn down and his head dips to one side as his shoulders hunch then settle.

“People like me, I guess.”

The smug look on his face is enough to make me want to slap it. Or kiss it.

Wait. Not kiss it. I didn’t mean kiss it. Why am I staring at his lips?

“People who don’t want to kill me that is. Are you okay?”

I blink, and search my brain, but I’m still not quite sure what to say to him, so I extend my arms. “I brought cookies.” As soon as I say the words, I hear them. I sound ridiculous and Carter’s bright eyes crinkle with amusement.

He closes his lids and he breathes the baked goods in. Then hums. The sound of his voice sends a vibration through me and I shiver. I am eternally grateful that he doesn’t see it happen.

His eyes open slowly. When they reach mine, I’m glued to his stare like a deer in headlights.

“Those cookies smell really fucking good, Iris.”

The bedroom eyes catch me off guard and my mouth falls open so I snap it shut. I’m a buffoon with no ability to speak.

“Can I have one?” He reaches out and I balance the platter with one hand, then slap his fingers with the other while I find words. A word that is.

“No.”

“Ow.” He pulls his hand away, like a child getting reprimanded, only when we make eye contact again, he doesn’t seem child like to me.

I wouldn’t say he’s angry. He doesn’t exactly laugh, either. And his eyes gleam as he stares at me. I hate his eyes almost as much as I hate his teeth. Maybe more. Dammit, I’m staring, again.

“They’re for Ally’s class,” I tell him. “Fundraiser, I mean bake sale.” I fumble my words. He’s so frustrating.

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Other works by Jo

Cursed be the Wicked, a paranormal mystery romance, released March 2014 through Soul Mate Publishing

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Lost in Christmas, a short story included in Soul Mate Publishing’s 2013 Christmas anthology

Amazon | Goodreads

About Jo

jorichardsonA movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

Jo tells contemporary stories with romance, humor, the supernatural, the paranormal, suspense, mystery, action and anything else she can think up.

In 2012, she wrote Cursed be the Wicked, a character driven, paranormal mystery romance that was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing and released in March of 2014. Since then, Jo has also written a couple of short stories and her recently contracted contemporary romantic comedy, entitled Cookie Cutter, is set to release on March 23, 2015 through Little Bird Publishing.

Where to find Jo…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Release Date: March 23, 2015