Welcome to the Trailer Tuesday series!
Today, I am pleased to feature a trailer from Rachel L. Demeter.
Rachel’s Thoughts on The Frost of Springtime and Writing…
I have always held a special affinity for unconventional, edgy stories and tortured protagonists … and Aleksender de Lefèvre is very much a wounded soul. Severely scarred inside and out, his twisted past and the horrors of the battlefield have hardened his heart—and Sofia’s love and compassion presents the ideal counterpoint to his darkness. Like Aleksender, she suffers from a tragic, ill-fated past. And only through their shared love—a mutual compassion and deep understanding—can two shattered souls be made complete…
Writing is my life’s blood, my passion, and obsession. It has always been, and always will be. Heck … I’ve been writing before I physically learned to write. As a wee child, one of my favorite pastimes was imagining stories and characters while my mom would jot them down for me. Now, at the ripe age of twenty-five, my passion for creating living, breathing worlds is stronger than ever.
Where to find Rachel…
Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Catherine Castle talking about an unexpected second act and her debut novel, The Nun and the Narc.
We all go through a series of second acts in our lives. We transition from teenager to adult, from single to married, from wife or husband to parent. Most of us go from job to job. Change can be scary, even if you want it, and shattered first acts can be devastating, if you let them be.
My first act was shattered at 19 when I was turned down for musical theatre at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. The only thing I ever wanted was to sing professionally. With no music theory background, the college took me in on probation based on the quality of my voice. I thought I was on my way when I made that cut. But at the end of the year I was told, “Sorry. You have a beautifully sweet voice, but sweet will never make it as a singer.” That news hit me so hard I didn’t sing in public for over a year, which, for a singer, was like a year without food or water.
At a loss for a career, it never occurred to me to try something I had been doing all my life—writing. I had been so focused on singing that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me. Writing was a creative outlet not a job choice. Instead, I went to business college. After graduation I married my high school sweetheart, who helped soothe my shattered soul, and, after that first year of no singing, I gathered the courage to sing again in public. I had let people who didn’t believe in me shatter my dream, but others appreciated the gift God had given me. In spite of not following a singing career, I knew I had an obligation to use my gift however I could.
Fast forward 21 years later and I’m very happily employed as a domestic engineer, a fancy title in that era for mothers and housewives who didn’t have paying careers. Still writing for myself, I began to wonder if I could make money on my hobby. The local weekly newspapers featured articles by by-lined contributors who I learned were non-staff members submitting articles for publication. In the simplistic, mostly uninformed mind of someone who had never taken a journalism course in her life, I thought, I know how to write. I could do that. So, I began to look for ideas to write about. The opportunity came when our church built a new facility. I gathered up my courage, called the paper, and asked if I could submit an article about the groundbreaking.
The editor said, “Sure, but I can’t pay you or give you a byline.”
No pay and no byline almost stopped me. I was older and wiser, however. I had once let others stop me from pursuing a dream, and I was not about to give this one up. I’d give away as many articles as I needed to in order to get the job as contributor. So, I said, “No problem.”
I studied the paper’s lead writer, modeling my piece after hers, and I was thrilled when they printed it just like I’d written it—not a single correction. Then I promptly tried to think of something else to write about. My efforts netted me nothing until the church had its first service in the new building. Once again, I gathered my courage and asked if I could do another piece. I bargained for a byline, offering this piece free, too, and the editor accepted the terms. Seeing my name at the top of the article hooked me. I wanted to see that again and again.
Shortly afterwards, I invited the editor to a writer’s meeting to talk to members about writing for the newspaper. I wanted to know how to become a stringer, and I was too scared to come right out and ask her to hire me. When she finished her talk, I asked two questions. What kind of topics was she looking for as newspaper articles? (Remember I sucked at coming up with ideas back then.) And how did one become a stringer?
She looked at me and said, “Come into the office tomorrow and we can talk about signing a stringer contract for you.”
I worked part time for the Community Press for 10 years. When I left their employ to focus on fiction writing, the second act of my writing career, I had over 600 articles and hundreds of photos to my credit. I had branched out into other markets writing for children, seniors, learned how to reslant and reuse my interviews and notes, and bargained for rights. Other regional editors from Community Press papers would call me to string for them, and I gladly accepted every job.
It’s funny how things work out. Had I made it into musical theatre, I might not have married my high school sweetheart. I’d have been in New York chasing another dream. I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband, beautiful daughter, or even my best friends. One shattered dream turned into a lifetime of happiness and a different career, albeit much later than I ever dreamed possible.
If you’re looking for your second act in life, here’s a piece of advice: Your dream is closer to you than you probably realize. Had I realized at age 19 the writing path waited for me I might not have taken 21 years to discover journalism and another 23 to become a published author. I could have a lot more books out there had I discovered that second act dream sooner.
I once interviewed a woman who got her GED at age 80. So, don’t let others, taking chances, or being afraid discourage you. Follow your dreams whenever they become known to you. It’s never too late.
I didn’t realize it until I was writing this blog post, but The Nun and the Narc is about second acts, too. Sister Margaret Mary and the hero Jed are faced with their own second acts in a fast-paced action adventure.
Blurb from The Nun and the Narc
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.
Where to find Catherine…
Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey, Catherine. Last month, I read The Nun and the Narc in two sittings. Simply delightful!
Welcome to the Trailer Tuesday series!
Today, I am pleased to feature a trailer from Soul Mate author Jo Richardson.
Cursed be the Wicked is Jo’s debut novel and will be released by Soul Mate Publishing on March 5, 2014. Storyline: Cooper Shaw is determined to avoid the ghosts of his past. Finnley Pierce is the woman who helps him remember, whether he likes it or not.
Where to find Jo…
When I started the Second Acts series on my blog, I intended to gather enough posts for the two months leading up to the launch of Between Land and Sea. But I found I couldn’t just end the series. There are too many inspiring reinvention stories out there.
Continue reading on the Soul Mate Author Group blog.
Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Lilas Taha talking about a challenging life journey and her debut novel, Shadows of Damascus.
Born in Kuwait to a Palestinian refugee father, and a Syrian immigrant mother, I had a mix of cultures in my upbringing. In 1990, I was displaced by the Gulf war, and landed in the United States under very difficult circumstances. I was almost penniless, experiencing culture shock, and worried sick about my family trapped in a war zone.
I had a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Kuwait University, but no papers to prove it since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait destroyed my chance to obtain any records. The war wiped my past, and took away my present. I was determined not to let it rob me of a future I wanted and deserved. I found a way to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and landed a decent job in the process. I married a wonderful man and moved to Texas to establish a family. I am the proud and extremely lucky mother of a daughter and a son.
I chose the field of social safety instead of the Industrial field, working with domestic abuse victims. Over the years, I saw different forms of survival, different levels of strengths that propelled people, especially victimized women, to escape the wars they carried within and get on the path of recovery. I admired their perseverance, their undeniable desire to live free of fear and violence, and their unimaginable courage to break away.
What triggered the need for change?
Having roots in Syria from my mother’s side, I have deep ties to the country and its culture. Furthermore, my father’s family also lived in Syria as Palestinian refugees. Every chance my parents had, they took us to Syria to connect with family members on both sides. As an American, I culturally identify myself to have a mix of Syrian and Palestinian background.
When the uprising started in March of 2011 in Syria, I understood the initial peaceful movement. I understood the driving force behind it, the desire to live free of oppression and with dignity. But when it quickly spiraled into full civil war, every thought and emotion left me, replaced by fear. Family, loved ones, friends and acquaintances are caught by the incomprehensible violence. And I know death dose not discriminate when it sweeps in with bombs, bullets and destruction.
Feeling helpless to do anything from a distance, I found myself in a very dark place emotionally, and I needed an outlet. So I started writing Shadows of Damascus as a form of therapy. I didn’t just set out to write a story. I had a deep desire to catch part of the struggles survivors go through by no means, giving their agony its due rights. Although my characters are completely fictional, I drew on my own experiences to express the jumble of emotions involved. My aim was not to describe a political climate that was, and still is, too volatile and complicated to explain without delving in history lessons. I wanted to write about emotions, about the people who have to endure the rest of their lives with unusually heavy loads on their backs. I wanted to write about life, rather than death and destruction. But how could I do that when the premise of the plot is set in two still active wars?
I am constantly aware of the heavy price any meaningful success requires of people. I also became aware of the burden carried by some American soldiers who were involved in Iraq. I wanted to bring the two worlds together. The hopeful dreamer that I am, I wanted my hero and heroine, two destroyed souls by completely different wars, to have a chance in life. And so the story of Yasmeen and Adam began.
Where are you now?
I am now in a hopeful state. Fear gave way to acceptance. Having published my first novel–a long time dream for any aspiring writer–I am looking forward to a time when peace, not war, propels me to write another kind of story. In the meantime, I am finishing up my second novel, discussing a love story that blossoms in a volatile environment again, though a different one this time. I found my place in this world, finally. I want to continue writing, hoping my stories appeal, educate, and entertain readers.
Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?
This comes from my training as an engineer: Every problem has a solution. I find this applicable on the social level too, if one looks hard enough and is willing to step out of the box circumstances and/or society imposed.
Bullet wounds, torture and oppression aren’t the only things that keep a man—or a woman—from being whole.
Debt. Honor. Pain. Solitude. These are things wounded war veteran Adam Wegener knows all about. Love—now, that he is not good at, not when love equals a closed fist, burns, and suicide attempts. But Adam is one who keeps his word. He owes the man who saved his life in Iraq. And he doesn’t question the measure of the debt, even when it is in the form of an emotionally distant, beautiful woman.
Yasmeen agreed to become the wife of an American veteran so she could flee persecution in war-torn Syria. She counted on being in the United States for a short stay until she could return home. There was one thing she did not count on: wanting more.
Is it too late for Adam and Yasmeen?
Where to find Lilas…
Thank you Lilas for inspiring us with your journey and insights. Best of luck with Shadows of Damascus.