Happy Serendipity Day!

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Today is Serendipity Day, an officially recognized annual event and special day to celebrate unexpected and much appreciated grace.

Some of my favorite quotations…

The universe is always speaking to us…sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. Nancy Thayer

There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery. Jeff Bezos

Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns on the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure—do it well, enjoy it—and then, not now, think about what comes next. Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked. Elizabeth Berg

Unless you leave room for Serendipity…How can the Divine enter? Joseph Campbell

History is an intricate web of timing, people, circumstances and serendipity. Don Rittner

In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. Peter McWilliams

Serendipity: Look for something, find something else and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for. Lawrence Block

If you use it intelligently, Twitter can be a form of engineered serendipity. Jason Silva

70 and New Beginnings

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Susan B. James entertaining us with her amazing life journey and introducing her novel, Time and Forever.

Here’s Susan!

Thank you, Joanne, for this opportunity to guest on Second Acts. Writing is my second act. Specifically Romance writing.

I grew up all over the world. My Mother was a serial monogamist.

Mom at 46 in Hawaii 1967 With my brother Mike

Mom at 46 in Hawaii 1967 With my brother Mike

A gorgeous woman who looked like Katherine Hepburn, she went through lots of men and four husbands in search of perfect happiness. I guess you could say my life with mom was like a soap opera with a laugh track.

Mom_Paris_Rome0001 (2)During the course of the adventure I started school in Paris, (mom had divorced my father and decided to go to Cordon Bleu in Paris to learn how to cook. There she dated Art Buchwald, the later famous columnist, and a college professor.) finished elementary school in Cape Town (Husband #2 was a newspaper report, turned PR man and was transferred to South Africa to head up PR for Mobil Gas). Graduated high school in Rome, (Mom was recovering from her most perfect love – Husband #3 -One of Madison Avenue’s Mad Men – and she decided child support and alimony would go further in Italy. Mom got a job from an old boyfriend selling airplanes, so she could legitimately leave the country with my younger sibs, Kelly and Mike.)

Why am I not writing this story you ask? Auntie Mame has been written and there’s way too much soap opera in Mom’s story. I prefer funny.

Sue_1965_the_Knack (2)By the time I was twelve, I knew I wanted to be an actor. In 1966 after finishing graduate school in Hawaii, I went to England hoping to be hired at a theatre there. Why had I never heard of Work Laws? I did get a job, but I could only get a work permit if no one else in the British Commonwealth could do the job. So after a wonderful three months and an under the table job as a maid in a YWCA, I flew back to the US to take a job at Front Street Theatre in Memphis. When I wrote Time and Forever, my London background came in very handy.

My marriage of twenty two years ended just before my 50th birthday. I think we were a small blurb in People Magazine during the divorce. Barry was at that time one of the stars of Northern Exposure. He played Maurice Minnifield, the astronaut. We had a rough few years, but I am happy to report we are now good friends and get together whenever he is in town. Right now he is on the series, Anger Management, so we meet to play trivia once a week.

While trying to revive my acting career (no-one cared what I had done ten years ago. It wasn’t so much a revival as a start-over.) I decided I needed a new interest and began to write children’s books.

It never occurred to be to write an adult book. I was a romance junkie from the day I read my first Harlequin Novel while we were summering in Port Colburne, Canada. No Roses in June by Essie Summers. I still have it. I progressed from Essie Summers to Emilie Loring and Georgette Heyer and so on and so on . . . I am a Susan Elizabeth Phillips addict.

In October, 2009 I wrote a post for my Children’s Lit blog, Pen and Ink, about the joys of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I had to sign up to do NaNo to write the post, and in November, my guilt genes kicked in and I started writing.

With not an idea in my head, what appeared on my computer screen was an adult novel called Second Chances. I was thrilled when I finished and couldn’t wait to share it with someone. I had a new dream: Romance novelist.

Four years and MANY submissions and rewrites later, Cheryl Yeko offered me a contract with Soul Mate Publishing. That was five months before my 70th birthday.

I decided to write as Susan B. James so that my sons didn’t have to disown me when they found out I wrote sex scenes. No child wants to acknowledge their parent could possibly know about sex. I’m pretty sure neither of my sons nor their wives read the book.

susandoublepixI used a double author photo: Me now and me in 1969. I did it because I believe we only age on the outside. Our inner person stays the same.

Advice on starting over? Don’t EVER accept the label OLD. It’s demeaning. Think of yourself as chronologically gifted. You have lots more to give.


Time and Forever was published in January, 2014 and won an honorable mention in the 2014 Great Northwest Book Festival.

Time_and_Forever2__fiona_web_large (2)

Blurb

Sherry wants a second chance at love. Lorena doesn’t believe that’s possible. But when a glitch in a virtual reality adventure sends them back to the real 1969, anything can happen.

Longer Blurb

What would you give up for a chance at true love?

When Sherry’s best friend Lorena promises her a virtual reality adventure for her sixty-third birthday, neither of them expect a trip back in time.

But when the handsome stranger she’d kissed on a London train in the summer of ’69 bumps into her in the “VR” adventure, she knows it couldn’t be anything else. And this time she doesn’t want to run.

Lorena’s heart’s still linked to her husband who died four years ago. She returns to the present to find a letter from David urging her to travel to a past she doesn’t remember.

Meeting Dave in 1969 Los Angeles is everything she never imagined. But how can she stay when the price might be the life of her daughter?

Time and Forever, the audio book should be available by mid August. One of the thrills of my life was listening with friends who hadn’t read the book to the first take of the audio book and hearing them laugh in the places I meant laughs.

I’ve started a blog with five tabs (aren’t I ambitious?) Which has more about me, some Paleo recipes and a sneak peek at my next adult book, Kate’s Hero. Someday I will find time to fill the children’s book tab. I know it.

I am also on Twitter and I have a Facebook author page for Romance. I also have them for my Earthquake Book and we have one for Pen and Ink. Leading a triple online life as an actor, children’s author and romance writer is proving a huge challenge. But what would life be without some obstacles?

Thanks for reading.

Joanne here!

What an extraordinary journey! If you ever run out of creative ideas (I know, highly unlikely), consider writing your memoirs. I loved reading Time and Forever and highly recommend it to everyone.

Withstanding the Fire

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Dr. Julie Connor sharing and reflecting upon her journey to a spectacular second act.

Here’s Julie!

julieconnorWhen I was five, I loved to warm my hands by a fire. Roast marshmallows. Twirl sparklers. As I got older, I looked to other people to tell me who I was and what I enjoyed. When we were children, our choices were driven by a personal sense of fun and adventure. As adults, we often can’t distinguish opportunities filled with excitement from those that bore us to sleep until we are forced to make a decision. Motivated by the proverbial “fire under our tails.”

Shortly after I completed my doctoral program, I received an envelope from the school district where I worked as an instructional coach. It felt like fire in my hands. I was intuitively aware of its contents. A letter explained my job was axed as a result of downsizing. I went back to school to earn degrees in school administration and educational leadership. I hoped the degrees would allow me to take a leap of faith out of traditional educational positions into a career I loved. However, I had no words to describe “a career I loved.” I was only sure of one thing: I was standing on holy ground.

A friend asked, “What do you want to do?” I didn’t know. He asked, “What do you like to do?” I had no idea. I spent years developing workshops, designing programs, analyzing data, and composing submissions for other people in higher positions who would take credit for my work. I did it to ensure job security. And I never had it. I thought maybe sometime somehow some way I might capture moments where I could do bits of what I liked to do. I worked so hard to please other people that I lost myself in the process. I finally realized that there wasn’t anything anybody else could do for me that I couldn’t do for myself.

I retreated to a red chair in a corner of my home for more than a year. I churned out masterfully-crafted application forms, composed essays, designed PowerPoint presentations, prepared for interviews, and scoured on-line listings for positions I did not want. I applied for jobs where skills in assessment and data analyses were needed. I learned a foreign language to become more marketable. I applied for jobs in my hometown, in different cities, in different states, and in different countries. And I withdrew from the world.

I was tired.

I searched through magazines hoping to find something that would make me feel anything but sad and hollow. One night, I dreamt about a tiger. The next morning, I found a picture of a beautiful tiger leaping through the air. In the kingdom of spirit animal guides, a tiger represents personal power, courage, and strength to face and overcome obstacles. I like tigers. When I was five, I wrote love letters to Tony the Tiger and mailed them to the North Pole (because everybody knows that Tony the Tiger lives with Santa Claus). The paper tiger in my hand was powerful and strong. I felt happy as I looked at the tiger and the memory it triggered. And I felt strong.

I found more pictures. I found words and meaningful quotations. I purchased poster paper and attached my collection of pictures and words to its surface. It became my vision board. I developed a daily practice of recording all of the blessings in my life in a gratitude journal.

I volunteered to facilitate workshops at local colleges, urban high schools, and support groups that desperately wanted someone to remind them that they still had dreams. Organizations requested copies of my goal-setting resources, inspirational stories, prayers, and reflections. I slowly rediscovered what made my heart sing one step, one activity, one prayer, one goal, one habit, one picture, one encouraging phrase, one journal entry, one conversation, one risk at a time.

Throughout the months that followed, my vision board evolved. My dreams hadn’t gone anywhere. Years ago, I was too frightened to nurture my own aspirations because I didn’t trust any of them could come true. So, my dreams took a nap until I woke up. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” insists Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I cut those words out and attached them to my vision board. Next to the tiger.

I love the collaborative hammering out of mission statements, constructing goals aligned with a vision, and building relationships. I love engaging in meaningful dialogue with others as they discern their dreams. I hate data analyses. I like to plan and show others how to use tools that empower them to pursue their passions. I love to write.

The same fire that melts butter hardens steel.

The process of rediscovering one’s personal passions can be excruciatingly difficult. I had to relearn how to listen to that intense brilliant voice within that knows – that’s always known – what I enjoy, where my talents lie, and what I believe.

Vocare, in Latin, means “to call.” The root of the word, vocation. When we find the courage and wisdom to respond to the Voice, we stand on holy ground.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest and philosopher, said, “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Where are you now?

I am a keynote speaker, goals & planning catalyst, and author of the goal-setting workbook, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide. I founded a network to inspire and empower women over 50.

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

My primary piece of advice: Do something. Start anywhere. Any step forward is a step in the right direction.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

From my book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide:“Do the next right thing and the next right step will reveal itself to you.”

juliesbook

Blurb

In Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, Dr. Julie Connor will help you discover your dream, define your purpose, and create tangible goals. Julie empowers you with the skills and tools needed to transform your dream into a spectacular plan of action.

Where to find Julie…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+ | YouTube | Pinterest | Amazon

Joanne here!

Julie, thank you for sharing your incredible journey. I enjoy following you online and look forward to reading your book.

Never Stop Learning

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Kath Unsworth chatting about her passions and her emerging second act as an Illustrator/Artist/Writer.

Here’s Kath!

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

butterfly (copy) (2)Growing up in a mixed bunch of creative people was a great way to thrive. Nine siblings to be precise. My passion to draw started early. As a child I loved looking at nature. Most happiest when observing the birds, watching a spider spinning it’s web or following a butterfly in flight. I dreamed of being an artist and painting beautiful pictures to hang in galleries. I was a mad book-worm too and often imagined my own endings to books if I did not like the way the story ended.

For some reason I let my passions slip through my fingers when I became an adult.

My career crossed paths with creativity many times. Visual merchandiser, costume jewellery maker, graphic designer, being some of the more memorable experiences. But I never seemed to feel my feet lift off the ground. Or believe I could fly, like when I was a child creating art. My childhood dreams, lost in my attempts to live a busy city existence.

Life gets in the way of the creative journey and I would be lying if I said it didn’t. I did not realise I needed to change my career. It was by sheer accident I discovered a new world of art.

I fell in love, stopped work to have children. With children, came a need to write stories. All my passion for art came floating back to me.

Reading picture books to the children inspired ideas. Moving to a dairy farm the power of nature found me once more and I began to create art. Children can do funny things to a person and they inspire me every day to think outside the box. As does my husband.

Recently I sent my picture book manuscript off to an editor and the healthy dose of feedback, made me realise I still have much to learn. I’m okay with that, I am learning by doing. My first book Sugar and Spice has had its ups and downs because I am writing and illustrating it. It is not finished yet. Some say this is a big no, illustrating your own picture book in the publishing world. I believe in the beauty of my own dreams and I know what I want for this book.

I began dreaming about picture books and drawing new characters. Ideas pop into my head at any given hour. I have no education in this field and understand the road is not an easy one. I have decided to take on a few more courses to aid me in this craft.

My interest in the minuscule moments and living where I live, inspire a creative lifestyle. I will open an Etsy shop this year and start selling my art. I am thinking of offering pet portraits too. It has taken years for me to realize I am an Illustrator/Artist/Writer. My journey continues and I know I will never lose this passion to create. I am a student, all over again.

My advice for anyone wanting to follow their passion is start today. Listen to the voice inside you, it knows best. Get educated. I am learning new skills daily. I have found the road of creating a picture book is a long and challenging path. It will take me many years to get it right. Attaining new skills is rewarding in itself. Don’t rush it, even though it feels like you should. Don’t be afraid of feedback it is where you learn the most.

My art is my life, I go where it leads. To who knows where? All I know is I am learning to fly again, like a baby bird fresh from the nest. All I have to do is keep going, keep learning and never give up. Through all these crazy projects something will happen.

I will leave you with some wise and wonderful words from Dr. Seuss:

“If Things start happening.
Don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
Dr. Seuss

Thank you Joanne for inviting me to your awesome inspiring site. It has been a pleasure to write about my emerging second act.

kath 1 copy (2)Where to find Kath…

Kath lives down the far south coast of Australia on a dairy farm.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Joanne here!

Kath, thanks for sharing your journey and insights. I love your artwork and look forward to the release of Sugar and Spice.

From Wrong to Write

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have multi-genre author and editor Harmony Kent chatting about her extraordinary life journey from a Buddhist temple to literary success.

Here’s Harmony!

harmonykentBriefly describe your first act.

I wrote all the time as a kid, but it wasn’t always well received. I guess children tell it like they see it, and when I wrote about the world around me, the grownups didn’t always appreciate such a clear mirror!

Needless to say, I grew up and my mirror was more than a bit cloudy. All my energy went into dealing with life: relationships, job, just getting through each day. So, the writing fell by the wayside. I just didn’t have the confidence or the time.

Then I made a decision that changed my life: I took ordination as a Buddhist Monk and lived in a Temple for 13 years. I worked through a lot during those years, and I found a confidence and contentment I had never known. Life was good.

What triggered the need for change?

In 2007 I underwent routine surgery, and unfortunately it went very wrong. I was left disabled and in a lot of pain for the next three years. In 2010 I had one of my legs amputated in an attempt to improve the situation. Although I still experience lots of pain, I am not as debilitated as I was pre-amputation. So, while it didn’t give me the fresh start I had hoped for, it did offer me some relief and improvement.

I stayed in the Temple for six years after the injury, but couldn’t follow the schedule, or do the tasks I would normally have done. So, just shy of two years ago, I made the decision to leave and return to the world. I was forty years old, not very mobile, and starting my life from scratch. I didn’t have any belongings, or anywhere to live. I was literally beginning life anew.

Once all my basic needs were taken care of, I had to find something to fill my time and keep my brain occupied. Very quickly, I found a story begging to be written, and so I sat at the computer and began to type. The Battle for Brisingamen was born. As soon as I had finished that one, another story idea was pestering me, and so I continued to write.

Where are you now?

Two years on, and I have three books published, with more on the way. I also offer editing and proofreading services for other authors. As well as being a busy book reviewer. I have met many online friends, and my life is so full.

My second book, The Glade, received an IndieBRAG Medallion in July—which is a difficult award to achieve. Only ten percent of all books submitted are offered the medallion. My latest book, Elemental Earth, was released just six days ago, and is my first Young Adult novel. I am already working hard on the sequel: Air-born.

thebattleforbrisingamenThe Glade Front Cover with BRAG Medallion (2)












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

When life as you know it comes to an end, and you find yourself asking ‘what now?’ Don’t give up. Don’t despair. Yes, it’s hard. But, it is also a great opportunity to re-invent yourself. There is always a way. Had my injury not occurred, I would probably have still been living a cloistered life under monastic vows. However, the life I have now is so rewarding and fulfilling, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The change was scary, and I felt isolated for a long time. But, I kept going. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? For me, life really did begin at forty.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

‘No matter how you feel: get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.’

I found this quote online, and it spoke to me in a personal way. I used it in a recent guest article I wrote for All Author’s Magazine. It is from Lea Michelle’s ‘Rise and Shine’ quotes, and echoes closely my own philosophy. That’s not to say that when we need to take time out we can’t do it. Quite the opposite: if we need to stay put and rest, then that is our work for the day. We have to choose our battles, as it were. The important thing is that we aren’t giving up.

Blurb

Elemental Earth Cover for Kindle (2)Elemental Earth is a Young Adult Fantasy Fiction novel, and was released on July 31st 2014. It has already received its first 5 star reviews!

“You turned the god of gnomes into a garden ornament?”

Sarah looked closely, but couldn’t tell if her dad was annoyed or amused—perhaps he was both …

Whilst 15 year old Sarah may be struggling to regain her feet, after being ripped from her everyday mundane life and ending up in a whole new dimension, she still knows how to have a bit of fun along the way. The Earth Elemental isn’t the only one whose feathers she manages to ruffle, and it’s only been four days. Meanwhile, her best friend is missing, and big trouble is brewing. She soon has a lot more to worry about than what happened to her phone or iPod, or even how much of an idiot Caleb obviously thinks she is.

Elemental Earth is the first book in The Mysteries series, and is aimed at Young Adults. Even if you’ve already reached an age where the young ones might call you ‘old enough’, if you’re still young at heart then you’re bound to enjoy these books just as much as the next—err—younger adult.

Age aside, perhaps we should be more worried about what further havoc Sarah’s antics might be about to wreak on the universe as we know it? We’d probably all be sleeping a lot more soundly if she’d only stuck to applied maths and the odd pillow fight. But no, sadly the lure of the proverbial rabbit hole proved just a tad too much. And now she’s taken the plunge, there’s no turning back.

Where to find Harmony…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads

Joanne here!

Wow! I am inspired by your journey and look forward to reading your books. If you ever run out of creative ideas, consider writing a memoir.

Spotlight on Bethany Averie

I am happy to spotlight Soul Mate author Bethanie Averie’s fascinating journey and Divine Love, Book One of the Immortal Dreams Trilogy.

Here’s Bethanie!

Bethany Averie photo (2)My journey to getting where I am today as a writer began when I was a kid. Whether I was playing with my imaginary friends, making up a little song (that my dad decided to put to music and I get half embarrassed/half flattered about) I was always creating something.

Growing up I continued writing a variety of things from stories, to poems, to lyrics. I also loved reading and read almost all the time (I could finish a 300/350 page book in a day when I was younger—now because of being a wife, mother, and writer it takes me longer to finish reading a novel, but I still love to read).

Anybody who has read how I became a writer, knows how my first published novel, my Romance, All’s Fair In Love & Lion came about. The story of how Immortal Dreams Book One: Divine Love came about is a bit different.

It happened by accident. My critique partner (the very talented author, Tess St. John) suggested I write characters whose ages were younger than those in AFIL&L (the characters in that novel are in their 30’s). I wasn’t sure. My previous experiences trying to do that were epic failures. But then one day I was sitting at home and I thought to myself “Why not try? I don’t have to tell anyone I’m doing this. I can just do it. Then, if it sucks, nobody has to ever know.” Then I thought, “Why don’t I challenge myself further? How about I write third person, past-tense the way most novels are written?” (AFIL&L is written first person/present-tense).

I didn’t want to come up with a whole new concept, since I already was going to write something completely different than what I was used to, so I searched my files of unfinished manuscripts. I ran across Divine Love—which only had about 25-50 pages written. After I read what was written there, I fell back in love with the concept. It wasn’t hard to make it over into the “coming of age” YA/NA Paranormal Romance it is today—after I fixed up some things it just flowed. I sent a brief outline to my editor about it and got offered a contract for the entire Trilogy—despite the fact at the time Astral Love and Immortal Love weren’t written! (Astral Love is written and turned in to my publisher, and I’m working on Immortal Love). I was thrilled to be able to get them out, and the rest is writing history.

Finalized Divine Love (2)Vertical shot of happy sweethearts looking at one another

Blurb

Immortal Dreams Book One: Divine Love blurb: Laney Alberts should be enjoying her senior year of high school. Instead, she’s mourning the death of her beloved father—her hero. Even after a year without him, she still feels directionless.

Things take a complete one-eighty when she literally walks into Jason Magnus, the hot, new guy at school. He’s different from anyone she has ever met, and intrigues her in ways she never guessed possible.

But, there’s more to Jason than Laney realizes. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s thrown into the world of Immortals. To prevent a goddess bent on world domination from destroying both the human and Immortal worlds, Laney and Jason must embrace the Fates’ destiny for them.

Human and Immortal collide in this, the first of the Immortal Dreams Trilogy.

Buy Links

Amazon | Soul Mate Publishing

Bio

Bethany Averie is the second-to-the-youngest of eight children. As a kid, she loved fairy tales, especially Cinderella and Beauty & The Beast. Bethany still loves fairy tales, Greek & Roman Mythology, and romance. She resides in the Lone Star State with her real life hero, and a shadow who calls her ‘Mom’. When not writing, Bethany enjoys time with family and friends and dreaming up new worlds.

Where to find Bethany…

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook (Trilogy) | Goodreads

Making a Difference Makes Me a Better Person

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author, blogger, and book reviewer Rosie Amber chatting about her multi-layered life.

Here’s Rosie!

rosie2My second act journey began as my youngest child’s Primary education journey came to an end. It felt like the ending of an era and I wanted to have something to remember it by for myself and my friends. So I wrote a book loosely based on all my experiences along the years of Primary school education. In just three months I had my book full of fun memories covering incidents from the eleven years that our family had been going to a small village school. It’s called Talk of The Playground.

I never thought much further than that, but my friend introduced me to self-publishing. I had no budget for anything to do with the book, I’m a full time house-wife with a part-time job as a farm secretary. Suddenly, like so many, I could fulfill the lifetime dream of writing and publishing a book. It became a drug, a published book, Wow! I kept looking at it on Amazon and asking is that really me?

I approached the book so innocently, no plans, no marketing, no author platform, I knew nothing about all this. I was not a social bunny, I had a desktop and laptop computer, no iPhone, not even a Kindle. Suddenly I had a thirst to learn how I could sell my book, how I could connect with the writing world.

Luckily I have a very good friend, she introduced me to blogging. First we tried Tumbler, but the audience was wrong. Then we started on WordPress, one lesson at a time. Next it was Twitter and finally an author page on Facebook. Two years ago I knew nothing about social networking, now I work really hard at it. I’ve always loved reading so I filled my blog with book reviews. Really poor book reviews to start with but I learned from my mistakes along the way.

In 2013 I joined the A-Z blogging tour and my reading audience boomed. I participated in the tour again in 2014. Each time I promote author’s books.

I also read a book which sent me in a new direction. A Year of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly was an experiment by Judith to do one Good Deed a day for a year. As I began the book I challenged myself to try the same experiment. I became so aware of opportunities to help others, clean up the planet and be a better person, that I completed my own year and am now carrying on and am into my second year. I post weekly updates on my blog every Sunday. Sometimes it’s as easy as picking up litter, phoning a friend or baking a cake, but I have inspired others too. Recently I had a lovely comment from a author in America, he said I have made him very aware of Good deed opportunities in his life and he doesn’t pass them by because he feels I would be disappointed if he did.

rosie3I now have lots of people who come to my blog for book reviews, and guest author pieces. I give my service for free, I enjoy helping others. In June I ran a Book Review Challenge series, giving advice on book reviews. I had guest posts from other book reviewers, authors on the need for book reviews and a publisher. Authors gave free books to readers who wanted to take up the challenge of writing book reviews. It was such a success that I then launched a Book Reviewing Team. This offers authors access to several reviewers all from one place. Again the service is free and voluntary on the behalf of the reviewers. Anyone who loves reading can join, and I am happy to discuss books with authors who would like their book reviewed, either by myself or by the team members.

Not one to sit still, I like to keep my blog fresh, with plenty for everyone. I have now blogged for almost two years and have posted nearly every day on those two years in an effort to build up an interacting audience of readers. Last week I was introduced to author and Twitter Queen Rayne Hall (@RayneHall) She has written a great book for authors called Twitter for Writers. This week I reviewed her book and she was a recent guest offering 12 Twitter tips for writers, which was fantastic.

rosie1My next project is Romancing September Across The World. A tour of Romance books co-hosted with Stephanie Hurt from Georgia, USA. We offer a double exposure of each book on a given day in September.

My own writing journey has gone full circle, I am now doing a big edit on Talk of the Playground and am closely working with Alison Williams. A result of reading and reviewing, my awareness of what works and what needs improvement has shown me that now I need to edit my book to make it more than just a lovely memory for myself and my friends. If I want to reach an audience I need to make the book connect to the readers who don’t know the English school system or who have never been in a village school playground, where you may well see and hear things that will make your eyes pop out of your head. I’ve taken my book down from Amazon, I’ve grown as a writer and a person from my two years in the blogging world. I really am a different better person.

Where to find Rosie…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

I am impressed and inspired by your generosity of spirit. You are making a difference in the global writing community. Molte grazie!

Is There Life After Three Career Attempts and an Unfinished PhD?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Francis Guenette reflecting on her multi-act life.

Here’s Francis!

Thank you, Joanne, for inviting me to be part of the second act series. Writing this guest post has been a valuable exercise in self-reflection.

Francis Guenette - author photo (2)My first act was defined by the dream of higher education and my second act as answering the question – is there life after three career attempts and an unfinished PhD? I won’t keep anyone in suspense. The answer is a resounding yes! The life events that taught me the most – I never saw them coming. After all, no journey is planned completely in advance. The key to moving from one act to the next is the realization that the familiar path has been outgrown.

Flash back many years. I was married with a baby in my arms before the age of twenty. Act one was underway. I began my pursuit of letters after my name modestly enough, sitting at the kitchen table stealing moments from child-minding and house-tending to complete distance education courses. Another child graced our life. Eventually, I finished my undergrad degree and put it to use working with a non-profit group in an educational role. The kids grew. I became disillusioned with my first career choice. I added a year of additional study and embarked on career number two, working with special needs students in the school system.

Soon enough, it was time to move on, again. I was accepted into graduate school and completed a master’s degree in counselling psychology – my third career choice. Both my kids got married, I became a grandma. While I worked as a trauma counsellor, I tackled teaching at the university level and completing a PhD. Initially, I thrived on the excitement of life in the city, work, study, research and travel. A few years down the road, the pace began to wear me out. By the time I was informed that I had to complete my dissertation, I was all but tapped out.

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I came home to our isolated cabin by the lake with strict instructions to get finished. I rebelled. As those lazy, hazy days of summer unwound, I wrote a draft of a novel that became, Disappearing in Plain Sight. It was the first time I had ever written fiction. The characters and their stories took hold of me and they wouldn’t let go. It was the most exciting writing I had done in years. I felt alive, exhilarated. The burnt out feelings associated with the past couple of years vanished. I turned deaf ears to all who insisted I was flushing my PhD down the toilet, to say nothing of turning my back on yet another career choice. My second act had begun.

I never looked back. I embraced being at home again and spending time with my children and grandchildren. I began to work with an extremely talented editor. She provided encouragement through rewrite after rewrite. My son introduced me to the world of self-publishing. Everything fell into place. Disappearing in Plain Sight was published in March of 2013 and the sequel, The Light Never Lies, came out in February of 2014. I’m currently working on the first draft of the third book in the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

My advice to others embarking on the first tottering steps of the second act – don’t give up, don’t circle the wagons or retreat to the safety of what feels tried and true. Trust your instincts. There may not be support from those close to you. It’s hard enough for you to follow the map you’re making up as you go. Trying to explain your route to others might be a waste of time. What has come before will not be lost. Every hard fought lesson of the first act will serve you in good stead come the second.

In closing, I’ll quote a wonderful passage that has inspired me by the author of Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott.

But you can’t get any of these truths by sitting in a field and smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and stay in the moment. And that moment is home.

Books

Disappearing in Plain Sight - cover (2)Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

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The Light Never Lies - ebook cover - Francis L. Guenette (2)As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

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Website and Blog

Joanne here!

Francis, thank you for sharing your extraordinary journey and excellent advice. Best of luck with your literary endeavors.

Tiramisù: A Mermaid’s First Dessert

Yesterday on Bethany Averie’s blog, I chatted about the magic tablet in my novel, Between Land and Sea. In addition to twelve months of online mermaid support, Barbara Davies (aka Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom) was allowed to select three Specialist Skills. She chose Cuisine as her first Skill and whipped up Tiramisù for her first dinner party.

For anyone who has never tasted this dessert, imagine the following…

A light-mocha-flavored-whipped-cream concoction on lady finger pastry soaked in strong espresso with a tantalizing hint of amaretto liqueur.

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A bit of history…

There is some confusion regarding the origins of Tiramisù. Several researchers claim the dessert was developed recently (1960s) in Treviso’s Ristorante El Toula, while others trace its origins to Sienna in the late 1600s.

On the occasion of Grand Duke Cosimo III De’Medici’s State visit, several Sienese pastry chefs decided to develop a dessert that would satisfy the Duke’s sweet tooth. Initially called Zuppa del Duca (Duke’s Pudding), it was a terrific success, especially among the courtesans who needed to fortify themselves between amorous encounters. They claimed the dessert was both stimulating and aphrodisiac and renamed it, Tiramisù (Pick Me Up).

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 package lady fingers
250 ml Nutriwhip Lite
250 g Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese
2 cups of cold, sweetened espresso coffee
1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
1 semi-sweet chocolate, grated

Procedure

• Beat cream cheese using the electric mixer.
• In a separate bowl, whip the Nutriwhip Lite.
• In another bowl, combine the coffee and the amaretto.
• Combine cheese and Nutriwhip together.
• Cut the lady fingers in half, lengthwise.
• Place one layer at the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan.
• Sprinkle enough of the coffee/amaretto mixture to cover the lady fingers.
• Spread the cheese/Nutriwhip mixture on the lady fingers.
• Continue layering. The top layer must be the cheese mixture.
• Cover with grated chocolate.
• Refrigerate for 24 hours.