How Many Acts to a Life?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Ryan Jo Summers sharing the events that transformed her idyllic life and propelled her toward a previously unimaginable reinvention.

Here’s Ryan!

ryanjo1There are some events that forever alter our lives, propel us forward and leave us changed in ways we never could have imagined. I have a grand little quote on my desk that reads: When life looks like it is falling apart, it may just be falling into place. How simple and how true.

Back in the early 1990’s and 2000’s I was happily married, living my dream life in Michigan. I was a wife, madly in love with my perfect husband. We had two sons. We owned businesses. We worked hard. We accomplished a lot. I had a pet boarding kennel and a non-profit collie rescue organization. I had horses and lots of pets. We competed professionally with our collies and built a reputable kennel name. We had acres to make it all work. We had great friends and family who all loved us. That was Act 1. It was idyllic and challenging and I learned so very much from those years. Looking back, there are only a few things I would have done differently. Things I now know were done through youthful ignorance.

Two collies taken in 2003. Blue merle Ruffian was  my confirmation and obedience showdog/ pet.  Sable Kip was a stray who became adopted through the rescue.

Two collies taken in 2003. Blue merle Ruffian was my confirmation and obedience showdog/ pet. Sable Kip was a stray who became adopted through the rescue.

Then the fateful day came when not only did my life fall apart, it suddenly crashed at my feet in a fiery inferno. While out of the country on holiday, I received an email from my perfect hubby saying he was leaving me. I thought I had mistakenly received an email intended for someone other poor soul! The following eleven months might be considered an intermission or an act all unto themselves. They were eleven months of unbelievable events and horrific news sweeping over me in never ending wave upon wave of heartache and injustice.

Not only was I convinced my life had fallen apart, I was stunned just looking at the jagged shards littering my life each day. I truly was clueless what had happened to my idyllic little life. Only later into that period did I learn it stemmed from a mid-life crisis, leading to dissatisfaction, infidelity and guilt. Our friends and family were divided. At then of that act/ intermission, I was forced to take my shattered life and leave the home I had worked so hard for, my dream life and the last of my ‘people’. The premature death of my marriage, my dreams and my long term friendships all led to a door that was now forever shut and sealed.

Now I am ten years into my Act Two. I left Michigan for the quaint charm and beauty of the Appalachian south. I made new friends. I took a job outside the definition of my twenty plus years’ experience. I went from successful business owner with secure finances to a hourly wage worker barely able to make the rent and put gas in the tank. It has been an education on many planes for me. I was starting over all over again, only this time with the experience of twenty plus years packed in my trunk.

Blue Ridge Mountains near my home

Blue Ridge Mountains near my home

At first I felt like I had landed on a foreign planet but it has all fallen into place. And it has continued to gradually fall into place. I still get stuck in the holding patterns while I wait for doors to open or events to unfold, but I don’t worry about it. Eventually the holding pattern ends and I move forward in my life just a little further.

Selling my debut novel in 2012 was a huge leap forward. Having two more coming out this year is another huge jump. Selling short pieces to trade journals and local periodicals has been gratifying. Learning social media and building a platform was initially going back to that foreign planet again, but I know I can survive and learn and, in time, thrive.

That has been my goal in the last eleven years, to not only survive but to also thrive. It has not been easy. Six years ago my body was beset with chronic conditions that left me challenged to continue living a normal appearing life. Yet I had come too far to give up so I became educated with my options and got serious. I am stuck with this body and it is stuck with me, there must be a peaceful co-existence within myself, which will transfer to everyone I encounter in my life.

What has been my grounding force during this second act has been a strong faith in God. I have learned to be happy in the trials, knowing I will emerge stronger and better. I have learned to be patient in the waiting because it will be better on the other side. I have learned we can see both sides better once we have lived through the hell in the middle. I have learned that life is a journey, not a guided tour and it is only when we feel the stress of the storms do we learn the strength of our anchor.

River near my house where I go to meet with God

River near my house where I go to meet with God

I have learned that to change, we must want something else more than what we have now and that now is not forever. I have learned God always give His best to those who leave the choices with Him and I have learned life is lived forward and understood backward. I have learned to value of thanking God for what I currently have and trusting Him for what I will need. I have learned that the upheaval we sometimes experience as we move from one act to another in our lives proceeds our spiritual progress and it is the action added to the faith that lets the pieces fall into place.

I know I would have never made it through the pain and betrayal of the intermission and come this far through my second act without the Divine help of God at my side. I know I wouldn’t want to go one single step into my next stage in life without Him.

Ten years ago I came to NC, little money, pride beaten and tail between my legs. I used what little cash I had to put a security deposit and rent down on a house and a down payment down on a Jeep. Then ten years of struggle, survive and place one foot in front of the other. Now, ten years later, I am still struggling, though not as much and differently. I am thriving and still placing one foot in front of the other. And I am buying my first ‘My’ house. Waiting to close later this month. What a change in just ten short— and very long—- years. If this is my second act, I wonder what will the third act bring?
The relief of God granting me this humble little house is such a real, palatable thing. I can’t wait to get settled in, write and donate the praises to God above.

new entry and bedroom window (2)New writing office (2)

Ryan’s Books

shimmersofstardustCivil War hero turned renegade, Logan Riley, is hanged by the law in 1869. His story should have ended there, except it doesn’t. In 2014, anthropologist Dr. McKenzie Lynne is hired by a team of physicists, protected by the military, to find a missing link to their time travel theories. She finds Logan, in the back of a cave, buried in glittering golden dust, alive and handsome.

When she returns to camp with him, and learns what plans they really have in store for him, she is horrified. Reacting, she grabs his hand and makes a run for it, taking their living treasure, escaping into the mountains and desert of Arizona.

Now pursued by the military, and the obsessed physicists who will stop at nothing to get their living treasure back, Kenzie and Logan must fight to stay alive. Each moment is a challenge to stay free, because getting caught would be very bad.

Meanwhile, Kenzie’s strong Christian faith works on Logan’s bad boy heart, convicting him of his lawless past, something the hangman’s noose could not do. With Kenzie’s help, he works to allow God into his heart while fighting to keep theirs safe. Undeniable feelings bloom between them as tense moments spread into longer periods of developing love. As the hunters close in, their new love must face the toughest test of all– a showdown between the armed military, Kenzie’s Christian character and Logan’s nineteenth century sense of justice.


whencloudsgatherDarby Adams has a full, happy life with a successful Bed & Breakfast Inn called The Brass Lamplighter, her teen-age son, Matt, and a menagerie of stray pets she oversees. Then a guest is found dead in one of her rooms, murdered, stabbed to death. Suddenly she becomes Driftwood Shores’ number 1 suspect. With her world spiraling out of control, she desperately needs a friend.

The surviving family wants answers so they hire Private Investigator Sam Golden to prove her guilt. Busy with his own rebellious, disobedient teen daughter, Madison, Sam takes the case. He begins in a dual role in the guise of a much needed friend for Darby yet still with plans to investigate and send her to prison.

Then strange things start happening at the B & B, scary things. Darby leans on Sam’s friendship and he has to seriously question her guilt or innocence. Until feelings start to develop between them in the heat of the mysteries. Until the day arrives Sam has to tell her the truth. Until someone kidnaps their children.

Reeling from Sam’s confession, Darby knows she has to trust him to get their kids back. But can she ever trust him with her heart?

Where to find Ryan…

Website | Blog | Facebook | Amazon

Joanne here!

Ryan, I am inspired by the courage and strength you demonstrated throughout the past ten years. Thank you for reminding us that there is a morning after. Best of luck with your books.

Start, Stop, Start, Sputter, Sputter … Full Speed Ahead!

I am happy to spotlight fellow Canadian author, Nancy Fraser, and her debut novel, Home is Where the Hunk Is. Put on your running shoes…You’re in for an amazing ride!

Here’s Nancy!

NancyFraser (2)To say my writing journey has been unconventional is an understatement. Yet, it’s not as uncommon as you’d think. I know a number of writers, now multi-published authors, who wondered … is this ever going to happen for me. And, when it does, will it happen again and again?

I published my first romance novel in 1996 as one of the launch authors for the quickly-defunct Precious Gems line from Kensington Publishing. Back in those days, your manuscript was mailed in, your line edits done with red ink on paper and you waited with nervous anticipation for “the call”.

Along with my first published novel came the end of my marriage and my writing career went on hold while I supported myself and put my life back in order. I still continued to write, maintained my membership in both RWA and my local chapter, but the writing suffered, both in quantity and in quality. How could I write a romance when I wasn’t living one?

I did manage to published a few short stories, some non-fiction articles and, those few successes, kept my dream alive. A book I’d co-authored with a good friend/critique partner, Patti Shenberger, sold in 2007, eleven years after my first book. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. The drive came back, the creativity began unfolding at a rapid pace. I sold a solo book to the same publisher … my one attempt at paranormal. Time and Again, garnered some great reviews and sold well. My career had received the jump start it needed.

I began my ten-story novella series, The Golden Decade of Rock and Roll, releasing the first three stories in a year and a half. Then, life intervened once more. Health issues, for both myself and Patti, forced the writing to take another back seat. Again, the creative process slowed but never stopped. A manuscript we’d worked on for nearly two years sold in less than two weeks. We were off to the races again, eventually turning that first book into a three book contract.

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And, again, in addition to our co-authored work, I began selling on my own. It was a hectic, but welcome 2013. My final tally for the year, two co-authored books, a novella in a holiday anthology, and three releases of my own. November, 2013 saw the release of the second book in our series, and the recurrence of Patti’s cancer.

This year has been slow going, another sputter in the writing life. I lost Patti in May and, for the few months following her death, I found it hard to work on anything, much less finish the next book in our contracted series. I’d already signed a few contracts of my own and worked my way through edits. Now, here I am, in the fall of the year and promoting two releases at one time, and prepping for a third in December.

And, loving every minute of it.

When I’m tired, or the words won’t come, I sometimes think … maybe I’m too old for this. Heaven knows … social media scares me to death! Maybe, with 17 published works under my belt, I should just sit back and relax. That’s when I realize, I’ve come too far to stop now. It’s full speed ahead or nothing.

The journey’s been filled with ups and downs but I’m pretty sure, if I quit, a certain writing angel would swoop down here and kick my butt! So, for both Patti and the love of creating romance, I keep writing.

HomeIsWhereTheHunkIs (2)

Blurb

When globe-trotting photographer Allison Cain comes home to her family ranch in Montana it’s to get to know her nephew and to make amends with the widowed brother-in-law she’s left alone to raise his young son.

Evan Carver could never deny his late wife’s younger sister anything, despite the fact she’s been conspicuously absent over the past three years since her sister’s death. Now she’s home again on what she’s called an extended vacation. Evan’s first concern is for his son, Cody, and how his aunt’s visit will affect the five year old when she decides to return to her high profile career.

Allison has no intention of going back to work. In addition to getting to know Cody, she needs to confess her biggest secret to Evan. How do you tell the man you’ve always loved that you’re not just his son’s aunt, but also his mother?

Bio

Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people. She invites you to visit her website (www.nancyfraser.ca) and follow her on Twitter (@nfraserauthor). Or, more importantly, just enjoy what she writes.

Click here to participate in the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Where to find Nancy…

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

In a Tree House by Hafiz

16831650_sLight
will someday split you open
even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
that you hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy
A life-giving radiance will come,

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body,
a bow rises each night
and shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful One
from the vantage point of Love.

He is conducting the affairs
of the whole universe
in a tree house – on a limb
in your heart.

Spotlight on Sophia Kimble

I am happy to spotlight Sophia Kimble and her debut novel, Protect Her. Her long and winding path to publication will inspire writers (and non-writers) to pursue their dreams.

Here’s Sophia!

sophia kimbleI’m going to preface this spotlight with the fact I hate talking about myself, so bear with me folks. I make up stories for a living—telling the truth leaves something a bit sour on my tongue. Oops, I’ve said too much already.

Whew, okay, I feel better now.

I’ve been an avid reader all of my life. Heard that before, I’m sure, but hey, it’s the truth. (Oh no, get me my toothbrush.) My love of romance novels began when I was thirteen after I read the first book in the Calder Saga series by Janet Dailey. I mean, come on, what’s not to love? Gorgeous alpha male cowboys who live and love in Montana. Well, I can tell you, I saved my allowance and bought them all, stayed up all night to finish, and took a trip to Montana when I was older. Even dreamed of meeting and falling in love with a real cowboy!

It was probably in College while I was taking interior design and acting classes that I began to think I could write a book, but I was always too afraid of failure to give it a go. (I grew up in Southern California, so it shouldn’t surprise you what my first majors were. I was even an extra in a couple of movies.) I know, what the heck was I doing studying to become an actor when I feared rejection?

Those were my thoughts exactly, which is why I changed majors. So what does someone who wants to be an author, interior designer, or an actor, but is too afraid, do with her life? She becomes a nurse. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?

Twenty years later an accident left me unable to work for an extended period, and I began thinking about that long-ago dream of writing. Talked to my husband (who’s not a cowboy, but oh so sexy just the same) about it, and he urged me to give it a try.

The first year was full of not only writing Protect Her, but taking classes, entering contests, having my work reviewed by critique partners, getting rejection letters from agents, and many…many rewrites. Like many first time authors, I wavered from this book sucks, to it’s actually pretty good, and then back again. Usually within a five minute time span.

Then, (here’s where it gets good) Savvy Authors held on online pitch event, and Protect Her received requests from publishers to see my manuscript… four partials and three fulls. Yay! Two of the partials became fulls, and Protect Her received 3 contract offers!

I was floored! No literally, I fell on the floor and my husband came running to see what was wrong. After much consideration, I signed with Soul Mate Publishing, and couldn’t be happier with the decision. Protect Her is now available on Amazon.

Life is good.

ProtectHer_850HIGH (2)

Blurb

Golden Alexander is trapped in a nightmare.

Trying to flee her hallucination of a demon, she runs heart first into the brooding alpha male she’s been dreaming about for years, and then her nightmare really begins.

Kris Pietka is done with women…he’s broken. But when he meets Golden, an overwhelming need to protect her tests everything he thought he knew about himself, and the paranormal.

A bond forged centuries ago thrusts them together as they search for a way to break an ancient Druid curse prophesying their demise. Racing against the clock, they travel from Vermont, to the Carpathian Mountains in Poland, and the Scottish Highlands in search of answers and a way to break the curse.

But something evil watches—it covets, and time is running out.

Will fate allow love to prevail against unbeatable odds, or will Golden wake to find it was all a delusion?

Bio

Sophia Kimble has always wanted to be an author, but for years, life got in the way. She wouldn’t change a thing about how her life turned out, though. Her family keeps her laughing and loving. Her wonderful husband and two extraordinary children stand beside her every step of the way and make this journey called life worth living.

Sophia has worked as a nurse for twenty years, but has put that career path aside to devote her time and imagination to writing down the stories that keep her up nights.

She takes her love of the paranormal, history, and genealogy, and weaves them into tales of family, fated love, and supernatural occurrences.

Where to find Sophia…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Life Is What You Make Of It!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have prolific author Dormaine G chatting about the varied and rich life experiences that led to literary publication.

Here’s Dormaine!

dormaineThank you Joanne for inviting me to write for your segments on Second Acts.

Well, let me tell you a little something about me. I was born in New York but moved to Mississippi as a child. I went to Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana to study medicine then moved to Massachusetts for life experience. I needed more than the typical life routine. Eventually, I moved back to New York where I became a registered nurse and studied forensic nursing. After working a few years in New York as a nurse, I started doing travel nursing and loved it. Eventually, I decided to stop traveling, while in Colorado, to stay closer to family. Shortly after, I met my wonderful husband and have been here ever since.

Getting into writing wasn’t so much as triggered but forced. I worked as a triage nurse for a pharmaceutical company but the business relocated out of state. I believe things happen for a reason because it forced me to pursue my dream of writing. Even as a child, I have always had a love for science fiction and enjoyed it through books, movies and comics. I have dabbled in writing throughout the years, and realized it was time for me to take the plunge. Instead of going back to work immediately, I stayed home to write. I published my first novel titled Connor in late 2013. I plan on following up with a series of books under the Connor name. My other books are under the Madame Lilly saga and plan on having her around for many more years.

Presently, I am working with five other authors on a paranormal sampler titled Mysticism & Myths which is set to be released mid December. My book in the sampler is titled Micco, Anguta’s Reign which is set to be released this November. I’m also working on a third volume under the Madame Lilly series. Besides that, I will continue to write and produce the many tales that I have hidden in my room or stored in my head. I have met some wonderful people along this journey so far and will continue to maintain such relationships.

Although writing can leave you quite exposed, I find it to be liberating. I never imagined that I would be able to live such a dream because that’s exactly what it is- a dream. Now having experienced it, I would not give it up for anything. If you feel writing is something you must do then do so. Take that plunge if you can, but if you do, then it must be for yourself and not others. Not everyone will understand or even get it but that is all right as long as you know what you feel in your heart. Always be true to yourself and your literature.

“I believe the power of positive thinking” If you think it, then it shall be. You just have to believe.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Dormaine’s Books

Micco (3)Micco, a captivating Native American man with a desirable physique and statuesque features, radiates a mysterious allure. Living on the reservation with his unapproachable father, he doesn’t believe in the old ways and works as a cop in the local town. The only reason he lives on the land is Nara, his childhood friend and the love of his life, who is married to a cruel reservation man.

Waking up in the heart of a murderous scene, he flees for his life, unfamiliar with his surroundings or how he arrived there. To his horror, he’s assigned to the case. As he works with the local detective, more murders transpire with unusual, terrifying sightings of wolves.

His behavior starts to drastically change, forcing others to take notice. Although trying to avoid the inevitable, Micco is forced to accept the undesirable truth, unable to fight what has been awakened, and all that he has forgotten is finally revealed.

connorConnor recently discovers she has the gift of invisibility among other gifts but what she doesn’t realize is that her life is about to change for the worse. She is fifteen, sarcastically funny, at least she thinks so, and doesn’t always like to face reality. She meets five other teenagers who have abilities similar to hers but not everyone is so eager to find answers as to why they are different.

Sensing their lives are in danger, she is determined to figure out the truth by any means necessary, forcing her to grow up fast. Connor is slapped with the cold, hard, fact that the people she thought she knew are not who they appear to be and all human beings are not just that human.

Through all of this, Connor and Tony, one other with abilities, start to develop feelings for each other causing jealousy in more ways than one. Then there is Ronin, who is young, smart, and breathtaking. He is set on taking his revenge out on Connor but she has no idea why.

MadameLillyThe time is 1890, the place, New Orleans, and Odara is lost to Madame Lilly, her soulless side—and she has not finished what she started. Unleashing two great forces, Theolus and Hearon, with ferocious appetites against her common-law husband, Henry Nicholas, is just the beginning of the end for Lilly—only she doesn’t know it yet.

For the spirits she raised took what was left of her humanity and left a piece of themselves within her; a piece that craves chaos. Needing to maintain control over them to do her bidding, Lilly must do what is required even if it means becoming more like them.

Tortured, scorned and damned, Lilly has one mission in life: Retribution.

madamelilly2In the late 1800’s Odara, a Creole girl in New Orleans, grew up wealthy and having the best of everything. She was taught the ways of plaçage: to be a wealthy man’s common-law wife. She didn’t want to follow the ways of plaçage as her mother had, until she met the man of her dreams, Henry Nicolas. He was handsome, charming and rich; perfect in every way until their first night of marriage when she saw his true malevolent side.

For twelve long years Odara endured abuse in the worst ways possible, taking her from a naive child to a scorned woman. A woman fueled with such revulsion towards Henry she would give anything for vengeance.

Through voodoo, Madame Lilly was born, but with it came consequences beyond even her comprehension.

Where to Find Dormaine

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Smashwords

Joanne here!

Dormaine, thank you for an inspiring post! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.

Oprah and Pema Chödrön

oprahpema

Yesterday, Oprah welcomed prolific author and world-renowned Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön to Super Soul Sunday.

Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, she followed a conventional path, attending a prestigious prep school and college before marrying and having children. Later, she divorced and married a second husband who, in turn, left her at age 35. Shocked and traumatized, it took her three years to grieve and then forge an extraordinary spiritual path from wife/mother to ordained Buddhist nun. Pema learned to embrace her authentic self at Gampo Abbey, a monastery on Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) where she is resident and teacher.

Throughout the telecast, Pema focused on what to do when one’s life falls apart. The knee jerk reaction is to run away. Instead, Pema recommends the practice of compassionate abiding with oneself: Breathe in the suffering (unwanted discontent) and be open to it. Be right there with the feeling, taking note of all thoughts. Then, breathe out and create a lot of space. She gently reminds us that nothing wrong has happened. Life is simply pointing us in a different direction.

Quotable Quotes…

If you don’t know the nature of fear, you can’t be fearless.

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

The sun is always shining in the rain. It never went anywhere.

Let go of fear and ego to embrace your authentic self.

If you’re invested in security and certainty, then you are on the wrong planet.

We are one blink away from being fully awake.

Spirituality—Going beyond beliefs vs Religion—Holding onto beliefs

Fail. Fail again. Fail better