Spotlight on Rebecca Neely

I am happy to spotlight Soul Mate author Rebecca Neely and her debut novella, A Mighty Good Man.

Here’s Rebecca!

rebeccaneelyThere was never a time I didn’t enjoy writing. As a child, I wrote stories, and entered some contests. I didn’t seriously pursue writing as a career until I was about thirty. I hold a degree in accounting, and had worked in the field for about ten years. During that time, I’d gained a lot of valuable business writing experience. I combined that with my love of writing, and began freelancing for business clients.

During the fifteen years I’ve been a freelancer, I’ve interviewed dozens of people from all over the country. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with an amazing variety of people, including truck drivers, loggers, vintners, casino executives, interior designers, health care professionals, realtors, artists, antique dealers, inn keepers, restaurateurs, even a manager for a professional soccer team!

All of these people had one thing in common: they were all very passionate about what they did, and that passion was contagious. I dearly loved to hear their stories, and they inspired me to write compelling copy, whether it was for a magazine, a newsletter, or a corporate profile.

Still, I longed to write stories of my own. I’m a voracious reader, and always loved to read romance, especially Nora Roberts, Linda Howard and Heather Graham, to name a few. I started writing romantic suspense stories, and there are two finished books under my bed that I’ll call my learning books.

Once again, I combined the experience I’d gained as a freelancer, and applied it to writing fiction. I realized my interviewing skills would serve me well, not only in fleshing out my characters, but in capturing the passion that would enable me to tell their stories, and put ‘perfume’ on the page.

Some of those characters come to life in my debut novella, A Mighty Good Man. I grew up in my family’s restaurant business, working, cooking and eating. The restaurant is long gone, but that hallowed place lives on in my memory, and served as inspiration for the setting in my book. I sincerely hope folks enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

AMightyGoodMan400 (2)

Blurb

‘Hank’ Jerry, a down and out writer, and Jack Darcy, a former gang leader, team up to write his story for mutual gain and end up falling for each other. Only problem is, they’ve both got something to hide that could blow up in their faces, and with time running out and gang enforcers closing in, will the trust they’ve forged survive the ultimate test?

Bio

Rebecca E. Neely was born and raised in a small town in western Pennsylvania. Her father, an English teacher and a writer, instilled in her a love of words, and literature, especially short stories, at a young age.

Her mother, a voracious reader, gave her Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild as a Christmas gift when she was nine, and Rebecca’s been hooked on reading stories of all stripes ever since.

Rebecca’s parents also owned and managed a restaurant until she was about sixteen, and she grew up in the family business, working, cooking, and eating.

Rebecca enjoys finding, and reading new authors via her Kindle. Live music inspires her, as do the characters she’s blessed to have in her life, including her daughter, her boyfriend, and her mother.

She loves drawing, crafting, walking, and camping. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, going to summer music festivals, and exploring cities she’s never been to before with her daughter.

In a former life, she earned a B.S. in Accounting, and worked in that field for about a decade. Since 2001, Rebecca has freelanced, writing a wide variety of copy for local magazines, and businesses all over the country. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.

Where to find Rebecca…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Clean Jokes for Toastmasters

12346918_s

Use one of these jokes at your next meeting.

*********************

A woman came up behind her husband while he was enjoying his morning coffee, and slapped him on the back of his head. “I found a piece of paper in your pant’s pocket with a woman’s name written on it,” she said. “You had better have an explanation.”

“Calm down, honey” said the man. “Remember last week when I was at the dog track? That was the name of the dog I bet on.”

The next morning, his wife smacked him again.

“What was that for?” asked the angry husband.

“Your dog called last night” she said.

Source: http://www.auroratoastmasters.com/jokes.html

*********************

A man turned to his seatmate on a flight and asked, “Does the airline charge you extra for sitting next to good-looking men?”

“Yes,” she said. “But I wasn’t willing to pay.”

Source: Reader’s Digest

*********************

A man went to the police station and asked to speak to the burglar who broke into his house the night before.

“You’ll get your chance in court,” said the desk sergeant.

“No, no, no!” said the man. “I want to know how he got into the house without waking my wife. I’ve been trying to do that for years!”

Source: http://creeksidetd.toastmastersclubs.org/Joke_of_the_Day.html

Follow Your Passions

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Alma San Roman sharing the challenges and triumphs she encountered on an inspiring journey spanning three countries.

Here’s Alma!

Alma San Roman (2)Act One

Growing up in Mexico, my life was full of challenges. While I didn’t have a horrible life, I felt like a victim of difficult circumstances that I could not transcend.

My childhood was pretty normal for a dysfunctional family. My parents loved me and my two siblings, and they did the best they could with what they knew and had. From an early age, I wanted to be a doctor and help others feel better about themselves and their lives. That changed when I realized I could not stand the sight of blood, nor could I deal with someone in pain. At age sixteen, I had to make up my mind because I was about to start university. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to be.

Back then, my father had a cattle ranch in Veracruz. The expectation was that someone in the family would keep the ranch, but my brothers didn’t want anything to do with it. I assumed the responsibility was mine and that’s how I picked my degree, with a little persuasion from my dad. I became an engineer in agronomy and animal husbandry. Two years before finishing my degree, my dad sold the ranch.

bakerymexicoI lived in Queretaro while going to university and after finishing my thesis, I started a landscaping business with a friend. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, so I moved to Mexico City to live with my grandmother. After taking a baking course, I fell in love with baking. I started my own business, created my own products, and had a great clientele.

Two years later, my dad asked, “When are you going to find a serious job and work on your career?” Like all other parents in Mexico, my dad had covered the cost of my education. I must add that I had a scholarship covering 80% of the tuition in university.

To please my father, I left the bakery and searched for a serious job. And I found the most tedious job I’ve ever had: assistant to the Nutritional Director for a company that made vitamin and mineral supplements for farm animals. The company would offer free diet formulation for the clients. My boss would visit the farms get all the information needed and I would help formulating at the office. I took care of all the paperwork.

After several years at that job, I experienced a traumatic event. I was robbed on my way home while on a public transit bus. Afterward, I felt unsafe and afraid all the time. That fear propelled me to take a risk and accept a friend’s invitation to visit Canada. I had planned to stay for three months, learn English, and then return to Mexico. Seventeen years later, I am still here.

Second Act

Citizenship (2)When I moved to Canada, my sense of safety and freedom dramatically changed: I felt at home. I accepted jobs that I would never have considered back home in Mexico, mainly because I needed the money. I was a waitress, bartender, nanny, banquet server, and banquet supervisor. But I wanted more. One of my coworkers advised me not to be so ambitious. According to him, immigrant life was pretty rough, and we were just supposed to do those jobs. Fortunately, I didn’t believe him and decided to pursue one of my passions: baking.

I went back to college and got certified in the Baking and Pastry Arts program and landed a pretty good job. I worked at Dufflet pastries for seven years as assistant production manager. I was involved all aspects of production: purchasing, inventory control, nutritional labels, human resources, and managing close to 100 staff. I worked ten to twelve hours a day and had to be available for all emergencies.I could completely get away only while on vacation.

I asked myself: Is this really all that life is?

Lacking a firm grip on my emotions, I created a lot of stress in my life and developed TMJ – temporomandibular joint disorder – a condition that affects the jaw, caused by clenching the teeth when sleeping. My body was misaligned and that caused a lot of pain, affecting my physical and emotional health.

Something was definitely missing. While I had been brought up Catholic, I no longer believed in organized religion. Spirituality, however, had always been my core inspiration. I read a few self-help books and then started the practice of meditation. That changed my life in a positive way, awakening a desire to search for something more.

Third Act

After experiencing more pain and stress, I quit my job in 2010 and embarked on a journey of self-discovery. Inspired by a book about an enlightened guru who had lived in India, I traveled there and participated in a month-long “awakening retreat” that expanded my worldview. I learned that we create our reality with our thoughts and feelings, but most importantly, I learned how all the beliefs we carry in our subconscious mind dictate what we actually think, feel and do. I was able to heal all the pain in my body as well as some of the emotional pain I was carrying but didn’t understand. Since then I have read and listened to many different healers. “Healing” is another one of my passions.

Alma2IA2011 (2)

While searching, I stumbled upon The Passion Test. Fascinated, I became a certified PT facilitator. Then I heard about Theta Healing – a technique that access a conscious theta brain wave and then addresses the limiting subconscious beliefs that we have that hold us back from reaching our fullest potential, our most optimal health, and our deepest joy. I found it so interesting that I also got certified as a Theta healing practitioner. When I started using those techniques on myself and family members, the results were amazing. I now have excellent health and I have created the life I always wanted.

Alma3IA2011 (2)

To make money, I joined a couple of MLM companies. There, I was exposed to many successful people and teachers. Even though that was not my path, I am grateful for the change of perspective.

I decided to start my own company: Enlightened Possibilities. My philosophy: We have everything we need to be joyful, happy, healthy and successful. We have just forgotten who we are and how we work. Suffering arises when we believe we are separate from source. That belief and many others keep us from creating the life we really desire and deserve, so is well worth the time to stop and revise our beliefs.

We don’t know what we don’t know. When we know better, we do better and when we do better our life, relationships, work, health, and finances improve.

To conclude, I have followed my passions all along even when I had no idea what I was doing. That has taken me to unique places and experiences. I have all the resources to help me remember who I really am … to go back home.

My next Passion Test Workshop will be on Thursday, December 11.

Email me at alma@almasanrom.com for more details.

Where to find Alma…

Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Joanne here!

Alma, I’m in awe of the courage and persistence you have demonstrated throughout your journey. You are an inspiration to all of us. Muchas gracias!

Appreciating My Bubbling Pot

7237346_sI can still recall the large and cumbersome Crock Pot that took up valuable counter space in my mother’s kitchen. It wasn’t too long before it was packed up and stashed away in the basement. So, I was a bit skeptical when I heard my friends raving about the delicious chicken cacciatore, French onion soup, and peach cobblers that emerged from more contemporary versions of those bubbling pots.

Continue reading on the SMP Authors blog.

Spotlight on Sarah & Shannen Brady

I am happy to spotlight the mother-daughter writing team of Sarah and Shannen Brady and their debut novel, Healer. Sit back and enjoy this entertaining post about their unique writing journey.

Sarah & Shannen!

sbradymotherdaughterThe plot for our first novel was scribbled longhand in a notebook in a brutally boring lecture class my sophomore year of college. My mom Sarah and I decided to form a mother-daughter writing team – apt, since we’ve been a team essentially since I was born. We eventually abandoned that first manuscript, but writing fiction got its hooks in us. After ditching our original concept (a tough, but utterly necessary step – our protagonist was an unlovable harpy), we decided that the next book wouldn’t get half-written and shoved onto a shelf for my dog to eventually discover and gnaw on. The next one, we would finish. The next one, we would publish.

Healer, our first published novel, was released with Soul Mate Publishing October 8, 2014. (WARNING: Shameless self-promotion ahead! Healer is now available on Amazon.) The publishing journey was an interesting one for us, especially given that we live on opposite sides of the state. The trading of manuscripts back and forth over email was a steep learning curve, and only caused a few headaches and face-to-desk head beatings.

A lot of the questions we get asked as a mother-daughter duo can be summed up with a perturbed expression and a hushed, “You do this with your mom?!?” Okay, so I get that writing romance with the woman who birthed you is a little weird. Fortunately for our author careers, I’m an irrepressible blabbermouth with the discretion of your average potato, so it never was a problem for us. I’d also recently moved for college, and writing a book together meant I had to call my mother at least once a week. Win-win.

As with anything, practice is the key to success, and we eventually started writing a m/m series as well. The first in that collection, Sweet Fire, is set for release January 2, 2015. Cue the patented Shannen-Brady-booty-dance. It’s crazy to think that almost exactly two years ago I texted her and said, “We should write a book.” Now, we’re looking at two traditionally published works. I think it proves that if an accountant and a college student can team up to write a book, anybody can.

Healer cover

Blurb

Alexandra Grayson is an empathic healer, flying under the radar as a Spokane Valley EMT. Protecting her family’s secret from Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace is the most important thing to her. Getting close to men, especially super sexy cops, isn’t an option.

Tyler Kincaid is a man who knows what he wants, and what he wants is Alex. When she outs herself as Gifted by healing a child, Tyler helps her escape, but even his love is not enough to protect her. When Alex is taken by HOMSEC agents, Tyler has to lead a motley collection of Alex’s Gifted relatives in a daring rescue.

Bio

Shannen Brady lives in Western Washington with her boyfriend and their child, a rambunctious corgi named Chubberus Maximus. When she’s not writing her latest sexy story, you can find her hiking, watching terrible SyFy movies and avoiding cooking of any kind.

Sarah Brady lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and teenage son, dividing her time between her real life and the voices in her head.

Sarah and Shannen are a mother/daughter team and together they write paranormal romantic suspense. Their first book, Healer, is book 1 of The Gifted, a series of four m/f romances, and published by Soul Mate Publishing. Their second book will be Sweet Fire, book 1 of a related series of m/m books, to be released January 2, 2015 by Dreamspinner Press.

Where to find Sarah & Shannen…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

The Right Hook

13857160_s

After completing Between Land and Sea, I attended a number of workshops where the facilitators stressed the importance of a hook or logline.

What is a hook/logline?

Very simply, it is a concise sentence that answers the question: What is your novel about? An effective logline provides enough interest to prolong the conversation with a prospective agent or publisher, encourages readers to pick up the book, and creates tweetable buzz.

At first, I found it a daunting task. How could I possibly condense 69,000 words into 25 words or less?

Continue reading on Sophia Kimble’s blog.

Spotlight on Rachel Sharpe

I am happy to spotlight Soul Mate author Rachel Sharpe and Lost Distinction, the second book in the Jordan James, PI Series.

Here’s Rachel!

rachel sharpeIt’s safe to say I’ve always wanted to be a writer. While that was not my first career of choice (not that you asked, but according to my grandmother it was lion taming astronaut), it has always been one I’ve returned to. Ever since I could write, I would write down my stories. As the daughter of two English majors, it came as a surprise to no one that I decided to major in English. My initial goal was, however, to continue in law.

A post-graduation job at a local courthouse made me realize quickly that that was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. With school finished and no idea what I wanted to be whenever I finally grew up, I decided to use my free time wisely and return to my roots: writing. My first true foray was a forty-five thousand word novella about a police detective solving a murder at a Louisiana seafood festival. It was fun to write, but I knew I could do better.

The best advice any author has ever given me was to write what you know. After my novella, I thought about what type of novel I would want to write, something I could maybe even turn into a series. It didn’t take long for Jordan James to emerge. “Cold Ambition,” the first novel in the Jordan James, PI series, took about four months to write. I also lucked out with editing thanks to the help of my super supportive parents. Now, all I needed was a publisher.

This, it turned out, was harder than it looked. It took two years for me to find my publisher and that was after two other possibilities fell through. At the time, each one felt like a devastating blow. Looking back, I can see it all happened for a reason. I couldn’t imagine working with a more amazing publisher or having the constant support of the other authors who have signed with them. My writing journey has been filled with as many twists and turns as a good mystery novel and I know it’s far from over. I look forward to not only watching Jordan’s story develop, but my own as well.

LostDistinction400 (2)

Blurb

“It all started with a favor…”

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore…

Excerpt

We stood there in silence, considering the significance of this discovery. Although there was still no proof, this threat suggested there could have been more to Arthur’s disappearance than we realized. If Arthur was kidnapped, we might not be looking for a missing person. We might be looking for a murderer or his victim.

I suddenly felt a new anxiety about this case. The more I considered all the unknowns, the more I realized there was only one person who could provide some much-needed answers, Ambassador Gatlin Cross.

Also, be sure to check out Jordan’s first case in Cold Ambition, available now on Amazon!

Bio

Rachel Sharpe is the author of Cold Ambition and Lost Distinction, the first two novels in the Jordan James, PI series. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English, Rachel began dedicating her free time to her childhood passion, writing, and in the fall of 2013, she signed with Soul Mate Publishing. An active member of Sisters In Crime, Rachel currently resides with her husband in the Greater New Orleans area.

Where to find Rachel…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon