Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today we have award-winning author Jacqui Nelson reflecting on her multi-act life.
Start exploring. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in one place—one community, one farm, one house. Most of what I knew had come from reading books. My first real challenge was to decide what I wanted to study, what I wanted to be. At the time I was reading Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series. I enrolled in a geology/zoology double major at the nearest university. I was going to be a paleontologist.
Act 2 – What to do when you don’t want to dissect a cat?
Be open to change. I love going to school, but I dreaded that dissection class. And how many jobs are there in paleontology anyway? I decided I should be practical. Computers seemed popular even if I hadn’t used them more than a handful of times. Note: this was in the latter part of the 80s. I took a two-year computer systems college course, got a job immediately upon graduating, and worked for seven years as a computer programmer/systems analyst.
Act 3 – What to do when you want a job you adore?
Go after your dreams. I’ve loved animation for as long as I’ve loved reading. My theory became—someone’s doing that dream job, why not me? I went back to school, found my first animation job in Germany, worked there for two years, and then worked one year back home in Canada and four in England. I was pursuing my dream.
Act 4 – What to do when you burn out at your dream job?
Be crazy enough to give it up, then lucky enough to clear you mind and remember a previous dream– writing a book. I researched writing groups, discovered a Romance Writers of America chapter nearby, became a member, and started learning again…but slowly this time. I still need a day job to pay the bills. I’ve worked as a fund-raising assistant and in a variety of retail shops.
Today I work in a bookstore.
Seems like a good place for me. For now. For as long as I’m able to write in every free moment that presents itself.
And what advice can I give anyone planning to pursue a new act in life? Work hard at whatever you choose to do. The following anonymous quote has been with me (and kept me going) since the day I left my childhood home: The race is to the driven, not the swift.
As long as I push forward, as long as I keep exploring and changing and dreaming and even on occasion being a little crazy—I have faith that I can accomplish whatever I desire and that the best acts in life are yet to come.
Jacqui Nelson writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London. Her love of Western stories came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm. Her passion for Victorian London wasn’t far behind and only increased when she worked in England for four years and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends. Jacqui currently lives in Victoria on the west coast of Canada where she works as a book seller. Her previous jobs have included animator, systems analyst and fundraising event coordinator.
Her debut release, Adella’s Enemy, is part of the Passion’s Prize anthology and the Steam! Romance and Rails series. She is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.
Adella’s Enemy (a novella in the Passion’s Prize anthology)
Can the pursuit of an old enemy lead to a new love?
Five years after the War Between the States, a Kansas railroad race heats up as former Rebel spy Adella Willows receives her mission from a Washington senator—play havoc with the Katy Railroad and derail its bid to win the race. The senator craves wealth. Adella craves revenge against the man responsible for her brother’s death. But her plans crumble into chaos when she matches wits with the railroad’s foreman, a handsome Irishman torn between two desires: winning the race or winning Adella’s heart.
The Passion’s Prize anthology (in the Steam! Romance and Rails series) features three interlinked Western historical romance novellas revolving around the true story of a cutthroat construction race between two powerful railroads.
Outlaws, soldiers and spies bedevil the Katy Railroad as crews rush to reach the Indian Territory border before the rival railroad. The stakes are just as high for three women whose lives hinge on the outcome.
In Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson, a spy pursuing an old enemy must choose to live for revenge or die for love. In Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes, a woman with a soiled past must trust the one man who could ruin her future. And in Kate’s Outlaw by E.E. Burke, a railroad heiress abducted by outlaws must escape before her Cherokee captor steals her fortune—and her heart. Passions rise. Fortunes fall. In a race for riches, anything can happen.
Where to find Jacqui…
Thank you, Jacqui for sharing the long and winding path that led to your successful literary debut. I’m certain this post will inspire many readers to start exploring, changing and dreaming.