Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have author Joyce Ann Brown chatting about multiple career changes, the power of seven, and her debut novel, CATastrophic Connections.
“The only thing that is constant is change.” The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, must have had plenty of life under his belt to come up with that truth. I used to think change had something to do with the number seven. Moves to new states, graduations, marriage, children, and career changes all seemed to happen for me at age seven, fourteen, twenty-one, and so on—or when there was a seven in my age.
The year of my birth has a seven in it, and my age at the time I had my first child has a seven in it. I moved to different states at ages seven and fourteen. At age twenty-one, I graduated, married, and started teaching. You get the picture. I may have had to stretch for the seven connections after that, but I’m incredulous that the years with sevens seem to fit the big changes in my life. Or—maybe the big changes in my life fit the years with sevens.
One thing is for sure—my first article was published in 2009, and my first book was published in 2014, a year when my age has a seven in it. They punctuate the most recent chapter in my life—Writer, Author—titles which mean I’m doing what I want to do.
I majored in education, not creative writing or journalism, even though I wanted to write for a living. A college history instructor once told me, “You write well. Have you thought about history as a major? You could research and write history.” But by then I was focused on getting an elementary teaching certificate so I could help support my family and be off during school vacations with my future children.
Teaching and raising my children, then, took my time and energy for years. For a short period, I worked as a professional story teller. It was fun, but not lucrative. Too bad. At one point (in one of those seven years) I earned my master’s degree and became a school library media specialist. I still wanted to find more time to write and would have loved to call Writer my profession.
Truth to tell, I did write during those years. There were stories and plays for the students, multimedia presentations, newsletter and journal articles, and my personal journal. One summer I wrote a children’s book. After several rejection letters and the return of the school year, my manuscript found its permanent home under scarves in a dresser drawer. Nevertheless, writing helped me fulfill my passion to be creative.
Not until I qualified for my pension did I make the decision to pursue writing in a serious way. I took college level creative writing classes, attended local writing workshops, and read with an eye to style and technique. Professionals advise: to be published, one should be published. Hm.
So I wrote articles and stories for local publications and for contests and was surprised when, voila, my articles were purchased and my stories won prizes. Real money for my written work! Whoopee!
A few years ago, I took a class in mystery writing. I was hooked. My first book, CATastrophic Connections is published. It’s the first book of my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series. Now, I’m working on the promotion phase and book two. Whoever said, “Going public with your creativity is like walking out with your pants down” understood book promotion. I’m having fun with it, though. Must be an exhibitionist.
What will my next act be? Beginning in 2016, perhaps (seven years after my first work in a year divisible by seven), or in 2017. The making of the Hallmark movie or a TV miniseries based on my mysteries? I could handle that.
When Psycho Cat alerts Beth to her step-niece Adrianna’s disappearance, the klutzy landlady careens into action. She and her no-nonsense sister question Adrianna’s associates. They discover that the police suspect the young woman of embezzling a huge sum of money from the Kansas City construction company where she works. Believing Adrianna has been framed, Beth finds clues which lead her to the U.S. Virgin Islands. After a series of bizarre detours, she finds her niece at a spectacular island hideaway.
Once home, the niece is not cleared of the theft charge. Instead, someone murders the company bookkeeper, and Adrianna is the primary suspect. Beth must try to prove her step-niece innocent by unraveling connections among unknown construction company villains in Kansas City and in the Virgin Islands. Shadowy characters follow and intimidate Beth and her family at every turn. Someone else could end up dead. It’s one thing for Beth to skirt danger on her own, but when her loved ones are threatened—Beth and Psycho Cat will fight to the end.
The award-winning story is the first in the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series.
Joyce Ann Brown is a landlady, storyteller, retired school Library Media Specialist, former classroom teacher, former realtor, and a freelance writer and award-winning author. CATastrophic Connections is the first book in the author’s Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series.
Where to find Joyce…
Joyce, thanks for sharing your journey. Best of luck with CATastrophic Connections and the series.