The Heart of the Story

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author and fellow Sister of Suspense Marian Lanoutte/Merry Holly sharing a lifelong passion for writing.

Here’s Marian!

marian lanouetteBriefly describe your first act.

I always joked that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. My career choices was acting or writing. But my parents made it clear from an early age, they wouldn’t pay for those kinds of degrees. Teaching or accounting was their recommendations. I figured I’d show them and turned down college for a temporary job as an office manager that lasted ten years. My father told me I’d regret the decision, but I was eighteen and headstrong.

In my first act I was busy working with no real goal. Well, my father was right. At thirty I headed back to school and got my Bachelors of Science in Accounting.

What triggered the need for change?

Believe it or not, our office was totally manual at the time. My boss (one of the greatest I ever had) suggested we take classes to learn to use computers. Our trustees mentioned they wanted to computerize the process. Well, my husband and I, and my boss and his wife signed up at a local high school in their adult education program. The course was an introduction to computers and their uses. The four of us arrived for class the first night and discovered it was cancelled for lack of interest.

Disappointed, my husband and I drove straight to the local college and signed up for a basic computer class. I loved it (I could be a professional student discovered) and decided it was time to work on my degree.


My second act was triggered by a health issue. I discovered I had severe blockages in the heart and required by-pass surgery. During the recovery period (six months) I looked through my computer and discovered all the stories I’ve written over the years, I never shared with anyone. To aid in my recovery and keep my mind sharp, I started my first novel.

After surgery the limit for a by-pass patient is eight pounds. In the scheme of life that’s not a lot of weight. Your vacuum weights around ten pounds or more to give you a comparison. My husband to ensure I didn’t lift more brought me a notebook which weighed less than two pounds.

In three months I had my first draft of If I Fail, A Jake Carrington mystery. Since then I haven’t looked back. I now have three complete novels in the series (the last one Mated for Life is in the editing process,) and several published novellas.

Where are you now?

I’m back in my accounting career and continue to write in the evenings. The accounting is a necessary evil, and the writing is a joy. I’m sorry I didn’t follow my dreams and pursue my writing earlier in life. But I’m a firm believer things happen for a reason.

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

Do your research. I wrote a first draft and sent it out to every agent on the planet. Not knowing the steps to a successful novel. The book, Loss of Power, is still sitting in a drawer. A wonderful story, that I love, which needs a ton of work. If it wasn’t for a nice editor at a big publishing house and her advice, I’d still be banging my head on the wall. She suggested I join a writing group and take some online classes to learn the craft. It was the best advice I got pertaining to my writing. And it made sense. Didn’t I have to take classes to learn accounting.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

Yes, I love Stephen Kings advice in On Writing. The book is wonderful. This quote is one taken from it.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

Marian’s Books

seasonofthrillsseason of surprises

Buy Links – Season of Thrills

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Where to find Marian…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Joanne here!

Marian, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. If you ever run out of story ideas, consider writing your memoirs.


22 responses to “The Heart of the Story

  1. Pingback: Pearls of Second Act Wisdom |

  2. Hi, Marian! I love how life adventures begin and end. I will always cherish our meeting in person and sitting on a hotel bed, chatting until the wee hours about writing and our lives. Hugs!

  3. Great story Marian, and an important life lesson: You’re never too old to start again 🙂
    Glad you’ve recovered from your surgery and that your dream of writing has become a reality.
    Jacquie Biggar

  4. I love your story and am so thrilled that you survived the heart problem. It all fits in step by step with your many achievements. Be well and move on to more success, this from an 84 year old woman who has had many acts in her life.

    • Charmaine, thank you so much. I believe a positive attitude in dealing with problems is what helps a individual deal with whatever comes their way. I’m so happy you have had many acts in your life, and I hope you have many more.

  5. Loved hearing about the many acts of your life, Marian! Some days I wish I’d learned accounting to pay the bills. I’ve had so many “odd” jobs that it is at times overwhelming, but couldn’t agree more with you that things happen for a reason.

  6. Like you writing came about as a change of pace. I’d already gone back to school when my children were in kindergarten. I’d taught for years and then one day decided to write a story of my own. After all, I love romance and wanted to read a story about people more like me.

    Congrats on finding your own second career and more importantly- a passion!

    • Thank you, Jo-Ann, for the reblog. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell women not to ignore their symptoms. It’s best to check out the pains, even if you think they are indigestion–it might save your life.

  7. Marian
    I loved this post. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I can’t wait to read your book. I have it on pre-otder.
    Love your choice of guest and interview style. What a great read!
    My best

  8. Basically read your interview, Marian, and said “me too…” “hey, me too!” “Oh that’s me TOO!” Sounds like we have similar paths..except the CPA thingy. THAT’S a feat I could not take on. (Who even needs to balance their checkbook?!)
    Great blog, Joanne!

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