Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Colleen Donnelly sharing a unique perspective on reinvention and her new release, Letters and Lies.
Thank you for allowing me to stand back with your readers and smile at the colorful course I took to my second, third, and fourth acts in life. I was “one of those kids” I hope someone else can relate to.
Act I – Innocence and Acceptance
Naked we came into the world—then someone added a diaper. Then nourishment, smiles, yawns, pensive looks, raised brows, hugs, and shaking heads. We were kids. Ready to live life fiercely and love unconditionally, empowered by parents or someone we saw as God who was equipped to fulfill our every need. At least I believed that as I sallied forth into what I expected to be a perfect world where all toys were mine, friends would delight me, and no tear would ever be shed. That euphoric journey might be true for many, but I found my nicely charted path diverted by unexpected surprises such as the little brother no one warned me was coming, the amount of sharing that would involve, and new rules which tainted my perception of unconditional love as I pondered it during time out in a chair or a corner. I did not approach Act II gracefully. I came at it determined to make up for Act I.
Act II – Hormones and the Need for Acceptance
Puberty, the doorway between Act I and Act II, opened to a whole world of options beyond our parents to affirm us and meet our needs. It looked glorious from the childhood side and lured me toward what turned into a twisted trek to glowing acceptance mottled with acne, larger thighs, and fierce competition. I floundered forward into brutal, teenage battles to be noticed, yet not to be, while my parents sagely countered my foibles with clever Act II countermeasures to replace Act I’s corners and chairs. Undaunted, I joined the ranks of those who missed a euphoric end to Act II. Hiding red-faced flops of looking for love in all the wrong places, my childhood determination morphed to desperation as I faced to the door to Act III.
Act III – Adulthood and Self-Acceptance
Opportunity sprouted legs in Act III, changed to responsibility, and taught baby adults how to walk. Acceptance became one with success and performance, and schools of sharks began to pool in groups of academics, career, marriage, and children. We found ourselves clawing backward for the tools we recalled from our parents and drew from them to design our own. School became the school of hard knocks, and euphoria began to resemble a never-ending black moment in a romance novel. Act III, in all its agony and trials, did what it was supposed to—give birth to the person we were meant to be in Act I. I spotted a glow the end of Act III that wasn’t Act IV. It was me; the polished shine that remained after I and the world had a hard go at me.
Act IV – The Golden Years of Accepting Others
For three Acts I learned to share, lived in a body never photographed for a cover, suffered bitterly jealous, was betrayed, bought the wrong gift for important someone’s, pretended knowledge I had to later scramble to learn, until I met and liked the culmination I was born to be. I carry the full script now. And when I meet children, teens, and young adults, I skip to the back, to Act IV which is Act I with something extra at the end.
Spotlight for Letters and Lies
How did I write such a tale of a young woman determined to get what she believed was hers at any cost? If you skipped my introduction, you’ll find the answer there. Starting today, you can follow the escapades of jilted spinster Louise Archer for 99 cents as she heads west to find and marry her man.
Louise Archer boards a westbound train in St. Louis to find the Kansas homesteader who wooed and proposed to her by correspondence, then jilted her by telegram – Don’t come, I can’t marry you. Giving a false name to hide her humiliation, her lie backfires when a marshal interferes and offers her his seat.
Marshal Everett McCloud intends to verify the woman coming to marry his homesteading friend is suitable. At the St. Louis train station, his plan detours when he offers his seat to a captivating woman whose name thankfully isn’t Louise Archer.
Everett’s plans thwart hers, until he begins to resemble the man she came west to find, and she the woman meant to marry his friend.
“He wrote and changed your plans? Why didn’t you tell me? You know I love hearing his letters.”
Everyone loved hearing his letters. Or at least they’d pretended to. I glanced at my friends, especially the one who’d first suggested I correspond with her husband’s homesteading friend in Kansas who was ready to look for a wife. She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief while she flicked the fingers of her other hand in a weak wave. I dredged my soul in search of a smile. The man she’d introduced me to truly had penned everything I’d ever wanted in a husband, months of letters which convinced Mama Jim was my open door. Letters I’d foolishly carted from family to friend to blather every word like a desperate spinster. Drat.
“He didn’t send his change of plans in a letter, Mama. He sent them in a telegram.” Don’t come, I can’t marry you. The only words I never shared.
“Well I imagine your Jim has a surprise for you and didn’t have time to send a letter before you left for Crooked Creek. How thoughtful to wire you instead.”
Thoughtful…I felt poisoned and Mama would too if she ever found out Jim had shut my open door. Which she wouldn’t, since as soon as I got out there and found him, I’d wedge it back open again.
Bio and Social Media Links
Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen studied and worked in science, using that career to travel and explore other parts of the country. An avid fan of literature, both reading and writing, she loves tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.
Other Books by Colleen L Donnelly