Happy National Serendipity Day!


Today is Serendipity Day, an officially recognized annual event and special day to celebrate unexpected and much appreciated grace.

Here of ten of my favorite quotations about serendipitous events…

The universe is always speaking to us…sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. Nancy Thayer

There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery. Jeff Bezos

Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns on the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure—do it well, enjoy it—and then, not now, think about what comes next. Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked. Elizabeth Berg

Unless you leave room for Serendipity…How can the Divine enter?
Joseph Campbell

History is an intricate web of timing, people, circumstances and serendipity. Don Rittner

In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. Peter McWilliams

Serendipity: Look for something, find something else and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.
Lawrence Block

What people call serendipity is just having your eyes open. Jose Manuel Barroso

If you use it intelligently, Twitter can be a form of engineered serendipity.
Jason Silva

All About Tag Lines

At a recent meet-up, I was surprised to learn that many of the writers in the room (myself included) didn’t know the difference between a log line and a tag line. I had always assumed the two terms could be used interchangeably. While both terms originated in the film industry, the two concepts have very different structures and functions.

A log line provides the main conflict, main character, and the stakes in a well-constructed sentence that is usually less than 25 words in length.

A tag line is a catch phrase that sets the tone. It sums up the entire plot in one compelling phrase or sentence that is at most 10 words in length.

Continue reading on the Just Romantic Suspense blog.

Movie Review: The Glass Castle

Having read the novel when it was first published in 2005, I thought I was prepared for the family dysfunction. Instead, I found myself alternating between anger and horror as I watched two “parents”—brilliantly played by Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts—abuse their four children.

Hours later, I’m still enraged by the cruelty and neglect: A father throwing his daughter into a pool over and over again, trying to teach her how to swim. A mother who won’t stop painting long enough to prepare lunch. A toddler lighting herself on fire after offering to cook wieners on the stove. Not surprising the children would want to leave this toxic environment.

Told from the perspective of second-born daughter Jeannette Watts, the film spans a 25-year period. Brie Larson stars as the adult Jeannette, a successful New York City gossip columnist, who is engaged to a financial advisor (Max Greenfield). Estranged from her parents, Jeannette cringes when she sees them garbage picking on the streets of Manhattan.

During the flashbacks, scene after scene shows the family traveling from town to town, state to state, attempting to outrun bill collectors and/or police constables. When Dad is sober, he is articulate and loving, teaching his children about science and architecture while working on a blueprint for a glass castle. As a mean, spiteful drunk, he spends the food money on alcohol, abandons his family for hours on end, and pimps his daughter.

Mom is an enabler, content to spend her days painting while ignoring her children’s needs. When Jeannette urges her to leave, she simply shrugs and follows her husband’s lead. Both parents try to pass off their miserable existence as a grand adventure.

I wore my “teacher” hat throughout most of the movie, hoping that a responsible adult would step in and rescue the children. But the cagey parents were good—too good—at keeping the family dysfunction a secret and outrunning any concerned bystanders.

I would have liked to have heard more from the other three siblings and seen more of the strong father-daughter connection described in the novel. In a recent interview, Jeannette Walls commented: “When times got really tough, Dad used to pull out the blueprints. He never did build us a big, fancy house, but I’ve come to realize that he gave me something much more valuable. And that is hope and a dream for the future. If a parent gives you that, then you’re lucky.”

Definitely worth seeing…I wouldn’t be too surprised if Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, and Brie Larson receive Oscar nominations for their outstanding performances.

On Becoming the CEO of Fictionary

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author and CEO Kristina Stanley sharing her remarkable life-long journey.

Here’s Kristina!

I’m very pleased to be invited onto Joanne’s blog to share my life-long journey of reinvention.

This is the story of how I went from a career in telecommunications to working in a ski resort to becoming an author to being the CEO of Fictionary.

I’m an author who loves to edit, and I believe today’s author must also be their own structural editor.

The difficulty with structural editing is the time it takes and the cost of an editor. So I asked myself: What if I could speed up the process, spend less money, AND write better fiction?

To answer these questions, I reinvented myself into the CEO of a software company.

What is the Fictionary?

Fictionary in an online tool that will help writers turn a first draft into a great story by becoming their own structural editor. It’s a serious tool for serious writers who are willing to evaluate each scene from a big-picture (structural) point of view.

With Fictionary, you can focus on character, plot, and setting. Fictionary helps you evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on the overall novel structure. Fictionary will show you the most important structural elements to work on first and guide you through the rewriting process.

Why a structural editing tool for writers?

Creating Fictionary began when I finished the first draft of my first novel. I just didn’t know it.

By then I’d read over 50 how-to-write and how-to-self-edit books. I’d taken writing courses and workshops and had 100s of writing and editing tips swirling about in my head.

I knew I had to begin the editing process and improve the quality of my draft before sharing my work, but I didn’t know how to go about it.

My Worries:

How was I supposed to remember the torrent of advice and apply it to each scene? A spreadsheet, that’s how!

I created a spreadsheet with a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene structure. Then I listed the different writing advice I needed to consider for EVERY scene. I ended up with over 75 “key elements of fiction”. I used the reports from the spreadsheet to visualize my novel.

Did Fictionary Work For Me?

After the hard work of self-editing and rewriting my drafts, the high quality of my fiction was validated when my first two novels were shortlisted for prestigious crime writing awards and I landed a two-book deal with publisher Imajin Books.

My first editor said: “If every manuscript was this good, my job would be so easy!”

The next exciting moment came when DESCENT, my first novel, hit #1 on Amazon’s hot new releases. Descent was published by Luzifer-Verlag in Germany, and I’ve sold the audio rights to Auspicious Apparatus Press. Imajin Books also published BLAZE, AVALANCHE and LOOK THE OTHER WAY.

Building Fictionary

I wanted to share my process, so other writers could benefit from an immediate approach to self-editing and rewriting first drafts. But who would want to use a spreadsheet? Perhaps a fun, fast tool that helps writers visualize and self-edit their novels would be better.

I joined forces with author Michael Conn and business specialist Mathew Stanley, and we formed a company called Feedback Innovations just to build this tool for fiction writers.

You can find out more about Fictionary at https://Fictionary.co

Advice For The Second Act

Like Nike says, “Just do it.” It may be intimidating. It may seem like hard work. But the satisfaction of starting something new is worth it. I believe anyone with a bit of grit can reinvent themselves.

What Writers Are Saying About Fictionary!

“I have used Fictionary to revise my current work in progress, entitled MindField, an espionage technothriller due out in early December 2017. My feeling is that Fictionary helped me to improve the manuscript significantly, and I will use it on all my subsequent novels. I am trained as both a novelist and screenwriter, but I focus exclusively on producing novels. And, that is where Fictionary is most useful. The toolbox within Fictionary helps a novelist see exactly where their work is weakest and strongest, and pushes me to work on fixing my problems.”
D.S. Kane, Amazon Bestselling Author

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

If you enjoyed this blog, sign-up for our posts and receive a $10 discount coupon off your first month of using Fictionary.


Kristina Stanley is the CEO of Fictionary.co. Fictionary is an online tool that helps fiction writers turn a first draft into a great story.

She is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series, LOOK THE OTHER WAY, and THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES. She’s published by Imajin Books and Luzifer-Verlag.

Her short stories have been published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Voices From the Valleys anthology.

Joanne here!

Impressive! Thanks for sharing and best of luck with all your future endeavors.

10 Things I Discovered When Researching 2006

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Susan James to the Power of 10 series. Today, Susan shares her research and her latest release, Maybe This Time. I’ve read and highly recommend both of Susan’s time travel novels.

Here’s Susan!

When writing time travel, it’s important to know what existed when. My characters in Maybe This Time jump forward to 2006 hoping to mend a glitch in time. I choose 2006 because computer technology leapt forward in the five years between 2001 and 2006. But there were a few things I thought existed in 2006 that didn’t.

Here are ten things I can’t imagine life without today that began their existence in 2006 and 2007.

1. LCD Flat Screen TV. Technically these were “around” before 2006. But that was the year they were made affordable for people to buy commercially, and now they’re everywhere.

2. Facebook. While it was available to college students in 2004 Facebook opened its doors to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid e-mail address on September 26, 2006.

3. Twitter was launched in July 2006. The world embraced the service which allowed only short bursts of information of 140 characters or less. Twitter grew from 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007 to 500 million tweets per day.

4. YouTube was launched in 2005. Every day people watch some of the hundreds of millions of hours worth of content, generating billions of views. It’s physically impossible to watch every video uploaded to the site as it would take over 1,000 years. I have a YouTube channel for videos of some of my acting roles. Not all of them, because shows like American Horror Story do not allow you to post scenes.

5. The iPhone. Released in March 2007. I thought it was earlier. But in 2006 the most advanced phone was the Blackberry Pearl. Jen, my heroine can’t understand why anyone would name a phone after a piece of fruit.

6. The selfie. Obviously we couldn’t take selfies until someone invented the reversible camera. Selfies as a sport, didn’t become popular until the invention of the iPhone. This selfie, taken at the 2014 Oscars, momentarily broke Twitter.

7. E-Readers. The first Amazon kindle was launched in 2007 priced at $400 and was immensely popular, selling out within five and a half hours and remaining out of stock for months.

8. Small Independent Publishers and Self-Publishing. The demand for content for new e-reader opened up new avenues for authors. Not only did a host of independent publishers spring up, I am grateful that Soul Mate Publishing was one of them. New options for self publishing proliferated. I haven’t tried this yet because I am too chicken, but I’ve discovered wonderful books by self-published Authors.

9. Amazon Prime. I have had Amazon Prime since it started in 2005. For a flat fee of $79.00 I could have free two-day shipping. I added up what I had been paying in shipping for my bookaholic habits and decided it was worth it. Amazon Prime wasn’t launched in the UK where my heroine lives until 2007.

10. AirBnB. This alternative traditional hotels for short term stays and vacation rentals started in 2007. I’ve used it several times and I love it. In 2006 when Jen needed to find a short term apartment rental in Los Angeles she asked her waiter. (I always got my best apartment tips from waiters)


Their Happily-Ever-After is over before it begins unless they can change time.

London 2001

Forty-nine-year-actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband. But when her niece Kat accidentally time travels them to 1988, she needs his help.

Computer guru, Lance Davies is more comfortable with machines than people. He never knew how to handle his beloved, mercurial Jen. But now her future self is here in front of him and he wants another chance.

Jen’s torn. Her traitorous body insists that home is in Lance’s arms, but her heart has trust issues.

Can two people whose timelines are thirteen years apart find a future where they can be together?


Author Bio

Susan writes second chance romances with a touch of magic as Susan B. James and children’s books as Susan J. Berger.She writes older heroines because she is chronologically gifted and enjoys creating characters who remember that change is only on the outside. Inside our older shells is a much younger psyche.

In her debut romance, Time and Forever, two women in their sixties inadvertently travel back to London in 1969. Time and Forever was a 2015 Golden Quill finalist for Best First Book and a 2015 RONE finalist for Best Time Travel Book.

Maybe This Time, the companion book, came out July 12, 2017.

Susan’s other career is acting. Last year, among other things, she killed Kathy Bates on American Horror Story. This she, among other things, she got stabbed by a pen on Future Man and played the victim on Major Crimes. Karma? Who knows what’s next. The joy is in the journey.

Where to find Susan James…

Blog (Adult Books) | Blog (Children’s Books) | Facebook | Goodreads

Where to find Susan Berger…

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Website (Acting)