Born To Be A Storyteller

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Rayanne Haines sharing her inspiring journey and her debut novel, Fire Born.

Here’s Rayanne!

Finding my way to this second act of my life has been less painful, and more painful than I ever thought it could be. I grew up quite sheltered on a small horse farm. Naïve but also desperately unhappy in my home life and wanting something more. At nineteen, I married my teenage sweetheart. At twenty-three I had my first son. At twenty-six my second. At twenty-seven I was divorced, with only a high school diploma, and living in support housing trying to raise two little boys.

I always dreamed of being a writer. I often felt I was born to be a storyteller. Frequently felt that my dream world was more real than reality. My children are everything to me. But I also knew the only way I would survive being a single parent was to fight for myself and my dreams. So, at twenty-eight I enrolled in college to take a Cultural Management degree. From there I worked for different Arts organizations—An activist film festival, a record label, a local choir. My children were with me every step of the way, often attending meetings and work functions when babysitters were unavailable or unaffordable.

Six years ago, I made the decision to focus on my own art. I became the executive director for The Edmonton Poetry Festival and began my journey into writing. Yes, later than planned, but completely and organically the way it was meant to happen. In 2013, I released my first collection of poetry. For the next several years I focused on submitted poems to magazines and anthologies, as well as honing my performance style as a spoken word poet.

In 2015, the idea for Fire Born, Book One of the Guardian Series, came to me in a dream. I began the work of writing a novel, with no previous training and no real understanding of what I was embarking on. I muddled my way through the first draft, and the second before asking for support from a few authors I knew and respected. Their advice? Go back to the drawing board and ask your characters who they are, instead of trying to guess. It took me a while to understand what they meant. But eventually I got it. I looked at my own life, where I’d come from, what I’d overcome. I had to know my characters as well as I knew myself if I wanted other readers to engage with them.

After a year of learning, and re-working, Fire Born was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing. Very quickly after, they signed me to a four-book deal! I’ve just completed book two of the series and am starting on book three.

I’ve also completed a Novel-in-Verse that will be released in the April of 2018. The poetic novel tells the story of an Italian family’s immigration from Italy to Canada, through three female voices, in poems.

I’m also marrying the love of my life three days after the release of Fire Born. My Italian lover has been very much an inspiration for all the heroes in my novels. My children will be walking me down the aisle.

My second act was hard fought and worth every bumpy step. I truly believe I would not be here if I’d never divorced. The struggle created a strength in me that helped push me to reach for my dreams, to search for great love, and to write about strong women who will accept nothing less.

Blurb

Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

hat’s when her Aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re Immortal – Elementals to be precise and Alex is the long-lost daughter of one of the strongest female warriors of their time.

Her Guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control fire, and find her father’s people or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six and the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the run in with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction. Suddenly Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for. But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.

buynow

Where to find Rayanne Haines…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Rayanne, your remarkable journey is an inspiring one that will linger in my consciousness. Thanks so much for sharing and best of luck with Fire Born.


Advertisements

10 Bridal Attire Superstitions

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine discusses ten bridal attire superstitions and shares her new release, A Groom for Mama.

Here’s Catherine!

In my romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, the minute Mama finds a suitable man for her daughter’s groom, she begins urging the heroine, Allison, to start looking for her wedding dress. So, I thought it would be fun to discuss 10 superstitions about bridal attire. Maybe I can come up with some you’ve never heard before.

Did you know…?

1. White wasn’t always the preferred color for a bride’s dress. The white wedding dress didn’t come into vogue until Queen Victoria wore white. Until then many women were married in their Sunday best. But to avoid problems in their marriages they had to be careful which colors they chose to wear. Here’s a handy rhyme they used to make sure they got the color scheme right.

Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead. Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow. Married in Green, ashamed to be seen. Married in Pink, your spirit will sink. (Some sources disagree with pink, stating ‘Married in Pink, of you he will think.) Married in blue, you’ll always be true. Married in Grey, you will go far away. Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

Additionally, brown was not a favorite choice, because “Married in brown, you’ll never live in town.” A statement that meant to say their husbands would never rise in business or acquire riches that would enable the family to move on up. Purple was also out because it was considered a mourning color, favored by widows from their second year of bereavement on.

2. A bride should never make her own dress. This wedding superstition states that for every stitch of the wedding dress the bride sews herself, she’ll shed one tear during her marriage. Considering the amount of fabric that goes into a wedding dress, I’d think this could be a considerable amount of weeping. Best to let someone else shed those tears on your account.

3. The material the dress is made from is also important to the marriage’s success. Satin brings bad luck, and velvet threatens the wearer with poverty. A dress constructed with a silk, unpatterned fabric is best. If you use a patterned material, avoid birds or vines. Don’t ask why, because I could find the answer to why you avoid birds or vine patterns.

4. Finding a spider inside your wedding gown before you walk down the aisle is good luck. According to English legend, this creepy arachnid is actually a “best of luck omen.” Personally, this would freak me out.

5. Wearing pearls with your wedding attire can be a good thing or a bad thing. This wedding superstition goes both ways. For those with a glass half-empty view, pearls represent future tears. Wearing them will bring many tears and heartache in the marriage. For the glass half-full kind of gal, the luckier version of this states that the pearls take the place of the bride’s real tears, thus she’ll have a happy, tear-free wedding and life.

6. Just as pearls on your neck or ears can bring bad luck, so can an engagement or wedding ring made with pearls. The tears the pearls represent bring bad luck.

7. Once your man gives you that engagement ring, don’t let your girlfriends, or anyone else, try it on. If you do there’s a chance your wedding will never happen because the person who tried it on will steal all your happiness and luck—as well as the heart of your husband. I remember my mother telling me this superstition when my sister asked if she could try on my engagement ring.

8. If you’re thinking about going veil-less consider this: your wedding veil offers you protection from evil spirits, according the ancient Roman tradition. Hiding the bride’s face keeps evil spirits away. And if you wear flowers in your hair without a veil, you’ll be sorry you married.

9. Never try on your complete wedding outfit before the big day. To do so tempts fate. If you just have to see how you look in the whole ensemble, leave some piece off. Consider leaving a stitch open in the dress, or slip on just one earring, or one shoe. That might keep the fickle fates away, since the wedding outfit won’t be complete.

10. No wedding attire is complete without the bouquet, but take care in the flowers you choose. Brides are destined for happiness if the first flower they see on their wedding day is white. But if you see a red flower first you will have unhappiness and heavy care in your married life. You might want to consider the meaning of the flowers you choose, too. Flowers have a language of their own which has been used throughout history to express emotions from the giver. Roses represent love, that’s why they are a favorite of brides. A bouquet of yellow carnations could symbolize rejection or disdain. White carnations stand for pure innocence and love, and would make a lovely addition to a bouquet of red roses. So choose wisely when fashioning your bouquet and create the language of love you want for your special day.

I know I said I was going to give you 10 Bridal Attire superstitions, but I just can’t leave without talking about the one wedding attire superstition we all know and have probably followed to the letter in our marriages and the marriages of our daughters:

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”

Something old represents the couple’s desire to hold onto important memories, something new represents the new union, something borrowed should be from a woman who has had a long and happy marriage, so her luck will transfer to your marriage, and something blue represents fertility in the marriage. And if you can find a sixpence for your shoe, stick it in that sole. You’ll have good fortune if you do.

Blurb

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

buynow

About the Author

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Stitches Through Time | SMP Authors


10 Things about Susan Hogan…and Cozy Heroines

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Judy Alter to the Power of 10 series. Today, Judy shares ten interesting facts about Susan Hogan, the protagonist of her latest release, Pigface and the Perfect Dog.

Here’s Judy!

Susan Hogan is the protagonist of my Oak Grove Mystery series. I meant her to be a bit different than the stereotypical cozy heroine. To some extent, I succeeded, because my main beta reader confessed he didn’t like her as well as the women in my other series, and one reviewer called her “prickly.”

With this list, I give readers a chance to judge for themselves, but I hope the list will make you want to read about Susan’s crime-solving adventures.

–Susan Hogan, associate professor of English at the fictional Oak Grove University, is thirty-five, single, and never married; she has, in fact, a bit of a fear of commitment that sometimes gets in the way of her relationship with Jake Phillips, chief of campus security.

–Susan Hogan’s romance with Jake pairis, a cop (pardon, law enforcement officer) and falls into the cozy cliché trap of heroine and police officer but works well for plot purposes.

–Susan is an energetic, stimulating classroom teacher; her field is American literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

–Raised by a maiden aunt in Wichita Falls, Texas Susan would like to feel she’s a free spirit, but she clings to many of Aunt Jenny’s preachings about life, morals, and manners.

—-She can cut up a salad and set a proper table, but don’t ask Susan to cook. Jake is a master at the grill, and Aunt Jenny cooks everything from pots of soup to King Ranch chicken, but Susan can’t figure out Hollandaise sauce.

–Susan wears her hair in a spikey cut and runs her hands through it all the time. She can’t be bothered with hair-styling and prefers jeans or, at the least, slacks, hasn’t worn a skirt in years.

–Susan is not status conscious. She drives a battered, old Honda but would really love to go back and forth to campus on Jake’s moped. Since she once wrecked it, Jake fears for the safety of both Susan and his moped and has forbidden her to ride it.

–Susan was at odds with the former chair of the English department, and she finds university rules and regulations cumbersome and restrictive. Professors whose field is Renaissance literature seem to irritate her.

–Susan is cautious about warming up to people—the city police lieutenant, the sheriff—and she can get crosswise, as she does with Marge the waitress who thinks she’s guilty of murder, but she’s fiercely loyal to those she loves—Jake, Aunt Jenny and her paramour Judge John Jackson, her fellow teacher Ellen Peck, and newcomer to the series, Gus Conroy.

–Susan Hogan is, at best a free spirit, representing contemporary feminist thinking in moderation and without the extremes, but tempering her freedom with a bit of the traditional role of women.

In short, Susan Hogan is someone I’d like to meet and hang out with.

Blurb

Susan Hogan thinks she’s about to meet her maker when she confronts a rifle-carrying man, who looks like a pig, in a grocery store. Jake investigates the body of a young college student, shot in the back and found in an empty pasture. Aunt Jenny showers love on the new puppy a young man from the grocery gave her but she has to get rid of that heavy collar.

Susan is associate professor of English at Oak Grove (Texas) University; her partner, Jake, is Chief of Campus Security. Aunt Jenny, the maiden lady who raised Jenny, came to Oak Grove to help Susan, who was accused of murdering a coed in The Perfect Coed, first book in the series How much help Jenny was is debatable, but she made a fast friend in Judge John Jackson and stayed in Oak Grove.

Trouble in Oak Grove begins with the open-carry protestors in the store and leads to a shooting, breaking and entering, threats and an attempted kidnapping, a clandestine trip to the woods late at night. Will Susan Hogan land in trouble…or the hospital…again? Will Susan and Jake survive this as a couple? Susan is still prickly but she learns some lessons about life, love, and herself in this second Oak Grove Mystery.

buynow

Bio

Judy Alter is the author of seven books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults, primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.

The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.

Where to find Judy Alter…

Blog | Amazon | Facebook


Adulting Writer Awards

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate Author Elle Hill. Today, Elle shares some of her inspirational and motivational designs.

Here’s Elle!

About a week ago, I received some grump-inducing news. As is my recent habit, come afternoon, I plunked down before my desktop and slapped my fingers on the keyboard. Writing time! That day, though, I glared accusingly at my computer, which, just hours ago, had delivered some pretty obnoxious information.

But slowly, peck by peck, all the while sighing and muttering angrily, I penned a little over 1000 words. After limping across the finish line, I’ll admit I felt pretty smug. I hated the world that day, and still I managed to write something.

I deserved a medal, or at least a merit badge. An author merit badge.

You know those adulting awards that show up from time to time on social media? I propose we authors have our own adulting award but for, you know, literary stuff. Given this, I have designed some awards. Please feel free to print out, distribute, or tattoo as needed.

Where to find Elle Hill…

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon


Spotlight on Anna Dowdall

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Anna Dowdall. Today, Anna shares her writing journey and debut novel, After the Winter.

Here’s Anna!

I love twentieth century romantic suspense, domestic suspense, Gothic suspense. There’s nothing more relevant today than these stories, currently enjoying a renaissance and often very well written—think Charlotte Armstrong, Patricia Wentworth—about women in danger and what they do about it. I wondered if I could write something like that. But spiked with a modern ending, otherwise how to bring in the unexpected every reader wants. And so I did. After the Winter is that book, a tribute to a lot of writers who went before me, and the first of a romantic suspense/mystery series called The Ashley Smeeton Files.

I’ve always loved to read and write. I had a working class upbringing, maybe they were forms of escape. When I was nine or ten I spent the summer writing a melodrama about Gwendolyn, Marigold and Ali, and their adventures in and out of a gated city redolent of the mysterious East. The paper I wrote on was some by-product of paper milling, maybe the ends of rolls, who knows. I don’t know where I got my flowery language—Gwendolyn had eyes like twin sapphire pools for example. Even then I was drawn to romantic suspense it seems! A few years passed, I did lots of things. I was a nurse’s aide, journalist, perpetual grad student, bureaucrat, translator, graphic artist and mother, I flew a small plane, I lived in the far North. It was all cool. But I still wanted to write.

First I tried YA fiction. (Sometimes I think I must be a glutton for punishment.) Book one was a listed semi-finalist for the American Katherine Paterson YA prize, and book two was same for an Unhanged Arthur Ellis—the unpublished category in Canada’s annual mystery prize. No takers though, among publishers or agents. And I still don’t have an agent.

I’ve learned a lot from my professional life. Writing is, after all, a job. Every published writer I’ve ever spoken to has routinized their work. When in the active writing phase I try to sit at my desk every day at around 9. I write as many days a week as I can for a few hours. I aim for a minimum of 1000 words a day.

I spend about four months planning a book. Planning consists of writing notes that eventually take a definite shape, with a list of characters, an ever-expanding synopsis and a timeline. I’m always impressed when people use special software for this, but I don’t. I have a notebook and pen always handy during the writing phase and write every random thought down. I also saturate myself during the planning phase in anything I think will be helpful for the story. My third book will have scenes on a train and I got into several novels involving train journeys. Even Zola’s La Bête humaine, cripes, which (spoiler alert) is all about people thinking about killing other people on and off trains, and then actually killing them—also on and off trains. I spend about six weeks revising, although revision is getting easier now as I write more and make fewer booboos.

The main thing is, though, I read a lot, 200 books a year I’m sure, maybe more.

I seek inspiration from books, my thoughts and feelings, paintings if you can believe it, real life. Someone once asked me if anyone ever recognized themselves in my work. I sincerely hope so. Of course, the resemblance would be 100% accidental! Book 2, The Au Pair, will be out in a few months and my denials will be twice as vehement.

Blurb

Rudderless after betrayal by her former fiancé, Montreal heiress Sally Ryder discovers her deceased mother had a secret life and she has a half-sister. Helena has written to Sally, inviting her to Midwinter, an isolated estate in Quebec. But before they can meet, Helena and her husband die under disturbing circumstances.

Sally decides to visit nearby Waverley for a few days nevertheless, to learn what she can about the sister she never knew. Her first shock is to find that her brother-in-law left everything, including Midwinter, to his beautiful secretary Janine. During a storm, Sally is unexpectedly snowed in with Janine and an assortment of Midwinter guests. It isn’t long before Sally becomes entangled with a handsome doctor from Boston in an effort to uncover the truth about her sister’s mysterious life, and death.

Meanwhile, the bodies pile up.

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | The Wild Rose Press

Where to find Anna…

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook