Enjoying the Best of Two Worlds

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Madelaine Grant sharing her artistic and literary passions and new release, A Total Mismatch.

Here’s Madelaine!

I wrote my first story at age ten. The story was originally accepted by my elementary school magazine. Ecstatic with joy, I told everyone I was being published. However, fate intervened and my teacher told me, sorrowfully, that they had decided not to publish my story since an older student had written something similar. I guess they figured I’d have time to write more stories and be published later on. Taking this rejection really hard I decided then and there I wasn’t going to be a writer after all.

When my art teacher complimented me on my pastel drawings in sixth grade and told me I used colors well and could become an artist, I was delighted. That’s the direction I chose and followed for the next several decades. First I concentrated on commercial art, since I did have to make a living. Later on I began teaching art to children at a nearby museum. That led to more teaching jobs and finally to becoming Assistant Director of Art at that same museum.

But the writing bug would not totally disappear. I tried writing and illustrating a children’s story which almost got published. The company went bankrupt however. I finally joined RWA and my local chapter Tampa Area Romance Authors. After writing several romance novels which never made it I began writing short stories for True Confessions and True Story magazines. I had met one of the editors through TARA and, with her help, was finally able to see my work published. Emboldened by that first success I wrote several novellas which were published by Extasy Books. And now my first full- length novel, a romantic comedy titled “A Total Mismatch” by Madelaine Grant (pen name) has been published as an e book by Soul Mate Publishing. It will go into print in March and is available on Amazon and other distributors for pre order. Here’s a quick summary of the book:

Romantic comedy “A Total Mismatch” takes polar opposites Samantha Peabody and Jordan Hart on a wild courtship ride from lavish weddings and fine art to belly dancing and barroom brawls. This rollicking journey includes the best flavors of ice cream in New York City and a touch of tai chi. To read the first chapter of the book you can visit my web site http://www.madelainegrant.com.

I haven’t given up art. I still paint and exhibit my work. The combination of writing and art seems to be the best of both worlds. I love both and hope to write more books and paint more pictures for years to come.


Fate brings polar opposites Samantha (Sam) Peabody and Jordan Hart together. Free spirit Sam is an artist, occasional belly dancer, and sloppy housekeeper while Jordan is a lawyer, fitness and neatness freak, and lover of ice cream.

The one thing they have in common is their dislike of big, fussy weddings.

After a fight with her oldest sister, Andrea, Sam decides not to attend Andrea’s lavish wedding. When Jordan is invited to a wedding, he asks Sam to accompany him, not knowing it’s Sam’s sister’s affair. Complicating Sam’s busy life is an offer from a local craft beer company to belly dance for a TV ad and become the symbol of their new beer company.

Sam’s disastrous first marriage and the difficult dynamics in her family make her insecure about a new relationship. Besides, she hates the idea of marriage. Can Jordan’s persistence win Sam over and dissolve her fears?


Where to find Madelaine…

Website | Blog | Facebook | Amazon

Joanne here!

Madelaine, I’m impressed by your creative talents. Best of luck with A Total Mismatch. It sounds delightful!


How to Write Effective Emails

Can you compose efficient and effective emails?

When I heard this question, my first impulse was to say, “Yes, of course.” But glancing through my in-box, I realized I wasn’t that efficient or effective. While I don’t ramble or use ambiguous language, I could improve the tone of my emails.

In her book, Playing Big, Tara Mohr devotes an entire chapter to “Communicating with Power.” She stresses the importance of identifying those “little things” that “walk the fine line of saying something without coming on too strong, but in fact they convey tentativeness, self-doubt, or worse, self-deprecation.”

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.

Spotlight on Kate Randle

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Kate Randle. Today, Kate shares her writing journey and latest release, Taking Flight.

Here’s Kate!

Thank-you so very much to Joanne for hosting me on her blog today and giving me the opportunity to speak about my writing journey.

After writing more essays than I could count completing my studies at university, I decided to swap out the world of academic prose for something more exciting, romance novels.

I’ve always been drawn to the love of contemporary romance, so that’s where I began my writing career. The idea for my first novel, In Pursuit of Paradise had been bouncing around in my head for years. I finally put it down on paper 2016. After some interest from my publisher and an extensive rewrite, it was published by The Wild Rose Press in January of 2017. From there, I published a second novel with Extasy Books entitled, Searching for Sanctuary. My latest story which I’m going to share with you today is entitled, Taking Flight.

These stories are filled with all of the things I love about romance novels. Exotic locations, relatable heroines and of course handsome heroes. I’m now hard at work on my next manuscript and have had so much fun on this writing journey. I’ve taken various classes, attended workshops and a national conference. I never stop learning and trying to improve my craft. But I think the most fun I’ve had was meeting some amazing fellow writers who share my passion.

I live near Toronto, Ontario with my super supportive husband and two kids. Three adorable rescue felines round out my family to keep things interesting and covered in cat hair.


Ivy Castlefield is a famous motivational speaker who has lost the drive to go on with her career and her life. But after six months of wallowing in her own misery, she decides to get back in the game and boards a flight bound for Las Vegas to present at a conference.

Lucas Freeman is the handsome pilot of this plane, but he strikes out when he approaches Ivy to introduce himself. When they reach their final destination, the pair are reunited and given another chance to reconnect. But can Ivy overcome the scars of her past and give Lucas and herself the chance at love they both deserve? And can Lucas fight off the demons that threaten to separate him from Ivy when they have only just found each other?


“Excuse me, Ms. Castlefield,” said that smooth, sexy voice she had heard before take-off. She thought she must be imagining things. Then she glanced up and saw him.

She was looking into the most exquisite green eyes she had ever seen, and the face surrounding them was unbelievably handsome. Strong cheekbones and a chiseled jaw stood out beneath naturally tanned skin. His hair was light brown and longish with golden streaks in it, like he spent a lot of time in the sun. He had a neatly trimmed goatee in the same shade as his hair. His breathtaking smile faltered as he looked at her. She needed to say something, but what?

“Hello,” she finally managed, tearing her eyes away from his and feeling her cheeks flush with embarrassment. What is the pilot doing here, sitting beside her in the vacant seat? He was dressed in a crisp, white shirt with gold and black epaulets emblazoned on his broad shoulders.

Ivy suddenly felt underdressed in her yoga pants and sweater now that she was faced with this gorgeous man in uniform. But he didn’t seem to notice. She had no idea what to say to him, but he broke the silence.

“I wanted to welcome you onboard Fantasy Airlines and ask if you were having an enjoyable flight today.”

“Um, yes, thank you, Captain. . . .”

“Please, call me Lucas.”


Where to find Kate…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter


Believe in Yourself

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Australian author Maggie Mundy sharing an incredible journey across two continents and Idolize, Book One in the The Dark Storm series

Here’s Maggie!

When I think back over my life it is separated by one major event. I moved from one side of the world to the other. I was brought up in the UK and immigrated to Australia at aged twenty-nine. I knew my husband wanted to live there when we married and was excited at the prospect. I came from a dysfunctional family so it seemed like a new start for me. I was a trained nurse and I had a job waiting for me.

What triggered the need for change?

I felt I could never truly be me unless I broke away from family, and needed to strike out on my own. It was scary to sell everything up and give up a good job. Also leaving all your friends behind and stepping into the unknown. I knew if I had children I would have probably stayed. It was a now or never moment.

Where are you now?

I moved to Australia in 1986. I now live in Adelaide and love it. I see myself as Australian now more than English. I have two grown up daughters, one of whom lives in the UK due to employment opportunities. I am also a nannie which is a joyous experience beyond belief. I am still nursing and have fourteen books published. I have a Degree in English, Drama, and Creative Writing. I am now going through a stage in my life when I am looking at my past and coming to peace with it.

Advice to those thinking about a second act…

Do it. I could just stop at that because it’s all you need to know. I remember someone once said to me, you sometimes feel like you are standing on the end of a springboard. You can turn back to what you know, or jump. I am so glad I decided to jump and create a new life for me and my family. It hasn’t always been smooth, but I would not change a thing. It has made me who I am today and I quite like that person.

Motivating Quotes – “Believe in your dreams and they may come true. Believe in yourself and they will come true.” – Typographical vector design


Cassi moved to LA to escape a violent past and wants anonymity for herself and her son. She is starting to get her life back on track when she meets Declan Reed. He is latest hit on the Hollywood scene, playing the lead in the TV series Dark Storm. She gets the love of a TV star, and the fame that comes with it causes her past to come back and haunt her with what could be fatal consequences.

Tag line

You can’t be found if no one knows where you are.


Cassi knew it was the brandy talking, but when would she have a Hollywood actor captive in a cabin again? He put his glass down and raised one eyebrow as he peered at her. Then he patted the couch in front of him. Okay, she had drunk two big brandies, but what was he suggesting here?

He placed a finger under her chin and lifted it, so she gazed in his eyes. She gulped. He didn’t need to say anything. She would kiss him anyway. All he needed to do was ask.

“When you left that day, you took part of me with you. I’ve been looking around and meeting other people and other women trying to find it. I was a fool to let you go then. Now you’re here, Cassi, I’m not going to let you go without telling you how much I care.”

His face was close as his palm cupped her cheek. Her mouth hung open, and she felt a strong ache between her legs showing the need for physical contact she had not received for so long. She could feel his breath on her lips. His eyes connected with hers and then moved down to her lips. He ran his thumb along her lower lip, and she moved forward. She knew this wasn’t real and something he had rehearsed, but didn’t care. He only had to say the word, and she would have sex with him all night long. He didn’t say anything more, but their lips almost touched. Then he moved away.


“It’s a scene from our next episode. It doesn’t turn out well as she’s a vampire and sells me out. I get back at her through some crazy ritual, though. Sorry, I took the advantage by adding your name.”

Declan was still holding his palm against her cheek, and she didn’t want him to move away.

“You’re good.” He was more than good as she was putty in his hands right now.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon AU | iTunes | Evernight Publishing | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Bookstrand


I live in Adelaide, Australia with my husband, one cat, two dogs and a snake. I have a motorbike that I would like to ride more than I do and I love walking at the beach and listening to the waves. I’ve always loved reading all forms of fiction from high fantasy and paranormal to contemporary and decided the stories in my head needed to be written down. It was either that or start on medication. Unlike many, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years back. I started off doing a degree in drama but soon realized my love was in writing, though there is a play lurking somewhere on my computer. My day job is as a nurse in the operating room. I believe romance can be fun to read and write, but it’s exciting to spice it up with the uncertainty that comes with suspense where the rules can be broken.

Where to find Maggie…

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub | Pinterest

Joanne here!

Maggie, Thanks for sharing your insights and advice. Best of luck with Idolize.


Idea → Sticky Idea → Premise

Writers can find inspiration almost anywhere, and they don’t have to go too far to find those ideas. Checking Twitter or Facebook feeds, reading a daily newspaper, watching a television program, visiting an art gallery, eavesdropping on conversations…

Which ideas work best?

Sticky ideas…those ideas that simply won’t go away.

Once that idea takes root, it’s like a song that you can’t get out of your head. You wake up thinking about it, dream about it, and fantasize about it. You can even imagine the A-list actors who will star in the screenplay based on your novel. You may seek validation from family and friends: “Don’t you think that would make a great novel?” Unfortunately, too many ideas remain fantasies and don’t make it to the next step: transforming an idea into a premise.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


An Unexpected Second Act

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Mabry Hall sharing insights from her multi-act life and her novels: An Engaging End and A Regrettable Reunion.

Here’s Mabry!

As I prepared to guest on Joanne’s blog, I looked over the stories that have come before mine. So many of my fellow writers seem to have known since childhood that they wanted this career. Not I. It never occurred to me that I could spend my life making things up for fun and not get in trouble for it.

If I could have chosen my studies based on my interests, I’d have been an English or history major. In the interest of practicality, I became a nurse. As my mother said, I’d always be able to get a job wherever I moved. Within a month of graduation, I came to the stark reality that hospitals are open every day of the year. And at night. And on holidays. And as a new grad, it would be years before I moved my way into a semi-normal schedule. (Yes, I admit I should have faced these unwelcome facts earlier.)

I returned to graduate school and became a nurse anesthetist, which gave me much more job flexibility. I was able to work part time while raising our two sons, and I also had more time to read for pleasure. My attention span had dwindled since high school, and I found myself devouring historical romance novels rather than history tomes. It wasn’t long before I complacently said to myself, “I could write one of these.” It certainly wasn’t as easy as I thought, but four years later I’d completed three books and progressed to receiving encouraging personalized rejection letters from agents and editors. I promise you those are much better than form letters, but at the end of the day, I was still rejected.

I stopped writing and focused on my garden, sewing, and taking care of two, by now, teenage boys. I continued to work, and occasionally my husband would prod me to give writing another go. Two instigating factors prompted my return to the computer. The first was the end of my anesthesia career following a dramatic slip-and-fall in the operating room. Since I worked at a children’s hospital, I couldn’t even go to their emergency room. EMS came in, slapped on a neck brace, and scooped me off the floor onto a stretcher. I was wheeled through the front lobby to a waiting ambulance to the bemused interest of patients and family members. Truly a day to remember, and by the way, it was our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, my husband did not take me out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate that evening.

As I pondered what to do with my untimely retired self, I became aware that I could now publish my books on my own. At my point in life, I wasn’t willing to spend months waiting for replies and requests for revisions to suit the taste of someone else. There’s a saying that if you aren’t a control freak before you go into anesthesia, you soon will be. I love the fact that I can write what I want, hire the editor that I want, select the cover that I like, and publish on my own schedule.

I love antique jewelry, so Annalee Wyatt, my protagonist, buys and sells it. This gives me excuses to create gorgeous Pinterest boards and do some serious window-shopping when I travel. I love the South and miss my childhood on my grandparents’ farms. I’ve recreated that experience for Annalee by having her inherit her family’s Goat Hill Farm. I’m even thoughtful enough to have her pasture land leased out to a neighboring farmer, so all she has to do is enjoy the view. The fictional community I created in northern Louisiana is populated by people who remind me of someone I like, or in the case of villains, someone I don’t like. Thank goodness the murders come totally from my imagination.

The most rewarding aspect of this new career comes when someone I’ve never met tells me that my books made her laugh and took her away from reality for awhile. With the state of the world these days, that almost qualifies as a public service.

Last July I underwent another reinvention when I became grandmother to a sweet baby girl. Much to my authorial surprise, Annalee’s best friend is pregnant in the book I’m currently writing. I began the first page, and poof, it was a done deal. Finally there’s one part of my life where I totally call the shots!

18 Karat Sold? Or 18 Karat Cold?


Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt recently moved from Houston to Goat Hill, her family’s ancestral farm in Louisiana. Okay, admittedly she knows jack about farming and makes her living selling expensive baubles, but she’s returned to her roots and wants everyone, including the citizens of nearby Berryville, to be as enthusiastic about it as she is. Her goal of acceptance gets a boost when the scion of an old family pays her big bucks for an engagement ring. When his intimidating mother invites her to attend the ceremony, she really feels like she’s made it.

Unfortunately, “Happily ever after” turns into “Happy never again” when the young bride shockingly dies at the wedding reception. Soon Annalee is dealing with a grieving, hostile groom and unpleasant accusations regarding her honesty.

Though there seems to be no way to prove her integrity, Annalee can’t afford to give up. With the help of her hunky cattle-rancher neighbor and the town book club, she sets out to solve the mystery that threatens her reputation. It comes as a nasty surprise to find that her life is in jeopardy, too!



Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt has settled into life on recently-inherited Goat Hill Farm, and gamely agrees to accompany her new boyfriend to his class reunion. Former football star Ryan Dawson shows up with his adoring wife and slides right back into his role as big man on campus. By evening’s end, he’s bragged to the guys, pawed the women, and generally convinced everyone he isn’t the great guy they remember.

No one is sorry to see him leave the party, but someone is angry enough to make sure he’s gone for good. Though short on detective skills, Annalee’s jewelry expertise pulls her into his murder investigation when an unusual brooch is found in the possession of the accused killer. Doubtful someone would commit murder for the small, salamander-shaped pin, she’s convinced there’s more to the story and can’t resist poking her nose into small-town secrets.

Join Annalee and her cohorts as they traipse through northern Louisiana and east Texas in avid pursuit of another 18 Karat Cold criminal.



Mabry Hall is a Southerner who writes what she knows, except for the murder part. She’s traveled the globe but always comes back happy to be with the friendly and quirky people who populate Louisiana.

Where to find Mabry…

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Follow me on Instagram @18karatcold

Joanne here!

Mabry, thanks for sharing your journey and insights. Best of luck with all your creative endeavors.


Be Ruthless!

I’m happy to welcome award-winning, Soul Mate author Sofie Darling. Today, Sofie shares insights from her writing journey and her debut novel, Three Lessons in Seduction.

Here’s Sofie!

Today, I’d like to talk about my journey to publication. In 2015, my friend and critique partner, Kate Ramirez, won the Writers’ League of Texas’ Manuscript Contest in the romance category. Her win gave me good incentive to finish the book I was working on and enter the contest the following year, even though I was somewhat hesitant to do so.

I’d entered a contest before—that’s right, one contest—and it didn’t go anywhere. I took this “failure” as confirmation of my deepest fear that my writing wasn’t connecting with anyone, even though my critique partners were telling me differently. But they liked me. What did they know?

Still, in 2016, I entered the WLT’s Manuscript Contest, and I won . . . to my utter and complete surprise.

In addition to the WLT win, I received a pitch session with the agent who selected my entry as the winner. We had a good chat, and she requested the full manuscript. Ultimately, she passed on it, but she did give me some good advice. In regards to getting the manuscript ready to send to her, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Be ruthless.”

Buoyed with a bit more confidence after the win and full request, I moved past my fear of contests and entered two more. I finaled in both, and in two categories in one. While this led to conversations with editors, I was still having no agent luck. I made it pretty far down the road with another agent, but she, too, passed.

The process of querying agents and either getting rejected or ignored led me toward a bold decision: I researched every single romance publisher who accepted direct submissions from authors and submitted to all of them. Out of the twelve publishers I queried, I received five requests for more material. Within five months, I’d connected with an editor who was truly enthusiastic about my work and had a signed contract with a publisher.

I still think about the agent’s words, “Be ruthless.” It applies to the writing, of course—adverbs can be pesky little irritants—but it also applies to the career of the writer. It wasn’t until I decided to take my fate as a writer into my own hands and stop waiting for an agent—any agent, please!—to accept me as a client that I was able to forge the beginning of the career I’d been dreaming about for years.

The path toward publication is going to look different for every writer, and my journey won’t be the right fit for everyone. In retrospect, it’s clear that conquering my fear and taking those first few steps was the most difficult part of the process. Each step forward on the path toward publication was easier than the last as my confidence grew, and with the release of Three Lessons in Seduction last fall, my dream became reality!


Paris, September 1824

Lord Nicholas Asquith needs his wife. Too bad he broke her heart ten years ago.

Can he resist a second chance at the love he lost?

When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping . . .

Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband . . .

It’s only a matter of time before mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.


“A girl like you is a girl one could marry,” he murmured. They were heedless and dangerous words that fell from his lips, and he couldn’t understand why he spoke them.

“A girl like me?”


“One could marry?”


“Careful,” she whispered into the space between their lips. It was the only space that mattered in the universe. “I might hold you to such words.”

“I might hope you do.”

Again, words fell from his mouth of their own accord, and he’d proposed to her. There had been no biting it back.

And he hadn’t wanted to.

At least, not for another five seconds.

He’d proposed to Lady Mariana Montfort, a girl he didn’t know.

That wasn’t precisely true.

In the ways that mattered, he knew her.

Buy Links

Amazon | Audible


Sofie spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized that she was no longer satisfied with simply reading the books she loved, that she must write them, too, she decided to finish her degree and embark on a writing career. Mr. Darling and the boys gave her their wholehearted blessing.

When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco.

Where to find Sofie…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads