Keep On Keeping On

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Marsha R West. Today, Marsha shares valuable advice and insights gleaned from her writing journey.

Here’s Marsha!

Thanks for hosting me, Joanne. I’m honored to be on your blog today. The title of this post is my mantra: Keep on Keeping on. I developed it early in my writing life. And thank goodness I did, or I wouldn’t be where I am today. No, I’m not a USA best selling author, but I have a following. Fans who ask, “When’s your next book coming out?”

So, let’s go back to the beginning. I started writing because my mother was ill. One day I said to a friend: “I’ve read so many romantic suspense books, surely I could write one if I just knew what to write about.” The friend reminded me of the $13 million embezzlement in the school district, resulting in jail time and loss of jobs. I had left the school board sometime before all that took place, but I knew something about it. I finished the book of 145,000 words, knowing nothing about writing genre fiction or the fact, 145 K words was a bit over the going standard! LOL

But I joined RWA and a local chapter, entered contests, found critique partners, I wrote, and I learned. This is definitely a learn by doing business. You must put in the time and effort to learn the craft. I give a lot of credit to Margie Lawson for my selling the fourth book I wrote, VERMONT ESCAPE, to MuseItUp Publishing, a small Canadian e-publisher.

This was after lots and lots of rejections. That’s one reason I say: Keep on Keeping On. You’re the only one who can stop you from being published. And that’s if you give up. There were many times I almost did that very thing. The year before I sold, I was president of NTRWA. That really saved me. I had to write a president’s message for our newsletter every month, and that’s when I developed the Keep on, Keeping on mantra. Each of those articles was written to me as much as to the members. That was in 2012. VERMONT ESCAPE was released in 2013. I’m so glad I hung in there. I now have 7 published books. All are romantic suspense with older characters; some call this “seasoned romance.”

MuseItUp bought my next book, TRUTH BE TOLD. They wanted the next one, SECOND ACT, but it was the first of a four-part series, and they weren’t printing my books. I had readers who wanted books in print. That led to me setting up MRW Press LLC. I got my rights back on the first two books and headed into the Indie Publishing world.

Right now, I’m teaching a four-part course for Texas Christian University Silver Frogs program called Indie Publishing: Who Me? It’s fun to feel like I can pay forward all the help I received with folks just getting involved in this writing/publishing world.

Book 8 is my WIP and as of now, untitled. Hoping to release it later this year.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out any of my stand alone books or The Second Chances Series about 4 women in their 40s who’ve been friends since elementary school. Picture of Book Series Books are on B & N, KOBO, iTunes, & Amazon where you can order print books, too. All my books are set in Texas even if the characters don’t remain there. Hint: VERMONT ESCAPE.

Love to hear from you. 😊

Vermont Escape Blurb

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. Trying to protect her grown children, she doesn’t tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices including a shot at a second chance at love with a Vermont politician?

Bio

Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and theatre arts teacher. She writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. Marsha lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren who live nearby. Charley, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix completes her family.

MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013; her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. In the Fall of 2014, Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide print and e-versions of her books. SECOND ACT, Book 1 of the Second Chances Series follows up with a secondary character from VERMONT ESCAPE and begins a four-part series. ACT OF TRUST is Book 2 of the Second Chances Series. She released THE THEATRE, a stand-alone in 2016. It was followed by ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series in 2017. In 2019, Act of Survival, Book 4 The Second Chances Series released. A new standalone will be released in 2020.

She contributed to ROMANCE & MYSTERY AUTHORS ON WRITING, edited by JQ. Rose. Also, in 2018, she had a short story, “The Colonel & Her Major” published in her writing chapter’s anthology, LONE STAR LOVE.

She has lots of fun doing book club & library presentations. You can contact her at marsha@marsharwest.com or through her website where you can also sign up for her NEWSLETTER, Blog, or check out any of her social media sites.

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Spotlight on Susan Van Kirk

I’m happy to welcome author Susan Van Kirk. Today, Susan shares her writing journey and latest release, A Death at Tippitt Pond.

Here’s Susan!

The publishing business is a constant road of ups and downs. Nothing is smooth or predictable. I suppose this has given me some empathy for publishers and admiration for successful writers, but it has also led to a mountain-and-valley kind of existence. Along with the ups and downs, it is tough to do well in this business without some help from friends.

I didn’t set out to be a writer, but once I began writing I discovered I love it. When I was teaching college classes, one of my students suggested I write an inspirational story I’d told in class. So I did. Within two weeks, Teacher magazine emailed to say they’d publish it. Wow! I had no clue it could be this easy.

You see where this is going, right?

I have read mysteries since fifth grade when I plowed through thousands of pages of Sherlock Holmes stories. Once I retired from teaching in 2011, I decided to spend a year reading about writing mysteries. This led to my series, The Endurance Mysteries, based on a small, Midwest town largely resembling my own. Secrets, history, a few murders, and a little romance propelled the stories of Grace Kimball, retired teacher, and her former student, Detective TJ Sweeney, who often asks for Grace’s help. And so it began.

In these early days, I joined a national group called Sisters in Crime, along with their subgroup, the Guppies, and through those groups I found a fantastic editor named Lourdes Venard of Comma Sense editing. That was the best money I ever spent. And, I might add, both writing groups, along with Lourdes, have given me excellent advice when navigating the business of publishing.

I sent off the manuscript for Three May Keep a Secret, my first Endurance mystery, and within two weeks I had a publisher: Five Star Publishing. I was in heaven. Once again, I thought, “It can’t be this easy.” They also bought my second book in the series, Marry in Haste. I was on top of the world because my college major had been history, and I could put some of my enjoyable research into these books. Marry in Haste goes back a hundred years with a double plot about the lives of two women.

I was feeling successful. Top of the mountain.

Then, disaster struck. Five Star Publishing decided not to publish mysteries anymore. I was “orphaned.” Trying to find a publisher for the third book, Death Takes No Bribes, was impossible. I decided to self-publish, as I had done with a novella about my detective. Time to go to Plan B.

I’ve read so many stories from authors who have persisted, who have refused to take “no” for a final answer. Perhaps the stories of those who quit are simply lost. The publishing business is amazingly slow, and a writer can wait months to hear from publishers if she hears from them at all. I didn’t want to be one of those lost stories.

So, Plan B. I wrote a new series I call the Sweet Iron mysteries. Again, I went on a long search for small publishers. A Death at Tippitt Pond, the first of the Sweet Iron mysteries, came out last June from a small publisher named Encircle Publications. I’m working on the second book in that series now.

Besides writing, an author must make decisions about how she will publish. I’ve always favored traditional publishing because I live in a small town in the Midwest with few avenues for sales. However, constantly trying to find publishers becomes a time-consuming effort, and I lose valuable writing time. This past week I signed with an agent, something I never thought would occur. I feel like Sally Fields exclaiming, “You really like [my novel!]” Over the past five years, I’ve queried 300+ agents with no success. It finally happened, thankfully, and I can now anticipate more time to write. Another peak after a lot of valleys.

Joining the national mystery groups made these successes possible. I also began going to Malice Domestic, a book conference once a year in Bethesda, Maryland. Through those experiences, I met quite a few people who have helped me along the way. This year I am heading to San Diego to attend West Coast Crime, a completely different audience. Meeting people in the mystery-writing world is a wonderful experience, and it has helped my writing considerably.

All the ups and downs have been worth it, and I’m currently working on my second book in the Sweet Iron series. Thankful for the blessings I’ve received, I never take for granted that I’ll be on top as time goes by. Trying to help others along the way, as I have been helped, is also part of my writing life. I simply keep putting one foot in front of the other, one page down and the next coming up, one chapter finished and the following one started, and keep on keeping on.

Blurb

Everyone in the small town of Sweet Iron knew the teenage daughter of Judge Tippitt and his wife, Jolene. Melanie Tippitt’s exotic green eyes sprinkled with gold flecks only added to her haunting beauty. That is why her shocking murder in the summer of 1971 shattered the innocence of the town. Soon, the inhabitants sighed with relief when the murderer was sent to prison. Case closed. Four decades later, historical researcher and genealogist, Elizabeth Russell, arrives in Sweet Iron with plans for a brief visit. She extends her stay when she discovers reasons to research the Tippitt family genealogy and the disturbing tragedy of their daughter’s murder. Her decision cracks the tranquility of the town and challenges the truth of what happened that day at Tippitt Pond … Case closed. Or was it?

Buy Links

Encircle Publications | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Bio

I live at the center of the universe—the Midwest—and write during the ridiculously cold, snowy, and icy winters. Why leave the house and break something? I have a history degree from Knox College and a graduate degree from the University of Illinois. My first book was a memoir called The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks.) My newest series—the Sweet Iron Mysteries—combines history, genealogy, and mystery in the debut, A Death at Tippitt Pond. I taught for 44 years in high school and college and raised three children as a single parent. Strangely, after all that, I have low blood pressure and am blissfully retired.

Where to find Susan…

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10 Facts About Frost Fairs Upon the River Thames

I’m happy to welcome back Caroline Warfield and the Bluestocking Belles. Today, Caroline share ten interesting facts about frost fairs and their new release, Fire & Frost.

1. The Little Ice Age produced a climate fluctuation that caused colder than normal temperatures worldwide from the mid 14th to the mid 19th centuries. It wasn’t a true “ice age” as in the age in which glaciers covered much of the world, but England endured a series of severe winters.

2. In addition to climate changes, differences in the river Thames at London compared to know made it more likely to freeze. The piers of Old London Bridge, for one thing, caused ice to jam up effectively producing a dam. Between 1600 and 1814 it was not uncommon for the river to freeze solid for up to two months at a time.

3. There are reports of activity on the ice dating from the 14th century. We know that in 1563 Elizabeth I ordered an archery field set up on the river.

4. The first fully documented frost fair occurred in the winter of 1608 when the Thames froze for six weeks.

5. Between 1608 and 1814 seven major fairs took place, but it is believed numerous more minor events occurred.

6. The winter of 1683-1684 was particularly severe. Lakes, rivers, and even the sea around the southern coast of England brought commerce to a complete halt.

7. Charles II visited the frost fair of 1684 and enjoyed an ox roasted on the ice.

8. The last and by most accounts largest, occurred in 1814. Temperatures dropped below freezing every night between December 27 and February 7. By the end of January creating a solid surface from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge.

9. Between January 25 and February 1 crowds began to gather and stalls and business sprang up on the ice. Tradesmen of all kinds hawked their wares. Fires were set up to keep warm, cook, and even roast full sized sheep. Rum, gambling, drinking tents were reported. Carriages drove up and down the ice. Dances took place. Games such as skittles and bowls were held. Paintings show swings, sled rides and skating. Not least, an elephant was walked the length of the place.

10. Folks prized one souvenir in particular, a printed ticket to prove they had been there. As in previous fairs, printing presses were set up on the ice to satisfy demand, and all sorts of ephemera was printed. The great fair ended February 5, 1814. It was the last one.

About Fire & Frost

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

Buy Links

Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Amazon (US)

You can find more about the authors and the individual stories here.

Bio

Award-winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Her story, Lord Ethan’s Courage, appears in Fire & Frost.

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When Opportunity Knocks…

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have award-winning author C.B.Clark sharing her multi-act life and latest release, Secret Betrayal.

Here’s Christine!

Like most people, I’ve reinvented myself, and my career, over the years, mainly because of facing some sort of adversity.

Act 1

As a child, my dream was to become an archaeologist. I graduated with a degree in anthropology and archaeology and began working in the wilderness of beautiful northern British Columbia searching for signs of ancient Indigenous activity and recording these sites on a provincial data base. I also participated in several archaeological excavations. I loved archaeology, but my excitement faded the year I spent six long months living in a tent as part of the job. When I heard about a course in Education, I jumped on board. Anything to get out of that tent.

Second Act

And so began my second act. I earned my teaching certificate, and discovered I loved teaching. Over my thirty years as a classroom teacher, I taught primary, intermediate, and high school students. I even lectured for a year at the local college.

Third Act

While I was working as a classroom teacher, a botched operation on my throat ended with me losing my ability to speak above a whisper for a year. I was on medical leave and needed something to challenge my mind. Since I’d always loved reading, I decided to try my hand at writing a romance novel. Now my voice is back, and I have six published romantic suspense novels and three audio books.

Fourth Act

Is there a fourth act in my life? Maybe. Opportunities arrive when we least expect them, often when we’re at a crossroads. My advice to you: be ready and open to new directions in life.

A favorite quotation of mine

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” ~Napoleon Hill

Blurb

Head college librarian, Marissa Reynolds has spent years distancing herself from her crime king pin uncle and his criminal empire. When she awakens in an unfamiliar hotel room with blood on her hands and no memory of how she got there, the past returns with a vengeance, and her life spirals into a nightmare.

Straight-laced, Assistant district Attorney, Scott Bannister has spent a lifetime seeking justice for the senseless gangland shooting deaths of his parents. When he realizes Marissa is the niece of his prime suspect, he crosses a line guaranteed to put in jeopardy both his life and his beloved career.

He’s made it clear he’ll do anything to destroy her uncle. She fears he’s using her to achieve his goal. As the body count mounts, and their lives are threatened, they must put aside their distrust and work together to find the devious killer. Will they be able to forgive and find true love?

Excerpt

She pushed to her hands and knees. The pounding in her brain mushroomed into a full-blown, jackhammer assault. With a moan, she sank onto her bottom and grabbed her head in a fruitless effort to keep her brain from exploding. Despite the pain, she needed to get up. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

Faint wisps of light seeped through the edges of the window curtains. The distant sound of traffic echoed through the glass. A lamp imbued the room with a soft, rosy glow, revealing a king-size bed. The cover on the bed was a glossy, garish pink, the pillows covered in the same lurid color, the edges trimmed with frilly, black lace.

She rubbed the back of her neck and closed her eyes, but when she opened them again she was still in the unfamiliar room. A battered desk faced the bed, a large, flat screen television on top. The flickering images of a naked, full-breasted woman being entertained by two equally naked men played across the screen.

A wingback chair, covered in black leatherette sat in the far corner where a door was ajar revealing the cracked linoleum floor of a bathroom and the edge of a chipped porcelain sink. A framed diagram of a fire escape route was posted on the back of the other door. A hotel room? She dug her fingers into her temples. Why couldn’t she remember?

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook | iTunes | Kobo | Google Books | Walmart

Author Bio

Secret Betrayal is award-winning author, C.B. Clark’s fifth romantic suspense published by The Wild Rose Press. She has worked as an archaeologist and an educator, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.

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Spotlight on The Never Forgotten Series

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Kelly Risser. Today, Kelly shares the four novels–Never Forgotten, Current Impressions, Always Remembered, Sea of Memories–in The Never Forgotten Series.



In this coming of age story, Meara Quinn is about to find out there are worse things than moving to a tiny oceanside town before her senior year. Like discovering there’s a secret being kept from her and knowing it’s a life-changer.

After experiencing vivid visions of her absentee father, Meara decides she deserves answers. With the help of her new friend Evan, a guy she happens to be falling for, she embarks on a journey in the hopes of unlocking family history and finding her true self. But when she meets a handsome stranger at a local club who knows far more about her than he should, her world is again shaken. In him, Meara may have uncovered the key to the very secret that will reveal not only who she is… but what she is.

The Never Forgotten series starts as a light paranormal romance with an Irish/Scottish folklore twist and grows into an underwater urban fantasy where love, loyalty and friendship face the ultimate test. If you like mermaids, sirens, and other water fae you may not have met before, this series is for you.

With over 300 five-star ratings on Goodreads, the Never Forgotten series is a Best Book Award-finalist young adult paranormal romance series that will appeal to fans of House of Royale by Jaymin Eve, Sirangel by Lucia Ashta, and Born of Water by A.L. Knorr.

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Current Impressions is a Readers Favorite award winner and the second novel in the best-selling Never Forgotten series by Kelly Risser.

After an emotionally draining year, Meara Quinn is not the same carefree and innocent girl. Her mom is gone. Graduation is over. Taking a leap of faith and temporarily separating from her one love—Evan—Meara joins her father’s world on a journey to learn more about who she is.

Too bad life is not all starfish and seashells. Meara gains magical abilities, but she’s forced to undergo intense training so she knows what to do with them. Her father chooses her aunt and Kieran as her trainers. And Kieran—a powerful male who’s not from their clan—has the unnerving ability to infuriate and intrigue Meara at the same time.

While Meara begins her new life, Evan endures with her memory and the knowledge that he will see her in July when his internship begins. Although excited about gaining real world experience, it’s the thought of seeing Meara that really drives him. Unfortunately, Evan finds it hard to focus on anything when he’s suffering from vivid nightmares and screaming headaches.

When Meara and Evan reunite, everything seems to fall back into place. The summer appears to be perfect. Then two of her father’s guards are found dead, and foul play is suspected. The façade melts away. Someone is targeting them, and Meara must discover who it is and why. She turns to Evan to help her, but when he gives her the hot and cold treatment, she’s left feeling alone and confused.

As the puzzle pieces move into place, will Meara be able to solve the mystery in time to save her clan and her relationship?

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Always Remembered is the third novel in the best-selling Never Forgotten series by Kelly Risser.

One clue… what does it mean?

Ken, the leader of the Blue Men of the Minch, has kidnapped Evan. Before they left, Evan was able to leave a package for Meara—her grandfather’s necklace wrapped in a cloth napkin with one word written in blood. Azuria. Unfortunately, Meara doesn’t understand it and neither does her dad or Kieran.

When Dad and Aunt Brigid attempt to rescue Evan, Meara and Kieran begin to train the clan on how to fight and defend their home. A war is brewing, and Meara is determined their people must prepare for the battle. The training sessions are long and arduous, but the Selkies work hard to learn.

Meanwhile, Evan wakes and finds himself in Belle Tresor, the home of sirens. He’s bound to his blue form, unable to transform to human, and Ken has plans to use Evan’s powers to destroy the Selkies. Thankfully, he’s not alone. He befriends a siren named Deanna and several Blue Men. Can he trust them to help him escape or do they have ulterior motives?

As both sides prepare for an ultimate confrontation, the stakes are high and friendships are tested. Some will rise to be victorious. Some will be destroyed. But love and loyalty will be always remembered in this exciting conclusion to the Never Forgotten series.

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Sometimes, we reach the end of a story and realize there is more to be told. This is the case with Sea of Memories, a collection of novellas set in the world of Never Forgotten. Fans of this series will not be disappointed!

Travel with Meara and Kieran to North America where they visit her grandparents and his family. Along the way, stop at Mirage, the dance club where the couple first met, and see the encounter from Kieran’s point of view.

Struck in the Club – On the orders of his father, Kieran travels to Nova Scotia to spy on David’s daughter. After an encounter in a dance club, he may have found more than he bargained for.

Journey to the past and meet Kieran’s mom, Sera. Learn why she is no longer part of their lives.

What Will Be – Sera is a Selkie who enjoys her family and her daily routine of solitude. While out on one of her morning swims, she finds an injured man floating in the ocean. Unable to see anyone suffer, she rescues him, even after the warnings she received as a child about the evilness of human males. He may be safe now, but is she?

Go back to where it all started and discover along with Meara how her parents met and fell in love.

A Rock and A Hard Place – Visiting his maternal grandparents in Nova Scotia, David is determined to find out who murdered his parents and why. He doesn’t expect the evidence to take him to a small fishing village called Peggy’s Cove. He certainly doesn’t expect to find love there, especially when it comes in the form of a spunky little brunette… and a human one at that.

Finally, join Meara, Ula, and other friends old and new to remember the past, celebrate the present, and anticipate the future.

Something Blue – Ula’s been invited to a banquet at Ronac in her niece’s honor. Because it will be Meara’s first Christmas without her mom, Ula convinces her boyfriend, Vesh, and others that they need to throw a surprise holiday celebration. Selkies don’t celebrate Christmas and neither do the Blue Men of the Minch. It will be a holiday full of surprises for all.

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Kelly Risser knew at a young age what she wanted to be when she grew up. Unfortunately, Fairytale Princess was not a lucrative career. Leaving the castle and wand behind, she entered the world of creative business writing where she worked in advertising, marketing, and training at various companies.

She’s often found lamenting, “It’s hard to write when there’s so many good books to read!” So, when she’s not immersed in the middle of someone else’s fantasy world, she’s busy creating one of her own. This world is introduced in her first novel, Never Forgotten.

Kelly lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children. They share their home with Clyde the Whoodle and a school of fish.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads



**5 year Anniversary Celebration!!**

Five years ago, Kelly realized her dream of becoming a published author with Never Forgotten. She never imagined that first book would lead to three more and a complete series. She will be forever grateful to Clean Teen Publishing for taking a chance on an unknown writer, to her readers for loving Meara, Evan, Kieran and the full cast of characters that are so dear to her heart, and to the book community for supporting and promoting her work.

As a thank you, Kelly wants to give something back and share her happiness with all of you. Purchase any book in the series (with the exception of the free e-book of Never Forgotten), complete the online form with your uploaded proof of purchase, and receive a signed paperback (first 50 submissions; U.S. only) or a limited edition swag pack (next 200 submissions, open internationally).

Entry form: https://forms.gle/4rk4z69i4VP8auaE8

Kelly Risser will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Kelly on the rest of her Silver Daggers tour here.


Expat Teacher Comes Home to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Sadira Stone sharing her inspiring reinvention story and novels: Through the Red Door and Runaway Love Story.

Here’s Sadira!

Briefly describe your first act.

Lacking funds for college, I joined the Army after high school. After serving four years, mostly in Germany, I got my teaching degree (high school English, French, German, theater) and returned to Germany as a teacher for the Department of Defense school system, which serves the families of U.S. military members stationed overseas. Living in Europe enabled me to travel widely—a trip to France was like driving to the next state. All in all, I spent nearly thirty years in Germany and felt a bit like a foreigner during my summer visits to California.

There are a thousand things I miss about Germany: the dense, crusty bread; the saunas, the rolling hillsides laced with paved farm roads, perfect for long walks and bike rides; the beer fests and wine fests and Christmas markets; the historical buildings; the attention paid to beautiful public spaces.

But after so many years, the daily grind of teaching was wearing me down. Don’t get me wrong—I liked most aspects of my job and loved some students dearly. Teaching is important work, and I’m proud to have served our military families. However, the constant negativity from students became harder and harder to take, ditto the bureaucratic stupidity forced on teachers and students by administrators who haven’t taught in years and years, if ever. There’s much that needs fixing in our education system, which increasingly treats students like data points to be manipulated rather than humans with varied strengths, backgrounds, and goals.

What triggered the need for change?

In 2014, I was offered the chance to take early retirement. It was one of those moments when my inner wisdom leapt up, pumped her fist in the air, and hooted, “Hot damn!” By this point, writing had become my main hobby, and I was already dreaming about the day when I could become a full-time author. I just didn’t expect that door to open for a while longer.

Where are you now?

I live with my husband (whom I met while teaching in Germany, so I guess he’s my high school sweetheart) in Tacoma, Washington. I love the cool, wet weather of the Pacific Northwest, similar to the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up—and to Germany. I love the relaxed aesthetic of PNW folks, few of whom try to impress with flashy clothes and artificial enhancements. I love Tacoma’s lively arts scene. So many chances to enjoy live music and celebrate creativity in all its forms.

My days consist of writing and writing-adjacent chores, all carried out in my little home office. I have two published contemporary romance books with The Wild Rose Press, another coming next spring, and a fourth taking shape on my computer. After so many years of pouring all my energy into coaching others, it’s so satisfying to focus on my own creativity. Life is grand!

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

Research before you leap. Dip your toes while you still have a day job, and see if the reality matches your rosy expectations. Talk to people who are already doing what you want to do.

That said, don’t cling so tightly to your plan that you miss unexpected opportunities. You never know when a door might open that will lead you somewhere marvelous.

When your time is finally your own to control, it’s easy to fill up your creative hours with errands, social groups, and busy work. Allow yourself time to find your own rhythm—don’t overschedule out of habit.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

The Book Nirvana Series

Steamy contemporary romance set in an indie bookshop in Eugene, Oregon, because bookshops are sexy!

Letting him inside could be her salvation…or her undoing.

Clara Martelli clings to Book Nirvana, the Oregon bookshop she and her late husband Jared built together. When rising rents and corporate competition threaten its survival, her best hope is their extensive erotica collection, locked behind a red door. In dreams and signs, her dead husband tells her it’s time to open that door and move on. When a dark and handsome stranger’s powerful magnetism jolts her back to life and he wants a look at the treasures of that secret room, she can’t help but want to show him more.

Professor Nick Papadopoulos is looking for historical erotica. Book Nirvana’s collection surpasses his wildest dreams, and so does its lovely owner. A widower, he understands Clara’s battle with guilt, but their searing chemistry is too strong to resist. Besides, he will only be in town for two weeks, not long enough for her to see beyond the scandal that haunts his past.

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Fierce passion or long-cherished dreams…she can’t hang onto both.

She hates average…he’s as average as they come.

High school history teacher Doug Garvey is trying to enjoy his last few weeks of summer vacation, but receiving his final divorce decree hits him harder than expected. After a brief fling fizzles, he fears love just isn’t in the cards for him. If only he could find someone who’s real, someone interested in something beyond herself…maybe a new running partner who can keep up with his more carnal appetite. When sexy, straight-talking Laurel runs across his path, he dares to hope again.

He’s done with social-climbing posers…she’s ambitious and has big dreams.

Fired from an art gallery, Laurel Jepsen shelves her pursuit of an art career in San Francisco to help her beloved great aunt Maxie move into assisted living. While out on a morning run, she’s harassed by a group of teens until a tall, broad-shouldered hottie steps in, pretending to be her boyfriend with a kiss that makes her wish it were true. But she’s only passing through, not looking for a relationship.

Their fierce chemistry burns up the sheets—and the couch, the shower, the forest—but falling in love would ruin everything. Laurel can’t stay in Eugene, and he can’t leave. Doug’s only hope is to convince her the glittery life she’s after could blind her to the opportunities already in her path.

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Author Bio

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.

Where to find Sadira…

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10 Ways to Build Writer Resilience

I’m happy to welcome mystery author and executive coach Melissa H. Blaine to the Power of 10 series. Today, Melissa shares valuable insights and advice about building writer resilience.

Here’s Melissa!

What’s the bravest writing action you took today?

Creative work is filled with failure and setbacks. Rejections. Bad reviews. Publishers closing. Declining sales. Unsupportive family and friends. The list could go on. Every time we fill up a page with words or put paint to a canvas or pull images into a design we are taking a risk. Because creative work like writing is subjective, nothing that we create will be loved by everyone. Likewise, our writing or other creative work always includes some of ourselves in it. We’re not just laying our work on the line; we’re laying bare a piece of ourselves for the world to see and judge too.

Building resilience is important for writers as we navigate the challenges. Being able to bounce back from adversity is a skill that we can develop and nurture—one that will keep us writing when things look bleak or we don’t believe in ourselves. We may not feel brave or resilient or tough, but finding the paths ahead make us all of those things every day.

Looking to nurture your resilient spirit? Here are ten ways to find resilience in those challenging moments.

1. Acknowledge the Emotions

Emotions happen. As humans, we’re going to feel disappointment, anger, doubt, shame, and hurt when setbacks happen. Identifying and acknowledging what we’re feeling can not only be a healthy response but also help us move forward. By accepting the emotions, we give ourselves that chance to learn how to manage it in healthy ways and the acceptance can take away some of the destructive powers that negative emotions can have. Did a writing group member take a snipe at you that made you angry or upset? Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel it. Our emotions can be complicated creatures so getting to the bottom of things might reveal truths that help us move forward.

2. Find the Comeback Stories

Whenever we face a setback or a challenging event like a rejection, it can be easy to feel alone or to compare ourselves to other successful writers. The truth is that all of us struggle at some point. Look for the comeback stories in the people you admire or see around you. Maybe they have their own string of agent rejections or have had their publisher close the doors. Finding the stories of others who have gone through what you’re experiencing can not only make you feel less alone but also reassure you that the rejection, setback, or bad review doesn’t have to be the end of your story either.

3. Take the Big Picture

Setbacks, rejection, and bad reviews can feel like the end of the world. In the moment, it can feel like we won’t recover or that there’s no way forward. Taking the big picture can help you focus beyond the moment. Maybe your dream agent didn’t love your book, but there are many other agents out there who might love it. A missed deadline can be defeating in the moment, but might not even be noteworthy in five years. Try to see above the fray. Will this matter in two months or two years? Does it really close off the paths forward or do you need to shift a little to find a way through?

4. Use Your Strengths

Everyone of us has character strengths that we draw on every day. These include positive traits like hope, humor, curiosity, perseverance, and bravery. When negativity seems like it’s hanging around us like a dementor waiting to pounce, consciously using a character strength can help you summon your patronus to banish it away. Learn to recognize your signature strengths and you’ll get better about being about to call them up to help you rebound. Imagine that you’re on a writers’ panel at the biggest conference of the year in front of your favorite author and you fall getting into your chair and then spill a glass of water down the front of your shirt. Disaster? Maybe not. You call up your humor strength, crack a joke, and your favorite author invites you to lunch.

5. Look for the Lesson

Whenever we fall flat, it can be difficult to peer into the dark and look for the truth. We’d rather hide or blame it on someone else. It’s OK to take some time, but don’t forget to look for a lesson in there. Does that hurtful bad review have a grain of truth in there that can help you improve the next book? Is the feedback from your critique group the same week after week? Is that typo that haunts your dreams a symptom of rushing through things or not hiring a copyeditor? Finding the lesson can help you improve and grow, as well as giving you good practice in learning from the adversity.

6. Fall Forward

We all fail. At some point, something isn’t going to work or go our way. Falling forward means that we take what we’ve learned through the failure and fall forward with growth, new insights, and better skills. What we try might not work, but it can move us forward, if we let it. Maybe that story you wrote isn’t garnering rave reviews from your critique group, but you gained experiences and new insights so you’ll fall forward from where you started. If you fall forward, you use those experiences and insights to help you succeed on the next step.

7. Write Your Own Comeback

What if you could write your own success story? Try journaling about your next steps and successes in the future. Writing down what you’re feeling or where you want to go can help give you perspective about what’s happening. Research has also shown that talking to yourself in the third person or as “you” can help people perform in stressful situations better than if they use “I.” Give it a try in your journaling. It can help reduce feelings of shame as well as help us be more objective in our feedback to ourselves.

8. Build Your Community

We can’t always choose who we interact with but finding your community can help you foster resilience. Look for people who you can trust to both give you honest answers as well as who want the best for you with no strings attached. Your inner writing circle can have an effect on your self-talk so it’s good to be choosy and find your people, including the people that you hire and entrust your work to like editors, coaches, and marketers. Lean on your community in those moments when you need support and a boost up. That’s what friends are for, after all.

9. Use the Muse

Those hard moments can drain our creative well. It’s not unusual to find your creativity flagging along with your spirits after you read that not-great review or your book isn’t selling well. Sagging creativity then feeds into the negativity because if you can’t write, you can’t find your way out of the pit. Bolster your muse by doing something new, taking yourself on an artist’s date, or getting in some quiet time. Your muse might not make a sudden, dramatic appearance, but a new idea or story will eventually start itching in your brain. Give yourself the space and use the muse to pull yourself back into writing.

10. Delete the Doubt

Whenever those setbacks happen, imposter syndrome likes to show up right behind them. We doubt our ability to write, to be a writer, to succeed as a writer. Deleting the self-doubt that tries to keep us from moving forward can help us bounce back quicker and easier. If we believe that we are resilient and brave, we’ll act more resilient and brave. If we know how to kick self-doubt to the curb, we can find that healthier, stronger relationship with ourselves and our writing that lets us skip over some of those challenges like a pebble on water.

Online Course

Is doubt holding you back from writing or publishing your book, blog, or dissertation? Writing is hard; doubt makes it harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Delete the Doubt is an online course designed to help you learn to use good doubt productively and banish the bad doubt from your writing life. When you embrace the good doubt, you’ll be able to use it—because that’s where creative genius happens—and spot when good doubt starts to turn to self-doubt so that you can stop it in its tracks before it stops you. Through the course, you’ll develop your own roadmap for deleting doubt so that you can draw on the strategies that work best for you. Choose the Delete the Doubt course option that works best for you: course only, two-month course program with weekly group coaching and discussions, and premium three-month course with 1-1 coaching sessions each week.

Get 50% off any course through February 17, 2020.
Visit this website and use the code prelaunchhalfoff.

Bio

Melissa Haveman (aka Melissa H. Blaine) is a mystery author, Michigander, and executive coach. She has almost eighteen years experience as a developmental editor and writer, and she’s also served as the Director of Content for an academic publisher. She’s taken hundreds of writing projects from start to finish, working with experienced and beginner writers alike.

Melissa is the owner of Creatively Centered, an executive coaching business that specializes in making remote work, work. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the SinC-Guppy chapter, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (GRRWG), as well as the Center for Executive Coaching and the International Coach Federation.

Her sociology degrees have led to many hours researching gravestones, urban legends, and how villains are created in history. When she’s not in front of her computer screen, Melissa is off hiking with her (hell)hound.

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