Inspired by Two Francescas

Twenty-five years ago, I sat with eyes glued to the big screen as Meryl Streep assumed the role of Francesca Johnson, an Italian war bride, in the romantic drama, The Bridges of Madison County. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, the film focuses on a four-day love affair between two middle-aged lovers, Francesca and Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photojournalist brilliantly played by Clint Eastwood.

Having spent years in a passionless marriage, Francesca falls deeply in love with Robert and contemplates leaving her loyal husband and teenage children.

Continue reading on Peggy Jaeger’s blog.


More Inspiration from Cheryl Strayed

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed. This delightful collection contains more than 100 inspirational quotations from Cheryl’s books.

Here are some of my favorites:



Turning Experience Into a Belly Laugh

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Shirley Goldberg sharing her inspiring reinvention story and new release, Middle Ageish.

Here’s Shirley!

Thank you, Joanne, for having me on your blog. It’s always fun to talk to readers.

So why a book about a woman who starts over, moves from Paris, France to New Haven, CT, goes back to school, and online dates?

Well, I sort of did the same thing. I’d been living in Greece for eleven years and my marriage was failing.

What triggered my decision was a mundane exchange between me and my husband one evening over what was the plan for dinner. And it was in the middle of that conversation that I realized I no longer wanted to be married. A realization that had been coming for a long time.

I moved back to Connecticut to start over, went back to school and started dating.

While writing the book––and talking about my characters as if they were friends––my real friends asked questions. By this time, they were familiar with the book’s heroine, Sunny Chanel, who was online dating. Over happy hour appetizers and wine, they’d pepper me for answers. “How much is autobiographical?” “Was that a true story about the 300-pound man Sunny dated?” “Did you really go on six meets in one week?”

Sure, there’s a bit of me in Middle Ageish, because making fiction and turning experience into a belly laugh is much more fun than humans should have. And I’m having the time of my life, pumping my checkered past for “copy” as Nora Ephron (or was it her mother?) called everything that was story material.

Starting over is a real thing. It resonates with happily married women because they have no idea about how tough online dating can be. And they’re fascinated and glad they aren’t dating. Divorced women, on the other hand, are intimated by the pitfalls and stories they’ve heard.

Lucky for them I’ve got a website chock full of tips and suggestions for anyone started over. There are articles for men, too, such as how to entice a woman to email him back, written with Peter, a friend of mine who’s been around the dating block a few times. These days he’s distance dating, so I’m planning on interviewing him now that the world of online dating has shifted.

Thinking about venturing out there? When it comes to online dating, remember that nothing counts until you meet. Emailing and zooming aren’t dating, but they’re a good start.

You’re never too old to start new.

Blurb

Tagline: Don’t leave home without your sense of humor.

Sunny Chanel’s marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says “au revoir” Paris and croissants, and “hello” cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles.

Encouraged by her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She’s middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can’t forget calls with an unexpected request.

Excerpt from Middle Ageish

“Last night was number nine,” I said, en route to a job interview. In the car, I shared recent experiences with my best friend Isabel while she kept me company on the phone. School was out, and I’d caught her prepping in her classroom.

“You’ve reduced your meets to numbers?”

“What’s the point in names? I’m not seeing any of these guys again, and you just get confused.” I pulled into the Waffle Cone parking lot and unhooked my seat belt.

“True. But you’re turning into a cynic.”

“As soon as I find my someone special, I’ll tell you his name.”

“Sounds good. So what about your number nine?” Isabel had met her guy online.

“We traded tales from the trenches and he—”

“Trenches?” Her voice rose. “What trenches?”

“Dating trenches, what other kinds of trenches do you think?” Isabel is way too sheltered. “He met eight women, all in one day. In a coffee shop in Hartford. Two coffee shops. Back to back appointments.”

“You are joking.” She cackled, not a pleasant sound.

“He ran from one coffee shop to the other. Had it all timed—half an hour in one coffee shop, and then he’d run a block to the second, and so forth.”

“People do these things?” Isabel asked. She’s lost touch, been with Roberto far too long.

“Oh, lots of weird behavior. I thought it was bold. In fact, I can’t believe what some guys tell me. And do. Like this guy––” I opened the car door, drooling for a vanilla cone with sprinkles.

“Don’t tell me,” she snorted. “I don’t want to know.”

“This other guy has no boundaries and he––”

She hung up.

Oh well. I slid out of the car. Isabel didn’t have a clue about my secret online dating life.

Buy/Read Links

Amazon | Apple | Nook/Barnes and Noble | Google | Kobo | Goodreads | BookBub

About the Author

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look at living single and dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

Visit my website for another excerpt from the book. Sign up and grab a copy of Happy Hour, a short story about an online meet and a tiny misunderstanding. https://midagedating.com/

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon Author Page


It’s Time to Choose a Fresh Response

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. In a recent email, they shared this timely advice:

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, pause for a few seconds, take a few deep breaths, and make space for a healthy change of state—for something new to enter…

It’s time to consciously redirect your focus by taking it away from something unchangeable that drags you down, and instead zero it in on something small and actionable that moves you forward in the present moment.

Nothing is stopping you right now—nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts and reactions to “how life is.”

Of course, you may not be responsible for everything that happened to you in the past, or everything that’s happening to you today, but you need to be responsible for undoing the thinking and behavioral patterns these circumstances create.

It’s about thinking better so you can ultimately live better.

Truly, the greatest weapon you have against pain is your ability to pause, breathe, and choose one present response over another—to train your mind to make the best of what you’ve got in front of you, even when it’s far less than you expected.

YOU CAN change the way you think and respond. And once you do, you can master a new way to be.

The bottom line is that life will get better when YOU get better. Start investing in yourself mentally and physically from this moment forward. Choose a fresh response! Make it a priority to learn and grow a little bit every day by building positive rituals and sticking to them. The stronger you grow and become, the better your life will feel in the long run.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.


Third Time’s A Charm

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Darlene Deluca sharing her multi-act life and new release, The Story Between Us.

Here’s Darlene!

Hello, everyone! Thanks for the opportunity to share my story – the one I’m living and the one I wrote! As far as career goes, fiction-writing is my third act.

In a way, I’ve always been traveling toward this path. English was always my favorite subject in school. Anyone remember the SRA reading program? Those color-coded reading levels that indicated just how big a reading nerd, er, expert, you were? Ha! Competitive reading. I loved it, and was almost always at the head of the class. As a kid, one of my favorite places to hang out was a small local library within walking distance of my home. Once I got a little older, say junior high, I’d take the bus downtown to the main library to expand my horizons – more books are better!!

Anyway, all of that led me to major in Journalism in college. And that launched me into my first act as a newspaper reporter. I was a reporter for a suburban newspaper outside of Kansas City where I learned a lot about how city government works. I covered numerous small suburbs, attended a gazillion planning commission meetings, park board meetings and city council meetings. But it was a low-paying job and the schedule had me working two or three nights a week. After a few years, I was ready to move on.

That led me to Act Two – Corporate America. I was on the ground floor of the move into desktop publishing. For many years, I wrote articles and produced newsletters for companies, their employees, and their customers. For 21 years, I was an editor, art director and producer for Hallmark Cards, Inc. in Kansas City. For about 17 of those years, I enjoyed the flexibility of working part time. As a mom, that was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to be more involved with my kids and their school activities. I was a Girl Scout leader, band mom, debate mom, soccer mom, tennis mom, room mom, etc. Though the part-time status kept me from climbing the ladder and a few levels of promotions (I mean, you can’t be serious about your work and only do it part time, right?), I wouldn’t have traded it.

And then 2009 happened. The economy went south, the market tanked, and people lost their jobs. I survived several rounds of cuts, but then it happened – I got my “downsizing” notice.

Long story short, it turned out to be the thing that released me and pushed me on to new, more exciting endeavors. I’m not a big fan of change. If the layoff hadn’t occurred I would probably still be plugging away at the same corporate job that I’d done for ten years.

That brings me to Act Three – writing books. At the time, the job market was not great for a 50-year-old woman. I had a Journalism degree, but all my clips were ancient because I’d moved into art direction and product development. And though I had a lot of art background and experience, I didn’t have the official art degree required for those kinds of jobs. Kind of between a rock and a hard place. The answer? Reinvent myself and forget Corporate America! (I even changed my name.) 🙂

So, I began writing novels. Interestingly, my new book was released a few days ago on my 60th birthday. That’s right, I “gave birth” at age 60! 🙂 Wow. It’s still a shock to say that number. The new book, “The Story Between Us,” is a sweet romance published by The Wild Rose Press. I have seven other full-length novels that are women’s fiction or contemporary romance.

Earlier this year, my plan was to cash out a small IRA and use it to celebrate my birthday. I was close to booking my reservation to attend a writer’s conference in Hawaii. And I’d begun researching VRBO options in Palm Springs and Palm Beach for a long winter getaway. Sadly, Covid-19 hit, and all of my plans came to an abrupt, screeching halt. Sigh. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got the email from The Wild Rose Press saying my book release date was on my birthday. Yay! Something to celebrate!

My advice for anyone thinking about pursuing a second act? If you can afford it, go for it! You never know when you’ll get another opportunity. Also, look for the positive in change. Sometimes it feels like a loss. You might be sad or angry or scared. But it might be the nudge you need to explore or develop that next act!

Tagline

She sees a bestseller and heartwarming keepsake; he sees exploitation.

Book Blurb

Her agent warned her not to get attached to a fan. But children’s book author Kristen Hanover is about to break the rules. Kristen meets a young boy who is a victim of a tragic accident and is drawn into the heartbreaking situation.

Six years ago, Reed Armstrong never imagined he’d actually become guardian of his sister’s boy. Now he is, and most days he’s not sure he’s up to the task.

When he and Dylan meet Kristen, Reed downplays his nephew’s crush on the author. But as their lives become unexpectedly intertwined, he finds himself captivated as well. Trouble is, she sells stories for a living. Does she truly care about Dylan…and Reed, or is she using them for her own career advancement?

Book Excerpt

Reed pulled his keys out of his pocket. In the doorway, he folded his arms and leaned against the casing. “Can I ask you a question?”

Chest pounding, Kristen forced a smile. “Of course.” She took a couple of steps toward him and braced a hand against the back of the sofa.

“Is writing your only reason for being here?”

Heavy, charged air closed around her. How to answer that? Honestly, of course, but…how honestly? “Well, writing is my goal for sure. But—” She glanced around the room before looking at him again. “I’d love to ride my horse, er, Star, and spend some time with…with people I like, too.”

As he pushed off from the door, a slow grin spread across his face. “Sounds like an excellent plan.” He sauntered closer. About a foot away, he stopped. “You’re good with dinner at the main house tonight? Don’t let Dylan bully you. You decide.”

She gave a shaky laugh. That was the plan, right? She couldn’t remember for sure. Her brain was going fuzzy. “I’d love to,” she managed to say.

He leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen could only nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa. She ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?

Buy links

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes and Noble | Apple

Author Bio

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.

Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.

The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

Social Media Links

Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


20 Ways to Double Your Writing Productivity

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

If your writing has stalled, here are 20 ways to increase productivity.



On Failing Upward

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

There are no “instant” paths to success. Here are four backstories that inspire and motivate me to stay focused on my goals:

Michael Jordan, a perennial optimist, once said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game’s winning shot…and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.”

The first Harry Potter book was turned down by eight agents, and when J.K. Rowling finally got a deal, she was warned by the publisher, “You’ll never make any money with children’s books.”

Jay Leno‘s high school grades were so bad that his guidance counselor recommended that he drop out and go into manual labour. His loving, but no-nonsense mother sat down with him one day and gave him the following advice, “Look, you’re not very good looking and you’re not very smart, so you’ll have to do twice as much as everyone else to succeed.”

Albert Einstein failed his college exams and was advised by a teacher to drop out of school. She said, “You’ll never amount to anything, Einstein.”


Midsummer Wisdom

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

As summer winds down, take some time to reflect upon recent events and contemplate the future.



Exploring a New Craft

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Jeny Heckman sharing her writing journey and new release, The Warrior’s Progeny.

Here’s Jeny!

Briefly describe your first act.

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. My husband and I eloped after knowing each other three months. three months after we were married, I became pregnant with my daughter, Paisley. So, we had our daughter and nine days later had our first anniversary. Twenty months passed and we had our son, Charlie and I started a business. We dug in and had a fantastic and exciting life together filled with friends, sports, the business, charities and fun.

What triggered the need for change?

The kids graduated from high school and our very busy life came to an abrupt halt. It was hard enough saying goodbye to my daughter at college, but when my son left two years later, the house became very quiet. I had written my first book and self-published it but didn’t really know much about the business. I had extra time on my hands and was interested in exploring this new craft.

Where are you now?

After I published the first one, I wanted to try to write a series. I was going to a lot of classes and conferences. At the conferences, people go to a kind of cattle call where they pitch their books to agents, editors and publishers. I didn’t have a book yet, so I pitched an idea for a series on Greek mythology and modern-day descendants. Kind of a Percy Jackson meets Nora Roberts. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and I began the series, just releasing book two July 27th.

Last Monday, I began writing book three and will have a side novella come out around Christmas time. I also will be turning all my books into audio next year.

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

Well, I’m no expert, but I wasn’t prepared for all the marketing that goes into a book and find myself continually playing catch up. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve written two or three books first, while establishing a simple media presence. The editing process takes a long time too, so I would have started with book one and got that out while doing the time consuming editing and marketing, all the while knowing I didn’t have to be writing the next book so quickly because I had two or three in the coffers. It just gives you time rather than writing one, editing, and releasing, then writing, editing and releasing.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

My favorite quote of all time is from the movie, Hope Floats. Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Remember that when you find yourself at the beginning and give hope a chance to float up, and it will.

My other favorite quote is from Betty Jean Eadie, author of Embraced by the Light. I met her once and she is amazing. She said…Everyone is a writer, some people just don’t know their own story.

I don’t know if she knows how much that resonated with me, but it was very powerful.

Tagline

If love dies, can it be reborn…only stronger?

Blurb

Colton Stone is a newly traded tight end whose reputation is as battered as his football helmet. When he receives a vacation invitation from his new teammates, he accepts. There he collides with Dr. Lillian Morgan, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, and doesn’t know what to think.

A widow with two children, Lilly is looking forward to her friends’ wedding. When she meets Colton Stone, his arrogant attitude only makes her long for the love she took for granted. Lilly struggles between letting go of her perfect past for an uncertain future.

Strange events occur, out of the realm of normal consciousness. When black energy touches their world Colt and Lilly become the pawns of the immortal Greek gods. Is the love developing between them natural, or part of a larger prophecy?

Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle | Nook | iBooks

Author Bio

Award-winning author, Jeny Heckman, was born in Bellingham, Washington, and was the youngest of two daughters. She met her husband, Jeff, in August 1992, and eloped three months later, at Magen’s Bay, on St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

She wrote her first book, the Catch, in a few short months but took several years before she gained the courage to self-publish it at her son’s urging, and her love for writing began.

In 2018, Jeny knew her next project would be a series that showed adults could have adventures in the paranormal-fantasy genre too. So, she created the Heaven & Earth series, a story of doomed Greek gods and their only salvation, their modern-day descendants. Her first book of the series, the Sea Archer, was immediately picked up by the New York publishing house, the Wild Rose Press, and won, “Best in Category” from the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards.

In the year 2020, Jeny released, Dancing Through Tears, a short story from the anthology, Australia Burns: Volume Two, highlighting the Route 91 massacre from the perspective of one family at the concert, and at Mandalay Bay. She also intends to release, the Warrior’s Progeny, and Dee’s Cornucopia, in 2020, continuing the Heaven & Earth Series.

Jeny lives in Washington State with her husband of over twenty-eight years.

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15 Ways to Find Writing Inspiration

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Author and videographer Jody Vitek shares fifteen excellent suggestions for finding inspiration.