From Pastries to Publishing

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Sally Brandle sharing her inspiring journey from pastry chef to author and her upcoming novel, Torn by Vengeance.
(Available for pre-order)

Here’s Sally!

Bakery in Carcassone, Italy featuring Italian brioche

Pastry enabler appears in the description tag on several of my social media accounts. My mom taught me to bake simple scratch breads, cookies, and basic pastries. Being comfortable in front of an oven, I enjoyed the privilege of developing the training program for a family-owned commercial French pastry manufacturing company. European style doughs including buttery puff pastry, Danish, brioche, croissant, pie, and cinnamon rolls-in the unbaked form-became my canvas.

My college degree in teaching special education/behavior disorders trained me to embrace different learning styles in order to create a viable curriculum. Holding pastry classes allowed my creative side and teaching background to merge. I enjoyed business travel to seven states, including Montana where my first series takes place. Bakers, chefs, caterers, and restaurant owners shared techniques of shaping, cutting, and filling—I’ll divulge a few baking tips in my third book, The Targeted Pawn.

Guest Instructor at a Local Technical College

After nine years of standing for four or five hours to train, the damage from previous car accidents caught up with me. I hung up the professional apron and brought my antique rolling pin home, but I’m not a watch TV and eat bon bons type. I’d written a romantic suspense story on a dare and decided to pursue writing as a second act. Six books and a boatload of classes later, I’d contracted to a publisher The Hitman’s Mistake, the first story in my Love Thrives in Emma Springs series. Holding a book you’ve created is akin to holding a perfect brioche torte rustica—thought, patience, and many layers enhance the creation. In the publishing realm, rumor has it that after a million written words you’re getting the hang of it!

All books in this series contain a beloved equine element—long-eared Red, tiny Whinny, and rescued Pal. Whatever breed, my advice is the old adage, ‘don’t put the cart before the horse.’ Write whenever you get the chance, but I’d recommend incorporating finances into planning a second act as an author. I’m fortunate to be partnered with a supportive man who worked over forty years for a company now providing us with a pension. The lucky few who create best sellers straight away gain attention and my admiration, but I’m pragmatic. It’s tough to earn a living as an author, and after you’ve done five rounds of changes with your talented editor, you have a different appreciation for the book on your Kindle costing a few dollars.

Successful second acts are commonplace, especially in fiction. In The Hitman’s Mistake, Miranda gets another chance at a loving family after being ripped out of her inconspicuous life. In Torn by Vengeance, Corrin’s hero convinces her to shed distrust and work together to fight for love. I’m presently working on The Targeted Pawn, where Elon pushes through insecurity to defy convention and prove herself by welding her way into a tough rancher’s heart. These women need practice to succeed. In moving to any second act, you need confidence in your skills. Here’s John Wooden’s 4 Laws of Learning: explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition. If you have pastry baking questions, contact me through my website and I’ll be happy to help.

Happy trails.


Look over your shoulder. He’s watching.

Corrin Patten is solidly on a path to make partner in a prestigious Seattle law firm when an ominous threat from her past turns deadly. She can handle circumstances necessitating a temporary move to the backwater town of Emma Springs, but its charming physician is another matter, as she’s issued a permanent moratorium on men.

Dr. Kyle Werner revels in trust from patients he regularly treats in a community he’s never wished to leave. Yet, Emma Springs lacks one thing, a woman to share his perfectly bucolic life. He’s read about pheromone attraction, but never experienced desire until meeting Corrin. They make an unbeatable team, but convincing her that his interest is sincere while they dissect layers of deceit requires the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Can they defeat the wealthy stalker bent on mistaken revenge against Corrin and destruction of the peaceful Montana setting?

If you thrive on tenacious heroines, sizzling attraction, and a shadowy villain with a grudge, you’ll love this prescription for thrills.


Interview and Reviews from…

USA Today | Haynet | Night Owl Reviews| Tome Tender Reviews

Where to find Sally…

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

With Lance on his 28th birthday


13 Inspiring Second Acts

Originally, I had planned to devote six months, possibly a year to the Second Acts Series. This was the plan concocted during the summer of 2013: Use the second acts of real-life women to launch an ex-mermaid’s reinvention story in my debut novel, Between Land and Sea. As more women offered to share their stories, I found myself unable to terminate the series. To date, I have 100+ second act stories on my blog.

This past year, thirteen women from across Canada, Australia, and the United States shared their reinvention stories.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.

Growing Up

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Carly Jordynn sharing the transformational journey she has taken with her daughter and her new release, Forest of the Mist: Guardians.

Here’s Carly!

Growing Up may sound like a weird title for somebody in my age group, but that is how I am looking at my life right now. I am a single mom to a daughter that I adopted fourteen years ago. Back then I was immature for my age. I had freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I traveled. I went out on dates or with friends. If I wanted to stay home all weekend and binge watch Harry Potter, I could do that. Then I became a mom.

When my daughter came into my life it became a game changer. Don’t get me wrong, I still had fun, but I had to cut back on traveling and I limited my going out time. When she started school, it was like going through school again with her. My daughter has ADD so I have to help her with homework a lot. On any given day you could hear me say as I left work, “I don’t want to go home and do my homework!” We finally got out of elementary school and entered middle school. Oh my gosh! I hated middle school the first time around and I can assure you I am not enjoying it much this time either.

I hear myself all the time saying, “I can’t wait until we’re in high school.” That’s coming up next year and has opened a whole other can of worms. The questions! The endless questions about boys, dating, college, dances, did I mention boys? I’m beginning to think middle school may not be too bad.

So, how does this change me you ask? In several ways I get to relive the best memories I have of those times. I’m getting a refresher course in all subjects. I’ve discovered some of the classes I detested in my day; I am enjoying now. Maybe it’s because my daughter and I do it together and that makes the difference. I’m sure the fact that I’m not being graded this time around helps too  I am more patient, I find humor in some of the silliest things, I enjoy hearing her talk about her friends. I like watching her grow and mature into a beautiful young lady. We are closer now. We not only have a mother/daughter relationship, but we are also friends. I like this new dynamic to the traditional relationship.

Another way I have changed during this time is I am growing as a person. I am definitely smarter with all the classes I’ve been through…again. I find that my opinions are not as hardcore as they once were. I am more flexible in my outlook on life and towards people. I have been overweight most of my life and now I am on the path to a healthier me. I feel better than I have in a long time. My writing career is starting to really take off and that provides me with deep satisfaction. I keep telling my daughter she can do or be anything she wants to be and now I actually believe that. I have more confidence to chase my dreams as I watch my daughter chase hers.

Reinvention, it can happen at any age and proves it’s never too late to capture your dreams.


Davy Kyle is in a ton of trouble. That’s really nothing new for Davy as he has been in trouble his whole life. Davy was born in the alternate realm, Paradise Valley. As a result, he has some freakish powers such as rapid growth in body and intelligence, the ability to create portals to transport to the alternate realms, and the ability to know what others are thinking.

During his last adventure, Davy learned he would one day have a co-ruler in the realms and her name would be Kelly. Through a bit of impromptu eavesdropping, he learned that his friends from Paradise Valley, Connor and Lily O’Brien, would name their young daughter Kelly. Shocked at this coincidence, Davy sets out to determine how Kelly will arrive in Paradise since you have to be in a coma to enter the alternate worlds.

Kelly O’Brien was a spoiled six-year-old when family friend and confidant Davy Kyle kidnapped her through a portal to an alternate reality. While there, Davy aged her to sixteen and explained that one day she would be his co-ruler there. While she understood and looked forward to that day, she asked Davy to return her to six and her parents. He did as she asked, but invoked his powers to start accelerated aging and maturity. The alternate realms recognized Kelly and helped with that aging process.

Now Kelly’s parents have enrolled her in high school in the hope she will meet somebody else, fall in love, and forget about Davy and Paradise Valley. What they don’t know is Kelly’s determination to be with Davy no matter the cost.

What Davy does to ensure Kelly’s arrival in Paradise is sooner rather than later will test the ties of his family and friends in reality and may cost him the love of his life.


Bio and Links

Carly Jordynn is a writer from Northern Kentucky who loves to weave tales of fantasy, paranormal, and romance. When she isn’t writing a book, she enjoys reading, going out with friends, hanging out with her daughter, and living life to the fullest.

Carly loves to travel. You can find her at various conferences and other author events throughout the year. Her hobbies include: travel, photography, reading, and party planning.

Carly is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog

Today, tomorrow, and Sunday–December 7, 8, and 9–Travelers, Book 1 in the Forest of the Mist series is free on Kindle. Find out more here.

Joanne here!

Carly, Thank you for sharing your reinvention story. All the best to you and your daughter as you continue on this journey. Congrats on your new release.

A Mid-Life Revelation

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have educator and author Jodi Rath sharing her multi-act life and debut novel, Pineapple Upside Down Murder.

Here’s Jodi!

As a five-year-old, I used to “play” magazine by using my stuffed animals and my dolls as my staff while taking my mom’s old magazines and cutting them up and pasting them back together. At seven, I signed up to win a set of encyclopedias and won! I used to randomly pick an encyclopedia and a page and read the article on a topic then write a summary and pretend I was a journalist. I knew back then I wanted to be a writer.

Life happened, and I ended up married at age eighteen to my first husband. I took any jobs I could get to pay the bills at the time while pursuing an undergrad degree in English Literature. I still had dreams to write! Again, life took over, and I went from working in insurance to advertising to a vice president of a credit union. I was never fulfilled. I needed a job that paid money too. So, I pursued my M.A. in education and became a high school English teacher. I’ve been in education for twenty years now. I’ve loved every minute of teaching!

Recently, I moved from teaching high school to entering higher education on more my terms. I work for a university teaching online, self-paced courses to Ohio teachers. I found that left time for writing. I began writing for educational affiliations, and that has turned to write a book on Social and Emotional Learning titled Voices, Ghosts, Residue, Revolution: Using SEL to Breakthrough Trauma with America’s Students.

August of 2017, I began to play around with the thought of starting my own business combining education and mysteries—my two passions. As of February 2018, MYS ED LLC (Mysteries and Education) was formed. I now have the rights to the courses I create and can expand to teach to multiple universities if I’d like to do so. I write for different educational affiliations, blogs, and publishers.

My latest venture has been writing a mystery series. For Christmas in 2017, my grandma gave me her cast iron skillet that was 70-years-old, and she’s only ever made pineapple upside down cake in it. I shared it on Facebook, and it got so many likes and comments. I decided to write the cozy mystery series The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. There will be fourteen books in the series, and book one comes out this November 23, 2018, and is titled Pineapple Upside Down Murder. I’m currently working on two flash fiction pieces to offer as freebies for the book; they are based on the characters as kids and as teenagers leading into book one.

Currently, I’m 45 years old. I’m married to my second husband who is my soul mate, the man of my dreams. We have the most amazing kitty family, with seven cats. I am fulfilled in my personal life and my career. I love my business. I work hard at it, but it is all fun! I’ve heard horror stories about the mid-life crisis at this age. This is not my experience at all. I find myself going through a mid-life revelation.


Introducing Jolie Tucker, an introverted yet passionate restaurant co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, who, at her best friend Ava’s request, steps out of her comfort zone which leads her into the shade of a killer in the small, cozy village of Leavensport, Ohio. The victim is the villages beloved Ellie Siler who runs the village sweet spot, Chocolate Capers. Jolie finds her grandma Opal is a prime suspect and goes on a search for answers only to find out that her families secret recipes may not belong to the Tucker family at all. Jolie’s job, family, and livelihood are all on the line. The answers are assuredly lethal.



Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Where to find Jodi…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

Joanne here!

Jodi, I love welcoming fellow teachers to this blog. Thanks for sharing your inspiring reinvention story. Best of luck with Pineapple Upside Down Murder.

From the Courtroom to the Classroom

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Patti Smith sharing her multi-act life and her debut novel, Head Over Feet in Love.

Here’s Patti!

I spent much of my life saying that I wanted to go be a lawyer. Almost everything I did was towards that end—do well on the LSAT, earn stellar grades in college, be involved in everything on campus. I went to a top 20 law school, passed the fifth hardest Bar in the nation and then I discovered that I hated practicing law.

Cue the “womp, womp” sound.

After giving it a go for eight years—taking increasingly lower paid jobs every year—I finally cried “uncle” and decided to try something else. I must say that I am extremely privileged; most people would not be able to make this change. But I had no debt from law school and was married so I had health benefits and could therefore work part-time in the legal field while figuring out what to do next.

By chance, I sent in an application to teach part-time at a nearby community college. I completely forgot about even applying and was therefore rather surprised to get a call at my job from the head of the Political Science department. He asked me to come in the next day for an interview. I got all ready, put on the one suit I had left, and prepared as best I could. When I walked in the department head handed me a book and some papers and said, “Here’s the text, a sample syllabus, can you teach the Friday classes?”

Boom. I was a teacher.

I now must mention that I spent my earlier years saying I would never, ever be a teacher. Who on earth could put up with the bratty behavior and the low pay? But something happened to me as I stepped up to the front of the room. For the first time in many years, I felt like I was in the right place. I started talking, teaching, sharing.

I spent two years in this job while I got certified to teach special education. Now it’s 13 years later and I’m still talking, teaching, sharing. The pay is low, the kids can be trying but ultimately, I love the profession and look forward to what each day brings.

Again, I realize how entirely privileged I am to get a second chance and I shared this with my main character. In her reality, she failed the Bar Exam and had to reinvent herself as a teacher. I think we’re both gonna be okay.

New Book Features Feminist, Gen X Heroine We’ve Been Waiting For…

Author Patti F. Smith’s feminist romance book, HEAD OVER FEET IN LOVE, will be released on November 14, 2018. Set in Ann Arbor and highlighting local places and events, Smith’s book features a 40something heroine who keeps moving forward, no matter how many setbacks her brain deals out to her—and that’s really a main focus of the book—that mental health issues are part of your life, but not the sum total. You can still fall in love, live your life, tell your story. “I’ve lived with mental health issues my whole life,” Smith says. “It’s important for people with invisible disabilities to see themselves represented, particularly in love stories. This is the book for Gen Xers, people with mental health issues, or anyone who thinks they can’t find love.”


Rebecca Slater is running away from a stay in a mental health facility, a writing career that never got off the ground, and a dying best friend. She has nowhere to go, but nothing can stop her—until she crashes her car into a tree (possibly on purpose, but probably not). Without a cell phone and in a strange town, Becca starts knocking on doors looking for someone to help her. The only person who answers her knock is Mike Riley.

Becca is a lot of things—feminist, teacher, wannabe author, person with a bipolar condition, lover of all things Gen X—but she has never been in love. Becca and Mike begin a friendship that neither realizes they need. Becca shares her unique life view with Mike, who becomes her friend, her muse, and the love of her life.

When Becca thinks Mike is dead she impulsively runs away again, this time to a place where she thinks no one will ever find her. She prepares for a life without her true love, committed to remaining mentally healthy and strong, continuing a story she now believes will have an unhappy ending.

Like other people with mental health issues, Becca struggles but also lives her life. She keeps moving forward no matter how many setbacks her brain deals, and that’s really the focus of her story: that mental health issues are part of your life, but not the total. You can still fall in love, have a great life, tell your story. And have a happy ending.

Opening Words

I’m driving away. I’m driving away as fast and as far as I can. I’m never going back. I’m going to drive until I get so far up north that no one will ever find me. I’m going to—

Except that I’m not. I can’t leave home now. Not with my best friend in a coma, not with my parents tripped out, not with all that’s going on. Not with bipolar disorder and anxiety and everything else. I’m still driving away, mind you, but I’ll have to go back. As soon as the rain lets up, I’ll turn around and head back to US-23. It’s really pouring though, and I don’t like driving in the rain, so I might have to find a hotel and stay the night. I’ll have to call my parents, except I don’t have a phone anymore, and with Rick in the hospital, it all means—

It means that I have no way to call anyone when my car hits the tree.



An enthusiastic Gen-Xer and feminist, Patti Smith writes about the generation sandwiched in-between the Boomers and Millennials. Lover of all things flannel, grunge, and slacker (although she is not a slacker herself!), Patti focuses her books on women in their 40s facing major challenges in life and love. Her heroines are independent women who don’t want to follow the life path of marriage-children but rather forge their own paths. Often they, like their writer, live with mental health issues but make it clear that they are not their illness and that their lives are full and rich.

Patti lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a former legal aid lawyer and current special education teacher. She is the author of two books: Images of America–Downtown Ann Arbor and A History of the People’s Food Co-op Ann Arbor and is co-authoring Forgotten Ann Arbor (due out in 2019). She writes for as many local publications as she can and is involved in many local commissions and activities. She is a frequent public speaker around town and is founder/curator of GROWN FOLKS READING (story time for adults) and HERSAY (all female variety show). She lives with her husband, Ken Anderson, her own Gen-X hero.

Where to find Patti…

Website | Twitter

Joanne here!

Patti, Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with sales.

Boots to Books

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author KD Dubois sharing an inspiring reinvention story and her debut novel, Daughter of the South Wind.

Here’s KD!

Military service is for the young—by the time you hit forty your body’s broken, your “last nerve” numbed-up over a decade ago, and even though you mastered your field you can’t keep up with the new technology, new policies, new everything. After I’d given four years at a service academy followed by twenty-four-and-a-half years as a commissioned officer, I knew my first act was complete. No longer did I hop out of bed in the mornings eager for a day’s adventure. Instead I rotated my ankles so I could shuffle the four feet from bed to bathroom and worried more about helping my parents who lived on the other side of the country more than I cared if my deployment bag was in order. My priorities had deviated from those of my profession. So, at the age of forty-six, I retired.

Two-month’s shy of turning eighteen, my parents had handed me over to my chosen service. The military as a profession, the military as a family, the military as a way of life defined my adulthood. Anticipating a rough transition to civilian-hood I did one of the smartest things I’ve done so far in this life—I gave myself permission to put off a job-hunt for up to a year in order to find my new passion. Yes, I had the liberty to do that because I had saved enough to carry me through such a long period. But a certain drive to “do something” existed within myself which, if left unchecked, would prompt me to stay within the professional comfort zone from my military life. Deep down, I knew my happiness depended on escaping from the defense industry as well as staying far away from my career specialty of logistics and supply chain management.

So, I moved from the snow-filled winters of Pennsylvania to sunny San Antonio, Texas, and took a few adult education courses offered by a local school district. That’s how I discovered writing. Not only did I enjoy it, I kinda had a knack for it…especially when it came to plotting out story arcs. With the help of new friends and a mentor, I started a novel. A year later Soul Mate Publishing accepted my pitch, and they released it on July 30th.

The first act of my life revolved around engineering studies, political-military strategies of nations, the movement of goods and people, and efficiency principles. Not since I gave up playing the clarinet as a high school freshman had I ever considered the arts as something more than a diversion. Now, I’m a writer, unashamed of my creativity—it’s as if one side of my brain lowered its volume and the other side finally came to life. For me, the second act is a whole new adventure because I get to discover something about myself as I put words into a manuscript, give life to characters, and build new worlds. I feel the energy from my youth again.

Not everyone can set aside work to discover a new passion. But, people can give themselves permission to seek out something to revive their spirit. Instead of saying, “that sounds interesting,” go ahead and and explore it. And if you’re looking for a new profession, don’t limit yourself to old personal paradigms. I took a writing class because I had always wanted to learn how folks created the novels I so loved to read. Never in a million years did I think I could do it, too, because, well, engineer geeks didn’t do words, just formulas. Oh, how wrong I was, and all it took was a little self-kindness, and trust in myself, to move forward.

In my book Daughter of the South Wind, a meteorologist must trust in herself, too, in order to find a hidden talent. I hope you enjoy her journey.


As if grad school wasn’t hard enough, Dawn Wynham battles her bossy sister’s interference with her private life and resists divulging one secret—her very realistic dreams about tornados and the man who morphs out of them, Nino. After chasing twisters for her meteorology degree, why not indulge in a little sexy fantasy to enhance the adrenaline highs?

Nino’s visits tantalize Dawn, his mythological viewpoints mysterious yet familiar. When make-believe blends into real-life, she must choose between the practicality of her mind and the yearnings of her heart or else lose everything she holds dear.

The most desirable path holds the greatest danger. Dawn knows what feels right in the depths of her soul—and hopes her decision doesn’t cast Nino away from her forever.


As I spun back to the tornado, my dress coiled around me. Fear coursed through my veins, mirroring the emotions of the two who felt like parents. The face and funnel dissipated. A lean, muscular man emerged from its core. He ran to me.

The view narrowed to a small circle, my periphery non-existent. Life-force energy drained from my body in a rush. I crumpled.

Strong arms caught me. An almost complete golden disk of fire hung over the man’s shoulder. His black hair tickled my exposed skin. With great effort, I focused on his eyes. Different tones of gray swirled similar to the tornado which brought him to me.

I calmed. My soul knew he would keep me safe.

“Tira, I love you.” His rich baritone words carried over the thrashing gale.

Unable to fill with air, my lungs convulsed, causing my response of, “I love you, too, Nino,” to garble in an unrecognizable voice.

My sight pinpointed. Hot gusts mixed with a yellow-tinted cloud to surround us in comfort like a parental hug. The sun crested a distant hilltop.

A drop of water splashed on my cheek, a cool contrast to the heat of an invading force in my core. I concentrated again on those mesmerizing graphite eyes. Tears flowed from them.

“Tira, I promise you . . .” His voice faded as a power greater than my own tightened its grip and squeezed my essence into submission. Darkness overtook me while he uttered, “I will find a way to break the curse and bring you back.”

The world went black, silent. Balmy breezes converted to cold stillness. The struggle within to keep control of my soul ceased, and my tumult of emotions became nothing, empty in defeat. As if I didn’t exist at all.



KD DuBois writes fantasy mixed with a touch of romance. Her current book delves into mythology, giving obscure gods and goddesses their own stories. It’s the first of a series in a world she created called The Immortal Dimension.

Twenty-eight years in a military uniform took KD DuBois to many unique places around the country and the globe. But a few choice assignments in year-round mild climates spoiled any inclinations to retire where even a hint of snow might fall. Instead of settling down in her home state of Kansas, she planted roots in the perpetual sunshine of south-central Texas.

With the opportunity to start a second career in front of her, KD took a class and got inspired to bring the ideas in her head to life. Now she spends her time typing away and takes an occasional break to ride her bike and enjoy the sunshine. Visit her website to learn more about her and what she’s working on.

Where to find KD Dubois…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Central | Goodreads

Joanne here!

I’m impressed and inspired by your reinvention story. Wishing you all the best on your writing journey.

Walking into the Light

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Jeri Bronson sharing her inspiring journey to a light-filled second act and her debut novel, Seeking Perfect.

Here’s Jeri!

I’ve been thinking about Second Acts, so this blog was perfectly timed. My first novel debuted this year, but before we discuss the now we need to talk about the before, the first act. I really want to lie and tell you this amazing story of my beginnings, but I can’t. My first act was tough, so tough that I longed to hide in the dark forever. I learned at an early age that everyone had an angle and absolutely no one could be trusted.

Then a day came when I could no longer hide from my darkness I had to walk into the light. I did a lot of reading, self- reflection and learning about who I was and who I wanted to be. It was one of the hardest roads I walked, but I am grateful for that tough road.

I was lucky enough to have gotten laid off from my full time job and stayed home with my kids in 2007. Jesse and Derek’s story was born that first summer. Jesse taught me so much about myself that I will be forever grateful to her, which brings me to the Second Act. Now that Jesse is out in the world I have been set free. Writing was the best possible medicine for me on this journey of self –reflection and I must say I’m really excited for my Second Act.

Everyone has a story and it’s your choice on how you let it define your life. Me, I really clung to a quote from Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” My light was always books and those amazing writers who saved me from the darkness. I want to encourage you to never give up on yourself because you are so worth it. I am telling you the truth. Maybe Jesse’s story will bring you hope with some light mixed in for good measure.


Jesse learned early not to trust a soul, but what if he was her soulmate?

Senior year of high school should be about friendship, boyfriends and graduation, but for seventeen-year-old, Jesse Barnes, it’s about escaping the shame of life with an alcoholic mother.

Jesse’s goals are clear, keep a roof over her head, avoid the revolving door of leering men her mother brings home, graduate from high school, and do everything possible to keep her home life secret. Friends, boyfriends, not an option. Who would understand?

Then, perfect, popular Derek Aames, sits with Jesse at lunch. How can she discourage him? How can she keep him from intruding on her life and discovering her secret? And most of all how can she keep him out of her heart?

Will his persistence finally break down her walls, or just break her?


Jesse furiously tried to think of an excuse for Derek not to have to take her home on a Saturday night. It was like playing Russian roulette and she didn’t want him anywhere near the line of fire if Sheila decided to go off.

“You don’t have to take me home tonight. I’m not sure how long I will be here. Plus, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on hanging with your friends or whatever it is you do on the weekend.” She knew she was being rude after everything that he had done for her, but she was scared. What if he really meant it when he said he wanted to kiss me? What if he really does like me? Worst of all, what will I do when he breaks my heart, not if – when? To be involved with Derek Aames could not possibly have any positives. She had to try to maintain her focus so she could get to college. Six more months. Except all thought of college kept being blown away like a desert wind the minute he looked at her.

He sat silently finishing his lunch. It was becoming an annoying habit that was grating on her last nerve. She couldn’t fathom what he was thinking while she waited for him to respond. He took one last drink before he turned to face her.

“You’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”

She started to protest again to convince him that she had a lot of work. She didn’t want to ruin his weekend by making him feel obligated to give her a ride. He silenced her before she could even get a breath out by putting his index finger on her lips.

“Let me finish before you start giving me your rational explanations. I have an ulterior motive for taking you home. I want to ask you out on an official first date,” he said.

Book Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Soul Mate Publishing | Goodreads


I live in Orange County, California with my husband of 29 years and my 16 year old son. My daughter is off in college having her own adventures, but I miss her terribly. I love cats, fairies, castles and definitely chocolate. I do my best writing while I’m walking around my neighborhood. Lucky for me I haven’t fallen with my wandering mind. One of my greatest past times is watching tennis. I am a super fan. I’ll admit sometimes my writing wanes when a Grand Slam tournament is on…sshh, don’t tell. I work part time as a substitute high school teacher. I learn so much from the kids it’s a wonderful source for this young adult writer. I do have another young adult I’m working on as well as trying my hand at suspense. I never thought I would be a writer, but I never gave up. The door has been opened and I am never letting it close.

Where to find Jeri Bronson…

Website | Facebook |Twitter

Joanne here!

Jeri, Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Love the Harry Potter quote! Best of luck with sales.