Third Time’s the Charm

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have USA best-selling and award-winning author Lois Winston sharing her three-act life and her latest release, Scrapbook of Murder.

Here’s Lois!

My Second Act is actually a Third Act. I have a degree in graphic design and illustration. After graduating college I spent a short period of time working at two different advertising agencies run by misogynistic male chauvinists before landing a position as a layout artist for John Wanamaker, the premier department store in Philadelphia.

Then I got pregnant.

Childcare back then wasn’t what it is today. I quickly learned that if I wanted to continue working, I’d have to hand over most of my weekly paycheck to KinderCare, the only available option at the time. I had a very sweet, albeit chauvinistic boss who believed mothers should stay home with their babies, but he did realize I needed to continue working, both for the salary and my own sanity. We worked out a freelancing arrangement that enabled me to work from home. The situation was ideal until the family-run department store was sold to a conglomerate and eventually went the way of the dodo.

Luckily for me, I enjoyed crafts and needlework. While in a needlework shop one day, I overheard a conversation between the shop owner and another customer and learned that a needlework kit manufacturer located not too far from my home bought freelance designs. As someone with an art degree, I designed my own pieces rather than stitching others’ designs. I went home and placed a call to the company. A few days later I walked out of the interview with six assignments.

Working for that company led to a new design career for me, one that lasted for decades. I freelanced for various companies and publishers and spent time as an editor for McCall’s craft book division, head designer and editor for a kit manufacturer, and one of DMC’s go-to designers (a position I still hold.) For those of you unfamiliar with DMC, it’s the world’s leading manufacturer of embroidery floss and has been in business about twice as long as the United States has been a country.

Life was good, even during those times the economy wasn’t. When people are counting their pennies, they don’t spend money on entertainment. They stay home—and spend their leisure time doing crafts. Or at least they did until the advent of the home computer. Suddenly, instead of crafting, people were spending their free time online. Craft companies went out of business; magazines folded. I had less and less work at a time when I needed more and more income, thanks to my kids’ tuition bills.

One day the idea for a story popped into my head. I hadn’t written any fiction since Freshman Comp in college, but I started writing, and before I knew it, I had completed a novel. Thus began a decade-long journey toward publication. My first book debuted ten years, almost to the day, that I first began writing.

I still design, but I now earn in a year what I used to bill out in a good month because there’s so little design work available. Most of my time is spent writing. My first books were romances, but I eventually took my experiences in the craft industry and used them to create my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Many of Anastasia’s experiences are my own—minus the dead bodies.

Scrapbook of Murder is the sixth full-length mystery in the series. The others are Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and A Stitch To Die For. There are also three novellas connected to the series—Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.

Blurb

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links

Kindle | Kobo | iTunes | Nook | Paperback

Bio

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Where to find Lois…

Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up

Joanne here!

Lois, you are a crafty and clever lady! Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with Scrapbook of Murder.


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Born To Be A Storyteller

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Rayanne!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

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

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Where to find Rayanne Haines…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

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


On Becoming the CEO of Fictionary

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author and CEO Kristina Stanley sharing her remarkable life-long journey.

Here’s Kristina!

I’m very pleased to be invited onto Joanne’s blog to share my life-long journey of reinvention.

This is the story of how I went from a career in telecommunications to working in a ski resort to becoming an author to being the CEO of Fictionary.

I’m an author who loves to edit, and I believe today’s author must also be their own structural editor.

The difficulty with structural editing is the time it takes and the cost of an editor. So I asked myself: What if I could speed up the process, spend less money, AND write better fiction?

To answer these questions, I reinvented myself into the CEO of a software company.

What is the Fictionary?

Fictionary in an online tool that will help writers turn a first draft into a great story by becoming their own structural editor. It’s a serious tool for serious writers who are willing to evaluate each scene from a big-picture (structural) point of view.

With Fictionary, you can focus on character, plot, and setting. Fictionary helps you evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on the overall novel structure. Fictionary will show you the most important structural elements to work on first and guide you through the rewriting process.

Why a structural editing tool for writers?

Creating Fictionary began when I finished the first draft of my first novel. I just didn’t know it.

By then I’d read over 50 how-to-write and how-to-self-edit books. I’d taken writing courses and workshops and had 100s of writing and editing tips swirling about in my head.

I knew I had to begin the editing process and improve the quality of my draft before sharing my work, but I didn’t know how to go about it.

My Worries:

How was I supposed to remember the torrent of advice and apply it to each scene? A spreadsheet, that’s how!

I created a spreadsheet with a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene structure. Then I listed the different writing advice I needed to consider for EVERY scene. I ended up with over 75 “key elements of fiction”. I used the reports from the spreadsheet to visualize my novel.

Did Fictionary Work For Me?

After the hard work of self-editing and rewriting my drafts, the high quality of my fiction was validated when my first two novels were shortlisted for prestigious crime writing awards and I landed a two-book deal with publisher Imajin Books.

My first editor said: “If every manuscript was this good, my job would be so easy!”

The next exciting moment came when DESCENT, my first novel, hit #1 on Amazon’s hot new releases. Descent was published by Luzifer-Verlag in Germany, and I’ve sold the audio rights to Auspicious Apparatus Press. Imajin Books also published BLAZE, AVALANCHE and LOOK THE OTHER WAY.

Building Fictionary

I wanted to share my process, so other writers could benefit from an immediate approach to self-editing and rewriting first drafts. But who would want to use a spreadsheet? Perhaps a fun, fast tool that helps writers visualize and self-edit their novels would be better.

I joined forces with author Michael Conn and business specialist Mathew Stanley, and we formed a company called Feedback Innovations just to build this tool for fiction writers.

You can find out more about Fictionary at https://Fictionary.co

Advice For The Second Act

Like Nike says, “Just do it.” It may be intimidating. It may seem like hard work. But the satisfaction of starting something new is worth it. I believe anyone with a bit of grit can reinvent themselves.

What Writers Are Saying About Fictionary!

“I have used Fictionary to revise my current work in progress, entitled MindField, an espionage technothriller due out in early December 2017. My feeling is that Fictionary helped me to improve the manuscript significantly, and I will use it on all my subsequent novels. I am trained as both a novelist and screenwriter, but I focus exclusively on producing novels. And, that is where Fictionary is most useful. The toolbox within Fictionary helps a novelist see exactly where their work is weakest and strongest, and pushes me to work on fixing my problems.”
D.S. Kane, Amazon Bestselling Author

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

If you enjoyed this blog, sign-up for our posts and receive a $10 discount coupon off your first month of using Fictionary.

Bio

Kristina Stanley is the CEO of Fictionary.co. Fictionary is an online tool that helps fiction writers turn a first draft into a great story.

She is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series, LOOK THE OTHER WAY, and THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES. She’s published by Imajin Books and Luzifer-Verlag.

Her short stories have been published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Voices From the Valleys anthology.

Joanne here!

Impressive! Thanks for sharing and best of luck with all your future endeavors.


All the World’s a Stage

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Judy Knight sharing her multi-act life and her latest release, A Raging Madness.

Here’s Jude!

Joanne’s Second Act series appealed to me; but which Second Act? In nearly 67 years of life, I’ve reinvented myself repeatedly, though always around the two themes that surfaced in my earliest childhood. And as I thought about that, the structure of this post surfaced in my mind. Shakespeare’s seven ages? Why not. I reckon I’m up to age five.

Welcome to the story of my life so far.

In the nurse’s arms: the story begins

I was a quiet baby, happy to be left alone to amuse myself. My mother claimed, with the benefit of hindsight, that I’d been telling stories in my crib.

The toddler who lined her dolls and teddies up and babbled to them in her own language lies too far back for me to remember. But I recall my role as chief architect of playground adventures when I was six or seven.

And at around the same age, I remember bringing home a younger child who was, or so I was convinced, neglected by her family. I made her a home in the chicken coop at the bottom of the garden, since it was between flocks at the time. I would be her mother, I said, and look after her. I robbed the kitchen for food for my new baby, read to her from my picture books, and left her reluctantly just on nightfall when it was time for dinner.

Poor little mite. Alone in the dark, she wanted to go home. My father, investigating the wails, rescued her and returned her to her family, and I was in deep disgrace, and heartbroken both at the loss of my child and at being in trouble for what, to me, had seemed like a good deed.

The twin themes of stories and children were now established, and it was that year I began confidently answering the perennial adult question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ with ‘a writer and a mother’.

Satchel and shining morning face: high school

I lost confidence as I grew older. I’m an introvert who spends most of her life inside her own head, and back then I hadn’t learned how to enjoy being with people.

Nearly all my fellow pupils marched to an entirely different tune, were in another parade entirely. Their motivations were a mystery to me; their likely response to anything I did or said a source of anxiety. By the time I arrived in high school, six weeks after the start of term and in a school 1000 miles north of the junior school I’d attended the previous year, I was expecting disaster. To my surprise, my high school years were not too bad, though that might be in part because I haunted the library, staggering away with piles of books, devouring them, and returning them within days.

But there were other compensations. The library was a magnet for other girls who enjoyed the same things I did. I also joined, and later led, the Students Christian Union. I made friends, and even (briefly) became a cheerleader.

I was blessed to have superb English teachers who fed my storytelling with the world’s great literature, a healthy dose of grammar and punctuation, and parts in the school plays. Leading roles in the last two years. For some mysterious reason, my terror at being conspicuous deserted me when I was on a stage speaking someone else’s words.

And my brand new baby brother was a dear delight.

Stories and children.

Sighing like furnace: early marriage

By the time I finished school, I had finished two (rather awful) novels, several plays, and any number of articles and short stories. Some of the latter had even been published. I was on my way to being a writer, and within six months I began working on the prerequisite to other goal. One day, at a prayer meeting, I met and fell in love with the man who is still my personal romantic hero (PRH), and he with me.

Neither family approved. We came from very different backgrounds, had very different interests, and seemed like chalk and cheese to anyone who didn’t look below the surface. But somehow it worked, if only because neither of us was willing to storm out of our marriage and admit to our parents that they’d been right.

Love led to the natural consequence: a first child, followed by three more. With six children (one with a complex set of disabilities), writing fiction took something of a back seat, though I continued to do articles for the local newspaper. And read. And imagined. And made up stories to tell my little ones.

Seeking the bubble reputation: the consultant

When my youngest started school, I was determined to focus on writing. I began to see some small successes: short stories on the radio and in magazines. I did the research and started writing a long complex family saga based on the New Zealand gold fields. And I planned a few other novels to follow.

But in the mid-1980s in New Zealand, interest rates took a sudden alarming jump, and I found a full-time job a squeak ahead of a forced sale by the bank who held our mortgage.

The job was writing computer software manuals. I knew sweet nothing about computers, but I told the interviewer that I could learn about computers faster than he could learn to write. Turned out he wrote plays. Oops.

One thing led to another. Despite adding two more children to our family when a friend died, I continued working full time from that day to this. The software company was followed by a partnership with another writer, offering a full range of business writing and editing services. Later, I set up a company with the PRH to write, edit, and design business publications.

In the last thirty years, I’ve held most roles associated with writing for business, from technical writer to public relations manager.

And I fed my storytelling habit by reading other people’s books, making up stories and playing story games with my children, and continuing my lifelong practice of seeing my own plots unfold inside my head whenever I was not otherwise occupied.

Many times, I started to write a novel, and something would happen. For example, I was grandmother in residence for two of our grandchildren for a number of years. Stories and children.

Full of wise saws: the novelist

And so we come to the present. Reinvention of Jude Knight, part 5. Several years ago, my mother died. She had always supported my desire to write fiction, and I’d done little with it while she lived. It was a wake-up call, and one I heeded. I had more than 60 plot ideas written out, and 40 or so were set in the late Georgian era. Others were history in other eras, fantasy, speculative fiction, murder mysteries, and contemporaries, but the Georgian/Regency drew me.

I devoted myself to research for eighteen months until it dawned on me that I’d found another way to procrastinate. I realised I was frightened of ‘coming out’ as a writer of historical fiction; afraid I would be no good. So I gave myself something else to fear more, by telling my friends and family what I was writing, and that I intended publication. Now I was stuck. If I didn’t finish, I’d look foolish.

So three years on and four and a half novels, six novellas, and ten short stories later, I’m a published writer. Stories and children.

Lean and slippered: the kuia

The play will continue, and each act will bring new challenges and new joys. My guiding passions continue to be my God, my PRH, and my children (including, now, my fictional children). Will I reinvent myself again? I’ll slow down, of course, if only because the body will demand it. But you have to admit the themes have been consistent, at essence. Stories and children.

Second childhood: a disgraceful old age

Shakespeare was considerably more pessimistic in this speech than I. Even if I reach the sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything, I look forward to a new beginning on the other side of death.

But while I’m on this earth I intend to enjoy myself to the best of my ability: to wear purple, to dance, to annoy my children and grandchildren with my irreverent attitude to society’s shibboleths. I picture myself with a marker pen and chalk, cruising the sidewalks on my mobility scooter, looking for grammar and spelling errors to correct in other people’s signs. Or perhaps I’ll just stay home and tell stories to my great great grandchildren.

Blurb

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

Excerpt

Before she had even consciously taken in the scene, she was moving, pulling Mrs Broadley further from the kettle that, in falling from its hook, had splashed her with quarts of boiling water. The heat of it soaked into her light house slippers, but only for a moment as she drew Mrs Broadley out of the splash zone.

She sent the maid who ran in from the scullery out to find snow, while she helped Mrs Broadley strip out of her wet garments, relieved that the housekeeper had recovered enough to see the need, and within a few minutes Mrs Broadley was on a couch in the room they were currently using as the housekeeper’s office, stripped to her corset and wrapped in a blanket, with cloth bundles of snow against the long reddened scald on her leg, and the more troubling burns on one foot.

Fortunately, the heavy woollen gown, petticoats, and home knitted stockings had kept most of the heat from the leg, but the foot was already blistering where it caught the full force of the water.

Ella set some of those who had arrived for the day’s work to cleaning the mess and re-laying the fire, had Broadley fetched from the stable yard to be with his wife, and asked Miller to fetch her medical chest.

Alex arrived with Broadley, but diverted to the fireplace, to examine the crane and the kettle. As Ella came back out of the housekeeper’s room to give the Broadleys a few moments alone, Alex was examining the horizontal bar of the chimney crane, and particularly the thick leather strap from which the cook hung kettles and pots. Only part of the strap remained. He was unfastening it as Ella came up beside him.

“How is Mrs Broadley?” he asked, glancing sideways at her.

“She escaped the worst,” Ella assured him. “The foot will be painful for a while, and she may have a scar, but if we can avoid contagion that will be the sum of it. But how did it happen, Alex? You and Dodd inspected this equipment not a week ago.”

Silently, he held up the broken end, and her eyes widened. “How could it split like that? That looks like a clean cut.”

He nodded, his face sombre.

“Alex, no.” But denial would not change the facts. The strap had been cut almost through, leaving a bare quarter inch of leather to take the weight of a large iron kettle full of water.

“Do you have the other end, Ella?” Alex asked.

They hunted together, and Ella found it first, retrieving it from under the kitchen table: twelve inches of leather with the iron pot hook attached at one end and the other severed almost cleanly, bar the stretched and torn fragment whose failure had injured poor Mrs. Broadley.

“Who would do such a thing?” Ella wondered. “And why?”

Buy Links

Jude’s Book Page | Smashwords | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Amazon (U.S.)

Bio

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.


Where to find Jude Knight…

Website and Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Smashwords | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Email

To win a Made-to-Order Story, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.


A Second Act? At least.

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Caroline Warfield chatting about her multi-act life and her latest release, The Renegade Wife.

Here’s Caroline!

Carol Roddy - Author

By my reckoning, I am well into my fourth act, but I suspect a better analogy, is perhaps the bard’s Seven Ages of Man (As You Like It, Act II Scene 7) They prove to be as true for women as they are for men and as true now as they were in the sixteenth century.

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As Infant, I was an adored only child. As Schoolgirl, I was moved from place to place, doing what in an earlier age would have been called following the drum. I was an army brat, perpetually the new kid on the block. I found my refuge in books and in the tree shaded paths of my mind, seeking adventure and romance. You could call those two the first act.

treelinedpath-2

The third age is Lover, and I flung myself into that glorious stage of life with a vengeance, falling in love first with God—yes then and always. When He made it clear my path lay far from the cloister, he gave me Beloved, the other half of my soul. Children came into our life, some children of our body, some from afar, all beloved. This age of life is so all absorbing that those in it can think of little else, even story telling. However, like all life, it passes. Love remains.

Shakespeare called the fourth age of man, the Soldier, and it is an apt description. Career can feel like war, driving the Soldier out, sword in hand, to fight through the thickets of technology, office politics, and success criteria. In my case passionate involvement in libraries and information technology kept me at the top of my game, but left little room for those tree shaded paths. I began to write fiction fairly but, time was short and success limited. Failure and the wisdom of friends taught me hard earned skills anyway.

This fourth act seems to coincide with both the fourth and fifth ages of (wo)man. Old Will talks of Justice, all formal and “Full of wise saws…” and the slips into the foolish slippered Pantaloon “with spectacles on nose…turning toward childish treble pipes and whistles in his sound.”

When the warfare of the Soldier faded away, with some hard earned wisdom on my hide, the stories surfaced again. I had 4-5 books in various stages and condition on my laptop when Soul Mate Publishing accepted Dangerous Works for publication. Then I began to write in earnest—often in those slippers Will mentioned. In three years I have four published novels, one published novella, a fifth novel scheduled for April release, a novella for May, a novella and short story for the holidays and a sixth novel for October release! I fill them with love and family and I hope they teem with life and joy, tragedy and comedy. When Dangerous Secrets won the RONÉ award for “Best Post-Medieval Historical Novel” last year, I took it as a tribute to late-bloomers everywhere.

Who, knows I may have a Shakespearean fifth act in me in me, but whether the whole will resemble on of his tragedies or comedies remains to be seen. I can guarantee you when I slip into his final age “mere oblivion…sans everything” I will have left it all on the floor with no regrets.

therenegadewife-2

Blurb

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and the start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

A Quick Excerpt

She pushed away from the door. “If you’re finished, I’ll clear up your dishes.

“Damn it woman, I fend for myself here.” He looked her up and down. He noticed her deep blue eyes, midnight black hair, and dusky skin. “What are you? Gypsy? Is that where you learned how to diddle a man out of his belongings?”

She drew her back up straight and squared her shoulders. The gesture pulled her dress tight across obviously ample breasts.

There’s a practiced enticement. She’s in for a surprise if she thinks that trick will work on me.

Chin high, she met his eyes without flinching. “My grandmother is Ojibwa, my father was French, and my husband was a Scot. You can despise whichever one of those your English heart chooses, or all of them, but I am not a thief.”

She grabbed her skirt and took a step toward the door. “Do fend for yourself. We’ll leave as soon as we can.”

“I’ll decide when you’re a thief,” he snarled, bringing her to a halt. “It’s my house.”

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Bio

Caroline Warfield writes in an office in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania surrounded by windows while 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 most recent novel is The Renegade Wife.

Where to find Caroline…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Joanne here!

Caroline, Thanks for the entertaining and inspiring post! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.


Living a Full Life

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Lori L. Robinett sharing her inspiring journey and her new release, Fatal Obsession.

Here’s Lori!

lorilrobinettThanks for having me, Joanne!

My first act (which I refer to as B.D. – Before Divorce) consisted of education and work. In high school, I was a good student and that continued into college. While in college, I got married and the two of us pictured our lives focused on our careers. He moved up within management at a retail store, and I graduated college, took a professional job as an admissions officer at a private college, and began working on my Masters. Both of us worked 60 hours a week on a regular basis. There was little thought of hobbies and dreams or anything of a personal nature. I traveled a lot for work (I covered an eleven state territory). Life seemed to be plotted out, but I wasn’t happy. Apparently, neither was he.

Within two days, I found out Husband #1 was having an affair, and I lost my job. WHAM.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

My focus shifted from career as identity to living a full life. Now, I live on a small hobby farm (a childhood dream) with Husband #2 (of 20+ years). We have two kids, one granddaughter, a miniature schnauzer and a beagle. I work full-time as a paralegal (love my job!), and write during evenings and weekends. Our kids visit frequently, we take vacations every summer, we compete in local car shows (my hubby is living his childhood dream with a 1976 Corvette Stingray). In short, we live.

As I mentioned, I write. It’s part of who I am. Though I’ve always wanted to be a writer, during the B.D. years, I stifled that desire and focused on what I thought I was supposed to do. In hindsight, I realize that I wasn’t honoring the talent that I have. I suspect that is why I am happy now, and why I feel more fulfilled and at peace than ever before. Sometimes it takes something traumatic to force a life change – for me, it was that double whammy of divorce and job loss. Those events forced me to evaluate what I wanted out of life, what was important to me, and the path I wanted to take.

Thanks to the encouragement of Husband #2, I had a few pieces published in newsletters and journals and anthologies, and decided to try my hand at writing novels. I joined National Novel Writing Month and the first time I took the challenge, I wrote Denim & Diamonds, my first full manuscript – and proved to myself that I could, in fact, write a novel from start to finish. That book was published by a small press several years ago. Since then, I’ve gone on to publish several other books, and am currently writing thrillers. My latest novel, Fatal Obsession, is a Widow’s Web novel, a series of stand-alone books with widows as the main characters (the first novel in the series is Fatal Impulse).

fatalobsession

Fatal Obsession, my new thriller, just launched (the paperback will be released on February 25, 2017)! All formats are available here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

As I said, Fatal Obsession is a Widow’s Web novel – an exciting series where women face challenges that threaten to destroy them, just as they begin to find the strengths within them.

Sophie grew up in the foster care system, an orphan separated from her brother after their parents are killed. After she married Blake Kendrick and gets pregnant, she’s thrilled that she’s finally part of a real family. When she learns that her husband, a brilliant cancer researcher, has experimented on their unborn child, her world shatters. The powerful man her husband works for is determined to get that child, to use the research within Sophie’s body to save his dying mother. Sophie is forced to go on the run, terrified of what might be growing within her, worried that her baby might need treatment by the very man who is hunting them. The survival skills she learned in foster care serve her well as she must discriminate between who she can trust and who she can’t, who is a real friend and who is a threat. All the while, an experiment grows within her . . . will they escape?

Want a sneak peek?

The tires spun faster, but the vehicle refused to budge. Finally, Blake pushed away from the SUV and waved. “Enough! You can stop!”

Sophie opened the door and dropped with a thwump into the slick mud. As she moved towards the front of the vehicle, she held up one hand to shield her eyes from the pelting rain. The wind buffeted against her, howling in the night, whipping her long hair around her head. Her leather flats slipped in the muck and she reached out to steady herself against the SUV. It moved under her touch, slowly, but it was moving. She froze for a moment, processing the movement. She blinked away the raindrops that streamed down her face and focused on the front tire. It turned, moving the vehicle forward, towards the gray boulder.

Towards Blake.

She spun and groped for the chrome handle. Her fingers slid down the wet metal, missing the mark as it slipped past her in the night. She sidestepped with the vehicle, stumbling, then finally catching the handle with her fingertips. In one motion, she jerked the door open and scrambled up into the driver’s seat, then aimed her foot at the brake. It slipped, her shoes slick with mud. She kicked off her flat and hit the pedal with all her might. The SUV lurched to a stop. She sagged against the steering wheel, then raised her head to look out the windshield.

Her husband’s face was clearly visible above the hood. What had he meant about the baby and his research? His rounded eyes focused on her and his mouth yawned wide, opening and closing like a fish. He’d been so kind to her when they’d first met. The light from the headlights formed a halo around him, casting deep shadows across his face. One hand, then another, reached up towards her. His cryptic comments echoed in her head. He slapped at the hood, frantic and fast at first, then it slowed. As she watched, his face darkened. He’d suggested they start trying immediately for a baby after they got married.

He slumped forward, reached one hand towards her, palm up as if asking for her help. She’d gone along with him, thrilled to have a family of her own after a childhood of being shuffled from foster home to foster home.

The cold rain plastered his dark hair to his head. Rivulets of water coursed down the windshield, distorting the image, until the wipers swept the glass clear. His face turned from red to purple, then his mouth went slack. His eyes stared off into the distance, unfocused, then his chin dropped to his chest.

Ready for more? Get your copy today!

To celebrate the release, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice). Enter here:

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Where to find Lori…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Joanne here!

Lori, thanks for sharing your experiences. You are indeed living a full life–an inspiration to all of us!


Black Belt at 72

“The journey was the cake. The black belt was the icing.”

That’s not the comment you would expect to hear from someone who has achieved the highest belt rank in karate. But then 72-year-old Gloria Smith is not the typical karate practitioner.

gloriasmith

A quick look at her back-story…

• Eight years ago, Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments.
• One year later, she retired from teaching at age 65 and decided to take up Tai Chi at the Academy of Martial Arts in Mississauga, Ontario.
• Two years later, she noticed a promotion for an eight-week class in karate. She signed up and was hooked by the end of the course.

While on the five-year journey…

“The more I got into it, the more I realized that martial artists are more than just people who can take a punch and roll on the floor and stuff like that. It’s a total way of life. You learn discipline, courtesy, respect.

“Nobody ever once said to me, ‘You’re too old.’ ‘You can’t keep up.”

This past Sunday, Smith celebrated this spectacular achievement with her husband and son. In a recent Toronto Star article, she stressed that her journey isn’t finished. She will continue training to move up the degrees of black-belt status.

Head instructor Ian Jay added his own congratulations: “There’s nobody who’s achieved their first-degree black belt in their 70s within our schools, so that’s very rare. This was new territory. She’s doing something that no one else has done.”

BTW…There are about 3,000 students enrolled in the Academy’s schools.

Takeaway for new retirees and wannabe second acters…

• Structure your days.
• Take note of all God-nudges and God-winks. If an announcement or brochure catches your attention, pursue it.
• Enjoy the journey!!

Source: Toronto Star, August 29, 2016