The Not So Pretty Way to the Next Act in Life

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Colleen Donnelly sharing a unique perspective on reinvention and her new release, Letters and Lies.

Here’s Colleen!

Thank you for allowing me to stand back with your readers and smile at the colorful course I took to my second, third, and fourth acts in life. I was “one of those kids” I hope someone else can relate to.

Act I – Innocence and Acceptance

Naked we came into the world—then someone added a diaper. Then nourishment, smiles, yawns, pensive looks, raised brows, hugs, and shaking heads. We were kids. Ready to live life fiercely and love unconditionally, empowered by parents or someone we saw as God who was equipped to fulfill our every need. At least I believed that as I sallied forth into what I expected to be a perfect world where all toys were mine, friends would delight me, and no tear would ever be shed. That euphoric journey might be true for many, but I found my nicely charted path diverted by unexpected surprises such as the little brother no one warned me was coming, the amount of sharing that would involve, and new rules which tainted my perception of unconditional love as I pondered it during time out in a chair or a corner. I did not approach Act II gracefully. I came at it determined to make up for Act I.

Act II – Hormones and the Need for Acceptance

Puberty, the doorway between Act I and Act II, opened to a whole world of options beyond our parents to affirm us and meet our needs. It looked glorious from the childhood side and lured me toward what turned into a twisted trek to glowing acceptance mottled with acne, larger thighs, and fierce competition. I floundered forward into brutal, teenage battles to be noticed, yet not to be, while my parents sagely countered my foibles with clever Act II countermeasures to replace Act I’s corners and chairs. Undaunted, I joined the ranks of those who missed a euphoric end to Act II. Hiding red-faced flops of looking for love in all the wrong places, my childhood determination morphed to desperation as I faced to the door to Act III.

Act III – Adulthood and Self-Acceptance

Opportunity sprouted legs in Act III, changed to responsibility, and taught baby adults how to walk. Acceptance became one with success and performance, and schools of sharks began to pool in groups of academics, career, marriage, and children. We found ourselves clawing backward for the tools we recalled from our parents and drew from them to design our own. School became the school of hard knocks, and euphoria began to resemble a never-ending black moment in a romance novel. Act III, in all its agony and trials, did what it was supposed to—give birth to the person we were meant to be in Act I. I spotted a glow the end of Act III that wasn’t Act IV. It was me; the polished shine that remained after I and the world had a hard go at me.

Act IV – The Golden Years of Accepting Others

For three Acts I learned to share, lived in a body never photographed for a cover, suffered bitterly jealous, was betrayed, bought the wrong gift for important someone’s, pretended knowledge I had to later scramble to learn, until I met and liked the culmination I was born to be. I carry the full script now. And when I meet children, teens, and young adults, I skip to the back, to Act IV which is Act I with something extra at the end.

Spotlight for Letters and Lies

How did I write such a tale of a young woman determined to get what she believed was hers at any cost? If you skipped my introduction, you’ll find the answer there. Starting today, you can follow the escapades of jilted spinster Louise Archer for 99 cents as she heads west to find and marry her man.

Blurb

Louise Archer boards a westbound train in St. Louis to find the Kansas homesteader who wooed and proposed to her by correspondence, then jilted her by telegram – Don’t come, I can’t marry you. Giving a false name to hide her humiliation, her lie backfires when a marshal interferes and offers her his seat.

Marshal Everett McCloud intends to verify the woman coming to marry his homesteading friend is suitable. At the St. Louis train station, his plan detours when he offers his seat to a captivating woman whose name thankfully isn’t Louise Archer.

Everett’s plans thwart hers, until he begins to resemble the man she came west to find, and she the woman meant to marry his friend.

Excerpt

“He wrote and changed your plans? Why didn’t you tell me? You know I love hearing his letters.”

Everyone loved hearing his letters. Or at least they’d pretended to. I glanced at my friends, especially the one who’d first suggested I correspond with her husband’s homesteading friend in Kansas who was ready to look for a wife. She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief while she flicked the fingers of her other hand in a weak wave. I dredged my soul in search of a smile. The man she’d introduced me to truly had penned everything I’d ever wanted in a husband, months of letters which convinced Mama Jim was my open door. Letters I’d foolishly carted from family to friend to blather every word like a desperate spinster. Drat.

“He didn’t send his change of plans in a letter, Mama. He sent them in a telegram.” Don’t come, I can’t marry you. The only words I never shared.

“Well I imagine your Jim has a surprise for you and didn’t have time to send a letter before you left for Crooked Creek. How thoughtful to wire you instead.”

Thoughtful…I felt poisoned and Mama would too if she ever found out Jim had shut my open door. Which she wouldn’t, since as soon as I got out there and found him, I’d wedge it back open again.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Bio and Social Media Links

Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen studied and worked in science, using that career to travel and explore other parts of the country. An avid fan of literature, both reading and writing, she loves tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Other Books by Colleen L Donnelly

Amazon #1 Bestseller “Mine to Tell”
Asked For
Love on a Train
The Lady’s Arrangement
Out of Splinters and Ashes
Sonata Contineo


It’s Never Too Late

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have award-winning author Barbara Bettis sharing her multi-act life.

Here’s Barbara!

Thanks for having me today on your wonderful blog, Joanne. I’m sharing a little about my several acts in life, and a bit about my book that’s about to celebrate its First Birthday—For This Knight Only.

Act One

As a recently single mother of two sons and having just graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was lucky enough—quite serendipitously—to stumble on a job with a daily newspaper in a town near where I’d gone to high school. The lure of small town (less than 6,000) life for growing children sealed and the fact my parents owned a farm near there were enough to seal the deal, so to speak. Didn’t matter that I’d always envisioned writing fiction.

There followed 12 years as reporter/photographer/sometimes editor. Although the town was relatively small, the paper served a large rural area comprising several other communities and schools. I have to admit, I absolutely loved the job, which included ‘stringing’ for the Kansas City papers and the Associated Press.

As my sons approached high school graduation, the intensity of the daily job after a dozen years began to tell. Small town life was a microcosm of city life and the demands could be stressful. I felt a change might be due. But what to do?

The years of newspapering added to my love of reading and made the decision pretty easy. I wanted to teach. So when my second son graduated, I moved to the other end of the state to return to school.

Act Two

Returning to college was a challenge. I had to remember how to write differently. That meant in essay form, with proper introductions and conclusions, and proper paragraphing. None of those one sentence paragraphs! Learning to writing newspaper style had been difficult—I had to give up the academic form and learn a whole new style. Now I had to relearn the academic format—but remember the journalistic format for my journalism classes and for teaching. And no matter how much I lobbied my literature professors, they weren’t favorably disposed to Associated Press style. (That blasted Oxford Comma!)

Two years later, though, I claimed my master’s degree and promptly found a job substituting for an English professor on sabbatical from an area four-year college.

Act Three

Luckily, when that professor returned from sabbatical, I was hired full time for English and journalism. The next several years were wonderful. I loved teaching and I continued to write occasional feature and news stories for area newspapers and magazines. Never thinking I would remarry, I met a great guy with whom I had so much in common. He was a retired newspaper editor and taught journalism at a nearby school. He supported me in a way I’d never experienced before. (He even joined me in some of my classes as I studied for my doctorate.)

Act Four

Much too soon, my husband fell ill and later died. As soon as possible thereafter I took early retirement from teaching, thinking I’d love the ‘life of ease.’ Not!

It wasn’t long before a friend and former student persuaded me to join her critique group. “You need something to do,” she insisted. So in self-defense, I began writing fiction. I’d always loved history, myths, learning about people who’d lived in earlier times. And, yes, some of the earliest tales I can remember reading were children’s stories about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. So crafting a medieval book came naturally.

In the past few years I’ve taught English part time at a different local college, and have begun some editing for others. But best of all, I’ve continued to write historical stories about adventure, love, and happily ever after. Best of all, not one of my heroes dies way too early in life.

Any Affirmations or Quotations You Wish to Share?

Three, I think.

The first has been attributed to several people so I’ll just say it: Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter (computer now) and open a vein.

The second is a paraphrase: Trust in God’s timing.

Third, from me: It’s never too late.

Blurb

He’ll do anything for land, even marry her; she’ll do anything for her people, except marry him. If only either had a choice. It’s a marriage only love can save.

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation. Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Barb’s Books to Date

Knights of Destiny Series:

Silverhawk | The Heart of the Phoenix | The Lady of the Forest |
For This Knight Only | A Winter Knight

Where to find Barb

Bookbub | Facebook | Twitter | Blog/Website


Life Is Tough, But You Are Tougher

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. Here’s a thought-provoking segment from last week’s email:

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

Here are two key reminders to help motivate you when you need it most:

1. Every little struggle is a step forward.

In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams and desires, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.

And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine. You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path. And it’s worth it. So if you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no better feeling in the world… there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE.

2. The best thing you can do is to keep going.

Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.

Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, yet beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going. Keep GROWING forward, one step at a time.

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


Expat Teacher Comes Home to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Sadira!

Briefly describe your first act.

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

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

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

What triggered the need for change?

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

Where are you now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

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

The Book Nirvana Series

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

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

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

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

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes


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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Author Bio

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

Where to find Sadira…

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Pinterest | Instagram | Author Newsletter


Act Two, Scene One

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning author Kathy Bryson. Today, Kathy shares her evolving second act and Feeling Lucky, Book One of the Fayetteville Fairies Series.

Here’s Kathy!

Act Two, Scene One of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream was the catalyst for my book Feeling Lucky. And Act Two, Scene One is probably a good way to describe where I was in my life and career when I wrote Feeling Lucky. I’d left corporate America and moved to teaching which left me time to write. But six years later, that second act had moved on to a new scene.

I wasn’t particularly planning to move on, but the thing about new acts is that while they usher in change, they don’t stay put. They keep changing. By the time my publishing contract ended, my second act had moved on to a new job, a cross country move, and the loss of two close family members. I gave myself permission to slow down, but that writing break was stretching into its second-year.

So why take on relaunching a book in the middle of that much change? Well, re-reading the book was wonderfully refreshing. I really enjoyed revisiting a story that I had enjoyed writing even though, yes, I still found typos and other errors! And after six years, you can see awkward spots and undeveloped places that you missed the first time around. Time is wonderful for editing, and it was just too tempting to do a little polishing now that I had more writing experience.

The part that was the most fun was creating new covers. After six years of pitching Feeling Lucky, I’d gotten a really clear picture of where the premise needed clarifying to readers. So, I had the great good fortune of finding and working with Dina Arakcheeva through Upwork.com to draw that exact picture. And they came out gorgeous!

The other factor that played into this decision was how much the industry has changed in six years. Amazon is still a big player, but there’s also iBook, Nook, Kobo and many other e-book distributors including Overdrive and Scribd for libraries. There are also many overseas distributors and easy ways to access them through services like Smashwords and Draft2Digital. Going wide is a personal decision and a fair amount of work, but if you’ve built up a selection of books, it can bring attention to your whole collection. You can also experiment with placing your book in new categories or trying out new keywords and phrases. And with new channels, you might reach new readers, bloggers, and reviewers!

Ultimately revisiting my book was very regenerating. It got polished, and going through the steps of re-editing and re-releasing helped me get back in the swing of writing regularly. Your second act is usually a little easier than your first because you’ve got some experience, but you still have to cope with change. If you can embrace and use it to create new stories while sharing old favorites, all the better!

About Feeling Lucky

A madcap fantasy of money and magic and making the most of your dreams!

Megan O’Malley was mortified when she got drunk and pinched the bandleader’s ass at a cousin’s wedding. But she was astonished when he turned out to be a leprechaun! Seems they’re not the little, green men of fairytales after all. They just say that because they like a good joke and what better way to hide the gold? Oh, that bit’s true – as is the part about not sharing.

Fergus O’Reilly cannot figure out what he did to upset the Queen of the Fairies. He was playing a wedding when a drunken lady pinched his ass and the Queen declared him caught. Now he’s broke, homeless, and hustling to stop the lovely lady with the wandering fingers from spending his money!

Available at your favorite online retailer – https://books2read.com/u/3kvq9W

In Feeling Lucky, we meet a different kind of leprechaun–a sexy one! And in an inebriated state, Megan O’Malley cannot resist pinching his attractive buttock. Having inadvertently caught the leprechaun, Megan must now deal with the unexpected consequences: an inheritance of five million dollars and an angry, money-obsessed Fergus O’Reilly camped on her sofa. What follows is a contemporary fantasy, reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Kathy Bryson has written a delightful tale filled with witty dialogue, romantic tension and enough plot twists to keep you reading well into the night.

Enjoy!

About the Author

Kathy Bryson is the award-winning author of tongue-in-cheek fantasy that ranges from leprechauns who play the stock market to zombies who hang out with and harangue med students. She’d like to say she’s climbed tall mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and saved small children, but actually she tends to curl up and read, is a life-long advocate of Ben & Jerry’s, and caters to 2 spoiled cats. She works regularly with student writing, so she can claim to have saved a few term papers.
Follow her at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


On the Road to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, Wild Rose Press author Charlotte O’Shay shares a dramatic career change and her new release, Their No-Strings Affair.

Here’s Charlotte!

Joanne, It’s my pleasure to visit your uplifting and warm blog. My topic today is my second act. Keep reading and comment to enter the contest.

My first career was in the law. The law definitely didn’t choose me. I chose the law to obtain a professional degree that would pay the rent. (Totally unlike my husband, also an attorney, who dreamed of being a lawyer from the time he was a kid. Yes, he really did. He’s very cute that way.) As a lawyer I excelled at writing memoranda and legal briefs, I was good at amassing research to make my arguments and prove my points. I was told I was a good writer. I worked full time, later part time then in a pro bono capacity as I raised my children. But the law wasn’t the career of my heart. I always relaxed reading romance.

I had a come to Jesus moment when I was diagnosed with cancer at a relatively young age. It’s true what they say about life threatening illness. No one wonders about unimportant things when faced with the possibility of a premature passing. I was simply happy I had as much time with my family as I had. I was lucky. I recovered. But in those same years I lost four women very dear to me to various illnesses in quick succession. Four. Those losses hit me hard. That second oh sh*t moment screamed at me. Life is too precious a gift, and too short to squander on could haves and should haves.

So, I pursued what I always knew I was meant to do. I set a goal to become a romance author. I weathered a few remarks (and still do) at the concept of a lawyer choosing to write of all things— romance, but I’m not alone— former lawyers are legion in Romancelandia. These days I write. I read. I attend conferences. I promote my work. And I write some more.

And I couldn’t be happier.

You can guess my advice.

Don’t wait. If you can afford to switch gears and that’s a big if with a second act, do it. Even if it’s a side hustle as you segue into full time with the new venture. Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Go after the dream. I wrote romance for years before I finally started to submit my work. I’m not the type to have regrets but if I were, my regret would be that I should have followed my heart’s desire sooner.

I thrive on learning every aspect of my second career as a writer. I’m getting better every day and that pursuit of excellence keeps me curious and interested in the writing world and the world in general. I’m challenging myself to push my inner boundaries of genre and style.

My motto? Never, never, never give up. If you’re reading this and I can tell you anything about your second act, it is this. Act on it. Do it now. Start small. Set goals. You will achieve them. Then set new goals. Keep learning, work hard and enjoy every small moment of success in your new venture. You may fail but you will learn and achieve success. I promise.

Today I have four romances published and three more books in various stages of completion. My latest release, Their No-Strings Affair is set in my hometown of NYC as are the other two books in the City of Dreams series.

In the Their No-Strings Affair Jake’s ex-military with a second career as a security expert. In my recently released novella Forever in a Moment, Samantha ponders a life altering career change.


















For a chance to win an ecopy of Their No-Strings Affair or Forever in a Moment let me know in the comments if you’ve made a career change or are considering one, what you do/did and what you do now. Or what you want to be doing.

I will choose two random commenters to win one of my recent releases.

Blurb – Their No-Strings Affair

Honey packs everything she owns and heads to NYC to jumpstart her art career. Her cheating boyfriend is history, and she finally acknowledges the truth of her mother’s mantra: Careers are forever and happily ever after isn’t in their DNA.

All she needs is a job and a place to live. What she doesn’t need is a taciturn, sexy, ballbuster but she’s woman enough to know the difference between need and want. Isn’t she?

Jake’s childhood was marred by tragedy and his future hijacked to a promise born of guilt. His failure drove him to a career as a SEAL and a security expert.

But it’s not enough. Now he’ll give up his freedom in reparation for the life he lost. Honey may be the last sweet stop on the road to a joyless future. If it’s what they both want, where’s the harm in a no-strings affair?

Buy links – Their No-Strings Affair

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Nook | iBooks |
Google Play | Kobo

Bio

NYC born Charlotte O’Shay was the middle child of a large, boisterous family. Any time she needed an escape from the noise and drama of family life, she stuck her nose in a book.

Fast forward to law school where reading romance was a treat as satisfying as cookie dough ice cream.

One marriage, four bouncing babies later and Charlotte was still reading. But then she started squeezing in time to write some stories of her own.

Today she writes contemporary romance full time.

Charlotte’s heroines are intelligent and loyal, her alpha heroes fiercely protective.

Her greatest wish is that her readers escape into happily ever after inside the pages of her books.

Where to find Charlotte…

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


With Age Comes Second Chances

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have award-winning Soul Mate author Nancy Lee Badger sharing her inspiring journey and latest release, Heaven-Sent Highlander.

Here’s Nancy!

Since Heaven-sent Highlander is the second book in my Warriors in Bronze series, I would like to talk about second acts as it pertains to my life. I am a multi-published and award-winning author, but that profession did not start until I was in my 50’s. About 20 years ago, I started writing. I am a huge reader of romance novels and thought I could do better. At the time, I was an EMT and volunteer firefighter in a small New Hampshire town. Heartache, emergencies, deaths, and other calls would leave me despondent. Reading a romance novel always brought me back to happiness.

I needed to escape my paid daytime job, and landed a spot as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher for the State of New Hampshire. Reading between calls was rewarding, and kept the adrenaline at a healthy level. Changing jobs was good for the ego and pocketbook, but the pace was grueling and I yearned for something different AND to move somewhere warmer. Snow was no longer pretty to me.

So, I ‘retired’, we sold our house, and moved closer to family in Raleigh, North Carolina. About 9 years ago, I sold my first book. What a high! I kept writing while dear hubby kept working full time to pay the bills. He also loves to read and edit my manuscripts. My mother helps in that regard as well. After 26 books, three publishers, and a lot of self-published books, I am enjoying every day as a full-time author.

As I grow older, I am always surprised that ideas for stories pop-up seemingly out of nowhere. I am feeling my age more each day, but I keep going. My eyes have gotten worse, which might be why my hero in Heaven-sent Highlander is blind for a good part of the book. Writing has drawbacks, of course, but if the words are itching to get typed onto a computer, do it. You cannot improve an empty page! I recall Nora Roberts speaking at a Romance Writers of America conference saying something like ‘get your butt in the chair and just write.’

Writing novels, poetry, or even magazine articles can be a lonely profession. Just you and your laptop, most times. The best advice I can give is to seek out others. Writing groups are everywhere, from simple book clubs, to meet-up groups, to organizations like the ones I have been a member of for years. Misery loves company. Other writers will understand all that you are going through and are the first to congratulate you.

Blurb

At an American museum, surrounded by Auguste Rodin’s bronze statues, a Scottish Fae beauty is at a crossroads. Now that Gwendolyn’s friends are engaged, and the demon they fought vanquished, should she return home? After committing a terrible act, she could not explain to her cousin why she had appeared on his doorstep.

Alexander awoke in darkness inside a bronze statue, remembering how the green of Scotland’s Culloden field had turned red with blood that day in 1746. Had he died before awakening nude and sightless in front of strangers in present-day Raleigh, North Carolina? The mystery of how was overshadowed by why. Told that another warrior awoke when a demon threatened to take over the world, had a second demon escaped Hell? When the demon appears and demands Gwen join him, Alex must use all his new skills, weapons, and Heaven-sent powers to keep her and the world safe.

Excerpt

“I placed some clothes in the bathing room. ‘Tis just next door,” Gwendolyn said.

“A bathing room? Inside the house? Show me.” Alex figured he could find it on his own by touch, but he did not know who besides Gwendolyn was near. Keeping his blindness a secret seemed childish, but his pride screamed at him to hold back and see what happened.

“I brought food for ye—”

“I am hungry, yet can it wait? Clothing myself seems prudent, first.”

“Fine. Follow me.”

As she set something down, the lilt in her voice made him smile, and her scent stirred his loins. The urge to grab her, turn her into his chest, and kiss her senseless was strong. The problem? How would he find her?

In the hallway, his hazy vision sensed light and Gwen’s outline ahead of him. His feet closed the space between them. Moments before he could wrap his fingers around her, heavy footsteps grew closer.

“Gwen, what are you and Alex doing? Alex, you are looking well. Clothing might improve your visage. Aye?”

Sam had interrupted his plans. Had he read his thoughts? Gwendolyn had warned him, but why would he care what Gwendolyn and he did?

Alex nodded. “Gwendolyn left some items in the bathing room. I wish to hurry and dress. I smell meat cooking.”

“Oh! I left the chili in your bedchamber!” Gwen’s blurry outline ran past him, and Alex was left alone with Sam.

“Gwen is very attentive, considering we still do not know your intentions.”

What could Sam be hinting at? “I doona know why I am still alive. I swear to you, sir. I assumed I had died on that bloody battlefield. I am thankful to breathe air and feel pain. Truly, as it proves I am alive.”

He sensed Sam staring at him, but he kept his features calm and without fear.

“Well, then we shall commence your training at sun-up. Rest, eat, and find clothing appropriate for combat.”

“Combat?”

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Author Bio

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island, where school field trips to lofty museums were the norm. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full-time. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling show became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved with her husband to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She loves to travel and attend Scottish Highland Games and is never far from her laptop. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads


Don’t Hesitate…Act!

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Barbara Nolan to the Second Acts series. Today, Barbara shares the events that triggered her second act and her debut novel, Beyond Paradise.

Here’s Barbara!

My first act centered around my family. Raising my three children who are now adults with children of their own.

There was no one specific trigger or need for change as I had been writing off and on for most of my adult life. I always said I would become serious about my writing and I believe that the passing of my father and the tragic events of 911 in the same year motivated me to take action. I furthered my education, and received a degree in Creative Writing from New York University. At NYU I worked with many talented professors who mentored me while editing and critiquing my work. Their knowledge and guidance helped me gain the confidence to move forward.

I am now an author with Soul Mate Publishing and my debut novel, Beyond Paradise, was published on December 12, 2018.

My best advice is not to wait if you have a dream. I wish that I had followed through with my dream earlier, but wherever you are in life, don’t hesitate, act.

Blurb

Jonny Vallone, the dark, brooding owner of Manhattan nightclub, Beyond Paradise, doesn’t need any more complications in his life, or women. Then savvy con artist Cheryl Benson, barges into his office and spits out a confession that would make most men run for cover.

Cheryl’s fast-paced, out-of-control life is closing in, and her only hope against a ruthless crime boss is bad boy Jonny and his powerful connections. Her knight in black Brioni has a body made for sin with enough baggage to fill a 747, but when a near-fatal attack throws the two together, they implode in a night of steamy, sheet-gripping passion.

Jonny can’t resist the beautiful blonde with the pleading green eyes plus he has his own agenda with the underworld thug who owns a piece of his soul.

Their wild ride whisks them from the high-powered glitz of Manhattan to the sultry beaches of Miami in a desperate attempt to break free of their shady pasts while trying to tame their fiery passion and the dangerous deceptions swirling around them.

Excerpt

“I’ve got you.” He pushed a stray hair away from her face and kissed her, wanting to taste more of her, be part of her, sink into her sweetness and make all her fears go away.

His eager hands roamed up her back. A decent man would’ve paced himself, given her space, but he’d never been a decent man when desire overwhelmed him. He nipped his way down her slender neck, loving the feel of her skin against his lips. He knew what he wanted. He’d wanted it ever since he’d seen her at the Oasis.

He fumbled with the hem of her T-shirt, and she covered his hand with hers.

“You want me to stop?” His words caught between a sigh and a gasp.

She pushed his hands away, tugged her shirt over her head and flung it onto the couch.

For one tantalizing second her eyes dared him with desires as overpowering and primal as his. Standing, he snatched her hand, jerked her up, and pulled her toward the bedroom, nudged the door open with his foot, then kicked it closed.

A heat boiled in the pit of his stomach and shot through his veins, melting him from the inside out. One part of him wanted to take time and explore every inch of her, while the part that controlled him wanted to tumble her to the bed.

“This isn’t a game.” He meant it as a warning, but the lust in his voice made it sound more like a challenge.

“I know.” She gasped as he snaked his hands around her waist. “‘Cause games have rules.”

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Where to find Barbara…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | BookBub | Facebook

Joanne here!

Barbara, Thanks for sharing your insights and advice. Too often, we wait too long and fail to act on our dreams. Best of luck with sales.


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.

Blurb

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.

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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