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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.



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.”



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).


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!

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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.


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

Dare to Think Big

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Nancy Raven Smith sharing her rich and varied life experiences.

Here’s Nancy!

nancyravensmithThe first stage of my adult life was all about family and animals, animals, animals. The animals included rescued racehorses, cats, and dogs. Luckily, I convinced my husband to move to a farm in rural Virginia against his wishes. At one point we had 28 rescue horses, 12 cats, 10 dogs, and a cow. And it’s not like we were rich. My husband was a Lieutenant JG in the US Navy. I was a stay at home mom raising two young kids, but I soon began running horse shows to help with our finances. We were also very fortunate to have two wonderful teenagers spend their time with us, trading babysitting for riding lessons. They quickly became part of our family.

It was a great life – kids, animals, the outdoors, and competing in area horse shows.

But then came the day that the kids all grew up and we arrived at empty nest syndrome. The fun went out of the animals, the farm and the competitions. I struggled to keep it going, but it wasn’t the same. It all came to an abrupt end when our oldest daughter and I went to a horse show on one of her college breaks. We were warming our horses up for the show when one of us said to the other, “Are we having fun anymore?” It was a shocking question because the answer was no. To this day we don’t remember which of us asked it, but the realization was gut-wrenching. It was the last time we showed our horses.

Our daughter went back to school. I was left with no idea what to do with my life.

So I cried for a year – in grief for the loss of a life I loved, and in fear of an empty future with nothing to replace it. My family was supportive and put up with me. For that year, I kept asking myself, what can I do with my life? I like being passionate and challenged daily, but I had no training for anything specific. Finally at the end of that year, I reversed the question I was asking myself. Instead of “What can I do,” I flipped it to, “If I could do anything in the world I wanted, what would I do?”

With the change in the question, all sorts of possibilities started popping up. The craziest of which was work in film, not as an actor, but behind the scenes. I knew absolutely nothing about how one worked on a film, so I bought books and read avidly. There wasn’t any film work locally, so I fixated on going to Los Angeles. My husband was about to retire, and the change to California mildly interested him. I heard all the “you’re too old to be hired,” (late forties), “you’re crazy,” and from my own mother, “I hope you’ll fail, so you’ll come back to Virginia.” My husband and kids weren’t sure about the move either, but they gave me the encouragement to go for it.

Relocated in LA, I did temp work at first and took film production classes at UCLA. Within a couple weeks I was applying for film jobs. Then I landed one as a production assistant which had over 100 applicants for a nonpaying position. The job got my foot in the door, and I was soon hired on with a salary. It turned out that my running of horse shows as events correlated directly to working on a film. I had had no idea. Other jobs came rapidly after the first one. And then one day I picked up a script and read it. I had always been an avid reader, never considered myself as a writer, but something about the screenplay writing pulled me. I had to face another choice. Go to school to learn screenwriting or continue working on film as a production coordinator. Film projects are demanding. Eighteen to twenty hours a day are not uncommon. If I tried to do both, I would miss the majority of any classes I tried to attend. I could only do one. The writing won. There was something about it that pulled me.

It was back to office temp jobs that were nine to five and let me attend UCLA Extension nightly. I studied, I wrote, I won awards, my screenplays were optioned, but none produced yet. And then came another turning point. My writing mentor from Women in Film suggested I write one idea as a novel. I was starting to feel like I should ask UCLA for a discount, but it was back to school for more classes on novel writing. It was fortunate there was a large amount of crossover between screenplays and books.

What followed was Land Sharks – A Swindle in Sumatra (a mystery/romantic suspense) and The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill (a family memoir about life on our farm). What also happened was that I found that writing books was the place I wanted to be. The authors I met were great people and truly supportive. I had found my creative happy place. This was where all my steps had brought me and this is where I’m staying.

And my very special family? My husband and oldest daughter have both become writers and our youngest daughter is our greatest supporter.

My advice for those reaching their Second Stages – Dare to think big!

Nancy’s Books

LandSharks-200x314 (2)A fall from grace costs Lexi a position at a top New York financial institution. She ends up in a job at a small private bank in Beverly Hills. But that’s okay, she still gets to work in her favorite field – catching white collar crooks. At least that’s what she tells herself. But when Karista, the daughter of one of the bank’s principal investors, runs into danger while traveling in Indonesia, Lexi’s job comes to depend on her ability to save her. Even worse, Lexi will have to baby sit Steve, her boss’ well-meaning but spoiled son, while going undercover to reach the heiress. Lexi’s cushy tropical assignment soon spirals into chaos as she has to outrun fashion-forward Batak natives, outwit an arrogant FBI agent, help Steve find his stolen Air Yeezy sneakers, and figure out why her ardent former lover and debonair gentleman thief, Andre, is staying at the same resort. Lexi will have to be very good or very lucky to survive it all.


reluctantfarmerIn The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill, opposites attract; for better or for worse. That is what troubles animal-phobic, robotics engineer Smith who just got married. He learns that his bride’s dream is to have a farm where there are lots of animals and she can rescue ex-race horses to retrain and find them new homes. But according to a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test that they took for fun, their marriage is doomed. There is only one problem: the newlyweds took the test after the wedding.

Whether Smith is chasing a cow named Pork Chop through the woods with a rope, getting locked in a tack room by the family pony, being snubbed by his wife’s dog, or unsuccessfully trying to modernize their barn using the latest technology, the odds are stacked against him. It seems like everything with four legs is out to get him. Will the animals win, forcing Smith to admit defeat, or will he fight to keep his family and the farm together?

Enjoy the true, warm, and frequently hilarious stories of Smith’s journey along the bumpy road from his urban robotics lab to a new life on a rural Virginia farm.


Where to find Nancy…

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Joanne here!

Nancy, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. How wonderful to live, study and work in L.A. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

Spreading My Wings

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Judy Alter sharing her amazing journey from full-time, stay-at-home mom to full-time professional publisher and author.

Here’s Judy!


“I’ve taken care of others long enough. It’s time to take care of me.” Astonishing words from the father of four children, ages six to twelve. Followed by, “I’ll take the kids, the house, the whole package except you.” Terrible cruelty from the man I’d been married to for seventeen years and had risked family connections to marry. For the past twelve years I’d been a full-time stay-at-home mom, grabbing free time to write when I could, entertaining lavishly at everything from big dinner parties to children’s birthdays. And this was how my first act was going to end?

My second act followed fast upon the end of the first and was, my brother said, “a remarkable case of reinventing myself.” I became a working mom, a full-time professional publisher, and an author. It didn’t all happen that fast, and I had some lucky breaks along the way.

The first thing I did was to find employment outside the house. I took the job of coordinator of community classes at my alma mater, Texas Christian University. From then on serendipity played a part in my career. I shared an office with a man who was slated to become director of TCU Press when the current director retired in a few months. One day, this man looked at me and asked, “Would you like to be editor of TCU Press?” That was my job interview. Yes, thank you very much, I’d like that. In earlier jobs I’d done a lot of PR and editing, and it seemed like a natural.

I was editor for four or five years and loved it. I liked working with the authors, and I loved shaping words. I didn’t always agree with my former office-mate about the manuscripts we acquired, but in general I was happy. And I never wanted to be director, didn’t want all that responsibility.

But when my former office-mate left to take a better-paying job at another university, I couldn’t wait to be named director. I had the requisite Ph.D. so I’m not sure what the holdup was, but it was almost a year before the appointment was official. I served as director for twenty-plus years, and it turned out to be the perfect job for me. I had enough freedom to raise my children the way I wanted. I met authors not only in the office but at conventions and meetings and came to regard several major Texas authors as good friends.

I was trying to boost my own writing at the time, and I found the two interests didn’t conflict at all—they worked together. I published, I won awards, the press won awards. We were producing good and attractive books and people in the region began to notice.

I worked past retirement and finally retired at 71 to pursue my own writing. By then I was well enough known on the regional literary scene that people bought my books, and my writing took off if not like a rocket at a fairly respectable speed. Maybe that is my third act?

What have I learned from this? Find your passion in life—don’t quit or turn back until you’ve discovered the one thing that you really love. For me, it was books and words. And spread your wings—get to know people in your profession, speak up, present talks, make yourself heard.

If I had stayed married I don’t know what would have happened, but I doubt I would have the four wonderful children I do today, and I doubt I would have had as satisfying and rich life. God is good.



Chicago, from swampland to host of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, as lived by two leading historical figures: tycoon and hotelier Potter Palmer and his activist wife Bertha Honoré Palmer who fought for women’s rights and help for the poor. A story of love, major historical events, class warfare, intrigue, a forbidden love interest, and murder. A history of Chicago’s colorful Gilded Age.


Where to find Judy…

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Joanne here!

I agree with your brother – this is a remarkable reinvention story! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors, Judy.

10 Ways to Make It to the Fourth Act

I’m thrilled to welcome author D. J. Adamson to the Power of 10 series. Today, D.J. shares advice and insights gleaned from her life journey.

Here’s D.J.!

djadamsonI have passed my second act, and I am on to my fourth. The first act was merely an introduction to get to the twist. I graduated college and taught high school level English for five years. The second act offered momentum, building to the next twist. Moving to California from Oregon, I changed careers from teaching to business. I went into sales and marketing for a commercial publishing firm where I became Manager of Sales and Marketing. Success, however, doesn’t always offer satisfaction. Most audiences expect a resolution to come in the third act. In fact, I returned back to academia, leaving money for treasure, teaching writing to college students. It’s always been about writing, in all my career choices. And now, without the need for an intermission, I have taken the stage for a fourth act.

How grateful I am to get a fourth act. Looking back, the 10 Ways I got here was by:

1. Willing to change. I have found that I don’t control life, life controls me. My greatest successes have come when I let go and went with the flow.

2. Willing to risk. I leave the “What If?” for my protagonists, and instead, whenever I hear the whispered question, I take a breath and answer “Why not?” It’s the beautiful thing about becoming “older.” If not now, when?

3. Willing to set goals. With each book I write, I sit first and write the goals I want to see accomplished at its end. The sale is a minor objective. In fact, I never write the word. Instead, I think of four objectives I want to reach in writing the novel. Four experiences I want to have while writing it. What commitments I am willing to make to get it done. And, this is the most important of the goal writing, the guidelines I am willing to set in order to make sure all prior goals and commitments are reached.

4. Willing to “Act As If”. I never thought I was a good teacher. I never thought I was a good business woman. It didn’t matter whether I held a position or made money. It’s all stinkin’- thinkin’. So moving into this fourth act, I act as if I am a good writer. That I can tell a story. And more importantly for me, I will offer a reader something to relate to or think about that might impact their life. Even if my ultimate goal is to solve a mystery or catch a killer.

5. Willing to learn. I couldn’t be a writer without being a good reader. Stephen King says it best in his book On Writing. And I paraphrase: You need to read to find out what is good. More importantly, you need to read to know what isn’t good, doesn’t work, or left you feeling unsatisfied. Don’t just read a book, deconstruct it.

6. Take the Word TRY Out of Your Vocabulary. Try is really a child’s word. It psychologically gives you an out: But I tried. I’m trying. Either do it or don’t do it. If it wasn’t done well, do it again! Don’t say, I want to write my story or a book. DO IT!

7. Willing to Get Back Up: Many say they don’t like the F-word. I was a girl of the sixties, the F- word was part of my vocabulary. It still is, but I am talking now about a different word F-word: FEAR, FAILURE, FINAL. I needed to quit thinking I was so special, that only I was afraid. Everyone’s afraid of something. Failure has been one of the best steps to take me to success. And Final? Is anything ever really final? Someday, in a technological “salvage” bin, someone is going to find one of my digital books and consider reading it. Just like leaving children behind, my life continues.

8. Willing to stay out of expectations: Life moves toward me as I move into it. Meaning, I don’t want to miss out on the treasure/pleasure because I labeled it as being a bestseller, on television, made into a film, taught as one of the great American Novels. I teach literature and writing. I know most great novelists never thought they would become one…and many died before getting the accolade.

9. Willing to do it for love: Most writing doesn’t pay the bills. I am not saying you won’t make millions, miracles do happen, but again, it’s a long shot. So write because you love to write. Write to say something. Write to offer a new idea or perspective. Write because you love to read. Most importantly, write to be not just a writer, but a GOOD writer.

10. Just BE Willing: It all comes back to risk. Willing to do life differently. Willing to put yourself out there no matter the success or failure. Willing to write down goals, and if not met, critically asking why then writing new ones. Willing to act and say you are a writer, author, even if you still don’t feel like you are. Willing to learn, and learn and learn. Willing to get back up if you fall down. Willing to put yourself out there without expectations. Treasure gratifications. Willing to do what you love to do, and get a day job if needed. Just be willing.



“What did he want to know about me?” “If you were still alive.” Connivers, murder and the international shipment of drugs unites the local PDs and the Federal Government, and drags Lillian Dove into a hailstorm of manipulation and danger; whereby, she is given two choices: Join? Or die trying.



D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy. Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released. She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon.

Where to find D.J.

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