Blooming Has No Deadline

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.

Here is an inspirational excerpt from You’ve Got This! by best-selling author Margie Warrell:

If you’re in your forties or fifties or sixties or far beyond, refuse to let the number of years you’ve been alive be your excuse for not taking the actions you might wish you’d taken years ago; the actions that would add a whole new dimension to your life today. As Rich Kaarlgard wrote in Late Bloomers, “Blooming has no deadline. Our future story is written in pencil, not carved in stone. It can be changed. There is no fixed chronology to self-determination, no age limit for breakthroughs.”

Julia Child was 49 when she wrote her first cookbook.

Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until her forties, and didn’t pen Little House on the Prairie until she was in her sixties.

Vera Wang was 39 before she started designing clothes.

Colonel Harland Sanders was in his sixties when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Diana Nyad was 64 when, after four failed attempts spanning 36 years, she finally achieved her long-held ambition of swimming the infamous channel of shark-ridden waters from Cuba to Florida (without a shark cage).

So whatever your age, whatever your situation, whatever the setbacks you’ve faced or the heartaches you’ve nursed or the stories you’ve told yourself about who you are and what you can do (or what you cannot do), decide right now that you will not settle for a life (career, relationships, etc.) that doesn’t light you up. More so, that you will set your sights on whatever vision—however humble or scarily huge—that does light you up. Research shows that while we lose some abilities as we grow older, the benefits of those we gain far exceed any that are lost. So rather than ask, “What can I accomplish despite my struggles?” ask yourself, “What can I accomplish because of them?”

Source: You’ve Got This! pp. 50-51

Trust Your Gut

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Susie Black. Today, Susie shares her creative journey and new release, Death by Sample Size.

Here’s Susie!

I had always envisioned a career as a journalist, but life had other plans. Right after my college graduation, our family had an emergency while my apparel sales rep Dad was at a trade show in Atlanta. When no one from his companies could cover for him so he could attend to the emergency, dad asked me to help. Despite having absolutely no background or interest in his business, this was my dad, so of course, I said yes. After giving me a half-hour crash course in how to sell ladies’ apparel, dad left me alone to muddle through running the trade show. When he returned three days later, he was taken aback at how many orders I’d written. To my utter astonishment, he offered me a job as a sub-rep. Graduate school didn’t appeal to me and the opportunities for women in journalism at the time were few and far between. So, I accepted dad’s offer, and the adventure of a lifetime began.

At the beginning of my apparel industry career as a sales rep in the deep southern states, I was the ONLY woman traveling a territory. I had to prove myself to everyone in the industry every day. Retailers, as well as manufacturers, doubted my ability to do the job or last more than a season. I proved all the doubters wrong and broke every glass ceiling.

Things rarely turn out the way you think they will, but they do happen for a reason. I got into the rag biz because I was destined to write about it. My advice to anyone planning a second act is trust your gut, believe in yourself, never stop saying what if, don’t let anyone crush your dream, and always remember that regret is the worst human emotion as it is the one we can usually do little or nothing about.

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds. Holly Schlivnik, the main character in the series, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies’ apparel industry.

Susie is offering a free Swimsuit Fit Guide to interested readers.

Email Susie here.

Blurb

“The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge.”

Tagline

“Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?”

Excerpt

“When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come-to-me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.

Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.

I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? The disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?

I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob.

It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?”

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target | Kobo

Bio

Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avidstamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Social Media Links

Twitter | BookBub | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Built Myself Up Layer by Layer

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Pamela Thibodeaux. Today, Pamela shares her inspiring reinvention story and her novel, My Heart Weeps.

Here’s Pamela!

Thank you, so much Joanne for hosting me on your incredible blog! I absolutely love the idea of reinvention. So many times in our lives we have to start over or ask for and take a second (or third, or fourth) chance for a do-over. Reminds me of those movies of people trading places so popular in the 80’s.

I guess you could say my first act, after being born into a great family with three brothers was marrying at the tender age of sixteen (yes, 16!). That union lasted ten years and sadly ended in divorce which brought about my first need for change. Five years later I married a wonderful man who died a short seventeen years afterward, throwing me into my 2nd second act and time of reinvention.

For most of my adult life I was someone’s wife or mother. After my husband’s death in 2009, I began the long and arduous journey from wife to widow to individual.

When I separated from my first husband (with no self esteem intact), I adopted the motto, “What you see is what you get. You like it? Good! You don’t? Hit the road, it’s your loss.” This was out of self preservation, not a sense of self worth or self love. With my second husband, I always felt beautiful and worthy in his eyes, but never in my own.

Years after being thrust into the dating scene—something I never felt comfortable with anyway—I learned the true meaning of self worth and self love. Now, when I say that motto, I know what I bring into a relationship, therefore I mean it on a deeper level.

Today I am happy with myself, my life and my relationships!

If anyone planning to pursue a second act would ask my advice, the first thing I would tell them is to work on their inner self and internal dialogue. After all, you’re going to take you into every aspect of your life so you might as well love and appreciate yourself! I built myself up layer by layer by writing and repeating positive ‘I Am’ affirmations….

I am love and I am loving. I am forgiven and I am forgiveness. I am healthy, whole and complete. I am beautiful. I am peaceful. I am joyful. I am happy and others are happy with me. I am (YOU fill in the blanks).

Read books like, You Can Heal Your Life and Mirror Work by Louise Hay, The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen and other similar titles. Positive affirmations are one of the kindest and most rewarding things you can do for yourself in any situation, but especially when you are in need of, or in the midst of change.

My Heart Weeps is Melena Rhyker’s second act—her journey from grief into new life and parallels my own.

Blurb

After thirty years married to the man of her dreams, Melena Rhyker is devastated by her husband’s death. Relief comes in the form of an artist’s retreat at the Crossed Penn ranch in Utopia, TX. She rediscovers a forgotten dream as her artistic talent flourishes into that of a gallery-worthy artist. Will she have the courage to follow the path she was destined to travel?

Garrett Saunders has been on the run most of his life. Abused and abandoned as a child, he escapes the clutches of a past filled with pain and shame, and hides from his calling as a Native American healer. His years as a CIA agent aid in overcoming his childhood and honing his talent and skill as a fine art photographer.

Follow their journey as two people who come from totally different backgrounds, but share gifts of gigantic proportions, find meaning and purpose in the Texas Hill Country.

Excerpt

At 6 p.m., she pulled into the carport, turned off the engine and laid her head on the steering wheel.

“Well, I’m home again. Made it through another agonizing eight hours or so, now to get through another night.”

Gathering every ounce of courage she could summon, she disembarked from her vehicle, retrieved the mail from the box beside the door, and entered the house. She thumbed through the envelopes and advertisements, then laid them on the table and poured a glass of juice. She reached for the bottle of over-the-counter pain reliever and froze.

It would be so easy to end this pain.

Oh, what an enticing thought. Just take a handful of pills and end it all. Would she wake up in heaven? Would Jesus meet her there? Would Jonathan? What about the kids or Mama—would they understand? Or would she destroy them? Where was the faith she claimed to have? Why was it failing her now?

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

Where to find Pamela…

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

Just Keep Showing Up and Shining Out!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Candace Colt sharing her multi-act life and Familiar Blessings, Book 1 in the Magic Potter Series.

Here’s Candace!

I’m honored to be a part of Joanne’s Second Act Series. Reading the other Second Act posts has been so inspiring, and I am sure you feel the same way. May I add that when you read another person’s story, and it doesn’t sound exactly like yours, perhaps you will find encouragement that change can be good no matter what the circumstances. Maybe you’ve already made a change (planned or unplanned). Another person’s story might give you the reassurance that you will be “okay.” The most important thing is this: have trust and faith in yourself!

First Act

“In my day,” a woman’s career options were a bit limited. That’s an understatement. Honestly, there few choices. Wife and mother (in tandem), nurse, airline stewardess, secretary, teacher. All worthy paths, yes. But even with a professional degree, many women quit the job after they got married. In my case, I got married, but I did not stop working. In fact, except for a few in-between-job periods, I worked full time until I retired in 2014.

I followed the teacher track and taught K-6 for several years. But then my husband’s job took us to a university town where teaching jobs were non-existent. Why? Because all the male grad students’ wives were teachers supporting their husbands. Does this sound familiar?

So, what’s a girl to do? Reinvention!

By some miracle, I was accepted into a Nuclear Medicine Technology program, with not much clue what that was! After graduation, I was hired, and naturally, I was the queen of the world! Then, a teaching job opened up in the field (college educator) that took me on a glorious seventeen-year journey. But then program funding disappeared, and there went that dream job! Another career change led me into entry-level college administration. Then to a college library director position (hello, I’m not a librarian!), where I had ten great years working with the best people in the world.

Fast Forward to the Second Act!

Retirement provided me the wherewithal to follow my heart to become a writer. Trust me, writing and promotion is full-time work, but I love it. Since I’ve retired, I’ve had nine books published in contemporary paranormal romance. By the way, each one has a wise older woman in the story. Imagine that?

I am nothing if not persistent. I don’t possess great intellectual genius. My changes were out of necessity rather than a master plan. If you ask me for advice, I will keep it simple. Paraphrasing my yoga teacher, no matter who you are or where you are in life,”Just keep showing up and shining out!”

Blurb

Familiar Blessings: The Magic Potter Series Book 1 (Cat’s Paw Cove Romance)

The magic begins when you trust your heart.

Tired of being hounded by the greedy dead, gifted medium Dr. Theodosia Blessing, the wonder-child of historians around the world, yearned for anonymity. After renouncing her magic, she reinvented herself as Theo, the potter. She returned to her hometown of Cat’s Paw Cove, Florida, where she lives with her familiar, a mind-reading tortoiseshell cat named Aloysius.

Former Army Ranger Ethan Cooper was content to live a reclusive life in his cabin in North Carolina. But as Christmas draws near, he agrees to repay a debt to an old man whose wise counsel brought him out of war’s dark shadow. Ethan accepts one last mission: to track down Theo.

Ethan appears unannounced on Theo’s doorstep with an envelope containing the old man’s letter. If what it says is true, the reluctant medium, skeptical Ranger, and wiseacre cat must travel back to 1720 to save a young boy from the gallows.

FAMILIAR BLESSINGS originally appeared in MEOWS & MISTLETOE, a Cat’s Paw Cove Romance Holiday Anthology. It won the 2019 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Excerpt

Curious but cautious, Theo hesitated, then carefully opened the parchment envelope and removed the folded paper.

She waved the letter at the stranger. “You drove all the way from North Carolina to give me this?”

“I suggested he could mail it certified, but he said it was too important. The old man’s my loyal friend, so I couldn’t refuse.”

Who was behind this? A stranger shows up with a letter an old man gave him. Sure.

Have I ever lied to you? Read it.

Theo glanced down at her cat, Aloysius. “Hush.” She noticed the man’s confusion. “Didn’t mean you.” He was obviously an Ordinary and hadn’t heard a word the cat said.

Theo cleared an imagined tickle in her throat and unfolded the paper. The ink had smudged in a few places, but the handwriting was legible. Her archivist expertise told her this was written in old English. F was used for S. The sentences were sprinkled with thee and thou.

In her former university position, she had analyzed documents like this before. Why would someone want this one hand-carried all the way to Florida when there were competent researchers in North Carolina?

Aloysius gave her ankle a ‘get-on-with-it’ shove. Read it out loud so the human can hear.

“All right, already.” She took a breath and began reading.

Dearest Theodosia,

I suspect thou hast many concerns about the manner in which this letter came to thee.

Please read it to the end. Trust ’tis written with the intentions of someone who loved and has watched over thee since thee was born.

Theodosia Blessing, thou comest from an old family. Thy God-given gift must continue–.

Theo’s throat tightened, and words bunched inside. Besides her family, only one living being on this earth knew her reason to abandon the magic: the ten-pound cat sitting at her feet.

Buy/Read

Candace’s Cat’s Paw Cove Romance Books are available on Amazon.

Candace’s Nocturne Falls Universe Books are available here:

Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

About the Author

Candace Colt lives the good life on Florida’s west coast with her husband of 48 years. After careers in education and the medical field, she launched her second life as a writer. Since she retired, she’s published nine paranormal romance books. She chose paranormal because it’s fun to write and because even shape-shifters, elves, psychics and time travelers deserve their happily ever after.

Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub | Goodreads

Grab That Dream and Shake the Stuffing Out of It

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have multi-genre author D.V. Stone sharing an inspirational post about her life journey.

Here’s Donna!

Briefly describe your first act.

Daughter, wife, mom, employee, volunteer EMT, we all have a variation of the first act, don’t we? We’re young and have hopes and dreams of who we want to be and where we want to be. The idea that love lasts forever. Children will be exactly who we want them to be. Our job is something we leap out of bed in the morning to get to. Our life will make a difference.

Then the reality hits. We learn love doesn’t last for everyone. Illness strikes. Your child decides to leave and go live with his father. A second job is needed to make ends meet. Anyone living the fantasy in paradise? Of course, to various degrees, not. Different times and challenges often suck the joy and hope out of us.

What triggered the need for change?

Everyone’s triggers are different and can happen in a series of unfortunate events. (Did you just think of Lemony Snicket?) My triggers were a series. Divorce in my early thirties. Re-marriage (this time a keeper). The child mentioned above moved out and broke my heart. A second job is needed to make ends meet. Then business failures. Don’t stop here and think it’s all bad all the time. This is real life, remember? Not the impossible images of the perfect family on TV and in commercials. But it’s the nitty-gritty life that is often messy. Then came not the most significant trigger, but the one that brought me to today. Today where I’m sitting and typing this. I worked at a job for nine years. It was the one I most enjoyed. One where I felt I made a difference most days. One of those days, I showed up for work, then was shown the door. It was a time when the economy tanking had hit hard, and my position was eliminated. Unemployed for the first time in almost thirty years. After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, the thought came, “You finally have time. What do you want to be when you grow up?” I grabbed my computer.

Where are you now?

So here I am today. I have five published books—both independent and traditionally published. I run two different author blogs. I’m back at work but not for long. The Third Act retirement is beckoning, and when you read this, it’s only a month away. My DH and I bought a camper, and we’re planning on seeing the country. I have so many books and pieces of books I’m itching to get to. So this show is going on the road.

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

Fear nearly brought my publishing dreams to a halt. What if nobody likes my writing? What if I make a fool out of myself? What if I’m just bad at it? My advice is more of a question. Who are you going to listen to? The voice that says you can’t? Or are you going to take a leap of faith to grab that dream and shake the stuffing out of it? Tear it up and put it back together in a way that works for you—today. Don’t let old dreams pass by unfulfilled. Take them out of the box you’ve shoved them into. Look at them. Really look. They may be unrealistic. But maybe we can make it a more reasonable achievement. You may never be the princess of your youthful dreams. But you can write about one. Perhaps even in the first person. Have you always dreamed of being a singer? Same thing. Even if you can’t sing worth a dime, you’ll always have music. What were your dreams, and how can they be brought forward to today?

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

I love this quote.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou

Blurb

Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He’s rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.

Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.

Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?

Excerpt

“Easy, you’re going to be okay.” A soft voice eased through the chaos around him. The owner of the voice grabbed his arms and held them in a firm but gentle grip. “I’m right here with you. You are not alone.” “Can hardly m-move.” His voice slurred. “C-can’t see anything.” “You’ve been in an accident. I’m an EMT with the ambulance squad,” the velvety voice calmly explained. “You can’t see well because we’re under a tarp. Hold still, okay?” “‘K.” A small light flickered at the edge of his vision. It shone into a bag next to him. Penlight. “You’re restrained to a board. It’s to keep your head from moving and causing more injury.” She continued to talk to him. The voice reached down somewhere inside him, calming and peaceful, so he focused on it. A glow from spotlights on the outside lit whatever covered them. The shadow gave the woman the appearance of a halo—like an angel.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | Google Books | Kobo

Author Bio

Hi, my name is D. V. Stone. I am a multi-genre author of two independently published books. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar is a fantasy romance. Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake is a mid-grade paranormal. Recently, Rock House Grill was released by Wild Rose Press. Rainbow Sprinkles, a novella released on July 8th. I also host Welcome to the Campfire and A Peek Through the Window, both weekly blogs. Here’s a little more about me.

Born in Brooklyn, D.V. Stone has moved around a bit and even lived for a time on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she always considered herself a Jersey Girl. She met and married the love of her life, Pete—a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved this time to Sussex County. They live with Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter, and their cat Baby.

D.V.’s career path varied from working with the disabled to become a volunteer EMT, which in turn led to working in hospital emergency rooms and then in a women’s state prison. After a few years, she took a break from medicine and became the owner of Heavenly Brew, a specialty coffee shop in Sparta, NJ, and a small restaurant in Lafayette. Life handed some setbacks, and she ended up back in the medical field, but this time in a veterinary emergency hospital.

“Thank you for taking the time to read about me. Each time you open the pages to one of my books, I hope you’ll be swept away by the story and find encouragement in your own life, never to give up on hope.”

Where to find D.V. Stone…

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

One-Stop Link

Other Books by D. V. Stone

Rainbow Sprinkles
After the storm come the rainbows.

Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar
One foolish thought. One brutal act. Instead of a peaceful alliance––war.

Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake
A Mid-grade paranormal

Australia Burns
Anthology – Contributing Author

Trust That Little Voice Within

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Guelph author Wendy Stross sharing her inspiring reinvention story and first novel, A Love to Behold.

Here’s Wendy!

Act One

When contemplating this blog and what to share, I realize that throughout my life I have had various endeavours, various acts, and consider myself to be very much a student of life. With that said, at the age of nineteen, I became a registered nurse working in a downtown Toronto hospital. I worked on a surgical unit, part of which was directed to the treatment and care of patients with lung cancer. Once, when working a night shift, a couple of nurses and I were talking about what we would do if, at some time, we stopped nursing. “A writer,” I replied without thinking. My answer took me by surprise. I thought, “Now where did that come from?” I could never have imagined that one day I would hold a Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto, and later still, write and publish a novel, A Love to Behold. So, how did I get from nurse to writer?

Years later when my husband and I had moved to Guelph and my children were in school, I registered as a full-time student at the local university. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in taking history. Truthfully, when in high school, if someone had told me one day I would become an historian, I would have told them they were crazy. History then was about kings, people with money, and those who held political, legal and/or religious power. There were few, if any, women, children – no ordinary individuals such as myself. As such, the subject held little interest for me. But, timing is everything. Two decades later when I returned to university, history as a discipline of study was undergoing significant changes. It was about social and cultural history, directed to including those individuals who had previously been ignored, silenced, excluded from the historical narrative. I thought, “Okay, this interests me.”

This new history demanded a great imagination. One had to examine old sources in new ways, to imagine new possibilities of discovering and learning about those individuals who had been ghosted from the past. In looking at old sources in new ways, historians were coming to new understandings about the past. I found this new direction exciting. I don’t think it was an accident that at the same time I was doing my Ph.D., my interest in spirituality was sparked, first through reading, then being a member of a goddess circle, and attending various spiritual workshops. Again, it was about expanding my worldview, using my imagination.

What triggered the need for change?

After earning my doctorate, for the next few years, I did some contract work and volunteering at the local city museum. Initially, I loved the experience of working in my community, discovering its past through material culture. But over time, I had this feeling that I didn’t belong there anymore. At the same time, both my parents were ill and I felt drained, physically, emotionally, and mentally. And even though I had no idea what I was going to do next, I decided to leave.

Where am I now?

So, why turn to fiction? In nursing, in the study of history and in working at the museum, I came upon a world of stories, past and present, stories we tell ourselves, stories that shape who we are. I became interested in the possibilities of these stories – possibilities not just seen, but the unseen, the undocumented, the unexplored possibilities imagined, but perhaps not written about.

When doing a doctorate in history, it was necessary to write something original, something new yet to be addressed. And so, when turning to fiction, I wanted to write something unique, a different kind of love story. A couple of years earlier I had heard a woman on the radio talk about the love and relationship she had shared with her twin flame. She described their love as deeply respectful and unconditional, one that consistently honoured the other’s choices and situations. I began to wonder what that kind of relationship would look like. How would it manifest in an ordinary life? And what would that look like if one twin flame was still alive, but one was dead and across the veil? A Love to Behold is the product of my wondering, my imagining.

It was only as I was preparing for the virtual book launch of A Love to Behold, that I came to fully appreciate all that I have accomplished. For a long time, I questioned what I was doing in terms of my career. To be a writer was something I never could have imagined for myself. And the fact that I have written and published my first novel is amazing to me.

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

The best advice I ever received was from my husband. My first written assignment as a university student was a philosophy paper on Plato’s Republic. Prior to this, the extent of my writing had been the weekly grocery list. The Saturday before the essay was due, I went up to my study. Hours passed, and finally my husband came upstairs and dared to ask me how it was going.

I burst out crying. “I can’t do this! It’s too hard!” In all that time, I had not been able to put a single word down on paper.

Once my husband had recovered from his shock, he said, “Wendy, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just write down your thoughts, and slowly it will come to you. You can always go back and edit it.”

While he was talking about writing, I think it is true for life in general. Beginning anything new is scary, and it is hard. Looking back on my journey from nurse, to historian, and now novelist, I have come to appreciate how much courage it took to keep going. I remember handing in a draft of my first chapter of my doctoral thesis to my supervisor who then returned it with comments. I asked him if I should edit it. He answered, “No. Keep going. It is only when you reach the end that you will finally know what your book is about.” Wise words, I still hold dear.

Affirmation to Share

Love yourself and be kind to yourself. Trust that little voice within, even if at times, it seems to make no sense. It is leading you somewhere, someplace that you can’t even imagine – yet.

Blurb

This is the story of Anne and Archie. Boy meets Girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy finally gets Girl. Sounds ordinary? Well yes, until you realize Boy meets Girl, and they are together for three months. Boy loses Girl for forty-three years, and does not get Girl until after his death when he returns to tell her she was the love of his life. It is an amazing love story, full of promise, hardship, and the growing awareness of the immense and unconditional love shared by these twin flames.

Excerpt

As she turned the key in the ignition, Anne decided to stop at “the Gathering” – an annual event sponsored by a local store that specialized in spirituality. It was around 10:30 and the church auditorium was humming with activity. Tables of the various vendors, healers, and mediums were scattered throughout the room.

Jennifer, a friend, called to her, “Hey kid, what are you doing here?”

“Probably procrastinating! I’ve never been to this event and was curious.” Jennifer was an energy practitioner who did Reiki and Reflexology, and Anne asked if she had a table here.

Jennifer said no, that this kind of event was not conducive to the healing work she did – too busy and noisy. “Actually, I’m just leaving. My daughter has dance in an hour. See you at Friday yoga?”

Anne nodded, waved bye and started to wander. Everything from aromatherapy, crystals, jewelry, Christmas decorations and baking, as well as various healers offering their services were to be found in this one room. She was thinking she should go when from the corner of her eye, she spotted a woman seated at a table; her sign read “Susan Barker, Psychic Medium – Readings – $60 for 30 minutes.” Anne had had readings from psychics before, some good, some not so good. She was not familiar with this one. Anne circled the room once more, but found herself drawn back to psychic Sue. Ms. Barker looked to be around fifty, heavy-set, and reminded Anne of a beloved great-aunt. She was free at the moment, so Anne paid her money and sat down for a reading.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, the medium was pretty on track. Anne’s grandmother had come through, saying Anne had come by her love of books from her.

“Was there something at the end whereby she couldn’t talk?”

“Yes, she had a stroke that affected her throat. She could neither swallow nor speak at the end.”

The psychic said that her grandmother regretted she was unable to say some of the things she had wanted to say. That she was very proud of Anne and of all she had accomplished while being a wife and mother. Moments later, Sue looked above Anne’s head, her eyes widening in surprise.

“Your soulmate’s here, standing behind you!”

Stunned, Anne leaned forward to ensure she had heard correctly. “I’m sorry. What?” And then, shaking her head, she said, “You must be mistaken. I’ve been married over forty years and to my knowledge, my husband is very much alive.”

Bio

Throughout her life, Wendy has had various endeavours and considers herself to be very much a student of life. As well as being a wife, mother, and grandmother, she has been a registered nurse, has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto, and has earned a Certificate in Museum Studies from the Ontario Museum Association.

The common thread underlying all her pursuits is Wendy’s lifelong passion for all things spiritual and unknown. At one point in her life, Wendy was a member of a goddess circle. The goddess experience, being part of a circle of women, opened Wendy up to the possibilities of magic in the world, to the possibilities within herself.

Over the last few years, she has attended various spiritual workshops which further fueled her interest in subjects such as soul contracts, soul ages, reincarnation, and meditation, prayer, dreams – all means by which one is able to connect with the wisdom of Spirit, God, one’s High Self, spirit guides and angels. And Wendy was astounded to learn that she could converse with and access the wisdom of her soul, her High Self, God, her spirit guides and angels through various means. The understanding that one could communicate with those spirits across the veil, that across the veil relationships were real and are possible served as inspiration for A Love to Behold, her first novel.

So, why turn to fiction? In the study of cultural and social history, in efforts to gain a more inclusive understanding and vision of the past, Wendy came upon a world of stories, past and present, stories we tell ourselves, the stories that shape who we are. And she became interested in the possibilities of these stories – possibilities not just seen, but the unseen, the undocumented, the unexplored possibilities imagined but perhaps not written about.

Wendy has long desired to write a novel, a love story, about the immense and unconditional love shared by twin flames. What would that kind of love and relationship look like? How would it manifest in an ordinary life? And what would that look like if one twin flame was still alive, but one was dead and across the veil? A Love to Behold is the product of Wendy’s wondering – her imagining.

Social Media and Buy Link

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Buy Link

The recording of the virtual book launch of A Love To Behold on March 7th is now on YouTube. Here’s the link.

Adversity: A Catalyst for Reinvention

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Kimberly Baer sharing her inspiring reinvention story and her novels, The Haunted Purse and Mall Girls Meet the Shadow Vandal.

Here’s Kimberly!

Joanne, thanks so much for inviting me here today. I’m honored to be featured on your blog.

I never set out to reinvent myself. Reinvention has been forced upon me by fate—time and time again.

Long ago, I was a young stay-at-home mom living a comfortable domestic life with my husband, Richard, and our three children, ages six eight, and twelve. Then the unthinkable happened: Richard died of a sudden, first-time heart attack. In the blink of an eye, I became a widow with three young children to support. At the time, I had only a high school education. My focus in life narrowed to raising the kids and putting myself through college. I didn’t date, because it didn’t seem fair to make the kids share their only parent with someone new.

My family’s journey wasn’t easy, but we made it. The kids grew up and, miraculously, turned out okay. I graduated from college and got a good job as an editor. And then came the second blow. That great job I had? I lost it. The organization I was working for shut its doors for good. As a result, I was out of work for six months. After applying for dozens of jobs, I finally snagged the perfect one. The only problem: it was two hundred miles away—and that meant I had to leave the town I’d lived in my whole life.

That second upheaval was almost as hard to deal with as the first. In my hometown, I’d had a support system consisting of friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors. My parents and sister lived minutes away. I knew the area so well, I could have driven the roads blindfolded. But after I moved, I was alone in a strange city, working with people I didn’t know. I was constantly getting lost on the unfamiliar roads. I’d lie in bed at night pining for my beloved old house, my good friends, the life I’d left behind.

That was nine years ago. My new locale isn’t so new and scary anymore. I still have the great job that brought me here in the first place. I’ve made friends. And although I’ll probably never know the area as well as I know my hometown, I manage to get to all the important places. More excitingly, I’m now a traditionally published author of two books: a young adult paranormal novel, The Haunted Purse, and a middle-grade mystery novel, Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal. The cherry on top of everything: after all those years of not dating, I have a wonderful fiancé named Clint.

Sound like a happily-ever-after ending? It isn’t really. (I’m not sure such a thing even exists.) Life has thrown me a new curve ball. A few years ago, Clint was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. The only cure is a lung transplant—and, miraculously, he was able to get one. Unfortunately, he’s suffered many setbacks since then and remains at risk of developing an infection or succumbing to organ rejection.

So once again, I’m facing a challenge: caring for a loved one with a serious medical condition. Am I up for it? You bet. They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I believe that. Getting through one crisis shows us that we have what it takes to get through the next one.

Sometimes I sit back and marvel at the journey I’ve made thus far. My life today is very different from what it would have been if Richard hadn’t died. I’ve grown tremendously as a person. I’ve gone from sheltered young wife and mother to mature college student to uprooted career woman to caregiver. That’s four acts, four different scenarios. And each transition was forced upon me by fate.

Are you facing tough challenges of your own? Relax—you’ve got this. Know that you will get through whatever life throws at you. You’re stronger than you think, and you have the power to reinvent yourself as many times as fate demands it.

Blurb for Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal
(a middle-grade novel)

Chloe Lamont doesn’t live in a neighborhood, like most kids. Her house is in the middle of the mall. And now someone is stealing items from her house and using them to vandalize stores. Who is trying to frame her? And how are they getting into the house?

Desperate to catch the real vandal and clear her name, Chloe seeks help from the kids in her Mystery Reading Group at school. While searching for clues, the Mystery Groupers make an astounding discovery. And then things get really crazy…

buynow

Blurb for The Haunted Purse (a young adult novel)

That old denim purse Libby Dawson bought at the thrift store isn’t your run-of-the-mill teenage tote. It’s a bag of secrets, imbued with supernatural powers. Strange items keep turning up inside, clues to a decades-old mystery only Libby can solve.

Filled with apprehension and yet intrigued by the mounting pile of evidence, Libby digs for the truth. And eventually finds it. But the story of the purse is darker than she imagined—and its next horrific chapter is going to be all about her.

buynow

Social Media Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

Revisiting My Childhood Dream

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard sharing her creative journey and new release, Spirit in Time.

Here’s Julie!

Briefly describe your first act.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Nothing else appealed so when I went to college, I was faced with a dilemma: what major would best enable a writing career? English came to mind, of course, but journalism was more practical as far as earning a living while writing. My first act, then, was as a reporter and editor for a variety of newspapers in California, Nevada and Idaho. I loved this career even more than I expected, not just because I could write every day, but also because the people I interviewed were fascinating. I interviewed celebrities, company CEOs, and average people who ended up in extraordinary, newsworthy situations. I learned a great deal about human behavior – from kindness to deception.

What triggered the need for change?

Oh, the ‘80s and ‘90s decades were great for journalism! Newspapers had plentiful staff to tackle issues of the day and all I had to focus on was good, solid reporting. The technology changes came swiftly and complicated my job. Layoffs began in earnest and about one-third of newsroom staff were suddenly gone, meaning I needed to do even more. Frankly, the joy of working in the newspaper industry disappeared and I began thinking more and more of my childhood dream of being an author.

Second acts can take a lot of time and planning. I knew what I wanted but didn’t quite know how to get there. With two kids soon heading to college, we couldn’t afford for me to quit. But I tinkered with fiction here and there in my (very) limited spare time. I realized that fiction-writing was much different from non-fiction. There was point of view, voice, story arcs, plot, character development, and so many more things to learn. It took me a few years to make the transition.

Where are you now?

I have seven books published and am hard at work on the eighth. I have several more books in mind and can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

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

Starting a second act can be scary. Who knows whether you’ll succeed? But what if you do? Even the effort is an achievement. Not everyone even gets a chance, or pursues a long-burning dream. Don’t expect success right away, stay the course and be patient.

Tagline: Time is not on her side.

Blurb

Time travel isn’t real. It can’t be real. But ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester discovers otherwise when an enigmatic spirit conveys her to 1872 to do his bidding.
Jillian finds herself employed as a maid in Sacramento, in an elegant mansion with a famous painting. The artwork reveals another mystery: Why does the man within look exactly like her boyfriend, Mason Chandler?

Morality and sin live side by side, not only in the picture, but also within her. As her transgressions escalate, she races the clock to find the man in the painting, and hunt down a spirit with a disconcerting gift.

But will time be her friend or foe?

Excerpt

“Are you a ghost?” A young girl stood where the guard had been only minutes before. She spoke matter- of-factly, her dark eyes alive with curiosity.

The house was still whole, she was alive, and the world hadn’t ended. Jillian scanned the room for damage, then blinked. This must be a dream. The long dining table—bare just moments ago—was now laid for a meal. Glasses sat upright, forks and spoons lined up in perfect order, and a tall flower arrangement appeared unscathed. A crystal chandelier above the table remained perfectly still.

The guard and Asian man were nowhere in sight.

The girl, dressed neatly in a calf-length white pinafore embellished with pink ribbons, didn’t appear rattled by the cataclysmic jolt.

“What happened?” Jillian asked, still crouched on her knees. “Are you okay?”

“You don’t belong here. Mother will be angry.”
Even though the floor had ceased to shake, the roiling continued in her head. Might this very real looking girl be a spirit? Most apparitions wavered in some manner, their appearances paler and less there than the tangible world around them. This child appeared solid in every way, from the tips of her shiny chestnut hair to the toes of her lace-up black shoes.

Buy/Read

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Bookbub | Goodreads

About the Author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub | Twitter | Instagram

Seize the Day – Carpe Diem!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Jane Risdon sharing a multi-act creative journey that has spanned six decades across three continents.

Here’s Jane!

I’ve always wanted to write but a move overseas with my family in my mid-teens, put paid to that, even though I had an offer from a friend’s father who was an editor on the Sunday Times, to work under his guidance as a ‘cub’ reporter. I ended up leaving school and sitting at home in Germany for a year doing housework and child-minding for my parents.

A year later and I was ‘found’ a job at the local British Army Base – Ministry of Defence – in the small village where we lived. I went to work in an office filled with elderly Germans who had worked for the Army since the end of the War and none of them wanted to speak to me in English. I had learned shorthand and typing at school in French, but not in German! I managed typing in German all day – somehow – and vowed to get away as soon as I turned 18 and could get a Passport in my own right.

An avid reader of The Lady in those days, I spotted an advert for the Office of Information in Whitehall, one of the Government Ministry departments. I applied for it, thinking I could spend all day writing and living it up in London in the ‘Swingin’ Sixties.’ It meant I could be with my musician boyfriend too. We hadn’t seen each other since I’d left England, and because his band was constantly touring, communications between us were hit and miss.

I didn’t get the job, but I was invited to London to sit on an interview board with a view to joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, a more prestigious post and I found out later, and hard to get a job with. I jumped at it because I was desperate to get away from Germany. I sat on the board – several men stared at me over a long table as I sat marooned in the middle of a huge room on a chair facing them. They fired questions at me. I left thinking I’d failed.

Several months later I got a letter telling me that after extensive PV (Positive Vetting) I had the job. Within weeks I was ensconced in a Civil Service Hostel in Lancaster Gate on the Bayswater Road and working in the FCO in their Personnel department. At last, I could see my boyfriend.

I worked for the FCO and later many other Government departments as my boyfriend became my husband, and his band grew more successful. Many years later we decided enough was enough and we decided to go into business together putting what we had learned during his career to use managing recording artists, singers, songwriters, and record producers internationally. We also found music for TV/Movie soundtracks.

We lived and worked overseas mostly, in USA and SE Asia and got to know how Hollywood and Bollywood worked. We were successful and enjoyed working with music and movies.

However, there comes a time when it all gets too, too much. Babysitting testosterone fuelled musicians and PMT stressed females is not much fun after a while, and after many years in the business we decided to retire.

At last, I could write. And I did, non-stop for about 3 years. I was first published in 2012, and signed to a traditional publisher in 2014, with a co-written novel with Christina Jones, Only One Woman, published in 2018. In-between I was published in many anthologies and magazines – both print and online. My collection of short crime stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, was published in 2019.

In December 2020 I was taken on by an agent, Linda Langton of Langtons International Literary Agency in New York City, USA. So, another chapter in my life opens and I am excited to see what transpires.

I almost gave up the dream of being a writer. Life and work got in the way. Having to work for a living and go for security of income when my husband and his band were struggling in the early years meant that I had little time to myself. Someone had to earn regularly. I kept thinking, ‘one day…’ Later working with other musicians, managing their careers, meant there really wasn’t time. During our 50 years of marriage, we have never even had a holiday together.

I would tell anyone with a dream to hold on to it and try to plan the road ahead. I couldn’t plan because life became too complicated early on: marriage, child, and career in music got in the way. I loved what I did, but it was not conducive to writing. Trying to find time to myself whilst constantly on the road, in planes, and recording studios, surrounded by demanding artists is not the right atmosphere. Their careers took precedence. Thanks goodness we retired, and I was able to write to my heart’s content.

I never thought about publishing my work; I was approached by my publisher. I never sought an agent. Again, I was approached by one. It took me a year to accept her offer. I wonder what opportunities I could have seized had I been that much younger when achieving all this. I’ll never know.

My advice to anyone seeking a career in writing would be to go for it and not wait. I wish I’d begun writing 30 years ago, but it was not to be. However, I look back at my younger self and wonder: would I have been able to write, and would a lack of life experiences back then have made my writing vastly different from what it is today? But I do wish I had not waited, I wish I had more time to write everything I need to, but sadly I cannot change that. If I’d had an idea of my future and could have planned it, I would have. But most of us live a day at a time and suddenly, like me, wake up and wonder where all the time has gone.

I advise anyone thinking of writing to seize the day – Carpe Diem. Good luck.

Jane’s Books

Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts are available at Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Amazon and other digital platforms. International territories, too.

Amazon Author Page (UK) | Amazon Author Page (US)

My regular music series, In the Mix is available in print and online from The Writers and Readers Magazine. The Writers and Readers’ Magazine is available from Amazon and Magazine Heaven. You can buy it in print or for Kindle etc. packed full of articles, poems, short stories and more. My regular series In the Mix is there as well. Submissions always welcome, the deadline is 21st January.

Also available in print and on subscription here.

Bio

Jane Risdon is the co-author of Only One Woman, with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and Undercover: Crime Shorts, (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies and writing for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine and The Writers and Readers’ Magazine.

Jane’s collection of crime stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, was book of the Month on virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradion.com and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.

Jane is represented by Linda Langton of Langtons International Literary Agency, New York, USA.

Where to find Jane…

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Pinterest | BookBub | WNB Network West Channel 6 | WNB Network West Channel 4 | Chat and Spin Radio | MYLVF

MYVLF video interview: Meet me in MYVLF.com watch my video interview and those of many well-known authors. Free Book of the Month, festival and so much more. I’m chatting about Only One Woman, Undercover: Crime Shorts, the music business, working in the Civil Service in the late 1960s, touring America, and so much more. The inspiration for my writing is all there…

TheAuthorsShow.com: Twice monthly, Jane is podcast on this global internet show talking about Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts.