Turning Experience Into a Belly Laugh

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Shirley Goldberg sharing her inspiring reinvention story and new release, Middle Ageish.

Here’s Shirley!

Thank you, Joanne, for having me on your blog. It’s always fun to talk to readers.

So why a book about a woman who starts over, moves from Paris, France to New Haven, CT, goes back to school, and online dates?

Well, I sort of did the same thing. I’d been living in Greece for eleven years and my marriage was failing.

What triggered my decision was a mundane exchange between me and my husband one evening over what was the plan for dinner. And it was in the middle of that conversation that I realized I no longer wanted to be married. A realization that had been coming for a long time.

I moved back to Connecticut to start over, went back to school and started dating.

While writing the book––and talking about my characters as if they were friends––my real friends asked questions. By this time, they were familiar with the book’s heroine, Sunny Chanel, who was online dating. Over happy hour appetizers and wine, they’d pepper me for answers. “How much is autobiographical?” “Was that a true story about the 300-pound man Sunny dated?” “Did you really go on six meets in one week?”

Sure, there’s a bit of me in Middle Ageish, because making fiction and turning experience into a belly laugh is much more fun than humans should have. And I’m having the time of my life, pumping my checkered past for “copy” as Nora Ephron (or was it her mother?) called everything that was story material.

Starting over is a real thing. It resonates with happily married women because they have no idea about how tough online dating can be. And they’re fascinated and glad they aren’t dating. Divorced women, on the other hand, are intimated by the pitfalls and stories they’ve heard.

Lucky for them I’ve got a website chock full of tips and suggestions for anyone started over. There are articles for men, too, such as how to entice a woman to email him back, written with Peter, a friend of mine who’s been around the dating block a few times. These days he’s distance dating, so I’m planning on interviewing him now that the world of online dating has shifted.

Thinking about venturing out there? When it comes to online dating, remember that nothing counts until you meet. Emailing and zooming aren’t dating, but they’re a good start.

You’re never too old to start new.

Blurb

Tagline: Don’t leave home without your sense of humor.

Sunny Chanel’s marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says “au revoir” Paris and croissants, and “hello” cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles.

Encouraged by her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She’s middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can’t forget calls with an unexpected request.

Excerpt from Middle Ageish

“Last night was number nine,” I said, en route to a job interview. In the car, I shared recent experiences with my best friend Isabel while she kept me company on the phone. School was out, and I’d caught her prepping in her classroom.

“You’ve reduced your meets to numbers?”

“What’s the point in names? I’m not seeing any of these guys again, and you just get confused.” I pulled into the Waffle Cone parking lot and unhooked my seat belt.

“True. But you’re turning into a cynic.”

“As soon as I find my someone special, I’ll tell you his name.”

“Sounds good. So what about your number nine?” Isabel had met her guy online.

“We traded tales from the trenches and he—”

“Trenches?” Her voice rose. “What trenches?”

“Dating trenches, what other kinds of trenches do you think?” Isabel is way too sheltered. “He met eight women, all in one day. In a coffee shop in Hartford. Two coffee shops. Back to back appointments.”

“You are joking.” She cackled, not a pleasant sound.

“He ran from one coffee shop to the other. Had it all timed—half an hour in one coffee shop, and then he’d run a block to the second, and so forth.”

“People do these things?” Isabel asked. She’s lost touch, been with Roberto far too long.

“Oh, lots of weird behavior. I thought it was bold. In fact, I can’t believe what some guys tell me. And do. Like this guy––” I opened the car door, drooling for a vanilla cone with sprinkles.

“Don’t tell me,” she snorted. “I don’t want to know.”

“This other guy has no boundaries and he––”

She hung up.

Oh well. I slid out of the car. Isabel didn’t have a clue about my secret online dating life.

Buy/Read Links

Amazon | Apple | Nook/Barnes and Noble | Google | Kobo | Goodreads | BookBub

About the Author

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look at living single and dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

Visit my website for another excerpt from the book. Sign up and grab a copy of Happy Hour, a short story about an online meet and a tiny misunderstanding. https://midagedating.com/

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon Author Page


Third Time’s A Charm

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Darlene Deluca sharing her multi-act life and new release, The Story Between Us.

Here’s Darlene!

Hello, everyone! Thanks for the opportunity to share my story – the one I’m living and the one I wrote! As far as career goes, fiction-writing is my third act.

In a way, I’ve always been traveling toward this path. English was always my favorite subject in school. Anyone remember the SRA reading program? Those color-coded reading levels that indicated just how big a reading nerd, er, expert, you were? Ha! Competitive reading. I loved it, and was almost always at the head of the class. As a kid, one of my favorite places to hang out was a small local library within walking distance of my home. Once I got a little older, say junior high, I’d take the bus downtown to the main library to expand my horizons – more books are better!!

Anyway, all of that led me to major in Journalism in college. And that launched me into my first act as a newspaper reporter. I was a reporter for a suburban newspaper outside of Kansas City where I learned a lot about how city government works. I covered numerous small suburbs, attended a gazillion planning commission meetings, park board meetings and city council meetings. But it was a low-paying job and the schedule had me working two or three nights a week. After a few years, I was ready to move on.

That led me to Act Two – Corporate America. I was on the ground floor of the move into desktop publishing. For many years, I wrote articles and produced newsletters for companies, their employees, and their customers. For 21 years, I was an editor, art director and producer for Hallmark Cards, Inc. in Kansas City. For about 17 of those years, I enjoyed the flexibility of working part time. As a mom, that was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to be more involved with my kids and their school activities. I was a Girl Scout leader, band mom, debate mom, soccer mom, tennis mom, room mom, etc. Though the part-time status kept me from climbing the ladder and a few levels of promotions (I mean, you can’t be serious about your work and only do it part time, right?), I wouldn’t have traded it.

And then 2009 happened. The economy went south, the market tanked, and people lost their jobs. I survived several rounds of cuts, but then it happened – I got my “downsizing” notice.

Long story short, it turned out to be the thing that released me and pushed me on to new, more exciting endeavors. I’m not a big fan of change. If the layoff hadn’t occurred I would probably still be plugging away at the same corporate job that I’d done for ten years.

That brings me to Act Three – writing books. At the time, the job market was not great for a 50-year-old woman. I had a Journalism degree, but all my clips were ancient because I’d moved into art direction and product development. And though I had a lot of art background and experience, I didn’t have the official art degree required for those kinds of jobs. Kind of between a rock and a hard place. The answer? Reinvent myself and forget Corporate America! (I even changed my name.) 🙂

So, I began writing novels. Interestingly, my new book was released a few days ago on my 60th birthday. That’s right, I “gave birth” at age 60! 🙂 Wow. It’s still a shock to say that number. The new book, “The Story Between Us,” is a sweet romance published by The Wild Rose Press. I have seven other full-length novels that are women’s fiction or contemporary romance.

Earlier this year, my plan was to cash out a small IRA and use it to celebrate my birthday. I was close to booking my reservation to attend a writer’s conference in Hawaii. And I’d begun researching VRBO options in Palm Springs and Palm Beach for a long winter getaway. Sadly, Covid-19 hit, and all of my plans came to an abrupt, screeching halt. Sigh. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got the email from The Wild Rose Press saying my book release date was on my birthday. Yay! Something to celebrate!

My advice for anyone thinking about pursuing a second act? If you can afford it, go for it! You never know when you’ll get another opportunity. Also, look for the positive in change. Sometimes it feels like a loss. You might be sad or angry or scared. But it might be the nudge you need to explore or develop that next act!

Tagline

She sees a bestseller and heartwarming keepsake; he sees exploitation.

Book Blurb

Her agent warned her not to get attached to a fan. But children’s book author Kristen Hanover is about to break the rules. Kristen meets a young boy who is a victim of a tragic accident and is drawn into the heartbreaking situation.

Six years ago, Reed Armstrong never imagined he’d actually become guardian of his sister’s boy. Now he is, and most days he’s not sure he’s up to the task.

When he and Dylan meet Kristen, Reed downplays his nephew’s crush on the author. But as their lives become unexpectedly intertwined, he finds himself captivated as well. Trouble is, she sells stories for a living. Does she truly care about Dylan…and Reed, or is she using them for her own career advancement?

Book Excerpt

Reed pulled his keys out of his pocket. In the doorway, he folded his arms and leaned against the casing. “Can I ask you a question?”

Chest pounding, Kristen forced a smile. “Of course.” She took a couple of steps toward him and braced a hand against the back of the sofa.

“Is writing your only reason for being here?”

Heavy, charged air closed around her. How to answer that? Honestly, of course, but…how honestly? “Well, writing is my goal for sure. But—” She glanced around the room before looking at him again. “I’d love to ride my horse, er, Star, and spend some time with…with people I like, too.”

As he pushed off from the door, a slow grin spread across his face. “Sounds like an excellent plan.” He sauntered closer. About a foot away, he stopped. “You’re good with dinner at the main house tonight? Don’t let Dylan bully you. You decide.”

She gave a shaky laugh. That was the plan, right? She couldn’t remember for sure. Her brain was going fuzzy. “I’d love to,” she managed to say.

He leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen could only nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa. She ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?

Buy links

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes and Noble | Apple

Author Bio

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.

Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.

The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

Social Media Links

Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


Exploring a New Craft

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Jeny Heckman sharing her writing journey and new release, The Warrior’s Progeny.

Here’s Jeny!

Briefly describe your first act.

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. My husband and I eloped after knowing each other three months. three months after we were married, I became pregnant with my daughter, Paisley. So, we had our daughter and nine days later had our first anniversary. Twenty months passed and we had our son, Charlie and I started a business. We dug in and had a fantastic and exciting life together filled with friends, sports, the business, charities and fun.

What triggered the need for change?

The kids graduated from high school and our very busy life came to an abrupt halt. It was hard enough saying goodbye to my daughter at college, but when my son left two years later, the house became very quiet. I had written my first book and self-published it but didn’t really know much about the business. I had extra time on my hands and was interested in exploring this new craft.

Where are you now?

After I published the first one, I wanted to try to write a series. I was going to a lot of classes and conferences. At the conferences, people go to a kind of cattle call where they pitch their books to agents, editors and publishers. I didn’t have a book yet, so I pitched an idea for a series on Greek mythology and modern-day descendants. Kind of a Percy Jackson meets Nora Roberts. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and I began the series, just releasing book two July 27th.

Last Monday, I began writing book three and will have a side novella come out around Christmas time. I also will be turning all my books into audio next year.

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

Well, I’m no expert, but I wasn’t prepared for all the marketing that goes into a book and find myself continually playing catch up. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve written two or three books first, while establishing a simple media presence. The editing process takes a long time too, so I would have started with book one and got that out while doing the time consuming editing and marketing, all the while knowing I didn’t have to be writing the next book so quickly because I had two or three in the coffers. It just gives you time rather than writing one, editing, and releasing, then writing, editing and releasing.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

My favorite quote of all time is from the movie, Hope Floats. Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Remember that when you find yourself at the beginning and give hope a chance to float up, and it will.

My other favorite quote is from Betty Jean Eadie, author of Embraced by the Light. I met her once and she is amazing. She said…Everyone is a writer, some people just don’t know their own story.

I don’t know if she knows how much that resonated with me, but it was very powerful.

Tagline

If love dies, can it be reborn…only stronger?

Blurb

Colton Stone is a newly traded tight end whose reputation is as battered as his football helmet. When he receives a vacation invitation from his new teammates, he accepts. There he collides with Dr. Lillian Morgan, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, and doesn’t know what to think.

A widow with two children, Lilly is looking forward to her friends’ wedding. When she meets Colton Stone, his arrogant attitude only makes her long for the love she took for granted. Lilly struggles between letting go of her perfect past for an uncertain future.

Strange events occur, out of the realm of normal consciousness. When black energy touches their world Colt and Lilly become the pawns of the immortal Greek gods. Is the love developing between them natural, or part of a larger prophecy?

Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle | Nook | iBooks

Author Bio

Award-winning author, Jeny Heckman, was born in Bellingham, Washington, and was the youngest of two daughters. She met her husband, Jeff, in August 1992, and eloped three months later, at Magen’s Bay, on St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

She wrote her first book, the Catch, in a few short months but took several years before she gained the courage to self-publish it at her son’s urging, and her love for writing began.

In 2018, Jeny knew her next project would be a series that showed adults could have adventures in the paranormal-fantasy genre too. So, she created the Heaven & Earth series, a story of doomed Greek gods and their only salvation, their modern-day descendants. Her first book of the series, the Sea Archer, was immediately picked up by the New York publishing house, the Wild Rose Press, and won, “Best in Category” from the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards.

In the year 2020, Jeny released, Dancing Through Tears, a short story from the anthology, Australia Burns: Volume Two, highlighting the Route 91 massacre from the perspective of one family at the concert, and at Mandalay Bay. She also intends to release, the Warrior’s Progeny, and Dee’s Cornucopia, in 2020, continuing the Heaven & Earth Series.

Jeny lives in Washington State with her husband of over twenty-eight years.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub | YouTube | Newsletter Sign-up


The Not So Pretty Way to the Next Act in Life

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Colleen!

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

Act I – Innocence and Acceptance

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

Act II – Hormones and the Need for Acceptance

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

Act III – Adulthood and Self-Acceptance

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

Act IV – The Golden Years of Accepting Others

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

Spotlight for Letters and Lies

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

Blurb

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Bio and Social Media Links

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Other Books by Colleen L Donnelly

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


It’s Never Too Late

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Barbara!

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

Act One

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

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

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

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

Act Two

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

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

Act Three

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

Act Four

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

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

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

Any Affirmations or Quotations You Wish to Share?

Three, I think.

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

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

Third, from me: It’s never too late.

Blurb

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Barb’s Books to Date

Knights of Destiny Series:

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

Where to find Barb

Bookbub | Facebook | Twitter | Blog/Website


Life Is Tough, But You Are Tougher

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a thought-provoking segment from last week’s email:

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

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

1. Every little struggle is a step forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Expat Teacher Comes Home to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Sadira!

Briefly describe your first act.

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

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

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

What triggered the need for change?

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

Where are you now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

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

The Book Nirvana Series

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Author Bio

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

Where to find Sadira…

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


Act Two, Scene One

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

Here’s Kathy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Feeling Lucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

About the Author

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter


On the Road to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

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

Here’s Charlotte!

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

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

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

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

And I couldn’t be happier.

You can guess my advice.

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

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

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

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

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


















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

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

Blurb – Their No-Strings Affair

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

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

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

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

Buy links – Their No-Strings Affair

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

Bio

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

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

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

Today she writes contemporary romance full time.

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

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

Where to find Charlotte…

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