Small Town Girl

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Janeen Swart to the Second Act Series. Today, Janeen shares her journey from small town girl to multi-published author and her new release, The Hidden Truth.

Here’s Janeen!

Growing up in a small town in Indiana may have been the best experience or the worst depending on your viewpoint. For me, it was the best. My two sisters and I were raised with strict traditional values and rules for the life of a Christian. It was felt that one shouldn’t do anything on Sunday except attend church twice, rest, read your Bible and maybe visit with friends after church. Most of our friends would not have any alcohol in their homes and when the adults visited quite often the topic of discussion was about religion or the politics of the church or the Christian School. Dad was a deacon several times and on the first board for the beginning of the DeMotte Christian School.

Once I left for college, my horizons expanded giving me the chance to see many different viewpoints. I wanted to do it all; visit France (my intended major, French), work at the UN, and travel to see the world. But guess what? After my freshman year, I met the love of my life and we made plans for me to switch colleges and marry after my sophomore year. That meant commuting to finish my classes and moving back to that same small town in Indiana, on a farm no less. However, living in the same area, did not mean going back to the strict life-style of my youth. Our sons were fortunate to grow up within a different focus on Christianity.

Since my career plans had changed dramatically, at first I was at a loss as to what I wanted as my major. My husband suggested teaching, something I had never thought I wanted to do, but as I got into the education classes, it became another love. I taught for twenty-five years and enjoyed every minute. (Oh, is it okay to lie in a blog?) While teaching and reading many children’s books, there was always that little voice that said, maybe I could write books as good as these. But of course, life moves on and there was never enough time in a day with a full time job, being secretary for our business, two busy boys to care for, and various animals, too.

After retiring from teaching at age fifty-five, it was time to move forward with my dream of writing. I took two online courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and a Children’s Writing Course through Indiana University Northwest. Now I thought I was ready and would soon see my stories in print. Not immediately, but after many rejection letters, A DOG AND HIS BOY, was published through a small Christian publisher. I self-published my other five children’s books using Create Space. During this same time I had joined an online critique group and through that group, my young adult novel, THE HIDDEN TRUTH, became a reality. I submitted it to Soul Mate Publishers and was ecstatic when I received my contract to publish it as an e-book. My experience with the Soul Mate authors has been awesome.

So, coming back to my first statement about growing up in a small, rather traditional town, has it affected my writing? Yes, definitely. I could never write erotica or use sexual scenes in my books. I would feel silly doing that. Not that I haven’t read books with that content and enjoyed them, but for me it’s not a writing option. So, the best advice I can give to those who want to begin to write is be true to yourself, and then, have fun with your writing. Maybe, just maybe, you will become one of those best-selling authors we see featured in the bookstores.

Blurb

After being struck by lightning while jogging, Clara’s dreams cause her to question the issues of DNA changes, cloning, and genetically modifying food. In her dreams she visits an environmentally perfect world where an angel-like being tells her to watch for a sign.

While Clara searches for answers, her boyfriend, Brian, becomes active in demonstrations against a local biophysics company, named aptly, New Nature. Clara convinces her Science Club to begin a project to confront this company to make them more accountable. She and John, a new friend, vow to do their part, using peaceful strategies.

Brian’s jealousy results in several uncomfortable incidents between the three teens. Things go awry when a few of the Science Club members go beyond simple investigation by breaking into New Nature, then later sabotaging the company’s biosphere.

What’s even more troublesome is the fact that Clara suspects her ex may be the one behind the crimes.

Relationships and beliefs are tested as Clara searches out the truth. In the end, her questions are answered, but at a cost, she hadn’t anticipated.

buynow

Where to find Janeen…

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

Joanne here!

I’m always happy to feature a fellow educator on this blog. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey, Janeen.


Advertisements

Take a Leap

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Carol Roddy sharing insights and advice from her multi-act life.

Here’s Carol!

By my count, I am now in my third—or perhaps fourth act. Let me talk about the move from one to two.

Like many folks, college involved some changes. I was happily majoring in East Asian Studies and dreaming of possible graduate work at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service when I met Beloved. My priorities shifted quickly and I launched into my first act as a stay at home Mom. Initially it was all consuming. Children—bright, interesting, creative little people—came quickly and took all my attention. Parenthood may be a lifetime commitment, but little ones are temporary; they insist on growing up.

Several factors pushed me into the next act.

• As much as I liked having children, I craved intellectual stimulation. I also craved conversation with adults. Graduate school helped with those two.
• Raising a family on one income is tough.
• My youngest started school. Keeping house bores me silly, especially one empty most of the day.

After finishing my Masters in Library Science, I went to work in a public library. I could have stayed there for thirty years. I didn’t. Many factors weren’t working for me including the fact that typical library hours (2 nights a week and every other Sunday) aren’t terribly family-friendly. Leaving a good professional job for a part time clerical position at a small technology company close to home was a huge risk.

However, that risk resulted in an explosion of knowledge. I had walked into a small, creative, innovative company, a place where if you could think it up, you could do it. It was the pre-Internet days, but within two years I had built a database of technology products for disabled children, mounted it on a dial-in platform for public access, and written my first tech manual.

Alas, after a few years, our funding disappeared and I moved on. Over the next thirty years I zigzagged through a time of upheaval in the technology industry, working for companies and divisions that were bought, sold, merged, and disbanded. I was laid off and in a position where I had to lay others off. I helped close a division; I built new organizations from scratch three times. I directed shared library technology at the state, county, and local level.

I learned:

• Risks pay off. Even when one doesn’t pay off, it moves you closer to your goal.
• To do nothing is a bigger risk than stepping out. You will never achieve a goal if you are afraid to make changes.
• Change forces growth. Sometimes something has to end for something new to take life. Embrace it.

That leads me to my third act. In the middle of work I loved, something in me kept longing to write fiction. I worked on my first novel for several years, but I never told anyone except Beloved. Approaching retirement, I knew I wanted writing to be what filled my need to be creative. I also knew it wouldn’t happen if I kept hiding it.

I took a risk. I sent that first book to a critique service. Was it great? No, but I learned a ton, and began the second book. I took another risk: I began pitching my books, swallowing rejecting and learning more. Why not just publish it myself? It wasn’t ready and wouldn’t earn back what an editor would cost. As luck—or God’s kind providence—would have it, Soul Mate Publishing accepted one of my books within months of my retirement. I’m not on the NY Times bestseller list, but I have awards, top pick reviews, and, above all, readers who like what I do. I’m a happy camper.

My advice? Don’t let fear of failure keep you paralyzed. You learn the most when things don’t go right. Nothing will happen unless you take a risk.

About the Author and Her Books

Caroline Warfield’s passions are faith, family, history and travel and all four drive her stories. She writes historical romance set in the Regency, Late Georgian, and Victorian eras. She is currently working on a Children of Empire, a series set in the 1830s, when the British Empire was approaching its zenith.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, are driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman is involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their demons while finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

• Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (Book 1: The Renegade Wife)
• Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (Book 2: The Reluctant Wife)
• Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (Book 3: The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

• Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (Book 1: The Renegade Wife)
• Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (Book 2: The Reluctant Wife)
• Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (Book 3: The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, doesn’t expect to find his great love when he accepts an unofficial fact finding mission to Canton on behalf of the queen. He certainly doesn’t expect to confront his wreck of a marriage in such an exotic locale. Zambak Hayden follows her brother to China to escape pressure to make a suitable marriage. She finds the brother drawn into the world of greed, smuggling, drugs, and corruption and resolves to both sort out the truth and protect her brother from becoming prey to all of it—if only she could stop yearning for the one man she can’t have.

Here’s a short video about it.

It’s a good time to read Book 1 and begin the series!

For more about Children of Empire and all of Caroline’s books, look here.

A prequel to the series, A Dangerous Nativity, is always ***FREE*** at various retailers. Find out more here.

Stay in touch with Caroline in cyberspace in any of these places:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | BookBub | Email

Joanne here!

Carol, I’m in awe of all the risks you have taken. You are an inspiration! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.


Revisiting My Dream

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Iuliana Foos sharing her extraordinary journey across the ocean to North America and her debut novel, Bloodline Origins.

Here’s Iuliana!

Thank you so much for hosting me today.

Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, I had a childhood and upbringing different from what most people outside the country are accustomed to. Since an early age, I loved to read. Growing up in a communist country, where all information was closely supervised, I soon ran out of books to read.

I had to start, of course, with the literature mandatory in school, all Romanian authors, but soon, I started to borrow books from my parents’ collection. When most people hear ‘Black Market’ they think of illegal merchandise. For us, it was also books. Coming across translated international authors, wasn’t easy, but not impossible either.

It was when I fell in love with ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexander Dumas, the first romance book I ever read. I was only in my early teens, so extremely impressionable. Until today I still believe everyone should have at least one sword, even if only for decorative purposes.

When I attempted to read ‘War and Peace’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I failed miserably, falling asleep before finishing a whole page. I still didn’t get the courage to go back and try to read what, at that time, for me, was the most boring book, so I never made it past the first chapter. It served as a good paperweight, and many times I used it to hide underneath another book, usually something frowned upon, like ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell.

Around the same time, I managed to put my greedy hands on translated adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, whose themes are still successfully rehashed today.

One of my best finds has to be Greek Mythology Adaptations. Those gods are still inspiring.

By the time I was sixteen, I ran out of books to devour, and started to make up my own stories. In school and at home, I was busy creating worlds and characters in my head. The visit at Dracula’s Castle uncovered infinite possibilities. Our ordinary world had become that day less important than my fantasy one. You can only imagine the new level of commotion in my mind. It was the first time I knew what I wanted to do in my life: be an author.

With my first job, life started to interfere with my dreams of writing. Living though the revolution that ended the communism in Romania, brought hope. Unfortunately, the bitter taste of disappointment with the new life, convinced me to leave behind everything I knew. Only months before my twenty-ninth birthday, I emigrated to Canada, in a search of a better life.

As an immigrant, I had an allowance of two large travel bags, each no heavier than forty kilograms (or eighty pounds), so I packed my life in those and started anew. I still have my fifteen large notebooks, handwritten in Romanian with my first stories. They took up half of one of my allowed bags, my most precious possessions.

Year after year, I drifted further and further from my dreams. With bills to pay and life in general happening every minute of the day, I had to stay focused on my sales/marketing career.

When I thought life couldn’t surprise me anymore, it did. I divorced and years later, remarried. Following my husband meant yet another big move, this time to the United States of America, my new home. He encouraged me to revisit my dream, give writing a second chance, and so I did.

New challenges rose, but I was determined not to let anything stand between me and my dream this time. Not even writing in a language that is not my native tongue couldn’t stop me. It took me seventeen years to even dare consider it. English is not even my second language, but my fourth. I was fluent in Spanish at nineteen, and in French at thirty. With time I lost the ability to speak any of the two, but I still can understand some.

If you ever look for a challenge to test your courage and drive, try it. Pick the best language you speak, other than your first, and write a novel. Let me know how that works out. No, really, let me know. If you think having an accent is bad, wait until you have to figure out grammar. Thank God, the accent doesn’t come through in writing.

Many people start new chapters at some point in their lives. For some, the change is major, for others not so much. For me, it was monumental. All three times.

So here I stand today, humbled and grateful for everything I went through. I carry the scars of my battles and the sweet memories of my victories. Every adventure and step I took brought me where I am today.

I’ve learned to never lose hope. It took me over thirty years to live the dream I had as a teenager. It is never too late to reach that dream you have. Hold on to it. Foster its growth, and above all else, never give up. Second chances happen when you least expect it.

Blurb

Determined to turn her fantasy into reality, Ana starts her journey to become a vampire. Along the way, she learns the truth about their secret society, discovers her prestigious bloodline, and falls in love.

Not all vampires are accepting of humans and war looms in the shadows. An ancient tome reveals the vampires’ alien descent and sparks war.

An army bent on eradicating her coven’s existence threatens her new world. Survival or annihilation will be in Ana’s hands.

buynow

Where to find Iuliana

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Joanne here!

Iuliana, I’m in awe of your achievements. Writing in a first language is challenging enough. How impressive that you are able to write so beautifully using a fourth language. Best of luck with Bloodline Origins. It sounds intriguing.


Enjoying the Best of Two Worlds

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Madelaine Grant sharing her artistic and literary passions and new release, A Total Mismatch.

Here’s Madelaine!

I wrote my first story at age ten. The story was originally accepted by my elementary school magazine. Ecstatic with joy, I told everyone I was being published. However, fate intervened and my teacher told me, sorrowfully, that they had decided not to publish my story since an older student had written something similar. I guess they figured I’d have time to write more stories and be published later on. Taking this rejection really hard I decided then and there I wasn’t going to be a writer after all.

When my art teacher complimented me on my pastel drawings in sixth grade and told me I used colors well and could become an artist, I was delighted. That’s the direction I chose and followed for the next several decades. First I concentrated on commercial art, since I did have to make a living. Later on I began teaching art to children at a nearby museum. That led to more teaching jobs and finally to becoming Assistant Director of Art at that same museum.

But the writing bug would not totally disappear. I tried writing and illustrating a children’s story which almost got published. The company went bankrupt however. I finally joined RWA and my local chapter Tampa Area Romance Authors. After writing several romance novels which never made it I began writing short stories for True Confessions and True Story magazines. I had met one of the editors through TARA and, with her help, was finally able to see my work published. Emboldened by that first success I wrote several novellas which were published by Extasy Books. And now my first full- length novel, a romantic comedy titled “A Total Mismatch” by Madelaine Grant (pen name) has been published as an e book by Soul Mate Publishing. It will go into print in March and is available on Amazon and other distributors for pre order. Here’s a quick summary of the book:

Romantic comedy “A Total Mismatch” takes polar opposites Samantha Peabody and Jordan Hart on a wild courtship ride from lavish weddings and fine art to belly dancing and barroom brawls. This rollicking journey includes the best flavors of ice cream in New York City and a touch of tai chi. To read the first chapter of the book you can visit my web site http://www.madelainegrant.com.

I haven’t given up art. I still paint and exhibit my work. The combination of writing and art seems to be the best of both worlds. I love both and hope to write more books and paint more pictures for years to come.

Blurb

Fate brings polar opposites Samantha (Sam) Peabody and Jordan Hart together. Free spirit Sam is an artist, occasional belly dancer, and sloppy housekeeper while Jordan is a lawyer, fitness and neatness freak, and lover of ice cream.

The one thing they have in common is their dislike of big, fussy weddings.

After a fight with her oldest sister, Andrea, Sam decides not to attend Andrea’s lavish wedding. When Jordan is invited to a wedding, he asks Sam to accompany him, not knowing it’s Sam’s sister’s affair. Complicating Sam’s busy life is an offer from a local craft beer company to belly dance for a TV ad and become the symbol of their new beer company.

Sam’s disastrous first marriage and the difficult dynamics in her family make her insecure about a new relationship. Besides, she hates the idea of marriage. Can Jordan’s persistence win Sam over and dissolve her fears?

buynow

Where to find Madelaine…

Website | Blog | Facebook | Amazon

Joanne here!

Madelaine, I’m impressed by your creative talents. Best of luck with A Total Mismatch. It sounds delightful!


In Praise of Indirect Paths

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.

It’s easy to get discouraged when Plan A doesn’t work out, especially if considerable time, effort, and money is involved. But that shouldn’t stop any of us from implementing a Plan B, C…Z. Here are some examples of people who took indirect paths to success.



Believe in Yourself

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Australian author Maggie Mundy sharing an incredible journey across two continents and Idolize, Book One in the The Dark Storm series

Here’s Maggie!

When I think back over my life it is separated by one major event. I moved from one side of the world to the other. I was brought up in the UK and immigrated to Australia at aged twenty-nine. I knew my husband wanted to live there when we married and was excited at the prospect. I came from a dysfunctional family so it seemed like a new start for me. I was a trained nurse and I had a job waiting for me.

What triggered the need for change?

I felt I could never truly be me unless I broke away from family, and needed to strike out on my own. It was scary to sell everything up and give up a good job. Also leaving all your friends behind and stepping into the unknown. I knew if I had children I would have probably stayed. It was a now or never moment.

Where are you now?

I moved to Australia in 1986. I now live in Adelaide and love it. I see myself as Australian now more than English. I have two grown up daughters, one of whom lives in the UK due to employment opportunities. I am also a nannie which is a joyous experience beyond belief. I am still nursing and have fourteen books published. I have a Degree in English, Drama, and Creative Writing. I am now going through a stage in my life when I am looking at my past and coming to peace with it.

Advice to those thinking about a second act…

Do it. I could just stop at that because it’s all you need to know. I remember someone once said to me, you sometimes feel like you are standing on the end of a springboard. You can turn back to what you know, or jump. I am so glad I decided to jump and create a new life for me and my family. It hasn’t always been smooth, but I would not change a thing. It has made me who I am today and I quite like that person.

Motivating Quotes – “Believe in your dreams and they may come true. Believe in yourself and they will come true.” – Typographical vector design


















Blurb

Cassi moved to LA to escape a violent past and wants anonymity for herself and her son. She is starting to get her life back on track when she meets Declan Reed. He is latest hit on the Hollywood scene, playing the lead in the TV series Dark Storm. She gets the love of a TV star, and the fame that comes with it causes her past to come back and haunt her with what could be fatal consequences.

Tag line

You can’t be found if no one knows where you are.

Excerpt

Cassi knew it was the brandy talking, but when would she have a Hollywood actor captive in a cabin again? He put his glass down and raised one eyebrow as he peered at her. Then he patted the couch in front of him. Okay, she had drunk two big brandies, but what was he suggesting here?

He placed a finger under her chin and lifted it, so she gazed in his eyes. She gulped. He didn’t need to say anything. She would kiss him anyway. All he needed to do was ask.

“When you left that day, you took part of me with you. I’ve been looking around and meeting other people and other women trying to find it. I was a fool to let you go then. Now you’re here, Cassi, I’m not going to let you go without telling you how much I care.”

His face was close as his palm cupped her cheek. Her mouth hung open, and she felt a strong ache between her legs showing the need for physical contact she had not received for so long. She could feel his breath on her lips. His eyes connected with hers and then moved down to her lips. He ran his thumb along her lower lip, and she moved forward. She knew this wasn’t real and something he had rehearsed, but didn’t care. He only had to say the word, and she would have sex with him all night long. He didn’t say anything more, but their lips almost touched. Then he moved away.

Breathe.

“It’s a scene from our next episode. It doesn’t turn out well as she’s a vampire and sells me out. I get back at her through some crazy ritual, though. Sorry, I took the advantage by adding your name.”

Declan was still holding his palm against her cheek, and she didn’t want him to move away.

“You’re good.” He was more than good as she was putty in his hands right now.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon AU | iTunes | Evernight Publishing | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Bookstrand

Bio

I live in Adelaide, Australia with my husband, one cat, two dogs and a snake. I have a motorbike that I would like to ride more than I do and I love walking at the beach and listening to the waves. I’ve always loved reading all forms of fiction from high fantasy and paranormal to contemporary and decided the stories in my head needed to be written down. It was either that or start on medication. Unlike many, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years back. I started off doing a degree in drama but soon realized my love was in writing, though there is a play lurking somewhere on my computer. My day job is as a nurse in the operating room. I believe romance can be fun to read and write, but it’s exciting to spice it up with the uncertainty that comes with suspense where the rules can be broken.

Where to find Maggie…

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

Joanne here!

Maggie, Thanks for sharing your insights and advice. Best of luck with Idolize.


An Unexpected Second Act

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Mabry Hall sharing insights from her multi-act life and her novels: An Engaging End and A Regrettable Reunion.

Here’s Mabry!

As I prepared to guest on Joanne’s blog, I looked over the stories that have come before mine. So many of my fellow writers seem to have known since childhood that they wanted this career. Not I. It never occurred to me that I could spend my life making things up for fun and not get in trouble for it.

If I could have chosen my studies based on my interests, I’d have been an English or history major. In the interest of practicality, I became a nurse. As my mother said, I’d always be able to get a job wherever I moved. Within a month of graduation, I came to the stark reality that hospitals are open every day of the year. And at night. And on holidays. And as a new grad, it would be years before I moved my way into a semi-normal schedule. (Yes, I admit I should have faced these unwelcome facts earlier.)

I returned to graduate school and became a nurse anesthetist, which gave me much more job flexibility. I was able to work part time while raising our two sons, and I also had more time to read for pleasure. My attention span had dwindled since high school, and I found myself devouring historical romance novels rather than history tomes. It wasn’t long before I complacently said to myself, “I could write one of these.” It certainly wasn’t as easy as I thought, but four years later I’d completed three books and progressed to receiving encouraging personalized rejection letters from agents and editors. I promise you those are much better than form letters, but at the end of the day, I was still rejected.

I stopped writing and focused on my garden, sewing, and taking care of two, by now, teenage boys. I continued to work, and occasionally my husband would prod me to give writing another go. Two instigating factors prompted my return to the computer. The first was the end of my anesthesia career following a dramatic slip-and-fall in the operating room. Since I worked at a children’s hospital, I couldn’t even go to their emergency room. EMS came in, slapped on a neck brace, and scooped me off the floor onto a stretcher. I was wheeled through the front lobby to a waiting ambulance to the bemused interest of patients and family members. Truly a day to remember, and by the way, it was our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, my husband did not take me out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate that evening.

As I pondered what to do with my untimely retired self, I became aware that I could now publish my books on my own. At my point in life, I wasn’t willing to spend months waiting for replies and requests for revisions to suit the taste of someone else. There’s a saying that if you aren’t a control freak before you go into anesthesia, you soon will be. I love the fact that I can write what I want, hire the editor that I want, select the cover that I like, and publish on my own schedule.

I love antique jewelry, so Annalee Wyatt, my protagonist, buys and sells it. This gives me excuses to create gorgeous Pinterest boards and do some serious window-shopping when I travel. I love the South and miss my childhood on my grandparents’ farms. I’ve recreated that experience for Annalee by having her inherit her family’s Goat Hill Farm. I’m even thoughtful enough to have her pasture land leased out to a neighboring farmer, so all she has to do is enjoy the view. The fictional community I created in northern Louisiana is populated by people who remind me of someone I like, or in the case of villains, someone I don’t like. Thank goodness the murders come totally from my imagination.

The most rewarding aspect of this new career comes when someone I’ve never met tells me that my books made her laugh and took her away from reality for awhile. With the state of the world these days, that almost qualifies as a public service.

Last July I underwent another reinvention when I became grandmother to a sweet baby girl. Much to my authorial surprise, Annalee’s best friend is pregnant in the book I’m currently writing. I began the first page, and poof, it was a done deal. Finally there’s one part of my life where I totally call the shots!

18 Karat Sold? Or 18 Karat Cold?

Blurb

Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt recently moved from Houston to Goat Hill, her family’s ancestral farm in Louisiana. Okay, admittedly she knows jack about farming and makes her living selling expensive baubles, but she’s returned to her roots and wants everyone, including the citizens of nearby Berryville, to be as enthusiastic about it as she is. Her goal of acceptance gets a boost when the scion of an old family pays her big bucks for an engagement ring. When his intimidating mother invites her to attend the ceremony, she really feels like she’s made it.

Unfortunately, “Happily ever after” turns into “Happy never again” when the young bride shockingly dies at the wedding reception. Soon Annalee is dealing with a grieving, hostile groom and unpleasant accusations regarding her honesty.

Though there seems to be no way to prove her integrity, Annalee can’t afford to give up. With the help of her hunky cattle-rancher neighbor and the town book club, she sets out to solve the mystery that threatens her reputation. It comes as a nasty surprise to find that her life is in jeopardy, too!

buynow

Blurb

Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt has settled into life on recently-inherited Goat Hill Farm, and gamely agrees to accompany her new boyfriend to his class reunion. Former football star Ryan Dawson shows up with his adoring wife and slides right back into his role as big man on campus. By evening’s end, he’s bragged to the guys, pawed the women, and generally convinced everyone he isn’t the great guy they remember.

No one is sorry to see him leave the party, but someone is angry enough to make sure he’s gone for good. Though short on detective skills, Annalee’s jewelry expertise pulls her into his murder investigation when an unusual brooch is found in the possession of the accused killer. Doubtful someone would commit murder for the small, salamander-shaped pin, she’s convinced there’s more to the story and can’t resist poking her nose into small-town secrets.

Join Annalee and her cohorts as they traipse through northern Louisiana and east Texas in avid pursuit of another 18 Karat Cold criminal.

buynow

Bio

Mabry Hall is a Southerner who writes what she knows, except for the murder part. She’s traveled the globe but always comes back happy to be with the friendly and quirky people who populate Louisiana.

Where to find Mabry…

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Follow me on Instagram @18karatcold

Joanne here!

Mabry, thanks for sharing your journey and insights. Best of luck with all your creative endeavors.