A Mid-Life Revelation

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have educator and author Jodi Rath sharing her multi-act life and debut novel, Pineapple Upside Down Murder.

Here’s Jodi!

As a five-year-old, I used to “play” magazine by using my stuffed animals and my dolls as my staff while taking my mom’s old magazines and cutting them up and pasting them back together. At seven, I signed up to win a set of encyclopedias and won! I used to randomly pick an encyclopedia and a page and read the article on a topic then write a summary and pretend I was a journalist. I knew back then I wanted to be a writer.

Life happened, and I ended up married at age eighteen to my first husband. I took any jobs I could get to pay the bills at the time while pursuing an undergrad degree in English Literature. I still had dreams to write! Again, life took over, and I went from working in insurance to advertising to a vice president of a credit union. I was never fulfilled. I needed a job that paid money too. So, I pursued my M.A. in education and became a high school English teacher. I’ve been in education for twenty years now. I’ve loved every minute of teaching!

Recently, I moved from teaching high school to entering higher education on more my terms. I work for a university teaching online, self-paced courses to Ohio teachers. I found that left time for writing. I began writing for educational affiliations, and that has turned to write a book on Social and Emotional Learning titled Voices, Ghosts, Residue, Revolution: Using SEL to Breakthrough Trauma with America’s Students.

August of 2017, I began to play around with the thought of starting my own business combining education and mysteries—my two passions. As of February 2018, MYS ED LLC (Mysteries and Education) was formed. I now have the rights to the courses I create and can expand to teach to multiple universities if I’d like to do so. I write for different educational affiliations, blogs, and publishers.

My latest venture has been writing a mystery series. For Christmas in 2017, my grandma gave me her cast iron skillet that was 70-years-old, and she’s only ever made pineapple upside down cake in it. I shared it on Facebook, and it got so many likes and comments. I decided to write the cozy mystery series The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. There will be fourteen books in the series, and book one comes out this November 23, 2018, and is titled Pineapple Upside Down Murder. I’m currently working on two flash fiction pieces to offer as freebies for the book; they are based on the characters as kids and as teenagers leading into book one.

Currently, I’m 45 years old. I’m married to my second husband who is my soul mate, the man of my dreams. We have the most amazing kitty family, with seven cats. I am fulfilled in my personal life and my career. I love my business. I work hard at it, but it is all fun! I’ve heard horror stories about the mid-life crisis at this age. This is not my experience at all. I find myself going through a mid-life revelation.

Blurb

Introducing Jolie Tucker, an introverted yet passionate restaurant co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, who, at her best friend Ava’s request, steps out of her comfort zone which leads her into the shade of a killer in the small, cozy village of Leavensport, Ohio. The victim is the villages beloved Ellie Siler who runs the village sweet spot, Chocolate Capers. Jolie finds her grandma Opal is a prime suspect and goes on a search for answers only to find out that her families secret recipes may not belong to the Tucker family at all. Jolie’s job, family, and livelihood are all on the line. The answers are assuredly lethal.

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Bio

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Where to find Jodi…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

Joanne here!

Jodi, I love welcoming fellow teachers to this blog. Thanks for sharing your inspiring reinvention story. Best of luck with Pineapple Upside Down Murder.


From the Courtroom to the Classroom

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Patti Smith sharing her multi-act life and her debut novel, Head Over Feet in Love.

Here’s Patti!

I spent much of my life saying that I wanted to go be a lawyer. Almost everything I did was towards that end—do well on the LSAT, earn stellar grades in college, be involved in everything on campus. I went to a top 20 law school, passed the fifth hardest Bar in the nation and then I discovered that I hated practicing law.

Cue the “womp, womp” sound.

After giving it a go for eight years—taking increasingly lower paid jobs every year—I finally cried “uncle” and decided to try something else. I must say that I am extremely privileged; most people would not be able to make this change. But I had no debt from law school and was married so I had health benefits and could therefore work part-time in the legal field while figuring out what to do next.

By chance, I sent in an application to teach part-time at a nearby community college. I completely forgot about even applying and was therefore rather surprised to get a call at my job from the head of the Political Science department. He asked me to come in the next day for an interview. I got all ready, put on the one suit I had left, and prepared as best I could. When I walked in the department head handed me a book and some papers and said, “Here’s the text, a sample syllabus, can you teach the Friday classes?”

Boom. I was a teacher.

I now must mention that I spent my earlier years saying I would never, ever be a teacher. Who on earth could put up with the bratty behavior and the low pay? But something happened to me as I stepped up to the front of the room. For the first time in many years, I felt like I was in the right place. I started talking, teaching, sharing.

I spent two years in this job while I got certified to teach special education. Now it’s 13 years later and I’m still talking, teaching, sharing. The pay is low, the kids can be trying but ultimately, I love the profession and look forward to what each day brings.

Again, I realize how entirely privileged I am to get a second chance and I shared this with my main character. In her reality, she failed the Bar Exam and had to reinvent herself as a teacher. I think we’re both gonna be okay.

New Book Features Feminist, Gen X Heroine We’ve Been Waiting For…

Author Patti F. Smith’s feminist romance book, HEAD OVER FEET IN LOVE, will be released on November 14, 2018. Set in Ann Arbor and highlighting local places and events, Smith’s book features a 40something heroine who keeps moving forward, no matter how many setbacks her brain deals out to her—and that’s really a main focus of the book—that mental health issues are part of your life, but not the sum total. You can still fall in love, live your life, tell your story. “I’ve lived with mental health issues my whole life,” Smith says. “It’s important for people with invisible disabilities to see themselves represented, particularly in love stories. This is the book for Gen Xers, people with mental health issues, or anyone who thinks they can’t find love.”

Blurb

Rebecca Slater is running away from a stay in a mental health facility, a writing career that never got off the ground, and a dying best friend. She has nowhere to go, but nothing can stop her—until she crashes her car into a tree (possibly on purpose, but probably not). Without a cell phone and in a strange town, Becca starts knocking on doors looking for someone to help her. The only person who answers her knock is Mike Riley.

Becca is a lot of things—feminist, teacher, wannabe author, person with a bipolar condition, lover of all things Gen X—but she has never been in love. Becca and Mike begin a friendship that neither realizes they need. Becca shares her unique life view with Mike, who becomes her friend, her muse, and the love of her life.

When Becca thinks Mike is dead she impulsively runs away again, this time to a place where she thinks no one will ever find her. She prepares for a life without her true love, committed to remaining mentally healthy and strong, continuing a story she now believes will have an unhappy ending.

Like other people with mental health issues, Becca struggles but also lives her life. She keeps moving forward no matter how many setbacks her brain deals, and that’s really the focus of her story: that mental health issues are part of your life, but not the total. You can still fall in love, have a great life, tell your story. And have a happy ending.

Opening Words

I’m driving away. I’m driving away as fast and as far as I can. I’m never going back. I’m going to drive until I get so far up north that no one will ever find me. I’m going to—

Except that I’m not. I can’t leave home now. Not with my best friend in a coma, not with my parents tripped out, not with all that’s going on. Not with bipolar disorder and anxiety and everything else. I’m still driving away, mind you, but I’ll have to go back. As soon as the rain lets up, I’ll turn around and head back to US-23. It’s really pouring though, and I don’t like driving in the rain, so I might have to find a hotel and stay the night. I’ll have to call my parents, except I don’t have a phone anymore, and with Rick in the hospital, it all means—

It means that I have no way to call anyone when my car hits the tree.

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Bio

An enthusiastic Gen-Xer and feminist, Patti Smith writes about the generation sandwiched in-between the Boomers and Millennials. Lover of all things flannel, grunge, and slacker (although she is not a slacker herself!), Patti focuses her books on women in their 40s facing major challenges in life and love. Her heroines are independent women who don’t want to follow the life path of marriage-children but rather forge their own paths. Often they, like their writer, live with mental health issues but make it clear that they are not their illness and that their lives are full and rich.

Patti lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a former legal aid lawyer and current special education teacher. She is the author of two books: Images of America–Downtown Ann Arbor and A History of the People’s Food Co-op Ann Arbor and is co-authoring Forgotten Ann Arbor (due out in 2019). She writes for as many local publications as she can and is involved in many local commissions and activities. She is a frequent public speaker around town and is founder/curator of GROWN FOLKS READING (story time for adults) and HERSAY (all female variety show). She lives with her husband, Ken Anderson, her own Gen-X hero.

Where to find Patti…

Website | Twitter

Joanne here!

Patti, Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with sales.


Boots to Books

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author KD Dubois sharing an inspiring reinvention story and her debut novel, Daughter of the South Wind.

Here’s KD!

Military service is for the young—by the time you hit forty your body’s broken, your “last nerve” numbed-up over a decade ago, and even though you mastered your field you can’t keep up with the new technology, new policies, new everything. After I’d given four years at a service academy followed by twenty-four-and-a-half years as a commissioned officer, I knew my first act was complete. No longer did I hop out of bed in the mornings eager for a day’s adventure. Instead I rotated my ankles so I could shuffle the four feet from bed to bathroom and worried more about helping my parents who lived on the other side of the country more than I cared if my deployment bag was in order. My priorities had deviated from those of my profession. So, at the age of forty-six, I retired.

Two-month’s shy of turning eighteen, my parents had handed me over to my chosen service. The military as a profession, the military as a family, the military as a way of life defined my adulthood. Anticipating a rough transition to civilian-hood I did one of the smartest things I’ve done so far in this life—I gave myself permission to put off a job-hunt for up to a year in order to find my new passion. Yes, I had the liberty to do that because I had saved enough to carry me through such a long period. But a certain drive to “do something” existed within myself which, if left unchecked, would prompt me to stay within the professional comfort zone from my military life. Deep down, I knew my happiness depended on escaping from the defense industry as well as staying far away from my career specialty of logistics and supply chain management.

So, I moved from the snow-filled winters of Pennsylvania to sunny San Antonio, Texas, and took a few adult education courses offered by a local school district. That’s how I discovered writing. Not only did I enjoy it, I kinda had a knack for it…especially when it came to plotting out story arcs. With the help of new friends and a mentor, I started a novel. A year later Soul Mate Publishing accepted my pitch, and they released it on July 30th.

The first act of my life revolved around engineering studies, political-military strategies of nations, the movement of goods and people, and efficiency principles. Not since I gave up playing the clarinet as a high school freshman had I ever considered the arts as something more than a diversion. Now, I’m a writer, unashamed of my creativity—it’s as if one side of my brain lowered its volume and the other side finally came to life. For me, the second act is a whole new adventure because I get to discover something about myself as I put words into a manuscript, give life to characters, and build new worlds. I feel the energy from my youth again.

Not everyone can set aside work to discover a new passion. But, people can give themselves permission to seek out something to revive their spirit. Instead of saying, “that sounds interesting,” go ahead and and explore it. And if you’re looking for a new profession, don’t limit yourself to old personal paradigms. I took a writing class because I had always wanted to learn how folks created the novels I so loved to read. Never in a million years did I think I could do it, too, because, well, engineer geeks didn’t do words, just formulas. Oh, how wrong I was, and all it took was a little self-kindness, and trust in myself, to move forward.

In my book Daughter of the South Wind, a meteorologist must trust in herself, too, in order to find a hidden talent. I hope you enjoy her journey.

Blurb

As if grad school wasn’t hard enough, Dawn Wynham battles her bossy sister’s interference with her private life and resists divulging one secret—her very realistic dreams about tornados and the man who morphs out of them, Nino. After chasing twisters for her meteorology degree, why not indulge in a little sexy fantasy to enhance the adrenaline highs?

Nino’s visits tantalize Dawn, his mythological viewpoints mysterious yet familiar. When make-believe blends into real-life, she must choose between the practicality of her mind and the yearnings of her heart or else lose everything she holds dear.

The most desirable path holds the greatest danger. Dawn knows what feels right in the depths of her soul—and hopes her decision doesn’t cast Nino away from her forever.

Excerpt

As I spun back to the tornado, my dress coiled around me. Fear coursed through my veins, mirroring the emotions of the two who felt like parents. The face and funnel dissipated. A lean, muscular man emerged from its core. He ran to me.

The view narrowed to a small circle, my periphery non-existent. Life-force energy drained from my body in a rush. I crumpled.

Strong arms caught me. An almost complete golden disk of fire hung over the man’s shoulder. His black hair tickled my exposed skin. With great effort, I focused on his eyes. Different tones of gray swirled similar to the tornado which brought him to me.

I calmed. My soul knew he would keep me safe.

“Tira, I love you.” His rich baritone words carried over the thrashing gale.

Unable to fill with air, my lungs convulsed, causing my response of, “I love you, too, Nino,” to garble in an unrecognizable voice.

My sight pinpointed. Hot gusts mixed with a yellow-tinted cloud to surround us in comfort like a parental hug. The sun crested a distant hilltop.

A drop of water splashed on my cheek, a cool contrast to the heat of an invading force in my core. I concentrated again on those mesmerizing graphite eyes. Tears flowed from them.

“Tira, I promise you . . .” His voice faded as a power greater than my own tightened its grip and squeezed my essence into submission. Darkness overtook me while he uttered, “I will find a way to break the curse and bring you back.”

The world went black, silent. Balmy breezes converted to cold stillness. The struggle within to keep control of my soul ceased, and my tumult of emotions became nothing, empty in defeat. As if I didn’t exist at all.

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Bio

KD DuBois writes fantasy mixed with a touch of romance. Her current book delves into mythology, giving obscure gods and goddesses their own stories. It’s the first of a series in a world she created called The Immortal Dimension.

Twenty-eight years in a military uniform took KD DuBois to many unique places around the country and the globe. But a few choice assignments in year-round mild climates spoiled any inclinations to retire where even a hint of snow might fall. Instead of settling down in her home state of Kansas, she planted roots in the perpetual sunshine of south-central Texas.

With the opportunity to start a second career in front of her, KD took a class and got inspired to bring the ideas in her head to life. Now she spends her time typing away and takes an occasional break to ride her bike and enjoy the sunshine. Visit her website to learn more about her and what she’s working on.

Where to find KD Dubois…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Central | Goodreads

Joanne here!

I’m impressed and inspired by your reinvention story. Wishing you all the best on your writing journey.


Walking into the Light

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Jeri Bronson sharing her inspiring journey to a light-filled second act and her debut novel, Seeking Perfect.

Here’s Jeri!

I’ve been thinking about Second Acts, so this blog was perfectly timed. My first novel debuted this year, but before we discuss the now we need to talk about the before, the first act. I really want to lie and tell you this amazing story of my beginnings, but I can’t. My first act was tough, so tough that I longed to hide in the dark forever. I learned at an early age that everyone had an angle and absolutely no one could be trusted.

Then a day came when I could no longer hide from my darkness I had to walk into the light. I did a lot of reading, self- reflection and learning about who I was and who I wanted to be. It was one of the hardest roads I walked, but I am grateful for that tough road.

I was lucky enough to have gotten laid off from my full time job and stayed home with my kids in 2007. Jesse and Derek’s story was born that first summer. Jesse taught me so much about myself that I will be forever grateful to her, which brings me to the Second Act. Now that Jesse is out in the world I have been set free. Writing was the best possible medicine for me on this journey of self –reflection and I must say I’m really excited for my Second Act.

Everyone has a story and it’s your choice on how you let it define your life. Me, I really clung to a quote from Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” My light was always books and those amazing writers who saved me from the darkness. I want to encourage you to never give up on yourself because you are so worth it. I am telling you the truth. Maybe Jesse’s story will bring you hope with some light mixed in for good measure.


Blurb

Jesse learned early not to trust a soul, but what if he was her soulmate?

Senior year of high school should be about friendship, boyfriends and graduation, but for seventeen-year-old, Jesse Barnes, it’s about escaping the shame of life with an alcoholic mother.

Jesse’s goals are clear, keep a roof over her head, avoid the revolving door of leering men her mother brings home, graduate from high school, and do everything possible to keep her home life secret. Friends, boyfriends, not an option. Who would understand?

Then, perfect, popular Derek Aames, sits with Jesse at lunch. How can she discourage him? How can she keep him from intruding on her life and discovering her secret? And most of all how can she keep him out of her heart?

Will his persistence finally break down her walls, or just break her?

Excerpt

Jesse furiously tried to think of an excuse for Derek not to have to take her home on a Saturday night. It was like playing Russian roulette and she didn’t want him anywhere near the line of fire if Sheila decided to go off.

“You don’t have to take me home tonight. I’m not sure how long I will be here. Plus, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on hanging with your friends or whatever it is you do on the weekend.” She knew she was being rude after everything that he had done for her, but she was scared. What if he really meant it when he said he wanted to kiss me? What if he really does like me? Worst of all, what will I do when he breaks my heart, not if – when? To be involved with Derek Aames could not possibly have any positives. She had to try to maintain her focus so she could get to college. Six more months. Except all thought of college kept being blown away like a desert wind the minute he looked at her.

He sat silently finishing his lunch. It was becoming an annoying habit that was grating on her last nerve. She couldn’t fathom what he was thinking while she waited for him to respond. He took one last drink before he turned to face her.

“You’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”

She started to protest again to convince him that she had a lot of work. She didn’t want to ruin his weekend by making him feel obligated to give her a ride. He silenced her before she could even get a breath out by putting his index finger on her lips.

“Let me finish before you start giving me your rational explanations. I have an ulterior motive for taking you home. I want to ask you out on an official first date,” he said.

Book Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Soul Mate Publishing | Goodreads

Bio

I live in Orange County, California with my husband of 29 years and my 16 year old son. My daughter is off in college having her own adventures, but I miss her terribly. I love cats, fairies, castles and definitely chocolate. I do my best writing while I’m walking around my neighborhood. Lucky for me I haven’t fallen with my wandering mind. One of my greatest past times is watching tennis. I am a super fan. I’ll admit sometimes my writing wanes when a Grand Slam tournament is on…sshh, don’t tell. I work part time as a substitute high school teacher. I learn so much from the kids it’s a wonderful source for this young adult writer. I do have another young adult I’m working on as well as trying my hand at suspense. I never thought I would be a writer, but I never gave up. The door has been opened and I am never letting it close.

Where to find Jeri Bronson…

Website | Facebook |Twitter

Joanne here!

Jeri, Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Love the Harry Potter quote! Best of luck with sales.


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.

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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.


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.

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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.