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


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.


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.


“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


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?


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!



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.



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.

The Art of Reinvention

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have multi-published, award-winning author Claire Gem sharing her leap into a spectacular second act.

Here’s Claire!

The day I turned fifty years old, I had what could be described as the perfect life. I was healthy and happily married to the same man since I was twenty. My kids were all healthy, successful adults. I’d recently landed a fantastic job at Tufts University in the field I’d been working in all my life – scientific research – and was making more money than I ever dreamed. My 35-hour workweek was Monday through Friday, no weekends or holidays. I was the manager and had free reign to redesign the department any way I saw fit.

Still, something was missing.

It took me the next four years—and many thousands of dollars—to find out what that something was. I wanted to be a writer. It was an activity I’d always enjoyed, but I’d never taken the time to develop the skill. Being the scientific, logical thinker that I was, I decided I needed to go back for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. I needed to learn “the right way” to become a writer.

Now, don’t get me wrong: The time I spent earning my degree at Lesley University was enlightening, enriching, and motivating. But honestly? I don’t think I had to spend an exorbitant amount of money to “validate” my writing talent. I’d already gotten that validation, almost forty years earlier, when I was in the seventh grade. I just hadn’t believed in that advice, or in myself, enough.

My English teacher, Nancy Prather, taught heavy on the essay skills and was equally scorned by all her students. That included me, until the day she called me up to her desk waving my latest essay like a flag, a serious expression on her face. I was terrified.

“Miss DelNegro,” she began, and none too quietly. “You have produced a rather impressive piece of writing here for a girl your age.”

I blinked. The way she said it—almost accusingly, I wondered . . . was that a good thing, or a bad one?

Miss Prather saw the confusion that was apparently written all over my face. “What I’m saying, my girl, is that you have a natural talent for writing.” She thrust the paper at me and issued a stern command. “No matter what you choose to do with your life, remember this: You are a writer. Don’t let this natural ability go to waste.”

Oh, if only I’d believed her. Turns out my writing ability was not only a talent, but also critical to my state of balance, of well-being. To be fulfilled, and completely happy, I had to be writing.

Still, at fifty years old with not a single piece of published writing to my credit, I needed additional validation: those three little letters—MFA—behind my name. And I’m sure those letters did catch the attention of the editors to whom I submitted over the next few years. But I still had enough rejection letters to paper my office before my first novel, Phantom Traces, was accepted by SoulMate Publishing in 2013. That was five novels, two short stories in anthologies, a memoir, a writer’s resource book, and numerous literary awards ago.

Today, at sixty, I still work by day in scientific research. But my dream—to be a full-time writer—is right around the corner. Yes, it’s been a hard-earned dream. Dedication and focus. Many midnight hours and long weekends at the keyboard. But I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Is fifty too old to reinvent your life? Is sixty? Hell, no. Does it seem crazy to some of my family, friends, and colleagues that I yearn to leave the security of a dream job to become a writer? Sure does. But the ones who truly know me see that I am now what I was not ten years ago. Complete.

And I will say it to the world, as well as to Nancy Prather, wherever she is now: I was born to be a writer. I am a writer.

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself into what you were born to be. Everyone has a secret passion. A gift. Figure out what yours is, and don’t let anything stand in your way. Go for it.


Strong Women, Starting Over
~Redefining Romance~

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of five titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards. Also in 2017, her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, was a finalist in the National Reader’s Choice Awards, and her contemporary romance, A Taming Season, was a Literary Award of Merit finalist in the HOLT Medallion Awards. Her latest release, Spirits of the Heart, was a finalist in the 2017 “I Heart Indie Awards.”

Creating cross-genre fiction she calls “supernatural suspense,” Claire loves exploring the paranormal and the unexplained, and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from the Rhine Research Center of Duke University.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 39 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

Claire is available for seminars & media interviews & loves to travel for book promotional events.

Where to find Claire…

Website | Blog 1 | Blog 2 | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Youtube Channel

Joanne here!

Claire, I’m in awe of your achievements. Thanks for sharing your inspiring reinvention story.

Sometimes It Just Takes Courage

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author D.R. Grady sharing her writing journey and latest release, The Nerd Who Spied Me.

Here’s D.R. Grady!

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the first moment I learned that by combining words you got a sentence and sentences a paragraph and then – wow, a story! The story teller within me awoke—a magical moment in my young life.

However, I’m a practical person, and I knew becoming an author who could support herself with her art probably wasn’t in my immediate future. So I opted to study Biology at college and graduated with a B.S. in Biology. This led to a series of jobs after college, and I did manage to support myself with my lab skills.

I did not, however, write. The stories were there, piling on top of each other, but I didn’t have a computer at the time, and buying one wasn’t cheap then, so I worked and saved and ignored my muse.

Over the course of a few years, and after making rent, student loans, and a car payment, I finally had saved enough money to buy a computer. A massive desktop that I couldn’t believe I finally owned!

For the first year or so I used it to keep in touch with friends via email, and I started a file for all those books in my brain. Then I changed jobs and moved a couple of times and life got busy. I kept up with email, but no writing.

One day I mentioned to my boss at the time how I had this idea in my head that kept niggling. He encouraged me to start writing the story. And he and a work colleague both urged me to attend my first Romance Writers of America local chapter meeting.

That took more courage than I thought I had, because I had convinced myself all the writers there were multi-published senator’s wives who lived in their dream homes with dream careers and… I was daunted. After much support from my fabulous boss and colleague, I finally mustered the courage and attended my first meeting.

And found people just like me!

Not a senator’s wife in sight (who are probably lovely people, by the way). I instead met plenty of other authors who were just trying to build a career writing books they loved and that they hoped others would love too. I finished that first book and many more since.

Since then, I’ve just seen my twentieth book published, The Nerd Who Spied Me! I continue that idea file and have replaced that first computer several times. (: All it took was courage to take that first step!


Cian Hunter is tasked with the impossible: find Verity Wellington and bring her home safely. His survival is not guaranteed.

Everyone in their business knows Verity is perfectly capable of getting herself home, since she’s the gut-them-first-and-ask-questions-later type of operative. She also has the advantage of knowing where she is, which would be helpful.

He accepts the assignment, aware two operatives are better than one when dealing with the nebulous factions who lurk in the shadows. Plus, the chance to get close to Verity to see if his attraction to her is more than a fleeting interest is too good to pass up. Provided she doesn’t gut him first.

Cian is confident in his secret operative abilities, despite wishing to leave them behind. However, his relationship goals leave something to be desired. If he can figure those out… he might stand a chance of getting them both home alive.

Pitch line: They’re confident in their secret operative abilities, but maybe not so much in their relationship goals.


“Thanks for playing nice with my family.” He whispered this to Verity as Chrissy flitted into the kitchen to get them both a beverage. Jay followed, to “help” her. Cian guessed.

Jay tagged along to steal a smooch or two.

“I have no reason not to.”

Her logic was faultless.

“I’m still thankful for the effort.”

She didn’t snort but did eye him as though sorting through the various means she had of offing someone—as though deciding which to use proved challenging.

It sent all of his blood fleeing from his brain. His eyes dipped to her lips.

“Don’t even think about it.” Her warning came a second too late.

“Sorry, already did.”

“You’re not sorry,” she scoffed. “I will eviscerate you in your sister’s living room.”

“That’s not nice.” More blood pumped from his brain. This was not going as well as could be expected. He couldn’t seem to drag his gaze from those pouty lips.

One side of those delectable treats rose in a snarl. “Don’t even think about kissing me, Hunter.”

He, in usual form, ignored her warning. Wrapping one arm around her waist, he yanked her against him. Then he melded their lips because he had to know.

“You are in such big trou—” Her words halted because his mouth blocked them and he ran his tongue over the seam of her lips. She gasped, and he pressed the advantage, using any and all available.

A groan escaped his throat and meshed with hers.

Buy Links

Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Smashwords |
Createspace – Coming Soon!


D.R. Grady lives with her husband near Hershey, PA. She adores chocolate, laughing, collecting bags, books, and shoes, and writing stories that resonate with others.

Where to find D. R. Grady…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+

Joanne here!

Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with all your creative endeavors.

The M.D. Writer-Mom

I’m happy to welcome doctor and award-winning mystery author Melissa Yuan-Innes aka Melissa Yi to the Second Act series. Today, Melissa shares her multi-act life and the Hope Sze Medical Mystery Series.

Here’s Melissa!

So far, I’m spinning three different careers simultaneously. I’m an emergency physician, which is my most stressful, high-stakes job. I’m a writer who professionally published her first short story and poem in medical school. And I, personally, wouldn’t feel complete without my children.

Medicine takes up the most real estate in my life. I was a perpetual student for a quarter century, memorizing facts, waking up at all hours of the night, and eventually making life and death decisions.

When I finally finished training in emergency medicine, I felt uneasy. I’d been shackled to a schedule, rotating from specialty to specialty and hospital to hospital, and now I could literally practice anywhere in the world, as long as I got the proper licensing and my husband agreed to it.

I told my friends, “It’s like the Simpsons episode where Homer goes up in space and smashes the terrarium, and as the ants go flying off in zero gravity, they’re chittering, ‘Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!’” Watch here.

In my heart, though, I knew what I wanted to do. The same thing I’d wanted to do since I was five years old. I wanted to write.

For that, I needed time and energy. Since 24 hour shifts are not conducive to creativity, I had to limit my emergency shifts.

I said to my husband, “Now that I’ve graduated, I can finally make money. That’s what everyone else is doing. Is it crazy that I want to write?”

Matt is an engineer who takes emotions out of the equation. He basically said, “You went to school for so many years so that you can afford to write.” He has offered to support me if I want to write, but I never really considered it. I wanted to be my own patron of the arts, able to support myself, my family, and my writing.

It means that I’m a relatively impoverished doctor. One of my friends made fun of me because she made more in six months than I did in a year. I wish I were a more productive writer. And my kids constantly complain that I don’t spend enough time with them, and were quite piteous as they waved goodbye to me yesterday, as I drove through the ice to my evening shift.

On the other hand, I am happy. I can and did run last Saturday’s night shift—and CBC Books selected Human Remains (, my latest medical thriller, as their top mystery pick for their holiday gift guide (

Where to find Melissa…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Sign up for Melissa’s newsletter here and get a free novella starring Dr. Hope Sze.

Joanne here!

Melissa, thank you for sharing your intriguing journey. I’m impressed by your work ethic and the number of books you have written. Best of luck in the future!

Intrigued by the author’s back story, I decided to read Code Blues, the first book in the Hope Sze Medical Mystery series. Captivated from the start, I found myself enmeshed in a medical drama that kept me up two nights in a row. From Ms. Yi’s vivid descriptions, I could easily imagine the dilapidated Montreal hospital and the conflicted characters, who struggle with boundaries and relationships. The murder of a beloved doctor sets in motion a riveting narrative that takes many unexpected twists and turns. I continually second-guessed myself as I attempted to identify the murderer in this well-plotted, character-driven novel.

Sharing Second Act Wisdom

I started the Second Acts series on my blog in July of 2013. Since that time, over 100 women from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States have shared reinvention stories that will inspire anyone asking the question: What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.

Merging My Passions

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Mrs. N sharing her inspiring journey from shy booknerd to entrepreneur and her latest release, N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration.

Here’s Mrs. N!

My first act is painted with brushstrokes of shyness and trying to fit in. My mother tells me I was an introvert, even when I was in the womb. I didn’t want to leave, and the doctors had to “coax” me out. Being an only child, I wasn’t forced to socialize and get along with siblings which only heightened my shyness when around other kids. I tried to fit in at school but was soon labeled the shy kid with her nose always in a book. I wanted to change, to be more like my best friends but hadn’t a clue on how to do it. By the time I graduated high school, I was ready to reinvent myself.

“When I left for college, I told myself that this was a chance for reinvention. No one on the other side of the country knew that I was an introvert, so maybe if I tried not acting like an introvert, I wouldn’t be one.” — Andrea Seigel

This quote sums up my feelings when I left for college. No one knew who I was at university and I stripped away my shy persona and became the bubbly person I knew was buried deep inside. People responded to my outgoing nature and I loved the new me.

Every once in awhile, though, the shy booknerd ached to come out and play. I stuffed her down for several years, pretending she didn’t exist. I was the new me and didn’t have room for her. As time went by, though, I got tired of the whole party-girl image and wished the emptiness in my chest would disappear.

“Why couldn’t I be both?” whispered booknerd girl.

My second act opens with a successful career in the book industry and newly engaged. I left my family, career and friends emigrating to Canada to get married. I had never been happier and had fully embraced booknerd girl into my persona. I was shy one minute and outgoing the next while inhaling books as fast as I could read them. I married a chef who cooked incredible food and I became his official taster. Sure, it was an adjustment being newlyweds and living in a new country, not to mention not having to work, but I did it. I focused on what I wanted to do with my life without the financial worries, thanks to MR N (my husband). Dreams I thought long dead bubbled to the surface and I wondered… could I do it?

With the support of my loving husband, I wrote and published my first book. My dreams suddenly appeared doable, not fantasies. I became a published author and N. N. Light was born. As I navigated the other side of the book industry, I realized my years of working for a big box bookstore were for naught. I could merge my two passions: writing and promoting books into one business. With the help of MR N (now retired chef and working his passion: numismatics), we started a home business: N. N. Light Author Promotions.

In all my years, I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. I didn’t have the business skills to be successful, or so I thought. I’m what many call a creative artist. Instead of trying (and failing) to be business savvy, I partnered with MR N. He worked the business side of things and I managed the writing/marketing side. We started small and have grown to a very successful family-run PR firm, catering to authors.

I can’t wait to see what the next act brings!

My advice for anyone looking for a change is to go for it. Don’t be afraid to try something new and/or change directions. Reinvention is nothing more than flying higher and higher into the stratosphere and making your dreams come true. You’re never too old or too young to live the life you’ve always dreamt of. You must take that first step, though. Opportunity doesn’t knock on closed doors.

Some Inspiring Quotes

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton

Want to live a fulfilled life? Make a gratitude list. – N. N. Light

Need more motivation? Check out our latest release…


“Spread the Light and inspire others to do the same.” — N. N. Light

In 2013, we wrote a mission statement and started the Princess of the Light (POTL) blog. We wanted to test a theory. Could one person (or in our case, one couple) use uplifting words to create change?

The answer is a resounding yes! People from all over the world responded to our short inspirational thoughts of the day, and our following grew. What started out as a few people promoting kindness and goodwill turned into a movement. In every city, there are Light-Bearers making a difference and we want you to join us.

Everyone needs inspiration. It doesn’t matter what spiritual belief you hold dear, you have the Light inside you. Kindness, compassion, empathy, encouragement are all attributes of the Light. In this book, you’ll find a ninety second inspirational thought for each day of the year. You’ll be inspiring people to spread the Light daily with our collection of inspirational thoughts. From giving of yourself to simply smiling, these are easy concepts for anyone to apply!

Buy Links

Available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited until February!

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Goodreads


N.N. Light is the award-winning husband-wife writing team, commonly known as Mr. N and Mrs. N.

Mrs. N. has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let’s just say she was a born storyteller.

Sign up for their author newsletter to get exclusive content, sales and be entered to win a $5 Amazon US Gift Card every month:

They’re blissfully happy and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports, trains, history, cooking and baking. Their mantra is to spread the Light.

Most of the time you can find them on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. They’re a proud member of ASMSG and Independent Author Network.

In addition to being authors, they’re also book promoters/reviewers, social media marketers/influencers and the owners of N. N. Light Author Promotions. They both love books, have ever since they were young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives them great pleasure.

Social Media Links

Website | Blog | Newsletter | Goodreads | Twitter | Bookbub | Pinterest | Google+ | Instagram | LinkedIn | Amazon Author Page | Independent Author Network

Joanne here!

Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. I enjoyed reading and highly recommend N.N Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration.

For over a year, I have followed Mrs. N’s delightful blog. Each day, I look forward to reading her daily dose of inspiration and/or motivation. I was thrilled when I learned she had compiled all that positive energy into this collection of quotations, anecdotes, and reflections. If you’re looking for a devotional to uplift your spirits or simply want to jump-start your day with practical, down-to-earth advice, pick up this collection. And consider putting it on your list of Gifts-to-Buy for family and friends.

Third Time’s the Charm

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have USA best-selling and award-winning author Lois Winston sharing her three-act life and her latest release, Scrapbook of Murder.

Here’s Lois!

My Second Act is actually a Third Act. I have a degree in graphic design and illustration. After graduating college I spent a short period of time working at two different advertising agencies run by misogynistic male chauvinists before landing a position as a layout artist for John Wanamaker, the premier department store in Philadelphia.

Then I got pregnant.

Childcare back then wasn’t what it is today. I quickly learned that if I wanted to continue working, I’d have to hand over most of my weekly paycheck to KinderCare, the only available option at the time. I had a very sweet, albeit chauvinistic boss who believed mothers should stay home with their babies, but he did realize I needed to continue working, both for the salary and my own sanity. We worked out a freelancing arrangement that enabled me to work from home. The situation was ideal until the family-run department store was sold to a conglomerate and eventually went the way of the dodo.

Luckily for me, I enjoyed crafts and needlework. While in a needlework shop one day, I overheard a conversation between the shop owner and another customer and learned that a needlework kit manufacturer located not too far from my home bought freelance designs. As someone with an art degree, I designed my own pieces rather than stitching others’ designs. I went home and placed a call to the company. A few days later I walked out of the interview with six assignments.

Working for that company led to a new design career for me, one that lasted for decades. I freelanced for various companies and publishers and spent time as an editor for McCall’s craft book division, head designer and editor for a kit manufacturer, and one of DMC’s go-to designers (a position I still hold.) For those of you unfamiliar with DMC, it’s the world’s leading manufacturer of embroidery floss and has been in business about twice as long as the United States has been a country.

Life was good, even during those times the economy wasn’t. When people are counting their pennies, they don’t spend money on entertainment. They stay home—and spend their leisure time doing crafts. Or at least they did until the advent of the home computer. Suddenly, instead of crafting, people were spending their free time online. Craft companies went out of business; magazines folded. I had less and less work at a time when I needed more and more income, thanks to my kids’ tuition bills.

One day the idea for a story popped into my head. I hadn’t written any fiction since Freshman Comp in college, but I started writing, and before I knew it, I had completed a novel. Thus began a decade-long journey toward publication. My first book debuted ten years, almost to the day, that I first began writing.

I still design, but I now earn in a year what I used to bill out in a good month because there’s so little design work available. Most of my time is spent writing. My first books were romances, but I eventually took my experiences in the craft industry and used them to create my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Many of Anastasia’s experiences are my own—minus the dead bodies.

Scrapbook of Murder is the sixth full-length mystery in the series. The others are Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and A Stitch To Die For. There are also three novellas connected to the series—Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.


Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links

Kindle | Kobo | iTunes | Nook | Paperback


USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Where to find Lois…

Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up

Joanne here!

Lois, you are a crafty and clever lady! Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with Scrapbook of Murder.

Born To Be A Storyteller

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Rayanne Haines sharing her inspiring journey and her debut novel, Fire Born.

Here’s Rayanne!

Finding my way to this second act of my life has been less painful, and more painful than I ever thought it could be. I grew up quite sheltered on a small horse farm. Naïve but also desperately unhappy in my home life and wanting something more. At nineteen, I married my teenage sweetheart. At twenty-three I had my first son. At twenty-six my second. At twenty-seven I was divorced, with only a high school diploma, and living in support housing trying to raise two little boys.

I always dreamed of being a writer. I often felt I was born to be a storyteller. Frequently felt that my dream world was more real than reality. My children are everything to me. But I also knew the only way I would survive being a single parent was to fight for myself and my dreams. So, at twenty-eight I enrolled in college to take a Cultural Management degree. From there I worked for different Arts organizations—An activist film festival, a record label, a local choir. My children were with me every step of the way, often attending meetings and work functions when babysitters were unavailable or unaffordable.

Six years ago, I made the decision to focus on my own art. I became the executive director for The Edmonton Poetry Festival and began my journey into writing. Yes, later than planned, but completely and organically the way it was meant to happen. In 2013, I released my first collection of poetry. For the next several years I focused on submitted poems to magazines and anthologies, as well as honing my performance style as a spoken word poet.

In 2015, the idea for Fire Born, Book One of the Guardian Series, came to me in a dream. I began the work of writing a novel, with no previous training and no real understanding of what I was embarking on. I muddled my way through the first draft, and the second before asking for support from a few authors I knew and respected. Their advice? Go back to the drawing board and ask your characters who they are, instead of trying to guess. It took me a while to understand what they meant. But eventually I got it. I looked at my own life, where I’d come from, what I’d overcome. I had to know my characters as well as I knew myself if I wanted other readers to engage with them.

After a year of learning, and re-working, Fire Born was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing. Very quickly after, they signed me to a four-book deal! I’ve just completed book two of the series and am starting on book three.

I’ve also completed a Novel-in-Verse that will be released in the April of 2018. The poetic novel tells the story of an Italian family’s immigration from Italy to Canada, through three female voices, in poems.

I’m also marrying the love of my life three days after the release of Fire Born. My Italian lover has been very much an inspiration for all the heroes in my novels. My children will be walking me down the aisle.

My second act was hard fought and worth every bumpy step. I truly believe I would not be here if I’d never divorced. The struggle created a strength in me that helped push me to reach for my dreams, to search for great love, and to write about strong women who will accept nothing less.


Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

hat’s when her Aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re Immortal – Elementals to be precise and Alex is the long-lost daughter of one of the strongest female warriors of their time.

Her Guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control fire, and find her father’s people or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six and the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the run in with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction. Suddenly Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for. But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.


Where to find Rayanne Haines…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Rayanne, your remarkable journey is an inspiring one that will linger in my consciousness. Thanks so much for sharing and best of luck with Fire Born.