Keep On Keeping On

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Marsha R West. Today, Marsha shares valuable advice and insights gleaned from her writing journey.

Here’s Marsha!

Thanks for hosting me, Joanne. I’m honored to be on your blog today. The title of this post is my mantra: Keep on Keeping on. I developed it early in my writing life. And thank goodness I did, or I wouldn’t be where I am today. No, I’m not a USA best selling author, but I have a following. Fans who ask, “When’s your next book coming out?”

So, let’s go back to the beginning. I started writing because my mother was ill. One day I said to a friend: “I’ve read so many romantic suspense books, surely I could write one if I just knew what to write about.” The friend reminded me of the $13 million embezzlement in the school district, resulting in jail time and loss of jobs. I had left the school board sometime before all that took place, but I knew something about it. I finished the book of 145,000 words, knowing nothing about writing genre fiction or the fact, 145 K words was a bit over the going standard! LOL

But I joined RWA and a local chapter, entered contests, found critique partners, I wrote, and I learned. This is definitely a learn by doing business. You must put in the time and effort to learn the craft. I give a lot of credit to Margie Lawson for my selling the fourth book I wrote, VERMONT ESCAPE, to MuseItUp Publishing, a small Canadian e-publisher.

This was after lots and lots of rejections. That’s one reason I say: Keep on Keeping On. You’re the only one who can stop you from being published. And that’s if you give up. There were many times I almost did that very thing. The year before I sold, I was president of NTRWA. That really saved me. I had to write a president’s message for our newsletter every month, and that’s when I developed the Keep on, Keeping on mantra. Each of those articles was written to me as much as to the members. That was in 2012. VERMONT ESCAPE was released in 2013. I’m so glad I hung in there. I now have 7 published books. All are romantic suspense with older characters; some call this “seasoned romance.”

MuseItUp bought my next book, TRUTH BE TOLD. They wanted the next one, SECOND ACT, but it was the first of a four-part series, and they weren’t printing my books. I had readers who wanted books in print. That led to me setting up MRW Press LLC. I got my rights back on the first two books and headed into the Indie Publishing world.

Right now, I’m teaching a four-part course for Texas Christian University Silver Frogs program called Indie Publishing: Who Me? It’s fun to feel like I can pay forward all the help I received with folks just getting involved in this writing/publishing world.

Book 8 is my WIP and as of now, untitled. Hoping to release it later this year.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out any of my stand alone books or The Second Chances Series about 4 women in their 40s who’ve been friends since elementary school. Picture of Book Series Books are on B & N, KOBO, iTunes, & Amazon where you can order print books, too. All my books are set in Texas even if the characters don’t remain there. Hint: VERMONT ESCAPE.

Love to hear from you. 😊

Vermont Escape Blurb

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. Trying to protect her grown children, she doesn’t tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices including a shot at a second chance at love with a Vermont politician?

Bio

Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and theatre arts teacher. She writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. Marsha lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren who live nearby. Charley, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix completes her family.

MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013; her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. In the Fall of 2014, Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide print and e-versions of her books. SECOND ACT, Book 1 of the Second Chances Series follows up with a secondary character from VERMONT ESCAPE and begins a four-part series. ACT OF TRUST is Book 2 of the Second Chances Series. She released THE THEATRE, a stand-alone in 2016. It was followed by ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series in 2017. In 2019, Act of Survival, Book 4 The Second Chances Series released. A new standalone will be released in 2020.

She contributed to ROMANCE & MYSTERY AUTHORS ON WRITING, edited by JQ. Rose. Also, in 2018, she had a short story, “The Colonel & Her Major” published in her writing chapter’s anthology, LONE STAR LOVE.

She has lots of fun doing book club & library presentations. You can contact her at marsha@marsharwest.com or through her website where you can also sign up for her NEWSLETTER, Blog, or check out any of her social media sites.

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How Many Acts Can One Person Have?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Sister of Suspense author Marsha West sharing her multi-act life and her latest release, Act of Trust.

Here’s Marsha!

marshawest1Apparently quite a few. Since I write about Second Chances, I especially appreciate being here at Joanne’s blog about Second Acts. Inspiring stories are told here!

If college was Act 1 where I studied theatre, speech, and English preparing to be an English teacher, then Act 2 was the three years I taught before getting married.

Following marriage, Mommyhood began Act 3. When you’re a mom, whether you work outside the home or not, life is structured by where your kids are in school and their activities. These were the years of serving on PTA boards, attending gymnastics meets, dance recitals, football games, traveling to cheerleading competitions, and musical performances. They continued into the girls’ college years.

Act 3, Scene 1 is when I ran and got defeated, ran again and was elected for two 4-year terms to the Fort Worth ISD Board of Education. That was 12 years of my life from when I was 40 to 52. Including the four years before I first ran when I’d observed school board meetings as a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), I attended school board meetings twice a month for 16 years.

Ultimately, that Act closed. I reluctantly did not to run for reelection after the second term for financial reasons. Our kids were approaching college age and instead of spending my hours volunteering, (School Board members in Texas aren’t paid) I needed to go back to teaching. (I have people tell me they wish I still sat on the board—nice for my ego—but then I’d have missed so many other experiences.)

Act 4. I was fortunate to get a job teaching theatre in a neighboring school district, setting up a drama program where there had only been a music program. For the next 4 years I immersed myself in that life, teaching & producing one-act plays, musicals, and the UIL One-Act competition. It was wonderful to see the growth of my students from their freshman year through their senior year. Several went on to work in theatre and teaching.

My Acts get a bit blurry now. I was still on the school board and teaching theatre when I began to work on a mid-management degree leading toward becoming a school administrator. I’d seen a poster in the lounge about the program and thought, “hmmm.”

Act 5 began when I got a job with the FWISD as an elementary assistant principal. I spent three wonderful years working with an awesome principal. We were in a good school of about 500 students (mixed ethnically and economically) with an active PTA—even an active Dad’s Club. I learned a ton. I made mistakes, but that’s how we learn.

Act 6 began when I was “promoted” and became principal of Riverside Applied Learning Center, a great little special interest elementary school. I won’t take time to explain what an awesome opportunity it is for kids to be in this kind of school. Here’s a link to school’s website for a brief explanation of what Applied Learning is. http://www.fwisd.org/pages/FWISD/Departments_Programs/Departments__A-K_/Choices/Elementary_School_Programs___S/Riverside_Applied_Learning_Cen

Act 6 Scene 2 After five years at Riverside, I was assigned to a much larger school, almost 800 students. A school that ran through principals about every 2 years. It was a school in transition from being an almost all white middle class to being predominantly African American with a smattering of Hispanics with a high percentage of low-income kids and families. What had been working wasn’t working any longer. It was stressful for everyone. The pressure to perform well on all the tests was enormous.

I worked longer and longer hours, and it became clear to me that my health was suffering. No one should work 14-hour days plus 8 and 6 hour days every Saturday and Sunday, and that’s what I was doing my last year in that school. After two years there, I retired the end of June in 2007.

Act 7 I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d already begun this act—The Writer.

My mother had some health problems and to deal with the stress I went back to reading romance novels. Something I hadn’t done in over twenty years. My goodness those books had changed! Sex was no longer behind the closed door. The suspense was off the charts, too.

I had an idea for a book, which at 145 K words, was a tad long. LOL Besides which I knew nothing about the craft of writing genre fiction. I just told the story. When contest judges said I had a good story, but needed to take classes on POV and GMC, I didn’t know what they meant. 🙂 But I took their suggestions to heart and took classes, attended conferences, wrote, submitted, got rejected, wrote, sent to contests, got dreadful scores, took more classes, wrote, submitted, finalled in some contests, but got rejected. Continued to write. By the time I’d written my fourth book I was looking for small e-presses, and had decided if none of them wanted it, I’d self-publish.

Well, I got two offers and went with a small Canadian e-press. They published my first two books VERMONT ESCAPE and TRUTH BE TOLD. I learned about the publication business from them and now have self-published two books part of The Second Chances Series: SECOND ACT and ACT OF TRUST with plans for two more in the series.

Vermont Escape 200x300 (2)Truth Be Told 200x300(2)Second Act 200x300(2)

(Not a separate act, but an extension of Act 3 is grandparenthood, a lovely time for sure.)

FullSizeRender(2)Act 7, Scene 1 My husband and I are in the process of downsizing from our large house to a smaller one, but this cottage is on a lake 15 minutes from our daughters and grandkids. The views are inspiring and blood pressure lowering. We never anticipated this, but are incredibly grateful. (Lake Picture)

I’m not sure I planned a second or third act, much less a third or fourth. I just followed my husband’s advice: “Go through the open door.” When an opportunity presents itself, take it. When I decided to run for school board that first time, it was because the incumbent had decided not to run. I’d been talking about it for a couple of years, and it was put up or shut up time. I saw the sign on the teacher’s lounge bulletin board about the mid-management program and that propelled me in a new direction and through another door. I didn’t set out to have a career as an author. I just wrote that first book.

My personal motto is: “Keep on Keeping on.” If you want something, don’t give up, no matter how hard it is. There were so many times I nearly gave up on my writing, but I hung in there, and now I’m the proud author of 4 published books. I’m grateful to all the authors who helped me on this journey.

I discovered this next quote at the time I was leaving the school board. “In life, what sometimes appears to be an ending is really a new beginning.” After all these year, I still keep a copy of this one on my desk. The way I see it as long as you’re alive, you have new Acts ahead of you. Be a life-long learner and go through that open door.

Blurb for ACT OF TRUST, Book 2 The Second Chances Series

Act of Trust 200x300 (2)A widow since 9/11 and a mother of grown daughter, Kate Thompson wants to keep her and her daughter safe, but the inheritance of land in Maine pushes her out of her comfort zone in Texas and into the arms of a Maine lawyer.

Maine lawyer and environmentalist, Jim Donovan wants to protect Aunt Liddy’s land and keep it from falling into the hands of the developers, but first he has to convince Kate Thompson she should hold on to the family land when she doesn’t even want to go look at it. However, he’s unprepared for the attraction each feels for the other, but denies exists.

Will they be able to settle the land deal before anyone else is killed or they break each other’s hearts?

Buy Links

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Where to find Marsha…

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Joanne here!

Marsha, I’m in awe of your accomplishments and wish you well with all your literary endeavors.