Please welcome my guest today, Joanne Guidoccio, with a courageous and heartwarming Fearless Friday.
In 1984, London Life Insurance came up with a uniquely Canadian slogan – Freedom 55.
Each time I saw the commercial of the middle-aged couple walking along the beach, enjoying a sunset, or engaging in water sports, I imagined my own retirement: extended holidays as a snowbird, launching a non-profit, starting a counseling practice. A little different but compelling enough to keep me dreaming of my own freedom years. Why not leave the workforce at age 55 and devote the remaining 25 to 30 years of my life to my passions.
Five months before my fiftieth birthday, a diagnosis of inflammatory cancer brought everything to a standstill. I survived, scarred but happy to be alive and appreciative of the many gifts cancer had brought.
I returned to my teaching position, with new determination. I would not wait until age 55 to retire. Instead, I
As 2008 neared, I felt flutters of trepidation but remained committed to Freedom 53. For the most part, family and friends were supportive, but I could see flickers of doubt in their eyes. A few ventured to ask: “What on earth will you do?”
While some of my earlier dreams no longer fit, I did have a vague idea of what life on golden pond would look like. Sleeping in each morning. Leisurely breakfasts. New hobbies. Volunteering. Traveling.
These were my pat answers whenever anyone asked about my future plans. And at some point in the conversation I would work in one of my favorite quotations from Eckhart Tolle: “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.”
I kept my writing dream, concocted at age eighteen, tucked away, fearing to even speak the words: “I want to write.” It sounded a bit pretentious and a definite stretch from my 31-year career as a mathematics and co-operative education teacher.
All that changed when I returned from a trip to Newfoundland. I put pen to paper and wrote an article about my adventures. To my surprise, it was picked up by the Waterloo Record and published two months after my retirement. I took that early publication as a sign from the universe and announced my intention to write.
I started journaling and filled large blocks of unscheduled time with workshops and online courses. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. At first, I focused on the nonfiction market and wrote book reviews and articles about careers, money management, wellness, personal growth and development. While I was delighted with the response from newspapers, magazines, and online publications, I wanted more.
“More” translated into a novel, and in my case, two novels: A Season for Killing Blondes and Between Land and Sea.
I had written the first draft of the cozy mystery during my “cancer” year and then filed it away. An integral part of my therapy, writing that novel helped me survive and thrive during the most challenging season of my life. It was now time to edit and polish the manuscript.
While querying, I distracted myself with another storyline. I wrote the first draft of Between Land and Sea (a paranormal romance about a middle-aged ex-mermaid) in three months and then spent a year editing and polishing. I was thrilled when Senior Editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract in 2013.
A year later, Editor Johanna Melaragno of The Wild Rose Press picked up A Season for Killing Blondes (Book 1 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series). The novel was released in June 2015.
In September 2015, Soul Mate Publishing released The Coming of Arabella, the sequel to Between Land and Sea.
Right now, I’m polishing the final draft of Too Many Women in the Room (Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series).
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.
When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends. As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
In the News
A Season for Killing Blondes is on sale for $0.99
May 6 – May 20
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