A New Chapter


It’s official as of yesterday.

Then again, I’m an author. So I’m never really retired, just able to devote more time to this thing I love. I know people who quit working at a much younger age, and I know plenty who will continue working, either by choice or necessity.

When I walked away from the lucrative job I had as a fraud investigator, I did so because the job, the toxic environment in which I worked, threatened my health. For the next three years, I did not work outside the home. But I tried. I looked for work. I was able to see how much the employment landscape had changed. Back in the 80s, I would revise my resume and send it out with a well-written cover letter to the head of personnel at a company. Ha! Five years ago, I applied online for a variety of jobs, trying to hide the fact that I was over 50, but I knew that whoever or whatever program sorted out applications, mine was likely tossed early.

Then I had an interview with HopeHealth (formerly known as Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island). Here was an agency that actually valued experience! Here was a place that understood what I could offer. I worked part-time for Hospice from June 2014 until yesterday. I worked at the front desk in the Philip Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence, where old friends and colleagues were admitted at the end of their lives. I assisted in Medical Records, ensuring a patient’s file was complete. I helped out in Quality Control, doing tasks that added to the agency’s compliance with so many federal and state guidelines. All through it, I worked with smart, professional, dedicated people who truly put others before themselves. The years I spent working for Hospice helped to erase the  bitter memories of my previous job.

And now it’s done. I’m 60 years old, which to some of you might seem young for retirement. But my time at Hospice has taught me that life can change in an instant. Sometimes circumstances dictate that we keep working, past the time we’d like to have stopped. My husband and I saved aggressively while we worked full-time, and we don’t live large. I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth – thirty? Eighteen? Three? My goal is to keep writing novels, cherishing a day at the ocean, a cup of coffee, the sound of my old dog snoring.

Here’s to my new chapter.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-two


The Becoming Minimalist blog has the same theme that I’d planned on this week, so I’ll share their post and then write about it. Joshua Becker’s title is ” 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day.” Now, you might be totally repulsed by that idea, but hold off on your judgment until you read the post (by clicking on the highlighted text at the beginning of this paragraph).

Uniforms are great! Whether you wear scrubs, or khakis and a polo shirt, or black pants and t-shirt, your agonizing over what to wear is non-existent. Becker says, “We have no idea how much of a burden our possessions have become until we begin to remove them.”

So what if you work in an office, as I did? I quit that job seven years ago, and I’m still donating bags of clothes and shoes. Now I go into an office one day a week, and I have no stress about what to wear. I saved a couple of pairs of slacks and three or four shirts, all appropriate for an office.

Have you heard about Project 333? The link will bring you to the website, but it’s the idea of wearing only 33 items over a 3-month time period (a season). All clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes count toward your number. You don’t have to count wedding ring(s), underwear, sleepwear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing. Well, I’m in! And next week I’ll detail what I compiled for my 33 items.

What about you? Could you try Project 333?

It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Joann Mead

underlying crimesTiger Tiger BookCover 3 Jon Land

I write because I have stories to tell and promises to keep. Starting with the stories to tell, I began writing about ten years ago. Unsettling events were unfolding around me and I was compelled to find out why. There were too many unanswered questions. Bad things happened, to me and to others. So, in an effort to make sense of it all, I began to write, to chronicle, to research and to speculate. And I wrote the first of my novels, short stories, and screenplays.

What inspired my novel, Underlying Crimes, was an outbreak in Rhode Island of diseases in children: encephalitis, neurological diseases and rampant pneumonia. I had my suspicions, not based on some fanciful ideas but on real science. I don’t write sci-fi. No zombies or walking dead for me, please. So concurrent to writing non-fiction journal articles on Disasters, Mass Casualties, and Weapons of Mass Destruction, I began writing speculative bio-crime fiction. I ruminated, I mused. What if my fears were true? Was it bioerror or bioterror that caused the children to sicken and die?

Underlying Crimes is a medical mystery and crime story set in the tiny New England state known for its culture of corruption. Now I wonder where that might be? It’s a story of corporate bioterror, unscrupulous industry rogues, corrupt politicians and crooked cops.

My “promises to keep”? To find out who was responsible for the disease outbreak and to bring them to justice. Even if it had to be in a fictional court of law, the perpetrators would be prosecuted for their crimes against human health and the murder of children.

My second novel, an international bioterror thriller, spans the globe, from Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China to Copenhagen, Pisa, and the US Northeast.  In Tiger Tiger: Underlying Crimes, a sultry scientist and her lover, a nihilist Italian professor, plot a 9-11 style bioterror attack on America using his students as infected human time bombs. The plot is inspired by real science:  the lab creation of virulent, contagious super-flus that can kill tens of millions. Even Bill Gates has warned Global Security groups of this ominous possibility.

Our femme fatale scientist manipulates microbes and men. Her “Tiger Flu” lab-created bioweapon is the most contagious and deadly known to humankind. She infects her “test” subjects with her Honey Sweeties, candies laden with lethal “Tiger Flu”. The morale: “Never take candy from a sexy stranger.” I’ve written a screenplay adaptation for a feature film that I hope someday will make it to the big screen.

Other inspiration comes from having lived in London England, Moscow Russia (back in the USSR), and Zimbabwe, Africa. My husband and I have traveled on six continents. I take megabytes of photos and often invent characters, settings, and story details while in situ.

I’m currently writing a third novel in the Underlying Crimes series. Gene-edited designer babies anyone? Oh, what terror that could be!

My books are available on Amazon

Visit my website: UnderlyingCrimes.com

Joann and Einstein cropped

Joann Mead is a writer, teacher, and researcher. Her first biocrime novel, Underlying Crimes, was inspired by her published research on disasters and emerging threats. She brings her unique perspective from teaching science in four countries (United States, England, Russia and Zimbabwe), working in biotechnology and in medical research. Her second novel in the Underlying Crimes series, Tiger Tiger, is a cautionary tale. A sexy lab researcher and her bioterrorist lover plot a 9/11 style attack with their lab manipulated super-lethal ‘Tiger Flu’ targeted at America.

GIVEAWAY! You can win a copy of Underlying Crimes! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo



It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Karen Petit

drkarenpetit.com 4novels
Self-competition and Other Methods of Finding Time to Write

Dr. Karen Petit is the author of four novels: Banking on Dreams, Mayflower Dreams, Roger Williams in an Elevator, and Unhidden Pilgrims. However, just like everyone else in our world, Petit sometimes has to be creative about finding time to write. She has been using scheduling, word-count analysis, deadlines, multi-tasking, and self-competition to help herself to write in a timely fashion.

To write Banking on Dreams, Petit used two techniques to find enough time: scheduling and word-count analysis. Her scheduling was done by planning on–and sticking to–specific time frames for her writing. She also began to write down the dates, times, and word counts of her manuscript. Whenever she did some writing after not writing for a few days, her writing speed was between 100 and 250 words per hour. If Petit wrote on the next day, her writing was just slightly faster. Her writing was always much faster on the third day. Even if day one and day two had only included an hour or two of writing, her third day would always be at least 250 words per hour and usually between 300 and 400 words per hour.

For Mayflower Dreams, Petit checked with the company that had published her first novel to see if there was an interest in publishing her second novel. On the day before Thanksgiving, an email from the company’s president responded with “Absolutely! Where is it?” Since Petit’s manuscript was only half finished, she decided to multi-task: she scheduled her writing on each day to begin while she was eating supper and to continue for as long as possible. On Thanksgiving, she actually started her scheduled multi-tasking by beginning to write the chapter titled “A Time of Thanksgiving.” She then spent every day for the next two months with her scheduled multi-tasking. Petit also began to use self-competition. While writing, she would write down a word count for every hour on each day. She was very happy whenever she won her self-competition with a higher word count than her previous ones. She also was very thankful for already having a publisher and a deadline for submitting her completed manuscript.

For Roger Williams in an Elevator, Petit again had a contract with the same publisher, so her writing included the use of a deadline, multi-tasking, self-competition,and varied scheduling techniques. Whenever she could spend at least three hours writing and was able to average over 400 words per hour, she felt very happy and successful. Not only did she love competing with herself, but she also liked the freedom to compete with herself. She tried such innovative techniques as checking her writing speed while listening to music, while not listening to music, while eating supper, while eating chocolate, and while not eating any food.

Petit’s writing speed for Unhidden Pilgrims actually went up to over 550 words per hour on several of her writing days. Having a publisher’s deadline also helped her to stick to her schedule of activities, including not just writing but also taking photos and editing. Self-competition and multi-tasking were again important parts of Petit’s process for writing this novel. Unhidden Pilgrims was then unhidden and submitted to her publisher in January 2017, just seven months after she had begun writing it.

Dr. Petit’s four novels all include historic elements, dream/reality connections, Christian content, and methods of dealing with such problems as anxiety, nightmares, separation, and violence. More information about this author, her novels, and her blogs is available at www.drkarenpetit.com.


GIVEAWAY! The author is offering a print copy of Roger Williams in an Elevator to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after blog post publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors ExpoThe Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo


Thirty Questions


I’m following the lead of some of my fellow bloggers (especially as I’m trying to blog more consistently, even when I don’t really want to), and taking up the “Thirty Questions” Challenge. Yes, TMI probably!

What did you want to be when you were a kid?  A teacher, definitely. The options for young girls at the time seemed to be limited, even if they weren’t. But I loved school and thought I’d be a good teacher.

Which Friends character do you relate to most? Why? I consider myself a bit old for this series, even though I have watched every episode. If I had to choose one, it would be Phoebe, because when I was that age I was most like her. Except for the vegetarian part.

Do you like your name? Why? If I’m being honest here, no. I’ve never liked my name. Still, I’ve never changed it, and I could have. I’ve simply grown accustomed to it, and now, at 58, it seems terribly appropriate.

Are you messy or neat? Both. My husband and I live comfortably and don’t worry about clutter. This year I’m going to try to repurpose a lot of the ‘stuff’ we have, with an eye toward living more minimally.

How tall are you? I’ve been 5’7″ for most of my adult life, but last year I was measured at 5’6″. Damn.

How tall were you when you were ten? Best guess would be 5’something. 5’1″ or 5’2″?

What is your guilty pleasure? There shouldn’t be guilt associated with pleasure, ever. Overindulgence, yes. And I do overindulge.

What are you saving money for now? Nothing. I saved aggressively while I was working, and it’s time to enjoy. I have the material items I need – if anything, we would like to travel more. Someday it’ll be possible.

How many Pringles can you eat at once? No. Just no.

Tea or coffee? Coffee in the morning, tea during the day.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Very much an introvert. Some of my friends seem surprised at that.

What will be your Hallowe’en costume this year? Again, no. I enjoyed Halloween when I was eight. Those days are long gone!

Sweet or salty? A bit of both, please. If I had to choose one, it would be salty. I keep trying to quit sugar. I just don’t bring it into the house.

Favorite social media? Facebook has helped me to connect with readers and other authors, so I’m grateful for that. I use Twitter to stay educated on news, especially in these troubled times. And Instagram provides me with gorgeous photos of my favorite places (hint: Switzerland!).

Who is the last person you kissed? James H.

What is your favorite breakfast? I could eat breakfast all day. If I’m out, it’s two eggs over easy, pan-fried potatoes, English muffin. At home it’s a banana, half a cup of canned pumpkin, unsweetened nut milk, protein powder, cinnamon, all blended. Tastes like pie!

When is your birthday? Soon! Don’t they come quickly now. Lucky seven, luckier thirteen.

When did you start your blog? It was on my birthday, 2012, I think, the year my first book was published.

What is your opinion on the Kardashians? No opinion.

How would you describe your style? Ha! I just wear what’s right for the day. It’s clean, it fits. Casual.

What color is your hair? L’Oreal says medium golden blonde.

What color socks are you wearing? No socks this morning, it’s finally warm enough to go without.

What is your dream job? I’m doing it. Writing novels. I may never be famous or rich from this job, but I don’t care.

Dogs or cats? Pets are wonderful. We had a cat in the house when I was a teenager. My husband and I have a dog. Either and both.

What makes you weird? I don’t know, but I am.

Celebrity crush? Clive Owen, Damian Lewis, Jon Hamm, William Hurt, Ken Olin, Alan Rickman, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Benecio Del Toro. I could go on….

Opinion on cigarettes? Oh boy. I do hate them, I hate what havoc they wreak on a person’s health. They killed my dad, and they’re killing my father-in-law. I have great sadness for those who are addicted to them, because I know few people who actually want to smoke.

Do you want/have any children? Wanted – yes. Have – no.

Three favorite boy’s names. Michael. Daniel. Alexander.

Three favorite girl’s names. Jacqueline. Evangeline. Christine.

Okay, your turn! You don’t have to answer all of the questions – just pick one or two and give me your responses in the comments section.

I’m Already Amazing, Thank You

Last year I ended a 23-year career in state government to pursue writing full-time.  With my husband’s encouragement and support, I am working on my first novel and writing every day.  It’s wonderful to do something you really love, and neither he nor I regrets the decision I made to quit.

In November, I wondered if we could continue to live comfortably on just his income, and thought perhaps I should work part-time, just to have a little extra money (in November, thoughts turn to higher heating bills and Christmas expenses).  So I contacted a colleague who runs a temporary-placement agency and told him I was looking for some part-time work.  In my previous life I investigated white-collar crimes (and still hold the credential of a Certified Fraud Examiner).  I found the work very fulfilling, especially when it led to the prosecution of a fraudster.  But because I want to concentrate on my writing, I requested work that would be less intense.  Two weeks later, he called me with a position.  After describing the company and the nature of the assignment, I confirmed that it was part-time work (the office was located about twenty minutes from home, but you know, in Rhode Island that’s like a cross-country trip).  Ah, he told me no, this was full-time work, so I declined.  Then he said he might have another position.  It wasn’t definite, and then, with a giggle (yes, he actually giggled), he said he wasn’t sure if I’d want to work there.  Engage radar.

“So, why did you laugh when you said that?” I asked.

“Um, well, it’s just that, coming from your background…”  and he asked me if I’d ever heard of a certain adult-entertainment chain of stores.

“I’m familiar with them, from the outside.”  More nervous laughter – from him, not me.  I waited.  He told me that the company did millions in business (no kidding) and that they really could use some help in human resources.  Not that I ever thought I’d be their pick for behind-the-sales-counter.  He asked me to think about it.

And I did think about it.  I thought about how I would tell my husband, my sisters, my father-in-law, my friends, my law-enforcement colleagues, my dear priest friend, how I could tell them all about my new part-time job.  Or would I be so ashamed that I wouldn’t tell anyone except my husband?  I may have spent a lot of years not loving some of the jobs I’ve held, but I’ve never ever been ashamed of them.

Look, I’m not saying they’re doing anything illegal.  The adult-entertainment industry rakes in over $12 billion a year (that was in 2007).  Porn is big business.  Some organizations have underworld ties.  Some, not all.

So it was a personal decision.  And this one was amazingly easy.