Guest author: Patricia Campbell

Today I’d like to welcome Patricia Campbell to Off the Page talking about writing, life and everything that happens in between.


By Patty Campbell, author of Jelly’s Big Night Out

When I got to my third life I found there was a lot to write about. Now I have time. In the past ten years I’ve written five contemporary romance novels—Jelly’s Big Night Out is the first to be published. I have high hopes for the other four, and I’m writing the next one…in my head.


But, I digress…


My First Life was, in this order: somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister, somebody’s wife, and somebody’s mother. The first life is the hardest. We’re still finding out who we are at the same time a lot of other people need or want something from us. We’re either soaring with happiness, or in the depths of despair. Everything is so new, so important, so urgent, so… “If I don’t do this, my world will end.” It rarely does, but sometimes one teeters at the scary edge of that place where nobody wants to go. I’m so glad that first life is over. Whew!


My Second Life inherited all the baggage of the first one, but I’d finally, pretty much, figured out who Patty Campbell was. I did learn the difference between what was important and what wasn’t. I think the major accomplishment in one’s second life is to discover that it’s okay to say “No.” We realize that our relatives, even though we love them, aren’t necessarily our friends. We learn that if we treat our friends like we treat our relatives—we won’t have any friends.


During my busy, full, rich second life, my husband and I were still in love and a lot more comfortable with each other. Our kids were finally out of the house, we had time to rediscover each other, and more money available to do some of the things we’d planned. It was also the time to get more education, and to start my own business. It was hard work, but fun. I worked as owner-manager of a successful travel agency and coffee bar for over twenty-five years. I lived my grandmother’s unfulfilled dream to “Travel and see this world we live in.” Went to all those places she’d longed to visit, from Westminster Abbey to the Great Wall of China. My best friend and favorite travel buddy, my husband, went with me as often as possible.


As part of my business I got active in politics on the state level. I helped form an association of disparate travel retailers to work with legislators to protect our best interests, and those of our customers. Lobbying is a dirty word, but the main purpose of lobbying for us, was to educate elected officials about the unintended consequences of laws they were planning to pass. No money changed hands—no favors were given.


As a result, California’s traveling public is protected against fly-by-nighters disappearing with their hard-earned bucks…without putting legitimate travel sellers out of business. Eventually I became the first woman elected Chairman of the Board of a national travel trade association. I was also invited to serve on the board of directors of the International Airlines Travel Association. I was having a good time, met wonderful people from every corner of this country, and from around the world. Many are friends to this day.


Two world changing events occurred during my second life, and propelled me into this one: Life Number Three. First, my husband died suddenly and too young. Six years later Nine-Eleven knocked everybody for a loop.


I know this sounds trivial, but when the World Trade Center towers were attacked, I was on vacation in Hawaii with friends. We got stranded there, unable to get home when all air traffic was shut down. We couldn’t fly between the islands, or get Mainland newspapers to find out what was going on in our home towns. Hawaii is a great place to be stranded, but when something that horrible happens, all you want to do is go home. For the next several days I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


Within the year I resigned from all state and national associations, closed down my businesses and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The little house I bought had a spectacular view of the Grand Teton Mountains. The next year I remarried. My new husband and I jumped into the outdoor life with both feet. We bought a camper and spent three years fishing, camping and sightseeing the beautiful Rocky Mountains and surrounds. In addition to breathtaking scenery and fascinating wildlife everywhere we turned, life took on a leisurely “stop and smell the flowers” pace. I read book after book. Everything—history, biography, mystery, suspense, romance, politics, adventure, fiction and non-fiction.


Then – I began to write, took writing classes in person and online, and joined a local writer’s group…settling on romance because my most important values in life are love, loyalty, family and friendship. That’s what shaped Jelly’s Big Night Out.


After life took a tragic turn, Jelly Swanson had no time for men. Providing a safe, nurturing home for her little sister and running a successful boutique left her too busy for much else, and forced the idea of a love life to the back burner. But when she goes to school for a teacher’s conference, her sister Emi’s science teacher takes Jelly completely by surprise. And getting pregnant with his baby? That’s not at all part of the plan.

The last thing Henry Palasczewski is looking for is romance. With a broken engagement behind him, he’s interested only in the job he loves and the students who adore him. Then Jelly walks into his classroom, and he’s dazzled by her sexy, flamboyant manner. She’s way out of his league—he’s a science nerd, not a movie star—but the chemistry between them is undeniable. 

But when Emi goes missing, a tangle of secrets and past loves may destroy any chance they have at happiness… 

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