Hope, Healing & Second Chances by Virginia McCullough

Until recently in my writing life, say, the last few years, I nearly winced when someone asked about my brand. Maybe that’s because I’ve been around long enough to think of a “brand” as part of a sentence, like, “Is the store brand as good as the name brand?” A brand used to be about breakfast cereal and laundry detergent. But, since I’m a twenty-first century kind of woman, I’ve become more conversant about my theme/brand: Hope, Healing & Second Chances. No matter what the story is about on the surface, it all comes down to those three themes. 

In my new release, Something to Treasure, I saw the way these themes emerged as the characters played their parts. 

PR consultant, Dawn Larsen, is all about hope. She’s an optimist at heart, but she’s also had her share of heartache. When her first husband falls in love with another woman, the crushing grief is made worse when her ex and his new wife have a baby. Dawn had longed for a second child, but now it seems another woman is living the life Dawn planned for herself. But she’s not down for long: 

In the first twelve months of living as a single mom, she’d doubled her business income. In the second twelve months, she’d begun dating. Mixed results for sure, including with Chip, the man she’d hoped could be her second chance… Not exactly stepdad material. She’d collected all the warning signs she needed, but it still hurt to give up on what at the beginning seemed like a promising relationship. 

Later, she reflects on the happiness her best friend, Lark, has found.

A miracle, Dawn thought, feeling the same surge of pleasure she always did when recalling Lark and Miles’s small but joyful wedding. Maybe it will happen for me one day.

Dawn, ever hopeful and not a bit shy, approaches Jerrod to break the ice about this “thing between them.” Even when he looks distressed, she still has faith in her instincts and manages to pull it together and keep going, repeating to herself the adage, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”  

Jerrod Walters, who has run shipwreck dives all over the world, blames himself for the death of his wife and eldest daughter in a terrorist attack in Bali. Opening a diving operation in Two Moon Bay on the shore of Lake Michigan is his fresh start. But that doesn’t mean his heart has healed. Even in happy moments, something always reminded him of his lost wife and daughter and A familiar heaviness settled into his chest. 

Even when thinking about recent life decisions, his grief bleeds through: 

Maybe being settled in a real home would do the trick and wipe out the lingering anxiety over his new direction. In his rational mind he was certain he’d made the right decision, but on some days, he had trouble making his heart understand.

When Dawn confronts Jerrod with the “thing” between them, he’s quick to shut the door to any possibilities of a romance: 

“…you won’t like to hear this cliché, but it’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one who’s emotionally numb—dead. You’re a woman with enthusiasm for life—you understand joy. I give all I can to be any kind of a dad at all. I’ve got nothing left over to give.”

If the second chance part of the brand is going to play out, then Dawn and Jerrod have some work to do. Dawn shows the courage to examine her life and her many sources of happiness. With or without Jerrod, she’s grown enough to know she’ll be okay. Jerrod gradually finds his path to healing in putting down new roots and pursuing an old dream. But, it may take a crisis or two before Dawn and Jerrod can know for sure if they’ll be each other’s second chance. 

It’s my hope Dawn and Jerrod’s story will touch your heart.  


January 8th was the first day of my tour with Prism Book Tours to spread the word about Something to Treasure. Check out the blogs and review sites, and sign up for the giveaway. It includes an Amazon gift card, plus some other fun items. And I love honest reviews!  

Virginia McCullough is excited about the release of Something to Treasure (the second of her Two Moon Bay series. Book 1, Girl in the Spotlight, was released in June.) Like Virginia’s other novels, this series introduces characters who could be our neighbors and friends, struggling with everyday life issues.  

Both a writer and a vagabond all her life, Virginia now lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She enjoys hanging out with other romance writers, walking on trails, and downing mugs of dark roast at local coffeehouses. Her other award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles include The Jacks of Her Heart, Amber Light, The Chapels on the Hill, and Island Healing.  

Visit Virginia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginia.mccullough.7 and sign up for her newsletter and special notices at www.virginiamccullough.com


  1. I like those ‘brand’ themes, Virginia - hope, healing and second chances are what we all want, aren’t they? “Something to Treasure”sounds like a wonderful read and I look forward to it. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks--and yes, where would any of us be if we'd never had a second chance?

  2. Congratulations on the new release. Best of luck!

  3. Coming up with a brand is not always easy. I like yours :) Hope is a powerful word, so is healing, and we all need (some of us desperately) those second chances.

  4. Like you, at first I didn't understand the need for an author branding. But the more people talked about it, the more sense it made. You chose a good brand.

  5. Ooooh, those branding words resonate, Virginia. I like Dawn's spunky character. Jerrod won't be able to hold out against her. Best!

  6. Yes, I love your brand. I'm looking forward to this story.

    1. Thanks, Beth. I appreciate having the brand affirmed. I've had my doubts that I wasn't specific enough, but it keeps coming back to me.

  7. Love the brand! When I was first told to start thinking about my brand, I was afraid it would narrow what I could write about. But it turns out, it helps me really focus because now I know what type of story I want to write. Yours is awesome and I can't wait to read the story!

    1. I came to think the same way you do. It kind of makes us own what's in our writing hearts.


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