Writing Contest



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1st place
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We Did This Once Before


Lynne M. Spreen

Broke and lonely, Kim is about to make the worst decision ever.

Divorced and struggling, middle-aged Kim is hanging on by her fingernails. When her elderly mother invites her to move home to Florida, to the lush island of her childhood, Kim is tempted. She could spend time with Mom, start her dream business, and craft the perfect new life.

On the other hand, Mom has a Masters in manipulation, and there’s a reason Kim fled to California in her youth. But she’s too mature and experienced now to fall into the same family drama.

Telling herself it’ll all work out, Kim loads a rental trailer with her last few belongings and heads for Estero Island, hoping she isn't making a huge mistake.

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Amazon Reviews Of The Book

Midlife often leads to a rebirth of sorts, with a better understanding of yourself and your value.

Lynne M Spreen obviously enjoys writing about strong women approaching the second act of their lives ~ the victories and the pitfalls, the optimism and the doubts, and I believe she is the reigning queen of the genre! I have read her Blues series which I totally enjoyed, so I was eager to read this next book in her lineup.

At the ripe age of fifty, Kim finds herself at a crossroads ~ newly divorced, broke, and suffering job burn out. Following a phone call from her mother, she is debating the merits of moving to southwest Florida to help out her elderly mother and have a free place to live as she ponders her next move. She feels unappreciated at work and a bit lonely as well, so she pulls up stakes and drives from her longtime home in Southern California all the way across country to Estero Island near Ft. Myers, Florida. She discovers that her mother was not forthcoming about her situation when she offered her daughter a place to stay. Upon arrival at the ramshackle cottage on the inlet, Kim discovers that her confused Aunt Vergie is also living there, as is her cousin Liz with her sketchy boyfriend out back in a trailer.

Real tension exists between her mom, her Aunt Vergie, cousin Liz, and her live-in boyfriend Ian that Liz doesn't understand although she has her suspicions. As she tries to help her beleaguered elders escape from the tyranny of her opportunistic cousin, Kim recognizes some of her own faults and realizes how she's allowed her mom (and her ex) to so easily manipulate her.

Needing a source of funds as well as time away from her elders, Kim starts a virtual assistant/event planning business at which she excels. She also finds a friend (and love interest) in their neighbor Sam, who has been helping the ladies with small repairs around the house.

As Kim starts to piece together what exactly is going on within the family, she discovers that her mom has withheld much of the truth from her. Wanting to break her old habit of being manipulated, Kim starts to trust her own instincts in handling the problems within the household.

I like the way Ms. Spreen depicts Kim as a smart and capable woman who has unknowingly copied her mother's tendency to make people happy and keep the peace. Once she understands that, Kim can accept her part in the unraveling of her marriage and her dissatisfaction with her work, and grow stronger and more assertive in her relationships. Lynne's ability to convey her character's emotions and surroundings lends reality to her stories and enables the reader to experience the places and people more completely. I look forward to reading whatever is next from Lynne Spreen!

Everything I’d look for in a friend

I’m a big fan of Lynne Spreen’s books. Her latest, We Did This Once Before, is her best one yet. Lynn’s true-to-life character Kim goes through many of the challenges women face in midlife—trying to be available for her aging, manipulative mother (who lives on the other side of the country); dealing fairly with a boss who doesn’t appreciate her contributions to the business (a boss who is also a friend); and wrestling with visions of what the rest of her life will look like. Through all this she has a health problem that isn’t getting any better and will require surgery—an expense she can’t afford. So Kim takes a chance and moves cross-country to help her mother in the Florida town where she grew up.

Kind, smart, brave, and with a positive outlook, Kim is everything I’d look for in a friend. I enjoyed her story, and I hope this book is the start of a series with Kim as the star.

Entertaining and positive story of midlife heroine

Entertaining and empowering, We Did This Once Before is a novel to enjoy and discuss with friends. Kim is dealing with the deluge of problems that seem to arise all at once when we turn fifty. Financial, professional, medical, marital and elder care seem to arrive all at once-- and its a midlife woman who is asked to manage all of them. In We Did This Once Before, Kim finds a pathway to dealing with a difficult mother and exploitive boss, without becoming the victim of good intentions. I relished the image of a strong, midlife heroine who is successfully carving out a dynamic second half of her life. Looking forward to reading her other novels.

Our Reviews Of The Book

Very gentle book with a tint of romance!

It was the title that got me so curious about this book.  Well-written book, about the hard decisions we have to make, also the courage and determination that we need. Very gentle book with a tint of romance!

Captivating and empowering read

Interesting and engaging book! This a story is dedicated to everyone who is seeking to change his life and everyone who needs the determination to do so. Captivating and empowering read.

Learn More About The Author

Lynne M. Spreen


After a career in Human Resources, Lynne M. Spreen reinvented herself as an author, speaker, blogger, and teacher. She enjoys speaking about the positive side of aging, and writes uplifting novels and short stories featuring main characters in the second half of life. She refers to this as midlife fiction and crosses her fingers that it'll catch on.


Lynne’s debut novel, Dakota Blues, told the story of two woman who embark on a life-changing road trip. The novel won an award for excellence in women's fiction.


Lynne also wrote three more books in the series, including Key Largo Blues, Goodbye to the Blues, and California Blues. Her stand-alone short stories, Middle-Aged Crazy: Short Stories of Midlife and Beyond, was awarded five stars by the editors at Readers’ Favorite.


Her website is AnyShinyThing.com, but you can find her in all the usual online places. Her books are available exclusively at Amazon.

Connect with Lynne

Check Out Lynne's Other Books on BooksShelf

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Dakota Blues

Interview With The Author

When did you start writing?

I started writing seriously when I got old and had the time. But like a lot of you, I started when I was a little kid.

What makes writing your passion?

An overwhelming urge to communicate certain life experiences with others.

What’s the story behind your choice of characters

I like strong, midlife women. Because that's what I am.