Author Q&A, Blooper Reel


We fell apart so many times. I don’t know how Oprah is going to handle me on a stage. Or her backyard in Maui.

But practice we must, as I’m presenting my books in zoom Book Club meetings now.

Book Ends is a group of savvy readers in the St. Louis, Missouri area. This gorgeous group read The Great Loveda Brown and has invited me to speak at one of their monthly meetings. I’m fairly certain wine will be involved. And my cat is a non-negotiable. I can only hope we don’t dissolve into a fit of giggles.

Or maybe we will. If we aren’t having fun, why are we here? After Kid Five’s questions, I think I’m ready for just about anything you can throw at me. Including the camera. Use the comment box below and test it out. What’s a question you have for me? And while we’re at it, invite me to your Book Club this summer. Let’s talk poppycock.

Meanwhile, this video is blessedly short. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Six


This video short concludes our round of author interviews, held by Kid Five and thoughtfully dissected by yours truly. I had a hard time pretending only the two of us were going to watch it afterward. Thinking like that resulted in laughter and wisecracks and going wildly off-topic. The alternative was pretending that a million people were watching, and the idea made me want to run from the room in hysterics.

To find a calm middle ground, I quoted movie lines between filming.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

“I’m just gonna have fun with it.”

Tucson. 1916.

I guess you had to be there.

“You’re killing me Smalls.”

In this final episode, we chat about how I come up with the titles for my books, when I first considered myself to be a “professional” writer, writing male characters, and hitting an emotionally charged scene that took all my nerve to write. It might not be the one you think it is.

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Five

A desperate fit of giggles sabotaged this interview by Kid Five. We cut them off of both ends of the video clip and even so,  you can hear the clothes dryer beep at the end of our author interview, sealing our fate as forever amateur fireside chatterers.

We’re going to make some new ones up in Idyllwild, outside among the pines. After the weather turns. You know my feelings about snow.

Although, now that I consider it, it’s hard to have a fit of giggles when you’re about to freeze to death.


In this episode, Kid Five asks me about what literary success looks like. Moms everywhere will relate to my answer. Have I ever Googled myself? What is the most difficult part of my artistic process? Do I believe in writer’s block? How much content did I have to edit out of The Great Loveda Brown before publishing it?

This video was supposed to be three and a half minutes. We settled for short, sweet, and to the point. Then we went to fold laundry. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Four


Do you remember the moment you realized you could read? It’s an intense memory I have. I remember looking around, seeing words everywhere, and understanding that they were all trying to talk to me. I imagine it was something like the time Kid Five put on his first pair of glasses and looked around at the world.

“So,” he said. “This is what the place looks like. I’ve never seen individual leaves on a tree before.”

He was twelve. And possibly he’s never forgiven me for being such a clueless mother. He held this interview like a pop quiz and enjoyed it so much more than I did.


In this episode, Kid Five and I discuss the time I first realized I wanted to be a writer, my “absolutely must have” item or ritual when I write, where I get ideas for books, and what new and interesting parts of history I’ve discovered during research. (Hint: those go into my newsletter!)

1912 is the year the Titanic went down, the “S” corset went out, and Boston’s Fenway Park went up. The first Eagle Scout earned his rank, Theodore Roosevelt passed the presidency to Woodrow Wilson, and Harriet Quimby was the first female pilot to fly over the English Channel. Life Savers candy was invented in 1912.

Have I always known that I was a writer? Is this a trick question?

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. Not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Three


I wonder whether other author interviews are quite this eloquent. Sophisticated. Whether the author demands to breathe into a paper sack before-hand.

One fun fact about my series is that it evolved from a previous project, an unpublished manuscript titled Horizons. In it, I follow a branch of my family tree out of Texas and into the solitary mountains of New Mexico in 1888. Their struggle for survival and the years leading up to World War I were vivid, and the year 1912 rose to the top as an incredibly interesting time to live in America. I celebrated my fascination with historical fiction by writing an article for the NaNoWriMo blog.

My family tree has enough skeletons to populate several series. Facts that inspire fiction? In the words of the great Dave Barry, “You can’t make this stuff up.” Idyllwild has a tantalizing history just begging for someone to gild it.

In this episode, Kid Five and I chat about the research behind The Great Loveda Brown, how many hours a day I sit at my desk, which character in the book I relate to the most, and a childhood author that influenced me. Kid Five follows these with wanting to know whether my written characters have historically based people beneath them and asking what I would tell younger and aspiring writers at the beginning of their writing journey.

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Two

In today’s episode, we chat about online reviews, how I stare down a book before I begin writing it, keeping characters fresh in the series, and trying to decide whether Book One was harder to write than the rest and why or why not.

Questions that should have been asked, but weren’t, include:

Q: Mom, did you seriously put bad words in your books? Mom…(utterly aghast)
A: Yes. Beginning on page one. Three different ones in here. You can read them to yourself, silently. But you aren’t allowed to say them.

Q: But…
A: These are grown-up books.

Q: (muttering) I’m twenty years old, Mom.
A: Potatoes, Pu-tah-toes.

Q: Are there other things in there…that are strictly for grown-ups?
A: It’s the Wild West. Everybody has guns. There’s violence and murders because—follow me here—these are murder mysteries. Political correctness is just called ‘manners’, and good luck with that. They cuss when it’s called for. They will drink when they want because prohibition hasn’t been invented yet. And babies are made in the usual way because storks haven’t been invented yet. Maybe you should simmer down.

When Kid Five agreed to host my author interviews about my book, The Great Loveda Brown, he told me we had to set up in front of the fireplace.

“Fireside chats, Mom. It’s all the rage.”

“For presidents, maybe. Can I hold the cat in my lap?”

“You have to hold your book.” Eye roll. “Mom.”

If I ever have to do this in public, you’d better believe I’m bringing the cat for moral support. I will wear him around my neck like an airplane pillow.

This video is just over three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round One


Some day, I will hold readings in cozy San Diego bookstores and sign my books in front of Bubba’s Books up in gorgeous Idyllwild, California. Some day, I will land a book on Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club List, Hello Sunshine. Some day, I will interview and be interviewed with grace and clarity, and exude an innate sense of curiosity that skims the edge of wild enthusiasm.

But this is not that day.

If we are reduced to little chatting boxes for now, so be it. After all, I can fit an entire world into a little paper book. It’s no substitute for living in 3D, but it is a place to get you dreaming about “some day”.

It’s a start.

My dashingly handsome Kid Five held a series of interviews in our living room last week and the results wobble between, “Oh, I really wanted to talk about that!” to “How would I know?” He pulled questions from his phone and threw them at me then laughed as he watched me squirm in the hot seat, trying to explain things verbally that are so much easier to explain in Times New Roman.

In today’s episode, we chat about the book blurb, the book cover, and choosing three words to describe The Great Loveda Brown herself.

Each video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Olympics in the Bouncy Castle

Olympic athletes are showing the world what it takes to put on big girl panties and bring home the gold. They are excellent examples of dedication, determination, sportsmanship, and deception.

Feel free to pull your inspiration where you find it.

I sit in the LazyBoy with a fist full of nachos and I’m almost inspired to run some hurdles right here over the brand new sofa. And then lie about it.

Instead, I spent the last couple of weeks rolling around in self-doubt, apprehension, and vacillation, waging a war against procrastination that greater genius’ than I have succumbed to. I needed to blog, and every atom of my being was refusing to do it.

Wallowing in pity for my motivationally challenged self, I took a long hard look at Rio and found the missing link to my success.


Disciplined athletes will be on the ice with a puck between their teeth at 4am every day for years to get the job done. Some authors couldn’t sit down to write until after 10pm and typed during the graveyard shift.

They just choose a time and show up. How hard can it be?

So three weeks ago, I dusted off my alarm clock. I’ve been waking up every day at 6am, trying to find a routine that will put me in my writing place and let me tell you, it’s an utter failure.

Discipline at 6am looked like this: me, drinking mug after mug of hot tea trying to wake up until it was suddenly time to go to my day job. Making tea takes hours if I wake up at 6am, and three and one half minutes if I wake up at 8am.

Do the math.

So I tried sitting up at 11pm the night before a deadline. My entire body screamed for my memory foam mattress while waiting for brilliance to appear on the page. Nope. Brain dead.

I tossed the alarm clock and made dream boards, surrounding myself with success stories.

They taunt me as I stare at the empty page.

Janet E. looks down her nose and says, “I have discipline and the books to prove it. Just what are you frittering away at, there?”

“Don’t quit your day job,” she suggests, before fading into the wall.

Maybe I need some real live writers in my life instead. At least I can’t make up their commentary.

There is a guy I’m thinking of. A retired police detective lieutenant ex-Marine, to be exact.

He’s published his second crime novel and submitted a third, working full time and getting up at 4am every day to write. I met him briefly at an author interview and the man is just oozing with discipline.

I almost reached out and contacted him, but trepidation saved the day.

I can just see it.

You meet for coffee and automatically sit up straight and chew with your mouth closed. Black coffee. Gluten free bran muffins. Hard metal chair.

Next to his writing that drips with murder, mystery and intrigue, my blog looks like little pink dandelion fluffs.

His protagonists are sharp, driven and living on the edge of danger and my subjects skip down the yellow brick road wondering why the sky is blue, and not really concerned about it either way. For all she knows, the sky is purple and wouldn’t that be fabulous?

“What is your genre?” he’ll ask, and his eyes imply that you are not only under oath, but attached to a lie detector machine.

“Okay, well, my blog is mostly humor,” I begin, but his face hasn’t cracked a smile since….so I continue, “but it goes into family and homemaking a little, too, and travel. And relationships occasionally.” It occurs to me that even my genre has no discipline.

I’m screwed.

“I’m writing a book too,” I mention, in an effort to validate myself as a writer, “it’s a Christian novel.” Should I throw in some dark angst and a little violent goat discrimination so he’ll take it seriously?

“And another one, that is a chick flick-type comedy.” The man waits, sniper calm, for the mist to clear and reveal some bedrock.

“And there’s one I’ve worked on for years but includes family members that have to actually die before I can publish it, so it’s on the shelf so to speak.” Ugh.

I’m jumping between projects like my closet is one big bouncy castle at a birthday party that I ate way too much sugar at.

When I signed up to join the gym all those years ago, I told the trainer, “I’m not here for the discipline, the final results, the number on the scale, or the competition. I’m here for the fun of it. When I stop having fun, I’ll stop coming.”

I bounced around that gym and ate cake and had a grand time.

Like Mr. Olympics trainer, Mr. Crime Novel is going to throw up his hands and walk away.

Frankly, the only way I’m going to get discipline is accidentally.

I will sit down when I feel like it and have a grand time playing with words and maybe, some day, I will have writer friends who want to join me in the bouncy castle.