Okay Hollywood, Brad Pitt’s not getting any younger


After a month of feeling lost and stressed to the point of damaging my health, I’ve decided not to rush my books back into print but to steady my nerves and move forward one step at a time.

It’s mortifying to think back on those first heady months as a “published writer.”  Don’t laugh, but I actually bought a day planner to keep track of all the events I’d be invited to, the book signings, the interviews, the meetings with Hollywood producers all begging to transform FLIPKA into a block-buster mega hit starring Brad Pitt as Captain Wug.Pitt

Those of you who’ve read the book are thinking “Pitt’s too young.”  Well, if and when FLIPKA ever makes it to the big screen, he’ll be too damn old.

Suffice it to say, the day planner was a complete waste of money. Oh, I worked my fanny off begging and pleading for reviews, blogging, tweeting, pinning, throwing a release party, meeting with a book club (thanks MA) and signing books up in Reno (thanks Mom) –  but as the months went by, no calls from Hollywood.

After realizing there would probably never be a FlipkaWorld at Disneyland I moved on to my next hope for fame and fortune, The Graduation Present. Surely it would intrigue the movie people. It had adventure, romance and another made-for-Hollywood character, Oncle Boob.  But they better hurry.  Brad Pitt will soon be too old to play him too.

Brad Pitt lookalike, Oncle Boob

Brad Pitt lookalike, Oncle Boob

Unknowingly I had committed a mortal sin by writing that book. I’d changed genres. Cross-genre writers are literally the two-headed monsters of the literary world. Ask any expert on “branding.”

Ah well. I’ll probably republish the first two books with minor changes.  However the third book I need your help with. I’ve never liked the title – Willful Avoidance. Sure, it deals with a grim subject – Innocent Spouse Relief – but that doesn’t mean it has to be saddled with a grim name. Can you think of a funny title for a book about divorce and taxes that ends with a talking dog?  Thanks!

To Connemoira, Eyes so Blue


Today is Sunday, a cool and cloudy day which I awoke to too early (about 6:30), still groggy from a long Saturday and hungry for some strange reason. I’d had plenty to eat the day before.

I was not raised in a religious family.  I was baptized (probably by my grandparents, or at their behest).  I went to Sunday school classes at least once or twice (probably when my grandparents were in town) at a church not unlike the one in the picture above. A modern church with few to no frills. There were no statues of pious saints, no Virgin Marys with stigmata, no confessionals. It was probably a Methodist church as there was one within walking distance of my house and Sunday mornings were generally reserved for hangovers. God and Christ were not discussed in my house although politics was often the subject of fierce debate.


Going to church – probably Easter Sunday.

When I was a teenager my best friend’s mother introduced me to the laying on of hands and speaking in tongues. She spent every spare moment praying in the drafty redbrick cathedral down along the Truckee River and sprinkled her conversations with “Jesus loves you” as she dreamt of doing missionary work in the Congo – an assignment generally not offered to a mother of five and, I should add, a devoted wife although the husband she was devoted to was none other than Christ Himself who came to her each night as her earthly family slept. She often told me what God wanted me to do and warned that failing to follow God’s commands would end badly for me.


St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral (from Wikipedia) in Reno Nevada

My friend made a meager attempt at rebelling against her mother by marrying a Methodist whose political views were in sync with Donald Trump.  The marriage was necessitated by a pregnancy at age seventeen and only lasted a few destructive years. He drank, took drugs, cheated on her, and raped their daughter. Despite what her mother claimed, no amount of prayer could ever have saved that marriage.

Once a gifted artist she took to painting twenty-foot scenes of forced abortions, cannibalism, and gang rapes in vibrant shades of pink, purple and lime green.


Jan at fifteen by Connemoira

Anyway it’s Sunday and the faithful are praying. I’m floating down the icy Truckee in an inner tube with Connemoira, whose eyes were so blue they put Lake Tahoe to shame, our long white legs bitten by dancing water spiders as we hide amidst the budding pussy willows from our enemies, the dull, dumb dumbleberries.  We’re dreaming of Lothlorien which neither of us will reach but at least once we believed and that, to quote Robert Frost, made all the difference.


Connemoira at 35 by Jan

RIP, C, or light the sky on fire.









Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge 26: Distance


IMG_1836In the Colorado Rockies looking down from  8100 feet at the small town of Avon. The aspens are just beginning to bloom but the air is still crisp and cool. In the distance, the dry side of the mountains. The sky threatens rain but saves the deluge for a mysterious and unexpected time. Thus is life in the mountains.

To see other photos submitted for  Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge click here.


#ThursdayDoors: On a Carousel

The last couple of weeks have been so stressful that I ended up in bed dying.  Or so I thought.  In retrospect it was probably a good thing as it stopped me from rushing into many decisions I might live to regret.


On Sunday (aka Mother’s Day) we decided to drive over to Tilden, a 2,017 acre park straddling the hills between Berkeley and my small town of Orinda California. The park boasts an antique carousel, a child’s size steam train, a reedy lake for swimming, hilly golf course, botanical gardens, a small farm, and of course oodles of hiking trails and picnic areas.  Tilden1

When I was a child there was nothing I loved more than a carousel.  One ride around was never enough. I could ride all day, round and round to the sound of an organ and had to be dragged back to solid ground crying when it was time to go.  I dreamt of visiting every carousel in the world and even of having one in my backyard when I grew up.

My children were happy with only a couple of rides and on Sunday my granddaughter only wanted one.  It’s a sad thing when a girl doesn’t beg for one more ticket to ride the carousel.  What is the world coming too?


Not exciting enough for kids these days.

Not satisfied with a beautiful, albeit, plaster palomino, Audrey wanted to find a real horse so we went to the farm. The Little Farm is in a beautiful pine grove but alas there were no horses.

CowThere was a cow.

BunniesAnd bunnies but you couldn’t feed them.

How about you?  Was one ride on the carousel enough for you? Check out other ThursdayDoors on Norm Frampton’s site.

By the way, I’m still weighing publications options.  I decided not to rush but take my time.  Thank you all for your kind wishes!

Out of Print

Friday April 29 my publisher announced they were going out of business and soon, yes very soon, all of the books they published would be out of print. The announcement (as you can imagine) caused mass panic in the BookTrope community and some mighty ugly laundry was dragged from the hamper and aired publicly.


From a currently out of print book, Fireflies by Rabindranath Tagore.

Me, well I just got drunk. 

For those of you unfamiliar with hybrid publishing, well – in a nutshell – here’s how it works:

1. The writer

  • Submits part or all of a manuscript
  • 8 to 12 months later – if MS is accepted – the writer is initiated into the publisher’s workflow and marketing philosophy which includes:
    • Finding, interviewing and accepting an editor, cover designer, proofreader, and book manager for your team.
    • Signing contracts for both book rights and insurance that your team will receive a share of your royalties for their hard work.
    • Creating a social media presence by blogging, tweeting, pinning and on and on infinitum.

“You want a media presence? I’ll give you a media presence!”

“What? Are you kidding? I’m a great writer!”  (this is the point at which many writers unfamiliar with the cutthroat world of publishing climb on their high horses and ride off into the sunset)

  1. Meanwhile, the editors, cover designers, proofreaders and book managers
  • Sign on with projects they think might have a chance of bringing in some revenue. A tricky proposition as Laurel Busch points out in this essay, just because a book is well-written doesn’t mean it’s going to sell. 
  • Pray that the author creates a King Kong social media presence, the book hits NY Times best seller list and author signs a million dollar movie deal. 

It was a Utopian dream which ended up, as many Utopian dreams, hurting many people. But they were lovely people who gave freely of their talents and their knowledge. Because of them I know so much more about publishing than I did before. Because of them I’ve come to know so many supportive and fascinating bloggers who are themselves self-published. PS – you know who you are and eternal thanks for giving me hope! 

In closing, the Booktrope dream fed this dreamer for four years. That’s a feast for which I will be forever grateful. However, as I negotiate the swift waters of republishing, I probably will not have time to keep on blogging regularly nor will I have the time to keep up with my blogger buddies. I will miss you all.  I’ll be back as soon as I get it all sorted out.  Jan