Sunday, March 27, 2022

One kidney trip, Two authors, and a Boundless Heart ~ PAMELA STOCKWELL & KELLY HARTOG'S kidney kinship journey

This post is veering from my typical author interview/new book release post, and for a very good reason. I hope you will take a few minutes to read about these two amazing women and the event that will take place on March 29th.

Read about their connection here. I've included Pamela's book below, along with the synopsis, previously featured on this blog. 💖


Written by Kelly Hartog earlier this month:


After a long and stressful process (about a year, but who’s counting?), my living kidney donor has been approved and I will undergo my lifesaving transplant surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on March 29.

I suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic, hereditary disease that ultimately shuts down your kidneys. There is no cure for PKD. A year ago I was listed on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) cadaver donor list because I need a kidney transplant in order to survive, and my kidney function had dropped to 14%. At the same time, I was actively seeking a living donor because the wait for a cadaver donor in Southern California where I live is about 10 years (time I do not have).

During the past year, as I held out hope for a donor, I became progressively more ill. I underwent two major hospitalizations, one of which was in a critical care unit. I required two back-to-back blood transfusions, suffered acute hypertension and went into acute respiratory failure. I also suffered numerous infections, ruptured cysts and my kidney function dropped to 7%. I can’t really explain what that feels like (maybe driving a car with four flat tires comes close). I lost almost 20 pounds. I lost my job in the pandemic. My savings dwindled. I launched our news site (, which I have been forced to put on hiatus until I recover from my transplant.

So, this incredible news has been a LONG time coming. It has been a rollercoaster of a year.
I can’t even begin to explain how extraordinary it is that my donor — the incredible Pamela Armstrong Stockwell — was willing to do this. To willingly subject yourself as a healthy person to surgery; to give away a part of your body to save another person’s life; to undergo months of endless testing; to ride the physical and emotional rollercoaster that is needed to become a donor takes a truly special person. But anyone who knows Pamela knows she is that rarest of rare gems and would tell you in a heartbeat that it is not remotely surprising that she would do this. This is the woman who adopted not one, not two, but three children from China; the woman who volunteers at a cat sanctuary; the woman who always puts others first.

Despite all the terrible things that have happened to me, I continue to be wrapped in so much love and support — physical, emotional, financial and spiritual. From friends and family far and wide. From my extraordinary synagogue community and rabbis. From my nephrologist who fights so hard for me every single day. When Pamela was initially denied as a potential donor by my transplant team, my nephrologist stepped up and told them there was no earthly reason for her to not be considered and he made sure she was accepted again to be tested. And bless Pamela for agreeing to continue to move forward.

But here’s the kicker. Were it NOT for the pandemic, and being laid off, I wouldn’t have had the time to preemptively do all the preliminary tests (that took about four months) to have me ready to meet with a transplant center. Bless my nephrologist for doing this ahead of time so by the time I was eligible to be listed on the UNOS transplant list I had all my ducks in a row and was approved in less than a week.

And were it not for the pandemic I would never have even met Pamela. She lives in New Jersey and I live in Los Angeles. When the pandemic hit and everyone discovered Zoom, we became part of a daily writing group over Zoom. 

My dear friend Michele Montgomery and I are members of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). We used to have early morning write in dates where we’d check in on the phone, write for two hours and check back at the end.

When the pandemic hit, she set up early morning write ins - 7 days a week - for WFWA members over Zoom. That began two years ago with a handful of members and over the last two years it has grown in leaps and bounds. We have met every single morning to write and have grown incredibly close. We have met members’ pets and children over Zoom. We have celebrated milestones and shared both sorrows and joys. It was on these Zoom write ins that I met Pamela and a whole slew of amazing women.

They all knew my situation (they even put a video together for me during one of my hospital stays), and when I was listed in February 2021 as an eligible transplant recipient she told me not long after she wanted to get tested! 

And just because somebody wants to donate, doesn’t mean they will be a match. It’s not an easy process. It’s even more difficult when you have no family members to be tested as they are often the best matches. But PKD is genetic. My dad died from it and all three children inherited it. Both my brother and sister have already had successful transplants. I do have other people who were tested who did not turn out to be compatible. 

So it truly is a miracle that Pamela and I found each other thanks to the pandemic, and the WFWA write-ins, and that she was willing to offer to do this and that she turned out to be a match!

So you see, I literally owe my life to this pandemic. I don’t even know how you repay someone with the ultimate gift of life, but I can start by telling people to buy Pamela’s amazing debut novel, which is appropriately called A BOUNDLESS PLACE (see below.)

Finally, around 5,000 people die in America every year waiting for a kidney. Approximately 95,000 people are on the UNOS transplant list and only about 30,000 of them will receive a kidney. Please consider becoming a living kidney donor. You can learn about it at the National Kidney Foundation here and about UCLA’s living kidney donor program here. In addition to my now being able to be removed from the UNOS transplant list thanks to Pamela, that means someone else on the UNOS list will receive a life-saving kidney that would have been earmarked for me.

Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. ~ Talmud Sanhedrin 37a

Written by Pamela Stockwell earlier this month:

One year ago this month, in March 2021, my daughter and I drove to South Carolina to see my dad. At one point, she was driving, so I checked Facebook to while away the time and I see that my friend and fellow writer Kelly Hartog had posted a plea for a kidney. I knew she had kidney problems and that she needed a new kidney, but through her post, I learned more about her disease (polycystic kidney disease or PKD) and kidney donation. Her post had a link to apply as a possible donor. So what else does one do on a seven-hundred-mile road trip but sign up to give away a vital organ? I figured I’d probably be rejected at some point, but I could at least try.

Turns out, I was rejected. At least initially. But, somewhere along the way, the vague idea of wanting to do something turned into a pretty strong desire to do this. So, I had further tests and was soon reinstated as a possible donor. And the further I burrowed into the process, the more determined I became to see it through.

Eleven months, six thousand tests, and sharing more bodily fluid with lab techs than I ever thought possible (eighteen vials of blood in one morning! While fasting!), I was finally approved by two hospitals (one in NJ and one in CA) to be Kelly’s donor. Our surgeries are scheduled for the end of March.

My kidney is going on a trip across the country and finding a new home with Kelly in California. I am sure it will be very happy because Kelly is a smart, witty, resilient, awesome person.

But here’s the kicker: I have never met Kelly in person and, if it weren’t for the awful pandemic and the wonderful Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), we likely would never have met.

When the world shut down two years ago, the marvelous Michele Montgomery started hosting writing dates for WFWA members: writers would get together on Zoom, give a brief description of what we were working on that day, then go write. Cameras on or off, but still on Zoom. Alone. But together. There’d be a check-in at forty-five minutes, then back to work, then a final check in after another forty-five-minute interval. It sounds crazy, but there’s some sort of positive, creative energy that is generated in these sessions. I had gone to in-person write-ins with my local band of writers, the Princeton Writing Group, with the same result: focus, accountability, camaraderie. But the pandemic put that on hold, and these Zoom write-ins filled the gap. We don’t do much chatting, but enough happens that you start to get to know the people in those little boxes on your computer screen. That’s how I got to know Kelly. 

And now, with both of us undergoing major surgeries with long recovery periods, our fellow writers in the WFWA have banded together through Give InKind to provide meals and other support. I have been overwhelmed by their support and encouragement.

And I learned some things along the way: Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and about twelve people die each day while they wait. I learned that live kidney donations have a better outcome for the recipient than kidneys transplanted from deceased donors. I learned that the surgery is safe (though obviously not without risk), and donors are so thoroughly checked out, they often live long lives well beyond their donation because they are overall in such good health. Who knew at my age, I would be healthy enough? But I was and I am. Kidney donation is not for everyone, but if you’d like to learn more, you can do so by visiting Donating a kidney can be a directed donation, like mine, or a non-directed donation, meaning your transplant team will find you a match. But either way, you give a life-sustaining gift to someone who needs it.

Twenty-four-year-old Violet wants one thing: to hide from life after her husband's death left her reeling. But life has other ideas. Well, life and a certain seven-year-old neighbor.

Violet moves to Magnolia Avenue, a forgotten street in a forgotten neighborhood filled with forgotten mobile homes. It looks like the perfect place to retreat and lick her wounds. But it's not long before her young neighbor, Arabella, enlists her in the rescue of the cantankerous old woman next door who has fallen ill. But if Violet thinks this is a one-off event, she's wrong. Next thing she knows, she is entangled in the lives of several neighbors from grumpy Mr. Pritchard to the handsome GI across the street. 

Set against the backdrop of the 1969 moon landing when astronauts broke the boundaries of Earth, A Boundless Place shows what happens when people are able to break through their own boundaries and reach out to others.

If you'd like to donate to help offset their expenses while they're recovering:

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


It's my 3rd book's birthday week! 📖

Kindergarten teacher Lily Gallo is a happily married mother of three who considers her life perfect… until the day she’s brutally assaulted while out on a run. When the town’s high school football hero is arrested for the attack, Lily’s family suffers retaliation from local sports fans.

Recovering from her injuries, Lily wraps herself in an opioid cloud. Later, a barely avoided tragedy motivates her to flush the narcoticsBut her return to sobriety is overshadowed by unnerving memory lapses and her husband’s growing mistrust.

As unremembered events become more disturbing, Lily is convinced that she’s being stalked. Though her attacker started the destruction of her life, someone else is determined to finish it.

Reviews ~

Told with pitch-perfect pacing and unrelenting tension, A LIFE UNRAVELED had me hypnotized from the very first page. Anderson's authentic characters deftly drew me in and yanked me through each breathtaking twist and turn.

Once you begin this unflinchingly honest portrayal of a woman fighting to reclaim her life, be prepared for an up all night, edge of your seat binge-a-thon.
-                             Heather Gudenkauf  ~ New York Times  bestselling author of The Overnight Guest 

When Lily Gallo suffers a violent attack, shockwaves run through her small town. She struggles to recover, burdened by guilt and dazed by opioids. Whom can you trust when you can no longer trust yourself? 

I was mesmerized by this suspenseful story, eager to learn what (or who?) was behind Lily's turmoil and how she might knit her life back together. Anderson does a stellar job in creating genuine characters, imperfect like all of us. I feared for Lily, and cheered for her, and know you will, too. Revel in this well-paced, heartfelt story about family, failings, and forgiveness.
-                            Sonja YoergWashington Post bestselling author of True Places and The Family Ship

An author interview with myself ~

(Yes, authors talk to their characters probably more than "real" people, so it shouldn't surprise you that I'm asking and answering my own questions!)

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing. 

I started writing my feelings in grade school, using notebooks (my first one had Donny Osmond on the cover!) as a diary/journal. I continued with my children’s lives from the time I became pregnant with them and gave those notebooks filled with my rambling emotions to them when they became adults. I’m sure they treasure them. (Hah!)   

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

The sport of curling in the fall and winter! Summer is lake time here in Minnesota.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

Quiet. I blame it on the “days of silence” inflicted on us in the Catholic high school I attended.

And in the morning, I require a large iced mocha (plenty of espresso and chocolate!)

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I started running, and writing (not at the same time though, I’m not that talented) at age forty-five, thanks to a saying I heard around that time: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?


They were two things I always wanted to try, but figured I wouldn’t succeed—by whose standard of success, I have no idea. Once I got the running and writing bugs, that was it. It was full-speed ahead. Well, “speed” may be stretching the truth.


Where do you get your ideas?


Every book I’ve written contains slivers of my life, or others I know, twisted and changed, but overall, real life triggers most of my plot ideas, seasoned with plenty of "what if" questions.


After I finished my fourth book (I’m looking for a home for it now) I wasn’t sure what I would write next. Then I found the POW bracelet my mom wore fifty years ago, connected with the surviving POW (he’s 90!) and there it was… the seed for book five.


If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?


A foot model. j/k. I've said for decades that my feet were my best feature, and it’s a shame they’re covered up nine months out of the year here in Minnesota! But after several years of running (and aging) they’re a little less attractive. My husband thinks I still have a shot as an AARP foot model though. J

What are you working on now?


I recently finished my fourth book that I (and my husband) love—my favorite story so far. (I know, I know, like children, you aren’t supposed to have favorites.) It is women’s literary fiction, a little different from my first three books, and I understand it may be more difficult to place. But it is a story I’m willing to fight for. I’m quite in love with it!


Do you have a manuscript in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?


Not yet, and hopefully never. We put so much time, heart, and energy into writing a story, I’d hate to have it live the rest of its life out in a drawer. Four books written so far, three published, and the fourth is one I’m determined to get out into the world. (See above comments about how I feel about book #4!)


Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?


In A Life Unraveled, Lily is attacked while running on a paved trail, a place she’s run many times. That false sense of security has jolted me a few times, back when I’d running long distances for training (in my 40s and 50s.) One time, I was miles from town on a dirt road. A pickup slowed down, and the man drove alongside me, striking up a conversation. Panic zapped me at first until I recognized him as the father of one of my daughter’s friends from high school. But he could’ve been anyone, and my little pack of pepper spray wouldn’t have helped. I had a couple other scares like this, and they reinforced how vulnerable we can be.


Another scene is when Lily reflects on how she and her husband Luke met. When I was about fifty, I was stopped at a railroad crossing, waiting for a train. There was a cute driver in the old pickup in front of me, and he kept smiling at me in his rearview mirror. I laughed, knowing he was about half my age (I had sunglasses on and those hide a lot of years!) At that point, I knew I’d someday write that scene in a book, especially after I thought of what I’d have done if I was thirty years younger and not married. I’d have done just what Lily does in A Life Unraveled!


Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?


Books go through several (who am I kidding? Dozens!) of drafts before they see the light of day. There are three scenes in A Life Unraveled that never changed from my first draft, scenes I had a clear vision of from the beginning.


One is a flashback of how Lily and Luke met. The other two I’ll call “the mailbox scene with Pria” (their 15 yr. old daughter) and “the cow costume scene.” I love all three of those scenes.


Do you have other books you’d like to talk about here?


I could go on about each of my books, but I’d rather have you read them. J A Life Unraveled, Crazy Little Town Called Love, and The To Hell and Back Club.


And I'm hoping you'll be able to read my fourth book (see above comments) someday soon. Here’s a short synopsis:


Rural Missouri, 1977:

Joleigh, the main character, is Korean-Caucasian, raised in foster care, and adopted by Unity, an elderly woman who teaches Joleigh how to trap leeches and how to live off the land. After Joleigh graduates from high school, she continues to live on the hobby farm to care for Unity, who has dementia.


After Unity passes away, Joleigh is alone—again. The only person in her life is her unreliable boyfriend, Mack. When Joleigh witnesses his murder, she’s forced to flee the only place she’s called home, knowing Mack's killers are looking for her.


She stows away in her neighbor’s car and lands in rural Minnesota, waiting until it’s safe to return home. Over time, unique townspeople worm their way into her heart: people who look nothing like family, but who love like family: a young girl with an alcoholic father and no mother, a wheelchair-bound Vietnam Veteran, an elderly motel owner who Joleigh loves like a grandpa, and a spunky Native American woman who nourishes Joleigh's emotional wounds. People who help Joleigh understand that “home” is people, not place. But she hasn’t been honest with her newfound family. Before she navigates her future, she must reveal the secrets of her past, and find Mack’s killers—before they find her.


Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”


I would love to write about my great-grandma Hannah. She was a woman who journeyed to America from Ireland, buried too many babies and young children, lost her husband in his mid-thirties, ran a farm on her own for decades, cared for men who rode the rails during the depression, took in her sister and her children, and lived to be ninety.


Favorite band or music? 


My favorite years of music are late 1960s – early 1970s, everything from Chicago to Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night to Grand Funk Railroad, Bread to The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival to Led Zeppelin, The Supremes to The Rolling Stones, and everything in between.


New music favorites are Lord Huron, The Lumineers, KALEO, Michael Kiwanuka, First Aid Kit, Plain White T’s, BORNS… can you tell I like music? 

Favorite TV shows?

Until I retired from my day job, a few years ago, I rarely watched TV. Two years ago, we discovered streaming, and I was hooked! The first show I binged was Homeland. Last year it was Schitt's Creek, and this winter was Ted Lasso.


If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…

Iced mochas (see above) peanut butter and English muffins, plenty of books, and music. Oh yes, lots of fresh water. Maybe throw in a few apples for good measure.


Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?


Birthing a book often takes more time, energy, and emotion than a pregnancy and birth (and also often brings weight gain, as authors do a lot of sitting in front of a computer.) So when that book baby is finally out in the world, hearing from readers who enjoyed the story is the reassurance authors need to know it was worth the angst and hours. 

So thank you to readers who give feedback to authors. Your words encourage us to continue writing our words. Read ~ Recommend ~ Review… it’s what makes the book world go round!

To connect with me:

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


 A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces - leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer - compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.


"A compassionate, balanced, and engaging look at generational conflict—and resolution—during social upheaval." Kirkus Reviews

"Teri M. Brown crafts a story that operates on emotional levels. It uses history and politics as a backdrop for closely considering love, hate, betrayal, and redemption. This allows the story to be solidly cemented in interpersonal relationships and the concurrent choices of three women affected by circumstance, those around them, and their own hearts." - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

Author interview with Teri ~

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

 I was born in Athens, Greece while my dad served in the Air Force. Then, I spent the early years of my life in Ohio before moving to North Carolina. As a small child, I used to say that I wanted to be a brain surgeon, an Olympic ice skater, and an author. I got one of the three right, but it took me a long time to do it!

I began my writing career by focusing on small businesses, writing articles, blog posts, and website content. I always wanted to write fiction, but I was too afraid. It didn’t help that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and no longer believed in myself. Finally, when I got the courage to leave that relationship, I began writing fiction. That was in 2017. I remarried in 2019, and in 2020, we rode a tandem bicycle across the US - 3102 miles - to raise money for Toys for Tots. That ride also healed my heart and helped me to see that I was capable of anything I set my mind to. When we got home, I started querying Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I have a long list, so I hope you are ready! I love to read, play word games, walk on the beach collecting shells, bicycle ride, swim, take photos, ballroom dance, play bridge, go bargain shopping, get together with friends and family, hang with the grandkids, cook, and get involved in my community.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

Everyday noise. I know that a lot of people need quiet or certain music, but I need life to be going on around me. I work best when I hear conversations, cooking, cleaning, etc in the background. Complete silence makes me crazy!

If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…

Music - everything from 1940s swing to pop. I would also need a comfy mattress because these old bones no longer sleep on the ground. Finally, I would need electricity or enough battery life to operate my computer - I rarely write using a pen and paper because it takes too long (and I can never decipher my notes later!).

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I still work with small businesses writing content. So, even in my ‘day job,’ I’m a writer!

Where do you get your ideas? 

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow came from a tiny sliver of truth told to me by my daughter’s friend. My second novel coming out late 2022 or early 2023 has some basis in my grandfather’s time serving in WWII. I have another partially finished manuscript based on a line from a country song, a completed manuscript based on a conversation with a stranger on the beach, and another from working at a homeless shelter. I also have an idea for two children’s books that came to me while riding across the US and seeing the trains and the natural gas pumps.

Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?

I have several. They won’t see the light of day as they are, but I may yet revive them. They were my first attempts at writing, so they will need a lot of editing.

How do you market your work?

I had no idea how much marketing I’d need to do to help my book find a voice. I guess I figured that I wrote a good book, and readers would just find it. That is completely untrue! I am doing most of my marketing through outreach including book reviewers and podcasters. I’ve also reached out to local media outlets and am doing some local guest appearances. Then, there’s my website, newsletter, blog, and social media. 

What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?

It’s not quite a best-seller, but I want to read The Moonshiner’s Daughter. A friend recommended it to me about a year ago, and then, in October, I had the opportunity to spend the week at a writers-in-residence program with the author, Donna Everhart. She also has a new one out, The Saints of Swallow Hill, which is on my radar as well.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow follows three generations of Ukrainian women from Soviet rule through Ukrainian independence and ends right after Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula. The youngest of the women, Ionna, is based on someone my girls met. She told me a tiny sliver of a story about something that had happened to her, and it was so amazing that I created 80,000 words of fiction so I could tell that ending. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 

I have three pieces of advice. The first is write. Just do it. You cannot learn to write unless you write. It probably won’t be that great, but it’s okay. No one writes the great American novel on their first attempt! The second thing is to be willing to listen to criticism about your writing. If you can listen to what others think, you can make your writing stronger. The last thing is to remember that not everyone is right when they criticize your work. Your writing will not be for everyone and there isn’t just one way to write. So, listen to the advice of others and give it a try. But if it doesn’t work for you, set it to the side. It’s okay to be true to yourself.

Place you’d like to travel?

I want to go Germany to see where my ancestors were from. I’d also love to tour some Greek islands. 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you! Without readers, there would be no reason to have writers. I’m grateful for your support!

To connect with Teri ~

Links for purchase:


Sunday, March 13, 2022


Trade in your popcorn for pop rocks as you dive into Naomi’s chaos.

Don’t @ me. Teacher and single mom Naomi is always biting off more than she can chew. Naomi knows what it’s like to grow up in hard times and still manage a decent education, so when it comes to her online, at-promise (not “at-risk,” thank you very much) high school students, she goes the extra mile.

At the rate she’s going, though, she’ll need the mouth of a hippo to have a shot of chewing it all.

Except, her students aren’t the only ones who need her. Naomi’s best friend discovers her wife has a mysterious disease doctors can’t figure out how to diagnose, her daughter struggles with debilitating social anxiety, and her mother calls her repeatedly. From jail. When one of Naomi’s students shows up at her door, pregnant and homeless, Naomi can’t help but take her in. But Naomi’s hyper-involvement in her students’ lives results in her alienating the people she loves most.

Wondering how she’d gotten everything wrong, Naomi joins an online book club made up of sugar-addicted candy lovers. Her newfound friends help her to see her life through a different lens. With the members’ support, Naomi pieces her life back together, owns her mistakes, and discovers how true family wants everything you are instead of everything you’re not.

Narrated in a series of emails, texts, discussion forums, and other forms of communication, ALL I'M ASKING delves into the bonds of friendship and family, what can test it, and how we find our way back to strengthen those ties.

Review ~

All I'm Asking explores complicated relationships, intersectionality, and the challenges of connection (and disconnection) in a digital world. With deft humor and a daring epistolary structure (executed with ease!), J. Marie Rundquist delivers a debut novel that will both entertain and spark thoughtful conversation. A true pleasure to read.
USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Klepper

Author interview with Janet ~ 

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m one of those “I’ve been writing since I was a kid” people. And in high school and undergrad I imagined myself writing the clichéd, “Great American Novel.” Except, I ended up taking a long break when I started teaching and having kids of my own. Several years ago, when I was teaching for an online education vendor, I started up again. One of the things I loved about teaching in the classroom was lesson planning and writing new curriculum. In the online setting, the curriculum was set, and I needed a creative outlet. So I started writing again. And then I thought, “what if I wrote a book?” And then, “what if I decided to try to publish this book?”

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading far and away the best, but I also enjoy hiking, playing board and card games, going to movies at the movie theater, and having long lunches with friends.

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)

Recently I’ve been trying to slip in writing time in the morning, which is challenging because I already wake up early for my day job. But I’m discovering I really like starting my day with writing, even if it’s only a few words (I write pretty slowly). So, I wake up at 5:00am, make sure none of my browsers are open to distract me, set my phone alarm for 5:30 and write.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

…a song playlist. And I’m not saying I need to write with music; rather, I need a playlist that acts as inspiration for what I’m writing. Songs that either reflect where I am in my writing journey, or otherwise feel like my characters’ experiences. It helps my brain keep writing even when I’m not physically typing on a computer.


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I’ve worked in K-12 public education all my life in both teaching and other supporting roles.


What are you working on now?

A few things. Probably a few too many. I’m mulling over a short story (or novella?) that focuses on two of the secondary characters in ALL I’M ASKING, drafting a novel about a brother and sister, and dabbling with a rom-com.


Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

There’s always something of me in every book I write. It’s inevitable. In ALL I’M ASKING, one of the main characters, Naomi, is an online teacher, which is something I did for several years. Many of the interactions she has with students in the book, while not exactly the same, definitely mimic much of what I experienced with students. I know that we are in a time period where online learning sounds terrible, but when chosen deliberately, and designed deliberately, online learning is an amazing alternative for many students.

To connect with Janet ~ 

IG: @ProfeJMarie
Twitter: @ProfeJMarie