Monday, May 7, 2018


Hi, Everybody,
This week I have some relatively good news to report.  I have been corresponding with the publisher of and she said that she's been getting very positive feedback to the three Instagrams where she mentioned my article on Al Beadle, the famous architect who built our two houses in Phoenix back in the fifties.  So she wants to move the publication date up from Fall to a few weeks from now.  I've been revising the article to make it shorter, because she wants to add all of the photos of both houses which I gave her on her visit to me a month ago.  She absolutely loved the colored-pencil drawings Al had made for us of the houses.  All the rest of the floorplans and newspaper articles are being sent to Arizona State University for the Beadle Archives.

Last week's articles for the Writers Group were well-received, with mostly minor adjustments necessary.  Still have to do the revisions on them.  This week I will try to write up the last two chapters on the Around the World Trip-Voyage III, which will be about the Seychelles and Vienna.  Last week's were two versions on the highlight of the trip: Kathmandu.  One was about having an audience with the Living Goddess, a little girl chosen to be a deity.  The other was about the danger of taking off in a Jumbo 747 from a short runway with the Himalayas at the end of it. I didn't take a breath until we reached cruising altitude.

You'll be able to read all the exciting details when the book gets published.  Speaking of which I made contact with a 100-year-old publishing firm in Victoria, BC last week. One of the staff called me and the website and the help they offer is very attractive.  Most importantly, I would just feel very comfortable dealing with Canadians.  Honest, fair, laid-back NICE people.  He suggested I read all their links and blogs and will call me in June when I have more chapters publishing-ready.  When I asked him facetiously in an email if he could manage to find me more time. imagine my astonishment when an email came back immediately assuring me that they could do that! By formulating my work schedule and outlining the process. :)

See you next week,  Janice

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Trying to figure it out

Last Saturday one of my fellow Writers in my Writing Group took me to a lecture given by a friend of hers, in a library in SE Tucson.  It took us a half-hour to drive there, which showed me how much Tucson has expanded since I first came here in the fifties, when we were living in Phoenix.  Tucson sure spread out, not up.

The lecture was about how to get published. The lecturer had good experience: she has published children's books, fiction, non-fiction, paperbacks, hard covers, Kindle, self-publishing, with agents and without. She had good handout material giving us a lot of links to consult.

We ended up with each of us (seven attendees) being asked to write out a Query Letter to a publisher that would get their attention and make them want to read our submission and consider it for publication. Everyone there had something they wanted to publish, but five of them were fiction, and I was the only one doing Memoirs. Then all of us had to critique the letters.  This is exactly what four of us there do every week at our own writers group.  But the leader gave us some interesting guidelines to follow so that critiquing didn't take on an unkind tendency (something our own group should consider).  Then, following all the suggestions we had to take the Query letter home, rewrite it and email it to her.  She promised to read each one and make more suggestions.  I did that the next day and am awaiting her final analysis.

It sounds like I will go with my own personal choices for Copy Editor, Graphics Editor, and a cartoonist to design the cover.  I already have three offers for Beta readers, all experienced, and my neighbor two doors down worked for MacMillan's for twenty-five years, so I couldn't get better advice.  The Graphics Editor is the daughter of the lady who bought my house when I moved to this one and she has also taken jewelry classes with me.  And HER daughter just completed a summer course in cartooning at the University of Toronto, so she can draw a humorous cover that will be eye-catching.  And I'm sure that all those nice connections won't charge me an arm and a leg for their work. Then if I self-publish with Amazon I keep control of the content, cover, etc.  On the other hand, if I decide to give an agent the commission, I avoid all that time-consuming work, but lose the right of control of content.

So a lot to ponder.  Guess I'd better stop here and start reading all those links.

Till next week,  Janice

Tuesday, April 10, 2018



This week I am presenting a part of one of the four chapters I have written about our Around the World Trip that we made in 1987 on a chartered 747 with Air Canada. The first chapters tell about how we decided to take this extraordinary trip, and then described the details about the itinerary and the care and feeding of the passengers on a 21-day trip around the world.  In the previous chapters, we had already visited Fiji, Perth, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and are about to take off for Kathmandu, high in the Himalayas where a Jumbo 747 had never landed before our flight.  This is just a little excerpt from the chapter leading up to our being given an audience with the Living Goddess, a tiny seven-year-old girl living in the palace.

The last night in Kuala Lumpur we attended cocktails before the outdoor banquet and entertainment. We were chatting with the Captain about how wonderful everything had been so far, and just out of curiosity I mentioned that as the next stop would be Kathmandu, with the notoriously short runway and the Himalayas blocking the end of it, that it was the first time a Jumbo had landed there, I supposed the crew had made a trial run with the 747? Don looked serious and said, “Well, no, not exactly. What we did was to have our arts department take several sheets of plexiglas, layer them to the precise miniature height of the mountains at the end of the runway, and carve out the shapes.” When I raised my eyebrows, he went on, “Then we calculated the weight of the plane, the approximate weight of the passengers, the amount of fuel needed, and the amount of thrust needed to propel us down the runway, and the degree of banking we would need to lift off and immediately turn left, to avoid the mountains. But our flight is actually the first time a 747 has landed and taken off in Kathmandu.” As he listed the possible danger points, he saw my eyes getting bigger and bigger. Then he said reassuringly, “But, not to worry, Janice; we practiced it dozens of times in the control room back in Toronto.”
I smiled half-heartedly and wryly asked, “With toy airplanes?”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How all the traveling began.

Last week began the saga of how and why Fritz began his love affair with travel, but the chapter was a long one and unfortunately was not scheduled at the Writers Group with sufficient time for them to finish reading it.  So, they didn't comment on it except for the small portion they read, which they liked, but it only set the reader up for the travel that was to come.  They didn't get to the details of the first trip to Europe we made in 1954 after the war.

This week's chapter talks about all the trips in general terms that we made during the thirteen years we lived in Phoenix. And it tells in more detail how eventually I became an important factor in being able to afford the travel. This is a partial account of that component.

While the trips to Europe began every other year, they became more frequent over the years. Some years we even squeezed in a second trip. Fritz’s idea of the perfect vacation was to pay for a two-week Eurailpass and then see how many cities he could visit as he rail-clicked on to the southernmost point of Italy or Spain. As a result, it strained our finances.
But then, Fritz came up with a new idea. He had seen an ad in a travel magazine about having an import-export business and being able to deduct travel costs on your income taxes. Of course, he couldn’t do it, because he was manager of the Phoenix office for Carrier.
But I could run it. I, who had had no business training, would be the owner of Impex, and we could make trips to Europe, buy samples of ethnic items, have them shipped to our house and I would sell them to the tourist shops in Scottsdale. He explained enthusiastically how it would work. He bought a book on importing, ordered some business cards, and Voilá, I was in business! “Wasn’t it great?” “Wouldn’t it be fun?” 
Duh!  Not exactly.  But I struggled on, as you can read eventually in the book.  He was ecstatic about being able to take each trip, tax-deductable. Didn't get any better than that!  If any of you insist on knowing the ending Right Now, let me know and I'll put the entire chapter on the blog.  
But I know you guys are busy, so we'll leave it here.  ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A life well lived

This morning I finally finished reading The Aviator's Wife  by Melanie Benjamin. It is a historical novel which is a popular method of writing these days: you take an actual historical fact and then embellish it with your imagination.  Sounds sort of like writing your memoirs, if you'll forgive the quip.

I mention it because as I read the author's development of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life after marrying the most famous hero of all time, captured from Anne's own diaries and those of Charles Lindbergh, so much of what Anne went through, was identical to parts of my own life.  Mine lacking the importance, of course.  Lucky Lindy made his famous flight to Paris in 1927, the year I was born. He was at the launchpad of Apollo XI when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set off to land on the moon, and Lindbergh placed his hand on Armstrong's shoulder and said "I'm proud of you."  Armstrong replied, "We are only following in your footsteps, Sir."

I took copious notes, but am not sure if I'm allowed to make comparisons, because I would have to quote the author.  She expressed my thoughts and feelings so much more captivatingly than I could myself.  Maybe I can just describe the emotions without quoting them, we'll see.

I remember when I read Anne's famous book A Gift from the Sea (was it for a book report in high school?  That long ago?)  I must find out if it is now in Large Print, so I can read the poems again.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Possible publication of Chapter

This week there is some positive news to report. I recently decided to update and complete the chapter of my Memoirs that told all about our friendship with Al Beadle, the architect who built two of our houses in Phoenix, Arizona back in the 1950's.  Al went on to become one of the best-known architects of the mid-century modern era and was compared to Niemayer, Mies van de Rohe, Corbusier and was known primarily for his "Beadle Boxes", rectangular boxes with floor to ceiling glass walls.

I wrote some anecdotes about our personal conversations we had with Al, which I believe is the first accounting of his wry sense of humor.  When we asked Al to add a guest house at the end of our carport in the second house, he came up with a beautiful, efficient, stylish addition.  We complimented him on how perfect it was and he responded with, "You build it, they will come."

Excerpting a paragraph from the chapter, describes another little vignette about Al from our first Beadle house:

We moved in in early 1953 and at our Open House cocktail party I had silk-screened paper cocktail napkins with a miniaturized floor plan. While nibbling on some hors d’hoevres Al commented on the interesting geometric design on the napkins. I smiled at him and said “Look closer, Al.” The expression on his face as he suddenly realized it was his floor plan was incredible. He grabbed a handful of napkins and walked around the room delightedly showing everyone what I had done. I think he was very touched by it. It was another affirmation of our respect for him.

I was fortunate in that with all our moves from country to country I had always managed to preserve the original floor plans of both houses along with the watercolor renderings Al had painted himself. I decided they should be saved in the Beadle Archives at the Arizona State University, but before I donated them, I wanted to get in touch with Nancy, Al's widow, to let her read the chapter I had written about him.  I googled Beadle Archives and got the name of the woman who has organized all of the Beadle history and asked if she could put me in touch with Nancy.  I received the nicest emails back the next day, one from her and the other from one of Nancy and Al's daughters, both saying how delighted they were that I had contacted them and expressing the desire that the chapter should be published first and then the articles sent on to the Archives.  The woman runs Modern Phoenix and wants to publish the essay, and the daughter Gerri said she and her mother would like to talk to me.  After all these years, it will be wonderful to share memories of Al with her.

I'll keep you posted what happens next.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lamenting the rat race.

I can just hear you saying, "Join the Club"
But I've been a member of this club for so long that it just seems normal.

I'm speaking of course, of all of we hamsters running and running around the wheel and not getting anywhere.  When do you finally get your taxes organized for the accountant?  When do you get all the old files filed? When do you get the gardener to come by to prune the Birds of Paradise? When do you get out the sewing machine to shorten all the legs of those new pants? When do I schedule the next jewelry class? And when do you get the revisions written on the last few articles you wrote for the book? "few?" Must be at least fifteen in the stack of "Incompletes-unrevised." I keep telling myself After the Holidays. After my birthday. After the Gem Show.  And now it will have to be After Taxes.

Oh, Janice, stop with the mantra "Procrastinate NOW!"  Live in the moment...


Hi, Everybody, This week I have some relatively good news to report.  I have been corresponding with the publisher of and...