Monday, April 29, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I bring you an interview with our sweet blogger friend Nicki Elson of Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts (click HERE to visit her blog).

Nicki recently published her second novel, and I'm just as proud of her as I can be.

This is the photo from the cover of her book, Divine Temptation.

And here's the synopsis of the book (also from the cover):

Maggie Brock has everything under control. Even her divorce, though painful at the time, only registers as a minor blip in her carefully constructed universe. Her life in Prairie Oaks has once again returned to a smooth predictable pace . . . until an angel shows up in her bedroom.

The angel is just as bewildered as Maggie about why he's been sent to her; but their unsuccessful efforts to gain understanding of the mystery fade to the background as their relationship grows. Soon, Maggie's biggest problem becomes the angel himself, as her feelings for him develop into something less than saintly.

While Maggie struggles to keep her desires pure, a nefarious being lurks in the shadows of Prairie Oaks, watching and waiting for the opportunity to fulfill his ambiguous purpose. Preying on her conflicted emotions, the demon manipulates her at every opportunity, but the one to deliver Maggie directly into his hands is the last person she'd expect.

Doesn't it sound exciting? It is. It's such a good book.

Now, let start our interview with Nicki:

Q.. What's the very first thing that popped into your head that led to the plot of this book? Was it an incident or a character, or did something happen in your life that led you to this story? It's okay to have more than one answer. I read in the Acknowledgements that the seeds for this book were sewn at a Bible study. What were you studying?

A. The very first spark came from an Abercrombie & Fitch bag. That's right, a bag. Want to see it? Yes, I thought you would (attached). His knowing, earnest eyes led me to to dream up a wise, beautiful stranger from another realm. The darker aspect of the story came to me while studying Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul. I became smitten with the idea of evil lurking behind every perfectly pruned shrub and Pilatesized PTA-mom's bum. 

Here's Nicki's inspirational fellow.

Q. What's your writing process like? How did you stay organized? A lot is going on in this book. Did you plan the entire plot in advance or did the characters control the action? If you planned it in advance, how did the finished product compare to your original plan?   

A. When I decide to get serious about writing a novel, I have to designate large chunks of sacred writing time---usually that's only possible on the weekends. With Divine Temptation I made a deal with myself to bang out one chapter every weekend with no looking back or editing until the first draft was complete. But before fully diving into the writing, I make a rough outline of the sequence of events and have a general idea of the characters' personalities and relationships with one another.

I tend to do a lot of getting to know the characters during the first draft, so sometimes their personalities or relationships evolve a bit in future drafts, but I rarely let a character change any of the major plot points, so Divine Temptation ended up fairly well in line with the outline, although a few opportunities to mess with readers' minds revealed themselves while I was writing, and I just couldn't resist. Before I created the outline, however, I'd done a lot of twisting the story around in my mind, so the finished product is much more complex than I originally envisioned. 

Q. What if Divine Temptation was made into a movie? Who would you want playing the lead roles?

A. Can bags act? I have a really hard time with this question because I have such specific visions of the characters that it's difficult to find an actor who perfectly matches, so it's comforting to know that if the movie rights were picked up, I'd simply be handed a wad of cash and then relegated to the sidelines, not having to worry about things like casting. But before slinking quietly away, I'd put in a request for Richard Burgi to play Maggie's ex, Carl.  

Forgive me, please, but we'll stop here for today. Be sure to join me tomorrow for the rest of the interview. I'm going to ask Nicki how she writes such great sex scenes. You won't want to miss that.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. You can buy Divine Temptation at You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I picture you

I picture you
climbing on your motorcycle
wearing your huge black darth-vaderesque helmet
and roaring off into the night

Dawn would bring you
to the waves lapping at the beach
Atlantic Ocean
where you would remove the helmet and the clothes
and plunge as fresh as a newly born baby
into the water

You would tire
but a friendly dolphin
seeing the kindness in your eyes
would pick you up and carry you to a deserted island
and deposit you on its sand
where the sun and the wind would dry your skin

The fevered dreams would take you away
to the past
of the father who left
the mother who drank
and moving always moving in a rush to escape the bill collectors
until bars and chains and handcuffs kept you from escaping
but then
a smile would cross your lips
and the past would melt away
as you remembered the love
once given to you
as a gift
with no expectations
in return.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration an amazing movie recently released on DVD: Zero Dark Thirty (2012, Rated R).

A CIA operative named Maya (Jessica Chastain) reluctantly observes the torture of prisoners who might have information about the location of Osama bin Laden. She works doggedly to figure out where the terrorist is, and finally gets a break. Although she is the only person who is 100 percent certain that bin Laden is not holed up in a cave, but is living in a compound, Navy SEALS enter the compound, and depart with the body of bin Laden.

This movie is a bit long at 157 minutes. As Maya's work dragged on, I felt sleepy a couple of times. I felt disgusted and sickened by the torture scenes. But then the tension builds and the big sequence arrives: The SEALS enter the compound. I don't think I've ever felt more strongly affected by a sequence in a movie. At times the viewer sees the film as if looking through the night vision goggles the SEALS are wearing. We get as close as possible to being there.

Even though I knew the outcome of the raid, I was terrified. It was so intense. I bit my lower lip; I picked at a ragged cuticle; I squirmed in my chair, and not because I needed to pee; and, finally, when the man was dead, I cried with relief and gratitude. I felt so proud of our armed forces.

This movie is definitely worth watching in spite of the moments when sleepiness might descend; however, I recommend that you wait a minimum of three or four months before seeing it. Zero Dark Thirty has a couple of sudden explosions that had me gasping in astonishment and fear. It's too soon after the explosions at the Boston Marathon to watch this movie. Furthermore, it is not for children.

Some of you might not want to watch it because it's too realistic, and it brings war into your living room. The torture is horrifying.

Although I loved Argo and felt that it deserved its Best Picture Academy Award after I saw it, I now think the Best Picture award should have gone to Zero Dark Thirty, with Kathryn Bigelow winning her second Best Director Academy Award (she won previously for The Hurt Locker, which won the Best Picture Award). Zero Dark Thirty moved me and surprised me in a way Argo did not. It's extremely well made.

I think Zero Dark Thirty did not win Best Picture because of the controversies surrounding it. Although numerous high-level administration officials have stated that no worthwhile information came about from the torture of prisoners, the film appears to condone torture. One critic called Bigelow "torture's handmaiden."

Additionally, some officials and members of the military felt that Bigelow was given too much classified information for her use in the making of the film. An investigation concluded that this was not the case, but there are those who remain angry about it.

I, however, judge the film as a film, and not as a historical document. Because of the way it's made and the way it made me feel, I say this was the best film of the year.

Zero Dark Thirty has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.

One little note of trivia: The Seals are portrayed as taking a German Shepherd on the raid with them. In reality, the dog was a Malinois. My Harper is a smooth Collie/Malinois, and he is such a conniving bastard that I would definitely want a Malinois on my side in any kind of mission.

Oh, I know he looks so sweet and gentle here, but Harper is a brilliant escape artist.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend. For those of you who continue to endure cold and snowy weather, I wish I could send you some warmth and sunshine.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I am on LinkedIn, and have been for quite some time. I like being on LinkedIn. I don't think I've gotten any work because of my connections, but it keeps me up to date with people I've known over the years.

However, LinkedIn gave me an unpleasant surprise recently.

I invited a few people I know to connect with me. One of them sent me an email saying that she's not on LinkedIn anymore because when she was, they took over her address book and sent invitations

I could understand her desire not to have anything else to do with LinkedIn, and I started to worry.

Then it happened. Suddenly I was connected to some people I hadn't invited, and one blogger friend sent me an email saying that I should connect with her at her work email address. I told her I hadn't sent her the invitation. She told me she'd been getting a lot of connection requests of late and she had noticed a place on LinkedIn where you could give permission for them to invite everyone on God's green Earth to connect with you.

I remembered some small print next to the connection requests I'd sent. Apparently, I gave LinkedIn permission to invite everyone I've ever emailed to connect with me.

That means "I" sent requests to such people — and I use the term "people" loosely — as Dr. X and Mr. Asswipe Bastard, the principal who fired me so I can never get another teaching job.

Oy gewalt, as the Mama (Sherry Ellis) sometimes says.

However, some good has come out of this. I am now connected to a lot of people I like, and some I have admired from a distance, such as poet Sharon Doubiago. Why Sharon Doubiago accepted a request to be connected to me, I'll never know, but she did.

Sharon Doubiago, I have a crush on you
but only in a heterosexual way.

Of course, I might also be connected to this guy:

Or, this one:

Oh, yeah.

So now that I've worked in Ryan Gosling, I'll try to get to my point, if I can keep from passing out because look at the way he's looking at me from that photo. Those are "I wanna make sweet love to you" eyes.

The point . . . the point is . . . oh, stop Ryan, I belong to Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

No, not Mr. Darcy. Colin Firth, stop giving me that same look that Ryan Gosling is giving me. Think of something else. Think of something else.

All right. Now I can continue. LinkedIn needs to be limited. I don't want to leave you, LinkedIn, but you have to get rid of that little tiny print you're using to trick us into giving you permission to invade our lives and embarrass us.

Elvis Aaron Schwarz agrees with me.

So does the Men's Olympic Crew Team.

And so does Dixie the Rottweiler.

LinkedIn, don't make me leave you. You need to have limits.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I have instructed the servants to prepare for my arrival at my home in the suburb of Mope Town. I'll probably stay in Mope Town until Elvis Aaron Schwarz returns in one month. Will I recognize him after all that time? He could change his appearance completely.

Also taking place this week, Middle Child and I are having our first-ever argument. Middle Child thinks that some guy name Tanning Chatum, or whatever, is better looking than Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

Here is Chatting Tanus:

Yeah, I think my name might be Channing Tatum.
Miss Junebug hasn't seen my movies.
I look kind of like a dumb thug
My face is too full and my jaw is gigantic.
I don't know why Middle Child thinks I'm so good looking.

Hi! Remember me?
I'm Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
Need I say more?

Middle Child, what in the hell is wrong with you? Apparently we need to get you some glasses.

Although I'm going to stay in Mope Town for a while, PBS is making me exceedingly happy (during the few hours of the day that I'm not drowning my sorrows in vodka).

We have the second season of Call The Midwife:

Chummy has gone off to be a missionary, but I hope she'll return. I have all sorts of back story about the series now that I've read Jennifer Worth's books.

On Masterpiece Theater, we have Mr. Selfridge, about American Harry Gordon Selfridge, who opened Selfridge's Department Store in London and changed shopping forever.

Jeremy Piven plays Mr. Selfridge. I like Jeremy Piven, and the show is interesting and energetic.

And now PBS has yet another British offering that I like. It's called The Bletchley Circle. It's about four women who were cryptographers during World War II. Following the war, they team up to use their skills for crime solving.

Hurry, because The Bletchley Circle is only a three-part miniseries. The first episode is available on, or you might find it on Sunday night after Mr. Selfridge.

You can probably still catch a great documentary, made by Ken Burns and his daughter, called The Central Park 5. Remember the Central Park jogger, who was brutally attacked and raped? Five young men were coerced into confessing to the crime, and they went to prison. Years later, someone else confessed to the crime. The documentary might be in rotation on your PBS station (my PBS station repeats shows multiple times), and I know it's available for at least a bit longer at

See ya on the flip side.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Thank you for your comments and suggestions about Elvis Aaron Schwarz's puppy. I have taken down the post about naming him because he's not going to become a Z-Boy after all.

Elvis Aaron Schwarz and his sister talked about Mr. Puppy and agreed that he would not be safe in an urban setting because he's still a bit wild. If he got out my front door, there would be no getting him back. He'd just run.

Mr. Puppy will go to a home with a vet tech who has a lot of property and has horses.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, April 22, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The Presidents Club: Inside The World's Most Exclusive Fraternity is a fascinating read. I enjoyed it tremendously, especially since I'm interested in American history and our presidents. As authors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy explain, the only members in the relatively modern invention of the club are the men who have been President of The United States.

The authors explain that once a man joins the club (and perhaps some day we'll have a woman club member), the other members (for the most part) close ranks around him and do what they can to provide assistance. Gibbs and Duffy state that former presidents rarely criticize their successors because they are the only people who truly understand how difficult the job is.

The authors write:

For the former presidents, the club can be a vital, sometimes surprising benefit of post-presidential life. They have relinquished power, but not influence; and so their influence becomes a piece of the sitting president's power. They can do more together than apart, and they all know it; so they join forces as needed, to consult, complain, console, pressure, protect, redeem.

Here are some bits of information from the book that I found interesting:

  • The club's formal beginning took place at the inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower when Herbert Hoover suggested to Harry Truman that they organize a former presidents club. "Fine," Truman replied. "You be the President of the club. And I will be the Secretary."
  • Truman had already helped to rehabilitate Hoover's image by requesting his assistance with the problems of post-World War II Europe.
  • When Johnson had to assume the presidency abruptly, Eisenhower became one of his most trusted confidantes. Johnson told Eisenhower that he was the best chief of staff Johnson had.
  • In a breach of loyalty to our country and to his Commander in Chief, Nixon sabotaged Johnson's efforts to end the war in Vietnam. Nixon wanted the war to continue so he would be needed as the president who could achieve peace.
  • The enmity between Ford and Carter ended during the plane trip back to the U.S. following Anwar Sadat's funeral. Ford and Carter then became close friends, and teamed up on many projects.
  • Reagan taught Bill Clinton how to salute properly; Nixon became a close adviser to Clinton.
  • When George W. Bush was elected and greeted his father, former President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office, both men were so overcome by emotion that they couldn't speak.
  • President George W. Bush asked his father and Bill Clinton to work together to raise funds to provide assistance following catastrophes. Bush (41) and Clinton went on to become such close friends that Bush 43 joked about Clinton recovering from heart surgery -- that Clinton "woke up surrounded by his loved ones: Hillary, Chelsea . . . my Dad."
I learned many interesting tidbits of information about U.S. history and our presidents from this book. The Presidents Club has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.

I wish you happy reading, whether you choose this book, or possibly another of my new favorites, Treadwell, by our blogger friend Dana Joy Wyzard. To read my review of Treadwell, please click HERE.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, April 19, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a movie only recently available on DVD: Hitchcock (2012, PG-13).

The great director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) has just had a success with North By Northwest, but he owes a movie to Paramount. Hitchcock wants to make a "horror" movie. He finds a book about serial killer Ed Gein and decides to make a movie based on the book, Psycho. Paramount says NO.

So Hitch decides to finance the movie himself and offers Paramount the opportunity to distribute it and receive a hefty share of the profits. Paramount goes for this offer, and the viewer is tossed into the tumultuous world of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma (Helen Mirren).

Hitch struggles to finish the movie on time and stay within the budget. Alma struggles with Hitch's obsession with his string of blonde leading ladies. But between the two of them, they make sure the movie is a success.

Hitchcock has a wonderfully creepy and eerie ambiance. Ed Gein even haunts Hitch in his dreams.

Although I have never seen Psycho and don't want to because I don't like scary slasher movies, the story of bringing this classic to the screen is fascinating. Of course, the actors are excellent. It's pretty difficult to do better than Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. The supporting cast is great, too.

I wouldn't watch this movie with children younger than about 12 or 13, but I think it's okay to watch it with teens. In fact, I think it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce them to Hitchcock as a director. My favorite Hitchcock movie is Rear Window. The last time I saw it was a few years ago, and after many viewings, I finally spotted the director's cameo. I also love Strangers On A Train, North By Northwest, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Shadow of a Doubt. 

I think the first Hitchock film I ever saw was The Birds -- too scary.

But Hitchcock has The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval. It's not a brilliant movie, but it's quite good and very entertaining.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Elvis Aaron Schwarz has great power over me. He can make me giggle.


Giggle so hard that sometimes I pee.

Just a little bit.

I'm pointing up because I don't want anyone
to see that my pants are a wee-wee bit wet.
Elvis Aaron Schwarz called me on Tuesday and said that the air conditioner at his house went toes up. He couldn't sleep because it was too warm and humid. 

May I sleep at your house tonight, baby? he asked.

Of course, I answered.

He arrived after work and took a shower. He hadn't eaten supper, and neither had I; so I made healthy chocolate-peanut butter protein shakes for us. When he was all clean and shiny and fresh from the shower, we sat out on my deck with our healthy chocolate-peanut butter protein shakes. The sun was starting to go down. A cool breeze blew. I have a very high fence, so EAS could relax in his boxers and t-shirt. I had changed into my blue nightie.

I took a few sips of my healthy chocolate-peanut butter protein shake. Then when I tried to take my next sip, a big glob of shake slipped out of the glass and ran down my chin and spread down my blue nightie.

I started giggling. EAS said, I was just about to ask if we should use spoons or straws.

Then he took his next sip. Suddenly his mouth and nose were covered in healthy chocolate-peanut butter protein shake. My giggles increased.

He wiped the healthy chocolate peanut-butter protein shake off with the back of his hand instead of his napkin. Then he got up, and I knew what was going to happen. 

Yes, he wiped the back of his hand on my blue nightie.

I giggled even harder, but fortunately did not pee. 

Well, maybe I peed just a tiny bit.

We managed to finish our healthy chocolate-peanut butter protein shakes without further incident, although my giggles continued.

When we finished, we went inside, and I giggled all the way to my bedroom. 

Hi! Remember me?
I'm Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
I love making my baby doll giggle.
Even though she wets her pants.
Don't believe her when she says she just pees a little bit.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. Elvis Aaron Schwarz has gotten a better job. I'm very happy for him, but for a while, he will be even farther away from me than he is now. I know he will call me everyday, and he will visit me as soon as he can. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Elvis Aaron Schwarz called me Monday afternoon. Are you all right? he asked.

Yes, I said. Why wouldn't I be?

Have you seen the news? he asked.

No, I said.

Something bad has happened in Boston, he said.

I'd rather hear it from you than from the TV, I said.

Then he explained to me that bombs had exploded and people were killed and injured.

I know how you get, he said. I didn't want you to find out about this from the news, he said.

I promise I won't turn on the TV, I said.

And I didn't.

Elvis Aaron Schwarz knew I would cry if I watched the news.

I knew all my tears wouldn't change what happened.

So now I know, and I'm sad; but I'd still rather hear the truth from Elvis Aaron Schwarz than from a stranger on the television. It's a little easier to handle bad news when you hear it from your best friend, who only wants good things for you.

Thank you, Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

You're welcome, Baby Doll.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, April 15, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Technology is definitely attempting to lower my self-esteem.

I used to have Miss Garmin in the car with me. When I took a wrong turn, she developed an increasingly sarcastic edge to her voice when she said "REROUTING."

Now I have Ms. AT&T. She doesn't even say rerouting when I do something wrong. She's calm and simply tells me what I need to do -- although now that I think about it, a couple of times she has sent me to strange places. Like when I needed to go to the dentist and she sent me to Hardee's.

I was so far away from the dentist's office that I missed the appointment and he dumped me as a patient. I had to find another dentist.

I guess Ms. AT&T is trying to cause trouble for me, after all.

And then there's Twitter.

Twitter is trying very hard to make me feel bad about myself. See the way that bird is winking? That's not a friendly wink. That's a sardonic wink.

Every week Twitter sends me an email, criticizing my use of Twitter. My first question is, why don't they send me a tweet?

Is it maybe because the people at Twitter don't know how to tweet?

But anyway, I get these emails and they're all about how lousy I am. The first thing they tell me is how many twitter followers I've lost. Last week it was two, and the week before it was one. I don't have that many twitter followers, so these are significant losses.

Then they tell me how I can do better. They say I tweet once a day on average. So I need to tweet more often.

But what if I don't have anything to say?

Here's some stuff I could have tweeted today:

I'm at the pharmacy. I've been waiting in line so long I need to poop.

It's raining. A lot.

The rain is making me sleepy. I think I'll take a nap.

Those just aren't very exciting tweets, are they? And the few times I've come up with tweets that I thought were amusing (I called the Pope the King of the Pedophiles), no one paid any attention to them. Fie on thee, Twitter.

Twitter also criticizes me for other reasons. They tell me to use hashtags. They say I need a background image and a header image.


I don't even know what a hashtag is. I think it's a miracle that I set up a twitter account and learned to tweet, and now they want me to do MORE?

Twitter even gave me an F on my profile.

See these girls who are tweeting? Their grammar is appalling. They are going to spend the rest of their lives asking, Would you like fries with that? But their Twitter scores are probably out of this world.

I graduated from college summa cum laude, but I get an F from Twitter. My world rank from Twitter is #83,134,375.

Obviously, that's not very good. Twitter doesn't care that I know the difference between it's and its, and I can read Chaucer in Middle English. Twitter doesn't care that I "get" Milton. 

Twitter doesn't like me. 

But it's okay. I don't have to ask anybody, Paper or plastic?

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, though I don't know why you would, I have a Twitter bird on my sidebar. Click on it and become my follower. Then you can dump me the next week. Twitter will take great delight in telling me about it.

Infinities of love (but not to Twitter),

Janie Junebug

Friday, April 12, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration an action movie called Man On A Ledge (2012, Rated PG-13).

A former police officer who has just been released from prison checks into a hotel, and then climbs out of the window and onto a ledge. Does he really intend to jump, or does he just want to prove his innocence? Could something else be going on? A negotiator comes in to try to talk him off the ledge, and it all turns into a wild ride.

I'll tell you right now: This movie is not brilliant. But if you want something to watch that's fun and has a lot going on and you don't have to think too much about it, then this is the movie for you.

I can't tell you much about the plot because I don't want to ruin the movie for you, but I will tell you that the shots on the ledge are real: Yes, the actors actually went out on the ledge, very high above the ground. Cables were attached to them and safety precautions were taken, but knowing these people are really out there adds a bit to the excitement of the movie.

Even though Man On A Ledge isn't a great movie, it's still a fun movie, and for that reason, I'll give it The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval. Also, I think it's okay to watch if with kids, maybe ages 10 and older. You know your children better than I do.

Happy watching, and I wish you a beautiful weekend.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's easy for me to write an enthusiastic review today, because I absolutely couldn't put down Treadwell by Dana Joy Wyzard (a.k.a. Little Lotta Joy at Witless Relocation Program).

I read Treadwell while I ate; I read Treadwell in bed; I even read Treadwell while I talked to Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

Hi! Remember me?
I'm Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
I'm disconsolate because my baby doll loves Treadwell
more than she loves me. Dana, you are not my friend -- yet.
My baby doll says I will love you after I read Treadwell.
Yes, Jo Elvis, you are absolutely right. You are going to fall in love with Dana when you read Treadwell. All y'all (as some folks in Florida say) are going to fall in love with Dana when you read her book. It's that good.

I was caught up in the story from the very first page. Nelda Pike is an irresistible character. A widow who lives alone near the small town of Treadwell, Indiana, Nelda embodies common sense and kindness. She takes in a young woman, Laura, who is on the run from her evil stepfather, Paul, and his son, Adam. When the bad guys get their hands on Laura, Nelda teams up with her old friend, Wosie Mae Briar, to rescue Laura.

And let's not forget to mention that both women have the tenacity (and the guns -- they're sure shots) to do whatever it takes to save Laura.

I'm crazy about these characters. This book is the kind that's driven by the characters. The plot comes from them, and that's as it should be.

I also love it that these women are older and they have their aches and pains, but they do what needs to be done. Nelda and Wosie Mae don't sit in their rocking chairs and wait for a man to come along and take care of them. Treadwell shows some women at their best, and some at their worst -- just like real life -- but the characters are not stereotypes. There's no prostitute with a heart of gold.

Wyzard's writing is outstanding. She maintains her sense of humor while keeping the story exciting:

Laura glanced up at the window and was presented with the shape of a man's head, silhouetted against the bright background.

As the scream split the air, Adam was already sliding down the side of the hill. Paul pulled the car forward to meet him at the base of the rutted driveway.

Laura's second scream was accompanied by a deafening roll of thunder. Adam slammed the car door and Paul pulled out onto solid ground and pushed the accelerator to the floor. 

"She saw, God dammit! She saw me!" Adam yelled while Paul pulled to the side of the road and made another U-turn. 

"Where the hell are you going dad? We can't go back to that house. That woman has a shotgun!"

I can't begin to tell you all the reasons you'll love Treadwell because I'd ruin the fascinating story for you. I don't want to do that, because I'm confident you'll want to buy this book.

You can purchase it at 


One more reason this book is special: Treadwell speaks to a cultural phenomenon -- that of the retiring baby boomers. There are a lot of us, and we want good books to read. It's not easy to find books with characters we can relate to, characters who are our age but are active, characters who are not vampires or zombies. Well done, Dana Joy Wyzard.*

Treadwell has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

*Please note: I don't want you to think this book is only for us older folks. It has young characters, too, and it addresses contemporary situations.

P.S. To read the first part of my interview with Dana Joy Wyzard, click HERE, and to read the second part of the interview, click HERE.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

To read the synopsis of Treadwell by Dana Joy Wyzard, and the first part of my interview with this "amazing" woman (as Sherry Ellis said, and you'd better not doubt Sherry Ellis), please click HERE.

And now for the rest of the interview with the amazing Dana:

Q. What if Treadwell was made into a movie? Who would you want playing the lead roles?

A. Oh, no!  As if I haven't already laid out the cast!!  Nelda would HAVE to be played by Helen Mirren, or Glenn Close (if Helen refused).  

And there's no one else who would do as Wosie Mae except for Kathy Bates.

And if Lindsay Lohan shows up to play Laura, I'm going to personally shut down the set.

Q. What have you learned from the publication process? What do you wish you'd known before you started?

A. Well, I've honestly learned there is nothing GOOD about the publishing process.  In fact, I'll make this easy with a list:

(1) There's no such thing as a good query letter.  
(2) Agents have assistants, and their only job is to shove your query into the circular file, and not bother the agent.
(3) Assistants are usually college kids looking for the next HUNGER GAMES so their boss will pat them on the head.
(4) Even if you pay a proofreader to check for mistakes, don't take it on faith that they found all of them.
(5) DO NOT proofread your manuscript on your laptop.  You'll get comfortable and start scanning instead of inspecting.
(6) Print it out and proofread the real words off of real paper.  You'll be amazed at how many times you mis-spelled broccoli.
(7) Everyone will look at you as an impostor if you pay to have your book published.  Get used to it.  It was the only way it was going to happen in this economy.

Q. Tell me something about the book that makes you feel really good.

A. My bucket list is now finished.  And if I hadn't gotten that manuscript published, it was going to stay in the back of the drawer, making fun of me for the rest of my life.

Q. This is the question I always asked last during interviews when I was a reporter: What do you most want the world to know about you?

A. Anything but the truth!

Tomorrow, you'll get my review of Treadwell, which you can purchase at or And be sure to visit Dana in her guise as Little Lotta Joy at her blog, WITLESS RELOCATION PROGRAM.

Dana made those bullet holes in the cover herself.
I really think you should buy her book.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, April 8, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I'd like to introduce you to an author whose first book, Treadwell, was published recently. Her name is Dana Joy Wyzard, but you may know her as Little Lotta Joy, who blogs at Witless Relocation Program.

This is the photo of Dana that's on her book.
Doesn't she look nice?
Sometimes she pretends she's not nice, but she really is.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana. Because her answers are so interesting and will be so helpful to her fans and to other writers, rather than shorten her responses as she told me to do (I'm extremely disobedient), I'm giving you half the interview today and half tomorrow. But before I amaze and delight you with my questions and her answers, I want to share with you the synopsis of Treadwell:

After living for sixty years in the cabin of her birth, Nelda Pike is as resilient and self-reliant as she needs to be. Like other residents in the backwoods town of Treadwell, she guards her anonymity with a fierce tenacity and a shotgun.

When she discovers a terrified young woman stumbling beside the country road, Nelda goes against her better judgment and offers temporary sanctuary. As the only witness to her mother's brutal murder, seventeen year old Laura is running for her life.

Successfully tracking her to Nelda's secluded cabin, the killers forcibly abduct Laura and disappear into the backwoods.

Enraged, Nelda reaches out to her lifelong friend, Wosie Mae -- a woman as irascible and indomitable as Nelda herself -- for help.

Together, two old women with shotguns, and a geriatric hound, are now on the murderer's trail.

And now here's our author, Dana Joy Wyzard:

Q. What's the very first thing that popped into your head that led to the plot of this book? Was it an incident or a character, or did something happen in your life that led you to this story? 

A. I remember very clearly, sitting on the couch in the tiny living room of my house.  It was the darkest winter I had ever lived through.  An ice storm was covering about two feet of snow and I could hear the sounds of shotgun blasts my trees made as they snapped in two.  Electrical cords were slithering through the house, out to the generator, and I caught myself staring at the wall.

I had been caught in another of my depressions, only this one wasn't going to end soon.  I needed something, anything, to throw my imagination into.

I started typing on my laptop.  The most innocuous sentences began lining up on the screen.  Tedious.  Tired words.  Too common to what I was feeling.  I kept on typing for 98,000 words.

I knew there was something missing in my manuscript.  I realized I was merely typing the feelings that were living in my brain at the time. Innocuous. Tedious.  Tired.

I needed a woman who could fight back.  I needed a woman who valued her own life and opinion.  One who would face danger instead of looking away.  I needed a woman who would not trip and sprain her ankle, or look for help from anyone but herself.  I needed a hero, and her name was suddenly Nelda Pike.

Q. What's your writing process like? How did you stay organized? A lot is going on in this book. Did you plan the entire plot in advance or did the characters control the action? If you planned it in advance, how did the finished product compare to your original plan?

A. Organization is not a word I'm familiar with. Intellectually, I know I'm supposed to make notes, outlines, use time frames and have SOME idea where my book is going.  All I knew was that I was in love with Nelda and felt a giant responsibility to her.

I write in the linear fashion.  Straight forward from point A to point B.  I only used a flashback once in the entire writing process.  It was necessary to the integrity of one of my characters who suddenly popped up on one of my pages.

I loved tossing out that first manuscript and starting over in such a way that my own story line kept me on the edge of my seat. I NEVER knew what was coming next.

Q. As an avid reader of your blog, I see you, or at least bits and pieces of you in more than one character. I think Nelda is you; Wosie is you; even Chlotilde has a bit of you in her (I suspect); and Debra may be you. Am I right? How much of the book is based on reality and how much came from your imagination? I suspect Martha is based on your mom.

A. Nelda is the me that would have saved me from all the horrors that happened in my life.  Wosie Mae is the me that runs to the aid of others and will put up a stronger fight for a friend than I could justify giving to myself.

In both of them, you will find no apologies for their strengths, and no self-doubt at any time.  Those are definitely qualities that I have always yearned for.

Just to prove how well an author can hide her inner feelings from herself, it wasn't until you suggested that "even Chlotilde has a bit of you in her" that I went into shock.  At first I huffed up and wondered where the hell could you have gotten THAT idea.  After I smoothed my feathers, I realized that she was the weak link.  The one who had to lose her mind in order to find her strength.  

Martha AND Claude represent the vileness and pure evil that owes its power to the weaker ones in their midst, leading to a complete breakdown of how others view themselves instead of the perpetrators.

Thank you, Jane. Now I need a therapist.

Since we have Dana in need of immediate therapy, we'll stop for today, and finish the interview tomorrow. Doesn't she give interesting answers? (Nod your heads or go ahead and say out loud, Oh, yes.)

Before I send you my love, though, we need to talk business. Authors need readers. Authors need sales. Authors need reviews. If you've already purchased and read Treadwell, then please promote it and review it on Amazon and on your blogs. 

If you don't have Treadwell, and maybe you don't know it yet but I know you want it, then it's time to treat yourself to a great book. I have finished reading Treadwell. I love it, and I'm going to give it a glowing review on Wednesday. I purchased my copy from Amazon. It's available at It's also available from Xlibris at

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, April 5, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a movie now available on DVD, Killing Them Softly (2012, Rated R).

I can tell you right now: This movie is not for everyone. I'm not just giving you my usual warning about not letting your kids watch. If violence bothers you, no matter how stylishly it's executed, then you don't want to watch Killing Them Softly.

Some idiot low-lifes rob a Mob-run card game, wreaking havoc with local criminal activity. So Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is hired to "remove" certain people from action and restore the economy.

Jackie Cogan: You ever kill anyone?
Driver: No.
Jackie Cogan: It can get touchy-feely.
Driver: Touchy-feely?
Jackie Cogan: Emotional, not fun, a lot of fuss. They cry. They plead. They beg. They piss themselves. They call for their mothers. It gets embarrassing.
Jackie Cogan: I like to kill them softly, from a distance. Not close enough for feelings. Don't like feelings. Don't want to think about them.

This is not your mother's movie about criminals. We don't see the action from the point of view of a good detective or a corrupt police officer or the Mafia don. We're in the down and dirty with the criminals themselves, one of whom complains he has to stick to crime to make a living because even when he can get a legitimate job, he doesn't have any way to get there. 

Now don't start writing comments to me about how I'm a soft-on-crime liberal. I didn't write this movie, and even though it indicates that some criminals are trapped in their line of business, this movie doesn't feel sorry for them either. Their lives suck. Their deaths suck. When a bullet goes through the window of a car and the glass flies into the air in slow motion so that it almost looks pretty, there's still someone on the other side of that window who is a bloody stinking mess. 

Throughout the movie we see news clips about the economy tanking, and finally, President Obama talking about how we are a nation of one people. Jackie Cogan doesn't see it that way:

Barack Obama (on TV): reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one...
Driver: You hear that line? Line's for you.
Jackie Cogan: Don't make me laugh. One people. It's a myth created by Thomas Jefferson.
Driver: Oh, so now you're going to have a go at Jefferson, huh?
Jackie Cogan: My friend, Thomas Jefferson is an American saint because he wrote the words 'All men are created equal', words he clearly didn't believe since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He's a rich white snob who's sick of paying taxes to the Brits. So, yeah, he writes some lovely words and aroused the rabble and they went and died for those words while he sat back and drank his wine and fucked his slave girl. This guy wants to tell me we're living in a community? Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business. Now fuckin' pay me.

We live in a capitalist society, and criminals are part of the business world. That's what I take away from Killing Them Softly.

If you decide you want to watch this movie in spite of the violence, you might feel dissatisfied with the end. The good guys don't ride in on their white horses and take out the bad guys. There is no Lone Ranger, no Superman, no Batman -- just ugly life. And because this movie achieves (what I believe to be) its purpose, it's well made, and Brad Pitt's performance is excellent.

Killing Them Softly has The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Elisa at The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom has come up with a Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest. I think it's a great idea. Click on the title of her blog for more information and spread the word with this Random Acts of Kindness button:

 photo raoc_zps0fb7dd8c.jpg

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Last fall I discovered a great new TV series on PBS that came to us from the BBC: Call The Midwife (read my review of the show HERE).

I noticed that the series was based on a book with the same title by Jennifer Worth, so I gave myself a Christmas present and bought three of her books. One was available on Amazon, but all three could be purchased from The Book Depository in England -- more convenient to buy them all at the same time, and they offer free shipping, even to us louts across the pond.

I've read all three memoirs now and hereby pronounce myself a Jennifer Worth fan.

The first book is Call The Midwife. Young nurse/midwife Jenny lands at a convent in London's East End during the 1950s, where she works with the nuns who have offered midwifery services for many years to the women of the East End at no cost. Three other young nurses who are not nuns also are posted there. Worth tells one story after another about the babies she delivers, the families she meets, and the nuns themselves, and how she came to admire their hard work.

Most women in England had their babies at home during this time and were terrified of going to a hospital (hospitals were thought to be unsafe by the general populace and many were former workhouses; the specter of the workhouse still had the power to terrorize people). So Jenny and her colleagues travel from one house to another. One place might be a fairly comfortable dwelling, while the next might house 10 or 12 family members in three small rooms.

I was quite shocked to learn that people were still living in World War II bombsites during the '50s. Even though the places had been condemned years before, England's critical housing shortage remained and forced many to take lodgings wherever they could get them.

The descriptions of the births are interesting, too. Medical personnel believed at the time that women should lie on their left sides while giving birth. Enemas were always administered to the mother. And I finally learned what the "lying in" period means. I've seen this term many times and always wondered about it. It meant that the pregnant woman was tucked into bed as the time to give birth approached, and then stayed in bed after the birth, resting and bonding with her newborn. Relatives and neighbors brought meals and took care of older children. For a woman who might have a dozen children or more, this lying in was the only rest she ever got.

The second book, Shadows of the Workhouse, is quite different from Call The Midwife. Rather than taking us from one new mother to the next, Worth divides the book into three sections.

"Workhouse Children" provides a history of the workhouses, which were as bad as Dickens made them out to be in his fiction, and focuses on three adults who had grown up in the workhouse. Their stories are sad, and amazing. I'm surprised that anyone survived the workhouse. "The Trial of Sister Monica Joan" is about an elderly nun accused of shoplifting. The translation of Cockney slang provided during the trial is a hoot. In "The Old Soldier," young nurse Jenny forms a relationship with elderly Joseph Collett, who needs care for ulcers on his legs. As Jenny takes care of Joe, they become close friends. Joe Collett's story is also a sad one.

The third book, Farewell to the East End, has more stories about families and birth, but also provides a lot of information about tuberculosis, a scourge that most of us today don't understand. In the not-so-distant past, however, TB could decimate an entire family. In an especially interesting recollection in the book, Chummy -- a young nurse/midwife -- tucks her skirt into her bloomers and climbs a rope ladder to reach a woman in need on a ship. Worth also describes how the East End ended. The slums were razed; people were transported to new housing, whether they wanted to go or not; and the nuns were no longer needed there.

These memoirs are not for the squeamish (Maggie), but I found them fascinating because of the medical information and because of the stories of how people lived in England not so very long before I was born. Many of Worth's recollections are sad, but just as many are filled with joy and humor. Her style is simple, clean, and focused -- a style I seek in my stories about the nursing home.

All three of these books earn The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

When I was a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a lot of interesting people: the woman who had been taken from her Ukrainian village and forced into slavery by the Nazis; the woman whose childhood recovery from leukemia was deemed the third miracle that led to the sainthood of Elizabeth Ann Seton; the dog owners whose Bouvier de Flandres won more competitions than any other dog in a single year; and actor Benicio del Toro, not long before he won an Academy Award for Traffic.

Oh, boy, I wish the interview with del Toro
had been in person and not on the telephone.
Shhhh! Don't tell Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

But because of circumstances, I missed out on a couple of interviews I really wanted to do.

For example, I had a "date" with my favorite historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, that I didn't get to keep.

And now that I've seen Argo, I'm really kicking myself over the time I almost met retired CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck in the movie, which I reviewed HERE). Tony Mendez retired from the CIA quite some time ago and married another former CIA agent. The two of them, along with Tony's son, have become artists, with a studio in rural Washington County, Maryland. The county where I lived.  The county where I was a reporter. 

The Mendez family very graciously invited children from an elementary school to visit their art studio. In the county where I lived. In the county where I was a reporter.

Guess who got the assignment to cover the story?

Although I didn't know at the time that Tony Mendez had been such a big deal in the CIA, I knew he was a former agent who had written a book about his work called The Master of Disguise.

Washington County is kind of a sprawling area. I lived in the valley of the Catoctin Mountains, but the county included mountainous regions and out-of-the way spots that could be difficult to find, even on a map. No wonder Camp David is in the Catoctin Mountains. It wouldn't be easy to find. Many locals know where Camp David is, but wouldn't reveal the location to save their lives.

Before I was to go to the Mendez's studio, I studied my map. The studio had to be in a place close enough to the elementary school so that the kids could get there. I looked and looked, and absolutely nothing seemed familiar. I had never been to that part of the county.

In the end, I missed the visit to the art studio. I just plain couldn't find it.

So that's the time I almost met Tony Mendez, who helped rescue six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis and was involved in many other high-end hush hush operations. I guess he was still so good at hiding that I couldn't succeed in my part of the hide-and-seek game.

I told my boss I was sick, and that's why I didn't get the story. Shame on me for lying, but now that I've seen the movie, I feel as if I've really been punished because I didn't get to meet Mendez.

Oh, why hadn't the GPS been invented yet?

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, April 1, 2013


When I was still a mere Hospitality Aide at the nursing home, one of my tasks was to assist residents in getting to the dining room for meals. I'd push a wheelchair or stroll next to someone who was a little unsteady on her feet.

Hazel walked quite well, but she felt more comfortable about ambling to dinner with her arm through that of an aide's.

At first, she accepted my offer to walk with her, but then suddenly, she began turning me down. "What's wrong, Hazel?" I'd ask.

A slight blush reddened her pale cheeks, and looking at the floor she mumbled, "Nothing's wrong. I want to walk to the dining room with my black boyfriend."

"Uh, okay," I said. I could see she had quite a crush on someone, but who could it be? We didn't have any black men working in the nursing home. I thought that perhaps one of the black ladies on her hall had a brother or son who came to visit, and Hazel was enamored with him.

I didn't see who walked into the dining room with Hazel that night, but from then one, every time I offered to walk her to dinner, she gave me the same answer about waiting for her black boyfriend to take her. I asked some of the other aides, "What's going on with Hazel? She won't let me walk her to the dining room."

They said they had gotten the same response from her, and we pondered who her black boyfriend could be.

Finally, one evening I saw her enter for her meal on the arm of my friend Lynn, also a Hospitality Aide and a black lady. I looked at them with surprise, and noticed the glow that lit up Hazel's face. She looked so pleased and proud.

When I had a moment alone with Lynn after dinner, I told her that Hazel had been refusing to walk with me because she wanted to be with her black boyfriend.

Lynn and I locked eyes. Then we started to laugh. "I'm Hazel's black boyfriend?" she sputtered. "I know my hair is short and I'm not very shapely, but no one has ever mistaken me for a man before."

"Well, Hazel's sight isn't that great," I reminded her. "She's confused about a lot of things. Remember the day she thought we were doctors?"

Lynn and I spoke with the other aides. Although we couldn't help laughing at Hazel's mistake, we weren't making fun of Hazel. We just had to tease Lynn a bit.

But then we all started to wonder if we should tell Hazel the truth about Lynn. I remembered how happy Hazel looked when she walked into the dining room with Lynn and made the decision for the group. "No. We can't tell her. We'd be stealing her happiness. She's completely on her own. She's never had a visitor. Hazel deserves this little bit of joy."

Although Lynn wasn't thrilled about being "the man" in Hazel's life, she agreed that it was a harmless charade.

From then on, when Lynn was on duty, she and Hazel always entered the dining room arm-in-arm, with Hazel's eyes sparkling. No one ever told Hazel that Lynn was a woman.

And when Hazel died, her "black boyfriend" was at her side, holding her hand.