fiction writer and author of The Narrow Gate, The Leaf Queen & Seven Thin Dimes
Just Janet..

When that dream comes true…it’s pretty cool!

Never give up on your dreams. Small dreams, big dreams. Keep them right on the horizon where you can see them. Maybe it takes a few years or a few decades or, if you’re me, just about your whole life to make one come true. When I was a child I was told not to be a quitter or a whiner so I’ve kept moving toward that dream year after year.

I kept writing and dreaming.  I’m still doing it.

Sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2017, I received an email about an author awards contest sponsored by a Pittsburgh group called The Author Zone. The only requirement was that the book be set in S.W. Pennsylvania or the author live in S.W. Pennsylvania. There was a fee to enter and an additional fee if you bought a ticket to the awards dinner.

I submitted my novel, The Narrow Gate, and my memoir, Seven Thin Dimes, paid the fee and then put it in the back of my mind. I didn’t buy a ticket to the awards dinner because I didn’t think I would win. There are some excellent writing schools in Pittsburgh and, although I think my work is good, I’m a small, self-published author. I figured I was the underdog or the long shot, but it was worth a try. I’ve wanted to publish a book and win an award since I was about 7 or 8 years old, so I sent in my submission and went back to my day job.

Four months later, after I’d booked a round trip plane ticket to Los Angeles for that day job, I got a notice that both of my books were finalists – one in Fiction and another in Memoir. I had one vacation day left and, if I used it to go to the dinner, it meant 24 hours on an off planes, with little sleep, to travel from L.A. to Pittsburgh and back. Every friend and family member I knew – the solid people in your life who cheer on your dreams – told me I had to go. So, on October 19, I took the day off, left L.A. at 6 a.m., and arrived in Pittsburgh at 3:35 p.m. where my cousin, Jill, picked me up and we headed in to the city to attend the awards dinner. It was a bit crazy (the keynote speaker went on a rant about the current U.S. president), and a lot of fun (wine, food, and interesting people).

I won 1st place in Fiction for my novel, The Narrow Gate. I’m now the 2017 TAZ Author Award winner in Fiction. (It feels like the coolest kind of blessing to say that out loud!)

Two of my dreams have come true! Yes, you guessed it. I still want a book made into a movie, and I’d still like to be able to write full time, for a living. I keep eyeing the New York Times best sellers list and dreaming. I keep watching movies and dreaming I’ll see one of my books on the big screen.

Even when one dream comes true, there’s another just around the corner. That’s called hope. A human being can’t live without hope.

When I have a tough day on the job, and the royalty checks average about ten dollars, I can look in the mirror and say “hey, you’re an award winning author!”

The 2017 TAZ Author Award for 1st Place in Fiction – that’s called satisfaction!


It is a beautiful, sunny, summer Sunday morning. I’m alone with two old sayings running through my head:  “Home is where the heart is” and “We are the sum of our life experiences”. Like most young people, I couldn’t wait to get out of my home town of Erie, PA, at the age of 18… Continue Reading

The Little Book That Could

Remember The Little Engine That Could? Wasn’t that the name of the well known children’s book? I call my memoir, Seven Thin Dimes, “The Little Book That Could”, because I never intended to publish it and I’ve done almost no marketing of it, yet it sells here and there with a few good reviews. I… Continue Reading

The Gift You Give Yourself

In September, 2016, I’ll be publishing my second novel – The Leaf Queen – which centers around a young woman making a mess of her life by searching for love in men who feel entitled to cheat and who are too self-involved to love another properly. But, for me, the book is really about finding a way… Continue Reading


Last week I was suffering from holiday fatigue, trying to check everything off my list while working even longer hours at the office to close projects and do some 2016 planning. I’d think about finding my true holiday spirit while sitting at a red light or hurrying to cram in a little shopping, then it… Continue Reading

Some thoughts after Paris…

I’ve had over a week to stop thinking about the attacks on Paris. Or to start thinking about them again. Or to simply never stop thinking about them.  The latter turns out to be the case. Like 9/11, it was as if the world stood still on November 13. And in the silence, a question….what… Continue Reading

What is Coming Home?

What is “coming home”? When I began the process of publishing The Narrow Gate, I had just moved myself and my cat for the third time in 10 years to take a job in the Chicago area. Two of the three moves were to areas of the country where I knew no one and had… Continue Reading

It Always Starts with a Question

I once read somewhere that every good novel starts with a question (or 2 or 3, perhaps?) That resonated with me because I’m one of those people who never got past the 3-year-old’s penchant for asking “why?” The Narrow Gate rolled up in my mind out of three questions I was asking myself: What happens… Continue Reading