Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Interview With Jan Toom

Today I’m interviewing award-winning author, Jan Toom.  Jan divides her time between San Diego, CA and La Conner, WA. 

Jan took first place for best children's story in the 1987 San Diego Annual Writers Showcase.  Way to go, Jan!

Tell us about your latest book, Jan? 
Jan:  The name of the book is Dead Ringer.  It’s a time travel/mainstream book.

Can you tell me a little about it?
Jan:  Sure.  When Paula Martin, an advertising executive in San Diego, California, discovers a 100 year old photograph of a girl who looks just like her, she is intrigued.  The photo was taken in 1907 in Oro Belle, a gold mining camp in Arizona.  Paula decides it would be interesting to travel to the mining camp, now a ghost town, never dreaming the adventure that awaits her.  Catherine Hollingsworth, the girl in the photo, is the daughter of the mine superintendent in Oro Belle.  Due to some unexpected circumstances, Catherine changes places in time with Paula and finds herself in 2007 San Diego while Paula gets accustomed to life in 1907 Ora Belle.

Because the young women look exactly alike, no one suspects that anything is different.  Now each of them has to lead the other’s life until they can figure a way to change back to their own time period, assuming they still want to.  

Why did you write the book?
 Jan: I was inspired by a box of old photographs of an Arizona mining camp in 1907.

How long did it take you to write it?
Jan:  It had been in my head since 1989.  I just kept playing around with different ideas and never got serious about it.  Finally, I wrote a 15 page publication about the mining camp, using the photos, called “The Quest for Oro Belle.”   That inspired me to write the novel.  I’m not sure how long it actually took.  But without the help of the Alpine Writers Guild I might still be procrastinating.

What is your favorite line in the book?
Jan:  “Paula awoke with the feeling she was being watched.”  I always thought it would make a great first line in a book.  It’s the first line in one of my chapters when Paula first arrives in1907.

Is it published?  If so, where and by whom?
Jan:  Yes, I self published it online in 2011 through

Where can people buy your book?
Jan:  Currently only through me.  Email me at

What’s next for you?
Jan:  I have several things in the works.  But I just got an idea for a
children’s book, so I may put the others on hold and write that first.   

Thank you, Jan.  I read the book and it kept me intrigued from beginning to end!

Travel Tip:  When you travel, take a journal.  You never know when you might want to jot something down so you don't forget the event, the sight, the memory.

Friday, March 16, 2012

An Unlikely Hero

The following is an excerpt from my books, Bumps Along the Way.  We had just arrived in Connecticut at my sister's house after four weeks on the road:

            The next day I discovered that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.  They don’t all wear capes or have a red S on their chest.  And they don’t all fly, leap, soar, spin webs or look like a bat.  Some heroes, like Fred, are sixty years old, paunchy, balding, wear shorts, and have trouble walking, never mind flying. 
Fred and my 73-year-old brother-in-law, Joe, were preparing to make a quick run to the store to buy groceries for an evening cookout.  Fred turned to me and asked, “Do you need anything from the store while we’re out?”
I wasn’t feeling up to going with them, and never thinking for a minute that he would agree to it, I said, “Yes, actually, I need lip liner.”
“Lip liner?” he asked, looking at me as though I had just lost my marbles.
“Yes, and it has to be plum.  The one I brought from home finally wore out and I had to toss it.  Now I have nothing to line my lips with.” 
            “Lip liner,” he muttered, “and it has to be plum.” 
The two men took off, shopping list in hand.  I would have sold my soul to be able to watch those two clueless men walking up and down the make-up aisle trying to figure out what lip liner was, what the packaging looked like, and what brand to get.  And accomplishing that, checking every color of every lip liner to make sure they got plum. 
When they arrived back at the house a couple of hours later, Fred reached in the grocery sack, tossed me a package and said, “There’s your darn lip liner.”  I checked and sure enough, it was lip liner and it was plum.  My hero is alive and well and racking up husband points faster than I can cash them in.

Travel Tip #1:  When you go on a long trip, take plenty of make-up with you.
Travel Tip #2:  Take a night light with you to provide light in a strange hotel room or even a guest house.

Bumps Along the Way
If You Don't Like Worms, Keep  Your Mouth Shut,
Coming Soon:  Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author,  through Unlimited Publishing.  
You may write me at

Friday, March 9, 2012

Busted in Las Vegas

Fred and I drove to Las Vegas last week to meet up with our daughter and son-in-law who were at a Matco convention.  We had reservations for the Imperial Palace because, a) it was right across the street from where our daughter was staying, and b) it was only $20 a day.  Travel Tip:  You get what you pay for!  Suffice it to say, the hotel left a lot to be desired.  Even with a GPS, we couldn't find the hotel, which just shows how crowded and on top of each other the hotels were.  We finally found the entrance, by going through the back and driving the wrong way down a one-way street.  We were already in a foul mood by the time we checked in.  Seeing our room didn't help matters any, but we've stayed in worse. 

Trying to walk down the sidewalk on the Strip proved to be a harrowing adventure as we were accosted every few feet by people trying to hand us flyers for girls to be delivered to our room.  Why they thought I wanted one, I'll never know. 

Fred has a bad heart and has trouble walking any distance at all so, for the most part, we kept our car parked in valet service and took a taxi wherever we wanted to go.  Besides seeing our daughter and son-in-law, the best part of the trip was wandering through the Venetian Hotel.  Now there's a first-class hotel.  The four of us took a gondola ride through the canals of Venice, all inside the hotel.  We were told that couples are supposed to kiss when they go under the bridges and since our ride took us under fourteen bridges, Fred and I got our share of kissing in.  Our gondolier was a woman with a voice as clear and pure as fine crystal.  Fred said, "She has a voice I would pay to go hear." 

While in Vegas, the four of us took a car trip over to Boulder City to see Hoover Dam.  The dam was a magnificent engineering feat, but even more so, was the new bridge that was built a couple of years ago.  We parked the car at the entrance to the bridge and had to walk up either a ramp or steps to get to the actual bridge.  I walked half-way across the bridge, to where I could get a good picture of the dam.  The kids (well, they're kids to me) walked the length of the bridge, going from Nevada to Arizona, a distance of 1900 feet, and back.  Oh, to be young(er) again.   Fred stayed at the entrance of the bridge and waited for us.

Our final highlight of the trip was a mystery dinner theater Friday night at the Fitzgerald Hotel, called, "Marriage Can be Murder."  It was the funniest thing we've seen in ages.  Almost everyone in the audience was involved in one way or another and we laughed from beginning of the show to the end.  If you're in the area, go see it.  You won't be sorry. 

We had planned to go from Vegas to Prescott, AZ to visit friends but changed our minds when we learned that Prescott is at an elevation of six thousand feet.  Fred's heart was put to the test in Las Vegas and didn't need any more stress put on it.   

We arrived home, broke and exhausted, but happy that we'd gotten to see our daughter and son-in-law.

Travel Tip:  Bring your own hangars, hotels seldom have enough.  If you're driving, putting your clothes on wire hangars will help them fit over the hook in the back seat easier.  Plastic hangars are too bulky.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Theodore Roosevelt