About Me

Even though I’ve lived than half my life living in North Dakota, I still call myself a Southerner. I think that comes from a heritage of blood more than place since I feel a kin-ness with the hearty mountain survivors of Appalachia. And, to some extent I have found that here in North Dakota among people who embrace a strong work ethic and who never seem to be very far from the wheat and potato fields that feed them and the world.

But I do come from a long line of storytellers and liars, especially one uncle who couldn’t read or write himself but who kept me spellbound as a child with his elaborate tales of hunting, fishing, and local haints. I think what talent I have for spinning a tale must have come from him.

I was lucky enough, though, to have a mother who valued education, but who only went to the third grade herself. She wanted her children to know about symphonies and operas and live theater–and valued poets as if they walked on misty clouds of arcane knowledge.  My brother and I were the only two of a wagon load of cousins who ever finished high school and I was the only one to finish college—though I didn’t do that until I was seeing the end of my fourth decade.

I earned a  degree in anthropology from the University of North Dakota and took a concentration in English (mainly credits for all of the intro English courses I took between when I first started college in night school twenty years before and taking graduate level writing seminars when I returned to finish my undergrad degree in anthropology).

Anthropology was my second love to writing and represented the unquenchable curiosity I possess that often informs my freelance journalism career, explaining the broadness of my writing credits.

I had always written stories–ever since I was nine or ten years old.  I took a creative writing course when I was a junior in high school and had an instructor who wanted to see us published. So, I sold my first work at 16–but it wasn’t fiction; it was an essay and later I had two poems published.

I wrote off and on for the next forty years, after I married, moved to North Dakota, and raised two children. I wrote and edited a lot of newsletters for non-profit organizations, tutored adults in writing skills, and wrote and edited materials for college professors (before I had even earned my degree).

In the interim, I have been a radio announcer, a booking agent and publicist for a groove/funk band, and a yoga instructor who also taught relaxation techniques in small rural towns in the region.

In 2000, I began writing full-time as a freelance journalist. My  work has appeared in regional, national, and international publications. I co-wrote two books with Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox: The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book, and published a writing manual called, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! I also launched my own online music publication this year, Refrain Magazine (www.refrainmagazine.com), covering live music in the Upper Midwest.

I have been making a living as a journalist for almost ten years, but something was missing. I wanted to pull out all of those stories and novels I had stashed in drawers and get them circulating.

My first work of fiction, The Bowdancer, a fantasy romance novella, was published by Breathless Press in December 2009.   It will be the first of many books to come.

My husband, North Dakota singer/songwriter, Ron Franz, has been super supportive.  I think the reason we’ve been companions for over three decades is because we support each other’s creative pursuits.  And the arts have certainly be a part of our lives. Our daughter is a fiber artist who also works for the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and is married to an animator. Our son is the executive chef of The Toasted Frog, a high-end martini bistro here, and who plays drums and blues harmonica with local bands.

My mother passed before I met my husband, but I think she would have been very proud of him, especially because he’s a poet. And, I think she would have appreciated the creativity of our children. I just wonder what my uncle would say now about my storytelling?

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3 Responses to “About Me”

  1. What an interesting life you’ve led!

  2. Janie, you have really found your way in the world. Congrats to you!

  3. Im thoroughly intrigued to begin reading these. What an amazing accomplishment!! Good luck in all you pursue!

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