Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It Seems Funny Now

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  First administrative stuff: the winners of the Charlie book of your choice are: Kiki, Tricia, and Terri Lynn! (Email me at  And thank you so much for entering the giveaway! (Click here! One day left to go! Two books for the price of one!)

Now. Today. You know what it is to be asked for a blurb—an author (or agent or editor) contacts you and asks very sweetly if you would read a new book with an eye to a blurb. Saying “yes” usually means you’ll do it. So if you don’t know the author, it’s a bit of a potentially sticky situation.
But when Jane Haseldine’s editor asked me, and I saw Jane’s résumé,—I thought—this is not a tough call. She’s a journalist. Like me. And she was a press secretary-ish to an elected official. Like I was.  So, I thought, it’ll be fine.

I was wrong. It is TERRIFIC. I zoomed through The Last Time She Saw Him, and happily heaped lavish praise. You will love it.  I also wanted you to meet her.

And happily, you’re meeting her here. And not on one specific day in college.


During one of my first classes freshman year at Syracuse University, I inadvertently flashed a hundred students my underwear.

It happened during a chemistry class. I was a journalism major, but I had to take chemistry as a prerequisite because the school thought every student needed a balanced education, although I don’t think I’ve ever once busted out the periodic table to help me navigate through my days.

That morning, I was running late. I was wearing a long skirt, and during my rush to get to class, I didn’t realize that a wasp had hitched a ride underneath it. With seconds to go before the class started, the only seats available were in the front row. About one minute into the lecture, the wasp decided it didn’t like hanging out under my skirt anymore and started stinging me with a vengeance. My reaction? I jumped out of my seat and lifted my skirt up, desperate to get the wasp out. And 100 or so kids saw my underpants. Way to make a good impression when you’re eighteen and nothing matters more.

I was sure that humiliation would haunt me forever. But somehow, I’d forgotten it, until recently when my debut novel was published.

For me, it’s been beyond thrilling to have my story become something people can actually read instead of a work in progress on my computer.  But it has also made me feel exposed, something I wasn’t expecting. My husband, who I met at a newspaper where he covered politics and I was on the crime beat, nailed it when he told me I was probably feeling that way because the story had been my lifeline.

He was right.

During the course of writing the book, my mom, a former journalist who named me Jane Eyre, took me to the library every Saturday growing up, and read me, “And Then There Were None,” when I was 11, was going through the last stage of Alzheimer’s. When my mom forgot her words that she had once spoken more eloquently than anyone else I’d ever met, or the time she’d looked at my newborn son and said, “What a beautiful baby. I bet your mother is proud,” I threw myself into writing the story. It was my own version of therapy I guess. Just like she was a writer, I was too, and I felt like if I could keep writing the story, somehow, I could hold onto her.

Silly the stuff we think sometimes.

The month I landed a literary agent, my mom died after her battle with a cruel disease. When the book was released, letting it go had taken on a deeper meaning for me.

I remember after the college underwear-baring incident, I called my mom, always calm, always classy, and always my motivation to keep pushing forward.

Her first comment was, “Oh dear.” And then after listening to me blather on, I could tell she was trying not to laugh. In hindsight, it was pretty funny. But I’ve never forgotten what she told me next. She said it might seem horrible now, but that I’d be okay. No, I couldn’t quit school and come home. I had to hold my head up and keep going forward. And if that’s all I could do, well, that would be enough, and I’d be all right.

I think if my mom were here, she’d tell me to enjoy the moment, that beautiful memories are the bond, not words in a book. But more importantly, I think she’d tell me to keep moving forward.

Who inspires you most?

HANK: Wait. Your real name is Jane Eyre? I love it. Oh. (I used to hate my first name, Harriet, so much that for a brief while, until my mom found out, I told people my name was Evangeline. I was, like, fourteen.)

So yes, Reds. Two possible questions. Who inspires you most? Or: did you ever make up a name?

The Last Time She Saw Him is the first book in the new Julia Gooden mystery series by Kensington Publishing and was released in July 2016.

A crime reporter searching for her kidnapped son must untangle the connection to her brother’s long ago disappearance.

Julia Gooden remembers nothing about the worst night of her life. Thirty years ago, her nine-year-old brother Ben—the person who promised he would always protect her—was abducted from the room they shared. Try as she might to recall any clue or detail, there is a black hole where Julia’s memories of that terrible event should be.

Now a crime reporter at a Detroit newspaper, Julia tries to give others the closure she’s never found. But guilt and grief over Ben’s disappearance have left her fearful that whoever took her brother is going to come back. Nowhere seems safe—not the city, not the suburbs, not even the secluded lake town where she plans to raise her children. And then, on the anniversary of Ben’s disappearance, Julia’s worst fears are realized when her two-year-old son, Will, is snatched from his bed.

Convinced that the crimes are related, Julia tries to piece together memories from her final day with Ben. Are the sudden reminders of her brother clues that will lead her to her son’s abductor, or merely coincidence? Julia knows she has hours at best to find Will alive, but the deeper she digs, the more personal and terrifying the battle becomes, and an undying promise may be her only hope of saving herself and her son.

Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer and deputy director of communications for a governor. Jane resides in Southern California with her husband and two young sons. You can find Jane at, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.


  1. Congratulations, Jane . . . your book sounds quite intriguing and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I chuckled over the wasp and got teary-eyed over your loss of your mom . . . perhaps the things we sometimes think are really our hearts helping us hold on in difficult times.

    Who inspires me? My mom always believed in me and my girls often have far more faith in me than I have in myself. Definitely inspiring . . . .

  2. Congratulations, Jane, on the publication of your first novel, "The Last Time She Saw Him". I have added this title to my TBR list. I am sure we all have had humiliating moments that we thought would haunt us forever, and that wasp story was a funny one.

    My mother was the person who inspired me most. She always supported my unorthodox career ambitions, and she was the first person I called when I had both good and bad news to share. She always had a sympathetic ear and gave me the best advice. I do miss her dearly.

  3. And two more winners: Grace you win Branson Beauty! Bev Fontaine wins Crowned and Dsngerous !

  4. Cool! Thanks, Hank, for the great news!

  5. This really has me thinking! The Olympics of course is fodder for that-although trying to think of someone who really changed my life, has to be parents. I hope they understood that.

  6. Congratulations on the book, Jane! I look forward to reading it. My sympathies on your mother, who blessed her child with a wonderful name.

    My grandmother inspired me. She was widowed early and had a rough life, but she was always ready to tell a story, always appreciated a handsome man, and always cooked a fabulous meal.

  7. Oh, my, Jane! Bless your dear mother for her sage advice. She left you with a wonderful legacy, didn't she? And Jane Eyre! Wow.

    In high school one of my friends, walking up the stairs in between classes, lost her wool pleated uniform skirt. After four years the button at the waist just gave up the ghost and it fell to her ankles. She wasn't wearing a slip that day, either. I admired her aplomb when she gathered it back up, grabbed it together, and headed to the office for a safety pin.

    When I was little one of my aunts called me Lucy, which I always loved. Karen does not lend itself to nicknames, and so I decided that was mine (my middle name is Louise, you see).

  8. Oh, names. I hated mine so much, continuing this theme :-) My sister Nina and I used to send in for 8 x 10 photos of movie stars… I know, this is dating me horribly…! And I would use more glamorous names than my own. One day my mom came into my room, holding a manila envelope that had just arrived in the mail. Who, she asked, is Rita Capri?

  9. Jane is on the West Coast, and will be here later today! But I can't wait for her to tell us more about the book…
    It's Very psychological, and I'd love to know how she researched that.

  10. Yes, Karen, it was the most glamorous name I could think of. Xx

  11. Names. Mine is boring. No nicknames. But I am the fifth Mary (first daughter) in a row in my family and my daughter is the sixth. Mary the Fifth. Sounds kind of royal, doesn't it?

    Jane, that story was so funny. Sorry. I'm sure it was horrifying at the time. Stories like this are why my girl says everybody wears shorts under their uniform skirts - and it's an all girls school!

    Inspirations? Definitely my paternal grandmother and mother. Both of whom just never gave up and kept going. My grandmother took no crap. Just quietly went about what she wanted to do. And my mother's father told her he'd "flip" if she ever got a college degree. By the time she died in 2001 she had two associate's degrees, a bachelor's and a master's - more than her more "intelligent" siblings.

    The book sounds fabulous!

  12. It's interesting--in a cultural anthropological kind of way..if that wasp incident happened today, with you in college today, do you think your response would have been different?

    (This is Hank by the way…)

  13. Jane, your book sounds fabulous! What a great hook. I'm looking it up just as soon as I post this comment.

    The wasp story! Oh, my. That's even worse than not knowing your skirt is tucked up in your panties, or trailing a roll of toilet paper inadvertently behind you... All of which seem like good reasons not to wear dresses...

    I have much empathy for your story about your mom. I lost both parents to Alzheimer's. It is devastating. There are still days when I find myself thinking that I'll call my mom and tell her about something... I was enormously inspired by my parents, and by my maternal grandmother, who helped raise me, taught me to read, and told me from the time I was very small that I could be anything I wanted to be.

    Oh, nicknames. I hated Debbie, which is what I was called by everyone who knew me my entire life, until I published my first book and told everyone NOT TO EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN. That took a huge boost of confidence. When I was about eleven, I decided I wanted to be called Denny. It didn't take, obviously, but readers of the upcoming book may get a kick out of knowing that.

  14. Hank again: Debs--where did Denny come from?

  15. Hello everyone! Sorry for my delay in responding! I'm on the West Coast and just got my kids off to camp. I love everyone's stories that you all shared about who inspires you and your nicknames! I actually thought my name was "Jane Air" not "jane Eyre" until I was 8. We had a substitute teacher in the third grade who made every kid get up in front of the class and say their full name. I said my first and middle names were "Jane Air," and I'm pretty sure the substitute thought my mom was a hippy (which wouldn't have been a bad thing!).

    Good question, Hank, on how things might be different if the wasp incident happened today. With everyone on the ready with their cell phones and on social media, I would shudder to think the event would be captured in a photograph and shared. I'm turning red just thinking about it!

  16. Go, Orange! I went to high school right outside of Syracuse, in the town my folks still live in. I almost went to SU, but when my parents said I'd have to commute from home...

    Jane, your book sounds almost too scary to read - I'll have to keep one eye closed. (As a mother, having a child kidnapped or threatened is much more frightening than a serial killer or terror plot.)

    Most embarrassing moment: working as a waitress in an upstate NY resort. In the huge industrial sized kitchen, we had these hokey plastic-covered motivational posters. Everybody joked about them. One lunchtime, as I was waiting with a bunch of other waitresses for an order to complete, I took a spoonful of mashed potato and gave the smiling motivational guy a fluffy white beard.

    When I turned around, the owner was standing there.

    My mortification was only made worse by the knowledge that I was in the wrong. I think I had a red face for a week afterwards!

  17. Jane again here. I'm rereading all the comments and everyone this morning has made me both laugh and tear up at the same time!

  18. Jane,

    Congratulations on your new book! It's on my TBR list. Did you like being named after Jane Eyre?


    Is Harriet a family name - perhaps your great grandmother? The name Harriet seems to be from the Victorian era? Interesting about names.

    Who inspired me?

    My Mom, my maternal grandmother and my suffragette great grandmothers. They marched for the women's right to vote! I come from a line of strong women.

    My maternal grandfather also inspired me.

    Great post as usual.

    I wish I had won your book, Hank, though I think my library will have a copy of Drive Time. They have all of your books :-)


  19. Running out to the eye doc--all fine, just a checkup Cannot await to see the big E on the chart--and for the first time, not have it be fuzzy!

    Jane, you're in charge.Back soon! xooo

  20. Embarrassing moments--oh, when I get back, remind me about the chicken dance. IN the realm of the mashed potato mustache, Which was, hey, pretty funny, Julia!

  21. I can't wait to hear about the chicken dance, Hank!

    I appreciate that my mom named me Jane Eyre now. Someone asked me recently if I named my sons after literary characters. I never thought about it! I named my boys Nash and Beck (with a first name of Jane, I wanted names for them to be unique). Hmmm. Maybe I should have thought of Heathcliff.

    Julia, I totally understand about kidnapping being a scary theme! As parents, that's our worst fear. That's one of the reasons I chose that storyline, writing about what scares me the most. But, yes, that's truly frightening. I never had to cover child abduction cases as a newspaper reporter (I consider myself lucky for that), but those stories are the worst.

  22. I have to say both my parents inspired me. They had a lot to deal with through raising 5 kids and handled what life threw at them. My name is Patricia Ann and I was never particularly fond of it. Way back when there were always a ton of Pat/Patricia/Patty etc in school. I swear there were usually at least 2 or 3 of us in class together in elementary school. Husband, Mom, and friends call me Pat. Siblings call me Trish.
    Your book sounds exciting Jane!

  23. Thank you, Pat! Wow five kids! So wonderful that both your parents inspired you. I personally really like the name Patricia. That was my college roommate's name (I called her Patty), and she remains one of my all-time favorite people. So, great name!

  24. Congratulations Jane. What a compelling story. I am so sorry about your Mom, but I think you're right, she'd tell you to keep moving forward, and she gave you the gift of words. How lovely. For me the polestar was a nun. She taught me more about writing and self-confidence in the face of fear than anyone I've ever met. When I get stuck, or in over my head, I think of Sr. Marie Therese.

  25. Thank you, Kait. And thank you for sharing your story. Sr. Marie Therese sounds like she must have been a remarkable influence. How lucky we all are to have those people in our lives to guide us along the way.

  26. Chicken dance. I had never heard of it, and my producer Mary was aghast. I'll find it for you on YouTube, she said one day at work. I cannot believe you not know it. It's SO stupid. So of course I was eager to hear and see the video.

    In a different track of the story, we had a new news director at Channel 7. I've been through 18 of them so far, so this was maybe number 14. It's always fine, and sometimes really fine, but this one was still iffy. And everyone was still trying to impress her.

    So. Picture me in the hall of the special projects department, the office door of the office I share with my producer open behind me. JUST as the News Director enters the hall, JUST as she walks in, Mary yells: "Okay, Hank, I found the Chicken Dance! Come watch it!"'

  27. I love the chicken dance, and your story!

  28. I remember when the chicken dance appeared. We were living in Ohio and one of the news stations showed a traveling Pole demonstrating what became known as the chicken dance. It was a staple at Ohio wedding receptions for years.

  29. I mean--how silly is the Chicken dance? Ridiculous! xooxo

  30. DIANA, I was named Harriet after my great grandfather, Harry. As the story goes, he introduced my father to the music of Mozart, so my naming was the thank you for that. So that's..nice, even if I didn't always love the name.

    And let me know if your library has DRIVE TIME, etc! I can send you some Charlie loot to take to the librarian!

  31. Jane Eyre! What a wonderful name you have and what a great mother you had to name you that. The wasp up your skirt story was an embarrassing one for sure, but you mother's advice was spot on. I will say that if you kept the skirt on, I think you were doing very well indeed. If I had a wasp up my skirt and it was stinging me, I whip that skirt off, embarrassment be damned. Congratulations on your book, Jane. The Last Time She Saw Him sounds like a great read.

    Sorry I posted so late tonight. Busy day.

  32. Hi Kathy! I love the fact you'd be bold enough to whip your skirt off if you were being stung by a wasp! You are much braver than me! Thank you for the kind comments on the book.

  33. HANK,

    That's a great story about your great grandfather!

    Turns out that my library only has your Jane Ryland series. However, I was able to order your book through the interstate library system and will be able to pick up Drive Time at my library. That's good news :-)

    Thank you!

  34. If for no other reason than your fabulous name, I'm putting this on my TBR list, even though I normally back away from this subject.
    My friend, Ellen once walked two blocks up a busy street, and into an auto garage to meet with three mechanics before being stopped by a shopper in a boutique to be told her full skirt was tucked up into her panty hose...and of course she wasn't wearing panties. Thirty years later she's still mortified.

    Jane, be thankful your dear mother wasn't a fan of Thomas Hardy; imagine introducing yourself to that teacher as Bathsheba Everdene.

    Rita Capri... I just love it! If you ever manage to involve a fan dancer (talk about dating yourself!) in one of your books, you won't have to struggle to name her.

    On a less humorous note, my mom thought Wendelyn Frances a suitable name for a helpless seven pound newborn. And at ninety-two she still declares it a "beautiful name". Age does not guarantee wisdom.

  35. My name is Lark. Of course I made up names! Lauren, Lee, Layla--and for some obscure reason my father called me Greta all my childhood/teenage years and lots of people thought that was my real name. Now I like it--people name their children such outlandish things these days it seems tame. But at fourteen and later when I was starting out in a marketing career--Lark was more of a curse than a blessing.