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In the beginning…

I’ve asked myself a thousand times how a simple newspaper article of fewer than one-hundred words had started my heart racing, fired my imagination, and steeled my determination locked and loaded. But why him and why me? What was there about that story about a...

Rocks and Sand

August 31, 1984. I wrote about this trip to the Miller/Campbell crime scene in the first chapter of my book. But now that I have a blog, I decided to include a few photos so readers could get the look and feel of what it was like for me to be there. John let me go...

The Peanut Wars

About halfway through my collaboration, lunchtime had become an uneasy truce. Most of my adult life, I never paid much attention to eating lunch at a certain time. If I was playing tennis or out with friends or working around the house, lunch happened when it...

Two Intruders, Four Victims, and A Brilliant Storyteller

I remember the chilly night in San Francisco, with the Bay Bridge off in the distance, when Truman Capote’s classic, In Cold Blood, lured me from a tiresome television program and into my reading chair wrapped in a blanket. I expected a fast-paced, true-crime thriller...

What are you doing here?

Summer, 1958. I was a thirteen-year-old geek with thick glasses, frizzy hair, a scruffy dog named Laddie, and two girlfriends who lived up the street. Our family lived in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago. My father was a corporate attorney; my mother was a housewife and...

The Clutter House: Murder in the Heartland

I can almost remember the scene – clear as Autumn in the Sierras, when in 1967 I purchased a book I'd been anxious to read in an airport bookstore, Truman Capote's, In Cold Blood. I was in the spacious Pacific Heights living room I shared with five fellow...

Serengeti and The Circle of Life

October 2019 --Serengeti National Park. Dawn broke over the wide plains of the Serengeti with the power and perfection of a Turner landscape. Sunlight cast a soft brilliance over celery-colored grasses and the famed, flat-topped Umbrella Thorn trees favored by...

Jane and Jonathan at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference

June 1984. I hadn’t noticed the man in back of me as I stood in line to pay for my breakfast at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara – home of the famed Santa Barbara Writer’s conference. I’d just spoken to the young man who’d waited on our table about the difference...

The Great Frog Launch

August 31, 1984. I’ve never been a big fan of birthday parties, birthday cake, birthday bottles of perfume, and a day that celebrates getting older. But Detective John St. John believed in birthdays as much as I believed in the ASPCA, voting, the value of long walks,...

Peanut-Butter & Jelly Kid

A few months ago, our writing group leader asked, "How many of you can pinpoint the moment you realized you had to tell your story?" One of the many pivotal moments I had while writing my book wasn't the morning I read a newspaper article about a legendary detective...

Hat Squad

Camarillo, California. Summer,1990. John St. John and I had been working on a chapter for way too long. I suggested we have an iced tea break, but first, I had a question. “I looked through some of the photographs you gave me and wondered - what was the deal with the...

John St. John: “I Will Stand in The Victim’s Shoes.”

Chapter Six of my manuscript titled “Jailbreak” tells the story of the deadly attack on young jailer, John St. John, by a savage prisoner that almost cost the future detective his life. February 27, 1947.  John St. John was twenty-seven, single, living with his...

A Writer’s Responsibility

August 22, 2020. My husband, Jim, and I are in the middle of a move. Any of you who have gone through a Bekins experience know the drill. The stack of cardboard boxes piled to the ceiling, crumpled packing paper underfoot, the midnight search for a blanket, a dog...
In the beginning…

In the beginning…

I’ve asked myself a thousand times how a simple newspaper article of fewer than one-hundred words had started my heart racing, fired my imagination, and steeled my determination locked and loaded. But why him and why me? What was there about that story about a...

read more
Rocks and Sand

Rocks and Sand

August 31, 1984. I wrote about this trip to the Miller/Campbell crime scene in the first chapter of my book. But now that I have a blog, I decided to include a few photos so readers could get the look and feel of what it was like for me to be there. John let me go...

read more
The Peanut Wars

The Peanut Wars

About halfway through my collaboration, lunchtime had become an uneasy truce. Most of my adult life, I never paid much attention to eating lunch at a certain time. If I was playing tennis or out with friends or working around the house, lunch happened when it...

read more
What are you doing here?

What are you doing here?

Summer, 1958. I was a thirteen-year-old geek with thick glasses, frizzy hair, a scruffy dog named Laddie, and two girlfriends who lived up the street. Our family lived in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago. My father was a corporate attorney; my mother was a housewife and...

read more
Serengeti and The Circle of Life

Serengeti and The Circle of Life

October 2019 --Serengeti National Park. Dawn broke over the wide plains of the Serengeti with the power and perfection of a Turner landscape. Sunlight cast a soft brilliance over celery-colored grasses and the famed, flat-topped Umbrella Thorn trees favored by...

read more
The Great Frog Launch

The Great Frog Launch

August 31, 1984. I’ve never been a big fan of birthday parties, birthday cake, birthday bottles of perfume, and a day that celebrates getting older. But Detective John St. John believed in birthdays as much as I believed in the ASPCA, voting, the value of long walks,...

read more
Peanut-Butter & Jelly Kid

Peanut-Butter & Jelly Kid

A few months ago, our writing group leader asked, "How many of you can pinpoint the moment you realized you had to tell your story?" One of the many pivotal moments I had while writing my book wasn't the morning I read a newspaper article about a legendary detective...

read more
Hat Squad

Hat Squad

Camarillo, California. Summer,1990. John St. John and I had been working on a chapter for way too long. I suggested we have an iced tea break, but first, I had a question. “I looked through some of the photographs you gave me and wondered - what was the deal with the...

read more

Facebook Posts

Jane Howatt - Author
Three Friends start the Adventure of the Month ClubMy two best friends lived just a few houses away in a new development of homes in Camarillo, California. Aileen and her physician husband lived in a house with the look and feel of an English country home. Diana and her husband were still moving into the house they built that had a large fence to contain their Australian Kelpie. Jim and I had recently purchased a Mediterranean-style house with a row of Acacia trees leading to the front door.One evening, after listening to our husbands engaged in a spirited conversation, we talked about how complicated and crazy our lives had become. Aileen worked non-stop on legal cases. Diana felt exhausted after their transition from apartment to house. I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of submissions, edits, and rewrites. We all wanted a break from mayhem - a pathway to adventure of some sort. We opened a bottle of wine and began imagining. Traveling was out. Trips to LA didn’t cut it. Maybe a class? But what in? Painting? Improv? How to play the drums? Photography? Study the origin of barns in America? We agreed the theme should be adventure, but where would we find it? I had an idea.Why not start a club? We’d call it the Adventure of the Month Club. Each month we’d dream up an adventure, plan it, play it out then plan another one. It beat getting on an airplane and going to Iceland, or getting mixed up in some silly, hairbrained scheme. We decided for our first adventure, we’d visit the Reagan Library. Aileen and Diana would dress in red (his favorite color) and I’d wear white. We’d tour the library then drive to a nearby restaurant that featured a Western theme, BBQ menu and a hitching post outside since Reagan loved horses. We planned to bring excerpts from Reagan’s speeches, and read them on the way to the library thinking his words would set the stage. I read one of Reagan’s most memorable speeches: “It’s morning in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history.” The words felt sunny and safe. Aileen read excerpts from his speech with Mikhail Gorbachev by his side: “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!” The words felt like they came from a leader who could make another leader tear down a wall. Diana remembered his speech when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew apart on January 28, 1986: “The future does not belong to the faint hearted; it belongs to the brave. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning as they prepared for their journey, waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” Speech writing at it's best. The Oval Office set up, complete with matching sofas in winter white, matching pillows the color of apricots, a vase of roses, photos of Nancy and “Ronnie” riding horseback at Camp David and photos of Reagan with Margaret Thatcher painted a picture of a man comfortable with himself, his place in history and most of all – how happy and content he was to be with the woman he loved. We decided creating our own adventures would be better than any airplane trip. ... See MoreSee Less
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