About Me

My desire to write has been trumped only by my desire to eat. So although I’ve wanted to make up stories ever since my mother told me the tales she read me were actually dreamed up by real people, not fairies, I always had a day job. And my day job turned into a rewarding forty-year-long career teaching English, first in high school and later in community college.

I was fifty when I wrote my first published effort, Going by the Book, winner of the James N. Britton Award. It’s a memoir about teaching high school English in New Haven, Connecticut in the Sixties and the teaching narratives that encouraged me.

Inspiration struck next in form of hot flashes. When I turned to fiction for a role model to mentor me through menopause, I found none, so I made one up and named her Bel Barrett. But, alas, I had no story to put Bel in. Then corrupt politicians threatened the very existence of the New Jersey community college where I taught.  In less time than it took me to nod to Agatha Christie, I made Bel Barrett a sweaty amateur sleuth in a series of mysteries in which she foils a rogues’ gallery of killers and crooks not unlike the real bribe-seeking boobs running Hudson County, NJ then.

Retiring gave me more time to write, but moving to western Washington proved disorienting. That disorientation inspired me to stop writing what I know and, instead, to research and write The Bones and the Book, a historical mystery set in Seattle’s Jewish community during the Gold Rush and in 1965. It’s due out in print and E-book formats from Oconee Spirit Press in October, 2012!

The Bones and the Book

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31 responses to “About Me

  1. Jane, thanks for linking to my Reading and Writing podcast.

  2. J. marshall Martin

    wow Jane and Happy Birthday….I think I have lots to read…your writings…and lots of talking with you here where we live.

    I look forward to each of you other 69 Birthday “Gifts”. Since we are of the same era, I expect to find many of my favs among them. Pat

  3. “My desire to write has been trumped only by my desire to eat…” Love it! I think I can relate, especially with the eating part. I look forward to hearing lots more from you as I embark on some writing endeavors of my own. Beautiful website and inspiring blog!!!

  4. Claudia Gary

    Happy birthday, Jane. I’m delighted to receive your blog! It will give me something to read until The Bones and the Book appears. I miss Bel and friends, so I’m eagerly awaiting your new book.

    As one of my muses, you’ve inspired me to finally do what my daughter keeps asking me to do. I’ve written a short story about the critters that keep showing up in my yard. No one has seen it yet, which means that it needs to tightly edited and completely rewritten! But at least it’s in my computer for my family to discover someday.

    I hope to be up your way in late summer this year.
    Claudia

  5. Jane my dear,
    I forgot you’re a year younger than me…you devil. The blog idea is brilliant. What fun and a great way to stay in touch. Can’t wait to read more.
    Love from Westport, CT,
    Kato

    • So glad to have you with me and back in touch, Kato. It wouldn’t be a big birthday without you. You gotn a fair number of thank- you notes from me way back when, right? And so glad you like my blog.

  6. Nini Oakley

    Hi Jane,
    So glad you are part of our IWC. And now you Leo girl will join our 70th. group of FOREVER-YOUNG-UNGS. Love your bloc but I am not a writer but a readers-reader. So wonderful to know you.
    Nini oakley

    • The Issaquah Women’s Club is still one of the best things about Issaquah! Thanks for reading my first post and hope you follow the ones to come. The world can not have too many “readers-readers,” Nini.

  7. Jim Siegendorf

    Happy Birthday, Cuz! You are one talented cookie!
    Love,
    Jim

  8. Joey Khoury

    Happy Birthday, Jane! I can’t believe you are seventy years young, but I can believe you are still as beautiful as you were when I first met you in 1996. Congratulations on this wonderful blog, on all the books you have written, and on living your life to its fullest. Retirement looks pretty darn good! I can’t wait till I get there. 🙂

    • So glad you like the blog, Joey. I hope lots of other librarians will like it too. It’s a lot of fun to do, even the techie tasks are starting to grow on me. 1996 was so many books ago! Glad we’re back in touch.

  9. Daisy Saxon

    Happy Birthday, fellow E.N. For years I’ve been waiting for the catalyst to switch me onto fiction . Jane, I found her. I’m a reader who needs a purpose or a goal to guide me. No more!

  10. Betty Anne

    Happy Birthday, Jane! I loved the Bel Barret series and can’t wait to read your next book.

  11. Carol Miller

    Dear Jane;

    Love your blog. Can’t wait to read your new book. remember how you loved to write for the school newspaper in Passaic – the humor was always great. Why did I think your birthday was in September? I must be losing it!!! It must be age!!!!!

    • Carol, you’re not losing it! My birthday is at the end of August, but it took me months to learn WordPress, so I decided to celebrate for as long as it takes me to thank all the authors I’m indebted to. I haven’t thought of the Hilltop Star in a while, but that was a fun gig.

  12. Jane,

    This is the first time I received notice of your blog and read with great interest of your fondness for Louisa Mae Alcott. “Jo” is the one who started me with writing and dreaming of being a writer. And love the accounts of your uncle, too.

    All the best,

    Pat Harrington

  13. Hi Jane Isenberg—you are getting some “ink” on the facebook page, hillhouse 67. I clearly missed a great deal by not “having” either you or Clara Gyorgey, but within a year or two was introduced to Williams and that other -berg from Passaic, Allen. And even to his father’s poetry, that of a h.s. English teacher with an institutionalized wife named Naomi. Of course I did not know at that time that my brother would marry Bel Kaufman’s niece, nor that I would one day name my own daughter Naomi, nor that I too would spend years in classrooms with adolescents (teaching “history”, trying not to go by the book). I was attracted at first to Robert Coles’ “The Call of Stories” and to Kieran Egan’s book on Imagination in teaching and learning. Random dots connecting at the margins. Best wishes, Michael Marcus

  14. Mary Hannum

    When do you expect the new book to appear? The Bones and the Book is it published? Or in the works?

    Thanks for your other books.

  15. Glad you are doing well. Congratulation for your hard work. Robert Clarence. robertclarence68@yahoo.com moved to jerseycity in a home/hospital. been diagnosed with copd, it’s a lung disease. .

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