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Point of View: Meet the Author

Hey all… in the midst of all the angst in the world, I wanted to counter-program for a week, so I thought I’d do one of those “meet the author” things, and share a few bits you may not know about me. So strap in and enjoy!

1) I Speak (Kinda) Fluent Italian

Back in 2005, when Mark and I were planning our first trip to Italy, we decided we needed to learn a little of the language so we could get by on the basics – you know, “We’d like a table for two.” “Ice, please.” And “Where’s the bathroom?” We took a five week course at our local Italian Center and had a great time in Rome, Florenece, Venice, and assorted other towns in between. When we started to plan our next trip to Il Bel Paese (the beautiful country), we decided to try it again, but for real this time. We’d loved spending the time together out of the office doing something fun and constructive, and now we run a group of Italian students who study together every Tuesday.

2) My First Name is Not Jehosephat

Folks often assume that the “J.” at the start of my name must cover up something embarrassing. After all, why else would I hide it and use my middle name instead? Well, no, it’s a perfectly respectable name – Jonathan – and there’s anther reason I don’t use it as my primary name. As it was told to me, on my father’s side of the family, there’s a tradition to name the firstborn son of each generation John or William. My Dad is William, and my Grandpa Coatsworth was John. I’ve since been able to verify through some genealogical research that this is true, and goes back six generations. Thing is, my mom was not overly fond of my dad’s father, so they compromised. They would name me Jonathan, and call me Scott. And so a pretentious writer name was born.

3) I Can’t Grow Zucchinis for Shit

I have a green thumb. I’ve always been able to keep my houseplants alive and thriving (sometimes to the point where they make my hubby crazy. Mark adds “when they become overgrown and start to take over our small living space”). I do well in the garden, too, and each year I learn a little more. This year, I overcame spider mites, and had so many tomatoes I had to give them away. But one thing eludes me. The supposed fecundity of the zucchini. Every year, I plant them, hoping for that fabled endless harvest. And every year, I get three rather modest squash, and then kaput. Is there such a thing as a Zucchini Death Thumb?

4) I Have Worked In Almost Every Part of the Book Biz

When I was in high school, I wrote a series of essays about parents and teenagers for my English Teacher in junior year. Turns out she was dating a publisher, and he was looking for titles for a new YA series. Raising Each Other is my first professional writing credit (written with the other four students and our teacher who compiled the book), earned when I was twenty, and led to a job at Hunter House Publishing as their Customer Service, Marketing and Promotion Manager (yes, they were a small press). From there, I transitioned to the book distribution business, working for four years as the Key Contacts Customer Service Rep for Publisher’s Group West. A little while later, I spent two years as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. And now I am a published author, publisher in my own right, and a committee chair at the Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers’ Association. So I’ve worn almost all the hats!

5) I Cheated My Way Into a Gifted Students Program

When I was in kindergarten, our teacher sent us home with a letter for our parents. I got onto the bus, pulled it out and pretended to read it, and was seen by one of the teachers, who suggested to my mother that I apply to the GATE (Gifted and Talented) education program for the school district. I did (and I had to pass a test, so I wasn’t a complete cheat LOL). To this day I don’t know what that notice said.

6) I’ve Been Paid for My Silence. Twice.

I was a chatty child. The kind you wish would just shut up, even if you have to pay them to do so. When I was accepted to the GATE program, I had an hour-long bus ride both to and from school. I sat in the front, where I would eat and talk with the bus driver. One day, he turned to me and said “Hey kid, if you can be quiet the entire ride tomorrow, I’ll give you $5.” So the next day, I brought my stack of Charlie Brown books with me (why I remember that detail, I don’t know) and the whole way there I didn’t say a word. At school, he paid me the $5, but a teacher saw it, and took it away from me, telling both of us it wasn’t appropriate. The next day, there was an evnelope in our mailbox, with a note: “He won it, fair and square.”

Years later, at Publisher’s Group West, I started whistling Cristmas songs all day – in July. One of my co-workers offered me $20 to stop for a week, and soon was joined by four others. I nearly blew it several times, and once in a while I’d head to the supplies room, close the door, and whistle Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer softly under my breath. I made it, and collected a cool $100 at the end of the week.

So there you go – now you know that I’m a lying, cheating, Christmas song whistling, bilingual publishing expert with a silly name story and a zucchini death wish.

To my writer friends, what don’t we know about you?

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