Orlando Prize Winner for Flash Fiction*

“The Street Artist” instantly immersed me in the story moment. From sentence one, I am the mime, playing to the shivering crowd, sizing up the cop, trying not to think too much about my pissed off boyfriend. So when what happens happens, I am struck by the impact of immediacy, and left dazed in the aftermath, long after I’ve stopped reading.

This is a flash writer who knows how to put characters on stage with the gleam of just the right detail. The breezy voice of the narrator makes the reader feel like she and the mime are BFFs. And the twist at the end could have felt cheap, except the story earned it because that possibility was there all along, and no one is more surprised by the sudden violence than the narrator herself. So well crafted, with not a whiff of writerly-ness to diminish its power.         

--Joni B. Cole, Flash Fiction Judge, Fall 2015


The Street Artist

Judith Janeway

I don’t do that old trapped-in-a-box routine. Uh-huh. I’m an artist. I grow a giant flower from a seed. The tourists at the cable car turnaround love it. Makes them forget how cold they are in their shorts and sandals, fog whipping around their knees.

Don’t know why the lady cop picked that moment to bust me. Came right up, her cop stuff hanging off a black belt. Made her hips look huge.

She goes, “I want to talk to you.”

Like she didn’t get I’m a mime. Talk is what I don’t do. And where the hell was Digger when I needed him? I froze in the middle of watering my invisible flower and scoped the crowd. No Digger. Fucking rat. Must still be pissed that I’d slept with Jasmine. But like I’d said, “What about bisexual didn’t you understand?”

The cop scowled. “What’s your name?”

A by-the-book hard-ass, but she’d have to play by mime rules. So I gave her my “who me?” bit and added head scratching and squinting skyward like I was trying to remember. That got a laugh from the tourists but not from the cop. She stepped closer, hands on hips.

Just then Digger showed up in the crowd, glaring at me. He held up his hand like a gun, pointed and fired. Bang!

A mime would’ve grabbed her chest, staggered backward ten feet and fallen, all in slo-mo. But the cop just went down. Plop. And everyone screamed. Even me.

Los Angeles Review                                                                                                 Volume 18, Fall 2015

*The Orlando Prize was awarded by A Room Of Her Own Foundation.. In the Foundation's own words: "A Room of Her Own Foundation was founded in 2000 as a result of one woman's desire to help women in their artistic pursuits. Inspired by writer Virgina Woolf's words that a woman "must have money and a room of her own if she is to write," AROHO's founder realized that even in this millennium many female artists lack the privacy and financial stability essential to artistic output. Through its' generous grant program and unique writers' retreat experiences, A Room of Her Own Foundation serves to empower women and educate the community about the important work of female artists and writers.







The Magician's Daughter

I am so excited to announce the release of The Magician's Daughter. There's a delightful review on Amazon that I'm quoting here because everything the reviewer praises are all things I aimed to achieve in the book. Is that cool or what?

Excellent writing, fresh protagonist offer thriller enjoyment

by Carl Brookins
It is rare for a reviewer of crime fiction to encounter a truly fresh protagonist with a unique voice. Reviewers are reluctant to say so because we haven’t read everything, but I’m sticking my neck out here to suggest Valentine Hill, a busking, itinerant street magician with heady aspirations, is that character. She’s blunt, honest to a fault, scrappy, young and aggressive when necessary. She’s in Las Vegas as the tale begins, in the middle of a nine-year search for her mother. Not out of love, but because of some vital missing information in her life. Valentine wants a social security number and she wants to know her birthdate, her father’s name and where she was born. Her mother, Elizabeth is a grifter, highly adaptable, a consummate but amoral actress who used and abused her daughter, Valentine, in prior scams.
Valentine has learned from those experiences and become an honest magician, struggling through life. She learns her mother is probably in San Francisco. Her plan to go there are upset by her companion who steals her stash and disappears. When Valentine tracks her mother to an apartment in Pacific Heights, her world dissolves into mayhem, murder, multiple law enforcement operations and several characters who are not what they seem.
The novel is relentless, positing solution after explanation that dissolve almost as rapidly as they are presented, leaving the reader guessing as much as does poor Valentine. But then, even as the danger escalates, things begin to sort themselves and some really bad guys get conned out of their shorts. A fast, coherent, fully enjoyable novel featuring a young, vibrant protagonist. Highly recommended.

Sisters in Crime Fall Showcase

On Saturday, November 1, I had the honor to join a wonderful group of authors from Sisters in Crime for a reading at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, San Francisco. We all had books come out in the fall, so it was a great opportunity to get in on the newest and hottest releases.

SinC author showcase Nov 1_2014 pic3.jpg

Pictured right to left (click on the name for link to website):

Elin Barnes Smoke Screen

Martha Cooley Ice Shear

Dana Fredsti Plague World

Me reading from Odds of Dying (and blocking JJ Lamb from view, sorry JJ)

Bette and JJ Lamb  Bone of Contention

Carole Price  Sour Grapes

Cindy Sample  Dying for a Dude

Terry Shames  Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek

Kelli Stanley  City of Ghosts

Not pictured, Chris Swinney  Collectors, because he's a Deputy Sheriff and was called out to a homicide that morning. Does he have street creds for mystery writing or what?

As you can tell, my to-be-read bookshelf just added another stack. Hope you have a minute to check these writers out and see what books you need to add to your to-be-read list.

SinC author showcase Nov 1_2014 pic 1.jpg


Welcome to my website launch! Soon I’ll post regular blogs on this page. I plan to talk about  what I’ve learned about fiction writing and what has worked for me in my writing practice. If you’re a writer, thinking about writing, or are just plain nosy about what writers do and how they do it, please check in here.

I’m very pleased to announce that Poisoned Pen Press is launching the cover reveal for The Magician’s Daughter to coincide with this website launch. Please check out my books page for a view of the cover and blurb. This mystery/suspense will be released in February 2015.

I’ll be sending out a newsletter as well, and you are personally invited to sign up to receive it via email. See the sign up box on the right side of this page. I’ll never misuse or abuse your email, and you are free to unsubscribe at any time.

I have a special Freebie page, where I’ll be posting installments of Odds of Dying. This mystery novel is available for purchase as an eBook,  but I’ll be offering it free, a section at a time every week. It’s almost as if I’m channeling Charles Dickens. Okay—not really, but it’s still fun to give the book to you in this ‘to be continued’ format.

I’d love to hear your reactions, observations, and personal thoughts in the comments section. I very much look forward to hearing from you.