Who I Am

I’ve written books for large publishers, mid-sized publishers, small presses, and I’ve published a handful of books on my own. This is a good measure of how I live my life – “That sounds interesting, let’s check it out…”

I was born in Anchorage and grew up in South-central Alaska. I’m a third generation Alaskan and much of my family lives in Canada and on the islands of Southeast Alaska.

I play mediocre guitar, am an amateur portrait photographer of people and horses, and I love being outside. When my parents retired, I had the VERY fortunate opportunity to sail with them in the Caribbean for a month. Twice. There’s nothing like the wind through the sails, except maybe the wind on my face when I’m riding my horse.

On my high school graduation night, I kissed a guy I’d wanted to kiss for a long time – we got married a few years later. We’ve survived military deployments, big moves, big school, building houses, and so much more. We now live in Colorado with our giant cat, two floofy dogs, and goofball mare.

When I was in high school, there were few things I wanted more than to write stories. Each time I finish a new project, I think about how much I wanted this, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love. Life is good.


 

A note from Jo –

I grew up with the kind of dad who used a lighter to detect possible gas leaks in gas lines. A dad who said things like, “They let electricians do it! Of course you can wire your house!”

Because of this line of thinking, and my mother’s ENDLESS patience and support, I competitively show-jumped, I went to college, I became a teacher, I tried new things. Every year. At least one. Because of this dad, I drew plans for a house, because hey, they let architects do it! And then twice (because much like childbirth, you forget the pain) we built two houses starting with the plans, all the way to the final bits of paint on the walls. And there is nothing like building your own home.

But when it came to thing that I wanted to do more than anything else, that thing that felt so unattainable, I put off trying. I put it off by switching away from an English major in college. By keeping only a moderate journal. By quashing the idea as soon as it formed.

And then blogging became a thing. A big thing. Everyone had a blog! Even stay at home mom’s like me! And it was a struggle learning to stay home with the same single, small person every day after herding classrooms of middle and high school students. So I began to blog. The first ones were clunky, but they got better, more succinct. The writing came easier. Sharing small stories about our day became easier. That brilliant part of storytelling where some tidbit from the beginning, comes back around in the end… That got easier too.

So, one day I’m playing my guitar (guitarists do it!) and I had this idea for a story. We were feeling particularly broke at the time (student loans – almost everyone does it!) and driving up the road when I mentioned having this idea for a scene or story, and my husband said, “Why don’t you write that down? Just for fun?”

He had no idea what he would start with those few words.

I’ve been publishing for over twelve years, worked with five publishers, done literary internships, switched agents, seen a few successes and many failures. There’s no place I’d rather be.

~ Jo

“While the subject matter is tough, this realistic title will draw teens in with its believable characters, including the well-written portrayal of the adult protagonists.”

School library journal on Stronger Than you know

 

%d bloggers like this: