Meet Jackie

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An Informal Bio

My adult life has been spent in the mid-south and north central New Jersey where I regaled anyone foolish enough to make eye contact with stories of my early childhood on a farming cattle ranch in central Texas.

My generation is the last to carry double first names. Mother was a romantic twenty-year-old when I was born and named me Jackie Lee because she thought it light and airy and suitable for a little girl born in the spring. Had I grown up to either sing rock ‘n roll or wrestle professionally, it would have been a great stage name.

I was educated in the central Texas public schools and attended the University of Texas where I met my husband. We married and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, his home town, where he took a job in the legal department of a pharmaceutical company. I kept house, had four children (Catholic, no rhythm), did yard work and worked as a volunteer. In my household, I’m in charge of poop, barf, and dead critters.

We’d still be living in our first house if the company hadn’t transferred my husband’s department to the home office in New Jersey. Sixty-five families were offered the opportunity. We were elected most likely to not accept the transfer and wound up living there longer than any of the others. New Jersey is a beautiful place.

Experience taught us that the two most maligned states in the union are Mississippi and New Jersey which is just fine with both of them. It keeps out the undeserving.

It was only after the birth of my first grandchild that I was inspired to write my first book. I was given a grandmother’s album to fill with my childhood memories and realized it was woefully inadequate to tell my story. Raiders and Horse Thieves, Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer was published by Texas Review Press in 2015.

Dance in the Kitchen, my first novel, is a coming of age story set in central Texas. Bena Conn, the main character, grows up with an older brother and three other boys along with a colorful cast of characters typical of the time and place. She has loved one of them, Carl Tarpley, since three-year-old church nursery school.

The couple marries and spends their first night together on their way to his graduate school up north. It’s a traumatic experience. Carl is homosexual.

Dance in the Kitchen is the story of how Bena and the group she considers family work through this to establish a satisfactory life for them all.

I’ve carried the characters from this book in my mind for three years, and now that the book is in the final stages of editing, I’m beginning to think about a sequel. I miss the characters and want more time with them. I hope a publisher and the public will share my enthusiasm.