“People think you want to do what you used to do. I wanted a different life.” – Jeane
When Jeane retired after running a large childcare center and decided to write, everyone expected a children’s book. After decades spent caring for children, it seemed a natural choice to write about what she knew best. But that didn’t inspire her to begin writing. The daughter of parents who both served in the army during World War II, it was a clipping found in her mom’s scrapbook that set her on a new path as an author of historical fiction.
It all happened accidentally in 2006. Jeane had never written before and says it was a “total quirk that I ended up writing at all.” As she as getting ready to retire, she reduced her hours to part time. On her birthday she received her first computer; a Mac. Recalling the correction tape used on a typewriter, she describes the experience of using a computer as “magical”. She thought she’d write about her mom since she grew up hearing her talk about the army. But while flipping through a scrapbook she found a tiny article in an army base newsletter that mentioned Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). This discovery spurred Jeane to begin researching the subject and she quickly discovered there was very little information available.
During this time, she accompanied her mom to a dinner held for veterans. Seated at a table of all men, Jeane asked if they’d heard of the WASPs. A young veteran said he knew one—his former home economics teacher—and gave her the name of Florence Wheeler. To Jeane’s surprise, Florence lived in Healdsburg near her mom! Florence had a current roster of the women pilots and Jeane contacted the ladies, all of whom were in their 80’s. With a grant from the Sonoma County Arts Council, she gathered six of the World War II women pilots and hosted an oral history panel at the Santa Rosa Veterans building in 2008. She didn’t think anyone would be interested, but the room quickly filled to capacity. This led to Jeane writing three historical fiction books about women in the 1940’s, each with over 25 historical photos.
Inspired to help other local authors launch and sell their books, Jeane hosts a “Dine with Local Authors” event at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa each month where five authors read from their book for five minutes followed by Q & A. It’s a fun, fast paced evening. Jeane also distributes over 60 titles from local authors at 12 retail locations throughout Sonoma County including Muffin Street Bakery in Santa Rosa and The Bean Affair in Healdsburg, her local coffee shop. With a personal connection to the authors, she’s delighted when their books sell and finds the varied subject matter fascinating. Just this week she added a book called Mini Storage Stories, written by a Healdsburg man who runs a storage facility. At just 100 pages, it’s a slim volume featuring stories about his customers; including drug dealers and thieves!
A resident of Sonoma County since she was 21, today her writing desk overlooks the Russian River, where she enjoys kayaking during summer months. With so much activity in her life, Jeane’s friends gently remind her to use the phrase “semi-retired”.
For information on local author events and retail locations offering books for sale, visit jeaneslone.com. The next Dine with Local Authors event is Monday, March 14, from 6-8 p.m. at Gaia’s Garden International Vegetarian Buffet located at 1899 Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa.