By Janet Fogg
When I grew up, our home was the gathering place for most of the neighborhood children. I remember chasing through backyards, playing hide ‘n’ seek, bicycling down to Skunk Creek so we could wade in the icy waters, and squabbling over flashlights after dark so we could dig long, juicy night crawlers from the garden in anticipation of fishing the next day. We would also sit cross-legged in the shade of our vast crabapple tree, making up wild adventures about heroes who saved the day—adventures we would then re-enact with great drama that often involved long, pointy sticks. I always wanted to be the hero.
I also wanted to keep up with my older brothers and their friends as they climbed trees or walked along the top of the fence, hence my broken wrist at age five. Yes, I was competitive, even at that age. In fact, when I was in kindergarten, a fellow student named Heidi shamed me for being unladylike. I moped for a few days while avoiding Heidi and the miniature teepee we’d been playing in. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for my young brain to decide if Heidi didn’t like me as I was, then it was her loss, not mine, so the moping ended. Yet that long-ago insult stayed with me.
Decades passed. I succeeded in business, as exemplified by being the first woman and non-architect offered ownership in what at the time was the largest architectural firm in Boulder. I managed the firm, developed real estate, served on the Boulder Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and so on. Was I still unladylike, as the only woman partner? Perhaps it was when I learned to trap shoot? Or ride a motorcycle? Helped my husband change the intake manifold on a small-block Chevy? Or was it the minimum of makeup?
Yet…all that time I was doing what I was good at, not necessarily what was in my secret heart.
Back then, if you had visited my house in the wee hours of the morning, you would have found me hunched over the keyboard, trying to write the next great American novel before I headed into the office. Many writers believe that you serve a kind of apprenticeship with the first million words you write, and with my third manuscript, Soliloquy, I had apparently practiced and studied enough to find modest success, finally contracting for publication.
When Soliloquy earned a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, I became even more involved in the writing community and took the plunge, resigning from my day job so I could write. Foolish, some said. Others wished they had both the opportunity and the courage.
With friends from the past time-traveling to the present via Facebook, I am often reminded of Heidi and that long-ago day in kindergarten. In my adult years, if asked, I would have defined unladylike as meaning assertive and strong. Perhaps stubborn, too. These are some of the traits my fellow author Dave Jackson and I gave to Misfortune Annie. Raised by her Uncle near a Cheyenne camp, an 1880s teen whose secret goal is to find her missing father, Annabelle Fortune earns her keep by guiding folks through the Colorado Rockies. Definitely assertive and courageous.
Writing the ‘Misfortune Annie’ series appeals to me for many reasons. First, because Annie is a young cowgirl struggling to excel in what is clearly a man’s world—the wild, wild west. Second, because we’re endeavoring to weave subtle “lessons-learned” into the books, so that readers, especially girls, have a role model with strength, courage, determination, morals—and success. Annie is tenacious, loyal to her friends, can shoot as well as or better than any man, and holds her own in a fight. In other words, a hero. An example for girls and for boys.
Annie Oakley once said, “Aim for the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.”
In this, our first book in the ‘Misfortune Annie’ series, after outsmarting a band of train robbers and the Locomotive Reaper, Annie grasps success. Along the way she’s accused of “hitting like a girl” and “kicking like a girl”—as if those are bad things. At one point she pats her lariat, with which she is as equally adept as her six-shooters, and murmurs “And I rope like a girl, too.”
Works for me.
Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.
With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.