Monthly Archives: August 2006

BOOK BEAT 7 – Dorothy Jane Mills

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 23-29, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

Who has written three historical novels, a vegetarian cookbook, a basketful of recently republished classic books for children, a memoir, and co-authored a definitive three-volume work on baseball history? Naples resident Dorothy Jane Mills is that person. Eclectic? For sure. Eccentric? Maybe just a little.

Mills grew up in the Cleveland area. She recalls being an avid reader with early intentions of being a writer. In fact, she co-edited her high school newspaper before going on to major in English at what became Cleveland State University. There, too, she worked on the newspaper and also contributed to the literary magazine. She worked as a “copy boy” for the Cleveland News and then as a proofreader in the advertising department of the Halle Brothers Department Store.
In college she also discovered the drama of history. And, while performing part-time secretarial duties for various professors, she discovered Professor Harold Seymour. After her third year of college, Seymour divorced his wife to marry Dorothy, and she transferred to a branch of Case Western Reserve, now focusing on an education degree. The young married woman taught while completing her master’s degree, and she also began assisting her husband with his research for a Ph.D. dissertation on baseball history. The couple then moved to Buffalo, New York, where Mrs. Seymour taught and started work on a doctorate.

Harold Seymour’s first book, published when they lived in New York City, grew out of his dissertation and received much attention in the press. It was to be the first of three volumes on baseball history that he published, with his wife as unacknowledged co-author.

In the 1960s, the Seymours lived outside of New York City, continuing with the baseball series. Dorothy then wrote a series of ten children’s books that were published in 1965. These became very popular, and five of them have recently been republished for a new generation of young learners. These include Anne Likes Red, The Tent, and Ballerina Bess. The couple moved to New England in 1966 and the following year Dorothy Seymour became an editor at Ginn and Company, an established educational publisher.

Through the seventies and eighties, Dorothy did her free-lance writing and editing while helping Harold complete the next two volumes of the baseball history series. She became interested in Irish customs and history after spending part of a year living in Ireland with her husband. Returning to the States to be near research sources, Dorothy found herself doing more and more of Harold’s work as he became depressed and unfocused. After a while, it became clear that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

By the time Harold Seymour died in 1992, Dorothy had begun work on The Scepter, the first of her trilogy of historical novels. It deals with Austrian Nazis in the 1930s. In 1993, while on a cruise, she met a retired Royal Canadian Air Force officer named Roy Mills. After settling residence requirements, the two were married and found a vacation home in Naples. In 1998, The Sceptre was published on the internet. The following year, Roy and Dorothy Mills moved to Naples permanently and The Sceptre was published in hard copy. In subsequent years, an author now known as Dorothy Jane Mills continued the saga of Katya Becker with two more novels – The Labyrinth and The Treskel. In this expansive trilogy, Mills realizes her love of history’s drama and shares it with her readers. 

But before bringing this final leg of the fiction trilogy into print last year, Mills published two other books, both nonfiction. The first, Meatless Meat, is a vegetarian cookbook that has won many fans. The other is her revealing memoir: Woman’s Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour. Here Mills reveals the details of her uncredited collaboration.


Baseball: The People’s Game, book three in Harold Seymour’s history series, includes five chapters on early women’s baseball for which Mills had done the research – and most of the writing. “These chapters,” she notes, “became the first to explain the extent of women’s play and the enthusiasm with which they played the game.” Indeed, Mills’ trailblazing research in this area led to her receiving an award from the Woman’s Baseball League – an engraved red bat – at the league’s initial conference in 2001.

So, what’s next? What does a historical novelist do with all that baseball knowledge? Mills writes, “A serious historical novel about a woman baseball player hasn’t yet been published. A few slight books for young adults have entered the market, but they fail to appeal to an adult audience. In this new book, my twenty-fifth, to be called Drawing Card, I’m writing about a young woman baseball player in Cleveland of the 1920s and 1930s. It tells the story of Annie Cardello, an Italian-American daughter of immigrants, who plays with independent and textile teams of the city and interacts with other Clevelanders from more exalted walks of life.”

Mills is available for presentations, and readers can subscribe to her free email newsletter. While awaiting the completion and publication of Drawing Card, keep up with this versatile writer and find out how to order her books by browsing the website

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 6 – Tina Wainscott

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 16-22, 2006

 by Philip K. Jason

 Tina Wainscott is a Naples girl. As a child, the future novelist made up stories to tell her friends and relatives. She would also, with her friends, script and act out what she calls “mini-movies.” At nineteen, a couple of years out of Lely High School (class of 1983) and taking business courses at Edison Community College, Wainscott (her last name was Ritter until marriage) became more serious about a writing career. She took an adult education course in creative writing, and then she took it several more times. The course, led by Betzi Abram, got Wainscott more focused: she had to turn something in every week, and the criticism helped her develop the tough skin one needs as a writer.

Short stories came first, then the novels. Her third attempt won a prize in a Romance Writers of America competition, and this distinction helped her find an agent in 1993. The manuscript was sold in 1994 and published the next year. The success of On the Way to Heaven led to a demand for a sequel, which Wainscott had already finished, so Shades of Heaven appeared only six months later. Paranormal romance was Wainscott’s first genre specialty, but she has branched out into wider realms, capturing wider audiences with suspense novels, though the romance element is pretty much a constant. 

 Wainscott’s seventeenth title, Until the Day You Die, will be released in July of 2007. Wainscott describes it this way: “It is about is about a woman who lies to put away the man who assaulted her sister. When he’s convicted, the danger really begins.” Her last novel, In Too Deep came out in October of 2005, so this is probably the longest that readers have had to wait for a new Wainscott release. It’s not that her disciplined writing schedule changed, but rather that the necessary give and take among author, agent, and editor took a bit longer than usual to reach a happy conclusion. Negotiations were complicated because the author decided to try something different – always a risk when readers are enjoying what you are already doing. After Until the Day You Die, the wait for her next title will be a scant six months.

Both of the forthcoming novels are set in New England, though Naples readers interested in introducing themselves to Wainscott’s work may get special pleasure out of the ones with Florida settings. Back in Baby’s Arms features a small Florida Gulf Coast town; A Trick of the Light takes advantage of her life-long residence in Naples; and I’ll Be Watching You fictionalizes Everglades City. This Naples treasure, Tina Wainscott, expects to set another novel in Naples in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, readers can enjoy In Too Deep (set in Miami Beach and environs). The protagonist is society writer Winslow Talbot, a woman who feels that her life is a sham. Her beautiful face is the creation of plastic surgeons after a car crash. Her wealth comes from a generous stepfather who’s funded a life she finds increasingly superficial. When Winslow learns of a hit-and-run boating accident that leaves a young Cuban girl disfigured, she becomes determined to make a difference by helping the child. Of course, this effort leads to trouble. Most of Wainscott’s books, like this one, have been published by St. Martin’s Press, the rest by Harlequin.

Readers can also enjoy Wainscott’s participation in the multi-author “serial novel” I’d Kill for That, recently available in paperback, in which each contributing author wrote a chapter and then passed the manuscript on to the next author, who added her own twists and turns. Marcia Talley conceived of the idea and set forth the basic storyline and characters.

 Characterization is the hard part of writing for Wainscott, the real work. The “what if” premise and the plot come to her rather easily. She says that discovering the “what if” is the most exciting part of the process. When the untarnished, uncritiqued inspiration hits this talented author, it literally gives her the chills. Months or years later, after the writing process is completed and the book is in print, it gives readers a jolt as well.

 In November of 2004, the Naples Press Club honored Tina Wainscott with a special dinner at which Councilman John Nocera presented her with the symbolic key to the city. She has for some time now had the key to her readers’ hearts.

 Keep track of Tina Wainscott at And receive writing tips from her in February when she leads a workshop for the Naples Writers’ Conference at International College.

 Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 5 – Jacqueline Simenauer

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 9-15, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

When she worked for the National Enquirer, they called Jacqueline Simenauer the “shrink editor” because she dealt mostly with stories that had to do with psychology and psychiatry. Her first husband was a therapist, so she could certainly talk the talk. This area of expertise became the springboard for a successful career as a nonfiction writer of books with a mental health and human behavior slant. Working in the world of tabloid journalism also provided her with a sense of what the public wants – what sells.

Simenauer put these areas of knowledge to good use in a series of well-received titles that made shrewd guesses about what topics were at once useful, marketable, and – at that time – insufficiently researched. The first of these was Beyond the Male Myth: What Women Want to Know about Men’s Sexuality, which received a prominent review in Time. Praised for the scope of its research and the importance of its findings, this book gave credibility to Simenauer’s future projects. These were Husbands and Wives: A National Survey of Marriage and Singles: The New Americans. With these books in print, Jacqueline Simenauer was most likely the only author who had brought to the public the findings of three major national studies on how people really live. Singles even caught the attention of the White House, perhaps because of the detailed Washington Post article on the book. Indeed, the president’s office wrote to Simenauer c/o of the publisher requesting a free copy. (Perhaps there was no White House budget for book purchases.) 

These books received exceptional media exposure, as Simenauer and her co-authors made appearances on “Good Morning America” (two half-hour segments), “Today,” and elsewhere. Another title, Not Tonight, Dear: How to Reawaken Your Sexual Desire, received prominent attention in Reader’s Digest. For that book, she interviewed fifty of the nation’s leading sex therapists.

While preparing the book on singles, this entrepreneurial author realized that unmarried people constituted a huge untapped marketplace. She followed up on this insight with two books aimed specifically at singles: Singles Guide to Cruise Vacations and The Single Woman’s Travel Guide. Another inspiration for these books was to put into print the answers to countless questions that Simenauer’s single friends kept asking about travel.

Her marketing savvy has led Simenauer into another career, that of a literary agent specializing in nonfiction. Several shelves in the office of her attractive Naples home are filled with titles for which she was the matchmaker. As one might expect, most of these have to do with mental health issues and human behavior. Simenauer is comfortable working with professionals in these fields. Often she has the big idea for the book, then finds the credentialed professional to flesh it out while she fashions the proposal and finds a publisher. Her partner in the Jacqueline Simenauer Literary Agency, who works in the New York area, handles fiction. Having in lived in Naples for five years, Simenauer no longer misses the New York action.

Whether in the role of agent or author, Jacqueline Simenauer loves the process of collaboration. She thrives on the stimulation of working with someone else, the give and take of ideas. She has learned, as well, that four eyes investigating a subject are better than two.  

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 4 – James Lilliefors

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 2-8, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

Suppose you took Tin City and the nearby Dockside Boardwalk shops, stretched all the businesses out along one long walkway, added a roller coaster, and relocated the whole thing (multiplied many times in size and variety) parallel to the shore as a pedestrian thoroughfare. Then Naples would have the kind of celebrated beachfront boardwalk that James Lilliefors honors in his new book, America’s Boardwalks: From Coney Island to California, published by Rutgers University Press. Don’t want that kind of honky-tonk stuff in Naples? Too bad. And it hasn’t always been all honky-tonk.

Every reader in Naples has enjoyed James Lilliefors’ writing. Whenever you read something published by The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, including the fine profiles in the playbills and in the exhibit brochures, you are no doubt reading Lilliefors, the senior writer there. His work appears regularly in Gulfshore Life, and before that he wrote for that daily newspaper in town (winning an award for excellence in feature writing from the Florida Press Club). Ever since 1994, when he came from Maryland to Naples to work on a novel – Bananaville, published in 1996 – he has been very much part of the scene. More accurately, he has been describing the scene. He is also the co-writer of the FGCU alma mater!

Born in Los Angeles, Lilliefors was raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. His father was a professor of statistics at George Washington University. Jim became a fanatical runner and an aspiring writer in high school, but early signs suggested that writing might be the way to go. At sixteen, he sold a story to Runner’s World magazine, and at twenty, when that same publication offered him a job, he quit college and moved to California. He worked there from 1976-1978, then left to become a novelist. Eventually returning to college, Lilliefors earned his B.A. from the University of Iowa and attended graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing.

After one year of that, Lilliefors took a newspaper job at in Ocean City, Maryland (at one end of U. S. 50 with the sign “Sacramento 3,073 miles”), intending to stay for just the summer. When the publisher, who was starting a new paper, asked if he wanted to be the editor, Jim ended up running the paper for nine years. During this time, Lilliefors also covered Ocean City and Maryland’s Eastern Shore for the Washington Post. He wrote for other publications as well, including US magazine and the Baltimore Sun, and he even became the boxing correspondent for a national magazine called The Cable Guide. Lilliefors started a couple of novels, got a contract for a road book that became Highway 50: Ain’t That America (published in 1993), and co-founded another newspaper at the beach, which is still going. And then to Naples to work on Bananaville (set in a beach town, of course) and, eventually, America’s Boardwalks. 

In this beautifully written and copiously illustrated volume, Lilliefors writes: “Each boardwalk resort has its own character, shaped by history, memory, demographics, real estate, and travel trends.” In twelve chapters, he probes the character of twelve distinctive boardwalk communities, detailing their founding and development, elaborating on the special flavor of each, and profiling the local characters intimately related to the values and texture of the place. For each place, as well, there is an assessment of the present situation and some guesses about the future. Each of these communities has had its ups and downs, and several have been reinvented from time to time to satisfy changing tastes and economic realities. 

Lilliefors tells the stories of what he calls representative boardwalk resorts, not necessarily the best. But many would be inescapable choices by any criteria: Atlantic City, Coney Island, Asbury Park, Wildwood, Cape May, Rehoboth Beach (Delaware), Ocean City (Maryland), Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Daytona Beach – and then jumping across the continent to Venice Beach and Santa Cruz. He examines the paradoxical nature of these places, at once destinations for all-American families and pleasure kingdoms where tackiness, tawdriness, and corruption often reign. This is an intelligent, accessible, and thoroughly enjoyable journey through an important facet of American popular culture – a fascinating, sensual register of American values. Can you imagine the archeologists of the future interpreting American civilization as they excavate boardwalk resorts? Lilliefors can.


Hear James Lilliefors speak about America’s Boardwalks and get your copy signed at the Naples Barnes and Noble on Friday, August 18 [2006] at 7:00pm.


Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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