In 1982, fresh from a divorce and a move from Phoenix to Seattle with children, J. A. Jance took a Dale Carnegie course including public speaking. She must have learned the lesson well, for she was a terrific keynote speaker to open the regular sessions of the Internet Librarian 2006 conference. The author of 36 books, mostly mysteries, mixed strong emotions with a big serving of humor to tell how she gets her ideas for books.
Jance was invited because she worked a blog into her recent book The Edge of Evil. She told how she came to write the story and also revealed that she was an early user of personal computers. In the mid-1980s she used $5000 of insurance benefits (from her alcoholic first husband's death) to buy an Eagle computer with a 128K memory and two floppy drives. On this she wrote in short chapters (memory limitation per floppy) for her early works. She recently donated both the computer and the collection of floppies with her drafts and unpublished works to the University of Arizona. Those floppies are the only copies of some of the manuscripts, and the computer is needed to access them.
With the timing of a standup comic, Jance kept the audience laughing and listening. I suspect she seeded the sales of some books in her 35 minutes before us. I think I'll place a reserve and see if writes as well as she speaks.