About Me

A photo of author J B Cheaney
Author J B Cheaney

I was born in Dallas, Texas sometime in the last century.  In school, my favorite subject was history, and my least favorite was math. I read a lot, but wasn’t that interested in writing–I started one play and a couple of short stories, but none of them were finished because I could never figure out what would happen next.

In the seventh grade, I became very ill with myocarditis and spent a month in the hospital. Then I spent another year at home and didn’t go to school at all for eighth grade–a teacher came to me. I thought it was great, but when the time came for me to go back to school, I started ninth grade with no friends and no idea how to go about making them.

The next two years were miserable until I found my niche in high school: acting and singing. In my junior and senior years I performed in the concert choir, the show choir, and two musicals. I was still a shy kid when playing myself, but it was fun to get up and stage and act like somebody else.

After graduating from high school, I attended a Christian  junior  college  in  Dallas before transferring to a four-year college in Abilene, Texas.  Then  I  became  a college dropout in order to get married.  In the 40 years since, my husband and I have lived in six different states and moved a total of 23 times, raised two children,  and homeschooled  them from grades  1  and  3  (that  is, we  started when our son  was  in  first  grade  and  our  daughter in third). But   during that period  I began  a  new  stage  in my life without even realizing it.

Some time after my daughter was born, I thought it might be fun to try writing a novel. I guess it was so much fun I went on to write three more (0ver the next twenty-odd years), but couldn’t find a publisher for any of them (that’s why they’re still packed away in boxes). But I did write three creative writing workbooks, called the Wordsmith series, which are still being sold!

Some time after my son graduated from high school in 1996, I started writing my first book intended for young-adult readers, based on an idea I had been thinking about for at least eight years. It became The Playmaker, published in the fall of 2000. The True Prince followed in 2002. The Playmaker was on Booklist magazine’s top ten best young-adult books by debut authors, and both titles were on the list of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age

My Friend the Enemy, a novel set in World War II Oregon, was published in 2005 and named one of the year’s top ten books for children by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, as well as a finalist for the Pen award for best children’s novel.  The Middle of Somewhere (2007) is my valentine to Kansas, which became a nominee for the Texas Bluebonnet award, the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers award, and the Indiana Young Hoosier list.

After that I took a long hiatus from book publishing–not entirely by choice, but because the three manuscripts I submitted to my publisher were turned down (it happens to the best of us!).  I began writing regular columns for World Magazine, which is now World News Group, the largest Christian news service in the nation.  Besides columns, I also write website posts and additional articles for World.  In 2011 my partner Emily Whitten and I launched RedeemedReader.com, a website focused on children’s literature.  But fiction never let me go, so . . .

Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous rolled off the presses in 2014.  Catchy titles often elude me-My Friend the Enemy, for example, was the inspiration of my editor.   But in this case, I thought of the title first, and the story followed.  I was wondering what it would be like to know someone in my sixth-grade class (for instance) who became world-famous when they grew up.  Maybe I could sell my recollections to a magazine: “I remember when so-and-so used to pick his (or her) nose in class.”  Or I could meet that old now-famous person and say, “Remember me?” Or what if I turned out to be famous? (Here you are reading my website, after all.)  Would anybody even remember me from my sixth-grade class?  Probably not.  But fun to think about, anyway . . .

And from those thoughts grew a novel called Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous, published in September 2014.

My latest novel is I Don’t Know How the Story Ends–another title I didn’t make up–about the early silent-movie industry in Hollywood.  What inspired me to write it?  Well, who doesn’t love the movies?  And wouldn’t the research be fun?

When not writing, or thinking about it, I like to travel, read, sing, sew, do papercrafts, and sleep–though not necessarily in that order.