Janet Elaine Smith Interview

Tell us a little about yourself
I spent 9 years as a missionary in Venezuela. My husband and I have traveled almost the entire US (42 out of the 50 states). We live in ND, and have 3 grown adults (they hate it when I call them "children"). We have run a charitable HELPS organization here for over 30 years. It provides lots of good material for books.

When did you decide to become a writer?
After we returned from Venezuela, I wrote down our experiences from the time we spent there, mainly so we wouldn't forget a lot of them. By the time I had finished that, I was "hooked" on writing. There was no way I could not write from that point on.

What was your first published work?
It was a magazine article that appeared in God's Revivalist. Fortunately, it was too long to go in one issue, as they attributed it to "Anonymous." I called the editor to ask him about it and he said "You know how humble some Christians are." Well, he was talking to the wrong one! I have copies of both articles, with the second one clearly written by Janet Elaine Smith. As far as my books, I had 3 genealogy books published, but my first REAL book was Dunnottar, my big Scottish historical, that first came out in June 2000. I was a 20-year "instant" overnight success with Dunnottar! It was the No. 1 bestselling Scottish book (out of over 8000 other titles) on Amazon.com for almost 3 months!

What is your dream as a writer?
Of course I would love to have my book on the NYT bestseller list for months like Dan Brown did, and I would like to have a $million advance from somebody, but let's be realistic about it. The truth is that I think I am living my dream as a writer. For years I told my family when they would ask me what I wanted for birthdays, Christmas, etc. that all I wanted was to have one of my books published--and a sexy nightie! Well, I now have 15 novels out and two non-fiction books out, so I am living that dream. The high point is every time I get a letter or an email from somebody who has been touched by something I wrote, even if it was just to make them laugh for a few minutes a day. I'm still waiting for the sexy nightie, but I broke down and bought myself a long flannel one. It's much more practical in North Dakota!

What writing avenues are you currently pursuing?
I write SOMETHING every day. I write for about a dozen magazines regularly (I'm a contributing editor for Genealogical Helper and Writers Journal, and the Assoc. Editor for Memories & Mysteries, among others--some print and some online). I try to blog, but I keep forgetting that in order to be successful at blogging you have to keep posting things there! I do make a stab at it, however. I try to write on whatever book I am working on at the present time at least a little bit every day, but that doesn't always work, especially around magazine deadline time. I am constantly doing research on future projects. I also spend a lot of time marketing, both my own books and the books of fellow Star Publish authors, as I am their Marketing Director.

Is there anything you wish you had been told earlier in your career?
No. I'm afraid that if somebody had told me that it couldn't be done, or that the chances were something like 200,000-1 (the app. number of new books published last year), I might have given up. I was too stupid to know it couldn't be done, and I think that's a good thing!

What advice can you offer writers just breaking into a serious writing career?
Believe in yourself. Believe in what you write. Write what you would love to read. And don't forget to read, read, read. Every time you read something, you learn something new, even if it is what NOT to do when you write. And never give up, no matter what people say.

Anything else you want our readers to know?
I think the one thing I would love to stress is that life, fate, God, or whatever you want to call it, is on our side. Things happen that we have no control over, and that is what keeps this life as a writer so much fun and so exciting. For example, my last "old" book was just re-released from Star Publish. It is House Call to the Past, a time travel that takes place on Cape Cod in the early 1700s and deals with the Hallett family (a real family in my own family tree; my maiden name was Hallett). The day after it hit Ingram so it was available for ordering from online bookstores or could be placed on shelves in bookstores, Publishers Weekly announced that my long-time friend Mary Higgins Clark had a new book coming out. It is named Ghost Ship. It is a time travel. It is set on Cape Cod in the early 1700s. The main characters from back in time are the Hallett family. Neither of us knew about the other one's book. Now THAT is fun. Many of the bookstores I've talked to are going to put them up side-by-side in the front of the stores. So, if you see Mary Higgins Clark's new children's book, look right beside it. My own House Call to the Past might well be sitting there. Now THAT's fun!

Where can we find more about you and your books?
My main website is http://www.janetelainesmith.com/ . I also have a separate site that just features my books. You can find that at http://janetesmithstarbooks.tripod.com/ . I am on over 20,000 online bookstores and in many brick and mortar bookstores (including the "big 3" of B&N, Hastings and Borders) nationwide. If you still can't find me, try Googling Janet Elaine Smith. I seem to pop up all over the place!


  1. Wonderful Interview!

    Much Love Always,
    Rose Marie Wolf

  2. Your interviews always make me chuckle, Janet! I'm so glad you didn't know that it couldn't be done. :-)




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