Monday, March 20, 2017

Interview with Janet Smart ~By Suzy Leopold

Happy first day of spring. A new season begins as we say farewell to winter. 
The official time for spring equinox 2017 begins at 5:29 am CST. 
Time to say goodbye to my snow boots.
Buds appear on the Illinois Prairie




















Are you ready to dig in the soil, plant some seeds, and enjoy some warmer temperatures? 

Janet and I are. 

On this first day of spring, look for Janet and her husband Charley, outside in the picturesque state of West Virginia. The Smarts are spending time filling birdfeeders and sprucing up the birdhouses. Together they enjoy their yard filled with apple trees, flowers, blackberry patches, blueberries and grapevines. Janet and I share a love for nature. I am outside welcoming a new season of gardening on the Illinois Prairie. 

Well, I must be getting lost in the garden . . . Let me introduce you to: 
Janet Smart.

Just like me, she enjoys reading, writing and nature, especially on this first day of spring.
Janet Smart
When not outside exploring all the wonders of nature, Janet sits at her desk and writes for children. Janet writes articles for children in Two Lane Livin’ Magazine. She includes poems, recipes and crafts in her Fun Facts for Kids column. 

A member of SCBWI, Janet also enjoys writing picture books and middle grade novels, bringing her thoughts, dreams and imagination to life. Refusing to grow up, she sits at her writing desk, her inner child flowing onto the paper.

DUCK & COVER



Let’s begin with your new book, DUCK AND COVER, that recently made its debut. 

Suzy:

Without telling all, because we certainly want to read DUCK AND COVER, . . . What do you want the readers of the GROG Blog to know about your book? What was the inspiration for this story? Tell us about the title. Who is the main character in DUCK AND COVER? How old is he? What does he want or desire? 

Janet:

The book came from an early childhood memory. It was a memory of being at my aunt’s house and everyone saying, “The world was coming to an end.” I thought to myself, what a crazy memory. Why were they saying that? It was only recently that I realized what this could be a memory of – The Cuban Missile Crisis.  The main character is 12-year-old Theodore Ulysses Haynes (seems everyone in his family are named after presidents and their wives). He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. He is coping with the death of his dad while at the same time he and his friends are dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis. 


Suzy:

Writers know a story must include a beginning line that hooks a reader right away. You have certainly done this as Chapter 1 begins with the following opening paragraph: 

“I survived the long drive from Cleveland. Now if I could just survive the Russians, I’d be OK. Some people worried they were going to blow up the United States. Mom and I had come back to West Virginia to start over. How could we start over if the world was coming to an end?”

Share some tips on what you feel a writer needs to know to grab the attention of a reader.

Janet:

Something interesting or intriguing needs to be happening. Or maybe a question posed to make your reader wonder. I would stay away from backstory. This book had many different beginnings before I settled on this one.

Suzy:


Do you have plans to promote your new book? Are you setting up for school visits, or to present at conferences, book festivals, local book stores, etc.?

Janet:

Among other things, I am requesting nice friends and writers, like you, to blog about my book. I plan to do book signings and have my book available for sale at the WVWriter’s Conference in June. 

Suzy:

Share your author history. When did you begin writing for children, and how did you know it was something you wanted to do? 

Janet:


I started writing in 2007. I joined a writing group that same year and proceeded to learn how to write. I started writing a children’s column in a regional magazine in October 2009. I have had a few poems published, a story in a Christmas Traditions anthology and a self-published book titled, Fun Facts for Kids. I mainly write for children. I write MG, PBs, and am taking a stab at writing Chapter Books. I also love writing about Appalachia. I have written two novellas that take place in rural Appalachia. One takes place in 1908 and the other during WWII. I enter writing contests—and sometimes I win.

Suzy:


What are your thoughts about critique partners and critique groups? Do you have any advice for finding and writers and sustaining a long term relationship that encourages learning and growing? Tell us about the Appalachian Wordsmiths.

Janet:

I love critique partners. They always seem to find mistakes that are staring me in the nose, but I completely overlooked. I have been a member of the Appalachian Wordsmiths for almost ten years. We bring copies of our work to read and we get out our pencils and edit. Members are memoir writers, column writers, poets, and writers of fiction. We meet each week and we have such a good time. The laughter and sharing of information sometimes overpowers our reading and gets us behind schedule. We have become great friends.

Suzy:


We all have favorite writers that inspire us. Name two of yours and why you like and respect their work. 

Janet:

I love Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie is one of my favorite books) and Richard Peck. Richard Peck is very good at writing humor and creating great characters. I just love his character Grandma Dowdel. I wish I could create a character like that.

Suzy:

What manuscripts are you currently working on?
Janet:
I am currently working on revising PBs and putting finishing touches on a cookbook. I seem to never be completely happy with my work and keep editing to make my stories better.
Suzy:

What words of wisdom or advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Janet:

Keep learning the trade. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Research the market and submit to places that best fits your manuscript.  And don’t give up.
Suzy:
Share something about yourself that very few people may know about.
Janet:

Well—I’ll tell you something that happened to me when I was a baby that probably none of your readers can say ever happened to them. When I was only a couple of months old, I got sick and had to be taken to the hospital. I was there for at least a week (I found the bill that Dad had saved). Mom said they couldn’t cure me and sent me home. I’m not sure what was wrong with me, but she brought me home and took me down to Grandma’s house where they proceeded to pass me through a horse’s collar. Mom said it cured me. And, this was in the modern 1950s, not the 1800s. 
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the GROG Blog. What a fun way to celebrate the first day of spring with your new book, DUCK & COVER. 
Happy Spring.
Signs of spring
For more great information about Janet, you can check out a previous GROG blog post HERE.

You will also find her thoughts and musings that she shares on:


Creative Writing in the Blueberry Patch


Writing in the Blackberry Patch


Janet F. Smart, Children's Author


Connect with Janet on:


Facebook


Janet is giving away DUCK & COVER to one lucky commenter on this post. To be considered for a copy of DUCK & COVER, comment on the GROG Blog, include your email address. 


For extra entries, share this post on FacebookTwitter and/or Janet's blogno later than March 30thBe sure and indicate which social media you shared this blog post and your account name. Good luck!


The winner will be announced on March 30th. Janet will mail DUCK & COVER to a lucky winner within the continental U.S.

33 comments:

  1. This is a really great interview, Prairie Girl. Questions and answers that will definitely help us writers. Great getting to know author Janet Smart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your writing.

      Delete
    2. Wishing you a great Monday, Kathy, filled with writing inspiration and polished manuscripts.

      Delete
  2. Happy Spring! What good insights - and (unfortunately) a timely story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,Sue. Since writing the book, I've been hearing a lot on the news about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the space race, which is also a part of my story. Teddy's hero is John Glenn and he and his friend, Melvin, dress up as astronauts on Halloween. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
    2. May your spring be filled with all that you like to do, Sue.

      Delete
  3. Happy Spring! Sounds like a great premise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Tina. Thanks for your comment. I think kids will like it. A lot of them don't know a lot about that incident and reading my book is a great way to learn a little about it.

      Delete
    2. Hope you and your family are observing signs of spring in South Korea, Tina. May you and your students learn and grow; read and write every day.

      Delete
  4. Fascinating! Both your life story and Duck and Cover are very interesting. Congratulations! Angelecolline@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie. Thank you! And good luck in the drawing.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Angie, for reading all about Janet and her newest book, DUCK AND COVER.

      ~Suzy

      Delete
  5. Love the interview Suzy and Janet. It is always nice to meet new people and hear about their writing and their journey. Feeling the Spring today :) I look forward to reading your books, Janet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Charlotte. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. March came in like a lion here and I'm hoping it will go out like a lamb. It is rainy and cool today.

      Delete
    2. Charlotte! Always a pleasure to share writerly stuff with you. Thank you for reading the GROG Blog today.
      ~Suzy

      Delete
  6. Yes, nice interview. I am quite familiar with the book's subject. And you are right, not many of today's children know what those words mean. I think you found an intriguing beginning and I'm sure the rest of the book is just as good! Best of luck with your book! Thanks, Suzy for introducing us to Janet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sherri. Glad you commented.

      Delete
    2. Your thoughts are appreciated, Sherri. I recall the duck and cover drills at school in the late 60s. As an elementary school girl, I didn't quite understand the seriousness of the drills. The sounds of sirens seemed to last for ever.

      Delete
  7. Congratulations on your book, Janet! Some of the fears in this story sadly still ring true today. I hope readers will have their fears both validated and relieved. And thanks for featuring Janet on the GROG, Suzy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jane. Thank you and I'm glad Suzi featured me, too. My husband, who is older than I am, remembers more about that time than I do, but I seem to remember Dad having a booklet that told you how to build a bomb shelter - pretty frightening for a kid.

      Delete
    2. Congratulations on your book! Love the beginning and a very interesting time period, but fears that kids still have today. Thanks for sharing.
      mdmaurer135(at)gmail(dot)com

      Delete
    3. Your kind words are appreciated, Jane. Thank you for reading all about Janet's new book, DUCK AND COVER.
      ~Suzy

      Delete
  8. Thank you, MaDonna, for reading and commenting on the GROG Blog today. Your name is entered into the drawing.
    ~Suzy

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so happy to meet Janet, Suzy. Appreciations to you both.
    Here in Florida the Cuban Missile Crisis is still an important topic & a memory for
    many parents & grandparents.
    I am so intrigued with folk remedies - that passing thru the horse collar is precious.
    Glad it (or something) worked, Janet!
    I hope you will write a guest article for Group Blog here, some day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jan, thank you for your comment. My grandparents were born in the 1800s. My grandmother was very superstitious and my grandfather was able to stop blood by saying a verse in the Bible and he also could take the fire out of burns. I find all of this fascinating. I love my Appalachian heritage.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Jan! Appreciations to YOU.

      Delete
  10. Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself and your writing Janet, and to Suzy for the great interview!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure to share this interview about Janet. Thank you, Leslie.

      Delete
  11. So excited for Janet! Her debut release sounds very interesting. I enjoyed learning where she got the idea for it. Lots of great information in the interview. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win a copy. :)

    I love seeing signs of spring too. Not many here yet, but the snow is melting away- so hopefully spring can start popping up.

    Best of luck to Janet!
    ~Jess
    haighjtess at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jess. So glad you came over and commented. Good luck in the drawing.

      Delete
    2. Hopefully, you are noting more signs of spring all around you, Jess. Thank you for reading the GROG post All About Janet. Your name will be entered in the giveaway.
      ~Suzy

      Delete