I am please to host this interview with Janet Lane Walters, author of at least 40 published works, including a large number of novels, novellas, and short stories. Janet says she’s been writing since the dark ages, when typewriters and carbon paper were still in use. She is married to a psychiatrist who has no desire to cure her obsession with writing. She has a BA in English and a BS in Nursing. Medicine often plays a role in her writing. Janet has four children and seven grandchildren and has used some of them in her books.
Thank you, Janet for joining me in this interview. I wonder–did family/childhood play a role in determining your love of writing, and if so, how?
My love of writing began as a reader. My grandfather, mother and father, according to family legend began reading to me as soon as they brought me home. Actually, my grandfather taught me to read and I had my first library card at age four. By third grade, I’d passed from the children’s section to the adult section, I read Anna Karenina for a book report. The teacher freaked out and called my parents in. My father said I could read any book they had on their shelves and if I could understand it that was good. That was my first attempt at fiction since I decided I did not like Anna throwing herself under a train. Childhood days were also spent with friends where we sat on the porches of the row houses where we lived and told stories, spooky ones at night, especially during World War 2 when there were no lights allowed. We also wrote and put on plays for the neighborhood. I continued writing stories until I went into training as a nurse, though I did help write the Christmas plays we did for the children in the neighborhood. I also gathered information and emotions during this time.
You have quite a history as a writer. What do you consider your crowning moments and achievements in your writing career?
Crowning moments and achievements mean little to me, though winning the EPIC Award with my writing friend, Jane Toombs for Becoming Your Own Critique Partner in 2003 was an interesting moment. Our publisher Zumaya has changed the title to Words Perfect – Becoming etc. Each time I finish a book or novella I feel as if I have achieved a milestone. The first sale of a short story “A Small Smile” was an interesting moment. I called my stories as my “brain children.” Called my husband who was a resident in Psychiatry to tell him and got the secretary. Had to leave a message. “I sold my first child is what she heard. He called back to discover what the child had done and we laughed over the incident. That moment told me I was on the way. The second was when an editor who had bought other stories told me the short story I sent her sounded like an outline for a novel and I was off and running to learn how to write a novel. Sixteen re-writes later, I sold “New Nurse In Town.” Why so many re-writes? In those days editors wanted the entire manuscript and sent back often detailed critiques. The first editor bought the story on submission 17. During that time I learned much about the craft of writing.
How realistic is it for a writer to hope to enjoy their profession full-time? What is the best way to pursue a long term career in writing?
As to writing full-time being realistic. This is a hard call to make. I have friends who have done well writing full time and that’s because they’ve hit the NY Times best-selling list and can afford to write. There are other writers like myself who are retired and can write every day as they wish. Unless you have a working spouse who supports you or money in the bank to pay bills writing will be a part-time job for most. The real thing comes down to persistence and how much the career is desired. I’ve been fortunate, though there was a span of about ten years when I didn’t write. Didn’t keep me from garnering ideas and notebooks filled with these ideas.
Is finding an agent a solution for authors who don’t enjoy, or aren’t familiar enough with, the marketing and promotion process? If you could only offer one suggestion to a writer to market (not promote) their work, what would that be?
I don’t have an agent. In the past I’ve had 3 who did nothing for my career. Today having an agent isn’t necessary. When you think about electronic publishing with small presses and self-publishing there are worlds of opportunities. If someone interested in becoming an author, there are ways to learn. There are groups on line to promote your work. There are organizations that can help you become published and can teach you the ropes needed to make a success at their chosen career. I belong to RWA and my local chapters. Good advice here. I also belong to EPIC but you must be published electronically to join but their website gives loads of advice about publishers and publishing. Advice is decide where you want to go and if you’re writing for money seek an agent. If you’re writing because you must, then submit to any and all who will take a look at your manuscript.
A great deal of emphasis is put on authors to network online, especially through blogging. Writers often lament the hours spent online instead of writing. Is online networking a viable promotional tool, even if at the expense of an author potentially losing writing time?
I spend time on line, promoting. I do blog every day but much of the work is done for me. Does it sell books. I know a few of the people who belong to the blog do buy the books but I also promote other authors on my blog as well. The posts I do seldom take me more than ten minutes. I belong to a number of promotional groups and I avail myself of Twitter and Facebook but never for long. I kind of swing by and on Twitter I have several groups that I check in to see what my friends and colleagues are saying and respond. Having a presence is important for a writer in these times. Name recognition is where it’s at and if you don’t promote and have people seeing your name it isn’t going to happen for you. Some publishers may promote you but that’s not a given. I have one who does and my sales are better with them than elsewhere.
Is there any chance your interest in astrology plays into your writing and/or love of classical music? (In other words, is there a spiritual connection for you between astrology and writing or astrology and classical music?) Does music inspire your writing topics?
As I’ve told people I develop my characters using Astrology. I use the Sun sign for their inner nature, the Moon for their emotional nature and the Rising Sign to show their face to the world. I could develop charts for each character but math is not my greatest subject. Using the three parts of a horoscope allows me to layer each character. At present I’m working on a series where all the heroines are born under the sign of Cancer and the heros are each from a different sigh. I listen to a lot of music but I find when I’m writing action scenes I use the 1812 Overture. For romance I find many of the lush waltzes from Tchaikovsky to put me in the mood. Listening to music with words distracts me so any vocal pieces are left for enjoyment. There are no connections between music, astrology and writing that are spiritual for me. They’re just what I like. Once earned enough casting charts with a friend to allow us to visit Ireland.
You are talented in so many ways, Janet!
Shattered Dreams is Janet’s latest book. Torn apart by lies and threats, can Rafe and Manon rediscover the love they once shared? Take a look at these excerpts where Janet introduces her main characters and you’re sure to become a Walters fan:
Here’s where the reader meets Manon:
Manon Lockley parked in the driveway of the small yellow brick ranch house she’d converted into an office for her medical practice. She slid from the driver’s seat and paused to inhale the fragrance of the June roses.
At the moment she felt like the White Rabbit. She was very late for office hours. Mrs. Patton, director of nursing at Fern Lake General had been admitted to the hospital this morning with chest pain. As her primary physician, Manon had remained to monitor the older woman’s condition and to work with the cardiologist to stabilize the hospital’s most admired employee.
Manon glanced at her watch. Well past three. How long would she need to stay? Her stomach grumbled reminding her she hadn’t eating lunch. Exhaustion caused by the emergency made her shoulders slump under the weight of the event.
Now we meet Rafe:
“Manon!” Rafe Marshall leaped from the examining table in time to catch her before she hit the floor. He cradled her against his chest. “Didn’t mean to scare you,” he whispered. Why did she think he was dead? He knew news of his accident had been kept quiet because the police believed he’d been deliberately forced off the road. Who had told her? Had the informant been the driver of the dark car his rescuer had seen speeding from the scene?
The citrus aroma of her shampoo brought memories of years ago when he had buried his face in her sunlit hair before they made love. His body responded to her presence and the sensual recollections. Thank heavens the gown was cloth. The urgent rise of his cock would have punctured paper.
Carefully, he placed her on the table. He stroked her face with his fingers and brushed his lips over hers. Any anger remaining from the past vanished beneath the heat of desire.
I thank Janet, for her candid sharing and wisdom. Her gift of writing extends to her exceptional blogs where she offers a plethora of intriguing interviews, insightful writing tips for authors, and helpful book reviews. Check out her blogsites! Janet’s wonderful library of entertaining books can be found at Amazon.com.
Having parents and grandparents who read to you, Janet, certainly gave you a great start in life–and your writing career! 🙂
I could only dream of having had that kind of support from family, teachers, or friends as a child. What a wonderful experience for anyone to enjoy! Thank you, Ann, for stopping by.
Great interview, Janet, and I love this book. Folks out there, read Janet Lane Walters–she’s awesome!
Thank you for stopping by. I agree–Janet has great material!
Great interview, Carole! Janet, over 40 books is a true inspiration. I loved the stories about your childhood. Anna Karenina for a book report?! Funny!
Thank you for commenting, Elizabeth. I am impressed not just by the volume of Janet’s writing, but by the quality. I also enjoy hearing about the childhood influences of other writers.
It’s wonderful to get to know you more! I love that you use Astrology to help with writing and you are so right on full time writing and the challenges. Someday maybe I can retire and write more.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. I walked away from a managerial position to write full time. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. Until a writer makes it to the best seller’s list or to film, it seems like a daunting task to pursue it full time. I couldn’t help but ask Janet about astrology and the music. They both seem like they can serve as strong factors during the writing process. Janet is so accomplished–I bet that was written in the stars!
Thank you for stopping by, John!
One of my earliest memories is of my father reading fables and fairy tales to me at bedtime. It started me on the road to being a bookaholic. On a lighter note, WOW! After reading the interview, I did NOT expect the hotness of the excerpt. Way to go. I loved it.
I don’t remember getting read to at all as a child and had to learn how to read on my own. Consequently, reading became an important activity for my own children. It’s so wonderful to hear that people have fond memories of childhood read aloud time, and I’m glad you’re one of them. I didn’t expect a “hot” excerpt from Janet either–what a delightful surprise!
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