Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meet Janet Ann Collins - Newspaper Columnist and Children's Book Author

Janet Ann Collins used to write feature articles for a newspaper in the Bay Area, is a columnist for the Antique Auction Explorer and her work has appeared in many other publications. She is the author of two fiction books for children. The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is about a middle school boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him. Secret Service Saint is a picture book about Nicholas, who discovers the fun of doing secret good deeds and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus.

Collins is a retired teacher, enjoys public speaking and often teaches workshops at conferences. With her husband she raised three deaf foster sons with special needs in addition to their birth daughter, and has one grandson. They live in the beautiful Sierra foothills of Northern California. To learn more about her please visit her website, www.janetanncollins.com.

Janet's latest book, The Peril of the Sinister Scientist, is a tweener, or middle grade, novel about a boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him. It is available to local bookstores and on many online sites, including Amazon where it can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/yge7uke The U.S. price is $7.95.

Here are some reviews of the book posted on Amazon:

Joshua Davidson, like any other kid, asks the eternal question.

"Who am I?"

But he has more reason than some to ask. He believes he was cloned from the scrapings of blood on the Shroud of Turin.

With an active imagination he sets out to prove he is the clone of Christ. Or, is he the son of a criminal? That can pretty much be verified - in his mind.

But in the end, whatever his genetics, he finds himself a hero.

His travels to reach a satisfying conclusion take many twists.

Janet Ann Collins puts the reader in the reality of a young person's world while she weaves the mystery of Joshua to a satisfying conclusion.

Any Tween will relate to the trials of fitting in at school and the special world of the educational environment they live in. The setting rings true as does the peer pressure and personalities of the young characters in The Peril of the Sinister Scientist.

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is a fast paced, exciting, enjoyable read any young person should like.

Reviewed by: Mary Jean Kelso


In a moment of panic Joshua's Mom sets into motion a series of terrifying events that have Joshua on the run and questioning his real identity. As Joshua attempts to live up to what he believes is his genetic makeup he learns valuable lessons about life.

This suspenseful book will have kids on the edge of their seats as Joshua runs from a sinister scientist and tries to figure out why he is being chased and who he can trust. What about Mom, has his pursuer controlled her mind? Joshua angers friends and enemies alike as he tries to avoid being captured.

This is an imaginative tale kids are sure to love to the very end.

Review 9/08/09 - Shari Soffe

I asked Janet a few Questions:

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Since I’m officially retired I could just sit around and read, but, much as I love books, that would get old fast. I’d probably do some part time teaching and maybe get involved in a drama group in addition to the volunteering I already do. But it’s hard to imagine a life without writing.

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

Oh, yes.

When I was in college I told my roommate I wanted to be a writer and she asked me to show her my rejection slips. I had none, but finally submitted something unpublishable so I’d get one and showed it to her so she’d stop nagging. It was years later that I tried to get published commercially and my first story was accepted immediately. Then came the rejection slips. When I got the first one it reminded me of what my college roommate had said and I realized it did, indeed, show that I was a real writer.

What is going on with your writing these days?

I have a book for young readers and I’m working on several things, including a middle grade fantasy about a girl who can communicate with animals by thought language. She and her Deaf brother travel to a foreign land trying to find and rescue their kidnapped mother. I’m also spending lots of time learning how to do marketing and publicity for my published books, write a column for the Antique Auction Explorer, sometimes write articles for other periodicals, and have two blogs, http://onwordsblog.blogspot.com and http://janetanncollins.blogspot.com.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

I was a substitute teacher back when the What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD) phrase popular and wondered how a middle school student would answer that question about his daily life. I grew up without a father (Mine died of polio when I was six years old) and have always sympathized with kids in single parent families. Combining those things gave me the idea for the book.

What sort of marketing is easiest for you? (If none of it is, tell us a little about what you do.)

None of it is very easy. I enjoy public speaking and school visits, but not asking for opportunities to do those things. However, I do it anyway.

I consider myself a techno-idiot, but have developed a pretty good internet presence with my blogs, website, and social networking. I'm active in several Yahoo groups, have over 800 Facebook friends, and participate in other sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It seemed like getting involved on the net required learning as much as I did in a whole year of college. If it's true that learning new things helps our brains improve I should be a genius soon. ;-)

Seriously, it's difficult to tell if being active online helps to sell books, but I understand the results are usually gradual.

What tips would you give to people writing in your genre?

Get to know lots of kids, read plenty of other books in the genre, and do everything you can to learn the craft of writing and understand the publishing industry.

Janet Ann Collins usually reviews books on her blog, http://onwordsblog.blogspot.com.

Her website is www.janetanncollins.com

Books reviews and interviews for, by, or about people with disabilities are occassionally posted on her other blog, http://janetanncollins.blogspot.com.