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.


  1. Thanks for visiting me today, Janet. I love the idea for your book. Much luck with it!

  2. I’m not a young person, but this sounds like a book I’d like! I enjoyed the interview.

  3. Oh I can relate to Janet's comment about marketing and not being very easy. It's extremely time consuming and if you don't dedicate a day a week solely to marketing the book you may be lost.

    Although once a week might not be a lot, posting on groups, facebook, twitter, and other areas periodically when something is new is very helpful.

    Enjoyed the interview, ladies.

  4. Janet, your books sound like so much fun! Great interview, as well!

  5. And marketing 35 books becomes a nightmare. *laugh* No, they are not all "my" books, but for authors with our company.

  6. Janet, your newest book sounds intriguing; I'm sure kids are going to love it.

    And, I agree also, marketing and selling is the TOUGH part!

    Thanks, Nancy for a great post.


  7. Janets books do sound like they'd be fun. That's a funny story about rejection slips. I never knew anyone who went out of their way to get one.

    Stephen Tremp

  8. I agree with you guys and Janet, marketing is the tough part:) I guess it's something to work at!!

  9. Great post ladies. I loved you reviews too Janet. Your plots are soooo imaginative!

  10. Wow, what a vivid imagination! To write a kid's book based on the Shroud of Turin. Cool. I bet kids love it.

  11. Great interview, I always love learning more about what makes an author write. Your books sound just delightful.
    Good Luck
    Martha Swirzinski

  12. Thanks to everyone for the nice comments.

  13. It's too bad that we have to sign up as marketing agents when we decide to become writers, but I guess that's the price we pay. Nice interview. Thanks gals

  14. Good interview Janet. I also liked the comment about the rejection slip. I also had a similar experience some years ago when I joined a group that set a goal for achieving 100 rejections within a set period of time. We all succeeded (and hey, success is better than failure) but of course during the process of obtaining those rejections, we got a whole lot of acceptances. Of course we didn't set out to get rejected, but as a writer, I do think it helps to embrace the rejection slip as part of the process, as it means, as you so rightly pointed out, that you're working.

  15. Janet,

    Great getting to know you! Your book sounds intriguing. I think I'll read it before I let my girls get their hands on it.

    Marketing. A necessary evil I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with! You seem to be doing all the things authors are told to do.

    Great interview! Thanks Nancy for hosting Janet today!

  16. I love what you said about rejection slips meaning you are a "real" writer. That is a positive way to look at what can be a very painful part of the writing process! Thanks for the helpful shift in mindset. :)

    Loved this post!


  17. Jane, this was a great way for me to get to know you better. I need to be purchasing your newest book for my grandson. I know he would like it.

    Nancy, Thanks for hosting Jane.

  18. I love Janet's books. She has an amazing imagination!

  19. Interesting premise! Insightful interview too!

  20. I love how even the title may introduce tweeners to a new word. And a powerful one. Sinister!!!
    Thanks for this!
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging writer's resources at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick, www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com

  21. Hi - if anyone is visiting today - June 3 - I'd like to explain that there's a slight mix-up - the picture is of Jane Kennedy Sutton, but the info is about Janet Collins. Nancy is away, but I'm sure she'll fix the problem as soon as she’s able. I hope those folks expecting to see a blog about character names will check back later. Thanks.

  22. This is an inspiration to me as I'm going to venture off and do a kids series. Its fun to see what is successful for other kids authors.

    Stephen Tremp

  23. Great interview! I write non-fiction and so wish I could write fiction. I love your creativity :)

  24. I'm sorry I've come late to this post, Nancy, but I'm glad I did get round to it. I very much enjoyed learning about Janet and her books.

    Janet - your latest book sounds fascinating and very imaginative! And I know what you mean about marketing. There is an awful lot you have to learn about it, when you step into the world of writing! I'm a teacher, too (I teach modern languages). What do you or did you teach?


  25. I appreciate all the comments. Thanks, everyone.

    Helena, I was an Instructional Counselor at California School for the Deaf, taught preschool and Kindergarten, and worked in all the grades as a substitute teacher. I've also taught some private American Sign Language classes, so we share an interest in teaching languages.