Janet Dean grew up in a family that cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. The wonderful stories her father and grandfather told instilled in her a love of history and the desire to write. At twelve she penned her first “novels,” even illustrating her little books. But when it came time to choose a career, Janet wanted to teach.
She married her college sweetheart and taught first grade before leaving education to rear two daughters. Once her daughters were grown, she revisited her longtime dream of being a writer. Her journey toward publication took nine exciting, sometimes painful years of learning the craft and dealing with rejection. Two of her manuscripts were Golden Heart® finalists. One was an American Christian Fictions Writers Genesis finalist.
Janet’s dream has come true: her debut Love Inspired Historical novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, hit bookshelves Sept. 9. The sequel, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, is a May 2009 release.
When she isn’t writing for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical books, Janet stamps greeting cards, plays golf and is never without a book to read. The Deans enjoy travel and spending time with family.
I was privileged to meet Janet at the Faith, Hope and Love mini conference held prior to the start of the Romance Writers of America® National Conference in July 2008. I’m honored to have this soft-spoken, classy lady as my guest at Romance Writers on the Journey.
•Janet, when did you begin writing with a goal of publication, and why did you choose the romance genre?
I joined Romance Writers of America in 1997, and from that moment on, I wrote with a goal of publication. I chose to write romance because I love happy endings. I also enjoy traveling back in time with a good book, so writing historical romances felt right.
•You’ve said that as soon as you put pen to paper you knew you were meant to write historical romances. I understand it wasn’t until later, though, that you understood your fiction could honor God and you turned to inspirational historical romance. What brought about this change, and how has this decision affected your writing?
A contest judge once suggested I should have entered my historical in the inspirational category, pointing to my heroine’s strong faith. Once I started reading inspirational romance, I knew this was where I belonged. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and RWA’s Faith, Hope & Love chapter and jumped in. I love exploring the faith of my characters and bringing them to a closer relationship with God. I feel the faith element strengthens my stories and makes my characters more three-dimensional.
•Your debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, was a Golden Heart finalist in 2005. What part did finaling in that contest play in getting your contract?
Sadly nothing. Without an agent or prior publication, I couldn’t break into the historical market even with the Golden Heart final. But in 2006, Steeple Hill announced the 2008 launch of Love Inspired Historical. I immediately polished that manuscript and sent it to Melissa Endlich, the head of the line.
•I love hearing stories about The Call. Would you please share yours?
My agent, Kelly Mortimer, called on June 29, 2006 to tell me Melissa Endlich offered to buy the book. I wasn’t totally surprised because I knew she’d loved the partial and asked for the complete, but I’d come close before. After I said yes, I called my daughters and sent e-mails to everyone I knew. 🙂 The feeling was sheer joy! That evening I attended a library book club meeting with my critique partner, Shirley Jump. When Shirley told the group I just sold, everyone congratulated me. When the librarian gave me her business card the reality sunk in.
•What is it like to write for a series, especially the newest line at Steeple Hill? How much interaction do you have with your editor? How much revision did you have to perform?
Writing for Steeple Hill is a dream come true. The covers are gorgeous, and the editors do a great job editing our books. I didn’t have many revisions on Courting Miss Adelaide, but the book had been on the contest circuit and I’d polished and polished it again. Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, May 2009, required more. My editor, Emily Rodmell, sent the revision letter. I called and e-mailed with questions to make sure I understood what she wanted, but the book was still mine to write, so I chose how to execute her suggestions. I respect my editor’s wisdom and have found her recommendations always made for a better book.
•Your excitement at being one of the Love Inspired Historical authors is evident. What is it like to be part of such a talented team of writers?
I’m very impressed with the Love Inspired Historical authors! I read all of the books. Each author does a fantastic job telling her story with a variety of time periods, settings and styles. The spirit on our LIH loop is wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about these ladies.
•As a historical writer, how much time would you say you put into doing research?
I don’t keep track of the hours I spend researching. That’s probably a good thing. 🙂 My books are set late in the second half of the 1800s, so the research I did for the first book carries over to later books. Each story requires me to investigate particular issues important to that book. With Courting Miss Adelaide I researched the Orphan Train. I researched herbs/medicine for Courting the Doctor’s Daughter.
•You pursued publication for nine years before landing that first contract. How did you deal with the hills and valleys on your journey?
I knew I had lots to learn, so I embraced contest feedback, even when the judges’ critiques stung. Knowing rejection is the norm, I dealt reasonably well with editors/agents passing on my work—until my manuscript was a finalist in the Golden Heart. I expected that recognition to lead to a sale or an agent or both. It didn’t. Within weeks, I tumbled from the mountaintop to the valley. Turning whether I sold or not over to God helped, though I won’t pretend it was easy. The closer we writers get to publication, the more rejections can discourage or make us doubt ourselves. Writer friends and family who understood helped me get through those difficult days.
•It’s been nearly two years since you signed that contract. How did you deal with the wait? What plans do you have to celebrate the release? A launch party?
I knew the time frame from the beginning and felt blessed to write for this new line, so that helped me deal with the long wait. I’m not planning a launch party, although that would be fun. I’m promoting the book online. Friends and family around the country are passing along my bookmarks. I’m visiting bookstores, setting up signings and will give an occasional talk. I see Courting Miss Adelaide as God’s book, not mine. I’m trusting that He’ll get it where He wants it to be.
•I couldn’t wait for Courting Miss Adelaide to show up in my local Marts, so I ordered it from eHarlequin and read it over Labor Day Weekend. You tell a great story. Charles is dreamy, and Miss Addie is one spunky, determined woman. She’s also brave, and yet the ending had me so worried about her that I read into the wee hours and had to stifle yawns in church the next day. 🙂 What I’d like to know is how closely Adelaide’s character resembles your own. Have you ever had to stand up for something in the face of opposition? Was there ever a time you faced danger and charged into the fray on behalf of those you love as Addie does?
My characters either share my values or rebel against them. Adelaide shares much of what’s important to me—faith and family, but she’s more of an activist than I am. Though upon occasion I can get heated up about issues. 🙂 And yes, I’ve stood up for something in the face of opposition, but that never meant putting myself in physical danger. Nor have I had a reason to charge into the fray to protect others as Adelaide did. I’d like to believe I would, especially if those I love are at risk. My heroines are always stronger and more confrontational than I am. And trust me, they live far more interesting lives. 🙂
•In closing, what encouragement would you offer those of us on the road to publication?
What is that old saying? It looks darkest right before the dawn. No matter how bleak it appears, never give up. Keep writing. Hone the talent God gave you. Build your inventory. And when you least expect it, a door may very well open. It did for me.
Thank you for having me on your blog today, Keli. It’s been fun!
Leave a Comment for Janet
Janet will drop by throughout the day to chat, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about her, her debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, or questions you may have about writing for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical.
Everyone leaving a comment for Janet will be entered in a drawing for three copies of Courting Miss Adelaide. I’ll draw one winner on September 11 and a second on the 12th. These two winners will receive copies I purchased. The third winner, whose name I’ll draw at the end of the day on September 13, will receive the Grand Prize, an autographed copy sent to them by Janet.
If you don’t wish to participate, note that in your comment, and your request will be honored.
If you don’t see a comment form below, please use the link by the post title.
Congrats to the winner of the first drawing, Patti Jo Moore, to Danelle, winner of the second, and to Melody Sproule, winner of the third, who will receive the grand prize, an autographed copy of Courting Miss Adelaide.
Janet loves to hear from other writers and readers.
Her Website: http://www.janetdean.net
Her Blog, A Cup of Faith : http://janetdean.blogspot.com
Read Janet’s author profile at eHarlequin.
Join Janet’s buddy list at: http://community.eharlequin.com/users/janet-dean.
Visit the Love Inspired Authors’ My Space Page: http://www.myspace.com/lihauthors
Click the link to find out more about Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical collection.
Or chat about your favorite Steeple Hill authors and time periods at the Steeple Hill Forum.