About Janet, as the author

Making Music
Reunion and book tour
New Roads
Fun for kids
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Meet My Dear Phebe
A Trip to the Bay
Max Stryker Mysteries
JES Bookspotters
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Janet at Romantic Times in NYC
My Tribute
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Looking Ahead
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About Janet, as the author
Where to Find Me
Patrick and Grace
Wish I'd Never Gone To...
John Grisham and Me
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My Books
Your Road Map to Dunnottar
Bank Roll Excerpt



How it all began, and where it's led

Every good writer starts out as a good reader. As a child, my parents encouraged me to read. I often went to bed with a book in my hands, the lights on (which was my undoing), trying to sneak a few chapters of Nancy Drew or Anne of Green Gables in before I got caught. One day, frustrated, I told Mr. Carlson, who owned the local Grinden's Dime Store, about my dilemma. He wisely told me to slide a rug over the vent in the floor so my parents couldn't see that my light was still on. This worked for several months, until I forgot to move it one morning and my goose was cooked!
After I graduated from high school, I graduated from Bethany Missionary Training Institute in Minneapolis, MN. I then took a literature workshop at Moody Bible Institue in Chicago, and while I was a missionary candidate at Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC) in Philadelphia, I studied music at Temple University. I then served as a missionary for nine years in Venazuela, first alone, and then with Ivan and two of our children.
I dabbled in writing over the years, but it was not until we returned from Venezuela that I got serious about it. I wanted to write our experiences before I forgot them. Writing, to me, became addictive. I began small, with my first published article in a religious magazine where the editor credited it to "anonymous" because he wasn't sure I wanted to be known! Vanity is thy name! Have you ever known a truly humble writer? Fortunately, the article was too long to go in one issue, so the second half bears the byline, "Janet E. Smith, author."
My first "big break" came as a total fluke, as is true of most of our lives. I kept stumbling across a tollfree phone number for a publisher called "Heritage Quest." I finally weakened and called it, and learned that they published a magazine called (surprisingly) Heritage Quest. It was a magazine about genealogy, which had become another passion of mine. I sent an article to them "on spec," and after redoing it 6 times, the then editor, Don Vincent, asked me if I could do that for every issue. It is more than ten years later, and I am now a contributing editor for Heritage Quest, with a regular column called "In the Craziest Places" and usually a regular feature article as well. (I did pass on the issue that had features on "Being organized!)
I have had many articles published in magazines since then in such magazines as Woman's World, Ladies' Home Journal, Historic Travels, BBW (Big Beautiful Woman), many religious periodicals, and I am the associate editor for the MinnDakota Memories and Mysteries.
But my love was writing fiction. My husband and I have run a charitable "Helps" organization in the Red River Valley of ND and MN for over 30 years. We deal with people with problems on a daily basis. My fiction writing has provided me with an "escape route." I can always make a happy ending! Real life might not be perfect, but this one isn't half bad!

I've been lucky. Blessed, maybe is a better word for it. Recently I've had several people question my claim at the top of my website of being a "best-selling author." I keep hearing the line from Dragnet: "We want the facts, ma'am.
Just the facts." So, to satisfy all of your curiosities, here are the facts.
You haven't seen my name on the 
New York Times best-seller list?
Neither have I. Does that mean I'm
not a best-seller? No way! My first 
fictional book, Dunnottar, was published in
June, 2000. In less than a month it was the
No. 1 best-seller on of all titles
on Scotland, from more than 8000 titles. Hey,
to a "new kid on the block," that was a best-seller
list I was mighty proud of! I still have the printout
to prove it. Then, a couple of months later, our local
Barnes & Noble told me that Dunnottar was the
best-selling book they had carried in the store since
its opening in July, 2000. They tell me that the same
is still true today. Yes, they say that in this particular
store I have outsold Harry Potter, John Grisham
and Mary Higgins Clark. My first publisher, even though
things went very awry with them, never revoked
the claim that all of my books (5 which were
published with them) were the best-selling books
they printed. I think that is still true, although all
our ties have been severed. If you check on on Dunnottar, you will find that
many weeks it is still the No. 1 or No. 2 best-seller
of all books they have available on both Charles I and
Charles II. In fact, it was so popular on
that they created a separate category just for Dunnottar
Castle, and my book is the only one on the list!
The other problem people seem to have with my
credibility is that I have had the good fortune of
meeting (some in person and some on-line) many
famous people. Now, you can believe it or not,
as Ripley used to say, but here are just a few:
Mary Higgins Clark (she even gave me the name
of her researcher in England, since she wrote
about the Hallett family--and that is my family),
Hubert Humphrey (I sat on his lap when I was in
6th grade and he was the governor of Minnesota),
a U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela (who managed
to get me invited to a presidential banquet there,
where I met the president of Venezuela), Ike and
Mamie Eisenhower (who hosted me and three
fellow missionary candidates at their Gettysburg
farm for a Sunday supper), the pop band Smash
Mouth, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence
Thomas and Sandra Day O'Connor, and these
are just the ones I've met in person. On-line I
have become good friends with such writers as
Deb Stover, Jackie Collins, Millie Criswell (we
tried to get our kids together, but one lives in CA
and the other one in NY), mystery writer Rhys
Bowen, Julie Kenner and I could go on and on.
Bertrice Small sends me jokes (privately) almost
weekly. I have been invited to visit the Italian villas
of both Jude Devereaux and Katherine Falk (the
founder and CEO of Romantic Times Magazine).
As I said at the beginning of this article, "I've been
lucky. Blessed is a better word." And that, my
friends, is the facts. Just the facts.
I wish you all as much success as the good Lord
has allowed me to have. And if you want to know
more, just go to, or any
number of hundreds of other online bookstores
and you will find me there. And if that isn't enough,
take a trip to and do a search
for Janet Elaine Smith. Hey, you'll find me everyplace!

As I neared the completion of DUNNOTTAR for publication, the issue of a cover came to the forefront. I had an photo of Dunnottar Castle in Scotland from an old National Geographic. I had always envisioned using it if DUNNOTTAR ever became a reality. So, I called National Geographic and asked them about the photo. "Yes," they assured me, "we still have the original photo. Yes, you can use it. But it will cost $5000 each time you do a run of the book!"
Well, scrap that idea in a hurry!
Ivan suggested having a picture of the castle painted. Thus began the search for an artist. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. I have a very good friend, Bonny Crow, whom I have known for probably over 20 years. Since she dabbles in art (she has a BA in Art which she got just a few years ago!), I was relating my tale of woe to her. She listened, sympathized, but said nothing much about my problem. It was a couple of hours later when it hit me: Bonny is an artist! So, I called her back and she graciously agreed to do the cover for DUNNOTTAR. We formed an unofficial partnership, and she will be doing all my covers. I tell her (with a great degree of embarrassment) "I have helped make both of us a little more famous, and maybe someday we will both be rich, too!" But in the meantime, we are both having fun. I owe a great deal of the success of my books to Bonny. Unlike popular belief, I am firmly convinced that you can judge a book by its cover. (See them all on "My Books.")



Like life in general, there comes a time to move ahead. That is what I am doing with my new publisher, Star * Publish. They are a small group, but we have already formed a bond of friendship that goes far deeper than just a business arrangement. Kristie Leigh Maguire, the owner of Star * Publish, and I have known each other for quite a few years. We are more like sisters than we are business partners. She had been after me for quite some time to join forces with her. Suddenly, everything came into place and I knew it was time to hang my wishes on a Star--Star * Publish, that is. I am extremely proud to be a part of the authors at Star * Publish, where they believe in quality more than quantity.
In addition to being one of their authors, I have been asked to work with them as their Marketing Consultant. It is a real challenge to help their authors take their books to the Stars--and beyond--but it is very rewarding and I am enjoying it, and their other authors, greatly.
If you have a book you believe in, send a query to and see if it passes muster. If it does, I'll see you among the Stars.


A great book is like a great mind; it keeps on giving
over and over and over again!
Check Janet's books out here.