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Interview With Janet Barton

Interview by Rhonda Gibson

1) Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

I'm married to my very own hero, Dan. We've lived all over the South but make our home in Mississippi now. We have three lovely daughters between us, and six grandchildren. I've had two novellas and five Heartsong Presents published--counting the one (Making Amends) coming out this May--with Barbour Publishing. I am working on my sixth Heartsong Presents now.

2) How did you become interested in writing?

I have always loved to read and my mother was wonderful to take us to the library. I spent many hours there choosing books to take home with me. When I was around twelve, I started reading the 'Betsy-Tacy' books by Maud Hart Loveless. They take place in the early 1900's and only end when Betsy gets married in "Betsy's Wedding." I began with "Betsy Was A Junior" and loved it so much, I had to read them all…over and over again. Betsy wanted to be a writer…and I knew that was my dream too.

3) What was your biggest obstacle in regard to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

Not long after I seriously began to write, the market changed and I decided I wasn't going to be able to sell the romances I wanted to write because those sweet stories in the secular market had become not so sweet. I knew that the Lord did not want me to write the kinds of stories that were being published in that market--and I didn't want to either. I never want to write anything that I wouldn't want my grandchildren to eventually read. So, I wasn't sure where my writing might fit. I thought maybe I should try children's stories and wrote a couple of them. I wrote several plays for VBS and loved doing that, but I just wasn't sure what direction I should take. Then my brother brought me a CBD catalog and to my great joy, I found all kinds of fiction listed in its pages. That's where I found Heartsong Presents for the first time. It was as if the Lord was telling me that I could write all those stories I wanted to write…I just needed to write them His way.

4) What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

What a hard question to answer. Of course each time I sell a story, that is wonderful, and my first book signing was a blessing because my family was right there with me and my church family drove about a hundred miles round trip to come to it and support me with their love. But the first batch of tear sheets and reader mail I received will always stand out in my mind. To hear that others have been touched by my writing is always a high moment.

5) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

I would love it if I can help bring others to Christ by getting them to pick up their Bible and find the truth through its pages. And I want to be able to give other Christians encouragement through the characters in my stories. Mostly, I just want to bring glory to His name with all that I write.

My ideas come from the Lord, of course. Many things can spark an idea from Him. Daily things that have affected me or those around me, articles in newspapers or magazines…my first story came from a fear I had of being in a new town and not knowing anyone. My husband traveled and I worried that something might happen to me while he was gone…and our three-year-old daughter would be alone in the house. Of course the Lord saw to it that never happened, but years later, that fear became Jake's nightmare in Family Circle.

6) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

I started out as a seat-of-the pants writer, but have found that I do like having an outline to go by now. Not only is it necessary to sell a book, it keeps me focused as I write it and makes the process easier.

7) What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

Barbour has tear sheets in the back of their books where readers can comment on how the story has inspired their lives. From comments that they "need to learn to forgive themselves for mistakes they've made," to "that God can take something bad and make it into something good," to that they "need to learn to turn their troubles over to the Lord." So many comments…different with each reader. Those are the comments that keep me writing and that bring tears to my eyes in gratitude that my writing has helped someone.

And I love hearing that my stories are uplifting and that they love my characters…that they seem very real to them. And that they can't wait for the next story. That is always wonderful to hear.

8) Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

I'm not sure I have a favorite. I like all of my characters. I guess my favorites are the ones in each story I've just finished. I truly loved Jeb and Beth in A Place Called Home. Then, Darcie and John's story came next in the sequel, Making Amends that will be out in May. I love them too. Now I'm excited about writing Meagan and Nick's story set here in Mississippi.

Most of my stories have been sequels or part of a series, and the characters come about from their relationships with characters in other stories. It's not long before I'm given an idea to turn a minor character into a heroine or hero with their very own story.

9) How do you deal with publisher rejections?

I try not to get too upset or take it personal. I tell myself that I don't know what kind of stories they have on their desk, or what they have already bought or recently published that is close to what I have sent them. If it's a problem with the writing, I try to learn from it. And I try to get another proposal out as soon as possible.

10) If you could give a beginner one pieces of advice what would it be?

Never stop learning the craft of writing, stay with it, and always seek to write the stories God would have you tell.


You can learn more about Janet here.

Rhonda Gibson resides in Farmington, New Mexico with Husband James. They have two married children, Lance and Stacy. Rhonda has authored two Novellas, Love of a Lifetime {Scraps of Love Anthology} and Stealing Home {The Bachelor Club Anthology} from Barbour. She is also published in Prayers and Promises Armed Forces. Rhonda has been a member of ACFW since March of 2002.

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