Today we’re shining the Writer Spotlight on Michigan author Janice Broyles. Janice was born in Royal Oak, raised in Madison Heights and spent her childhood and teen years in the downstate area. Janice married and received her bachelor’s degree and was then offered a teaching position in Gaylord. She was surprised by the snowy, cold winters compared to the southeastern part of the Mitten! After 13 years in Gaylord, Janice got hired by Baker College in Cadillac, so she and her husband decided to make the move, and they’ve been in Cadillac ever since. Janice dreams of moving south someday (trust me Janice, it’s way too hot down there:), because she hasn’t learned to like winter yet. But she still thinks Michigan is beautiful- April through November! So happy to have you here today Janice. Now let’s get started on your writer story. . .
Mitten: When did you start writing for children or otherwise, and how did you know it was something you wanted to do?
Janice: Interestingly enough, I started writing a middle grade book when I was teaching at Gaylord Middle School. I couldn’t get the boys to read, and I realized there weren’t a lot of “boy” books. That started me on my writing journey. It wasn’t long before writing became a necessity. When I transferred up to the high school, I started writing young adult novels. It is my passion. My first novel to be published is coming out next year. It’s titled, The Secret Heir, and is an upper YA/New Adult depiction of the story of David. Writing Biblical fiction was a daunting task because I wanted it to stay true to Scripture. I studied and researched that time period, and completely fell in love with the characters. I am so excited that The Secret Heir will be my first published novel.
One more thing, last year I had an inspirational nonfiction book published, and that is a whole other story! That book, called No Longer Rejected, started as my testimony to how I overcame the rejection in my life. I never expected it to be picked up as fast as it was.
So, I guess I’m trying to say, that I love writing: be it fiction or nonfiction.
Mitten: How did you find out about SCBWI and how long have you been a member?
Janice: I joined SCBWI in 2005, and I discovered it from Writer’s Digest magazine. I had finished that middle-grade novel, and I wanted to learn the tricks of the trade. WD had some article about children’s books and mentioned it. That was it. I paid my dues and went to my first SCBWI-Michigan conference. I was hooked.
Mitten: What genres are you most interested in and why? Picture books, middle grade, YA, chapter books, poetry, nonfiction?
Janice: I write everything, but I love young adult fiction and new adult fiction. I even read it more than anything else (maybe I’m young at heart). With that said, I love middle-grade fiction, and I could see myself writing nonfiction. Hey, I’m eclectic! J
Mitten: Tell us about your publishing journey. Are you pre-published or published, and if so where?
Janice: I could write a book on my publishing journey (lol). I wrote a little about it in another section, but I will say this: I’ve always been a writer. I didn’t take it seriously until 2004/2005. From there, I have had three literary agents, have written a total of SEVEN middle grade or young adult fiction novels, and stopped counting rejections when I hit 200 (it was depressing). Then last year, I pitched a nonfiction idea about overcoming rejection to a Christian publishing editor, and that was it. No Longer Rejected came out a year later.
This past January, my agent and I pitched The Secret Heir to Heritage Beacon Press (of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), and I signed a contract for my first novel to be published. Am I making tons of money? Nope. But my books are becoming available to readers, and that makes me SO happy!
Mitten: Many of us have a job other than writing for children. Tell us something about what you do outside of writing.
Janice: I teach English and Communications at Baker College.
Mitten: How does this occupation inform your writing?
Janice: I am surrounded by reading and writing and editing. Yes, I am surrounded by words, words, and more words. And I love it!
Mitten: Where do you get most of your writing ideas? Do you write them down, keep them in a computer file or just store them in your memory?
Janice: Everyday life. Everywhere. An idea usually hits me out of the blue. Then I will hurry and type out some brief thoughts and usually a tentative page or two (to find the voice for the piece).
Mitten: We all have favorite writers that inspire us. Name two of yours and why you like them.
Janice: Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help. Her voice in that book is flawless. Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Her gift for words and the lyrical quality to them is delightful. I also have mad respect for classic authors: Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and John Steinbeck for very different reasons. Austen’s characterization of her heroines is a perfect concoction for the female reader. Poe’s use of language and mood is second to none. And Steinbeck’s symbolism, theme, and dialogue, like in Of Mice and Men, are excellent.
Mitten: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer for children? Why?
Janice: Don’t talk down to the reader. Write, read, write, repeat. Never give up. It’s a tough business, but if you truly are a writer, you’re going to write. And that applies to any genre or age group.
Thanks so much for stopping by Janice, and congratulations on your new books! No matter how cold it gets, we’re glad you’re part of our Mitten family. You can learn more about Janice at www.janicebroyles.com.
And remember to watch your email. You never know when the Writer Spotlight will shine on you!