Thursday, June 4, 2009

Janet Dean: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Janet's childhood was filled with family storytellers. The creativity and stories from then have influenced Janet's writing today.Janet reveals some little details about how she came up with names in her books, and more information about her childhood that influences her writing in subtle ways.

Be sure to leave a comment for the drawing to win Janet's newest release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter! (I'll draw a name on Saturday, June 6th, 2009.)

Let's take a look at this beauty's past!:

Childhood Ambition: At twelve I wanted to write. I illustrated my little romances, drawing my heroines in profile with turned up noses and long curly hair. I wish I had those stories today, but as I matured, they must have embarrassed me because I tossed them.

Favorite Subject in School: I loved school and liked all subjects except math. I don’t have a head for numbers, but fortunately my husband does.

My First Job: I babysat and picked strawberries for my dad, but I got my first real job during college. I took care of the younger children at an elementary school near campus while teachers had their lunch. I met my husband on that job. He oversaw the older children. We joined forces on the playground during recess. Soon children sang,” Dale and Janet sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First came love, then came marriage, then came Janet with a baby carriage.” LOL Not sure if that’s why he asked me out, but we started dating. That job gave me way more than a paycheck and five lunches a week.

Childhood Indulgence: Ice cream cones. Still love them.

Childhood Pet or Favorite Toy: The family dog, a shaggy mutt named Rags. He lived to a ripe old age, but we had to put him down following a stroke. A sad day at our house. Since then, I’ve developed allergies to cats and dogs. So our girls had hamsters, fish and a guinea pig for pets. My favorite toys were dolls. I still love them.

FAVORITE DOLL as a child: My Toni doll was my favorite by far. Mine had long dark brown hair. She came with a kit that included rods and solution for giving her a permanent. I washed her hair frequently. In the process I all but washed off her eyebrows. Anyone else have a Toni doll?

Favorite Doll you’ve collected as an adult:

I don’t collect dolls per se, but I treasure the dolls I inherited from my mother-in-law, Lois. Two are Armand Marseille dolls from Germany, Ruth and Floradora. The name of each doll is inscribed on the back of her neck along with the initials A.M. The other is a German metal head.

My mother-in-law’s A.M. doll Floradora has a kid body with jointed limbs, bisque head, open and shut eyes and blond wig. All original to the doll. The doll’s clothes were made by Lois’s grandmother. She gave Lois the doll when she was five, advising her to take good care of it as it would be her last good doll. Lois took that counsel to heart. She kept Floradora in a dresser drawer and only played with her on Sundays.

Both Ruth, a small doll much like Floradora, only with a cloth body and new wig, and the metal head belonged to Frances, Lois’s baby sister, who died at three. Frances ruined the body of the metal head doll when she used the doll to stir a kettle of apple butter. In case readers don’t know—large quantities of apple butter were made outdoors by cooking apples and sugar in copper kettles over a low flame. I named a character in the Courting series after Frances and a character in my February 2010 release, The Substitute Bride after Lois.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: My mother made me a black velvet straight skirt. I was so proud of that grown-up skirt. I wore it to our extended family Christmas celebration and split the seams jumping with my younger cousins on my grandparents’ featherbed. I was devastated and red-faced to admit I wasn’t the young lady I believed myself to be.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: I loved all of the cowboy TV shows. I could watch one after the other and never tire of them. Still love the cowboys!

Favorite Childhood Book: Black Beauty.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime: Reading and coloring. When I have the time, I now draw with colored pencils.

Childhood Hero: My mom. I thought she was beautiful. I admired her fun spirit, work ethic, and creativity. She was a quilter, made ornaments for our Christmas tree, could whip up a lovely meal and a couple pies, and volunteer in the community. I loved to sit on her bed and watch her get ready for formal occasions. I can still see her powdering her shoulders. I miss her.

Tell us a story from your childhood about being ill:
What do you remember particularly about doctor visits and interaction with him/her?

The only memory I have of doctors is a bit gruesome. When we were preschoolers, my brother and I had our tonsils removed in the hospital on the same day. My brother’s scab came off one night causing profuse bleeding. The doctor came to the house and cauterized his throat on the kitchen table. Listening to his screams, I sat on my bed and cried the entire time, thinking I would be next. I remember the doctor rebuking me for raising such a fuss. Having a doctor come to the house shows I'm ancient. Maybe I write historical fiction because I lived it. :)

(Janet with her brothers above)

Anything in your childhood which inspired Courting the Doctor’s Daughter?

In Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, my heroine wants to attend medical school. I’m no Mary Graves. I’ve never aspired to be a doctor or a nurse. In fact my stomach flops like a landed fish when I’m confronted with wounds or blood. Except for naming two of Mary’s sons after my brothers, Michael and Philip, none of the circumstances in the story came from my life. Yet I believe writers can’t help but put a part of themselves in their heroes and heroines.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: The summer before I entered fourth grade, my family moved from a city suburb to the outskirts of a tiny community five hours away. It seemed everyone was either related or knew each other from birth. I was shy so making friends wasn’t easy.

Was there ever a time in your childhood where you didn’t trust adults?

I was a shy child, but I trusted adults, even total strangers, until I was in middle school and had an inappropriate encounter with a man I’d trusted. Fortunately for me, I was aware enough to run. From that point on I was more leery of men, but oddly not really frightened. Sadly these experiences are all too common, then and now.

Fondest Memory (then): Christmas was a very special time in our house. Decorating the tree with icicles hung just so, singing Christmas carols, lighting a star-shaped candle, the excitement of Christmas morning with gifts under the tree. When we were little, my brothers and I woke before dawn. Some years our parents had barely gotten to bed, but they’d drilled into us that we weren’t to go downstairs until they were up.

How old were you when you learned to trust in God? What influences in your childhood helped to make this step?

After an appointment at the dentist at the age of five, I told my mother I’d prayed I wouldn’t have a cavity. As far as I know, this was my first awareness of answered prayer. My parents were a huge influence on me. They took us to church every Sunday, taught me right from wrong and provided a happy, loving, secure home. They frequently sang hymns in the car when we traveled. Whenever I hear “Rock of Ages” and “In the Garden,” I think of my father and mother. Our pastor preached frequently about hell and I knew I didn’t want to end up there. I didn’t understand grace then as much as I do now. I thank God that I don’t have to earn my place in Heaven.

Proudest Moment (then): Good grade cards. My dad was a teacher and I became one so perhaps that’s why I took such pride in my report card.

Anything else in your childhood which influenced the themes and writing that you do now?

I’m not sure my childhood influenced my themes of forgiveness and unconditional love—though I experienced both in my family—as much as I seem to have been born with a tender heart toward others going through tough times. That’s carried over to my characters. When they face adversity or struggle to overcome their pasts, I put myself in their shoes. How would that feel? How would their past affect their relationship with others, with God, even their self view? I suspect this empathy is how most of us are wired. Otherwise books couldn’t hold us in their grip as we experience the journey with the character. Creating that kind of book is both a huge responsibility and blessing for writers.

Thank you for having me today. It’s always a treat to be on your blog, Crystal!


Janet is one of my favorite authors, both as a person and as a writer! And she set her books in the town I was born in, Noblesville, Indiana.

Janet's Bio: Janet grew up in a family who cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. Her father recounted wonderful stories, like his father before him. The tales they told instilled in Janet a love of history and the desire to write. During their early years together, Janet and her husband found their church, joined Bible studies and developed a love of scripture and a closer walk with God.

Teaching and rearing two daughters put her dream of writing on hold, but one day she recalled her girlhood aspiration. By then she knew she wanted her stories to honor God and eagerly turned to Inspirational historical romance. Janet’s journey toward publication took nine exciting, sometimes painful years of learning her craft and dealing with rejection.

Janet's Awards for
Courting Miss Adelaide

National Reader's Choice: Best First Book

The Golden Quill: Best First Book

Bookseller's Best Award: double final, Best First Book, Inspirational

Finalist in The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Inspirational category

The second book in the Courting series, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter released in May 2009.

Courting the Doctor’s Daughter

Courting the Doctor's Daughter
by Janet Dean

Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
May 2009
Category: Inspirational
List price: $ 5.50

Buy at

An Unexpected Match

A widow with three boys to raise, Mary Graves has no time for peddlers of phony medicine. She’s a dedicated healer working alongside her doctor father. When a handsome stranger blows into town with his “elixir of health” and asks questions about her newly adopted son, Mary’s determined to uncover the truth behind all his claims.

Once the reckless heir to a Boston fortune, Dr. Luke Jacobs travels the country with his herbal medicine while searching for his long-lost son. After meeting the feisty doctor’s daughter and her youngest boy, Luke has found what he’s been looking for at last. But can he convince her to let him into her home, her family—and her heart?

Romantic Times 4 Stars:
"Dean writes from her heart, and her characters are deep and touching. This is a tender love story with unconditional love for the reader."

Courting Miss Adelaide

Mass MarketPaperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (September 9, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0373827962
ISBN-13: 978-0373827961

The “orphan train” seemed like small-town spinster Adelaide Crum’s last chance to know the simple joys of family life. So many lost children, every one of them dreaming only of a caring home—the home she longed to offer. And yet the narrow-minded town elders refused to entrust even the most desperate child to a woman alone….

Newspaperman Charles Graves believed his heart was closed forever, but he swore to stand by this lovely, lonely woman who was fighting for the right to take some motherless child into her heart. And her gentle soul and unwavering faith made him wonder if even he could overcome the bitter lessons of the past, and somehow find the courage to love….

4 1/2 Stars, Romantic Times BOOK reviews

"Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide (4 1/2) is a wonderfully sweet love story that includes facts about the orphan trains."

Copyright © 2008 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.

Janet's Awards
Fascinated by history and the role of strong women in our nation's past, Janet brings both together in her faith-based love stories. Two of her manuscripts were 2005 and 2006 Golden Heart finalists. One of those manuscripts was a 2006 Genesis finalist.
You can also order at eHarlequin.

Her debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, a Steeple Hill Love Inspired historical, released in September, 2008. Her second book in the Courting series, Courting the Doctor's Daughter released May, 2009. Her third book The Substitute Bride will release in February 2010.

See photos and more of Janet's writing journey at:

See what Janet's thoughts are at her blogspot, A Cup of Faith:

Janet and her writer friends' blog at Seekerville:
Random Drawing WINNER of Janet Dean's book, Courting the Doctor's Daughter is DOTTIE RHOADES Be sure to leave a review of her books on and and if you'd like to read a first chapter, go here:


Diana said...

This was so much fun to read! I so enjoy stories about people when they were little.

Lisa Faye Harman said...

I loved Janet's first book and can't wait to read this second one.

Thanks Crystal and Janet for a peak into the past.

Anonymous said...

Neat stories about your childhood. I love the story of the velvet skirt, that sounds like something I would have done.

Anonymous said...

Oops forgot my e-mail:

Linda said...

I'd be delighted to win 'Courting the Doctor's Daughter.' I think it's hilarious that a 'quack' salesman is challenged by the Dr.s daughter.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Dottie Rhoades said...

Wow! Now I wish I hadn't read the first chapter, as now I am craving the rest of the story! I will definitely have to pick up a copy (if I don't win this one)!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Diana, It's great to see you here. I agree. I just love the theme of Crystal's blog!


Janet Dean said...

Hi Lisa! Thanks for your lovely words about Courting Miss Adelaide. I hope you like Courting the Doctor's Daughter as much!


Janet Dean said...

Hi delightfuldwelling, what child can resist jumping on the bed? :-)
Now kids have trampolines.


Janet Dean said...

Hello Linda, yes, and Mary's challenges don't stop there. :-) Thanks for your interest in Courting the Doctor's Daughter.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Dottie, I'm delighted the first chapter made you want to read more! Sweet words to an author. Thanks!


Crystal Laine Miller said...

Janet, Dottie was my student in my student teaching class!She grew up to be a delightful person. Hi, Dottie!

So glad to have Janet here today. I had taken a few months away from here and was thrilled to have Janet as my first guest when I came back. Love her stories.

Thanks to everyone commenting. If you don't win, be like Dottie and go get her book, anyway! It doesn't cost much, and you get a nice read for the summer.

Welcome back, everyone!

Jo said...


It was great learning so much about you and reading the interview. I loved reading "Courting Miss Adelaide" and look forward to reading this new book.


Edna said...

The interview with Janet was good and fun to read, I remember the old wringer typr washer in one of her photos.
Please enter me into the drawing for the book. May God Bless


Mary Connealy said...

Janet I didn't know you were a teacher. Did you teach school? How long? What grade?

I love a mystery and you are it, woman!

Those pictures of you are adorable.

Anonymous said...

Janet, I enjoyed reading about your childhood. Now I know one more reason for your graciousness.

I too drew profile after profile and trashed all my stories out of embarrassment when I was about twelve. I sometimes wonder if I would still be embarrassed by them if I could retrieve them.

Hope to see you soon.

Crystal it was fun to visit your site.

Mary Allen said...

I'm not annonymous, I'm blog-challenged.

Erica Vetsch said...

I love the idea and format of this blog. And I love finding out neat childhood things about some of my favorite authors.

ericavetsch at charter dot net

sherrinda said...

I love to read the background behind the author!!! Annndd...I had Toni Doll and so loved to fix her up! What a fun memory!
Don't enter me into the drawing, as I have the lovely book! :)

Myra Johnson said...

What a fun trip down memory lane, and how sweet to learn how you met your charming hubby! I was a big fan of the cowboy shows, too. Gunsmoke, The Deputy, Bonanza . . . ah, those were the days.

I have read both Janet's wonderful books, so please let some other lucky commenter win the drawing.

Janet Dean said...

Crystal, I didn't know you trained teachers. I taught first grade and subbed in elementary school.

I'm thrilled to be here, Crystal. I love your When I Was Just a Kid blog!

Love Inspired books are $5.50, not bad. And if you can find them at Walmart, they're like $3.97. Of course winning one here is a real bargain.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Jo! I'm so glad you enjoyed my debut! You'll get to hook up again with Adelaide and Charles in Courting the Doctor's Daughter.


Janet Dean said...

Hello Edna! My mother wouldn't let my brothers and me in the basement when she was washing clothes. She claimed to be afraid we'd get caught in the wringer when I think she wanted peace and quiet to read. :-)


Janet Dean said...

So nice of you to come, Mary. I taught first grade for three years before we had our children. I returned to teaching as a substitute when the girls were in high school and college.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Anonymous. I'm sure you wouldn't be embarrassed now. We'd be proud of our young attempts at creativity. Sounds like we know each other and will see each other soon. Great!


Janet Dean said...

LOL, it's you, Mary! Are you coming Saturday?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Erica, Isn't this a fun blog? I am beyond honored to among some of your favorite authors! Thanks!!!


Janet Dean said...

Sherrinda, do you have your Toni doll? I've thought about buying one but felt like someone else's doll wouldn't replace mine. Still I'm tempted...


sherrinda said...

Janet, I am sad to say I do not have my Toni doll anymore. I can't remember what happened to it, I just have wonderful memories of making some sassy "do's". :)

Janet Dean said...

Thanks for coming, Myra! My husband worked his way through college so he had like four jobs when I met him with no time to date. So he quit two of those jobs and took out a college loan. Now that's love. Of course we were paying on that for a while in our early married days. Fortunately for our budget, we met in his last year of college. :-)


Janet Dean said...

I'm sorry you don't have your Toni doll, Sherrinda. I left mine at my parents for safe keeping. My toddler daughter had already broken the head of one of my dolls that I'd let her play with. My mother thought I didn't want Toni so she ended up in the trash. Sad.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janet -

Wow, it's hard to believe you remember some things so familiar to me. In your picture, you look like you're barely 30.

Dolls were my favorite toy also. I enjoyed Ginny dolls because they had so many clothes and accessories. As an adult, I purchased one, along with a trunk and extra outfits. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

I'd love to win your book. Please enter me in the drawing.

susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Crystal -

Thanks for another great interview. I'm taking lessons watching you in action. :)


Janet Dean said...

Susan, you have made my day with that age comment. That must be the wonder of photography. :-)

I'm sure I had a Ginny doll with thick blond hair and the cutest outfits and accessories. No idea what happened to her. What fun to have one now! Do you have anyone to play doll with?


~Ley said...

That is such a neat story about how you and your husband met. I can just hear all those little kids... LOL


Martha A. said...

That is so much fun to read! I loved the tonsil story!!

Patricia said...

I really appreciated the step back in time. It is hard to believe that our pasts can now qualify for historical fiction settings.
pgrau (dot) ggi (at) gmail (dot) com

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I'm always so thrilled, and so is the author, that so many leave comments.

Winner of the random drawing for Janet's book is DOTTIE RHOADES.

I put all of your names into a hat and have someone else draw the name out.

I wish all of you could win! But do go read the first chapter and picking up a copy is less than some magazines!

Thanks to all of you and especially to Janet for sharing with us of her past and of her talents.