Let’s Chat! Author Janet Simcic

Welcome, Janet Simcic and Readers!

This week we’re visiting with Janet Simcic, a freelance writer from Southern California who misses fiercely the East Coast (the snow and all). She claims as her personal motto: If it’s not fun, don’t bother.

Speaking of fun, Janet travels extensively in Italy, which is where she sets her stories. Also, Janet’s articles appear in numerous magazines, as well as the Orange County Register.

*In addition, Janet is offering a print copy of The Man at the Rialto Bridge to one person who joins our chat below.*

**Congratulations to Ann Ellsion, winner of Janet’s fab novel, The Man at the Rialto Bridge!**

Janet Simcic Before Publishing

First of all, I was reared as an only child in a minister’s home. Because I was their first, my grandparents adored me. Likewise, my parents provided a stress-free life in the wonderful ‘50’s of Happy Days

Then, I found my “wild child” in college, my first time away from home. However, I earned a degree in English and history and taught gifted children. Later, I owned my own secretarial service and helped my husband run a large successful construction business.

Most importantly, I married and had two children who have given me 15 beautiful grandchildren

A Curve Ball for Janet

When I turned 50, life threw me a curve ball. I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  The tumor was smaller than the head on a nail. Nevertheless, it had traveled all over. After a year of chemo and a double mastectomy, my oncologist told me I could no longer take hormones. He said to learn a language or a new skill or take math courses. (The math made me break out in hives.  I’ve never balanced my check book. But that’s another story.)

Because my grandfather was the light of my life, I chose genealogy and traced his Italian roots. (Click to Tweet!) 

Also, I learned Italian and am now fluent and love to travel to Italy.


In addition, 
I speak at women’s organizations about my battle with breast cancer, love of Italy, and overcoming adversity.

Janet Simcic’s Road to All Things Italian

On one occasion, a group of women and I rented a villa on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Subsequently, I decided I should trade in my journalism skills for novel skills.

Similarly,my extensive travel to Italy and love of the culture and language prompted me to write a non-fiction book: An American Chick’s Guide to Italy. As a result, I consult with travelers who are going to Italy for the first time. 

Janet’s Debut Experience

My first novel, The Man at the Caffe Farnese, takes place in Rome. I dedicated it to my oncologist. After sending it out many times, I snatched a New York agent who loved the book. BUT India was in at the time.  So he asked me to change the location of the story to India, and we “broke up.” 

Then I researched small publishing houses and did a combo small house/Create Space marriage… and the rest is history.  Finally, I built a website, marketed myself, made my platform everything Italian. Consequently, I had a successful launch. The sequel, The Man at the Spanish Steps, released in September 2016.

My latest, The Man at the Rialto Bridge, takes place on a Mediterranean cruise, beginning and ending in Italy.

What’s Janet Simcic Up To When Not Writing?

First, I play an active role in the lives of my 15 grandchildren. In addition, I serve as recording secretary of the California Writers Club and frequently appear at book clubs where I share my adventures, books, writing, and knowledge of Italy with reader fans. Finally, I direct a critique group and am active in my church

Also, I’m an avid reader. My favorite authors are Nicholas Sparks, Daniel Silva, and Brad Thor, but I read new authors and enjoy the classics. Above all, my favorite is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. In fact, one year I taught its beauty and lessons to gifted students. 

Encouragement and Advice from Janet Simcic

Getting an agent these days is tough. Seemingly, you must be famous, have a drug problem, be a TV star, etc. As a result, I decided to brand myself as an Italy expert in concert with my The Man at … novels and write the non-fiction .book on Italy. Turns out, this has been a smart move. Now I sell my books to book clubs and speak publicly anywhere and at anytime. Also, I consult on Italy travel, and have built myself a nice fan base.

Significantly, women’s issues are woven into my stories—dealing with breast cancer,  family dynamics, alcoholism, forgiveness, and restoration.

If you love to write, don’t stop. There are many ways to publish now. However, unless your name is John Grisham or others on his scale, the publishing houses no longer promote. Therefore, authors must market themselves. 

Not surprisingly, it’s a lot of work. But I do it for the love of writing and Italy. For example, I just returned from a three-week villa trip to Rome and Florence. Now I’m midway through a new book with fresh insight.

Like me, everyone has a story. WRITE IT!

How to Find Janet Simcic and Her Books

Website

The Man at the Caffe Farnese

The Man at the Spanish Steps (sequel)

The Man at the Rialto Bridge

The Man at the Villa La Fonte (Coming in 2018)

An American Chick’s Guide to Italy

~ ~ ~

Lord, You declare Your glory in the heavens and in heavenly locations on Earth—like Italy. Janet has walked through personal valleys of fear and pain. But through her You’ve shown how such valleys can be transformed into mountaintops of joy and peace. Therefore, we pray You’ll keep Janet’s body free of cancer and use her to show the beauty of Your creation and the joy of living the life You’ve ordained for her. May we all learn the same.
~ For Jesus’ sake

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Author Janet Simcic

  1. Marilyn R

    Another new author introduced to me here on this blog. Thank you for featuring Janet Simcic. Your book set in Italy sounds delightful since it’s a setting I haven’t read in books. Blessings.

     
     
    1. I agree, Marilyn. The Italy angle is a delightful change of pace. I told Janet when I first “met” her online that I’ve had plans for several years to include Italy in my third novel. Now I have an expert I can consult with 😊 Thanks for visiting with us.

       
       
      1. Okay, Linda….You cannot write about Italy unless you actually go to Italy. The aromas, the food, the history, the art, the utter beauty, the joy of the Italian people…Can you tell the trip in October has worn off and I need to go back soon. I have acquired many friends in Italy…met some at Disneyland, some at random, some on cruises…been to family weddings and funerals.
        But…I’ll help you see Italy vicariously. 🙂

         
         
        1. Ahhh. Take me away …

           
           
    2. Thank you, Marilyn. If Alitalia doesn’t fall to bankruptcy, it is a delightful airline and has more direct flights to Rome than anyone.
      I am a certified cappuccino snob. Ha! Charbucks doesn’t do it for me. So I always suggest for a good cup of real cappuccino, make an airline reservation for Rome, taxi to the Pantheon, walk the street behind it and have the best cup of cap in all of Italy. Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffe’ in Rome. Ahhhh! Ho bisogno andare in Italia! Translation…I need to go now!

       
       
  2. Ann Ellison

    Enjoyed the interview with a new to me author. Her book sounds like a good one.

     
     
    1. Just imagining the story makes me want to fly away to Italy. (If only I could 🙂

       
       
    2. Dear Ann! I have tried so hard to write about “real” life…nothing against “Hallmark” movies…but come on! 🙂 In actuality I write what I know about people in my life. This story about Olivia could be about thousands of women and men who have been affected by “family secrets.” Without forgiveness, you cannot move forward.
      I have been on 7 Mediterranean cruises. So on my last cruise, I decided…why not write about a person I know who was in this situation and combine it with all the favorite ports I’ve visited.
      Just fresh from returning from a 3 week villa trip to Italy with 5 of my favorite girlfriends….I have finally plowed through half of my new novel. and…I’d love everyone’s opinion on this…a stunning, and I do mean STUNNING man of about 40 waited on me at the elegant Florian Caffe’ on the Piazza San Marcos. He was bald. I took a photo and asked him if I could use his face as a character in my new novel. He was thrilled. So, my question to all of you in this discussion…what about a handsome bald man for a protagonist? I’m nervous about it…but in my last scene I read to my critique group…I’d removed all his curly dark hair. reactions?

       
       
      1. Bald is in, girl!

         
         
  3. Ciao, Paula,
    My grandfather immigrated to America in 1913. He was the light of my life. I never was able to travel overseas when I was young like the kids do today. But after breast cancer, I made my first trip to Europe and when I finally made it to Italy, I had tears in my eyes at the beauty and history of this country. I immediately started to write and learned the language…io parlo Italiano molto bene!
    The Man at the Realto Bridge takes you on a wonderful Mediterranean cruise…and reveals those hidden family secrets and forgiveness. Enjoy.

     
     
  4. Paula

    Thanks for opening up a new category of fiction and a new author to me! I have never been to Italy , so maybe I can travel there vicariously! Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

     
     
    1. Thanks for joining the circle, Paula. So glad you’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to meet Janet. Doesn’t her book sound delightful? You’re entered in the drawing 🙂

       
       

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Let’s Chat! Author Michele Huey

Welcome, Readers. And welcome, Michele Huey!

This week we chat with women’s contemporary fiction/romantic suspense author Michele Huey who’s been in love with words since she was a child.

You’re going to LOVE Michele and her story, so gather ’round for an enchanting conversation.

*Michele’s giving away one of her books to someone who comments below. So join in, everyone.*

**Congratulations to Ann Ellison, winner of this week’s drawing!**

Michele Huey’s Background

I was born and raised in the Monongahela Valley in southwestern Pennsylvania. About 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, this steel mill valley boasted mills all along the Monongahela River, which I could see from my house in Donora

Certainly, high fevers as an infant impacted my life by causing permanent auditory nerve damage and leaving me with a lifelong 40-percent hearing loss. Because of this, I turned to books for entertainment. Lying on the hardwood floor in front of the bookcase and paging through each volume of our World Book encyclopedia set, I found the stories and pictures captured me.

Subsequently, the hearing loss profoundly affected my personality. I became a talker (like nonstop). Because listening required hearing, it was easier to talk than to listen. Talking meant less embarrassment when I missed or misheard what someone else was saying. Consequently, this made me appear to be an extrovert, but I am really an introvert. I treasure times of solitude and quiet.

Michele Huey’s Treasured Memories

Certainly, a week my family spent in a log cabin in Cook forest when I was nine impacted my life. The result (and probably purpose) of that vacation was the purchase of a one-room, rustic cabin on the other side of the mountain from Cook Forest.

T
he cabin without electricity or indoor plumbing stood on concrete block piers in the middle of the forest on rather swampy ground which, ironically, yielded water that was undrinkable and unusable due to the high iron content. Dad promised he’d put in electricity, drill a well, build a foundation, install plumbing, and add rooms, but I suspect he wanted a hunting camp.

However, what he got was a family camp and a whole lotta work that was never completed. Mom named the place “Camp St. Jude,” after the saint of impossible cases. Whether the impossible case was the cabin or my dad is a mystery to this day.

Camp St. Jude


T
hereafter, w
e spent many weeks, mostly summer months, remodeling it. My carpenter dad added a room, put in the foundation, and installed electricity. However, indoor plumbing did not happen because there was no well. We got our water from a neighbor, whose well was good. Or we’d drive to a mountainside where water gushed down the rocks and fill containers with cool, refreshing mountain water.

Consequently, no indoor plumbing meant trips to the poogy (pronounced like “hookie” with a g) house (what we called the outhouse) during the day. And using a galvanized bucket at night. Who’d want to make a midnight trek to a poogy with all forest critters and beasts around?

Oh, there is so much I could say about this place that became my happy place. It’s no longer in the family, but we have access to it through lifelong friends who purchased it. 

O
f course, I fell in love with the mountains. So, when it came time for college, I chose one not far from Camp St. Jude. When it came time for my first teaching job, I applied to one in a town an hour to the south of Camp St. Jude.

I used this area for the setting in The Heart Remembers and Getaway Mountain and western Pennsylvania in Mid-Love Crisis and Ghost Mountain.

Although my older brother and sister felt no such connection—or resonance—with Camp St. Jude, to this day I love mountains and solitude and simple days and ways.

Michele Huey’s College Years

In college, I wanted to major in writing, but back then (late 1960s, early 1970s) writing was not offered as a major. So I took the closest thing: English. And since English was offered as a secondary education specialty, I took the English education course. Comprehensive English because I had no minor. There wasn’t anything else I was interested in. Only words.

I graduated in three years without college debt because the Pennsylvania Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation paid all college expenses—tuition, room and board, books—and provided me with a hearing aid—my first.

So when I graduated from high school, I heard birds singing for the first time in my life. (Click to Tweet!)

Off to Work

I didn’t think I’d like teaching. My heart was in writing, so I took every writing course the college (Clarion State College, now Clarion University of Pennsylvania) had to offer. But a funny thing happened. When I stood in a classroom my first day of student teaching: a light went on and has never gone out. I LOVED teaching. I still do.

I worked full time as a junior high English teacher, but when my first child was born, I opted to be a stay-at-home mom. I went back to teaching as a substitute teacher when my three children were school age but was unable to obtain a permanent position.

When the door to teaching—my passion—slammed shut, I brought writing to the front burner. (Click to Tweet!)

Michele Huey, the Writer

Surprisingly, I got into writing because of my teaching. Subbing for a reading teacher on a semester-long sabbatical, I searched eight filing cabinet drawers for a teaching unit on the daily newspaper. Back then we did not have internet access to the plethora of materials offered online today.

The local newspaper donated daily papers for class use, and I never let a day go by without reading my newspaper. All I found was segments of lessons: the inverted pyramid style of writing. That’s it.

After all, what’s a snippet when the newspaper contains so much more? News articles. Editorials. Comics. Local news. Advertisements. Not finding what I wanted, I wrote and taught a unit on the newspaper.

While I was writing the unit, ideas for stories kept popping into my head. I’d scribble them on a scrap of paper and slip them into a file folder marked “Ideas.” This was in the mid-1990s.

As an avid Guideposts reader, I noticed they were holding a writers workshop, I wrote up my submission, “My Mother’s Refrigerator,” and sent it in. A few months later, I got a call from a Guideposts editor.

“We loved your story,” he said. “We want to publish it.” Talk about doing an exuberant happy dance! “Wisdom from an Old Refrigerator” was published in the September 1995 issue.

And so the journey began.

Michele’s Debut Novelist Experience

At the Sr. Davids Christian Writers Conference in western Pennsylvania, Melanie Rigney, Virelle Kidder, and I formed “The Novel Buds.” We wanted to delve into writing fiction. And so we did, submitting our chapters to each other to critique.

First, I wrote Before I Die. The opening line of the book summarizes the plot: “Before I die, I want to fall in love again.” I had fun writing it and jumped right into The Heart Remembers.

Next, I penned the story of an Army nurse who meets, falls in love with, and marries a Dustoff (medical evacuation helicopter) pilot while on her tour of duty in the Vietnam War. He goes MIA, the end of Part 1.

Finally, Part 2 is modern day, when she finds him—without memory of his life before his chopper crashed in ’Nam. Now he’s the caretaker of the resort where she attends her fortieth class reunion. No spoilers. You’ll have to read it to find out the end of that love story. And it is a love story, not a romance.

Both books were published by a publishing company with whom I am no longer affiliated. Recently, I re-released The Heart Remembers as an independent author-publisher. Before I Die is now following with a new cover and a new title, Mid-LOVE Crisis, which better captures the essence of the story.

What’s up with Michele Huey now?

My third novel, Getaway Mountain, is the first book in the PennWoods Mystery series. Next, I plan to release Ghost Mountain, Book Two in the series, by the end of this 2017. This story has been a struggle to write. I’m currently on my sixth revision. But I’m working with a developmental editor, who’s helping me to sort out all the ideas, scenes, and characters swirling around in my head, looking for a place to land. I’m learning a lot. Which is what I should be doing. After all, I must continue learning, honing, and refining to plumb the depths of the talent God gave me.

Finally, the third book in the series will be Gem Mountain. All three are set in western Pennsylvania, hence the name of the series—PennWoods. I love the forested mountains of Pennsylvania. And I love to incorporate the rich history of the area—the legends, myths, stories. Interestingly, I enjoy the research as much as I love getting lost in the story and characters.

Future Projects for Michele Huey

My idea of writing fiction is like riding a horse. First, get on him. Next, point him in the direction I want to go. Then, slap his behind. And finally, hang on as the ride (the story) takes me where it wants to go.

Yes, I’m a “pantser” (write by the seat of my pants), but I’m learning to be a plotter to write a good mystery. Which is why it’s taken me six drafts to get a clear picture of where Ghost Mountain is supposed to go.

Besides Gem Mountain, I’m planning Office of Divine Intervention. And perhaps a historical novel I began several years ago. It’s a story based on events that occurred in Whiskey Run, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s.

Where to Find Michele online

My website

My blog

Facebook

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Pinterest

Oh, Lord, our God of Surprises, how we adore Your ways. Who would’ve thought an infant burning with fever would suffer hearing loss that would lead her to a love for words that would transport her into imaginary worlds where You await Michele Huey’s readers. Michele’s life story is fascinating, which You’ve turned into a prelude to the stories she writes today. Bless each word Michele writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake

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19 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Author Michele Huey

  1. Marilyn

    It’s always nice to meet new authors here on your blog, Linda. Michele’s journey to being published held many highlights. Thank you for sharing. A rustic cabin with modern conveniences would be a great getaway to write and read.

     
     
    1. Wouldn’t a cabin in the woods be wonderful? Ahhhh. Thanks for dropping in, Marilyn. You’re entered in the drawing.

       
       
  2. I just happened to stop in, and I’m glad I did. Michele, your books look like something I’d enjoy … so I will be writing the titles on my purchase list. 🙂

     
     
    1. Hi, Karen. So glad you popped in. Your purchase list and mine are growing! Thanks, friend!

       
       
  3. Ann Ellison

    Wonderful interview. I love Michele’s books.

     
     
    1. So great to see you in our circle, Ann! You’re such a faithful follower. Thank you.

       
       
  4. Terri Shiock

    Thank you for the interview. It is nice to know a bit more about my favorite 7th grade teacher. I have read two of Michelle’s books and plan to read the others.

     
     
    1. How cool is that??!! What a joy seeing you here will be to Michele!

       
       
  5. Elaine Manders

    I loved the description of Camp St Jude because I knew people who lived like that when I was a child, not quite as rustic, but close. Thank you, Linda, for introducing another new-to-me author.

     
     
    1. Thank you for joining us, Elaine!

       
       
  6. […] Click here to read today’s “Let’s Chat!” blog.  […]

     
     
  7. Thank you, Linda. You’ve done a wonderful job!

     
     
    1. Thank you, Michele. And thank you for being our guest!

       
       
  8. Good morning, Linda and Michele. I enjoyed the interview!

     
     
    1. So glad you could join us, Gail! Please come again.

       
       
  9. Paula

    Loved the life story of Michelle! I used to visit Pennsylvania as a child but near Gettysburg. These books look fascinating! Thanks for the chance to win!

     
     
    1. It’s great to see you in our chat circle, Paula. Thanks for joining the conversation.

       
       
  10. I am happy to learn about Michele and her stories. I am adding the stories to my “to be read” list.

     
     
    1. Hi, Melissa. So glad you could join us! Please come again.

       
       

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