Janice S. C. Petrie has been enchanted by the sea for as long as she can remember. She became a certified SCUBA diver while in high school, and spent many years exploring coastal waters. Her fascination with marine invertebrates grew while working for the New England Aquarium as an Outreach Specialist. Since then, she’s spent years caring for these fascinating sea animals, and teaching children and adults about the habitats and sea life commonly found near the shore. The material covered in her children’s stories are topics commonly taught by Petrie in her popular sea animal programs. Petrie has experience in all facets of the sea, having worked as an assistant plant manager of a large, Gloucester/Boston seafood company.
In her free time, Petrie made many trips to the Ossipee, New Hampshire area to visit with the Ossipee Historical Society, the Carroll County Courthouse, and the Concord State Library, trying to piece together the events of 1916 that kept everyone mesmerized while the tragic story was unfolding, yet was seldom mentioned years later. She gained interest in this story after learning the cottage she spent a single night vacationing in as a baby, seemed to be occupied by an unsettling presence.
As a certified teacher, grades K-8, and a Reading Specialist, all ages, Petrie has earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees in the field of education, with a concentration in reading. Petrie also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art, with a graphic design concentration. Because of her background in developing integrated curriculum units for elementary and middle schools, Petrie has available on her website, free, downloadable curriculum packets for each of her children’s books.
Interview with Publisher’s Weekly
by Drucilla Schultz / November 7, 2016
Want to Succeed at Self-Publishing?
Harness Your Passion: Tips from an Indie Author
Janice Petrie’s life has always fueled her writing. Her experience as an outreach specialist for the New England Aquarium helped inform her picture books, while growing up near — and once staying the night in — a haunted, lakeside cottage gave her non-fiction a unique perspective. When she decided to try self-publishing, she wanted to “produce well-written books that readers would find entertaining and interesting.” Perfection to a Fault, an indie true crime tale of a gruesome 1916 murder of a wife by her husband, received a positive review from Publishers Weekly, with our reviewer calling it “crisp” and “quick-moving,” and praising Petrie for “expertly put[ting] details into historical context.”
When she started her own indie publishing company in 2000, Petrie admits self-publishing wasn’t a popular choice: “There wasn’t a lot of information out there at the time…I familiarized myself with the importance of copyrighting my work, found a wonderful copyeditor, and explored avenues of distribution, a necessity if you want to have a presence in many nationwide bookstores. My focus was more on writing and illustrating than marketing at the onset, and I’ve spent the past couple of years adjusting this important balance.”
Early on, Petrie underestimated how difficult it would be to create a following for her work. “As an individual making the decision to become an independent publisher, there’s nothing to fear, but achieving success will take a creative marketing strategy, and a bit of luck,” she says. “Without marketing firmly in place, your books stand little chance of being read by many.”
Petrie also stresses the importance of editorial reviews and awards: “Understanding how the review system works was a game changer for my titles. I was unaware that independent publishers’ books would be considered for awards.”
We asked Petrie to give us three tips for aspiring indie authors:
Harness Your Passion
“Write about subjects for which you’re passionate, and be ready to share your expertise with others. People will be attracted by your enthusiasm, and want to learn more about you and your work, which could ultimately lead to a following.”
Explore Social Media
“Learn everything you can about social media and leave no avenue unexplored. Make sure your work is polished, and seek out reviews and awards. Enter trade shows where your target audience is gathered. It’s your best chance to reach potential book buyers, without having your own daytime talk show.”
The Importance of Persistence
“The most important attribute you need is persistence. Even if you have great books, you’re going to experience roadblocks and rejection. You have to be resilient. After a moment of despair, you need to pick yourself up, and understand with an unwavering belief that you will triumph in the end.”
Interesting Mix of Genres
Reporter Wendall Walter’s interview question: “You’ve published the historical fiction “Bay State Skye,” a true-crime murder-mystery called “Perfection to a Fault,” and several picture books for kids. That’s a very interesting mix. How did that come about?”
I’ve had a personal connection to every story I write:
My grandparents owned the property where the murder occurred in Perfection To A Fault.
I met a group of 5th graders at Crane Beach who were terrified of a horseshoe crab they had found, and after teaching the kids a little about horseshoe crabs they were no longer afraid and actually tried to protect it by putting it back in the water. I’ve been teaching children and adults about coastal marine invertebrates for years and thought that if I write The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab, a fun, colorfully illustrated book to teach kids and their parents about one of my favorite sea animals, horseshoe crabs could someday become as beloved as whales are, another sea creature that was feared in the past.
I wrote and illustrated Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea? to clear up the mystery of what sea animal makes a perfectly drilled hole in the seashells we find at the beach. Beach goers find them all the time and make necklaces out of the clamshells, but not many people know what creature drills the hole.
Teachers in Maine asked me to write a book about lobsters that they could use as a fun way to begin their state mandated lobster unit. I told them it had already been done but changed my mind when a lobsterman brought me a gorgeous cyan blue lobster to take to schools. Some students named the lobster George and through working with George, I thought of an unusual story, Something’s Tugging on My Claw!, that highlighted a little-known defense mechanism that lobsters have, which led to the opportunity to introduce the concept of regeneration of lost claws. These books have been so well-received that the rangers at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Maine are using them as a fun way to teach kids about the marine invertebrates found in the Gulf of Maine.
Being from a second-generation seafood processing family and having worked in the business for several years myself, I couldn’t resist telling some of the bizarre things that happened in this age-old occupation in the Bay State Skye.
–Compiled by Wendall Waters, July 27, 2018
Silver Falchion Award Ceremony in Nashville TN
Mystery writer and event founder, Clay Stafford, presented Janice S. C. Petrie with the 2014 Silver Falchion Award for Best Children’s Picture Book in August at the “Killer Nashville” mystery writers conference. We are absolutely thrilled, and excited about the upcoming adventure that “Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?” is about to set out on. Clay says this book is going to travel the world!
“Perfection To A Fault” Talk & Book Signing at Freedom, New Hampshire’s Old Home Days
Book & Curriculum Presentation at
Wellington’s Barnes & Noble
Book Signing & Sea Animal Display at the Holiday Stroll
The American Library Association Conference, Orlando, June, 2016
New England Library Association Conference
PAS North Shore Reading Council Presentation