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Getting Published, with Janice Ballenger

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With emergency medical technician/deputy coroner Janice Ballenger


In “Getting Published” we follow the efforts of various writers as they work on their books, look for agents and publishers, go through the publishing process, and embark on their marketing. We look at their proposals, query letters, and marketing plans and share in their reactions as they hear, or don’t hear, from agents and editors.

During the journey, we’ll ask for your comments and read them on the show. In that way, even though each series is one writer’s story, their work will become a kind of collaboration between them and you. We hope the show will provide insight into the publishing process and help guide you in your own efforts.

Shows will be posted on a semi-regular schedule—whenever our writers have something to report or listeners have offered feedback.

In addition to working full time as a nurse in a skilled nursing facility, Janice Ballenger devotes approximately one 24-hour shift per week on call as Deputy Coroner, covering the entire county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She also volunteers at least 24 hours a month as an EMT (emergency medical technician) with Ephrata Community Ambulance Association.

When she became an EMT more than ten years ago, she began keeping a journal and clipping news articles about the calls she went out on. While writing in the journals was very therapeutic, she planned on writing a book about her experiences one day. As Deputy Coroner, she has seen, smelled, and touched things most people have difficulty just hearing about. But she suffuses events, even the most negative, with her own brand of enlightened compassion. She seems to be able to process heinous homicides or grisly car accidents and still hold hope in her heart. Suffering and anguish move through her, coming out the other side in the form of kindness and compassion.

October 2nd, 2006 almost changed that. A milk truck driver entered the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School, blockaded the school after letting some hostages go, and before police were able to get inside, shot ten Amish schoolgirls, killing five and then himself. The horror of that day and what she witnessed almost sealed Ballenger’s desire to open herself to the sadness, pain, and ugliness of the world.

After Nickel Mines, she decided it was time to begin writing her book. She has completed the first draft of Addicted to Life & Death. Her book comprises approximately 122,000 words and ten chapters. Ironically, during an interview with David Muir in the immediate aftermath of the Nickel Mines tragedy, Ballenger told him “this event is beyond words.” Yet she has put that event, along with many others, into words.

Ballenger has always enjoyed writing and authored several research publications for the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley. She also interviewed local prominent figures and wrote “Up Close& Personal” features for the Ephrata Review for several years.

A mother of two daughters and one son, Ballenger is reluctant to bring her family into the public eye. But she’ll be the first to say she has the three greatest children anyone could ask for.

In episode 1 of “Getting Published, with Janice Ballenger,” we introduce Janice, her book, and her goals, including:

  • What her book is about
  • What inspired her to write it now rather than wait till she's retired, as she originally intended  
  • What her writing background is
  • What her long-term writing goals are
  • How her book will benefit readers
  • What happened when she sent out her first query letters
  • Where to look for help getting published.

We invite you to offer your feedback on Janice's project by writing to Paula B. at paula at

Interviewee: Janice Ballenger
Host: Paula B
Date: March 6, 2008
Running time: 35:22
File size: 17 megabytes
Rating: Violence
Resources mentioned on the show: