20180918-111407-85950 MW B Breakfast Club author 9_20

West Hempstead native to publish book on life after job loss

Posted September 20, 2018 in the Long Island Herald

Olinda’s Café owner Roberto Ramirez met with Janek, president of the Long Island Breakfast Club, seated, and publisher Stephanie Larkin to discuss Janek’s latest book.

By Nakeem Grant

About four years after West Hempstead resident Valentina Janek helped launch the job-networking Long Island Breakfast Club in 2006, she was inspired to share the stories of people seeking employment after losing their jobs in middle age. Eventually, she started to take notes and compile those tales into a book.

“I got to know everybody very well, and because of that, I thought it would be nice to write a book about the club, because it’s given me so much joy,” said Janek, 66, the club’s president.

The new book, “From Fired to Freedom — How Life After the Big Bad Boot Gave Me Wings,” is a compilation of stories about middle-aged people who faced the struggles of losing their jobs, and how they moved forward from those experiences.

“This will bring so much value just for people to see themselves in the pages, to see that other people have come through on the other side,” said Stephanie Larkin, the book’s publisher. “It’s important for people to see whatever crazy thing that happened to you, it happened to somebody else, too.”

Like many members of the Breakfast Club, Janek was laid off from her job. Thirteen years ago, she worked as an operations manager and chief morale officer for CMP Media. Janek realized that she was not alone, and that middle-aged people have a difficult time finding work.“

Losing any job is a wakeup call,” said Breakfast Club co-founder Chris Fidis, 59, who lost his job as an operation implementation manager at Verizon Select Services in 2012.

Fidis said that he and Janek discussed the idea of her book for years, and that along with the Breakfast Club, it will be a “power to be reckoned with.” To move forward from a job loss, Fidis said, “Don’t count on friends. Count on yourself, your family and the man upstairs. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and reinvent yourself.”

“Her new book just captures everything,” said Breakfast Club member Patti Locurcio. “Valentina has such a wealth of information. All she wants to do is help people, and it helps to know that there’s somebody that could relate to this. This book is going to be explosive.”

Janek, who wrote her first book, “In Love and Friendship,” in 2008, said that it brought her a new life. She grew up in Floral Park, and moved to West Hempstead 27 years ago with her husband, Ronald, and their daughter, Jennifer. The Janeks were married for 47 years until Ronald’s death last year.

Valentina said she hopes that through her book — which is expected to be released this fall — and her personal experiences, she can bring more awareness to middle-aged people who are looking for jobs.

“You’re not alone, which is how you feel when you lose a job,” she said. “The worst things in life are a job loss, personal loss and moving. Most of the stories in this book are very positive, and everything has a silver lining.”


WHO is the intended audience for your book?

One of the first things you should consider with your book is, “Who will read it?” or better yet “Who do you want to read it?” By narrowing down your audience and considering their particular needs, slant and tastes as a group, you will find it easier to organize your thoughts and write a more effective book.

Thinking back to the reasons WHY you would like to write a book, let’s consider some potential audiences and their characteristics.

If you’re writing in order to gain clients/customers, then your potential audience is:

• People who need/want your product or service, so you will want your writing to focus upon their needs, questions and concerns – perhaps a “how-to” book, tips, or other helpful information

• People who are not as well-versed in a subject as you, so you will want your writing and book organization to be clear and accessible while not patronizing

• People who may be unsure or even intimidated by your business area, so you may want to focus upon just one area, or instead present an overview in a non-intimidating manner

If you’re writing to establish your relevance among your colleagues or peers, consider:

• Writing about a particular area of interest or expertise where others won’t call you into question nor respond with “been there, done that!”

• Including real-life examples “on the job” which others would be able to easily relate to and even use in their own work discussions

• Incorporating statistics, graphs, charts, forms – anything that will server as a resource for your readers, as well as confirm your widespread knowledge of your area, including all of the accompanying materials

If you’re writing to preserve the history of a person, family or organization, your readers:

• Want to see familiarity in the story, so be sure to include details such as names, dates and places that would be too wordy for mass-market appeal but will certainly please your readers

• May want to be part of the process – and thus, part of the finished product – so request information from others (which can only help to cut down on your workload!)

• Enjoy pictures, short facts/jokes, timelines, maps – breaking up the prose with add-ons such as these will engage your reader and bring visual interest to your pages

If you’re writing fiction, poetry or short stories, your readers may be:

• Teens and young adults, hungry for stories which help them navigate the perils of growing up by helping them to identify with your characters or situations

• Adults who may be bored in their “real” lives, looking for a book to escape through adventure, travel or the paranormal

• Children (and subsequently their parents and teachers) who need to learn life lessons such as dealing with change, getting along with people or accepting others and themselves

These are just some thoughts to get you started. While others who are not in your target audience may read – and hopefully enjoy – your book, targeting and even envisioning your audience before putting pen to paper will put you far ahead of the game. In marketing agencies, researchers will often devise a profile of their target person – such as age, gender, interests, hobbies – and even keep a picture and bio of that “target customer” so that they never lose sight of the fact that their marketing efforts are towards an actual person, and not fall into making choices according to their own preferences and tastes. Similarly, you can think of an actual person or people you know who fit your target audience, so that you can put a “face” out there to gear your writing and book organization towards.

Along with how your intended audience will determine your best topic areas and book content, they will also determine the tone of your book. Some audiences will be expecting a formal tone and approach with your book, while others would prefer a more personal voice speaking to them through your book. I myself lean towards the more intimate, first person communication in my own writing, where I like to envision my reader sitting on a sofa with me beside them, sharing a cup of coffee. While that style of writing works with a book such as this one – which is a direct result of the book coaching I conduct one-on-one with current and prospective authors – it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate for a more professionally-geared book aimed at my colleagues in the book publishing industry. The object is to know your audience . . . and know yourself!


Why write YOUR book?

Writing a book can be a great idea for your business, career or organization, for so many reasons, mainly because

  • A Book Establishes Instant Credibility
  • A Book is the ULTIMATE Marketing Tool
  • A Book Helps to Differentiate You from the Crowd

But what about a personal book? One for which there is little to no possible professional or financial gain? Should you write YOUR book?

In a short answer . . . ABSOLUTELY!!!

Writing a book for yourself is ALWAYS a wonderful idea, and the benefits can be even more far-reaching than those of a “professional” book. Yes, you should write YOUR book for many reasons, including:

To fulfill yourself creatively

Many studies have shown that adults who have a creative outlet in their lives – whether it be singing in a choir, attending “paint nights” or going out dancing – are healthier and are able to manage stress better than those who are “all work and no play”. Writing a book – and the adventure that goes along with it – is a fabulous creative outlet, one which will bring you moments of excitement and pride both during and after the writing process.

For self-affirmation

There is nothing quite like seeing your name on the cover of a book to say “You did it!” Millions of people – in fact, almost 90% of the population – want to write a book, yet never fulfill that dream. You can write YOUR book – and display it proudly so that simply catching a glance of it will give you a boost and remind you that “yes you can!”

To preserve your memories or that of a family member

There is no greater gift to give to yourself or to your family than that of a record of personal familial history. The very first book published by Red Penguin Books was a personal memoir – one written by my beloved step-father and painstakingly typed by my mother. The gift of that memoir is beyond price, and he is alive today through the pages of this very personal and valuable record of his life.

To collect recipes, tips or other material

As a non-cook – or one who simply manages to put food on the table in some form each night (even if it involves a phone call!), I am dazzled by people who can cook, bake, knit, paint or even simply know the best way to remove a stain. A book as a collection – either just of your personal knowledge or one with contributors – is a great way to share your gifts with others – or at least record them for a day when you may forget yourself.

As a life-project, a capstone activity or a personal way to leave a legacy

Writing a book is a great way to honor and celebrate a turning point in life – whether it be the end of your school years, a cross-country move, a year (or years!) of traveling the world or reflections on a new baby. Writing a book isn’t just about a finished “masterpiece” – it is about the journey and adventure of writing. Whether you are collecting stories and photos, researching new things, meeting people around the world or sitting under a tree to reflect, writing YOUR book is a gift to yourself – an adventure of a lifetime to save in a permanent record for the future.

Don’t delay – get started today!


WHY Write a Book?

Why do you want to write a book? Why would writing a book be a great idea for your business, career or organization?

There are as many reasons for writing a book as there are writers in the world, and each person has his or her own unique reason “why” – that reason that keeps them motivated through the difficult, uninspired stressful times. When I first begin working with a prospective author, my first challenge is to uncover the person’s “why” – to help the new author to discover his or her own goals, motivations and inspirations.

Often a person will ask me if a particular topic is “viable” or “trending” and if it would make a saleable topic for a book. I can tell by that question that the person is thinking that the one and only reason to write a book is to sell books and make money. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Not only is that not the only reason why someone should write a book, it isn’t even a good or realistic reason.

Think of it this way – if you came to me and mentioned that you were thinking of taking up golf – investing in golf lessons and purchasing a set of clubs – – and the reason why you were doing this was that you wanted to be a champion pro golfer, what would my reaction be? If, on the other hand, you decided to take up golf because many people in your industry conduct business meetings on the golf course and you are missing out on potential deals, I would commend you for your decision to take up the sport. Similarly, writing a book can be a great way to promote your business or career, but don’t write a book to sell loads of books and make money.

Here are three great reasons to write a book:

A Book Establishes Instant Credibility

We have all had the experience of attending a speech or workshop, and wondering who the guest speaker would be, since it was a person you hadn’t heard of. You looked at the program and saw that they were ” . . . the author of . . . ” and you instantly had a newfound respect for this unknown person, who went up several notches in your eyes just by the fact that he wrote a book.

Writing a book – adding the words ” . . . author of . . . ” to your bio – can give you instant relevance in your field, as you are the person who literally “wrote the book” on a particular area. Your book will become so integral to your business images that the words “author of” will be prominently placed right after your name – it is THAT effective.

A Book is the ULTIMATE Marketing Tool

While everyone can have business cards or a brochure to distribute, a book can be the “ultimate business card” and help with prospective clients to seal the deal. When these persons have your book – and that book has made it into their homes, briefcases or offices – you have taken up residence in their lives, and they are more likely to use you and your services. People keep books – often forever – and a book can easily be shared with others as well.  A book is the ultimate marketing tool because you can use it in the workshops or training sessions that you deliver as well, giving your audience a piece of you to take home with them.

A Book Helps to Differentiate You from the Crowd

If you are in a crowded business field, you may be finding it difficult to establish your unique voice, and somehow make yourself memorable to others. A book makes you stand out from the crowd, and helps others not only to remember you, but to think of you as an individual and not just one of a bunch. A book places you one step higher than the rest, and makes people want to work with you, as you seem very different from the “norm”. And a book doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer prize winning book – even a simple book of resources to use, questions to consider or blank pages to record information will separate you from the crowd.


These are but 3 solid, beneficial reasons to write a book. Discovering YOUR reason – and imagining your new, improved life after your book has been completed – is the first step towards writing a book that will bring you professional and personal rewards.