As a writer and an editor, Benton has helped win support and accolades for many institutions and individuals. And through teaching and mentoring, she has guided hundreds of writers. Before founding The Word Studio in 2010, she founded Benton Editorial in 1997. Her roster of clients includes a range of stellar individuals, along with organizations such as History Making Productions, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the National Constitution Center, Eisenhower Fellowships, Eden Foods, Shop Rite, The Reinvestment Fund, the Next Great City Coalition, Temple University Press, Focus on the Health of Women, and Penn Praxis at the University of Pennsylvania.
TEACHING Benton has taught creative writing, editing, grammar, and/or composition at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; the University of California, Davis; the University of the Arts; and Temple University's continuing studies program. She has taught private fiction workshops since 1999 and taught at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and the Pearl S. Buck Conference. Supportive and constructive, Benton helps writers hone skills and make real progress. Former and current students have attended graduate writing programs, won fellowships, worked with agents, and published award-winning and bestselling books.
EDITING Benton is the editor of choice for many individuals and organizations, who rely on her substantive editing for project after project. The greatest commercial successes to date have been Larry Kane’s Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles’ 1964 Tour That Changed the World, Don Campbell’s The Mozart Effect, and Pam Jenoff’s The Kommandant’s Girl. In her editing work for academics and university presses, Benton has helped dozens of authors win praises and prizes. One was women’s history pioneer Gerda Lerner for Fireweed: A Political Autobiography, which another prominent historian praised by writing, “Lerner’s power and precision as a writer make this story read like a fast-paced novel.” While at the University of Massachusetts Press, Benton acquired and edited Justyna's Narrative, an account of the Krakow resistance in World War II written by a young woman in prison. In 2006 Benton was executive editor for the first two issues of Kiwi, a national parents' magazine. Past positions have included associate editor at the University of Massachusettts Press, assistant director of public relations at Hampshire College, and associate director of the Cummington Community of the Arts.
WRITING Her writing has appeared in dozens of periodicals, including the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the national magazines Kiwi and Working Woman, and in books such as Women’s Health for Dummies. Her historical novel Lilli de Jong will be published in spring 2017 by the Nan A. Talese imprint at Doubleday. In March 2016, the opinion piece "In the name of fairness, don't erase women's history"appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her essay "A Feminist's Daughter Finds Love in the Kitchen" appeared in October 2013 in the Modern Love column in the New York Times. A documentary on Philadelphia history for which Janet was script editor and team member, Fever: 1793, won three Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards in 2013. She co-wrote the next episode in that documentary series and helped create a series on Philadelphia women's history. Her interview with writer Valerie Martin appeared in Glimmer Train. A story published in 2013 in the online magazine Switchback, "Instructions for Failure," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as was "For Objects Do Sustain" in 2014 by the Green Hills Literary Lantern. Another story, "The Reason I'm Here," appeared in the winter 2013 issue of print magazine The Tulane Review. Benton has received three fellowships and two fiction awards and has attended two writers’ colonies for residencies.
In 1998 she wrote Vitamin A: Everything You Need to Know, a research-based work on the effects of carotenoids on every major body system and their therapeutic use, for the People's Medical Society. For four years she wrote the Mambo Sprouts Messenger, a natural-lifestyle newsletter with a circulation of a half million.
Recent projects include these:
- Editing three influential books aimed at improving Philadelphia's waterfront and greening efforts for Penn Praxis at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design;
- Editing important documents in Philadelphia civic life, including Next Great City and a proposal for improving the zoning code, with far-reaching effects;
- Managing production for The American National Tree, the first book publication of the National Constitution Center, and editing and proofreading the book;
- Editing and writing publications and permanent-exhibit materials for the National Museum of American Jewish History;
- Editing books that highlight Philadelphia favorites, including Forklore by Ellen Yin (about Fork, an Old City restaurant) and The Philadelphia Orchestra, a hundred-year history edited by John Ardoin (both from Temple University Press).
EDUCATION Benton holds an M.F.A. in English/fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College.
SERVICE In addition to having served on the board and multiple committees at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, Benton has given speeches and engaged in activism related to quality-of-life and environmental issues in Cheltenham Township.