I thought I would take a break this week from my regular posting and introduce you to an immensely talented novelist and all-around wonderful person, Janice Hanna Thompson.
To give you an idea of Janice’s creativity, she has published more than seventy novels and non-fiction books. She’s also published more than fifty magazine articles and several musical comedies for the stage.
She lives in the Houston area, near her children and grandchildren, which is where I first meet her several years ago when we worked on a youth musical for our church together. She amazed me then and continues to do so with her creativeness, talent and heart for people. I hope you’ll come to love her as much as I do.
Recently, I had a chance to talk with Janice about her newest release, Love Finds You in Groom, Texas (Summerside/Guideposts, June 2011). She is giving away a free copy of the book to one of my readers. Read on to find out how to win.
Please tell us a little about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas.
Always the groomsman, never the groom… It’s 1914, and Jake O’Farrell has gained an unusual reputation among the locals: He’s played the roles of groomsman and best man in all four of his older brothers’ weddings, but he’s never been able to find the woman to capture his heart. And now with the upcoming wedding of his best friend, Jake will become the last single man in the town of Groom.
Anne Denning has made the difficult decision to move with her sisters to Texas, but a train derailment forces them to seek shelter in Groom, near Amarillo. Mrs. O’Farrell, hopeful that Anne will catch her youngest son’s eye, invites the girls to stay at her home until the train is repaired and ready to pull out. Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas. Anne has no idea of the blissful chaos that lies ahead!
Why did you decide to write this story?
My editor at Summerside approached me with the name of the town because she knows I write a lot of wedding-themed stories. She wanted something lightweight/fun, and she knew me well enough to know I would enjoy a fun story. The only real question we had in the beginning stage was: “Should this be a historical or a contemporary?” We went with historical because I felt sure the story idea was better suited to the turn of the century.
Why do you like writing comedies with strong take-aways?
Comedy is a great outlet. We comedians can get away with a lot more than authors who play it straight. Want the reader to walk away with a little nugget of truth? Couch it in something humorous. I’ve found that light-hearted writing not only suits my personality, it’s the perfect vehicle for sharing the gospel.
Why will readers enjoy your novel?
In spite of the lead character’s tough situation, the story is filled with comedic elements. Anne’s two younger sisters are a hoot. So is Maggie (the hero’s mother). She’s an Irish spitfire! I think readers will appreciate the romance between Anne and Jake. It’s filled with all sorts of sweet and comic moments.
What sorts of transformations take place in this book?
How much time do you have? (Ha!) Seriously, there are so many! The heroine, Anne, has been through tremendous losses and struggles with her faith from the get-go. By the end of the story, she is a woman transformed. Likewise, the hero has been through far too much taunting and teasing. He, too, has faced losses. With Anne’s hand in his, transformation comes. Even precocious Emily, Anne’s younger sister, goes through a bit of a metamorphosis as the story progresses. The biggest change of all, however, is in Uncle Bertrand. I don’t want to give away too much. You’ll have to read the story to see for yourself!
Have you had any feedback from readers?
So far the book has all five-star reviews on Amazon (which makes me smile, of course). Here’s a review I found that really got me excited:
5.0 out of 5 stars: A Delightful Read
This delightful tale of romance which emerges out of tragic circumstances is set in a wonderful town called Groom in the panhandle of the great state of Texas. It is a story of tragedy, love, and God's divine hand of providence that enters a situation just at the right time and changes everything. Young Anne finds herself on a train heading to Dallas with her two younger sisters after the loss of their father. When fate intervenes, the trail derails and their future is forever altered. And then there is Jake, the last available young man in Groom who finds himself to be the recipient of many jokes about his situation, especially from his brothers. Jake's mother, Maggie, embodies everything wonderful that Anne remembers about her own mother before she died. Throw in the mixture of the antics of Aunt Bets and the perceived sternness of Uncle Bertrand, and you have a story of new revelations and delightful outcomes.
How absolutely wonderful, in this day and age when problems seem to loom on every side and people have lost faith and hope, to read a story that is all about faith and hope. It is refreshing to read a story set in an era when one's words meant something, when prayer was the first course of action, when faith ruled our very existence, when people looked out for one another even during hard times. Perhaps after reading this book, your faith will be renewed, as well. – Cherri Taylor
How long have you been a full-time freelancer?
I’ve been writing full-time since 2005. I write novels, non-fiction books, magazine articles and a variety of other things. I’m so fascinated with the world of freelancing that I decided to create an online writing course to teach others how to do what I’m doing.
From personal experience, I know you to be an excellent teacher. I also know that you truly enjoy teaching. Tell us about your online courses.
Thanks for asking. I enjoy teaching almost as much as I enjoy writing! For many years I taught creative writing at a school of the arts. These days I teach through my online courses. They’re audio/video driven, which is great fun. I get to go into a recording studio to record them! My courses are, as follows:
Becoming a Successful Freelance Author
Fiction Writing Master Course
Navigating the Business of Freelance Writing
Magazine Article Writing Master Course
U.N.I.Q.U.E. – Finding Your Unique Place in the Writing Industry
Non-Fiction Book Writing (coming in August, 2011)
Readers may notice that you write under two names (Janice Hanna and Janice Thompson). Why?
Those who’ve been reading my romances over the past several years know me as Janice A. Thompson. My joy is mixed with a smidgeon of sorrow as I explain the change in my last name for some of my current releases. In 2006 I lost my father to bone marrow cancer. His last name (Hanna) is my maiden name—and it’s a name that means even more to me now that he is gone. In memory of my father, I use the Hanna name in my historicals. My Revell books will still release under Janice Thompson. I hope you my readers will stick with me, no matter which name I use!
You’ve recently started a VIP book club. What can you tell us about that?
Yes, I’m so excited about this, too! I came up with this idea several months ago: Why not create a “club” where members can get each new Janice Thompson/Janice Hanna book as it releases for a set price of $11, shipping included. Books are autographed and mailed out to club members before they ever hit the stores. I also encourage my VIP club members to leave reviews, as they are able, on amazon, christianbook.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. If people are interested in joining the club, all they have to do is shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “VIP bookclub” in the subject line and their address in the body of the email.
Besides writing and teaching, what are your favorite things to do?
Honestly? I love hanging out with my grandbabies. They grow up so quickly and I don’t want to miss a thing! Maddy is four now. She’s the oldest. Avery is three. Peyton is three. Ethan is two. Boston is one and a half and baby Brooke turned one this week. I love them so very much. They keep me young (and give me plenty of fodder for books).
Is there anything else you want to share?
Yes, I’m very passionate about my faith, which is why I write Christian books. I could no more leave out the faith elements than I could stop eating chocolate. They are integral…to my stories and my life. I’m a huge believer in stirring up the gifts that God has placed inside of us, which is what I hope to do through my teaching.
Do you have any suggestions for writers who are trying to get published?
Learn the craft. Take courses. Go to conferences. Do the work. But don’t ever let what you’ve learned rob you of your natural, God-given voice. There’s only one you, after all.
Where else can you be found online?
I love to connect with my readers at the following places:
Where can I get the book?
Love Finds You in Groom, Texas can be purchased at any number of online stores, as well as my website: www.janicehannathompson.com (front page). Readers can always join my VIP bookclub and get the locked in price of $11 (no shipping) by contacting me directly at email@example.com.
Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!
I will be choosing one reader to win a copy of Janice's book Love Finds You in Groom, Texas. To be considered, leave a comment below about a time when love found you AND share this article on either your Facebook or Twitter page. If you don't have either, then share it by e-mail. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can notify you if you are chosen.
And the winner is....Aletta Cherry! Congratulations.