I'm really happy to welcome my good friend, Janice Thompson, back to the blog. Janice, I love your cover and I love your new picture. It shows your personality. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
I feel so incredibly blessed at this particular season in my life. I’ve been through several hard things (several deaths in the family, a lot of health related issues) but through it all, God has been right there, walking me through one book project, then another.
He has used the writing to bring healing in so many areas, and I’m so grateful for that! I’ve made Ephesians 3:20 – 12 my life verse: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God IS able to do so much more than I could ask or think, and He keeps proving that to me. In spite of any weakness on my part (and there’s plenty, trust me), He entrusts me with this gift (writing). I will use it to His glory as long as He allows.
I know that's true. Tell us a little about your family.
Are you sure you have the time? :-) I have four fabulous daughters in their twenties. All four are happily married (all four weddings taking place within the last four and a half years)! Two of my girls live in the Houston area with their husbands and children. The other two are out of state, which really breaks my heart. I have four beautiful grandchildren (three girls and a baby boy). They are the loves of my life. My girls are active in their local churches, primarily in the area of music and drama. (I love to watch my girls as they sing, act or lead worship. It’s such a confirmation that God is really moving in their lives!) My oldest, Randi, co-authored two books with me: BRIDE-TO-BE (a devotional) and MOMMY-TO-BE (also a devotional).
I've been in worship that her daughters led. An awesome experience. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Yes, it has changed my reading habits in two ways. First, I don’t have as much time to read anymore. I’m not just writing my own books. . .I’m critiquing for others and editing on the side. So, my plate is pretty full. Believe it or not, the only time/place I read is in the bathtub. I wish you could see the books lined up along the edge of the tub! Second, I tend to read books with an editor’s eye. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to kill off my internal editor while I read.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing the first of two three-book series for Revell. The first series is called “Weddings by Bella” and the first book in that series (FOOLS RUSH IN) releases in the fall. The others will follow every six months. I’m also thrilled about my most recent release, SPRING CREEK BRIDE (Love Inspired Historical). On top of these projects, I’m working on two non-fiction books, as well as a historical for Summerside, (LOVE FINDS YOU IN POETRY, TEXAS) which is due ASAP. Whew! I’m tired, just thinking about it! Many people have asked if I write multiple books simultaneous. The answer is yes, but. The “but” is that I can only write non-fiction and fiction simultaneously. I don’t think I could handle two novels simultaneously.
I tried to write two novellas simultaneously. It didn't work for me either. I had to concentrate on one until I finished it, then move to the other. What outside interests do you have?
People might be surprised to hear this, but I bake cakes. Wedding cakes. Shower cakes. Birthday cakes. You name it, I bake it. In fact, I was just asked by a local restaurant to bake cakes for them. (We’ll see if I have the time!) I also love photography. Just this weekend, Kathleen Y’Barbo and I drove out to Brenham, Texas, to see the bluebonnets. Your readers can see the photos I took on my facebook site! There’s something about taking pictures (especially nature pictures) that I find so calming/relaxing.
And I love pictures of Texas wildflowers. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I tend to write about places I’ve actually been to. I want to get the facts right, after all! Most of my books are set in one of three places: Texas (where I live), Pennsylvania (where my sister lives and where I’ve traveled) and New Jersey (which I’ve visited). I’m most comfortable writing about Texas, of course, but am open to other ideas! I love to travel and hope to one day go to Italy. Who knows? Maybe I’ll set a book there.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Louisa May Alcott. I would love to pick her brain. I would ask some personal questions, and some writing-related ones, too. LITTLE WOMEN was such an inspirational book to me. I love that “picture” of Jo with her ink-stained fingers, stepping out into a man’s world!
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I wish I’d known it’s okay to write like I want to write and not how I’ve been taught to write. I’ve been to (probably) fifteen writing conferences over the years, and, while I applaud the teaching, I almost allowed some of it to zap me of my voice. I would have been writing romantic comedy much sooner if I’d gone with my gut.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
If you mean, “What new writing lessons” I’d say I’m learning to relax and be myself. If you mean, “What new life/spiritual lessons” I’d say I’m learning that my value isn’t found in what I “do” but simply in being a child of the King.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1). Find a great critique partner or critique group. This is critical for several reasons. They will help you with your work, yes, but they will also celebrate with you as you reach your goals and cry with you when you’re hurting.
2). Learn all you can learn about the craft, but carefully balance what you’ve learned with what the Lord is calling you to write.
3). Keep your focus on God, not on your critics or your supporters. He’s got the master plan. Just follow His lead.
Tell us about the featured book?
SPRING CREEK BRIDE has just released from Love Inspired Historical. The story is set in Spring, Texas (now known as “Old Town Spring”) in 1902. At the turn of the century, Spring was a quintessential farming community. Then the Great Northern Railroad swept in, laid track, and built a roundhouse and switchyard. Two hundred rowdy railroad workers converged upon the town. In my story, Ida Mueller (daughter of a German immigrant) has had enough of these ruffians and wants to rid her town of their evil influence. Her foe is Mick Bradley (a gambling hall owner from Chicago who has come to Spring to build a saloon/gambling hall). Ida believes she has an “Esther” call on her life, to save her people from destruction. However, she goes about it in all the wrong ways! In the end, of course, she finds love. But it’s a rocky, rocky road!
Please give us the first page of the book.
Spring, Texas 1902
Ida Mueller pressed a lock of unruly hair behind her ear and rounded the large dining table with a chipped serving bowl in hand. Chair legs scraped against the wood-planked floor as the rowdy lumber mill workers rushed to seat themselves in readiness for another of her home-cooked meals. She couldn’t help but smile at their enthusiasm.
“Smells good enough to eat!” one of the younger fellows chided.
Ida plopped a spoonful of crisp fried potatoes onto his plate and kept moving as she responded. “You’ve eaten at my table every day for nearly a year, Carl Walken, and haven’t found reason to complain yet.” She reached up with the back of her hand and wiped a bit of perspiration from her brow.
His eyebrows elevated mischievously. “Ain’t just the food keeps me coming back.” A playful wink followed.
“Ya reckon?” Another of the men elbowed him.
Several of the fellows let out whistles and Ida felt her cheeks turn warm. She scurried around to the opposite side of the room and continued on with the chore of feeding the work crew, doing all she could to ignore their usual flirtatious ways.
“None of that now.” Her father’s stern voice rang out from the head of the table. She shot a smile in his direction. He always knew how to keep his men in line, especially when it came to his daughter.
“Aw, Mr. Mueller.” One of the fellows groaned. “You never let us have any fun.”
“Better mind your P’s and Q’s,” Ida quipped. “I’ve got a platter of Weiner Schnitzel in the kitchen, but I’ve half a mind not to serve it.”
The men took to hearty grumbling and she returned to the kitchen for the cumbersome platter of meat. For a moment—just a moment—she leaned against the countertop and drew in a deep breath. The south Texas heat wrapped itself around her like a dressing gown and she fought to think clearly.
On days like this, and in situations like this, she missed her Mama more than ever. Seven years as the woman of the house had scarcely proven Ida worthy of filling her mother’s shoes. Sure, Papa offered plenty of encouragement, but she struggled daily to keep up with the workload of caring for her home, her father, and a crew of ravenous workers. And she struggled to overcome the grief of losing the one person a girl depended on above all others—her mother. Oh, how she longed for what she could not have.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I can be found at http://www.janiceathompson.com/.
My facebook site is: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=899110385&ref=name
Thank you, Janice, for spending this time with us. I can hardly wait to read more about Ida.
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