Friday, April 27, 2012

Elephant on a High Wire

                “Oops!”  That word is a big part of my vocabulary.  It doesn’t take much to send me careening through the air.  If we do have guardian angels, mine would be stressed and overworked. 
  So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 (NIV)
                Okay, I wasn’t going into the Lion’s Den like Daniel did; instead, I was going into my Cousin Juanita’s den.  It was downstairs and her kitchen was upstairs.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Somebody handed me two full glasses of tea for me to take downstairs.  I don’t know why anybody who knows me would hand me anything and expect me to make it safely down a flight of stairs.  That’s like asking an elephant to walk on a high wire; technical possible, but not a good idea.
My cousin Doug was sitting in a chair next to the bottom step.  I was afraid I’d trip and spill tea on him, so as I started down, I told myself, “Just goes slow and careful.”  Uh…it didn’t work.  A couple of steps from the top, I felt my left foot catch behind my right one.  I started down, but I managed to keep myself upright as I plummeted down the steps.  I remember my feet touching some of the steps, but I flew over most of them.  
                As I stumbled down, I gained momentum.  When I reached the floor, I went straight down on my knees.  With all that energy, I continued to slide until I came to a stop behind Doug’s chair.  All you could see behind him were my arms sticking up and my hands still grasping the glasses. I didn’t spill a drop!  Best of all, I wasn’t hurt and Doug didn’t get soaked. Too bad somebody didn’t have a video camera.  I could have won $10,000.
                I know my little trip doesn’t compare to Daniel being thrown in with hungry lions, but the same God who rescued Daniel also watches out for me and for you.   If you notice, King Darius wanted Daniel’s God to save him, which He did.  Also notice the phrase, “whom you serve continually.”    Daniel didn’t just serve God when it was convenient for him and he didn’t quit praying to God because of an unfair law.  Daniel was faithful to God and God was faithful to him.  Want to know the best part?  It’s the same for us today, except for the lions. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wedding Belles Interview with Janice Thompson

·                         I meet Janice through the ACFW.  She's a special lady and I love to read her books.  They're thoughtful and clever.
        Who (or what) influenced you to become a writer?
From the time I was a little girl, I always had a creative bent. I loved to sing and dance. I got involved with drama in high school and ended up writing a little play, which we performed. In the late 70s my father moved our family to Los Angeles so that he could get into the movie business, (as a producer). He encouraged me to co-author a screenplay, which I did. In fact, I joined the screenwriter’s guild at age 18. Quite an honor! After I got married and had my children, they showed an interest in theater, too, so I ended up directing and writing musicals for Curtain Call Café (a Christian theater group). From there, my interests spread to books, and I started publishing fiction for the Christian market. I’ve now published over 80 books, everything from inspirational romance to non-fiction devotionals. I would have to say that my father was a huge influence. He passed away in ’06, but did a lot of writing in his lifetime (both screenplays and lyrics to country songs).

Janice, can you tell us about your latest book project?
Yes, I’m so tickled to share the news about my comedic historical, WEDDING BELLES, which is releasing on May 1st. Most of my readers know that I love to write light-hearted tales, and this one is no different!

What is the story behind this book?
I received a call from editor Susan Downs, who shared an idea she had for a series of books titled “Belles and Whistles.” The books in this series, she explained, must be historical, set in the west, with funny, quirky female characters. Because I write romantic comedy, she thought I would be perfect. I quickly put together a proposal for six books and two were picked up right away: WEDDING BELLES and SLEIGH BELLES. I was commissioned to write WEDDING BELLES first and had a blast doing so! The basic premise for the book was developed before I started writing, but something significant happened along the way to change my plans drastically. I needed a sneaky reason for Lottie Sanders (my heroine) to bring a group of women to Estes Park Colorado as potential brides for the town’s men. About a week after I got the contract for this book I went to a local restaurant that happened to be hosting a melodrama during the dinner hour. As I watched the drama take place, I realized this was my answer! Lottie would write and direct a melodrama to raise funds for Parker Lodge (owned by the young man she secretly loves). Out of that came the rest of this fun, melodramatic tale!

Why did you choose to write this book under the name Janice Hanna, instead of Janice Thompson?
Ooo, great question! I write most of my contemporary novels (like the WEDDINGS BY BELLA series) under Thompson and historicals (like the LOVE FINDS YOU books) under Hanna. My maiden name is Hanna, and I love to write under that name to honor my father, who passed away in ’06. I think he would have been very proud of this particular book.

Is there any connection between the WEDDINGS BY BELLA series and this one?
Nope. None whatsoever. Just an interesting coincidence with the titles/names.

What’s the deal with the wedding stories? Why do you write so many books with wedding themes?
My four daughters (all in their late 20s/early 30s) got married within four years of each other. Talk about wedding chaos! At writer’s conferences I’ve been told to “write what you know” and I certainly know weddings. I worked for a short while as a wedding coordinator and have catered many a wedding and/or bridal shower. It just makes sense to keep my writing wedding-themed, as much as possible!

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 once asked by a local restaurant to bake cakes for them.  

Cute cover! What’s the story behind it?
My heroine, Lottie, is a tomboy. She’s not much for dresses. In fact, she wears pants most of the time. The men in Estes Park make it their mission to get Lottie “gussied up and lookin’ like a lady” as the story progresses. Of course, she’s still pretty attached to her cowgirl boots, so giving those up isn’t an option. I love the cover, because it merges the boots with the wedding dress.

How much research went into this story?
I drove to Estes Park while working on this book. Even though I had been many times before, I needed to see the area again so that I could envision it through Lottie’s eyes. The wonderful people at the Estes Park Museum spent a great deal of time with me, talking about the history of the area and pointing me to just the right research books to write. So, I would like to think I’ve got most of the historical elements right. I added the Stanley Hotel, of course, and the Stanley Steamer. But the setting for my story is Parker Lodge (which is completely fictional). Because I’m passionate about photography, I took dozens of pictures of the area. I particularly enjoy my trek up into Rocky Mountain National Park, where I did my best to absorb all I could about the scenery.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?
I learned a lot about the health benefits of living in Colorado! Did you know that Freelan Stanley (the man who designed/built the Stanley Hotel) came to Colorado at his doctor’s recommendation because he had tuberculosis? His health improved dramatically while in Estes Park.

What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
I was directly inspired by the team of actors and actresses (here in Texas) who performed the melodrama. That little “spark” of inspiration completely changed the layout of my story and allowed me to tap into one of my strengths: directing. Many people don’t know that I spend part of my time working as a director at a local Christian theater and I love anything and everything about putting on shows.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
Two things: I hope they see Lottie as the precious girl she is. I also hope they learn that perceptions are just that. . .perceptions. They’re not fact. Sometimes we look at situations and think we’ve got them figured out. When we give them a second look (and a third) we realize we were dead wrong.

What is the next project you’re working on?
I’m currently writing a novel titled LET THEM EAT CAKE, which is part of the new WEDDINGS BY DESIGN series from Revell Publishing. Many of my readers know me as the “Bella” author (from the WEDDINGS BY BELLA series). In this new series, readers can catch up with Bella, DJ and the whole gang!

What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
I spend time with my grandbabies. I have six darling grandbabies with number seven on the way.

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 over the past several years, 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 – 21 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.

Please give us the first page of the book.

A Reckoning in the Rockies
Estes Park, prepare to be razzle-dazzled! Parker Lodge, located on the beautiful Fall River, continues to offer the best entertainment in town. This month’s event is certainly no exception. Join us this coming Friday evening, April 27, for a rousing performance by local musician Jeb Otis, who will play several well-known ballads and folk tunes on his saw. Otis, who hails from the Estes Valley region, will be appear- ing at the lodge for one night only, performing before a packed house. C’mon out and share in an evening of fine food, rousing entertain- ment, and heartfelt fellowship. Front-row seating for the first ten guests to arrive. —Your friends at Parker Lodge
Estes Park, Colorado, 1912
“Jeb Otis says he’s going to jump off Longs Peak and end it all.” “What?” Lottie Sanders looked up from the rippling waters of Fall River into her boss’s worried eyes. “He’s going to end it all? Why-ever would he do that?”
“Oh, you know how he is.” Gilbert Parker plopped down next to her and sighed. “Melodramatic. Always wanting attention. Just like the other men in this town. He’s frustrated because the Widow Baker won’t give him the time of day, so I guess this is how he plans to remedy the problem.”
“He’s going to remedy the problem by taking his life?” Lottie swallowed hard. “Won’t that defeat the purpose?”
“Who knows?” Gilbert offered a little shrug, and a hint of a smile turned up the edges of his lips. “But if it’s any consolation, I reminded him that he’s got a concert coming up this Friday evening, so maybe he’ll wait till after then to do himself in.”
“One can hope.” Lottie thought about the many times Jeb and the other fellas who frequented the lodge had posed such ludicrous threats. How weary she’d grown of their antics. “What’s it going to take to convince Jeb that he and Althea Baker are as different as night from day, anyway?” she asked. “They would make a terrible match. I’m surprised he can’t see that for himself.”
“True.” Gilbert released a sigh. “But I guess it’s true what they say—love is blind.”
“Mm-hmm.” It’s blind, all right.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Facebook: Janice Hanna Thompson
Twitter: booksbyjanice

Where can readers buy this book?
They can email me for an autographed copy: They can also purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or

Thursday, April 19, 2012

There's a Bug in Your Hair

            You ever notice something unusual and have to look twice?  I did at a baseball game and it wasn’t a triple play or a foul ball bouncing off somebody’s head. There was a lady sitting in front of me who had a head full of stiff backcombed hair.  When the wind blew, it didn’t move. I noticed something moving around on the top of her hair, so I leaned up for a closer look.
I’m not an entomologist, but I know I bug when I see one.  It was long and black.  I had to do something, but I didn’t want her to panic and scream.  So, I tapped her husband on the shoulder.  My plan was to point at the bug when he turned around.  That way he could get it before she had time to come unglued. I waited, but her husband didn’t turn around or respond in any matter. So I tapped him harder. Nothing.  He didn’t even turn his head around to see who was tapping him.
If I had a bug crawling around in my hair, I would want to know so I could get it out before it got to my scalp.  So I leaned up and told the lady, “There’s a bug in your hair.”  Give you one guess what happened next?  She started screaming and shaking her head.  She leaned her head over to her husband yelling at him to, “Get it!” The more she frantic she became, the more the bug burrowed down toward her scalp.  I sat there and watched it.  Her husband grabbed at the bug, but it kept getting away from him.  He told her he got it, but it didn’t look like that to me or the other people sitting around me.
            My first thought on the bug was temptation and sin. 
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NIV).
            It’s best to avoid temptation, but it can sneak up on you and, like that bug, be in your hair before you know it.  You need to get rid of it before it digs in and becomes a sin or possibly an addiction.  The deeper it goes, the harder it is to get a hold of it.  And don’t rely on somebody to get rid of it for you. 
“Submit yourselves, then, go to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7 (NIV)
I have no doubt that my husband Tim wouldn’t have stopped until he had that bug.  Yes, he does love me, but he wouldn’t want it crawling over to him later.  You got a bug?  Get rid of it now before it gets too comfortable and has more little bugs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dangling Dingbat

            Do you fall a lot?  I do!  If I’m not falling, I’m tripping over or bumping into something. I can trip over an air molecule.
            My mom sent me an e-mail that I can relate to.  It was about a man who tripped and fell off a cliff.  As he plummeted down, he managed to grab onto a twig sticking out from the side.  Of course he cries for, “HELP!”  Guess who answered?  Not Lassie.  God himself showed up.
 He asked the man, “Do you trust me?”
            “Oh yes, Lord I trust you,” the man answered.
            “Do you trust me enough to deliver you to safety?” The Lord asked.
            “Oh yes, Lord I do trust you enough to deliver me back to safety,” the man answered.
            “Then let go of the twig,” the Lord told him.
            The man started to yell again, “HELP!  HELP!”
            I don’t know about you, but my first thought was what a dingbat that man was. I would have let go of that twig right then and there! Or would I?  Or do I?  It’s easier to say “I trust you Lord,” than it is to actually do it.  I’m not talking about dangling from a cliff wall: I’m talking about our everyday lives. So many times I refuse to let go of my twig.  I know God can do all, but do I really trust Him enough to do it?  Am I like that dangling dingbat?  Do I have the faith that God won’t let me fall if I let go?
            “Fear not, for I am with you;
            Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
            I will strengthen you, Yes I will help you,
            I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
            Let’s face it; nobody would ever be able to get off the side of that cliff safely without first letting go of that twig.  What twig(s) are you holding on to for dear life?  Do you want to be a dingbat and dangle in frustration or find safety and strength with your God?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mamaw Girdle

          Mamaw Girdle was my great-grandmother.  Her name was really Myrtle, but my family didn’t correct me until I was older.  They thought “Mamaw Girdle” was cute.  That explains why people used to laugh when I said, “Mamaw Girdle” out in public.  I’m glad I was able to entertain so many people.
          Since its Easter, I want to dedicate this blog to Mamaw Girdle.   She had a great love for Jesus and for life as well.  She was fun to be around and was the bright spot in any room.  And she loved to sing hymns. As a child, I remember being so excited when I got to sit with Mamaw Girdle in the choir on Sunday nights.  Those were special times and I still miss her, but my faith in the Risen Lord gives me comfort.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26(NIV)
 Please enjoy my poem about Mamaw Girdle and the choir ladies of yesteryear.

  I Can Still See

When I shut my eyes, I can still see
 Sitting in choir with little old ladies all around me

I always felt safe and secure in that place
For I saw a smile on each pleasant face

Grey, white, and sometimes blue colored hair they wore
It is a shame that I will see them no more

We were in a small country church that was painted white
Without microphones we sang with a might

I have to admit, a few notes were missed here and there
But we were still blessed with God’s care

With my great grandmother I would sit on that old pew
It’s too bad I did not realize those precious years would be so few

If I could, I would go back and capture those times so dear
Of those memories, I wish my daughter could see and hear

My daughter will have her own good memories from the start
As for me, these childhood memories will forever be stored in my heart