I have met so many wonderful friends through books. Some are fictional, and some are flesh and bone friends...but all have made a difference in my life in one way or another. We all impact each other's lives. Sometimes it is by something you say that makes me think, and other times it is by a gesture or kindness. And yet other times it may be something that dug deeper, hurt my feelings, or made me sad. Still you made a difference. Through this blog I would like to introduce you to some people who have blessed me with their writing...and I hope you will be blessed as well!

Coffee or Tea?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WOW! Look Who Came to Visit... It's Janice Hanna Thompson!!!

     I met Janice on a prayer chain we both belong to and thought immediately, "Hey, I really like this gal!". She is the best friend you picture in your mind; the funny friend on a girls' night out; the loyal prayer partner you can always count on. I had no idea when I met her she was also an accomplished screen writer, and had a long string of successful books published...or that she was such a wonderful mentor for many beginning writers needing guidance. She has produced several Christian theater shows such as "Zaney Muldaney, on the Road to Kingdom Come",a fun musical with wild costumes and crazy characters that bring out a new way of understanding the Bible that she co-produced with friend, Brenda White. You can see some of the fun pictures here... https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150457262925386.642170.899110385

Janice Hanna (also published as Janice Thompson) has published more than seventy novels and non-fiction books. She has also published more than fifty magazine articles and several musical comedies for the stage. Janice makes her home in the Houston area near her children and grandchildren.

     Her books are enjoyable to read and remind me of simpler times and the old sit-coms of my childhood. I first read "Fools Rush In" after I read about a free download for my Kindle. I had just bought "Love Me Tender" and hadn't had time to read it yet, but with Kindle I could take "Fools Rush In" with me wherever I went.  After an hour of reading I knew that would never happen...I wasn't going to put it down until the very last page!  Inside the pages of "Fools Rush In" I met two delightful families that reminded me of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Little House on the Prairie". There was a parrot that once belonged to the mob, that Uncle Lazlo wanted to get saved so he could be returned to his mobster friend and lead him to salvation. There was  D.J. who became a DeeJay for Bella's wedding facility, the Spendora Sisters who are the epitome of a good Texas woman;  Bubba (D.J.'s brother who sings opera) is an award winning BBQ champion, and a whole cast of unique characters that delight the soul and tickle the sense of humor. I had to read the whole series...and am thrilled to hear there are rumors of more Bella books to come! The Splendora sisters even share their favorite beauty secrets with you!
     Janice's latest release is one I am really excited about. In 1999 when my kids and I moved East from California we were thrilled to see the giant cross that stood beside the road in a little town in Texas. In 1995 Steve Thomas was so tired of all the XXX adult entertainment  billboards along I-40 he decided to build a cross as a testament to his faith, and from there produced an entire sculpture garden of the life of Christ. Although this is NOT in her book, the location is...and what better place for a "Love Finds You" book than in...GROOM, TEXAS?
     Without further delay I would like to introduce you to one of MY favorite people, and a terrific writer...Janice Hanna Thompson!
Me: I notice 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!
Me:Please tell us three random things we might not know about you.
My dad was the president of the University of Houston Cougar Cagers Club, so my birthdays, holidays, etc. were spent at basketball games. Our family traveled to Mexico with the U of H Cougars to watch them compete, which was great fun. When I was eleven, I got to play (for fun, of course) with the Harlem Globetrotters, who came to Houston for a visit. To this day, I love a good basketball game.
I once lied to a fellow camper at church camp, telling her that my dad (Billy Hanna) was William Hanna of Hanna/Barbara (Flintstones) fame. That lie still haunts me, though, to his credit, my dad did eventually work as a movie producer on our co-authored movie, Liar’s Moon. (Yes, it’s true. I got to meet and work with Matt Dillon. Eat your heart out, girls!)
I occasionally bake wedding cakes. In 2009 I baked a lovely four-tiered white cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting that toppled less than an hour before the wedding. I managed to piece together two very messy/ugly layers. Thankfully, the bride did not murder me. It made for a great scene in a later book. (Nothing ever gets wasted, not even a mashed piece of cake.)
Me: What are your favorite things to do (besides writing)?
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).

Me: Are you 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.

Me: I know that you enjoy teaching. Can you 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:
Non-Fiction Book Writing (coming in August, 2011)

Me: 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.
Me: I understand you have a new VIP bookclub. 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 booksbyjanice@aol.com with the words “VIP bookclub” in the subject line and their address in the body of the email.
Now lets change to subject  little bit and can you tell me about your newest book?
Me: Please tell us a bit more 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. Anne has no idea of the blissful chaos that lies ahead! 
Me: 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.

Groom is a wedding-themed book. Why do you write so many stories with a strong wedding theme?
I have four grown daughters—Randi, Megan, Courtney Rae and Courtney Elizabeth. Yes, I really have two daughters named Courtney. (Long story!) All four of my girls got married within four years of each other. We’re told to write what we know. I know weddings, trust me! I helped coordinate all four weddings and even worked as a wedding coordinator at my church for a season. I was also tickled to be the “Wedding Planner Examiner” for the city of Houston for a spell. What fun! You’ll see me writing about weddings for years to come, so hang on for the ride!

What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about her?
Readers will care about Anne because she’s been through so much and still chooses to move forward. They will also love her relationship with her younger sisters. She’s the only remaining parental figure and takes that position very seriously.  
Me: 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.

Me: Tell us a little about your hero? Is he true hero material?
Jake is a hunka-hunka Texas man! He’s a railroad man who loves his job, loves his family and loves the heroine. He’s got a great sense of humor, which is perfect for this story, because the heroine’s little sisters are loaded with antics! Jake has a lot to deal with: he’s the town’s last single man, which has made him the brunt of many a joke. His older brothers (all married with children) taunt and tease. Jake can never catch a break. Unless he’s with Anne, of course. Then he catches far more than a break. . .he catches the woman of his dreams!

Me: Give us one sentence that shows/tells us something about your heroine as a child.
Papa used to say the only ‘buts’ were the ones left behind when a man finished a good cigar.

Me: What are readers saying about this book? Have you had any feedback so far?
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

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 booksbyjanice@aol.com.
Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!

Thank you Janice! You are an amazing lady! We didn't even get into so any other questions I wanted to bring up, like your road trip that you took your other on recently, and your precious little doxys Copper and Sasha. There is one more thing I need from you before you go. Here on Tea Time With Cheri' we love to eat! So if it wouldn't be too much trouble, can you share a favorite recipe with us?

In honor of "Love Finds You in Groom, Texas" Janice has shared Maggie's favorite recipe (Maggie is the mother figure in LFY in Groom, Texas) for Chicken Fried Steak...

Mama Maggie’s Chicken Fried Steaks
                            4 (4 ounce) cube steaks (good TEXAS beef, of course!)
                            1 cup all-purpose flour
                            2 eggs, lightly beaten
                            vegetable oil
                            1 cup milk
salt and pepper to season

1.  Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside. In a shallow dish, dredge each steak in flour. Dip in beaten egg, then dredge in flour again. (It’s important to get this right so that the crust is the right thickness.)
2.  Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry steaks on each side until golden brown. Drain.

Maggie suggests a milk gravy (made with the scraps of the meat) to serve on top. She also feels her creamy, smooth mashed potatoes taste great when served next to this chicken fried steak. Smother it all in gravy, and you’ve got the best meal in the panhandle!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, girlfriend -
    I was so excited by this book by Janice. She's a great person and terrific writer and sweeter than a hive of honey - One great Christian lady - I've been so privileged to get to know her in many areas and every time I hear of one of her books coming - I MAKE sure I can get my hands on it!
    I'm glad you got to do this interview - isn't she fun?
    Great job, Cheri - praying for you and yours too.