All is right in the world again. For months, things have been...catawampus...off kilter. With a hint of boring and a dash of "meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless."
But now, things have gained focus. The world's flipped right-side-up once more.
College football is here.
Of course, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. But there is truth in my words as well. And if you disagree solely because you are not a fan is grounds for us to part ways.
One has to take a stand sometimes. :-)
It is in this environment where we introduce our next guest on the Florida front porch. She hails from the same university a good friend of mine cheers on each Saturday in the fall. And it is these friendships that are living proof that God is a God of grace, and Christianity can indeed bring people together as brothers and sisters in Christ who otherwise would get into a knockdown, drag out, bar-fight-like brawl in the middle of a tailgate party.
(If you look closely, my tongue is still firmly jabbing my cheek.)
Anyway, enough with the silliness. It's time to get serious.
Welcome our next guest, from the world of self-publishing, Jan Thompson!
USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes Christian coastal city and beach town romance with flavors of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with elements of mystery, and inspirational near-future technothrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance. Jan’s books are for readers who love inspiring stories of faith, family, and friends.
Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?
There is a multi-year saga to this. I remember vividly the moment I was typing out a personal letter to my aunt on my parents’ Olivetti typewriter. I was eight years old, and I didn’t have an outline. I was free-writing whatever popped into my head. I don’t recall what I wrote, and I am sure that the sent letter has been lost to time. However, I know that since then I’ve written more and more, all the way through high school, including flip picture books, poetry, essays, short stories, and even comic strips. Anything creative.
My love of writing was not borne out of thin air, but I believe it came out of the reading environment that my parents created for my brothers and me. My parents loved to read both the classics and popular fiction, and they loved pop culture. My brothers and I sang along with nursery rhymes on vinyl records and listened to Mom read storybooks to us. Our family home was filled with books everywhere. As we got older, we started reading lots of fiction, including clean mysteries and suspense.
All that background influenced me later on after college and career. During my off hours from work, I would sew and quilt and paint and write. Around my thirtieth birthday, I prayed to God to clarify my calling in life for me. I felt strongly that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life on earth was to write my books and get them published. Two years later, I finished my first full-length novel. Just in time for motherhood. It would be twelve years before I wrote another book. I wrote part time until my son graduated from high school. When he went to college, I knew that it was finally time for empty-nester me to be a full-time novelist to fulfill my calling.
What educational background do you have?
Go Dawgs! (Here we go...) College football is huge at the University of Georgia, and it was the case even back then in the nineties when I attended the main campus in Athens, Georgia. However, I wasn’t a football fan then, since I had grown up on soccer, volleyball, and track-and-field. I remember not paying attention to the UGA colors when I walked to the library one fine game day, wearing a random purple sweater. You should’ve seen the glares I got from the tailgaters as I walked by them—my brain lost in thoughts of math and computing—while being unaware that I was wearing the colors of the visiting team! What was the probability!
My major was computer science in college, but I’ve always loved reading and writing. I took a journalism elective in which we had to write an essay a day. I finished my homework very quickly. One of my favorite electives was American literature, in which we had to write essays on paper in class for our midterms and finals. I am most creative when I’m writing with a pen or pencil on blank paper. To this day, I still draft all my books on paper.
After college, I went to work for over a decade in the IT world, writing database software programs on large multiuser systems. They say that in God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted. My background in computer science is why I enjoy writing cyberthrillers and near-future technothrillers.
Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?
His Longing Heart (Seaside Chapel Book 1): Christian Beach Romance
I grew up on a tropical island and have always loved the ocean. When I moved to Georgia, I was landlocked for thirty-some years. I hear the ocean and long for the ocean, so when I added contemporary Christian romance and romantic Christian women’s fiction to my book inventory, my beach and island memories returned to me.
Once a Thief (Protector Sweethearts Book 1): Christian Romantic Suspense
I wrote this book because private investigator Helen Hu has been in several books in my coastal romance (e.g., Tell You Soon) and beach romance (e.g., His Wake-Up Call) series, and it was time for her to headline her own story. Her mother from Tell You Soon (Savannah Sweethearts Book 2) must tag along, so I decided to put Mama Hu in jail. This was a fun mystery suspense to write as I put my main characters on a hunt for some bejeweled eggs and the Amber Room.
Zero Sum (Binary Hackers Book 1): Near-Future Romantic Technothriller
Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others?
If you have book in you and you know God has called you to write, do it. Don’t delay. Don’t wait. Don’t give up. Writing craft, you can learn. Software tools to write in, you can learn. And yes, marketing, you can also learn. However, the story bottled up inside you can only be told by you and no one else.
“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.’
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).
While people say “there’s nothing new under the sun” and that “ideas are a dime a dozen,” those are simplistic statements. The way you write your book, the way you want to tell your story, those things are always uniquely yours. This is why you, the author, have the freedom to copyright your own books.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).
Next question along those lines: As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path?
Speaking for myself, success is fulfilling the call of God for my life. As I mentioned earlier, I had an epiphany at age thirty that I needed to utilize the skillset that God has already gifted me, which happens to be what I love to do the most: write. It’s not just any type of writing, but it’s a specific creative writing in which I can be free to talk about what God is doing in people’s hearts in the journey of life.
Whether the setting is a church, in a busy city or small town, or in cyberspace, and regardless of genres, I want to show a slice of real Christian life for my audience to read. I want to share about how loving and merciful and forgiving God is. When readers tell me that their hearts are uplifted or they draw nearer to Jesus after they read my novels, then I am encouraged as well. To me, I’ve succeeded.
“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7, KJV).
Ultimately, my goal is to glorify God in everything I do. Whatever I write, whether non-fiction or fiction, should be a shining light in this difficult and dark world we live in. As Jesus said:
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46, NKJV).
I want my readers to finish reading my books with a smile on their face and satisfaction in their hearts. Since I write under the Christian romance umbrella, my readers expect happy endings every time. And I do too.
Also good advice.
Now, on a more personal, and kind of off the wall way, answer this one: When you look for a new car, what are the things that are important to you?
Safety, safety, safety. After that, functionality. What’s the point of vehicle if it only looks pretty but is not safe or functional? We don’t own a trailer, but it’s always good to know that our vehicle can haul one. We moved from Georgia to Florida last December, and even though we rented PODs, we still had to drive the remainder of our “collectibles” (you might call it junk, but one man’s treasure is…) on a long road trip. A U-Haul trailer came to the rescue, and my husband drove our SUV all the way, as I followed behind him in our Accord.
We usually buy used cars (new to us!) because they’re in our price range. We’ve owned numerous used cars over the years. I remember our first car as a married couple. A wedding gift from my in-laws, our Oldsmobile Delta 88 was a tank. I felt safe in it. When we drove out on the highway, the Oldsmobile was a cruiser. Smooth as a boat on water. I miss that old car. I call it our wedding car because we drove it to our honeymoon on the beach some thirty-three years ago last month.
When I did research for my novel, Look for Me (Vacation Sweethearts Book 4), I was intrigued by the muscle cars of yesteryear. They all look like they had been built with some serious metal, heavy and safe to transport the precious cargo of life onboard. Many cars today have lighter frames, as though they could be tossed about in a gale. Not those muscle cars of old. I finally settled on one, and I made my main character, Martin MacFarland, drive a 1966 Shelby GT350 that he and his father restored in their shop in Savannah, Georgia.
You've mentioned several Bible verses. What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?
John 3:16 is my life verse. This is primarily why I keep writing and why I love being a novelist.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).
No, my stories are not parables. My books are to entertain my readers, cups of fresh water for the weary soul when the going gets rough. I tell my readers to come sit a while in a comfortable chair, read my books, and enjoy the happy endings. Readers who are not familiar with the romance genre might question why I just gave away the endings of my beach romance, romantic suspense, and romantic thrillers. The heroes will not die in a book with a happy ending. They will live and finish well in my story world.
Why do I write such stories? On earth, not all things end happily. In fact, our fallen world, cursed by sin, is filled with many events in history too horrible to imagine. So many sad and tragic endings everywhere. Isn’t it good for us to know that in the future, God wins? In the Bible, the book of Revelation tells us that there is a true happy ending in real life that Christians can hope for. That is the ultimate happy ending that we can rejoice about. No secret about this happily-ever-after!
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:4–5, NKJV).
Amen to that! Before we close, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?
I love to read. I was a reader first before I was ever a writer. These days, I have to read my own books before and after my editors do, so I am rather busy meeting editorial deadlines in my own story world. When I’m free, I read non-fiction books or study a new language or watch dramas in a foreign language. And I read novels outside the genres I write in. I have a policy of not reading the genre I write in at the same time I am writing it. For example, when I am writing my thrillers, I don’t read other people’s thrillers. I might read a historical fiction or a non-fiction book. When I write my beach romances, I don’t read other people’s romance novels. I would read a suspense or a thriller. Right now, I am writing both a technothriller and a beach romance, so what do I read? My fallback is always non-fiction. I am reading a couple of marketing books.
Most importantly, I do my best to read the Bible daily. I feel that one way to tithe my time to God is to start off by reading a few passages of Scripture each day. It matters not whether I’ve checked off everything on my to-do list. But it matters that I sit quietly before Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and learn from Him. For example, in an epic climb that spanned months of life events, I finished reading Leviticus. My readers tell me that they appreciate reading Bible references in my books, especially my beach romance novels that cover church life. Those were not random passages I grabbed out of thin air. God taught me something, and I felt compelled to share it. I love spending time in God’s Word!
Jan, thank you for taking time to open up your life for our readers. I know they appreciate it an always dig deeper into cyberspace to find out more about our guests, hoping they will find another author from which to garner good reads.
Readers, if you wish to find out more about Jan, you can find her in these locations on the web:
Jan’s Website: JanThompson.com
Jan’s Mailing List: JanThompson.com/newsletter
Jan’s Books: JanThompson.com/books
Follow Jan Thompson at:
· Amazon: JanThompson.com/amazon
· BookBub: JanThompson.com/bookbub
· Goodreads: JanThompson.com/goodreads
· Twitter: JanThompson.com/twitter
· Instagram: JanThompson.com/instagram
· Facebook: JanThompson.com/facebook
We will see you in December!