Thursday, May 31, 2012


Welcome to the first ever Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! Make the loop to discover 23 new or upcoming novels, and write down the clue at each stop. When you know what the clues say, fill out the Rafflecopter form by June 4, 2012 (midnight EST) at, and you could be in the running for the grand prize of 23 new, autographed books (if you live in the USA; unsigned if international). Note: if you're the winner, you must email the complete statement within 24 hours of notification in order to claim the Grand don't miss a stop! Be ready with your answer if you're the lucky winner! No need to email it unless you receive the good word on June 5, 2012.

Meet Janice Hanna Thompson! 

As a part of this scavenger hunt, I’m hosting Janice Hanna Thompson, a one of a kind author who loves romantic comedy. Her stories will make you laugh. Janice is a versatile writer who creates light-hearted historical, inspirational romance, quirky cozy mysteries and fun books for younger readers.

Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She's the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. But her life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get her family to behave as well as her stars do! When she starts butting heads with handsome camera operator Jason Harris, it's enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life--and love--as it comes? Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives readers an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

Here’s a Scavenger Hunt Exclusive

from Janice

that has never appeared anywhere else.


In the summer of ’79, my dad decided to move our family from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles CA so that he could get into the movie biz. I was eighteen at the time. I’d visited California on occasion, but had certainly never lived there. Settling on a home was a challenge, since my dad didn’t have a solid plan for how long we would stay in the area. He found a house in Bel Air West, off of Mulholland. We were literally a stone’s throw away from the Groves Overlook (above the San Fernando Valley). I still remember the house because it took my breath away: sweeping staircase, fabulous kitchen, fantastic backyard, complete with pool and Jacuzzi. Quite the place! We only lived there a few months, but the home left a lasting impression.

Jump ahead to 2011: When I decided to write The Director’s Cut, I set the story in Hollywood. Tia Morales (the story’s heroine) is the director of Stars Collide, a popular sitcom. She’s a busy gal with a very full life. Tia lives in (you guessed it) my old house! Quite a few years have passed since the home was built, and I happened to drive by it the last time I was in Los Angeles. It seemed smaller and definitely in need of an overhaul! Ack! Not at all what I remembered. Then again, thirty-plus years have passed. Houses, like people, age!

With that in mind, I decided to make the home’s renovation a major part of Tia’s story. She spends her days at the studio, directing the sitcom—a controlled environment. She spends her nights and weekends working on the house, (something she can’t control). To complicate the situation, her irresponsible brothers are in charge of the renovation.

In the end, Tia’s love interest, Jason, plays a key role in her home’s makeover. Through it all, she learns several lessons about trusting God with the details. Come to think of it, I learned a few lessons about trusting the Lord with the details of my life while living in that home, too. My memories of L.A. are sweet, and I hope it shows in Tia’s story. Oh, and for the record, one thing hasn’t changed in thirty-plus years: the views from Mulholland are as breathtaking as ever! Check out the picture of Groves Overlook for all the proof you will ever need!

The Groves Overlook: (Click the link to learn more about the area near my old home.)

 Find out more about Janice Hanna Thompson at:  

The Scavenger Hunt Skinny
Now mosey along, Hunters, to STOP #3: Cara Putman at
so . . .
you can pick up your next clue!

But before you go, 
write down this STOP #2 clue – these

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Books & Writing: Characters Readers Can Believe In

My last blog post on Books and Writing was about a book I'd recently read, Rosslyn Elliott's Sweeter Than Birdsong.. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. After writing the post I thought it would be fun to take look at this book and a few others and discover why we love them.

The characters in Rosslyn's novel were finely drawn--she did her homework and I found them vivid and real.
So, this week, I'd like to wade into the process of creating believable characters, people we believe in and care about enough to stay with through an entire novel. And discover those unique and memorable characters that we carry with us long after putting a book down. If readers don't care about the characters they won't care about the story. Joyce Scott, a fellow writer, once said while describing her characters, "They're a long term relationship . . . like the rest of your life. The characters and their stories are real to me and so they live on as long as I do." 

She's exactly right. That's who they need to be if we're going to know them well enough to write their stories. We've got to know them inside and out, what motivates them . . . who they are.

·         Today we'll look at the place to begin, with some very basics. In coming weeks we'll dig deeper to discover who our characters are and what makes them tick. Why do they do what they do. I build a character profile for every person in a story--the larger role they play, the more information I include. To begin with we need to know . . .

Basic Facts:
  • Find a photograph that represents your character.
  • It can be someone you know, an actor/actress, photo from a magazine or newspaper.
  • I used to use files for characters, but now it's very easy to find photographs online. 
  • Beginning with a photo helps create a three-dimensional person in your own mind, one that you can actually see.
Bring your characters to life:
  • List your character's physical characteristics. You must take the time to do this before you begin writing or you may begin a book with a blue-eyed, blonde and end up with a dark-haired gal with brown eyes. 
Things to consider
  • Hair--Is it long, short, dark, blonde, greasy, stringy, curly, or . . . ?
  • Eyes--What color are they? Shape. Are they cool, warm, compassionate, cruel?
  • Skin--What kind of complexion do they have? Is their skin weathered, scarred, pimpled or soft as a new born babe's?
  • Size--Is the character tall, short, fat, thin, burly, petite . . .?
  • Age--How old is this person? Do they look their age? If not, why not?
  • Male or female? Sometimes it's not so easy to tell these days.
Other basics to keep in mind.
  • Ethnicity
  • Mannerisms
  • Speech patterns
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses 
I'm looking forward to digging deeper. Hope to see you here next week.

By the way, what do you think you know about the character in the photograph, just by looking at him? You can tell a lot just by what a person looks like. 

I'd love to hear your feedback--he's a character in a book I'm working on.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quiet Moments With God: Ever Feel Lost?

 Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your way, or even lost yourself? Have you had times when you've wondered what happened to the joyful, hopeful, inspired disciple of Christ you once were? The one who knew that with God nothing was impossible. The one who saw the world as a place filled with possibilities.

That's me, at least some of the time. For the last several months life has been difficult, full of trauma, change and heartache. I think I'm grieving or just weary. But knowing that doesn't change the way I feel. And so I am left with a question. How do I find my way back to me, back to joy? 

God knows what I need before I even ask Him. And He always provides.

In my reading this morning Oswald Chambers’ words cut to my heart. “God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.” 

I read those words and sucked in a deep refreshing breath, then let it out, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. I knew the answer to my question. 

I must step aside and give God rule in my life. Trust Him with the troubles and sorrows, the changes and the fears.

Mind you, this is not a new lesson for me. I've been here before. But some lessons need to be taught again . . . and again. And so here I am, relearning or maybe it's best described as working it more deeply into my soul. Maybe this time I'll REALLY get it.

I’m pretty certain that I’ve previously mentioned that I love my life orderly and predictable. Change, for me, is like stepping blind-folded to the edge of a cliff. For eight months I've been standing on the edge of that cliff. Every day arrives filled with unanswered questions and often heartache. Nothing is predictable.

When my mind wanders freely without constraint I sometimes find myself feeling hopeless and a sense of loss threatens to sweep me up in a powerful wave.  And then I reign in my unruly thoughts and seek refuge--my Lord. He sees me. He knows my heart, every fear and every hope. He stands with me and even carries me when I need Him to. And even though I am in a place where tomorrow is uncertain I know He will shine a light on the path before me and show me the way I should go.

Resting in Him allows God to do the impossible.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Relationship -- Comrades

I spent last weekend with new and old writing friends. Ann Shorey, Laura Frantz, Mesu Andrews and I joined forces at Lifeway Christian Books in Beaverton, Oregon and Tukwila, Washington. We had a good time chatting with readers, signing books and getting to know each other better. Ann and I have been buddies for years, but I'd never met Laura or Mesu. The book-signing was scheduled as a promotion for our work, but it turned out to be more than that.

I now feel as if I have new comrades in the writing world. Writers need each other--we understand what the writing life is like--the challenges and the joys. Us gals had fun sharing battle tales, triumphs and the perplexities of an author's life. And we laid groundwork for what may be long-standing friendships.

It was fun hanging out together. We know one another in a way we didn't before, and we better understand how to pray for one another. And I personally feel freer to reach out when I'm in need of guidance or support. We are comrades. A writer's life can feel isolated so in some ways when we bond it feels like us against the world. Ann, Mesu, Laura and I are now less alone in the great big writing ocean.

You and I--we all have our niche, and there are others we can share our interests and gifts with. Seek out one another. Share your unique talents as well as your strengths and weaknesses. Link arms and lean on one another. You will be stronger for it.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, May 16, 2012




Ann Shorey
Mesu Andrews


Laura Frantz
Bonnie Leon


Gift basket drawing. Chocolate. And . . . GOOD BOOKS!

We'd love to meet you! Join us May 19th, Friday evening from 5:00 - 7:00 PM in Beaverton, Oregon at the Lifeway Christian Store located at 2785 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. Saturday, the 19th we'll be trekking northward to Tukwila, Washington where we'll be looking forward to meeting you at the Liveway Christian Store at 17326 Southcenter Parkway from 1:00 - 3:00.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Relationship: The In-Between Places

Christmas of 2010 family gathered at my home from around the globe--My Sis and her husband traveled from Alaska, Mom and Dad came from Washington, my son skated over the mountains from Central Oregon, my  niece and her family jetted all the way from New Zealand and a nephew flew from Florida, while numerous others joined us from within our county here in Southern Oregon.

As you can see in the picture (and others I posted back in 2010) we are having a grand time. We all look
happy . . . don't we? We were, truly. But it wasn't all laughter and merriment. We had our "moments".

Some faced jet lag, others had colds and the stomach flu made its rounds through the family. There were temper tantrums from some of the little ones and short tempers from us all, even a few tense moments between family members. It wasn't all beauty and light.

And yet, there was beauty and love--lots of love.

A few nights ago while hanging out with my mother in the ER I got to thinking about the in-between spaces of our lives. It was definitely not a good thing to be in the ER. I hated that my  mother was sick again and losing her sleep and having to be poked and prodded once more by doctors. I was tired and wished I were in bed. But, in the midst of all that Mom cracked jokes and spoke tenderly to me. We shared thoughts and feelings, traveled through memories together . . . and as I think about the time in the ER--I loved it. At least the in-between spaces.

Life is not perfect and never will be, not on this earth. There will be no perfect holidays or family gatherings, no perfect aging process or perfect relationships. But there will be moments that make all the rest beautiful.

So, when you're tempted to see only the troubles of life, remember the moments that make it remarkable.

Life even with all it's messes is a gift. And so are the people we love.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Books & Writing: Read This Book!

Last night I finished reading Sweeter Than Birdsong and I must recommend Rosslyn Elliott's most recent novel.

Sweeter Than Birdsong is book two in The Saddler Legacy. I must admit it took me a while to get into this book (who knows, maybe it was me--I often read in drips and drabs because of my busy schedule), but once I was hooked the characters, story and amazing writing captivated me.

It's a wonderful read . . . if you like history, romance and vivid writing. The series is a work of fiction but is inspired by a real family--the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio.

Last year I read Rosslyn's debut novel, Fairer Than Morning, and was hooked on her writing. I'm a fan who can't wait for her next book.

Rosslyn writes fabulous fiction. I marvel as I read. One of the things I love about her books is that I get a history lesson while I'm carried along on a fictional ride about people who are not cookie-cutter images of who we might expect them to be. Rosslyn does her homework, creating real people, situations and story.

Rosslyn is on my list of favorite authors. If you'd like a good read and want to learn more about American history make sure to read her books.

I recommend that you begin with the first book in The Saddler's Legacy, Fairer Than Morning, another fabulous story. However, you don't have to begin with book one because each book stands on its own. 

If you like a good read and want to learn more about American history make sure to read Rosslyn's books.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Books & Writing: Writers Are Never All Grown Up

When teaching writing workshops, I've often said, the learning never ends. It's true. However, when I make a blunder I'm still startled . . . as if I believe my writing is all grown up.

A few nights ago, I found a major flaw in one of my projects. I've been working on a true story, which is written in first person--a new experience for me. I've loved the process, the writing and the woman whose story I'm telling. It's been an extremely positive experience, thus far.

After countless hours of interviews and transcription I had the material organized and fashioned into a rough outline and was ready to write. I happily sat down and over the course of a couple of weeks, crafted three chapters and sent them off to my agent. I felt pretty good about the work. However, I should have taken another look at those chapters before I pressed send.

A couple of nights ago I did take another look. Yikes! I was stunned at what I found--bones in need of flesh. I was so crazy about the voice of my main character that I became too focused on that portion of the writing, so wanting her to jump off the pages and into the hearts of readers.While doing so I lost sight of something very important--time and place, something I usually do pretty well.

I'm reworking the scenes. And I'm not the least bit distressed--it's blessed fun to see the story come to life more completely. However, I must admit to being disappointed in myself. I really hate it when I get careless, and this story is important. I want to do my best work so it will reach as many readers as possible.

Writers can't get lazy or careless. If we do it will mean extra rewriting or worse yet poor writing. The truth is that writing is rewriting. We never get it right the first time. I encourage you to do all that rewriting with joy, knowing that what you place on the page will matter to someone who reads it.

We can make a difference. There is power in words--to create laughter, joy, an escape and even healing for wounded souls.

Enjoy the crafting and the growing up that is part of a writer's life.

Grace and peace to you from God,