A long time ago, while working as a computer programmer, I was praying to God about my career. I asked myself a question: “What is the one thing you’ve always loved to do since you were in elementary school, that you can only do on the side right now, but that you’d love to do for the rest of your life?”
I knew the answer right away: write!
I felt that if God had given me the ability to write, then He would make the way for me to get there. Twenty-five years later, here I am.
From what I can see your first publication was in 2014. Are you writing 4 books a year (not counting the compilations with others)?
Even though I publish about four to six books a year across three different genres (Christian beach romance, romantic suspense, and techno-thrillers), I usually write more books in the background. In my home office are manuscripts at various stages of completion. I’ve outlined some books, drafted some, revised some, and I’m rewriting some. Not all my books are started and finished in the same year. Some of them are multi-year projects.
While being an author is a lonely job, communities of indie authors are vital to this industry as we share publishing and marketing tips, watch book industry trends, and keep up with technology and tools. In the course of friendship and indie shoptalk, indie authors sometimes get together and collaborate on anthologies, more commonly known as MABS (multi-author boxed sets).
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I would say that the hardest part of writing is putting down the first words of the first paragraph of the first chapter. Once I have that down, the rest of the entire novel starts to unfold.
On the other hand, the most time-consuming part for me to write is the outline. I sometimes take months to outline a novel. I mull over my story idea for as long as it takes until the entire story pulls together in my head and on paper.
I write my first drafts on paper, but I revise and edit on my computer.
What does your editor remind you to do most often?
As an indie author, I set my own editorial deadlines. However, once I book my editor, it becomes her due date as well. I am thankful to God that my editor reminds me when the deadlines are coming on my calendar. Without the reminder, I would gladly take years to write my books.
When one of my novels published, I wasn’t sure if it would resonate with anyone except myself. A few years later, a reader told me that in the midst of a difficult time in her life, she picked up my novel, read it, and was encouraged by God through a particular verse in that novel. Well, that verse (Proverbs 3:5-6) was the theme I had placed in the book more than a decade before that! I was reminded once again that God’s Word never returns void. I keep writing because I never know when someone will be encouraged, even if it’s years from now.
We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it.
As I mentioned, I write in multiple genres, one of which is science fiction. Even though my techno-thrillers are science fiction, they are mostly based on earth. Once upon a time, I wrote two clean but secular short stories set in a galaxy far, far away. I thought they were pretty good, so I sent them to a science fiction magazine. Both short stories were promptly rejected without a comment.
Having a computer science background, I began to analyze the situation in a logical fashion five ways to Christmas. However, as a Christian, I knew that Romans 8:28 ruled. I realized that it wasn’t timing but content. Sure enough, I discovered that I’d rather write Christian fiction than restrain myself from talking about God, except allegorically, just to get published in a magazine.
What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
I suppose a surprise I have is that, after all these decades, I still love to write and have so many more stories I want to tell. I wish I had kept my childhood handwritten story books to remind myself how far I have come. However, rather than dwelling on what I have done, I would rather focus on what God has written. The more I want to write my own books, the more I need to prioritize reading my Bible daily as a reminder to put God first, above all.
What has frustrated you the most?
To me, frustrations are challenges to take to God in prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17) and opportunities for me to be an overcomer (Romans 8:37-39). My current challenge is to find more time to write more books for my readers who are eagerly waiting for my next book in their favorite series to be published. Yes, there is a time for everything under the sun, even “a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
I wish that I had completed one series at a time rather than rotate writing among five series in several genres. Even though all my books are standalone stories and have their own conclusions and happy endings—and they all exist in the same story world such that characters crisscross series—it takes more time for me to return to a series and resume where I left off than if I had written all the way through to the last book. I am thankful to God that I do have patient readers!
I have seen a lot of writing advice over the years from many authors ahead of me. All of them said that writers have to get the words written and the books done. Most assuredly, I cannot market a book I do not have. Thus, writing itself is key. It is much easier to start a book than to complete a book—that is, to finish well.
Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
The Bible verse for my publishing imprint says, “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7, KJV). I remind myself that ultimately, I have to answer to God for what I write and do not write. Let it be that when I write, I do so “with the voice of thanksgiving,” giving glory to God and Him alone.
What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next Christian romantic suspense novel is Once a Spy, book 3 in my Protector Sweethearts series, in which the heroes and heroines pair up on adventures to recover lost treasures and rescue lost people. Here is a description of this novel, which is currently on preorder on Amazon.
Hired to protect a treasure-hunting billionaire she doesn’t even like, former CIA agent Raynelle Dryden gets too personal with her client and inadvertently introduces him to a past enemy who wants her dead in this enemies-to-lovers Christian romantic suspense.
Afraid that Benjamin is too reckless, his sister hires former CIA agent Raynelle Dryden to tag along on his escapades. Raynelle dislikes Benjamin for disrespecting her profession, but she needs the money to fund a secret project she hasn’t told anyone about.
As they get closer to unearthing the truth about where Blackbeard hid his treasures that no one has yet discovered, Raynelle and Benjamin find themselves walking into the crosshairs of an enemy from Raynelle’s past, who is determined to destroy her and anyone close to her.
Protector Sweethearts: JanThompson.com/protector