Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Writing With Humor

Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut
up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do
pretty much the same thing.

For the past couple years I’ve brought you a monthly column on moneymaking techniques for writers. In recent months I’ve felt a stirring to shift gears, to share on a subject closer to my heart. With that in mind, I’m excited to let you know that my new column (starting next month) will shift from money . . . to comedy!

Yep, you read that right. I’ve been writing comedy for years and have such a passion for it, because through comedic stories, I can share the gospel, tickle the funny bone, and create characters that readers will remember for years to come. It makes sense to transition my CFOM articles to the topic I love best, particularly when you think about it from a financial standpoint.

After all, I’ve spent the past two years sharing the many ways novelists can earn an income (aside from their fiction writing). Now it’s time to start talking about the way(s) to earn income writing the novel(s) of your heart. In other words, I plan to teach from my own experience and hope to encourage you to add some hardy-har-har-har to your stories as I do!

Lighthearted stories come naturally for me. I’ve always gravitated toward them, starting in the ’90s when I began writing musical comedies for the stage. You want to talk about a rush! There’s nothing greater for this comedic writer than sitting in an auditorium, listening to a live audience laugh at something I’ve written. Pure bliss! Heaven on earth!

Many readers (and writers) might wonder why I write lighthearted stories when the world around me is filled with woes of every kind. Back in 2004, our family faced several tragedies in a row—the death of my niece (20) , followed—two days later—by the death of my daughter’s best friend (19). The months following were filled with heartache and pain. Though I had always read women’s fiction and action/suspense, I found myself turning to lighthearted novels (the Sister Chicks books by Robin Jones Gunn).

Through these sweet stories, I could escape the hard reality and feelings of loss. In other words, these novels became my “Calgon, Take me Away!” opportunities. Not only that, each story seemed to present a serious message, all wrapped up in the silliness. Primo! There’s nothing better than sharing the gospel through comedy, at least from my point of view.

I’d always gravitated toward funny plays, as I mentioned above, but couldn’t figure out how to go about selling myself as a humorous fiction writer when I’d been writing inspirational romance for years. My first opportunity came with a cozy mystery titled The Wedding Caper, back in ’06. (A huge “thank you” to my editor, Susan Downs, for seeing something in me that I couldn’t even see in myself!) For the first time, I was “freed up” to write in first person. This made all the difference in the world. My POV character, Annie Peterson, was a hoot! I got to know her well as I wrote the five books in that series.

After that came Fools Rush In, the first book in the Weddings by Bella series. I thank God continually for that series because it opened doors for me as never before and established me as a comedic author. During that season, I came up with the tagline: “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!” I truly believe I found myself as a comedienne, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to keep writing what I love. There’s nothing greater!

What’s the passion of your heart? What do you gravitate toward? Comedy, perhaps? The lighthearted approach to life? Why not spend the next year or so completely focusing on your brand? Create a tagline. Write the stories of your heart, staying within the boundaries of your brand/tagline. Establish yourself. Then, present yourself to an editor as one who is focused and ready to establish a career!

If you’re interested in love, laughter, and happily ever afters, stay tuned! The next few months I’ll be sharing dozens of helpful ideas to novelists. Together we’ll learn how to tickle the funny bone, lift the spirits of the ailing readers, and drive home the spiritual . . . all through comedy. We will study specific episodes of TV sitcoms (everything from I Love Lucy to Everybody Loves Raymond). We’ll talk about punch lines, pacing, and pitfalls.

Best of all, we’ll examine books by several key players in the Christian fiction industry—folks like Kristin Billerbeck, Mary Conneally, Robin Jones Gunn, Jenny B. Jones and more. What fun! Together we’ll see what works, what doesn’t, and what we can do to promote comedy as Christian writers.

Until next month . . . keep laughing! I’ll be back to give you some rib-tickling tips soon!