Janice Rice is passionate about living out her Christian walk as an adventure. She has worked as a Youth Pastor, assisted with starting up new churches and led numerous mission trips to Mexico and Fiji. In addition to being an author, she is also a worship leader and song writer. Janice has her degree in Cross-cultural Communications and currently pastors with her husband and children in Oregon.
Acsah Book Synopsis
Once an awkward girl of Hebron who seemed to follow trouble, Acsah blossoms into a beautiful, sought after woman of God. Amidst the turmoil of work and war, Acsah finds herself struggling between following her heart and trusting the guidance of both her earthly and Heavenly fathers.
After losing his father in a tragic animal attack, Othniel has felt the heavy weight of war and duty. His feelings for Acsah are a mutual, pleasant distraction, but obstacles meet them at every turn. Will Othniel prove his worth by fulfilling the dangerous decree of her father and take Acsah‘s hand in marriage? Or will he fail in his quest and watch as she be given to another?
How did your book come to life?
I was reading my Bible one morning in the book of Joshua 15. This obscure story about Caleb finally inheriting the land of Hebron as an old man jumped out to me. He is still responsible, even at 85 years old, as a leader of Judah, to rid the land of enemies and inhabit it. Instead of fighting this battle himself, he offers his daughter, Acsah, as a bribe, for some of his young warriors to take it. I studied out the passage because it caught my attention. When I discovered that Othniel, the victor, was Acsah‘s cousin and Caleb’s nephew, I knew that there must be an intriguing story behind these few verses. I started writing and couldn’t stop until their back story was a book.
How did you name your characters?
Naming the characters in “Acsah” was relatively easy because the genealogies in the Bible show whole families’ names. I simply chose other Biblical names for Acsah and Othniel’s friends. The only character who is not actually in the Scripture is Acsah‘s stepsister, Sapira. I wanted to show a difficult sibling relationship between Acsah and a sister, so Sapira is purely fictional.
How long did it take you to write your book?
This book took me seven long years to write. It was my first attempt at writing fiction while raising small children and pastoring. I joined a writing critique group online to help me hammer out grammar issues, sequencing, and “showing, not telling.” Not sure of my skill at writing, I was pursuing self-publishing just to see my story in print for my own satisfaction, but God had other ideas. The cost of self-publishing shut that door and felt like death to my dream of being published. A friend told me about a new publishing house that was holding a contest for Bible stories “reimagined.” This contest fit my story perfectly, and I knew that God wanted me to pursue entering. Two years off and on of writing, discouragement, renewing vision, editing, and finally entering the contest took seven years. Acsah won the contest by a landslide and was published in 2012.
How do you research your books?
I learned a hard lesson writing “Acsah” to research up front and not while writing. I spent a lot of time during the writing of “Acsah“, while the creative juices were flowing, having to stop and say, “wait, is that accurate? I better research that!” Now, I know better. For researching a story set in Israel, I grabbed tourist brochures, online pictures, postcards, anything I could get my hands on to surround my desk with what Israel looked like, smelled like, plant life, social customs, etc. With this story being set in ancient Israel, I had to take some creative license in reconstructing what we know of biblical times, but fortunately the Bible makes it pretty clear how people lived, what they ate, etc.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do?
I write as an outlet for myself personally. Being a pastor, my life is consumed with other people’s needs, ministry commitments, leadership training and administration responsibilities. Writing is just for me. I can create a world totally separate from anything else I’m facing in reality. But I also write with a purpose. The pastor in me always wants to teach Biblical truth while creating an enjoyable story. Acsah has themes of abstinence and faith woven through it.
Would you ever consider converting one of you stories/published books into a screenplay? And if you could corroborate with someone, who would it be?
I think “Acsah” would be an exciting movie. It has love, personal struggles, temptation, and a terrorizing enemy that must be defeated. It begins with a lion and ends with a city under seige. It is a story of two young people with a deep friendship and mutual admiration, turning into love. Walden Media, the producers of the Narnia movies, would be my choice for someone to corroborate with.
Which do you prefer to write – full length novels or short stories?
I enjoy both writing full length novels and short stories. I’ve published two full length novels and three short stories in compilation books. The quick gratification of seeing a short story published just encourages me to continue with novels. Short stories, based on healings and miracles, like the ones I’ve written can be so inspirational to readers. It’s a joy to be a part of a group of authors producing one book with the theme of healing or angels or the miraculous. I couldn’t do that on my own. But having a novel with just my name on the front is extremely satisfying in its own right.
What are your strengths as a writer?
Perserverance is my greatest strength as a writer. I just won’t give up until all the research is collected, all the plot is sequenced, all the characters are developed, and the final product is edited well. One of my hobbies is distance running, and it flows over into my writing. Writing novels is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Do you like to travel? If so where is your favorite city?
I love traveling while my husband is content to stay home with the kids. My major in college was Cross-cultural Communications: Missions. If I am going to travel, I want to have a greater purpose than just a vacation. When I visit Fiji or Mexico, I am on mission trips. I preach, train future church leaders, or help develop worship teams. A few days of rest at the end of the trip are wonderful, but seeing lives changed for eternity is priceless.
State 5 random facts about yourself.
1) I was born in British Columbia, Canada.
2) I hope to adopt someday.
3) I have ran the Hood to Coast relay in Oregon five times.
4) I’ve helped lead two missions trips to Mexico and five trips to Fiji.
5) I was super shy as a child until God called me into ministry, then I felt like He power-packed my personality for Him.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Corrie Ten Boom’s, “The Hiding Place”. Brother Andrew’s book, “Tortured for Christ”. C.S. Lewis’ series, The Chronicles of Narnia. I read these books as a pre-teen, and they are embedded in me for life. I have such an empathy for the persecuted church worldwide and the horrific tragedies of WWII done to the Jews. I am inspired to be a courageous believer in Jesus Christ because of Corrie Ten Boom and Brother Andrew. But I am challenged to use my writing of historical fiction to draw people closer to the Lord, like C.S. Lewis has done through his Narnia series.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not writing, I am pastoring a church with my husband. Specifically, I mentor youth in my youth group with worship and preaching. I lead a worship team on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday nights where I train up my own musicians. I am busy, during the weekdays, homeschooling my four children, who range in ages from six to fifteen years old. My husband and I own a bouncy house company and buy houses to flip in our spare time. 🙂
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