Hi, friends! Today I’m very pleased to introduce debut author Janice Rice. Janice’s book Acsah has just been released by Ellechor Publishing, LLC. I had the honor of editing Acsah when I interned at Ellechor and loved it, so I can personally attest to its worth. I had a wonderful time meeting Janice and talking about Acsah last Thursday at the Ellechor Book Launch party, so I’m excited to share more information about the book with you.
Acsah is based on the biblical story of Caleb’s daughter, Acsah. Acsah is a free spirited girl and rebels against the women in her family and the chores she is obligated to do. Acsah longs to be a warrior like her brothers and cousin, Othniel. After Othniel’s father is killed by a lion, Othniel is given more responsibility and becomes one of the best Israelite warriors. As Acsah grows older and lovelier, her hand becomes a highly sought prize, although Acsah adores only Othniel and Othniel cannot deny that he is attracted to her. When Caleb offers Acsah’s hand in marriage as the prize to whoever can defeat the Anakites at the city of Debir, Acsah is afraid that she will be given to a man she does not love. But Acsah learns to trust both her father Caleb and the Lord.
Here’s what Janice says about Acsah:
1. Acsah is based on Joshua 15:13-17. What made you want to bring this little-known story to life?
I was reading Joshua 15:13-17 one morning during my devotions. The plot of a father offering his youngest daughter as a reward for taking a city was intriguing. I did a little research and found that Othniel and Acsah were cousins. Othniel is the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz. (When you’re remodeling a home, as I was at the time, you have a lot of time to think about things while pulling wire, cutting boards, etc.) This story kept playing over and over in my mind. I decided to just write creatively about it and see where it took me. It was a good outlet for me during the construction craziness. After 90 pages and counting, I had to finish the story.
I have always mentored young people through youth ministry, piano lessons or coaching track. I have a heart to teach young men and women to wait for God’s best in their relationships. I wrote Acsah with my youth group girls in mind. I wanted it to be an encouragement to remain abstinent until marriage. God is so good to bring the perfect person along if we will trust Him. That theme was running through my head the whole time I was writing this story.
2. The religious context of Acsah is the Old Testament and Judaism. How do you see the Gospel working in Acsah?
Redemption is the Gospel theme I see in Acsah. Othniel regrets kissing Sapira. Sapira regrets her cruelty to Acsah. Repentance and forgiveness can cover any mistake we make.
God can redeem any sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament when godly people, like King David, sinned and repented, God forgave readily. Today I see a generation of young people who need to know that God can redeem any mistake they have made. He loves them, created them and has incredible plans for each one of them. He is the God of second chances.
3. Is there one thing that you would like your readers to know about God or Christianity after reading Acsah?
I hope that the relationship that Acsah and Othniel have with the Lord will show readers that a close relationship with God is possible for each one of us. God loves it when we worship Him. He cherishes our time with Him in prayer and the Word. He pursues us much more than we will ever pursue Him. My hope is that readers are reminded of God’s love for them personally.
4. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
Coffee. Coffee is what I enjoy most about writing. Just kidding! It’s a close second, though. I love the outlet that writing allows me to have in the midst of full-time ministry, raising kids, homeschooling and building homes. It’s just the Lord and me coming up with stories that entertain and encourage my readers. It has been a wonderful adventure putting my writing “on the altar” and trusting the Lord that He will promote it, not me. It really takes the pressure off when God is your PR guy.
5. Do you have any favorite characters?
The characters in Acsah are all special to me because they are bits and pieces of family and friends. But Ezekiel, or Zeke, was a fun character for me. He isn’t based on anyone I know – don’t worry! He is the comic relief when things get too serious. He says what no one else would say. One reader told me that they actually cried when he died. That’s the goal to creating good characters, I guess.
6. What particular challenges or exciting opportunities have you encountered as a debut author? Has anything about the publishing process surprised you?
The Avant-Garde writing contest was the perfect opportunity for me as debut author. It gave me the “foot in the door” chance to be published. I heard about it from a dear friend, submitted my manuscript, and trusted God that He would help me.
The Facebook competition was a blast! It gave me the chance to connect with people I haven’t had contact with since high school. My fan base reached over 500 people. I never would have had connections like that without the contest. Winning was a dream come true. The process of publishing: choosing a cover, going through edit after edit, and finally holding my book in my hands was priceless.
Seeing “Acsah” published also gave me the courage to submit other short stories for print. I have a chapter in “Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware” by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk. I submitted another short story for a book on miracles by the same authors. I’m still waiting to see if they’ll accept that one. Here’s to hoping!
7. What advice do you have for authors trying to get into the Christian publishing market?
The best advice I can give for authors trying to get into the Christian publishing market is to either join an online critique group for authors in your genre or to join a Christian Writers Organization in your state. I did both options as a new writer and found the experiences to be priceless. The connections you make and FREE advice you get is so vital to becoming a better writer. You have to get over the fear of letting others see your work. Then you have to take their critiques and incorporate them into your writing while maintaining your own writing voice. No sweat!
8. Do you have any plans to write more books?
Right now, I’m about a quarter of the way through writing a historical fiction book on Astoria, OR, in the 1860s. Astoria has an amazing history and influence from all over the world during that period. My next book will be a love story about two unlikely people – a gillnet fisherman from Finland and an aristocrat from New York. They’ve both met with incredible pain and loss and find a future together in a city of danger and disrepute growing on the banks of the mighty Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
Eventually, I’d like to write more biblical fiction books like “Acsah.” We’ll see how God leads me.
“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 missions trips to Mexico and Fiji. She is also a worship leader and song writer. Janice has her degree in Cross-cultural Communications and currently pastors with her husband and four children in Oregon.” —Ellechor Publishing