Friday, October 18, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Myra Johnson

Today I welcome 
Myra Johnson,
faithful to the calling of Jesus Christ. She is one of the "gang" from Seekerville, an award winning writer's blogsite. 

Enter to win Myra's recent 2013 release,
When the Clouds Roll By

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.
International readers can enter!! See how, below.

I have been blessed to sit and chat with the Seekerville gals at several ACFW after-session get togethers. What a warm group. Their goal is to help writers on their journey. They've walked the steps where I am and freely share words of help and encouragement.  I've had several Seekerville gals as guests here on Let's Talk. This weekend, I simply had to invite Myra because she has a fantastic new release: When the Clouds Roll By. I asked Myra to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

When God Gives You a Dream

Mary, I’m so honored to be your blog guest today—thank you!

Mary asked me to share how God has led me on my writing journey, and I have to warn you, the journey has been a really long one. As best I can recall, it began in second grade, when I wrote my very first short story, “The Enchanted Prince.” In high school, whenever I’d finish a class assignment early, I’d pull out my story notebook and add to whatever saga I’d been working on. One favorite featured Gidget and Tammy-type characters at the beach, and I also had a spy story going, inspired by The Man From Uncle. (Am I dating myself here?)

That's okay, Myra...many of us saw these shows, too! 

The love of writing persisted into adulthood, but as a busy wife and mom and working occasional part-time jobs to supplement the family budget, I didn’t have the time or energy to give much thought to writing for publication. Not to mention, I was completely clueless about what it took to write professionally.

Then in 1983, I came across a magazine ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I’d flipped right past these ads many times before, but this time it felt as if God were whispering in my ear, Now’s your chance. Learn how to do this right.

August 2013 Africa trip--Myra greeted by a Masai warrior
I took the aptitude test and enrolled, and when my stories and articles began to sell even before I’d completed the course, I felt certain my writing career had finally been launched. I wrote for several children’s publications and devotionals, and eventually went on to teach the Institute’s magazine writing course for nine years.

The magazine credits were nice, but my lifelong dream was to publish a novel. Throughout those years I wrote and submitted one children’s book manuscript after another, but even though editorial feedback was usually positive, I could never seem to find the right fit.

In the mid-’90s, after my daughters had left the nest, I resigned from teaching the children’s writing course and decided to try my hand at romance and women’s fiction. Since faith is central to my life, writing for the Christian market was the only option I considered. I joined writers’ organizations, participated in critique groups, studied craft books, attended conferences, and began entering my work in manuscript contests. In the meantime, I was still getting enough of those “encouraging” editorial rejections to keep me hopeful.

In 2005, I entered a manuscript in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest and was both shocked and thrilled when my manuscript actually won the Inspirational Romance category. After all, rumor had it that even making the finals in the Golden Heart was practically a guarantee of publication.

Not for me. Over the next couple of years, two of the other finalists, who remain among my very best writer friends, sold their books. When I couldn’t even get a nibble, I questioned whether all the time, money, and hopes I had invested in this dream had been in vain. 

By the time I arrived at the ACFW conference in 2007, I was at my lowest point. It was so hard to be there, still unpublished, when so many of my friends were celebrating their first book contracts. But one night during the conference I had an amazingly vivid dream that I am absolutely sure came from God, and the message was crystal clear: Writing is so much a part of who I am—who God created me to be—that if I gave up writing, the very framework of my being would be gone.

So I held on another year, continuing to write and doing my best to be obedient to God’s direction and to trust Him for the results.

Then in July of 2008, I learned of a new fiction line at Abingdon Press. The editor had put out the word that she especially welcomed submissions from unpublished but talented writers who had paid their dues.

I figured that was me, so I e-mailed the editor that very day. She requested one of my manuscripts, and within a month, she called with a contract offer for my book One Imperfect Christmas. Then, as if God really wanted to show off, one month later the Heartsong Presents editor offered a contract for Autumn Rains, the book that had won the Golden Heart three years earlier. Both books released in the fall of 2009, and I officially became a published novelist.

If you’ve been doing the math, you’ve figured out my “overnight success” was 25 years in the making. If at any point along the way I’d given in to discouragement and laid aside my dream, I couldn’t claim eight published novels as of last month plus two more coming out next year.

So that’s my writing journey in a nutshell. Even with all the ups and downs, the years of discouragement, and now the “fun” of learning what a published author’s life is really like, I have to say it’s all been worth it. No words come close to describing what it feels like to hold my published book in my hand, to see it on a bookstore shelf, to read a glowing review, or to hear from a reader that my story touched her heart.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from my writing journey, it’s this: If God gives you a dream, there’s a plan and a purpose for it. No matter how long it takes, God’s timing is always perfect, and He is never late. So follow your dreams in faith, and remember “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction—emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She is a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award finalist, most recently for her novel A Horseman’s Hope. Her novel Autumn Rains won the Romance Writers of America 2005 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript and was a 2010 Carol Award finalist. Myra and her husband are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, and are also grandparents of four rambunctious grandsons and two precious granddaughters. Although Myra is a native Texan, she and her husband now reside in North Carolina and share their home with two very spoiled lapdogs. Myra writes full-time and is currently serving as president of ACFW-Charlotte Chapter (Carolina Christian Writers). Her latest release is When the Clouds Roll By (Abingdon Press, September 2013), book 1 in the Till We Meet Again historical romance series. 

Find Myra online here:
Tweeting as @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

When the Clouds Roll By: Annemarie Kendall is overjoyed when the armistice is signed and the Great War comes to an end. Her fiancé, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard, is coming home, and though he is wounded, she is excited to start their life together. But when he arrives, her dreams are dashed when she learns Gilbert is suffering from headaches, depression, and an addiction to pain killers. This is not the man she had planned to marry.
After serving in the trenches, Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary is barely holding onto his faith. Putting up a brave front as he ministers to the injured soldiers at the hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he befriends Gilbert and eventually falls for Annemarie. While Annemarie tries to sort out her confused feelings about the two men in her life, she witnesses firsthand the bitterness and hurt they both hold within. Whom will she choose? Will she have the courage to follow her heart and become the woman God intended her to be? As the world emerges from the shadow of war, Annemarie clings to her faith as she wonders if her future holds the hope, happiness, and love for which she so desperately longs.

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Myra Johnson's book: "When the Clouds Roll By":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Guess what??? Kindle option available for international readers!! Yeah!!
Hardcopy or kindle available for US

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Myra, for Joining us This Weekend!

Friends, I personally was so taken with Myra's post, I couldn't even choose what question to pose for your response. Please, let the Spirit lead you in your comment.
Blessings on all of you, 


Missy Tippens said...

Myra, I love to hear about your writing journey. It's very inspiring! Thanks for sharing the Africa photo! I need to check your Facebook page to see if you've shared others.

Mary, thanks for giveaway! However, I already have a copy of When the Clouds Roll By and can't wait to read it!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Missy! I do have a bunch of Africa photos on my personal FB page.

Julie Lessman said...

MYRA!!! Just another reason to love you, my friend -- Gidget, Tammy, and Man From Uncle were some of my FAVES growing up!! Can't wait to dive in to When the Clouds Roll By, so don't enter me, Mare, because I'm already one of the lucky ones who already has it!!

Hugs to you both!!

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Myra and Mary, there are two names that are hard to keep separate!!! I oughta know. When the Clouds Roll By is at the top of my TBR Pile. I love the cover and the whole sound of the book, Myra and this interview ... and I remember ALL THOSE SHOWS. So I'm dating myself, too. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

So niche to see you here again! You have a good idea about checking Myra's other photos. Sure would be nice to see them. What a great opportunity she had.
I'm excited to read my copy of When the Clouds Roll by also! Its on top of the next to read pile..

Pam Hillman said...

Myra, just like your final destination to Africa made your harrowing journey worth it, so did seeing the fruits of your labor as a published author make all those years of preparation worth it. You are an inspiration to those coming behind that they should not give up their dreams no matter how long it takes!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks so much for stopping by!! Always love seeing your smile.

Mary Vee Writer said...

What a gang. Such camaraderie.
I think we'll all finish Myra's book at the same time. I really am excited.
The cover is incredible.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary
(my sister's name is Myra- hah my mom stumbled over our names all the time.)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Wow, such encouraging words. Thanks SO much for sharing!!
Always love when you stop by for a chat.

Anonymous said...

Myra, you look like a quiet gal but you are a brave and tenacious woman. I am proud to know you.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, Julie, we are dating ourselves, aren't we--LOL! Those were the good ol' days weren't they?

Myra Johnson said...

Yes, Mary, join the club. Except I know I have a few years on you, you spring chicken, you!

Myra Johnson said...

Seriously, Mary Vee? You have a sister named Myra? What was your mother thinking????

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Pam! Not sure which took more courage, though--jumping off the publishing cliff or braving the wilds of Africa!

Myra Johnson said...

The feeling is mutual, Tina. As for me? Tenacious, maybe. Brave . . . not always so much.

squiresj said...

Enjoyed this interview. I don't think I've read any of her books. Already a follower of your site. jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll give one of my books a try sometime!

Mary Vee Writer said...

We'll Tina isn't quiet! She is bubbly. Myra, I think you are very brave to pursue God's calling for your life.
Loved having you here today, Tina. Blessings on you!

Mary Vee Writer said...

You will totally love this book. I have a feeling you will want to read any book Myra writes. Thanks so much for joining our chat today. Looking forward to your next visit.

karenk said...

A wonderful posting....thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel, ladies :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Karenk! Thanks for stopping by!

bonton said...

Loved your interview, Myra! The cover of your book is beautiful! You are such an inspiration - I love the fact that you continued to pursue your writing, even though you hadn't been successful in getting a book published, because that is what the Lord wanted you to do. I love to read the books of people who are bold enough to stand for the Lord - no matter what!


I am a follower

Mary Preston said...

WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY does sound fantastic.


Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Karen!
Loved seeing you again. Have you had a chance to read historical novels? Myra's book is fantastic. Her incredible writing style brings the characters to life and paints the scene so well you will be transported to the scenes. I hope you get a chance to read this story.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Then you are going to love this book. Myra takes us to a point in history where only the love of God can help the characters make it through the moment. This book is powerful.
Thanks for stopping by today and joining our chat!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oh, yes, Mary.
More than you will know.
This is a historical novel. Annemarie is our very strong character, a voice crying out with her struggle who, with the help of God, finds the strength to take another step forward.

Myra Johnson said...

Bonnie, I have receive so many compliments on the book cover. Abingdon did a fantastic job, didn't they?

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Mary! I really did enjoy both the research and the writing of this book. It's very special to me.

Janet Dean said...

Sorry to be late for the party, but wanted to say that I'm reading When the Clouds Roll By and loving it!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Janet! :-D

Sandra Ardoin said...

That's so encouraging for someone like me who followed much of the same path, Myra--published children's stories, devotions, etc.--and is still waiting.

I'm about 90 pages into When the Clouds Roll By. It's wonderful!

CatMom said...

I love Myra's books (AND Myra!) !! :) Thank you for sharing this interview with her, Mary. No need to enter me in your drawing, as I already have her book and am starting it TODAY! :)
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo Moore

Marjorie Hill said...

Thanks, Myra, for your encouraging interview. I have been writing for "umpteen" years and have many rejection letters in my files. Finally in 2012, my first book, Xeno Oaks, was published. Congratulations on your success.

Myra Johnson said...

Sandra, hang in there! I know how discouraged you can feel when the waiting drags on, but if I've learned anything from this journey, it's that God's timing is always perfect. He knows what we need and when we need it, and He will provide.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Patti Jo! I love you, too!

Myra Johnson said...

Congratulations to you, too, Marjorie! Think of those rejection letters as badges of courage. No writing is wasted, because we are continually learning and improving.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I knew it had to be good, Janet. It had to be! After reading other works of hers, I am bursting to read this book.
Thanks for joining the party, Janet. We knew you would come so we saved a seat for you.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey Patti Jo from Georgia-hope you're enjoying the warm weather. We'll send some of our colored leaves from Michigan down to you and maybe some brisk air.
You have a head start in reading this book. Can't wait to discuss it with you when I finish.
Thanks so much for joining us today. Looking forward to the next time you stop by.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I am so excited for you. Congratulations on the publication!!! Let me know when you have your next book published. We'll have you lead one of our chats. K?
Looking forward to seeing you again. said...

Myra and Mary;
What a fantastic posting. Myra, I've read something about your story - not sure where I saw it and I was intrigued by the era you chose to write - considering my mom was born during that time period I've often wondered what my grandparents were dealing with at the time. It was also a time when the flu epidemic was running rampant in the area where they lived. I'm excited about your book and congratulate you on its publication - BUT - LET ME CONGRATRULATE YOU ON PERSEVERING to meet your dream head-on.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks for stopping by Sandra.
May God bring you that perfect publishing house for your manuscripts:)
Myra is right about God's perfect timing. I'm waiting with you, Sandra, haven't had my first contract yet, but am confident God will bring it at the time I can handle it.
Looking forward to chatting with you again, Sandra. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey, Joy,
Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging Myra. You are a treasure.
Blessings on you as well:)

Patricia said...

Myra & Mary, I loved the post and would love to win a copy of When Clouds Roll By. If selected I would prefer the kindle version--HOWEVER, I think the cover for your book is wonderful. It truly pulled me back to the time of your setting. Unfortunately with electronic books the cover is somewhat overlooked. Good luck and thanks for sharing some of your journey. pgrau (dot) ggi at gmail (dot) com

Holly Wolfe said...

Myra & Mary; What an encouragement to read about your journey! Thank you for persevering, for sharing & for giving God the credit. You are an inspiration to me, and isn't it just like God to direct me here to read your story right when I needed it most? :-)
Blessings on the book, it sounds like a terrific story.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I can't tell you what a joy it was for me to see you in person at the mini conference yesterday. I truly feel blessed. Thanks so much for joining us today as we share Myra's new release and the journey God has taken her.
Looking forward to seeing you again.

Mary Vee Writer said...

You're absolutely right. I miss having the cover when I open my kindle. For my hard copy books i see the cover and immediately am drawn back to the whispers, "Come read me." My kindle doesn't quite have that power.
Thanks so much for joining us today. Looking forward to your next visit.

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Joy! Yes, the WWI era was a terrible time. I learned so much during my research that just broke my heart. My grandfather actually served in France during and after the war, but thankfully came home unscathed.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Patricia! I'm really crazy about this book cover! I love that the Abingdon cover designers really pay attention and do their best to convey the essence of the story in their designs. But I have to agree--book covers just don't have the same appeal in the ebook versions.

Myra Johnson said...

Holly, God does have a way of doing that, doesn't He--sending us the encouragement we need exactly when we need it the most. It has certainly been true of my journey. Wherever you are in your life's journey, I pray God will always speak to your heart with just what you need to hear.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I am posting this for Judy E who emailed me her comment:
I read Myra's post and loved her encouraging words. I know I don't have 25 years to write but I have 14 grandchildren and 4 more who adopted me so perhaps my effort will encourage one of them or ?? several to write!!

Judy E

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary. Thanks for having Myra here today. Myra, loved hearing about your long journey. Glad you never gave up. I still can't believe someone didn't give you a contract when you won such an important Award. I am glad you never gave up on that story. And sounds like you have done well since that first book. Keep up the good works. Myra and Mary, thanks for this chance to win this book. Sure hope I can win it, but if not will keep trying. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Mary, I forgot to say I am already a follower of this site. And, I just love the cover of this book.
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Janice said...

Wow! I am so thankful I had the opportunity to read about Myra and her "long obedience in the same direction." The book, with its realistic conflicts, sounds so worth reading. Thank you for the chance to win and read it.

Blessings, Janice

Myra Johnson said...

Judy, this past year, my 11-year-old grandson has been sending me his stories, and they are delightful! It's fun to see another budding writer in the family, but the most important thing is this: Following our dreams, whatever they are, is perhaps the greatest example and encouragement we can be to our children and grandchildren.

Myra Johnson said...

Maxie, thank you for your kind words! We just have to keep believing that God's timing is best, and He knew I needed more growth before that first book contract came through. From this side of heaven, we can't see the big picture. So glad God can!

Myra Johnson said...

Janice, thank you for visiting! When it isn't clear what God has planned for us, our only choice is to continue in patient obedience. (Even though I wasn't always very patient!)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Totally agree, Myra. Good words.

Mary Vee Writer said...

How lovely to see you this weekend. It's been a few weekends since you've been able to stop by. Thank you for sharing your encouraging words with Myra. You are a treasure.
Blessings on you....and yes, I know you are a follower and am grateful to your company.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey, girl. Nice to see you, again. Love your words "realistic conflicts". Isn't that just an invitation to dive into this book?
Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to seeing you again.

Nelle Cooper Author said...

It was so refreshing to read your encouraging words about your journey. Thank you for sharing. Obedience is a life long journey for me. Looking forward to reading your books.

Mary Vee Writer said...

You did it, Nelle. You are gong to be a computer techy yet. I'm so glad to see you here!
Blessings on you.