Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An interview with Myra Johnson (day 2)

Welcome back for our second day with award-winning author Myra Johnson! You can connect with Myra and learn more about her books in several ways:

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

Myra, you tell on your website about how the dream to be a writer persisted for many years before you started acting on it. Will you share that with our visitors?

I’ve loved making up stories since early childhood, and for many years I kept notebooks of my stories and poems that I would share with my best friends. Later, as a young wife and mother, I didn’t have much time for writing, not to mention I had no idea what it took to write professionally.

It was in the early 1980s when I came across an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature and decided to give it a try. I sold two short stories before completing the course, and eventually ICL hired me to teach their magazine writing course, which I did for nine years while continue to write for children’s publications and also complete several novel manuscripts. The book rejections kept piling up, but I was encouraged by several “positive” rejections. Eventually I shifted from children’s stories to romance and women’s fiction, but my first book contract didn’t come through until 2008, 25 years after I first seriously began writing for publication.

What a great story to encourage others who keep working toward their dream! Writing can be a lonely adventure, but one way you’ve stayed connected with other writers and with readers is through blogging with The Seekers. How do you think that has affected your writing?

The Seekers are absolutely the best! We have stuck together through all the ups and downs of the publishing experience, praying, encouraging, and generally keeping each other accountable. No one understands the writing journey like another writer.

In addition, we serve as each other’s cheerleading section. The blog has given us a shared platform that is now widely known in the industry and twice has been recognized in the Writer’s Digest list of the top 100 websites for writers.

If you could be any character from another historical novel, who would it be and why?

Wow, tough question! I’m not much for roughing it without modern conveniences, and most of the heroines in the historical novels I’ve read dealt with some extremely unpleasant difficulties. Now, if we could skip right to the happy ending, I might choose Lilly Westbrook, the heroine of my friend Cara Lynn James’s novel Love on a Dime.  Lily is also a novelist, and she gets to live in a lovely summer cottage on the beach in Newport, Rhode Island.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your books?

I hope they will be both inspired and entertained. I write about imperfect characters with real problems and how they learn to seek and accept forgiveness and grow into the people God created them to be. Yes, the stories are fiction, but Jesus told parables to make his points, so obviously story is an effective teaching tool, and I hope I’m using it to God’s glory.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Take time to learn the basics. Take a class if you can, or study craft books such as Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Read the best of currently published fiction in your chosen genre. Join a critique group, and practice, practice, practice.

Any final words?

I’m so grateful to spend time with you today and to talk about the writing life. It certainly has been a roller coaster, but it’s a ride I wouldn’t have missed for anything!

Thanks so much for joining us at Novel PASTimes! It’s been fun to learn about your books and the work that goes into them.

Visitors, don’t forget to answer Myra’s question for your chance to win a copy of Whisper Goodbye. Leave a comment with your name and email (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam). A winner will be drawn Friday morning. A U.S. winner will have the choice of a hard copy or e-book; if the winner lives outside the U.S., you’ll receive the e-book version.

Here’s the question again:

What’s your favorite vacation spot and why?

Thanks for stopping by! 
~ Leigh


KayM said...

I enjoyed the second part of your interview. I love to read stories by Christian writers who are writing for God's glory. I'm so glad you kept at it through all the rejections.

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Kay! I do hope my stories reflect God's love and show how we can all continue to grow in faith, even through life's most difficult challenges.

Anonymous said...

Hello Myra. Glad for another day with you. Hard to believe one can keep their dream alive for so many years without giving up. But, I'm glad you did. I'm happy for these authors that have success with their books. Neat that you went to this place to take lessons and was then hired to teach the lessons. As to the Seekers, I am not a writer but have visited them several times. Seems like a great site. And, I saw how they taught and supported other authors. The first time I heard of you was in a Blog Hop, where I won the first prize at Christmas that year. I received your book, One Imperfect Christmas. Then awhile ago I won the first book of this series, When the Clouds Roll By.
Now I would love to have your newest book to go with it. Can keep hoping. With your success I know it can happen. Thanks for the chance. I would love to go to a small town in NY. My baby brother lives there alone and has skin cancers on his face and head that have become serious. Already had several surgeries on the first two and now has a new one and needs surgery on that. He lives alone and has been having a hard time just surviving with high cost of living.He moved back to NY to be closer to his kids and everything is so expensive. I think he is now getting depressed. There is only 3 of the siblings left out of our 8. It's hard to be so far apart and no money. But, guess that's life. Thanks for this give-away.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Your path to publication is inspiring. Glad you never gave up on your dream. I can appreciate the amount of research you do before you write the story on your heart. The Seekers including yourself, Myra, provide encouragement along with helps for learning the craft for us unpublished novelists, too. I enjoy reading stories set in the early 1900's and yours sound wonderful.

Myra Johnson said...

Maxie, I'm so sorry about what your brother is going through. It truly is hard to be far from family at times like this.

Thank you for your sweet words about my books. I'm glad to know you've enjoyed your visits to Seekerville!

Myra Johnson said...

Pat Jeanne, I believe God gives us our dreams for a reason, and until He guides us in a different direction, we just can't give up. I hope you'll continue to be a regular visitor to Seekerville, because our favorite thing to do is to help writers reach their goals.