Wednesday, September 02, 2009

ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS - Myra Johnson - Free Book

I love featuring debut authors, and I've known Myra for a long time. I'm so pleased with her first sale. Welcome, Myra. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Probably too much, which has caused problems with characters not being very likable. I’m one of those melancholy personality types, so I have to work hard at giving my characters better attitudes and more spunk.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Wow, that’s a hard one! I’d have to say it involves my other lifetime dream-come-true, taking up horseback riding in my late forties. After about five years of lessons I competed in my one and only dressage schooling show. We moved out of state a year later, and I haven’t had a chance to ride since. I really miss it!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I don’t remember not being a writer. I was writing stories as soon as I learned how to wield a pencil. I amassed a huge collection of amateur stories, poetry, and novels over the years, but I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I finally enrolled in the Writing for Children & Teenagers course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. That was in 1983.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

My reading tastes are all over the map. I’ve borrowed my husband’s adventure and spy novels. I try to keep up with Patricia Cornwell’s “Kay Scarpetta” books. In his early days I enjoyed reading John Grisham. Mostly I lean toward women’s fiction with a touch of romance. The most important factor for me is engaging characters. In other words, a character-driven rather than a plot-driven novel. I also like to read inspirational nonfiction as part of my morning devotions. C.S. Lewis is a favorite, as are Dallas Willard, Beth Moore, and John Ortberg.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I’m a very private person, and I’ve learned to recognize when I’ve reached my “craziness” limit. Years ago I came across a book that finally helped me understand myself—The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron. I could happily hole up in my office and never leave the house for days on end, and I used to think this made me a hopeless social misfit. Over the years God has helped me accept my introverted personality as part of His design, and who am I to complain to the Author of the Universe?

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I don’t know that there’s any one way. A big part of the choice is the sound and rhythm, and of course the meaning. For secondary characters I like to mix up names of my family and friends, giving them a little “cameo appearance” just for fun.

I do the cameos, too. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I’m fiercely proud of raising two wonderful daughters. I’m proud of 37 years of marriage to the most patient, loving man on the planet. I’m proud of my very unexpected RWA Golden Heart win in 2005. I’m proud of every manuscript I ever wrote, and proud of finally learning to trust God with the results.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A dog. A pampered house dog, of course. One who gets to nap on the sofa and go on car rides and eat lots of treats. One who gets all the unconditional love and cuddling she can ask for. Hmmmm, that sounds an awful lot like my doggies!

What is your favorite food?

Is there any other answer besides chocolate? I also love Mexican and Italian. And a super-tender juicy steak.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

How much space do I have? It would be impossible to condense the past 25 years into anything short of a tome! As I mentioned, it all really began when I enrolled in the ICL course in 1983. Consistent sales to magazines, devotionals, and anthologies kept my spirits buoyed while I cranked out eight novels for children and young adults, then six inspirational women’s fiction/romance manuscripts . . . and dealt with the ensuing 200+ rejections! Everything changed the day I visited Brandilyn Collins’s blog and read the announcement about Abingdon’s new fiction line. I zinged a query to Barbara Scott the very same day. Over the next few days she reviewed three of my proposals and then requested the full of One Imperfect Christmas. Three weeks later she came back with the official offer of publication—not at all typical in this perennially slow business! After 25 years of waiting, hoping, and praying, I felt like I’d been caught up in a whirlwind!

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Self-doubt and discouragement, hands down. I’ve experienced a whole lot of disappointments in 25 years. To pick myself up, dry my tears, and plunge ahead with the next manuscript was always the challenge. But I just couldn’t let go of the dream—or rather, God wouldn’t let me give up. In the months and years leading up to this first published book, I prayed my heart out. And also relied heavily on encouragement and support from my husband and family, my critique partner Carla Stewart, and my dear, dear friends in Seekerville -

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

Learn all you can about the craft. Practice, practice, practice. Find a critique partner you trust and respect. Never stop writing. And never stop praying.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep two people apart, sometimes a miracle needs a helping hand.

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all, her husband, Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As his hopes reach their lowest ebb, Daniel wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

Thank you, Myra, for spending this time with us. I will be reading Christmas books in October and November and writing reviews of them.

Readers, here's a link where you can order the book:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Laney4 said...

Welcome to Lena's blog!
Wonderful interview!
... For secondary characters I like to mix up names of my family and friends, giving them a little “cameo appearance” just for fun.... I think this is neat!
... A pampered house dog, of course.... I too would love to be a dog in a loving home like you described.
... Is there any other answer besides chocolate...? Yup! Apparently there are people who love sweets and people who love salt. I could live without chocolate forever (but I wouldn't WANT to!), but it would be much more difficult to give up my salty chips, cheese, fries, etc.
... Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving.... I think this will be my first book where the couple is together and working on their relationship. Usually the couple has just met or split up (either separated or divorced) when the story begins and they eventually get back together, so this should be a real treat for me!
Thank you so much for offering such a great interview and giveaway.

Virginia said...

Congratulations, Myra! I love Christmas stories all year round. Characters who are well-developed with their own special quirks make the reader want to know the outcome of their tale! The genre, time period, gender & etc. can vary, but interesting characters make us keep turning the pages. gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Katherine said...

This book looks really good. Please enter me for this drawing.


Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, everyone! Lena, thanks for having me today!

LOL, Laney--get me started on a bag of crunchy, salty chips and it's hard to stop!

Virginia, one of my favorite parts of writing is delving into what makes each character tick. It's amazing how they come alive in my mind and then on the page. I love discovering what they'll do next!

Katherine, thanks for stopping by!

Wendy said...

I love Christmas stories.
Thanks for the chance,

Anonymous said...

I would love to be entered in your wonderful draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Myra and Lena. Great interview and great book.

I loved it, Myra. And you've got more coming soon, right?


Delia Latham said...

Great interview! I love hearing that other authors do the family and friends "cameo appearance" thing - I do that too. It's so much fun, for me and for those whose names show up in my books. Your book sounds wonderful, Myra!

carla stewart said...

What a great interview! I'm honored to be crit partners with Myra and to be honest, I didn't know she gave family and friends "cameo" appearances in her books. Very fun!

Good luck to all the entrants -- I have the book and know y'all will enjoy it too.

Myra Johnson said...

Yes, I just love twisting and combining the names of my family and friends for supporting characters. Oooh, Carla, wait until you meet some of your namesakes!!!

And if you read One Imperfect Christmas, e-mail me and let me know if you find a certain commenter's name featured. ;>D

Vickie McDonough said...


It was great getting to know you better via your interview. I'm a horselover too, although I haven't been on one in years.

Congratulations on the release of your Christmas book!!

Myra Johnson said...

Yes, Mary, thanks for asking. Only a month after getting the contract for OIC, I had an offer from the Heartsong Presents editor at Barbour for a three-book series of contemporary romances set in Missouri. The first one, Autumn Rains, releases in October.

Myra Johnson said...

Vickie, I see you have a couple of Christmas novella titles just out! Congratulations to you!

For a long time I didn't realize how popular Christmas novels were, but apparently there are many, many readers who seek them out.

Myra said...

I am so proud!! I learned some things I didn't know about the other "Myra" from high school. I am anxiously awaiting circulation of this book but would love to win it too! Christmas stories are the best.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Myra! Thanks for visiting! After a lifetime of being a very private person, it definitely feels weird to be so "out there" now. Hope I didn't shock you too much!

BTW, my book is now widely available in bookstores and also online. It's a featured title at Cokesbury, and I also found in on the shelves in our local Borders store. What fun!!!

Debs Desk said...

Ilove the cover - it is so Christmas. Please include me in your giveaway.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely interview. Thanks. My family would probably never forgive me if they thought I deliberately included their names in anything. They still get very suspicious if I use anything even remotely resembling their names.

Missy Tippens said...

What a wonderful interview! Thanks Lena and Myra.

Don't enter me in the drawing. I already plan to get one! :)

peachykath said...

Another christmas book. I can't wait these are my favorites to read starting mid November and through usually New Years. I usually end up getting a couple and just going throught them. It sounds very interesting and loved the interview too. Please enter me in the drawing for this book.


Myra Johnson said...

Hope everyone is having a pleasant afternoon. Thank you all for stopping in! It's hard for me to even think about Christmas this early. I am always so far behind on my shopping, cards, etc. Maybe if I started reading more Christmas novels earlier in the year, it would help get me in the mood!

Cherie J said...

Wonderful interview! I love Christmas stories and this one sounds really good. Once the weather gets cool enough it is fun to whip one out to read while sipping hot cocoa.

Marla said...

Sounds like a good book. Pleasel enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

Marjorie said...

I just love the whole Christmas season, a beautiful time of the year. Count me in for this giveaway, please.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I am very looking forward to reading all of this book. I read the first chapter online and was utterly hooked.

Sherry K said...

Great Interview. "One Imperfect Christmas" sounds like a great book. Congrats on this being your debut. Please enter me in the drawing.

Sherry K

Audra Harders said...

Wonderful interview Lena and Myra! I love Christmas stories. I can't wait to read One Imperfect Christmas.

Don't enter me in the drawing. I plan to shout out in the book store when I go to buy it!!

Julie Lessman said...

Great interview Myra and Lena!! I have to say that this is one book that I have been dying to read. I've read bits and pieces of Myra's work in the past and between that and her whipping me good in the Golden Heart a few years back, I have been chomping to read more. Can't wait!


JenniferB said...

great interview1 Thanks for the chance to win this wonderful book

Linda said...

Almost missed signing up for this one. Christmas can be a time of delight or not. Wouldlove to win this one. Please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

Just catching up this morning. So nice to see some familiar names among the commenters (waving to my Seekerville sisters!). It's such a thrill to see the interest in my debut novel, and I thank each and every one of you! For any writers planning to attend the ACFW conference in a couple of weeks, I hope you'll find me and say hello in person.

Jo said...

I so enjoyed reading the interview and absolutely love reading Christmas stories. They are one of my very favorite type books to read. Please enter me in the drawing.


Lady Araujo said...

Christmas is a great time. I'd love to win this book. Sounds like really amazing. =)


Emma said...

Great interview! This book sounds wonderful.Congratulations on the release of your Christmas book!!Please enter me in the giveaway.I love Christmas stories.
augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping in, Jo, Martha, and Emma! I'm touched and honored by your kind comments!

Brenda said...

I love Christmas stories, thanks for the opportunity!

dancealert at aol dot com

Brenda said...

I love Christmas stories, thanks for the opportunity!

dancealert at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

What a lovely interview. And I love Christmas all year round. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Cíntia Mara said...

I love it! Or, better, I think I'll love it. Synopsis is very interesting.

Rose McCauley said...

Congrats to Myra on this lovely sounding debut novel. Hope I win.

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I'm a sucker for Christmas-themed books ~ they lure me in every time! This one sounds different from any I've read, so, please enter me. :)

Thank you!
~ Lori


Anonymous said...

Count me in. Would love to read this book.

Myra Johnson said...

Just popping in again to say hi to the recent commenters and to thank you for your interest in my debut novel. It has already been quite an exciting journey! I do hope you'll look for my book in your local bookstores and recommend it to your friends.


Julie said...

Ok. So I totally thought I commented on this last week. If it isn't too late to be entered, I would love to be.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year! I am excited to read all of your interviews about Christmas books in the next couple of months.

It was great getting to know Myra!


adge said...

This looks good. Please include me in the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, lots of comments. Really good interview and I would love to read this book. ~Abby

Myra Johnson said...

Once again thanking everyone for your interest and kind comments! Bless you all!

Charlotte Welcher said...

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. your family Happy Holidays and a great and prosperous new