Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CASTLES IN THE CLOUDS - Myra Johnson - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I’ve known Myra Johnson through ACFW for a long time. I’m thrilled to share her new release with you.

Welcome, Myra. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Wow, ask the hardest questions first! All I know is that I have to write the stories that tug at my heart. Historical or contemporary, romance or women’s fiction, if I’m not emotionally connected to the characters and their issues in some tangible way, I can’t make them believable for my readers. Since I’m (mostly) a seat-of-the-pants writer, I do a lot of listening to my characters. As they tell me who they are and what they want most in life, their stories take shape on the page. Honestly, how it all happens, this thing we call “writing a book,” is a mystery to me, and I relish every minute of the discovery process!

That is so true of us SOTP writers. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Another hard question, with too many possible answers! I’m just going to say the day I married my husband. We’ll soon celebrate 45 years of marriage, and though it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, our commitment to each other is solid. He’s my confidant, my #1 cheerleader, and my very best friend.

How has being published changed your life?
The simple answer is that I’m no longer writing only for my own pleasure or when I feel inspired. Now I have an obligation to meet deadlines while attempting to keep both editors and readers happy. I have to be much more disciplined about keeping to a daily writing schedule. And it’s no longer just about writing. I have to allot time for doing research, crafting proposals, completing edits and revisions, etc. Then there are all the related marketing and promotion activities, including guest blog interviews like this one, blogging with my Seekerville clan, and staying active on social media.

What are you reading right now?
Not sure what I’m going to pick up next, but I just finished reading Charles Martin’s latest, Long Way Gone. I like to read in a variety of genres, something a little different each time. I always lean toward stories with intriguing characters and emotional depth.

What is your current work in progress?
I recently sent my editor the next book in the Flowers of Eden series, which will be Rose’s story. I’m now working on a contemporary women’s fiction manuscript about estranged sisters healing from difficult family issues.

What would be your dream vacation?
Anything tropical, but with all the amenities. Sandy beaches lapped by crystal-blue waves, a plush hotel room with a great view, no crowds, plenty of time to relax and enjoy.

Sounds wonderful. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I prefer to write about settings I have some familiarity with, which is one reason my Flowers of Eden historical romance series, as well as the previous series, Till We Meet Again, are both set in Arkansas. We’ve vacationed in the Hot Springs area for many years, and the more we visited, the more my interest in the local history grew.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
It wouldn’t be just one person, but my two wonderful daughters. They’re both busy moms now, and it’s very rare that we have some quality time for adult conversation. I miss those moments!

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I’m not really a “hobby” person, as the business of writing takes up a huge chunk of each day. I do enjoy singing in our church choir, and I love spending time with my grandkids. I love animals, especially our two very pampered rescue dogs. For a break from writing, sometimes I open up PhotoShop and get creative with photo images.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’m such a private person that the hardest thing for me is promotion. In fact, I’m sure there are a number of people in the wider circle of my acquaintances who haven’t yet discovered I’m a writer. In many ways, social media has made it easier for introverts like me to be more open and engaging. I can coax out my “inner extrovert” much more comfortably online than in face-to-face conversations.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write something every day. Study the craft, especially books like Stanley Williams’s The Moral Premise and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, along with any of James Scott Bell’s books on the writing craft. And don’t neglect grammar and spelling, because first impressions count and writers should have a level of mastery over the most basic tools of our trade. I’d also extend a standing invitation to visit Seekerville, where we cover a writing-related topic at least five days a week, and the archives are filled with posts on the basics of writing.

Tell us about the featured book.
Castles in the Clouds. Larkspur Linwood, the second of the Linwood sisters introduced in The Sweetest Rain, is a young woman who yearns to become a teacher. Young and impressionable, Lark mistakes a college professor’s interest for romantic love. When he offers her the chance to join his efforts serving at a mission a school in Kenya, she pictures herself bringing the light of knowledge to hundreds of African children eager to learn. But the menial tasks she’s assigned at the school aren’t so different from life on the Arkansas tenant farm where she grew up. Worse, her fragile heart is broken when she realizes her feelings for the charismatic professor are not returned. Miserable and deflated, she gives up and returns home.

Professor Anson Schafer is partially blinded from an eye infection he contracted while serving at the Kenyan mission school and must leave Africa. He visits Lark’s college to recruit teachers for the founding of schools here in the U.S. for those struggling through the Depression. Still stinging from her experience in Kenya, Lark is reluctant to risk more disappointment, but she is drawn to Anson’s cause and soon joins him in his efforts. As they work side by side, Lark begins to realize that the deepest satisfaction comes not so much from what you do, or where you do it, but from the attitude of your heart. She also slowly realizes that the gentle, determined Anson is the true love of her life.

Please give us the first page of the book.
May 1932
Henderson State Teachers College
Arkadelphia, Arkansas
A bad case of jitters had Larkspur Linwood by the scruff of the neck. She’d passed all her exams, hadn’t she? With flying colors, every one. Then why this curt summons to Professor Keene’s office?

She halted outside his closed door, a stack of library books due back today clutched firmly against her chest. Professor Keene hadn’t specified a time, only that she must see him this afternoon at her earliest convenience.

Perhaps she should deliver the books first and come back later. Much later, when he’d likely be anxious to get home to his supper and wouldn’t lecture her overly long about...whatever this was about!

The bald truth was the man both enchanted and terrified her. His smile could change in an instant from warm invitation to a sanctimonious smirk. In her two years at Henderson State Teachers College, Lark had been the unwitting victim of both.

Eyes squeezed shut, mouth in a twist, she prepared for a hasty escape.

The door swung open.

“Miss Linwood. Please come in.”

He would look so fine today, dark hair slicked back and shiny, broad shoulders tugging against the fabric of his starched white shirt. With a gentlemanly sweep of his arm, Professor Keene motioned Lark into the office. He relieved her of the library books and plopped them on a low bookshelf by the door, then held a chair while she sat.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen
Instagram:  mjwrites
Pinterest:  mjwrites

Thank you, Myra, for sharing this story with me and my readers. (Just a side note, I attended a few classes at Henderston State Teachers College when I was a student at Ouachita Baptist College across the highway.)

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Castles in the Clouds - Christianbook,com
Castles in the Clouds (Flowers of Eden) - paperback
Castles in the Clouds (Flowers of Eden Book 2) - Kindle
Castles in the Clouds: Flowers of Eden, Book 2 - Audio

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

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. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Myra Johnson said...

Lena, thanks so much for having me as your guest today!

How interesting that you attended classes at Henderson State! It was fun learning about the school's history. My Internet research even turned up some course catalogues from the years I wrote about in the story, which really made the school come to life for me.

Wendy Newcomb said...

Ohhh, sounds like one I will really enjoy, thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Wendy in FL

wfnren at aol dot com

Myra Johnson said...

I hope so, Wendy! Thanks for commenting!

Cathy said...

Location is next door to me, so to speak......a pretty and interesting setting. I also like the added drama/hardship of the story being set during the Great Depression. Thanks for the opportunity to participate. Cathy - TX

Myra Johnson said...

Cathy, I'm originally from Texas--lived there all my life until about 10 years ago.

I learned so much during my research about the Great Depression. Definitely more than I ever remember from school!

Elly said...

I NEED to read this book! I've been wanting to since I first heard of it, but now, after reading the interview and the synopsis again, I've renewed and increased my anticipation of the book!
Elly -Indiana-

Myra Johnson said...

I'm so glad you're excited about my book, Elly! Wishing you luck in the drawing!

Abby B said...

Oh this looks and sounds so good!! Gorgeous cover!!

Abby in Michigan

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Abby! I have absolutely loved the covers Franciscan Media has created for my books!

Melanie Backus said...

It is a small world, for sure! My son graduated from Henderson State University in 2004. I made many a trip to Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I love the cover of your book and would love to read it.

Melanie Backus, TX

Linda D. McFarland said...

I'm from Arkansas so this would be near and dear to my heart! Great interview! Thanks for the opportunity to win!
Linda, Red Lion,PA

SavingsInSeconds said...

I'm a teacher, and the first thing that caught my eye was that it refers to teachers.
Dianna in TN

Mary Preston said...

Kenya will make for interesting reading.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

I would truly love to win Myra's book. Also, the cover is beautiful.

Cindy W. from Indiana

Myra Johnson said...

Melanie, although we've passed through Arkadelphia many times in our travels to Arkansas, I've never had the opportunity to visit Henderson in person. It was so interesting learning the school's history, though!

Myra Johnson said...

Linda, my husband and I have always loved vacationing in Arkansas. We've traveled there almost every year since the 1980s. Hot Springs is one of our favorite vacation spots.

Myra Johnson said...

Dianna, how could I not honor teachers in this story when I have so many family members in the profession? Teachers deserve our great respect and appreciation!

Myra Johnson said...

Mary P, I enjoyed so much taking my characters to Kenya. Our daughter went on a college summer mission trip there several years ago and came back enamored. Then my husband and I finally had the chance to visit Kenya three years ago on an African photo safari. Just beautiful, and such a variety of scenery!

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Cindy W! I'm delighted with the cover, too!

Patty said...

I am not familiar with Arkansas, and haven't read many books from this time period!
I'm sure a trip to Africa was a much bigger deal back then transitive now.

Patty in SC

Karen Sue Hadley said...

Thank You for this interview. This is a new author to me and I get so excited when that happens. I'm from Oklahoma and have lived here since I was born.

kim hansen said...

Sounds like a good read. north platte nebraska.

Anonymous said...

Promotion!!!!! Arrgh. I agree.

But somehow it's easier when you have a book with a cover like yours that promotes itself.

Loraine Nunley said...

I have this one on my TBR list. I just love the cover and the intro has me even more interested. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

Loraine in TX

Brenda Arrington said...

I want to read this one for sure. Thank you for the chance to win a copy. I enjoyed the interview.
Brenda in VA

Winnie said...

What an interesting interview, Lena and Myra! This book looks and sounds so intriguing, and I've heard wonderful things about it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Abigail Mitchell said...

Looks fabulous! Please enter me.
Clarksville VA

rubynreba said...

I love the cover and look forward to reading this!
Beth from IA

apple blossom said...

sounds like an awesome book. thanks for the chance to win
live in ND

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great historical fiction book!
Thank you for the chance to win.

Melody B (Quebec, Canada)

Terrill R. said...

Kav Rees turned by on to Myra's books and now I'm even reading her Truly Yours romance books. I'm looking forward to Castle in the Clouds. I'm always fascinated by this period in history and how authors tackle that time in America.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Patty! Yes, traveling overseas took a great deal longer in the early 20th century. It was interesting to research how my heroine would have made the journey.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Karen! Though I'm a native Texas and now live in the Carolinas, we moved here after five years in Oklahoma. The weather got a little too extreme for me, though--searing-hot summers, ice storms in the winter, and the worry about tornadoes anytime a storm blew through.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Kim! Thanks for stopping by!

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, Tina, I hope you're right! Thanks for visiting!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Loraine! Delighted to know my book is already on your TBR list! I hope you'll enjoy it!

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Brenda!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Winnie! I appreciate your interest!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Abigail!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Beth! So glad you stopped by!

Myra Johnson said...

Apple Blossom, thanks for your interest!

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Melody! The research for this book was fascinating!

Myra Johnson said...

Terrill, I must thank Kav! She's such a sweet lady! Hope you're enjoying my Truly Yours contemporary romances.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

This book sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing Myra's interview and the first page.
Connie from KY

Myra Johnson said...

I appreciate your stopping by, Connie! Hoping you have a chance to read the book!

Unknown said...

It was a pleasure to get to know you a little better through this blog. I love the cover and the story sounds wonderful!

Myra Johnson said...

Thank you, Amy! Glad you stopped by!

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC.

Mama Cat said...

This sounds interesting! I enjoy historical Christian fiction, and working in South Africa sounds fascinating, even it if starts out like being at her home in Arkansas. Would love to read this!

Jeanie in Phoenix, AZ

Myra Johnson said...

Sharon and Jeanie, thanks so much for your interest in my new book!