Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Empty-nesters now, she and her husband share their home with two lovable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Her debut novel, One ImPerfect Christmas, releases September 2009 from Abingdon Press. She also writes for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Autumn Rains, winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, releases October 2009, soon to be followed by Romance by the Book and Where the Dogwoods Bloom. Myra and her husband, Jack, have been married since 1972. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
JA: Not only is your book part of the Abingdon Press fiction launch, but it’s your debut novel. How does it feel to be striking out on such a grand adventure?
MJ: It’s been a wonderfully exciting time—exciting to learn all about the publishing side of the writing business, and amazing to be in on the ground floor as a fiction line launches. The Abingdon folks have done a tremendous job of getting the word out as well as holding our hands to guide us through the whole process.
JA: One ImPerfect Christmas is the tale of Natalie and Daniel Pearce, a couple who are watching their lives and marriage unravel. What made you want to delve into their story?
MJ: The idea first started percolating several years ago after watching a spate of sappy Christmas movies on TV. I wondered if I could write something with a little more depth and faith, and then one night I sort of “dreamed” the story of a couple (who turned out to be Natalie’s parents) ready to celebrate their fiftieth Christmas together . . . but what if . . . The story evolved over the next few years and went through many rewrites before (and after!) it sold to Abingdon Press.
JA: As a happily married woman, is it difficult to write about a couple in crisis, or do you find it a bit cathartic?
MJ: Every marriage has its share of troubles, so even though I may not have faced exactly the kinds of problems Natalie dealt with, much less experienced a separation, I do enjoy (okay, enjoy may not be the best word here, but other writers will know what I mean) delving into my characters’ emotional ups and downs.
JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading One ImPerfect Christmas?
MJ: I’d like them to take away the assurance that though no family is perfect and hard times come to us all, when you have faith, love, and the will to persevere, together you can get through anything.
JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
MJ: Immediately on the heels of my Abingdon sale, I received a contract offer from JoAnne Simmons, Heartsong Presents editor (Barbour Publishing), for my 2005 RWA Golden Heart winner, Autumn Rains. This novel, which releases in October, is the first of three contemporary romances set in Missouri. The next two should come out sometime in 2010. I’m also working on more full-length contemporary women’s fiction.
JA: You’ve had a lot of success with writing contests. How important are writing contests to fledgling writers?
MJ: For fledgling writers, I’d say it would be much more beneficial to connect with a good critique partner or group. Only when they tell you it’s “almost there” should you think about entering contests. Even then, be realistic. Plan to learn all you can from the judges’ critiques. You’re likely to get very mixed opinions, so use the experience to toughen your hide and learn to discern between personal taste and solid writing advice. When you’re consistently getting good scores and starting to make the finals, contests can be a great way to get your manuscript in front of an editor or agent. Contest finals also make a very nice addition to your writing résumé.
JA: The current theme of my blog is The Year of Dreams. If you could realize one life-long dream right now, what would it be?
MJ: Oh, my goodness, I’m living my lifelong dream! All my life I’ve wanted to be a published novelist. The real-life version may not have the glitz, glamour, and wealth I envisioned as a kid, but I still have to pinch myself sometimes to realize the dream has finally come true. If I have a dream right now, it would be that my husband would learn to cook a few more things so I could have just one more teensy hour to write every afternoon! And maybe a housekeeper, secretary, and personal shopper. :=)
JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
MJ: Visit my website, www.MyraJohnson.com, or my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and my Facebook fan page. Or follow me on Twitter.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep people apart, a miracle needs a helping hand. Natalie Pearce loves Christmas so much she’d gladly make it a year-round celebration—until her mother suffers a massive stroke while taking down the decorations. Natalie’s guilt over not being there to help her mom soon builds a wall that separates her from the rest of her family, including her husband, Daniel, and their teenage daughter. As the next December approaches, the last thing Natalie wants to be reminded of is another Christmas season. Only her family’s tenacious love and an unexpected Christmas gift from her mother can help Natalie mend the broken pieces of their lives.
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of One ImPerfect Christmas , just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on September 14th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!
Monday, September 7, 2009