Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Her writing career was launched in 1985 when she sold her first short story while taking a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. Myra went on to teach the magazine writing course for ICL, then retired after nine years and changed her focus to romantic women's fiction. Her manuscripts have garnered awards in both ACFW and RWA contests, including the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript.
Hello, Myra. Welcome to Novel Journey! Time to crow: What new book or project do you have coming out?
This is your debut book. I love Christmas books. Why did you choose to write One ImPerfect Christmas? How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?
Every novelist has a journey—yours has lasted over twenty-five years! You've completed fourteen manuscripts and have received (shudder) over 200 rejections letters. Please tell us what went through your mind when, at long last, you got The Call and what you did afterward.
This journey has been so long and so bumpy that to have finally arrived at this stage has me on my knees in gratitude! I’ve been writing and dreaming of having a book published since I learned how to wield a pencil. It wasn’t until 1983, though, that I got serious and enrolled in the Writing for Children & Teenagers course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. I sold a couple of stories before ever completing the course, so I felt certain book publication was just around the corner.
I kept writing, joined RWA and the Faith, Hope & Love chapter, started entering contests, won some awards and learned even more in the process. In 2005, after my Golden Heart win, I hooked up with a terrific bunch of gals who call ourselves “The Seekers”. When we first got together, only one of us had a book contract, but as of this summer “Unpubbed Island” is all but deserted, with 11 of us published or soon to be. I can never fully express my love and gratitude for these wonderful ladies. They have wept with me through my disappointments, kept me accountable, shared their advice, and supported me every step of the way.
To make a really long story at least a little shorter, my dreams took a sudden sharp turn toward fulfillment in July 2008, the day I read about Abingdon Press’s new fiction line on Brandilyn Collins’s blog. I immediately zinged a query to Barbara Scott. Within a day she asked to see proposals for three of my manuscripts. A few days after reviewing those, she requested the full of OIC. Three weeks later I got THE CALL!
What a great story! But it can't always be easy. Do you ever bang your head against the wall from the dreaded writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you?
How did (or do) you climb out (overcome it)? Pray! No, seriously. Pray, and just keep working. I also attend conferences every year, and I’ve studied tons of craft books. And a savvy critique partner is invaluable (waving to Carla Stewart)!
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
What does a typical day look like for you?
After lunch, it’s all about writing. New pages for my WIP, revisions, character profiles, whatever. I work until 5 or 6, when with any luck, hubby has figured out something for supper . . . or not. Either way, that’s the end of my workday. A quiet dinner, a little TV, an hour or so of pleasure reading, and lights out by 10.
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins or do you have to tweeze each word out?
Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.
What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Sounds like good advice, Myra. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share, or perhaps you have a question for your visitors?