Welcome, Johnnie! Congrats on your new release. Give us an idea of where you live…and with whom.
To visit me, you’ll have to wind your way back into a Tennessee cove then drive up the hill and park near the garage. A calico cat may give you a disdainful look, but just ignore her. Expect to hear barking from the canine chorus. After we’ve said our hellos, I’ll introduce you to the collies, our AmStaff mix, and Rugby, my nine-pound papillon who trees the resident raccoons.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired this particular story?
Brett Somers, the hero of When Love Arrives, played more of an antagonistic role in the first book in the Misty Willow Series. To be honest, he was a conceited cad whose world got turned inside out.
In this story, he’s trying to reconcile the consequences of his past with his new-found faith. Though a skilled businessman, he senses he can’t bargain with God. All he can do is trust His love and mercy.
I guess Brett himself inspired the story. This is his journey away from a “looking out for #1” kind of life.
All I did was introduce him to a young woman unlike anyone he’d ever dated before. She captures his heart until he learns they share the same childhood tragedy. But what he thinks of as her betrayal forces him to face the ugliness of his past.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?
Please don’t take away my writers guild card when I publicly confess that I don’t drink coffee. Just never developed a taste for it. During my last writing sprint toward a looming deadline, I drank way too much Coke. Now I’m trying to eliminate it altogether, but that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps tomorrow??
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first-draft reader?
Three things: attending writers conference, participating in amazing critique groups, and entering contests. This is the best advice I can give to anyone who seeks a writing career. The conferences are great for learning and networking, the critique groups help identify your weaknesses and your strengths, and the contests provide (mostly) impartial feedback.
So which book have you re-read the most?
Besides the Bible, I’ve read these books multiple times: Les Miserables, The Secret Garden, and The Sand County Almanac. Oh, and Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
Right this moment, what does your office look like?
Just looking around, I’d have to say my writing room looks rather neat and tidy. Bookshelves line the wall behind my desk which is a narrow wooden top painted dark teal. It’s angled toward a window so I can see the down the hill. It’s getting late so Rugby and my collie Griff are stretched out near my feet. Mounted posters of two of my book covers are propped on my cedar chest. Messy papers are tucked in a drawer of a small chest. Out of sight and out of mind (at least for today).
What book is on the top of your TBR pile?
I’m currently reading The Knight by Steven James and The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn. Next up is The Black Moon, the fifth book in the Poldark series by Winston Graham.
Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it?
One of the first reviews I received, a 2 on Amazon, wrecked my heart. I didn’t talk about it to anyone for months, and whenever I thought about it, the embarrassment and humiliation washed all over me again. I just wanted it to go away.
But bad reviews are part of being a writer. I know now that if all the stars are fours and fives, potential readers may question whether the reviewers are all friends of the author. So a few lower ratings provide a kind of balance. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still hurtful, but they no longer devastate me.
I read the negative reviews because I want to grow as a writer. I read the positive reviews because they warm my heart. LOL!
What’s your favorite writing snack?
What are your biggest distractions?
The antics of the dogs and the cats.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I struggle to come up with new story ideas. Even if I know a certain event or setting, those initial decisions about who the characters are and what they want are difficult to make.
As I wrote that, I realized there’s a connection between what I like least and what I like best that I hadn’t picked up on before.
One of the best things about writing is when a character surprises me. I may think I know what’s supposed to happen only to have something occur I never thought of. Those moments are deeply satisfying.
So creating characters is difficult but when they become their own persons—that’s golden!
My great adventure has been…the alpacas. I wanted one for a long time, but back then I lived in a Florida subdivision. No place for an alpaca!
But after I moved here, God granted my crazy dream. For a couple of years, my daily chores included feeding and watering, not just one alpaca, but a herd of twelve. I learned to give shots, clean up afterbirth, and hold on tight to a long neck when I had to. I also saw newborns take their first adorable clumsy steps.
Circumstances have changed again, and we sold the herd a few months ago. As much crazy fun as it was to own alpacas, I believe the future beckons with promises of great adventures still to be had.
How can readers connect with you?
I also am on:
Thanks again for dropping in to share your story, Johnnie! Keep us posted on the drinking-too-much Coke habit! 🙂 And readers, don’t forget to leave Johnnie a comment for a chance to win a copy of “When Love Arrives!”