Merry Christmas to all my blog readers! Although I can be a total grinch in November and insist on shoving off all things Christmas until after Thanksgiving at the very earliest, once my calendar flips to December, I am more than ready to celebrate my favorite time of year. I thank all of you for being a part of my world in 2018, and I wish you nothing but joy and blessings for your Christmas season.
Today’s blog guest is Kerry Johnson, a fabulous friend I had the privilege of meeting in person this year at ACFW! If you follow her on social media, you’ve likely met her hilarious (and GORGEOUS) sun conure, Mango, but now it’s time to get to know Kerry a little bit better! Plus, she’s offering a sweet giveaway (details at the end of the post)!
Thanks so much for having me!
First question: What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve loved reading from childhood, and around age ten I started a story about a boy in Alaska and his dog-mushing team (can you tell I read a lot of Jack London and animal stories?). I like to remind my boys I wrote that first story by hand on one of my dad’s yellow legal pads, pre-technology. I think I made it to thirty or forty pages, and I’m a lefty so the ink smudged all over the paper. The bulk of my childhood was spent in the Connecticut woods playing make believe with rock horses and tree people, and this fostered my imagination. As a young adult I read a quote by a famous author that noted writers have all these characters talking in their head and we write to quiet them. It was an ‘ah ha’ moment. Like, oh good, I’m not crazy. Well, I am a little bit.
Well, if you are, you’re the best kind of crazy. You’re Writer Crazy. Welcome to the dark side. We have coffee.
What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What obstacles or challenges do you face in making time to write?
What is this strange word you speak of--routine?
Ha! I can relate.
During a normal week in a normal school year, I work part-time, so I have a couple of days a week to write while our two boys are in school.This year has been quite abnormal in that I’m homeschooling my younger son and I now have a wonderful agent (Praise God) who would like revisions and such in a reasonable time frame. Imagine that! So, it’s been a good year but also hard and busy in that I’m homeschooling for the first time and I’ve also done major revisions on two stories since the summer of 2018. I prefer writing at home, so the hours when my boys are in school are gold for word count. I’m thankful that they’re old enough now they’re fine on their own when I’m writing/revising during summer break.
As far as challenges, my overall time spent writing has increased the past two years, so getting housework and meals and all the other parental tasks accomplished can be a challenge. I’m moderately organized (aka, barely organized), and I’d love to be better about this. (#NewYeargoals #mealplanning)
Again, join the club…
How has God changed you during your writing journey? How have you seen His provision and guidance?
In so many ways. I started writing my first novel in 2008 and finished in 2009. It wasn’t fit to see the light of a reading light, and I wasn’t ready to be published. Praise God that He doesn’t show us the long road ahead, and instead sends moments and people to encourage us forward. That’s a decade of dreaming and hoping and lots of writing (I have four completed manuscripts, two mostly done, and two a few chapters long), so I’ve learned to wait on Him…and wait on Him some more! I recognize that I needed the years to learn the craft, connect with some amazingly encouraging authors and sisters in Christ, and draw closer to the Lord. Now I’m grateful He didn’t allow me to get published early on, because I had so much to learn and experience to get to this point. I’m also grateful for my patient husband. Attending writing conferences and entering contests isn’t cheap, and he’s helped move my dream forward with his belief and support.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I walk a lot. Nothing inspires me as much as a long walk in God’s creation. It clears my mind and often it’s prayer time. Reading is another favorite hobby, though as I’ve gotten further along in my writing career, the reading time has diminished. Every Friday we have family movie night. Friday nights are precious—you can’t get me out of my house and away from my guys, even with chocolate. I love time with our extended family too. My parents and my sister and her family, as well as my husband’s family, all live within two hours of us, so we visit often. Target runs with my sister are the best.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently, and why?
Oh my, how do I answer this? Each book leaves different impressions on me. They evoke a unique variety of emotions, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a favorite. Elizabeth Byler Younts’ The Solace of Water was absolutely lovely and incredibly gritty too, and I loved that. But I’m also a romance sap. Laura Frantz’s stories always deliver tender romance, and I value the honesty of the middle grade genre, too. Beyond the Bright Sea was a fascinating middle grade historical that I loved. Cathy Gohlke’s novels hold a special place in my heart as well. Her Titanic-inspired historical, Promise Me This, is one of my all-time favorite stories.
Promise Me This!! I LOVE that book!! Y’all, if you haven’t read that, put it on your TBR pile, stat. It’s wonderful.
What is one thing you know now that you wish you could go back and tell your younger Writer Self?
*chants* Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing! Book One was finished in 2009 and I didn’t start a second book until 2014! Those are wasted years. Don’t do like I did. While it is possible to learn craft by reading about it, you’ll know it best when you put the knowledge into practice by writing more stories.
If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
Hands down, Corrie ten Boom. The Hiding Place shifted something in my soul when I read it several years ago. I’d love to hear her speak about her life and her faith. I’m fascinated by persistent flickers of love and faith in the midst of total darkness, and that’s what she was and how she lived. I’d also enjoy listening to Francine Rivers talk about her stories—they (and her characters) always resonate with me.
Last question, Kerry. How can we pray for you?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Amanda. I would greatly appreciate prayers for a humble spirit and a helpful heart—it’s so easy to get wrapped up in my publishing journey and focus on me, me, me. I pray God will use me to help and encourage other pre-published authors too, even after (Lord willing) I’m published. As far as my stories, I pray they connect with the right editor and leave readers with a happy sigh and a big smile.
Thank you for sharing! We’ll definitely be praying!
Kerry Johnson has had a love affair with stories since she was a little girl. She earned her B.S. in English Education from the University of South Florida, then taught middle school remedial reading and Drama before spending eight years as a stay-at-home mom and wife. She has been published in Creation Illustrated, Granola Bar Devotionals, and was a regular contributor to Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine from 2011-2013.
Kerry has been a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) since 2011. Her contemporary romance, The Name Game, was a three-time finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest (2016, 2017, and 2018), and her middle grade manuscript finaled in 2015, then won the Genesis Award in 2017. In 2016 and 2018, two of Kerry’s manuscripts won their categories at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.
Kerry lives in Tampa Bay with her engineer husband, two active boys, and way too many books. She’s represented by Ali Herring with Spencerhill Associates. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, and Twitter, where she shares an overabundance of pictures of her sun conure, Mango and lazy boxer, Boomer.
Kerry is offering a free ebook copy of her devotional, Grace for the Gaps: Rejoicing in Jesus on Life’s Journey, to one lucky commenter on this post! (I’ve started reading it, and it’s fabulous!) To enter, simply leave a comment on your favorite Christmas traditions, your best recent read, or anything at all! Winner will be chosen and announced one week from today!