Christine Johnson achieved a goal few romance writers have: she double finaled in the Romance Writers of America® 2008 Golden Heart® contest. Her medieval Secrets of the Blackwood was a finalist in Novel with Strong Romantic Elements; The Lightkeeper’s Wife claimed a finalist spot in Historical. And now she’s sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals.
Books are an integral part of Christine’s life. She began devouring them as a child. After reading everything of interest in the children’s corner of her hometown library, she dared to check out a Mary Stewart novel from the adult section and fell in love with romance. Literary novels and textbooks took precedence during her college years when she earned a Bachelor’s in English and a Masters in Library Science. These days she’s surrounded by books at home and in the library. She loves the smell of a new book when it’s first opened and in November of 2010 will experience that delightful sensation with her debut novel, tentatively titled The Aviatrix.
Christine lives in northern Michigan with her husband—a Great Lakes ship pilot—and a very spoiled cat. She loves the area and its rich history and set one of her books there. When she’s not writing, she enjoys quilting, hiking and exploring new sights and places.
Join me as we learn more about Christine and her exciting news.
•Wow, Christine! What great news. When you were here as my guest on March 19th did you expect to be back so soon as a debut author with your first contract? Would you give us a quick summary of what took place in the months following the interview and leading up to that life changing phone call?
Of course I didn’t expect to be back so soon. The publishing climate is very tough right now, so I expected to have a long wait. I decided to enter contests in the meantime, both as a way to get impartial feedback and for the opportunity to get my work before editors. As it turned out, that’s what led directly to Steeple Hill requesting the manuscript.
•And then you got The Call! I love to hear Call stories, so please share yours with us. And be sure to tell us about your reaction. Did it involve singing, dancing, shouting, crying or wandering around in disbelief?
All of the above, though mostly a lot of wandering around aimlessly. My husband was at work, so I was alone at home at the time. I was on my way to get a load of laundry when the phone rang, and an unfamiliar voice asked for Christine. I first thought it might be a telemarketer. I sure hope I didn’t put on my anti-telemarketer voice, but I do remember my vocal tone getting much friendlier when the editor introduced herself. Then I started shaking and wished I had a chair, which of course I could have gotten since one was only three feet away, but I absolutely froze until I realized I’d better start writing stuff down. For years I’d kept a big pad of paper near the phone with questions for each editor or agent who had the full manuscript. Naturally I’d put the big pad away some months ago, so all I had was a 3-inch square piece of paper to write on.
When I hung up, I screamed and probably scared the cat! Some tears for sure, and a thousand conflicting emotions, but the most overwhelming need was to tell someone. I think as writers that the act of telling others somehow makes our words become real. I had to make this real by telling others. At that moment, I also became acutely aware of the huge support network behind me. We may work alone, but none of it would be possible without the hundreds of people who encourage, teach, support, and so generously share their own experiences on the journey. To each and every one I am so thankful and so very humbled by your generosity.
•You got The Call, and life as you knew it changed. I’ve gathered a writer’s plate suddenly becomes very full as she embarks on her new career as a published author. Would you please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning and how you plan to adjust to life with publisher’s deadlines?
I gather that too! Of course it has only been a week, so I’m still in the honeymoon stage. 🙂 Next up, of course, are revisions. Thankfully I’ve always been goal-oriented, making monthly and daily goals and logging progress. I’m sure that habit will help a great deal with working on deadline. There will be many surprises and new learning experiences, but that’s part of the fun.
•Since you’ve just experienced the euphoria of getting a contract offer and the jolt of reality that follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive a call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
Speaking of “jolt of reality,” in the muddle of emotions following The Call, one really important one rose to the surface: responsibility. As much as I’d considered the audience before, I became acutely aware of my responsibility to the reader to deliver the best story possible. That heretofore envisioned mantle became very real in that moment.
As for advice, wow, I still don’t call myself published. That may happen after the book comes out, but for now I’m simply blessed to be able to share a story with a wider audience. But I’ll take a stab at your question. Of course take advantage of all the knowledge and skill available to you through writer networking, critique groups, workshops, and chapters. Ask published authors about the process. Try to practice the time-management skills you will need as a published author, and most of all – Never, Never give up! The next call could be The Call!
•Please tell us about The Aviatrix.
In late 1918, a small-town girl plans to make a big time splash for women’s rights by being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. All she needs is a plane, a co-pilot, and flight lessons. Everything seems to fall in place when a plane makes a forced landing in her hometown, but she soon learns the pilot doesn’t believe women should fly. She dogs the man until he agrees to teach her, but this journey will take her to places completely unanticipated, for God has a way of turning human plans to his own purposes.
•Christine, it’s been wonderful to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your wonderful news with us.
I invite your guests to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer. And, of course, feel free to squee with Christine all you’d like.
Learn More About Christine
Visit her Web site ~ www.christineelizabethjohnson.com
Leave a Comment for Two Chances to Win
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
My Regular Drawing
My next drawing will take place October 31st. I’m giving away a copy of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, a book recommended by many authors as a must-have for a writer’s reference library. (If the winner already owns the book, I reserve the right to substitute an alternative prize of my choosing.)
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by October 31st and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On November 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and September 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On October 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)
Note: Offers void where prohibited.
Prizes will be mailed to US addresses only.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.