Friday, December 1, 2017

Getting "The Call" by Christine Johnson



Every author remembers her first sale. For me, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen. After all, it had been 15 years since I received my first rejection letter. Crushed by that, I turned my attention to graduate school and getting my Masters degree in library science. It was a heady time in the field. The internet was just extending beyond research universities to the general public. New technology brought access to research materials to people like me who lived in rural areas.

I thought writing could wait.

A few years later, the stories couldn’t stand to be pent up inside me any longer, and I joined RWA. My first conference was an eye-opener! I attended 16 workshops and left realizing that my creative writing courses as an undergrad in no way prepared me for writing commercial fiction. That’s when the apprenticeship began.

Fast forward to 2008 when I received the email that two of my manuscripts had been named finalists in the Golden Heart Award. I thought I was on my way! Alas, nothing happened from that except a great reason to dress up and more rejection letters. 151 to be precise.

Before the award ceremony
Here I am before the award ceremony trying not to look nervous.


Then, one day I received a telephone call from an editor at Steeple Hill (the predecessor to Love Inspired). She detailed at length what needed to be revised in the manuscript I’d submitted. I took copious notes on the scrap of paper by the phone, wondering all the time why she didn’t just send a letter because there was no way I would make sense of all my notes later. Then, to my utter shock, she said they were offering me a contract. I didn’t remember much of the rest of the call. I’m sure I muttered something unintelligible before hanging up. All I could think was that they wanted to buy my book!

The cat was the first to hear the news, since no one else was home at the time.

sleeping cat


As you can see, she was thrilled.

Then I got on the phone to spread the news. Among the first to hear were my critique partners, who had been through every word of that manuscript with me. No one understands this moment like another writer. We screamed and laughed and cried.

And a year later, in November 2010, my first historical romance, Soaring Home, was published.

Soaring Home cover


That book, dear to my heart and chock-full of years of research into early women aviators, was just the beginning. This month, my 12th and last Love Inspired Historical, Would-Be Mistletoe Wife, will be published. It’s a bittersweet moment. Love Inspired gave my historical romances a chance, and I will always be grateful for that. I have met many incredible readers and authors along the way an am so blessed by this journey. What’s next? I’m working on another book of the heart, and we shall see where the Lord leads.

Thank you, dear readers, for seven wonderful years.



Christine Johnson
Would-Be Mistletoe Wife (Dec 2017)

16 comments:

  1. Amazing story, Christine. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. EVERY first call story is amazing. I love reading each one. They're so inspiring. Thanks for stopping by, Mary.

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  2. Love the bit about the cat. LOL. I'm so happy you finally got that call, Christine. Praying for God to open doors to bigger and better things for you.

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    1. Thank you, Arlene. I know God has a plan. I just need to be patient (not my strong suit).

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  3. Great story, Christine...I can't believe you actually counted your rejection letters! I put mine in a file, okay a couple of files, and tried to forget them. HAHAHA! Happy holidays!

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    1. Hi Leigh! I only counted the rejection letters after I sold. It was incentive while the file grew and grew. I told myself that someday the long wait would inspire another writer in her journey.

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  4. There is nothing quite like "the call," is there? Thanks for sharing your story, Christine--and also for the cat's predictable reaction--LOL!

    So sad about the closing of the Love Inspired Historical line. I hope you'll find a wonderful new home for your next books!

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    1. Thank you, Myra! "The Call" is a treasured moment in every writer's journey. I love reading these stories.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story!
    I think your cat was showing great restraint. When I got "The Call", my cat went and hid under the bed. Of course, that might be because she'd never seen my version of the Snoopy Dance before. She hasn't been the same since ;)
    I think I traumatized her.

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    1. LOL!!! I love your sense of humor and your story.

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  6. Wonderful story. Your covers are so pretty. I pray your new project finds the right home.

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  7. I loved reading about your call story, Christine. I will be praying for the next step in your journey. God bless!

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  8. I love this! I also felt the same from creative writing to commercial fiction. And you totally rocked the dress for the awards ceremony.

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    1. Thank you, Dana! I find moments I can relate to in everyone's Call story. And yet each is unique. I love reading them.

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