Grace A. Johnson
My Writing Journey
Welp, here it is, y'all. The full story of how I became a writer. This was originally a page in its own right on my site, but I took this down to share here on the blog! I hope y'all enjoy learning about my super-writer origin story! *winks*
By the way, if you're interested in knowing more, then you should TOTALLY check out my recent interview with Kristina Hall here! She asked some fabulous questions!
My love affair with books all began when I memorized Tell Me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker at three years old. My mom would read to my sister and I every night, and, being a homeschool family, our house has always been full of books. Anyway...I went on to read The Girl with Green Hair, The Sign of the Beaver, and my nana's Nancy Drew books at five multiple times, then the Left Behind series for kids nearly three times over when I was six/seven. I devoured any kind of book - but I really loved mysteries, fantasy, and end-times books, like The Chronicles of Narnia, Gilbert L. Morris's The Seven Sleepers series, and the Kingdom series by Chuck Black. As for writing...ha, ha, ha. My sister and I would play post office when I was, like, eight, and I would still scribble my message rather than writing English words like I should have. Don't get me wrong, I could write, but I hated it and my handwriting was, to say the least, crappy.
Something began to blossom in me, as time went on. I’d actually typed out a couple drafts (aka, two sentences) on Notepad (that little Windows accessory no one ever uses), about princesses…I think...when I was five. Of course, our PC crashed not long after that, actually, so all of that gorgeous prose has been lost in cyberspace for ten years. After that, I tried my hand at writing Barbie picture books, complete with Mattel sticker illustrations. Making up stories was almost as fun as reading, as long as it didn’t require a pencil. When I was almost nine, I made a book for my younger brother’s birthday, complete with beautiful (I’m being sarcastic) illustrations by yours truly and scribbled words.
It was that year, 2014, after my ninth birthday, that everything changed. Suddenly, I wanted to write. It was painstaking, and I only churned out a chapter of my first actual in-a-notebook-in-somewhat-legible-script-that-was-intended-to-become-a-real-book-one-day book. It was a “romantic mystery” based off of a situation at church, where my sister thought one of the boys in her Sunday School class liked her. Names were changed for protection, of course, but I played the big-sister detective and she the victim of notes and teasing. *digs around in a box FULL of old papers and drawings and notebooks* I might *gulps in a breath of air before diving back into box* can find *shakes head while continuing to shuffle through paper* the original manuscript… *rises, choking on dust bunnies* Nope. Then, I tried again, this time with a series about four thirteen-year-old spy girls, which lasted two whole chapters! It wasn’t until I starting reading more that I started writing more. More meaning things that were actually worth writing. I can thank it all on a certain process of mine. I relied on the Christianbook magazine we got in the mail to lead me to the next best series or book, then I'd get it through Pines (Georgia's online library system). Well, I stumbled upon Melanie Dickerson's The Golden Braid in the magazine and placed a hold when I was ten- or eleven-ish. Needless to say, I fell headfirst in love. I'm not a Disney princess girl... (to be honest, I've only ever watched The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Frozen - hasn't everyone? - and have finally read the summaries for the rest of the movies on Wikipedia within the last couple years. Yeah. I live under a rock; cut me some slack.) ...but, there was something about this Rapunzel retelling that captured me.
Suddenly, the stories I told myself at night shifted from an ice cream shop's new flavors (I love ice cream, BTW) to my own medieval romances. Granted, my idea of romance at ages eight through ten were horribly askew - I'll save you the horror story - and my knowledge of, well, history and culture and princess-y things was seriously lacking. My characters ended up being named things like Jossalinda Lonesel (no kidding; made it up myself 🤨) and Jordan Melenese, and were captured by bad guys, thrust into revealing dresses, and saved by their previously-slighted prince fiancé. (No. Seriously.)
Of course, the more I read, the more that changed. After reading all I could of Melanie Dickerson, I picked up The Baron's Honourable Daughter, a decidedly more informative and adult novel, which introduced me to Regency-era England. Watching Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman introduced me to the Wild, Wild West. Reading Jody Hedlund took me to Victorian-era Michigan, which truly opened up a whole new world for me. By this time, I had created a riot of stories and stored them all in a fashion-designing book. For real. I designed the clothes of my main heroine, gave her a name, and kept her story locked within the pages of my drawings. At the time, I wanted to focus on two things: reading and ballet. I could venture into the world of writing, which I sucked at (pardon my language), when I was at the ripe old age of 16. Then one thing led to another.
My previous attempts at books a couple years before opened the door for my "Camp Love" series, which I plotted (as my only contemporary series) along with my medieval and Regency tales. "Camp Love" lasted two chapters before a new idea, "Finding Love on Horseback," flew into my funnel (and I quote Thomas the Train 😋). I got it into my head that I could start writing, and, six chapters later, I proved myself right. Now, "Finding Love on Horseback" stinks. I wrote those six chapters—which amounted to about 9,300 words—in a span of two months. Its successor, "The Lady's Knight”—which I'm currently revamping for the third time—was written, and nearly finished, in about the same amount of time not but a couple months later, reaching a total of around 14,500 words. (I’m now able to write twice that much in two weeks, thank goodness.) My third story (coming in between a great deal of trial and error), "The Lady Pirate," has morphed into my debut novel, Held Captive, which was a hit! If I do say so meself... However, before I fell in love with my first pirate novel, "Beyond the Inner Storm" took precedence. This story was inspired by Jody Hedlund's Beacons of Hope series and my love for lighthouses. It was my first completed manuscript at 43,330 words and 21 chapters. I've actually shared the entirely of this hopeless—yet somewhat endearing—story of mine on my blog. It even had a sequel, “A Dream Fulfilled,” that I nearly finished before I decided to revisit “The Lady Pirate.” (Check out my blog post about how “The Lady Pirate” became my debut novel, Held Captive!) The rest, as they say, is history. I'm now on book 3 of my series, Daughters of the Seven Seas, which includes Held Captive, Prisoner at Heart, and A Christmas to Remember - not to mention the new companion novella, The Gift of Her Heart, which gives me a place to start a prequel series about the Arlington family...eventually.
It took a lot to make it to this point, but now that I’m here, I can look back with a lot of happiness and gratitude, knowing that all of that hard work (and sorry attempts at writing) really paid off! As my writing journey continues, I hope you’ll join me. You can keep an eye on my progress and catch the occasional sneak peek on my blog, Of Blades and Thorns, or follow me on Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon for updates! Oh, and if you have any questions, you can contact me at the bottom of the homepage!
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