Friday, November 13, 2009

My Success Story by Liz Johnson

Dawn and I met Liz at the recent ACFW conference in Denver and immediately connected. While we sat together at a meal, we discovered she's newly published. Dawn asked her if she'd like to appear on the blog and share her success story. This Fortifying Friday, please welcome new author Liz Johnson to Seriously Write. And may you be encouraged by her story.

My Success Story
Liz Johnson

My first novel, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, is all Kelly Blewett’s fault.

I met Kelly in the fall of 2006 when I moved to Colorado Springs. We worked together as publicity assistants, and as we spent an inordinate amount of time together, I found in her a kindred spirit, another book lover. We spent hours together talking about our favorite stories.

And then one day in the office workroom, I mentioned that I’d started working on a novel. Well, actually I was just playing around with it, but Kelly demanded to know what my story was about. I was hesitant to tell her too much. After all, writing a real novel had always seemed like an unattainable dream. Sure I loved to write. I just didn’t have the skill to really put a book together or the discipline to complete it.

Kelly begged to differ, so I told her about a woman named Kenzie who taught a GED class in a prison and the prisoner who kidnapped her. The details were still fuzzy, but the characters spoke to my heart.

I told Kelly I didn’t have the time or energy to write. I worked full-time and was still trying to get settled into a new city. She disagreed. Despite my excuses and doubts about my own abilities, she became my accountability buddy. “Did you write last night?” was her daily greeting. I couldn’t let her down, so I found myself setting up a calendar and writing at least three nights a week.

After three months, I looked up to discover a completed manuscript. In October of 2007 I sent off my unsolicited proposal to Steeple Hill. My chances were slim. I knew that, but I still held my breath, and Kelly held my hand as we waited to hear back.

In December I heard back. They couldn’t accept my manuscript. There was a major plot point that didn’t meet their guidelines.

But I could fix that.

So I sent a thank you note saying that I was willing to make the required change.

Two weeks later came a letter requesting to see the full manuscript. Oops! I still had to make that change. So I disappeared for a couple days until the problem was solved. Or so I thought.

The editor at Steeple Hill liked it. But not enough to offer a contract. Would I make more changes? I was happy to.

We went back and forth like that until July 2008, at which point I was so tired and just wanted a resolution. I was in Orlando on a business trip with Kelly when I received a voicemail from my editor. Would I call her back right away? Waiting for a spare moment to return that call was one of the longest days of my life.

When I was finally able to make that call, I sat on the floor with my knees up to my chin, hands shaking so badly that I almost couldn’t read the notes I was taking.

A year later, my first novel hit the store shelves. And in that book is a little, white dog named Henry—just like Kelly Blewett’s own pup. I added Henry to the book to thank her in some small way for speaking truth into my life when I couldn’t see passed my own doubts.

Without Kelly I would never have written the story God placed in my heart. So, you see, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is all her fault.

Liz Johnson writes about love and such from her home in Colorado Springs. By day she’s a full-time book publicist. By night she’s a writer, ice skater, and lover of the theater. She enjoys making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and nieces. Her first novel, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, is available now from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Her second novel, Vanishing Act, is due out in September 2010. Visit her online at