Friday, May 11, 2012

My 25-Year “Overnight Success” Story by Myra Johnson

Have you ever felt discouraged or tempted to give up your dream of being published because doors refused to open? Today, author Myra Johnson shares her personal journey to publication. Her story is a testimony to perseverance and learning to trust God’s timing. Be encouraged! ~ Dawn

My 25-Year “Overnight Success” Story
by Myra Johnson

Ever since 2008, when I received my first two book contracts within a couple of months of each other, I’ve jokingly labeled myself a “25-year overnight success.” 

It was 1983 when I first got serious about writing and enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature course. My stories and articles began to sell right away, but though all those magazine credits were nice, my lifelong dream was to publish a novel. I wrote and submitted one children’s book manuscript after another, but despite consistently positive editorial feedback, I could never seem to find the right fit.

After my daughters grew up, I turned my focus to Christian romance and women’s fiction, learning all I could through writers organizations, critique groups, craft books, and conferences. In the meantime, I was still getting enough of those “encouraging” rejections to keep me hopeful.

In 2005 I entered RWA’s Golden Heart competition, and was both shocked and thrilled when my manuscript actually won the Inspirational Romance category. After all, rumor had it that even placing in the Golden Heart was practically a guarantee of publication.

Not for me. Over the next couple of years, two of the other finalists sold their books, and I began to question whether all the time, money, and hopes I had invested in this dream had been in vain.  

Then, at a writers conference in 2007, I reached my lowest point. It was so hard to be there, still unpublished, when so many of my friends were celebrating their first book contracts. But that night I had an amazingly vivid dream that I am absolutely sure was a direct message from God telling me that writing is so much a part of who he created me to be that if I gave up writing, the very framework of my being would be gone.

So I held on another year, continuing to write and doing my best to be obedient to God’s direction and to trust him for the results.

Then in 2008, the new fiction editor for Abingdon Press put out the word that she especially welcomed submissions from unpublished but talented writers who had paid their dues. I figured that was me, so I e-mailed the editor that very day. She requested one of my manuscripts, and within a month, she offered a contract for my book One Imperfect Christmas. Then, as if God really wanted to show off, one month later the editor of Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line accepted Autumn Rains, the manuscript that had won the Golden Heart three years earlier. Both books released in 2009, and I officially became a published novelist. 

Twenty-five years is a long, long time to hold onto such an elusive dream. But if I’d given up at any point along the way, I wouldn’t be here today with six published novels, plus an anthology, another romance releasing later this year, and contracts from Abingdon Press for a three-book historical romance series. God is so good!

If there’s a lesson to be learned from my writing journey, it’s this: If God gives you a dream, there’s a plan and a purpose for it. No matter how long it takes, God’s timing is always perfect, and he is never late. So follow your dreams in faith, and remember “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes Christian romance and women’s fiction—emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her Heartsong Presents novel Autumn Rains won the Romance Writers of America 2005 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript and was a 2010 finalist in the prestigious American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Awards. Myra and her husband are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters and grandparents of four rambunctious grandsons and two precious granddaughters. Although Myra is a native Texan, she and her husband now reside in the Carolinas, sharing their home with two very spoiled oversized lapdogs. A Horseman’s Gift is Myra’s latest Heartsong Presents release, soon to be followed by A Horseman’s Hope.

To learn more about Myra and her books, please visit:


  1. The waiting had to be so disheartening, Myra. Kudos for hanging in there and being obedient to God's call on your life. Thanks for these words of encouragement! Your friendship is such a blessing to me! <3

  2. Myra, thanks for sharing. And to think--back then, when "I knew you when," I had no idea what was cooking in that fertile brain. So happy you've become an overnight success--even if it took 25 years.

  3. Sweet, sweet lady -- you just don't know how I needed to hear this today. I've been thinking that the conference I'm attending in a week or two would be my last. "Isn't it about time you gave up," has been whispering in my ear for the past few months.

    You're truly a blessing and this message is a God-send. Thank you.

  4. Thanks so much for inviting me to share my story here, Dawn! Honestly, unless God Himself clearly tells you it's time to change your goals, then keep writing and keep hoping.

    Doc Mabry, nice to see you! Yes, it's hard to believe we both ended up published novelists! BTW, once again on allergy shots in the Carolinas--not that I should be surprised!

    Dora & Angie, my two new writer friends, I'm so glad to have you in my life!

  5. Myra, it's our pleasure to have you as a guest. Your story has been so encouraging to those of us who keep plugging away! ;-)

  6. Myra, I'm always inspired by your story and the fact that you stuck it out. If you hadn't, we would have never met, and that would just be wrong. And I'm very excited about your new series from Abingdon. Hugs.


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