Wednesday, January 2, 2019

My Failure Landed on the Cover of My Book by Liz Johnson

We're gearing up for another year of inspiration on Seriously Write. On the first Wednesday of the year, I generally run the most popular Wednesday post from the previous year. For 2018, that's the October post by Liz Johnson. In case someone missed it--though judging by the hits, that's unlikely--here it is again. Happy New Year!! ~ Sandy

Something strange has been popping up on my book covers lately. I almost missed it when I first saw the final cover for my brand new release, A Sparkle of Silver. But lately I’ve noticed it on the ebooks for some of my earlier titles too. It’s a single line that might not mean much to some people. It means the world to me.

Bestselling Author of The Red Door Inn

It's so simple, but it nearly made me cry when I first realized it was there. Because The Red Door Inn, the first in my Prince Edward Island Dreams series, almost wasn't.

In 2012, I wrote a proposal for a book set on PEI—a book that was decidedly not The Red Door Inn. And, boy, did it rack up rejections. Like amazing ones! A particularly scathing rejection from a major house left me wondering if I was a writing fraud.

It was my editor at Revell (before she was my editor), who suggested I write about the inn from my original proposal. So I did. I whipped the book out in six weeks for an editor at another house, who was about to go on maternity leave. She rejected it.

So did the editor at Revell. 

My contemporary romance didn't fit into the market's needs. The industry didn't think it would sell. So I went back to writing romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense. I’d been writing for them for a few years already, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I had stories I knew wouldn’t fit in their line. But I tucked my precious book baby onto a shelf and tried really hard not to feel like a failure. 

And then the strangest thing happened. About a year later, my agent called me. That editor at Revell was looking for a contemporary romance. Was I interested in sending The Red Door Inn back for consideration? Yes, but . . . I was scared.

And then God whispered to me, "Don't be afraid."

I still was. But I tried to think about His plan and not about the committees meeting to talk about my little book. The one they'd already deemed unworthy.

Well, Revell decided to publish that book, and somewhere along the way it hit a bestseller list or two, received a Christy award nomination, and generally did things I never expected. Why?

Because God is faithful. Because God redeems the things we think are failures. He put that story in my heart, and He also opened every door for it to become what it has. 

Maybe you're a writer struggling to finish your first or tenth manuscript. Maybe you’ve racked up enough rejections to paper your walls. Maybe you’re exhausted and just looking for some rest. Whatever your struggle, God knows it, and He'll redeem it for your good and His glory.

And sometimes He even stamps what you once thought was your biggest failure on the cover of a book to remind you: He's not finished with you yet.


Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of Silver and The Red Door Inn—a Christy Award finalist—as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. Marketing manager for a Christian film company, she makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.


  1. I'm one who missed this post the first time around. Thank you for reposting. I love when a NO turns into a YES, when God reminds us His timing is better than ours.

    1. Glad you had the opportunity to read it, Karen. And, yes, I'm a big believer in God's timing!

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