Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Reads with "The Sweetest Rain" by Myra Johnson

To celebrate her latest release, Myra is giving away one (1) copy of "The Sweetest Rain" (hard copy - US ONLY). To enter, go to the Rafflecopter box at the end of this post. The last day to enter is September 30, 2015. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I will contact you and then pass your information along to Myra. Good luck!

Inspiration behind the story…

     After I completed my post-WWI romance series, Till We Meet Again, my editor suggested a new series set in the 1930s. I picked up several books about the era, including one with personal accounts of survivors of the Great Depression in Arkansas. Ideas started percolating, especially as I read about the devastating drought of 1930-31. I imagined three sisters living on a struggling tenant farm and the hopes and dreams they might hold dear. I chose the name Eden for the community where they lived because of the sharp contrast between the searing heat of that Arkansas summer and the lush beauty of the biblical Eden. Then it seemed only natural to give the three girls flower names—Bryony, Larkspur, and Rose—reminders of something pretty, green, and growing, and the hope of better days to come.
     As it turned out, the publishing house I had been working with changed course, so for a while I wondered if I’d have the opportunity to see these stories in print. I was thrilled when my agent found another home for them with Franciscan Media!

My Review…

Bryony Linwood dreams of a different life. Instead, her reality includes raising her sisters on their grandfather’s struggling tenant farm in Arkansas during the middle of a drought. Food is scarce and their money is about gone. Bryony devises a plan which she hopes will help them keep their farm. Unfortunately, it involves working as a housemaid for Sebastian Heath, their strict landlord who is seemingly without compassion.

Michael Heath is trying to forget the war he barely survived, all the while struggling with shell shock and damage from mustard gas. The one thing that brings him any solace is drawing, particularly botanical illustrations. His father, however, is pressuring him to join in the family business of overseeing the plantation, which Michael vows not to do.

Days are long for Bryony, as she spends all day working at the mansion and then goes home to care for her sisters. She begins to develop feelings for Michael, which is something that could only lead to problems for both of them if his father were to find out. However, the heart wants what the heart wants. Is it possible for them to move beyond their positions and have a future together? Or will Michael bow to his father’s wishes to protect all he holds dear?

There is so much to say about this book, starting with the wonderful cover that is closely linked to the main character, Bryony, who has a beautiful name. She is a strong, independent heroine who is willing to do whatever it takes to hold her family together. Some scenes have a bit of a Gone with the Wind feel to them, particularly in the discussions of plantations. Johnson educates the reader along the way on various topics, such as the harsh realities during the Great Depression, racial division, Alzheimer’s disease, and the England Food Riot of 1931. The characters also demonstrate sacrificial love, which may remind the reader of what God did for us through Jesus. This book was different from what I normally read, but I found it to be extremely engaging. I told myself, “Just one more chapter.” on more than one occasion! I look forward to reading the second book in the series.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Q & A with Myra…

 Q:  What are your thoughts on the publishing industry, particularly in relation to self-publishing?
 A:  There are certainly a lot more options for getting published these days, and the stigma of self-publishing isn’t what it once was. Unfortunately, there are still a few companies out there ready to lock uninformed writers into expensive self-publishing deals and then give them nothing for their money except a garage full of books they then have to sell themselves.
            Personally, I’m happy to be a hybrid author, both traditionally and independently published. Having your book contracted by a reputable publishing house gives an air of credibility and (usually) the assurance of skilled editing and at least some level of in-house marketing and promotion. Independent publishing, on the other hand, gives the author full control over content, design, and production, and also can be a viable alternative when the story doesn’t easily fit into a single marketable genre—true of my novel Pearl of Great Price.
However, I can’t help but be concerned about the growing number of self-published books now available on Amazon and through other independent sources. Authors who invest in quality editing and attractively designed covers have an edge that I hope won’t be undercut by those who are just throwing their books out there without the benefit of professional input.

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  It would probably be something animal-related, like fostering rescue dogs or volunteering at an animal shelter. Several years ago, before my writing career began to take so much time, my husband and I volunteered several hours a week at a therapeutic horseback riding center. I’d probably still be doing that if we hadn’t moved from the area and the writing life hadn’t gotten so busy.

Q:  What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  First, naturally, I’d invite them to visit Seekerville, my group blog devoted to teaching and encouraging others along the writing journey. The archives are filled with instructional and motivational posts about writing. I’d also recommend joining a writers group and connecting with a critique partner whose opinions and skills you respect. And read! Read lots and lots and lots of books in your chosen genre. Not only will you get a feel for what editors are publishing and readers are buying, but you’ll learn which publishing houses would be the best fit for your stories.

Q:  What is the next project you are working on?
A:  I just turned in book two in my “Flowers of Eden” series and am ready to start writing the third book, which will feature Rose, the youngest of the three Linwood sisters. Set on the family tenant farm in 1933-34, this book will tell the love story of Rose and her longtime best friend, Caleb Wieland, both of whom were first introduced in The Sweetest Rain.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  Probably the most helpful instructional book I’ve ever read is Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. If I had to recommend just one book to an aspiring writer, that would be the one. A close second is Dr. Stanley Williams’s The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success. Stan’s teachings have helped me tremendously to identify the single universal truth at the heart of each story and make sure this truth is reflected in each character’s growth and plot development.

Q:  PC or Mac?
A:  Mac, definitely! I’ve been an Apple convert since 2007!

Q:  City or country?
A:  A little of each, preferably. I like being near the city for shopping, restaurants, etc., but I prefer a “country” feel—a little space between us and the neighbors, lots of trees, birds and wildlife in abundance (except the creepy-crawly kind!).

Q:  Cat or dog?
A:  I love them both! For several years, though, we’ve just had dogs (two rescue pooches these days). A grandson was severely allergic to cats, so since our last cat went to kitty heaven, we haven’t gotten another.

Q:  Introvert or extrovert?
A:  Terribly, incurably introverted!

Q:  Tea or coffee?
A:  Earl Grey every morning, the occasional decaf after dinner or with a yummy slice of pie.

Q:  Mountains or ocean?
A:  I love the beach! Mountains make me a little claustrophobic.

Q:  Winter or summer?
A:  Definitely summer. Give me a warm, sunny day anytime! Snow is pretty to look at once or twice a year, but I despise being cold.

Q:  Casual or dressy?
A:  Um, all I can say is, I’m glad you can’t see what I’m wearing right now! (And I guarantee it isn’t dressy!)

Q:  Twitter or Facebook?
A:  Both, for different reasons. But keeping up can be so hard!

Q:  Mexican food or Italian food?
A:  Both, just not at the same time—LOL! And make mine Tex-Mex since I grew up in the Texas Rio Grande Valley!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Myra. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better :) And, I totally agree with you about creepy-crawly bugs and being a casually dressed introvert!

About Myra…

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her historical romance When the Clouds Roll By won the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best award for historical fiction. Myra is also a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband have two beautiful daughters and seven grandchildren. They reside in beautiful North Carolina near four of their grandchildren, but as a native Texan Myra sorely misses real Texas barbecue and those gorgeous bluebonnets every spring! The Johnsons share their home with two pampered rescue dogs.

Readers can keep up with the latest by subscribing to my e-newsletter ( or visiting me online at the links below:

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

Amazon link for purchase...

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I saw a review on this book last week and they loved it. Thank you for spotlighting it on your blog, Leslie. Coincidentally (and I am completely serious,) the early 1900's, with emphasis on the Great Depression, is my favorite period in history to read about. To me it is a time that created strength in the human spirit. One of my favorite books is Bodie and Brock Thoene's Shiloh Autumn. Another Great Depression era book. I am pleased to see more books using this time period as a back drop in their stories. - Terrill

    1. Terrill,

      I have to agree with the other review :)

      That's certainly a great coincidence! I've read a book by Bodie and Brock Thoene, but not the one your mentioned. I'll have to add that to my TBR list.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog, and good luck!

    2. Terrill, thanks so much for stopping by! It really has been fascinating doing the research for these novels. There will be two more in the series, so I hope you'll watch for them.

      Thanks again for inviting me to your blog, Leslie, and for this wonderful review!

    3. Myra,

      You're very welcome :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I would have to say my favorite period in history would be the Civil War. I believe I have been captivated since I first read Gone with the Wind. I do have a fondness for many eras though. A good character can get me invested in any era.

    1. Kelly,

      That's certainly a popular time period, and I totally understand about "Gone with the Wind." As I mentioned in my review, this book reminded me of that at times.

      As for a good character, I think you'll find that with Bryony :)

      Good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog!

    2. Hi, Kelly! I'm with you--engaging characters are really all it takes for me to connect with a story, no matter the era. If I care about the characters, I'll follow wherever the story takes me.

  3. 1700-1800s are probably my favorite but I like a variety. Early 1900s are my least favorite but I read them too.

    1. Joan,

      Thanks for stopping by. I've recently started reading historicals, but I have a number of them in my TBR pile. I'm finding I enjoy the 1700-1800's, too.

      Good luck!

    2. Hi, Joan! To be honest, I wasn't as interested in the early 1900s until I started reading more about that era. It was such a transitional time--so many industrial and technological changes. It was especially eye-opening doing the research for my previous historical series, Till We Meet Again, which began as WWI ended.

  4. So hard to pick, I like most time periods. Just finished a book in 1800's and one that takes place during the depression.

    1. I have to agree with you. I like variety in the books I read. I'm always looking to expand the scope of what I'm reading. I love books that educate, as well as entertain, me.

      Thanks for visiting my blog, and good luck!

    2. Hi, Grams! I agree with Leslie--I enjoy a good story that also (subtly) teaches me something new. I hope that's what my stories do for readers.

  5. I think my favorite time period to read about is WWII, though it's very difficult for me to choose just one. I fell in love with the period while watching Hogan's Heroes with my grandparents, when I was younger. Ever since then, I've devoured several books and a couple films, set during that time. I love the strength so inherent of that generation. They had to be strong, and that strength brought people together while it seemed the world was being torn apart. They stood for what they believed was right, whether it was fighting the war, or watching their family members leave to stand up for the oppressed, or working to just survive the difficult times. There are times I wished the current generation could learn that strength of character, but I would never wish for another war.
    On a lighter topic, I would love to read this book! I discovered it a couple months ago and have been eagerly anticipating its release! Thank you for the chance to win!

    1. Sarah,

      I'm glad you were finally able to get the post to post :)

      I love WWII era books, too. You really did hit it right on the head regarding the strength of that generation. It's so hard to imagine what they went through. I've listened to a few concentration camp survivors powerful!

      Have you read Kristy Cambron's books ("The Butterfly and the Violin" and "A Sparrow in Terezin")? While they have a present story line, the other story line takes place in WWII. I highly recommend these books to everyone!

      You're very welcome. Myra's book is wonderful! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

    2. Sarah, you've really captured the essence of what makes wartime stories so compelling. The very real and immediate external conflict combined with the emotional turmoil--and the strength necessary to endure. I found that very true as well when researching and writing my post-WWI series, Till We Meet Again.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  6. I love historical fiction & the 1800-1900's is my favorite period! I especially like Regency or Edwardian stories. I would, of course, read other time periods as any historical is a good book in my opinion!
    Thank you for the author interview and the chance to win a copy of "The Sweetest Rain". I've not read too many depression period books, but I'm sure I'd enjoy this!

    1. Trixi,

      Thanks for stopping by! I've only read a few Regency books, but I can see why they're popular.

      You're very welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. This is one of the only depression era books I've read. As you're a fan of historicals, I'm sure you'll love it. Good luck!

    2. Nice to meet you here, Trixi! I think one of the things that appealed to me about researching and writing about this era was recalling some of the things my mother told me about growing up during the Depression. In fact, I still have a set of the Depression Glass my mother collected and saved.

  7. I enjoy books with The Depression era setting, as well as many other eras - some of my faves are set during war eras, another fave is the pioneer era.

    Thanks for the fun interview, review, and the giveaway opportunity - would love to read 'The Sweetest Rain'!! Wonderful storyline, and beautiful cover - Myra!!

    1. You're very welcome. I agree...the cover is beautiful!!

      Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

  8. Bonton, thanks for stopping by! We do seem to be drawn to eras in history when there was a lot of conflict and challenges.

    Yes, I'm just delighted with the book cover Franciscan Media designed for me! Thank you!

  9. I enjoy Regency the most but I'll also read any historical because I love history.

    1. Anne,

      Thanks for stopping by. I've recently started reading Regency books, and I can certainly understand why they're so popular :)

      Good luck!

    2. Hi, Anne! I have friends who are really into Regency romances. May need to try a few more for myself! Thanks for visiting with us today!

  10. This is a wonderful review and I'm definitely interested in Myra Johnson's novel! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Susan,

      Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you love the book as much as I did :)