Updated: Mar 31
Hello, Visionaries! Today I've got an interview with the awesome, amazing Grace A. Johnson! I've loved getting to know Gracie over the last almost two years of blogging! She's patiently answered tons of questions from me and I am so excited share this interview with you guys!
So, without further ado, here we go!
Hey Grace, it’s great to have you on Writers’ Vision today, and I’m super excited you letting me pick your brain, I mean, ask you some questions!
It’s great to be here! 😀 Thanks so much for having me on! 😊
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, my name is Grace A. Johnson (duh), and I’m a teenage author! I’ve been writing for almost eight years now, ever since I fell in love with historical romance after reading The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson! Throughout those eight years, I’ve published three novels in my Daughters of the Seven Seas series, a devotional, a novella, and a smattering of short stories!
I live with my six younger siblings in rural South Georgia, and when I’m not writing or reading, I love cooking and baking, writing letters and sketching, singing and photography!
You published your first book, Held Captive, when you were thirteen, Correct? Is there anything you’d do differently, and what advice do you have for authors wanting to publish young?
Correct! Whoo, boy. I don’t regret anything, don’t get me wrong, but I certainly don’t recommend doing any of the things I did—or, rather, didn’t do. So if I could do things differently, but still be where God wants me to be (because I believe there’s a reason why I didn’t do everything right 😅), y’all better believe I would.
Although there are many, many things, from big things to small things, that I’d do differently, the main ones are:
Research. I did not do, like, any research about anything at all (probably because, in my twelve-year-old mind, there couldn’t possibly be any way that there would be resources out there for teenage writers), whether about writing or about publishing. So even though I’ve been published for four years, I’ve really only be truly learning about it for more like two years.
Rewrote. I published Held Captive way too early. It’s that simple. Had I known how much I would’ve improved as a writer within just six months (and how much I would grow to hate HC), I would’ve waited to publish it and at least revised, if not rewritten it before publishing. (Also, for the record, I’m coming to kinda, sorta love HC again, but I will rewrite it and republish it, mark my words. 😂)
Request a professional cover. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t look into getting a professional cover. Again, as 12-13, I didn’t realize at all what went into publishing or where to go to find information or anything, so I definitely didn’t know how to get a high quality, beautiful cover made. Hence why Held Captive has the cover that it did.
So, for all my young writers out there…you can do it. Whether you make a million mistakes like I did or you do it all by the book, you can publish your book…you can find readers who love it…you can pursue your passions and use the gifts God has given you. Don’t ever think you can’t, or that you’re too young, or (like I thought) that there are no resources or support out there for teen authors.
If God has called you to publish, it 110% is possible. Just follow His will and try not to make the same mistakes I did. Research all you can and learn as much as possible before you take the plunge. Get an editor, a critique group, a support system, a street team, a cover design—all of that. Don’t be afraid to revise and rewrite and wait before you publish—God’s timing is always the best, even if it’s not as quick or soon as you would like. Establish a platform, whether that’s on Instagram or a blog or newsletter or even through publishing short stories in magazines, before you publish, so that you’ll have an audience and built-in readership ready for your book’s release!
Oh, and market your book! Start with having a good launch for your book and continuing to market it as much as you can! Unfortunately, books just don’t sell themselves. 😂
What’s your writing process look like?
Long story short, it’s chaos. I honestly don’t know how to explain it. LOL! I’m a discovery writer (which is a fancy term for someone who writes by the seat of their pants), so I typically start with some sort of very rough outline (usually a document that has a ton of random ideas) and just write. Very, very slowly. I try to write the cleanest draft possible (which means all my books are one edited draft rather than three or five drafts), so I take my time and edit as I write, making sure my word choice and sentence structure and plot are all smooth and consistent. Which is kinda crazy for me to do without a detailed outline or hardly any plotting, but I somehow make it work. 😅 I write in chronological order instead of jumping from scene to scene, and if I’m stumped on a part, I just don’t write at all (or write in a different project).
One full-length novel can take anywhere from six months to three years to finish writing, and once it’s finished, it’s on to the editing!
What can we expect from you in the future? *pulls a chair up and leans forward with interest*
Ooh, honestly, I don’t know! Somehow, life always gets in the way, so I can’t promise y’all anything, but I’m currently working on a short story that will be published in Wild Blue Wonder Press’ Springtime in Surrey anthology, so that’s the first new story you’ll see from me!
Next up, I hope to write a short story/novella during the summer that will come after Bound and Determined and continue the journeys some of the characters are going on!
My current WIP and hopefully my next novel is Something Bright and Beautiful! It’s a full-length work that continues the story of August and Sylvie from my 9/11 short story, Daylight! I’m so excited for this project and I can’t wait to share more of it with y’all!
So, other than being an author, you are also an editor, website designer, influencer, book reviewer, and an older sister to six siblings…how do you make time for it all?
I don’t. No, seriously. I have to cram and stay up late and make extra time and drop projects and push things back…and I’m not sure if that’s because of my life right now or because I’m bad at saying “no” and/or managing my time. 😅 So it’s literally only by the grace of God that I manage to do what I do.
What is your biggest tip for other authors?
Wait. Only one tip? C’MON, KAYTI! C’MON!
All right, so my biggest tip is actually kinda easy: pray. Invite God into your writing. Ask Him to write for you and through you.
I’m not just saying that because it sounds spiritual. I’m saying that because I have first-handedly experienced God writing through me, and I have never, not for a single moment, regretted commiting my writing to Him and creating the stories He has given me.
So, seriously, y’all. Seek God in all you do—not just in your personal life, but as a writer too. Surrender your work to Him. Do what He calls you to do, not what you want to do or what the world says to do. And don’t think for a second that you can get away with pushing Him onto the back burner. You can’t. You have to give your all to Him; there’s no other way to live a fulfilled life. You have to serve Him and reflect His love in all you do; otherwise, everything you do is worthless (1 Cor. 13).
Okay, now the sermon’s over, folks.
What are the best ways to grow your platform, in your opinion?
Let me boil this down to a couple tips…
#1: Connect with your audience. Engage with them. Establish relationships with your blog followers, newsletter subscribers, readers, IG followers, etc.! Don’t just post or publish and expect people to just flock to you in droves and shower you with comments and reviews (trust me, I tried that…didn’t work). Instead, interact with people, draw them to you, become friends with them, ask questions—and then watch them comment and review and share!
#2: Invest your audience. Once you’ve connected with them, invest them in your stories and content. Create things that get them interested, immerse them into yourself and your work, and benefit them with what you produce and share!
#3: Stay consistent, not just in schedule but in theme. If your platform doesn’t have a consistent theme (i.e., writing advice, book reviews, updates, historical fun facts, etc.) and is just a jumble of everything (from writing stuff to life stuff to pictures of your pet to random political hot takes), it’s going to be difficult to establish it and grow it. Make sure the foundation of your platform is clear and consistent, and build off of that instead of branching out!
Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written? Either published or unpublished.
Oh, gosh, no. I really don’t. I mean…The Gift of Her Heart is probably my favorite, since I feel like it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever written (and I am not funny, nor do I write humor well, so that’s not saying much) and I actually like the writing in it. (Plus, it was the most enjoyable writing experience I think I’ve ever had.)
But otherwise, no. I love my books and stories, but I hate my writing too much to play favorites. Yet. 😉
Last question, what is your why as a writer?
Ooh, this is such a good one! I could be here all day…but if y’all haven’t guessed it yet, my why is simple.
I wouldn’t be alive…where I am now…thriving, without Him. Much less would I be writing and publishing and have all these opportunities if it weren’t for Him. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s literally Providence, the very hand of God, that has guided me through my writing journey. I hated writing, until God softened my heart toward it and called me into this beautiful craft!
So why wouldn’t I write for Him, because of Him, with Him? Why wouldn’t I write to glorify Him with every word and magnify Him in every sentence?
Sure, I’m not always good at it, but that’s my why. That’s my reason, my only reason, for writing.
Thank you so much for letting me interview you!
Aww, my pleasure! Thank you!! 🥰
About the Author:
Grace A. Johnson is a teenage Christian fiction authoress, book reviewer, and avid reader. She lives in beautiful (but humid) South Georgia, surrounded by farmland and forestry, with her parents and six younger siblings. She has written four novels, three of which are published, and a smattering of short stories and novellas, which you can find on Amazon. She’s also a homeschooler who loves learning about history, linguistics, art, and the world around her. You can find her on Goodreads, Pinterest, BookBub, or blogging on her website at www.graceajohnson.com . Join her for a virtual cup of tea and a free sneak peek when you sign up for her e-newsletter.
What is your why as a writer? Did you enjoy Gracie's answers? I have to say her advice is spot on, and I love it so much! Her why is beautiful!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!