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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Friday, July 10, 2009


Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.

Liz lives in Colorado Springs , Colorado , where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church's bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is her first novel. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I hope that readers of my book are encouraged to rely on God even when friends and family let them down. I hope that like Kenzie and Myles do in the book, readers will find hope in knowing that God is walking with them in hard times and that His eyes are on those that fear Him.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I’m not so sure that I chose to write this book so much as I suddenly had a story to tell, and this was it. I had been through some major upheaval in my life, moving 1100 miles twice in just 6 months. I had lost a job and was several states away from my family, my support group. And at that time, I realized that I had no one to lean on but God. And in that moment, I knew that I wanted to tell a story about God’s never-ending protection and faithfulness.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Because I could go on for pages about what I learned, I’ll stick to one thing. I learned to let go. I spent months writing my “baby.” Every writer knows that feeling of giving birth to a manuscript. And it’s hard to give it over to someone else and let them chop it apart, even if that person is a professional editor. But with every suggestion I took, I found my grasp loosening just a bit. I discovered that I had done my very best, but it could never get any better if I held it too closely, afraid of taking feedback. Letting go was the best thing that ever happened to my manuscript.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I probably have a hundred favorite scenes! But if I have to pick one, I do love the scene with the mountain lion. I joke with my writing buddy that all of my books should have a chase scene through the woods and a mountain lion attack. When Myles and Kenzie have to face a cougar in the Oregon mountains, my heart always pounds. Plus, it’s a really funny moment between Kenzie and Myles. We see her nervous and rambling, and then we see Myles being sarcastic and funny even in the face of danger. I love their dynamic at that moment.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It’s a commitment that requires sacrifice, especially if you have a day job. Writing means giving up nights out with friends. It means turning down dinner invitations to meet goals and deadlines. It means saying no to things that I really want to do. I wish non-writers understood that I when I decline to spend time with them because I need to write, it’s not personal. It’s about my writing, which really is personal to me.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

One of my favorite nonfiction authors is Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington , DC . I’ve had the pleasure of working with him in my day job, and last summer we talked about one of the concepts he discussed in his book Wild Goose Chase. Mark says that it’s really easy to pray and just keep praying, waiting for God to answer. But at some point we need to recognize when He’s given us the means to accomplish what we’re asking for and act on it. That’s really applicable to me and probably many other writers. We sit and pray for God to give us the words, but we end up waiting, failing to act on the talents He’s given us. So I’ve learned to pray for the words, but I know when to stop praying and start typing.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

It’s the same test I face every day. Discipline. Sitting down and actually writing isn’t easy, and I face the decision every day. Will I write or not? It continues to be struggle, and it’s the true test of if I’m a real writer or just playing at it when I want to. Right now I’m between projects and I tend to lose that battle most days. My goal is to someday win more days than not.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Hmm … I don’t think I’m that surprising. I suppose some might be surprised that I go to live sporting events every chance I get. I love hooting and hollering at football, hockey, and minor league baseball games. And I follow the NFL pretty closely all through the season.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known that I could this, that I had the confidence follow my dreams. I wish I’d known that it won’t ever by easy and that dedication is required. Most of all I wish I’d known that my first, second, third and fourth books don’t have to be perfect. Every writer has room for improvement.

How do you reach new readers?

Well, as a new writer, all of my readers are new to me. But I’ve started blogging regularly, offering my take on pop culture and such. Some of my visitors have said they’ll be picking up my book in July. I’ve also entered several short story writing contests that have brought people to my blog when they read my entries. But the best thing I’ve found is word of mouth. I gave early manuscripts to some trusted friends, who gave great feedback and are now my biggest fans. They tell their friends, and the word is spreading.

If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?

Elizabeth George Speare, author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I would love to ask her about her life and the research she did for her books way before the internet. L.M. Montgomery because I want to hear about her brainstorming sessions about Anne. Where did the red-headed orphan come from? Was she always so wonderfully precocious? And definitely, I’d invite J.K. Rowling. Where does an author go after the stunning success of Harry Potter? What were the adult lives of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny really like?

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do write what you’re passionate about. Just because a certain genre or style is popular, doesn’t mean you absolutely have to follow the pack. Your writing will be smoother and more enjoyable to read when it’s from your heart.

Don’t be afraid of rejection. My first rejection letter for The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn was actually the beginning of my journey with this book. I sent a “thank you” note to the editor, and she said if I could fix a few things, she’d be happy to see me resubmit. I did, and received another rejection and another list of suggestions. If I wanted to resubmit, they’d be happy to reconsider. We went back and forth 4 times. Four letters with no promise of a contract. It wasn’t ideal at the time, but rejections don’t have to be scary. You never know what door they’ll open.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Keep up with my writing adventures at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com or e-mail me at liz@lizjohnsonbooks.com.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I recently finished my second romantic suspense novel, which isn’t under contract yet, but is currently in consideration with my editor. It’s not a follow up to The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, but it has some overlapping characters and is a rousing romp into fictional Crescent City , Colorado . Since finishing that manuscript, I’ve been working on a proposal for a contemporary romance set in my home state of Arizona . I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with both of these stories.

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