SHERRI has enjoyed creative writing since she was a young girl and has always loved spending summer vacations at the beach. To Dance Once More is a culmination of those two loves. A special project originating from Sherri’s love of pure romance, and inspired by the love stories of her ancestors, To Dance Once More sets out hoping to prove that true love still exists. Sherri candidly speaks of the purity of not only the heroine, but also the hero, and wholeheartedly desires to point others to Jesus through her words.
Sherri has been married since 1988 and has homeschooled her children since 1997. She lives in Georgia with her family and pets. She is a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild writing course and has been published in Creation Illustrated magazine, The Link Homeschool newspaper, Homeschooling Today’s Homeschooling Helper, and The Writing Academy’s Daily Devotions for Writers. Sherri has written two Inspirational Romances in addition to To Dance Once More, two self-published Bible study guides, and various other resources for homeschoolers and churches.
Sherri, please tell us a little about yourself and your book.
I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I live in Georgia with my husband, children and dogs. I love to make people laugh and I talk a LOT. Writing is my favorite pastime and, fortunately, I have been able to see my dream of publication come true. I write non-fiction and homeschool resources also, but fiction is my true love.
To Dance Once More is a special project originating from my love of pure romance, and inspired by the love stories of my ancestors. It sets out hoping to prove that true love still exists. I candidly speak of the purity of not only the heroine, but also the hero, and wholeheartedly desire to point others to Jesus through my words. It is set in Victorian Florida, which is a combination of two of my favorite things—the beach and Victorian times. Of course, there has to be more to a novel than just the romance and so there is betrayal, sacrifice and a bitter enemy that Lydia must overcome.
Here’s a short excerpt from To Dance Once More: “Tell her what you do in the city, Father,” Eliza suggested.
“I fear my daughters romanticize my work a bit too much, Kathryn. I run a
modest lumber and turpentine business. I am hoping one day Nathan will work
with me, and possibly even a son-in-law or two.” He shrugged his graying
eyebrows at his daughters. All the girls except Lydia giggled.
Lydia noticed how he cheered at the thought of sons-in-law. “That is if I
get married. The only boy I like is Nathan, and he is my brother! I think
marriage is very old-fashioned and limits what women can do with their
lives,” Lydia explained, glancing towards Kathryn.
No one reacted immediately to her well-known response about boys. Kathryn,
new still to the plantation and not quite accustomed to Lydia’s free spirit,
hid her smile with her napkin.
“Now, Lydia. A girl has to marry eventually. How else would she ever support
herself?” Rosalyn finally asked. She chided Lydia with her eyes, as only a
mother could do.
“Mother, I am very resourceful, you know. I will find a way.”
“That kind of talk can get a girl in trouble. You cannot venture out without
a gentleman by your side. A woman cannot make it in the world alone,”
Archibald interjected. He made it clear by his fierce look toward Lydia that
he was through with this kind of independent thinking.
“What about Miss Kathryn, Father?” Lydia knew severe chastisement would
occur for contradicting her father, but she had to ask. After all, her
parents had insulted Kathryn to her face when they said those things about
“Allow me, please, Mr. Barrington,” Kathryn cut in. “Lydia, I am not on my
own. As you see, your father employs me and provides a place for me to live
while I am in his service. This did not happen by itself. I had to receive
my teaching certificate, after much studying, mind you, and I had to have
references from people who knew me well before I could even imagine having
work like this. Although I am not married, I do not consider myself an
independent woman. I am very dependent upon the good graces of your family.
And I have very little to call my own.”
Lydia blushed at her own naïveté. “I never really thought of it like that,
Miss Kathryn. I see your point.” She paused thoughtfully, then added,
“However, I still am not going to marry someone wealthy just so I can travel
the world. I’ll find another way.”
That sounds interesting, Sherri, now tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. I am really bad at finishing projects. A long time ago, I gave up on sewing projects, home decorating, and volunteering for long-term projects or projects that required a lot of planning. Writing novels seems to be the only thing I actually stick to long enough to complete. I did, however, homeschool my children all the way through high school.
2. I can write and edit more than one project at a time. I easily switch back and forth from my historical novels to my contemporary novels with no problem.
3. My favorite animal is the Bengal tiger and I would love to hug one someday.
Hugging a tiger? I shudder, but remembering my homeschooling days, maybe you are brave enough. LOL! As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
I dreamed of being an author for as long as I can remember. At first, I wanted to be a reporter and then a newscaster because I loved the excitement of digging into the happenings of society. I always dreamed up stories and could never quite exchange them for the real life stories in the news, so I decided to stick with fiction.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I answered this question in another interview and it seemed to strike people as quite funny. So I will tell the story again. I have a twelve year old Labrador who at times loves to bark like crazy. A few years ago I bought a bark collar for her to stop her from barking. It wasn’t working so I decided to see if something was wrong with the collar. I placed the little booger on my own throat and barked. To my horror, the collar worked quite well and shocked me ferociously.
Oh, that is funny is a sort of scary way. I can’t even imagine! How many books do you have published and where can they be found?
My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), was released in September 2011 and can be found on Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, and many other websites and in stores upon request. You can find links to these stores at my website, www.sherriwilsonjohnson.com . My second novel, Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara), comes out in May. I am currently writing the sequel to To Dance Once More.
Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I recently wrote a blog about my publication journey. Rather than sharing all of that here, I offer the link to that blog post: http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com/2011/09/09/my-road-to-publication/
Sherri, I read your “journey” and it is inspiring. Well worth reading. What inspired you to write this particular book?
This book is about selflessness, surrender, and seeking God’s will for your life. The theme of this and my other novels revolves around the purity of both my heroine and hero. I have worked with teens for years and have witnessed the baggage that they carry with them when they do not remain pure. I long to encourage my readers (both young and old/married or single) to live a life of purity and to feel the hope of forgiveness when they do not.
That is a wonderful and much needed theme in our books and in our lives. How long did you write before you sold your first book?
I started writing To Dance Once More in 1993! It went through many rewrites and critiques and sat on a shelf while I worked on other novels. Finally in 2008, I received a contract.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
My brain is always in motion. I don’t sleep very many hours at night for dreaming up new story ideas. I watch crime shows and also Jane Austen movies and a good mix in between. I guess my ideas come from those places. I also read a lot and that helps to stimulate my creativity.
Isn’t it amazing how many ideas are there if we just look? Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer?
I am a plotter initially. I love to draw up an outline and to clip photos from magazines that represent my characters. I look up baby names to find names that relate to the personalities of my characters. But then, once that’s all planned out, I fly by the seat of my pants. I jump around from one chapter to another and then go back and complete sections that just didn’t flow the first time.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I write eighteen hours a day between what I actually put down and what I concoct in my head. Sometimes I am at my desktop in front of the window. Sometimes I am at my laptop on the sofa with my Chihuahua by my side. And sometimes I am in the bed writing into the wee hours of the night with a pen and pad or emailing my main computer from my phone.
That’s a lot of hours. But was another writer, I have no problem believing you. Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
In 1997, I began homeschooling my children and just finished in 2011. I have also worked several stay-at-home jobs throughout the years (church secretary, bookkeeper, legal transcriptionist) while I homeschooled. Writing often had to take the backseat, but never did I give up.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
One thing I vowed from the very beginning was that I would never write anything that would shame my dad, who was a preacher, but mainly that would shame my heavenly Father. Because God has been so amazing to me throughout the years and has never left me in the midst of my trials, I can’t help but season my writing with my faith.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Do not give up. Take classes. Keep practicing. Get critiques. Read in your genre. Just do it!
Very good advice. Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
Sherri, thank you for allowing Infinite Characters to interview you. Sherri is giving away a free copy of her book To Dance Once More to someone who comments below. Please let her know you’re been here. I think you’ll enjoy her book. Check out the above links to learn more about this book and to obtain your own copy.
If you enjoy meeting new authors and reading about what they are writing, especially historical romances, you might also enjoy this interview: http://infinitecharacters.com/2011/10/05/welcome-darlene-franklin-to-infinite-characters/