Let’s Chat! Author Tara Johnson

Tara Johnson_author_historical romanceWelcome, Everyone

Tara Johnson is our guest author this week. Tara writes historical romance. Tyndale House Publishers recently released Tara’s debut novel, Engraved on the Heart

Tara is offering a copy of Engraved on the Heart in either print or digital form to someone who comments below. So join the chat, ya’ll!

Tara Johnson Before Authoring

I’m a preacher’s kid from Arkansas. I love to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led me into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleaser. (Click to Tweet!) But that’s a whole other story…

Tara Johnson_author_historical romance

I was always in love with books and story worlds growing up, but my passion was music. When I signed with a small Christian record and management label, I thought I had God’s plans for my life all figured out.

Unexpected Developments

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disorder that keeps the stomach from pumping. It’s a vagus nerve problem which involves pain, nausea, esophagus spasms, reflux and a host of other issues. This nerve dysfunction has now progressed into my larynx. In short, I am losing my ability to sing.

Tara Johnson_author_historical romance When He began whispering hints of change, I was confused. The plans that seemed so certain to me suddenly shifted and I was reminded of this important truth…the more you build your identity on something other than Christ, the greater the pain when that identity crumbles. (Click to Tweet!) 

A Change of Directions

Tara Johnson_author_historical romanceSo, I began to write out my thoughts on a blog. A way to express myself on the days when I couldn’t find my voice. God showed me a great creative beauty in writing. I fell in love with it. As I began to immerse myself in the craft, I learned professionals call an author’s unique way of writing the author’s “voice”.

Letting Go of the Old

Sometimes we cling with white knuckles to our own plans so tightly, we fail to realize God is trying to give us something far better. But in order to receive it, we must relinquish our hold on the old before we can receive the new. (Click to Tweet!)

God may heal my singing voice. He may not. Either way, I’m content. I’m happy. God never takes away without giving something better in return. I have a voice, and I’ll use it for Him as long as He gives me breath.

Because you can have a voice and still not have a voice.

Tara Johnson: A Debut Experience

Tara Johnson_author_historical-romanceSeveral years ago, I signed with the remarkably talented literary agent Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency and my debut novel Engraved on the Heart was just released by Tyndale House Publishers. During each of the milestones—signing the contracts, holding that first book in my hands—-I felt equal parts wonder, gratitude and terror.

It’s a very vulnerable thing to put a piece of your heart out there for the world to see. I particularly wrote a lot of my own struggles into the heroine Keziah. She struggles with epilepsy, people-pleasing and feelings of worth, all during the backdrop of the Civil War.

What’s up with Tara Johnson now?

I just turned in edits on my next story, set to release during the summer of 2019. Where Dandelions Bloom focuses on the life of a heroic young woman during the Civil War who fled abuse at home only to find herself in the middle of our nation’s greatest conflict.

History is crammed full of larger-than-life characters. Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Amelia Earhart and Frederick Douglass are just a few examples of flawed, wounded humans who battled their demons with determination and left an indelible mark on the pages of history. I suppose that’s why people are so fascinating.

Insight from Tara Johnson

No matter the era, we all battle the same wounds. Abandonment, abusive fathers, overprotective mothers, loss, grief, rejection, addiction, crippling anxiety, loneliness, or the yearning for unconditional love, to name a few. We all battle the same junk and have to decide whether to fight or cave. Run or stand. Cry or smile. That’s what great characters do. They are a reflection of our struggles, our own wounds. Our own need. And, when written well, they remind us to Whom we need to turn for healing.


How to Find Tara Johnson


Twitter: @TaraMinistry




~ ~ ~

Lord, how You surprise us! Your ways aren’t our ways, so what do we expect? You’ve woven unexpected threads into Tara’s life and handed her a pen and a keyboard to write stories rooted in her unexpected journey. We praise You, Rapha God, for Your healing touch.
Please bless each word Tara writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~

12 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Author Tara Johnson

  1. Alison Boss

    Thank you for sharing your story, Tara! Your perseverance and words are an inspiration! So many good thoughts to take to heart…to remember that even when we don’t see God or feel His presence, He is there, working and moving on our behalf, for our good. I love historical fiction, and the Civil War is one of my favorite time periods to read about. I am excited to read your book, Engraved on the Heart! Thank you for a chance to win a copy!!

    1. Great to see you in our circle, Alison. You’re entered in the drawing 🙂

  2. Marilyn R

    So nice to meet Tara Johnson here. Hearing testimonies on this blog how God has brought His perfect will to life by various authors is a shot of faith being lifted higher. I prayed after reading this blog post earlier for a healing touch, Tara. Thank you for sharing.

    Engraved on the Heart will be a wonderful book to read. Civil War era is one of my absolute favorite periods to read in Historical Fiction.
    Blessings Tara and Linda.

    1. Thanks for joining us, Marilyn. I loved Tara’s story too. You’re entered in the drawing 🙂

  3. Becky Smith

    This interview is so good and uplifting! I loved meeting Tara!

    1. Tara’s story—and attitude—does lift one up, doesn’t it? So glad you joined us, Becky. You’re entered in the drawing 🙂

  4. Lucy Reynolds

    I love Tara’s heart. I look forward to reading this book.

    1. Thank you, Lucy! I pray you enjoy it!

    2. Great to see you, Lucy. I love Tara’s heart too. You’ve encouraged both of us. And you’re entered in the drawing 🙂

  5. Brandi

    I’m so glad you were willing to let Him redirect you. 😄
    I’m looking at a massive change as well and it’s so encouraging to hear stories of others trusting Him. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the book opportunity.

    1. Brandi, I’m praying for you and the big change you are preparing to go through. Exodus 14:14 HUGS!

    2. Welcome, Brandi! I’m tickled you’ve joined us. You encourage Tara and me both. You’re entered in the drawing 🙂


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Let’s Chat! Hidden Places of the Heart

The Heart’s Hidden Places

Ever find yourself guarding hidden places in your heart? Maybe several? I do. Are you ashamed to have felt certain emotions? How about a physical flaw? Too embarrassed to expose it even to those who love you? Oh, yeah.

Might your hidden places include spiritual struggles? Those nagging, pesky, and sometimes debilitating battles that take you to your knees in abject remorse? Yup. Too many to count. 

*Join our chat below and qualify for next Tuesday evening’s drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. It’s easy-peasy.

**Congratulations to Jane Waughtal (pen name Jane Quail), winner of the drawing for an Amazon gift card!**

Hidden Places Covered in Dust

When I close my eyes and allow my memories to drift to the surface from their hidden places, I see a school girl and even a college student of the ’50s and ’60s. She’s pushing a wheelbarrow of insecurities. The weight of her load keeps her from expressing herself freely. Oh, she’ll happily write some lines that sound good but don’t scratch the surface of what’s lurking in the dark corners of her inner self. 

She comes across as mature and confident. But she knows the truth. She’s just a country girl, a farmer’s daughter, who lives on a dusty road miles out of town. Her school friends are daughters of ranchers, bankers, doctors, and store owners. Even those whose fathers are farmers own homes in town, not out in the sticks where the wind stirs up dust clouds that can blind a girl to all but what’s at the end of her nose. Hidden places abound in dust storms.

Hidden Places: A Girl’s Attire

This girl dons clean, neat, well-maintained clothing each morning. But her outfits can’t rise to her circle of friends’ standards. To the contrary, her girlfriends frequent the little boutique on Main Street where the racks and shelves bulge with the latest fashion, sassy dresses and skirts and blouses cut from the highest quality fabric and trimmed just so. You see, this girl’s clothes are handmade. Her mother seldom purchases an article of clothing. She sews and teaches her daughter to do the same. But the old sewing machine is locked up tight in a hidden place.

Hidden Places: A Girl’s Ride to Town

Her friends’ parents deliver them to school in brand-spanking-new, clean-as-a-whistle Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Chevrolets. They drive over city streets and rarely venture into the countryside. But this girl’s father buys second-hand family cars in whatever color is available–and affordable. She lives down an unpaved road where cars and the school bus stir up dust clouds that choke the passengers. She feels dusty–and a bit embarrassed–when she steps off the bus next to one of those new, clean cars delivering her girlfriends with not a speck of dust.

Hidden Places: A Girl’s Home and Hearth

Her friends live in homes with central air conditioning and “help” who become invisible when guests are around. They chat about what’s going on in the neighborhood–a mysterious place where she can’t imagine living. Her friends share a bond she’ll forever be denied, a familiarity borne of shared streets and playgrounds, riding bikes, service clubs, private swimming pool memberships, Sunday dinner at the one fancy hotel, and vacations in distant locations. 

Hidden Places: A Girl’s Privileges

This girl’s mother is as old-fashioned as they come. Not only does she sew–eegads–but she won’t allow her daughter to wear a bathing suit in a “mixed” crowd. Take dancing lessons or attend dances. Wear hemlines above the knees. Play basketball or try out for cheerleader or twirler, not with uniforms above the knee, for pity’s sake.

Nor is this young girl permitted to miss Sunday morning and evening or Wednesday night church, not even for an end-of-school-year or slumber party or a ball game. Her friends’ll go to church with her first, or there’ll be no party. And forget more than a handful of dates with anyone who refuses to go to church with her. Em-bar-ras-sing!

Hidden Places: Bringing Them to the Light

Hearts can hide anything from anyone–even oneself. But never from God. Six decades down that dusty road of the ’50s and ’60s, that girl finds herself throwing open the windows of her heart more and more often. Fresh wind gusts through, flinging dust to the trash pile where it belongs. 

What changed? For one, years. Decades of them. For another, a new pair of spectacles with lenses that correct faulty vision. Gradually this girl’s world came into focus. Homemade clothes? Evidence of love beyond measuring. Hems to the knee and below? A sign of a mother who cared more what she believed her God expected than twittering teens. And that second-hand car covered in dust? A possession made noble by the driver who held her head high and thanked God she didn’t have to walk.

Above all, the girl’s concept of God’s grace came into focus. And with it, the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit, whose dust bin is bottomless. I should know. I kept an extraordinarily dusty house for a very long time.

Would anyone have guessed? Not for a minute. But that’s the idea when you’re all about hiding your faults, missteps, and outright defiance. Isn’t it?

Hidden Places: Another Girl, Another Time

Which brings to mind the heroine of my coming novel, Book 2 in The Women of Rock Creek series–The Mending of Lillian Cathleen–which follows The Calling of Ella McFarland. Once destitute, battered, and abused, Lily has reason to hide. But can she live that way forever? Can she rise above the lowliness of her young life? Or will her past forever define her?

Stay tuned for coming news on the release of Lily’s story … 

~ ~ ~

Dear Lord, we praise and honor Your holy name. You are holiness itself. Strength. Sustenance. Understanding. And love. Infinitely kind, You’ve provided the cleansing agent required for every dusty house–Jesus Christ, who takes away the sin of the world.
We’ll thank and praise You throughout all eternity.  
~ For Jesus’ sake

8 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Hidden Places of the Heart

  1. Ruth Trippy

    Linda, this is a beautiful post, It carries in it so many memories that we girls share, those of us who were blessed to be born in godly families. I was born in one of those “northern” states, but in a family that cared more about character than big money or a fancy house. As one TV ad says, “Priceless!”

    1. Solid, faith-filled upbringing is second to none! Thanks for joining in, my friend. Love!

  2. JANE WAUGHTAL (Pen Name-Quail)

    Ah, Linda, God uses you in such an honoring way, praising His Name, lifting Him up, exalting Him in a manner that God the Father does. I thank our great God and Savior for bringing you into my life. I still wait upon Him for contact with a publisher, and hope to have my Novella published soon, then I will offer it on “Let’s Chat” when you feature me as an author. Thank you again for your precious friendship. Praise the Name of Jesus, He is everything to us!

    1. Oh, how precious. Thank you, Jane. You’ve encouraged me so. Bless you, friend.

  3. Marilyn R

    Linda, this was a beautiful post and I could identify with so many areas. Our mother made our clothes and I learned to sew in 4-H and mother’s assistant where I even made clothes for others when I was out on my own. A talent that so many lacks today. I enjoyed country living but never invited to those fancy homes so some deep hurts but the precious memories of our family times and yet today we all love being together. Memories, God’s amazing love and grace to heal childhood and young adult hurts as I matured is valued more than any fancy car, home, or expensive clothes. Thank you again for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading The Mending of Lillian Cathleen.

    1. Aren’t those memories precious though? What I sometimes cringed at in bygone days is now priceless. I’ve given both of my granddaughters a sewing lesson or two. Who knows if they’ll ever pick it up. I sure sewed for my daughter many a night, in the 70s and 80s. I love seeing you in our circle, Marilyn.

  4. Linda D. Davis

    Mother made all my clothes. Sunday church. School. My birthday parties. School plays. Dances. My prom. And my wedding dress. She sewed 2100 tiny seed pearls on the gown and the train. After 51 years, it’s still hanging in my closet, still white and beautiful. All my dresses were very beautiful, lovingly stitched with perfection. When I was in 8th grade, she splurged her ironing money and took me to Montgomery Wards and bought me a beautiful magenta sweater and skirt. I was so thrilled to have a “store-bought” outfit. I wore it every Friday—dress-up day—to school. But Mother was such an excellent seamstress that I was never embarrassed of my clothes. Even though I secretly longed for a “ready-made” dress, I felt like a princess. Fast forward to 1973 and my own baby girl. I made all our clothes and loved making matching mother-daughter dresses. Finally 8th grade came along with the desire for Jordash jeans and ready-made clothes for my precious little girl. We didn’t have much when I was growing up. But I treasure those years and I treasure my Mother for loving and sacrificing for me. Good memories. Your blog is wonderful and heart touching , Linda. Thank you.

    1. Beautiful, Linda. I loved reading about your mom and how she doted on you. About 45 years after high school graduation, a friend commented on how she remembered my fashionable clothes. We were eating lunch, and I nearly choked! 😊 I had no idea my homemade clothes were admired by one of the girls who shopped at the local boutique. Thanks for visiting in our circle.


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