Jill English Johnston joins our chat circle this week. I’ve known Jill for several years through our local American Christian Fiction Writers group. We also attend the same church, although on different campuses.
If I were asked to describe Jill English Johnston in a word or two, I’d say gentle soul. I think you’ll agree.
P.S. By the way, thank you for your service, Jill!
Jill English Johnston Before Writing
I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and raised in the country in northwestern Pennsylvania (near Edinboro), where my entire extended family also lived. My parents were blue-collar workers. Dad worked in a shop (Lord’s manufacturing making airplane parts). Mom worked odd jobs (Avon sales, egg farm, toy manufacturing, waitress, donut shop). Family was important, dysfunctional and crazy, but our main social circle.
I loved to read, dreamt of traveling, and quite honestly, didn’t have my family’s cynical outlook on life. So I never quite fit in. I always thought I was an optimist. Then I met my husband and realized I was only the least pessimistic of the people surrounding me. I loved to read (books were my escape) and loved to write (had so many stories in my head). I dreamt of one day being published and influencing/encouraging young hearts as writers like Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, and Cleary had done for mine.
My dad served 4 years in the air force. Since my family didn’t encourage college and I wanted to travel and do something different than minimum wage jobs, I joined the navy.
I trained as a weather observer/forecaster and was stationed all over (many years in Asia). I planned to get out and do something different every step of my service time. But marriage, kids, and life kept me reenlisting—for 24 years!
Finally I retired in 2010, two years after my husband, and we moved to Texas and built our what-we-could-afford-dream home. It includes my own study with a great view, plenty of bookshelves and lots of space to spread out, research and write.
Jill English Johnston’s Debut Experience
Novels take a long time to write, especially when learning how. After moving to Texas, the Lord provided me amazing encouragers and writer’s groups who helped me on my writing/learning journey. I’ve attended workshops and conferences and have written hundreds of thousands of words, but have only finished one novel (book one in a trilogy) and have several trilogies in various stages of completion.
With the appearance of Amazon and Create Space (now part of Kindle Direct Publishing), I decided to publish my own devotional. Two things motivated me.
- One: I wanted to have something to sell at our writer’s group annual Christmas book sale and
- Two: My husband, Jon T Johnston, is a hobby photographer and has thousands of pictures on his computer. In 2017, I combined our talents and designed and self published our first book in our Be Still series together, Praise: Proclaiming the Glory of God (based on verses in Psalms). I did it mainly because I could, for the experience and also to share my husband’s photographs with others.
What’s up With Jill English Johnston now?
This past Christmas, we published our second book in the Be Still series, Wonder, Contemplating the Mysteries of God. It is based on verses in Isaiah. The book was even more fun than the first because we took a camping road trip so my husband could take the pictures while I wrote a devotional for each passage/photo. This year we’re working on the third book in the Be Still series, Explore. It will be aimed toward young people, with plenty of photographs of God’s creation and questions to inspire/encourage.
I’m still working on my novels. I plan to soon send proposals to editors/agents for the one I’ve finished, Mists of Time (book one in the Time Trilogy). While I wait, I will continue to work on the second book, Echoes through Time and outline the third, Truths in Time.
I also write devotionals for my blog, my church facebook page and my writer’s group annual Christmas Advent devotional. I teach on prayer and serve as prayer ministry leader at my church. This month I will facilitate a writer’s workshop, aimed at those wanting to explore the idea of writing and listening to the Lord’s leading/direction.