Fiction Book Reviews

Sizzlin’ First Encounters with Myra Johnson

Okay, let’s talk about a ‘classic’ Meet-Cute.

Gene Kelly is jumping across the tops of taxis and cars to get away from his fans in the movie Singin’ In the Rain. What happens? He lands in a convertible driven by the young and adorable Debbie Reynolds. They meet, they argue, they separate, but the ‘watcher’ knows they’ll meet again.
Myra Johnson’s newest book, Where the Dogwoods Bloom, comes out with Heartsong in July. It’s her third book with Heartsong. I’ve read the first one and DESPERATELY want to read Romance By the Book (the second). I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and order it.
Myra is definitely a storyteller, but she’s also an encourager. Her posts on the famous writing blog, Seekerville, inform and inspire published and aspiring writers alike. You can learn more about her books on her website at You can also watch an interview with Myra here
Now, onto the questions…
Okay, Myra – what do you think makes a good first encounter for a hero and heroine? What causes that romantic tension?
I think one element of great romantic tension is when one or both of the characters has been resisting falling in love. He doesn’t believe he’s worthy of a good woman. Or maybe she’s committed to her career and hasn’t allowed herself time to give romance a chance. Whatever the reason, they’re fighting love all the way. And yet . . . there’s the woman or man of their dreams, the one who could fill up the emptiness they haven’t even wanted to admit to. Resistance is futile!
Oh boy, I think you have an excerpt for us from the book I WANT TO READ!! Do ya?
Here’s the “first encounter” from my novel Romance by the Book. (Yipee)
Parker paced the YMCA lobby, first peering through the steamy windows overlooking the indoor pool then pausing to watch the patrons using the health center. Swimming. Why couldn’t Andy have suggested swimming? Wouldn’t it stretch his back out as well as some wimpy water aerobics class?
“Hi. You wanted to see me?”
The tiny voice came from behind him, almost too soft to be heard over the clang and groan of the health-center weight machines. He glanced over his shoulder—stupid move, considering the jolt of pain it caused—and then had to drop his gaze nearly a foot to find the source of that voice.
“Hi. Are you the water aerobics instructor?” Couldn’t be . . .could she? Five foot two if that, face devoid of makeup, dishwater blond hair pulled into a messy ponytail. She didn’t even look old enough to have a driver’s license. 
“Sailor Kern. And you’re Mr. . . .” She scanned his registration form. “Parker?” 
“Hi Travis, nice to meet you. What can I tell you about the class?”
“No, it’s Parker. Parker Travis.”
She crossed her arms and retreated a step. Eyes the color of the indoor pool shimmered under the fluorescent overheads. “Now I’m confused.”
Perfect. He felt like he was in elementary school again. Except his teachers were never this youthful. Nor as unpretentiously pretty.
Yikes. Get a grip, man. “My name is Parker Travis, not Travis Parker.”
Her gaze flitted across the form. “People are always missing that it says last name first and putting their first name first, so I thought. . .” Those aqua eyes gave an embarrassed roll and her tone grew even softer. “Well, anyway, Mr. Travis, Gloria said you had some questions.”
“Yeah. My doctor recommended your class.” Parker glanced around the lobby. A couple of jocks in gym shorts and sweaty T-shirts strolled out of the health center, their jibes and deep-throated laughter bouncing off the walls. Parker waited while the testosterone cloud dissipated. He could bench-press 200 pounds, and Andy wanted him to sign up for water aerobics?
“You were saying?”
Parker huffed a resigned sigh. “See, I’ve got this pain behind my right shoulder and the doc thought your class would help.” The girl shifted. A dubious gleam lit her narrowed eyes.
“But you’re not convinced.” Parker stared at the toes of his black sneakers. A dusting of gray hair clippings clung to them, reminding him of his conversation with the spunky ninety-year-old in the apartment next to Grams’s. While he styled her hair today, he’d let it slip that he might be signing up for this class.
She proudly flexed her rounded bicep, giving credit to her three-times-a-week water workouts with the “sweet little instructor” at the Y.
“Little” certainly described the pint-sized mass of lean muscle standing before him. He’d hold off on the “sweet” verdict for now. Striking a pose to mirror Miss Kern’s, he said, “Let’s just say I’m not sure if the class is right for me.”
She shrugged. One eyebrow slowly lifted in what could only be interpreted as a challenge. “Only one way to find out.”
Parker chewed his lip. He’d never live it down if he showed up for church Sunday and had to tell Andy he chickened out. “Okay, hit me with your best shot.”
Oh dear, Myra, love your subtelty, characterization, and ‘challenge’. I think I’m going to have to skip right over to and order the book.
Myra also has a book out with Abingdon Press called One Imperfect Christmas. Visit her site for more information and for some helpful writing tools too.
Also, to check out some of her helpful posts, visit Seekerville.
Thanks, Myra for being a part of this series.
Inspirational First Encounter
Two people had been waiting a VERY long time to see Jesus for the first time. A ‘righteous and devout’ man named Simeon and an eighty-four year old widowed-prophetess named Anna. Two very unlikely characters in the story of God’s redemption, but they’re placed in the Bible for us to learn something.
Jesus was only eight days old when his parents brought him to the temple for his circumcision and his presentation to the Lord as the firstborn son of the family.
Onto center stage walks this elderly man, who was no ordinary man. God had told Simeon he woudln’t die until he’d seen the Messiah. The Spirit moved Simeon into the temple at just the time when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus. This  first encounter with Jesus caused an old man and a worshipful widow to rejoice.
They FOUND what they’d been looking for.
This meeting may be a bit more subtle than the one before – you know, the birth of Christ with angels and a giant star, but it shows how different people are affected differently by Christ’s presence.
As writers, we show this in our stories too. Some of us create first encounters that are fireworks and strobe lights, others of us design a first encounter that leaves a new, sweet scent in the middle of the relationship. Something’s changed, something’s new, but we can’t quite figure it out.
They’ve found someone to ‘fill of the emptiness’, as Myra put it.
Both are powerful!
Okay, so what’s next for Sizzlin’ First Encounters? Join me tomorrow as Deb Kinnard.

16 thoughts on “Sizzlin’ First Encounters with Myra Johnson”

  1. Oh, Myra, I LOVE that scene, but then I LOVED Romance By the Book too, so that stands to reason.

    Pepper, you need to order NOW, because you will love it, guaranteed!



      1. Pepper, since you have so gracious to invite me to your blog again, I would love to mail you a signed copy of RBTB, and also give one away to one of your visitors if you would like. Just let me know where to send it!


    1. Christina, Heartsong novels are relatively short–45,000-50,000 words–but they can pack quite a lot of romance into a “little” book. JoAnne Simmons, who edits the line, has done a wonderful job of publishing a wide variety of quality Christian romances, both historical and contemporary.


    1. OH Edwina,
      Thank you so much. It’s really a fun endeavor. I hope to keep coming up with good ideas (and having willing victi…er….authors) to continue the process for a while 🙂

      What do you write?


  2. Oh yes! I love a challenge! I love resistance! I love the battle! It just makes the romance all the sweeter! Sigh….

    Thank you so much for the excerpt and your thoughts on first encounters, Myra! I loved it!


    1. Sherrinda,
      Oh la la, challenge? Battle? you have that going on in your historical. Poor Jocelyn.

      Blessings to you, sister-friend,



    2. Sherrinda, hi! I’m having great fun creating challenges and obstacles for the H/H in my current wip. Never thought I’d enjoy romance writing as much as I do!


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