About the Book
Book: Countin’ On Jesse
Author: Mary Pat Johns
Genre: (Inspirational) Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 12, 2023
Peeps’ gym owner Jesse seeks accreditation. Accountant Brenna wants to help Jesse reach his goal. They’re a great team, but can she count on him when trouble strikes?
Accountant BRENNA MCKINLEY only wants what’s best for Peeps, the wildly popular gym in Valiant, Texas. But when money goes missing, and she’s the obvious suspect, will she be able to clear her name or face criminal charges? Keeping her dream job matters, but falling in love with her boss isn’t part of the plan. Neither is the creepy guy stalking her.
Young veteran JESSE JACOBS manages and co-owns Peeps, an exercise facility in Valiant, Texas. He needs help to gain accreditation for the gym, and his new accountant is all in. But is she who she seems? Too bad he’s falling for her like a man with no parachute. When the pressure builds, PTSD renders him moody and volatile, risking everything he loves.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions given are my own and not an endorsement of all author’s opinions.
What step of writing this book was the most challenging and why?
Countin’ On Jesse was my first full-length novel and I found every step challenging. LOL. To say I didn’t know what I was doing would be a massive understatement. I had trouble getting Brenna’s personality to shine, and a bajillion rewriteslater, I learned how to plot a story. Most of my previous writing was narrative, so the concept of show versus tell was new—banged my head often on that one.
What/Who inspired you to write on the main themes found in the book?
My son was the main inspiration for the Romance in Valiant series. After he deployed to Afghanistan, the adjustment back to civilian life was difficult. I translated his journey through writing into people, especially vets, who experience traumatic events, their journeys, and how they find their happily ever afters. I struggled with the idea of story themes, until I realized the same themes appeared organically over and over again in my books—rescue and redemption. It’s what Christ did for us. We were lost in our sin with no way of ever making it right until Christ rescued and redeemed us through His sacrifice.
What made you choose the setting/time period for this book?
Basically, I used the same time period as my son’s deployment. It’s contemporary, but before COVID. I chose this time period because I was very familiar with it. Pragmatism also played a role. I knew writing my first book would be an enormous learning curve, so I didn’t want to add historical research to the mix.
Did you have to step out of your comfort zone to write this book? If so, how?
What I didn’t realize was how much time it would take. I couldn’t continue some of my social outlets, and I particularly missed the regular Bible studies and lunches withfriends. I had to make new friends who understood the writing process and learn how to be part of a writing community. Theearly critique groups I was part of and the Scrivenings Press family of authors have been true blessings.
What message do you hope readers take away from your book?
In Countin’ On Jesse, the message I want readers to take away is it’s okay to ask for help. God didn’t make us to operate solo, and even though we can know Christ, love Him, and serveHim to the best of our ability, we need other people to help us through the seasons of our lives. Jesse, the main character, learns this through what I hope is a rollicking good story.
About the Author
Mary Pat Johns’ writing career began once she retired from years of teaching speech and writing. She’s written devotions for an online publication and had short stories published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes a biweekly faith column for the local newspaper.
Countin’ On Jesse is her debut novel, and she’s hard at work on the rest of the Valiant series. God put it in her heart to tell stories of brave veterans and their reintegration into civilian life after suffering the traumas of war. As she kept writing, her focus generalized to include ordinary people who learn how to move forward after devastating events. Her writing has a strong spiritual thread since she considers a return to faith in God the solution for what ails the civilized world.
She lives in South Texas with her husband and their two dapple dachshunds. Her grown children and five grandchildren are useful sorts who keep her grounded with her reading/writing obsession. You can find her at the gym, at her computer, or reading a good book.
Countin’ On Jesse placed second in inspirational contemporary romance in the TARA contest. It was also a finalist in the Crown and the Maggie contests for unpublished authors.
More from Mary
I wrote Countin’ On Jesse because I couldn’t NOT write it, though learning to write fiction was an act of faith. My son is an army vet and deployed to Afghanistan during the war. When he returned, the adjustment back to civilian life was difficult. The PTSD he suffered was real. His dad and I prayed often for his restoration. I also experienced an urgency to share how people recover from traumatic experiences, but it’s not my MO to tell a sad story. I used humor, but never downplayed the seriousness of the hero’s issues with PTSD and anger. My goal was to impart hope.
One added sweet note. My son helped me craft a short story as a prequel for the series. I believe it was healing for him to revisit the Afghanistan setting through the perspective of time and distance. Readers have shared they felt like they were in the story. In truth, there was an eyewitness. I’m forever grateful that he came home to tell me of such events.
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 28 (Author Interview)
The Lit Lady, November 28
Texas Book-aholic, November 29
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 30
Back Porch Reads, December 1 (Author Interview)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 2
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 3
A Reader’s Brain, December 4 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, December 5
Beauty in the Binding, December 6 (Author Interview)
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 6
Cover Lover Book Review, December 7
Holly’s Book Corner, December 8
For the Love of Literature, December 9 (Author Interview)
Pause for Tales, December 10
To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 gift Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.