Local resident Christine Johnson's journey as a published historical romance novelist continues with the release this month of her second book, "The Matrimony Plan."
Johnson will do a book signing Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Olivet Book and Gift in downtown Alpena. She is under contract with Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, for two more books and expects her third offering to come out in early 2012.
"It's a lot of work, but you have to enjoy it to do it," said Johnson, who published her first novel in 2010 after many years of toil and a stockpile of rejection slips from publishers. "I'm just starting to get established and making a little bit of money."
With "The Matrimony Plan," the author returns to her fictional town of Pearlman, Mich., which is also the setting of "Soaring Home, her first book. Characters from "Soaring Home" have found their way into the second book, although Johnson is not writing her novels as a series.
"They are all linked, but it is not a series," she said. "This new book is set in Pearlman too, and the characters are related to each other in some way."
This time around, her main characters are a society princess and a penniless preacher. As the book opens, Felicity Kensington is preparing for the grandest wedding Pearlman has ever seen. She's set to marry the well-connected engineer her father hired because he fits all her marriage criteria except for one small flaw. It's the town's new pastor, not the wealthy engineer, who makes Felicity's heart race.
Woven into the relationship plot is also a bit of mystery and history steeped in the Prohibition Era.
"One of the things people ask me the most is where do I get my ideas," Johnson said. "I like to take events and what's going on in history and go off of that."
She currently writes full-time six days a week, although her days often include other related tasks such as doing research and promotional commitments. Her promotional efforts include serving as a guest blogger on four different blog sites in August.
"A lot of promotions is done online through social media now," Johnson said. "A lot of time is spent on research as well. It's amazing how every little thing has to be checked."
In addition to working with her publisher on each novel, Johnson also has two critique partners who she met through a Romance Writers of America conference. One lives in Petoskey and the other in Charlevoix. Since all three live in Northern Michigan, they decided to help each other out by reading and critiquing each other's work. Johnson said the practice has resulted in a great partnership. The other two writers also have been published.
The Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical imprint also caters to readers of Christian romances. Faith plays a key element both in Johnson's book and in her life.
Her third novel is called "All Roads Lead Home" and is currently in production. The heroine in the story heads to Montana where she hopes to save an orphan child who she knows. Johnson is just starting work on her fourth book.
Johnson hold a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in library studies, both from the University of Michigan. She has been a librarian in Alpena since 1992 when she joined Northland Library Cooperative. Though she writes full-time now, she also continues her work with Northland on a part-time basis.
"The Matrimony Plan" is available locally at Olivet, Walmart and Kmart and on online at www.eharlequin.com as well as other major online book sellers.The price is $5.75.