Coffee with Mary Pat Johns

It’s a chilly morning here in Michigan, so let’s take a little break with our favorite warm beverage, sit down with the authors we love, and get to know them better.

Today, I have Mary Pat Johns visiting to talk about about her new book, Countin’ on Jesse, what inspired the story as well as any advice she might have for aspiring writers.


Welcome to Back Porch Reads! Thank you for joining me, Mary. It is so lovely to chat with you. 

Tell us a bit about Countin’ on Jesse. What was the inspiration for the story?

My son deployed to Afghanistan several years ago. When he returned, the adjustment back into civilian life was difficult. I felt like God had given me the mission of telling others through story how people move on after experiencing traumatic events.  

 Having several loved ones who have served our country, I have seen the struggle first hand. It is heart breaking to witness their daily pain. Thank you for shining a light on this.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

In Countin’ On Jesse, the main character is a young vet who has an anger problem exacerbated by PTSD. It affects his relationships and future career. Through the course of the story, he gets past pride to accept help.  

 That is the hardest part, isn’t it?

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

Humor often emerges in my writing as a way of making serious subjects more palatable. I don’t make fun of sensitive issues, but my characters’ actions and reactions help lighten things up.

Well, it does say that laughter works like a good medicine. 

I see you have been writing for quite a while, what advice would you give a new writer or someone just starting out?

I would tell them to settle in because learning to write well enough to be considered a professional takes years of practice. People are surprised and appalled when I say it took me 6-7 years to write my first novel. Actually, I was writing book 2 of the series as well, but that’s the average amount of time it takes for most writers to learn the craft and navigate the publishing world.

I agree completely. As the writing industry evolves, our knowledge must too. 

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share?

Currently, I’m working on a novella that goes between books 2 & 3 of my series. No title yet, so I call it 2.5. The first draft was about twelve thousand words too short, so I’m adding depth, layers, and plot twists to the story. It’s my favorite part of writing.  In any given scene, I always ask, “What’s the worst that can happen here?” Then I try to make that happen. 2.5 is a novella because two minor characters from books 1 & 2 got rather insistent about having their own story.   

It sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy in the months ahead.

Thank you again, Mary, for joining me today. I hope this tour blesses you. I look forward to seeing more from you. 


      Readers, please be sure to keep reading and enter the giveaway. 

      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.


      Click here to get your copy!


      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.

      Blog Stops

      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.


      1. marypatjohns27facf9242

        Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview. Your questions were fun to answer.

        • MelissaWardwell

          Thank you for doing the interview. I’m glad you liked them.

      2. bn100


        • Mary Pat Johns

          I hope so. Lots of layers in this one but plenty of fun too!

      3. debbiejpruss

        Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

        • Mary Pat Johns

          Did you win a drawing for my book recently?

      4. sidlaw0425

        This looks like a fun book to read. Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

        • marypatjohns27facf9242

          My pleasure. It was a fun book to write, once I figured out how to plot it.