Friday, March 31, we're packing our bags, putting on our red shoes, and taking to the back roads of Texas. Some of the fun things we'll see, besides wide open spaces and lots of bluebonnets and cows, are three really quaint Texas towns. We'll stop in Hico, Hamilton, and Pottsville. We'll meet a spunky Texas gal who is reinventing herself in a big way.
Since the release of my new humorous Mt. Hope Southern Adventures series, I thought you'd enjoy meeting a real adventurer. Someone who dared to dream. Someone who donned a different pair of shoes and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
I've known retired Air Force Colonel Steve Johnson for years. His adventurous spirit has taken him all over the world. Successful in everything he tries, Steve can now add successfully hiking the difficult Appalachian Trial to his resume. Steve has authored a book (I'll give you the details at the end of our interview). Today, we're talking about the importance of choosing the right shoe for your journey. Come along with this funny guy. Who knows, you may even be encouraged to walk toward your dreams.
LG: Glad to have you with us, Steve. You recently completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. That’s quite an achievement. How many miles was that?
Fob: 2189.1 miles…through 14 states.
LG: I know you spent a lot of time deciding on hiking gear and clothes. But, as you might expect, I’m especially interested in your WALKING SHOES.
Fob: We call them hiking shoes.
LG: What’s the difference?
Fob: Well, most 2-year-olds can walk. But to hike this trail, you need to be crazy.
LG: Explains a lot about you. How important is having the right shoe?
Fob: It’s critical. You’ve heard the expression, “where the rubber meets the road”. Well, on the AT, the “rubber meets the trail” with each of the roughly 5 million steps you take. You want a shoe that is comfortable and keeps everything in place.
LG: Like a bra?
Fob: Let’s not go there.
LG: So did you have any foot problems?
Fob: Plenty. My feet suffered from blisters, bruises, blisters on bruises, intense pain, and numbness. In fact, it’s been 5 months since I finished the trail, and I still can’t feel the 10% of my feet that run along my toes. But I shouldn’t complain. Some hikers had it much worse.
LG: How so?
Fob: I know of several who quit the trail due to foot issues. The constant pounding had reduced their feet to hamburger meat. In some cases, they hiked too many miles too soon. Some chose the wrong…what do you call them...“walking shoes”. And then there was the hiker with the trail name Two Soles.
LG: Two souls? Was he possessed?
Fob: No, two soles. After several days of intense foot pain, he got off the trail and went to see the shoe and foot guy at an outfitter. The foot guy checked his sorry looking feet and said he needed a new pair of insoles. Two Soles agreed, but after hiking in them the next day, he was in even more pain. His buddy took a closer look and discovered he had put the new insoles on top of the old ones…and the combined pair was restricting movement and crushing his feet. He didn’t quit the trail, but he did earn the trail name Two Soles.
LG: Who had the most unusual shoes or feet?
Fob: I know of a few hikers who hiked almost the entire trail in their bare feet … really crazy. I also saw hikers in boots, trail runners, Chacos, and Five Finger toe shoes. And then there was ET.
LG: ET? You hiked with an extra-terrestrial?
Fob: Not exactly. You won’t meet him till my second book, but ET and I met and hiked together in Pennsylvania. Super nice guy and a FAST hiker.
LG: So was that due to his shoes?
Fob: No, he has an extra toe!
LG: No way!
Fob: Yes, way. He was born with 11 toes. Thus, his trail name…ET…for Extra Toe. He let me take a picture of them. They were cool in a way, but a bit creepy. Like when your mom gets her first tattoo.
LG: And the extra toe gave him an advantage over you?
Fob: It couldn’t have been that he was half my age, two-thirds my weight, and was in better condition. So it must have been the extra toe.
LG: Makes sense. I look forward to reading about your AT journey in your upcoming book. Thanks for joining me today.
Fob: Thanks, Lynne. Some day we should co-write a book and send your heroine on a long hike in her red, high-heeled shoes.
LG: I’m not sure she could do that.
Fob: She could if you write her in a couple extra toes!
AUTHOR STEVE JOHNSON
After turning 50, Steve Johnson decided to embark on an incredible, life-changing adventure. Leaving family and friends behind, he chose to thru-hike the rugged 2189.1-mile Appalachian Trail. In this first of two volumes, Steve, "Sir Fob W. Pot," invites readers to lace up their hiking boots and join him on the journey of a lifetime, from Georgia to Maine, traveling five million steps across fourteen states. Filled with belly-aching laughs, heart-wrenching struggles, practical life lessons, and AT hiking strategies, Fob's hike is a compelling story about humanity and wilderness survival.
What kind of shoes do you need to take that first step toward your dream?
Spring (all three days of it) in Texas is a beautiful thing. Bluebonnets, Indian paint, and oak pollen abound. The weather goes from chilly to hot almost over night. So we, here in Texas, have learned to grab these few days of perfection with gusto.
Spring reminds us that no matter how long, or how difficult our winter has been, there is the hope of starting over. Of taking a new path.
Wishing you strength and endurance and hope for your journey.
For all of you who came to my first ever FACEBOOK LIVE broadcast ... thank you so much. If you missed it and all the fun stuff we talked about, I've put the video below.
Let me tell you, technology is not easy for me. Any time I conquer another new platform, I want to stand up and shout...but my attempts never goes without a glitch. I had things all set up to broadcast with my phone and then one little question on the process held me up. So I grabbed my computer and came to my own party two minutes late. Better late than never. Grateful the computer setup worked.
We're so excited to bring this fun new series to you, dear readers. I'm not drawing the winners of the secret code access to my stage performance until Sunday night. Jump in and buy the book, make sure you're on my newsletter, and join the fun.
Have you experimented with the new FACEBOOK LIVE feature? I've watched several people use it, but I've never had the courage to try it myself.
This Thursday night (7pm CST) I'll be on my personal Facebook profile page here.
Why risky humiliating myself in a live broadcast?
I'm telling you the news early, dear blog followers. We're introducing a laugh-out-loud contemporary women's fiction/romance series. But you're a time travel/sci-fi/adventure writer, right? I know. But originally, I started out in humor.
This series is a return to my small town roots. You'll meet some of the folks I grew up with (fictionalized of course) and others I've met in some of my stays in small towns.
Early readers are calling Mt. Hope a place of hope and second chances. Others are saying it is a laugh-out-loud look into a close knit community.
I hope you'll visit Mt. Hope and escape your troubles for a few hours.
Here's a peek at WALKING SHOES, the first book in the series:
Sooner or later everyone encounters a fork in the road. When Leona Harper crashes into tragedy, the shocked pastor’s wife is forced to summon her estranged children home. But parenting young adults in a nosy, small southern town soon proves more difficult than reinventing herself. Determined to give her broken family a shot at a second chance, Leona begins to put one foot in front of the other.
Reconciliation and healing won’t come easy in this zany, trouble-filled, walk-through-grief adventure.
Tear-jerking candor. Fast-paced humor. Hope in the darkness.
This holiday story of tear-jerking candor and fast-paced humor offers hope in the darkness.
Fans of Jan Karon, Ann B. Ross, and Philip Gulley will enjoy exploring the dusty town of Mt. Hope. Escape into this delicious southern adventure.
Everyone deserves a place of hope and second chances.
In my make-believe world I’m like my characters. Outspoken, brave, and adventuresome. In real life I’m extremely cautious. Risk adverse. Chicken.
How can a scaredy cat like me write romantic adventure? While all the twists and turns of a story are not known to me before I start, I’m not afraid to take risks because I know I can control the outcome.
I've learned the hard way that it's the blind corners and hairpin turns of real life that are not so easily manipulated.
Living fearlessly terrifies me.
And yet, that is exactly what God asked me to do this year. He asked me to discard my false sense of self-control and step out in faith.
Here’s how my year of living fearlessly looked:
Release of Book #2 in The Carthage Chronicles series. They say your second book is exceptionally difficult to write and it was. I bit my nails waiting on the reviews to come in.
Next we sold our house and moved to a smaller house in a different town leaving behind friends we'd known for 15 years.
I traveled more. Spoke more. Laughed more. And met some amazing people. Yes, that is me gawking at Francine Rivers...the woman whose work inspired me to write.
I've had two new grands for a total of THREE.
Wrote the FINAL page of THE CARTHAGE CHRONICLES series and released the finished story into the world in September.
I've made new friends. Learned to navigate city traffic. Found wonderful little places to eat. Spent more time with family. And launched myself wholeheartedly into a new writing project. I can't wait to curl your hair with this totally crazy new adventure. Here's a clue:
Can you guess at the story?
My gracious thanks to all of you who cheered me on. Who prayed for me. Who loved me … even when I faltered.
As this year comes to a close, I hope you'll join me in waiting upon the Lord's direction with great anticipation.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
I love the change in the seasons. Fall is my favorite time of year. I drag out the crock pot and purchase the ingredients for chili. I call a chimney sweep and have the fireplace checked. I pull out wrinkled sweaters in hopes it will one day cool off enough here in Texas to wear them.
I can't wait for the first cold snap.
As much as I like the change in seasons, I've discovered that life changes don't come easy for me. Especially when the change involves anything technical. But I've come to embrace the fact that change can be good.
Change forces us to look at the world differently. Change presents new challenges. New hills to climb. New things to learn. Change keeps us looking at the world in wonder.
It's time for me to make some changes. I've finished up my Roman time travel series (The Carthage Chronicles) and have jumped head-first into an exciting new series. (Can't share just yet but hope to soon.) I've also totally reworked my website. Taking on these two changes at once may not have been the smartest thing I've ever done, but the challenge has invigorated me.
I invite you to look over my website. Check out some of the new features and info I've added for you. And could you do this "change-challenged" girl one more favor? If you discover a link that doesn't work, let me know.
I'd love to hear any tips you have about handling change.
It’s release day for the FINAL book in the series that has swept us away on a grand adventure. I’m so grateful for the readers that have joined us on this journey and look forward to hearing from new readers who don’t like to start a series until it is complete.
It’s bittersweet for me to say goodbye to these characters. I celebrate the place they will forever hold in my heart and hopefully yours.
Thank you, dear readers, for all the kind words you've sent me. Word of mouth is still the best way to get a story out there. Invite your friends to join us.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of talking story with the wonderful women of Oliver Creek Church in Arlington, Tennessee.
At the end of our time together, one of the women presented me with this beautiful necklace and earring set. I was touched by her generosity. I read her name tag and said, “Thank you so much, Marlene.”
It wasn’t until later that I learned this sweet woman had stayed up until midnight the night before our retreat to make me this gift. Even more astounding, she’d had a mild stroke on Thursday and still wasn’t feeling well. But she’d committed to having this gift ready and was determined to follow through with her promise.
I should have gone back and thanked her again before she left.
But I didn’t.
To my shame, I got busy signing books and talking to others and just let her slip out quietly. I’ll write her a thank you note when I get home, I thought.
And I did.
First thing Monday morning. I even dropped it in the mail that very day.
On Tuesday she had a major stroke. As of now, she’s unresponsive. She may never see my note of gratitude.
How I wish I would have taken the time to hug her.
If there’s someone you need to thank, do it today.