Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Author Interview: Countin’ On Jesse by Mary Pat Johns

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 It was also a finalist in the Crown and the Maggie contests for unpublished authors.

Author Interview with Mary Mary

Q: How long did it take you to write this novel?

Mary: The first draft to publication was seven years. The first draft took about three months; the rest of the time was spent honing my fiction writing skills and learning how the industry works. People are usually surprised and appalled at how long it took, but that amount of time is average for a new writer.

Q:  Do any of the novel’s characters hold a special place in your heart?

Mary: Jesse, the hero, is a composite of the favorite men in my life. He reminds my of my daddy, my husband, my son, and my son-in-law. Bossy and intense, but also protective and tender. Also like the men in my life, Jesse has good communication skills and knows how to make things happen.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

Mary: Well, first of all, I hope the readers love the story so much, they’re sorry to see it end and can’t wait for the next book in the series! On a more serious note, I want readers to know that Christians are still flawed humans who make plenty of mistakes And sometimes, Christians have this “just Jesus and me” mentality and don’t think they need help from others—but there’s nothing scriptural about that idea. Part of Jesse’s character arc is the realization he needs professional counseling.

Q: In what setting do you enjoy writing the most?  

Mary: My office is on the second floor of our home. Sunshine creates a light, bright atmosphere, and it has a glass door that leads to a balcony. There’s a large oak tree outside my window and my husband’s woodworking shop is clearly in view. My daughter gave me a set of chimes that sing when the wind blows. It’s here I get the most work done because it has all the sights and sounds of home.

Q: What are you reading now?

Mary: Reading is my favorite hobby. Rarely ever do I finish a day without reading a portion of whatever novel I’m reading. I just finished Pepper Basham’s Mistletoe Countess. What a marvelous celebration of married love! I absolutely loved it and am currently reading the second book, The Cairo Curse. To all who love romance, the Freddie and Grace Mystery series is one of the best. Basham writes authentic stories from the heart.

Q:  How many bookshelves are in your home?

Mary: I only have three bookshelves, though I could fill up a library with all the books I’ve read. I just don’t keep them—unless you count ebooks. I’m always in the “dangerously low on storage space” with Kindle. For hard copies, one bookshelf is reserved for my writing craft books because I prefer hard copies I can mark up and go back to. My other bookshelves hold some longtime favorites, years of journals, and Bible study literature.

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.

Link for giveaway:


  1. Thank you for sharing your interview, bio and the book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading Countin’ On Jesse

  2. This was such a fun interview to write. Thanks for asking questions that let me be real.

  3. Great interview. This looks like a great read.