Tick-tock Time Traveler makes way to local bookstores

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Karla Johnson talks about her recently published book, she gets a little emotional.

She apologizes for the tears. She need not.

Johnson’s passion is not so much for the book she has penned as it is for Jesus and what He has planned for the next part of her life.

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Johnson’s first book – actually, the first in what will be a series – is titled “Tales of the Tick-Tock Time Traveler: St. Nicholas’s Secret.”

The book is a rather unique combination story. It’s a Christmas story that is told through the eyes of young time traveler, Stephen Treadwell, and St. Nicholas, the 3rd century bishop who is the basis of the modern-day Santa Claus.

“The purpose of ‘St. Nicholas’s Secret’ is to tell the story of the real meaning of Christmas,” Johnson said. “I wanted to get the real message of Christmas out there. That’s my passion.”

The idea for the story came to Johnson several years ago as she was listening to a news report.

“It was Christmastime and the news reported that, in a rush for sales items, several people had been trampled in a shopping mall,” she said. “The question popped into my mind as to what the original St. Nicholas would think if he saw what Americans have done with his image and reputation. That’s when the story for ‘St. Nicholas’s Secret’ began to formulate in my mind.”

Johnson is a board certified English teacher at Charles Henderson High School. She has taught high school and middle school for 20 years, has a master’s degree in English education and specializes in reading. However, she did not feel confident in her ability to write a book for children.

“I knew how to format a five paragraph essay but there’s just so much you need to know and have to know to be an effective and marketable writer of children’s books,” she said. “So, I enrolled in the Jerry. B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and learned the writing skills that I felt I needed to write a book for children.”

Johnson completed a two-year apprenticeship with the writer’s guild before beginning the process.

“I met a publisher at a writing conference in California and sent my work to him but I never heard back,” she said. “But about six months later, I was contacted by another publisher who was interested in my work.”

After the first review of her book about the young time traveler, Johnson said she felt as though she had been stabbed in the heart.

“I was told that the story needed heavy editing,” she said, with a sigh. “And that was not the first cut down. The next draft I sent was edited by a different editor who wanted to change half of the story. Some of the changes I agreed with. Some I didn’t.”

The publishing process was an enlightening and learning experience for Johnson.

“I learned that a writer has to listen to the professionals while, at the same time, fighting for the things you believe are important,” she said.

“A book is actually a duet between the author and the publisher. That’s the way it works in order to produce a quality product.”

When Johnson received a sample copy of “St. Nicholas’s Secret” it was better than she had envisioned.

“The illustrator, Nathan Wiedemer, had done a beautiful job and I was just very pleased,” she said. “It was a wonderfully done book.”

The books were scheduled to arrive in November but were misplaced during shipping and didn’t arrive until Dec. 4.

“Of course, having a Christmas theme, it’s a seasonal book so we have a short time to sell the books this year,” Johnson said. “But, I’m very excited that my publisher, Higher Life Development Services, plans for the Tales of the Tick-Tock Time Traveler to be a series. The next book planned is for St. Patrick’s Day. That’s very exciting.”

Each of Johnson’s “time traveler” books will be have a message of significance to children of all ages.

“In ‘St. Nicholas’s Secret,’ Stephen Treadwell has a life-changing encounter with the Bishop of Myra, the man we now know as Santa Claus,” Johnson said.

“It’s the kind of book that will make adults and children focus on what Christmas should be. Our society has gotten so concerned with gifts and being politically correct that we’ve forgotten the simple reason that most of us celebrate Christmas anyway.”

Johnson’s desire is that her books will enable children and adults to see the real meaning behind the things people do and things people celebrate.

“I want to positively impact families and the next generation,” she said.

“I want to carry a message with meaning. We all have a choice. We can make the world a better place or a worse place.

“I believe that God put me here to do this – to write – for the next part of my life. I am so grateful for the support and encouragement of my family. And I know for certain that this writing was done with ‘touch of the Master’s hand.’ There’s a story of an old violin that was only made beautiful when played by a master’s hand. Without the Master’s touch, I could have done nothing.”