Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, February 15, 2008

Millions of Stories to Tell

I love the Internet! It's kind of like being able to stroll through the whole world. You never know what you might discover on a any given day. My very favorite part, however, is the people I meet when I'm out wandering around. This week I got to know Doug Johnston, the new director of public relations at Cedar Fort. You know how there are some people you like instantly? Well, Doug is one of those kind of guys. After maybe two e-mails I asked if he'd guest blog here someday. Turns out Someday isn't on Doug's calendar with Tuesday and Thursday and the rest. So here he is Friday. Today. And I'm happy as can be about it! Welcome Doug!

Kerry Blair asked me to do a guest editorial and I am thrilled.

My name is Doug Johnston. I would say that the first picture is when I had hair, but then you would know I am bald. I like the second one better, anyway. It is after I shaved off my beard.
I have worn many hats, and done many things in life. I am the father of five children, ages 21, 19, 17, 15 and 8. I am also a stepfather to two wonderful daughters and four charming grandbabies.

I have been a storyteller my whole life, but my love for writing started when I was a senior in high school. I was sitting in English class, and the teacher walked up to me and in front of the entire class said, “You are close to failing my class and you will not be participating in the track meet tomorrow unless you complete this extra credit assignment.” She then placed it on my desk and walked away.

That night, I spent all of 30 minutes writing an essay. I didn’t know it then, but I had written for an essay contest. I passed the class, ran in the track meet, and a couple of weeks later found out I had won a scholarship from the essay. (What I didn’t know at the time was that I had a teacher who had taken my essay, typed it and turned it in for me.) When I asked her why, she told me, “You have a talent for writing.”

I have been writing ever since.

I had a school guidance counselor that same year, that when I told him I wanted to be a sports reporter, told me to find something else to shoot for. We both laugh at that now. I have been told that I cannot do something many times in my life, and I do my best to prove whoever said it wrong. I owned two weekly newspapers for many years (and covered many sporting events) and though it was difficult work, it forced me to write on a weekly basis. I received several awards for my columns because I was honest and personal.

As I read LDS novels, I learn about the authors’ personal thoughts and ideas. I know many of these authors already, and now that I am in charge of the Public Relations at Cedar Fort, I'll have the privilege of becoming acquainted with many more. I have read back though most of the blogs on this site and I am amazed at how well-written they are. I can see that all of the bloggers are very talented and dedicated. EDITORIAL NOTE: He left out thrifty, brave, loyal, and kind, but at least you know the real reason I invited him here! (Kidding, Doug! I just couldn't resist.)

People have asked me many times how I wrote a column every week for more than nine years. The answer is: I pushed my fingers down on the keyboard one letter at a time! I call it my weekly journal. My children and grandchildren will know a great deal about my life and their childhood because of those columns. They'll be able to read the good things and the bad things, the happy times, and the sad times. My life has been like a good novel. It has had its ups and downs, just like a roller coaster. It has made me laugh and cry. Some people can read me. Some people can understand me. Some don’t want to. Once again, like a novel, once they pick up the story of my life, what are they going to learn from it? Will they only see the cover? Read the first page? Enjoy the whole book?

I never got rich writing columns, and most of us won’t get rich writing books. In my short life I have been an actor, a director, a producer, a publicist, a newspaper publisher, a columnist, a songwriter, and now I am in Public Relations. (I also made diapers for 13 years when I was young, but that is a story for another time.) If I could give each of you any advice, it would be to write every day -- if only for a few minutes. Write your thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

There are millions of stories to tell, and if you don’t tell them, who will?
See? I told you he's terrific! He's already promised to come back in a few months so we'll be among the first to hear about the fruition of a project he has in the works. In the meantime, you can "talk" to Doug yourself at
Speaking of projects-in-the-works (this is a thinly-veiled segue) I've been working on something new in anticipation of my "book of letters to the world" that is coming next month. I would very much appreciate critique from people I know and love (you) before the world at large beats a path to my door. (As if.) My endeavor is now up HERE.) Ignore the poem and the essay, but be sure you scroll down far enough to see the pictures of my pit bull!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.
THANK YOU, DOUG! Keep us posted on the further adventures of a born storyteller!


At 2/15/2008 11:17 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Doug, thanks for the great blog! Your line about writing a column every week by pushing your fingers down on the keyboard one letter at a time is very inspiring to me. I'm going to remember that the next time I get stumped on my work-in-progress (which will probably happen today). One letter at a time will equal a novel, eventually!

At 2/15/2008 1:31 PM, Blogger Tamra Norton said...

Hey Doug--great blog! And I'm one of the lucky CFI authors who has had the good fortune to work with Doug. He's fun, funny, and is very good at what he does. This combination is priceless!

I look forward to reading more from you, Doug (and for some reason, I feel the urge to come up with a nickname for you--Doogie? The Dougster? Dougmeister? Okay, I'll stop...maybe. :)

At 2/15/2008 5:41 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

Tamra, I recently read your new children's book, Make Me a Home. I was really impressed. CF sent it to me though I don't review children's books, but I'm glad I got to read it. My son-in-law served two deployments in Iraq and I know how hard that was for our family and my oldest grandaughter who will be eight in a few weeks is going through a hard time because her best friend is a foster child who is being sent to live with her grandparents in another state next week. I hope neither you nor your publisher will mind if I give the book to my granddaughter to either keep or pass on to her friend.

I guess that's all off the subject. I enjoyed your blog, Doug, and as I've already told you, I'm looking forward to working with you and getting to know you better.

At 2/15/2008 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Tamra, I nominated your book for a 2008 Whitney.

At 2/15/2008 9:47 PM, Blogger Tamra Norton said...

Jennie--Wow, I'm honored! And I would love for you to give the copy to your granddaughter. The gal who sent the book to you hadn't realized that I'd already sent it to Michele to review for Meridian. So all's well that ends well! :)

At 2/15/2008 10:01 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...


Okay now we really need to hear the diaper story. Great blog. Funny how motivated we can get by someone telling us we can't do something.

And Kerry, I checked out your blog a couple of days ago and it is now a staple. I am so looking forward to your book.

At 2/15/2008 11:32 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

Doug is great. Thanks for being so on top of things, Doug. I feel like I really know what's going on with my book. You're doing a great job at CFI.

At 2/17/2008 11:58 AM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

Kerry, I love the site "here" leads to. I predict your book is going to be a super bestseller.

At 2/17/2008 11:45 PM, Blogger Christine Thackeray said...

Wow, it was a surprise to find Doug here. I recent met him and is was fun to see a face (sort of) to go with the fun emails.



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