No. 2 on David Higgerson’s holiday reading list: Gathering String

British journalist David Higgerson has dished out some more praise for Mimi Johnson‘s Gathering String.

Higgerson, who praised Gathering String early in 2013, featured it second in his post of 13 books by journalists to get you through Christmas:

This was the book which led to me starting 2013 with bags under my eyes.

In his January post, Higgerson said he was sleep-deprived after late night’s reading the novel:

You know when you think you don’t have time to read, then start reading a book when you get chance and then everything else that can be put to one side tends to go that way? This is one of those books.

Gathering String ‘still trails around in my head’

Two more 5-star Amazon reviews sing the praises of Mimi Johnson’s Gathering String:

  • Gin Collins says the “excellent story” is a “non-political political thriller with a wonderful love story.”
  • Dan Conover says he read the novel more than a year ago “and it still trails around in my head like the last whiff of smoke from the bonfire of my own newspaper career.” The book “is the only novel about newspaper people I’ve ever read that communicates the soul-deep, convoluted mess that old school journalists loved and hated about that lifestyle,” Conover wrote. “Johnson captures that experience in honest, easy prose that’s as beautiful and unpretentious as the Iowa landscape she so clearly loves. This is an easy book to recommend, and not just to journalists.”

That makes 29 5-star reviews (and seven 4-star reviews) out of 37 total Amazon reviews. In case you’re not finished with your Christmas shopping …

‘Thin Blue Smoke’ author calls Gathering String ‘masterfully constructed’

Mimi Johnson’s Gathering String is “an exceptionally well plotted and masterfully constructed story of political and journalistic intrigue,” wrote Doug Worgul, author of Thin Blue Smoke, in an Amazon review.

“With cinematic prose and an insider’s knowledge of journalism, Johnson paints an extraordinarily detailed and realistic picture of the tensions and conflicts inherent in relationships between those who seek to discover the truth and those who would keep it hidden,” Worgul wrote. “However, there are no angels or demons in Johnson’s story. Those who would reveal the truth are not always honorably motivated, and those who seek to suppress it are not always sinister.”

Worgul’s debut novel, like Johnson’s, is averaging nearly five stars in Amazon reviews.

Fans of Gathering String are also sharing the cover of Mimi Johnson’s novel on Pinterest.

Tonya Gentry, Joelle Rider, Trixie Shelfbuzz, Kindle Users Forum and E. Vee Myrberg have pinned the book on their pinboards.

Myrberg, who pinned the book last year during the presidential campaign, wrote:

The author grew up in Southwest Iowa. Her book is quite timely – a thriller about presidential politics and the challenges facing the press in these days of cell phones, Twitter, etc. It is a good read for anyone but readers from Southwest Iowa will also get a kick out of some “Easter


Gathering String: a tale of extraordinary courage

In the latest Amazon review of Gathering String, Rick Thomason praises Mimi Johnson’s debut novel as “a tale of extraordinary personal courage; the kind that wrenches one’s gut and tests one’s moral and professional fiber.”

The review is the 26th five-star review for Gathering String, out of 33 total reviews.

Thomason continues in his praise:

The author weaves in the uncertainty and turmoil of today’s business of journalism to add incredible authenticity to a ripped-from-the-headlines story of tainted power – it is about politics, after all.

Grab a copy of “Gathering String,” kick back, and prepare to love and hate the genuine characters of Mimi Johnson’s first (but I hope not last) captivating novel.

The book is available for Kindle ($2.99) and in paperback ($13.14).

‘Refreshingly unpredictable’: new 5-star reviews for Gathering String

In the latest 5-star Amazon review of Gathering String, Mark Loundy (who read the Kindle version on his iPhone) calls the novel “refreshingly unpredictable”:

Classic anti-hero, surprise villain, and a we know whodunit but how are they going to prove it plot. Lots of fun.




In another recent 5-star reviewRobert Apperson, who read the paperback edition, says:

I live in SW Iowa so locations were real to me. very good reading, just hope there in a followup book or two.

Yes, Mimi Johnson is working on a sequel. No projected publication date yet.

My biggest challenge in writing ‘Gathering String’: Where to end it?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions in the year since Gathering String was published. I was prepared for some of them:

  • Is your husband Jack or Sam? (Neither and both.)
  • How long did it take to write? (Too long.)
  • Do reporters really use such foul language? (F**k yes.)

Some caught me off guard:

  • How do you keep from going too far when writing a sex scene? (By going too far and then deleting most of it.)
  • What would your mother say about this? (You finally finished something.)
  • We hated all your characters. Why didn’t you make them more likeable? (Ouch!)

But there was only one question I had a hard time answering:

Gathering String Epilogue

The following April, two related items ran on the same day on Politifix’s “Informed Sources” gossip blog. The first came under the subhead Wow, did you see …”:

Jack Westphal, running through D.C.s Reagan National Thursday afternoon? Yes, it was the hunky Iowan, and just about every head turned to watch his mad dash to the gate.

Its been a rough seven months for the legendary Waterphal writing team. By all accounts Westphal, who continues to publish his small newspaper and website, has struggled to weather a fair amount of outraged public opinion over his outing the dirty secrets of his former-brother-figure (and recently indicted former Republican nominee) Swan August Erickson. Opinion on Westphals whistle-blowing is mixed, especially in his own hometown where feelings run high, particularly since the Governors brother Peter committed suicide last September. Continue reading

Gathering String: responsible for sleep deprivation

British journalist David Higgerson has started a new series, Books by Journalists, on his blog. The first book he features is Mimi Johnson’s Gathering String:

The dark bags under my eyes which several colleagues remarked on last week have nothing to do with a no-excess-spared Christmas, or chasing after an 18-month-old who has discovered that most wrapped boxes contain a present for her for a fortnight. Or, indeed, long miles travelling to relatives while my wife battled through a stomach bug.

No, those bags are entirely due to the book on the right here. You know when you think you don’t have time to read, then start reading a book when you get chance and then everything else that can be put to one side tends to go that way? This is one of those books.

Continue reading

Gathering String: ‘authentic voices,’ ‘top-notch’

Gathering String is a “political intrigue” with “believable characters and … authentic voices,” says one of two recent reviews on Amazon.

“I highly recommend this first novel and look forward to more pleasing diversions from Mimi Johnson,” wrote “Angela_says” in a 5-star review.

Chris Hubbs mentions Gathering String as one of his five favorite books of 2012 (out of 59 he read this year):

A top-notch suspense/mystery novel whose author is a lovely lady I met once at a tweetup in Cedar Rapids.

Hubbs gave Gathering String 5 stars in a Good Reads review last spring.

Another 5-star review by “Mrs. Cooper” continues the praise:

I enjoyed this story from beginning to end, even during an election year!

Gathering String also continues to get praise on Twitter:


Finally getting into @mimijohnson‘s Gathering String. Only 30 pages in. Already hooked!

— Stacey Viera (@staceyviera) December 24, 2012


At the point in @mimijohnson‘s Gathering String that I’m OK w/my kid destroying my house so long as I can get through just one more chapter.

— Stacey Viera (@staceyviera) December 29, 2012


@mimijohnson Got your book for Xmas!Hooray!!

— Emily Johnson (@johnsonemilyp) December 27, 2012


Finished “Gathering String” by @mimijohnson last night. Wow. Every journalist should read it

— Viktoria Sundqvist (@vsundqvist) December 22, 2012

The novel was published as an ebook on March 18 and had more than 10,000 downloads in 2012. The electronic version is sold through the Kindle Store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. You can read it on the Kindle app for tablets, smartphones and computers. The paperback edition came out Aug. 8.

Mimi Johnson promoted the book in bookstore, library and book club appearances in Iowa and Ohio in October.

The book has been rated more than 50 times on Amazon and Good Reads. Both places, the most frequent rating is 5 stars (on a 5-star scale). The overall rating is 4.7 on Amazon and 4.15 on Good Reads.


More 5-star reviews for Gathering String

Gathering String continues to generate strong reviews on Amazon.

Peanut” gave a 5-star review:

The banter between the characters was believable and entertaining. And their flaws were human and endearing. The story had enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

Gulllake” provided another 5-star review:

Right from the start you are caught up in the characters!

That’s 24 total Amazon reviews of Gathering String (two reviews are repeated on the print and Kindle listings), with 17 giving the novel 5 stars and six awarding 4 stars. You can read the Kindle edition on an iPad, phone, computer or other device using the Kindle app.

If you’d like to schedule a visit to a bookstore, library or book club in the Washington area, you may contact the author at mimi (dot) johnson (at) me (dot) com.