Progress!

        by Linda O. Johnston

Climbing Books

 

What is it like to make progress in your life and in your writing? 

It’s wonderful!

When I was younger, making progress often consisted of reviewing a real estate contract for my law career.  And negotiating it. And eventually getting it to the point that the parties were willing to execute it.

Or, it could be helping one of our sons with homework or choosing the next school he’d be attending and working on the details to get him there.

Or, always, getting one of our Cavalier pups to obey our commands. Of course, we always obey theirs.

Pencil 2

And of course progress included writing a new novel or proposal, and getting it accepted by a publisher, then finishing it, and finishing it well.

At the moment, progress is still getting both writing and editing accomplished, plus promotion, too.

I’m currently under contract for four Harlequin Romantic Suspense books.  So what is my progress there?  WDeadlineell, I’ve finished manuscripts for the first two.  I’ve also completed initial edits for the first one after I received changes and questions from the editor, and I sent it back this week–and already received the final version back to review.  I need to make more progress there! With the second, I’ll review the completed manuscript once more and send it off next week before the deadline.

I’ve just begun working on the third, and face a tight deadline that I intend to meet.

So, happily, I’m making progress, even considering all the time I have and don’t have to write. I’ve been busy promoting the last mystery I was under contract for, plus I’ve been participating in a lot of events. For example, I’ll be at the California Crime Writers Conference next weekend, where I’ll be on a panel about having a long-time career.

Yes, I’ve had a lot of progress points in my career, which I’m always happy about.

So what is progress in your life? In your writing and/or reading?

Racing 2

Writing Isn’t Necessarily For The Shy

by Linda O. Johnston       

Shy I was a shy kid. 

I stumbled when teachers called on me in classrooms from elementary school through high school, and seldom raised my hand to provide an answer.  I could, however, be someone else on stage and so I managed to do okay acting in a play.

When I was about to graduate from high school, one of my English teachers called me into her office and warned me I would never be successful, since I couldn’t talk in class.

Even so, I did okay in undergraduate school.  But when I went to law school and had to participate in moot court, I was advised to join Toastmasters. Microphones

That worked–or at least well enough so I had no problem passing even my litigation-oriented classes, even though I intended to become a transactional attorney.

And all this time, I had started my writing and kept on going.

MicrophoneFlash forward quite a few years.  I eventually started having novels published.  I loved it!  But I also learned that part of attempting to be successful was that you had to get out there and publicize your books.  And so, I started volunteering for panels first, then gave talks on my own.  Somehow, I managed to get through them.

And now?  Well, now I’m fine getting up in front of a group and talking, particularly about my writing and the genres I write in.  Which is fortunate.  Last weekend, I attended California Dreamin’, a local romance writers’ conference held every two years.  I had already registered and planned to attend.

But then, on Thursday, I received an email.  Could I please give a talk on my own on Saturday?  A person who’d planned to attend and provide a talk on cozy mysteries and romance novels was unfortunately ill, and they needed me to substitute for her.

Two days to prepare for a one-hour speech.  Could I get it prepared?  Could I actually present it in front of a group? 

Friendly MicYes!  In fact, I’d started doing talks and panels long enough ago now that I just had to do a search on my computer and find notes for a talk I’d given a few years ago that I updated.

I think my talk went over well.  I enjoyed giving it, and my audience seemed engaged and asked good, pertinent questions–which I could answer without referring to my notes the way I needed to when I started out.

So am I shy any more?  I don’t think so, at least not externally.  And I have learned my lesson.  If you’re going to be a writer, it definitely helps to deal with any shyness you have and, preferably, get over it.

How shy are you?Bow

Keep Going by Linda O. Johnston

Climbing BooksThere probably aren’t a lot of professions that are easy.  Whatever they might be, writing isn’t one of them.

But as with everything else, things can change, moment by moment–so it’s a good thing to be prepared for everything, or at least as much as you can.

Sick LadyMe?  In addition to having a couple of pending deadlines over the past couple of weeks, I’ve also had the flu.  So what did I do?  I kept going as much as possible, at least when I wasn’t coughing or napping or visiting Urgent Care, although I did miss out on participating on a panel I’d been looking forward to as well as meet-ups with some writer friends.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my publishers, as well as a line I’d written for over a long period of time, were ending.  As a result of the latter, I assumed my last Harlequin Nocturne about Alpha Force, a covert military unit of shapeshifters, was over and done with after its publication last November.  And was I right?  Yes and no.  I just got word this week that the final one, Visionary Wolf, will soon be printed in an anthology with another Nocturne writer’s story.  So–it’s kept going, at least for now.

DeadlineI did turn in the next-to-final edits for my final Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, For a Good Paws and have one more round to completeI’m not sure yet what its publication will be like, which is scheduled for May.  Will it make it into the usual bookstores?  Will it be available at this year’s mystery conferences such as Malice Domestic?  I guess I’ll find out whether, and for how long, it’ll keep going.

BooksSo what’s next?  For one thing, I’ll be writing several more books for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, beyond my most current K-9 Ranch Rescue stories.  So yes, I’ll keep going there.  And I’ve another possibility pending, too.

Will my flu keep going?  I certainly hope not!  But in any event, I will keep going.

And you?  How do you keep going?

 

Holidays and Writing by Linda O. Johnston

Dec. 25 Calendar Happy Day After Christmas, everyone!  

Yes, major holidays of this year are now behind us.  The next will be New Year’s Day, the beginning of 2019.  And how are writers handling this season? 

CalendarEnjoyably, I hope.  That’s true for me, at least.  I’ve been having fun with planned events and meals with family and even one surprise when a wonderful family member dropped in unexpectedly for a day.  I even had to break away when I was writing this to make a reservation for a bunch of us to attend a special movie together–which will take up some more time. 

Of course all of that, as delightful as it is, had its effects on writing.  I am working on something with a deadline that I still can’t discuss, but that doesn’t mean I can take the holiday season off.  I just get in what writing I can when I can.

 That’s probably true of all of you who are writers, and even some of you who aren’t.  If you have a full time job, whether or not you’re a writer, too, you probably know in advance which days you’ll have off, but those can also be taken up with family adventures–and/or shopping. 

Holidays

So what do you do?  How do you handle the holidays and whatever work you may be doing?  I’ve found that if I attempt to plan much in advance, I still have to remain flexible –such has that wonderful visit from a family member, as well as one afternoon taken up with accompanying family to a delightful rendition of The Nutcracker Suite ballet…and that upcoming movie.

 I’m considering appropriate New Year’s resolutions, but the best I can come up with so far is, yes, stay flexible and keep busy, as appropriate. 

I hope you enjoy what’s left of this year–and have a wonderful 2019!

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What Do You Do? by Linda O. Johnston

Switch5 As with everything else in our lives, things can change in our publishing careers.  Sometimes they’re for the better, sometimes not.

I’ve been writing for a long time, which isn’t surprising since Visionary Wolf, my Harlequin Nocturne that’s being published in November, is my 50th traditionally published novel.  During all those years, I’ve been dumped by two new editors assigned to me at different houses, though I still managed to continue with my publishing career–with the same publishing company in one instance.  But those editor changes still managed to move my career in different directions.

Visionary Wolf I’ve also had several mystery series that I was writing end, for different reasons.  Also, Visionary Wolf will be my last Nocturne despite its being my ninth book in my Alpha Force miniseries because the Nocturne line is ending, which I’ve known for a while.

And now?  Well, I recently learned that my current mystery publisher, Midnight Ink, is going out of business next year.  It’s part of Llewellyn, which will continue, but no more cozy mysteries.

I’d already had my first series with them, the Superstition Mysteries, end for various reasons.  There have been four books in my current series, the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, and I’ve turned in the manuscript for the fifth, which is to be a May 2019 release.

Switch2You notice that I didn’t put that sentence into the past tense.  The MI authors were notified that although the company wasn’t buying any more books, those scheduled at least through July 2019 will still be published.  Hopefully, that will remain the case.

But even so, there won’t be any more Barkery mysteries unless I find another publisher or decide to self-publish them.

Not sure yet what I’ll be doing, though I’m currently plotting new series ideas as well as others.  Plus, I hope to remain published in romance, too.

Switch3Other career changes?  Well, once upon a time I was a practicing attorney who also wrote fiction, before I became a full time writer.  And before becoming a lawyer, I worked in advertising and public relations.

And you?  Whether you’re a writer or a reader or both, I’m sure you’ve seen changes in your life, both professionally and personally.  It definitely is part of living, and hopefully the changes are good–or we learn to somehow make the best of them.

What’s changed in your life lately?

Oh, and by the way: Happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween 2011 (2)

 

Old Ideas–Love ‘Em!

By Linda O. Johnston

Typewriter and desk What do writers do with old ideas?  That depends!

 As I mentioned last time I was here, I have been fortunate enough to be traditionally published a lot.  But that doesn’t mean that every idea I had made it into a book, or even a novella or short story.

 When I started writing–well, when I really started writing, as a kid, I had to type things up on a typewriter.  What’s that, some of you ask?  It’s the forerunner of our computers and high tech gadgets of today.  Even when I started writing on a computer, it was easier to keep printed copies of my ideas and how I’d fleshed them out into at least the beginning of stories.  Could I have saved them on disks and other techie devices?  Yes, I did that too, some of the time.  But it seemed easier then to hang on to stuff that I’d sent to my printer. 

Computer files And now, my mind remains full of ideas, and I’m always creating new computer files to keep track of them, even if their only existence remains in idea files that I struggle to ensure are backed up, just in case I turn back to them ready to write.  I organize them in general topics–some for mysteries, some for romances, some combined, and lots involving dogs.  And yes, there are others that don’t fit into those categories.

So why am I thinking about this now?  Well, I was communicating recently with a really nice business associate.  She’d recently gone somewhere and seen some wild dolphins. 

Save the Dolphins Which reminded me of one of my earliest ideas that I’m still highly fond of.  Yes, it involved dolphins.  And I thought back then that it would be one of my most cherished published novels someday.  Only… it didn’t get published.  It didn’t even get fully written.  The good thing was that my story’s concept involved changing the world so that no dolphins got killed in tuna nets, as they did in huge numbers when I started the story.  And lo and behold, some of the laws actually changed while I was writing it.  Did the change save all dolphins?  No.  Sure, more dolphins were saved than before.  But the change wasn’t international, and even in waters near here, in the U.S., the protections weren’t perfect, so not all dolphins were saved from that kind of murder.  But my concept wouldn’t have made sense any longer.

 Even so, that’s still a treasured idea.  I’m delighted, though, that the main reason I walked away from it was a really good one–that dolphins actually were at least somewhat protected.

Storage boxes Could I do something different with it now?  Maybe–and the fact that the idea is now back toward the front of my brain at least means it’s scratching at my skull.  But what about all those other ideas I’ve had over the years–like some involving dogs that I began, then elbowed aside because of other stories I was writing that I received contracts for?

 Okay, that’s really part of the fun of being a writer.  Our minds are always working and coming up with ideas and creating scenarios and… Well, you get it, especially if you’re a writer. 

 So… tell us here about some of your old ideas that never made it into a finished work– and what became of them.

Thanks for dropping by,  Linda O. Johnston

 

Pick and ChewsBad to the Bone

MILESTONES by Linda O. Johnston

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According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a milestone is “a significant point in development.” Writers can reach a lot of milestones. In fact, that’s part of the writing process.

One milestone is to begin plotting your first book. Even if you’re a “pantser” — you write by the seat of your pants rather than starting with an outline or well-planned plot–your mind will be working on your story, and, yes, that’s a milestone when you begin.

Starting to write is another. Finishing a first draft is another. Finishing a polished story is yet another.

Pencil 2Then there’s the publication process. There are different ways to approach it these days. If you want to be traditionally published, you’ll probably attempt to reach the milestone of obtaining an agent. Or, you may just go directly to a potential publisher with a proposal. Getting your manuscript accepted by one or both constitutes more milestones.

If you self-publish, the process is different, but you’ll still hit milestones–determining how and where you’ll publish, getting your manuscript in the right form for publication, and then, finally, getting your new book out there in print or e-book form or both, for people to buy and read it.

Pencil 1Either way, promotion also sometimes achieves milestones — getting your first review. Getting your first really good review. Throwing your story out there on social media. And milestones in actual sales.

This year, I’m hitting some milestones of a different kind. I’ve been traditionally published for many years — and this year, at the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference to take place soon in Denver, Harlequin will be acknowledging, in its 2018 Author Achievement Awards, that I’ve reached my 25th Book Milestone with them.

And as this year progresses, I’ll have two more Harlequin books published… and the second, my last Harlequin Nocturne paranormal romance since the line is closing, will be a milestone event, too. Including all my other books including mysteries, it will be my 50th published novel!

Signpost 2So yes, this year I’m particularly jazzed about milestones. But whatever stage of writing a writer happens to be in, whatever way they choose to be published, milestones can occur anytime.

What’s your latest milestone?