Hot to do Everything by Linda O. Johnston

linda-o-johnston-headshot-1smallerLinda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries for Midnight Ink. She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.  She additionally currently writes the K-9 Ranch Rescue miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense about a ranch where dogs are trained, as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  And yes, they all involve dogs. Her most recent release is her 46th published novel, with more to come…soon.

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I’m thrilled that I’m having four novels traditionally published this year.  I love being busy. 

But can you be too busy doing what you love?  Oh, yes!

I’m used to having deadlines, of course, with my fourth book this year to be my 50th published novel, as I mentioned before.  And I’ve always been able to negotiate deadlines that work for me.

This past week, though, was a bit nuts.  I already had a February 1 deadline for the fourth book of the year, which will be my last paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne.  I then received some detailed copy edits for my fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, which will be published in May by Midnight Ink–and the revisions also had a February 1 deadline.  And in the middle of this, I had to take time out to come up with some additional title ideas for the second of my K-9 Ranch Rescue romantic suspense novels to be published this year by Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

I also had family things to do, including responding often to my dogs’ requests to go outside while I’m sitting at my computer working.  Obviously that can’t be ignored.  Neither can demands to be snuggled.  Plus, I’m taking my younger dog to her second round of obedience classes and need to practice what she learns with her.  We also had family in town whom we got together with a lot for meals and more.  And then there’s the normal stuff: sleeping, eating, shopping and more.

So how do I deal with it–and how should you, whether or not you’re a writer, handle it all?  For whoever you are, and whatever you’re doing, we all face times when there’s more to do than we hope or expect.

The answer?  Just dig in and do it!  And yes, I recognize that we all have lives in addition to our writing.   Some of us have full time jobs, young families who aren’t only pets, and other responsibilities as well. 

So… expect it.  Plan for it.  Think about it, don’t obsess–but do it.  Schedule things the best way you can, and recognize that those things may change as you go along.  You’ll adapt.  You have to.

So where am I?  Well, I sent in my title ideas and received word that they chose something similar to, but not identical with, one of my suggestions.  I finished and sent in my Barkery edit comments first, and I’m currently finishing the manuscript for my last Nocturne.  I feel pretty good about how I’d been able to work it all out, although all I had to do meant I haven’t had much time to work on two ideas I’ve had in the meantime for some additional stories.  But that’s okay.  February 2 is on its way, and then I’ll only be under a June 1 deadline for my next book. 

Soon it’ll be time for ideas to flow!

And you?  How do you do everything?

 

 

 

 

Ideas are Everywhere by Linda O. Johnston

lindaphotoLinda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries.  She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  Her most recent release is her 44th published novel, with more to come.

 

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I learned last week that my 50th novel will be published in 2018.

Oh, I knew it would be published soon, since I’m well aware of my various deadlines and have met a bunch recently.  I’m currently working on that 50th, my last Harlequin Nocturne which will be the ninth in my Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters.  But also next year two stories in my K-9 Ranch Rescue miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense will be published.  I wasn’t sure when the second one would come out since the first is in March, but it’ll be an October release.  Plus, the fourth in my Barkery & Biscuits mystery series for Midnight Ink will be published in May.  Yes, I’ll have four novels out next year, ending with that 50th one.

I recognize that’s a lot of books, but they won’t be my last.  I’m under contract for another one, in 2019, and hope to add  more to that as well. 

People ask me often where I get my ideas.  My answer?  Everywhere!  And all the time, even when I’m not searching for new ideas.

The thing is, everything around you can be used as an idea for a story.  People you love; people you hate.  Stories you hear about in the media.  Stories you hear about from friends or acquaintances.  Things that happen to you in real life.  Things you wish would happen in real life.  Things you wish hadn’t happened to you in real life. They’re all fodder for fiction!

How?  Use your imagination.  Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before here, but my favorite quote is: “Reality is only for those who lack imagination.”

Now, I’ve not experienced most of what I’ve written about–hardly any of it.  My first published novels, for example, were time travel romances, and I haven’t left the world of today to research them–whatever moment that today happened to be.  Those stories were published quite a while in the past from today’s today.

The stories that in a way came closest to being part of my reality were my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries.  Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie.  At the time, I was a practicing lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with two Cavaliers, and the tricolor was my sweet Lexie.  But fortunately, I was never accused of an ethics violations, which Kendra was–and that made her turn to pet-sitting to earn a living.  Nor do I, or my friends and acquaintances, stumble over dead bodies.  And unfortunately, we lost our Lexie a while ago. 

But I still write mysteries, including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries that feature a veterinary technician who bakes and sells some of the healthy treats she developed as a vet tech in one of the two bakeries she owns–one of which is a barkery for dog treats.   I have little in common with her but our love for dogs and feeding them right, but I got that idea and had to run with it.

I never met any shapeshifters, but my Alpha Force stories for Harlequin have been fun.  And I always like to include elements of both romance and suspense in all of my stories, so writing romantic suspense feels natural.  My mind is always spinning around what stories can be told about any situation.  In fact, I’ve a proposal out there involving one idea I had recently, and while I was traveling earlier this month another idea started shoving itself into my mind that evolved from a very normal travel situation.  I’ll eventually work on a proposal for that one, too.

So go with it.  Think about… whatever’s around you, whatever isn’t around you, whatever you’d like to be around you. 

It can all create ideas for a story.

 

Everything is Research by Linda O. Johnston

lindaphoto
Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries.  She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  Her upcoming May release is her 45th published novel, with more to come.
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I’m  writer, and I assume that’s true of many people who read The Writers in Residence blog posts.  I’ve been doing this for quite a while, and it dawned on me long ago that I could, and do, use many aspects of my life as research for what I’m writing: what I read, what I accomplish, in effect nearly everything!
 
For one thing, I love to incorporate dogs in my stories.  I’ve been owned by Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for many years, and most of my friends, neighbors and relatives own dogs.  Plus, I’ve been able to observe a lot of dog training and other events involving dogs–and often what I see and experience shows up in what I write.
 
I’m not much of a cook, yet one of my mystery series, the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, includes not only dogs but the protagonist, Carrie Kennersly, owns both a human bakery and a barkery where she sells dog treats.  Some of the barkery material is derived from my visits to local shops in Los Angeles where dog food and treats are cooked and sold–so just visiting there, even if I’m hoping to buy things for my own dogs, is research.
 
Carrie is also a veterinary technician, so when I take my own dogs to the vet I’m also doing research.
 
I’ve also written Superstition Mysteries, and there are a lot of superstitions out there.  While I’m walking I’ve watched strangers stoop to pick up “lucky” pennies–and I do too, just in case.  Others cross their fingers while saying something, or knock on wood.  I’ve heard a lot of people extol their black cats and say they’re lucky, no matter what the superstition says.  Of course black cats being unlucky is a U.S. superstition; in other countries they’re considered lucky.
 
I haven’t run into real shapeshifters yet, I’m sorry to say–I think–but it’s fun researching the legends about them for my Alpha Force paranormal romance stories for Harlequin Nocturne about a covert military force of shapeshifters.
 
Just walking out the front door of my house provides me with ideas and research for some stories.  At the moment all my neighbors are good, but we’ve had some bad ones who, at least, give me story ideas as well as providing research regarding attitudes of some of today’s mostly younger folks.  I also derive ideas and research from some of the things picked up on the security cameras my husband mounted as a result of some of those bad neighbors, as well as from thieves and vagrants who’ve visited our street.  Do we live in an awful, rundown area?  No, just the opposite.  Our neighborhood is great, which may be why it attracts these kinds of issues.  Not fun in reality–but research!
 
Then there’s a new idea I’m working on now that was created after I went on a holiday outing to an interesting area–and my mind just took off on what kinds of mysteries could evolve around there.  Of course I’ve been doing additional research on that area.  Don’t know if this idea will go anywhere, but I’m certainly having fun working with it.
 
And meeting with other writers?  Everyone’s outlook on things is different, even if they’re writing in similar genres, so just talking about life and writing can also be considered a kind of research.
 
So here I am, writing this–and wondering what the next piece of research I’ll pick up will be, and how I’ll incorporate it into a story! 
 
How about you?  What is the most fun or helpful kind of research you’ve happened into in your life?