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Friday, November 13, 2015

Author Linda O. Johnston Brings Superstition Mysteries to Friday the 13th

Linda O. Johnston is an American author of mystery and romance novels. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year.

Linda writes several series in different genres. In 2014, she released three books, and so far in 2015, she has released two more. It reminds me of Agatha Christie in her more productive years! I   wanted to get the a peek at the both the books and the author. 

Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to be on A Writer's Jumble!

Speaking of time, how do you find the time to write four different series? And do you have a ritual to help change your mindset as you move from writing one series to another?

Well, since I'm currently an officially inactive lawyer, I have more time available than when I was practicing law.  It's still a challenge, though. 

When I move from one series to the next, I usually re-read some of my own stories from the series I'm moving back into, as well as others in the genre, to get my mind aimed in that direction.  There's sometimes a time overlap, such as when edits come in on a manuscript I've already turned in while I'm writing another story, and often I'm promoting a new release while I'm working on a book in a different series.  I just wing it then!
The Superstition mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuits mysteries, the Alpha Force paranormal books, and the Identity Division romances. These are intriguing names. Could you tell us a little about each series?

The Superstition Mysteries are cozy mysteries being published by Midnight Ink.  They're about Rory Chasen, who has traveled to the fictional town of DestinyCalifornia, which is all about superstitions.  She needs to learn whether superstitions are real since her fiancé walked under a ladder and died soon afterward.  Her lucky black and white dog Pluckie saves the life of the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique, and Rory winds up managing the shop--and solving mysteries when her friends start being accused of murders.  She doesn't really want another romantic relationship, but she soon gets acquainted with the town's handsome police chief so that may change.  So far, two Superstition Mysteries have been published: LOST UNDER A LADDER and KNOCK ON WOOD.

The Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries are also published by Midnight Ink.  In them, Carrie Kennersly, a veterinary technician, buys a bakery from a friend who has to leave town and converts half of it into a barkery where she sells some of the healthy treats she has developed for dogs.  In the first book, BITE THE BISCUIT, a person who also owns a shop in town catering to pets hates the competition and vows to put Carrie out of business, but that shop owner is the one who is found murdered, and Carrie has to solve the murder to protect herself.  And, yes, Carrie has a dog, Biscuit, and a couple of potential love interests including veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme.  The second in the series, TO CATCH A TREAT, will be a May 2016 release.

My Alpha Force miniseries are paranormal romances I write for Harlequin Nocturne.  They have canines in them too--both dogs and werewolves!  Other types of animals are also in some of them.  Alpha Force is a covert military unit of shapeshifters. Their romantic interests are sometimes non-shifters and sometimes shifters like them.  So far, there have been seven Alpha Force books.  The most recent is CANADIAN WOLF that also features the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I write the Identity Division romances for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  They feature various people who cannot supply adequate evidence for prosecution of felons that would allow them to testify and be put into regular witness protection but nevertheless are in danger because of the unprovable information they have about the bad guys.  So far, those who've gone into non-witness protection have been women, and they tend to fall for the guys who have been sent undercover to the areas of their former homes to find the hard evidence they couldn't.  One book in this series, COVERT ATTRACTION, has been published so far and the second one, CLANDESTINE ATTRACTION, is the book I'm working on now. 

Many of your books revolve around our furry friends. You had the Pet Rescue mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuit mysteries obviously has pets in it, and even the shifters in your Nocturne romance novels are animals...sort of. Are pets your passion?

Link is to the Authors's Amazon page

Pets are absolutely my passion, especially dogs!  I love all animals, but particularly cherish the loving nature of most canines.  I additionally wrote two cozy mystery series before the two I'm writing now that featured pets: the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries as well as its spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries. 

You belong to several writing organizations. Without negating the benefits offered by any of the others, which one do you find most beneficial and why?

The organizations I primarily belong to are Romance Writers of America, where I regularly attend meetings of two local Southern California chapters, as well as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, again attending local chapter meetings.  I love them all!  

I used to always recommend that anyone interested in writing any kind of fiction should join RWA because the whole organization was so helpful to all writers, but they have scaled back and now only focus on romance writers--not necessarily a bad thing.  I derive something helpful from each of the organizations, mostly consisting of being able to connect with others of similar interests and also to volunteer for their speakers' bureaus and other events.  

As a result, I can't say that I find any of them the most beneficial.  I do, however, recommend to any new authors I meet that they join whatever organization(s) focus on their genres of interest so they can start networking with others who share their goals and interests. 

If a reader, new to Linda O. Johnston, wanted to jump in and start reading your books, to which series would you direct them?  (Knowing that some like cozies, some like flinch-free fiction, some like spicier novels etc.)

Yes, different people definitely like to read different things.  And I, of course, love all my own stuff! 

I'd suggest that anyone who likes cozies, especially ones with pets, could start with either of my current mystery series.  If they prefer something a little different and with a possibly paranormal edge to it, they should consider my Superstition Mysteries--although I don't necessarily consider superstitions paranormal.  Do you?

If they like culinary mysteries, then they might want to start with the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.

Both of my Harlequin series are spicier.  All of my romances contain some suspense, but if they like something truly paranormal they might like my Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturnes.  If paranormal isn't their thing, then my Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels might be more to their liking.

What's next for you?

As I mentioned, my next novel to be published will be the second Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, TO CATCH A TREAT, which will be a May 2016 release. 

I will, however, be republishing another of my backlist time travel romances THE BALLAD OF JACK O'DAIR on Kindle soon.  Two of my backlist stories, THE GLASS SLIPPER and ONCE A CAVALIER are already there!

Thank you, Linda!  

The links I've included are for Amazon, since that seems to be most convenient, but be sure to check out your independent bookstores first. To find additional links for purchasing, to find out more about the author and her books, please visit Linda's website

Monday, November 9, 2015

Keep Your Gender-Neutral Pronouns Away From My Writing!

I first noticed the strange phenomenon when I was performing a spellcheck on my novel. Every time the search hit the word "lady", it wanted me to change my selection, as if "lady"couldn't possibly be the correct choice.

Then I noticed that the program wanted to change "waitress" to "server", "businessman" to
"businessperson", and "hostess" to "host".

What was this madness???

Imagine a group of businesspersons gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The server walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the host tells them to have a nice day.

What a bland vision.

Now, imagine a group of businessmen gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The waiter walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the hostess tells them to have a nice day.

Can you get a better picture, even without adjectives, of who these people are? Yes, you can, because you at least know their gender.

I know if my character is a lady. Even if she's not, having another character call her a lady can help to define the character that is speaking.

I also know the sex of my characters, and if it's a woman server, I can save a word by calling her a waitress. There is no shame in being a waitress. I was one. I didn't give a hoot if I was referred to as a server or a waitress. I just wanted my tip.

I don't have a problem with mankind, and I refuse to read a Bible that has obliterated male pronouns. There are certain situations that call for an inclusive word, such as a corporate newsletter that goes out to men and women, but in that case, you are addressing a specific audience. And it's nice to alternate he and she if your giving examples, because your audience is most likely made up of both.

Most of the time, these changes obliterate the femininity of my characters. From hostess, female, to host, male. Why shouldn't Dorothy be a hostess? In the workplace, it's a difficult job that takes great people skills. At home, it's just as tricky. I especially have an issue with the powers-that-be thinking that "lady"is not an appropriate term. Would that more woman would aspire to be ladies.  In a move to avoid offending anyone, the gender police have turned my characters into no ones.