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Thanks, OCC

June 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , ,

OCC is the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America. We’re romance writers. But some of us also are mystery writers. Writers of romantic suspense. Both.
I’m always delighted to attend OCC meetings, but I’m especially looking forward to the one next weekend. Why? It’ll be chock full of excellent research info for those of us who are mystery and suspense writers as well as romance authors.

First, I see that Debra Holland is giving a morning workshop on “Creating Fighting and
Self-Defense Scenes.” That should be fascinating. The chapter’s published authors are even forgoing a Published Authors Workshop that morning to be able to attend Debra’s presentation.

And then, in the afternoon, our guest speaker Dennis Kee, a weapons expert, will present a program on “Don’t Blame the Gun, Blame the Writer.” It sounds as if it’ll be full of excellent information on weapons.

I had thought I’d be out of town next weekend, but fortunately my plans changed. I’ll be there! See you all soon–and I’m really looking forward to the June OCC meeting.

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Writers and Events

May 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , , ,

I just returned home a couple of days ago from a trip east–to two wonderful writers’ events.
One was Malice Domestic, in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s themed around traditional mysteries, and both authors and fans attend. There are dinners and panels and Agatha Awards and more! I was on a panel called Must Love Dogs–obviously featuring authors with pet mysteries. My wonderful co-panelists were Sparkle Abbey (two delightful women who write under one pseudonym that is–what else?–the names of their pets!), Esri Allbritten, and Neil S. Plakcy. It was really fun and we got to talk about not only our books but our dogs, too.

That was followed by the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, which was presented by the Mystery Lovers Bookshop. It began with a library tea, followed by a massive book sales event where authors are introduced and lots of mysteries are sold. A highlight this year was the introduction of the store’s new owner. The current owners, a wonderful and dedicated couple, had gone public a couple of months ago about looking for a buyer. In these days when so many bookstores, both independents and major chains, are going out of business, I feared the worst–possibly the end of that store. But, no–they found a buyer who seems perfect! She’s a former Texas librarian and bookseller with family ties to the Pittsburgh area. She was at both the tea and the Festival meeting authors and seeing how the current owners ran the event. That makes me hopeful that not only the store, but the Festival of Mystery, will continue in the future.

For the moment, I have some time to breathe–and to write–before my next major conference, the Romance Writers of America National Conference. More minor events–well, they never stop. In fact, I’m looking forward to the Pasadena LitFest next weekend. Unfortunately it conflicts with the OCC meeting. It was rescheduled after being rained out (!) in March.

Oh, and I can’t resist mentioning that it’s May–and I’m part of Read Humaneâ„¢ this month! A new version of my first Pet Rescue Mystery BEAGLEMANIA has recently been printed with the Read Humane seal on it. Read Humane is a special program created by Penguin Group (USA) Inc., parent of Berkley Prime Crime. Penguin has made a substantial donation to the Humane Society of The United States® in support of its Animal Rescue Team, and is also shipping 50,000 books starring furry friends, both dogs and cats, which encourage readers to learn more and donate to the Humane Society and its Animal Rescue Team. Participating authors besides me include Rebecca M. Hale, Alison Pace, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly–and I’m especially excited to report that the Read Humane spokesperson is Nora Roberts.

How about you–any conferences or other exciting events in your recent past or future? Will you be attending RWA National?

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Career Milestones

April 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , ,

By Linda O Johnston

Every author’s writing career is different. We all share one thing in common, though. We remember our milestones.

Maybe we don’t recall exactly when each occurred, but we think about the time that we stopped telling ourselves we would like to write and instead actually began writing. We think about the first time we finished a chapter. And then a whole manuscript.

If we’re lucky enough to pursue our careers and succeed, we also recall our first publications. Our first agent. Whatever other things were meaningful to who and what we are as writers.

I’m bringing this up because I have just reached a couple of milestones. First, my new release HOUNDS ABOUND, my third Pet Rescue Mystery for Berkley Prime Crime, is my thirtieth published novel.

I also was recognized in a Harlequin newsletter for having published my fifteenth Harlequin story. They count novellas in that, so my Nocturne Bites were included, although I hadn’t added them to my novel count. I’m delighted about that, too!

I do recall some of those earlier milestones as well. I’d tried my hand at writing before but had stopped while going to law school. Even so, I kept telling my husband I wanted to write again. He finally said, “Well, write, then,” and I did–and kept going.

Of course I recall my first published fiction–a short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. I’d have remembered it anyway, but it was especially exciting since it also won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year. Plus, it was published again in an anthology.

Then there was my first published novel, A GLIMPSE OF FOREVER–a time travel romance published by Dorchester. I’ve been really sorry to hear of that company’s recent struggles.

I remember signing with my first agent, and then with the one I’ve been with for many years and adore. I recall my first Harlequin sale, my first mystery sale, and more. It’s always so much fun to revisit those times!

How about you? What are your favorite writing milestones?

Linda O Johnston’s Pet Rescue Mysteries, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, feature Lauren Vancouver, a determined pet rescuer who runs a no-kill shelter. Of course, in this cozy mystery series, “no-kill” refers to the animals, not people! Her most recent Pet Rescue Mystery is  HOUNDS ABOUND , an April 2012 release.

Visit Linda at  or

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The Writing Life and More!

March 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston, Writing tagged as , , ,

I used to believe that writers just wrote. And then I really became one.

That’s when I found out that there’s a lot more to writing than just sitting at a computer and composing a story, then, hopefully, selling it.

The writing life, when you’re not writing, can even be fun and exciting. How? Because of all the events relating to it.

First of all, there are meetings of local writing organizations. As you know, this year I’m co-coordinator of OCC’s morning Published Authors Workshop, along with Charlotte Lobb. That means attending as many monthly OCC meetings as possible. I also attend meetings of other local chapters of writing organizations such as the Los Angeles Romance Authors, Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Then there are other library events. This month, I’ll be on a mystery panel at the Ojai Library. Next month, I’ll be appearing as part of the Fresno Library’s Big Read event about Jack London’s CALL OF THE WILD–and will be speaking to the local Sisters in Crime chapter. This is a result of my writing so much about animals, both in my Harlequin Nocturnes about shapeshifters and my Pet Rescue Mysteries.

Other kinds of book events include the very first LitFest Pasadena on St. Patrick’s day this month. Yes, I’ll be there, signing at the Book ‘Em Mysteries booth. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on occurs in April and I’ll be signing at several booths there, too.

Conferences? Yes! How about Malice Domestic, in Bethesda, MD–followed by the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA? And of course there’s the Romance Writers of America National Conference at the end of July. Among other things I’m looking forward to there, I’ll be on a panel there about How to Sell a Series You’re Passionate About. There are other conferences I’m interested in but can’t attend because of time–a lot of them!

Am I done yet? Not quite! World Book Night is April 23, and I’ll be giving away copies of Sue Grafton’s Q IS FOR QUARRY.

And I haven’t listed all my upcoming blogs and guest blogs. In addition, I belong to a critique group which is always a fun get-together nearly every week to discuss family, events in our lives and, yes, critique each other’s writing. Plus, there are other things that’ll be happening but aren’t yet for publication.

So… writing isn’t all there is to the writing life, is it?

How about you–what events and meetings are you attending that fit along with your writing?

Linda O Johnston’s Pet Rescue Mysteries, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, feature Lauren Vancouver, a determined pet rescuer who runs a no-kill shelter. Of course, in this cozy mystery series, “no-kill” refers to the animals, not people! Her most recent Pet Rescue Mystery is   THE MORE THE TERRIER , and next will be  HOUNDS ABOUND , an April 2012 release.

Visit Linda at  or

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Kiss Me or Kill Me

February 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston, Writing tagged as , , , ,

My OCC Online Class

What else would I be blogging about today but my upcoming online class for OCC? I’m really excited about it!

It’s called Kiss Me or Kill Me: Writing Cozy Mysteries 101 for Romance Writers, and it starts on Monday, February 13.

As I’ve been saying all along, it’s not only for romance writers, although I will be discussing some similarities and differences between the two genres. But the course will focus on the basics of writing cozy mysteries, from choosing a protagonist and theme, to starting your story, working in clues, and finishing in a satisfactory manner.

I’ve been writing cozy mysteries for a while now, along with also writing romances. Plus, I’ve taught classes in person and online. I hope to make this an especially fun one. I’ll include assignments and hope everyone will participate.

It’s not too late to join… so here’s the link, in case you’re interested! 

Hope to see you there.

By the way, I also blogged about this class, and my resulting self-analysis of my own writing, in my Killer Hobbies blog post this week. Here’s its link: Killer Hobbies 
Linda O! Johnston
Berkley Prime Crime
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