Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Aloha to Linda O. Johnston and ALASKAN WOLF

During the RT Booklovers' Convention, I set up a promo table for SOS America in Club RT. My lovely neighbors were three RWA chapters who shared a table:  the Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA)Orange County Chapter, and the San Diego Chapter.  I met several authors throughout the day, including multi-genre author Linda Johnston.  I invited her to join us at SOS Aloha!

I have also always enjoyed solving puzzles, which led me to write suspense into all of my stories, too, no matter what their genre or subgenre. 

I stopped writing fiction in law school -- confusing cases and boring briefs left little time for pleasure. But, I couldn't stay away. Soon as I could carve out time early in the morning before work at my first law job, I wrote for fun once more. Cathartic! In my first finished -- and as yet unpublished -- mystery, I killed off a law firm's senior partner.

Kim:  Can you compare and contrast the challenges and rewards of practicing law and writing romance. Which is harder - passing the Bar or breaking into publishing?

Linda:  They’re so different! With the Bar exam, there’s a lot of intense preparation in a short time frame. Then, you take the test and either pass or don’t--and if you don’t, you can’t take it again for months. I, of course, passed the first time, both in California and Pennsylvania !

With publishing, it doesn’t really matter how intense you make it. You need to finish that first book before you can even think of getting it published--or at least that’s so with nearly all authors. Then you send out queries and proposals to agents and publishers, and they usually take their time responding. My first published fiction consisted of short stories, and I won an award for the first one: the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first short story of that year. I thought I was all set, that since I was a published author I could get anything published. Not! It took me another 5-6 years to sell my first novel.

Both careers are rewarding, but in different ways. Believe it or not, I enjoy writing and reviewing contracts. It’s not the same kind of creativity as writing fiction, but it involves a lot of thought. The “author” doesn’t really get credit for a good contract, since it’s usually the result of hard-fought negotiation. But it definitely feels wonderful to see one’s name on a book!

Kim:  What do your coworkers think of your books? Have you considered rewriting your first mystery?

Linda:  I sold my first novel when I was working as an in-house attorney at Unocal (Union Oil Company of California ). I received “the call” from an editor while at work, and I think my coworkers got a kick out of my enthusiasm! I recently told that story, and also described the evolution of my writing while practicing full-time law, at a meeting of the Unocal Alumni Association. Unocal was merged into Chevron a few years ago, though, and I had already left the company, although I had continued to work on projects for them for a while.

I doubt that I’ll ever rewrite that first mystery novel. I always need to identify with my protagonists, and I wrote that one when I had just started practicing law. At the time I began the story, I was a young associate at a law firm, and it was very cathartic to write about my protagonist finding the dead body of the senior associate! Now, though, although I do some work with law firms, I don’t particularly want to kill off anyone I work with.

Kim:  Tell us about your work with pet rescue.  Obviously it influenced your Pet Rescue Mystery series - can you give us a teaser about the series?

Linda:  I am currently a dog adoption counselor for Pet Orphans of Southern California. I’m even taking a new course for the position this weekend. I actually started my research for my new Pet Rescue Mysteries before I began volunteering, but I found the subject so fascinating and gratifying that I was lured into volunteering to help to find loving homes for homeless animals.

The Pet Rescue Mysteries is a series that features Lauren Vancouver, a dedicated pet rescuer who runs a no-kill shelter in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles . In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people! Despite the difficult situations that pets are sometimes in when Lauren helps to rescue them, all animals in these stories wind up just fine. People are another matter. They are cozy mysteries, after all, so someone has to get murdered!

The first Pet Rescue Mystery, BEAGLEMANIA, was published in March and features a rescue from a puppy mill. Unsurprisingly, one of the people involved with that puppy mill becomes a murder victim, and because Lauren knew him and despised him, she has to solve his murder because she is a major suspect.

Kim:  You kindly donated a copy of ALASKAN WOLF to giveaway today.  What inspired an LA lawyer to write about Alaska , a naturalist heroine, and secret agent?

Linda:  I’ve visited Alaska on cruises several times, and have also toured a bit. I find the place very alluring. Also, as anyone can tell who reads my work, I love animals and writing about them. ALASKAN WOLF is a paranormal romance, the second novel in my Alpha Force miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne. Alpha Force is a very covert military unit of shapeshifters! Just another kind of animal...

Kim:  What's next for Linda O. Johnston?

Linda:  My next Alpha Force story, GUARDIAN WOLF, will be a September release from Harlequin Nocturne.

Next comes THE MORE THE TERRIER, the second Pet Rescue Mystery, in October. In it, Lauren is torn because her former mentor has become an animal hoarder.

Then, in November, my next Nocturne Bites (an e-novella) will be published: THE TALONS OF THE HAWK, about a lady-hawk shapeshifter.

Kim:  No rest for the talented Linda O. Johnston!  Mahalo, Linda, for joining us today!   In honor of your visit, let's giveaway ALASKAN WOLF to one randomly selected commenter

1.  Leave a comment about Linda, pet rescue, and/or the Alaskan frontier.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, May 14, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I will announce the winner on Sunday, May 15.


Kim in Hawaii

Speaking of animal rescue, hubby and I volunteer with Hickam's Ten Lives.   In fact, we recently adopted Zsa Zsa - she came with the name that certainly matches her personality!
Zsa Zsa in the middle of Legos!


  1. What a cute dog in the picture!
    I love puzzles in a romance. It all comes so cleverly together in the end, very satisfying. Must have been a time consuming process of the mind that really intrigues me.

  2. Congrats on Zsa Zsa. I always wanted to visit Alaska maybe one day I will.

    Please do not enter me in the contest.

  3. Linda, I loved the pet sitter mysteries with Kendra Ballantyne and I know the Pet Rescue series will be equally fabulous. I have 8 rescued cats, so I feel like I'm running my own cat sanctuary...(be careful what you wish for ). So happy you are a guest on Kim's wonderful site! BTW, I included a pug in my "Talk Radio Mysteries" for Penguin...which was a bit out of character because I usually include cats. I love all animals!

  4. The dog in the picture with me is my Lexie, Kirsten. In the Pet-Sitter Mysteries, Kendra Ballantyne has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who looks just like her. Very coincidental. :) And, yes, I do enjoy the writing process when I can resolve everything that needs to be resolved by the end.

  5. I love that picture of Zsa Zsa, too, Danielle. Hope you make it to Alaska someday.

  6. Thanks, Mary. Those cats of yours are really lucky! I love all animals, too, although I admit I'm partial to dogs. I haven't read your "Talk Radio Mysteries" yet, but I will!

  7. Thanks for the great interview. I've had a sneak peek at Talons of the Hawk and it's a wonderful story.

  8. Thanks, Janie!

    Artemis, I suppose there are other undiscovered areas, but I had fun walking on glaciers and that's where my characters in ALASKAN WOLF go, too.

  9. Thank you so much for the interview and giveaway. Most of my pets are rescued/adopted from abusive/neglected people. And I love them so much.

  10. Thanks Kim for the great interview - please do NOT enter me in the giveaway however as I already have the book.

    Linda I wanted to take a moment and say thank you for the great stories - I've read several of yours and enjoyed each one, and I totally LOVE Alpha Wolf and Alaskan Wolf!

  11. My father use to know someone who originally came from Alaska. I vaguely remember the man. I do remember him talking about his mother who still lived up there. He was much younger than my father.

    He also had that indian look.

    If I had the space I would so rescue/adopt doggies. I love them. Growing up the majority of our doggies were either abused or abandoned close to our house.

    The pomchi (pom and chi mix) hubby found her at his work's parking lot. Some idiot left her in a box with food and shot records. Eventually he found out what happened, where the dog came from.

    She came from the same breeder we got our two daschies from. A guy bought her off the man, then decided he didn't want her, so left her in the parking lot. Yeah the breeder found out, got so furious with the man, and refused to sell another to him ever again. He told us the doggie was ours. He knows how well we treated our doggies.

  12. Our first dog was a beagle but not a rescue. Our next dog was a rescue and had the most wonderful disposition. Our next pet was a rescue kitten and then after that I got involved with lots of strays and ferals. I nursed one kitten who had been drenched in motor oil and many others. I do what I can but I get sooo attached!! I'm sure I would enjoy your books!! Animals and suspense make a nice combination. Oh, and I just love Zsa Zsa's tail!

  13. I would love to visit Alaksa one day, but I doubt I'll be able to any time soon because I don't have to money.

  14. We only have one cat now. Didn't want her to go to the animal shelter, so took her in when a neighbor moved away.
    A number of my previous animals have been rescues.

  15. I applaud you, June M!

    So glad you enjoyed them, Tammy S!

  16. I really don't understand people who abandon or otherwise harm loving dogs, Raonaid. So glad you were able to take in the pomchi and give her a loving home.

  17. You sound like a real animal lover, catslady!

    Casey H, I hope you get to Alaska someday if that's what you want.

    How wonderful that you gave that poor, potentially abandoned cat a home, Estella.

  18. We have two cats and both of them were rescues. I love Linda's dog. Whenever I see that picture I have to smile. Suspense always makes the book better. Great post!
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  19. I'd like to visit Alaska--in the summer.

  20. So great to include your cause in your stories. Yeah for saving cats and dogs!!

  21. This is one of the best covers!! I've read several of the Nocturne stories and they are all very well written. I can't wait to read this!
    I'm not sure the Inside Passage is considered the "Frontier" but I'm looking forward to a cruise in June in Alaska's Inside Passage! Yippee!!!

  22. Linda - I loved Beaglemania, can't wait for more of that series. Of course, the fact that my dogs have always been rescues gave me an instant connection to the story.

  23. Lexie and I both thank you, Debby! I'll bet your rescue cats do, too.

    Chey, I agree. I've only been to Alaska during the summer.

  24. I was leaving responses to comments last night when Blogger decided to take some time off!

    Anyway, Jill, I thank you--and definitely agree that saving cats and dogs is great!

    LilMissMolly, I particularly like that cover, too. Glad you like it and Nocturnes! Have a wonderful cruise.

    Linda, so glad you enjoyed Beaglemania! I cheer you for adopting rescues.

  25. Lovely post today! This book looks hot! I have never been to Alaska but would love to check it out someday! I don't have pets but a cat who adopted us years ago but I'm all for pet rescue! Thanks for sharing today!

  26. i love the cover with those 4 little dogs :) it's cute.

    I'd rescued my cat about 6 or 7 years ago. Since we had lots of cats ( around 20 cats) my mom decided to give kittens to our relatives. it just too bad, one of my relatives lost the cat !! it's not even 2 days with them !! my mom said that they only talked that they want a cat, but they didn't want to give a proper meal and place for her :( I was so furious when i found this.
    Then, Me and my two sisters, came down to my relative neighborhood, to search the kitten. and Lucky, we found her.
    After this no more cats for others, i just afraid that the cats would be bad treated if we gave to others.

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