Holiday Q and A–and Black Friday Shot at a Kindle

Happy Black Friday. I’m not acknowledging that Christmas is approaching, so the only store that will see me today is Publix, doing my weekly grocery shopping since I have to be at work at 7-freaking-o-clock on Saturday morning to work the Alabama-Auburn football game. Roll Tide Roll and War Damn Eagle yada yada yada.

Anyway, if you read the blog last Friday, you’ll know that I treated myself to a new Kindle Fire and, as a result, am having a contest to give away my gently-used, much-loved basic Kindle that’s less than a year old. Four entries possible each Friday, in the usual way: one for commenting, one if you’re a blog follower (new or old), one if you’re a Twitter follower @Suzanne_Johnson, and  a fourth if you Tweet or RT the contest.

In the meantime, yesterday was a lovely day with family and extended family in Atlanta. When you engage in small-talk with people you don’t know very well, at least in this part of the world, safe topics are 1) the weather; 2) SEC football; 3) whether you prefer your turkey fried or roasted (definitely fried); 4) the author in the room. Oh, huh, wait. That’s me.

I expected to be asked: 1) when’s the book coming out? 2) What’s the book about? 3) How do you go about getting a book published? Those aren’t the questions I got.

Here were my top questions:

1) How long did it take you to write the book? or 1) How long does it take to write a book?
Well…that varies wildly by author, you know? I can only talk about myself. Royal Street took about seven months to draft and revise. It took another six-eight weeks to do editor’s revisions. I wrote River Road in four months, but I was on a mad burn, and I’m still waiting on revisions to come in. I’m shooting at five months to draft the third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, tentatively titled Elysian Fields, with a March 1 deadline (see progress meter on the righthand column of this page). Working full-time at a non-writing job and doing blogging and freelance work in addition to writing at night, I can theoretically pen two books a year, which seems prolific to me. But I recently copyedited a YA novel that was drafted in six days–was that author on crack?! The mind boggles. I could never do that, and am not sure I’d want to. My process is much more deliberate.

2) Who are some of the characters in your book?
I loved this question, and it was from my eldest nephew, who’s 10. I have a wizard named DJ (a girl-ick); a pirate named Jean Lafitte, who is a real person (okay, he’s undead and shucked this mortal coil a couple of centuries ago but let’s not get bogged down by details); a voodoo god (confusion was setting in by now); and a big dude who likes to shoot things. I think I’d been officially pegged the crazy aunt by this point, and said child wandered away.

3) Did you write it or type it?
Uh…my signature is barely legible. If I’d written it in longhand even I couldn’t read it.

4) How do you know where to start?
Uh…these are hard questions. I stumbled over this one, and am not even sure what I said. I think it had something to do with homesickness and post-traumatic stress. Gonna have to give this one some thought in case anyone ever asks again.

3) Did you get to decide what was on the cover?
Well, yes and no. I got to say what I really didn’t want to see on the cover as well as general things I’d like to see, and I appreciated having that input because a lot of authors don’t get any say at all. What I didn’t want to see: a red-haired, leather-bustier-wearing kitten with a whip and a tramp stamp–nothing wrong with that, but it just isn’t who my heroine is. She’s kind of a down-to-earth quirky, geeky girl who honestly doesn’t realize how pretty she is. She’s not the most experienced hand on deck but she’s fiercely loyal, sometimes to people who don’t deserve it. I think the cover artist did a great job of capturing DJ and her spirit.

So…want another shot at winning the Kindle (drawing will be Dec. 9)? Ask me a question, or answer mine: What quality do you most like to see in a hero or heroine?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

29 thoughts on “Holiday Q and A–and Black Friday Shot at a Kindle

  1. hmm what I like to see on a heroine? That at least she has some personality and can defend herself. A strong female character, badass or not but at least personality. (If she doesn’t jump off a cliff because her BF is gone, I might like her anyway lol)

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  2. What quality do you most like to see in a hero or heroine? I especially like a Kick-Ass heroine who can get out of a jam with the help from magic. Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan!
    Would love to win a kindle.

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  3. While not a writer I ask myself, Where fdo I start, since some mornings it is even hard to get up and face the music of a new day.

    +gfc Teril
    +twit @TeriCrusley

    terilhack at gmail dot com

  4. Ack…Happy Thanksgiving from Charter Cable, whose wifi network has gone down. Stealing a connection for a few minutes…

    CYP..It’s still new enough that I’m not tired of questions yet! It’s still fun 🙂

    LOL, Ana Lucia…I don’t think I’d like a heroine who followed the hero off a cliff. Well, unless there was a really good wifi connection at the bottom.

    I’m with you, Roger–and also add the sense of self-deprecating humor, such as Rachel’s!

    Teri…All you can do is start with the thing that’s most urgent and usually the day falls into place. Some days it’s hard to get started though.

  5. thanks again for the opportunity. I think the quality I prefer in a hero or a heroine is that she/he is strong/kick ass but as the same time vulnerable too.

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    Thanks for the questions, it was really interesting to read it.


  6. A hero or heroine has to be strong – a strong sense of self and a strong sense of right from wrong. They have to be ready to do whatever they have to do to right wrongs.

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  7. Thanks, Kim! Before writing began taking so much of my time I did paper-pieced art quilts–mostly wallhangings. Even did a few craft shows. Not much time for it anymore but I’d like to get back to it.

  8. Thanks for the Q&A! How neat it must be to get the attention and questions from family/friends, etc. I think so many people have/had the dream to be a published writer! Congrats again! Can’t wait for your release, I’m looking forward to it! And as a 32 year old guy, I totally agree with the things you DON’T want in the cover art! False assumption it may be, but I see the tramp stamp and I think unwanted PNR, when I’ll only approach it if I think it’s more straight forward UF. Plus, it’s been done about half a million times!

    It’s already been asked what you do (did, lol) in your downtime, so… do you (or plan to) set aside any chunk of time in between novels to unwind and relax? Or are you too on edge when you finish one, with ideas bursting out at the seams, that you have to jump right into the next one?

    And as for what I like in a hero or heroine. I actually like some emotional vulnerability. Makes the characters more realistic. Very few of us actually go through life unaffected by the people/events/etc around us.

    Thanks for your continued and amazing kindness with these giveaways!

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  9. What is your writing mantra in 15 words or less?


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  10. I like a hero or heroine who is strong but still vulnerable. I want them to learn from their mistakes and to recognize their flaws, but also their strengths.

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  11. Fun questions!

    @blackroze37…Well, I’m up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, getting ready to go and work all day! That’s just a few times a year, though. My “day job” is as a magazine editor so actually it helps my writing when revision time rolls around. I just wish I had more time 🙂

    @Spaz…There are some romantic elements in my books but they’re definitely urban fantasy 🙂 Usually, when I hit a deadline, I am so burned out and exhausted that I swear I’m going to take a couple of weeks off…then, after two or three days, my brain starts churning on something new. I also do a lot of blogging over at, though, and those deadlines come hard and fast every week, so there isn’t a lot of down time to be had.

    @Llehn…ack! That’s a hard one. My writing mantra was adapted from Stephen King’s book On Writing: “It’s okay if your first draft sucks. Just write it now and make it a priority.” Most people who start books don’t finish them either because they get hung up trying to get it perfect the first time, or they wait until everything else is taken care of before they start writing.

  12. I want a tough heroine who’s not scared to stand up for herself, and does not obsess over a guy she just met. 😛 Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

    Jen @ Midnight Book Thief

  13. I want a tough heroine who’s not scared to stand up for herself, and does not obsess over a guy she just met. 😛 Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

    Jen @ Midnight Book Thief

  14. I have to agree with the lady before me 🙂 I like heroes and heroines with a sense of humor…whether it is an upbeat kind of a humor or a grimmer blacker version, it adds some spark to the adventures. Self pitiying and morose heroes are just boring…there’s enough of that in real life and classic literature 😛

    and now for the question 🙂 Since your books obviously include at least one historical character I would like to ask how much research did you do about him or them? Or did you decide to invent his or theirs personalities from scratch?

    thanks for the giveaway once more 🙂

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  15. I like my heroine to be able to stand on her own feet. I don’t mind if she needs a push but I don’t like wishy washy whiny females. I also like it is she can kick some butt too.

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    Areeths at new dot rr dot com

  16. @Vins…I love doing research (yeah, I know–geek!). For early 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte, who’s a major series character, I did a lot of research–read four or five biographies, many of which contradicted each other. In the end, I had to pick and choose the traits I wanted to use and filter them through a modern setting, which was fun. Love that guy! I’ve also had to do a lot of reading on Louis Armstrong and voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, as well as study a lot of Louisiana maps. Yeah, I probably over-research 🙂

  17. I love characters who are strong enough to kick butt, yet gentle and emotionally intimate with their partners. This goes for heroes and heroines.

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  18. The quality I most like to see is believability (if that is even a word lol). I need to know that the character is real. Not really real, but that a person like this could exist. I need to be able to imagine that person in that situation and see that they aren’t perfect, they will make mistakes, but that I can honestly picture them as being true.

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