30 Books in 30 Days: Ask the Author and Survey Edition

Happy Wednesday! If you want to skip all the mumbo-jumbo and get to the part about winning a book, go ahead and scroll toward the bottom…go ahead…I’ll never know 🙂

So, once again, THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. I have now closed it out, but have a lot of information and feedback to think about. I have some winners to announce below.

I plan to blog from Authors After Dark next week (yay!), then take a one-week blog holiday to regroup and plan.

The thing that surprised me the most from the survey results were that, well, you want to hear more from me. That was the overwhelming message I got. Which kinda got this face from me:


LOL. I don’t think I’m terribly interesting and always have worried about sounding too self-absorbed or boring. That’s something I obviously need to rethink. So I’ll find a way to talk more about my books and characters and behind the scenes stuff…EASTER EGGS!…without getting boring and self-absorbed. If i go too far the other way, feel free to email me and tell me I’m being boring and self-absorbed, m’kay?

One thing I wanted to talk about that came up or that occurred to me as I read your comments….

The whole two-name thing is confusing. Yeah, it surely is. In fact, it’s so confusing that I began working several months ago with a group of branding experts to untangle my tangled identity crisis, and this dual website is one of the steps in that process. Those of you who come to the blog directly from email probably don’t notice, but there’s a static front page that will always feature the newest books from Suzanne on one side and Susannah on the other. As soon as DARK SECRETS comes up for preorder, for example, I’ll change the image on the home page.

You’ll also see the phrase “Smart Heroines, Hot Heroes, Cool Stories” on this site and on my Facebook author page. I’m also starting to use it in promotional materials. Those three things, after we studied my books under both names, are the common elements no matter what name I’m writing under.

So, how did the whole Suzanne/Susannah monster come to be? It’s complicated, but basically, the Sentinels and Penton series started the same year, when I was a debut author in 2012, and at the time it seemed to make sense; one was urban fantasy and the other paranormal romance. Of course, my voice is my voice, and Sentinels turned out to have more romantic elements than I’d planned and Penton turned out to have more urban fantasy elements than I planned. But once the dual name thing was done and both Penton and Sentinels developed followers, it became impossible to undo even though I think it has hurt me as an author.

Currently, “Suzanne” has five books out (counting one short, with three books in the wings) while “Susannah” has eight (counting one short, with two book in the wings).

Holy crap, Batman, that’s a lot of books in three years with a full-time day job. No wonder I’m so tired–LOL.

Anyway, for the foreseeable future, this is your one-stop shop for Suzanne and Susannah. All I can say is that I’m the same writer and my voice doesn’t really change from series to series, or name to name. So if you like the books by Suzanne, you’re probably going to like the books by Susannah, and vice-versa. Eventually, one name might edge out the other, or Suzanne might take the paranormal reins while Susannah takes the thriller/suspense. It’s too early to tell that, however, while I have active series under both names.

So bear with me and my split personality!

Okay, enough about all that. I have a couple of rare mid-week contest winners to announce:

JANIE PRATER is the winner of this month’s newsletter giveaway of one of my Authors After Dark gift bags. If you want to win one for yourself (cool stuff, I promise!), I’m giving away another for my August blog giveaway–just click on the Contest tab at the top of this page to enter.

If you haven’t subscribed to the monthly newsletter, I always have the latest book news and a cool giveaway. Click on the Newsletter tab at the top of the page to get added in time for the August 15 edition. What will be in there? Well, the Table of Contents for the upcoming Sentinels Story Collection #1, PIRATESHIP DOWN, for one thing. And a blurb for “The Consort,” my Sentinels-world novella about the fae that will be in the DARK SECRETS anthology. Woo-hoo!

Now, another winner:

REBECCA won the $25 gift card for participating in the survey (if there is more than one Rebecca, this is the one who responded on Sunday’s blog comments). I don’t have your email, so please email me at suzannej3523@gmail.com with your contact info.

AND since this is still 30 Books in 30 Days, leave a comment below to be entered for a mystery book from my TBR pile or one of my books.

Just ask me a question–anything’s fair game. Well, almost anything. LOL. If I won’t answer it, I’ll make something up!


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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).

45 thoughts on “30 Books in 30 Days: Ask the Author and Survey Edition

  1. Way back a long time ago, 2011, there was a short story, Pirate’s Alley 0.5. [Before Royal Street] Featured Megan, Kathryn, and our introduction to Jean Lafitte. Did Megan and Kathryn develop into D.J.? Or will we hear from them again someday? At the end of one of the Penton books, Lucy was locked in a room underground as the town was being destroyed. Did she die or was she saved by the Dr.? I know I cheated and asked two questions. One for each name, LOL.

    • Good questions, Roger!

      No, Kathryn and Megan are separate characters and, at this point, I don’t have any plans to use them elsewhere. At the end of that story, when Jean meets Gerry St. Simon, Jean references Gerry’s young female assistant (which is DJ). That story has been renamed “Talk Like a Pirate,” has been updated, and will be in the first Sentinels Collection in October!

      Lucy. Poor Lucy. She had potential but I really did kill her off. Or actually, I think I had Mirren do it because Will couldn’t or wouldn’t. (I think that’s right, but I’d have to check!)

  2. Will you ever write a Zombie Apocalypse Story featuring a handsome hero named Sullivan?

    • Hahaha! I might write a Faerie Apocalypse story with a handsome hero named Sullivan, but, much like DJ, I find zombies incredibly creepy and I just can’t get into zombie romance. *shudders a little*

  3. So is Suzanne your real name? Or at least the name you prefer people to call you by?

    • Suzanne is my real name, and Susannah Sandlin is the name of my g-g-g-grandmother, may she roll over in her grave because I’m using her name to write smexy vampire books. LOL. I’ll answer to either, but Suzanne is the real deal.

      Trivia apropos to nothing: Suzanne is my middle name. My first name is Mary, after my dad’s sister. But I have never gone by Mary and don’t answer to it 🙂

  4. Have you ever considered having characters from one series having a cameo in the other?

    • When I wrote ABSOLUTION and Mirren, Will, and Glory were in New Orleans, I really wanted to have one of the Sentinels characters make an appearance, but those series are put out by different publishers so that would have been a big no-no.

      I did that, sort of, with STORM FORCE and the Penton books, bringing Nik and Robin over from SF to Penton, and I’m bringing another shifter, Asher, from SF to the fifth Penton book. But those books have the same publisher and they didn’t want any more Omega Force books, so it wasn’t an issue.

      Good question!

  5. You’ve mentioned that DJ will be road-tripping soon, will she get her own wheels replaced? And will she give the vehicle a name like you do yours?

    • DJ will eventually get new wheels but, and I hope this is not a spoiler, she has absolutely no use for wheels in BELLE CHASSE–LOL. The upcoming novella, PIRATESHIP DOWN, takes place between Elysian Fields and Pirate’s Alley, and Rene is doing the driving in his jacked-up black pickup truck. They make DJ sit in the middle. 🙂

    • It’s going to be a crazy week! I am on six author panels, talking about everything from nontraditional shapeshifters (like Rene) to building magical worlds. There are two “balls”–a “Tiara Ball,” where I’ll be sitting at author Cathy Clamp’s table, and the “Bump in the Night” Ball, where I’ll be hosting my own table. I’m also hosting a table for a Shifter Picnic lunch. And there’s a big book-signing on Saturday. Last time I went to AAD, I bought more books than I sold, but since I’m totally out of book space, I’m going to try to show a little restraint this year! And I’ll be taking photos and blogging about it all next week, from Tuesday onward!

  6. How the C7 form in the collectors series? And a second question is will Rene get his own love interest?

    • Good questions!

      Re: The Collectors. The C7 was formed by Weston Flynn, the “big bad” from Lovely, Dark, and Deep, who started it with his counterpart in Germany. Brent Sullivan, the other American besides Flynn, was the youngest and seventh addition to the group–and the richest. I don’t know if I will write another Collectors book–I couldn’t find a plausible way for them to manipulate people other than blackmail and I thought it was going to get too repetitive. I did have two more “treasures” I wanted to pursue, though, so you never know 🙂

      Man, Rene needs a woman, doesn’t he? I think he’s gone through all the merwomen in Orleans and St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, so he is going to have to go farther afield. I’m thinking about doing a novella that gives Rene a starring role, traveling west of NOLA into true Cajun country. That might be where he finds his love interest. Since he and DJ have become such buddies, I’m sure his love interest and DJ will have some run-ins!

  7. arf if Rene does get his loved one it means it will have to suffer a lot for it if i remember right *brRR*

    Can we know what will be part of your author after dark grab bag?( if it’s a surprise then one element only for those of us that are super curious)

    Who is the author you are the most looking forward at At author after dark this year?

    • Well, I think Rene only has to do the oath thing if he mates with someone who is not fully a merwoman, and he’s a bit of a snob about that….although it might be fun to have Rene fall for a non-merwoman, which would really annoy him and he’d fight it…ooh, the wheels are turning!

      I’m still putting the AAD bags together, but they have books, audiobooks, little plush alligators (okay, they aren’t that little!), boas, special bookmarks, t-shirts, coasters, three or four other surprises….the bags can be carried like totes or worn like backpacks and are purple. There might be something else in there but I can’t remember offhand! I had some new pens made and haven’t even opened the box yet!

      I’m looking forward to visiting with some author friends I haven’t seen in a while or have only “met” online–Mina Khan, Eve Langlois, EJ Stevens, Rebekah Ganiere, Ciara Knight, Coreene Callahan, and Cathy Clamp. But mostly I look forward to meeting readers (including our own Liz!), which is the fun thing about this convention.

      • Sounds like delightful goodie bags! I want to meet everyone you listed too! And of course, can’t wait to meet you too!

        • It’ll be fun, Liz! I guess I should warn you that I tend to be pretty reserved in person–it’s the Sandlin genes. I’m much more outgoing when I’m hiding behind a keyboard (probably true of most authors!)

  8. You may have answered this at some point but where did you get the idea to for the “historic dead”? I think it is awesome to be able to “meet” some of the characters from the past.

    • You know, I’ve had to sit and think about this answer. When I wrote the first draft of ROYAL STREET, I wasn’t even thinking about writing a series–I was trying to purge leftover PTSD from Hurricane Katrina and vent my homesickness, because I’d just moved away from New Orleans and missed it horribly.

      The book, which I had no illusions of publishing because I’d never written any fiction before, was just going to be my personal love song to New Orleans, so I wanted to pay homage to some New Orleans “royalty.” In the original version of the book, I had Jean Lafitte, Louis Armstrong, Huey Long, William Faulkner, Marie Laveau, Truman Capote, Lillian Hellmann, Tennessee Williams, another musician or writer or two, the chef Antoine.

      I didn’t want to have them come back to New Orleans as ghosts haunting a flooded, dying city, so that’s when I came up with the idea of them being “historical undead.” I like the idea that the people we lose are only truly lost to us if we forget them, and NOLA has had such amazing characters in her past. I’ve had such fun getting to “know” them and imagine how they might react to certain situations.

      Of course, Jean Lafitte was going to be a bad guy in one scene only, and we know how that turned out. LOL. I kept Marie Laveau and Louis Armstrong in the first book, but that’s about all that survived by the time the book went through edits. Louis has been in two books now, and I later worked in Capote and Antoine. I used the author scene that got cut and put it in a short story.

      And that’s the LONG version of the historical undead!

  9. When Suzanne started the 30 books in 30 days, I thought, Oh no, I’m not going to comment and she’s going to run out of topics. I should have known better. Preternatura, where else can you go and discuss:

    Favorite Alien, Chocolate Day, Cards Against Humanity, Video Games, Saturday Plans, Teddy Bear Picnic, Sunday Plans, Sentinels of New Orleans, Yellow Pigs, Spinach, Rodents, Junk Food, Cousins, Ice Cream, Pirate in a Prison Jumpsuit, Lasagna, Harry Potter, Cheesecake, Chocolate Chips, and my favorite Ask the Author.

    Thanks Suzanne for keeping us entertained and an occasional laugh.

    • Haha–thanks, Roger. I wasn’t sure what we’d talk about either, but it’s been fun. I think the journalist in me can always find something to write about 🙂

    • Haha–fun question. Hm…does it shift into a hot guy? No? Just a pet? Well, it would take some training, but I’ll go with the dragon (I do collect alligators, after all, and they’re probably distant cousins). I had a terrible horse experience as a child so I prefer to admire them from a distance.

    • LOL. I don’t think I’ve thrown one across the room, but I have deleted several from my Kindle. I used to force myself to finish any book I started. Then I had a hundred-page rule; it had 100 pages to catch my interest. Then I dropped it to 50 pages. Now, it’s two chapters. Brutal!

      Honestly, the thing that is most likely to make me throw a book or delete it is not plot problems, but sloppy editing. Every book, mine included, has occasional things that slip through, but if I find five or six grammatical or punctuation errors in the first couple of pages, it’s gone. The other thing is rampant head-hopping; drives me crazy!

  10. I always find your posts very interesting and appreciate the time you take to create this awesome blog. What is the most difficult book you have written? Were you pleased with the end result or would you have liked to have made some additional changes in the story?

    • Really good question!

      The most difficult book…well, there are two that gave me fits, for different reasons. Now that I think about it, they also were written back-to-back at a time when I was going through some bad things on my day job and had killer deadlines and stalkers and all kinds of stuff going on. So maybe THAT was the reason they were hard.

      The first was the fourth Penton book, ALLEGIANCE. I struggled with that one because I was trying to juggle reader favorites like Aidan and Mirren while also resolving the relationship between Cage and Melissa so that Melissa could find her way back to Mark and Cage would be free to explore his chemistry with Robin. Anyway, I was happy with the way the book turned out. If I could do anything differently, I would have written a longer book so that Cage and Robin had more time to explore their feelings and not have to fight for page space with the other couples and the external plot.

      The other one that I really had fits with was DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD. I did like the book in the end, but it was a real struggle. Most of it was the external stuff going on in my life, and the fact that I was stressed out and sick much of the time I was writing it. I didn’t want to do anything but paint and sleep, but those deadlines just keep coming. Would I change anything about it? I don’t think so. I ended up liking Brody and Sam a lot, plus the character of Tom Nelson fascinated me–a basically good man forced to do bad things as a consequence of his own bad choices.

  11. Are you a write by moonlight kind of writer or up with the birds kind of writer?

    • Well, let’s see…I’m typing this at 10:20 p.m….LOL.

      Actually, were my schedule something I could control, I am by nature a morning person, and I’d do my writing in the a.m. But I still have a full-time day job, which requires me to be at my desk by 7:30 a.m.; it’s usually 6 p.m. before I get home and then have to unwind for a while. So all of my writing is done between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays and then I usually put in a 12-hour writing day on Sunday. If I’m not on a hard deadline, I’ll only work four or five hours on Saturdays.

      So I’m an “up with the birds” writer who’s currently being forced to become a “write by moonlight” writer 🙂

    • To be honest, I was very blessed. I was offered representation by only the fourth or fifth agent I queried (and lucked out to get an absolutely awesome one), and she was able to sell Royal Street to Tor Books, and that was the first book I ever wrote. For me, getting published was easier than staying published. If a series doesn’t sell like hotcakes, and none of mine have, publishers won’t stick with them. So there’s always a scramble for a new idea to sell. In my experience so far, it never gets easier. I just have to remember that while it’s personal for me, it isn’t personal for the editors who reject my ideas and proposals. They’re strictly looking at what they think might sell and whether or not it might make them some money.

  12. I’m curious about how much of a say you have when it comes to the cover designs of your books? I heard that publishers don’t always take an author’s suggestion into account …

    P.S.: Loving the Sentinels covers – so no matter who spoke the final word here – it led to an awesome result!

    • How much an author gets a say in the covers depends on the publisher. My Sentinels covers–a couple of times I have gotten a rough sketch (on the first two books). On Elysian Fields and Pirate’s Alley, someone actually saw them posted on Amazon or another blog and I’d never even seen them. (So much for cover reveals–LOL.) The great Cliff Nielsen has done those covers, though, and I’ve absolutely loved every one of them…except Elysian Fields, where I thought DJ kind of looked like she’d gotten up on the wrong side of the crazy bed and maybe had gotten a boob job. 🙂

      On the Susannah Sandlin books, I get a lot of input into the covers every step of the way. There was only one I wasn’t too fond of, and it was one of those cases where we were just running out of time.

      On the whole, I think I’ve been very, very fortunate with my covers!

  13. I hope this question doesn’t make you sad, but how are you doing after the loss of your furchildren? I’ve been sending good thoughts your way since then because I know how hard it can be to go through.

    • Aw, no, it doesn’t make me sad. Remembering things about them makes me laugh mostly these days, because they were really lively, funny dogs with big personalities. I’ve been kind of weepy the last week or so because it’s been a year next week that I lost Shane. And then Facebook didn’t help by popping up one of those “Look what you posted two years ago!” things, and it was a big picture of Tanker begging for treats. So I sat in my office and cried. Pretty pathetic, but they’d been with me for more than 14 years so they left some pretty big holes in my life. Thanks for thinking of me!

      • I’m glad me asking about it didn’t make you sad! My furchildren mean the world to me and I lost one of mine 2 years (and 1 month) ago so I wanted to know how you were doing and let you know that people on the internets are still thinking about them!

  14. do you ever thing about to write YA romance :D. I’m a new fans of YA romance hehe

    • Hi Eli–I actually had a YA that I wanted to write a couple of years ago, and as I was working on the proposal, a new book came out with a very similar premise. I think my language is too bad to write a real YA book, though! 🙂

    • I really love books written by Rick Bragg, a fellow Alabama author. He writes memoirs and biographies. My favorite book by him is Ava’s Man. I love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series; although my books get compared a lot with those of Charlaine Harris (as in, I stole the idea from her), I actually hadn’t even read the Sookie series until after River Road had been written…and never finished the series. If I have an influence, it’s Butcher and Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. Love that one too; it’s absolutely insane! And of course I love the early books in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood; I sort of lost interest in it after book six or so although I keep buying them and will eventually get them read.