Category Archives: life

a writer’s crazy life

It’s the first day of spring and it’s snowing here in NY State, and that about sums up what this winter has been like for me–Crazy!!

I went from sunny and beautiful San Antonio last month, where I enjoyed the Wild Wicked Weekend Reader Author event, the rodeo, the Alamo, and the Riverwalk, to snowy New Jersey tomorrow for the Create Something Magical Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference. And in the middle of it all I had three major deadlines and a new release in my bestselling Hot SEALs series.

FB-AD-SEAL-4

Such is the life of a working writer. I’m off to ho my new release but I’ll leave you with some pictures from San Antonio and the historic and reportedly haunted Menger Hotel. Enjoy!

Cat Johnson

Alamo

LonghornsRiverwalk

San Antonio Rodeo

Top to Bottom: The Alamo at night, Me at Longhorn’s Restaurant, the scenic Riverwalk, the famed Menger Hotel Bar, opening ceremony at the San Antonio Rodeo.

 

travel: boonsboro, md

I’m just back from a fabulous weekend in the Maryland/West Virginia area where I was lucky enough to be invited to sign at the Turn the Page Bookstore in historic Boonsboro, MD with none other than the legendary queen of romance herself, Nora Roberts.

Nora Roberts Book Signing

The weekend started Friday when, after crossing the Mason-Dixon line, I entered Maryland, and drove past beautiful country, revolutionary era graveyards and houses, and Civil War battlefields and landmarks.

Shortly thereafter I checked into the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, WV. My room and balcony overlooked the Potomac River, the border between the two states. After a sunny drive down, it had just started to drizzle, which was fine because my room had a fireplace in it! Yes, I know, I should have taken pictures. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I was too excited about the signing the following day.

Friday night I had dinner at the Domestic in Shepherdstown. They’d lured me in with their Bacon-Ranch Fries I’d seen on the online menu, but once there, I had to also order the homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Mushrooms and it was to die for!

The following morning I had breakfast at Betty’s, famous for their sausage gravy, and I have to say everything I tried from the menu was incredible, especially the biscuits. Then it was off to Boonsboro, MD where, at 930 am, the line of readers was wrapped around the corner for tickets for the signing that started at noon.

Book signing Turn the Page Bookstore

I explored the town a bit, hit the local antique shop and then it was time to go in and pre-sign the advance orders readers who couldn’t attend had placed for my books to be signed and then shipped to them, a really nice service the bookstore provides.

I estimate close to 300 readers passed through the bookstore, and every one was gracious to all of the authors, whether they were there to see one of us, or just to meet Nora. I didn’t keep count but I must have signed upwards of 50 of my books. Lucky attendees who have been waiting for book 3 in my series, Three Weeks with a Bull Rider, to release next Tuesday got a special treat because my publisher shipped it to the bookstore for the signing early. All in all it was an incredible monumental day I will never forget. I think the fact I look so good and happy in the photo, taken at the end of the nearly 5 hour signing, proves how wonderful it was. The staff and volunteers were incredibly well organized and so welcoming. They even fed us. FYI, when in Boonsboro, try the white pizza from Vesta’s. It passed even the New Yorker test.

I got to see again a couple of readers I’ve known for years, and I got to meet new ones who, thanks to my cover model Keith and my smoking hot cover on One Night with a Cowboy, were intrigued enough to give me, unknown to them, a try.

Afterwards I stopped into Dan’s Tap Room across the street, sampled two microbrews, and then headed back to Shepherdstown to grab some quick Chinese food in town and crash hard in my room in front of the fire and TV after the adrenaline rush of the day left me.

Next trip there I’m vowing to spend more time and visit all the interesting places I drove past, but for a whirlwind trip, I couldn’t be more pleased at how it all worked out. For those who have never been there, you must check out the quaint and historic town of Boonsboro, where Nora Roberts renovated the current Inn at Boonsboro, her husband Bruce runs the Turn the Page bookstore. Even if you can’t spend the night, spend a few hours, sample the local fare, and check out the site. Well worth the trip.

The InnTurn the Page Bookstore

 

how writing is like riding a bull

I’m procrastinating finishing a book, which is nuts because I’m so close to being done, and a book in my computer makes me $0 compared to a book in the stores, but anyway…  I’m reading an article online (for research, you understand) about bull riders, and the difficulties some newcomers to the pro tour, and even veterans, have staying at the top of their game, and the more I read, the more I keep thinking, YES this is what I feel being a writer. Take the below paragraph…

“I think being a pro at something means showing up and being ready to win every weekend,” McBride said. “I think that’s what separates guys and it’s that way in any sport. It’s the guy who can show up and do it every weekend. You don’t know for sure how you stayed on him, but now the next weekend it starts all over and you have to do the exact same thing again…”

You could easily replace parts of that paragraph with writing terms and explain how it feels, at least for me, to be an author.

“…being a pro at something means showing up and being ready to [be a best seller with] every [new book]…I think that’s what separates [authors]… It’s the [author] who can show up and do it every [book]. You don’t know for sure how you [rose to the top of the best seller ranks], but now the next [new book] it starts all over and you have to do the exact same thing again…”

And then there’s this paragraph speaking about the difference expectations for rookies compared to veterans…

“A guy’s rookie year—he’s on his honeymoon,” McBride said. “Everything’s great, you’re excited to be there, there (are) no expectations for you—it’s fun.”

Again, for a rookie vs a veteran writer it would read like this…

“[An author’s first book]—he’s on his honeymoon. Everything’s great, you’re excited to be there, there are no expectations for you—it’s fun.”

I’ve seen this exact thing happen. I’ll throw something up self published under a different, brand new pen name and get all 5-star reviews that read “I wasn’t expecting much at all but wow this was well written” whereas me, as Cat and on my 48th book or so, will get reviews such as “I really liked it but it’s not her best work–3 stars”. It’s all a matter of expectations, and setting the bar high for yourself means you have to leap that much higher each time. Because of that it’s a relief, and actually fun and so much easier to write anonymously. And it makes me dread proving myself over and over again, which is not fun at all.

So there is my procrastination-inspired introspective philosophical post. Do with it what you will. I must go back to wrestling with the bull– now…on the blank page, that is. 🙂

Oh, by the way, as the reviews are piling in for book 3 in my Oklahoma Nights series, Three Weeks with a Bull Rider, which releases 3/25, book 1 is currently on sale for 80% off, just $1.99 for the eBook of One Night with a Cowboy at most digital retailers. Buy links and details at www.CatJohnson.net 

Cat 

travel: las vegas

I’m baaack…and exhausted from my nearly weeklong trip to Vegas where I once again mixed business with pleasure. I experienced the fun and excitement of the Professional Bull Riders world finals with daily events Wednesday through Sunday, which also served as research for me for my two contemporary cowboy series. While there I also attended a fundraising lunch for the not-for-profit Rider Relief Fund on Friday, I signed and gave away to donors a case of books at the RRF booth on Saturday and I had a book signing at one of the Vegas Barnes & Nobles on Sunday. I got to meet up with my readers and other PBR fans whom until now I’ve only known online. I got to meet in person the Oklahoma-based owners and crew of my marketing partner in crime, Joseph’s Fine Foods in Drumright, which appears in all of my Oklahoma Nights romance novels. And in between it all there was the insanity that is Vegas itself.

Here are a few pictures…because we all know what happens in Vegas, no longer stays in Vegas thanks to Facebook and Twitter. 🙂

Enjoy!

Former World Champion Bull Rider Guilermi Marchi  and me

Former World Champion Bull Rider Guilermi Marchi and me (he refused to hold the book with the half naked cowboy on the cover though).

Joseph's Fine Foods

The Joseph’s Fine Foods crew flew to Vegas from Oklahoma to meet me!

Chicken on a Chain

I met one of my favorite bucking bulls, Chicken on a Chain.

PBR red white and blue

We all wore our stars and stripes for the Saturday event’s salute to the troops

The Luxor Hotel Vegas

I slept in a pyramid and saw a sphynx…

 

...and saw a gondolier on an indoor "Venice" canal at the Venetian.

…and heard a gondolier sing on an indoor “Venice” canal at the Venetian.

All in all, it was exhausting and exhilarating. I ate food that was too big, drank Jack Daniels like any good cowgirl or cowboy would, and had a great time with both old and new friends. Now, after a whirlwind spring, summer and fall, I am looking forward to NO TRAVEL for at least a few months because when all is said and done, there’s no place like home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

travel: seattle

I know I’ve been a bit MIA lately. My excuses are many. Deadlines. Edits. New releases. Taking on more writing than I have time for. Becoming obsessed with watching past seasons of Sons of Anarchy. Promo ho-ing, though I must be doing a good job of that. Since I was here last, I hit the USA Today bestseller list with two different books and the NY Times list with one.

Me (left) and Eliza Gayle (right) on a riverboat in Savannah

Me (left) and Eliza Gayle (right) on a riverboat in Savannah

And then there’s the travel… Since I last blogged here I was in Savannah, GA for a convention, and had a whirlwind weekend at the beach in Montauk, NY.

It seems as if I just got home from a trip to Seattle and in just a few days I leave for Vegas. Both of those trips are dual purpose–business and pleasure.

I have a few good pics for you from Washington State, and I hope to have even more from Las Vegas, so stayed tuned. For now, enjoy my visit to the rainy Pacific Northwest. And don’t you all dare comment how that is a myth because the week I was there yes we had some sun, but they also broke records with 6 inches of rain!

Ferry

View of the wheel and Space Needle from the Bainbridge Island ferry

Market

The Public Market sells tons of cool stuff and yes, I saw them tossing the fish

Starbucks

The first ever Starbucks. Imagine when there was only one?!

Superman

At the EMP Museum exhibit I saw Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume

Kirk

Captain James T Kirk’s chair from the bridge of the Enterprise complete with tribbles

Blair Witch

The Blair Witch Project’s witchy thingy

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s Thriller video zombie costume

Inigo Montoya's sword and the Highlander's Katana

Inigo Montoya’s sword and the Highlander’s Katana

wizard of oz

I’m told this original Cowardly Lion’s costume from the Wizard of Oz was made from real lion pelts

Sasquatch-seen often in the Pacific Northwest and a creature who scares the crap out of me FYI

And finally, here’s Sasquatch-seen often in the Pacific Northwest and a creature who scares the crap out of me, much to the amusement of my Seattle friend!

That’s it. It’s off to Vegas for me next and the Professional Bull Riders Finals. I’ll also be having a book signing at the Barnes and Noble on Sun. Oct 27th at 2, and I’ll be at the Rider Relief Fund booth in the PBR Fan Zone Sat. Oct 26th 11-2. More info on my event page.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

Cat 

 

 

 

 

gifts for dad

Father’s Day is nearly upon us, and procrastinator that I am, I haven’t bought my gifts yet. But that’s not to say I haven’t seen a few doozy ideas fly by on the internet. Here’s one or two that might appeal to the dad in your life.

Remote Control Beer Opener

A Remote Control Beer Opener. Bet Dad doesn’t own one of these!

 

BBQ Branding Iron

A BBQ Branding Iron-because what man doesn’t want to play cowboy once in a while?

 

Remote Control Cooler

For the truly lazy, a Remote Control Cooler

And there you go, 3 suggestions I’m betting you hadn’t thought of for Dad this year. You’re welcome! 😉

Cat

 

random romance (w)riter roles

Think I sit around in my jammies all day and spin spicy sexy tales? Think again. Today I bring you random things romance writers are good at, in no particular order…

Shipping-

Should my writing career bottom out, I could probably get a job at the UPS Store because one side effect of being an author in today’s day and age is shipping stuff. Lots of stuff. Prizes to contest winners. Baskets for charity auctions. Swag to readers. Promo for giveaways. And on a side-errand, shipping things to the deployed troops (using the dreaded customs forms. UGH). I’m at the post office a lot. At least one or two times a week. So I got that skill going for me.

PromoPacking –

I travel to conventions with a 40 pound carry-on bag filled with giveaways. A ten pound laptop case filled with technology and pens/sharpies. And, last but not least, a 50 pound checked bag filled with clothes, costumes, toiletries, and the overflow promo, banners, banner stands, scissors, tape, swag, etc. That’s 100 pounds, carried by me who, when I’m at my best, weighs in at 115 lbs. It takes a lot of time and skill to get it all where it’s going, and at a minimum expense. I managed to get a case of 120 glass shotglasses to New Orleans for a comvention unscathed and for free. That’s talent. At left is the other case I ordered of the same shotglass, tucked neat and safe in my carry-on, this time headed to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, MO in two weeks.

Travel –

Related to packing but also a bit different, I have become an expert solo traveler. I know to wear no belt, and no shoes with laces. I’ve got my photo ID and boarding pass out, my shoes off, my laptop out, my jacket off and my 3-0z liquids in a clear quart sized ziplock long before I reach the TSA scanners. The agents recognize my vast travel talent and bump me to the expert traveler lane at Laguardia Airport. Expertise has its privileges. I’ve figured out how to send my bags through the scanner in the fewest number of bins and so my most valuable items (wallet, electronics) go through as I walk through so they’re not hanging out unprotected at the end of the conveyor belt while I’m still back on the other side of the scanner. Any jobs out there for professional flyer? I’m your girl!

Promo Ho-ing –

Though on a resume I’d probably have to write Promotions and Marketing or something equally boring. I am an expert at what vendors are best for which promo. Who has free shipping. Who has no set up charges. Whose customer service is the best, and whose sucks. The dirty little secret of being an author today is that writing the book is only step one, promoting it is what they don’t tell you you’ll be spending considerable time and money on. If you’re not a natural ho, this can be challenging.

I was going to list Professional Bum but didn’t because I’m not sure that’s a thing, but I have crafted daytime outfits to write in during the day that are as comfortable as PJs but still look presentable should a deliveryman come to the door.

So there you go. My random skill set that will hopefully keep me off the streets should the world stop loving romance. Let’s all hope that never happens, shall we?

chair-ity

Those of you who read the saga of my writing sweater know I keep things until they are in such bad shape they need to be thrown out. I wore my last sweater until it was so holey it embarrassed even me. I drove my last car until the mechanic refused to fix it again and told me to buy a new one. You know it’s bad if a mechanic won’t even take your money. Well, today’s item that I am trying to reconcile parting with is my writing chair.

The cats will miss it too, but look close between them and there's the hole :(

The cats will miss it too, but look close between them and there's the hole 🙁

It is about 20 years old…maybe a little more, but things should last! Okay, there are holes in the bottom cushion, so I flipped it over and now there are holes on that side too. And the cushion’s foam doesn’t quite fit because years and years ago there was an unfortunate cat pee incident and I had to wash the foam insert and it wouldn’t dry so I leaned it near the woodburning stove and …well, let’s say foam doesn’t burst into flames, it more like smoulders and melts slowly–hence the new insert.

There isn’t exactly a back cushion any longer, either. I washed that and it fell apart in the washing machine. So for a few years I gathered up the pieces, stuffed them into a plastic bag, and shoved it back into the zippered cushion cover. That eventually got too lumpy and horrible so now I’ve shoved an old bed pillow in there.

So yeah, this is what I’ve been working in. Only now I need to put 2 throw pillows behind my back, and I’ve noticed my left leg going numb. I think it may be time, as much as I hate to say it.

I really don’t like change. Obviously. And searching for a new chair is going to take time. It’s nothing to be entered into lightly. It could be with me for the next 20 years. I’ll have to try it out. Get a feel for it and how it will be after sitting in it for a full day of computer work. That’s hard to do in a store. Even harder online, which is where I prefer to do my shopping.  But as I hear the mournful strains of “Taps” being played in the background, I know it must be done.

I go bravely into the search. I’ll keep you informed on my progress.

Cat