Q: Welcome! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your book?
Thanks for having me! River Road is the second in the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (with a big dash of romance), although it can be read as a standalone. It’s about the aftermath of what happens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina tears down the borders between our human world and the world Beyond, where all the paranormals live. In this book, we have two clans of Cajun mermen feuding over territory in the Louisiana wetlands, someone is killing off New Orleans wizards (and the heroine, DJ, is on the hit list), and something is poisoning the water of the Mississippi River. And did someone mention weregators?
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written—journals, bad poetry, horrible short stories. But I never really considered being a writer until it came time to choose a college major and I realized journalism and English interested me a lot more than biology and physics. Until that time, I’d been following a pre-med path. So I became a journalist. I only began writing fiction about four years ago.
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Definitely a plotter. I don’t have time to be a pantser. I have a full-time day job and am writing two series, plus a daily blog, so I have to maximize my time. A week or two up front plotting a novel can save months of drafting and revision.
Q: What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up revisions on the third book in the Sentinels series, Elysian Fields, which comes out next August, and working on proposals for two new projects. And I have a new digital short for Kindle and Nook, Christmas in Dogtown, that just came out. It’s set in Louisiana but isn’t tied to the series.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
Don’t dabble. Ask yourself how badly you want to be published, and what you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Because being an author is hard work, even after you’re published. You’re going to be working long hours, and you’re most likely not going to get anywhere near rich. I have friends who are talented writers—really, really talented—but they always have a reason for not writing. The house needs cleaning. The new episode of Supernatural is coming on. I’m tired from my day job. Honey-pie wants to go out to dinner. My head’s just not in the right space now. On and on and on. If you wait to write until you have time and all the stars are aligned, you don’t want it badly enough. It has to be the top priority.
Q: What book or series can you read over and over again without getting bored?
JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Those books are a clinic in writing flawed, emotional characters. And, um, they’re sexy!
Q: If you decided not to be a writer, what would your other dream job be?
I’d love to be a hermit and live in the mountains. Oh, wait. Guess that’s not a job. I would be a fabric artist. Before I got caught up in writing, I enjoyed making paper-pieced art quilts and loved playing with color and design. One of the bad things about writing novels is I don’t have time to do that anymore.
Q: What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done in your life?
Going through Hurricane Katrina as a New Orleanian. I was evacuated for more than six weeks, sleeping on a friend’s daybed. I had one pair of shoes and two days’ worth of clothing with me. For over a month I didn’t know if my house had survived (it was damaged but salvageable), whether my friends had made it out (some did, some didn’t), whether my job would be there when I was allowed to return (thankfully, yes), whether my city would ever come back from it. I was scared and I was heartbroken. I learned a lot about myself during those days, good and bad, and thought a lot about my life. It led to some major changes—one of which was writing my first novel. Six novels later, I say that was the best thing that came out of it.
Q: Who is the one person that has singlehandedly inspired you the most in your life?
Probably my mom. We fight like crazy, but she’s incredibly smart and strong and resilient. I hope I got my mom’s strength and my dad’s kindness.
Q: If you could take a trip to any foreign country RIGHT NOW, which one would you choose? Why?
Scotland. I’ve done a lot of my family’s genealogy, and most of my ancestors came from Scotland back in the 1600s. Some of the Clan Sandilands (Americanized to Sandlin) castles and such are still standing and I’d love to visit the area of the lowlands they came from.
Q: What is one talent that you’re hopeless at, but you wish you had?
Singing. I love music. I’m a music junkie, and love singer-songwriters. But my singing voice is somewhere between sick monkey and banshee.
Q: What TV show are you most addicted to?
Swamp People. Love that show. Ice Road Truckers is a close second. Yeah, I know. Pathetic. At least I can say I’ve never watched Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.
Q: If you were stuck on a deserted island, name three objects and three people you would want with you.
Well, I assume there is no way to charge batteries so my Kindle and iPhone are off-limits. I’d take singer-songwriter Zachary Richard because he could sing to me and help me with my French lessons. Eustace Conway of the “Mountain Man” show because he could figure out how to survive. My BFF Dianne because she could make me laugh (once she got over being pissed off at me for dragging her to a deserted island with a Cajun songwriter and an eccentric survival dude). Objects: a guitar for Zachary; a big tent; and a bigger knife.
Q: What is one trait or physical characteristic that you are proud of/love about yourself?
I’m loyal to a fault.
Author Bio: Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Indiebound
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.
It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.
Do you know Taryn Albright? No? What a shame! She’s superwoman, really. College student, swimmer, lit agent intern, freelance editor, and a writer—with her own agent ;) Also, she hosts some awesome critique contests on her blog every now and then and gives awesome writing/editing tips on twitter.
She was part of a great editing group called Teen Eyes until a few days ago, and since she’s launching her own editing website, I want to give her a shout out.
Taryn’s new business is called The Girl With the Green Pen.
A few words from her:
My mission is to guide writers through the daunting task of revision. From idea development to editorial feedback to general publishing advice, I love working with stories and those who create them. As a nationally ranked swimer, I know the value of time, so I believe in quick responses from the first email to the last.
I am not just another freelance editor. Beyond providing an experienced and thorough critique, my secondary goal is to establish a relationship with my clients. I want to support you throughout the stressful submission process and celebrate with you upon any and all good news. Writers may put pen to paper alone, but it is through a community that the book gets finished, polished, and submitted.
And here’s some basic Q+A:
Why The Girl with the Green Pen? Why green?
Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, s/he will most likely cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means new life. These are ways to think of your revisions, and this is how I like to think of the editing process.
But why are you leaving Teen Eyes?
I founded Teen Eyes in August 2011 to critique your YA manuscript from the perspective of a YA. Since then, I’ve expanded my interest in editing. Plus I’ll be 20 soon, so the “teen” part won’t work much longer. I still love Teen Eyes, but I wanted to do something bigger.
I’m currently your client / have been your client in the past. What does this mean for me?
I hope nothing! I will continue to give the notes you have come to expect. This is only a change in scenery, really, and I hope you’ll be excited as I am about my growth in this area.
Taryn Albright is a 19-year-old Creative Writing major. She spent over a year as an intern for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, had a short stint at Movable Type Management, and now interns with another major New York agency. Her YA fiction is represented by Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management.
She founded Teen Eyes Editorial in August 2011 to provide an editorial service from a teen perspective. During those fifteen months, she worked with 64 authors and 75 projects and had the privilege of watching nine clients sign with agents and five sign book deals, four with major houses. While the majority of Taryn’s clients are seeking representation, a number come agented, and she has also worked with four published authors in various capacities. Learn more about Taryn’s notable clients on the Success Stories page!
Taryn specializes in books for readers from 8-24, devoted to MG, YA, and NA equally. As a NA herself, she loves the development of independence in the genre. YA has her heart because of its element of transition. And MG? MG explores an element of adventure that no one ever truly leaves behind.
Some of her favorite authors include Stefan Bachmann, Stephanie Perkins, Rae Carson, Veronica Roth, Ransom Riggs, Catherynne Valente, and Libba Bray. Her all-time favorite book is ENDER’S GAME.
I worked with Taryn a couple of times and highly recommend her. Go check her out!
Hey friends! Jeez, it’s already Monday and I’m late for my weekly ROW80 update! Let’s do this quick then …
Here are my goals for the past week and how it went:
- Thanksgiving: Enjoy my time with my friends. It was awesome.
- Writing: write on Mon. Hm, nope. I decided that only Monday would do no difference on my scheduled and ended up watching some movies (and working their beatsheet).
- Reading: read book #72 of the year. Nope. Too busy having fun with my friends.
- Social media: I digress from this one this week. Barely showed up online. Which was a nice change.
- Exercising: 2x. Mon and Tues, yes.
My goals for next week:
- Writing: just keep writing.
- Reading: read book #72 of the year.
- Social media: try to be present, but not too much.
- Exercising: at least 4x.
Want to check the other ROWers? Click here.
Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Victoria H. Smith!
Nicknames: Vicki, Vic, and V. Pretty much any short version of Victoria, lol.
Where do you live: Cornbelt USA! – The Midwest
Favorite Dessert: Cheesecake, yum!
Favorite TV Series: Currently on air? Switched at Birth | Cancelled? The 4400 and Smallville
Last book you read: Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
Last movie you watched: Romeo + Juliet with Leo Dicaprio (book research ;D)
Last song (or album) you bought: Vows by Kimbra
A book/series you could read over and over again: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Coke or Pepsi: Coke
Day or Night: Night! I’m always up late.
Pen or Pencil? Pen. It writes smoother.
Summer or Winter? Can I say fall? Love the leaves and the apple cider!
Cat or dog? Cat
Tea or Coffee? Coffee with lots of sugar and cream!
Plotter or panster? I’m a Snowflake Method girl which is a combination of both.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When I saw a gap in the fiction market I decided I wanted to be a writer. There wasn’t much fiction about twenty-something characters so I wanted to bulk it up.
What are you working on now? Right now, I’m in between projects so I can get some of the titles I have written all out by next summer. The sequel to The Crimson Hunt and its novella are in that bunch.
If you decided not to be a writer, what would your other dream job be? Why? Wedding Planner. While planning my wedding I realized I was really good at it :D
What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done in your life? I don’t think I’ve really done anything scary. Does ride a plane count? lol
Who is the one person that has singlehandedly inspired you the most in your life? Lucille Ball. Good Lord that’s where all my snark comes from, haha.
What is one talent that you’re hopeless at, but you wish you had? Basketball. Never could do it, and always sucked in gym. Wish I could shoot a basket!
What is one trait or physical characteristic that you are proud of/love about yourself? My sense of humor. I love being the funny girl!
Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? Don’t let anyone tell you what kind of author you should be. You write what you want, when you want, and how you want. Don’t let other people get in the way of your dreams!
About the Author: Victoria H. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She puts it to good use writing romance all day. She resides in the Midwest with her Macbook on her lap and a cornfield to her right. She often draws inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, and the twenty-something characters she writes give her an earful about it.
In her free time, she enjoys extreme couponing, blogging, reading, and sending off a few tweets on Twitter when she can. She writes new adult fiction romance in the sub-genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary, but really, anywhere her pen takes her she goes.
College junior Ariel Richmond is working on year three of Project Normalcy.
Her house reeks of keggers past and her bestie is just a slight bit vulgar. But the thing is—they both aid in making life refreshingly uneventful.
So much for hard-earned mediocrity when Luca Grinaldi appears on the scene.
Luca’s sudden presence on campus is hard to ignore. Those bright eyes act like a beacon to unsuspecting females, and with features like his, he’s got to be moonlighting for GQ. Luca hopelessly captivates Ariel with his confidence and charisma, but the mysteries surrounding him make him nearly untouchable. And just when Ariel grows close enough to unlock his secrets, a tragic event sends her life in a downward spiral.
That steady life is no longer an option and allies quickly become scarce. The mysterious Luca seems to be the only one willing to help her—but with that trust comes the burden of his secrets. He has a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.
Gone are the days of simply maintaining normalcy, and if Ariel isn’t cautious with her trust, so soon may be her future.