Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An SAT with MG Author Terry Lynn Johnson

I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured yet another successful writer over to my blog for an SAT - Successful Author Talk. Today's guest is Terry Lynn Johnson, published author of DOGSLED DREAMS (2011). In her newest title, ICE DOGS, a 15-year old dogsled racer loses her way on a routine daytime outing with her dogs; with food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is up to her. ICE DOGS will be available Winter 2013 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Writing Process:
BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?
TLJ: I'm somewhere in between. I plan, then everything goes for a crap when I start to write.

BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?
TLJ: My first draft is normally complete after a hectic four or five weeks. Not sure if that's called a novel though, more like a big pile of goob.

BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?
TLJ: One is enough!

BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?
TLJ: I have one half finished that I may get back to. I've discovered that if I don't stay on the writing wave the first draft, if I take a break, I have a hard time getting back to it. Could be because I have the attention span of a pea.

Querying and Agent Hunt Process:
BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?
TLJ: The most awesome Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency picked my query for ICE DOGS out of the slush pile. I was signed with her within three weeks of sending my query. We've never even met. That means if I can do it, anyone can.

BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent?
TLJ: I queried a few agents with an early draft of my manuscript, and received some great advice on how to revise. I'm so glad that happened, because then I sent the newly revised manuscript to Caryn!

BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?
TLJ: I'm not convinced you need to stress over the query. It's the first pages that the agent reads, if they like it, they'll go back to the query. You have to catch their interest in the first pages!

On Being Published:
BBC: How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?
TLJ: My book was face out in my local Chapters bookstore and I almost had a meltdown right there. I was pointing it out to complete strangers and taking pictures with my cell phone. So embarrassing!

BBC: How much input do you have on cover art?
TLJ: I did have some on a technical error with regards to the sled. But other than that, not much.

BBC: What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?
TLJ: That the writer is usually the last to know what is going on. I still don't know what is going on. What is going on???

Social Networking and Marketing:
BBC: How much of your own marketing do you?
I have a blog, am on Twitter, and have my own website.

BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?
TLJ: If you're a writer, I think you should have some kind of presence out there. A website is free. It's easy to join Twitter, and fun. And you can learn so much from other writers.

BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?
TLJ: I don't think it hurts, unless you're a complete dork
(personal note, that last could be bad news for BBC!) :)

20 comments:

Yvonne Osborne said...

Ice Dogs sounds really good. I've always wanted to see the dogsled races in Marquette. I think it's amazing what they do. And, Mindy, you are not a dork.

Kristin Lenz said...

Terry is just as fun in person as she sounds in this interview. Winter 2013 is too long to wait for her book!

Marin McGinnis said...

I am delighted to learn that a someone with the attention span of a pea can be a successful writer. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. Fun post!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Thanks for having me Mindy! Definitely not a dork!
Thank you for the support Kristin!

Haha Marin! As I say, if I can do it...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still don't know what's going on either, Terry! Congratulations on your next book.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Terry! Yay! And what IS going on? ;)

Miriam Forster said...

Yay for writing a big pile of goob first!

Great interview, Terry!

Jemi Fraser said...

LOVE Terry's writing! I read Dogsled Dreams out to my class last year and it was their favourite book of the whole year! :)

Mindy McGinnis said...

Yvonne - thanks for the non-dork vote :)

Kristin - thanks for stopping by! I agree, I can't wait to read it.

Marin - having the attention span of a pea shouldn't be a fact- hey! Look, an ad!

Alex - We have an I Don't Know What's Going On club. You should join.

Caroline - apparently you're already a member :)

Miriam - Agreed. Everything I write starts as a pile of goob.

Jemi - isn't it wonderful when you can get a sense of response from them? Sigh.

Terry - Thanks so much for donating your time to my blog!

Deniz Bevan said...

What a lovely interview! Thanks for sharing your story with us TerryLynn! I'll think of you when I feel like my latest work is big pile of goob :-)

inluvwithwords said...

Fun interview Mindy and Terry, and finding it today, when I really needed a bit of down-to-earth inspiration, was just perfect. Thanks!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wonderful interview! I've been lucky enough to read Ice Dogs and it's amazing. I can't wait to read the final novel. Yay, Terry!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Terry! Wow, the fastest I ever wrote a book was six months. I'm impressed with your speed.

Alissa said...

Fun interview! I'm looking forward to reading Ice Dogs, and I agree with Diane, I am in awe of you crazy fast writing powers.

Janet Johnson said...

Terry you are so funny! I loved this interview. :)

Mindy McGinnis said...

Deniz - Thanks for following. Yes, Terry is proof that we all start as a pile of goob.

inluv - Hopefully my blog can always give you a good down to earth inspiration :)

CCW - Thanks for stopping by!

L. Diane and Alisa - I know! I usually have a six month turnaround, too.

Janet - Yeah, Terry is a fun interview!

Thanks again to Terry for stopping by.

Marcia said...

Thank you both for this interview!

Mindy McGinnis said...

You are quite welcome, Marcia! There's more SAT's in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

Medeia Sharif said...

Great interview. Yeah, what is going on? And that's so cool about her drafting speed.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

thank you everyone for all the comments!

One thing - my first drafts may be speedy, but my revisons take much much longer!

Thanks to that attention span I confessed to, I have to get my first drafts done insanely quick. Not recommended btw!

Thanks for having me Mindy!