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 

my favorite things: last minute gift ideas

It’s getting closer– Christmas. Are you ready? Here are a few of my favorite last minute ideas. Some require no shipping at all and 1 you can pick up at the drug store.

For the book lover…

The perfect stocking stuffer for the lady who loves to read, this class red nail polish’s official color name is “I Red a Good Book” and it’s available on the Wet n’ Wild display rack at the CVS in my area for $1.99 or on Amazon.com 

"Red a Good Book" Nail polish

 Also from Amazon, the gift for those who have everything and it’s something I am now addicted to, Amazon Prime. Yes, it costs $79 a year, but listen to what you get. Unlimited streaming of all the TV Shows and movies they have available, both on your computer or on the tablet app. I had been paying $100 a year for Netflix streaming. And there’s more (and this has been key for my Christmas shopping)…free 2-day shipping with no minimum purchase on Prime eligible items.

For the couch potato…

Next, know someone who loves gadgets and television? Check out Chromecast. If their TV is moderately modern and has an HDMI port, you can plug this $35 device into it, install the app on your tablet, smartphone and/or computer and stream from the device to the television. Now there are limitations. You can stream from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora and HBOGo, but not from AmazonPrimeVideo (which is what I use). But with the Chrome browser extension, I can put anything that’s on my computer browser on the television. Not perfect, but for the price, not bad. Works with Android, iOS, Chrome for Mac, and Chrome for Windows. (NOTE: the Roku 3 streaming device will play Amazon Instant Video but is a bit pricier at $88)

And the perfect gift to go with the Chromecast could be a gift subscription to Netflix ($7.99 a month) or Hulu Plus (also $7.99 / month)

And when all else fails, there’s always my go to last minute gift, available at your local liquor store :)

Have a merry!!

Cat

my favorite things: christmas gifts 2013

It’s kind of disturbing that Christmas is a mere three weeks away. There’s no time to wait. Love it or hate it, it’s time to shop for those gifts! Here are my favorite gift giving ideas for Christmas 2013. The best part? You can get them all without leaving the house.

GIFTS FOR THE BOOK LOVER

Wicked Witch Bookmark

An Etsy find, I’m giving these fun bookmarks this year along with a copy of the Wizard of Oz

GIFTS FOR THE MANLY MAN

Hand Grenade Paperweight

I own one for myself but what man wouldn’t appreciate such a unique desk accessory?!

GIFTS FOR EVERYONE

Joe Boxer Kmart Christmas Ad

Young, old, male, female, many on my list will get Joe Boxer PJs in support of the daring and controversial choice KMart made in airing my favorite ad this season! Watch it on YouTube.

Happy shopping!

Cat Johnson

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 

 

 

 

 

my favorite things: the beach edition

Getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to the beach in Rhode Island and I thought what a perfect time for another favorite things post–the summer beach vacation edition.

Reef Bottle Opener Flip Flops

In case you’ve doubted it before, yes, I am one cool chick to have around. I can even open your beer on the beach with my shoe with these Reef flip flops! The bottle opener is built right into the sole.

IPhoneCase

A waterproof iPhone case! And it comes in pretty pink for girls. No, I’m not going swimming with my brand spanking new iPhone, no matter what the manufacturer says, but for sand and spill protection, I think this case will do just fine. Picture it–the iPhone stashed safely in the cup holder in the arm of my folding chair. Ooops! Oh no! I spilled my drink in the cup holder! What will I do? Never fear, the phone is safe in the waterproof case. And yes, I’m guilty of stashing my phone in my boobs, and sweat happens to the best of us in the summer…so this will be good for that too! ;)

Limeritas

My new favorite summer drink in a can, perfect for the cooler when you don’t want a beer on the beach. Try a Limerita! Made by Bud, it’s literally a margarita in a can! Comes in original Lime or Strawberry. 8% alcohol.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. What’s your favorite things for the beach?

true blood

If you’re a fan of the True Blood HBO series, I know what you were doing last night–watching the season premiere. And I also know you can’t wait for the next episode. But maybe there is something to hold you over…how about a True Blood cookbook? Check out what’s on the market.
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps

True Blood Drinks and Bites