Friday, August 12, 2011


My guest is award winning thriller-suspense-romance writer, Jo Robertson  She’s also a member of one my favorite groups, The Romance Bandits. 

Jo’s debut novel, THE WATCHER, won Romance Writers of America's 2006 Golden Heart Award for romantic suspense.

Jo is here to talk about wild turkeys…

Did your mind go straight to Wild Turkey Bourbon at the title of today's blog? Well, I'm not talking about that kind of wild turkey today. I'm talking about the feathered friend kind.

Sort of.

On the way to the dentist recently I nearly hit two wild turkeys with my car as they dashed across the street. The environmentalists in our town have done a good job of preserving creek and wooded areas, so I wasn't surprised to see the birds skitter across the four-lane road.

But seeing them me think about how writers are a bit like wild turkeys – they often stand out in crowds, mainly because their minds always seem to be somewhere else.

Writers think a lot. They think about thinking. It's called metacognition, and a writer metacognates all the time. If she did it in grade school, educators called her "easily distracted." In high school or college, she was "flighty," and in the work place, "unfocused."

In reality, writers are anything but distracted, flighty or unfocused. We wouldn't survive long in this industry if we were.

But we are free thinkers, letting our minds – conscious and subconscious alike – roam freely, snagging here and there on an idea, a phrase, a character, a scene, moving on , trolling deep waters or shallow pools. Hence, we may seem out of step with the people around us.

Our ideas and inspiration come from everywhere, skittering through our creative minds like those wild turkeys.

Photo Credit: Henry Zeman
Not only are we wild turkeys in our disparate ideas and stories, but we're like them in the venues we choose to publish through. We're all struggling to find a place in the publishing industry.

The truth is that the way we look at books, purchase them, and collect them is in the throes of significant change, and publishers of all kinds – the NY Big Six, small presses, e-publishers and digital first – are all scrambling to see what's going to happen to the book publishing industry.

It's not so much that digital publishing has increased significantly.  Electronic books still account for only about 15-20-% of the market, which leaves a good 80% to the print business. It's more how quickly digital publishing has increased – exponentially. And it's got everyone wondering what the future holds.

The one point all seem to agree on is we need writers! Writers of all kinds. Writers who think inside and outside the box, those who march in step with their fellow writers and those who march out of step to some weird meter in their heads.                                           

My journey into publishing began with the purchase of my Kindle in December. The moment I held that baby in my hands, I felt like I'd birthed another child. And I knew I'd never give it up. I also knew I'd never purchase another print book again unless it was a gift for someone without an e-reader or was unavailable electronically.

When I realized that the New York publishers weren't excited about my Golden Heart winning manuscript or my Daphne-winning story – too much romance, too little romance, not enough suspense, too much suspense, all of which I translated into "Where can we place your book on the shelf in the brick and mortar bookstore?" – I realized I needed to find a much bigger store.

A virtual bookstore. Digital publishing provides shelf upon shelf for the reader to pick among, and tons of tags, descriptors, and categories for them.

Deciding to take my career into my own hands, to move at my own pace, was a seminal moment for me. I like the control I have, choosing my own genres, setting my own pace.

Once I made the leap to indie publishing, I felt like one of those wild turkeys tripping across the road – free, but a wee bit scared I might get mowed down by a speeding car!

Now that The Watcher is in print and available soon electronically, I feel my wild turkey has come home to roost.

How about you, readers? What large or small decision have you made that felt wonderfully liberating or frighteningly scary? Share the deets.

Inquiring minds want to know!

The Watcher--Available now.

THE WATCHER Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working on sheer tenacity, she sets out to prove it. Deputy Sheriff Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with this pathology is bizarre. Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler County, but whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, fixates on Kate and wants nothing more than to kill her again. Excerpt

BUY: Available in print on Amazon  Available as e-book, August 19th. 

Like many writers, I penned my first story at a young age.  However, a family and a teaching career put my writing dreams on hold until my Advanced Placement seniors conned me into writing my first complete manuscript.  That story, which subsequently won RWA's Golden Heart Award in 2006, was THE WATCHER.

From the moment I put my fingers to the keyboard, the
barrier between my brain and the paper lifted, the story flew from my mind, and I fell in love with everything about the process of writing.

Raised as an Army brat, I lived in Germany as a child, Northern Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, and Utah before finally settling in Northern California.  Whenever I visit my sister in Virginia or my brothers in North Carolina and Florida, upon returning home I remember again why I love Northern California, home of the ancient redwoods, the fecund forests and the rugged Pacific Coastline.



~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, welcome to Over Coffee. I haven't finished The Watcher, but what I've read is wow. I can see why you won the Golden Heart.

Lest anyone be confused, I did include a picture of turkeys...

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi JO! Hi Sia!

LOL, my mind did go immediately to Wild Turkey Burboun! ;-)

Jo, I applaud your decision to put your romantic thrillers out there in the big virtual bookstore. I'm sure you made the right decision. Your stories are too good to not share them with readers!

As for my own big decision that made me feel free and scared at the same time? That was my decision to quit my Dreaded Day Job and pursue my dream of writing. I've never regretted that decision for even one minute!


Jo said...

As a new owner of Kindle, I look forward to reading more and more books electronically. I have been reading that way on my Palm Zire for years, Kindle is so much better.

I will still read paper books though.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought of myself as a wild turkey.
I understand your feelings towards the Kindle. Now that I have an iPad, I don't purchase physical books anymore. And according to my royalty statement, two thirds of my fans don't buy them either.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Sia! Thanks for doing such a lovely job for your visiting writers! I love and appreciate it!

Jo Robertson said...

Sorry I didn't stop by last night folks. I don't stay up as late as my critique partner Aunty Cindy (waving madly to Cindy).

Thanks for the wild turkey picture!

And thanks for the compliment on THE WATCHER. I hope you enjoy it!

Jo Robertson said...

Cindy, I know what you mean about quitting the day job to pursue your dream. It's a very difficult decision because -- hey -- it involves money and actually putting food on the table LOL.

Sometimes we don't even know if we've made the right decision until a few years down the road!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Alex! Great to hear your e-books are doing well. Pssstt, you're NOT a turkey!

As a former school teacher, I'd predicted years ago that the e-book revolution would start with college textbooks. They're so darned expensive and virtually all information is out of date by the time it's available in print. History and science are predictably hardest hit.

Anyway, I just saw a news clip that addressed the issue of college students buying their textbooks electronically. The revolution has begun!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Jo #1 from Jo #2!

We should offer to represent Amazon to hawk the Kindle. I adore mine! I didn't want all the bells and whistles or I would've gone to an Ipad. I just wanted an electronic reader and I'm beyond thrilled with my Kindle.

And the folks at Amazon are sooooo customer relations savvy!

Do you find you're able to read more with the Kindle because it creates less eye strain?

Nancy said...

Jo, that's an interesting analogy about writers and wild turkeys. Though I have to admit my mind initially tracked Cindy's straight to bourbon. *g*

I read a lot of ebooks now, but I do still buy print books. Having lived through two weeks without power after a hurricane, I want books on hand I can read even if I can't recharge the iPad for a while. I'm looking forward to reading The Watcher!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Nancy, that's a great point and actually, I was thinking of that scenario. I have both on hand. I love my kindle but that lil' battery only goes so far.

thanks for stopping by!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, I'm glad you liked the blog set up. I love my guests and want to showcase them and their lovely books.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Jo (waving madly)

You turkey you! Fly free, my do fly, don't they? I mean they have wings and all - but have you ever seen one in the air? Or a swan for that matter - I've seen geese and little birds, but those big things...

Sorry - must have been the writer in me. This whole publishing shakeup makes me think of that Chinese curse - May you live in interesting times. I think in the end there're be lots of books in various formats - enough to suit every nook and cranny. But the getting there looks to be a wild, wild ride.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Nancy, thanks for coming back. I hope you enjoy "The Watcher." It's a bit gritty, but the romance element is strong. I like writing about seriously bad guys. That seems to up the ante on the relationship between the hero and heroine.

When I saw those two wild turkeys cross my path, I knew there was a hidden metaphor somewhere!

Do you enjoy the versatility of the Ipad? Do you read much on it?

Jo Robertson said...

You're a very gracious hostess, Sia!

Running out of battery power for my Kindle is one of my greatest fears LOL. I can imagine it'd only be worse if you had a do-it-all device like the Ipad.

Jo Robertson said...

Yay, another Bandita drops in from the Romance Bandits Lair. Hi, Donna!

Hmmm, good question. I've only seen turkeys skitter a bit, flapping their wings to give them greater speed, but no lift off LOL.

We certainly live in "interesting times." And not just in the publishing industry. I'm eager to see where it all ends when the shake up settles. Right now, I think it's very beneficial to readers. And after all that's why we write, isn't it?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Jo and Sia!
(Aunty rubs her bleary eyes.) Hey, Nancy and Donna, good to see you have dropped by from the Lair, too!

Yes, Nancy, turkeys can fly, but like chickens only for a short distance. Mostly they fly up into trees where the wild ones often roost. I've seen them do it. Jo's right about our area having some lovely natural waterways and I live close to the Sacramento River so we have lots of critters that live near it.

Donna, that Chinese curse is so true! These are very 'interesting times' in publishing and so much more. Guess I need to break down and buy some kind of ereader and join the revolution. LOL!

Everyone who hasn't yet read The Watcher, you are in for a TREAT! A scary treat, but a really GREAT story! ;-)


VA said...

I'll say, no to the first question, but now I want a splash or two of whiskey. Seeing how it's a bit early here, I'll hold off a spell.

Liberating decision? Hmmm...after giving husband #1 the heave ho, I'd say giving myself permission to get rid of "things" that I don't want any longer or never wanted but ended up with. Freedom from "stuff" is one of the best things I've ever done. It is both terrifying and exciting.

Jo Robertson said...

Thanks, Cindy, for the info on the wild turkeys. I've never seen them roost in trees. Interesting.

We have a lot of small creek areas near me. And some of those creeks seriously flooded during two of our overly rainy seasons. I told the people in my church to stop praying to the rain gods. Enough, already!

Jo Robertson said...

Thanks for the compliments, Cindy. As my CP, you've read that baby several times!

Suzanne Pitner said...

Congratulations on your new book, Jo. I hope it sells a million copies...even more!

Jo Robertson said...

LOL, Vrai Anna, does burbon really burn when it goes down like brandy?

Once my husband and I stayed over by the coast in this lovely old place that overlooked the Pacific. After a nice steak dinner we went back to our room and ordered dessert from room service.

Hey, not THAT kind of dessert!

Anyway, I ordered a creme broulee. When it arrived it came with a bowl-shaped glass with delicious-smelling liquid in it. "Are we supposed to pour it over the creme broulee," I asked my husband.

He snickered while I took a giant gulp of the stuff. I thought I'd set my esophagus on fire!

Can you tell I'm not a drinker LOL?

Jo Robertson said...

VA said, "Freedom from "stuff" is one of the best things I've ever done. It is both terrifying and exciting."

Oh, yeah, isn't that the best thing??!! I haven't had to give away a husband LOL, but I imagine once you've made the decision, it feels incredibly good. Really, sometimes people stay in bad marriages way too long.

Not our heroes and heroines, of course!

Kate and Slater in THE WATCHER are soul mates. They just don't know it at the beginning of the book!

Jo Robertson said...

Thanks, Suzanne! I appreciate the suport. A million copies???? From your lips to the reading public's ears!

Jo said...

Hi Jo#1 again. I hadn't honestly noticed any difference in eye strain reading my Kindle. I haven't had it very long though. It is certainly a lot easier to handle than some of the huge books that are around. I read at least 100 books a year so eye strain can be a problem. I will look for yours at Amazon. I do advertise on my blog although not specifically the Kindle.

Anonymous said...

I was recently asked to edit a manuscript and even though I know nothing about editing manuscripts, I said "Yes!" Now keep in mind, I am not an educated person in that I have a degree in anything but I DO have "street" knowledge. No, I have not lived on the streets per se. I have learned everything I need to know from my family, my husband, and of course, TV! So I took on this challenge with full dedication. I learned a few things in the process. One, I am a lot smarter than I give myself credit for, two, everything I know about sex I did NOT learn from my mother, and lastly, I must keep a dictionary with me while editing manuscripts in the future.
Mom, I love you!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, I usually have the blog up around 10 or 11ish the night before it's due to post. That's for my convenience and no worries on not commenting then very few do. Some of my Euro readers do.

Aunty Cindy, when am I going to get you back here on Over Coffee?

Caren Crane said...

Sia, and Jo, what a great post! Jo, I often feel out of step with those around me. From now on, I'm blaming it on the wild turkeys! *g* I did not know the term "metacognition" but it is a perfect definition of how it feels to be a writer.

Instead of listening to people, I find myself watching the reaction of others listening to them and trying to get inside their heads. "What did she think about that? She seems upset, but she's trying to hide it. I wonder why that would upset her? Or was she already upset when she got here?" It just goes on and on and on.

And every news story, TV show or movie gives me story ideas. "I wonder whatever happened to that little boy who was lost that they turned over to the police?" "I wonder who owns that coffee shop they go to? That's a cool-looking place. If I were a writer in that neighborhood, I would totally write there." Then I invent whole communities of people and imagine their relationships. Anything goes! It's kind of exhausting. : )

Jo, I hope The Watcher sells like crazy. I can't wait to read it!!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, I forgot my liberating decision. When I was an unmarried, single mom, the decision to leave my poorly-paid job as an assistant manager of a clothing store and go back to college was incredibly liberating. So was earning my degree in electrical engineering. I knew I would never have to work Sundays again!!

VA said...

Jo, I figure relationships are a lot like fishing. Sometimes you catch something you don't want. Doesn't mean that it isn't perfectly good fish for someone else. Just toss it back. There are plenty more fish.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hey, Caren! Good to see you. Seems your mind works along similar lines as mine, lol! I wonder the same things about news stories and things I read or hear about.

Thanks for stopping by.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, you crack me up!

Some *fish* are just rotten, just sayin'.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi again to the other Jo! I meant that the Kindle SAVES my eyes. When I was reading paperbacks, especially, I could only read for 30 minutes or so at a time. But now I can easily read for several hours. I love that there's no glare on the Kindle, but my favorite feature is that I can make the font size ANYTHING I want it to be!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Anonymous (who is not a street person LOL). Thanks for stopping by. I do think the school of hard knocks can often be the best. My line copy editor is my daughter who didn't go to college, but she's the best. She was my teacher's assistant in high school for two years, and I couldn't have gotten by without her!

Oh, wait, Anonymous! Is that you -- my daughter!!??

Jo Robertson said...

The Romance Bandits do the same thing, Sia. We have quite a few Aussie readers and, of course, our two Aussie writers, Anna Campbell and Christina Brooke.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Caren, thanks for swinging by. "Metacognition" is a term educators use, which is the only reason I know it, but the "metacognate" was something I made up LOL.

I think writers are great people watchers and eager to engage in the "what if" scenario that fuels our stories and imaginations.

Thanks for wishing me success with THE WATCHER!

Jo Robertson said...

Wow, Caren, huge, huge decision! I'm so proud of you because I know an engineering degree doesn't come easy.

Jo Robertson said...

Love that fishing analogy, V. Anna! One person's trash is another person's treasure, right?

Hey, aren't you supposed to be Down Under at the Aussie Conference?

Did you snag wifi somewhere?

Thanks for returning!

Jo Robertson said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Sia! I had a great time.