Friday, March 18, 2011

Seekerville Welcomes Guest Terry Lynn Johnson

Grab a seat on the dogsled and a cup of hot cocoa as Terry Lynn Johnson shares her Wild Ride today in Seekerville!

Find your peeps

You may have thought it difficult to find a group of people as weird as writers, but I can proudly say I belong to two such groups - writers and mushers.

The first writing conference I ever attended was the Canada East chapter of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I remember the feeling of belonging. Of being in a room full of other writers who understood my goals and the challenges of attaining them. Writing is a solo occupation, so how awesome when you get to surround yourself with others with the same drives.

Now imagine being a musher - another solo occupation. Hours, days, weeks alone on the trails with just you and your team. Then, a couple times a year at a sled dog race, you get to be in a room full of other mushers. People who share your concern for whip worms. Who also study their dog's poop. Who are also covered in dog hair. Who have ripped up their own carpets so their dogs can come inside. Uniting with your peeps, no matter what your passion, is energizing.

That I can combine these two passions of mine is amazing to me. And I feel incredibly lucky and grateful.

Write what you know

We've all heard, "write what you know." My middle grade novel, Dogsled Dreams, has mostly real-life people characters, sled dog characters, and events that actually happened to me.

It was just after I finished the first draft that I read somewhere that you should NEVER write about real life events. The reasoning had to do with writers being too close to the story, and not putting enough details in for the reader to feel it too. I panicked when I read that. "I don't know what I'm doing! I'm a hack! I'll never get published!"

But writing what I know has been good to me. My second novel, also a dogsledding adventure, is with my agent, Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. It is also full of my own actual experiences. After more than ten years hanging off the back of a dogsled, traveling fifteen mph down a narrow, twisting trail, I have many stories to share.

One day, my team and I met up with a grumpy beaver. That incident made it into chapter one of Dogsled Dreams. Another time, I was surrounded by wolves, far from any roads, at night, alone with my team. I thought that also deserved a scene in the story.

Wild ride

When Dogsled Dreams, was released this year, I didn't know what to expect - much like my first dogsled ride. But one of the best things I've discovered in the last few years is the people in the writing community are so supportive and kind. I feel honored to be part of two amazing groups. Yeah, sometimes strange, but I like it that way.

Terry Lynn Johnson has a passion for sled dogs. Her own adventures with her team of eighteen Alaskan Huskies has provided her with a rich background to write from. She has had numerous articles published in outdoor magazines, and recently won the Maxwell Medallion of Excellence from the Dog Writers Association of America. Dogsled Dreams is her debut novel.

For more information visit her at

or her blog:
or Facebook:

Today Seekerville will be giving away a copy of Dogsled Dreams to one poster. So be sure to come out of lurking and to chat with Terry!


CarolM said...


Whenever I think of sled dogs, I think of Janette Oke's Canadian West series and how she picks the best dog for herself ;).

I've got all sorts of yummy pastries set out for anyone who wants them!


Tina Radcliffe said...

I am just sooo intrigued with this entire profession, Terry.

How did you get into it?

You have to totally tell us about what a musher does/is and what a musher's assistant does.

This is so cool.

CatMom said...

Thank you for sharing, Terry! WOW! What fascinating adventures you've had! And I echo Tina's questions (waving at Tina---who will be receiving a recipe from me soon,LOL). ~ I am also wondering about your dog team--you must get VERY attached to those beautiful canines. ~ Thank you again for sharing! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Helen Gray said...

You must get COLD out there in the snow with those dogs. Have a hot cuppa coffee!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

OH MY GOODNESS...THAT DOG! Absolutely gorgeous. Great post too!

Erica Vetsch said...

How cool! My daughter's college roommate is a musher from N. Wisconsin. She's competed in the Apostle Islands and the John Beargrease. Her dogs are so beautiful!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Carol - I'll have to look up Janette Oke! Thanks.
Little dogsledding trivia: mushers don't actually say "mush" to their dogs. The term comes from the French explorers who shouted "marche" to their dogs. (walk) Sorry, I'll try to keep the fanatical mushing fan-girl to a dull roar.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Tina - I started as a handler, that's an assistant to a musher who tries to learn everything the musher knows about dogs while picking up poop. I handled for three different mushers - even one in Alaska and I handled for a musher in the Iditarod. By the time I got my own dogs, I thought I knew a thing or two. But my education had just begun!

Vince said...

Hi Terry:

How wonderful to work with so many big dogs! I loved my time in the AF training K9 sentry dogs. Its seems every year some national magazine comes out with a story that says: “Dogs are smarter than we think they are.” Anyone who has worked with working dogs can tell you that!

I just asked to have your book put on the Kindle. Do they do that for Mid-Grade books? Do kids have Kindles? I hope so. I need the larger type. Do you happen to know the font size of your book? Is it 12 point or bigger?

I’m glad you are writing about what you know. There is nothing wrong with that if what you know is exciting!

I just love reading the Newbery Award books because they are so good. Would “Dogsled Dreams” be eligible for a Newbery? I think if more adults knew how good these books are, they would read more of them.

Is “Dogsled Dreams” about a dog race? Also how long is the working life of a sled dog. Our K9 dogs worked until they were 8 to 9. My biggest dog was 134 pounds. How does that compare with your dogs?

I really want to read this book. I’m sure you’ll get many more questions which I’ll be reading.

Thanks for coming and sharing.

Watch for KC's questions. She is our Mid-Grade K9 expert!


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Patti Jo - it's really all about the dogs. I had eighteen dogs at one point, and that's considered a fairly small kennel. Mushers have a deep connection to every dog in their kennel - deeper than the relationship with a pet dog. The sled dogs, especially lead dogs, know that the musher depends on them. I can't explain it, but you can see it in their eyes. A musher has to know every mood, every health issue, everything about his dogs. Most can pick out individual voices in their kennel when all the dogs are howling. It's very difficult to portray what the dogs mean to me in a comment.

One day, my lead dog, Apollo (pictured) fell down the well in my backyard. He weighed close to 70 pounds. Within seconds, I had dropped a ladder down, and was hauling him up on my shoulder while I climbed out. How the *** did I do that? I pondered that most of the night after I brought him in the house, dried him off, and slept with him on the couch so I could watch him. Yes, I was VERY attached to my dogs!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Helen - I eat a lot! Keeps the inner furnace working.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Thanks for commenting, Cheryl.
Erica - those are some tough races! Must be a serious musher!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Vince - wow! Thanks for chiming in. Good to meet you!

so - my book will come out on Kindle next year. The publisher waits a year before they do that. But the font is quite large. It looks bigger than the 12 point on my computer screen.

The story follows a young musher as she trains her team and teaches the pups. And, I don't want to give the ending away, but there might be a few chapters during a dogsled race.

Each dog is different of course, but I found the race team dogs run until about 8 - 9 years old. I had a senior's team also, that I quite enjoyed running. Less fast, but more dependable! I ran them for as long as they loved to run. My old leader was 13!
The sizes vary too, depending on what kind of sled dogs they are. There's sprint, mid-distance and long-distance dogs. Keep in mind, sled dogs are athletes, and just like a human long-distance runner, they tend to be narrow. Big dogs were needed back in trapping days when mushers depended on their dogs to haul heavy loads. But snowmachines took away the need for those dogs. Musher needed an excuse to still keep and run their dogs. So racing evolved. THe dogs evolved. They got smaller - less weight on their joints meant less injuries. The average weight of a female is 35 - 45 pounds. Males 45 - 60. And that's Alaskan Huskies. Nowadays, there are more Euro-hounds. These are smaller yet, but fast. But they don't have the thick coats that Alaskan Huskies have.

I'm so happy you are interested in the book. You can order it through your library, or purchase it on line Amazon, B & N, or through any bookstore.

Ausjenny said...

I always thought it would be cool to see the Iditarod one day. Only problem is I dont like the cold, never seen real snow fall and have a major fear of dogs but aside from that It would be so cool and see the Aurora Borealis at the same time.
being a musher sounds so fascinating and I bet it was good fodder for writing.
Im bought 8 episodes of The call to the wild which has dog sleds in it.
Oh I see you were a handler for the the Iditarod that would have been so cool.

KC Frantzen said...

Terry Lynn!!!

WAHOO! Dog writers and SCBWI,AND middle grade to boot? Doesn't get a lot better than this...

Oh wait - This is Seekerville. What are we doing talking snow and dogs when we're on an Island (some of us) and talking romance?

Well - it seems Seekers have a real heart romance for their critters. :)

Thanks for a great post.

May sends her very very best sniffs and greetings. She's wiggling her entire self, wanting to sniff each and every four footed person, and all the gear and the snow and...

Perhaps she can get a parka and join in. Surely there's some spy stuff that could go on. Surely. :)

Do you take writing materials with you while you are out? Or do you need to concentrate every second on the trail? How long do you "run" per day?

That is so interesting about the sizes too.

When you camp, it sounds like you are alone. Do mushers ever camp together?

I'd love to have seen that beaver! The wolves -wow - what did your dogs do? How many were there? Was it at night?

(I'm trying to live up to that Vince intro... Waving Vince! And to answer your question on Kindles, from what I've been able to find out - Kids don't really have them yet, at least in any great number. Terry Lynn, is that what you know or can you shed some light there?)

Thanks for coming to Seekerville today!

KC Frantzen said...

Ok y'all,

You MUST check out her blog and website. The photos are

Carol - thanks for the pastries. YUM!

AusJenny - seriously - I think you need to meet Terry's dogs. Just look at the joy on their faces! May sez, "I will work on you too. NO reason to fear us! We are COMPANIONS after all, and have the nickname 'man's best friend' for a good reason!"

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I second Tina's request. I want/need to know more.

And what a great romance heroine you'd make. Seriously. Has anyone done a romance about a woman musher lately????

Carol, food, yes, thank you!!! And my buddy Helen made coffee. Helen, I've got the tea pot hot in return and a FULL SELECTION OF TEAS for our tea-drinking friends.

God bless youse all!

Kirsten Arnold said...

Wow! Thank you for stopping by Seekerville, Terry.

I have to echo others. This profession has always fascinated me, and I LOVE sled dogs! On a trip to Alaska I got to meet a few and they're truly magnificent.

Please don't hold back the "fanatical mushing fan-girl" and share more about your experiences.

Ruth is right a female musher would make a great heroine! (Excuse me while I dash to the notebook of ideas)


Tina Radcliffe said...

Please do get in fan girl mode. I love it.

I want to hear the wolf story too.

Do you still have dogs?

Tina Radcliffe said...

I want to know what your secrets for staying warm are. What you eat while on the trail. Are there stopping points for water like in marathons when you are in a race?

Rose said...


I'm zooming over to check out your website and blog just as soon as I press enter on this message!

Can you share a the back cover blurb or a "teaser" entry from the book? I'm wondering what you did when surrounded by wolves.

Best of luck with your books.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Glynna Kaye said...

Terry -- A friend of mine used to assist a friend of hers who had a team of sled dogs, so I've been to and enjoyed a number of races. I can see how the relationship with the dogs and the events would make for fascinating reading!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Terry! Love the pictures of your dogs!! Just keeping them fed must be a fulltime job. LOL

I can't imagine hanging onto a sled, alone, except for your dogs, grappling with nature in the COLD. Brr. But what great fodder for jam-packed adventure stories.

Congratulations on your debut!


Christine said...

The dogs are absolutely gorgeous! I love big dogs, though living in a 900 sq.ft. apartment working 10 hours a day limits having one.

I will put your book title alongside several others in my TBR list. I am so glad you decided to keep your real-life adventures in your book. Maybe you should consider a non-fiction compilation of those stories.

Thanks for the post today and a glimpse into your unique lifestyle!

Leigh said...

No wonder you write about what you know -- what you know is a world of adventure away from the rest of us!

My parents were able to see part of the Iditarod years ago. I have a beautiful silver sled charm that they brought me for my bracelet. Almost as beautiful as your dogs. :-)

I'm another aspiring MG author, and have heard great things about Andrea Brown's agency. Loved your story in another interview about how you connected with your dream agent. Did you consider trying to find an agent in CBA, or did you target ABA because of the story or the wider choice of agents? That seems to be an ongoing question for some juvenile/MG writers.

When you say the book is MG, I'm guessing you mean the 9-12 range. Which end of that spectrum would you say it's more geared toward? I have a 9YO girl and 12YO boy. He loved Call of the Wild and Hatchet so would probably enjoy Dogsled Dreams.

And finally, how did you get interested in working with sled teams, and how old were you?

Thanks for sharing with us. I've been on self-imposed blog restriction because of work so I'm glad I let myself sneak over here today!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Terry and welcome to Seekerville.

Wow. Andrea Brown Literary Agency. They are the best and it is tough to get with them. And its a lot tougher to publish in children's than in romance so CONGRATS girl. I'm impressed. ANd pleased because the story sounds fantastic. I loved Jack London as a kid and this sounds like its right there with that much adventure.

If I was still teaching I'd definitely select this for my students.

Thanks for the pastries CarolM. yumm is right.

Julie Lessman said...

TERRY LYNN -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE! What a wonderfully refreshing and fun blog today ... AND occupation!!!

Like Tina, I am totally intrigued by the idea of a being a "musher." Hours, days, weeks on the trail alone except for you and your dogs ... if I could strap a laptop on, sounds like something I might like to do! What do you think about out there, days on end? I mean, put me behind the wheel of car (a very dangerous thing to do), and I get from point A to point B with six chapters plotted out and NO earthly idea how I got to my destination!! :)

When I read your statement that you "read somewhere that you should NEVER write about real life events," I got cold chills that had nothing to do with the snow beneath your sled. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Most of my books are sketches of my real life, so take out "real life" and not only would I have no ideas for plots, but I honestly could not adequately portray how the scene makes me feel, which would KILL me!! SOOOO glad you didn't listen to that bunch of mush (sorry, couldn't resist!).

All I can say is -- you go, girl!! Or in terminology better suited -- MUSH!!



Kav said...

Well this is exciting to find here at Seekerville today! Love dogs. Love dog stories. Love a girl and her dog in an adventure story (as opposed to the overused boy and his dog adventure story). And I just happened to be looking for a new adventure title to add to a reading set (I work for a school board library). So voila, I have one on order to preview as we speak. I love it when my 'hobby' and my work collide!

Patsy said...

It sure looks cold in those pictures! The book sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway.


Pepper said...

Congrats on the release of your book, Terry. What an interesting profession!
(and certainly a bit romantic)
And I LOVE your phrase to 'write what you know'. My favorite novels to write are the ones that are so close to my heart I can feel the story happening around me.
A few interesting family members are definitely a boost for characterization too :-)



Nancy said...

Terry, I loved reading this.
I have loved sled dogs ever since reading Jack London's Call of the Wild as a kid.
Some of my favorite movies are Iron Will, Balto, and Eight Below.
I even owned a retired one for a while, An Alaskan Malamute named "Kabuck".
Please enter me for the book draw, thought truthfully if I don't win I'm jumping on Amazon ;-)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Hi, Terry! I've always been enthralled with the ideal of dog sledding and been in love with Alaskan Huskeys. My hubby lived in Alaska for a few years growing up and really misses the use of his cross country skis. :D

Congrats on your success. Your books sound quite adventuresome!


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Jenny, teams are still running the Iditarod as we speak! The race was very exciting this year - the winner came in on Wednesday morning. This is a good site to follow

TerryLynnJohnson said...

KC - I haven't camped with other mushers - but I used to take out families and school groups. I took the outers highschool group out once and they made a snow quinze to sleep in. That was fun!
Yes, the wolves surrounding me one night I was alone and the howling kept getting closer and closer. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time. You'll have to read the book to find out what I did. *wink*

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Ruth - My second book is a young adult (therefore, with some romance) about a racer who gets lost in a blizzard on a training run with her team. And they save a boy with a secret. They have to learn to trust each other and the dogs if they are going to survive.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Kirsten - thanks for your comment. Actually there are many female mushers now. In fact, there were almost as many women running the Iditarod this year as men. They have a slight advantage because normally they are smaller, so less weight for the dogs.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Tina - depending on the length of a race, there are checkpoints that a musher must sign in to. Most mid-distance or long distance races have regulations requiring teams to layover a certain time at a checkpoint. There the musher must feed and water and care for his own team. Food drops are prepared ahead of time and volunteers are busy flying all the drops. Mushers don't actually get much rest at the checkpoints because they spend most of the time there caring for their dogs. A checkpoint is where a musher can drop a dog too, if he feels the dog is not having fun anymore. There are some funny photos on the Iditarod website of bush planes full of dogs - you can see them looking out the windows as they fly back home in style.

A musher must eat lots of calories to keep warm. But most things freeze so you have to try to get as many calories with as little fuss as possible. I don't eat sticks of butter, (one rumour I've heard) but I eat fat-heavy snacks. Yum. note: recommend NOT eating these when you're sitting at home writing. Not good.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

KC - thanks so much for your enthusiasm over my blog and site! Glad you like the photos!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Tina - another little tidbit you might find interesting: sled dogs drink baited water. Most musher bait the water with various bloody meat parts and chicken fat globs to get the dogs to drink the water before it freezes. When you slop the steaming, red water with floating bits of goo into their dishes, it looks quite yummy.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Rose - this is on my site too, but here it is. From the publisher:

Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous sled dog racer.

She's an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges though, seem easier than living up to the dogs' trust in her abilities.

Rebecca runs her huskies along the crisp trails near Thunder Bay, Ontario, where northern lights flare and dangerous beavers lurk.

Through the bond she shares with the dogs, Rebecca learns that hard work, dedication and living in the moment bring their own rewards.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Glynna - I hope you enjoy the book! Thanks for your comment. I agree with your friend, they are fascinating!

Janet - thank you. Yes, I have so many stories after years of hanging off the back of a sled. I could write many more books! Dogsledding really is the most amazing thing to experience.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Christine - thank you for taking the time to comment.

Before I wrote this book, I took a writing course so I could write my memoirs of working in a wilderness park for 12 years. I have many many stories there eg. once I chased a bear with a chainsaw while I was naked.

But my writing tutor talked me into trying kid lit. I do still plan to write my memoirs one day. Mostly so I don't forget all the times I nearly died or the quiet moments of bliss I've had in the wilderness.

For now, I've been writing non-fiction articles for magazines.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ewwwwwwwwwwww on the bloody water.

So how fierce are these dogs. Can you trust them around small children?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Terry, how many dogs do you currently have?

What do you do when you aren't writing and mushing?

Cara Lynn James said...

What an amazing professions! The dogs are so gorgeous. I'm not sure I could endure the cold weather, but I imagine the scenery is so beautiful.

It's such wonderful story material. And welcome to Seekerville!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Leigh - I've been getting emails from grade 5 students all the way to 72 year old readers! I'm so so thrilled with the age range this book is finding an audience with! The mc is 12, and the sentences are fairly short - but there are some complex words. I'd say your kids are in the right age range.

When searching for an agent, I took a look at the genre, and researched which agents were interested in the kind of outdoor adventure stories I write. I didn't really look at the agency. But there were a few agents on my list that were with ABLA, so that was hard to decide because you can only query one agent from there. In the end, I made the right choice. Caryn answered my query within an hour, and signed with me not long after that. I'm very fortunate!

I started working for dogsledding companies who take out tours. I was 20 years old. By the time I was 24, I had my own team. I've always loved dogs, and I love the outdoors, and once I was introduced to the sport, I fell hard. Total and complete love. The dogs grab your heart with their dedication to the job, their joy, and their devotion to you as part of a team. Nothing in the world is better than seeing your dogs happy.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Sandra - thanks so much. Yes, I've very lucky indeed to get in with ABLA. Luck and timing played a big part. I hope you get a copy of the book even though you aren't a teacher any more!

Julie - thanks! Yeah, I think it's important to follow your own instincts. I tend to get stuck when I read too much writing advice. I freeze up thinking I can't possibly write that well. If I just do my thing, it seems to work.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Kav - YAY!! You've made me so excited! Thanks very much for stopping in. I do hope you enjoy it. Yes, I think girl + dogs + adventure = interesting reading.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Patsy - thanks for your comment.

Pepper - Sounds great. Keep up the writing! Family members can be a wealth of inspiration!

Nancy - thanks so much. I have seen Iron Will, but that's the only one. Balto is actually mentioned in the book. How wonderful you had a sled dog! Such characters!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Linnette - thanks! you should go visit your hubby's hometown sometime! What a place!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Tina - each dog is different. One of the more interesting things about sledding is watching your dogs grow, geting to really know them, and learning what makes them tick. A musher knows when each dog in the team is getting tired, or is goofing off because he's scared, confused, or just trying to get away with something. Some dogs are pacers, some are trotters. Some are so good with children, they could be babysitters, some don't care much for the little people who run too fast and scream.

Puppies know which dogs they can climb on and bite ears, and which ones to leave alone. I used to bring puppies into schools when I taught dogsledding. Each puppy had the same experiences, but some grew up to love kids, others, not so much.

I'm a Conservation Officer now, so I only have two dogs. But I still have friends who are mushers and sometimes I get to run with them. Someday, when I'm retired, I may get back into it again. The dogs require a great deal of time commitment!

Other things I like to do when I'm not writing: I love skiing, competitive swimming, kayak expeditioning, and my hubby and I are competitive canoe racers. I think I may have a few too many passions, but what the heck.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Cara Lynn - thanks for the welcome! This is a happening place!

Anonymous said...

wow I was thinking of all the dog food and poop with 18 big doggies! my shepherd and lab are more than a handful. I always thought my lab would make a great sled doggy except for the speed - she's not a runner at all!

thanks for the tea! back at work today and it's been hectic as all get-out.


Vince said...

Hi Terry:

There is such a romance about a heroine- musher.

It is very good and all about taking care of the dogs, staying in condition, the cost of feeding the dogs, training runs and racing. It is just what the reader wants. And I’d sure like to see more books like it.

I just can’t remember the title. I pretty much buy any romance that takes place in Alaska so it is hard to remember. I am pretty sure it was a Love Inspired. Someone else should know the title of this book. I bet Margaret Daley would know.

Terry you are doing great on all these answers to questions.

How about the dog diet? Our dogs only got dry food but we cooked soup bones to make a fatty broth to coat the food with. Each dog ate 3 to 5 pounds of food a day! (This may include the water.)

Also all 35 dogs were totally different in personality. They also had friends and allies and fierce enemies. They would sneak attack their enemies. We would also never let a dog jump off a truck. The dog had to be lifted on and off trucks in every case. That’s why I got the 134 pound dog. Scout was the biggest dog and I was the biggest Airman!

How many pounds of food do your dogs eat and what do they eat and is that your biggest expense.

This is a very inquiring group here. : )


Leigh said...

Thanks for the detailed answers to all our questions! My son just spent one of his (many!) Books A Million gift cards to buy me a book for my birthday. Now maybe I need to return the favor and get Dogsled Dreams for all of us to enjoy. :-)


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Susanna - thanks for stopping in. I worked for a musher who had two dogs that looked like labs. Their dad had been a lab. They were SOOOO crazy! And boy did they run! I don't think the breed matters too much. as long as everyone is having fun. Labs are great to skijor with - put on a pair of skis and let him pull you.

Debby Giusti said...


What a delight to have you in Seekerville. We can't get enough info. We all want to be you...well, until the temp drops and the wolves start to gather 'round. You are one amazing woman! A hero for sure!

Keep giving us more info. We're lovin' it.

Plus, I've had a "musher" heroine in the back of my mind. Now she wants to have a life of her own.


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Vince - yes, a fun and very inquiring group! Sounds like you've had quite the experiences with working dogs too. Great stuff. Do you write about it?

My dogs ate a mix of very high quality commercial dog food and a variety of additions. I purchased 50 pound blocks of frozen ground chicken parts, and blocks of chicken fat. I 'd cut it up wiht a chainsaw into 2 pounds chunks and use it as snacks on the trail as well as adding it to a cooked mixture. Cooked rice, vitamin and mineral packs, warm water, and a protein.

Beaver meat is the perfect food for dogs. It has the correct ratio of protein and fat. When you mix food, you need to be aware of all the fat/protein/carb/vitamin requirements. Also, what the dogs get depends on the weather and how much they are working. In cold weather, I'd add extra chicken fat to the mix. I also fed them fish and sometimes got the bones you speak of and let them gnaw on them. That was mostly a summer treat. The food was certainly the biggest expense. Well, the equipment is quite an investment, but the food is ongoing.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Debby, thank you. I don't think I've been on a blog with so many comments before.
If you are planning on writing about mushing, I would definitely suggest more than just talking to a musher. There are so many details and nuances of the sport. And there are a few sledding books out there that were obviously written by someone who didn't do their research. I think you need to go out with the dogs. Not just ride in the sled. But get into the action. Drive the team. Meet the dogs, harness them, hook them to the gangline, pick up their pooop. Have fun!

Debby Giusti said...

Ah, Terry Lynn, maybe my musher heroine will remain where she is for a bit longer.

Then again, a good reason for a vacation in Alaska. Right?

You're great! We all love you! Keep talking!

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Terry Lynn, what if 'what I know' is pretty much roast beef and diaper changing.

No wolves to contend with.

Still, I guess I know cowboys.

What an adventurous life. I love this. You're very brave.

Mary Connealy said...

Terry Lynn, Ruthy is right.

(I suggest everyone do a 'screen capture' on this comment because how often am I gonna say something like ruthy is right?)

What a great setting for a romance novel. And it seems like Love Inspired and Heartsong Presents are really interested in different occupations, interesting unusual jobs. This is perfect.

She's driving her dogs out for a practice run and come upon an unconscious man. She loads him on the sleigh just as she realizes he's been shot, this is no boating accident!!!!!!! (okay, time traveled to Jaws for a second, ignore that)
then a shot rings out. She races down the moonlit trail. (the sun set while she was loading him, work with me here)
And when she gets him home he's just conscious enough to tel her 'don't call the police....I'm an undercover FBI agent investigating .... dog sled abuse. I'll be killed by ruthless corporate dog sled interests if they know I'm here)

She quickly hides her Fortune 500 credentials and cancels her flight back to the 'We Blinded a Dog to Prove Our Hairspray Is the Best' headquarters in New York City. she doesn't want him to think ill of her because he's majorly cute.

Then someone kicks in the door.......

Mary Connealy said...

I'm slapping a stetson on the FBI agent adn starting the book right now.....

except I know nothing about dog sleds.........

maybe you'd better write it, Terry Lynn

Mary Connealy said...

Or maybe Ruthy could write it. She thinks she knows everything.

Mary Connealy said...

Terry Lynn said:
once I chased a bear with a chainsaw while I was naked.

Mary Here:
Whoa, I once had a possum drinking out of my cat's water dish. That's kinda the same. Pretty upsetting. No chainsaw. I just hid inside until he waddled off. Icky beastie.

Mary Connealy said...

I was fully dressed, also.

Pepper said...

I come back to check on comments and I hear about naked women with chainsaws and possums who thing they're cats.
And Mary said 'Ruthy was RIGHT?!?"
But, afterall, it IS Seekerville.

I shot wild dogs from my bathroom window once. Hit them on the bottom to scare them out of the yard.
I was wearing pjs and Tazmania devil slippers. :-)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

okay. I really like it here.

Mary - you've made tea shoot out my nose. I don't think it matters that you only know diapers, (though, cowboys work for me) with that electric wit, I think you can write about anything.

Also, yes, I would say the possum experience sounds pretty close. Thanks for paying attention!

Mary Connealy said...

Terry Lynn, it was quite traumatic (the possum). I don't like to talk about it. :(

Mary Connealy said...

but I mentioned it so you would recognize me as a kindred spirit.

And when I was a kid, for one very shocking summer, due to two pregnant stray dogs, between us and our neighbors across the road, we had fourteen dogs.

We begged to keep them all but our fathers were NOT amused.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Pepper - yes, this conversation has taken a bit of a turn. I like to pull out my bear story at parties and see what happens.

I'm getting pretty comfortable here. Wait till I start telling my tic story...

And now I think I want Taz slippers.

Linnette R Mullin said...

I think John would love to visit Alaska, but as expensive as it is, we may as well go to Japan where his mother's family is, or Hawaii where he was born, or California where he spent some pre-teen years, or Spain where he was a teenager...he's a Navy brat. ;-) Did I mention Maine, Washington state, Virginia.... :D

BUT! I've seen the Grand Canyon at least three times and he hasn't seen it once! ;-) LOL

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay, what's a Conservation Officer. Is that like a Park Ranger?

Linnette R Mullin said...

Aren't conservation officers allowed to ticket people for breaking conservation laws?

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

I found the title of the musher romance:

Across A Thousand Miles
Harlequin Superromance, No 1043
Author: Nadia Nichols

I thought it was very good. But I’d like to see how you would write this. Maybe one of your Allegany men could be the hero and Terry could be the heroine.


Vince said...

Hi Terry:

Can we order an autographed copy of your book from your website? I’ve bought books before direct form the author.


Missy Tippens said...

Terry Lynn, what a great post! Thanks so much for being on the blog today! I love the photos! Your books sounds so good. I'll be sure to check it out. I totally of the mindset that you write what you know. I think that's probably the best place to start.

Oh, and I don't know about y'all, but who here thinks those photos of Terry Lynn in the hats look a little like Ruthy??!! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Is your mom's family doing okay? Praying for everyone in Japan!

Debby Giusti said...

Pepper, new pic or new to me? Love it!

Debby Giusti said...

Terry Lynn,
I want to hear about the tick story!

Pretty please?

Pepper said...

Thanks, Debbie.
My daughter took it this morning before I left for work.
She said I was having a 'good hair day'. I'll take as many of those as I can get :-)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Tina - it's a Wildlife Officer, Game Warden, Fish and Game Commission, I'm trying to remember what all the names are in the States. Conservation Officers enforce natural resource laws.

Vince - I have a few author copies left. If you want to email me I can tell you the address to send a cheque for the book and I can send you an autographed copy. I haven't arranged with a bookstore to do this. I know some of the authors in my Elevensie group have done this.
terry (at) terrylynnjohnson (dot) com

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Missy - thanks for your comment.

Debby - I just remembered this is all on the internet, so I'll have to save that story for when we all meet for drinks some day. I'll just say it involves a wood tick, some poor, male canoe partner I had just met that will forever be mentally scarred, and my innocent butt.

Mary Connealy said...

wow, Terry Lynn, good call on waiting on that story. I fully support that decision.


Mary Connealy said...

MISSY I don't think she looks a bit like Ruthy. You're just fooled because she's covered in Dogs. That makes you think of Ruthy.

Grammar Diva Darlene said...

Great post, Terry Lynn! What a wonderful area of expertise.

And with Mary's helpful plotting, you could get a new series going.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I ordered my copy from Amazon this morning, Terry Lynn. Can't wait to get it and read it.

I work with kids up to 8th grade level so it's a perfect book to add to our home library.

A kid with a book in his/her hand ISN'T BOTHERING ME.

That's one of my daily mantras.

Hey, I'm dropping off hot cross buns. It's Lent. Hot cross buns on Friday are traditional. With and without raisins. And I make them with a sweet bread dough, so they're quite yummy.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I don't KNOW everything.

But I know a lot. ;)

Seriously, I'm totally into this idea and I will pick brains because (and no MY VISION is nothing like Mary's, there is no gunshot victim, geez, Louise, give the ammo a rest, wouldja????)I 'see' this book already shaping up.

With Ruthy-spin.

I'm totally psyched. Or psycho. Your pick.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Historic value and all that.

My possums eat cat food, and that's way scarier than lapping water.


I had a cat house on the porch (for cats having kittens) and....

I went to stick my hand in to see if Pumpkin had delivered because it was dark out....


It wasn't Pumpkin inside, but Pete the Possum. Luckily some instinct had me bend down to look, just in case.

And I still have all ten fingers.

And I wasn't nekkid, either. Then my neighbor would complain (and rightfully so) about more than a beautiful and very on-key rooster that loves to greet the morn.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, I love you for finding that! I'll grab it.

And it's literally in my head right now, Vince, the main points. Why she does what she does, what she needs to prove, and the word STUBBORN is huge...

But caring. Empathetic.

We'll see if we can tuck it into 2013... What a fun, wonderful book to write!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yikes, bloody water, possums and hot cross buns.

Wait I like the hot cross buns. Give those back.

You folks are having too much fun here. And I think the tick story will definitely be better over a campfire and northern lights flickering in the background.

Love the hair Pepper. Good hair days are wonderful!

Lorna Faith said...

Wow! What a fun life you must have with sled dogs:) I love dogs...and so do my kids!
Please enter me for a chance to win your book.

Congrats Terry, on your debut novel!


Linnette R Mullin said...

My MIL says the family is fine, but I think she's assuming that since they are on the Tokyo side. I don't think we've actually heard anything from them. Thank you for praying!

Christine said...

For seven summers in a row, we were visited by a bear. Every time we called the service, they came, captured, tagged, and moved him. Every summer he showed up. One summer he waddled his way up onto our back porch and stuck his head in the kitchen window. Four screaming females convinced him to meander his way off the porch.

We were all dressed but someone was holding a large butcher knife.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Ruth - thanks so much for ordering! I hope you enjoy it! And good luck on that story! Sounds fun!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Christine - wow! That's a determined bear! Bears are such creatures of habit. The biologists have found that the bears that are tagged and relocated usually end up going back. They also have territories. Male bears will routinely eat cubs. Sows try to steer clear of them.

I once had to dart three cubs in a swamp in the middle of the night after a call that their mom had been killed on the highway. Trying to haul out a snarling ball of half-drugged cub through the bush was like pulling velcro.

I sure do love your butcher knife story! Probably the screaming did it though. The bear I had to chase off with a chainsaw had my Smarties. Something drastic had to be done. And naked screaming lady was a little much for him. Never mind the revving chainsaw.

Wild women unite, Christine!

Vince said...

Hi Terry:

I sent you my email. Save a book for me. I’ll send a check as soon as I get your address.

Also: please don’t put me in the drawing. I want a sure thing! : )


Vince said...

Hi Christine:

It’s a good thing that bear didn’t fancy himself a rock star or he would have come in to sign autographs.


Vince said...

Hi Terry:

Will the bear eat his own cubs? I know some animals will kill the offspring of the females in their territories if they are not the father. This makes evolutionary sense since the female will now have his offspring and he was the winner. Not too good for the children however.


Vince said...

Hi Ruth & Terry:

Need conflict! Hero may not be into mushers. He’s like Mr. Palin with the motorized sleds. I don’t like them in the wilderness! Smelly. But hero thinks mushers are cruel to dogs. He also in not into redoes.

Can we have some kind of handicapped “John Henry race?”

I wonder if Terry can tell us:

“Is there a conflict between mushers and the snowmobile racers?”

If there is, the fights they could have. I don’t know if I can wait until 2013.


Whitney said...

Terry, it's a pleasure. Welcome to this odd group!

We've had Siberian Huskies for years and dogsledding, though we've never been able to do it, has always held a fascinating, magical intrigue. Aren't huskies some of the best dogs?!

I would LOVE to win a copy of your book.



Mary Connealy said...

Okay, fine. No gunshots in my next book. Cowboys, disarmed, eaten by cougars on page four.

I hope you're happy.

Short book!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thank you so much for being with us, Terry and so generously sharing your time as well as your information!! You've been a terrific guest!

Debby Giusti said...

Stopping in late to catch up!

Still love the pic, Pepper!

No tick story on the Net? Okay, we do need to meet. I want to know all about it.

Linnette, so glad everyone seems okay. At least for now. We'll all continue to pray.

Terry Lynn, THANK YOU for making our day a bit more fun! You rock!

Vince said...


That all depends on what kind of cougars they were.


BevSchwind said...

I would be thrilled with a book-we visited some of these dogs while in Alaska.Thanks for writing about your adventures. Bevschwind at hotmail dot com.