Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SM Johnson ~ In the Service of Pleasure ~ recent reads



Yeah, pleasure.

Is this part of your every day life? Do you seek it, ask for it, look out for it, enjoy it?

EXPECTED pleasure reading is amazing.

I have the distinct honor and pleasure of being a first reader for one of my favorite authors.

Can you imagine that - being one of the first to enjoy a favorite author's new book? Before publication? Of being able to send an email filled with questions and delighted exclamations (very often there are more of the latter) to your favorite author? Sometimes it feels surreal.

That being said - I have absolutely NO influence on the direction of the story. Nor would I want to. I try to scour the text for typos and sometimes ask for clarification of things that might trip someone up who's new to the story world.

I clear the decks when the next book comes hits my inbox. It's like Christmas and my birthday all at the same time. I want NOTHING but to be left alone to enjoy the read.

I hope my beta readers feel the same about my work.

We, as writers, have a base level of insecurity about new books, I think, and nervously chew our fingernails waiting for a response from our beta readers. These are people we hope have read everything we've written, who know our "voice" and our "style". They're not content editors, it's not their place to tell us what our characters should do, but more... benevolent fans who trust our process, who like it when we surprise them with a new directions.

Speaking for myself - I really don't have a good sense of my own work. I'm never sure if I've managed to get what's in my head onto the page precisely as clear as I want it to be. Some scenes come quickly and easily, others I have to work harder to nail down, and sometimes I'm not even sure if I got the order of events to come together in the way that grows my character properly. Hell, most the time I can't even tell if I've put the thing together in any coherent manner at all.

And three people in a sex scene? Gah! Can the reader even tell who's doing what to whom? And is it hot, or just complicated?

All of that.

I want my beta reader to say, "Hey, Roman's swearing an awful lot in this book, and isn't that something he's consciously decided not to do?" Or "the way you've written that sex scene confuses me - I'm pulled out of my head trying to visualize how everyone is positioned."

I don't really want that reader to say, "Aw, you sent Jason out of town to grad school. But I really like Jason, can't you keep him?"

No, I probably can't.
I really can't manage to write the story you want to read. I can only write the story that I want to read. That's the only story that can hold my attention long enough to write a novel. In my fictional world, people don't always stay together. In my real world, three-way, polyamorous relationships fail, far more often than they succeed. Which doesn't make them any less interesting or intense or wonderful.

Which doesn't mean I don't pay attention to what people say about my books. I've come to recognize that most of my readers are much more invested in the M/M relationships in my books, and not much, or at all, invested in the F/F or M/M/F. Which is fine. Actually, it's better than fine - because I'm a lot more invested in the M/M relationships, too. So I quit dragging them through scenes wherein my only real motivation was to keep up with past POV characters. They don't like it, I find it an uninspiring pain in the ass - so how about let's just not?

The number one reason I write is to entertain myself. Because believe me, I sure don't do it for the money. But - I do make some attempt at continuity of story to give my readers a good experience.

The reason I beta read for a very select couple of authors?

Because I absolutely adore their work. I aspire to write to the level of their skill, which I admire. And I probably do. But overall - I do it because they let me, because they find my thoughts and questions helpful, because they trust me to honestly be able to grasp what they're doing with the story.

Oh, and because reading their work is my favorite thing anyway, so why not?

If an author blows you away with every book they write - especially an Indie author - and you're good at spotting typos and noting confusing bits - I recommend dropping a line and asking if they're seeking beta readers. We love and adore and depend on our Betas, and most of us don't have enough beta readers available to read on our often accelerated schedule, by the time we send to betas, we're often just waiting for that feedback before we hit the button to publish.

Tips and tricks for beta reading:

I read a word doc on my kindle and keep the "notes" feature of my phone open. I can turn that note into an email with a couple of taps to my phone screen, which makes keeping track of comments and typos a lot easier than when I was first tried to keep track of a piece of paper, and then later had to transcribe my hand-written notes.

Anyway. My only child wants to fill my 7 passenger vehicle with friends and head to the beach, so I'd better wrap this up. Yay - I get to spend the rest of the afternoon reading The Backup by Erica Kudish. Not as a beta, but as a paying consumer. And so far this book is SO fucking fabulous you can probably expect to see an actual review here, very soon.

Love to all of you, my Darklings. Oh, and hey - start reading the Quentin Black series by JC Andrijeski. Book one is called Black in White. Proceed from there and you'll eventually get to the book I just got to read, Black and Blue, which is a wild ride and a wonderfully fun read.

~SM

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Chance to Win Dare in the Dungeon

Good morning, my Darklings...

I have a little Giveaway going on via Amazon. It's super simple - click THIS LINK to Amazon and follow my Amazon author page, and you'll be entered in the contest. There are multiple winners, selected randomly by Amazon, The odds are 1 in 10, so that's not too shabby. Contest runs until July 28, 2016 or until all prizes have been claimed.

Never fear if you're not a winner - pretty sure I'll be doing more giveaways before the release of The New Dungeon this fall.

Hope your day is fantastic in all ways possible.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SM Johnson ~ excerpt Secret, Secret by JJ Roman (AKA Jeff Johnson)

"Someone out there is listening to the same song, feeling the same way that I do." ~ Better Than Ezra, I Do.

We are all tiny cogs spinning busily on this planet we call Earth. We eat and sleep, laugh and play, think and argue and forgive. Make-up, make out, make love, make money, make time, make peace, make up stories. And we do all of these things alone in our heads.

I think the alone part is part of the allure of intimate bonding, and a big reason why we love discovering someone who is able to articulate their circumstance in a way that allows us to breathe a sigh of relief and think, "yeah, me too - exactly that."

For me, those "I feel that way too!" moments are usually given to me by musicians and writers. I'm not denigrating visual arts, not at all - but I'm a wordsmith and a lyrics whore, so words are my thing. Especially words sung to me by voices that soothe. Mat Kearney, Pat Monahan, Mike Rayburn, Rob Thomas, Matt Nathanson, Jason Wade, P!NK. Corey Taylor, Sia, Brent Smith, Isaac Slade, Nate Ruess... wow, I could go on and on! (These are the voices that make up the bulk of my writing play list, in case you were interested).

However you find connection, isn't it fantastic when hearts speak to hearts?

As an author, I try to contribute to heart-speak. A decent portion of my erotica character points of view come from the side of the submissive, the one who seems to be giving rather than taking, the one who gives up the power, versus the one who wields it. For some reason these are the characters that live most clearly in my head, with their insecurities and vulnerabilities on display - and the intricate feeling of balancing lust and trust.

I suppose this is why it takes me a good deal longer than some authors to complete a book. I'm not happy just kicking out any old 3,000 words in a day or what have you - I need to mull things over, think through scenes from the POV character, really dig in and figure out not only what he's feeling, but what he wants to feel.

To my family, all this soul searching looks like napping. Ha-ha, family. No, I'm WORKING. With my eyes closed. I SWEAR. (Oops, might have fallen asleep for just a few seconds/minutes/hours...)

There's an interesting thing happening in the new Dungeon book (still untitled) - Jeff is exploring his post-accident fantasies through writing. Which means that the new book contains, essentially, a story within a story. Roman starts using Jeff's stories as a kind of inspiration for their BDSM play, which for Jeff is both exhilarating and mortifying. He always had the impression that Roman never paid much attention to what he was writing...

And this means that you, my dear darkling readers, get a bonus story called Secret, Secret by JJ Roman - along with the next Dungeon book.

There was an excerpt of Secret, Secret in Dare in the Dungeon, and just because I'm a sweetheart, I figured I'd tease you a little here with a reprise of those bits. I hate to give a way too much of a new book, you know? For some reason it slows me down to share too much.


Secret, Secret by JJ Roman

Luke Wellspring snapped his fingers, and said, "You will follow me to the punishment room, and when we arrive, you will apologize to the Mistress for your offensive mouth."

"Yes, sir," Breeze said, aware that there was little choice in the matter. Every offensive word had been the utter truth, but no one cared about that because the Mistress would pay a lot of dollars for her little fantasy.

Whatever.

Still, he couldn’t afford to fuck it up. He could serve his time at the prison, or here at the Manor House, and that meant his choice came down to no choice at all.

He crawled on hands and knees, following Mr. Wellspring through the labyrinth of underground rooms everyone referred to as the catacombs, until Wellspring opened the dark red door of Room Number 2.

Mick, Breeze's trainer, was in the center of the room waiting for them. In front of Mick, at waist height, was a large hook attached to a chain.

Breeze almost pissed himself. Surely the mention of 'the hook' had been an idle threat, meant to scare him, right? He wasn't… didn't want to… couldn’t possibly…

There were three chairs set up about five feet in front of the hook. The Mistress he'd offended sat in the center one.

Breeze glanced at her, but in all honesty couldn’t keep his eyes from darting back to the hook. The chrome gleamed in the overhead spotlights, and for a second Breeze thought it actually sparked with electricity. He took a deep breath. No wires. That meant no electricity and it was just his dread ramping up his imagination.

Mick wouldn't hang him on that thing. It would damage him, maybe even kill him, wouldn't it?
His skin was suddenly too warm for the room. Moisture collected under his arms and beneath the hair on his forehead.

Luke Wellspring addressed the Mistress. "Breeze is fairly new here, and I'm afraid he has difficulty falling into the proper submissive mindset. Clearly he will require some retraining. He is terribly sorry he offended you, and would like to offer you an apology and the opportunity to punish him for his error."

Breeze understood perfectly what was expected of him now. He crawled to the Mistress's feet and kissed the toe of her red stiletto, then turned his head and rubbed his cheek on its shiny surface. He felt her cruel, glittering eyes burn holes into his back. "Mistress, beg pardon," he said. "Please, if you would, punish this slave and find it in your heart to forgive him."

He would have rather choked on her shoe than refer to himself in the third person, but he suspected it was the sort of debasement she would enjoy. He already knew she was a man-hater, and unless he seriously underestimated Mick, it was going to be impossible to go into genuine submissive headspace with this woman in the room.

She leaned forward and reached a hand toward him. Breeze had to fight not to cringe away. Her scarlet fingernails were sharp like talons, and she'd already used them to hurt him. She held his head up by the chin, and, without warning, gave his mouth a hard slap. He felt his the soft tissue inside his lower lip rupture against his teeth, and burned with humiliated pain, but said, "Thank you for the correction, Mistress."

"You're welcome." She reached her free hand toward him, still holding his face, and he had a sudden vision of her rupturing his eyeballs with her wicked nails, but she only ran her fingers through his hair, the talons scraping rather pleasantly over his scalp. She stared into his face, his eyes, for an eternity, but finally said, "Very well, slave. If you take your punishment with graceful humility, I will consider forgiveness."

'Forgiveness' was code for still being willing to pay for the honor of his debasement.

Wellspring sat down on the chair to her left. "Go to Mick and submit yourself for punishment."

Breeze turned away from them and crawled toward Mick, keeping his knees spread enough to expose all his parts to Wellspring and the Mistress, just the way he'd been taught. He stopped directly in front of the trainer, and ignored the hook as much as possible as he pressed his lips to Mick's boot and said, "The slave presents for punishment, sir."

"Look at me, slave." Mick's eyes glittered almost as much as those of the Mistress. "Do you present yourself with free will?"

"Of course, sir."

"Do you agree that the slave needs punishment for his behavior?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what behavior is the slave being punished for?"

"Insolence. Offending a Mistress with words."

"Very well," Mick said. "The slave may stand."

Breeze bumped the hook as he got to his feet, and it swayed between them. There was a round steel ball over the tip of the hook and could have kissed anyone in the room on the mouth, he was so grateful. He didn't want to be impaled on that thing, but at least now he had the sense that it wouldn’t kill him.

Mick guided him a few steps to the side. "The slave is to present his hands to be bound."

All this formality. Mick was much friendlier in private. Breeze silently offered his hands to Mick and let his vision go out of focus as the trainer tied his wrists together with white silken cord.

The Mistress spoke, her imperious tone cutting across the room. "Tie the slave's hands to his balls."
"Oh, she's evil," Mick said, very, very quietly. And then wrapped the silken cord around Breeze's scrotum, and used a free end to attach wrists to balls, leaving just a few inches of slack.

Now if Breeze tried to use his arms to maintain balance, he'd give his ballsack a horrendous tug.

"What a lovely predicament. Quite brilliant, my dear," Wellspring commented, as relaxed as if he were at the symphony.

The Mistress leaned her head toward him, speaking in a stage whisper. "I do love cock and ball torture. If you ever need fresh ideas, give me a call."

Breeze shuddered, remembering the very specific agony of her fingernails biting into the tiniest bits of scrotal flesh. She'd also liked pinching the skin of his inner thighs and the whirls inside his ear. Little, evil excruciating pinches. They were what started him feeling aggravated with her in the first place.

"Oh! I almost forgot. I have the most darling little nipple clamps here."

Breeze had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. Sure, she almost forgot.

The Mistress dug into her purse. "Ah-ha. Found them. Come here, slave."

Breeze risked a look at Mick, who nodded.

Mick wasn't cruel, but all of them, trainers and slaves, were here because they'd been convicted of criminal behavior, and if Mick wanted to serve his sentence at the Manor House instead of in prison, he had to do what was expected of him. In this case, he was expected to torture Breeze for the amusement of the mistress.

Breeze didn't have to be here at the Manor House. He could have served four years in actual prison, the debt of his restitution dollars accruing at a heinous interest rate while he did whatever he needed to survive. A per diem charge for food and shelter costs would be added to his final bill, making him indebted to the system for the rest of his life.

Or.

Or he could work off his restitution at Wellspring Industries, and the per diem would be waived. The judge explained this in his private chamber, in the presence of Breeze and his lawyer. And when Breeze asked to know the details of the work, the judge excused the lawyer.

Breeze understood there was no way this could be legal. And still he signed the work contract offered by the judge, and a confidentiality contract that would send him directly to the beginning of his prison sentence if he so much as uttered a single word to anyone about the nature of the work.
He asked the judge one question, and one question only. "How much do you get paid for making this referral?"

The judge winked and said, "Enough to make it worth the risk."

Breeze thought his lawyer would be more surprised at his choice, but the lawyer didn't seem to care one way or the other.

When he saw the hook waiting and the Mistress's gleaming evil smile, Breeze wondered if prison wouldn’t have been the better choice.

It was a moot point now. the Mistress had called him.

He dropped to his knees and knee-walked across the space between them.

She pinched each nipple in turn and then fastened the clamps. The sudden sharp pain made him suck in a breath. He trembled for a few seconds, until she indicated he was to return to Mick. He turned away and she said, "Stop." Breeze stopped, still trembling. "I want to look at that hole before it gets hooked." Her cool hands spread his buttocks apart, and Breeze knew his face turned red. He could feel her eyes crawling over his hole. Her grip on his ass cheeks shifted, one hand letting go, the other moving to hold him apart, fingers and thumb on opposite cheeks. It was like telepathy, how he knew what was coming next.

One sharp fingernail traced his crack, causing a dreadful shiver all the way up his spine. He made a noise as she poked it just inside his anus, the sting like a harbinger of torn flesh. She wiggled it, hurting him, and said, "Yes, the slave should be frightened," then removed it and continued the trail to the underside of his balls, where she curled all four fingers beneath the silk ties and dug them into the sensitive flesh so hard that tears came to his eyes.

Women dominants were terrifying. A man would hurt you, Breeze found himself thinking, yes, of course. A sadist is a sadist is a sadist and all of that. But they didn't hate your parts the way sometimes females did.

Mick must have seen the tears spill onto Breeze's cheeks. He said, "Return to me, slave," in a firm tone that was not to be argued with. Breeze went to him with relief. "Stand and face the Mistress."

Breeze stood still, all his attention on the evil nipple clamps, as Mick fastened a wide leather strap around his chest, snugged it under his arms, and bucked it tight at his back. The strap had a thick loop at the front, and, Breeze realized when Mick attached chains, one at the back as well. Mick used a remote control to raise the chains and hold them taut. It forced Breeze to stand straight and tall.
Mick murmured an explanation. "The strap will help you stay upright, because lord knows the hook won't. Be still now."

It felt very lonely standing alone, facing an audience, knowing the hook was behind him. He kept his eyes lowered as he'd been trained, but could feel their eyes devouring his helpless nakedness, hungry for the rest of the show.

When Mick came back, he was wearing gloves and holding a jar of the thick greasy cream he liked to use as lube. He'd mused out loud to Breeze once, "Reminds me of the good old days, when all you needed to get laid was a room at the bathhouse and a can of Crisco. Except then came the bad old days." Breeze was too young to have known any of those times, and not gay enough to have done a ton of research. But he'd understood that the comment was a way of waxing nostalgic for gay sex in the pre-AIDS era.

"Okay," Mick murmured. "Let's do this. Try to relax."

Yeah, as if.

The lube was cool and silky between his ass cheeks, and Breeze was thankful that Mick applied it liberally. Mick's hands smoothed along his ass crack, gloved fingers sliding into his anus, massaging him and opening him at the same time. He heard the clank of chains and then felt the wide, rounded end of the hook press against his hole. He tensed on purpose, then pressed outward with his sphincter. Mick insisted in training that doing this made the insertion of objects into his anus easier and less painful.

Breeze never found accepting objects into his anus easy.

He didn't this time, either.

His groan ended with a little cry as the ball-tipped hook pushed hard against his hole but didn't find entry. "Take it, Breeze," Mick commanded, giving Breeze's butt cheek a hard slap. The slap shocked the breath out of him, and he inhaled, then pushed as he exhaled, and the hook entered him. For the first second he thought he could bear it, but then Mick made some adjustment that made it go so much deeper that his knees buckled.

He instinctively tried to jerk his hands loose from their bindings, then cried out in shocked surprise and retched from the sharp tug at his testicles. He was immediately horrified because he didn't want to lose it like this in front of the Mistress, who would only pay her bill if he offered graceful humility.

"That's a boy," Mick soothed, stripping off the gloves and running his fingers lightly down Breeze's spine. "Get your feet under you now."

Breeze obeyed, and then his heart stuttered as the hook dug into him from something Mick was doing with the remote control.

The pressure inside of him grew so intense that he thought he was being lifted off the floor, Again came that instinct to use his hands, and again he hurt himself.

And again he cried out from the sudden sharp pain.

When Mick was done adjusting the height of the chains, Breeze was on his toes, the hook so far up his ass it felt like it dragged against his spine, and he thought, this is going to kill me.

His head was wrenched up by a fist in his hair, and he found himself staring at Mick's face through tear-blurred eyes. He smiled as though Breeze's tears pleased him. "Is the slave ready for his punishment?"

Breeze went still. There was to be more? More than this?

[end excerpt]