Sunday, September 16, 2012

SM Johnson ~Total Meltdown~

I am taking an extended snooze.

It is impossible to be a anything but waitress/mother/daughter/worker-bee right now, and railing against it is going to just make me angry.

Thanks for visiting me now and again.

I'll be back, hopefully sooner than later.

And yes, I'm crabby as hell about everything.


It appears that chaos will reign until mid-November, so I am just going to let go and let life take over for a bit. Blog posting will be spotty. Part of the trouble is that whole days and weekends go by at the moment where I never get a chance to boot up the computer. Heck, I found my computer in IzzyG's room at midnight Saturday night! No one was aware that she had absconded with it. And the thing is - my computer is the one thing that I do not share well with others - it's MINE! But I digress...

I will continue writing A Year of Sundays, although I will not promise to post every Sunday, as I am going to work on it longhand, in a notebook, with a pen. While nice music is playing. Ahhh....

The best ways to check for updates will be to follow me on Twitter @SMJohnsonWrites, or if your twitter stream is really busy, check my Facebook fan page SM Johnson Writes - my status updates there are mostly what I'm reading and links to the blog posts here as they are posted, so it's not too cluttered.

I'll be back full-force once the home remodeling is done and my mom is settled in a new place. Until then, whisper the Serenity prayer in my ear once in a while.

All will be well. And hey, maybe I'll have come back with some fun new blog ideas. You never know.

PS - JC Andrijeski has released the Slave Girl Chronicles in paperback, and the Allie's War series is coming next - all with brand new shiny covers. I know because she sent me the proofs - and if you're not jealous, you should be. Because remember - I've read thousands upon thousands of books, and Allie's War is my favorite series of my whole life. Seriously. I received the books in the mail and got all fan-girly. Then I saw quotes from my reviews on the back cover and got fan-girly AGAIN. Holding and caressing Allie's War books is almost as hot to me as holding and caressing my own. So anyway. If you haven't read them - GO READ THEM!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning coffee ~

Good morning, darlings, and happy Thursday! I am STILL in a world of chaos, so coffee this morning will be short and sweet.

The kitchen floor looks absolutely fabulous, although we still need to get to the painting and the decorating. And the bathroom - oh, sigh. It is gutted. Which means a dash up the stairs when one needs to use the facilities.

We have picked out wall tile, though, and are coming up with a plan. The wall is mess where the old, odd-sized tub used to be. Ugh. I'm glad I'm not the one who has to figure out how to fix THAT.

Fixing walls, then paint, a new toilet, and re-install the vanity that's just a couple of years old. I'd like a new mirror/medicine cabinet, hubby has some reservations on that. Ah well, we will get there.

Meanwhile, the downstairs portion of our house is just a wreck of closet and bathroom stuff piled everywhere. Somewhere in the mess my Kindle is sleeping, which makes me sad because before I misplaced it, I'd downloaded a whole bunch of new books.

To compensate for the downstairs disaster, I have spent two full days upstairs organizing, recycling, and tossing stuff, because I just can't function with the whole house in chaos. The upstairs is looking pretty good. The art room is available for art. Yay! And by the end of the day today, the guest room might even be ready for a guest. Not that there's a guest on the horizon, but one never knows.

IzzyG has had karate almost every day for the last two weeks, trying to catch up on classes so she can test for her advanced orange belt. We were 8 classes short - that's never happened before. The end of the summer was busy, indeed.

But she will test - on Saturday! And then one week later, she'll be in her first Karate tournament. We shall find out what that is like. Other than that - it's all about getting back into the routine of getting to bed on time, getting up on time, bus or no bus (she HATES the bus), and getting homework done. Man, September is exhausting.

I have two short impossible romances taking up space in my head, so one of them might be my next project. I have not heard from my publisher about a release date for DeVante's Choice yet, so for the moment the final edit of that baby is on hold.

The other huge thing going on is that my mom put her house on the market, and has accepted an offer. OMG. Which means she needs to find a place to live ASAP. So I'm helping her out - mostly offering moral support more than anything.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about NaNoWriMo this year - I want to be available to help my mom move to wherever she ends up moving.

Then again - IzzyG goes to karate almost every day, so there's a full hour of writing time just sitting around available if I want to take it. Perhaps I won't shoot for 50,000 words - perhaps I'll try to get full drafts of one or both of the impossible romances written. That would be kind of cool.

Me and IzzyG and Samantha saw the most amazing rainbow last Friday night. It was just after 7 pm, and it hadn't even rained in the previous hour or two, but there it was. It was the brightest, most glow-y rainbow I have ever seen in my life. I had to pull the car over and take some pictures with my phone.

Even the phone pictures are amazing, aren't they?

I am still being pretty well-behaved - wearing nicotine patches for approximately 12 (awake) hours per day, which cuts down on the smoking a lot. At least I can breathe when I wake up in the morning. I do notice my trigger times are in the morning while having coffee (no duh, right?), and while I'm talking on the phone. So I've been taking it off at bed time - although still having really vivid and wild dreams - and putting it on in the late morning after I'm done with coffee and phone stuff and am ready to get my day going.

It's not exactly quitting, but it's better than the more-than-pack-a-day that I've been smoking. Sigh.

That's all I've got today.

I'm off to hopefully look at some apartments and condos. Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

SM Johnson ~ Bloody Monday ~ Finder(s) keepers

Good morning, darlings. Hope your week is starting out well.

I had a goofy morning last week. Not exactly an "if anything can go wrong, it will" day, but more like if anything else delays me from leaving this house, I'm going to be late for work. But it's not like the coffee maker overflowed and dripped ground-filled water everywhere, or that the hot water was glitchy, or that my scrubs were still wet in the dryer - so basically, I'm saying it could have been a lot worse.

The cat sneaked out the door while I was fastening the dog to her chain. (And yes, "sneaked out" is grammatically correct, even though "snuck out" sounds much better).

And while I was sitting there pondering how I was going to coax him back inside, I realized the part of the dog chain that clips to the dog's collar was sitting on the ground by my feet. With no dog in sight.

So I was like, "Oh, shit! I've lost all of our animals at once. Nice job, mama."

I went inside and grabbed a cup of joe. Then I went back out and sat on the porch, and whistled for the dog (which never works, by the way).

Then I was ever so surprised. The CAT bounded out of the bushes and came right to me, twining around my calves and doing the meow-purr that he does, the one that makes him sound grateful and aggravated at the same time.

I think it's actually his "please give me more food" vocalization. Which, I guess, could surely contain elements of grateful aggravation.

But anyway, I was going to talk about Finder, not losing things.

Author Joseph Finder, to be more specific.

See, I found this discussion on Goodreads and it was a sort of "I love Lee Child and Jack Reacher, what else do you think I'd like?" kind of question.

And there was a whole slew of recommendations, many of them books and authors I haven't read. So I was pretty much... rubbing my hands together with glee and creating a list in Word to talk to my library, because I can't get enough of Jack Reacher. And since I believe Child still writes his own books (rather than going corporate and having a team do the writing), there is some waiting for the next Reacher installment to be released.

Damn it. I hate waiting.

The best thing a reader can do while waiting is... read. And it's nice to have a place to start.

I read a Bob Swagger (character) book by Stephen Hunter, and the story was good, but the dialogue was weird and stilted, and bothered me.

So next on my list was Joseph Finder. I read Power Play. Well... it blew me away. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, because there was no way I was going to bed before finishing this book.

The main character was Jake Landry, and the author did a great job of giving Jake the past experiences and unusual skill-set that he needed to get through a really tough situation.

Finder also used an interesting flashback technique, that wove Jake's past experiences into the narrative. I won't say they were woven in seamlessly - you knew you were going into a flashback, there was no subtlety about that - and the flashbacks were non-linear, but they were interesting. They followed two different story lines - Jake's rocky childhood and adolescence, and his adult relationship with ex-girlfriend, Ali. And since Ali is a current character in the main story line, their history together raises the stakes in the current badness going on, and definitely gets the reader rooting for Jake.

Actually, I started rooting for Jake at the beginning of the book, when he gave a second chance to someone who deserved to be fired. That whole scene sets us up to like Jake, who's a down-to-earth guy who has a good sense of human nature, and even though he may be brilliant, he doesn't shove his brilliance in other people's faces.

I just started reading another Finder book, called Paranoia. Not altogether sure where it's headed, but I can hardly wait to find out.

So okay, I'll say it... fans of Lee Child will probably like Joseph Finder.

Have a great week, darlings!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

SM Johnson ~ A Year of Sundays ~ ch 15 pt 2

Chapter 15 – Sunday, August 7th
Part 2


We all stared at Liz, waiting for the rest of the story.

Eric was a high-level administrator at the big medical center in town. And by high-level, I mean pretty much the highest. Like CEO.

There was a reason Liz was able to devote forty hours a week to her church – her small salary was pocket change.

"You can't stop there," Sam said. "You gotta tell us the rest."

Liz closed her eyes, sighed, and slumped in her chair, shaking her head. "It's absolutely awful. I mean, I can hardly believe it."

"Come on, Liz," I said, "you have to tell us more."

She nodded, but it wasn't a strong nod. "We should clean up, first."

Cleaning up took all of nine minutes. I'd gone to town on paper products – plates, utensils, – so all we really had to do was toss everything in the trash, wash some milk glasses, and wipe the dining room table.

When we were done, we went into the living room, where Liz dropped right onto the floor, lying on her stomach with her face buried in her arms.

Her shoulders were shaking and I thought she was crying again.

But when she rolled over, her eyes were dry.

She sat up and scooted toward the couch, leaned her back against it and curled her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them.

It was the pose she'd always taken when confessing some big-girl secret to me and Melanie, when she was going to impart 'important, life-changing information' to her little sisters. Like when she was fourteen and Mel was eleven, and I was ten, and the topic was how parents really make babies.

"Spill it," I said, mostly because I knew she was going to.

She sighed. "The story sort of ends with me bailing Eric out of jail, so I'm just trying to figure out where it starts. Maybe with Eric's son getting sick. He didn't even tell me any of that part until this morning, but his middle son, Jacob, has always struggled with depression, and every few years he tries to commit suicide."

Huh. That was news to me. Eric, apparently, has all kinds of secrets. But while I was feeling insulted about being kept in the dark, Elizabeth was still talking. "So last week Jacob took a month's worth of his meds, got real lethargic, and ended up in the emergency room, drinking charcoal until he started puking and shitting himself, and eventually getting transferred to inpatient psych."

"Like my inpatient psych?" Melanie asked.

Liz nodded. "Yeah. But not the easy unit you were on."

Melanie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, like I started out on the easy unit. Come on, you know better."

"My story, right?" Liz said.

"Yeah, okay." Melanie agreed.

"I don't know all the details," Liz went on. "But I guess we can assume Eric was under a fair amount of stress." She raised her eyebrows and shrugged, and I almost laughed.

"He went to visit his son and have a family meeting. You know, like we had with Joe. And he didn't do it the way we do when we visit Mel, either. He let himself onto the unit with his security badge."

"So he basically snuck onto the unit?" I said.

"Well…" her mouth twisted into a wry smile. "He does have security access, you know, so maybe he didn't think on it too hard. I don't know. Whether it was appropriate or not, that's what happened. Jacob turned on him during the family meeting, blamed all his failures on Eric, said he wasn't present even when he was home, always obsessed with work, reading reports, researching processes at other hospitals, and, especially after the divorce, the only time Eric showed Jacob that he gave a shit was after Jacob tried to commit suicide. So Jacob told Eric to get the fuck out and just forget about him, since that's pretty much what Eric did most of the time anyway."

"Ouch," Josie said. "Can you imagine? I mean, there were so many of us, but we never had to do anything extreme to get attention."

"Eric stormed out of the meeting, let himself off the unit, and was going to go back to his office. But then he thought of something important he wanted to say to Jacob, which, hysterically, he can't remember now, so he turned around and went back."

"Obviously that was a bad idea." Sam, being a smart-ass.

Liz frowned at him. "Who's telling this story, anyway?"

I was distracted for a minute, remembering… something mom journaled, about Eric seeming nice and fine and upstanding, but that she always thought he was evasive, maybe even shady, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Just the fact that he never talked all that much. I couldn't remember exactly.

Liz was still relaying the minutia of Eric's thought process, using his badge to let himself back into the locked unit, storming down the hall (okay, so whatever he'd planned to say to Jacob couldn't have been all that nice), and barging into Jacob's room.

Where he found Jacob's roommate having sex with someone. 

He backed out of the room, letting the door swing shut again, and stood in the hallway in shock.

I imagined the scene, and almost started laughing. All I could picture was Eric's round owl eyes even rounder behind his glasses, steam on the lenses even, hair standing on end, and Eric speechless the way Liz had been when Silas announced he was gay.

But that's not what happened, according to Liz.

What happened was that mild-mannered, administrative big-wig Eric Peoples flipped right the fuck out.

Now, understandably, he'd been under a "fair amount of strain," or whatever, as Liz had so delicately phrased it.

But an assault charge? Liz didn't explain how that came about.

She didn't get a chance.

Because Silas showed up. And he knew more about it than she did.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~ Breathe

Good morning, darlings, and happy Thursday!

It is a really happy Thursday, because it's my weekend off.

Once in a while when I'm in an on-line writers forum, or a group, or on Facebook... somebody asks kind of randomly, "What's your favorite word?"

I used to have to stop and really think about it, because I love a lot of words, and I especially love the way words fit together to create a phrase that resonates with my heart or my intellect.

But I time or two ago, I did pick a favorite word: Breathe.

I realized that quite a few of my favorite songs are centered around the words breathe or breathing.

The first song I discovered by Lifehouse is about love (or obsession). I want nothing more than to sit outside your door and listen to you breathing... Oh, yeah, it's also about breathing.

Another song that I think is phenomenal (and is about the all important function of breathing) is Breathe In, Breathe Out by Mat Kearnwy. Dude has an AMAZING voice. Gray's Anatomy fans might have heard this one, as I believe it was the title song for a season or two. Here's the video. It's the "official video" - so please bear with the annoying commercial at the beginning.

I'm always obsessing with the way my characters are breathing - whether it's Master Roman controlling the breathing of a submissive, or the vampire DeVante  making a point to breathe "out loud," so to speak.

I have other favorite words, but this one has some significance this morning as I woke up this morning beyond 40 and unable to breathe.

Seriously? How can I smoke this much and cough this much and not be flirting with lung cancer and shortening my life, and fucking with my ability to breathe? It's absolutely ridiculous. I've been a smoker for a long, long time. I love it. I love the social part, I love how a break at work really feels like a break, I love the way you can use cigarettes to measure time - or to kill time when you're waiting. I like to smoke in transition - like in between doing the dishes and vacuuming the floor.

When I do quit, I suffer obsessive thinking about cigarettes, I get so cranky and bitchy that I'm hard to live with. And, of course, there's always the excuse that I gain weight... but guess what? I'm gaining weight anyway right now. Probably because I can't breathe well enough to exercise.

Good god, this breathing thing feels awfully important.

I've quit before - a few weeks here and there, and even, long ago, a stint of four years.

My brother, also a die-hard smoker, is doing great with nicotine patches and e-cigarettes.

Even my husband has used the e-cigarette to cut his smoking down from 2 packs a day to 1. Seems like everybody's making progress here but me.


I hate quitting.

But I like breathing.

So I got a couple of e-cigarettes for my birthday, and I guess I'm going to buy some patches today and see if I can't make some progress, too.

But don't hold your breath or anything.

Have a great weekend, darlings!

Monday, September 3, 2012

SM Johnson ~Bloody Monday~ House of Night

For quite some time now - like three years - my friend Cassidy (also known as my granddaughter's mother) has been telling me I should read a YA vampire series called House of Night by author P.C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin Cast.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

SM Johnson ~A Year of Sundays ~Ch 15 pt 1

Chapter 15 – August 7th
Part 1


Well, other than the really big things like our parents dying and Melanie getting kidnapped, abused, hospitalized and stalked, last week might have been the most eventful week in the history of our family.