Thursday, April 4, 2013

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~

Ahhh, good morning, my darlings, although it will likely be closer to noon when you get a chance to read this. I do apologize. I know that the pounding, keening lack-of-caffeine headache is a whore. So feed her with your favorite coffee, so she'll run off and find someone else to proposition.

I show you my favorite Thursday Morning Coffee pic because the sun is out and the snow is melting, and it is exceptionally lovely... and because I adore spring. I was blinking hibernation-fatigued eyes yesterday, adjusting to this new brightness, and tying very hard not to run over with my car very many of the children who were chasing balls and riding bikes. People get very wound up when you run over their children...

I forget, in the winter, that a great many people exist here other than those inside my personal sphere.

I have not much to report in the way of news. Three in the Dungeon has been released on Amazon, and I am pleased about that. It was my fastest book to date - I started the rough draft November 1st, and published the final draft March 24th. I have challenged myself to write more faster this year, and when I get stuck on a project (read: DeVante's Choice) - to allow myself the grace to acknowledge that my writer's brain isn't ready for it yet, and move on to something else. (Rather lovely that my publisher allowed this acknowledgement, really).

If you've read Three in the Dungeon, I do want you to know that I will be publishing a little story about Boy and Hawk in not-too-long awhile. I mean, you do want to know if Dr. Minotti helps them with their little problem, right? And I know you guys - you'd love to be there for all the intimate gritty details, wouldn't you? Heh. Yeah, me too.

And I'll bring you the story of Ian Graff and Piper Matthews soon, as well, possibly even before Saints and Sinners.

As I said, I'm really trying to push myself this year. Probably these shorter works will be found on Amazon for .99, since Amazon won't allow me to give them away for free (they are such bastards that way), but I expect to list them for free on Smashwords... really kind of depends on the length. If you like them, reviews would be much appreciated - as reviews are both the currency and the primary communication between a writer and his/her readers. And of course, tell your friends. My stuff is, and I intend always will be, DRM-free, so you are welcome to use Calibre or some other program to convert the files for other devices. You may also (and always, always) email me for books if you cannot afford to pay for them. If I knew how to donate them to every library in the country, I would joyfully do so. I love libraries.

That being said, I'm going to tell you a story.

When I was a child, the library was a favorite place, and the day I was deemed "old enough" to walk there on my own was a happy day indeed. The freedom to sit right down on the dusty floor between the shelves and browse thrilling and musty books for hours (literally), and to have no adult peering over my shoulder urging me to "hurry up" was my idea of absolute paradise.

I think there was probably a bit of push and pull at home over this, and eventually a watch on my wrist and a deadline... but still. When I said I'd been at the library for four hours, it was utterly true.

I would check out as many books as would fit into my backpack, and as I was always very small for my age, I'd  have to stop and rest a few times while lugging them home. Which was no problem - I'd just pull one of these precious treasures out of my pack, plop myself under a tree... and read.

There are several books and authors I remember as being significant (the following links go to Wikipedia). The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, everything and everything I could find by Madeleine L'Engle, S.E. Hinton, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis... umm... Edith Nesbit, whose work I have always adored, and who, I swear, must be the author of that ONE DAMN BOOK that I read and loved and have never, ever been able to track down... (it's a group of children who find some magical things in a trunk - including a magical ring that they accidentally lose down a sewer grate and have to fish it out with string, a paper clip, and a wad of gum... also including a pair of "seven league" boots that allow one step to take a person miles away... and I think there was a cloak, too - and for gods sake, if you know the title of this book PLEASE TELL ME SOONEST. K, thx).

Should you look up these books, probably the Girl with the Silver Eyes is the one with the simplest, most straight-forward narrative, and pondering this fact, I suspect this is why I am so often aggravated with contemporary fiction.

I am reading the wrong stuff.

Light, fluffy, depthless... all too often fiction leaves me just... bored. I loathe the characters that are obsessed with their Ultra-rich but otherwise personality-less love interests. I can't stay with a TSTL (too-stupid-to-live) character for longer than five minutes. Amateurish narrative that makes no effort to enjoy language - argh. The author telling me the story but not allowing me deep enough inside to actually experience it as if I were there... these things I don't tolerate for long.

And before you point out the obvious, I am probably writing the wrong stuff, too.

Yes. I am still a baby-fiction-writer, learning my craft, which is always most apparent to me when I find myself immersed in kick-ass writing, falling in love with both the characters and the authors who create them.

Back to my childhood, sitting under that tree and resting from the weight of my pack of books... I'd take one book out after another, spread them around me, leaf through the first few pages, always taking a bit of delight in the decision of which one to read first.

I would read the dedication page, and ponder what it takes to have an author dedicate a whole book to you. To me, the small voice so often unheard within the confines of the crowd of boisterous aggressive personalities who surrounded, terrified, and overwhelmed me both because I am physically small, and (because I was) timid and shy - it would be amazing to affect someone who wrote books that much. To be the one, picked out of the crowd, recognized as not so much special, but just... worth knowing. Maybe even worth knowing well.

I just finished a beta read for the next book in my favorite series of all my lifetime. Allie's War. I'm not going to talk about this particular installment, but JC Andrijeski takes my breath away. And she takes me back to the complicated stories of my childhood, the ones I edged my teeth on, in that they are NOT "easy." They are not simple. The story world requires an investment of intelligence both from the writer and the reader. The series has depth, betrayal. romance, tragedy... history,  mythology, and a political and religious climate that are often at odds with each other, and you must pay attention to enjoy them.

I said this about book five, Knight and I'll say it about book six, War - dropping into the story is like communing with old friends whom I've been missing desperately since our separation.

And just wait until you read the dedication page.

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