Thursday, January 31, 2013

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~ Do you love dark fiction?

So... I have a confession to make.

Last week I talked about a new character, Angel, and posted an excerpt of a brand new work-in-progress (WIP). But I neglected to mention that my inspiration came wholly from someone else's book.

It's not like plagiarism. I wrote all of my own words, but many of the concepts I have been playing with in the Angel WIP are similar enough to this other book that I would be uncomfortable publishing it and calling it an original work, as it sits now. Which is okay. 33,000 words poured out of me in ONE WEEK. This is amazing and astonishing and more fun that I can even explain. Yeah, I know, non-writers are groaning and wondering how it could possibly be fun... but trust me, awesomely super fun.

Inspiration can be weird that way.

I have about 5 WIPs right now, and a somewhat loose publishing schedule in my brain for which ones, when, and in which order and so on and so forth. I won't even be looking to finish or publish anything about Angel for a year, if not two. I guess that's sort of my non-compete clause. After all, even as a BDSM writer, I didn't choose to knock out a 50 Shades story - it just wasn't on my schedule. And I have no interest in riding anyone's coat-tails.

I write what I write because I want to write it. And that's pretty much the full scope of my writing life.

The thing is, even if we're telling the same story - it never turns out to be the same story. I mean, how many romance novels are out there? Yeah, exactly.

I've been inspired by books before - it was Anne Rice who inspired me to create the Vampire DeVante (with a little push from my husband)... and it was Queer as Folk that inspired the increase in heat level in the dynamic between Daniel and Reed in DeVante's Coven.

We writers get our inspiration from just about anywhere, including my seagull muse - the one that flies over me and drops inspiration on my head out of nowhere.

Truth is, I love me a good dark non-consensual story-line with a little Stockholm Syndrome thrown in to make it bearable. I really, really do.

So I want to give credit where credit is due, and considering I write the stuff that I want to read - I also want to share my inspiration with my readers, because I think you guys would like this book.

Hamelin's Child
by DJ Bennett.

 Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.

Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London's drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.

(approx 85,000 word novel)



Praise for Hamelin’s Child:
~dark, raw, shocking, and a fascinating read
~ a story that doesn't so much hook you as grab you by the throat and force you to keep turning the pages
~  one of the most utterly gripping books I've ever read
~ outstanding and highly recommended
~ nothing about the story is predictable, certainly not the ending




I started Hamelin's Child one evening and finished it by the next day. And then I was so mind-f*cked that the only thing I could manage to do the second half of that day was think about it.

And over the next week, I read Hamelin's Child two more times.

It's dark. It's gritty. It's not nice.

And yet... there it is - I LOVED it. I obsessed about it. The story sticks with me, even now.

Mikey is... oh, so naive. And becomes oh, so damaged. And is oh, so conflicted... And yet somehow he manages to find his way.

It's available in paperback now, too - and guess what's even better?


Paying the Piper, the next installment of Michael's story, was released in e-book format YESTERDAY!

Yes! I'm already reading it. Why don't you join me? Come on - start with Hamelin's Child and walk with me on the dark side - you know you want to!



Paying the Piper
by DJ Bennett

Payingthe Piper is the sequel to the CWA Debut Dagger Award-long-listed Hamelin’s Child, which has sold thousands of copies since its e-publication in 2011. A dark psychological thriller, Paying the Piper takes up Michael’s story six months after the shocking events of his abduction and heroin addiction.

Michael is piecing his life back together after his time spent as a rent boy. But it’s hard and although he’s been clean of drugs for months, the nightmares are still too real and he can’t come to terms with Lee’s death and Eddie’s impending trial.

Sometimes other people’s troubles can seem easier to deal with. When Michael meets Amanda at the cashpoint, it’s a chance to focus on someone other than himself, and finding Amanda’s missing husband and baby may just be his salvation.

But the shadows of his past won’t let him go. The bank account they've set up for him is full of easy cash and Eddie’s old boss Carl can help Amanda. And suddenly Michael is in deeper than he ever imagined possible. 

Set in London and north-west England, Paying the Piper looks at how much the past can influence the future. And as Amanda has to choose between working with the charismatic Lenny or the police, Michael’s about to find out that taking control of his own destiny was never going to be as straightforward as he’d thought.


You can buy Paying the Piper in kindle format on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. For other amazon sites and other e-formats, links can be found on www.debbiebennett.co.uk, where you can also find out more about DJ Bennett. Or check out the author pages on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.

No e-reader? You don’t need one. There are free kindle apps you can download to get free readers for your pc, phone or whatever gadget you have.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~ New fiction excerpt

Top o' the very chilly morning to you, darlings! See my snowy coffee cup? Yeah, that's in honor of our miserable cold, cold, COLD temperatures this week. So cold that school was cancelled Monday AND Tuesday because it was dangerous for children to be waiting for the bus (or worse, walking to school), yikes!

I was very thankful to have an office to hide in - Best. Idea. Ever.

Child's best friend came over Monday, and the minute they heard the news that there would be no school on Tuesday either, the begging for a sleepover commenced. And since I was hiding in my office all day, I wasn't even annoyed about having an extra child overnight. Ahhh, the loveliness of having my own small and humble space.

It was a bit of an odd week. I got revved up about a whole new story (which always seems to happen when there's something else I really should be working on). And since I had to work 6 days out of 7 last week, the only writing I was able to do was longhand. Mm-hmm. But before you feel sorry for me - I wrote about 15,000 words longhand. It took me a good half of a day to type it all up.

So that was actually pretty amazing.

My new character's name is Angel, and he has shockingly beautiful blue eyes. Unfortunately, this does not turn out to be a good thing for my sweet Angel, and unimaginably bad things happen to him. Because that's what we writers do to fictional characters.

Justin Lattimore (a.k.a Angel) was snatched off the street and forced into a sex-trafficking operation. This excerpt is from sort of the middle of the story. Angel's already gone through the really hard stuff, and has a long-range plan to get himself out and hopes to destroy the whole sordid organization.

**Start excerpt**


I put my toothbrush away and found Dusty in the hallway, shifting from foot to foot.

"Gearbox?" I asked. "What does that even mean?"

He was several inches taller than me, and slung an arm across my shoulder like we were already buddies. "Shit, I forgot, they force it at the training houses, don't they?"

I must have still looked baffled, because he said, "It's where we go for our hit. Our shot."

"Heroin before coffee?" I asked, and sort of liked the droll tone of voice I'd just found. I thought I sounded cynical and worldly.

He grinned. "Yeah, I guess. It's voluntary from here on out, you know. In most houses, if you don't ask for it by nine, you won't get it until the next morning." He shuddered. "Which means the whole day will suck and the night will be even worse. And you won't be able to work. Too many times and you go back to training. Or the kill room."

This wasn't the first the kill room had been mentioned, but it sounded ominous every time it was brought up. The term contained an inherent threat. I let my eyes ask the question.

Dusty nodded. "Yeah, it's what you think. The boy ends up on a snuff film, dying for the camera and the sick fucks who like that kind of shit."

The very idea that people wanted to see that kind of thing gave me the chills. Sick fucks, indeed. "The only way out," I said, quoting Jet, "is not survival."

Dusty nodded, and steered me into what looked like a fairly standard kitchen, except for a steel door set into the wall opposite the doorway we'd just come through. He skirted around a large oblong table with chairs that was central to the room, and knocked on the door, two gentle taps, then sat at the table.

 I smelled coffee. I found a mug above the half-filled coffee pot and poured myself a cup, then opened cupboards until I found sugar. I poured in probably way too much, and added a generous pour of milk from the fridge.

I sat across from Dusty and set down my mug. He picked it up, sipped, and made a face. "Coffee with your sugar much?"

I wasn't a coffee drinker, but I could choke it down if it was light and sweet. And it seemed like such a normal thing. My mom had been one of those, 'don't ask me anything before I've had my coffee' people. So maybe I really did want my coffee before my heroin.

Maybe I just wanted control over something.

Five minutes later the steel door opened from the inside, and a man stood in the doorway looking at us dispassionately. He was an adult male, older than thirty but younger than forty, with neatly trimmed brown hair, and a stern face. "Who's first?" he said in a voice that was all business.

Dusty waved at me. "New guy first."

I shook my head, for some reason deciding to test the situation. "I'm having coffee."

The man in the doorway's expression didn't change.

My eyes skittered to Dusty, and he was staring at me. He gave his head one firm shake, and I caught the message, loud and clear. Don't.

I fiddled with my coffee cup for a few seconds, took one more sip, then pushed it away and got up from the table.

The man turned sideways in the doorway, gesturing for me to precede him. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I ducked past him. The door closed with a soft whoosh, like an air-lock.

It was more like a large closet than a room, maybe four feet by six.

He touched my shoulder, then my hair, as he went around me. A counter top ran along two walls, a small sink set into one end, and a refrigerator beneath the other. The shelves behind me were filled with medical supplies. If I moved too quickly, I would knock things over.

The man tapped the screen of a computer tablet that rested on the counter. "Angel Baby?" I heard the question in his voice, but felt too claustrophobic all of a sudden to answer.

I could feel his eyes on me, hard and not particularly friendly. I knew he was waiting for me to say something, but I had forgotten the question.

"Your name," he suggested.

Ah, that was the question. "My name is Justin Lattimore."

Jesus. I knew it was the wrong answer, but it fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. I couldn't have even said what it was about him, but I was scared out of my wits.

He sighed, and that drew my eyes toward him in time to see him stand up straight and rock back on his heels. The tension in the tiny room went up a notch.

I looked away, but it was like I was staring at the white noise that filled the inside of my head.

"I was told you were ready to be here, but perhaps we should try this again tomorrow."

I could hear disappointment in his voice, like he was a stern father and I was about to do something stupid.

I didn't want to go back to the training house. I didn't want to be put in a room with no windows and no sunlight, and I really didn't want to find myself back under the care and keeping of Slick.

And I didn't want to shit myself all night, praying tomorrow would come before I choked on my own vomit.

"I'm Angel," I said, the words barely louder than a whisper.

"There. That wasn't so hard, was it?" he asked, and turned away from me, tapping the glass face of the tablet. "Dang. Red gave you a tremendous dose for transfer. Were you giving him a hard time?"

I shook my head but he wasn't looking at me, so I said, "No. I wanted to come."

"Because they took Jet away?" he asked, and I almost thought I heard a thread of sympathy.

I wondered if everyone knew about Jet. The man glanced from the tablet to me, and I nodded.

He nodded back. "Changing trainers in the middle of things is never good." He opened the door of a cabinet above the counter. "I'm going to take your blood pressure, so I can record a baseline while you're neither high nor in withdrawal."

He turned toward me, a blood pressure cuff in his hand, snapped his fingers, and pointed to a tall stool next to the counter. I edged closer to him and pulled myself onto the stool. I wasn't shaking, quite, as he fastened the cuff around my arm, but felt as if my insides were mushy.

For that little while he seemed like a real doctor, and I couldn't imagine why he would be in a place like this, how he got sucked up into this organization. Surely he didn't start out a child prostitute who grew up and went to medical school. That wouldn't be possible, would it? Maybe he was just an addict, and that got him in.

He unfastened the cuff and entered something into the tablet.

"I'm going to wean you down to a much smaller dose than what Red's been giving you, so you might be uncomfortable for a few days, with muscle aches and such. I'll be here to monitor you, so if you start feeling really sick, have Dusty come and get me."

I didn't say anything.

"Did you hear me, Angel?"

"Yeah," I said. Whatever. Like everyone else, he was going to do what he wanted to me, and I would have to deal with it. And yet… I hated being so passive. I had to find my voice, for real, and start using it. "You're going to put me into withdrawal on purpose." The words came out flat, a statement, not a question.

"Not exactly," he said. "They administer the drugs in the training houses in a way that keeps you manageable and gets you addicted. You're expected to be manageable here, behaviorally, at any rate. That's the deal that got you moved to this house. I administer it more carefully – a maintenance dose that allows you to work and function, and yet is more cost-effective for the organization overall."

I didn't want to know any of this, and had nothing to say.

He sighed. "I really don't care for the sullen, silent routine. I know the first few months after being brought in are hard, but I expect Dusty will put some spunk back into you."

Oh, I've had plenty of spunk put into me, I thought, but somehow I knew it would be a huge mistake to say something that sarcastic, out loud, to this man.

"Rest your arm on the table, please," he said, and I flinched as he twisted a rubber tie around my upper arm. "Make a fist."

I curled my fingers tight to my palm.

"Say please."

I glared at him and felt the white noise in my head gain.

His eyes were steel like the door, and his voice so soft I almost had to strain to hear it. "Do you know anything about heroin, Angel? People sacrifice their lives so I can inject this drug into your vein. For that alone, you will ask for it nicely."

I wanted to scream. I was all too aware that it was probably true, but I never wanted any of this in the first place. Who would?

He stared into my face for long minutes.

His patience had no end as he waited for me to get over myself.

We hung in suspended animation for sixteen years before I whispered the word he waited to hear.

"Please."

And in the following moment, the moment in which the needle pierced my skin, I felt keenly the death of Justin Lattimore.

**End excerpt**


Postscript: The story excerpt above was inspired by a book called Hamelin's Child by DJ Bennett. I'll tell you more about Hamelin's Child next Thursday.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

SM Johnson ~ Thursday Morning Coffee ~Out of the Dungeon update

Good morning, Darlings. Just a quick little post to let you know that I have updated and uploaded new files for Out of the Dungeon to both Amazon and Smashwords. Might try my hand at publishing them via All Romance e-books one of these days, as well.

I fixed some annoying typos and added a couple of additional scenes, so if you've previously purchased this title, you should be able to go grab the updated version for free.

If you find it momentarily unavailable, check back in a day or two. Sometimes the re-issue isn't exactly immediate. And in this case, I had to re-upload AGAIN because I found a typo that I somehow inserted while editing. Pesky little typos.

Three in the Dungeon, the 3rd book of my Dungeon series, is coming soon! My target release date is February 28.

If you haven't checked it out yet, the Goodreads BDSM group has a  fun little thing called BDSM Bedtime stories, and an amazing reader named Sirly Eric read an excerpt from Above the Dungeon, the first book in the series. So if you want to dip your toes in the water to find out if my boys will heat you up, go have a listen HERE via YouTube (it's basically an audio file with a slideshow). Absolutely lovely.

Have a great weekend, darlings. I'll be in the dungeon (office) bleeding words.





Friday, January 11, 2013

SM Johnson ~Guest Post ~ Advice from a Lizard



Maggie Lee’s anole lizard, Godzilla, or God for short, has an opinion on everything. Here he shares some of his thoughts.

   1)     Practice Safe Sex. You should never have sex when you have a gun under your mattress.
   2)     Kissing is disgusting. (Male anole lizards prefer to bite the back of the neck of the female he chooses to mate with.)
   3)     Clean eating is best.  Live crickets are preferable to processed food (i.e. freeze-dried crickets).
   4)     Exercise is overrated. Watch more TV…preferably Wheel of Fortune.
   5)     When in doubt, ask God. He knows everything.


 Thanks for the advice, God!

God is a hysterically funny character in JB Lynn's Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series, I've read the first book, and am planning to read book 2, Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman as soon as I can get to it. Confessions is neither vampire nor erotica, but still a really fun read.

Amazon  Nook
Book 1: Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she's never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her new best friend is a talking lizard--a picky eater, obsessed with "Wheel of Fortune," that only Maggie can hear.Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she reluctantly accepts a mobster's lucrative job offer: major cash to kill his monstrous son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let's not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she's up to.


Training has never been so complicated And, this time, Maggie has to get the job done. Because if she doesn't . . . she's the mob's next target
Book 2: Further Confessions of Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Take three wacky aunts, two talking animals, one nervous bride, and an upcoming hit, and you've got the follow-up to JB Lynn's wickedly funny Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Knocking off a drug kingpin was the last thing on Maggie Lee's to-do list, but when a tragic accident leaves her beloved niece orphaned and in the hospital, Maggie will go to desperate lengths to land the money needed for her care.

But the drug kingpin is the least of her worries. Maggie's aunts are driving her crazy, her best friend's turned into a bridezilla…and a knock on the head has given Maggie Dr. Dolittle abilities—she can talk to animals. Unfortunately, they talk back.

It's just another day in the life of this neurotic hitwoman…

You can also buy these books from IndieBound.


About the Author:
Besides being a writer, JB Lynn is a compulsive reader, a runner (of sorts), an enthusiastic cook (who doesn't get the appeal of the Food Network), and someone who has an irresistible urge to eavesdrop at all times.

JB has a great love of her husband, dogs, coffee, purple ink, spiral notebooks, running gear, hot showers, and '80s music. Given enough time, all of these things will eventually show up in her books.


There's a blog tour going on, so for more about JB Lynn, Maggie Lee and Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman, come and join the tour!




Schedule:

Jan. 7 Modokker Book Pickshttp://modokkerbookpicks.blogspot.com Character Guest Post
Jan. 8 Alchemy of Scrawl http://alchemyscrawl.com Character Guest Post
Jan. 9 Bunny's Reviews http://bunnysreview.com Author Guest Post
Jan. 10 Jess Resides Here http://www.frellathon.com Interview
Jan. 11 SM Johnson Writes http://smjbookteasers.blogspot.comPost from Godzilla
Jan. 12 Living, Learning, and Loving Lifehttp://www.livinglearninglovinglife.com Author Guest Post
Jan. 13 Mom with a Kindle http://momwithakindle.blogspot.comCharacter Guest Post
Jan. 14 Alli's Worl http://mrscaptkirk51.blogspot.com/ Review and Character Guest Post
Jan. 15 Keeping Up with the Rheinlander'shttp://mnmrheinlander.com Review and Character Guest Post

Live Chat at Goodreads Jan. 10:

Tour's Pinterest Board

Social Media Links:
Website: www.jblynn.com
KILLER CHICKS (blog): http://www.killerchicks.org/

Buy Links:
Book 1
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/VuLWd7

Book 2
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/VnhvGg

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

SM Johnson ~ Blog changes 2013

Good morning, Darlings, and Happy 2013!

This is an info post. My blogging experiment continues. For the past year and a half I made an effort to post new content three times a week. For the most part, it was pretty cool.

Did I see an increase in book sales? Nope.

When I put the blog on hiatus altogether this fall, I saw a huge increase in the sales of the Dungeon books. I have absolutely no idea why this is,
 but I have decided that I would rather write 10,000 words of fiction per week than 10,000 words of blog posts, so that's what I'm going to do.

I think I am not a natural blogger, and my "posts under pressure" are really not that interesting. My energy needs to be focused on fiction.

When I have something to say, or when I have new releases or other book news, I shall share. And keep an eye out, because I'm hoping to release 2 novels and a novella by June 2013!

If you followed my "clean" story, A Year of Sundays, it WILL be finished and released as a novel. Watch for it!

Generally I will try to post on Thursdays.

Thank you, darlings, and my biggest wish is for 2013 to treat you well.

Let 2013 be a year of change: Leave toxic relationships in 2012. Do what you love. Be happy. Be kind. Take a moment each day to be mindful. Be grateful for the things in your life that are good. Cope with or change the things that are not. Best wishes to you all.

~SM