Tuesday, December 20, 2016

SM Johnson~ Up Next! ~The New Dungeon: Aftermath

Up Next!
Tentative Release February 2017

The New Dungeon: Aftermath is nearly finished!

 More than 100,000 words of kinky happiness!

There's a new format this time around, and I do hope you all, my Darklings, will find it satisfying.

Instead of filtering multiple story-lines and POV changes throughout the book, I've edited Aftermath to give you each complete tale, one at a time, in "parts" more than chapters (but don't worry, there are chapter and section breaks, too!). 

All these guys are in wildly different relationship stages, with Dare, Zach, and Thomas in a maintenance stage, Doc and Tristan in a new relationship, and Roman and Jeff deepening their commitment to one another. Each story takes place in a similar bracket of time, but on edit, I discovered the jumping around from relationship to relationship was more distracting than tantalizing. 

This is also a great lead-in to how I plan to develop the continuation of the series - erotic romances with new characters, exploring new kinds of kink, but with each book devoted primarily to one particular romance pairing.

I'm hoping the next book, Nervous, will also be released in 2017, but that is neither here nor there.


The New Dungeon: Aftermath





Zach: What will it take for Zach to submit to Dom Thomas? Only the loss of everything he's counted on for stability in his adult life. Because Dare's the submissive one, right? Even if Thomas promised to take them both on, have them both on their knees at his feet. Surely he didn't mean it, not for real...

Doc: Some new kid comes into the Dungeon asking for membership. And he's asking for Doc by name and swearing up and down that he's a friend of Roman. He's pretty enough, yeah? With his red-stained lips and eyes rimmed with make-up, but something about his background check doesn't sit right, and Doc's busy - no time for trouble. Which is too bad, because Tristan's trouble with a capital T, and needs a Daddy more than anyone Doc has ever known. And everyone knows the reason they call Maddox "Doc" is because he likes to fix the weepy boys.

Roman: Jeff's nightmares are out of control, bondage still gives him panic attacks, and Roman's starting to wonder if there's something really wrong. What exactly is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and do Jeff's symptoms fit the criteria? They're both new to monogamy, and that part seems okay, but the constant battle to be kinky without throwing Jeff into a tailspin is exhausting and not at all fun. And kink is supposed to be fun. Roman knows Jeff is still kinky in his head - his book sales are proving that much, so maybe it's time for Roman to explore what Jeff is writing about... and use it against him. That's what the creative Dom would do.

Secret, Secret: One of Jeff's most popular stories, included as a bonus read!

Take heart, my Darklings, it'll be here by the time you've recovered from the holidays. Or at least by the time I recover from the holidays (grin).

~SM

Friday, December 16, 2016

For me, vampire writing begins and ends with Anne Rice

Dear Anne,

You frighten me. Time and time again I read your descriptions of works-in-progress and the next release, and I think to myself, "Good gawd, what the heck is she doing and how is she going to pull this off?"

Yeah. Like The Vampire Lestat and the lost city of Atlantis. The actual title is "Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis."

Love me, with a fangirly squee.



I mean, ridiculous, right?

In a normal life (my old life?) I would have been rushing to a store somewhere on the oh, so holy Release Date and I would have the whole book read in 24 hours.

People (i.e. family members) would know better than to look at me sideways, ask for dinner, or laundry or ANYTHING until I had been allowed to devour this book.

In my new life... I noticed the book while buying weird stuff (like a sewing machine I don't have a single clue how to use) at Walmart (hate and detest Walmart, but there we were, because we needed fabric, thread, a sewing machine, bedding, liquid starch, and light bulbs) - and I SEE IT. The new Anne Rice book. My life is so insane that I TOTALLY FORGOT the oh, so holy Release Date.

The truth? No one does vampires better (for me) than Anne Rice.

Of course Anne Rice and Prince Lestat, together, can investigate Atlantis. And not make it even a little bit ridiculous.

This:

"Think of our horror to discover the mythic story of a God who sent Himself in human form to the planet to die a horrific death through crucifixion to appease Himself with His own Incarnate suffering!"

And....

"...idea that God Himself works through pain and suffering to "redeem" His creatures from His own wrath."

(sigh).

I love her.

Oh, I have been disappointed at times - after all, there's no rule that says we must adore every word our favorite author writes. But these "new" sorts of Vampire Chronicles, the ones that pull together the vampires into a supportive Court - these in which we are given to understand many points of view... especially as we are presumed to have memory of their histories and their backgrounds....

Yes, please.

More, please.

And most graciously, thank you.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Dungeon 5 Update


Let's see... I'm working on the cover art while rounding out the story. There's still editing, cleaning up, betas, and the final pass.

Honestly, while I wanted a Halloween release to free me up for NaNoWriMo in November, I just don't see that happening.

I'm struggling with a new daily life schedule.

It's not a difficult or trying struggle, it's more like... having to rework TIME.

As much as I wish it weren't so, there are still only 24 hours in a day, and I still can't write fast and like what I write.

I shall finish this book, in my own time.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

SM Johnson ~ book reviews ~ Come Back to Me by Edmond Manning

Come Back To Me.

Is this a King book, a story of the Lost and Founds? It doesn't look like a King book, and it doesn't start like a King book, but I adore Vin Vanbly, and so I am going to trust him and follow where he leads.

I know that Vin is flawed. I know he has a dark and difficult past, a past that he insists has no bearing on the man he is today. Vin is always a bit sketchy about his past. Oh, we get clues here and there as we read about the Lost and Founds - we get a lot of clues along the way, but overall, we know Vin as a quirky but confident man, a man who brings out the best in other men, who reminds men of the kings they were meant to be.

Yes, Vin, I trust you.

Let's just take a second to recap thoughts when I first met Vin - here is my brief review of King Perry:

This book. O happy sigh. It is sweet. It is gentle. It is kindness and taking a risk and a leap of faith, and learning about trust and truth and happiness. Vin Vanbly asks Perry, a virtual stranger, to spend a weekend with him, and the condition is that Perry has to do everything Vin tells him to do. I know, sounds porny, right? But noooo, it's not at all. During the course of the weekend Vin tells Perry about some of the lost and found kings, and asks Perry to trust him over and over and over. This book is funny, and sad, and poignant, and just... a beautiful journey.

Buy it. Read it. You won't be sorry.

I'm going to suggest that I would say nearly the same words, in mostly the same order, for all of the Lost and Founds books, for all of the Kings, and that includes the latest released book, Come Back To Me.

If you're invested in Vin Vanbly, read this book.

It's darker than you want. Parts of it caused me grievous pain and heartache. Not that I could put it down.

I loved getting to know Kevin and Mark. I loved seeing Vin on his home turf, learning more about his work in the garage.

I had several surreal moments with this "home turf" stuff - I visited the Witches Tower in Prospect Park just one week before Come Back To Me was released. I'd never heard of the tower or the park before that day, and so it was with surprised delight that I was able to almost literally be there physically as I read the book. I knew the trees, the trail, the bench, exactly as described.

Read them. Read them all. Buy them in paperback so you can line them up all pretty-like on your bookshelf, and read them again when you're feeling lost. Edmond Manning will help you find yourself. Or at the very least, let you know you can be found.

Peace out, Darklings. Be safe and read good books.

Friday, September 9, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Everything Changes ~ sometimes all at once!

Sometimes you don't realize you've been imprisoned.

One year ago I was fired with very little warning from a job I'd held for 11 years. As in... I'd never had any issues, never been in any trouble, never been verbally warned or written up for anything, ever, in over a decade. I was a union employee. The company has progressive discipline policies, but those policies didn't apply to me.

Why didn't those policies apply to me?

Because I'm an erotica author. 
Because I write about gay sex and BDSM.

Because a person in my care had questions about BDSM that I was comfortable enough (and stupid enough) to answer. They were safety questions. Not personal, not procedural, not titillating... but the fact that I acknowledged at work that BDSM relationships actually do exist in real life apparently crossed a line.

In the resulting fray, someone told management I write books on the subject, which allowed a conservative Christian manager to hold me up as an example of a predator with bad boundaries - and suddenly I was unfit to do my job. They looked at me as if clearly me and the person who'd asked the question were the only perverts in the whole state (perhaps the whole country), and CLEARLY I was planning a hook-up, because OMFG, I FOUND ANOTHER PERVERT!

Yeah.

For the record, I've been married for 24 years, and we're mostly monogamous. 

Not that it should make a difference, but I'm just pointing out that it shouldn't make a difference.

Every once in awhile I run into blogs/comments/discussions on whether erotica authors should "come out" at work or to their extended families, or what have you.

Well. I was out at work. I didn't share my pen name with just anybody, but a few co-workers that I felt closer to than just being work friends. I thought we were real friends.

*insert maniacal laughter here*

Yeah, that's funny. In the year since I was fired, I've heard from, mmm, maybe 4 people. 

I disappeared after 11 years, and only FOUR PEOPLE wondered enough about what happened to contact me directly. I devastated. I was in shock and utterly humiliated. I couldn't eat or sleep for several weeks. 

I missed my friends. I adored many, many of my co-workers. We depended upon each other in one crisis situation after another. I freely and happily gave away as much vacation time as allowed when they were in need.

I had no clue that almost all of them were transient friends.

This was the biggest heart-break of the whole mess.

So.

Should you come out as an erotica author at your (vanilla) day job?

I'm going to say HELL NO. Don't do it.

Your friends and family aren't going to buy enough of your books to contribute to you making a living at this. Oh, they'll say they will, but they don't mean it. Especially if they don't have a pre-existing interest in what you write about.

These days I decline to share my pen name. And what I say is this: The people who are interested in the subject I write about will find and enjoy my books. I write for a niche market, a very specified audience, and people who don't read that genre will not enjoy what I write. 

And that's all.

I do talk about being a writer. I talk about how I cannot be mentally healthy unless I engage in my art. I talk about finding or creating the free time to pursue "play" - the hobbies and passions that give life joy and meaning.

But I have learned that the collision of two worlds can change your life before you were ready for those changes.

But what's really interesting is... despite my shock and all my fury about the injustice of the event itself, it was time for me to move on. The environment in which I was working had become toxic to me. I was starting to believe that the system which claimed to help people, often harmed more than it helped. The system would much rather "manage" than "cure". I was becoming cynical and angry, and my health was suffering. I also felt helpless to change anything, and hopeless that things would change.

I agonized about whether to write full-time or finish my Master's degree. 

I'm the shittiest marketing and promotion person in the universe, I think, and have never made enough money writing to make any significant contribution to my household. And so I finished school.

And now, exactly one year out from this horrible event...

I stand with my head held high, a professional license, and a deep passion for the journey I am about to begin.

I'm still going to write. Probably not any faster than I ever have, but definitely more than I've been able to manage while in school. Oh, yeah, and there's the part where I wrote a quick outline Monday night day and then bled out over 8,000 words on Wednesday. That's amazing for me. I liked it. I think outlining might be my new plan of attack.

Life is very, very different than it was one year ago.

But it's so, so much better!

Have a fun and safe weekend, my Darklings, and make an effort to play out your passions, whatever they may be.

~SM


Thursday, September 1, 2016

SM Johnson ~ New Release!~ DeVante's Coven (Revamped)

Good morning, good morning, good morning, my Darklings!

What a wonderful day!

DeVante's Coven is available for purchase at Smashwords, and soon to available at Amazon (maybe even later today).

Love bites…

When Roderick abandons new vampire Daniel to the care of his sire, DeVante, Daniel flounders under DeVante's attitude of benevolent neglect, and wonders how much autonomy DeVante will actually allow. Yearning for guidance and supervision, Daniel pursues Reed, a mortal man, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship rich with elements of BDSM.

Meanwhile, Roderick has fled to Las Vegas, where he saves the life of a young man named Tony by changing him to vampire. But when Tony wakes up, he doesn't act like a fledgling vampire should. And when the sun rises and Roderick sleeps his vampire sleep, Tony walks out into the daylight and goes home, where he accidentally changes his roommate Lily to vampire. Roderick wakes to find that he now has two brand new fledglings, neither of whom he can control. He panics and does the only thing can think to do; bring them to DeVante in San Francisco.

Vampires, mortals, and Tony, (who's something else altogether), are all beholden to DeVante for protection. An old friend becomes an enemy and the whole group is held for ransom. DeVante believes love makes him weak, but can the members of DeVante's little coven save themselves, in spite of their differences? And if they can, is that the definition of family?



It's been fun smoothing out the edges of my beloved second book ever written, but I'm super anxious to get back to working on The New Dungeon books.

As always, those who read or follow my blog have the opportunity to snatch this one for free until September 14, 2016. Follow the link to Smashwords and at checkout enter coupon code SD63Z.

I will be adding more buy links as DeVante's Coven (Revamped) goes live at more retail outlets.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Strip Tour, an excerpt from DeVante's Coven



Well. This book will be released very soon, so I thought it might be fun to tease you a little bit. This excerpt is somewhat explicit... enjoy.



Excerpt from DeVante's Coven by SM Johnson


He stared at the bed and remembered the image he’d stolen from Reed’s mind. It turned him on, never mind he was already practically naked from the little game of strip-tour.

While Daniel took it all in, Reed stripped off his own clothes, came up behind him, and pressed his warm body full-length against Daniel’s back, arms draped over his shoulders, hands caressing his chest. Reed’s cock stirred against Daniel’s backside and Daniel leaned against him, fingering the smooth skin of Reed’s thighs, feeling his own cock ache.

Reed spoke. “You don’t talk much.”

Daniel smiled at him, suddenly embarrassed that he was so weird about studying a place before he could be comfortable. “Just taking it all in,” he said, and even to his own ears it sounded lame.

“The second bathroom is through there,” Reed gestured to the left. “And that’s the full tour, so now you can lose the shorts.”

With that he toyed with the waistband of Daniel’s underwear and then tugged them down. He urged Daniel to the bed and Daniel went, Reed’s body pressing against him until he lay flat on his stomach and Reed was heavy on top of him. And warm. The heat that humans generated was amazing. Hot skin, hot mouths, hot blood.

The heat between himself and Reed was extraordinary, very different from his sexual experiences with Roderick.

Sensation exploded into Daniel as Reed’s hot mouth explored the back of his neck, the side of his throat, and finally his ear. Daniel shuddered.

Reed slid off him and said, “Roll over.”

Daniel did, and Reed kissed him on the mouth. It was a slow, sensual kiss. Reed’s hands explored his body as his lips and tongue explored Daniel’s mouth. Fingers brushed through Daniel’s hair and caressed his neck, moving down to close tightly around Daniel’s cock. Reed’s heat flowed into him, and Daniel gave himself up to hands and mouth, content to ride the moment helpless, to feel what this man would have him feel. And still the kiss went on and on. Daniel moaned into it.

Reed broke the kiss at last and sat up, just looking at him for a few moments, then said, “You are adorable.”

Daniel grinned at him.

“But how old are you?”

Daniel instantly shut off the grin. “I told you, twenty-one.” But he was unnerved by Reed, by his own utter willingness to obey the man and he didn’t think he sounded convincing. He ducked his head, felt himself blush, and looked at Reed through lowered lashes. “Don’t look at me like I’m some dumb teenager.”

Reed’s mouth turned up in a sly smile. “You are a dumb teenager. Hitchhiking.”

“I’m twenty-one,” Daniel insisted, fighting the urge to cross his fingers.

“Right.” Reed brushed the back of his hand along Daniel’s jaw, just below the scars. “And I don’t believe it for a minute. You might,” he paused to peer at Daniel’s face, “might be nineteen. But I doubt it.”

Daniel shrugged. Reed could believe what he wanted to. Daniel wasn’t going to explain how he was eighteen in people years, plus two in vampire years.

He leaned up, pressed his face against Reed’s throat, and nipped at him. “Hey!” Reed exclaimed. “Don’t bite.”

Daniel let his smile shine. “Then be nice.”

Reed grinned back at him. “You don’t look like a boy with a vampire fetish.”

Daniel almost laughed out loud. Ahhh, if you only knew what you’d see if I let you. He said, “I don’t look like a lot of things. What do I look like?”

“A bright, fresh-faced all-American kid looking to tarnish his innocence. And that I can help you with.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes.” Reed leaned into Daniel, touching his cheek, then his chest, then the sides of his body, his movements so subtle that his weight was comforting, not uncomfortable, when he covered Daniel’s body with his own. “So,” he said, his breath soft across Daniel’s face. “Have you ever done this before?”

“Let myself be picked up by a complete stranger? I can’t say that I have.”

“I meant have sex with a man.”

“Oh. Well, I had a relationship with my guardian’s... um... son. But our thing kind of fizzled. He’s a lot older than me, and always had to be in control.”

Understatement. And he knew he was giving the impression with his offhand tone that it wasn’t a big deal, or maybe even that the sex wasn’t that great, although the tender moments with Roderick had been amazing. There just weren’t enough of them. Roderick always preferred blood over sex, so when they did get close in that way, it was because one manipulated the other, by bargain or agreement, so there was a level of obligation involved. It was never as spontaneous as this.

Reed must have read more into that than Daniel intended, because he touched Daniel’s left cheek, tracing the faint scars there. “Did he do this?”

Daniel shook his head, raised his own hand to push Reed’s away. When they were new, the claw marks on his face had been raised and bright red, but with the help from DeVante’s blood they had settled and faded to fine white lines. This amazing vampire body.

“Nah, that’s from an accident that happened a long time ago.” If he thought more about the bitch than that, he’d lose his erection.

Reed trailed a finger down Daniel’s chest, stopping to toy with his nipple. “I’m a lot older than you, too.” He pinched Daniel’s nipple, hard.

Daniel’s heart jumped. And his cock.

Reed’s words were clear and deliberate. “And make no mistake, lad, I am in control.”

“I know,” Daniel whispered, staring up at him. “I’m okay with that.”

Reed lifted his body and coaxed Daniel with his hands to lie on his stomach. Kneaded his shoulders, kissed his neck; trailing a line of kisses and gentle bites all the way down his spine until his mouth, his tongue, dipped right into... Daniel blushed to even think of it. Roderick had done the same thing to him once, a long time ago, and it had been just as embarrassing. He couldn’t imagine doing that to anyone, ever. And he felt a thrill of fear that he might be asked to return the favor. Reed’s tongue stabbing into him sent tremors through Daniel’s whole body, making his muscles tight and loose at the same time. Making him cry out Reed’s name, not even sure what he was begging for.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SM Johnson ~ project update ~ The New Dungeon

Good morning, my Darklings! I have been well, and I hope ya'll have been having a wonderful summer.

A quick update on the writing front...

DeVante's Coven (Revamped) has been to beta readers and I'm in the process of working through edits. I'm still on target to publish this one before the end of the month, and super pleased with the rewrite.

An interesting development on this series - I've more or less figured out where the next book starts, and it is not at all what I'd planned for Book 3, so that's weirdly exciting.

Writing is such an interesting process. Way back in, oh, 1991, when I started writing my first book ever, DeVante's Children, my plan for the vampire Roderick was that he would be nothing more than a catalyst between DeVante and Daniel. And then he was supposed to politely exit stage left and stop mucking up my stories.

Well. It seems as if Roderick will NEVER stop mucking up my stories, and while he was never supposed to even BE a main character, he has somehow become THE main character. And all this happened against my will.

Sometimes I feel as if the story isn't even mine - like I'm nothing more than a conduit. Heh.

Roderick is playful and wicked, but not too wicked... and he emulates the Vampire Lestat, although he isn't nearly old enough to compete on Lestat's level.




Okay, so there's the vampire update.

Now, what you're all waiting for (grin) and update on the next DUNGEON book.

Yep, I know it.

It goes like this.... a new idea! (ding-ding-ding-lightbulb).

Book FIVE is titled Aftermath. Well, technically it's titled The New Dungeon: Aftermath.

Ya'll probably know that Roman sold the club called Above the Dungeon to help pay Jeff's medical bills, right? Yeah. So the club has a new owner, and it's now simply called The Dungeon. Dare's cousin, Maddox-call-me-Doc, is the current manager. Doc comes up with a fun little thing called Members Only night, because the new club is kind of tame compared to the old club, and Doc thinks if he creates a safe play space, people will come.

Of course they will!

Like Thomas, Dare, and Zach. And an old friend from book 1 makes a reappearance with all kinds of complicated crap (and a kitten). Weird, hmm?

Kinky fuckery happens. Life stuff happens. You know my books. Well, okay, nothing as bad as someone breaking their neck happens, so don't get too nervous. But yanno... sometimes life kicks your ass.

So that's Aftermath. And it's about 2/3 written - so I'm right on target for a fall release. "Fall" meaning before November 1st, because, well, NaNoWriMo starts on November 1st.

And during NaNo I intend to complete the first draft of DUNGEON book 6, which will be titled Nervous. (Technically... The New Dungeon: Nervous).

And THIS book will be somewhat different, in that there's only ONE romantic/sexy pairing.

Gods, I know! How will I write a whole book with just one (or possibly two) point of view characters? Such a challenge!

You will get to know the guys in Nervous (Avery and Julian) very, very well. And it will be hot. Trust.

When I'm done with book 5, I'll find some photos and post and excerpt and introduce ya'll to Avery and Julian, but that's getting a little ahead of myself.

Oh, but just so you know, Avery's a member of The Dungeon... so don't spazz, you'll get to see what some of the other boys are getting up to now and then (grin).

Ok, so there's the update. DeVante's Coven will be released this month. The New Dungeon: Aftermath will be released by November 1, 2016. A Dungeon book with new characters will be released Spring or Summer 2017.

Oh! And depending how well I manage my schedule, Reserved, the short story, will eventually become a full novel.

Whew! I'm really excited!

Take care, my Darklings. Let's stay in touch!

If you like my FB page, SM Johnson Writes, you can hear from me a bit more regularly.


~SM

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

~SM Johnson ~ Leelah Alcorn ~ #transstories

I recently posted to my FB page an essay written by the partner of a transgender man. It was a bit of an enlightening experience to see this journey from a seldom heard from point of view.

I would like to feature more transgender stories on this blog and on the SM Johnson Writes page on Facebook, so if you know anyone who might be interested in sharing a story, please direct them my way. I'd be willing to edit for anyone not confident of their writing skills, and protect a person's identity if they prefer.

I want to create more LGB and Trans safe spaces.

This line of thought reminds me that I want to post #Leelah Alcorn's tumblr note here periodically. Leelah was a human being driven to suicide by her family's refusal to accept her for who she is. No, more than that, they PUNISHED her and ISOLATED her using parental control tactics, as if she were a puppy that just needed to be trained up right.

Pretty sure I've said this before - we have the honor of raising children to become individual, autonomous people. We do not own them. There is no inherent rule that children should turn out just how the parents want them to be. To even think such a thing is utter bullshit.


Leelah’s Note:

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “f*** you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a s**t about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like s**t because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a s**t which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f***ed up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,


(Leelah) Josh Alcorn


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]



Thursday, June 23, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Do reviews help readers?

How do I find great books to read?

How do you find books to read?

Amazon makes a lot of suggestions to me, and I get tons of book blurb promos from Facebook. If something gets my attention I usually follow a link to Amazon and check out the reviews (starting with the low star reviews) or see what people have to say about that title on Goodreads.

Five star reviews are meaning less and less to me, as a reader, at least.

It feels like every writer has sisters, friends, fans, and god only knows who else spewing out so many five star reviews that it's impossible to judge a book by its star rating. It's as if reviews are no longer geared toward readers, and are now just a mechanism authors use to game the system.

I can't even tell you guys how many terrible books I've given up on because the characters are flat, the narrative is boring, and the overall quality of a good read just isn't there. I really don't want to be with a character from the moment the alarm goes off, they roll out of bed, brush their teeth, shower, get dressed, drink coffee, put their cup in the dishwasher, etc etc etc. Unless they're thinking really strange and wonderful things, I don't need to be present for the drivel. I also don't need the same three sentence description of every person our character runs into on the street or in the office.

It is a task and a skill to leap into the narrative, to keep the pace moving, to allow your readers to assume that characters shower and dress and eat and poop.

I know it's a task and a skill because I work at it every day - the editing out of drivel and building smooth transitions from scene to scene. Keeping to the important bits is not as easy as it seems.

But the five star reviews of drivel are starting to get on my nerves. Give me a good solid wordy three star review - tell me what worked, what maybe didn't.

Not every book is a five star read. One good clue is when every single review starts with "This is the hottest book I've ever read." I start reading, kind of excited, only to be disappointed by an amateurish effort. There might be a really hot or perverse sex scene at some point, but if the narrative is shallow and poorly executed, I'll never get to it. When on page one, the main character divulges, "There are three things about me that are utterly true: I detest the alarm clock, and I love coffee more than life."

Pages later I'm still wondering what the third thing is. Maybe that the narrator doesn't know how to count? And the problem is... if you give me an idiot main character on page 1, I'm probably not going to make it to page 15 before I give up.

Sometimes I feel like authors are putting more time and energy into marketing and promotion than they put into writing their books.

So how do we find books that are actually good? The John Sandfords or the Stephen Kings of the erotica genre? That's what I want. A fascinating narrator who won't allow me to leave until the full story is told. A story can have a thousand great reviews, but if the narrative is boring, I'm not going to keep reading. I just don't have that kind of time. I've started downloading the samples from Amazon, and that does help me know what I'm getting into before I pay for a book.

I would like to find reviewers to follow who have liked books that I also liked. I enjoyed the Dear Author site, but there was some crazy blow up over there, and I haven't been back for awhile.

I've stumbled into some YA reads that have been great, and I'm finding that I typically tend to like books by the big publishers, too. Not because of the marketing, but the actual content of the books, the quality of the writing.

I am by no means a perfect writer. I'm the one who had a gay guy get a straight girl pregnant, remember?  So my characters have had their share of TSTL moments. It's an art, not a science, and sometimes we miss the mark.

None of my books have hundreds of 5-star reviews. And that's okay. The only time I've worked to solicit reviews was for the UnCommon Bodies anthology, and requesting reviews was part of the deal. Other than that, if they loved it or hated it, almost all of my reviews come from an organic response on behalf of the reader. And I have to say, I prefer it that way. They are honest. Sometimes brutally honest, but you know what? I can take it. And quite often there's some merit in a critical review.

I'm still learning how to write great books.

Monday, June 20, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Say Their Names

Listen, I'll be honest. I have been attempting to articulate a response to the The Pulse murders during the Pride celebration in Orlando... and I just... can't.

I don't have the words.

Please search out the names and photographs of the murder victims. Look at their beautiful faces, look into their eyes. Say their names out loud. Give each of them a moment of your respect and love. Give each of them a piece of your heart. It could have been my best friend. Or me. Or you. My daughter, your daughter or your son.

Just searched out a link for you. Someone else is asking you to say their names, too. Please do.

http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2016/6/15/say-their-names-photos-bios-every-orlando-victim

~SM

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Love Letters ~ Intensity

Life should be intense.

Not every day or every minute, but intensity makes us feel deeply, care deeply, and work passionately.

Whoa. I am loving the adverbs this morning. Allow me to revise that sentence.

Intensity makes us feel, care, and work with passion.

And passion makes life worth living.

I have spent the last 10 months rushing through my life in a mad dash from place to place, rarely able to be still, relax, or settle. I have written a half a million words of academic papers, which feels somewhat insane now that I am back to noveling.

Noveling is so much easier.

And yet academics have allowed me to experience growth in areas I didn't even know I was lacking. My awareness of the human condition has expanded, as well as my understanding of many things good, bad, and ugly. I had one wonderful professor who adroitly challenged me in things I already believed I did well, and made the challenge in such a way that she brought me to self-reflection rather than making me feel defensive.

That's talent, let me tell you.

The most valuable lessons for me all involved self-reflection. I am not always wrong, but I'm not always right, either. I went into my Master's program with some degree of arrogance. I believed I had more years and more legitimate experience than most of my co-students. I believed, in fact, that my level of experience in my day job put me about level with my professors.

Today this notion is absolutely laughable.

I had a lot of experience in one tiny arena. My professors have a wealth of experience in many different arenas, and minds that are capable of thinking well outside the box, far beyond what I was capable of. I hate boxes, and yet I discovered that I had put myself into a really tiny one.

The discovery of all that I didn't know was exhilarating. Terrifying.

Intense.

And all of this I hope to bring into my books.


Have a great week, my lovely Darklings. And be sure to pay attention to all of the things in your life that make you feel, care, and work with passion!

~SM

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

SM Johnson ~The New Dungeon ~ Excerpt

Excerpt from The New Dungeon, Dungeon series book 5

Zach

 He wasn't quite asleep at a little after three in the afternoon when Thomas crawled into the bed and curled up around him. "Cry, mamá del gato, you'll feel better if you let it out."

The endearment was an insult, but an affectionate kind of insult. Zach was mama cat and Dare was kitten, and Zach wasn't sure if that made Thomas the alley cat or the panther or what. He snorted. Duh. The Tomcat, probably. He was so dense sometimes. "I can't cry. I don't cry. Not for them. I have to keep my distance or I can't do my job."

"But you all locked up, lover. I can feel how tense you are. Tight in this curled little ball. Hurt. You need to break this silly no crying rule."

Thomas' fingertips pressed into the muscles of Zach's back, digging hard through his thin t-shirt, kneading ten small circles, at first so focused that it was painful, and Zach groaned out loud, gripped the edge of the mattress on his side of the bed, and started to pull himself away.

"No, mama cat." Thomas said with a stern tone. "You get more comfortable, maybe, stretch out on your stomach. Otherwise, you be still for me."

There was a sudden tension then, maybe in the room, maybe in Thomas' voice, and it was a the command of a Dom to a sub. But Dare is the sub, said a little voice inside Zach, though he let himself think about it for a few seconds, how nice it would be to just shut off his brain and obey. And so he rolled to his stomach, stretched out his legs, and waited.

Thomas straddled Zach's hips and started on Zach's upper back again, his strong fingers insisting the tightness away. Zach closed his eyes and hummed a little as Thomas moved on to the muscles of his shoulders, and then that particularly pained area in between his shoulders and his neck. The massage was so painful right there that he cried out, didn't know if he could stand for Thomas to continue, but Thomas shushed him, ordered Zach to move his arms from folded beneath his head to straight along his sides, fingers pointed toward his toes, and kept on with the massage.

"I thought a massage was supposed to be relaxing," Zach said through gritted teeth. "It feels more like you're killing me."
"Oh, you a regular comedian, Zach," Thomas answered. "This is deep muscle work. It doesn't always feel good, no. But you be loose like an overcooked chili when I'm done."

By the time Dare got home from work, Zach was definitely loose, almost dozing. Dare's voice from the doorway was soft, questioning. "Zach? Are you okay?"

Zach opened his eyes.

Dare stood at the bedroom doorway, his suit coat over his arm, his crisp blue dress shirt wrinkled, his tie already loosened. He looked more rumpled than usual. And, well, he looked stressed. Or worried. Worried about Zach? Or worried about Zach and Thomas having been together without him?

"Not okay," Thomas answered before Zach could get words out. "I got his body relaxed, but his head's still locked up, spirit's still gone. Our mama cat's not right at all."

Dare dropped his suit jacket on the floor and crawled onto the bed, cuddling in so that Zach was now surrounded by his lovers. Dare stared into his eyes. "What can we do? How can we help?"

Zach shook his head, and closed his eyes, shutting Dare out, shutting both of them out. He didn't know. He needed, he needed… sleep, or food, or sex, or laughter. But he didn't feel like any of that. He didn't feel like moving. He felt empty. Or what Thomas said, locked up. Frozen. Yeah, Thomas was exactly right. He couldn’t think what to tell them, much less make his brain formulate sentences that he could spit out his mouth. He tried to think. Nothing. I don't know. I don't care. I can't… I don't know. There was just… nothing. Blank. "Make me…" he got that much out in words, then nothing else.

"I can make you," Thomas said, and his voice was so strong, so sure.

"Make you what?" That was Dare. "Dinner? A drink?"

Zach shook his head. My head. My heart. So empty. But he found the right words all of a sudden. "Make me feel something."

Everything happened in slow-motion, then. Thomas, tugging his hair, turning his head. "Open your eyes, Zach. Look at me."

Zach obeyed.

"Do you mean it? You want me to make you feel something? I have a beautiful flogger here, and believe me, chico, I can make you feel it."

Was that what he was asking for? Physical pain? For Thomas to take him like Thomas took Dare, bring him to submission, bring him, maybe, to tears? "Will it help me?"

Thomas shrugged, but when he spoke, his voice had the confident rolling cadence of the Hispanic gangster-dominant Thomas had been playing when Zach and Dare first met him. Arrogant. Dangerous. "We haven't done this before. It might. I think it would be good for you, chico, mi novio, but what do I know? I'm just a kinky bastard, and we all be different. Dare loves the flogger, you might hate it. And you never wanted this from me."

"But you want to do it."

"."

Zach held his breath, staring into Thomas' eyes. Yes, Thomas wanted to flog him. And order him to his knees. And bind him, and scare him, and push him, and dominate him. All of it. Zach knew it. Thomas never made any real secret of his wish for both Zach and Dare to submit to him. But Dare's the submissive one. Zach let that thought spin around in his head for a few seconds. And Dare liked it. And Zach liked watching it happen for Dare, liked how it made Dare's eyes soft and his cock hard, liked how being submissive made Dare able to relax and stop thinking and stop worrying so much.

"Do you want me to flog you, Zach? Yes or no?" The Hispanic playact was gone, and now it was a serious question.

Zach pulled his head away from Thomas so he could look at Dare. Would Dare see the question that Zach wanted, no, needed, to ask? He'd never know, not exactly, because the moment he turned his head, Dare's lips were pressed against his, and Dare's hand cupped his cheek, and the kiss was sweet and tender. As Dare pulled away, he whispered, "Thomas is good. Don't be afraid."

Zach rolled his whole body to face Thomas. "Yes."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Love Letters ~ H is for Homestretch!

I. Am. Almost. Done. With. Grad. School.

And it was almost as grueling as I expected.

There have been wonderful moments. Great colleagues. Amazing connections. A whole new life, no kidding. And as terrifying as it was to begin this journey, it's been worth every challenging step and every dang student loan.

I never ever ever thought I'd receive a Master's degree. And no, it's not a degree that has anything at all, really to do with writing. But yet, here I am.

Life, why you do these things?

Yes, I expect to be writing regularly again, very soon. Books, not blog posts (wink).

Thank you all for finding other books to read while I've been on this hiatus. I am confident, as always, that there is room for all of us to pursue this writing gig. After all, it takes me a day or two to read a book and a year or more to WRITE one.

And thank all of creation for that - because when I have a little down time, I want to read great books.

A few more weeks, my Darklings, and perhaps I will kickstart my writer motivation with an excerpt from the new Dungeon book! Watch for it.

~SM




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

School Winds Down... and Life Ramps Up!

Good evenings, Darklings!

Just a quick update... a few more assignments to tweak and wrap up and I will be done with grad school - whoo-hoooo and Yay!

Yanno... I'm probably never going to have my old life back, much as I enjoyed it, but new horizons are interesting and interesting is fascinating in a whole new way.

I have been learning and growing in directions I never could have imagined

It's been a while since I released a full-length novel, and it will be awhile still. On deck is the 5th Dungeon installment, still untitled, and also a re-write of DeVante's Coven (fingers crossed on a fall 2016 release for both, but no hard and fast promises), and eventually the novel version of Reserved in 2017.

I had coffee with with "Chill"  today - a semi-autobiographical character from my dark novel Jeremiah Quick - and I am pleased to report that he is alive and well. So my apologies, my friend, for killing you in my book - I honestly never knew what became of you. Getting killed off in a book is sort of an unfortunate side-effect of having been in the life of a novelist. (shrug). No offense, I hope?

I am overall a little brain fried, so I'm going to stop here. But I never forget about you, my Darklings, and after a very busy April and May I expect to be able to post more often!

~SM




Friday, January 15, 2016

SM Johnson ~ Review ~ Finding Home by Jackie Weger

As my week winds down, I find myself seeking the sort of isolation that an introvert needs to re-energize. What I am doing right now is at my clinical internship is like... man, it's hard to explain. It feels like I've been given an opportunity to learn about something that could very well become my passion.  I've been exposed to such amazing and brilliant and valuable people, and they astound me.

But still. Social. And introverts can only take so much social. So when my week ends, I'm looking for good books. And this week I found a great one!

This one isn't dark or dreary or erotic. It isn't my usual fare whatsoever.

And yet -  delightful! I'm not going to rehash the plot, you can follow the links to Goodreads for that, but imagine if Dicey from Homecoming and Dicey's Song  (Cynthia Voigt) had been an adult searching for a good man to fall in love with her and take her and her siblings into his humble home.

Finding Home by Jackie Weger is kind of like that.



Phoebe's voice took a bit for me to get used to - or rather, took a bit for me to embrace her as an adult, because honestly, she sounds enough like I remember of Dicey to trip me up. I say this as a compliment - so don't go thinking this is a cheap knock-off - because Finding Home is definitely a story all it's own.

This book has spit and vinegar and and character and wit. I found myself laughing out loud several times. I read it in one extremely enjoyable sitting, and I highly recommend it for that moment when you're looking for a fun, engaging, and humorous male/female romance.

I won't be forgetting Phoebe and Gage anytime soon.