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!


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.


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.


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.