Thursday, April 10, 2014

SM Johnson - Holy Buckets Batman! And syrup. For pancakes.

My M/M erotica novel, Above the Dungeon, is currently hanging out in the NUMBER 1 slot in category kindle free fiction.

Category being something like, free-kindle-ebooks-fiction and literature-GLBT-GAY... yanno, a very specific and probably small category. But My. Book. #1.

Hot damn and syrup for my pancakes, right?

OKay, so here's the deal. I had a short story called My Fifteen Minutes that was free all the time on Amazon and everywhere else, and it got a lot of downloads, in the ballpark of 500 - 1000 per month, but it didn't get any reviews.

So my guess was people were not getting around to reading it, or it didn't excite them enough to generate either positive or negative reviews. I brought it to my in-person writer's group, and had them give me some honest and in-your-face feedback (because that's what they DO and they are marvelous at it) and the result was that I decided the story is just not all that great. Mostly just that it's fairly amateurish both in plot and craft, in relation to how my skill as a writer has grown in the past few years.

Ideally, I will rewrite it one day, when there aren't 8983758473 other projects on my plate that I'm excited about, but that time isn't now, and ultimately I decided that this particular story is not at all representative of what I write - either style or subject matter. Which led me to unpublish it.

The problem, then, is that I really LIKE having a book on Amazon/Smashwords et al. that is free all the time. I think giving people a chance to experience my story-telling style for free is important, and, of course, I hope it will lead to sales of other books.

I mean, we all have those authors who wow us with almost every book, right? They become automatic buys, comfort food, time spent with good friends, the sort of book you can hardly wait to sit down and devour. Yeah. I wanna be that for a handful of people (or more, I wouldn't complain).

So... I decided I needed a new gateway drug book, and it kind of makes sense for Above the Dungeon to be that book. It is well-representative of the kind of characters I create, the kind of problems they have, and the sort of not-quite-happily-ever-after endings I seem to wrap books up with (hint - more often things close with a messy little knot rather than a nice neat and pretty bow). I dropped the price to .99 on Amazon and to 0.00 on Smashwords, then wrote to Amazon requesting it be 0.00 on a permanent basis.

Amazon declined, saying, "We don't do that."

Huh. All right. I went to the book's product page and "reported a lower price" - using the Smashwords link as proof of a lower price.

And then I happily trotted off to work for a couple of nights and slept a couple of days and somewhere in the middle of that Amazon dropped the price of Above the Dungeon to 0.00.

And this is where I came in yesterday. I checked my sales, saw that almost 500 copies had been downloaded, so went to the books page to see stats and - there it was. #1 in one of Amazon's sub-sub-sub-sub categories.

*happy dance*

Honestly, it doesn't get better than this.

Well, okay, it could be slightly better than this, as in it could be a PAY FOR book that hits the #1 slot of a sub-sub-sub-sub category and I could then experience these miracle payments of thousands of dollars a month from Amazon that have been rumored to exist for some authors for the past couple of years, but whatever. I'm pretty darn happy anyway.

Ya'll should go download and read Above the Dungeon, Then I'll work my crack magic and have you coming back for more, more, more. In the midnight hour. Or the morning. Either is fine with me. Just do it.

Have a great weekend, darlings. Be safe out there. Do NOT text and drive. (did you know even texting while sitting at a stoplight is illegal in many states including MN? I just found this out.) It can wait unit you get there. Or at least until you pull over and put the car in 'park.' Really. It can. Remember back in the day when we (gasp) drove around in our cars all the time and we didn't even have phones? And if you, say, needed to call someone, you had to go to the 7-11, and go inside and get QUARTERS, then go back outside and stick the quarters into the phone box? And - you could only call numbers you'd memorized or written down in your address book or had on a slip of paper in your wallet....

I know - damn, we really lived dangerously back then.

(Yeah, don't feel bad, I'm laughing at myself too because I'm as iPhone dependent as anyone).

K. That's all. Peace out.

[Missing IMAGE - phone at the 7-11]

PS - to see the phone at the 7-11, click here. Really. You should click and look. It'll be quick, I promise. And it's only fair, really, since I tried to just steal the picture and put it here, but apparently it's protected and copy-righted and I am not allowed to do that, technically, without asking for and getting permission, which I bet if I asked the person who took this wonderful picture, he would be happy to give me permission, but I am ready NOW to click the "publish post" button, and I am too impatient considering it's ALREADY Thursday and I'm late in writing this post.

So go, click. It'll make you feel good. And if you're like.... I dunno, 40 or older, it'll give you that warm squishy nostalgic feeling. Like back when you first had your driver's license and a car and freedom from those people you lived with who seemed like they spent 24 hours a day doing nothing but figure out exactly how they could control your life and make sure you weren't having any fun.....

(Texting and driving IS NOT fun, however. It is stupid. Don't be stupid.)

Oh! And PPS - Jeremiah Quick sales are absolutely miserable. So you could go get yourself a copy of that one, too, and tell your friends, I mean, just like, out of pity love for me or something.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SM Johnson ~Jazzmatazz ~ the story of a beloved dog~

So here's the thing. I haven't blogged anything more than promo materiel for about a month. Because what needs to be here next, as far as personal shit, well... frankly just sucks. It's been much easier to think about Jeremiah Quick and do interviews and promo stuff, and I knew the next time I write write about what's going on with me it was going to be a real downer.

Deep breath. The beloved old dog.

(Warning, this is a picture heavy post)

I figure I might as well get it over with now though, considering I feel like crap from THE WORST COLD EVER THAT TURNED OUT TO BE STREP THROAT, and I am missing 32 hours of work. (Holy crap, right?) Yeah. Welcome to the sick house. This is where we live.

I'm avoiding the real issue again, can you tell? Because sickness really isn't interesting enough for a whole paragraph. (sigh).


On March 7th, 2014 our beloved old Boxer/Rottweiler (Boxweiler?) of 10.5 years named Jazzmatazz, was a sad pile of misery lying next to the back door, looking at us like, "Um, come on guys, it's time to go."

Her belly looked too big. Her back legs and feet were swollen. Every time she exhaled it ended with a loud sigh, almost, but not quite, a whine.

She'd never been a crying kind of dog. She was a happy-go-lucky creature. Every day. Perky ears, lolling tongue, bright smiling eyes. Happy.

Yeah. It was time to go.

(and yes, here come the tears, damn it)

Jazzy had been battling anemia of an unknown origin for about a month, and a course of prednisone gave her a lot of really decent days. But now. Well. If the prednisone wasn't going to work, nothing much else was going to work, and our wonderful vet agreed that the kindest thing would be to let her go peacefully. Clearly she was hurting. Clearly she was miserable.

We picked up Sprite from school. Sprite is also 10.5 years old. She has grown up with this dog. She laid on top of Jazzy and cried all the way to the vet's office. I did, too. Our vet is kind and compassionate and we sent Jazzy peacefully onto the next leg of her journey. I hope she can run and play and bark madly at squirrels and cats and bask in the sunshine. That's what broke my heart the most - that Jazzy's last days were spent during this cruel and brutal winter. I was hoping she could lie in the grass and enjoy the sun, just a little more.

This is how it starts... my dad calls when my daughter is just a couple weeks old and says, "We had puppies!" (This itty pup isn't "ours" - but a very close rendition)

But here's Jazzy and Sprite, when they were both awfully new. Look at that puppy face! Bashful and proud and nervous all at the same time. We were pretty careful about supervising the large ungainly and clumsy puppy around the baby, so being this close was a novelty, at first. To give Jazzy credit, however, she never not even once in the whole of her life snapped or growled at a child. Not once. Never. She loved children to the end of her days. If she startled her, she moved. If they flopped on top of her, she twitched an ear. If she really wanted them off, she'd just slowly roll out from underneath. No stress, no drama.

My photo files are littered with hundred of pictures of Sprite and Jazzy. I couldn't even count the number of times Sprite would holler, "Mom! Take a picture of me and Jazzy!" There are only a very few from when Sprite was very small (separation of infant and dog, after all) but once Sprite was walking and talking? Endless. This was more than a dog, this was a sister, truly a member of our family.

It didn't take Sprite long at all to realize that Jazzy was very food motivated, and would follow her beloved girl around and pay her lots and lots of attention so long as that girl had a bag of treats.

And lest I forget, let me show you right now what happened every week, on garbage day:

And the day Sprite got her first tiny little bike with training wheels? Well. Let me just tell you that Jazzy was beside herself, running paces along the driveway, and looking truly concerned. Fast-forward about three years, and Sprite's taking OFF on her bike, down the driveway, down the street, without supervision, and let me tell you, that dog was beside herself. She gave me a look that clearly said, "Are you out of your mind?" and barked out the window. Didn't I see what was happening? Our girl was going off down the street ALL BY HERSELF.

Daddy loved the dog, too. In fact, right to the end of her life, Jazzy's favorite place in the whole world was curled up behind Daddy's knees on the couch, her head resting on his thigh. Big sigh, happy dog. In the last week or so of her life, she was not able to get onto the couch, even with help, and honestly? Every one of us was a little bit heartbroken, right then.

The school bus. I don't know if Jazzy could hear it from several blocks away or what, but every day, without fail, she would perk up and jump off the couch to go wait by the window, watching for that bus. She liked it best when the bus driver dropped Sprite off right at the end of the driveway, and liked it least when the bus passed our house and dropped her off at the corner down the street, and Jazzy waited with boxer wiggles and prancing paws for her girl to come into view. Home safe. This was Important.

What is Jazzy waiting for?


I will leave you with this last little photo set... what does growing up together look like? It looks like this:

Huh. Above dog might be Jazzy's sister, not Jazzy.

Rest in peace, Jazzmatazz. You are an important member of this family, are well-loved and will be dearly missed for a long, long time. There's never been a better dog.

And now that I'm sobbing, I will say... peace out, darlings. Hug your puppies and your beloved old dogs for me, would you? Because I miss mine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SM Johnson ~ Jeremiah Quick, featured new book!

Hey gang, forgot to shout this out last night, but lookie! Jeremiah Quick is the Monday featured new book at West of Mars! HERE

Huge thanks to Susan Helene Gottfried, for featuring my book on her site.

This is what I know... marketing horror/psychological fiction is much harder than marketing erotica.

Yep. I said it. Erotica pretty much sells itself.

Not that Jeremiah Quick lacks sex  - it doesn't, I promise! It's just as  explicit as my other work... although not quite as geared toward turning you on. It has a couple of hot hot hot scenes.

It's just that the purpose of it is a little bit different.

I had to pick one, just ONE song to represent Jeremiah Quick. So yeah, I did it, but I gotta tell you, there's a lot of musical referenced in this book, because music is how Jeremiah and Pretty attempt to find common ground. Also, in a bit of a throwback to their past, they share unhappy opinions about each others' favorite music.

I managed to pick a song, but it was not easy. Uh-uh. No way.

Need the link again? Here it is!

Go check it out at West of Mars!

Thanks darlings. Hope your week is sunny and, uh, well, I was going to say not below zero, but let's just stick with sunny (grin).


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Official Jeremiah Quick Post

Jeremiah Quick - February 28, 2014 (ebook)

Buy it from Amazon

Buy it from Smashwords (all digital formats)

Once she was Light to his Dark. Now he's more than she bargained for.

Jeremiah is Other, he's always been Other, and he's always fascinated Pretty Loberg with his Otherness. He doesn't give a fuck about society, or middle class values, or following the crowd. He believes in anarchy, self-education, doing the research, and making up one's own mind. He believes in asking cui bono? – who benefits?

To pampered middle class good-girl Pretty, Jeremiah is terrifying. And she can't stay away.

She's been trained since her earliest years to follow the crowd, not stand out, don't embarrass the family. Stick to the status quo and not only will everything be fine, but everyone will like you.

Jeremiah doesn't like her. Not at all. In fact, sometimes she thinks he hates her.

When he finds her twenty years after high school, Pretty gets into his car, even though she knows Jeremiah will disrupt her marriage and her life.
Behind those blue eyes is a man with a quick brain, a cynical outlook, and a penchant for the subversive. He's kinky, mean, controlling, and more than a little bit broken.

Pretty wants to fix Jeremiah.

Jeremiah wants to break her, remake her, and talk her into doing something terrible.


Chapter 1

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SM Johnson ~ The Music of Jeremiah Quick

I submitted my new book, Jeremiah Quick, to be a featured book on West of Mars, and my task as the author was to choose one song to represent the book.

One song.

I was like, are you kidding me?

There are other books that I could pick one song for, because sometimes a whole book can be inspired by just one song.

But not Jeremiah Quick... (deep sigh). Jeremiah Quick has a 6.5 hour playlist. Yeah.

Because, you see, Pretty and Jeremiah have a history of connecting and relating based on the disparity of their music.


Yeah, that's what I said.

What Pretty loves, Jeremiah loathes, and this, then somehow becomes a dialogue and a Conversation.

There are a lot of references to bands and songs in Jeremiah Quick, and I urge you to check out the ones you haven't heard of - if any such animal exists for you - because the music and the tone of a song had some effect on the scene.

It was particularly fun and interesting to explore what Pretty likes that Jeremiah disapproves of, and what Jeremiah likes that Pretty thinks is tiresome noise.

Musically, these two characters aren't compatible, and never have been. It was an interesting growth concept, however, that the more Jeremiah and Pretty interact with the same goal, or the more Pretty submits to what Jeremiah is doing, the more she appreciate the music he loves.

Is he doing it on purpose?  Yeah, my sense is that he is.

I think... Jeremiah recognizes Pretty's love of quieter, melodic music, so I think he plays the most mellow of his favorites on purpose. And, to tell you the truth, it works, and Pretty finds new music to love.

So there I was, for two days to pick just one song.


(following links go to YouTube)

I wanted Beautiful Thing by Romantic Torture - because it's so amazing and just... so... Jeremiah ("the most beautiful thing in the world is killing me..."). And because Pretty came to love it.

I wanted to choose Coil's agonizing version of Tainted Love because it embodies so much of the symbolism of Jeremiah Quick, and makes me want to shriek in absolute pain. Seriously - if you're writing something that just smashes and crashes your heart, get this song on your playlist. It fucking hurts. It's also a total Jamie song, so I sort of wish it had been my one-song choice.

I wanted to pick London After Midnight's The Spider and the Fly - because "nothing ever comes from nothing, and we pay a price for all our choices made..."

I wanted to pick Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue, or Patience  by Guns-N-Roses - because they're just so... pretty. Pretty, I mean - these were her favorites when she was a teenager, and she'll defend them without shame, the way she defended her love of Air Supply's Making Love Out of Nothing at All. "Lyrically," she says, "it's an amazing song." And she sings it, to prove her point.

She'll always prefer her comfort music of Lifehouse and Train and Matchbox 20 to Jeremiah's Leaether Strip and Nine Inch Nails, but she discovered new favorites in London After Midnight and the Virgin Prunes.

On a musical level, the differences between Pretty and Jeremiah are blatantly apparent, and I guess that's what I really want you to see.

So. What song did I ultimately pick to represent Jeremiah Quick?

It's an oldie but a goody, covered by many artists since the original version. It's a song that really represents (for me) how the past and the present can intertwine. The Who. Behind Blue Eyes.

Peace out, Darlings. I'll leave you with a sample of my Jeremiah Quick playlist, and you can search out any of the songs that intrigue you (wink).


PS. Many thanks to my friend 19 (site link, not YouTube, lol) for helping me discover goth/punk/industrial music that even Pretty Loberg could love.

JQ Playlist sample

The Dreaming Song - Torn
Beautiful Thing - Romantic Torture
Exile - The 4 on the Floor
Go In Peace - Mike Rayburn
Dark Allies - Light Asylum
Deadly Sins - the Virgin Prunes
Detonation Boulevard - Sisters of Mercy
Stay - Shakespeare's Sisters
Into the Light - In This Moment
Strap Me Down - leaether Strip
Breathe Me - Sia
Bigmouth Strikes again - The Smiths
1234 - Feist
Lover I Don't Have to Love - Bright Eyes
The Story - Brandi Carlisle
Timothy - Jet
The Road - Jackson Browne
I'm Still Here - John Rzeznik
Fix You - Coldplay
Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad - Meat Loaf
Everything - Lifehouse
She's On Fire - Train
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
Light in Your Eyes - Blessid Union of Souls
This Ain't Goodbye - Train
Only Women Bleed - Alice Cooper
Round Here - Counting Crows
Shattered - O.A.R.
Bother - Stone Sour
Claire's Horrors - London After Midnight
The Scientist - Coldplay
Rest in Pieces - Saliva
Tainted Love - Coil
Personal Jesus - Marilyn Manson
Cradlesong - Rob Thomas
I Am - Train
Broken - Seether (feat. Amy Lee)
When You're On Top - Wallflowers
Behind Blue Eyes - Pearl Jam version
Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground
A Long December - Counting Crows
Love Remains the Same - Gavin Rossdale
Cuts Like a Knife - Bryan Adams
Love Song - Tesla

Plus pretty much Everything Else by Train, Lifehouse, and Rob Thomas (solo)... but this list is intended as a small sample : )

Friday, February 28, 2014

SM Johnson ~ Jeremiah Quick available NOW!

Yaaaaaay! Are you happy? I'm so so happy!

***happy dancing around and around my living room, that's how happy I am***



Meanwhile, I'm still doing my happy dance. The dog wags her tail. The cat is giving me that look - the one that says, How is it I've come to live in this insane place? Kyle is hiding under his tank rug. Just the usual mid-afternoon in the Johnson house. Except... (sing-song) I published a book I published a book I published a boooook.

I don't mind. I'll be happy all by myself, and the dog will be happy for me, and it's all good.

All right, the details...

Jeremiah Quick (ebook) is available for purchase right this minute at Smashwords, in all digital formats, for the low Reader Loyalty price of slightly less than one dollar. This 0.99 price will remain until March 10th, when it will go to it's regularly scheduled price of $2.99.

I stole the idea of low-price first release from my friend JC Andrijeski, author of the Allie's War series, who was musing out loud about how we tend to make our most loyal readers - the people waiting with breath held for our newest release - pay the most for our books. And how backward is that?

We price them, put them out there, and after a couple of months put them on sale in order to reach new readers. But shouldn't we reward the fans who stick with us? Who keep trusting us to entertain them?

We should! So from February 28th to March 10, 2014 I'm pricing Jeremiah Quick at .99. It's one of my shorter novels, at about 81,000 words, but it is novel length, and I'm giving you a lot of story for a buck (grin). And maybe some bang and even some blood.

I'm going to hush now before I give you too many spoilers.

Have a great weekend, darlings! And if you need something to read... I could make a suggestion or two (wink).


PS - those goddamn typos are in there like insidious cockroaches. Should have them fixed and new book files uploaded within a few days. It's like they hide in the daylight of the working document, and then feel safe to come out on the kindle. (grumble grumble sulk) (fixing).

Shady Character