Monday, March 23, 2015

SM Johnson ~ Story formats, Series versus Serials

Good morning, Darklings, and happy Monday.

I have no idea what I'm doing, as far as any kind of blogging schedule. We're pretty random these days ("We" being me and the dragon on the window sill of my office), because of Alice's Tree.

See, I had this silk tree behind my bed for oh, about the last decade. But I'm making an effort to eliminate dust and dander from my sleeping space for migraine prevention, and the last time I let Alice run around on my bed, her eyes landed on that tree, and holy smokes, she was hell-bent to climb it. There was a decade's worth of dust on that damn tree. I'm looking at this thing, and thinking... how much of that falls on us during headboard-banging sex, seriously? Yep, gotta go. Dragged that sucker to the shower and washed it. Let it dry. Dragged it into my office where it officially became Alice's Tree.

So. For Alice to sit in her tree and stare out the window, I have to sit in my office and pretend to be productive. Which means editing, writing, updating my reading list, and writing blog posts completely off schedule. I'm going to assume nobody minds.

I updated my reading list. There were about three books that were supposed to be "book one" of hot new serIES - only every single one of them was more like part one of a hot new serIAL.

I have feelings about this.

Not particularly positive feelings.

To me, a series is like... Lee Child's Jack Reacher, or Robert B. Parker's Spenser Tracy, Sandford's Lucas Davenport, Rice's Louis and Lestat, Hamilton's Anita Blake  - we've got characters who get into situations, or private investigators and cops with cases, right? There's a main character who does their profession or their thing, gets into situations, or takes cases, does investigations, and each book has a plot arc with a beginning and a middle and an end. In a series, there tends to be character development across books, and often a romantic subplot (or several) and all sorts of loose ends that flow from book to book and not every single one of them gets tied up into a neat and pretty bow.

But a romantic three-book series a la Fifty Shades (maybe Fifty Shades started this annoy?) where book one ends with we can't possibly stay together, and book two ends with we can't possibly stay away from each other, and book three ends with the wedding, isn't a series. 

This is a serial. It might be a trilogy, but even calling it that is a bit of a stretch. A trilogy tends to be bigger, and have multiple plot arcs - think Lord of the Rings.

And the difference is when you're reading a story in serial format, you don't expect a complete beginning, middle, and ending plot arc in each installment. You EXPECT each installment to end with a cliffhanger, because that's how this format works.

So I dunno, call me picky (I don't mind, I AM picky), but when you call a series of books a "series",  I like a comfortable and satisfying ending to each and every book. That's all. K, thx.

Have a happy week, Darklings. Oddly enough, spring seems to have arrived early here in northern Wisconsin, which is a first. And I am definitely not complaining.

Until next time... Live long and prosper. Peace out.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

SM Johnson ~ Progress report

Good morning, Darklings,

I'm popping in to report that DeVante's Children (Revamped) is working out to be A-mazing. I'm so excited to share these guys with you - better (and hotter) than ever. Rewriting a first novel has been an eye-opening process, and all the better with the help of my local writer's group, picking at my characterization flaws, plot black holes, and all the other pitfalls a first-time novelist runs into.

Kill your darlings - gods, how I hate that phrase, and yet, how true it is. Sometimes the words we are in love with have to go, and yes, it's painful as hell - but cutting is part of discovering the real story.

My story meter tells that I'm 150% done with DeVante's Children, which is hysterically funny - and absolutely not true - but it also means that I've written a ton of new words and added new scenes to make up for what I'm having to cut.

DeVante himself is as reserved and cryptic as ever, Daniel as boyish, and Roderick every bit as full of spit and vinegar (and trouble) as before - all of this, but more so, and all within the confines of a nice tight story. With hotter sex. Because I'm better at this now (wink).

When it's ready for release, I promise ya'll will be the first to know.

Have a great week, darklings, and don't try to fix anything today, because mercury is in retrograde or something, and every home improvement project we've touched this weekend (and some we haven't EVEN touched), has gone to shit! Yikes!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

SM Johnson ~ Alone in a crowd of two thousand

Alone in a crowd of two thousand fans... and crying. 

I would like to say that for an artist, some things never change, but I think perhaps most of us feel this way a great deal of the time - we are always, ultimately, alone.

It's not a bad thing, not at all. But we are so used to constant influx of information and media that being alone with ourselves can feel awkward and scary. Lonelier than ever.

This crying in a crowd of two thousand people? Not a bad thing. Pat Monahan made me do it. There I was, on the pool deck of the Norwegian Pearl, close enough to the large speakers to feel the music inside my skin, the beats vibrating beneath my breastbone, the notes, his voice, winding sinuously though me as if part of my blood.

This song. Here and now. Train sounds as good live as they do from the recording studio, and this amazes me, the strength of Monahan's voice (ironic, considering he would lose his voice later on this cruise), the passion, the pain. But it's not pain that brings my tears, not anymore.

It is joy and hope and comfort. Resonance. Because somehow it is comforting to know that someone else has felt the same as you. That we are not alone in our joy or our pain or our hope.

"Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star, one without a permanent scar? And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?"

She left me, you know.

Best friend. Soulmate. 

I loved her so much, and she left. And I thought I would die. Wondered how I could ever possibly be okay again. It was too big, this hurt. Too empty, this hole in my chest. It left me in too many broken little pieces, and too wounded to even care about gathering them up, much less make any attempt to put them back together.

It was the closest to suicidal I've ever been.

"Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken... your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong..."

And then this song.
I heard it on the radio.
Bought the CD.
Put it on the stereo, the one with the floor speakers and the sub-woofer.
Full volume.

I stretched out on the floor and let it thump and flow through me, let this song get under my skin and into my heart, become part of my soul. I let it carry me forward.

I let it give me hope.

And here begins healing.

And there on that cruise ship, alone in a crowd of two thousand adoring fans just like me,  I cry, just for a minute, for hope and joy and comfort. I cry because I still miss my friend every single day, but  I am ALIVE and I am happy, and I am HERE FOR THIS amazing moment.

"Tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind,
Was it everything you wanted to find? 
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?"  ~Drops of Jupiter by Train