Saturday, July 1, 2017

SM Johnson ~ Excerpt: Nervous

Phoenix and Sparks



Avery Phoenix

His employees call him The Dragon behind his back.
His sister calls him a secret keeper.
His personal assistant says he's lucky she didn't quit the first month like all the others.
His brother-in-law tells him to keep his kinky sex games at home.

And Julian Sparks? He's too nervous to speak.


Excerpt from Nervous:

The next Wednesday the office door opened, and someone who wasn’t Stephanie stepped into Avery’s office.

 I froze. Avery had not tied my hands to my desk, but the ties were hanging there, and I’m sure they looked bizarre and out of place.

 “What the fuck is this, Avery?”

He was a good-looking black man in a sharp suit, and he was waving a sheet of paper. I had no idea who he was.

“What the fuck is what, E?” Avery sounded calm and reasonable, despite parroting the other’s curse words.

“It’s a request for secure entry to your office.”

“Oh,” Avery said, unruffled. “The button.”

“Yes, the fucking button. It says right here, ‘I want a button I can press to unlock my office door. And an intercom so I know who it is before I let them in.’ Are you out of your mind? We’re not millionaires, despite that art-deco monstrosity that makes up the wall behind your desk.”

“It bothers me when people come into my office uninvited.”

“Well, we don’t have anything like that in the budget. How about this: keep your kinky sex games at home, like everyone else.”

I was still frozen. But now I was shocked. Kinky sex games? I wondered if tying people up was a habit of Avery’s. A bad habit? A perversion? I decided I had to say something or I was going to be humiliated forever. Everyone in the company would know Avery had me tied to a desk in his office, like a slave or something.

“He’s s-s-stopping me from ch-chewing m-m-my fingernails.”

“Yeah? And who is he to stop you, and why should he care?”

I could feel myself going red in the face. It’s not like I hadn’t had those same thoughts, but somehow Avery got me to avoid examining them. He stopped me from thinking altogether. I had no idea how he did it, or why he bothered, and I couldn’t explain it, but the more he gave me orders, the less nervous I felt.

“E. Don’t yell at him.” Avery’s voice was a quiet chill. “This is Jules, the reader who discovered ‘This Terrible Juncture’. I’m helping him break some nervous habits he’s had all his life. Julian Sparks, meet Evan Wolters, the other Phoenix.”

That didn’t make sense at all. Evan was clearly black, and Avery was clearly white. Neither was old enough to be the father of the other. They couldn’t be brothers, could they? Maybe I was being an idiot again.

As usual, Avery seemed to read my mind. “E is my brother-in-law. My father planned to live much longer than he managed, and my sister is an actress with no interest in running Phoenix and Phoenix. Her husband, E, manages her side of things. My suggestion. Well. No. My suggestion was to take him on as a silent partner, but E sucks at being silent, and he never listens to me. I’m in charge of acquisitions, he’s in charge of the money side of things. Hence his budgetary concerns.”

“Cute, Avery,” Evan said. “Mr. Sparks is your latest acquisition, then? Pet project?”

Avery’s facial expression grew stern and somehow remote. “He’s our best reader.”

“He’s still staying at the hotel?”

“For the moment.” Avery almost sounded defensive. “If it’s an expense concern, I can move him into my spare bedroom until he decides if he wants to stay in New York permanently.”

I already loved New York. I was less weird here, because there were weirder people than me on almost every corner. I might want to stay permanently.

“Stephanie doesn’t approve of what you’re doing, by the way. So. I’ll get your key from her, and you can just lock the damn door, you freak. You’ll have to deal with getting off your ass to let visitors in.”

“Fine,” Avery said, and Evan spun on one heel and left.

“Your spare b-b-bedroom?” I asked, almost choking on my nerves. God, I’d never get away from him.

“Yes, Jules. My spare bedroom. New York is expensive. You’ll need roommates, if you want to live here. And that means making friends.”

I swallowed hard. Friends. Other people in my space.

I must have gone pale.

“Tell me the truth. Do you want to go home?”

I shook my head. “I like it here. I mean, I like New York.”

“Good. Pack your things tonight, and I’ll pick you up from the hotel in the morning.”

I tore a tiny strip of flesh from the inside of my lip.

“Stop that.” He got up, walked over to my desk, and took my head between his hands. “Show me.”

Shit.

I pushed out my lower lip, unsurprised when he used his thumbs to roll it inside out. My hands crept up and curled around his forearms, like they did the day I thought he was going to kiss me. I’d mostly given up the notion that he might kiss me, but when he held my head like this, it made me feel like I was falling, and I needed something to hold onto.

“I’m going to be watching you full-time now, and thinking of all the ways I can punish you for disobeying me. Which means you might want to try harder.”

All the ways he can punish me? Oh, God.

His eyes looked right into mine, intense, knowing.

Shit. Maybe it really was a kinky sex game, and I hadn’t even realized I was playing.

I tried to decipher the message in his eyes, whether he was measuring my worth, or if he was about to tease me. But no, he didn’t look playful, he looked serious. Dead serious.

And then he kissed me.

He kissed me.

Avery-fucking-Phoenix kissed Julian Sparks. Right there in his office, my head held between his hands, my fingers clutching his wrists.

I had no worrisome thoughts, just a white space in my brain where the words buzzed over and over again. Avery Phoenix kissed me.

The firm press of his lips did something funny to my stomach, something I might have incorrectly called anxiety in my past life, but if it was something I wanted to feel over and over again until I died, it couldn’t be anxiety, could it?


Friday, May 5, 2017

SM Johnson ~ Aftermath ~ Mixed Reviews


Man, oh, man, my precious Darklings, ya'll are a tough crowd! Still, get out there and write more reviews of Aftermath, pretty please? Glowing or critical, I love to hear from you!

I did warn ya'll that Aftermath was different, right? That I organized it into three sections (four, if I count the short story, Secret, Secret) with each pairing (or triad) kind of a separate story. Here's the thing... I really didn't want to leave you all hanging, but juggling multiple points of view is complicated and exhausting. I did it with the vampires, and I ended up doing it with the boys from the Dungeon, and somewhere along the way realized that, as a reader, the books I love most tend to be told from one or two points of view.

I could have filtered the stories together into one novel, and it would have been less noticeable that some of the stories of the pairings were pretty short, as far as word count, but the truth is, it would have taken me several more months of tinkering. And I was already having a hard time keeping the next book, Nervous, at bay. My brain and my fingers really wanted to write Nervous.

And let me tell you point blank - my brain and my typing fingers are LOVING Nervous. And so far, (40,000 words in) my writer's group is digging it, too.

The writing life is tough right now, not due to creative constraints, but time constraints. See, I went and got a Master's degree and became a professional problem-solver, and I'm working a full-time literal "day job" for the first time in, oh, all of my authoring life.

And here's a secret - my old job had long stretches of b-o-r-i-n-g and I did a shit-ton of writing longhand while at work. Versus my new job, which is AMAZING and the best job ever and never boring.

So anyway. That's all I got.

I feel slightly bad that Aftermath is not meeting reader expectations, but honestly, the only way to keep the writing momentum going is to write what you want to read. Seriously. That's the best trick I know. And so far Nervous is a ton of fun. I'm getting the chance to stay in one point of view and really dig deep into characterization, and I haven't had much opportunity to do that before, except with Jermiah Quick, and even though it's my very favorite of anything I've written (with Dare in the Dungeon a close second) - no one else seems to like it all that much.

Writing is a weird job. Maybe not quite as weird as my day job herding cats, but still, weird.

I love you all to pieces, my beautiful Darklings, and swear I will make it up to you with Nervous (shootin' for Fall 2017), so don't give up on me!

~SM

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SM Johnson ~ What to read?


Good Evening, my dear Darklings.

The first couple of reviews of Aftermath are in... a bit mixed, which isn't terribly surprising. I love all my boys, but there are new characters knocking around the inside of my head, and it's definitely time to make room for them. Readers waited nearly TWO YEARS for Aftermath, which shocked me to realize. It hasn't felt like two years to me, although a heck of a lot of life stuff got in my way over the past eighteen months. Some of it so bad it rattled me to the core, but some of it so good I couldn't have dreamed it up in any of my imaginings.

The Dungeon crew won't disappear into oblivion - a few of them have already made an appearance in Nervous, my work-in-progress, so never fear, dear readers, you'll get to peek in on them now and again.

I'm struggling to find good books to read. I know, what's new, right? I've always been picky and hard to please as a reader, and I'm not sure what the deal is lately, but it's a struggle. If you check my 2017 reading list (right-hand tab) you'll see a ton of DNFs. I typically link to Goodreads, and sometimes I peruse reviews at that time, and it's always a surprise when I DNF something it seems like absolutely everyone in the world loved.

So either I'm a  picky bitch, or it's possible my reading tastes are changing.

M/F romance can hardly hold my attention at all. But I've even touched on a couple of well-written M/M stories that have just been a "meh" and an eyeroll before I give up on them. There was one where I was 80% into the book, and realized I was bored out of my mind!

Weird.

I know some readers push through to the end no matter what, but I don't have time for that. So there will be a lot of DNFs, I guess, and that's how that works.

So anyway. Here's a short list of the authors who are holding my attention lately....

JC Andrijeski (always and every book!)
James Osiris Baldwin's Alexi Sokolsky supernatural thriller series
Matthew Iden's Marty Singer mysteries
Kit Rocha's Beyond series
Alessandra Hazard's Straight Guys series (although some are a bit short)
Melissa F. Miller's Sasha McCandless legal thriller series
Lori Sjoberg's Grave series
Edmond Manning's Lost and Found Kings series

I'm testing and tasting outside my genre these days, to be sure, but the above at least always give me a "go to" read when I'm tired of being disappointed.

Perhaps it's my new and improved crazy, busy life.

Spring is here - which means more daylight and increased energy.

It may be time to sit back and just breathe...

Friday, February 24, 2017

SM Johnson ~ New Release! ~ Aftermath

Oh Happy Day!

NEW RELEASE!

Aftermath is FREE on Smashwords, right this minute!




The .mobi file looks lovely on my kindle, so let's hope the Amazon version is just as pretty when it becomes available in "up to 72 hours." (Amazon is a bit slower to go live than Smashwords).

Meanwhile, if you want to grab it for free, click THIS LINK 
and at checkout enter coupon code RJ92K

This coupon is available until March 14, 2017

Or buy for $3.99 at Amazon HERE

Whether you love it, hate it, or feel completely "meh" about it - please remember that reviews are always hugely appreciated!

Part I: Zach. All In. What will it take for Zach to submit to Dom Thomas? Only something sudden and shocking that rocks his stability. Because Dare’s the submissive one, right? Even if Thomas promised to take them both on, surely he didn’t mean it, not for real...

Part II: Doc. Somewhere In Between. Some new kid comes into the Dungeon asking for Doc by name, swearing up and down he’s a friend of Roman. He’s pretty enough, yeah? With his red-stained lips and eyes rimmed with liner, but something about his background check doesn’t sit right, and Doc’s too busy for trouble. Which is too bad, because Tristan is 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.

Part III: Jeff and Roman. Aftermath. 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 PTSD, 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. Jeff is still kinky in his head – his book sales prove that much, so maybe it’s time for Roman to explore what Jeff is writing about. After all, that’s what the creative Dom would do.

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

Nearly 100,000 words!