Monday, June 23, 2014

Super Summer Reading Bargains!!!

HALO, fine friends!!! So it is well and truly summer, yeah? So a bunch of friends and I thought we'd put together a collection of BARGAINS to add to your summer reading pile!!! The idea originated with Thomas Knight, one of my ABNA buddies, and Lynnette joined in... then I remembered my friend Jade has HER stuff all on sale until her next one is released at the end of the week, so here I am to share BARGAINS with YOU!!! Load up your Kindle for the beaches!!!

From Thomas Knight—All 99 cents this week!

His author pages has links to all of them: Thomas A Knight

From Lynnette Ferreira (her Vampire books are 99 cents)

Her books are linked HERE: Lynette Ferreira

Jade Jamison has a full sexy COLLECTION for cheap leading up to her release of Finger Bang.

Jade's links are all here: Jade C Jamison

My buddy and birthday twin (mine today, hers tomorrow), Leigh T Moore has a release coming for Mosaic, so is offering the first in the series, Dragonfly, for FREE!!!

And then know how I've had A Shot in the Light I-IV offered at 99 cents for the Amazon contest? Well THIS WEEK ONLY, I am ALSO offering A Shot in the Light V-VIII for 99 cents. AND, to light a fire under it... on the off chance I am a finalist, I may have to PULL all these until Amazon releases them (July 8 at the earliest--maybe not at all, but the price goes back to $2.99 then). (If I am not done publishing, I will get the last one to anyone who has read—no fear there—I would never leave people who've been so supportive high and dry)--BUT just in case they disappear for a while... gotta get em now, yeah?

All my links are in the right sidebar, but you can also find them here: Hart Johnson

And in OTHER news... Fresh Fiction posted a nice review of Keeping Mum yesterday, if anyone is curious...

So what are you waiting for!?  Go get your summer reading in order!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Gratitude Post

I had something AMAZING happen to me on Friday. I will confess I had some hint it might be coming, as there was some 'just I case' paperwork involved, but it still really sent me into orbit. I've been on a high all weekend.

You see... Friday they announced the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalists.

People who have been around a few years know I made this list once before, but this stage is different from what it was then. In 2011 I was a semi-finalist with Kahlotus Disposal Site, and was one of 50 young adult novels to make my list (another 50 made the general fiction list—100 altogether).

Last year Amazon broke the contest into FIVE categories instead of two. Mostly it just meant a different split of people passed on—made it more competitive to keep going in YA, as they were 20% rather than 50... But the semi-finalist stage cut winners from 100 to 25—that means only 5 in each category.

Friday I learned A Shot in the Light was ONE of those FIVE for the Mystery/Thriller category—there are 25 total semi-finalists... 25 of 10,000. I am AMAZED, and proud and intimidated and all that good stuff...

(in celebration, the price stays 99 cents as long as I am in the contest)

But the real gratitude came after. On the ABNA boards I had a ton of congrats—me by name... I had a ton of support from my various Facebook groups and friends. It is one of those times you realize just the daily showing up and making friends has a HUGE impact. I have a dozen little groups I am a part of and it can feel a little schizophrenic. They all have their different quirks and personalities

When you get mad at yourself for screwing around online, be assured, screwing around online can pay off... erm... but seriously. I feel a commitment to playing much of the time when I'm online and I think it really does help people feel like they know me, so when good stuff happens, then I end up a teary, sniveling mess because everybody is so nice to me. But that's GOOD.

In Other News...

I was clearly distracted Friday, but managed to pass the halfway point on Mere Mortals this weekend, so I am on track with my WriMo.

I learned my friend Lisa Koosis landed an agent, so congrats to Lisa!

Game of Thrones Finale... as of this writing, I haven't seen it yet but it HAS TO have been AMAZING...

Watched season 2 of Orange is the New Black in three days because that is sort of how I roll...

And I hope all you dads out there had a GREAT Father's Day!

Finally, a QUESTION: On #NALitChat Thursday night people were talking about Wattpad. What is Wattpad?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Wee Reminisce

So five years ago today was my first ever blog...

I thought I'd stroll down memory lane a bit... If you are curious, here is my first blog, Python and Princess Bride references in tact. I'm proud to not be embarrassed by the thing... Because MAN, did I not know what I was doing. I'd never even really READ any blogs. I know. That's embarrassing. It is sort of my way... jump first, research to see if I did it right after...

Where I was in my Writing Life (or why I started blogging)

I finished my first MS in October 2008. I was still writing a little fan fiction, but I jumped into revisions of that right away—it was a book that had pestered me for years. I actually tried to query it that May, only to be given a kindly reality check from a second degree friend “Um, I hate to tell you this, but at 204,000 words, agents aren't going to read that.” (confirmed by my first rejection sent fifteen minutes after submission...)

THAT—realizing there was a whole bunch I didn't know about this writing thing (because I am too cocky to have learned that without being told) spurred me into blogging and opening my Hart Johnson Facebook profile. I was in the midst of a second book (one I never finished—I had two ideas but started THAT one and then I got a prequel idea for the OTHER and wrote THAT (fast).

Since then I've finished 14 more first drafts, published (almost) 4 books, I'm writing in my 10th WriMo, I've entered ABNA 5 times... But blogging was sort of my first outing as a writer. It was also my first real outing to people I KNOW.

So I want to thank my first COMMENTERS.

We all crave these, yes? They keep us going, when we might just whither into the void otherwise.

First commenters were:

Pinecone Girl (a friend of mine from high school)
Chary—Part of the Burrow, which is my writing group
GA Endless, who seems to have been caught up in a fraudulent publisher scam. I feel very bad for her, and the fact that I didn't know until now...
Siv Maria, who I'm still friends with AND
Christopher Allen, who I am ALSO still friends with...

So two people who knew me previously, one blip on the radar, and two new lasting friendships. I will call that a success.

So I offer a HUGE thank you to those early friends and a toast to all who have joined since. Thank you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing Lessons from Maleficent

So I went to a movie with my daughter yesterday. Sleeping Beauty was my FAVORITE Disney movie, so when my daughter was little, she got a giant dose of it, too. Now she is 19 and a few weeks ago when we went to Divergent they played a Maleficent preview. My son was unmoved, but Thing One and I thought it looked AWESOME.

And it was. But in addition to just being an excellent movie, is seems to me there are some excellent writing lessons in it. So here we go.

The Bad Guy is not the Bad Guy to the Bad Guy

Seems simple enough, right? But I think it is easy to draw them as just rotten. This movie did and excellent job of showing what BROUGHT the villain to that point—making that point of evil act not just understandable, but TRAGIC. Without getting too spoilery, Maleficent was a GOOD fairy... who was BADLY betrayed.

The Good Guy doesn't necessarily STAY the Good Guy

People can have more than one primary motivation and it can cause them to behave in ways that break our hearts. THAT is good story telling.

Where you Start the Story MATTERS

Sleeping Beauty, as we've all heard it told, begins when this story is maybe 40% DONE already... and HOLY HELL is that some excellent backstory.

Any tricks you know to help the reader really get your villains?

Also, FYI: Thursday is my 5-year Blogiversary, so I will be posting in spite of my slower pace this month.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Who's Your Best Friend?

No matter how many times I ask the dog this question, he never answers. I think he loves his daddy better and doesn't want to hurt my feelings.

Joel in his winter coat
What am I on about? Oh, right... It is Insecure Writer Support Groups 1st Wednesday!!!!
And you should visit LOTS of us. We are ALL insecure.

Now back to the question.

See... I'm not Joel's FAVORITE. And sometimes it can be hard to remember that doesn't mean he doesn't LOVE ME. He does.

As authors all of us crave love, but I think we can get lost in words like favorite... because if somebody ELSE is your favorite... I'm not. It is hard to keep focused on the idea that you can love LOTS of authors and it isn't cheating. We can let superstar success of our friends make us fear WE will never get there...

Or we can let it give us heart.

See, I don't actually believe people can only love one person (but accept I may be bendy that way). But I KNOW people can love LOTS of authors. And people who love ANY authors are more likely to love multiple authors. REJOICE in the success of your friends because it INCREASES the pool of those who may love YOU.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

To Book in June, or, Happy Birthday to ME!

It's my birthday month. Did you know? If you DID know, you might ALSO know no birthday should be celebrated for less than thirty days, so I am calling the whole month. It might not REALLY happen until the 23rd, but ALL MONTH we are having a bit of a party.

And by party, I mean I am FINALLY starting a BRAND NEW book that has been bugging me for a couple years now. The seeds of it, strangely enough, stem to a couple Veronica Mars episode. I don't get many ideas from TV shows, but every once in a while there is just a breeze of pollen from one that falls on some OTHER idea and makes it explode.

With Shot in the Light the the whole 'near apocalypse' obsession began with the book series Tomorrow When the War Began (to this day, 10 years later, my daughter's FAVORITE book series), but the TV show Jericho gave me a lot of good feed for how communities might cope when the world around them is falling apart. It gave me blocks to build from.

NOT the Castle episode: these are the Tritons. VM hit the theme twice.
So with Undoing... do you remember the Skull and Bones secret society that supposedly the Bushes are a big part of? Those rumors planted this seed. But it got a big dose of fertilizer from the VM epidsode where Wallace is tapped to join Castle. Simultaneously, Veronica is taped getting a little naked with Piz, totally unknown to her, and the tape goes viral so she starts to dig... and finds out some very interesting things about Castle. The kinds of advantages members get. The things the society does to keep its members in check... And Undoing began to take shape.

The teaser for Mere Mortals, first book in the Undoing Trilogy (first draft, forgive me)

 Just days after he graduates high school, Sebastian Childs, grandson to Rockwell Childs, learns his grandfather has chosen him as heir to his publishing empire. His grandfather asks only one thing. He is dying and would like his heir to spend his last summer living with him so he can get to know him. Sebastian's father, passed over in the line of succession is furious, and even Sebastian feels the inheritance should be spread over more people, but if Sebastian refuses, his grandfather threatens to donate the entire thing.

While with his grandfather, Sebastian learns of the secret society that had given his grandfather and so many others their huge advantage over other people. His grandfather has come to believe there is too much power and too little accountability in the system and he charges Bas with gaining admittance and then undoing the society from the inside.

So I have conceived of this story as three books of three acts each. It is possible I will release these serially (that would be nine distinct parts), but unlike last time, I am going to have an entirely solid first draft of all three before I begin making such decisions.

This is planned more than most of my past books because it's been bugging me for so long. I have choreography for when various important characters make an entrance and what the big point of all nine acts is.

My plan is to write book 1 in June... then I have major editing to do on four different projects in July an August for a query fest, so maybe I will write book 2 in September and book 3 in November.

Other News

THAT said, other than special days (IWSG and my 5-year blogiversary, etc) I am only going to blog Mondays this month.

And if YOU want to write a book in June, BuNoWriMo would WELCOME you to join us! We've lost our widget, but we are still an awesome system of writerly social support.

And finally... my learned wisdom... that free day thing? GREAT for two days, but I think that is the limit of increasing returns. Next time I will do two days and save the other three for a different promo...