Tag Archives: being an author

Prescription pad = nefarious life

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Photo by  Very Quiet

Photo by Very Quiet


A friend has become a psychiatric nurse, this means he has a prescription pad. Now he would NEVER do anything illegal with it, and I know this.

BUT for some reason just knowing someone with a prescription pad makes me feel like I am one step closer to having a nefarious life.

Like if something happened and I was on the run from the law I could get meds from him and stay hidden from ‘the man.’

Now I just need to meet a sex worker, assassin for hire, and a slightly unstable scientist.

Do you have someone in your life who is an unknowing part of your evil plans?

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Irrational Fears, Dating

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Since I am a writer, my brain is a special place. And I frequently have random weird thoughts pop into my head which turn into random weird scenarios and then into random weird fears.

One such weird fear is, what if I had to date again???

I am currently married and if I haven’t scared him off by now,—it’s been sixteen years (Holy shit really?)—then he’s probably not going anywhere. Kind of like life in prison, sure there are bars, but now you’re used to it, and it’s home.

Anyway I saw one of those online matching people services and wondered who would pick me if I put up a profile. Which got me to wonder about dating. Which quickly turned into fear as my entire dating experience is from high school.

I won’t talk about it, but I almost died of embarrassment just thinking about how I acted back then. In theory I would behave differently now, but what if I didn’t? What if I reverted back to sixteen every time I met a guy I liked? What if I used the same classy, sexy, seductive moves to let them know I wanted to be kissed?

TMI, but I just threw up a little in my mouth at the thought.

I am sure there are books, counselors, aversion therapists that could help me out IF hubby ever broke free of the chains. I DO keep them padded for his comfort. And seriously we have two kids, shouldn’t I be more worried about them, or money, or something real then if I’ll act like a clueless sixteen year old if I go on a date?

But such is the brain of writers. We create worlds, people, monsters, and fantasy. Unfortunately our own life is often at risk of such nefarious godlike plotting.

What are your irrational fears? Come on you have to have something better than spiders.

Is Man Whore the New Prince Charming?

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Alica Mckenna Johnson

Art by Nemo from Pixabay


I have noticed a new trend that I’m not sure I like, the ‘hero’ of the story being a man whore. Now before we go further I’ll explain that to me the difference between someone sexually active, aggressive, and casual and a ‘man whore or slut’ is respect. Respect for themselves and respect for their partners.

So a while back I was reading the beginnings of several books, which I didn’t bother to finish, and each of them the hero was slutty. I don’t care about abs, tats, and broad shoulders when I’m worried about STIs, seriously yuck! And the heroine is either a virgin or has only had sex with one other person and that was a long-term relationship. This isn’t horrid, but I also noticed these similarities:

1. The hero does whatever he does with a girl draped all over him and groping him. Usually as this is described, the focus is on the girl, and the hero almost disappears from the text. “She sucked on his ear and ground herself into him.” Notice that he doesn’t move or respond at all? Weird.

2. The heroine refers to the busty blond (jealous much fellow authors) wrapped around the hero as a slut, whore, cheap, easy, skank. Ummm, now I don’t like your heroine. I feel bad for people with such low self-esteem that they treat themselves with such little respect, but calling them a dirty skank, just no.

3. There is a TON of drinking, like eight shots in a night. This might be personal to me, but I can’t relate or connect to this kind of behavior.

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, shots

Photo by Darinka Maji on Flicker


4. The goody-goody heroine is ‘forced’ by her wild best friend into drinking, wearing a tight sexy outfit she feels uncomfortable in but that the ‘skank’ from earlier would have worn, and going into the bar in the first place.

5. The hero is willing to give up his bacchanalian life for her, to be with her, because no other woman has made him feel like this. Really? You’ve shagged hundreds of ‘bar bunnies,’ and this one woman will change all of that with the touch of her hand?

6. CONDOMS!!! Hello, not only should you be mentioning and having your characters use condoms BUT I’m not touching someone like that until he’s had a Silkwood shower and been tested by a doctor!

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, condoms

Photo by lookcatalog

Now so we are clear, I’m not a prude, I’ve had my fun and wild days. But slamming other woman because you’re jealous and want to be draped all over the guy they’re wrapped around, total lack of respect for self and partners, not talking about safe sex, and the heroine being ‘forced’ into things by her best friend, just makes me want to hurl. I can’t connect with the characters, I don’t like them, I don’t find them interesting, and I wouldn’t want to be them.

So what do you think? Have you run into the man whore as the prince charming yet? Is it just me? I mean, I can’t like all tropes, but do you love the man whore in place of prince charming?

Vengeance is MINE!!!!!

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Alica Mckenna-Johnson, honey, sweet vengance

photo by alsjhc

I have waited fourteen long, trying years but finally the sweet honey taste of vengeance is mine to savor.
My daughter has fallen in love with a book, The Fault In Our Stars, and she was sitting on the couch reading—totally lost to the world. Smiling, I sat down next to her and started to talk to her.

I asked her random questions.

I hugged her.

I lay on her arm.

I moved her book so I could see what she was reading.

She screeched at me to leave her alone.

She complained how annoying I am.

She pushed me away.

Finally she stormed off into her room.

And I laughed, and hubby laughed, and after fourteen years of her interrupting us when we sat down to read, finally it was my turn to drive her crazy.

I can still taste the honey sweetness of revenge on my tongue.

Writers Have a Special Brain

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Kilian where are you???

Kilian where are you???

So just now I had a moment of sheer and utter panic, and I am sharing it with you because:

1. Everyone is fine and
2. Those of you who are writers can pass this onto non-writers so they understand us better.

My dear friend and editor Kilian was supposed to come and pick me up about 10:30 so we could go to Mary’s house for critique group at 11:00. She normally calls to let me know when she leaves her house—mostly because I’m always running late. So, no call. Hmmm. Maybe she is running late, or maybe she lost her phone again. I open the door to listen for her car.

10:40 I call her, no answer.

10:45 I check her Facebook—she hasn’t posted anything in twelve hours!

I look outside; what ifs start to whisper in my ear.

10:50 I call again, no answer. The what ifs get louder and I realize a key plot point, I don’t know where Kilian is staying. You see she is house sitting, and all I know are cross streets, major cross streets, not enough to go on.

I call Mary, who is calm for now, but my panic will spread like the flu through a daycare. We post a note on Facebook and see if anyone responds and each try calling her again.

Now you, as a rational person, might think I’m over reacting. However if this was a movie or a book you’d be yelling at the main character to check it out, and something is wrong.

“But Alica, this isn’t a book or a movie,” says a rational person who is no longer my friend.

In my head it is ALWAYS a book, not a movie because the book is always better. I am always prepared for people to burst into song, for dinosaurs to run down the street, for Thor to declare his undying love for me.

Alica Mckenna Johnson, Thor, true love

Art by marvelous Roland


“No, Thor, I mustn’t. I’m married.”

“Alica, I’ve tried to stay away but my body burns for you. My heart breaks every moment we’re apart.” He clasps my hand placing on his chest. I do my best to feel his breaking heart through those hot, firm, muscular pectorals.

Oh, um, sorry, anyway. . .

I have, at this point, imagined poor Kilian in a multitude of scenarios, waiting for someone to notice she is missing. Hoping a dear and true friend will notice her unusual behavior and rescue her.

The only clue we have is the couple she is house sitting for are part of her Mah Jongg group, at least I think they are. And her group is from her temple. But I don’t know what temple she goes to.

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Mah Jongg, Kristen Shoemaker

Photo by Kristen Shoemaker

Facebook saves the day! Kilian was tagged in a photo reading Torah at Temple Emanu-El, and the temple has a Facebook page. Yes! Kilian, I’m on my way!

I call the temple and do my very best impression of a rational person. The lovely woman on the other end of the phone wants to wait an hour before calling the Mah Jongg group, does that seem reasonable? I say yes, because it does and it is, but my brain isn’t reasonable and I keep imagining Kilian hanging on for dear life waiting to be rescued!

I call my husband, who has put up with my crazy for 15 years. He is calm but understands my worry. Says it sounds like I’ve done what I can, but if I’m still worried, I could start calling hospitals.

I’d love to say I didn’t go that far. I’d love to pretend I was calm and rational and together enough to also be thinking, she could just have forgotten, maybe out with other friends having fun.

That would be a lie, I called them. No, Kilian, which means she could still be needing rescue!

Mary calls the Temple this time, the lovely lady has now been infected with my panic, but I’m sure a much milder strain, and agrees to start calling the Mah Jongg group.

And we wait. I suck at waiting. My brain goes a mile a minute, but I do my best.

Then Kilian calls. I want to cry with relief.

You see her phone was on vibrate and had been on a table when she lay down to nap, but was in the middle of the floor when she woke up—a clear sign some frantic, possibly deranged, person had been calling her repeatedly.
Kilian simply forgot to put the meeting in her calendar (the date had changed a few times in her defense and unlike me she has a social life). So Kilian was napping safely.

Not on the floor unable to move because a tiger had snuck into the house.

Photo by L E Carmichael

Photo by L E Carmichael


Aliens weren’t holding her hostage making her teach them proper grammar so they could blend in better and take over the world.

Kilian hadn’t been hiding from zombies in the closet, her phone on the other side.

No she was napping. I wonder if she was dreaming of weird buzzing insects from the incessant phone calls someone, not me, was making?

Anyway there is a look inside a writer’s brain. Scary, I know. But now hopefully you understand why we freak out when you’re late and forget to call. Or why we get upset when someone says something and we aren’t sure if it was a joke or a dig at us. Our brains create plots faster than the speed of light, and the more dramatic, the better.

Two Things That Have Helped Me So Much!

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Photo by Lynn Kelly Author

Photo by Lynn Kelly Author


As a rule I bounce between being a gung ho, do everything perfectly, type-A person, and a lazy, whiny, couch potato. But I have finally found a solution! Now this might not work for everyone, but I wanted to share the two posts that for the past six weeks have kept me focused, goal oriented, and getting the things done that are important to me.

The first is this post by Kristen Lamb. She talks about ADD and writing, and there a bunch of funny and useful information, but the one that hit home for me is FEELINGS LIE. At some point I had mixed my instincts with my feelings, my whiny, lazy feelings that told me I didn’t have to write if I wasn’t in the mood, that if I was too tired to exercise it was okay, and of course if I was craving nachos then there must be something in them I need.

Alica Mckenna Johnson, Kristen Lamb, 40 yard line

Feelings lie, you might be tired but it’s not time to nap.
Photo by Kristen Lamb

Now I take a deep breath, remind myself that feelings lie and I focus on my long-term goals and not whatever emotional numbing food or behavior my emotions are trying to trick me into doing.

It doesn’t always work, there are days when I lie in bed reading and eating foods that aren’t going to help me get healthier, but I’m not eating things that I’m allergic to, which is a huge improvement to my binges.

The next blog that helped me is Ginger Calem’s Writers Butt Wednesday. She gives you small, simple things to do throughout the day. When I started this I wasn’t working out at all, and for me having a small exercise that I do all day was really helpful. Writers Butt encourages you to do 10 squats or 10 push-ups every time you go to the bathroom, and of course since she has you drinking a lot of water you go a lot!

Lyyn Kelly, Alica Mckenna Johnson, bathroom

See plenty of room for squats.
Photo by Lynn Kelly Author

Because taking care of myself and getting myself healthy was in my thoughts all day, it really helped me stay focused on my long term goals. For a few weeks it was just push-up and squats and the water, then I added small work-outs. Spark People has free work outs on their website. I also have two DVDs that have 10- or 15-minute exercises. A few weeks after that I added yoga, because I missed doing yoga. And now I and a friend have started going back to the gym.

You might roll your eyes at doing squats or push-up after going to the bathroom, but really the squats are very easy to manage in almost every bathroom, and I save the push-ups for when I am not working. To help inspire you I have taken a tally of how many squats and push-ups I did in one day.

Squats 60
Push-ups 20

Not too shabby obviously I need to even it out.

So what pieces of advice have inspired you? What words of wisdom or even offhand comment helped you see things clearly? What small steps to you do every day that helps you to stay focused on your long term goals?

Hold My Hand I Have to Plot

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Photo by aarongilson

Photo by aarongilson


I have the best critique group. We support of each other, and always find the gems in a steaming pile of shitty words and clichéd actions. Not only can we find the gems, we help each other get rid of the crap so the story can shine. We put goals above ego. Because we are friends, we forgive each other for not instantly loving our works and we have learned how to curb our tongues to soften the blows. No need to use a broadsword when a stiletto will get the job done just fine.

Mary asked Kilian and me to help her plot her first cozy. I said ‘yes,’ not only because I want to help my friend, but this meant three weeks before I would have to bring any of my work for slaughter. Kilian, our editor, is the one who has to drive the dagger into our stories with her battle cry “PLOT HOLE!” Leaving us gasping for breath and curled into a ball on the floor.

It took three weeks, one week for each act. But what Mary achieved was a great structure that hit all the major points with room to pants as she wrote them, and, most importantly, no plot holes. This aspect was a bit more painful, but with the help of chocolate and wine we got through it.

When we finished Mary’s book, which is going to be awesome BTW, she turned to me an evil glint in her eyes and said. “Alica, I really want to plot out your third book.”

As a pantser, I cringed and threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Agreed, and so the next week I brought poster board, sticky notes, and a rather adorable pout.

In the past when I have plotted, I have felt the energy of my story bleed away and it takes weeks for me to be able to write any of it.

I can’t recommend plotting with your critique group enough. Not only was it fun, but it has saved so much time in re-writes because several plot holes were found before I even wrote a single word. We hit the major points, creating a skeleton for me to work with, but nothing was done in detail, allowing my pants self to dance and frolic as I write from one scene to the next.

Now I will admit before I started writing, I still wore my adorable pout and felt like maybe this wasn’t really my story any more, but once I started writing it, adding dialog, action, and TONS of description the story came to life for me.

And, yes, I still have the sticky notes. I also wrote a summary of each act before the next plotting session to help up remember what we did, and I am using the summary. When I get stuck on what to write next, I open my summary and highlight what I have already done and read over the bits I still need to add.

In the past week I have written over ten thousand words! They’re flowing because I know the basic structure of what comes next.

So not only do I suggest getting an awesome critique group, who are willing to kill your darlings, but also try plotting with them, especially if you are a pantser like me.

Do you plot alone, or do you need to hold someone’s hand?

When Showering makes Your To Do List.

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Alica Mckenna Johnson, showering, busy moms, to-do lists

Photo by CarlosPacheco

Mom*/author hybrids are the only combo group of people I know who feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when we manage to take a shower. We’ll even post it on Facebook.

*Note I haven’t added dads because they don’t post their showers on Facebook. I suspect they either don’t care or hose off in the garden when they’re ‘bathing’ the children.

I just showered, put on clean yoga pants, and remembered my deodorant! Woo-hoo. Now it’s time for bed.

I think it is important to note that showering is just body only. Washing hair is another mark on the to do list, and shaving gets its own special ticky box, and announcement.

I won’t say how long it has been, because you might call the health department, but today I showered, washed my hair, and shaved! I know it’s two in the morning but I’m thinking of waking hubby up so he can appreciate my looking like a regular human being.

Do you add showering to your to do list? If you have a different job/life and find showering a luxury that doesn’t happen every day, or week, let me know. We need to stick together.

Warning Signs

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My poor dad if only he had known.

My poor dad if only he had known.

There are a few events from my childhood that should have been a warning that something wasn’t right with me, I would grow up to be a writer. Here’s one of them.

When I was eight I spent hours one summer afternoon throwing a tennis ball against the garage door. It seemed innocent enough, but I was systematically not using a finger as I threw the ball. I started with my thumb, btw it is very hard to throw and catch a ball not using your thumb, then pointer finger, middle, ring, and finally my cute little pinkie finger.

As I tested each finger I would hold it up and see how well I could throw and catch the ball without using it.
The point? I wanted to see if I had to lose a finger which one would be the easiest to live without. At the time it was the middle finger, but I was young and innocent than and didn’t realize how important the middle finger really is for an adult.

So what about you? What strange things did you do as a child? Did you tell anyone? I never did, I assumed every one did these things so it wasn’t worth talking about. If only my parents had known, I could have gotten professional help LOL!

Pleasure an Author Day

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Alica Mckenna Johnson, chocolate, wine, pleasure, author

Photo by Mastermaq


I have decided to make a Pleasure an Author Day!!!! Woo-hoo!Break out the whips and chains, um, I mean wine and chocolates. 🙂

So what exactly are we doing? Well, if you are naughty like me, you have a bunch of books you need to review, and today you shall go and review them. No excuses! Go to Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, Smashwords, anywhere and everywhere you can, and let the authors whose books you’ve read know how much you enjoyed them.
But what if I didn’t enjoy them, you might ask. Well, you have two choices: you can be a wuss like me and only review 4 and 5 star books, or you can review them anyway. For some sites once a book has a certain number of reviews, it gets added to their recommendations lists that pop up, so every review, even unenthusiastic, ones are helpful.

But, Alica I don’t know what to say. Neither do I. I am not a “reviewer,” and sometimes I leave a few sentences, but a few words is fine also. The only rule you must follow is that if you have spoilers, make the first line of your review a spoiler alert, Here, you can copy this one:
SPOILERS, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!
But, Alica, some places I can’t just leave stars; I have to say something, but what??? Don’t worry, I shall help you, please copy and paste any of the following phrases to make your reviewing process easier:

So much fun.
Couldn’t put it down.
I couldn’t sleep, it scared me so much.
I was on the edge of my seat.
I was afraid to put it down. The action was so intense I was sure things would happen while I wasn’t looking. (Admit it, you do this.)
Buy the super soft tissues, this book will break your heart.
Such a beautiful story.
So sexy, I would like the hero or heroine delivered to my home please.
Kilts *swoons* such hotness.
I feel inspired, thank you.
I laughed so hard I peed a little.

Okay, so in the comments, offer a few more review phrases people can use. Tell us how many books you reviewed today. I searched under the couch cushions and found ten dollars in change and a fuzzy butterscotch, so the one with the most reviews will win a $10 gift card to Amazon.

Da Rules-

1- It is per book, not per review so if you review a book in three different places (and please do so) you only get to count it once.
2- You have to have read it in the past six months.
3- Contest ends Sunday 8/4 at midnight.

Come on you have all weekend to make as many authors shudder in happiness as you can!