Archive for the ‘Creative Writing’ Tag

Things I’ve learned in writing

The things I’ve learned over forty-two years of writing since my first poem are numerous. All that I’ve learned are either through experience – what worked, what didn’t – and the much-needed instruction and information gleaned from instructors, mentors and successful published authors.

I absorb all that I learn. To get a foothold into a real publishing venue of credible, significant standing it is an ongoing process of self-improvement as a writer. The number of self publishing, vanity type venues that feed their till and their reputation on the cash and costs required of writers wanting to see their name on a book jacket is becoming as long a list as the number of writers needing representation. Who should a writer trust? What can they expect?

I have read reviews, and writers’ stories and complaints of those they relinquished their book manuscripts to, and researched others I wouldn’t trust with what I’ve spent years writing, or trying to perfect. One can take a risk with no guarantee of their legitimate services and find out that they are not what they really claim to be. In the meantime I work at the craft until I have complete confidence that my work or project is worthy of the best representation, and focus on these points hoping to progress along the way.

  • If not nurtured or practiced every day it can become weak, shallow, meaningless words without any depth.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration to come. Life is full of inspiration, every experience, an opportunity. Use them all. 
  • Use words worthy of enticing readers to the first paragraph, page and chapter, reading clear to the end.
  • In fiction, write to compel and draw them in with a plot that makes them feel as if they are there at the scene, with lead and supportive characters they can relate to, identify with, and feel as if they know them personally.  
  • In fiction, write so as to hold the reader’s attention, with well-chosen words, each page and chapter leading to the next, building emotion, suspense, imagery, descriptive scenes. If memorable it will be embedded in their minds. If a non-fiction work the message should have truth, be unforgettable, influential, life changing. It isn’t the subject or genre that matters so much as the substance in choice, and strength of words used to make a point, deliver a message, or tell a story.

Maybe, it can be said that a writer is only as good as the feedback or reviews received from those who read their works. Being conscious of this should be reason enough to work harder at the craft. It is for me, and what drives me onward, to be that kind of writer.          

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Posted May 15, 2016 by Joyce in My Writings

Tagged with , ,

The Written Word


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1848 – The printing year of this antiquated Bible. I was recently given this bible from someone. I love rare and antique books, and collecting classics.

My own study NIV Bible I use today

My own personal study NIV Bible

 

From quill to papyrus, or pen to paper

from cable to typewriter, to keyboard device

words have traveled down through the ages of time

written on scrolls, copied, or transcribed;

they came to be an integral tool expressing our voice

like a sonnet of tales, fabled or true,

not always believed, nor always rhymed.

But, poet or storyteller, essayist too,

memoirist, or scribe; their words, old or new;

if rewarded publication on printed page,

and kept in circulation via demand or reprint

they filled libraries, bookstores, institutions and schools.

But, there is one over all I treasure most

among my revered collected few.

It is God’s words and works within

one bound volume by writers He chose

to record and document all they knew.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015

A Country Taken (Part 2)

When I woke, I saw only the blackness in what seemed like a bunker somewhere below ground level. I heard coughing, the whispered cries of one praying, and agonizing pleas for help.

I felt someone’s breath on my ear as he leaned in.

“What’s your name?”

“Get away!” I hissed.

“I’m not going to hurt you. Just want to talk.”

I said nothing; just scooted closer to my corner of the cell. He moved too, towards me.

“Well, if they’d wanted to kill us they would have done so by now, don’t you think?” he asked.

“Maybe. I don’t know.” My head felt like it would explode. Whatever was in that injection was not something to help or heal, but to finish me.

“The beheadings I think are just a small part of a larger plan to rid the world of us Christians, Jews or by whatever name or label we give ourselves. In their eyes, we’re all ‘infidels’ of some kind or other. I think what they want is to turn us into weapons of terror.” His rambling now had my attention.

“How?” I asked him.

“Well, we all thought we could count on the protection of our country’s administration, police, and military arms of service. But, we were wrong. They acted too late to destroy these terrorists before they came over, infiltrating our country. So, here comes this new wave of ISIS from somewhere. But, where? They’re popping up everywhere, and no one is safe. They behead some, but not everyone. Why? We fought back, but they grew stronger in number, and our little band of resistance fighters grew smaller and weaker. The worst of it is I think the ISIS have plants in the government, maybe in congress, the pentagon, the military.”

“You’re crazy. That’s absurd.”

“Is it?”

“Did they inject you?” he asked.

“Yes. But, if it was an antibiotic it isn’t helping. I’m shivering. My head is burning with a fever, am dizzy, and so… ”

“It is no antibiotic they gave you.”

“Then, what was it? Since you think you have all the answers.”

EBOLA.

____________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015) This is a work of fiction and Part 2 of a 3 part story. Part 1 was posted last week, and Part 3, the conclusion will be posted in a few days.

Trees in transition

084 (2)

Trees in transition,

leaves turning; autumn jewels

gold, red and amber

a profusion of color

bursts forth in rich foliage hues

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


One year after

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  Nature reclaims what

the flood took away last year.

This weeping willow’s

branches bow with due respect

to trees lost last September

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 Footnotes: This week marks a year for our state when devastating floods from days of unrelenting hard rains and raging high rivers destroyed much of our front range; parks, roads, homes, businesses, even parts of the Interstate highway. It took lives too. Our local newspapers have run stories on surviving families and people who have forged on and begun the rebuilding of their lives and homes again with a strong commitment and determination that is born from tragedy leaving scars and wounds in ways that devastate lives and livelihood. There are other posts on this story in my archives under the Big Thompson River Flood.  And also  here

Ancient Family History

Below is my submission for this week’s Daily Post Writing Challenge Full Tanka

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/full-tanka/ 

 

I pulled from the box

old photos; dour faces

staring back at me;

There is not one, a smile; but

just their sad look that graces

 

our new family

seeking ancient history;

For all they will have

is what is left to pass on

in this box of old faces

 

so I pulled it out

and began with my long search

looking for good clues

but learned it was not to be

so easy once I started

 

so I shoved it all

back into the dusty box

where they all remain

together even this day

sealed inside their box coffin

_______________

Footnotes on the above Tanka poems. This story poem is true fiction in the literal sense as I actually have over 30 years of successful family genealogy on my paternal grandfather’s German family from Russia with boxes full of not just photos of ancestors but piles and stacks of documents and many other resources used throughout the years as well as membership into one of the leading German Russian genealogy organizations. So, even though this story is fiction, my own family is not, and has a long heritage of Germans from Russia.

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


Farewell Sweet Summer

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves; this photo is one I took a year ago at the peak of Autumn.

 

Farewell sweet summer nights

when a cricket’s chorus

sings to dark, cool skies,

and lulls my slumbering eyes.

When through my window, a breeze

 turns to early dew,

and blooms shiver in the morn,

and the rising sun

brings a cold brisk autumn chill.

With the change of season comes

colorful array

of trees that shed their bright coats

now red, amber, gold,

and the harvest’s bounty grown

in abundance on the ground

gathered up and sold

to town markets all around,

with baskets full of

ripe cornucopia found.

Farewell to sweet summer’s end.

 __________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

Words, Words, I Need More Words

This is my response to The Daily Post, Writers’ Block Party

WORDS, WORDS, I NEED MORE WORDS

When words don’t come

and I wonder why

for all the words

there are. I’ll try

to write until

I’m out of words

and look for more

many more words.

There in this world

are words that be

found richly packed

in books for me,

words that tell

stories you see

so write I shall

forever until

there’s no more words

to write and fill

page after page

of  words written by me.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Serene Reflections

Boyde Lake State Park Loveland, Colorado

Boyd Lake State Park, Loveland, Colorado

Serene Reflections

 

A stand of trees where

 nature drinks at this lake shore

and grass and reeds hide

game in shallow waters’ moor

shelters fowl amidst a storm

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

‘Parable’ of the honey bee


Parable of the honey bee

 

Clinging to life it holds on, but failing, its wings heavy from the pollen it carries it offers up;

Others hover near gathering their own and wait respectfully, knowing its fate.

When it’s time the bee succumbs, and others carry on producing what they know to do.

The life of the bee is short; their purpose vital, crucial to the environment.

It is nature’s way, a part of God’s perfect plan.

Like the common bee we live our lives too, within a span of time.

We gather what is important to us. But, it is what we offer up that is the essence

of God’s spirit in us, as a sweet nectar, and aroma that permeates the land.

________________________

Scripture reference – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV translation)

Footnotes:  The above photo is one I took in my back yard garden while watching this bee as it died. I have a good friend who has a bee hive operation as a hobby and watched him at work with his bees. I became very interested in the things I learned about bees, more so than in the past when careful to stand away from them and not be stung. The recent experience while watching and studying bees inspired me to write this ‘parable’, a short devotion about the things we have in common with a mere honey bee, and whether we seek for ourselves those things most important to us, or whether we ‘offer up’ and give back what matters most; our relationship to God, to others, and to our world in general. I love reading the stories and parables in Matthew that Jesus taught his disciples and thought the bee story made a good illustration to use. Comments on this story are welcome, as always with my stories, posts and poems.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Well-chosen words…

Good writing is like

planting seeds in fertile soil;

well-chosen words placed

where they are most effective

produce the desired results

________________

The above poem tells what I try to achieve with my writing, but am not always sure I am successful. It is what I have been striving for whenever I write anything; to choose my words well, place them where they do the most good and can be easily understood, interpreted and be concise.  At times it would seem as if I revise or edit more often than necessary. But, often when I think I’m finished I reread it again and suddenly find a spelling error or maybe I will feel a meaning is not expressed well enough for some and I wonder if readers can get exactly just what I was trying to say, and I start over again. A spelling error or word left out at times that I discover later gets frustrating when I find it after I have already posted and have to go back, correct, edit, re-post or update.

Then there is the other thing that totally frustrates me. I have a deteriorating and advancing vision problem and eye disease necessitating me to use about two or so different strength reading glasses at times to be able to see clearly what I am reading, typing, posting and writing. It is called AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).  It is not so uncommon with people as they get older, but is something that un-nerves me when wanting to get a written piece right and not discover errors later. Even using a recipe when I cook or bake requires close attention and the stronger reader glasses.

So, if I find a misspelled word or one left out or one used incorrectly its back to editing or revising again before I get it right.  And if a reader or writer finds it or wishes to correct me that’s OK too, as I appreciate good feedback. Thanks.  Now, I will once again proofread this before posting. 🙂

________________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Campfire Stories

Misc. and family 1488Misc. and family 1489

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harley and Hampton

 

He scuffed along in prospector’s boots, plaid flannel shirt, and dungarees made of the stock of heavy blue denim. Too many years in the harsh elements had turned his skin the color of rust and as tough as dried apricots. The rare nuggets or elusive gold vein was all but non-existent now. He’d seen little of it. The sun bore down on him with a vengeance from the 10,000 foot Sasquatch range.  He lifted the felt brimmed hat from his head and wiped his shirtsleeve across the sweat beads on his forehead.

His burro, Hampton, coarse tufts of stiff hair sticking up from his neck clopped alongside him dutifully carrying the old miner’s picks, shovel, tin pans and ax dangling to one side of the mounted leather girdle. The noise could be heard clear up the mountain side as they traversed their way down steep hills.

“Hampton, I think we’ll camp here for the night. I’ll find us a jack rabbit or something for supper.”

He noticed a rundown old store from the road. It looked deserted, desolate. There were no stirrings of life save the deer and small game. He pulled the shotgun from its scabbard on the burro’s pack and led him along the overgrown weeded path into town. The wind roared through the canyon, ricocheting off the peaks. He didn’t notice anything unusual at first. There were so many Chinook winds that came round in late spring howling so loud they sounded like the growl of a hungry bear on the scent of prey.

Tendrils swirled about where wind gusts kicked up dirt and gravel. Some stopped, forming dust clouds emanating sounds like boards rattling, or shovels clanging. Raucous laughter could be heard from some near place. The wind currents carried the sound as it echoed down the meadow to the dry streambeds, and back again as if settling near the old store.

“Welcome,” came a booming voice.

Harley’s hair and beard bristled. He nervously scanned everything in sight afraid of what they might see as he rolled his eyes from side to side.

“Hampton! You hear that? I could’ve sworn I heard a… ” And, then he did. Again.

The old burro raised his head, ears flicking, as if swatting a fly.

“Welcome, newcomer,” came the sound louder, closer, all around him. It roared through the valley sounding like multiple voices, one after the other.

He would have made a hasty retreat from the valley back up the hillside if not so tired and weary.

“What… are you? Where are you?” the old miner yelled back in a shaky voice.

“I’m right here. Can’t you see? Oh, I’m sorry. I forget sometimes those who are not like us cannot see us. I’m the town mayor. Let me introduce myself. My name is Grayson.”

“Mayor of what? What is this place?”

“It’s called Thornbush, named for the founder of this here mining community. He sometimes walks about checking on things, making sure things are done properly for all the newcomers. We have a nice cabin available if you want to check in, or just rest a spell before sojourning on your way, and supplies in the store. What can I get for you?”

“I can’t even see you. How do you expect me to find a cabin?”

“It’s here, right down this road. I’ll take you there. It’s been years since we’ve had any newcomers in these parts. Folks just want to hurry on by, not stop, though we try to make them feel at home.”

The air suddenly felt cooler as dust clouds swooped down, swirling around him until he felt caught in the storm that blew from all directions. Unable to move or see which way to run, they suddenly released their grip, and Harley tightened his hold on Hampton’s reins as he brayed again, resisting the pull of his owner.

“You said your name is Grayson? Where are you? What are you, a ghost?”

“Well, I guess some would call me that, but I don’t like to scare people off and it doesn’t sound like a good job description for the mayor of a mining camp, does it? But, I take my job seriously and it isn’t easy running a town like ours. What is your name? We like to record our visitors’ names in our town’s register.”

“It’s Harley. My burro’s name is Hampton.”

“Well, Harley and Hampton, welcome to Thornbush. Now, let’s get you settled where you will be more comfortable.”

They passed a cemetery on the way to the cabin. The dust clouds moved about the cemetery, hovering over graves, the sound of shovels hitting against the stones. The old miner’s hair stood up on end. Hampton brayed again. “hee-haw. hee-haw.

“Who are all those buried there?”

“Just other miners who stopped one day, and decided to stay.”

“What happened to them?”

“Well, they remained, and lingered on until their time came. God bless their souls, and rest their bones. They wanted to belong, and after all we are an obliging bunch.”

One hundred years later a traveler happened upon the old mining camp with its collapsing buildings, saloon and cabins nearby. He heard the braying of a donkey somewhere and entered the rundown vacated store with the mind to just wander around and explore. He pulled out his camera to take some shots when a dust cloud settled, and began to speak.

“Welcome to Thornbush. My name is Harley. Can I get you something?  We have a cabin available if you’d like to rest for the night.”

_______________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

As beautiful as a rose

Misc. and family 1204

There is no job more

worthy of honor or praise,

none more difficult;

~~~

None more deserving

of earning payment or raise

than that called ‘Mother.’

~~~

She gives of herself.

With her heart she nurtures those

she’s given to love.

~~~

She embraces life

because she cherishes what

she is blessed to have.

______________

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS AND GRANDMOTHERS OUT THERE!

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


The Daily Post: Weekly writing challenge, Student/Teacher

Good writing is not

in perfected form, but in

a corrected form

_________

Submitted for the http://dailypost.wordpress.com/     Weekly writing challenge,  Student/teacher

The above haiku poem is a lesson I learned when I was a member of the Christian Writers’ Guild years ago and mentored under instructors like Jerry B. Jenkins (author of the New York Times best-selling Left Behind book series and founder of the CWG) whom I admire and respect as a writer. While being mentored by a published author assigned to me I learned that good writing is the result of re-written, revised and re-edited material not just once, but a number of times. And it has paid off considerable times when I have resubmitted pieces to publishers after the first and consecutive rejections. If after the third rejection and re-edited, revised material one might reconsider or re-examine the piece entirely and decide it is worthy of submitting again and again. But, in the process it can make one a better writer and teach perseverance and patience. I think that is the ultimate lesson a writer learns above all.

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Having hope is easy…but faith? Well…

Hope is what I have,

Faith is what I strive to gain;

more of which I need

_______________

If you have come to my site looking for poems for the 30 day NaPoWriMo challenge of posting a poem a day, you can see this and all those posted under the month’s archive with the last and final one today, above. Most are newly written poems never before posted on my blog. Some are old poems written years ago, some published, but never posted here before this month. All of those posted for this 30 day challenge can be found under the category of the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). I have not used any of the optional prompts provided by their site, but instead my own ideas to write what I wanted to post for that day, so hope no one has been disappointed. As you have been able to tell by now, I have had a variety of all kinds, types and subjects including some fantasy, funny and whimsical.  🙂 Poetry is one of the genres I love to write, but it is not the only thing. I love writing fiction too, and soon will be back to posting some again. I hope you have enjoyed some poems I have posted here, but there are a whole lot more poems under the poetry and Haiku categories.  I celebrate today for several reasons. First off, it is my birthday today. Second, it is the last day of the poetry challenge and I kept up with it, posting each day in spite of the fact that I have had some serious health issues for several months and recently (yesterday) had arthroscopic surgery on my left knee to correct problems with it after having a total knee replacement a few years ago, so will take some days off to rest and recuperate.  Another reason to celebrate is that it is spring now, my favorite season and things are all turning green, flowers are in bloom, and much or most of our city here in Loveland has undergone and finished the repair and restoring of our roads, parks and river areas devastated by the terrible flood last fall here in Northern Colorado and the Front Range. Those are all happy and positive reasons for celebrating this day and this season. So, a Happy Spring to all out there. And, thank you all for reading, and for the positive comments, follows and likes on my posts and poetry.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson  (2014)

Dailypost Flash fiction challenge – six word stories

Below is my submission for the Daily Post writing challenge today, so chose to do a Six word story for Flash Fiction today.

~~~

My sling carried words – not stones

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Footnotes: I love the story of David and Goliath in the Old Testament bible so chose to use it for my inspiration for this submission.

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

Nurturing what we plant

Like seeds planted and

nurtured, our fruit is known by

that which feeds our soul.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson  (2014)

To seek…

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To seek,

to find,

to nurture

the mind;

Still yet, I

yearn to learn

___________

The above poem was published in the anthology book, Poems to Remember (Volume II) in the Spring of 1991 by The Southern Poetry Assoc., Pass Christian, MS.

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Cain & Abel

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CAIN & ABEL – The first recorded murder

He was but just a lamb fluffed in a coat of soft white wool.

While his shepherd watched with care the brother cried,

“Abel, you fool! Why do you dare?”

But, Abel bowed to God in prayer, then went to seek the lamb so fair.

Upon an altar laid the lamb, sacrificed to God, no questions asked.

Vowed to be faithful to the God he loved Abel carried on with all his tasks.

Off to the side of the hill upon an altar lay harvested crop.

As it burned, so did resentment, consumed with hatred, it would not stop.

Cain shouted, “Here God! Are you not satisfied?

Mine is just as well as the lamb that has died.”

In return to Cain, God replied,

“Love and honor are the fruits Abel doth bear.”

“Yours are of hatred and malice; the sins you wear.”

“They are the traits you possess instead.”

Jealous and bitter, Cain stalked after Abel.

Anger rose up within; now a brother lay dead.

A father was saddened. A mother knelt to weep,

for now her son’s soul does the Lord watch and keep.

God will not justify the taking of one’s life.

He could not tolerate Cain’s malice and strife.

If only Cain had obeyed then as he should,

but his meager sacrifice lay in vain.

Now he’d remember, forever he would

the brother once loved, the one he had slain.

God had to punish him, for what he’d done.

He sent Cain Away; from all, he would run.

But, God gave comfort to Eve for her grief, 

for in her heart, there was still belief.

And so brother against brother, 

hatred was born in this way.

Much the same is repeated to this day.

_______________________________

References to this true story can be found in Genesis, chapter four of the Old Testament Bible. The poetic portrayal here of Cain & Abel is a poem I wrote back in 1990. It was published in the above poetry anthology, Warm Thoughts, produced by The American Arts Association in Gulfport, MS, and was the first of several published poems through the years.

Joyce E. Johnson © (Sept. 1990)


Surrendering (Flash Fiction poetry) for NaPoWriMo, day 24


 

Surrendering
 

By Joyce E. Johnson

 

Billowing clouds of ivory forming in the sky

Lift into the rising dawn, a glow cupped in praise.

Trees, tall and reverent shade the shallow space.

I walk, forcing every step

To give the earth my son, his grave.

Looking up, beseeching to heaven, I cry,

“Why God? Why did you take my baby, my child?”

He answered back.

“I know how you feel.”

“For, I once gave up mine, too. And I will watch over yours.”

“Let me take your sorrow, and I will give you joy.”

“I promise a tomorrow when there will be no more pain.”

___________________

Footnotes: The above book, Flash Fiction is a collection of 100 word short stories and poems written by fifty talented authors for this edition created and edited by Madison Woods, the original founder and creator of the Flash Fiction writers group known as, Friday Fictioneers now under the direction of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. My flash fiction/poem, SURRENDERING is one of the fifty included in this book which can be found and purchased through Amazon.com. All of my short stories under the ‘Flash Fiction’ category can be found under that heading or under, Friday Fictioneers, many of which are written in a free style poetic form.

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

 

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