Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 reflections, 2013 goals - & a writing prompt

The countdown is on! And I am excited about this new year. Will it be a year of transformation? stronger faith? new directions and convictions? stronger families?

I am definitely all about self-improvement. While accepting that God loves me as I am, he also wants me to grow. Yes, he wants me to accomplish my dreams, but he also wants me to rely on him in their fulfillment.

So, I have a lot of expectations for this coming year. And I'm preparing. I've begun my time management schedule, and will complete it to start on New Year's Day.

2012 has been a good year for me. I published my first novel. I paid off all my debt, except one student loan. (I did backslide a bit and put myself into another small debt, but that has been paid off as well.) And I feel I've grown a great deal in my relationship with God.

2013 goals?
  • To complete my second book
  • Become infused in marketing and selling my first
  • Shall I dare say, become more organized? By that I mean neater.
  • Push myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to relating with people
  • Strengthen my prayer life
  • Trust God in all things

Here's a last writing prompt for 2012. It's a broad one and can be about anything. Please feel free to post your writing to this prompt as a comment:  Strength

Have a wonderful, happy New Year everybody!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stories, Resolutions, and Merry Christmas!

Here's a start of a story that will be put on the back burner:
Standing at the edge, I looked down at fifty feet of cutting crags and rigorous, smashing waves, and tried to imagine what she went through. I could not understand how anyone could go through that. Especially Danta. She seemed to have everything, and she went about her day as if all was perfect. After learning otherwise, I took it upon myself to find out how she could fool so many people and how her life had gotten out of control.
That was three years ago. Today I stand again at the same edge with Danta's daughter by my side, considering how I had uncovered more answers to my questions than I thought I ever would. And now I had to explain to Danta's ten-year-old daughter why she could not live with her relatives and why we had to find Harold. Once we find Harold, only then could she have peace and, for the first time in her short life, be introduced to the child inside of her she never knew existed.

Will someone tell me how I can write everyday without the nagging voices in my head telling me I don't have the time or ability?!?

I am looking forward to developing my time management New Year's Eve resolution plan, so then I can be organized and do all the things I need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. (I'll try not to worry about the bi-weekly or two to three times a week chores, because something's just got to go by the wayside.)

Here are a couple of other networking sites I've recently learned about:
Absolute Write - I've known about this site for a long time, because it's helped me in researching on so many topics, but never knew I could join! This is a bars none site when it comes to getting answers regarding literary agents, publishing companies, writing, etc. You can also promote your work once you've made enough posts to do so. The conversations and games on this site make it worth the wait.
Author's Den - Another site for promoting your work, including novels, stories and poetry, and for networking. I've just learned of this one, and it seems like there's a lot you can do on it.

For other marketing ideas click on this previous post: Marketing Updates and Ahhg!

I hope these are helpful, and I wish everyone the most delightful, sweet, warm, welcoming, God and laughter-filled, wish granting, special family/friend and "me time" Christmas Day of your life!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Guest Post Article

I wrote this article for Publish Myselfa great web-site for people wanting to boost their writing resumes or just like to share ideas. This was my first published article.

The Woes, Fears and Promises of an Expectant Writer

The “wannabe” writer

At the end of December 2011, I was a hopeful “wannabe” writer who just completed one of the many “final” drafts of her first novel. The San Francisco Writers Conference 2012 was coming up in February, and I just learned that their Indie Publishing Contest deadline was soon approaching. I asked my niece to do a rushed final edit, and sent in my entrance application, which included the first 50 pages of the book, believing with all my heart that I had a good chance at winning. When I made the finals and they asked for the complete manuscript, I was ecstatic that other people would be reading my work.

They announced the winners near the end of the conference, and I was nearly devastated when I did not hear my name called. I spoke with literary agent, Elizabeth Pomada, who stated that initially my book had won because the story was engaging and the writing was wonderful. This changed, she said, when they got to the Christian parts. She said the judges, of whom she was one, believed it was preachy, that Christian audiences would not like the dark parts of the book and commercial genre readers would not like the Christian aspects. She made other comments that I took to heart. At that time, I had not heard of Christian speculative fiction and, looking back, it seemed that no one at the conference had either. Afterward, I did a search of various Christian fiction and learned of this growing genre.

Although I didn’t win the contest, I took in Ms. Pomada’s comments and set out to make changes to the book. It was reduced from over 98,000 to about 93,500 words, and I spruced it up in areas I felt Ms. Pomada made good points. After an ad finitum set of revisions and edits, I felt it was as complete as I could get it, and set out to send query letters.


The conference had introduced me to query letters, pitches and organizing a database of submissions. I was on my way to becoming published! I knew I was still clueless, did some research, and finally came up with a query letter I was pleased with. It took over six months and 53 failed queries for me to realize that my pitch was horrible. I learned this when someone from (a free site where you could upload your manuscript and get advice) finally commented that my pitch put her off, but that the story was great.

I became weary of sending out query letters, especially after learning and becoming more shocked everyday with the number of people who have written books and are looking for agents. Later, I made a book trailer with a different and better pitch, which I’ve been using ever since.

Should I wait or should I publish?

I decided to research other avenues of publishing besides the traditional, and learned about vanity press companies. Ignorant of it all, I had seriously considered using Tate Publishing, a company that claims to be a traditional, Christian-based publishing company. They offered me a contract to publish my book for $4000, which included editing, creating the cover, book trailer, a television commercial ad and marketing, and stipulated that my investment would be returned after I sold 1000 books. I probably would have accepted the contract, except that they gave me only ten days to decide. I hadn’t heard back from enough people who had used them to make that decision. So, I declined.

Then came WestBow Press, which used to be a traditional publishing company, but is now a vanity press affiliated with Thomas Nelson Publishing. They were also willing to offer me a contract, but I had enough debt and, after continued research, decided to stay away from pay-into publishing companies.

Once that decision was made, I learned about CreateSpace and Lulu, two top-rated self-publishing companies. I researched both, and felt that CreateSpace met more of my needs. So I decided to publish!

The hard part was over. Or was it?

The book was finished, I had a publishing venue, and I was making headway to putting my book out there. The hard part was over! I so naively believed.

I have accepted myself as a writer who loves to create short stories and books, and have one novel in slow-working progress, and two others on hold. I believed that I could finish the publishing process, do some marketing (although I dreaded the idea of it) and focus more on writing. The further I got into the process of self-publishing, the more I realized that if I wanted to be even a slightly known author, I needed a second job: Self-marketer-networker-promoter, all in one long job title.

And this is where I’m at. My book is out there in paperback and eBook. I have made some formatting changes in the print version and corrected a few typos, and now I have my first copy in hand. I’m also realizing that my second job, although it causes me to I pay out more than is coming in from my writing, it takes up more hours than my pay job, it is learn-as-you-go, and it consists of countless hours of research, it is nonetheless very enjoyable and fulfilling.

The promise of the future

Looking ahead, I dream of when I can retire from my day job because my writing brings in enough money, when I will have time to write regularly, and when I will know that each passing day more people are discovering and loving my work. I believe God gave me this gift and desire to write, and that he will lead me to the fulfillment of all of these desires. I count these dreams as promises from God that will one day come to fruition.


Nancy LaRonda Johnson has recently published her debut literary Christian speculative novel, Anticipation of the Penitent. She has written short stories, poetry and personal journals most of her life, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Juris Doctorate, and works as a deputy probation officer. She maintains the blog “Writer’s Mark – Christian and other fiction, poetry, and ideas” at, and is working on several projects, including a sequel to Anticipation of the Penitent.

Anticipation of the Penitent was a front-runner in the Indie Publishing Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Writers Conference 2012.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Christmas Gift of Transformation

This was a beautiful, faithful and public gathering in Christ's name. I hope you watch it to the end. It's very touching.

Which gets me to my point tonight. It's nearing Christmas and I'm feeling in the spirit for gatherings, sharing, and good memories.

And gifts? I wish not. In these economic times when we should be sorting out our finances, retraining how we spend, and saving money for emergencies, it's hard for me to spend money on things for people that they'll probably not like so much and don't need. Long gone are the days when Christmas lists were written so parents would know what to get. Instead, the family is growing exponentially, the weather's cold, time's short, and who knows what anyone wants.

I usually try and get what someone needs instead, especially for adults. Most times, however, even that's unknown, except the most expensive stuff - car, stove, work on the house, furniture.

But in my complaining, I realize that I'm being selfish and need to think on what Christmas is really about. Instead of complaining, I could look to give true gifts of Christmas - items that reflect the gift of God and the sacrifice of Christ. That would be a challenge, one that all of a sudden is quite exciting to think of trying to meet. Not everyone in my family is a believer, but that doesn't matter, because this is what Christmas is all about.

To put in different words, here's a writing prompt:

A Christmas gift of transformation.

This is a poem I wrote from the prompt. I invite you to post a writing to this prompt as a comment.

A True Christmas Gift

With eyes closed and wishing for the best,
seven-year-old Anderson instead learned
his parents failed the Christmas Spirit test.

No Christmas lists for Anderson to post,
no lines to Santa to wait expectantly in,
only parents so tired they resembled dreary ghosts.
In the living room, was a skinny fake tree
which Anderson eyed – it looked as dry as toast.
They failed to notice his tears or his heart so broken,
that he wished Christmas was another time – almost.

The night moved slowly, until he drifted asleep.
Upon waking, he smelled what seemed to be Christmas.
Jumping out of bed, Anderson took a quick leap
down the stairs and, with eyes wide open,
he saw what could only be ...
a true gift of Christmas, not just a token.

In the arms of his mother, looking so small,
was a baby, newborn, cuddled up close.
Turning his head to peer through the hall,
in the kitchen was a Christmas breakfast feast
fit for a king, his family and all.

Cinnamon steeped in tea and chocolate,
and stockings hung near a very real tree!
Underneath was a small bassinet.
Did his family suddenly grow
to four from three?

"You came down just in time,"
said Anderson's mother, her voice filled with delight,
"This is your brother, a new heir in our line.
We've adopted him and he needs our love,
so he can learn, as you have so fine,
the true spirit of Christmas.

"What is his name?" Anderson couldn't help but ask.
"You tell us. Look in his eyes and hold him close,
because a name is not something you can remove like a mask."
His father added, "We've been so busy bringing him home.
You're seven years old now, and this is your Christmas task."

Anderson squealed with joy,
"This is the best Christmas day and gift.
This is much better than any old toy."

No more lonely days ahead,
Anderson's seventh Christmas
brought more happiness to his world, instead.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Next Big Thing" posts continue

I'm very excited that two of my tagged bloggers have completed their posts of "The Next Big Thing." Please be sure to check out their sites:

 Ann Marie Thomas has opened the gates to write about a topic no one else seems to have written about. Historical non-fiction about the origins of a particular 13th century castle that seems as exciting as it is interesting.

Marilyn Lesser Katz is putting another notch into her greatest fiction interest: Zombie apocalypse! She's more interested in how the horror started than how they go about eating each other. Quite intriguing.

Let's continue to support the players in this very fun blog hop!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Alex Cavanaugh blogfest

I’m excited to be a part of this celebration of blogger Alex Cavanaugh! New to this community, I nonetheless have had the pleasure to experience Alex’s advice and to welcome him into my cyber world. Here’re my four responses regarding Alex.

What Alex looks like:
I’m sure he’s tall, full head of dark hair (maybe graying), roaming eyes because he’s always on the go.

Who could play him in a documentary:
Gary Oldman, a versatile actor, would have no problem playing Alex in a documentary

Who Alexs remind me of:
Alex reminds me of an actor whose name I don’t know. SO instead, I’ll say he’s a cross between Gary Oldman and Chris Cooper.

Flash fiction using “Cavanaugh” “cosbolt” “ninja” “guitar” “IWSG”
It was the night Cavanaugh never wanted to see – a night of cosbolt trained ninja fighters who used Cavanaugh’s last surviving guitar as weaponry and fuel for fire. That he created the night of his own will and let it remain on the white pages of the now filled computer page, did not stop the tears from flowing down his cheeks. Between weeping and mewling sniffs, he exclaimed to himself, “Thank goodness it’s the first Wednesday of the month. I desperately need IWSG to get over this. The story must go on!”

Bonus points comments:
Thank you Alex for making blogging so much funner and connecting like-minded people who otherwise would likely never meet.

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