Welcome

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my website!  Feel free to take a look around.

In work.   My primary work in progress is currently an episodic science fiction series code-named the Salvage project.  I’m also developing a few essays and articles when I take a break from Salvage.  My mainstream novel, the Sifa and Peter project, is on hold.

Background.  In my former career I worked on software for over a million personal computers, for three multi-million-dollar NASA spacecraft, and for helping pilots navigate.   Read more about my background here.

Want Updates?  You can subscribe to my email newsletter in the sidebar of this website.   It’ll give you an inside look on my upcoming works, including excerpts, and from time to time it will contain special offers.   If you just want updates to this website, that’s fine, too — you can subscribe by email or RSS in the bottom of the sidebar.

Contact Me.  I’d like to hear from you.   You can reach me through the contact form, Facebook, or email.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cindy Rae Johnson

Screenshots of Salvage Project from Scrivener

Scrivener outputs your manuscript, or parts thereof, in many different formats.  Here are screenshots of what the output looks like with comments and synopsis included, for one particular scene in Part 1 of Salvage.  Note I still need to learn to keep internal thought italicized, instead of changing to underlined.

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Writing Advice: 5 Best Writing Resources of 2019

Currently, my five top writing resources:

  1. Writing Excuses.  This podcast rocks.  Professional authors, relevant information, no fluff, just the meat of what good writing is.
  2. The Business of Being a Writer.  Jane Friedman’s Facebook group is invaluable to prepare me for professional publication, electronically or otherwise.
  3. Scrivener.  There’s no doubt this writing tool has organized my writing and increased my productivity.
  4. Absolute Write.  This website forum is massive with very active members.  It’s helped answer wide-ranging questions, given me a way to hone my critiquing skills, provided a mechanism for others’ input to my work, and much more.
  5. Google.  Yes, okay, it’s ubiquitous.  But, it’s still so very useful.  How do I use it?
    • Google Search: writer’s workshops, the difference between alpha and beta readers, whether or not making water from hydrogen and oxygen in space is better than collecting ice and melting it… and so much more.
    • Google Drive, principally to share writing excerpts for critique, or to critique others’ work
    • Google mail.  I have an account just for my writing, including newsletters that I subscribe to.

Writing a Novel and Writing Code Share…

…an astounding ambiguity with terminology.  You’d think, as long as writing has been around, those in the publishing industry would have agreed to standard definitions, a standard vocabulary.  Not so.

And, surprisingly, neither has the software industry.  Software being considered more of a science, one would expect practitioners to have agreed on common terms.  Yet, even what title you call one who codes, develops, and engineers software varies: software engineer, programmer, software developer, systems engineer, systems analyst, and many more.

So, with those who read a book in draft form one can have critiquers, alpha-readers, beta-readers, writing partners, mentors, development editors, line-by-line editors, and more.

One might argue that each of these titles connotes a different flavor of responsibility, but the lines are definitely blurred.

April Writing Status

The draft of Part 1 of Salvage received more tinkering.  It’s a good way for me to warm up my writing brain.

I don’t want to go overboard tweaking the first part of Salvage endlessly — and I haven’t.  Drafting of Part 2 is coming along.

I’ve also formed some thoughts on an essay on Christian music lyrics as well as an article about Amazon’s Echo.  It’s been a change of pace from my fiction work, rather refreshing mentally.

I’m also building relationships with other writers, swapping critiques, and I’m nailing down alpha readers for polished drafts of Salvage.

Deliberations continue about meeting other writers face-to-face.  Conferences?  I’m not quite ready yet.  However, the bigger city an hour away has writer meetups.  I may check them out in June.

That’s all for this month.

 

Through the surging crowd she glimpsed Master Geary talking with an older man — the grandmaster? — who often led the lessons. The grandmaster nodded, Master Geary bowed, then Master Geary worked his way over to the table where her mother now read.

Her smile faded. Uh-oh. Did… did I do something wrong?

A few minutes later, Master Geary navigated the crowd and approached her with an encouraging smile. “Hi, I’m Master Geary.”
Kaylah nodded. I know. She darted a look at her mother who was once again immersed in her book.

“I talked to your mother.”

At Kaylah’s expression, he quickly added, “You’re not in any trouble. In fact, you did very well on the course.”

“Uh…” She stared at her shoelaces. “Thank you.”

“Would you like to train with us?”

A broad grin returned to spread across her face. She nodded vigorously, her short curly hair bouncing around her face. “Sure! That would be great! Tuesday and Thursdays, right? I’ve never really did sports, but I really liked running the course. I’ll need a uniform, right? Will I—“

Alarms blared.

For a split second, all movement froze.

In the next instant, everyone scrambled for the door. As the crowd surged around Kaylah, crowding her, looming over her, she worked to keep on her feet.

Maybe this drill will go better?

 

Treasured Favorites, Round 1

What books I have read and re-read are many.  Some are special treasures.  Here are a few:

  1. Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World

    Excellent writing, as much of Dahl’s works are, including the more famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.   Beyond the quality of writing, I like Danny because it’s more realistic and because of the imagery of the young boy doing brave things, but, most of all, I like Danny because of the warm relationship between father and son.  The humor also helps.

  2. Francis Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

    My favorite of Burnett’s novels, this story is engaging and even captivating.  It’s also one of my favorite go-to’s when I read writing advice — it breaks many of the modern tidbits pundits try to make into rules.

  3. L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

    The richness and depth of the newly-married Anne and Gilbert outstrips in some ways the delightful stories of younger Anne living at Green Gables.

March Writing News

Work continues on the Salvage project.  I’ve leveled up (so to speak) in my writing, and I feel like I’m actually adding layers to Part 1 that add depth and, interestingly enough, streamline the story flow some.  Work on Part 2 continues, sketching scenes in terms of dialogue and some action.

Meanwhile, I’m branching out with ideas about an article for Christian homeschoolers and an essay about Christan contemporary music’s lyrics as a reflection of society.

Raw Writing from Salvage

Okay here’s the writing snippet, but, a disclaimer — it’s raw writing, very little revision:

“Come to order!” The assistant director’s voice blared once again through the ancient megaphone. “Come to order!” The A.D., the diminutive Mrs. Holang-Lee, stood near the back wall, in front of a stack of crates, the black strands of her hair sweeping her face as she shook her head at the crowd.
Milling around, the colonists filled the converted cargo hold, their excited voices adding to the clamor of the kitchen staff working furiously. A few latecomers entered and passed Kaylah’s perch on a storage unit by the hatch. After the tank puncture scare, the animosity of the other passengers, and the complete ineptness of most of them when it came to ship drills, she felt safer near the exit.

Favorite Fantasy Reads

Where should I start when reading fantasy?

As with science fiction, this is a tough question — for the same reason.  Fantasy worlds can be entirely different than our own, eerily similar, or a mash-up of the radically different and the every day.

Fantasy can be humorous (Anthony’s Xanth series or Terry Pratchett‘s works), character-driven (Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx series), epic (Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings), a mashup with science fiction (Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer), fairy tales, portal fantasies, and much more.

Read on for the list.

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