Welcome

Dear Reader,

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

In work.   I currently have in work a science fiction short story to re-submit, an episodic science fiction series, and a few concepts I’m assessing for development in both science fiction and mainstream genres.  On the back burner I have a mainstream novel of tragedy and family and the start of a children’s picture book series.  My main focus right now is to improve the emotion beats in my stories.

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.

Get Updates.   You can also 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

Book News: What I Read Recently

  1. Grounded by Neta Jackson: a Christian novel quite a cut above the usual, and not the ubiquitous romance.
  2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: a literary read of contemporary life with a main thread of fantasy woven in expertly.  The end wasn’t as satisfying as I wanted.
  3. Spin State, Chris Moriarty: I tried, I really tried to get into this recent sf work, but I couldn’t.

Quick Tips from the Writing Notes

Hopefully these one-liners I’ve collected on the craft of writing will help you, and perhaps not just in writing.

  • DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
  • Be true to your I.Q.
  • Embrace idiosyncrasies
  • Make them laugh and/or make them cry
  • “…a lot of times if you’re finding that you’re having to describe things with a lot of adverbs, find a stronger verb instead” – CJ Lyons interview
  • Go beyond the five senses
  • Forget about being pretty
  • Don’t fall into stereotypes
  • Verbs are the foot soldiers of action-based description”

 

“Passengers had a water leak an hour ago.” The air suddenly seemed to sharpen.
Water had been critical to interstellar travel from the beginning. Reclamation tech had never lived up to its promise, and building craft with large enough water supply tanks proved too expensive for most. So, ships like the Pinoche carried less water, relying on carefully planned stops along the route to collect ice.

A Recent Writing Exercise: Beach Prompt

Some time ago I pulled this prompt from Writer’s Digest University’s “Showing Character Emotion“. As an exercise I recently wrote a snippet in response.  It resonates with me because of the beach experiences of my childhood. The snippet is in draft form; I’ll be returning at some point to polish it by convey more emotion, directly and indirectly.

“Create a character who’s favorite place is the beach. Describe her thoughts as she stands on the sand and looks out at the ocean; use specific, imaginative, and active verbs.”

My response:
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Although incredibly clean, like the rest of the ship, the floor in the corridor showed its age with scuff marks and scratches, the kind paint doesn’t hide.  As she strode along, the worn metal grating beneath her feet rattled occasionally.  Kaylah tipped her head back to examine the conduits running overhead behind a series of grates.  Several were taped together with what looked like duct tape.

“A budget ride is a budget ride,” a family friend had warned as they said their last goodbyes back on Earth.  He had added earnestly, “but it will get you there in one piece.  The captain’s a good man.”

“Whatever that means,” Kaylah thought.  She pulled her coat tighter.  The air smelled musty but better than in the passenger rec area.   On any given day, when too many of the unwashed crammed into the converted cargo hold… Her nose crinkled in disgust.  She understood the need for limited water rationing, but she didn’t have to like it.

On Good Authors

A few older and newer authors whose writing I enjoy:

  • Louis L’Amour and Craig Johnson for westerns
  • Thomas Davis Bunn for adventure and historical fiction with a Christian tone
  • Steven Gould for science fiction adventure without spaceships and lasers
  • Dominic Green for science fiction laughs — the books may be aimed for younger readers, but I find them funny in a dry sort of way
  • Lois McMaster Bujold — character-driven, space adventure at its finest, with a solid foundation of morality and honor

What’s in My Notes on Writing?

I keep a separate Word file that I reference often when I write, especially when revising.  It contains a rather eclectic mix: scene checklists, story structure advice, lists of conjunctions, and much more that I would like to remember.  I do add endnotes for the sources of most of the information.

Here’s the current Table of Contents:

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