New story!

May. 5th, 2017 10:28 pm
mary_j_59: (Default)
I had a story accepted for publication by Sick Lit Magazine. It came out today! Here is the link:

https://sicklitmagazine.com/2017/05/05/sorrow-by-mary-johnson/
mary_j_59: (mug)

This photo of Goshen is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

So they are again trying to film one of my childhood favorites, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Honestly, it’s a book I still love, and I am filled with trepidation. Oh, I’ll go see it when it comes out next year. I’m almost certain to, unless it’s completely panned. But the Canadian TV movie from ten or fifteen years ago was a very mixed bag, and I’m very much afraid this version will be, too.

Why? I admit I was a little startled when I read that the director insisted on having primarily people of color in the cast. And then I thought about it. It does change the story, which is set in rural New England in the early 1960s. African Americans really didn’t live in small New England farming villages after WWII. They did before the war, and the loss of this population is one of many American tragedies and injustices. But_

One of the points of the story, and, indeed, of the series, is that Meg’s family are outsiders. Making Kate Murry of African descent, and her children mixed race, is a good way of emphasizing this. And these are beautiful children! If they can act the parts and get the characters across, it doesn’t matter in the least that they don’t look like the characters in the book.

But I’m disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t bother to film in the book’s actual setting. To me, one of the great pleasures of Madeleine L’Engle’s books is the love and care with which she evokes the New England landscape. A Wrinkle in Time begins, very specifically, in northwestern Connecticut in early autumn. Madeleine L’Engle lived in Goshen. The early scenes in Camazotz are meant to look like on of the local mill towns. This—the foothills of the Berkshires, and a part of the Appalachian chain—is a lovely landscape. It’s not spectacular or dramatic, but it is quietly, subtly beautiful. I’m sorry they didn’t see fit to film the book where it was set.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
Ah, technobabble! You’re happily watching some science fiction show or movie, and some character comes out with a string of incomprehensible syllables. For example:

“Captain, the phase inverters have reached 2000 degrees kelvin. If we don’t reverse their polarities, they will implode!” (* Please note: I made up that example on the fly. I think it’s nonsense even for technobabble.)

“Huh?” you say to yourself. Then, if the writers have done their job, you’ll either say to yourself, “Oh, I see. Their engine is overheating, and they need coolant,” or else you’ll just ignore the technobabble and focus on the story. If, however, the writers have not done their job, you will get annoyed.

Of course, each reader, writer, and viewer has a different tolerance for technobabble, and a different idea of what might make it especially good, or especially bad. I’d guess that, for most of us, it’s usually especially bad. Can there be a way to write it well?

I think there might be. I’m going to preface this by saying I have no desire to feed the flames of the Star Trek versus Star Wars arguments. I like them both. To be absolutely accurate, I am a passionate Niner, love the original Trek, like Next Generation, and also like the first three Star Wars movies. It’s quite possible to love both Trek and Star Wars. It’s also quite possible to get annoyed by technobabble in both franchises!Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)


(Mowgli faces Shere Khan in the new movie)

That was going to be “It’s the writing, stupid!” Not that any of us is stupid! But, when we see a film, how much thought do we give to the writers? I finally want to rave quietly about the recent Jungle Book. There was so much about that film that was excellent! Many people have pointed out many of these things: the excellent animation, the child’s performance (which, okay, had its rough spots, but which was generally completely natural and believable), the voice cast, the music, the pacing, and so on. Only a few people that I know of mentioned the writing. And it is the script all these other things depend on. You could have fine actors, excellent animators, good musicians, excellent sets and camera work and so on. Yet, without a solid story, you could still have a bad movie.

Now, I’m of the generation that remembers the “original” animated Jungle Book. And I’ll tell you something. When I saw it as a small girl, I liked it. I even liked it a lot. I didn’t love it, and that’s because I knew and loved the book. The cartoon simply wasn’t anything like the book. The new movie does justice to the book, as well as the cartoon.

For the new movie has three sources. They are (1) the Disney cartoon. I don’t honestly remember it well enough to say how good an adaptation of the cartoon this new movie is, but others, who remember it better, proclaim this adaptation is very good and faithful. (2) the stories Kipling wrote. I loved how Kipling’s actual text was used in the film – more on that below. (3) Finally, there is real science; the actual natural history of Asia.

The filmmakers, including the writer, succeed in melding these three things into a classic coming-of-age tale. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)


This is one of Angela Goff's VisDares, and I gave it as a writing prompt to the writing club. Here's what I came up with.

Isn't it strange? Those were the letters I pulled from the scrabble bag. Exactly those. I took eight, instead of seven, and then I just stared. It was like the angel Gabriel speaking to me. I froze.

"What's the matter, Grandpa?" Mercy said.

Joe said, "You've got an extra letter."

"So I do. So I do." I took the "t" from "wait" and put it back in the bag. Then I set the other letters face down on my rack. "Just a moment, children. I'll be right back."Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
I am now reading Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft, and have shared a couple of the writing exercises with my creative writing club at the library. One of them was to write something completely without punctuation. This is what I came up with.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)
I went to the Unicorn Writer’s conference on Saturday and had a lot of fun. One excellent class was given by Paul Witcover. He asked us to write a tourist brochure for an imaginary setting, and this is what I came up with.



For those who love the wildest wildlife in our part of the galaxy, Sekkess can't be missed. The gentle, generous and intelligent Sekkessians will be sure to make your stay comfortable. You will live in houses among the treetops, with a clear view of the greenish sky and Sekkess' one small moon. You will hear birdsong and rushing rivers and feast on leni fruit and other delightful Sekkessian cuisine. But the high point of your stay will surely be your first view of a dragon. Sekkessian monitors, or dragons, are three times the size of the monitors on terra, with gorgeous iridescent scales. To view a hunting monitor is an extraordinary experience you will surely never forget. Be sure, however, to attend to your Sekkessian guide at all times and enjoy the dragons from a safe distance. Beautiful and unique though they are, Sekkessian dragons are wild animals and they can be very dangerous. You will be perfectly safe if you stay on the treetop paths or inside your mobile viewing dome.
mary_j_59: (flute)
Or, struggling to get noticed! I'm not sure I have any answers here, but sometimes submitting queries, etc, can seem like throwing stones down a very deep well and waiting for the echo. Or, even more, it can feel like you're jumping up and down, a toddler among a whole room full of toddlers, waving your arms and shrieking, "Look at me! Look at me! Look at MEEEE!"

But, honestly, is that what's happening? I certainly hope not. Yes, there is a lot of noise out there, and yes, we are adding to it. But that's not all we're doing.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)
So - we had the book of Job today in Church. That inspired this. I was seriously thinking of trying to send it somewhere, but, because of how it came, I decided to share it instead. It seemed like a gift. Cross-posted to my author blog, and comments are welcome here or there. Enjoy!



And God spoke out of the whirlwind.
God's voice was the silence
In the heart of the whirlwind.
God's silence said this:

I am eternal
Transformation.
I am the fire
In the sun's core.
That flame
Creates all matter.
Its name is love.

Will you burn with me?

(Mary Johnson, February 8, 2015)
mary_j_59: (flute)
I read on twitter that Galway Kinnell was dead. Years ago, I read a poem of his, "Saint Francis and the Sow", in The Rattle Bag — an anthology Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney put together. It's one of the loveliest poems I've ever read - so full of love, and compassion, and truth. You can find the poem at the poetry foundation online, among other places. Here is a link to the full text. I wept when I first read it, and it makes me cry every time. I hope I may someday  write something as profound as this.

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell : The Poetry Foundation
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Some thoughts on the write-a-thon:

The Clarion West write-a-thon took place this summer, and I signed up, thanks to the awesome Lara Campbell McGehee, whose blog you can find here: http://lcmcgehee.com/

It was a good experience - for one thing, it's fun to know that you're writing along with some of your favorite authors! For me, it's also helpful to commit, in public, to writing every day. I managed to do that during the six-week session, and I made some forward progress on novel 3 and a new short story, as well as writing two blog posts - one of which I'll be posting here shortly. My other goals were to clean up my query and synopsis for HONOR, and I did that with some excellent help from my lovely beta readers. So - here's my question:

Is it legit to post a synopsis to your blog? Is this something people would be interested in seeing? Or is this a professional tool that should be kept private? Thoughts?

If it seems okay to post such a thing (I'll check in a few more places), and if people would be interested in reading it, I'll be glad to post it here, as well as on my author page.
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
Another of Angela Goff's visual dares, from her blog. It's a remarkable picture! I'm afraid I committed fanfic as a result - highly improbable fanfic, too! But it's just for fun. The story follows the picture:

9183f896f04ea70a48dee36f4ef28109

Flabbergasted, Mortimer Wimsey glared at the dining room table, then at his daughter. She flinched.

“Polly! Get that damn thing off the table!”

Polly’s lips trembled, but she looked him in the eye. “Lambkin’s on strike, like the suffragettes.”

Mortimer saw his younger son, just home from Eton, squeeze his little sister’s hand. Peter seemed to be trying not to laugh. They’d be the death of him, these two. Far too clever for their own good. “Strike!” he spluttered. “Suffragettes! Why, you-“

Peter walked across the room and whispered in his father’s ear. Mortimer looked thoughtful. He rumbled, “Polly, listen to me. We know you’ve become a vegetarian. We know it’s a principled stand. But don’t you want to take Lambkin to school?” Polly nodded.

”Very well,” her father said triumphantly, “that beast shan’t go to your boarding school until you train it to stay off the furniture!”
mary_j_59: (flute)
This is courtesy of Angela Goff; you can find her original post here. The story follows:

The youngest sister smiled at the young man with the briefcase. “Not going to rain, is it?” he said. She didn’t answer.

Of course it was going to rain. The sisters always met when it was stormy, because that was when they had the power to do justice. They gave people whatever they asked for - that young businessman, looking to impress his wife with his brilliant success; the older man, frustrated, proud, and angry, wanting to be company president; the woman dreaming of murdering her father-in-law; the middle-aged man looking for recompense for his long, silent, loyalty. All of them would get their reward. No one said they had to like it.


The weird sisters, dressed to the nines, strode through the storm and met strangers’ eyes. “What do you want?” they asked silently. “We can give it to you. Take care. What do you really want?”
Weird sisters

Giveaway!

Aug. 20th, 2013 04:40 pm
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, is giving away a free novella all about Darla and what happens to her before she and Alex meet. Those who have read Mike's series so far will know exactly why they want to read this! Those who haven't - if you can stand the violence, go at it at once! These are very well crafted books and Darla is an awesome character! Here's the link for the giveaway:

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4722365-announcing-darla-s-story-and-a-one-of-a-kind-giveaway
mary_j_59: (Varen)
I think we've all heard that the villain is the story. That worries me because I'm not at all sure I have strong villains. Do you really need a villain in order to have a viable story, and what is the villain's role, structurally?

I've been avoiding this series because I don't like darkness and mayhem, but I’m finally showing the most recent Batman films in the library. Yesterday, I showed The Dark Knight. And I've been pleasantly surprised. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
A small one, but I'm still thrilled - and nervous. As some of you know, I had a poem published in the "Westchester Review" this autumn. Along with five other authors, I've been invited to give a reading at the Village bookstore in Pleasantville, NY. It's at 7:00 this Saturday, April 13, and, if anyone's in the area, I'd be very pleased it you came!

Oh, and I have extended the book giveaway for another week. So please enter! Remember, all you have to do is write a short entry (350 words or less) including the words "grandmother", "Darth Vader", and "pyramid".
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
I've almost got it! Except that I couldn't fix the top of the boy's head, and, of course, his clothing. The text also got messed up. But what do you think of this background?

young kiril, cover concept
mary_j_59: (Deirdre)
I love [livejournal.com profile] deirdrej's cover art, in the icon - it says so much about the story and its themes. But covers are difficult! I don't suppose I will have much say in any of my covers, if my books get published, but I've been wondering exactly what a good cover should do. It should intrigue potential readers, convey a mood, and give some information about the book - genre, possible themes, and so on. Deirdre's design does all of that, IMHO, except for one thing. It's not at all clear that the book is SF, set in the future. That's why I began playing around in photoshop. This is what I came up with. Thoughts?

boy with foil and stars

I love the colors Deirdre uses; they are very meaningful if you know the story. But I think maybe a simpler image, like this, would work better for those who don't know the book. Of course, the boy is too young, but he'd do for my MC at ten or so.
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
The lovely Amanda McCrina, author of the historical fantasy His Own Good Sword (which all Sutcliff and Megan Whalen Turner fans should go and read, forthwith!), has invited me to participate in the 7/7 blog challenge. Here are the rules: You are to pick a WIP and post seven lines from page seven. It's supposed to be the first seven lines, but I'm not being that strict, and you don't have to be, either. After posting, you are to invite seven other authors to post seven lines from page seven of their WIP. So - I'm inviting Mike Mullin, [livejournal.com profile] jongibbs, R. J. Anderson, Lena Roy, [livejournal.com profile] logospilgrim, [livejournal.com profile] sigune (if she wants to do it!), and [livejournal.com profile] jessica_shea. Again, this is only if you want to do it and/or think it would be fun or helpful! And now, seven random lines from page seven of A Drive of Dragons:

"Welcome to our palace. Did you have a good journey?" Princess Verity asked automatically. She had rehearsed this part of the conversation several times with her mother.

"The journey was pleasant, but too long. I could not wait to see you," Adalbart answered. Verity stared at him in astonishment. She couldn't believe he meant what he was saying, especially since he was frowning and touching his carefully disordered curls with one hand while he gazed into something he was holding with the other. What was he holding? A hand mirror? Verity stepped closer to see, and the prince thrust the object into his jacket, blushing.
mary_j_59: (bluey)
To everyone on the east Coast of the U.S. and Canada, stay warm and dry! I was out a bit earlier - walking to our local Rite Aid - and it was quite pleasant out; just a normal light snowstorm so far, and not yet too cold or windy. But they do expect that to change. I'm hoping my little sister, who's up in CT where they have blizzard warnings out, will be okay. My brother and his family, too. They may well get more than two feet of snow. They're expecting about half that down here, but still quite a lot. We'll see.

And now for something completely different! I posted this brief essay on my new author blog a while ago and am finally cross- posting it here. It's titled "Everyone is Unique, Interesting, and Has Something to Say!" And that is something I believe with all my heart. Here's the link: http://mjohnsonstories.net/book-reviews-and-other-thou/everyone-is-unique-interest.html

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