It’s Thursday, and that means another Author in the Spotlight! My guest today is also my critique partner, so it’s a pleasure to highlight her work for you today.
Nancy LaRonda Johnson has written short stories, poetry and personal journals most of her life, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a law degree. A probation officer by day, she strives during her off-hours to write interesting characters who make it through trying times. Her first book, the literary Christian speculative novel Anticipation of the Penitent, about a serial killer and his mother, reached the finals in the San Francisco Writer’s Conference 2012 Indie Publishing Contest. Salted With Fire, a book of short stories and poetry, is her second publication. She is working on several projects, including a sequel to Anticipation of the Penitent.
Christian speculative fiction is horror, sci-fi or fantasy written from a Christian angle. Nancy also writes poetry when it hits her, and flash fiction (very short stories, usually under 1000 words).
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I love writing about everyday people and controversial topics with a touch of horror. In doing that, I hope to get people to question their beliefs and consider how although others may seem different, they are very similar to ourselves. In other words, I love to “stir the pot” with my writing. Usually people who love my writing, do so even though they are disturbed by the lives they’ve encountered and the jarring roads they have to travel in the stories.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience?
In elementary school, I remember writing a story about my dog, Chico, getting lost in a regional part and how he found his way home. It was a valiant effort at a first story, but I thought it was quite bad. Even so, my teacher called me “prolific.” She told me to look the word up, which I did but still didn’t understand what it meant. It still encouraged me.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
A good day is when, at every free moment, during slow times at work, once home after work, or on my days off, and in between every other responsibilities I have, I’m thinking about my characters, plots and subplots, am adding on to what I’ve already written or am editing it. But, unfortunately, there are days when the document doesn’t get opened.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
The most influential authors for me have been: Stephen King, for his always interesting characters; Octavia Butler, for her amazingly creative storylines; Gloria Naylor, for her real life, everyday strong characters; and the most influential book, the Bible, which has the most heart wrenching and uplifting stories, amazing poetic prose, and is true. Which reminds me that true stories, especially true crime books, have also influenced me greatly.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
I’ve learned not waste money, which I have done too much last year. I’m learning that if I can’t see a matching return for the money, there’s no good reason to spend it and, in fact, is the worst entrepreneurship rule you could break. So, it helps to find free services whenever possible. Then go cheap. The place to spend the most, I’d say, is with editing.
#6: Describe your writing method:
When I’m starting on something new, even when I have an idea in mind, it really helps me to do free write or use a writing prompt to get me started. Some of my subplots were developed by this method and made my books much more complete and unpredictable.
What also helps me, especially if I’m not focusing or am feeling stuck, is to open up a blank word document and just start writing. Or, I just write at any point in the story that interests me that day. For me, it’s more blocking to write linearly. Much of my writing is mood or emotion based, or character driven, so writing a scene that grabs me that day really brings the best of my writing out.
Other than that, I just keep plugging away! Even if I don’t write as much as I’d like, it will eventually get where I want it to be.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
So many people say that writers write. Very helpful, (not!) even if it’s true. Generally, I’m not one to sit for hours and hours writing every day, mainly because I don’t have the time. But I will push myself to write something, even if it’s a paragraph or developing or filling in an outline. Wherever you’re at with your discipline as a writer, just keep trying to increase from there, without guilt.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to get beta readers. This process has helped me greatly in my current project. Graeme has read my WIP as it developed, which meant at the worst stage, with the worst writing and incomplete storyline! But his input has been invaluable. Two other beta readers gave me wonderful input after I made changes to my first draft, which has made it so much better. With each drastic change in the book based on input I got from the beta readers, I like to get one or two other readers’ inputs. It’s amazing how much your original idea for the book develops! Since writing is subjective, readers let you know if what you’re trying to say doesn’t come through or doesn’t even make sense, and you make the changes to write what you really meant. Afterward, you realize that the book has gotten exponentially better.
About Nancy’s Book Anticipation of the Pentinent:
Trapped by the devil, Alezea bears Satan’s son and knows her life will never be her own. She is the mother of Thomas, a man reared by Satan to be a killer of life’s most innocent – little girls. Alezea lives detached from the horrors committed by her son and from her domination by the entity who uses her as he pleases. Until she meets Martha, who shows her a way out. Alezea will now risk her very soul to free Thomas from his father. The fight to save her son will either redeem Alezea or destroy her forever.
Rachel knows Thomas’ history, yet she believes her presence can transform him. Her belief in Thomas might send her fully into the devil’s realm or provide an opening for God’s miracles in both of their lives. In a scheme to continue his father’s line, Thomas may ruin his alliance with Rachel or rend himself from the dominion he was born to hold. The impulse to contrive his future takes Thomas to new heights in his lifework as a killer and pushes him toward maturity, while forcing him to encounter the astonishing truth of his heritage.
Anticipation of the Penitent depicts the battle between good and evil in one family until it is rendered to its destined completion. Only then will it be known whether Alezea succeeds in her struggle for a life free from Satan’s control.
For the first time in twenty-seven years, Alezea looked at Thomas as a part of herself. He was human, not a pliant slave for the devil’s use and pleasure. A rivulet of shame started to stream its way into her heart for the actions she partook in with her son.
Her son. Tears manifested their way from within her soul and overflowed onto her cheeks. He was her son, not Satan’s. He lived in her world, not the underworld of the devil. Her formidable, strong, handsome son had the choice to not be the devil’s heir, just as she had the choice not to be the devil’s maiden.
It was late when Alezea finally completed her story to Martha. Alezea was amazed that Martha did not send her away forever or call the police to her home. Instead, Martha told her to go home. She told Alezea to not worry and that she would help.
Alezea reached out in the darkened room and touched her son gently on the arm, not with the initiation of demanded sexual perversion, but with the care and worry of a mother for her only child who was lost. That rivulet of shame slowly began to transform into a prospect of hope. Could her son, who had no guidance or teachings of goodness, be turned around?
This phenomenon of love for Thomas was in its infancy. But Thomas was a man in his twenties. Could he begin to see Alezea as his mother, to be respected and trusted? The immediate answer to herself was a blatant “No!” Rather or not she reached out to God previously, she knew that God was stronger than her shame, her doubts and the devil himself. She would fight for him. She would fight for her son.
She covered Thomas’ shoulders with his sheet and left his bedroom, closing the door quietly. Alezea stood, leaning gently against his door, still enjoying the emotional impasse welling inside her. For the first time ever, feeling something other than trapped, fear and shame, enabled Alezea to feel relief.
Buy Anticipation of the Penitent for Kindle:
Also by Nancy: Salted with Fire, a collection of flash fiction and poetry with a theme of spiritual growth
Black magic, murder, insanity… humor, honor and devotion. Salted With Fire is a journey of flash fiction and poetry that shows my writing transformation from worldly to wanting to please God.
Flash fiction is my passion; poetry is my release. I love creating a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end, with twists, humor, drama, compassion and horror, all under 1000 words. Salted With Fire isn’t just a book of stories and poetry, it is my journey as a writer, from writing only for the mere joy of it regardless of the message, to writing stories that highlight God’s will for people, even if the stories themselves are not religious in nature.
Inside are fifteen flash fiction pieces and twelve poems with color pictures, and short Biblical discussions after each story.
Smoothly, his hand moves
and glides across my arm,
leaving a trail of humidity in its wake.
Droplets of his heat rise on my skin,
and he takes my hand,
silken and shaken, into his.
Words aren’t spoken,
it’s time to listen.
The sound of “hush” comes from us both,
quieting the vibrations of our hearts that
diminish our ability to hear.
Our hands meld into one,
knowing this is how it should be.
Our arms draw closer,
our steps align,
and we arrive.
There is nothing left,
but to affirm the commands:
Honor. Love. Keep God with.
Only after, do we vow and alight
in our first kiss as one.
Buy Salted with Fire:
Connect with Nancy:
Fan email address: firstname.lastname@example.org