Announcing: Fictional President!

fictional-president-coverTired of the political quagmire that is 2016? Me too! That’s why I decided to polish and publish a short story I wrote back in college: “Fictional President.”

In this short story, America has elected their next President — and he’s the main character of the popular political drama, Pennsylvania Avenue. (I’ve made lots of jokes this year about wishing I could just vote for President Bartlet from West Wing. But this is why that probably wouldn’t work out so well…)


Buy on Amazon!

Oh, and here’s a fun fact. I wrote this in 2008, back when there was some political turmoil in Turkey. When I submitted the story to writing group a few years ago, someone suggested that I remove the reference to Turkey so that the story would stay relevant. Cue 2016 and the next coup attempt! Hahaha so great.

Anyway, go forth! Read! Laugh! Tell me how much you wish you could vote for President Harrison!

*CoughBartletForAmericaCough*


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Words on a Train

Actual words written this morning. Not notes. Not dialogue-only. Actual words.  


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Painting Miss Daisy

If you don’t follow me on social media, you’ll have missed that my mom and I went to a Paint Your Pet session at Painting with a Twist. It was a fundraiser for the Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue we work with.

It was so much fun! You send in a picture of your pet so they can sketch it on the canvas for you. (The one I chose was a great photo of Daisy that my brother took.) Then they pick out your colors and help you with technique. My painting of Daisy turned out so well — I would love to go back and paint my old dog, Sam.

It was wonderful just to paint, too. I haven’t done lots of arts and crafts lately, I’d forgotten how much I love being in the zone. They encourage you to take breaks, but I couldn’t tear myself away!

Below you can see Daisy come to life on the canvas, and my mom and I showing off our masterpieces! (She painted one of our other dogs, Buddy. The red thing is his favorite toy, a crab that happens to be missing its claws.)


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Fun Fact: Train of Thought

Inside-Out-Train-of-Thought-HeadquartersBefore middle school, I didn’t think in words. I know, I’m a writer, how can I not think in words? But so it was. I thought in pictures, emotions, abstract thought — basically anything that wasn’t a word.

But in middle school, I began to notice how book characters’ thoughts were written. For example, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a train of thought was steam-powered, she thought.” This type of structure made me believe that other people thought in words, and that there was something wrong with me because I didn’t.

So what did my impressionable young self do? Trained myself to think in words.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done that. I feel like I’ve limited myself for no good reason. Lately I’ve been trying to encourage my old thinking process, to hopefully reach a more balanced stream of consciousness. But I have no idea what effect that would have on something like my writing. So I guess we’ll see how it goes.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

10 Things Not to Say to a Writer

I’ve enjoyed the #10thingsnottosaytoawriter conversation on Twitter this week. Thought I’d join in the fun. The comments I’ve seen seem to range from annoying to rude to atrocious — my entries are mostly in the “annoying” category.

  1. You write young adult fantasy? So your book’s like Twilight, right?
    Right. Because there are no other young adult fantasy books.
    mortal-gods-cassandra
  2. (Relatedly) Hey, you should write romance. Those writers make so much money.
    Maybe, but I can’t stomach romance novels. If I can’t read one for even an hour, what on Earth would compel me to spend months or years writing one? There’s a reason I write what I write, and it’s not for the money.
    thisiswhatpeopleliketoread
  3. Your book sounds…interesting.
    You don’t have to lie. You’re allowed to not be the right audience for my book.
    gaston
  4. So you’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling?
    …What? No? Why is this even a question?
    killing characters
  5. Who do you want to star in the movie?
    Writers have no control over whether a movie is even made. Casting for said movie is so far off my radar, it could have just passed Pluto…But since we’re on the subject, I prefer casting unknowns for main characters. If Jennifer Lawrence played Saydie, for example, I would just see Katniss behaving strangely.
    I-wish-they-would-turn-this-book-into-a-movie
  6. But isn’t the publishing industry dying?
    No, actually. It’s not. It’s just going through the biggest upheaval since the invention of the printing press. Enjoy the innovation. Also, STFU.
    gutenberg_11358_md
  7. Writing sounds like a nice hobby.
    Yeah? So does your job.please do not annoy the writer
  8. I’d write too if I had that much free time.
    Yeah, free time. Wonder what that’s like.
    f6cf649f12680f28f1daf8008201d16c
  9. So you’re not published.
    Actually, I am. But there’s no need to be rude.
    18188359
  10. When will you finish your book?
    days-weeks-months
    ‘Nough said.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Choosing the Perfect Word

dictionaryI love it when my characters use words I’m not certain of, and then when I go to check the definition, it’s precisely the right word to use! Ah, the cleverness of them.

For example, in the latest scene I was writing, Arianna was walking through the castle with her bow and arrows, feeling stupid. She said of passersby, “To their credit, none of them openly stared at her strange accoutrements.” Now, I don’t use that word. It’s too stuffy. And it didn’t sound like the right word for the situation, so I looked it up. The definition is “the equipment needed for a particular activity or way of life” — turns out Arianna had chosen the perfect word.

Eustace does this all the time, unsurprisingly. I mean, he’s not the Scholar for nothing. (Of course, when I go back to look for examples to show him off, I can’t find any of them. Alas.)

In a somewhat related vein, the most obnoxious feeling is when you’re thinking of a word — the perfect word — it’s on the tip of your tongue, but…nothing. No idea what it is. You can think of every almost-good-enough word there is, but not that perfect one. I turn to the thesaurus at that point and encounter every single word I’d already thought of (and then some) but I still can’t find it. Maybe it never existed, I don’t know.

It’s been several weeks now, but I’m still trying to find a word that means “soul” or “spirit” but isn’t either of those. Nothing seems right. Seriously, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment with options for a word I can use, because I’m running out of ideas.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

If I Skipped a Week…

…would anyone notice?

Cute-eeyore-love-pooh-bear-quotes-image-favim-87349


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Nothing’s Where You Think It Is

The Mercator Projection

The Mercator Projection

If you read a lot of fantasy, you know how important the map can be. From Middle Earth to Westeros, maps do a great job of setting the scene. Of course, it helps that there’s no need to translate the map from a sphere to a rectangle.

(Yes, that was my flimsy attempt to segue from my interest in fantasy to my interest in this topic.)

One of my favorite West Wing episodes features the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality (OCSE), which wants the US to replace the Mercator projection (the map you’re used to seeing in textbooks and the news) with the Gall-Peters projection.

The Gall-Peters Projection

The Gall-Peters Projection

CJ: What the hell is that?
OCSE rep: It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.

As you can see, that’s a huge difference, especially in the northern hemisphere. In order to preserve straight longitudinal lines for navigation purposes, the Mercator projection distorts regions near the poles. Here’s a short article and video explaining the why and how of this distortion. For one example, see how Greenland seems to be the same size as Africa? It’s actually 14 times smaller.

But wait, you say. What does any of this have to do with social equality? Well, the OCSE also argues that the Mercator projection emphasizes the first world in the northern hemisphere over the third world in the southern. Their solution? Flip the map.

The OCSE's recommendation

The OCSE’s recommendation

CJ: But you can’t do that.
OCSE rep: Why not?
CJ: Because it’s freaking me out.

Yeah, it freaks me out too, CJ. I love that the OCSE thinks outside the box on this one, but it’d be so weird to implement after centuries of putting the northern hemisphere on the top. Let’s just switch to the Gall-Peters projection and call it a win!


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

7 Things You Might Not Know About Me

castle ruins
At some ruins my friends and I stumbled upon just outside Pisa.

I’m doing an unofficial blog hop with my friend, Jennifer Loizeaux, based on a Facebook meme. So without further ado, here are seven random facts about me that you’ve always wanted to know. Or something.

  1. All through high school and college, I hosted Harry Potter birthday parties. Not Harry Potter themed parties for my birthday. Actual birthday parties for our favorite Boy Who Lived, every July 31. We’d make butterbeer and cockroach clusters, have scavenger hunts and triwizard tournaments, and play all sorts of games. I made a version of Clue, complete with moving staircases; my brother invented two pretty awesome card games.
  2. By age 5, I was reading the American Girl chapter books. By age 9, I was reading James Michener’s Chesapeake. Now, at age 27, I’m basically camped out at the young adult bookshelves.
  3. In ninth grade, I won first place at the science fair for the biology division. My project was trying to figure out if you could determine a horse’s genetics for coat color by looking at their offspring. Turns out you can, sometimes, but usually not.
  4. I have five copies of Hamlet. The original, a modern adaptation novel, a manga, a graphic novel, and the David Tennant/Patrick Stewart film adaptation. What can I say? I love him. (Oh, and I wrote a monologue for Ophelia in my college Shakespeare class. Maybe I can dig up a copy…) Edit: I stand corrected, I also have a choose your own adventure Hamlet. So six copies, then.
  5. For the past few years I’ve been slightly obsessed with the Titanic. I’ve been reading books, watching documentaries, listening to music that the infamous band would have played. National Geographic in DC had an exhibit when I worked just down the street, but it couldn’t compare with the Franklin Institute’s exhibit in Philadelphia. I even have a book planned that will take place on the Titanic. Get excited.
  6. I’ve loved archery since my first lesson in Girl Scouts. I joined the archery club at UVA (which sort of exploded in membership with the Hunger Games). I have a traditional longbow — and I mean traditional. There’s no shelf to rest the arrow, no bead on the string to consistently nock the arrow. It’s basically the best.
  7. I have a dream series, since I don’t know what else to call it, where I’m back in high school trying to find my classes and remember my homework and all that nonsense. It doesn’t repeat, I just dip back in a few days or weeks later. I haven’t been to my French class since the beginning of the school year, and I’m failing, so I’ve just been avoiding it every day by going to the library. I’m pretty sure I have a major calculus project due soon, so I’ll probably start avoiding that class as well.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.