On Damsels and Distress

A little challenge to what you thought you knew 😃

Joye Johnson

Way back in our collective consciousness is the damsel in distress. The girl in peril at the hands of a villain. She is tied to the railroad tracks. As the piano thunders, a train barrels down on the helpless girl. But in the nick of time comes our hero! He pulls her to safety, they ride off into the sunset, and Bob’s your uncle.

So imagine how hard I belly-laughed when I discovered the play Under the Gaslight. Written in 1873, it featured the first known rescue of someone tied to railroad tracks. The play is

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Slain Phantoms: A Forthcoming Collection

Although I write books, a poem or two has been known to leak from my pen. So have a couple of short stories. I’m in the process of cobbling them into a book, Slain Phantoms. They showcase some of my issues and fears, and how their exit from my brain to the page set me free. I’ve even made room for a true story, something I experienced that was just too crazy to make up.

Here are some lines of verse to give you a general idea:

Sunny Blonde was the girl I’d be
Yellow towel tight to my head
I don’t want that black doll
I said to my black mother
Laughable uproar at Barbie’s ‘assets’
When commercials were golden long
pretty blond hair
Oh well if your head hurts

Recently a friend raved to me about how threapeutic it was for him to write down his thoughts. When he found out that I have three books published and outlines for 20 more, he said “You must be a well-balanced and rational person.” Uhh, sure. But I got his point. The phantoms are hard to kill, and always manage to procreate before dying. But at least I know how to take them out.



Chapter One of Cress on the Bay

I’ve been workin’ on the sequel…all the live-long day…

A few posts ago, I put up the opening pages of Cress on the Bay, my sequel to Cress in Waterbee. While I plug away on the rest of the book, please enjoy the rest of Chapter 1, ‘Lily Jansen’:

Beneath the smoke of steam and burning coal, the Calistoga Chief headed north. Mothers and grandmothers cooked on small stoves, knowing the ‘pledged to comfort’ rail company would provide no such thing in the emigrant car. It was a place for everyone the rail company considered un-American—Indians, Mexicans, Chinese and colored. This, among other subjects, livened conversations while the scent of roast chicken filled the air. Continue reading

Your Heart Will Go On

Reality–ain’t it grand? You live for years in what you think is the real world, and then one day it isn’t. Many people dread reality, and I don’t blame them.

I’ve had a rude awakening that involved a close relative. I got to see firsthand the truth of this quote:
For years this relative has struggled, has eked by and kept their head above water. We made an arrangement to assist each other financially, and they made a great show of supporting my creative endeavors. I qualified for a grant that eased some of our financial burdens, one that increased their cash flow and enabled me to put more energy toward my start-up. Yet when I asked for a portion of the funds to cover my basic necessities, there was an uproar. There was resentment, name-calling of the ‘entitled princess’ caliber. For the first six months of the program, I heard not a peep from this person, not a word of complaint while Continue reading

On the way: Cress on the Bay

I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on Cress in Waterbee. It’s great when people see the vision you see, isn’t it? I’m currently working on the second novel in The Cress Series, entitled Cress on the Bay.

1887. Now ten, Cress Steward is on her way from Waterbee, Vermont to Frimond Bay, a town on the Lost Coast of California. As a biracial child in the Victorian age, Cress is told little about her origins. A man Cress knew as Mister Jake is related to the white family that first took her in. When Cress finds out that Mister Jake is her father, she is certain he cares nothing for her.

Yet a letter invites Cress to spend a year with Jake in Frimond Bay. Knowing little about her white father, and even less about her black mother, Cress accepts the invitation. And while the letter was signed ‘Jake Steward’, he is not the person who invited her.

Here’s a sample. Enjoy!

“Figures.” Jake grumbled. From the window of his study, he watched a rainstorm darken the Pacific. When Jake first bought his estate, its view of Frimond Bay and the harbor pleased him. He was often told that the sight of his home gave greater comfort than the lighthouse. One time his sister-in-law overheard the compliment and said ‘You certainly have the look of a hero.’ The memory of her smugness returned Jake to his desk. Continue reading

5 Simple Filmmaking Tips Inspired by Advice for Writers

Quick and great advice

Think Ten Media Group - The Blog

Last week, I shared my top filmmaking reads from the week before with some emphasis on Selma and the Oscars. This week, I decided to focus on some simple, but important, tips for filmmakers.

OverheadShot On set filming our upcoming webseries, “The wHOLE.”

I often find little gems to read on Medium and last week as I read Fred Venturini’s “5 Awesome Nuggets of Writing Advice,” I realized his writing advice translated well to filmmakers. So, I tweaked his tips a bit to create these 5 Filmmaking Tips for Indie Filmmakers.

  • Just Make Your Film! (aka Just Write) — Most filmmakers have a film that they hope no one ever sees. This may not be the case for you, but this is certainly the case for me. Writers write things they hope no one ever sees and often filmmakers create film projects, early on, that they’d really like to not visit…

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Review of Little Boy, YA novel about a Comanche warrior

Today is Multi-Cultural Children’s Book Day, and as a strong believer in diverse fiction, I am participating by posting this review. Please go to Twitter, hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join in!

Little Boy is the first in the Saga of a Comanche Warrior series, by Max Oliver. Instead of a Eurocentric lens, Oliver’s book shows us Native Americans as people going about their own lives. Little Boy is born to a woman named No Talks, named so for her calm reserve. He is a scrawny baby, the weaker twin, Continue reading

Latest review of Cress in Waterbee

imageDON’T YOU love a well-written and detailed review? My favorite reviewer is Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone. I’ve been saved from many a bad movie thanks to his witty and spot-on reviews. Even when I don’t agree with his take, I can always see where he’s coming from.

No one gets money or prestige for reading my books, so posting a review is an act of pure altruism. I am grateful to everyone who takes time out of their life to read and talk about my work, even if they don’t like it. But it turns out the latest reviewer for Cress in Waterbee is one satisfied customer. When a reader sees the world that dwells in your head, it’s a good day. 😃

Link to review: