Archive for the ‘Writing Challenge’ Category

I still love to dig

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Digging for Roots.”

I think the person I am is greatly influenced by the family I came from. When I wrote my first posts on my blog site a couple of years ago I told about the 30+ yrs. of genealogy research and work I’ve done digging into my paternal grandfather’s past and family. They were Germans from Russia, immigrated from Odessa, Russia (now the country of Ukraine) in 1889. Much of my research and information was used to create my current novel and project entitled, The Informant’s Agenda.

I was blessed to be able to travel to Russia and Ukraine in 1989 to commemorate their immigration to the U.S. and learn all I could about them and their own journey out of persecution and anarchy. I later learned too that their family were once originally from Jewish descent, then later converted to the Lutheran faith. These are the genealogical roots of my family that define me in such a way that makes me proud of my heritage, my faith, and my insatiable drive to learn more. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have made the journey, literally to the country of their origin, and also through the years of time travel with all the resources, books and research materials used so I could learn all I could about them. I have scrapbooks and binders so full of collected documents, records, old family photos, and Ged files that they cannot hold any more. Still I continue the ‘digging’ at times into my father’s side, and also my mother’s side from Germany . It is a legacy I will pass down to my children and grandchildren. It is a ‘dig’ I would not have traded for anything.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Fiction, Historical Fiction, Writing, Creating Characters, The Daily Post, Weekly Writing Challenge: characters

The below post is my submission for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge in The Daily Post.  It is based on a fictional character in my Historical fiction story, entitled, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN.

Character analysis: Scott is a soldier in the Vietnam War, who was drafted into the army while a student attending a college in Seattle, Washington. He writes this letter home to his father about his experiences during the war while stationed in South Vietnam.

Scene – Scott is in Vietnam writing this letter from his base camp.

_________________________

March, 1966.

Hi dad,

I’ve been in Vietnam now for six months and now know the basics in warfare tactics, survival and aggression. My instinct is tested daily when out on patrol with my unit. Those that can’t cut it are easy prey for the VC, and the NVA. My M-16 remains the only friend I know won’t leave me. Fatigue, exhaustion is my constant companion. My eardrums roar from the sounds of planes and helicopters overhead, gun fire, shouts and screams.

Sometimes, I have to force my stomach from heaving its contents when I see the dying lay helpless in our wake. Their blood soaks the ground. Bullets or shrapnel become imbedded inside their bodies, with open, gaping wounds. Flies and vultures swarm in to lay claim to their remains. Medics cannot help them all. Only the monsoons help wash the earth of their blood. But, nothing washes away the memory. Their fading cries linger in my head. I hear them over and over again. There is no time to grieve the death of friends I’ve made. I just watch the medics wrap them up and send them home in a transport.

Reports from home tell about the apathy for the soldiers here. Does anyone there care we are dying here? The guys have become numb to feeling compassionate, or committed to the South’s cause. This has become a political war. Those in WA., DC that decide our fate should be here. We would choose theirs. And they would go home in body bags.

Whether with, or without the U.S. help, the South Vietnamese will fight on, to keep their side free from the Viet Cong. More often the south unleashes its violence on mere villagers with the intent to annihilate and wipe out evidence of V.C. presence, or compromise. Yet, there is still infiltration in the South Vietnamese Army. It is hard to distinguish between the two. At times, we don’t know who we’re fighting. We just fire. The country has gone mad and crazy with war. There was some talk in our unit of an elite group called, SWARM, Specialized Warfare Against the Revolutionaries’ Movement.

I hope you get this. I don’t know when I will have time to write as things are getting intense around Da Nang, and our unit may be heading north. My only momentary relief comes from looking at Jen’s picture, and reading her letters from home. Dad, don’t let her or mom know about this letter.

I pray I make it back home. Give mom, and my kid sister a hug.

love, Scott

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson


Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

E-books verses paperbacks.

Which do I prefer? The choice for me is an easy one. I don’t own an e-reader and don’t plan to buy one. I don’t like having to buy and learn how to use the next new tech gadget just to read a book, or depend on something like that to pull up the internet (via a smart phone). Nor, do I want to bother having to recharge an e-reader, or go through a process to keep what I read secure from misuse or abuse. I like the convenience of pulling out a paperback or hardback whenever I am at home and reading while sitting in my ‘reading chair’ in the comfort of my home.  I have more difficulty reading from the smaller tech gadgets and prefer the close up range of a printed copy using my reader glasses. With the paperback or hardback copy of a book, I just take it with me where ever I am going like to appointments and can quickly open it up to read without needing to turn it on or warm it up. That is too inconvenient for my lifestyle.

I also love the thrill of going through the isles of a bookstore, looking for good deals, perusing the bestsellers, and checking out reference books on writing and other topics. I have an extended collection of hardback books and paperbacks in my library and am very selective on those that I choose to buy. When I’m in the bookstore I can sit down and read a portion of the book then that I am considering buying and can see if I might like it and judge for myself if it is worthy of the cost to buy it and worthy my time to read it. I cannot do this with an e-book if I were to purchase them on-line to use with an e-reader. When they offer only a page online to view, or the synopsis of a book it is not often enough for me to make a decision that way to buy it online, unless I have known about the book, read the reviews, and been given a recommendation.

______________________________

Posted February 4, 2013 by Joyce in Reading, Writing, Writing Challenge

Tagged with , , , ,

The Daily Post Writing Challenge, The Devil is in the Details

I guessed him to be about five feet, eleven inches, with chocolate-brown eyes that drew me in. I could not help but stare. A lock of hair, the color of bronze fell stubbornly over his forehead. A man with skin color like Russian Amber, as if he soaked up the sun at Odessa’s Black Sea Resort Club had me wondering how many women he had trailing in his wake.

His English, although fluent enough to understand left me asking him to repeat things. It was I who was embarrassed, trying to focus on the interview. His ancestry was Russian. His dialect was Ukrainian. And his dark pinstriped suit, impeccable.  At the age of thirty-eight with a PhD in political science and cultural studies from the University of Odessa, Russia, one did not question his credentials or qualifications to the appointment as Consulate of Domestic and Foreign Affairs in Ukraine.

His charm was electrifying, irresistible even to those who disagreed with him, or criticized his work ethics. Could I trust him to advise me? As handsome as he was, his manner refined, polished and practiced I held back.  What was behind that teasing – almost sexy – smile? I was a novice at this kind of business, a thirty-one year old single woman, an American in a foreign country. I was his guest. He was my sponsor.

_________________________

Joyce E. Johnson

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