New Class: Short Short Fiction Bootcamp

It’s Back to School Time for Writers!

Calling all fiction AND memoir writers… Come learn how to create very short stories, also known as short shorts and flash or sudden fiction. Flash stories contain all the elements of fiction and have the power of their longer cousins to transform the reader. Discover tried-and-true techniques, look at great examples and free your creativity to write your own short pieces. Memoir writers will benefit from the lessons, too. For beginners or pros, this is a fun and motivating class that will help you improve your storytelling skills. Following a lecture each week students will write new pieces based on the topics covered and prompts designed to incite your creativity. You’ll also learn editing tips and opportunities for publishing your polished works.

For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Sep 5, 2018 to Oct 3, 2018

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 weeks.

Meets Each Wednesday.
New short fiction writing Class by Victoria M. Johnson

It’s back to school time for writers! Photo by Scott Webb

Instructor Bio:Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

10 Top Reasons to Try Zumba

Fifteen million people in 180 countries have made Zumba a world-wide phenomenon.  Zumba has become a dance-fitness revolution.  But what is it about this workout that is so special?  The same reasons why I think you’ll love it:

  1. Hear great music.

The exhilarating, mostly Latin music provides a festive atmosphere.

 

  1. Dance to the great music.

You don’t even have to know how to dance.

 

  1. Learn new dance styles in easy to follow steps.

Your zumba certified instructor will cue you to their choreography steps in salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, and more.

 

  1. No experience required.

Zumba is for anyone able to exercise.  No one expects you to be perfect.  No one expects you to know the steps.  Just follow the cues at your comfort level.

 

  1. No special equipment required.

You don’t have to buy expensive equipment.  You just need workout clothes that you probably already have and workout shoes that suit your needs.

 

  1. Meet other people.

Come for the physical fitness; find camaraderie in the friendly classes.

 

certified zumba instructor

 

  1. It’s fun!

You’ll have so much fun that you’ll forget you’re burning calories.

 

  1. It’s a total body workout.

Gain strength and stamina.  Zumba helps improve cardiovascular health, muscle conditioning, and flexibility.

 

  1. Zumba is wonderful for the brain.

Following along with the choreography gives your brain a workout too.  (In a fun way, of course.)  Zumba is good for your mental health.

 

  1. Zumba is fantastic for the soul.

All that fun and movement reduces stress.  At the end of class, believe me, you’ll feel energized and amazing.

 

Are you convinced to give Zumba a try?  I enjoyed Zumba class so much that I recently became a certified instructor.  If you live in Santa Cruz County in California, you’re in luck.  That’s where I currently teach.  You can also check out my Zumba page.  Wherever you live I’m sure there’s a class near you.  Do you already take Zumba?  What do you love about it?  Tell us in the comments below.

 

3 Incredible Lessons Whales Can Teach Writers

Humpback whales are magnificent creatures. They grow to about 52 feet long and weigh almost 50 tons, the males sing hauntingly beautiful songs, and humpbacks are acrobatic as they can leap high from the water’s surface, roll in the air, and then dive to 1,000 feet.

But the incredible thing I learned about humpbacks is this; their entire lives are filled with only three activities: feeding, breeding, and migrating.  That’s it.  Three activities for an entire lifetime.

So what can writers learn from this amazing fact? Here’s one way we can adapt the three activities to the writing craft:

What Writers Can Learn From Whales by Victoria M. Johnson

Feeding

Feed your soul.  Take care of yourself.  It’s important for writers to feed your creative spirit.  Exploring helps.  You can explore the world or your own hometown.  Try new things, go to new places, eat new foods, and read new books. Expose yourself to other art forms and cultural experiences.  All this discovering is feeding your creative being.  But you need down time, too.  Take time to meditate.

Breeding

I view this as your production of work.  Whatever it is you specialize in–be it poetry, short stories, novels, or nonfiction–breed new writing.  Writing begets writing.  I think writers are happiest when they are creating.  I know I am.  For success and longevity as a writer, you need to produce new finished material.  Finished, not sitting in a drawer, but out in the marketplace or getting read by your editor or agent.

Migrating

Move about.  Don’t stand still.  For writers this can represent getting out of a rut, if you feel like you’re in one; or trying something different, for example adding your short story to an anthology with other good writers.  These activities aren’t meant to take you away from your main novel or poetry writing projects, but are meant to explore other ways of reaching your readers or reaching new readers, or perhaps taking advantage of an opportunity that presents itself.  We are on a writer’s journey, are we not?  That suggests we’re meant to keep moving.

Three Activities

All three activities are essential to the humpback whale’s existence. I think they’re essential to the well being of us writers, too.

 

New Class for Nonfiction Writers

** NEW Class! – HOW TO WRITE THE BOOK OF YOUR HEART **

Have you been thinking about writing a nonfiction book? Whether you’ve already started or only have the idea, this class provides the guidance and inspiration to get it written. Learn the secrets of bestsellers and how to implement those elements in your book. Gain an understanding of the writer’s craft and apply strategies to help you organize and revise your work – and get your nonfiction manuscript ready for publication. The motivating instruction, handouts, and in-class writing exercises will provide you with all the tools you need to write the book of your heart.  Santa Cruz area nonfiction writers, this class if for you!

For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

April 16, 2018 to May 14, 2018

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 weeks.

 

New Class! How to Write the Book of Your Heart

Get inspired to Write the Book of Your Heart.  Photo by Milos Tonchevski.

Instructor Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

 

New Class: In Praise of Poetry

Join me for this invigorating class where you’ll explore and write several forms of poetry.  From Acrostic to Haiku—from Ode to Triolet—and a few other poetic forms—you’ll have fun while learning and creating.  We’ll look at work by experienced poets and discover how to put some of their techniques and craft elements into practice.  Gain exposure to new poets, forms, and styles, while unearthing your own voice.  This inspiring class is for anyone with an interest in poetry. Novices as well as seasoned poets will find the class enriching and fruitful.

In Praise of Poetry by Victoria M. Johnson

Poetry photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

 

For more information or to register, click here.

Feb 28, 2018 to Mar 28, 2018

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 Wednesdays.

Any writers in the Santa Cruz, CA area will be interested in this class.

Instructor Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries.  She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

In Praise of the One Word New Year Resolution

Before I give you the secret to the one word resolution, lets take a sympathetic look at how difficult others make the task of setting annual New Year’s resolutions  🙂

One Word New Year Resolution

The USA.gov website lists the ten most popular resolutions Americans make. Number one is spend more time with family and friends, and number two is fitness. Click here to see the other popular resolutions in America.

Statistic Brain is a website of statistics, percentages, rankings, and all things numbers. They site that a mere 9% of people who make resolutions are successful in achieving them! People in their twenties have a 38% rate of success compared to people over 50 who achieve at 16% rate. Click here to read all their Resolution statistics.

And Forbes has a piece about making your New Year’s resolutions stick. The author, Amy Morin, gives four keys to help. I like number two: Believe You Can Do It, where she talks about reducing negative thinking. Click here to read her article.

According to Business Insider, there are even apps to help people accomplish New Year’s resolutions. Each of the five apps they highlight are for a specific resolution such as wanting to reduce stress or learn a new language. The idea is that whatever your resolution, you might find an app to help you achieve it. Click here to read their piece.

I should say I’m not against writing a long list of resolutions or goals each year. But I’ve found this one word method really kept me focused and centered. It’s a daily reminder–or however often you want to look at it–of what matters to you. The one word does not cause stress. There aren’t lists of items to check off. There’s no guilt as the months progress. There’s no time required to read through lists, adjust goals, cross off items, or add new items. The one word needn’t require a “to do” rather the one word can invoke a “to be” where you can easily identify if you are or are not being this word.

I learned about the one word approach at a New Year’s brunch with a few dear writer friends at a time in my life when I was incredibly overwhelmed and I didn’t have the energy to create a list of goals. But I could resolve to be one word. That was about all I could handle.  Now looking back I see that my one word goal was so simple that it was both achievable and inspiring. The trick is selecting the one word that truly represents your most important goal. Here are some examples: productivity, organize, appreciate, balance, discover, fearless, flexible, and declutter.  Here’s one I wish a friend of mine would adapt: No. She says yes to everyone and has little time left for herself or her writing.  Writers might pick a word like: prioritize or diversify.  Last year my word was submit.  It helped me focus on a weakness: I would write and edit pieces, but never spend time researching markets or submitting my work.  And last year, with this one-word goal, I had the most submissions, rejections, and acceptances, in my career. My word for next year should be sleep, since I didn’t get much of it.  Instead my word for the new year is thrive.  When I’m presented with an invitation or opportunity I can ask myself, will this activity help me thrive?  Then I can decide if I want to accept it or not.  If you’re one who enjoys writing several New Year’s resolutions, go for it.  Then see if you can find one word that sums up the most important ones.  And tell us your word for 2018 in the comments below.

 

Two NEW Workshops Coming in 2018!

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

 

Jan 8, 2018 to Feb 5, 2018

Sustain Your Creative Writing Habit

Could you use encouragement to cultivate your writing practice? For beginners and pros alike this fun and encouraging class will motivate you and set you on a path for developing and sustaining your writing habit. Every week students will receive inspiring in-class writing exercises and optional homework. Filled with tips and feedback (for those who want feedback) this class is perfect for writers eager to ignite their creative writing and those ready to learn the next steps. You’ll learn techniques of craft and tips for editing and polishing. We’ll explore submission strategies and a variety of publishing options. You’ll end with plenty of new material, inspiration to keep your creative practice on fire, and knowledge of publishing opportunities for your work.

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 Mondays.

Any writers in the Santa Cruz, CA area will be interested in both of these workshops.


* One Day Only *  Jan 20, 2018

How to Write Your Novel in Two Weeks!

Discover techniques to write fast and get your first draft written in two weeks. Learn how to prepare for the two-week event, how to execute during the two weeks, and how to fine-tune your masterpiece. For beginners or pros, this is an exciting and motivating workshop that will help you improve your storytelling skills. Don’t waste years trying to get your novel written. Learn secrets to avoiding writer’s block and write your novel once and for all!

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 9:30am to 2:30pm.  One Saturday.

Instructor Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries.  She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

 

How to Carve a Turkey and Other Thanksgiving Tips

Well, it’s that time of year when we put away the Halloween decorations and think about the Thanksgiving holiday and our meal plans. Many of us are busy juggling work and children and other responsibilities and don’t stress out over the big dinner until the last minute (two days before Thanksgiving). Are you one of those who rush to the grocery store only to find gigantic frozen turkeys that need three days to thaw? Or have you found the right size turkey but your mind is blank on what to serve with it? There are plenty of details involved in serving a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving meal, especially if you also have to prepare for guests.

Fortunately, there are experts out there who are ready with Thanksgiving tips and recipes to help us with all those details. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time hosting or if you’ve run dry from hosting year-after-year. I’ve found ideas and inspiration to help make your dinner the best ever.

First things first. Here’s a short video to get you in the mood for turkey.

How to Carve a Turkey

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For savory dishes like Lemon Pepper Green Beans, Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes, and Holiday Cranberry Sauce head over to the AllRecipes website.

The Country Living website has ideas for 100 classic Thanksgiving side dishes such as Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Salad, Rosemary Monkey Bread Stuffing, and Apple Walnut Stuffing.

Wondering what beverage to serve with your feast? Not to worry. The New York Times has you covered with this article:

There Are No Wrong Thanksgiving Wines

Where you’ll find insight such as, “Do not worry if you don’t have enough stemware. Thanksgiving is not the time for these sorts of concerns. Serve wine in tumblers, if you like.”

Thanksgiving Desert

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin pie. Other pies work, too. But why mess with tradition unless you want to surprise your guests with a scrumptious variation such as Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie. Or instead how about wowing them with Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes?

The experts even have recipe ideas for vegan and vegetarian menus. Just visit the Serious Eats website for tasty options.

After all that preparation, cooking, and hosting, you should now sit back, enjoy your friends and family, and most of all, count your blessings. That’s what the holiday is all about.

Best wishes to you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday!