Janet Sumner Johnson
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When We Know Too Much


12, 2015 |

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Some of you may know that for my day job, I do translation. French to English. An interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed is that sometimes my brain doesn’t register when there is both French and English on a page I’m supposed to translate. I’ll keep typing away, and a couple paragraphs later realize what I’ve done.

In fact, several year ago I was doing some interpretation for a small group. It’s a pretty tricky fete learning to talk and listen at the same time. Anyway, there I was spouting off the English as the speaker continued in French when suddenly they stopped and looked at me. The people I was interpreting for stopped and looked at me.

“You don’t have to translate the English for me. I already understand.”

My brain hadn’t registered when the speaker switched from French to English! Presumably because I understand both languages, and to my brain it’s all the same. I understand it.

Writing can be like this too. When we write a story, we know everything there is to know. We know who the secret bad guy is. We know what terrible things are going to happen. We know how it will all resolve itself. We know.

Which is why it’s sometimes hard to know what is coming across to our reader. The experience is completely different for someone who doesn’t know. Things that may seem obvious to you, aren’t necessarily obvious to your reader. Or perhaps something you wanted to be sure your reader understood is coming across all too loudly for them.

This is why we need beta readers and critique partners. This is why we can’t do this writing thing alone. Sometimes we just need someone to stop us and tell us, “I already understand.”

Do you use beta readers and critique partners?

Speak up:



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Silliness Ensues


07, 2012 |

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I’m back!

April was a weird month for me in that it seemed to last forever (a la my husband’s job), yet at the same time went by in a flash (a la my goals). I wasn’t a total stranger to the blogosphere (thanks Ruth!), but I wasn’t exactly a close friend either. I think acquaintance is the word. 😉

As for my writing challenge with the fabulous Leigh Moore (1K of writing a day), I missed 5 times. Five!!! So that means I will be embarrassing myself a la video for the Hacky Sack Club pretty much most of this month. Hopefully a la your viewing pleasure. (“A la” is my pet phrase of the day.)

Like Leigh, I can’t decide if I’m more embarrassed by that expression on my face at the first, or by my horrible accent. Anyway, enough chatter. First installment, here:

So now that I’m back, did I miss anyone’s happy news? I’d love to hear your shoutouts for yourself or your friends. 🙂

Speak up:



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More Questions and More Answers


23, 2011 |

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Next batch of questions. I’m sure you’ve been dying to hear my answers. 😉

Lydia K asked: What interesting bit of history about yourself would no one ever guess, the first time meeting you?

Okay, I had to beg my husband for help on this one. Just before I got married, I wrote a French screenplay for an introduction to a literacy manual (French), and while it was edited down by the director, it was actually filmed. I own a VHS copy of it. 🙂

Colene Murphy asked: What is your favorite go-to book?

Though I haven’t read it in a while, Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood is definitely my favorite go-to book (there are, of course, others). I had a big-time crush on Robin Hood when I was a teenager. We won’t mention the life-size poster of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. But in my defense, it was a gift—I couldn’t very well turn it down! 😉

Christina Lee asked: Do you believe in Tabula Rasa?

Excellent question! After having kids, I absolutely do NOT believe in Tabula Rasa. BUT I love the idea of it, especially when I’m starting a new book.

Melissa asked: What’s your favorite book?

This is perhaps one of the hardest questions I know of. There are too many books I like to play favorites. When I was little, I would have said “Anything by L.M. Montgomery.” Then a little older, “Anything by Robin McKinley.” Then, “Anything by Jane Austen.” Yes, I’m an author reader. If I find an author I like, I devour everything they wrote. But I digress.

Perhaps it’s a cop-out, but here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

Okay, I’ll end here, but I think one more post should do it. 🙂

Speak up:



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