Thursday, December 26, 2013

I published a story

It's called Life Begins The Day You Start A Garden. It’s just under 60 pages, so you’ll be done with it in one sitting. If you feel the inkling, pick up a copy at Amazon: Link to my book at Amazon

It is also available from Amazon UK, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, though only in English.

I wrote this story back in 2006, copyrighted it in 2007, designed the cover, and then left the files in an old computer to collect e-dust.

Earlier this year, however, my younger sister, La Ronda Johnson, wrote and self published her first novel, Anticipation of the Penitent: Link to book my sister's book at Amazon

I guess there’s nothing like a little healthy sibling rivalry to get an otherwise stagnant ass to spring into action, because I finally dusted off the digital file, fine tuned the grammar, finalized the cover and began the self-publishing process.

I got the idea for the story through a series of unplanned events, starting with the epiphany to garden that struck me back in 2000. Or, now that I think about it, maybe it started around 1991 when I began studying Chinese. Whatever the case, I’d come across on a number of occasions while searching and researching various topics related to herbalism and gardening, the expression “Life begins the day you start a garden.” It was always followed up with the claim, “A Chinese proverb.” Having studied Chinese characters over the years, I became very interested in finding the original proverb in Chinese. My intention was to have the Hanzi (Chinese characters) engraved on a placard that I could hang in my garden. After spending considerable time searching for it on the internet and looking in online dictionaries and character references as well as inquiring with some Chinese acquaintances with no success, I pretty much gave up on my plan.

I told a friend of mine about the unsuccessful search, to which he replied ever so nonchalantly, “Why don’t you make it up yourself?” Being a semi-aficionado on Hanzi, I was thoroughly intrigued with the challenge, and immediately started strategizing my approach. The Chinese version that I came up with is:


It’s pronounced “wren jong hua, ming choo ya” in Mandarin Chinese. Direct translating it yields something along the lines of “human gardens, life sprouts.”

For all I know, the original proverb is out there somewhere, and if anyone knows it or comes across it, please let me know. I’d be very interested in finally seeing it and comparing the two.

The best part of coming up with this proverb is the fact that traditionally, proverbs originated in fables. Someone would write a story intended to teach lessons on morality, principles and how to live life more righteously. The proverbs were short expressions used to convey main philosophies within the story. In my case, it really was a matter of putting the cart before the horse, since I came up with the proverb in Chinese first, then began working on a fable to go along with it.

The story begins with a middle-aged man who has lived his life quite cautiously – never taking risks in work or relationships. The result is that while he personally has suffered no major losses, he has also foregone any truly satisfying life experiences. The story is about how all that changes for the man as he is forced to reassess the validity of his beliefs and wants.

Anyway, I’m in the process of making a YouTube video to serve as a commercial of sorts for the book – nothing too extravagant, given my limited funds and talents in regards to marketing & advertising. I’m also working on other stories, with the hopes that this might become a regular thing for me.

The book trailer: 

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