While I’m totally thankful for every day of life God granted me in 2015, I must admit that I’m glad to see a new year dawning because the first half of 2015 is a blur and the last half was just one aggravation after another with glimmers of light here and there. However, this blog post isn’t a pity party, it’s my lessons and insights moving forward into the coming year and beyond. I like lists, so that’s how I’ll approach this particular blog post.

  1. Who matters? Mike and Xavier Johnson…all others take a ticket and wait. For years, I chased after external things and neglected the two fellas who love me the most next to God that is. My first priority is to my home and the two guys in it – period. Building a strong family unit is important to me and those two are my family unit.
  2. I laid my daughter to rest. She’s in my heart and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, but the reality is God prepared Xavier for us and His will was done. It is finally well with my soul.
  3. I will be prioritizing my life a LOT better in 2016, and some folk may find that they hear, “No” more often than not. I’m truly not trying to be mean or all about the money, but folk drain you and think what they have for you to do takes precedence over what you have to do for yourself. To THAT, I’m saying no.
  4. FREE is not something I will allow going forward in my business. I launched VMJ Media Group in July and I thank God for the guidance of a great brand manager to get me to this point. I, however, allowed the free work I do to completely overtake building my brand and my business.
  5. I know who’s in my corner and who’s not. Nuff said…
  6. I can’t praise God enough for placing people in my life who truly help me be a better VYCE. Not a better business owner or technology specialist or whatever – I’m grateful for them too, but when you have people who challenge you to be your authentic self and change – hold on to them and hold on tight! When you’re a better you, then being better at other things comes with the territory most times.
  7. The truth can be heavy and I’ve had to cry a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s still the truth and the bible says it will set you free. Thank God for freedom.
  8. When you talk to God, He will listen. When you ask to hear from God, He will speak. Sit in silence and listen to Him! #thatisall
  9. Depression tried it, but I was delivered from that. No more and I mean it. It’s a daily decision.
  10. Loyalty is of major importance in my life. If you can’t be loyal, then I need not have you in my space. I tend to be a very loyal friend, family member, or customer.
  11. I knew it before, but in 2015, it became all too real – God will NOT leave you nor forsake you.
  12. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (Ephesians 4:7) Pastor said in a sermon that if God gives you a vision, then He also gives the grace to carry it out. Amen to that!

Moving into 2016, I have nothing but a praise and a thankful heart. While 2015 was a challenge on many fronts, I’m still here. I look to 2016 and beyond with peace, hope and a renewed mind. Happy New Year to everyone!

A Few Unknowns about VMJ

  I realize that while you may know what I do, I’ve never really shared much about myself outside of the normal stuff like marital status, if I have kids, and things of the sort. I would like to take time in this blog post to share some little known fun facts about VMJ. Enjoy and don’t judge me! 🙂

  • I LOVE high top sneakers (Jordans to be specific). They’re comfortable and give great ankle support. If they could make them for every occasion, I’d wear them for every occasion. I’m so serious.
  • I’m not a girly girl, so the whole dress up thing isn’t my bag, but I like to be cute, so I will bring the fierce if and ONLY IF wearing jeans, sneakers and a nice blouse are inappropriate for the occasion. Don’t get me wrong. I always look nice; just not overly dressed and accessorized.
  • Starbucks is a drug habit for which I’m NOT seeking help, nor will admit I have a problem because I don’t. #thatisall
  • Cows scare the crap outta me. They’re too big – those eyes and that gigantic mouth!
  • In addition to cows, I will break down in hard tears if I see a rodent scurrying across the floor.
  • Add to the animal list lizards and frogs.
  • My son and I survived a car crash in which my vehicle flipped several times before landing tires up and catching on fire. God is good!
  • I have never been to Six Flags over Georgia or over anywhere else for that matter.
  • I hate being late for things, but am a bad judge of time. For example, if I have to be somewhere that takes me a half hour to get there, I will leave in exactly 30 minutes before time – not factoring in getting in the car, traffic, quick stop for gas – which brings me to my next bullet.
  • Stopping to get gas is just the worst to me, so I hardly ever stop to get any. I will ride the fume train until it gives out. It has given out a few times, and nothing like getting told all the way off by your friends who think you’re having real car trouble just to discover you didn’t put gas in the car. Thank GOD for cars that warn you! Great will be the day when I pay attention to my car’s warning and beeping gas icon.

I think it’s important that people have some inside information about you to show your human side. I’m not all social media and writing biz. I’m a normal girl with a few eccentricities. I love what I do and sharing it, but I also love getting to know people in their true form outside of the what they do.

What you do and who you are is very different. These bullets are a part of my “who” – funny and not so funny, miracles and triumphs, phobias and sneaker fettish – all of it. So tell me, who are YOU? It’s nice to meet you in advance.


“A Christmas Fix” Character Sketches

Since last week and this month, I’ve been focused on developing characters, I thought I would blog about a current group of characters I’m working with. Most people listen to a sermon and take notes for review later in the week. I, on the other hand, listen and wonder how can this message be heard on stage with a colorful cast of characters. I suppose this isn’t typical behavior but for a writer, a creative writer at that, it’s absolutely normal! Writing stage plays tops my choices of the types of writing I prefer to do. There’s something about writing words and watching what you write come to life on stage. It’s an amazing feeling and I give God all the glory for this gift.

“A Christmas Fix” was born out of a sermon series my pastor taught last year entitled “Trace It. Face It. Erase It.” That series helped me to understand that the way I am and others are isn’t by sheer happenstance. You can’t change what you don’t confront. Once you know and accept the root of a situation, circumstance, character flaw or whatever, you can then move toward change. In the midst of this series, the cast of characters I used for a previous play was reborn in brand new way. I had to repaint them, if you will, and create new sketches. When writing for a stage production, character development is even more important because you’re going to have different people becoming the characters you created. If you don’t choose wisely, the message you’re trying to send could be lost. An audience will meet these characters along the way through promos or short excerpts, or they could be meeting them for the first time while perusing the playbill or program. Either way, the synopsis you give them need to match what they see.

Chelsea Marie Knowlton-Powers is the successful CEO of PowerUp Electronics. In the previous play, she was an executive at another company and was so focused on her work that she almost lost her husband. In “A Christmas Fix,” you find more of the same, but then there’s an antagonist added to the mix that makes a tight situation even tighter. She has to look into her backstory and understand who she is and more importantly why she is before her world comes crashing down to a point where it can’t be rebuilt.

Ricky Powers is Chelsea’s husband. A prominent attorney in his own right, there’s nothing he won’t do for his wife. He had a great example growing up of how a husband treats his wife. What he doesn’t know is he’s in a fight for his marriage that he is completely unaware of because he was gone away on business. He has to find a heart of understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love when dealing with Chelsea. At the same time, there’s a different antagonist, so to speak, in his ear.

Kerri Hastings is the Senior VP of Marketing at Chelsea’s company and is also her best friend. We all need at least one friend like Kerri. She’s going to tell you the truth no matter what you think of that truth. She will also be there when you fall in a completely nonjudgmental manner. What you won’t do, however, is try to get one over on her. She values her friendship with Chelsea and tries to give her fair warning when she sees impending disaster. Even though her friend doesn’t heed her advice, she’s still there with a shoulder, an ear and more advice that now you best take. She’s beautiful, smart, and corporate with a touch of hood.

Emmanuel “Man” is also an attorney who works with Ricky. He’s Ricky’s best friend and a happy bachelor. His entire game is keeping a few women in the “rotation” so he never has to commit to any one of them. Amazingly none know of the others – we hope! Because his family dynamic was more different than Ricky’s, he didn’t see the need to be tied down to a wife because his own dad wasn’t. When trouble hits, he’s there like a friend should be, but he’s like the buzzing in the ear. You don’t want it there but you will hear it.

When creating these characters, as they are the main ones, it was important that they each had backstories and a clear visual. If you’re picturing a player like Emmanuel, you don’t see an unattractive man. You don’t want to like him, but you do because he’s so alluring and pleasing to the eye, for sure. Because the entire story is coming from the standpoint of the sermon series main ideas, it was also important that the viewer (since this is a play) understand where these characters fall in the overall message being conveyed. That can’t happen if I don’t fully develop the lead characters. There are supporting cast members in this production as well.

Harris Parker, III “Cash”is the CEO of Mindmatters and is preparing to partner with Chelsea’s company on a huge business deal. He’s suave, smooth, wealthy, and very handsome in a slightly eccentric sort of way. He meets Chelsea for coffee while she’s on a business trip unbeknownst to her. When they meet again, it’s in her boardroom and everything moves from there!

Chelsea’s parents, Jack and Mattie, love their daughter. Her mother is a nurturer who demands respect and has no problem getting it. Her father is supportive and little rough around the edges. He just wants to enjoy his wife in their empty nest. Being a part of their only child’s drama is not his idea of a good time. Mattie, on the other hand, has to deal with Chelsea and her own husband, whom she loves dearly, but at the same feels compelled to see to the well being of her daughter even though she knows she’s wrong.

Chelsea’s granny, Jamesetta, rounds out the cast. She’s the resident keeper of all things holy. If it’s prayer you need, she got it. If it’s anointing oil you need, she has that too. If it’s a good lashing you need, yep, she got that on lock as well. She doesn’t look or act like any typical granny. She’s upright, fiesty, and youthful.

If this were a book, I would make it my business to make you “see” this cast in every possible way. In these short character sketches, I give enough to go on so that if you see this performed, you’d say, “Oh yea! That’s how I pictured Kerri to sound and behave! Humph, that Chelsea is a piece of work. Yesssss, that Ricky is some kind of fine.” Great character to reader or viewer connections start with great character sketches.