Willoughby Review

My friend Pam Halter along with artist Kim Sponaugle have just released Book 1 of the Willoughby and Friends.

I love stories- I especially love Children’s stories that allow my kids to go to imaginary worlds. Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch is a fun story. One of a dragon trying desperately to rid himself of an itch. An itch he can’t seem to get rid of. This is a story that shows friends coming together to help each other out- Even when it seems hopeless. In a world where negativity seems to be the focus we can rest in knowing that our true friends will help us in the most irritating times.

This book is a great introduction to a nice new series of Children’s books. The art work by Kim Sponaugle is incredible and the story by Pam Halter is tight. I look forward to more adventures of Willoughby and his friends.

A Geek Father’s Tip: Retro Games

I was born in 77- So I came into gaming on the tail end of Atari- In fact the 3rd version of Atari was the system I started playing on when I was six. But following the great Video Game Crash of 1983 (Yes- It happened) the N.E.S was released and gaming forever changed.

atari-2600-wood-4sw-set

Some of my best memories growing up were of my friends and I staying up all night just to beat Mario Brothers, Contra, Kung Fu, and Zelda.

So it’s natural that I would want to introduce my kids to a bit of my childhood. And now- Starting this week- The NES is being re-released.

Here are some of my favorite games growing up. All these are from the NES system. I did enjoy the later systems as well. However, there is something special about those original games- The ones that captured the magic of my childhood that can’t be replaced.

when-nintendo-was-cool

Paper Boy

Bubble Bobble

Duck Hunt

TMNT

Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers 2

Super Mario Brothers 3

Contra

ZELDA

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out

Tecmo Bowl

TETRIS

Double Dragon

What were some of your favorite games…? 

 

New Neighbors and the Crazies they Live Beside

We got new neighbors this week. The two girls with six schnauzers living inside have moved on. I always get nervous when someone new moves in. Mainly because I hope they understand exactly what kind of crazy they are now living next door too.

You see – Our house is a mad place!!!

I know some like to pretend their homes are bliss, filled with magic fairy dust where mom and dad declare their love in words like- You’re my soul mate, My one true love, my best friend, our marriage and love get better and better with each new day, we have the most amazing kids, blah, blah, blah… 


It seems sometimes in life all we share is the best days- But behind closed doors daggers fly as mom and dad tag team and race from one end of the house to the other. A child screams, something crashes, the cat somehow got shut up in the dryer, “Child 2 has got the scissors and he looks evil!!!” the list goes on and on. 

Being a family is tough and sometimes you wonder if you should just order a life supply of magic erasers.

There isn’t a day goes by I don’t yell at two little sassy toddler boys.

I know, I know… God forbid it – How dare I yell at my kids? I mean think of the emotional damage I’m doing.


I never wanted to be that parent. I wanted to be the calm, patient parent who corrected with a peacful time out and the child would be compliant to the Tee.

Okay, you can stop laughing.

Seriously, stop laughing.

It’s not funny.

I really feel bad about it.

The truth is I yell at times.

Get Down. Stop that. Don’t hit your brother in the head with a dump truck… And no matter how many times when they are diving under beds, scaling up the fridge, peeing in the tub, or squirting tooth paste all over the place you wonder to yourself –

My God what do the neighbors think of me…?

Listen, parenting is tough. You’re going to get mad. Pull out your hair. Hide in the basement where you’ll binge eat on Oreos. The important thing to remember- No one has life figured out. So stop worrying about the neighbors.

So enjoy the adventure story you are writing. Maybe the neighbors are the strange ones…

Do you have any rough parenting stories…?  I would Love to Hear them- Comment below.

J.J. Johnson A Geeky Dad who Reads, Writes, and Loves God…

Realm Makers – There & Back Again: The Authors Journey


I’m writing the first part of this from the Philly airport. I have just discovered that my flight is delayed. I have rebooked twice- rerouted- Travel can Be stressful- exhausting- and irritating.

My first thoughts go to my wife. I feel bad for her. She is what is on my mind. She is more kind, patient, beautiful, and supportive than I deserve. Without her, my journey as an author would be empty. And I’m glad I have her- To hold my hand, to lend an ear, to speak the words I need. For if, there is one thing I have learned this past week while at Realm Makers- It’s that an author’s journey never ends: Meaning- We all need our own Samwise Gamgee…

Realm Makers is more than just a writers conference. It is more than Geeky costumes, weird ideas, and late night Zombie Nerf Wars!!!

It’s a place to connect with a very active online community. A group that provides support, encouragement, and friendship while on the creative road. Where you are encouraged to embrace the gift God has given you. Every author needs that supportive cast: For the road is often littered with bumps, bruises, tears, and heartache. And when such accomplished authors like Thomas Locke, and NY Times Bestselling authors Tosca Lee, & Kathy Tyers speak of how they still deal with rejection or have recently been rejected themselves- you realize that creatives have a battle they must endure always.

“There is not a single day I sit down to write & I’m not scared to death.” -Tosca Lee (Click to tweet)

Thomas Locke reminded us this weekend that “You must learn to empty yourself. The greatest enemy of our souls is noise.”

I have a lot of noise in my life. From hundreds of emails, to the jealousy of others success, to the endless list of things to do, and an ever-ticking clock pounding in my ear.

Writing I have learned, is not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. Writing is an art that is expressed and nurtured through time. Too many times I think I need to finish now, or tomorrow, and I measure my success by what I have not done. “But, the outside world cannot be your only mark of success.” – Thomas Locke.

It was great seeing old friends: Josh, Jason, Nadine, Zac, and so many, many others. It was great to meet so many new faces. It was great to hear all the crazy story ideas everyone had. And I must admit there were a few times I thought: “I wish I had come up with that…”

I have returned home now. I will dive back into my shell, I will kiss my kids. I will love my wife. I will tell her what she means to me, and I will tell her I love her. I will tell her that without her, I would have collapsed on this road long ago.

My advice from what I took away from this weekend- Find the ones who love you. Who believe in you. Allow them to be a part of your creative life- For as Thomas Locke said:

“Your life is your page. Live your stories out…”

Kids Say the Most Darn Things

Kids say the most darn things.

It’s true- If you have kids you know exactly what I’m talking about. I can write a humor book about all the things my kids have said.

(Well, what Miles has said. Bennett isn’t quite two yet and his most comprehensible sentence is “I wan dow.- Which I translate to mean: I want down.) 

kids

I love my kids- And turning them into GEEKS is a lifelong mission of mine. But for the time being- I’m cherishing the craziness of raising two toddlers. So here are a collection of my favorite child sayings… Or, toddler sayings…

“I have bones in my belly, so I need milk…”

“You flushed the toilet, I needed to say goodbye to my poop…”

“You need a hug, you mad at Miles. Hug make you happy…” (Always his way of avoiding a spanking)

“Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why…”

“Twinkle, spider, up the water spout…” (Itsy Bitsy Spider remixed w/ Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

“Bennett pulled me into his crib, I not climb…” (As he & Bennett are in the crib asleep together)

“I need to turn the dark on…” (As he flips all the lights off in the house.)

Miles Reprimands mommy…

MOMMY: “Bennett Lucas Johnson”

MILES: No mommy, I don’t like that. It’s just Bennett.”

“Aunt Jess, you go at Red Lights and Stop at Green ones…”

Trying to get him to nap…

Aunt Jess: “Miles lay down and take a nap…”

Miles: “Yes, Jess, Yes… (As he continues to roll around and not nap)

“Aunt Nelle, we need to find a beetle with a missing leg…”

“Water breaks my bones…”

I’m certain if I thought about it longer, I could come up with about twenty more. But the truth is, with all the bruises, crying, sibling fighting, head bumps, messes they make (My God the messes) and no matter how many times I crash on my pillow at night after I have pulled what little hair I have left out- This is one of the greatest ages.

It’s the age of small dinosaurs that you step on barefoot, crayon on the walls, the age where they desire to be hugged when they’ve gotten hurt, the time when they actually get excited when you walk in the door, and the time they realize what light sabers are and how to use them.

It is the age of Toddlers- Cherish them- Always.