Friday, May 17, 2019


The trip to China involves a lot of lists.

I have a list of documents I have to collect.  Some of those documents need to be certified by the Chinese Embassy. 

I need:
 - a letter of recommendation.
 - my diploma.
 - a criminal background check.
 - a Health certificate.
 - my contract.
 - a copy of my passport.
 - a recent photo within the last six months.

I'm someone who is a stickler for details when it comes to official stuff, so having a list of tasks to accomplish helps me out, at least in this capacity.

In my official instructions, they mostly say "a scan copy of," but my friend... I'll call them Contact, says it has to be the original documents.  I don't know *what* to think.

As a side note, I think I have all of these acquired so I am good to go, so yay me!

But I have other lists too. Lists of things I want to do before I leave the country.

I want to:
 - get all of the used books in our WK book store uploaded into an online database for sale while I am gone.
 - set up the wireshelf that's been sitting in my garage and get my extraneous items onto it so they are off of the floor and out of the way.

 - get all of my magic cards entered into a different database... this is lower on the totem pole because I'm not sure if I'm going to take any magic decks/cards with me.
 - sell my heavy punching bag.  I know I can still use it until I leave, but if I can offload it to someone else, it's one less thing to worry about if it would need to be moved while I was away.
 - get all royalties straight with Writing Knights before I go. The good thing about having a low volume of sales in the press, is this shouldn't be too hard.
 - set up a vendor only catalog on the Writing Knights site to send to various vendors I know or will meet if they want to purchase WK books for a discount to sell at their stores.
There will be more, I'm sure of it, but I'm just making a preliminary list.

And last, but not least, there is a list of people I want to hang out with before I go. I won't go into an exhaustive list, but basically whomever is on my friends list on FB is probably on my hang out list. There are some people whom I know I will probably not get to see and that makes me sad, but I'll persevere. People have their lives.

Lists are probably going to be a theme in this blog. They'll get updated time and again as my needs change, but for now, I'll stop.

Question of the entry: How do you deal with lists? Do you work better with them or without them? Leave a comment!


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

From China with Az

It started with a Facebook Post:

"If anyone wants to come teach with me, please let me know. We're looking!"
I run an independent publishing press (Writing Knights Press) and one of my authors is currently teaching ESL and related courses in Nanchang, China. We've had a decent relationship over the last two years, we've had pretty deep discussions in the past, but most of the time our relationship is fostered through Facebook posts and occasional comments. I've always enjoyed their posts describing their experiences in the East.

I've always wanted to travel. Wanderlust is strong in me, but these past few years I've been in one place. In my 20s I traveled a lot. I moved places. I stayed there for a few years, then decided on a new location.

I scrolled my FB feed, as one does, and came across the post: "If anyone wants to come teach with me, please let me know. We're looking!"

My knee-jerk, sort of complacent response: "I can teach poetry... just not professionally." To which I received a <3 response from the poster and I figured that was the end of it.

A few hours later, someone else asked: "What's the minimum degree level required?"
Friend: We have openings for BAs, MAs and PHDs.

Other comments... then...

Me: I have a BA in English. this interests me.
Friend: Send me your email address

And truly, I was interested.  The last time I traveled anywhere of significance was Chicago over the summer for a week for National Poetry Slam.  Before that was a camping trip that ended up with me sleeping in my car.  There have been various poetry related trips, but I have been in Canton, Ohio since 2012.  Just about 7 years.  This is the longest I've lived in a place since I was 18, living at home.

I sent my email address to my friend who passed it on to the administration contact at the college in Nanchang.

That evening, I brought up the situation to my partner, Skylark. I suggested that we fill the two spots. She has a Bachelor's in Journalism which could be translated to ESL, if necessary. She has just been promoted at her job, so unfortunately this isn't the right time for her.

Me? I'm at a job that I like and they treat me well enough, but I have no health insurance and I have been feeling the burnout of looking at a screen for almost a year for work. Also, it's killing my time with Writing Knights. I used to think a job like this would be ideal, but now... not as much.

I am not prone to flights of fancy, but this is a job offering with a time limit. So after a few questions (which I will go over as time goes by), I jumped on the opportunity.

As the blog progresses I will chronicle the experiences of the progression of my journey before I get to China, during the time I'm in China and probably after I'm finished and have returned home.

I'm notoriously bad at blogging, but I've from suggestions I've received, it is a good idea to have a project to work on that keeps one grounded while in a completely different culture. The plan is to make this a combination blog/vlog to make things interesting.

So here it is... the first entry... (almost) From China with Az!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Azriel Johnson -- Contributor Bio

In this corner,
poet, novelist,
inkspatter analyst for pay,
serial writer for life,
director of Writing Knights,
Azriel Johnson

Friday, April 20, 2018

As Real by Azriel Johnson

$10 for the full album
$1 per track

1. The National Ransom - Take the National Anthem, fix it.
2. Shopping Carts - Have some common sense.
3. New Kid - Bullying is wrong. Fight back!
4. Homelessness - Narrative about being homeless.
5. Heroes - Piece about mental illness.
6. Regaining Me - Alliterative, punchy. Like an introduction.
7. Down Below, in Between - Whoa, whoa. I'm an ally.
8. Save It - Appreciate the women you're around.
9. Social Beatin' Ya - How social media is a menace to society.
10. Ancestral Memories - How we pass down things through the ages.
11. Second Worst Pain - Crass, just crass. Have a listen.
12. Sweet - Concerning Diabetes.
13. Metaphor's Friend - Based on a mishearing of "Sugarman" by Rodriguez.
14. Groovy - A traveling to Cleveland, narrative poem.
15. After Howl - A Cleveland litany, with many props to many folks.
16. Poet Workin' a Factory Blues - Self Explanatory title.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Black God -- Dragon's Bane Series: Book 3 by Azriel Johnson

$20.00 USD
(plus Free PDF)
Coming Soon
Coming Soon
    JR Gerstung travels, triumphant, from Sunset Red intending to introduce his mother to his
girlfriend and fellow soldier, Rebecca Kingsley.

    On the way, a tragedy strikes the Human race and JR and Rebecca have to combat the after

    The Black God, Muerthegos, feeds on Pain and Death and is launching a plot to acquire
immense power.  He needs one component to complete the plot and he needs JR to obtain it.

About the author: 
Azriel Johnson writes the prophecy
of the Dragon’s Bane Universe,
in addition to other stories. 
He is still cautiously optimistic
about the trajectory of the Human race,
but isn’t exactly opposed to the idea
of Dragons trying to take over.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Or - Part 3 by Azriel Johnson

    The elders taught the children basic skills including, cooking, cleaning, building, hunting, foraging, caring for children, combat and much more.  The children learned everything which they might need for survival in a harsh circumstance.  Every day was a new lesson with the intention of being well rounded and an able contributor to the society.
    The boy really showed no aptitude in any of the skills taught him.  It wasn’t that he didn’t try, it just turned out the other children were better than he.  The boy could eek out the bare minimum of requirements of the projects the elders would teach, but nothing more.
    Surprisingly, the boy wasn’t frustrated by this as he continued to do his best.  However, even younger children passed him in aptitude in some skills.  A contributing factor may have been his tendency to space out or maybe a lack of mental acuity. He wasn’t stupid. Maybe his talents lay elsewhere.
    The boy was most interested in girls.  One girl, Riv, was his age and he liked her.  Her black skin was showing signs of becoming a Water, which would make sense because she came from a whole family of Waters.  Her father was the current WaTem (Water Ring Master) and his father before him.  She had older brothers who were also Waters, so she didn’t expect to follow in her father’s footsteps, but it was a good lineage.
    The boy didn’t know where his family came from.  No one knew, or would tell him.  He even approached the MaTem (Matriarch) of his village.  Her creaky voice was kind, but she didn’t reveal anything that the boy didn’t already know.
    The last battle between the WhiTem and the Guardians raged outside this very village.  A young man dropped a baby boy off in the doorway of the MaTem and asked for forgiveness of the burden, then left.  The young man was never seen again, the mother remained unknown.
    There was no one else the boy could ask.  The MaTem had every scrap of knowledge in the village in a book and in her head.  It was her job to make sure everything she knew was written down so her successor could pick up where she left off, as successors had done for generations.
    At last came the New Dark’s Day was upon them.  This was the day the children who were of age would make their choices.  They would take their steps towards becoming adults in the society.
    Most children would choose from the basic: Water, Fire, Air, Earth.  Fewer children chose: Sun, Moon, Plant, Lightning.  Only one child, Slee, a girl, chose Dream.  Only one child, Hum, a boy, chose People.  He would very likely become VilTem when he got reached the age where he could best the current VilTem in skills aptitude.
    When it came to the boy’s turn.  He looked left.  He looked right.  The teacher asked him, “What element do you choose?  Earth, Wind, Fire, or Water?”
    The boy took a deep breath and said, “Or.”

Tem – Master or Leader
Many words are shortened from English words and used in this language.
Riv  for example is short for River.
Vil is short for village.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Or - Part 2 by Azriel Johnson

    The boy escaped drowning by going to a harder to reach area of the lake.  A cliff backed the rock beach and the water there felt warmer to his touch.  The boy made his way here often when he wanted to escape torment and meditate.
    The boy was young.  The people measured age in how many times the Moon covered both Suns at once, putting the whole world into darkness.  The scientists measured this happening every six months.  The boy had just had his twelfth Lap Day.
    The scientists determined that the planet was much larger than the two Suns and the Moon and thus controlled these satellites and their movement.  Days were broken up into four segments.
    Dawn: The yellow sun was directly East, the white sun was directly North
    Noon: The yellow sun and white sun were directly over head.
    Dusk: The yellow sun was directly West and the white sun was directly South.
    Night: The yellow sun and white sun were on the other side of the planet.
    The scientists said the Moon danced with the planet in such a way that they always faced one another. One time every six days the Moon would be visible at night. The people called this Moon Day. Every three Moon days composed a Month.  Every six Months the Moon would shroud both Suns at once and the entire planet would be dark.  The people took this as an omen of good tidings and the people rejoiced the New Dark’s Day.
    The next New Dark’s Day approached and the boy felt a chill in the air.  He was nervous.  It was almost time for him to choose his specialty.  For most children it was easy.  The Earth users grew food. The Water users brought water to the village.  The Fire users kept the villages warm and lit.  The Air users worked on new ways to generate energy.  The other specialties had functions as well, but these four were the most common and most needed.
    The boy however felt a draw to all the elements and didn’t know which he would pick.  He spent days going back and forth about what would suit the people the best.  He thought about which would be the most attractive to a potential mate, as boys will often do.  This is what he meditated over.  The elders said if someone meditated hard enough they would be shown what element they should choose as their specialty.
    The boy instead would see Fire in one meditation, Water in another, Earth in a third, Air in a fourth.  He would sometimes see Sun in a meditation or Moon.  He saw Darkness or Plants or Animals or People.  Some of the meditations unnerved him, but the one that scared him the most was seeing the WhiTem (White Master).
    Legends told of a former guardian who killed and killed again. The more the guardian killed, the whiter their skin became. It became almost a compulsion to be malicious. They hurt and killed many people before the other Guardians were able to stop the WhiTem and take their ring.  The interesting part is, the legends never said which of the guardians became the White or which of the elements they used.  The legends never named the WhiTem or said if the WhiTem was a male or female.
    The unfortunate lack of specificity bothered the boy immensely.

Tem – Master or Leader
Many words are shortened from English words and used in this language.
Riv  for example is short for River.
Vil is short for village.