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An Exclusive Talk with Author Zaneta Varnado Johns by Elizabeth Esguerra Castillo

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

An Exclusive Talk with Author Zaneta Varnado Johns by Elizabeth Esguerra Castillo

“My writing reflects the wisdom of living sixty-plus years, which encompasses my work and personal experiences.”

– International Bestselling Author Zaneta Varnado Johns

Zaneta Varnado Johns is a versatile, talented, empowered author and poet, who hails from Colorado, USA! Her writings have been featured in quite a number of international anthologies and various local and international publications and I have the honor to work with her in some of these. Johns is a moving force in the International Literary Scene as she has produced strong, meaningful, and inspirational verses which touch the hearts of her avid readers and followers. There are lots to know more about her, as she believes that every bit of word or verses is always a wonderful opportunity for us to spread love!

Zaneta Varnado Johns, aka Zan Johns, is a Pushcart Nominee in Poetry and 4-time bestselling author of ‘Poetic Forecast’ (2020) and ‘After the Rainbow’ (2022). She is a Contributing Author in the Women Speakers Association's number 1 International Bestsellers Voices of the 21st Century (2021, 2022, 2023).

Her poems are featured on the Dedication page in both collaborative books. Johns co-edited "Social Justice Inks Anthology (2022) with Publisher and Poet Lisa Tomey. She serves as an Editor for the Fine Lines Literary Journal and Administrator for the Passion of Poetry, a revered online platform for emerging and esteemed poets. Her lovely and inspiring poems were already featured in over fifty anthologies and international literary publications. She strongly believes that every word shared is an opportunity to love, John’s writing offers hope as she stirs the reader’s consciousness about life and living.

The celebrated Bestselling Author Johns is also a retired Human Resources Leader who spent her twenty-nine-year career at the University of Colorado. She was recognized in 2007 as one of the University of Colorado and was chosen for the "University's Women Who Make a Difference". She presently resides in Westminster, Colorado, USA.

When asked if she believes that writers are born or made, she said that “I believe there is a mixture of writers with natural-born talent and writers who are made after pursuing and investing in the art of writing. We all have stories, but we don’t all choose to share them through writing. Some stories are expressed in other art forms while others remain silent. Our gifts lie dormant if we don’t cultivate them.”

Zan’s works inspire all ages especially aspiring and young writers and her fellow authors as well. Her most recent book is “What Matters Journal” - The ultimate weekly guide designed to promote mental wellness, self-care, gratitude and positivity, spiritual awareness, and mindfulness. A thoughtful organizational tool for men, women, and teens. Learn more about the versatile Author and Poet in our meaningful and inspiring talk with her:

Elizabeth: When did you discover that you have a gift in writing?

Zaneta: I discovered my gift while in college. Before that, I would playfully speak in rhymes with my younger brother, although I never wrote anything down. Over the years, I penned and saved poems, many of which appear in my debut poetry collection, Poetic Forecast (2020). Since publishing, I write daily either creating a new expression or editing something I have already written.

Elizabeth: Do you believe that writers are born or that writers are made and why?

Zaneta: I believe there is a mixture of writers with natural-born talent and writers who are made after pursuing and investing in the art of writing. We all have stories, but we don’t all choose to share them through writing. Some stories are expressed in other art forms while others remain silent. Our gifts lie dormant if we don’t cultivate them.

Elizabeth: In your book “After the Rainbow”, it was mentioned that you have this certain fondness for rainbows. How did this come to be? What is special about rainbows?

Zaneta: Rainbows are spiritual and spectacular, a sign of God’s promise in Genesis 9:12-15 (CEV): The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever. When I send clouds over the earth, and a rainbow appears in the sky, I will remember my promise to you and to all other living creatures. Never again will I let floodwaters destroy all life. I love that the rainbow is a symbol of peace, pride and inclusivity. When I see a rainbow, I am in awe and filled with joy. No matter how big or small the storm (real or symbolic), I am hopeful when the sun returns and the rainbow form. When my family and friends see a rainbow, they reward me by sending a picture from anywhere in the world at any time.

Elizabeth: You were once working in Human Resources. How do you relate your corporate job before from your current career?

Zaneta: My twenty-nine-year career at the University of Colorado was quite rewarding. I gained a wealth of inspiration while serving as the human resources leader. My writing reflects the wisdom of living sixty-plus years, which encompasses my work and personal experiences. Anything pertaining to people is fair game for my writing. I wrote my Pushcart nominated poem, “What Matters,” while still working and later expanded it to include contemporary issues. I became vocal about social justice issues after witnessing disturbing instances of injustice during 2020 and beyond.

Elizabeth: Do you believe that a writer has a noble and sacred mission and why?

Zaneta: Writing is a noble profession and craft. Truth is the guiding principle when we write or speak. Yes, I believe that writers have a sacred mission to abide in truth. Our gift is a privilege, and our words matter. Our works meet people where they are, so we have to show up as our best selves. We have a responsibility to speak graciously with the best intentions.

Elizabeth: What is your favorite or most memorable composition and why?

Zaneta: Most memorable is “Missing You,” written after my mother suddenly passed away in 2000. I was emotionally frozen in time with unspeakable pain. My eldest sister had succumbed to cancer nine months prior. Stunned, I turned to poetry throughout my sister’s illness and passing. In an effort to press forward after my mother gained her wings, writing brought comfort. Penning this poem was the salve to my broken heart. It is simple, personal and deeply moving.

Missing You

When you first passed away, I wondered

in what form you’d reappear.

It really didn’t matter the form;

I just longed to have you near.

I first thought about the rainbow

and the spectrum of its color,

But your many shades of love

could outshine it like none other.

The pretty petals of the rose

were the next to enter my mind.

Their sweet smell and the softness

could mask your likeness any time.

I considered a lovely butterfly

as it flew above your vault.

Like you, it had freedom in flight,

and its spirit couldn’t be caught.

I listened to various music

for reminders of your voice.

Though lovely, none could suit me;

your sound is my one of choice.

I looked for you in others

who projected your demeanor.

I couldn’t find satisfaction because

your presence is so much sweeter.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that

I’d rather have you in my heart,

And I’ll see you later in heaven

when from this earth I depart.

Elizabeth: Do you have plans of exploring other writing genre like writing novels?

Zaneta: I am definitely not a novelist; however, I do intend to write more essays and memoir-focused pieces. Poetry is my passion so you can definitely expect more of that.

Elizabeth: What are the perks of being a writer?

Zaneta: One of the perks of being a writer is that our voices are heard. Independent creative writers have flexibility and control of our message and time. Writing relieves stress by helping us process feelings. Opportunities to collaborate with other artists are another perk that is especially fulfilling. For me, the biggest perk is gratification through recognition, validation, and the realization that what we write is eternal. Our lines will inspire generations to come.

Elizabeth: Among your published books, which one is your favorite and why?

Zaneta: I love this question. It’s like asking which child is my favorite. Each book is my favorite for different reasons. Poetic Forecast is favored because it is my debut publication filled with my earliest musings and celebrations of family and friends. It was also a Hot New Release and No. 1 Bestseller in 6 categories on Amazon. ‘After the Rainbow’ is favored because it is more polished and includes a more powerful voice in the social justice poems. The Voices of the 21st Century (2021, 2022, 2023) collaborative books are favored because my poems are featured as the Dedication page, and I am in the company of amazing women writers from around the globe.

Elizabeth: What are your upcoming projects?

Zaneta: My What Matters Journal will be available in Summer 2023. It is a weekly guide designed to enhance mental and spiritual awareness while promoting compassion and empathy for others. It was inspired by my poem, “What Matters.” The journal includes quotes, writing prompts, undated lined pages, and beautiful mindfulness art contributed by artists Pratibha Savani and Preeti Mistry of the United Kingdom. There are weekly, monthly and end-of-year reflection pages. I am a co-author in the Women Speakers Association’s (WSA) Voices of the 21st Century: Women Empowered Through Passion and Purpose, publication February 2024. I was commissioned to write a dedication poem for the book. In addition, I am strategizing with WSA Founder Gail Watson about bringing poetic voices into the WSA membership and writing space.

Elizabeth: What message do you want to share to aspiring and young writers out there?

Zaneta: To aspiring and young writers, please know that your voice matters. It is a privilege to inspire other people through writing. Write when you’re happy and sad… hungry and full, and especially when you are agitated. Allow yourself the time and space to write each day. Writers need other writers. Read as much as you can and regularly connect with other writers. Capture the stories of your youth as they provide inspiration now and later. In the words of David Martin, Founder of the Fine Lines Journal, WRITE ON!

Elizabeth is a well-known poet and artist from Philippines. She is also Executive Editor of Glitterati Magazine.

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