Rick Johnson


I am a native of the Great Plains, having grown up on a farm in the Platte River Valley of western Nebraska. I love the wild beauty of the Plains and nearby Rocky Mountains--the too hot, too cold, too empty, too full of life extremes. Typically, the awesomely diverse and the awesomely stark are much the same, even as they are different. Although I have lived in Michigan, North Carolina, and British Columbia, the western plains, mountains, and desert are in my heart.

As my day job, I am a faculty member and administrator in higher education. Teaching broadly in the liberal arts, including creative writing, my professional publications include educational materials, poems, and 28 stories for young readers.

As an author, I'm drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. I seek to write unusual stories that take readers to worlds they never imagined--a whole new ride.

I currently have the following fantasy novels available:
Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles, #1)
The Overending (Wood Cow Chronicles, #2)
Silversion (Wood Cow Chronicles, #3)
Willowers (Wood Cow Chronicles, #4)
Helga: Out of Hedgelands Special Edition, including Dragons: The Untold Story
Wood Cow Chronicles (The Complete Series) - ebook bundle
Hammers of Time (Wood Cow Chronicles: Backlands)

One of the attractions of writing fantasy is that it forces us to experiment with "beyond the box" thinking. Imagination is often the only tool we have in breaking through the barriers or chains that limit our possibilities. Running on imagination, our minds and hearts are no longer bound by such "obvious" constraints as common sense, the speed of light, or prejudices of mind.

A natural relative of fantasy is the sense of humor, and need to play, that are part of human nature. Like fantasy, humor is a matter of skewing how we look, and re-look, at things we normally take for granted. In my writing, I use fantasy and humorous absurdity to poke holes in the expectations cultures create to keep things in their place.

Fantasy, including the idea that cows might think, talk, and are proper heroines--perhaps encourages us to wonder about other creatures, people, and dimensions of thought that "common sense" keeps us from hearing and seeing. Possibly, we may even discover that there are cows within ourselves waiting to speak and be heroic. Our capacity to hear things that are, in our "common sense" world, unheard and unheard of, is one of the degrees of freedom we can preserve for ourselves and offer to others. And, for children--kids of all ages--these degrees of freedom are precious and worth nurturing. That is why I write.

Where to find Rick Johnson online

Where to buy in print


Willowers (Wood Cow Chronicles, #4)
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,640. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
The High One has fallen, taking age-old tyranny with him, but the Hedgelands is in chaos as the new Council struggles toward a new society. Wrackshee slavers have not given up the game, and move to exploit the disorder and preserve the old system. Can the rebels face wonders and fears that run counter to everything they know? Simple bravery is not going to cut it this time.
Silversion (Wood Cow Chronicles, #3)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,210. Language: American English. Published: August 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
Unleashing dragons on the slavers at Tilk Duraow was the easy part. Now Helga and her comrades must confront foes far more powerful than ever before, as their rebellion succeeds in penetrating to the very heart of the High One’s evil order.
The Overending (Wood Cow Chronicles, #2)
Price: Free! Words: 80,590. Language: American English. Published: March 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
For untold ages, the Granite Hulks at Tilk Duraow have been the impregnable center of the High One’s slaving system. Overpowering. Impenetrable. Final. The point from which there is no return. But now, fifteen-year-old Helga’s revolution—one she hardly expected to begin—is way bigger than she ever dreamed. Tilk Duraow itself is in danger. Now even the High One himself is no longer safe.
Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles, #1)
Price: Free! Words: 159,740. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion against the insidious WooZan. A dangerous quest to solve mysteries in her own past leads Helga and her comrades on a journey that will forever change them, and upset ancient civilizations.

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