Janet Sumner Johnson
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Launch Day: The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society

Apr 01, 2016 Books, PB&J Society, Vlog 4 comments

It’s official!!! The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society is out in the world!! Huzzah!!!

To celebrate, I wrangled my dad (a.k.a. the PB&J guru) into doing a vlog with me. Because everyone should know how to make a PB&J the RIGHT way. Enjoy!

And for anyone who happens to be in the Salt Lake City, UT area, you are all invited to my launch party! It will be tomorrow, April 2nd, at 4:00 pm at The King’s English Bookshop (1511 S. 1500 E.).

Have a wonderful day! And don’t forget to comment with your vote for Team Grape or Team Strawberry!! 🙂


The Book Countdown: 4 days!

Mar 28, 2016 Uncategorized Comment

FOUR DAYS!!!

My bookA mere four days until The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society is launched into the world!!

My mind is boggling, and I hope you can forgive me if I wax a bit nostalgic . . . because I am in awe that this story – one I started on a whim – is going to find its way to readers throughout the world.

Almost exactly twenty-one years ago, I wrote the very first chapter of this book. Another six years passed before I admitted to myself I wanted to be an author, and I spit out a first draft in a mere three weeks.

It only took one rejection to realize I had a lot to learn.

And so another eight years passed while I studied books on writing, attended writing conferences, acquired critique partners, and wrote and wrote and wrote. That’s when I stumbled on that early draft.

It needed a lot of work. Like an actual plot and stuff. And honestly, it was painful to read because it was a testament to just how ignorant I’d been on the craft of writing. But oh the characters! They jumped off the page and I fell in love with them all over again.

Two more years of writing and revising before I found an agent, and another two to find a publisher.

The road has been so much longer than I ever imagined. But oh my heart! To hold in my hands a thing that I created in my head . . . simply indescribable.


The Sledding Hill

Feb 22, 2016 Writing Comment

“Come sledding,” they said.

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“You HAVE to try this hill at least once!” he said.

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I watched my boys slide down the hill one by one. Screaming when the sled didn’t go where they wanted. Scrabbling to pull themselves back on course before the inevitable . . . WHOOSH . . . disappearing down the cliff face.

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They pushed the sled into my hands. “Your turn.”

“I don’t know about this,” I said. But I sat on it anyway. I stared down the sledding path a long time before my sons got tired of waiting and helped me along with a big push.

“You’re welcome!” they called as I screamed down the hill and scrabbled to get back on course.

And then WHOOSH! I was speeding down a cliff face and hurtling towards the road, and then it was over. I came to a stop and all that remained was to hike back up.

“Ready to go again?” They grinned. It wasn’t really a question.

But I didn’t. I watched them sliding and screaming and hurtling down the cliff. I snapped picture after picture. And I was content.

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Because sometimes, it’s okay to leave the crazy to others.

 


PB&J Society Bonus Story!

Feb 15, 2016 Books, PB&J Society 2 comments

Today’s the day, guys! *throws confetti*

The PB&J Society Bonus Story, “Annie’s Bet,” is now live on the PB&J Society page and free to download!

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I’m so excited for you all to meet Annie and Jason!

Also, I bet you’ve been wondering what a PB&J Society is exactly. So while you’re checking out the story, you can read up on the PB&J Society Rules, which are also now posted and downloadable (in a super cute poster format!).

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So go on! Go check them out!

And enjoy!

 


Great Middle Grade Books

Feb 08, 2016 Books Comment

One of my favorite parts of becoming an author has been learning about all the other great books that are coming out soon. And even better, I’ve gotten to read a lot of ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). My son has also been taking advantage of this, and he’s gotten to read a lot of them, too. I think I’m going to have him post some reviews in the near future.

But in the mean time, I wanted to share with you some of the amazing middle grade novels that have been and will be released this year.

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Of these 19 books listed above, I have read 16 of them (including my own). You can check out my Goodreads reviews to see what I had to say. But honestly, I have been so impressed! Science Fiction. Fantasy. Mystery. Magical Realism. Historical. Contemporary. Books dealing with loss. Books dealing with change. Books dealing with mysteries. I found kids facing their fears and learning to find their voice.  I found kids trying new things and making hard choices. I could go on and on (for your sakes, I won’t).

There is truly a book for every reader on these posters above! And although we say that middle grade is for kids ages 8 – 12, I disagree. These books are for people of all ages. I have learned so much about myself and about the world around me as I’ve read these stories. They truly are for everyone. I hope you’ll look some of these up and share the ones you love.

So tell me . . . which ones are you most excited for? Or, if you are looking for a book on a certain topic or of a certain genre, please tell me, and I’ll make a recommendation. I just love, love, love hooking up books and readers!

 


Fairness and Elephant Poop

Feb 01, 2016 Inspiration 2 comments

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

My kids tell me this all the time, and I’m pretty sure as a kid I reported this fact to my parents at least weekly.

 

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The list goes on and on and on. From stupid things that don’t really matter, to big things that make us want to curl up in bed with a tub of cookie dough and watch nonstop episodes of [insert favorite show here].

Life isn’t fair. It isn’t. And though I wish otherwise, it probably never will be.

Which is precisely why we can’t let that bother us. We can’t let the mundane unfairness of life control us.

This past month, my family and I have been going through an unfairness. A life situation that is crazy! Unexpected. Silly. And utterly, completely unfair. And it’s not been a little thing. It will uproot our lives, and make things much more complicated in the months to come (lest you all worry overmuch, it’s about a failed house purchase for a reason that even the lender admitted to never having seen before).

There are all kinds of ways to react to this unfairness. Anger that it is happening to us. Stress and anxiety for all the changes to come and the added unexpected workload, not to mention expense. Sorrow for losing what could have been. Bitterness at the unfairness of it all!

Or.

Or, or, or, we can chose to be ducks. Face it head on, then let it flow off our backs like water. Trust me, I know that is easier to write than it is to live. I KNOW. But the situation is happening. It will happen no matter how we react. And though we can’t control the situation, we can control how we react.

And we can choose to be happy. We can choose to move past the unfairness, and focus on the good things that still fill our lives. Because there are good things. Lots of them. Sometimes it’s hard to notice those small happinesses when a big elephant of frustration is filling our vision. But a change of perspective, a shift of stance, and there they are. All those good things just waiting to be noticed.

Yes, it will take work. Yes, it will be hard. I know we’ll have moments where we stumble, or slip in the elephant’s poop (gross!). But I hope they will just be moments.

Here’s to moving on. Here’s to focusing on the sunny side of life and finding joy despite it all!


The First Box Has Landed!

Jan 25, 2016 Donations, Kiribati, Library Comment

The first box has arrived in Kiribati!

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I was so excited to get these pictures this last weekend! That is my dad holding the box, and those are the books that came in it. I hope to receive more pictures soon as these books go in the library (it was the weekend, so they had to wait for Monday to take them in), and I promise to share them when I do.

Two more boxes are now on their way, and hopefully those empty shelves will look a whole lot less empty in the very near future.

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And because I like transparency (and lists and figures), here is what went down:

Package #1:

Included 54 books

Weighed 38 pounds

Cost $166 to send

Package #2:

Included 59 books

Weighed 42 pounds

Cost $207 to send

Package #3:

Included 45 books

Weighed 43 pounds

Cost $211 to send

[Weird that the one with the least number of books was the heaviest!]

Thank you! This is you. You made this happen. You have all made a difference in many children’s lives. And your involvement will continue to make a difference for years to come. I hope you feel that joy that I’m feeling right now. I hope it carries you through your day and leaves a goofy smile on your face like it has mine.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


A Girl with a Dream (and a Goodreads Giveaway)

Jan 11, 2016 Uncategorized Comment

Once upon a time there was a girl. And this girl had a dream.

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The dream was so big, it leaked from her thoughts and colored everything in her life. It made her food tastier when she drew closer to it, but drained all the flavor when she stumbled in her efforts. It made the sun shine brighter on the best of days, but hid it away in gloomy clouds on the worst. It drew people to her when she  succeeded in even the smallest of ways, but made her a hermit when she failed.

She began to wonder if this dream was really what she wanted.

 

But it had become such a part of her life, she couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to let go.

And then it happened.

She reached her dream! And everything was sunshine and roses.

Until it wasn’t.

Because reaching her dream was not an ending. It was simply a new beginning.

And she embraced it.

The End. (Or rather . . . The Beginning)

~~~~~

P.S. Today starts the first Goodreads giveaway for THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY. It runs through January 19th and is open internationally. Go forth and enter! And may your lucky socks be dirty enough, and your clovers all have four leafs.


My Year in Review

Jan 04, 2016 Writing 6 comments

Happy New Year!

With all the Christmas rush, I have been absentee the last couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to miss again. Because this is the time of year where I hold myself accountable for the goals I set at the beginning of last year. And if I don’t hold myself accountable, who will?

So here we go. My goals from last year and my assessment:

1. Write 5 days a week.
I started out well with this, then wow. A big fail on this goal. BUT, if you consider all the non-book-writing things I wrote, perhaps I didn’t do so terribly. That said, I hope to do better this coming year. But I realize that for me, this type of goal will always be a fail, because I hate being tied down. I do much better when I assign myself a project to accomplish, as you’ll see in the next goal . . .

One page of my crazy edits

One page of my crazy edits

2. Finish revising my 2 WIPS (Works in Progress).
WOOT! TOTAL WIN! Granted, I now have more revising to do on WIP #2, BUT I finished 2 other rounds of revisions on it (2 other MAJOR rounds of revision), and this next round won’t be so terrible. WIP #1 is now on submission. *curls up in fetal position*

3. Finish a first draft of a new book.
Okay. Total fail. I just started yesterday. But in my defense, I didn’t expect the majorness of the revisions for WIP #2. Plus I wrote a bonus story for PB&J SOCIETY (hoping you will all love it!), and a bunch of other PB&J-related things. The next book just didn’t happen. However, it is STARTED, so finishing the first draft at the very least is this year’s goal.

4. Write at least two picture books.
Sigh. Nope. I did take a PB class, but I was so busy, I mostly skimmed through it. Turns out that when you have a book contract (which I didn’t have when I made these goals), you suddenly become much busier. While I would like to do this again, I realize debut year will be full of too many other things.

5. Attend at least one writing conference.
And Hooray!! Another accomplished goal! I will definitely be keeping this goal. I am attending LDStorymakers again as an attendee (my husband will be presenting!), and I will be presenting at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI conference in April. So check and check! It really is good to plan a goal that you have already facilitated the accomplishment of.

And there you have it. Not a great showing, to be sure. However, life sometimes mixes things up for you. It is somewhat surreal to realize that last year at this time, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no idea I was on the verge of signing my first book contract . . . which changed the course of my whole year.

So while I didn’t accomplish all the specific goals I set for myself, I DID accomplish some pretty major things. And I am a firm believer in being flexible. Yes, I could have killed myself to accomplish every one of these goals above, but I feel pretty proud of all I accomplished this past year.

Now it’s your turn. Please tell me what you accomplished this past year so I can celebrate with you! 🙂


Top Five: Reasons for Lists

Dec 07, 2015 Uncategorized 4 comments

I love lists.

The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve come to rely on them. Just sitting at my desk and glancing at the plethora of sticky notes that surround me, I can find 8 lists. And those are just the ones that aren’t buried under other lists.

To do lists, grocery lists, lists of people to send things to, lists of keyboard shortcuts (the ones I use just seldom enough that I forget between uses), lists of authors, lists of swag to make . . . SO MANY LISTS!

So today, I am making my TOP FIVE reasons for lists. (Yes, a list about lists! I love it!)

  1. They make me feel accomplished. Sometimes, I put things like “shower” or “eat breakfast” on my To Do list just so I can feel more accomplished by crossing it off. Seriously, you should try it because crossing things off feels AWESOME!
  2. They take away my stress. For me, lists are better than a back massage. I get immediate results without actually doing anything! Plus, lists cost pennies (a bit of ink and a piece of paper) unlike back massages. And there goes some more stress as I think of all the $$$ I just saved!
  3. I forget less. Before I had kids, I rarely made lists or wrote things down. I could just remember. Not so anymore. And this is stressful (see #2)! I hate forgetting things. Feel HORRIBLE when I forget things. But with lists, the paper does all the remembering for me! Perfect.
  4. They are visual evidence to OTHERS of what I’ve accomplished. So my husband is really good about not asking “WHAT did you DO all day?” when he gets home and sees the mess that is our house (except right now. It’s clean. Really. Well not my office, but the rest. For sure.). But if he did, I could just pull out my list and boom! Evidence. I did work. See how long that list is? . . . Hey! Honey! Yo. You don’t need to read what’s on the list.
  5. Legit procrastination tool. Sometimes I just don’t want to do something. I don’t! But I might feel guilty just doing nothing. So I make a list instead. It’s brilliant! Not only am I doing something productive, but I’m finding reasons to put off that one thing that I really don’t want to do. Clean the bathrooms, you say? Oh dear. My list tells me I need to read this book first. Sorry. It’s on the list! 
So there you have it. My top five. Now, why do you love lists?