Janet Sumner Johnson
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Lost Resume #5

Feb

28, 2020 |

Filed in:

Books,Help Wanted Must Love Books,Publishing

Welcome to the final day of my special series of Lost Resumes!

To celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd (just 3 days from now!),  I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story.

I hope you enjoyed the other Lost Resumes. But if you missed, I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so be sure to check them out.

Drum roll, please, for the final addition! Today, I present you Lost Resume #5: Rumpelstiltskin

I confess, this one makes me giggle-laugh so hard. I know! I totally crack me up. It is so different than all the other resumes, but Rumpelstiltskin is quite the character, and he likes to do things his own way. This is the only version of his that made sense. And secret? Underneath that big black rectangle is his actual name. Yep. I wanted it to be authentic.

Another secret? I had to give Shailey a last name when I created this resume. She didn’t have one before that. I know, I know, characterization and all that. But it was a corner I felt okay with cutting.

The only hard part about this particular resume, was not using the Shrek version of Rumpelstiltskin (either of them . . . you know he’s featured twice, right? Feel free to watch them all again. In fact, I just might do that myself).

Once again, while I don’t know why my publisher didn’t choose this resume, I have my guesses. Rumpelstiltskin is right up there with Grandma Sweets. It’s a bit dark to be thinking about a goblin stealing away a newborn baby, and since HELP WANTED is a book for young children, they probably don’t even want to be thinking about their future children at all! I get that. I do.

But in the mean time, I’m just over here chuckling away.

Now, there are two final notes I need to make:

First, I dressed up these Lost Resumes for this series, but when I sent them to my publisher, they were nothing more than words in a Word document. Just in case you were wondering. 😊

Second, there is the little matter of the replaced characters. For those who have been dying to find out all week, here you go:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves replaced the Farmer in the Dell. He was my absolute favorite, and I’m so sad he didn’t make the cut. But let’s just say that the stinky old cheese was a big problem for Shailey.

Captain Hook replaced the Pied Piper. Since the Pied Piper stems from a true story, he was deemed too creepy. But he made things a little too lively for Shailey’s liking, anyway. 😳

I hope you enjoyed this series! If you want to see more resumes, you can find FOUR more as the backmatter in HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS. The perfect ones to match the rest of the book.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! You have until Saturday, February 28th, at midnight EST.

And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:

Lost Resume #1

Lost Resume #2

Lost Resume #3

Lost Resume #4

Have a great day!

~~~

You can purchase HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS on bookshop.org, which helps support local indie bookstores. Or if you don’t have a local indie, you can always find it on Amazon or B&N.

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Lost Resume #4

Feb

27, 2020 |

Filed in:

Books,Publishing

Welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!

To celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd (next week!),  I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story.

I hope you enjoyed the first three Lost Resumes. But if you missed, I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so be sure to check them out.

Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #4: King Midas!

I had to do a bit of research for this one. I mean, who didn’t grow up hearing the story of King Midas? But turns out, I was pretty clueless. I’m certain I must have learned his story came from the Greek Myths at some point. But adult me had completely forgotten that tidbit.

When I mentioned this at the dinner table, my kids (ages 16, 13, and 10) went off on a deep discussion of a plethora of minor gods, comparing the Roman versions to the Greek, and I clearly need to start reading more Rick Riordan. My husband and I just sat there with mouths hanging open. Okay, not really, because we were eating dinner, but mentally, our mouths were definitely hanging open.

As I keep saying, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume. But I feel fairly confident that King Midas didn’t make it in because he is from the Greek Myths, and not from the fairy and folk tales they were going for. And I suppose it’s also possible that this resume isn’t as funny as the others. Maybe. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #5! The final one. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:

Lost Resume #1

Lost Resume #2

Lost Resume #3

Lost Resume #5

Have a great day!

~~~

You can purchase HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS on bookshop.org, which helps support local indie bookstores. Or if you don’t have a local indie, you can always find it on Amazon or B&N.

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Lost Resume #3

Feb

26, 2020 |

Filed in:

Books,Publishing

Good morning! This week I’m gearing up to celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd!

For those who were here Monday and Tuesday, welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!

As a reminder, I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story. I hope you enjoyed Captain Hook’s and Snow White’s Lost Resumes! I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so if you missed them, be sure to check them out.

Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #3: Grandma Sweets!

Wait. You don’t know who she is? No, no, no. Of course you do. She is none other than the witch from Hansel and Gretel! Though really I should have made you guess based on the resume itself. Ahem. But here we are:

This one was a lot of fun to write. I mean, it’s Grimm, but there we are. A lot of fairy tale characters are a bit Grimm. (I know, I know, I’m so punny!) Maybe I shouldn’t admit this part, but it was really fun to put myself in the witch’s shoes and think about what she might do to get the job. We already know she’s pretty cunning just based on the fact that she lives in a consumable house.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume, but I’m guessing there were a couple of reasons for this one. First, the witch has no real name to speak of. I tried to look it up. But even if I had found something, no one would have known it. “Call me ‘Grandma Sweets'” was the best I could do.

Second, the Grimm factor. Maybe they worried parents don’t want to read a resume to small children about someone who wants to eat them. I don’t know. Just a theory.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #4! In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:

Lost Resume #1

Lost Resume #2

Lost Resume #4

Lost Resume #5

Have a great day!

~~~

You can purchase HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS on bookshop.org, which helps support local indie bookstores. Or if you don’t have a local indie, you can always find it on Amazon or B&N.

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Countdown to Release Day (plus a giveaway!)

Feb

24, 2020 |

Filed in:

Books,Publishing

I don’t know how this happened, but my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), officially releases in exactly one week from today! (Aaaaaahhh!!) With the countdown to release day in full-swing, I wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes fun (and then host a giveaway!).

The first time I chatted with my editor at Capstone, my editor asked me what I thought about possibly including some back matter in the book. She couldn’t have known, but I am a BIG FAN of all things back matter in fiction picture books. I leapt at the chance!

Ideas came swimming into my head immediately. I told her I had a lot of characters who didn’t make the cut in the book. What if we did some character resumes for those lost characters?

She loved the idea, and so I got right to work, and sent her a sample later that week. That sample—a resume for Pinocchio—is now published in the final pages of my book. In fact, there are FOUR character resumes at the end of my book. I hope you’ll love them! (Here’s the tiniest sneak peeks.)

But guess what? I wrote way more than that. Yep. I wasn’t sure what Capstone would like, so I sent them 8 to choose from. But I wrote even more resumes than that . . . because I only sent them the 8 best ones. So over the course of this week, I’m going to be sharing FIVE of those lost resumes! Eventually, they will be available for download on my website, but for now, here is LOST RESUME #1 for your viewing pleasure. May I present SNOW WHITE!

Snow White did not make the cut because I didn’t think this resume was quite as amusing as the others. Thus, I never sent this one to my editor. In the end, it was just as well because Snow White, who hadn’t been featured in my book at the time of that initial phone call, went on to replace a different character. Oh, the intrigue in the fairy tale world!

Who got replaced you ask? Take your best guess in the comments! I’d love to hear. And maybe I’ll answer that question when I share the next Lost Resume!

But now, on to more fun stuff. With my release date being so close, I must, of course, celebrate with a giveaway!

So, to one lucky winner, I am giving not only a copy of my book, but a copy of a picture book written by a member of the 2020 Debut Crew (one book of your choice!)!! You can find a list of the authors and their books HERE. If the book you choose is not yet released, I will pre-order a copy of their book for you.

For all you international blog followers, this giveaway is open to every country where Book Depository delivers.  If you aren’t certain about your country, check it out HERE.

For any U.S. followers, I will gladly send a signed copy of my book upon request. If you win, just let me know!

Just use the handy dandy Rafflecopter link below to enter. Good luck, my friends!

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/139b69055/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”139b69055″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_cv4x3o2p”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

<script src=”https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js”></script>

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Top Five Halloween Picture Books!

Oct

28, 2019 |

Filed in:

Books

Only three days to Halloween, and I’m in a spooky mood. So today, I want to share my top five Halloween picture books! From creepy to spooky, from silly to plain old fun, Halloween books can delight readers old and young. With the number of great Halloween picture books out there, this list barely scratches the surface, but maybe you’ll find a fun new book to delight your Halloween lovers out there.

On to the list! First up . . .

THE SPOOKY OLD TREE by Stan & Jan Berenstain

In this super fun (and super spare of words) story, three bears get their brave on to explore a spooky old tree. It has the perfect amount of scare factor for both young and old readers.

PLUS, not only is this book fun to listen to, it is fun to read! You can’t help but get out your spooky voice and start making all the sound effects. I so highly recommend this book, you might just have to make a trek to the Himalayas to get it.

 

 

Next up is the super creepy CREEP CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown.

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. He eats them for lunch, he eats them for snacks, he eats them every chance he gets. And his favorite carrots come from Crackenhopper Field. But when Jasper starts seeing carrots everywhere . . . creepy carrots . . . Jasper is no longer a fan, and something must be done.

As an author, I totally wish I would have thought of this. So clever, so fun, and SO CREEPY! The pictures brilliantly capture the dark and creepy atmosphere that such a book requires. Go read this one! You won’t regret it . . . unless you, too, start seeing creepy carrots everywhere!

 

 

EVEN MONSTERS NEED HAIRCUTS by Matthew McElligott is a favorite at our house. Technically, it is not a Halloween book, but it fits right in

Once a month, on the night of the full moon, a young barber sneaks off to his father’s barber shop to follow in his dad’s footsteps. All night long he snips and snaps, buzzes, and gels his client’s hair to perfection.

I love the hilarious ending, and the whole thing is just monstrously clever. I giggle right along with my kids when we read this together. (And I giggle all by myself when I read it just for me!😉) You don’t want to miss this one!

 

 

A fun new favorite is SAMURAI SCARECROWA VERY NINJA HALLOWEEN by Rubin Pingk.

Yukio loves Halloween, and he loves his little sister, but he is tired of her always copying him! From jack-o-lanterns to trick-or-treating routes, his sister is always right there in the way. But when Yukio goes too far, can he make it up to her? Or has he brought on the curse of the Samurai Scarecrow?

I can totally relate to Yukio in this super fun story, but I feel so bad for his little sister. I don’t want to spoil any endings, but this book takes some fun twists and turns, and let’s just say that Yukio definitely learns his lesson. This book was delightfully surprising, and a perfect Halloween book.

 

And of course, no list about spooky books could ever be complete without THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK STARRING LOVABLE, FURRY OLD GROVER by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael J. Smollin.

When Grover learns that there is a monster at the end of the book, he does everything he can to stop the reader from getting to the end of the book. From asking nicely, to building walls, to begging on hands and knees, but a determined reader can be hard to stop. What’s a Grover to do?

This is another one that is technically not a Halloween book. But with a monster at the end of it, how can it not be perfect for such a holiday? My mom read this to me when I was a kid, and I read this to my own kids when they were younger, and sometimes, I read it just because I can. This book is pretty much perfect in my estimation, and if you haven’t read it yet . . . WHY NOT??!

 

Voila! My top five Halloween picture books. Now, how about you? What are your favorite Halloween books?

 

 

 

 

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Cover Reveal!!! – HELP WANTED: MUST LOVE BOOKS

Jul

16, 2019 |

Filed in:

Books,Publishing

Today is my picture book cover reveal!!!

I feel like I say this a lot, but being an author is like constantly riding a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. There is a ton of rejection, but there are also moments that make your heart flutter. Seeing your cover for the first time is one of those.

With my middle grade cover, I knew that the cover was the only image I was going to get for my book. But with a picture book, the cover is a hint at all the lovely things to come! Thirty-two pages of beautiful, glorious pictures that represent someone’s vision of this world I created.

My debut picture book, HELP WANTED: MUST LOVE BOOKS, will be released into the world on March 1, 2020! I can’t wait for you all to see the whole thing (I just love it!), but in the meantime, here is a hint of things to come. The promise of a story that makes my heart happy. I hope it will make yours happy, too.

The illustrator is the amazing Courtney Dawson. You should follow that link to see her amazing art work! She’s so talented!

So without further ado . . .

just

follow

the

little

dots

and

ta da!!!

my cover!!!

Cover for Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Jacket Cover reveal for Help Wanted: Must Love Books

I hope you love it as much as I do! Shailey turned out so perfect, and I love, love, love that you can read the titles on a bunch of those books on the bookshelf. The colors are so fun, and that title font (!!!). *happy sigh*

Thanks for stopping by, and I’d love to hear about what grabs your attention when looking at covers.

Where to Find it:

Help Wanted: Must Love Books is up on Goodreads, so feel free to add it to your “Want to Read” list!

And holy cow! Just this second I discovered that it’s also live on Amazon, which means you can now pre-order it!! (no cover there yet, but AAAAHHHH!) [And just so you know, this would be another one of those exciting moments I was talking about at the beginning that makes your heart flutter.]

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You’ve Written a Book! (what to do next)

Apr

24, 2017 |

Filed in:

Books,Publishing

Recently, I’ve had several people approach me with the fabulous news that they’ve written a book (congratulations!), and they’d like to look into publishing, but they don’t know what to do next.

I’ve been working on getting published for so long, that I sometimes forget that the things I’ve learned about how to get published aren’t always obvious. With so many people asking this same question, I thought it might be helpful to share this information with all of you.

I’m going to warn you, this will be a long post, but I hope it will be helpful.

~~~

IMG_0689So congratulations!!! You’ve written a book. The first thing you should do is celebrate. This is a huge accomplishment! Many start, but few finish. You are one of the few!

First of all, before you do anything else, you should have someone who is not family read your book and comment on it. Then you should consider those comments, make changes, and repeat the process. I would recommend sharing it with at least three people at a minimum.

Finding people can be hard, but if you’re serious about it, you should be willing to exchange manuscripts with someone else. I actually find that critiquing someone else’s work can be really helpful in showing me what kind of improvements I could make in my own work.

Also, a great place to find critique partners is the Querytracker.net forum.

There are all kinds of discussion threads, including one called “Critique Group Central.”

Do you just want to see your book in print? Do you want to share your work with family? With a broad audience? Do you want to traditionally publish? Do you want an agent or would you rather submit to publishers on your own? Do you want to self-publish? Do you want control over every aspect, or would you rather pass some things off and just work on writing?

Here are some things to consider:

Self-Publishing:

This option can get your book out there faster, but it can be a hard road, and there are steps that normally a publisher would do that you would need to take care of. For example, you would need to do things like editing and copy-editing. I would strongly recommend that you pay someone to do that for you, as outside eyes will catch things that you as the author will not.

You will need to design a cover and format the e-book (or pay someone to do it). Also, you would be in charge of all marketing to get your book known and out there. This can be really frustrating, and it can be hard to find an audience, but these are things you would be responsible for. One thing to consider is that it can cost a good chunk of money to self-publish (if you do it right), and that is not always earned back.

That said, there are many benefits to self-publishing. For example, you get a higher percentage of any sales. You have a lot more control over content, and cover, and marketing and promotions. Some people very much want that control.

To give some other perspectives, HERE is an article from Harold Underdown, who has worked in publishing a long time. He gives a lot of good information in this article.

And HERE is an article from Elana Johnson who has both traditionally and self-published.

Traditionally Publishing:

So there are two options here. One, you search for a publisher on your own. And two, you work to get an agent, who will then submit to publishing houses.

For both of these options, I highly recommend using QueryTracker.Net. You can use it to search for agents and publishers who publish your genre. Whether you are looking for an editor or agent, you will need to research each agent or publishing house and find out what they are looking for and whether or not they are open to unsolicited submission/queries. QueryTracker provides links to many of these agents and publishers so they are easy to research. Certainly, there are other places to find this information. There are yearly books published, but I have found QueryTracker works for me.

Once you’ve done your research, make a list of those editors/agents you want to submit to. Once you know who you want to submit to, you need to write what is called a query letter. A query letter is a letter asking the editor or agent if they would be interested in considering your work.

For good information on how to write one, here are some sites to check out:

HERE is Nathan Bransford’s post on writing query letters.

Rachelle Gardner breaks down what to include in a query letter HERE.

Janet Reid’s Query Shark is a place to see real-time improvement on query letters. You can see exactly what an agent is thinking as she reads a query letter. I recommend reading through the archives to get a sense of what a query letter should look like.

Finally, HERE is an example of a successful query letter received by Andrea Somberg.

Reasons to search for a publisher on your own:

You don’t have to split your earnings with anyone. Also, many people don’t want to take the extra time to find an agent. It would be faster to go straight to the source.

Reasons to find an agent first:

(Caveat, this is the option I chose, so I might be biased.)

Many publishers are only open to submissions through agents. The reason for this is because it saves them time. Agents have vetted the work, often done rounds of revisions to get the book closer to being publication-ready.

Agents also help you with contract negotiations. They know what to look for, and they will help you avoid contracts that aren’t favorable to authors. This can be a big deal. BIG DEAL. Better to have no contract than a bad one. I’ve seen it.

Agents act as a go-between for you and your publisher. Agents will do the hard stuff like pushing back on a cover an author doesn’t like, or dealing with problems that may come up in the editing process. Or pushing for edit notes when they are long overdue. This allows the author to maintain a more open, less tension-filled relationship with the publisher and editor which is so needed throughout the revision process.

HERE is an article on what agents do and don’t do for writers:

Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to get published without one.

The process is long and arduous to get traditionally published, and I think it’s important that people understand that up front and know what they’re getting into.

All of these options can work. It mainly depends on what your personal goals are, what you are willing to put into the process, and what you hope to get out of it.

I hope this has been helpful for you, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments.

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My First Podcast

Apr

10, 2017 |

Filed in:

Books,Inspiration,Interview,Podcast

Hi all! I haven’t been around much with all the fun stuff I’ve been doing lately (conference presentations, school visits, family fun, etc.), but in all of that, I had a chance to visit with Mindy McGinnis for her podcast series, Writer Writer Pants on Fire. It is out today!

So while I collect myself and work on getting a better post written, you can enjoy listening to a conversation between Mindy McGinnis and I on querying, agents, books, writing middle grade, and humor HERE.

Writer Writer Pants on Fire Podcast

Have a fabulous day, and I hope you enjoy it!

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Winners of Books!

Dec

14, 2016 |

Filed in:

Books,Giveaway

Thank you all for entering the giveaway last week! Winners have all been notified, and books are on their way to deserving winners across the United States.
img_5526

Congrats to our winners!

Winner #1: Kimberly

Winner # 2: Colleen

Winner #3: Amy

Winner #4: Diane

I will be incognito from now to the new year, but thank you for hanging around, and may you all enjoy the holidays, whatever you may celebrate!

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Middle Grade Giveaway!

Dec

05, 2016 |

Filed in:

Books,Giveaway

giveaway-dec2016Today, let me get right to the point. In the season of giving, I have some awesome middle grade books to give away to four lucky blog readers!

A personalized signed copy of THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY by Janet Sumner Johnson (me!!)

A signed copy of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY by Laura Shovan

THE DISTANCE TO HOME by Jenn Bishop

 

THE RAT PRINCE by Bridget Hodder

~~~

Simply enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The first winner will have first pick, the second winner will have second pick, and so forth. Sorry fourth winner, you get what’s left, but lucky you, it is bound to be fantastic!

Also, I have given the option to earn extra entries by posting a review. Just as an added incentive, if I get to 50 Amazon reviews (this is me being hopeful), I will release the never-before-seen final chapter that was cut before publication. Exciting, right??? To be clear, you can review PB&J Society however you would like, but every review is helpful.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great day and good luck!

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