Janet Sumner Johnson
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Winners of Books!

Dec

14, 2016 |

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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.
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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 |

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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

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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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Author Adventures

Oct

20, 2016 |

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Books

This last week has been a whirlwind of book events! On October 13th, I flew into the beautiful city of Cincinnati, OH for the Books by the Bank Regional Book Festival.

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I had never been there before, and I was amazed at all the beautiful houses, the river views and of course the wonderful and friendly people.

On Friday, I participated in an author panel, along with Dee janetjohnson-booktableRomito (The BFF Bucket List) and Jenn Bishop (The Distance to Home) for a local school. Blue Marble Books arranged this visit, and if you are in the area, and haven’t been to their store, you should go!

On Saturday, I attended the Books by the Bank Regional Book Festival, along with so many of my fellow 2016 debut authors. I saw many friends, and made a few new ones.  Just to give you an idea:

And then I got to meet some other wonderful authors:

Laura was my table mate, and her super awesome book about dinosaurs being brought back to earth was a huge hit! (Alas, this blurry piture is the only one we got of the two of us). She sold out before the event was even over. You should look her up!

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She was kind enough to take some paparazzi pictures of me signing books for some of the kids who came by. I loved meeting all the amazing kids who came through the festival. The grins on their faces because they were in a place with so many books, and so many authors. So proud of their reading abilities, and so proud to be talking to an author. They would ask, “Did you write that book?” And when I said “Yes,” their eyes would get so big. Working with kids is honestly the best part of being an author.

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One of my favorite current books is “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” So when Chris Grabenstein casually strolled up and started chatting with us before the whole event began, I was fangirling like crazy. He humored me (and quite a few others) by letting me take a selfie with him. Not only are his books amazing, but he is, too.

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Of course, the local PBS tv station was at the event, so I couldn’t resist taking a picture with the famous Mr. Carson. He is as stiff in person as he is on Downton Abbey (hahaha!). 😉

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And when Little Critter came by my table, I had to ask for a picture, because Little Critters by Mercer Mayer are a staple at my house. Even my older kids run over when we’re reading a Little Critters book.

little-critter-with-pbjI had such a great time at my first ever book festival (at least as an author). I hope to do this again soon! Have you ever attended a local book festival? What did you think?

 

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Book Trailer!

Jul

29, 2016 |

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Books,PB&J Society,Writing

Summers are always so full. Kids out of school. Vacations. Running through the sprinklers. Backyard barbecues. Friends. Fun. . . . and then of course you have to add in the work stuff that adults never really get out of, but that’s not nearly as fun to talk about.

At the beginning of every summer, my husband and I sit down with our kids and write out a summer bucket list. We started several years ago when a friend of mine posted a picture of theirs on Facebook. That was all the incentive I needed. A list (Who doesn’t love those?)??? Fun things to do? A get-out-of-jail free card for when the kids are bored? I was SOLD.

Hot dogs on grillAnyway, it’s been a favorite tradition ever since. This year, we had a BBQ with friends on our list. So last week, each child got to invite over one friend, and we barbecued hotdogs, ran through sprinklers, had epic video game battles, and yeah. Best. Day. Ever. (at least according to my kids)

And here is where I am finally leading you to the title of this whole thing. The day before, I had discovered the iMovies app on my phone, and their fill-in-the-blank movie trailer videos. And they had the perfect template for my book! So while the kids wore themselves out, I planned out all the scenes I would need.

Book Trailer MapI even made some COOL props. Like, I could have totally been a map-maker in another life, right? (heehee) And when I pulled out the lighter to burn the edges and make it look super cool and super old, all the kids gathered around and BEGGED to have a turn. But yeah. I’m not THAT cool of a mom. Even I have my limits. 😉 But I sure had fun.

So I borrowed one of the visiting kids (with permission from the mom) and used one of my own and I made this epic book trailer! Woot! Seriously, it was one of the funnest things I’ve done this summer (and I’ve done some FUN things!). I forgot how good it can feel to stretch your creative self with new and different activities.

Since it’s Friday, and Friday is all about having fun and exciting things to come, I thought it was the perfect day to present you with my homemade book trailer extraordinaire for THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY!!

Hope you enjoyed it! And now, please tell me about your Epic Summer Adventures in the comments (because we need more ideas for next years list). 😉

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The Art of Listening

Jul

01, 2016 |

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Books,Uncategorized

In April 2014, I watched the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag take over my Twitter Feed. I remember watching it and reading all the tweets, and trying to understand the urgency that was clearly evident in everything that was being said.

I didn’t join in.

Perhaps some of you are criticizing me now, but there you are. I didn’t join in. I didn’t feel qualified to join in.

Instead, I listened. I examined my own self and worked to figure out what I really thought about all this.

I thought back on my childhood reading. I remembered books like Mildred Taylor’s “Roar of Thunder, Hear my Cry,” and “Let the Circle be Unbroken.” I thought of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” and perhaps there had been some “Dear America” books with diverse main characters . . . and that’s where my memory failed me.

And I was horrified.

Sumner Girls.Jane.WritingThough l grew up in a very un-diverse neighborhood, I always craved to know more about other cultures and people. As a child, I grew up with 2 Tiawanese exchange students who I now consider to be my brother and sister. Before 2014, I lived in a Melanesian country for a year-and-a-half. I learned French and Spanish. I lived in South America for 3 months. I got a Master’s degree in French that focused on the French works from Africa and Haiti and Tahiti and anywhere else French was spoken outside of France. I LOVE other cultures . . .

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. . . but I still hadn’t seen the lack of diversity in children’s literature. I hadn’t see it. Even when an editor told me my Ecuador book would have no place in American publishing, I didn’t question that.

I was blinded by privilege that I hadn’t even realized I had.

It is a no-brainer to me that all people deserve respect. That skin color means nothing. I never saw myself as racist, but I also never acknowledged the inherent racism that permeates the world we live in.

I remember the night I first understood. I was out with my dear friend and neighbor. She grew up in Nigeria, but came to the USA for university. She is beautiful and intelligent, and compassionate. When I first met her she’d recently finished her family medicine residency. We were almost home when we noticed our neighbor’s garage door was open. It was late, so we stopped to let them know. Since I was driving, my friend ran to the door, then immediately ran back. She didn’t dare knock at the door for fear of their reaction to her skin color. And it wasn’t a silly fear. Because I was afraid for her, too.

No one deserves to feel that way.

Which is why diverse books are so important. Books and stories bring empathy, compassion, and comfort. They help us understand the Other and the Unknown. They eradicate the fear that leads to hatred and racism and bigotry.

We have all heard that everyone deserves to read about people like themselves. But diverse books are not just for them. We all need these books. All of us. We need to read about characters from all over the world, from all walks of life, living through all sorts of experiences. Because understanding and sympathizing and empathizing with an Other makes us better humans.

We. Need. Diversity.

It has taken me nearly two years of listening to understand just how much I have to learn. Just how much I wasn’t seeing. So I will be continuing to listen.

To those of you know who are speaking out, your voices are being heard. You are making a difference.

But please don’t forget how important it is to still listen. Because it takes both speaking and listening for the world to change.

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My Launch in Review

Apr

04, 2016 |

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Books,PB&J Society

My head is still buzzing over all the excitement of the last few days. On Friday, my book headed out to the world! My twitter feed went wild, and I conducted a couple of polls on two very important topics:

Team Grape vs. Team Strawberry (Team Grape: 25% vs. Team Strawberry: 75%)

&

Chunky Peanut Butter vs. Creamy Peanut Butter (Chunky: 27% vs. Creamy: 73%)

I’m still in shock over the tragic defeat of Team Grape!

On Saturday I had a wonderful launch party at The King’s English Bookshop, so today I wanted to share the excitement of the party with a few pictures:

I couldn’t have open food, so we had PEANUT BUTTER  cups and JELLY beans.

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My parents and sister surprised me with a beautiful framed picture of my cover. It was just perfect to display at the signing.

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I brought my very first ever rejection from 21 years ago. (Isn’t that amazing?!) As a teen I sent a story idea to Disney, and that envelope contains their polite refusal to even look at it.

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I told some stories. I read a few passages from my book . . .

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We drew winners for some Pirate Prize Packs and a PB&J Prize Pack.

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And I couldn’t resist throwing in a booby prize (or should I say Gooby prize?)!

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And the whole thing concluded with the signing of lots and lots of books.

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Thank you so much to everyone who came both in body and spirit! You’ve made me feel so special, and I’m grateful to have shared this amazing moment in my life with so many people I care about.

I wish you all a wonderful week, and much happiness!

 

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

Apr

01, 2016 |

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Books,PB&J Society,Vlog

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!! 🙂

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PB&J Society Bonus Story!

Feb

15, 2016 |

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Books,PB&J Society

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!).

PB&J_Rules.Title.Image for blog

So go on! Go check them out!

And enjoy!

 

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Great Middle Grade Books

Feb

08, 2016 |

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Books

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!

 

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