Janet Sumner Johnson
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The Hidden Reality

Jun

19, 2017 |

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Last day of school.cropLast Thursday was my kids’ last day of school. I somehow managed to remember to take a picture, AND send a teacher gift. But I have words.

Because writing a sentence like that, everyone fills in all the blanks I left. Everyone tells their own story of my morning, without even realizing it, I would bet.

Maybe people will read that and think, “she has got it all together.”

Maybe they will imagine that it means I got up early enough to be dressed and showered and  make-upped.

Maybe they will imagine I made my kids a big ‘last-day-of-school’ breakfast consisting of bacon and scrambled eggs with spinach and other veggies, not to mention cut fruit (because that would be healthy of me, and I am clearly that kind of miracle-working mom).

Maybe they imagine I had those teacher gifts wrapped up in beautiful packaging and ready a week in advance.

Maybe they will imagine my kids smiling all morning and giving me plentiful hugs because I’m just such an amazing mom.

And maybe they might compare themselves to all that, and feel a little like a failure. Not quite good enough. And that is why I wanted to write this.

TriathlonCrop

I’m the one in the hot pink. Don’t I look lovely?

Because of course, none of those images would be right. Well, I did get up early to go jogging. But yeah, that shower? It never happened. So fix that showered, dressed, make-upped picture of me. I was in sweaty workout clothes that showed all my lumps. My face was red and blotchy (yeah, I totally get that way when I exercise), and boy, did I ever stink! My kids wouldn’t come anywhere near me, let alone give me a hug. (In fact, I may have threatened one of them with a hug if they didn’t hurry up and get dressed. Maybe. I can neither confirm nor deny this story).

And then there was the whining. Oh, the whining!! For the love of all that is cereal!!! Can we just stop!!!! (Yes, my exclamations increase with each iteration.)

Truth: the whining has been going on for years

Truth: the whining has been going on for years

And of course that frantic moment when I remembered. “TEACHER GIFTS!!! I forgot teacher gifts, AGAIN! Quick, write this card! Aren’t you done yet?? Now move people, we have to get to the store before school!”

And those leisurely pictures?

Oh yes, it was all quite lovely. Parenting at its finest. All the stuff we hide away from our super cute Facebook and Instagram posts. The beautiful packaging we put on for the world, so they don’t think less of us.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I’ve listened to countless women compare themselves to what they perceive as reality.

And it’s not right. We all deserve better.

Which is why I decided to start a project this summer. It is an Instagram project that I am calling “The Hidden Reality.” (@the_hidden_reality). It is my attempt to share my own hidden reality with all of you. It is my way of telling you that you are good enough. That you are smart enough. And doggonit, people like you! (They do!)

For now, I just have the picture of my ridiculously messy desk (and yeah, it’s pretty much always that messy), but more are on their way!

And in the mean time, have an awesomely wonderful summer, secure in the knowledge that you are good enough!

P.S. I wrote this with mom’s in mind, but in truth, it applies to everyone. Any kids out there reading this, trust me . . . all your friends (and all those who are not your friends) are looking at others and comparing themselves. Sometimes people are mean because they don’t feel like they are good enough when they compare themselves to others–both adult-people and kid-people. I hope you are not one of them, because you know what? You don’t need to compare. You are good enough just being you. You can be nice to others without being any less of a person. In fact, it’s just the opposite . . . you are more of a person.

 

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The Art of Listening

Jul

01, 2016 |

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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 . . .

NewCal

. . . 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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The Truth About Authoring

May

23, 2016 |

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When I tell people I went on a book tour, I get that look that says they are impressed. That if I’m going on tour, I must have “made it” as an author. A few people dare to dig a little deeper and ask, “So who pays for the tour? You or your publisher?”

And this is where I smile.

KC Friends

Book tour shenanigans – Kansas City

So much of what it’s like to be an author is shrouded in mystery. We have old school views of how things work, and when we think “author,” we tend to think Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling, who are anything but typical.

Today I’m going to share what it’s like being a mid-list author. Because the reality is very different than what I always imagined. So below I’m going to answer some of the more common questions I get:

  1. Do you get paid for writing a book?

Yes! I most definitely get paid. Buuut, it’s not very much. Numbers vary widely depending on who the author is as well as who the publisher is. 12% of net profits for hardback books, and 25% for ebooks, is pretty common. Especially for a debut author such as myself.

Basically what that means is I get paid less than a dollar per book. So can I retire all my other jobs now that I’ve been published? I really can’t. Maybe if I had enough books out, but “enough” is a questionable number, and it’s higher than you would guess.

  1. How is your book doing?

This is a bit of an awkward question. Because honestly, I really don’t know. You would think that as an author I should know. But I don’t. Twice yearly (and for some, this is quarterly), I get what is called a “Royalty Statement.” This statement tells me how many of my books sold (and in what format – hardback vs. ebook) during the 6 months of the reporting period.

So if you caught me at just the right time of year, I could tell you how many of my books have sold (though I probably still wouldn’t), but even that is not an answer to how my book is doing. There are just so many things at play, it’s not an easy answer.

  1. Who pays for the tour? You or your publisher?
PB&J Society, Fan Art

Fan Art for PB&J Society

This really depends on who you are. For me, as a mid-list author of a smaller publisher, I pay for my tours. This is why I have chosen to do tours in places that I have a connection to . . . whether I was already planning to go there, so I set up some book events because I could. Or I used to live there and know there will be people interested in my book. Or maybe I have a friend who lives there and so that gives me a reason to want to go. But in any case, the cost of a book tour is a big deal, because it is all coming from me.

This is why authors who do school visits outside of their home area require travel fees. Because tours take a lot of time and energy and money! And even though I want to promote my book, I also want to spend time with my family and be there for them (not to mention spending time on writing the next book!).

  1. Who sets up your school visits, library panels, and other promotional events?

Again, depending on who you are, how big your publisher thinks your book will be, or even the business model of your publisher, your publisher might set up some of these things. For me (and for most other mid-list authors that I know), I set these up.

For the first leg of my tour, I joined a group of authors, and they set up our panels and visits (since I was coming from out of town). But it was up to me to find the group and help with planning for discussion topics, etc. Group author visits are wonderful because you not only share the work load, but you can pull in a larger audience and have someone to talk to in case you don’t have an audience (and yes, that really happens).

Handley Library, Author Panel

Library Panel in Winchester, VA

The last two legs of my tour, it was up to me to contact schools, teachers, librarians, and bookstores to find those who were interested in having me come. I contacted people I already knew, and this worked great for my first tour, but this won’t always be the case. The art of cold-contacting is something I am learning.

Author Launch Party

Launch Party – Klamath Falls, OR

For blog interviews, I have been fortunate enough to be contacted by the bloggers to ask if I was interested in participating. Also, I have a publicist (hired by my publisher) who works to get my book in front of the right readers who can best help spread the word, including to industry reviewers (School Library Journal, Booklist, etc.).

Promoting a book is a lot of work! And since this is not my area of expertise, it has been a steep learning curve. But for me, the reward really comes when I’ve gotten to meet my readers and see the excitement in their faces at meeting a “real, live author.” (Which I still can’t believe means me!)

So wow, this post went a lot longer than I intended, but I hope you have a little bit better idea about what it means to be an author. It’s hard work. It’s a lot more than just writing. The pay isn’t great. But I love what I do so much, and that’s why I keep doing it!

If you have other questions for me, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Book Tour Shenanigans & Failed Plans

Apr

25, 2016 |

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About a month before the release of The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society, Brenda Drake introduced me to the song “Peanut Butter Jelly Time!” Before that, I had no clue it existed. Like zero.

Of course, once I knew about it, I had big plans to use it on launch day and get all kinds of crazy. I planned to video myself and my family dancing to it. Then I decided that we needed a choreographed dance. But between moving, the book tour, and life, none of that ever happened.

Then I travelled to Maryland as part of the Beyond the Pages Book Tour, and spent all kinds of time with authors Laura Shovan, Ava Jae, and Kathy MacMillan.

Book Tour Shenanigans

During that trip, we got up to some crazy shenanigans. We spoke at panels, we signed books, and we spent like 87 hours driving in Maryland traffic. In short, we had an amazing time! So when I told them of my plans for Peanut Butter Jelly Time, they jumped aboard the good ship PB&J without a second thought. After a late night of pizza and s’mores, we got out our sharpies, created Harry Potter dancing bananas in homage to THIS awesome Peanut Butter Jelly Time video, and went for it! We even tweeted this teaser picture:

Harry Potter Dancing Bananas

Alas, when I got back from that tour, I upgraded my failing phone, left 2 days later for the next leg of the tour, and totally spaced posting the AWESOME video that we’d made.

Today I am going to rectify that oversight. And so, without further ado, I present the debut of the Beyond the Pages Book Tour Peanut Butter Jelly Time Video!

Have an awesome day, and good luck getting that song out of your head! It’s pretty much permanently stuck in mine.

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The Book Countdown: 4 days!

Mar

28, 2016 |

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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.

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A Girl with a Dream (and a Goodreads Giveaway)

Jan

11, 2016 |

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

TangledGif

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.

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Top Five: Reasons for Lists

Dec

07, 2015 |

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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?

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Books! Glorious Books! (Kiribati Library Project Update)

Nov

30, 2015 |

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Books! Glorious books! (And yes, I’m totally singing that in my head).

Over the last couple of weeks, packages of books have been trickling in for our Kiribati Library Project. Boxes crammed full of books. Books signed to the students in Kiribati by authors. Recent releases. Old classics. It has been beautiful to see!

 

 

And it’s not done yet. Capstone (my publisher) contacted me, and they’re sending a box, too! I am so thrilled, I just can’t even express it.

Last Tuesday, an unexpected delivery from Amazon arrived on our doorstep. Someone who had already sent us a big box of books had the entire Harry Potter series sent.

Guys, I was crying! When I wrote to thank her, this is what she said:

“The idea that we can introduce kids to these character and the worlds created on the page is pretty much my happy place.”

And I think she pretty much captured why I’m doing this. What an amazing thought! The Harry Potter series has given me countless hours of joy. And she will be giving that to these kids.

This will be my last call for donations (so back to regular programing starting next week). For those interested, you can either donate money at our GoFundMe account, or you can donate books. Just use the Contact Me tab for information on where to send them.

Since that first post, I have received a wish list of books from the library. We have received a few on the list, but I wanted to post it in case it inspires anyone out there to join in our cause.

That said, if you have books to donate that are not on this list, that is great, too! But this gives a good picture of the types of things they are looking for.

Thank you again for reading this post and for all the sharing and donations and well-wishes we’ve received on this project. Imagining these books in the hands of these students makes me so happy. Thank you!

 

Kiribati Library Project Wishlist
Middle Reading:    
Goosebumps Books All Series                 R.L. Stine

Hardy Boys Series                                      Franklin W. Dixon
Nancy Drew Series                                     Carolyn Keene
The Littles Series                                        John Peterson
Ramona Series                                            Beverly Cleary
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles           Patricia C. Wrede
Betsy-Tacy Books                                        Maud Hart Lovelace
The Princess in Black and the
Perfect Princess Party                                 Shannon Hale
Matilda                                                           Roald Dahl
Are You There God? It’s Me
Margaret
                                                        Judy Blume
Harriet the Spy                                             Louise Fitshugh
The Chocolate War                                      Robert Cormier

 

Young Adult Series:
Harry Potter Series                                       J. K. Rowling

The Hunger Game Series                            Suzanne Collins
(Need Hunger Games and Mockingjay)

The Lord of the Rings                                   J.R.R. Tolkien

The Giver Series                                             Lois Lowry
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy        Douglas Adam
Anne of Green Gable Series                          L.M. Montgomery
Graceling Series                                               Christine Cashore
The Sisterhood of TravelingPants Series    Ann Brashares
Uglies Series                                                     Scott Westerfeld
Twilight Series                                                 Stephenie Meyer

Earthsea Series                                                 Ursula K. Le Guin

The Princess Diary Series                               Meg Cabot
Song of the Lioness series                               Tamora Pierce
Vampire Academy                                            Richelle Mead
Fable Haven                                                       Brandon Mull
The Goose Girl series                                       Shannon Hale
The Princess Academy series                          Shannon Hale
(Need book 2 and 3)
Ever After High                                                  Shannon Hale
Daughter of the Lioness / Tricksters series   Tamora Pierce
Percy Jackson series                                          Rick Riordan
The Red Pyramid Series                                    Rick Riordan
The Chronicles of Narnia                                  C.S. Lewis
Leviathan series                                                   Scott Westerfeld
His Dark Material Series                                   Philip Pullman
The Mortal Instruments series                        Cassandra Clare
Fallen series                                                          Lauren Kate
Septimus Heap Series                                          Angie Sage
The Maze Runner series                                     James Dashner
Crank series                                                           Ellen Hopkins
Matched series                                                      Ally Condie
Discworld / Tiffany Aching series                     Terry Pratchett
Chaos Walking series                                           Patrick Ness
Circle of Magic series                                            Tamora Pierce
Wrinkle in Time Series                                         Madeleine L’Engle
Roll of
Thunder Hear my Cry Series
                               Mildred Taylor
(Need Let the Circle Be unbroken, and The Road to Memphis)

Chronicles of Prydain                                            Lloyd Alexander

 

Young Adult Books:

 

The Fault in our Stars                                                              John
Green

Looking for Alaska                                                                   John
Green
The Hobbit                                                                                J.R.R.
Tolkien
The Catcher in the Rye                                                           J.D.
Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird                                                              Harper
Lee
The Book Thief                                                                         Markus
Zusak
The Outsiders                                                                           S.E. Hinton
The Princess Bride                                                                   William Goldman
Thirteen Reasons Why                                                            Jay Asher
The Curious Incident of a Dog in the
Nighttime                 Mark Haddon
Stargirl                                                                                        Jerry Spinelli
The House on Mango Street                                                   Sandra Cisneros
The Truth About Forever                                                         Sarah Dessen
The
Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane                          Kate
DiCamillo
Tuck Everlasting                                                                        Natalie Babbitt
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time
Indian
                Sherman
Alexie

13 Little Blue Envelopes                                                           Maureen Johnson
It’s Kind of a Funny Story                                                         Ned Vizzini
Just Listen                                                                                   Sarah Dessen
A Ring of Endless Light                                                             Madeleine L’Engle
Before I Fall                                                                                Lauren Oliver
Unwind                                                                                        Neal Shusterman
The Last Unicorn                                                                        Peter S. Beagle
If I Stay                                                                                         Gayle Forman
The Blue Sword                                                                          Robin McKinley
The Hero and the Crown                                                          Robin
McKinley
Beauty                                                                                         Robin
McKinley
I Am the Messenger                                                                  Markus Zusak
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous                                                    Beatrice
Sparks
Daughter of Smoke & Bone                                                     Laini Taylor
The House of the Scorpion                                                      Nancy Farmer
Wintergirls                                                                                  Laurie Halse Anderson
Lafayette in the Somewhat
United States                            Sarah
Vowell
Holes                                                                                           Louis
Sachar
The Phantom Tollbooth                                                           Norton
Juster
The Diary of Anne Frank                                                          Otto
Frank
Wonder                                                                                       R.
J. Palacio
Out of My Mind                                                                         Sharon
M. Draper
Bridge to Terabithia                                                                  Katherine
Patterson
Jacob Have I loved                                                                     Katherine
Patterson
A Separate Peace                                                                       John
Knowles
Hatchet                                                                                        Gary
Paulsen
Princess Bride                                                                             William
Goldman
The Westing Game                                                                    Ellen
Raskin
Number the Stars                                                                       Lois
Lowery
Boxers and Saints                                                                       Gene
Luen Yag
The Lost Conspiracy                                                                   Francise
Hardinge
Esperanza Rising                                                                         Pam
Munoz Ryan
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of
Nimh                                            Robert
C. Obrian
The invention of Hugo Cabret                                                  Brian
Selznick

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A Bit of Good: Update on the Library Project

Nov

16, 2015 |

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With all the terrible things that have happened throughout the world over the past few days, it can be easy to forget that there is good in the world, too. While I know it doesn’t change what happened, or fix things for those who are suffering right now, I want to tell you about a little of that goodness.

Last week I reached out to you–to the world of social media. I didn’t know what to expect, but you all blew me away between the sharing of my post, the offers to send books, and the monetary donations. I haven’t received the books yet, so I can’t show you a picture of that, but here’s a peek at the GoFundMe page:

People are good and kind and generous. They reach out to strangers. They offer help in the ways they can. People I didn’t even know donated money. People I’ve never met are shipping off books.

Thank you! Thank you so much for being you. For being generous humans who spread good in the world. Thank you! I can’t express how touched I’ve been at your support.

For any who would still like to participate, we will be collecting books and donations over the next couple of months. For more information, please visit the original post that explains it all.

Now, one more thing. My 11-yo wanted to write in support of the cause, and I promised I would post it for him:

Dear readers,                                                                          
                Hello.
To you readers, I ask you this, how would you feel if you had almost no books to read? I would feel devastated, it would make me less curious, although that
might not sound bad to you, take some time to imagine what that amounts to: . .
. now that you have thought about it, I hope you realize the full gravity of
helping those children on Kiribati.
                Imagine
how thankful they’ll feel to have such a great gift to enjoy and share. I hope
you know to expect nothing but an unseen and unheard thank you along with the
knowledge that you helped someone besides yourself.
                I
sincerely hope now that you will help those children.
                                                            Signed,
                                                            11-yo. J. 

Before I leave you, I want to give a heard and seen THANK YOU for your help.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
You ARE making a difference in these kids’ lives.

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A Sad Little Library and a Call For Help

Nov

09, 2015 |

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Those of you who know me well know that my parents left on a religious mission just over a year ago about a month after they retired.

Before retirement, my Mom was an elementary school principal and my dad was a high school engineering and science teacher. So it was only fitting that in their service, they went to work in a high school on a tiny island in the Pacific called Kiribati.

While their main purpose is to train the teachers and help them pass the certification testing (Mom and Dad, correct me if I’m wrong!), they also do all kinds of other things such as helping students fill out applications for college, judging school competition events, overseeing the computer lab, and most recently evaluating the school library to determine its needs.

This last duty is what I wanted to talk about to you today.

You see, the state of that school library makes me sad. They sent pictures, and I want to share those with you. This first one is a picture of their fiction book shelves:

Oh my goodness, just so much emptiness.

And not only are the shelves empty, but many of the books they have aren’t age appropriate and are falling apart.

Now, I love the Berenstain Bears, and I love Madeline, but they are not the books I would choose to put in a high school library.

This is not something I could let go. I read their blog post early Sunday morning, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this library.

It didn’t take long to decide that my family and I would work together to collect some books and send a package. But you saw that picture. The package we could send would make nary a dent in the library’s needs.

And then I got to thinking that maybe others would like to help, too. Because you are my people. You understand how important books are. You understand their power and influence. You understand the impact a book can have on a teen. You understand how important it is to offer a wide variety of books to get our youth on that path of reading. You understand the satisfaction that comes from finding that book . . . the one that speaks to you and changes your life.

And that is why I’m asking for your help today. There are several ways you can help:

  1.  If  you have any gently used or new books that would be appropriate for middle or high schoolers and which you would be willing to send to me, please contact me using the Contact Me tab above (or just click on that link).
  2. If you don’t have any books to send, but would be willing to donate money to the cause, I have set up a GoFundMe account. I will use any donated funds to both buy books and help pay for the shipping costs (which are HUGE). Even a dollar donation will make a difference!
  3. If you have no extra money or books to share, I totally get that. I have been there (man, have I been there). What you can do is spread the word! Share this post on twitter or facebook. That would be a huge help!
I plan to send a shipment (or 2 or 3 or however many I’m able) at the beginning of December in hopes that they will arrive before the start of their next school year (Jan/Feb). 
Seriously, if you can’t help, please don’t feel even the teensiest bit of guilt. We can’t all do everything, and there are a lot of great causes out there. I appreciate that you are here reading my blog post, and I appreciate your friendship.
Thank you for listening, now go forth and have a great day!

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