Janet Sumner Johnson
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Girlie

My Crazy in Pictures

Jun

08, 2015 |

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The last few months have been full of crazy. Or I could use other adjectives like exciting. Fun. Adventure. Sports. Play. Work. Celebration. Food. Art. Writing. Culture. Bonding. Homecomings.

Lots of good things. But LOTS of things. I’ll be going off-line for a bit since we will be moving in a couple of weeks. But for your viewing pleasure, my crazy (and by crazy, I mean awesome) life in pictures:

This might have been one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Ile de Ré on bikes!

Oh wait! I mean THIS was my favorite part. Tartelette aux fraises!

I could have stayed here forever. So peaceful!

You can’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower.

Or the Mona Lisa.
 
(Do I look exhausted??? Yeah, it was the end of a full day of travel and site-seeing. I was EXHAUSTED. All-caps are needed to fully capture the feeling.)

And Versaille. (Though it wasn’t my favorite. Don’t hate me!)

My 11-yo and I took the stairs to get to Sacré Coeur.
Yep. We are that awesome.

And Crèpes. Need I say more?

Home never felt so good!
 

Because I got to watch my soccer star!

 
And play with my crazy, pink-loving Girlie.
 
 
And yes! This is me making my book deal all official. Release date is Spring 2016!!
 
I hope you all have a great summer! I’ll be back as soon as I get my world organized in my new place.

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Finding Our Own Path

May

11, 2015 |

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I have this daughter.

I love her for so many reasons that I couldn’t possibly tell you about all of them. But one thing I will tell you about is her individuality. I love this chica because she is her own self. And she is not afraid of being her own self.

For example. This is her at her last soccer game:

I’ll be honest, I am so used to her being her, that I didn’t even think twice about her skirt until everyone commented on it.

And then there was this Word Find that came home in her folder:

I kind of really love that with the top one, if she had gone straight, she had the word. But that’s not how she saw things. Why make a straight line when you can jump over a letter and get something far more interesting?

She is such an example to me. An example of being true to yourself. An example of finding your own path, even when the world would send you another direction.

As writers, sometimes we forget that. We try to write what everyone else is writing. We try to imitate another author’s style. We focus on what might be big (according to the world) instead of staying true to ourselves. Our own ideas. Our own passions.

It’s easy to get caught up. But it’s better to be ourselves. It’s better to let our individual uniqueness shine like a pink tulle skirt in a soccer game.

Because seriously, who doesn’t secretly envy that girl? Wish they were brave enough to do it, too.

So how are you letting your personality shine? I’d love to hear. 🙂

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An Interview with Girlie: Angela Cervantes (+Giveaway!)

Mar

17, 2014 |

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Back in August, one of my super sweet CP’s (Critique Partner’s), Angela Cervantes, published her debut middle-grade novel, Gaby, Lost and Found with Scholastic Press. If you haven’t read it yet, you should! It is a touching story about a girl trying to find her place when her life is flipped up-side down. Here’s the blurb:

Gaby Howard Ramirez loves volunteering at the local animal shelter. She’s in charge of writing adoption advertisements so that the strays who live there can find their forever homes: places where they’ll be cared for and loved, no matter what.

Gaby has been feeling like a bit of a stray herself lately. Her mother has recently been deported to Honduras, and Gaby is stuck living with her inattentive dad. She’s confident that her mom will come home soon so they can adopt Gaby’s favorite shelter cat together. But when the cat’s owners turn up at the shelter, Gaby worries that her plans for the perfect family are about to fall apart.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a crier, but this one had me all choked up. I’m not an animal person, but she had me falling in love with each stray as I read the adoption advertisements. Gaby is a spunky character full of heart, and I’m certain you’ll fall in love with her like I did.
 
I begged asked Angela if she’d be willing to do an interview with Girlie (my 4-year-old daughter), and she obligingly agreed.
 
So this is Girlie, and I’m going to let her take it from here:
 
Girlie: I don’t know who you are. Who are you?

Angela: I’m Angela Cervantes and I’m author of Gaby, Lost and Found, which was published by Scholastic Press. 🙂

Girlie: I like to play Diego Wii with my friends. What do you like to do with your friends?

Angela: I enjoy going for coffee with my friends and playing tennis or baseball with them.

Girlie: I’m trying to make people happy by playing with them and sharing my stuff. How do you make people happy?

Angela: I think sharing things is a great way to make people happy. I’m going to have to do more of that. I also think people really like it when you’re a good, honest friend to them and you remember their birthdays.

Girlie: People can be nice to each other and don’t throw a fit. Is the girl with the cat in the backpack nice and doesn’t throw fits?
 
Angela: The girl on the cover is Gaby and she is super nice. She’s also brave, smart and a serious animal lover. She’d do anything to help a cat or dog if it were in trouble.  I think the only time she throws a fit is when she feels an innocent animal has been poorly treated. I don’t blame her really.

Girlie: I like the kitty on the cover. I don’t have a kitty. Do you?

Angela: I don’t have a kitty either, but I’m glad you like the cat on the cover. That cat is named Feather. In this book, we find out that Feather was named Feather by the folks at the animal shelter because when she was brought into the shelter she was as light as a Feather. She and Gaby become good friends.

Girlie: You look cute in that picture and I like your skirt. Do you choose your own clothes? I do!

Angela: Thank you! I do choose my own clothes. I love picking out cute stuff to wear. I love bright colors like red, purple, pinks and yellows.

Girlie: Did you sign the book? Do we get to keep it?
 
Me: Sorry Girlie, I know you love this book, but we have our own copy. We’re going to give these ones to some people who haven’t read it yet.
 
Angela: I am always happy to sign a book for anyone who wants it. 🙂 It’s one of the nice perks of being an author.

Me: Angela, thanks so much for answering all of Girlie’s questions. She loves your book and keeps sneaking it from my room! But I have a couple of questions for you, too. As you know, I re-joined our critique group shortly after you got the offer from Scholastic, so I missed the whole writing process. How long did it take you to write Gaby, Lost and Found? And would you tell us about your revision process, too?
 
Angela: It took nine months to write Gaby, Lost and Found and another two years of revision. I believe the real magic happens during revision and I enjoy it. For me, it’s not as intense as the writing process. I go into revision knowing I have to chop away stuff. I go into writing never knowing what will happen so I definitely prefer revision. Although it can be painful– especially when you have to take out a character (I had to remove two characters from Gaby, Lost and Found) or remove a favorite scene–but it’s necessary if you’re committed to making the story stronger.
 
Me: Oooh! I love knowing secret stuff like about books, like characters that didn’t make the cut. I may have to hear about these characters at our next meeting. 🙂 Okay, so last question. I kind of have this thing about personalized license plates. So, if Gaby were old enough to drive, what would her personalized license plate be?
 
Angela: Gaby’s license plate would be GRLPWR.

Me: I love it! She definitely lives up to that. 🙂

Angela Cervantes is a poet, storyteller, and animal lover. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in various publications, including Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul. When Angela is not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her husband in Kansas and eating fish tacos every chance she gets. Gaby, Lost and Found is her first middle-grade novel. She is currently at work on her second book.

You can keep up with Angela at her website:

http://angelacervantes.com/

Now for the Giveaway! I have two signed (paperback) copies of Gaby, Lost and Found to give away to two lucky visitors. Just enter in the Rafflecopter below! The giveaway is open through March 31st. Good luck!
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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On Overcoming Criticism

Dec

09, 2013 |

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So I recorded this video of my 4 y.o.:

She was very proud of it. But when I showed it to her brothers, 7 y.o. burst out laughing. “Oh! That is so embarrassing for her!”

I worried that she would get all self-conscious, but she was like a duck. The comment slid off her back as she grinned at her video on the computer screen, pride glowing from her.

And it was a flash of inspiration for me. There will always be someone out there ready to criticize. Ready to tell us we are silly (or worse) for doing what we did. For trying to write a book. For daring to think it might be good. For trying to get it published. For having published a book on that subject. Whatever.

But we have to be like my Girlie. We have to love our own work so much that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Let those criticisms slide off our back and move forward.* We need to be confident in ourselves.

Because guess what? When 4 y.o. asked to watch it again, 7 y.o. caught the bug. “So do I get to make one, too?”

What have you done when someone hit you with a criticism-bomb?

*To be clear, I’m not talking about critique partner or beta-reader comments that were requested. I’m talking about those un-requested, hurtful, put-downs that we can all do without.

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Interview with Leigh T. Moore and a Giveaway!

Mar

18, 2013 |

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So Leigh T. Moore’s book, The Truth About Letting Go has been out
a couple of weeks and is doing awesome! Read all about it HERE.

So what else is there to do but have a
giveaway? Hurray! *throws confetti* One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Truth About Letting Go, just let me know in the comments you’re
interested, and leave me a way to contact you.

Last day to enter is March. 24, and
I’ll post the winner on Monday, March 25th. Best of luck!

In the mean time, since I already interviewed
Leigh HERE, I let my 3-year-old do the honors to give you a fresh perspective
on this amazing author. 🙂

Girlie, take it away!

Girlie:
What is your favorite color? Mine is pink.

Leigh: I’m
imagining us sitting at a little white tea table with a few stuffed animals
joining us. I’m very big, and I’ve got my pink boa and tiara on… 

(sips tea) I like pink, too. When I was
little, purple was my favorite color, though. You can be Pinkalicious and I can
be Purpleicious. Is that OK?

Girlie: Will you sing me a song?
OR Dance with me! I like being a ballerina. How do you like to dance?

Leigh: I don’t dance super well. My dancing
takes special medicine, otherwise I look like Kookoo the Bird Lady from Freaks.

Girlie:
Let’s play magic wands! Mine turns people into stones. What does yours do?

Leigh: Stones! Goodness.
 
Me: Yup, it’s true! I’ve totally been turned into a stone like 4 times just in the past week. Crazy.
 
Leigh: Did I mention I
really like this tea? And that’s a lovely dress you’re wearing. Umm… what if
my wand turns people into fairies? That’s fun, huh? 

Me: If I don’t hear from you in a while, I’ll confiscate Girlie’s wand. See if I can figure out the reverse spell! 😉

Girlie: If I’m the princess, what does that
make you?

Leigh: I guess I’d have to be either one of
those little birds that help you get dressed or a mouse… I’m glad I’m not the
step-mom or anything. They’re always bad. 

Girlie:
I like to cut things up and play with glue. What do you like to do?

Leigh: You know what’s fun to do with glue?
Put squiggly shapes on construction paper and then dump a bunch of glitter on
it and shake it around. It’s real, real messy. Ask your mom to show you how to
do this… LOL! 😀
 
Me: Um, thanks a LOT!

Girlie:
I can write the letter K. What can you write?

Leigh: Now that I’m big, I can write most of
my letters. But you know which one I still can’t write? Cursive Q. That’s hard
for me. Oh, and cursive Z. You’ll probably do those really well. I still have
to make those in print.

Me: Okay, I have to intervene, because
this is my blog after all. Last question:
 
What would Ashley’s personalized license plate be? Colt’s? Jordan’s? 8 letters
for each. Go!

Leigh: You know I HATE this!!!
 
Me: Bwah ha ha! I am evil incarnate. 🙂
 
Leigh: I’m not good
w/personalized plates. Urgh… umm… do they have to be 8 letters?
 
Me: Okay, okay, you have UP TO 8 letters.
 
Leigh: OK, here
goes…

Ashley would be  REBLREBL (I’m
thinking “Rebel Rebel”–like the David Bowie song… does this look
like Robble Robble?)

Jordan would be HAVEF8TH (That’s not
very good. I know.)

Colt would be L8TRDUDE (OK, his would
be cooler than that, but I actually knew a guy who’s plate was that… LOL!)

Me: Awesome plates! REBLREBL totally came across right. 🙂 Now
aren’t you all wishing you could sit down to a tea party with Leigh, wearing a
pink boa and a tiara? I know I am!!
 
Thanks for visiting with us, Leigh! And the rest of ya’ll, don’t forget to mention in the comments if you want a chance to win Leigh’s latest.

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