Janet Sumner Johnson
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Paris

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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Lost in the Louvre

May

27, 2011 |

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You simply cannot visit Paris without stopping at the Louvre. That would be a travesty!


So of course we did. And being the world’s most famous museum (so say the French) with claims to being the largest there is a lot to see. So much, that it’s impossible to do it all in one day.

You can follow the crowds to go see its most famous painting.

Yes, that is the Mona Lisa back there . . . if you look hard enough past the crowds.

You can see crown jewels and fun swords (though the plaques say the jewels aren’t real on many of them anymore).

You can see rows upon rows of mummies.

And Sphinxes . . .

But if you aren’t careful, you can easily get lost.

Which is what happened to us. And those exit signs? They really weren’t very helpful. (I have to wonder if someone wasn’t having some fun when they posted them because we walked the same Egyptian circle at least three times. For real.)

Anywho . . . I think that the blogosphere can be a lot like the Louvre. So many great sites out there.

You can follow the crowds and find some very useful and fun ones (Adventures in Children’s Publishing, Elana Johnson’s, Jen Daiker at Unedited).

If you search a little harder, you can find some real jewels (Lenny’s World, Seeing Creative, Whole Latte Life).

Then there are those crazy bloggers that hold our fascination like the mummies (Carrie Harris, Chris Philips, Creepy Query Girl, Rambles and Randomness).

And in the crazy-big world that is the blogosphere, it’s easy to get a little lost.

But with a little luck, you’ll have made some great bloggy friends along the way. And somehow, getting lost isn’t so bad when you’ve got them for company (NTM, aka Leigh from That’s Write, Amy at The Green Bathtub, and so many others I can’t list you all. Sorry! Don’t hate me.)

So what blog and/or blogger would you want to get lost with? Share your favorites!

P.S. With Memorial Day, I won’t be around on Monday. Have a great weekend!

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Just a Spoonful of Sugar . . .

May

25, 2011 |

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Before going to Paris, we were informed that we absolutely had to stop at Angelina’s for the most amazing cup of Hot Chocolate we could ever hope to taste. Expensive, but definitely worth a visit for all you chocolate lovers out there.

So here’s the deal. See those white packets behind the hot chocolate? Those are sugar packets. What no one told us was that it comes unsweetened, and that we were supposed to sweeten the hot chocolate to taste.

Uh huh.

Let’s just say that first sip was a doozy.

I kindof wish all those people had mentioned that part.

So swinging this around to writing (or whatever activity you love), what extremely helpful advice would you give to a green beginner?

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Perseverence Pays Off

May

04, 2011 |

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The Arc de Triomphe is another signature site of Paris.

This monument was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to honor his great victories as a general. He had proclaimed himself Emperor in 1804, and he was revered by the people for basically bringing greatness back to France after the horrors of the Revolution.

Construction began in 1809, and before it was finished, Napoleon was forced to abdicate (1814) by the French generals, and was banished from France not once, but twice (first to Elba, then to St. Helena after attempting a comeback).

Now you would think that given the circumstances, the French might have decided not to finish the monument, or at the very least dedicate it to someone else, but no. When construction was completed 19 years (19 years!!!) after Napoleon’s death, they had his body exhumed from his grave in St. Helena and paraded under the Arc on the way to its final resting place in the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides.

Turns out that many French people still saw him as a hero, despite his downfall. And in fact, the epitaph on his tombstone simply says “Here lies . . . ” because they couldn’t agree with the British about what to call him: hero vs. tyrant?

So, if you aren’t yet bored to tears over another history lesson, here is my writing analogy . . . so many to choose from with Napoleon.

But I choose to focus on perseverence.The French saw the building of the Arc de Triomphe to the end despite the obstacles they faced. Surely there must have been a moment where they questioned whether or not the monument to a leader fallen from grace was worth the resources it was taking. But they moved forward, and their work is beautiful. It is universally admired.

As writers, we too will face obstacles. We will find numerous reasons to quit and wash our hands of this tyrant that binds us down. But if we quit, we’ll never know the works we might have produced. The influence we might have had over countless others. I imagine that other European nations mocked the French for their folly, but not anymore.

So finish those Arcs! Fight the good fight! And never give up! (And I do believe that this was basically Napoleon’s philosophy, too.) 😉

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The Worth of a Thing

Apr

29, 2011 |

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Our next stop in Paris was St. Chapelle.

 Yeah, I didn’t get a great picture of it. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.

Anyway, this little chapel was built near Notre Dame in 1246 by Louis IX (the pious Louis). Louis commissioned this chapel to hold some holy relics he’d purchased—namely the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross, as well as a splinter of the cross.

Were they the real deal? Obviously Louis IX thought so, because he paid 135,000 livres for just the crown. Now, I can’t tell you how much that is in today’s money, but to give you a comparison, he paid a mere 40,000 livres to build the entire chapel.

Once you go inside, you’ll find that the pillared walls are merely there to support the endless stained glass windows. When the sun hits just right, the effects are amazing!

My pictures really don’t do it justice.

So my writing analogy for the day? Well, maybe this will apply to life-in-general, too.

It would be easy to assume that the worth of St. Chapelle is in the glamorous and showy stained glass windows. But Louix IX never saw it that way. Its value was as a shrine to two holy relics that might easily have been overlooked by most people. Items that were rustic and plain. Items that were simple. But not common. Definitely not common.

As writers, we sometimes want to base the value of our work on outward facts . . . how many requests we get for our manuscript; how many books we sell once we’re published; how many fan-pages are dedicated to us; how many people tattoo our mc’s name onto their bicep. Well, you get the idea.

But I don’t think worth comes from any outside source. I think that worth comes from the sweat and tears we put in. From our hard work. Though the stories we produce may be the most horrid things ever written (hopefully not, of course!), they have value for what we gain from them. For what we become from having written them.

I grew up hearing that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And though I groaned every time I heard it as a kid, I embrace it now. I am not the same person I was before I started writing. I see the world differently, and I appreciate things I wouldn’t otherwise appreciate. I have gained skill and insight. I have gained respect for others’ work . . . no matter what it may be.

Even if I never get published, my time spent writing is not wasted, and neither is yours.

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This vs. That: Paris vs. Rome Results

Mar

25, 2011 |

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Oh my goodness, the voting on this was close! Paris was ahead by a landslide and then Rome crawled it’s way back for a respectable finish. And amazingly enough, while many of you professed indecision, everyone was able to pick a side. Kudos to all of you for getting past the indecision! Here are the results:

Total votes: 18 

Paris: 10 votes; 56%
Rome: 8 votes; 44%
Both: 0 votes; 0%

So, hard vote. I was leaning toward Paris because I know and LOVE Paris. Ah, my mouth waters just thinking about the crepes there . . . or the paninis. Yummmm . . . . But then I read Beth’s post yesterday on Of Muses and Meringues. She has the touch people. Her pictures alone got me, but then she started talking about the legends. Gah! I never can resist a good legend. My vote went to Rome.

Though I may be on the losing side in the vote, I’m totally on the winning side because I leave for Paris in less than two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!! It won’t be Rome. But that’s okay, because it’s PARIS!

So on to the next vote. And THIS is an important one: 

Black Ink
vs.
Blue Ink

***And don’t forget! The Brawl ‘n Haul Contest starts this Monday (March 28). Vicki and I will duke it out with daily blogging competitions and you vote for the winners. Be sure to stop back in because you don’t want to miss it. Daily prizes! Easy entry! Plus the chance to win a 10-page critique from Sarah LaPolla, Agent Fabulous.***

UPDATE: Vicki has the details and schedule up on her blog. Click here to check it out!

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This vs. That: Washington vs. Lincoln Results

Feb

21, 2011 |

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In honor of President’s Day, I bring you the results of the Washington vs. Lincoln debate. Thank you to all my non-U.S. visitors for putting up with my U.S.-centric question this last time.

So, of all my proposed debates, this has been the hardest question for me to answer by far. Actually, I’m still debating who to vote for as I write this introductory paragraph. But since I forced the issue, and I have no one to blame but myself, here we go:

Total votes: 22

George Washington: 5 votes; 22%
Abraham Lincoln: 14 votes; 63%
Both: 1 vote; 5%
All Presidents: 1 vote; 5%
Decline to vote: 1 non-vote; 5%

After the first few votes, I totally thought that George Washington would take it by a landslide, but the tables turned. Both men are fascinating in what they did as President of the United States. Great leaders in a time when we really needed them. And though Lincoln may have won this vote, I honor both of them. However, in the end, I voted for George Washington. I’ve read a lot more about him, and recently visited Mount Vernon, so I suppose I was biased. A couple of things I particularly admire about him are 1) his love for his wife, Martha Washington; and 2) the fact that he never asked the men who fought with him in the revolutionary war to do anything he was not willing to do himself. A true leader.

So a couple of quick facts about each. 

Washington: In his will, he granted freedom to all of his slaves, to take effect after Martha’s death (though Martha didn’t wait for her death to free them).

Lincoln: The observance of the Thanksgiving holiday began with him. On Oct. 3, 1863, he proclaimed that there be a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. He also was the first president to have a beard.

Okay, enough of that. Two great men. I admire them both. Now on to the next vote:

Paris
Photo Credit: Pictures of Paris

vs.
Rome

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