Janet Sumner Johnson
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personalized license plates

Fun With License Plates

May

05, 2014 |

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I don’t know what it is, but April is akin to December at our house. Busy with all kinds of fun and crazy activities. I fully plan to tell you about my travels and the awesome writing conference I went to, but not today.

Today I wanted to share a little license plate fun.

First there was the one on the gray infiniti:

See it? In front of that white car? . . .

Okay, I was driving, and just couldn’t get the picture, but this was the license plate:

NB3YOND
 
Awesome, no?
 
And then I saw this other gray car:
 

I don’t know why it struck me as so funny, that the car wasn’t pink. But now I need to know the story!
 
I ask this all the time, but I think the answer can change, so I ask it again: What would your personalized plate say today?


Speak up:

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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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License Plate Interpretation PART 2

Sep

30, 2013 |

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My husband saw this at work and, thoughtful man, took a picture for me:

This one had me curious . . . did someone choose to put this on themselves because it is a nickname from someone they love? Or did a dad do this to his daughter? Or maybe a different option all together . . . like they are a fan of that children’s show . . . This is the song that never ends . . . Gah! What have I done?! Now I’ll be singing it all day. 🙁

What do you think? What is the story?

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License Plate Interpretation

Sep

23, 2013 |

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Last Saturday we were headed off to my son’s soccer game when we came across this license plate:

CANT-B

It was on a white SUV made by GMC. So my question to you is: What can’t be?

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Out of Context

Jun

03, 2013 |

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I was parking my car, when lo and behold, what should I find? You guessed it, a personalized license plate. And this one especially caught my attention because, well, just look:
 

I know, right? So of course, I immediately assumed that this is a kindred spirit, a fellow writer, because that’s MY context.

MG = Middle Grade.

But then I realized . . . ummm . . . I could be wrong. Duh, duh, duh . . . [Those are the 3 notes of impending doom you hear after some nefarious revelation in a movie . . . just trying to create an atmosphere here.]

So first, I wanted to say something pithy about creating context for your characters, etc., etc. But it’s the end of a long weekend, and, well, you can guess what I’d say, right?

About the quarter?

And the chocolate cake?

And that other thing that I don’t even need to mention?

I thought so.

More importantly, I wanted you to fill in the blank for me. What does “MG” really stand for?

Speak up:

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Feeling Lucky

Nov

26, 2012 |

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To state the obvious, I didn’t post last Monday. What with the Thanksgiving frenzy that starts at least a week before the actual day, it just didn’t happen.

We had family coming to celebrate the holiday with us, so that meant it was finally time to shrug off my writer’s mantra (being: Write first, clean later). Yeah, that was a good thing. My floor even got mopped. Laaaaa! (*read that: heavenly choir bursts into song*)

Anyway, they came and we talked, watched movies, played games, made a farce of going outside (with the freezing wind), and ate WAY too much—turkey, stuffing, cheese, gravy, potatoes, pies (and I know some of you are thinking that the cheese doesn’t really fit on that list, but let’s just say you don’t know my husband and his brother!). In short it was wonderful.

And I was feeling all kinds of grateful for everything in my life. Just like the license plate I saw:

MI LUCKY

In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, lately. I do feel lucky. Lucky to have a hard-working husband who loves me. Lucky to have 3 beautiful kids who are still happy to hold my hand and give me hugs. Lucky to have wonderful extended family including in-laws I love. Lucky to have a job I can do from home. Lucky to have writing in my life. Lucky to have an agent. Lucky to have so many friends scattered all over the world (many of whom I’ve never met . . . and uh, yeah, that would be all of you guys!). Lucky.

The thing is, my life is not perfect. In fact, far from it. I have struggles and hardships. Bad things happen to me and to people I love all too often (and uh, read that as understatement). I worry that I make wrong decisions (and I’m not talking the red-shirt/blue-shirt kind). I worry that I don’t do enough for others. I worry that I don’t keep in touch with my friends and family enough. And on and on.

But I still feel lucky.

Because I think “luck” (or perhaps a better word is “blessings”) is there for the finding. Even in the hard stuff. It’s just a matter of looking.

What do you guys think?

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License Plate Revealed & Hacky Sack News

Aug

20, 2012 |

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 So it has come to my attention that very few people got last week’s license plate.

HMR TIM

My heart is saddened.

Dun, dun, dun, dun . . . dun, dun . . . dun, dun. CAN’T TOUCH THIS. Dun, dun, dun, dun . . . dun, dun . . . dun, dun. HAMMER TIME!

If you are not now singing in your head, then I’m afraid you must have missed the epicness that was MC Hammer. All my sympathy. 😉

And just because I love license plates, here’s another challenge for you: SHKITOF

Now, the announcement you would have all been waiting for had you known about it:

The Hacky Sack Club is back with a new (optional) challenge! And this one is even more embarrassing. Like, I’m already blushing, and the thing isn’t even MADE yet.

Amy Sonnichsen (gosh I love her) and I have committed ourselves to the Hacky Sack Club’s

Ethnic Musical Challenge!

Yes, you read that right. We’re taking this thing to new heights of embarrassment. We’ll be posting videos of ourselves doing something
ethnically musical on Monday, August 27th. And no, you really don’t want to miss this.

If you’d like to join us, let one of us know. Then when you post
your video, also let us know so we can let all our followers know (so
everyone can visit your blog and join in the mirth). I know you’re all dying to take part!

Just remember, we’re not laughing AT you, we’re laughing WITH you!

For the record, I’m an NOT doing this because I lost a bet (this time). We
at the Hacky Sack Club simply believe that life is too short to waste
being normal all the time.

We also believe that part of a fun community is breaking down barriers and being silly every once and awhile.

If you have already joined the Hacky Sack Club, you do not need to take part in this activity, but we’d love it if you did. And anyone else who is not already a member, we will still send you a hacky sack in the mail when you join. Yay!

That is all. No stress. No hacky sacking required. Visit our Hacky Sack Walls of Fame Shame (Amy’s and mine) for more details. 

So if you were going to join us, what ethnic music would you feature? 

Speak up:

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Change

Aug

13, 2012 |

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Life has a funny way of interfering with our best laid plans. I was all prepped to come back with gusto until Change showed up on my doorstep and took a sucker punch at my gut. Rather than give up blogging, I’ll only be posting Mondays for the next indefinite time frame or so.

I know. You are all HUGELY disappointed. But to make amends I offer a nostalgic license plate for you.

HMR TIM

Do you get it? Isn’t that just awesome? Gosh I loved the 90’s (*subtle hint*).

And by the way, what are you doing here??? You should be at WriteOnCon!

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Who Do You Tell?

Jan

23, 2012 |

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Yesterday, I saw a license plate I could identify with:

KIDS BKS

Of course, for the full effect, you needed to read the custom license plate frame. Above the plate it read: “I love creating,” and then below was a web address. I was driving at the time, so I unfortunately don’t remember the address.

In short: I love creating kids books.

Aha! I thought. A kindred spirit right in front of me. But then it made me wonder. Is she/he published? Not published? What kinds of kids stories do they write? And with all these questions, I wondered if I would have the moxy to make that MY license plate?

I remember reading a post by Hilary Wagner, author of Nightshade City, shortly after she got a book deal. She confessed that she didn’t tell anyone she wrote until after she had an agent. That post really made me think, because I, like her, didn’t want to tell anyone about it until I’d had some tangible success.

At that point, I kept a family blog, but not one to chronicle my writing. Only direct family (and critique partners) knew my secret. I felt comfortable with that. It’s better this way, I told myself. Less to explain. But what I found was that I was withholding a significant part of myself from people I really cared about. Standoffish is probably the best word to describe how I felt.

For me, that wasn’t okay, so I changed some things.

I remember the first time I told a friend that I was writing a book. I steeled myself for the reaction. You know, that credulous look that says, “you really think you can write a book good enough to be published?”

It never came. Instead, she said, “Actually, that doesn’t surprise me.” She asked all kinds of questions about what I was writing, my writing process, and what my plans were. And I realized that people who care will always be interested. Always believe you can succeed.

Because that’s what friends do.

I still don’t tell just anyone, but I don’t withhold it from my friends either. So back to the original question: would I choose a license plate like this?

The answer is probably not. At least not yet.

What about you? Who do you tell that you write?

Speak up:

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IM AWSME

Jan

12, 2012 |

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Over the past week, I’ve seen this license plate twice:

IM AWSME

I laughed when I first saw it. “Some’s not lacking for confidence,” I thought. But the more I think about it, the more I love it.

Because why shouldn’t we all think that of ourselves? Why shouldn’t we have the confidence to know that we are awesome? And that means you!

In short, you are awesomesauce on a platter!

And just to be clear, one person’s awesomness has nothing to do with another person’s awesomeness. We don’t have to compare ourselves to anybody. No two people are the same (not even identical twins!). No two people will travel the same path in this life. And that is GOOD! Who would want to do exactly what someone else has done? Where’s the adventure in that?

So remember, YOU ARE AWESOME!

When’s the last time you reminded yourself how awesome you are?

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