What comes first: Happiness or Success?

18 04 2014

Forget me notIn one of my Facebook groups, we were asked what one thing  — if it happened — would make this a GOOD year for us. That was an interesting question, and it really made me think. What I realized, though, was that my year was already better than good. In fact, it was pretty awesome. And I have so many things I’m looking forward to this year.

I’ve also had some fantastic things happen over the past year, things I’ve always wanted have become reality. But the truth is: Every year I’ve lived has been good — awesome, in fact. And each one has been better than the one before it. And I expect they’ll get even better in the future.

Then I saw this TED talk, and I discovered why. Most people think success will make them happy, but according to Shawn Achor, the exact opposite is true. Happiness brings success.

He lists five things that will lead to both happiness and success. Four of them I’m doing regularly, and the fifth one sporadically. Who knew these simple practices could make that much difference in life? But I do agree that they are key to a positive mindset. I have a few more suggestions I could add to his list, but for now, if you aren’t doing these, why not give it a try?

 





Are Your Goals a Piece of Cake?

12 04 2014

As a former cake decorator, I love Dana Carey’s comparison of goals to CAKE! Who wouldn’t want to eat this delicious cake layer by layer?

The Monthly Goalpost for April.





Writing Process Blog Tour

7 04 2014

Module One cover

Texas writer and illustrator Mark Mitchell, known for his wonderful watercolors and many picture books, invited me to join this writing process blog tour. I’ve been lucky to be part of his online class Make your Splashes – Make your Marks. Mark wrote about his own process on his blog.

I’m also fascinated by the history of this blog tour, which spans continents, so I traced my invitation back a few links. Akiko White, the winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola award for her illustrations made out of cake (yes, they’re awesome and delicious), tagged Mark. And she had been tagged by Australian award-winning author Christopher Cheng, who put together the wonderful PAL slide show for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in that.

Now after that lengthy introduction, I’m ready to answer the questions they posed:

1.) What are you working on?

WANTED: Book 4

WANTED: Book 4

At the moment, I’m finishing two books to turn in to editors this week. I’m working on the final chapters of Grace Avenged, Book 4 in the WANTED series, which will be coming out in December 2014 in the UK. Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless, released in February in the UK. (Books 3 and 4 will be coming out there in May and August.) The series will also release in the US with different covers beginning in August under Capstone’s new Switch Press imprint.

Final edits are also due this week on Cyber Self-Defense, a book I’m cowriting with international cybercrime expert Alexis Moore. That will be coming out in October 2014 from Lyon’s Press.

Cyber Self Defense book cover

October 2014

I’m also editing a picture book to turn in to my agent as well as developing a chapter book series while taking a class with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg. And Alexis Moore and I are working on two more nonfiction books together along with a picture books series.

Of course, all these projects are only the tip of the iceberg. I also have a quite a few other projects in various stages of completion and many more submerged underwater in my subconscious. And that doesn’t count all the books I’m editing for others.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in so many different genres that it’s hard to compare my work to others’. I have picture books (fiction and nonfiction), chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels and nonfiction, NA nonfiction, adult nonfiction and fiction, along with short stories and articles for both children and adults. I’ve also had a few illustration projects and hope to do more of those. I’m in my 3rd year in Hollins University’s Picture Book Writing & Illustrating MFA.

Book 1 ~ US edition

Book 1 ~ US edition

3.) Why do I write what I do?

The main reason I write is because I love to learn and explore new things. I get excited about sharing my knowledge with others, and writing is a wonderful way to do that. When I come across a new idea, I ask: Who would be interested in this? The answer is almost always a different age group, which is why I’ve written for so many age levels.

I also believe that writing is a form of self-discovery; it helps us understand not only ourselves, but also others. It keeps us from taking things for granted, teaches us to look beneath the surface, and reveals the beauty in everything.

Writing also keeps alive the wonder and awe of childhood. To me, there’s something magical about creating new worlds and peopling them with characters I’ve imagined. Children still believe in that magic, so I’m most drawn to writing for them.

4.) How does my writing (or writing with pictures/illustrating) process work?

I used to wait for the muse to strike, but now I’ve learned that if you sit down expecting to write, the words will come. With all my deadlines (5 books in the past 7 months), I don’t have the luxury of waiting for words to come, so right before I go to bed, I read over the notes of what I plan to write the next day or I pose a problem if I’m not sure what should come next. Then I go to sleep and let my mind arrange the words or solve the problem. When I wake up, I write. My best writing is usually done right after waking or late at night (from 1-3 a.m. is my sweet spot).

I’ve trained myself that the minute I sit down to write, my mind is ready. I don’t need rituals or to spend time agonizing over what I should write, I just do it. Not everything that goes down on the page is good writing, but you can’t revise what isn’t there.

I’m halfway between a pantser and a plotter. I need more of an outline for nonfiction, but when I write fiction, my process almost always begins with a vision of a story opening and a dramatic ending. I usually also see key scenes in my head. I jot them down or just remember them. I use those as mile markers along the way. Then when I write, I record whatever scene is most vivid in my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book linearly. I write bits and pieces here and there.

Once I have all the key scenes down, I work on tying them together. I usually dread this part of the process because I always go in thinking I’ll have to put in boring transitions, but almost always my characters surprise me by doing something unexpected, so it ends up being more fun than I anticipated.

Another important piece of my process is running my work by my critique groups. I find letting others read my work and offer their opinions and suggestions greatly improves anything I write.

I’ve tagged three awesome writers who will share their processes on their blogs next Monday:

Joan Holub‘s new trucky, constructiony picture book is Mighty Dads (illustrated by James Dean, creator of Pete the Cat). Her picture book Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet) garnered 3 starred reviews and spots on many Best Of lists. She co-authors 3 series with Suzanne Williams: Goddess Girls, Grimmtastic Girls, and Heroes In Training. Find out more about Joan and all her other fantastic books at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Mighty Dads book trailer

 

Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta and is a commercial writer writing under several pen names. MY SOON-TO-BE SEX LIFE launches with Bloomsbury Spark in June. As Judith Graves she has a recent release cowritten with Dawn Dalton, KILLER’S INSTINCT, a monster-hunter tale with loads of action.

 
 

 

Army wife, author, and new mom Tracy E. Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an obsession with cupcakes. She has written and published three novels for young adults; her latest, SHATTERED VEIL, a sci-fi adventure, just received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 stars from IndieReader.

 

shattered veil front





A to Z Challenge: Day E

5 04 2014
Grace and the Guiltless (US)

US Version ~ August 1 ~ Capstone/Switch Press

E is for Erin. Erin Johnson. One of my pen names. People often ask why I have so many pseudonyms, and I have to say it’s because I have so many different personalities. Writers can get away with having a multiple personality disorder by claiming they’re using pseudonyms. They can talk to people who don’t exist and say they’re developing their characters. Non-writers get help for these problems; writers welcome them.

So as part of the A to Z Challenge, which is offering 30 prizes, I’m giving away a copy of the UK version of Grace and the Guiltless, part of the WANTED series…

Have you heard about the A to Z challenge?

Here’s a link to 26 posts about 26 awesome books by 24 terrific YA authors, AND there will be prizes. Yep, most days there are book and/or swag (mostly books) giveaways. There are about 30 prizes to be won in April.

For the fantastic lineup, see the previous post or go here.

 

azimage1

And here’s the UK version of Grace and the Guiltless that you can win:

WANTED: Book 1

WANTED: Book 1





A to Z Challenge (30 free YA books)

1 04 2014

azimage1

Have you heard about the A to Z challenge?
Here’s a link to 26 posts about 26 awesome books by 24 terrific YA authors, AND there will be prizes. Yep, most days there are book and/or swag (mostly books) giveaways. There are about 30 prizes to be won in April.

Here’s the fantastic lineup:

A is for Aimee Gilchrist Aimee Gilchrist 1-Apr
B is for Breed of Innocence Lanie Jordan 2-Apr
C is for Cry of the Sea Donna Driver 3-Apr
D is for Don’t You Wish Roxanne St. Claire 4-Apr
E is for Erin Johnson (Yes, that’s me**) Erin Johnson 5-Apr
F is for A Flight of Thieves David Bridger 7-Apr
G is for Goodbye, Rebel Blue Shelley Coriell 8-Apr
H is for Heiress PI Amanda Mahan 9-Apr
I is for I Spy Dead People Jennifer Fischetto 10-Apr
J is for Jennifer McGowan Jennifer McGowan 11-Apr
K is for Kelbian Noel Kelbian Noel 12-Apr
L is for Legendary L.H. Nicole 14-Apr
M is for Maureen McGowan Maureen McGowan 15-Apr
N is for Nail Polish & Feathers Jo Ramsey 16-Apr
O is for Of Sea & Stone Kate Avery Ellison 17-Apr
P is for Rebekah L. Purdy Rebekah L. Purdy 18-Apr
Q is for Bria Quinlan Bria Quinlan 19-Apr
R is for Roots Kelbian Noel 21-Feb
S is for Stained Cheryl Rainfield 22-Apr
T is for The Twin’s Daughter Lauren Baratz-Logsted 23-Apr
U is for Undercover with the Hottie Juli Alexander 24-Apr
V is for C.A. Verstraete Christine A. Verstraete 25-Apr
W is for We Are the Weirdos Jennifer Fischetto 26-Apr
X is for The Avery Shaw Experiement Kelly Oram 28-Apr
Y is for Confessions of A 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips Cindy M Hogan 29-Apr
Z is for Zera and the Green Man Sandra Krauf 30-Apr

** Watch for my blog post on April 5, which will explain how you can win a copy of Grace and the Guiltless, part of the WANTED series that I’m writing as Erin Johnson.





Where can I find great diverse children’s books?

27 03 2014

Originally posted on the open book:

Recently  The New York Times paired articles by Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers , discussing the lack of representation of people of color in children’s literature. Those excellent articles—which pointed out that in the long history of children’s literature we haven’t made much progress —caught the attention of best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, who started the #colormyshelf hashtag on Twitter asking for suggestions of diverse books that she could go purchase for her daughter. What a wonderful way to bring attention to what parents can do!

Just because diverse books don’t always show up front and center in bookstores doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Here’s a list of places to find great diverse books for young readers. Buy them, read them, recommend them. Showing demand for diverse books is one of the best ways to encourage the publication of more of them!

1. PublishersSeveral small…

View original 604 more words





Choosing a Book Cover

13 03 2014

Cyber Self Defense book cover  After looking over three awesome covers, my coauthor Alexis Moore and I chose this eye-catching design. It wasn’t easy to pick one, because all three had their strong points. Our editor preferred this one, and so did we. Today, it was great to hear that sales & marketing also agreed that this one was the strongest.

Because the book sold on a proposal, I’m still writing it. Deadline is tomorrow, but I had to take some time to share our news.

And here’s the blurb:

Are you in danger of being cyberstalked? Have you been cyberbullied? Outwit your cyberattacker with these clever strategies from former cyberstalking victim, Alexis Moore. As the founder of Survivors in Action, Moore explains how to identify potential cyberattackers and how to recover from a cybercrime if you’ve been attacked. Her indispensable book can help you remain secure and safe in today’s dangerous digital world and take back control of your life.

ISBN: 978-1-4930-0569-7

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Globe Pequot/Lyons Press








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