So I was signing on to Authors for Library Ebooks and I accidentally wrote a screed, which I might as well share here, since it uh, might otherwise never see the light of day. Their prompt:
Please tell us a little about you, your experiences with libraries and/or why this issue is important to you and your readers.
My response/accidental diatribe:
Library access to ebooks is important to me because LIBRARIES are important to me. My small-town library was everything to me growing up: escape, information, inspiration. And nowadays, as a grown up and parent and author and booklover, I still use the library every week. Okay, sure, I like when people buy my books -- but what is much, much more important to me is that people READ my books. Or any books. Read anything and everything. Everyone in this country (actually, everyone in the world, but I guess I'll stick to this country for now) should be able to get their hands on any book they wish to read. EVERYONE. Children, teenagers, waitresses, college students, factory workers, night shift janitors, retirees, the poor, the rich, everyone. Regardless of ability, or inclination, to pay. Okay, stepping down from my soapbox. Rant. Sorry.
Anyhoo. What was the question? Oh yes: ebooks. Look, I don't know everything, but I do know this: publishers are terrified that technology is changing the landscape of publishing. And hey, it's okay to be scared; I get freaked out all the time. But you know what? Change is what makes the world go around. Or maybe it's physics? Like I said, I don't know everything.
My point, and I do have one, is this: let's embrace the promising aspects of technology (e.g. the fact that e-books don't wear out after multiple uses --to say nothing of the wonderful fact that you can read an ebook after lights-out, and be all sly about it, and not get busted!). Let's encourage publishers to let go of their fear of change, which manifests in not offering ebooks to libraries, or in placing artifical constraints --like, say, requiring repurchase after a certain number of checkouts-- where they aren't needed. At its best, technology is the promise of access.
So, yeah. Read. Even after lights out. That is all.
A friend asked me to repost in a more findable place. I'm honored that it seems to have resonated with folks. Please feel free to share. Here goes --
Some thoughts on marriage, and cookies:
So I made cookies. (By which of course I mean that I baked the portion of dough that was not in my tummy.) And some of them came apart from cooking sheet to cooling rack, because they were so yummy/gooey. So I said to my hubs, "If you eat any, eat the broken ones."
And then I was like, Wait a second. This is my partner. This is the person who puts up with my ridiculousness every day, and makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet, and is generous to me when I am a total shit. I literally trust this person with my life, and with my child's life. Why am I telling him to eat the broken cookies?
So I paused Netflix and told him, "You know what? You are my favorite person in the world. Eat the very best ones."
And I guess my Christmas (New Year's) Eve marriage/cookie message is this: We're all ridiculous people. We're only here a very, very short time. If you're lucky enough to find someone who wants to spend every day (and night) with you, and that person still manages to love you? Pause Netflix, tell them what a good egg they are, and by all means, let them have the very best cookies.
To everyone feeling overwhelmed by cookie making, card sending, secret-Santa-ing, and/or open house having. And to anyone feeling vaguely guilty about not feeling guilty about not doing things. I hath created a handy Holiday Tradobligation (Tradition + Obligation) Flowchart. The more you share, the better our world. You're welcome.
Optional Bonus Handy Note:
----------------------cut on dotted line------------------------------
Dear (circle one) friend / family member / colleague / other (please specify):
I am intentionally, but not maliciously, declining to participate in the following holiday tradobligation: ____________________________________________________
for reasons of my own sanity, and to make the world a less reciprocal-obligation-filled place. I invite you to join me in opting out of any and all tradobligations. Experience the freedom!
My 40th bday party. FOMO?!?
Truthy-ish transcript from the park, walking the trail while our kids level the playground, mid-August 2013
BFF: So, how's Facebook-free summer?
BFF: Have you truly, honestly been off Facebook?
Me: Yup, since the end of May. Although I admit: last night, I went on Facebook to grab a friend's email address for my newsletter. And I forgot to not get sucked in. I started reading the news feed.
BFF: And how did that make you feel? [Worth noting: BFF is a therapist]
Me: Honestly? Yucky. Left out. Immediately just ... sad. My friends had photos of getting together -- and even though these are people who live far away, and I never see them -- I still had an irrationally sad, left out feeling. I should be happy to see them. But it was the exact opposite.
BFF: I know exactly what you mean. That's how I feel from Facebook, too.
Me: I just read a study that said that the more people look at their newsfeed, the unhappier they are.
BFF: It's FOMO! I read an article in Oprah magazine about it.
BFF: "Fear Of Missing Out." It's a nation-wide phenomenon. I think everyone has it to some degree--
ME: [Interrupting, because I'm horribly rude like that] --And Facebook makes it worse! Because honestly, when was the last time I had that "left out" feeling? I'll tell you when. The last time I checked Facebook. And before that? The high school cafeteria. Worrying whether I'd be invited to the cool parties. Wondering if friends were making plans without me. Hoping I wouldn't miss anything on the night my parents made me stay home. Totally miserable.
BFF: [Laughing in a commiserating way, because she's awesome like that] Right! Before my birthday party last week, I figured a friend would post about it, so I pre-emptively posted, "Don't worry, you didn't miss out on anything good," so my other friends didn't feel left out.
ME: That was nice of you. Related: I think it's good I do Facebook-free summers, because that's when I tend to have big parties--
BFF: -- Thanks for inviting me to your big party, by the way.
ME: Ha ha. Of course. Anyway, AS I was saying ... it's good for me to be off Facebook, so I don't get sucked in to posting all these cool photos from my rad dance parties, and feeling socially competitive.
BFF: You feel socially competitive? I don't see you that way.
ME: [blinking rapidly] Girl, I love you so much.
BFF: Aw. I love you, too. So, the big question: are you going back to Facebook?
ME: I thought about just ... not. But, yeah. Honestly, I feel like I need to, for work. To network, and make updates about my new books coming out.
BFF: Yup, I need it for work, too. Still gonna take summer vacations from it?
ME: Mos def. And I'll be more mindful how I use it. I'm not going to reinstall the app on my phone. I'll only check it when I'm on my computer.
BFF: Smarty pants.
ME: Also, this is going to sound really selfish, and I worry that it might be narcissistic...
ME: But I think I might be happier if I stay self-centered on Facebook. Literally self-centered. Check my own pages, but not look at friends' stuff, or the main news feed very much. But if everyone did that? Facebook would be pointless. No sharing. Everyone would be disconnected.
ME: Then again, maybe everyone would be happier. The irony of Facebook: human connection is supposed to make you happy. So more should be better. But more, in this case, is worse.
BFF: So, to be happy, humans should stick to the old in-person walk-and-talks.
ME: Like this one. Brilliant.
(...except I am now posting this on my blog and Facebook. Oh, irony, you cruel, cruel temptress.)
You can read a fab summary of studies about Facebook misery, "Can Facebook Survive If It Makes Us Miserable? by Charlie Warzel for Buzzfeed, here.
And the great article on FOMO, "Three Strategies To Beat Your Fear Of Missing Out," by Martha Beck, for Oprah Magazine, here.
In the course of writing (**cough** procrastinating) my third novel, it has become necessary for me to list the rules of my home. As written by me. And I'm a share-bear, so here they are:
1. Take off your shoes.
2. Be kind.
3. Ask for help when you need it.
4. Don’t interrupt naps, work, or conversations.
5. Work hard, work well, don’t whinge.
6. Nightly family dinner: settle in, say grace, and thank the chef.
7. Clean up.
8. Don’t interrupt naps, work, or conversations.
9. Share generously: your time, talent, and treasures.
10. Put the seat and the lid down.
11. No ambushing innocent bystanders.
12. When in doubt, tell the truth.
13. Do not anger wizards.
14. Jump up, jump up, and get down.
What are your Home Rules?
Got some signings, conferences, and visits coming up, and I've been pondering how to come up with some stickers for signed bookplates, and notecards with my info for thank-you notes, and other random suches.
Nothing was really working for me. I mean, "let Vistaprint design you a logo"? Blech.
I like personal. I like imperfect. I also like free.
And then, eureka!
My writing group pal John Claude Bemis already dubbed me J-Cube, even though technically I think the equation would be
(j) to the third power.
If you have ever met me, you know I likey a good DIY (remind me to tell you the worm farm story).
My general attitude is, "Why not give it a try? What could go wrong?" (Remind me to tell you the deck roof story.)
So -- voila! My new logo, brought to you by a Pink Pearl eraser and my trusty exacto knife:
Me likey. What do you think?
As exciting as a 4 AM phone call from the Nobel Prize committee!
"The Theory of Everything" is among the chosen few - it's one of seven 2012 Cybil Awards finalist in young adult fiction.
So, so delighted and humbled to share the honor with such great authors. I've got my reading list!
"Johnson deftly blends humor and grief in this story of a teenager’s struggles to make sense of her best friend's death. The witty chapter drawings (designed by Johnson) and main character Sarah’s pitch-perfect voice make The Theory of Everything compulsively readable, but the underlying veins of emotions—confusion, grief and even hope—keep this from feeling like lighter fare. Teens will understand Sarah’s desire to keep the world at bay with her “snarkbox,” but it’s the moments when Sarah puts aside the snark to truly face life that will leave a lasting impression. With a cast of characters that includes a tame possum, a wonder dog, and a maybe-creepy-maybe-misunderstood Christmas tree farmer, The Theory of Everything keeps readers guessing—and laughing—and crying—to the last page."
AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTERVIEW:
For writers who are dealing with grief in their own WIPs and are overwhelmed with figuring out where to start, what to touch on and what not to touch on, how to get it out… what is your advice on tackling this topic?
Whoo, doggy! What a question! With anything that’s so big and abstract, you just need to pick a place and get going. The important thing is to start. General writing advice: start on a day that is different from any other day. My specific advice: keep every thought, every reaction honest. Don’t try to be clever. Readers—especially teen readers—detect insincerity or condescension immediately, and they will throw your book across the room. And well they should. Teen’s minds are too important for bullshit.
CLICK HERE to jump to HOLLYWOOD THE WRITE WAY and read the entire interview, along with a review of The Theory of Everything.
j.j. johnson, author