Coffee and Conversation with Janet Sumner Johnson

Hello, fellow writers and illustrators. Have you sent in your critique and portfolio review submission? If not, you better get to it NOW. Seriously, today is the deadline. Remember to first register for the conference. Get going, friends!

Even though it’s bone-chilling cold and temperatures are going to bottom out this weekend – TGIF! We have another Team SCBWI faculty member gracing the Cyber Café today.

JanetJohnson.AuthorPicJanet Sumner Johnson’s debut MG contemporary book The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society will be released in April 2016 by Capstone Young Readers. She signed with her agent, Victoria Marini, through the Pitch Madness contest run by Brenda Drake. When she’s not writing, Janet loves playing tennis, running, eating cookies, and playing with her kids. She lives in Oregon with her family. You can find her at her website

Janet’s presentation is “Pitch Perfect.” She will go through the 3 basic types of pitches (twitter, one-sentence, and query), and what makes a good one. The class will then workshop together to write the perfect pitch for your book. Come prepared with a book idea that you’re ready to tell the world about!

Now that Jane is all settled in, let’s get started. First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?

Hot chocolate! I love it with whipped cream and chocolate syrup all pretty and scrumptious. Yummm. . . . and if you’ll excuse me, I now need to go make some!


Yum, indeed! And your favorite snack?

Cookies! No question. And if there are soft sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting on them . . . oh my. But I try not to eat TOO many. You know, just enough. 😉

What was your favorite book as a child?

LMMontgomeryI must have read the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery a hundred times (though Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside are my favorites!). I love those books! And then I devoured everything else of hers I could get my hands on. But The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis would be a close second. My mom gave me the boxed set and I read them countless times, too. (Apparently I have a thing for authors who use initials instead of names!).

I devoured the Narnia series as a child! And now, what’s your favorite book as an adult?

This is like pulling out my heart! I can’t choose a favorite. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan (another initialed author!), I couldn’t put down The False Prince series by Jennifer A. Nielsen, and I laughed my way through The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom series by Christopher Healy. Really, I could go on listing books I love for days, but I will spare you.

You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it? (Key word: Frivolous!)

I would go crazy in a bookstore, for sure. But since books are more like necessities instead of frivolities, I would buy a tank of gas (or 2), a pre-made picnic lunch and grab my kids and drive to the beach (and I’d definitely bring along one of those books!). Yep. That sounds about right.

You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read!  Your glasses are fine (whew!) so what’s the first book you crack open? 

I am in the middle of Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin, and I must know how it ends! counting thyme4It would be first. But I’ve also been dying to read A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen, not to mention Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein. I guess I would be hoping for a nice long sojourn in the vault (as long as there was enough oxygen). 😉

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?  

I would be either a lawyer or an engineer. Which kind of makes me laugh.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you can visit any famous deceased author you want.  Who do you pick?

Jane Austen! Oh wait . . . L.M. Montgomery! No . . . Austen . . . no . . . argh! I would simply have to split my day in half.

What’s your favorite motivational quote?

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~Walt Disney

If you could sum up your best marketing advice for new writers or illustrators in only four words, what would it be?

Here it is: Join a debut group.

I have learned SO MUCH by working with the other Sweet Sixteen debut authors. I’ve had so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. This is far and away the best thing you can do.

But a second bit of advice is this: Be nice. Show gratitude.

Being nice to others really goes a long way and is more likely to lead people to want your book (or to want to interview you, or to want to hear anything you have to say). Just be nice.

That’s the best advice, Janet, and can never be said too often. Thanks so much for stopping by. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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3 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Janet Sumner Johnson

  1. Thanks so much for having me, Susan! I’m so excited to be a part of Team SCBWI!

  2. Pingback: Coffee & Conversation with Andrew Harwell | As the Eraser Burns

  3. Pingback: Team SCBWI Conference news and Upcoming Events | As the Eraser Burns

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