Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Melissa-Sue John is a mom, wife, blogger, author, publisher, social psychologist, and psychology professor. She was educated at Harrison’s Prep School, Holy Childhood High School, Hunter College, and the University of Connecticut. She is passionate about teaching, scholarship, and mentorship. She has a number of scholarly publications and awards including a collaborative grant from the Institution of Educational Sciences entitled, “Seeds of STEM: The Development of an innovative early childhood stem curriculum,” which focuses on designing an engineering curriculum for PK classrooms. In addition to research, she finds fulfillment in writing books with her daughters, Alyssa Simone and Olivia Lauren, as they attempt to increase literacy and appreciation for STEAM, and encourage youth to illustrate their art in her books. Her books are a part of the Olivia Lauren Book Series and entitled: Olivia Connects, Occupations A to Z, Things We Wear, Guide to becoming an actor, and Olivia Travels.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The latest book is Things We Wear and was inspired by the diverse and integrated world we now live in. We interact with people of different cultures, religions, ethnicities, who have varying traditions and ways of lives which are often reflected in the clothing they wear. To live with each other in harmony, we should understand each other. We should accomplish this as early as possible. Hence the need for children’s books that are fun, educational, and respectful of diverse characters.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a parent reading stories to my children, I enjoyed Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish. What a humorous author! But my work is more educational in scope and focuses more on diversity, than it is fiction. I think I am most influenced by Rudine Sims Bishop’s ideas of creating books that are mirrors, windows, and doors. Mirrors reflect what we see, Windows allow us to see others, and open doors allow us opportunities to engage with each other.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on helping young authors produce their work. I have taken on the role of publishing consultant for now. I am mentoring the next generation of writers. I have some other ideas festering, but I would like to let these 5 books get into schools and bookstore nationwide before publishing anymore of my own books.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I rely heavily on Instagram to promote all my book releases, book events, and news. However, my website is the best place to get all information in a digestible and organized format.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Keep writing. You only get better by practicing. Do not give up, no matter how many rejections you get from large publishing houses. Hire an editor and illustrator. We are all blessed with different talents. If writing is yours, then outsource the others. A good illustrator and editor makes a world of difference in producing high quality stories.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Success is not a destination thing, it’s a daily thing.” – John Maxwell
In Your Road Map for Success, Maxwell identifies 10 things to look for when figuring out how to become successful and choosing good partnerships: 1) Those who make things happen, 2) Those who see and seize opportunities, 3) influence others, 4) add value, 5) attract other leaders, 6) equip others, 7) provide inspiring ideas, 8.) possess uncommonly positive attitudes, 9) live up to their commitments, and 10) have loyalty. I have been fortunate to have good partnerships in my life and they are all on my advisory board for Lauren Simone Publishing House.
What are you reading now?
I read widely- biographies, history, fiction, and self-help. I just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming and now I am reading CHURCH Girls, an edited anthology of 12 Christian women who describe various stages in their lives and how they overcame.
What’s next for you as a writer?
As a writer, I hope to continue publishing fun, educational, diverse children’s picture books. But I also hope to publish a romance novel, a biography, and a self-help book for work life balance.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
– The Power of Positivity by Norman Vincent Peale because I am going to have to be really optimistic to survive.
– Terry McMillian Who Asked You? because I am an avid Terry McMillian fan.
– The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom because this book really touched my heart.