When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I won the young author’s contest in elementary school. I wrote a fairy tale story and won 1st place in the Young Author’s competition. The name of my story was the Magical Butterfly. I choose a butterfly because I did a research on them and they start as a caterpillar then wraps itself up in a cocoon and then hatches out as a butterfly. I thought about how I am, which is, shy until I get to know you. Moving to Indiana was hard for me at first so I just turned some of my life into a fairy tale. My mom would say when I have no one to play with, I could entertain myself. After several people read my story, I was encouraged to put it into a book.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I have only written one children’s book and it took about a week to write it.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I am a full-time student and I help my mother with our family business. However, when I settle down in the evenings, I work on my next book projects.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don't know that I have one but I do know I have a very active imagination!
Where do you get your information and inspiration for your books? I get my information and inspiration from my life and from my imagination.
When did you write your first book?
I wrote my first book eight years ago. However, since then, I've continued to improve the book as well as add accessories to it. I offer my readers a special pillow with a pocket for the book. This package also comes with a T-shirt and a water bottle. All the accessories are decorated with the book's butterfly theme and it has become a best-selling item on my website and at trade-shows.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to read books when I'm not writing.
What does your family think of your writing? My family is fond of the fact that I write and they encourage me to keep writing.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned that I can use my life and the teaching I received from my parents then use my imagination to turn it into a book.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I have only written one book but I'm in the process of creating a series of other books.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
My suggestions would be to not allow anything to stop you and just pray about all of your aspirations.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they have to say? I have heard from many of my readers' parents who tell me their children love my book.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
I am the youngest of three. I have two older sisters. The oldest is Sharon and the middle child is Shawna Johnson. My dad was retired from the U.S. Air Force, whom we lost in 2018 and my mother is working with her siblings in their family business T&E Innovations and Designs.
I am thankful that with the help of God, family, and teachers I have overcome the learning disorder of dyslexia. Now I can read more fluently and I have developed a love of reading books. I have had a lot of trouble with my reading and thought I would never learn to read. My mother was able to recognize the symptoms of dyslexia. I went through testing here in Louisiana at Sylvan, but it was so expensive to go there for tutoring, so my mother got a private tutor, but it did not help with my reading. My mother tried different techniques to help me learn to deal with letters and numbers being jumbled up in my head and they started to help. Once we moved to Indiana my father went and talked to the Principal at the elementary school and he called Sylvan there and I was able to go for free. I want to be able to encourage other students not to give up and to work hard like I have. Although, I did have some moments when I was so tired of trying so hard that I did want to give up. My parents talked to me and encouraged me to never give up that they were so proud of me for what I had accomplished. I would also like to encourage parents, teachers, principals, and anyone to be patient and to help other students that are struggling like I have.
One career goal of mine is to become a photojournalist. When my sister was in the 10th grade, she took a photography class at Bossier Parish Community College. She would use me as her model and pose me in so many different ways with different props. She would take me to the park and take pictures of trees, flowers, and insects; then she would write a short description about the picture. The pictures would come out so pretty that I fell in love with taking pictures of different things. The other career goal I had was to become a teacher so I could help kids the way some of my teachers helped me. One of my teachers would let me sit outside the room so I could read out loud so I could comprehend what I was reading. My test scores improved when she let me take them that way. Another one of my teachers would let me take longer times on my tests so I could concentrate on the words and letters. They showed me that they really cared about me, so I want to give back to someone else.
I also aspire to become an accomplished author of children’s books.
I have accomplished a lot in my life so far. I was selected as “Student of the Year” my 8th grade year. While in Middle school I was a Junior National Honor Society recipient, in the choir, was on the softball and track teams for my school. During High School I was a cheerleader, flag line, baseball player and a National Honors Society recipient. Whatever God has planned for me, I am ready to take it on!
You can order a copy of her book and visit with Shai here: