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Summerlin resident inspired by daughter for children's book contest

One Summerlin resident, Sharon Johnson, has dreams of becoming a well-known children's book author.

Other Summerlin residents, such as you, can help her achieve that goal.

Johnson is in the running for an online writing contest for a children's story.

"My passion has always been writing," Johnson said. "I went to a writer's conference ... that got me pumped."

To win the contest, her manuscript, titled "Just a Girl," needs as many votes online as possible. The contest is through MeeGenius!, a digital publisher in New York City. Its annual nationwide contest selects four new authors to add to its library. Johnson is one of the finalists.

Johnson's submission was inspired by her daughter, Regan, 5. Regan has an active imagination, and she takes acting out her fantasies well past play period. One time, for example, she decided to become a dog. She went around on all fours and barked whenever her parents asked her something. She even sat at the table and tried to eat out of a bowl.

"We'd be like, 'Regan, use your hands to eat,' " Johnson recalled.

Like Regan, "Just a Girl" tells of a child who struggles to behave as adults expect but in the end decides to be true to herself. It was among a number of stories Johnson already had written when she decided it should be entered in the contest.

Johnson belongs to a writer's critique group called Wordworms and received an email alerting her to the contest.

Fellow Wordworm-er Sharon Mann said having other writers talk about your work has many pluses, such as making lifelong friends and supporting one another's efforts.

"Writing and illustrating are very solitary activities, so to be with others and hear their feedback is very inspiring and helpful," she said.

Johnson's other daughter, Zoey, 3, has inspired another book.

If Johnson wins, Ober Elementary School, 3035 Desert Marigold Lane, wins, too. Johnson plans to stipulate it be the recipient of the donation of books that come with the top prize. The winner also receives $1,500 -- she and her husband, Keith, have not yet figured out what they would do with the money -- and, of course, her story gets published. But should she win, it won't be on library shelves. It will be available only online.

"You always imagine a book that's a hard copy," Sharon Johnson said. "But it's the digital age."

To vote, visit Voting ends Sunday.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.