Q: First tell us something about yourself?
My name is Terri Johnson. I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. I am the daughter of the Most High, a mama to two young adult children, a pet parent to an adoptive cat, a sassy Yorkie and a mischievous red-ear slider turtle 😊. Also, this year I will celebrate 25 years as a social worker, a profession that has shaped me personally, professionally and that I love enormously! I’m a lover of the arts: music, dance, visual etc.
Q: How and when your journey started as a writer?
As a child, I kept an “ideas book” that I wrote my thoughts, dreams, stories and plans that I keep until this day. I had been told by a journalist of an independent newspaper that I had a “real talent for raw storytelling” that I should pursue, but I lacked confidence and didn’t believe him. However, writing is like my therapy, and it brings me great joy.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
I started writing what my friend, Michelle, calls TJ-isms (my ideas and quirky sayings) and poems that’s a combination of my observations, life experiences as a black woman, mama, lover and as a mental health clinician, that are “poem-like,” almost 13 years ago, titled, “Voices of the Unheard….” But I haven’t felt compelled to birth it into the world yet, so it is still unpublished. Over my 20 plus years of working with beautiful spirits and living for almost 50 years on this earth, I have witnessed and heard some of the most horrible things humanity can do to itself.
I decided to finally share with a larger group of people ways to prevent some of the atrocities that happen, so we don’t keep healing from trauma, but preventing it in the first place! So, I, finally, betted on Terri and self- published April 2020 what I call my “heart work” of the past 20 plus years, Body Safety Zones (BSZ) and Body Safety Zones (BSZ) activity and coloring books.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
I believe being proactive is the way to go or as I call it, “prevention OVER intervention!” So, I wrote a children’s book about “body safety zones” to bring about awareness and education to children 8 years or younger to prevent child abuse, exploitation and/or trafficking! Ms. B. Persistent is a school social worker that delights in teaching her students, BSZ kidz in her wellness class ways to protect themselves by being assertive, informed and empowered with knowledge about their rights and agency of their bodies regardless of with whom they may interact. It is written in a way that is fun despite the seriousness of the subject matter or perceived level of difficulty for many to tackle. I want it to be a tool for people that really love and care about the well-being of our most precious and invaluable gifts…our children! It highlights internet safety, teaches self-empowerment and self-advocacy without being so obvious in its delivery!
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader? is there any specific reason?
The 1st page in my book includes the following quote by Frederick Douglass and expresses best why I choose children as my audience, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” As a society we cannot afford to continually “get back” to our children! We must prevent tragedies and traumas like abuse, neglect, exploitation, trafficking from happening to them, and my children’s book, Body Safety Zones (BSZ) is my way of contributing to the prevention through awareness.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Body Safety Zones (BSZ) reflects the work I do with children in Baltimore City to teach them about permission, consent, etc. I wasn’t the most original when I came up with the characters, lol! The BSZ kidz are names or nicknames of my own children and children in my life. Ms. B. Persistent is a play on my company’s motto, “Persistence is the WAY” and a subtle empowerment message to all to be persistent in whatever they do and never give up!
Q: Do you want to give any message for your readers?
Firstly, I want to thank my readers for being proactive and loving children so much that they’re willing to teach them, early, about their body safety zones, for normalizing it so it wouldn’t be a weird thing to talk about! I want to encourage them to spread the word about body safety zones (bsz) so we can make it a movement that states the message clearly, “we will no longer tolerate a reactive or laisser-faire stance when it comes to the protection and well-being of our precious babies!” Lastly, to encourage them to share their story and/or ideas because there are so many people in this world that need to hear from them!
Peace and blessings, Terri @persistenceistheway Books, and more available for purchase on: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PersistenceistheWAY