Hey guys! Under the spotlight today is author, public speaker, and self-proclaimed recovering procrastinator- the wonderful Rita Emmett.
Hi Rita! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My Husband Bruce and I, as well as our 5 kids, were all born and raised in the Chicago area and are all Cubs fans. (Have you heard about them? They did something amazing Nov. 2 last year.)
My first four books are:
The Procrastinator’s Handbook
The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off
The Clutter-Busting Handbook
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress
These books have been blessed with great success. They are in 32 countries and have sold over 310,000 copies worldwide.
When I searched to find books with procrastination help written for children, there were ones for every age except little ones. However, I keep receiving emails such as “My six-year-old constantly puts off cleaning his room.”
So I wrote a picture book to help little procrastinators stop putting off everything and am sending it to agents. Then I thought, “If I have to self-publish that book, how do I do it if I’m not an illustrator?”
That’s how FARKLE SHARK, YOU ARE NOT STUPID came to be. Originally it was a “practice book” to help me learn the process of self-publishing a picture book, but people like it and I’m hearing that little kids love Farkle Shark.
Now I plan to do another Farkle book. He’s a fun little shark.
As well as being an author, you’re also a professional speaker, how did you decide it was something you wanted to do and what advice would you give others considering this career?
In school, I never ever wanted to be on stage so it was a tough evolution from being a reluctant speaker to an enthusiastic one.
Writing books and giving talks is a perfect circle. When people are considering several speakers for their event, my books put me head-and-shoulders above the others and increase my chances of being selected.
They when you stand in front of a group speaking on your book’s topic, many of them run out and buy it.
I love writing and speaking (even though I still get stage fright every time) and am a lucky ducky because I get paid for doing what I love. Life is good.
Your earlier books deal with defeating procrastination, what’s the story behind them?
I was the World’s Greatest Procrastinator. Then converted. Am now a “Recovering Procrastinator”.
The only books back then were by psychologists for psychologists. I prayed that someone would write a book helping everyday people break the procrastination habit.
Then had a smack-yourself-in-the-head moment and said, “Rita, YOU are the one to write the book.”
I didn’t know a thing about books or agents or publishing so I took classes, joined a writer’s group and attended conferences. It was a slow process, but my book sold 100,000 copies its first year, so all the “homework” and preparation was time well spent.
And now you’re moving into writing children’s books, was the transition easy and do you think you’ll try out any other genres?
It was not an easy transition. I didn’t know a thing about writing fiction or picture books. Again, it has taken a lot of study and homework to figure out how to do it. I am wrapping up three picture books right now (one procrastination and two Farkle Sharks). And I presume picture books are probably out of my system because I’m eager to get back to two ideas for my usual genre, self-help books.
But the learning journey for the picture book process has been great fun. I’ve truly enjoyed it.
You seem to be a big nature lover. What are your favourite animals and what was your best wildlife-related experience?
Yes, one of my books is on Stress Management and a big part of my Stress Management Plan is getting out in nature. It’s not only relaxing, it clears my head and improves my thinking.
There are so many animals – both wild and pets – that hold a special spot in my heart, but two years ago I had an exciting experience with one of my very favourites – a majestic eagle.
In Ireland, driving through County Clare, we spotted a Birds of Prey Center, stopped in and attended a fantastic outdoor show of falcons, owls and eagles. Each one had been injured, was now recovered and all were free to fly out of the arena whenever they wanted.
As part of the show, they asked for volunteers to don a leather gauntlet and offer our arms for a bird to land on. The eagle flew to my outstretched arm and stayed with me for a while. It was thrilling, emotional, and I’ll never forget it. Aren’t you jealous???
Tell us about the fundraisers you’re involved with.
Our whole family volunteers regularly. The two I focus on most are:
1. The Loretto IBVM nuns who taught writing in high school and encouraged me to author a book someday. So now, with every royalty check I receive, we send 10% to them. Also I work with them on fundraisers throughout the year. Can you imagine how great it feels to be able to give back generously to the great teachers you had in high school?
2. The Irish American Heritage Center. Every October, they bring over from Ireland authors, artists and musicians for a weekend of immersion in Irish Culture.
The first year, they invited authors (in both Ireland and U.S.) to submit applications for selecting 25 authors representing Irish life. The head of the committee asked me why I had not applied and I explained that I don’t write about Irish history, art, music or life in general in Ireland. I write about procrastination and clutter.
He said, “The national past-time of Ireland is procrastination. Most Irish are sentimental and have tons of clutter. Go for it.” So I applied and every year for 9 years have been a selected author & presenter, plus I volunteer to work throughout the fund-raiser.
Give us your favourite tip on how to lead a more productive life.
Decide where you want to be in your future.
Decide what you need to do to get there.
Decide what specifically you will begin with.
Start working and learning.
While you focus on your ultimate goal, don’t forget to enjoy the journey getting there.
What genres do you enjoy reading? Which is your favourite book ever?
In school, history bored me. Dates. Wars. Who cares?
Then I read an historical fiction called The Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn. It ignited a passion for history within me and I especially love historical fiction. My whole family has fallen in love with Morgan’s books.
In that weekend of Irish culture mentioned above, we met her in person, friendships developed, and when we went to Ireland, she took us around to several sights, told stories of the history of the place where we stood, and created a lifetime of magnificent memories. Our kids talk about it often.
One of the joys of volunteering is that we often receive way more than we give, right?
If you could suddenly be an expert on any topic or master any skill, what would you pick?
I’d help develop successful treatment for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It would help many returning veterans who can’t seem to get back to normal life after their deployment. And will also help survivors of rape and sexual assault plus anyone who has experienced trauma, tragedy and crisis.
What do you find are the easiest and most difficult parts of writing a book?
For me, the easiest is at the beginning — the fun of Mind Mapping ideas, topics, stories and examples I want to cover.The hardest is promoting the book after it’s published. My self-help books are easy and fun – give talks, do radio and other interviews and write articles. I am still learning how to promote and distribute a self-published picture book. There’s lots more to learn. And I very much appreciate this opportunity to tell people here about FARKLE SHARK, YOU ARE NOT STUPID. Thank you for that.
Tell us all about your latest book! (Or an upcoming one if you have a release soon.)
My latest is my very first picture book, FARKLE SHARK, YOU ARE NOT STUPID.
It’s based on a favourite quote which is attributed to Einstein, that is: Everyone is a genius.
But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid.
I wish every child, parent and teacher would know that quote. Haven’t we all met kids who are doing poorly in school but when they talk about trains or dinosaurs or computers or anything they are interested in, they are brilliant. I believe they deserve to know how brilliant they are in spite of doing poorly in school.
So it’s a fun and funny picture book where that little shark learns … and teaches … an important message that can be life-changing for a child.
Get your copy here!
“Every child is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid”. This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, is the theme of Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid.
When Farkle tells his big sister Sparkle Shark that he is stupid because he can’t climb trees, she’s astonished and asks if all the other sharks in his class are climbers. Then, when she discovers that everyone else in the class is a monkey, she teaches an important life lesson – “Everybody is smart about something. But nobody is smart about everything”.
Farkle doubts this message because Big Bully Boy won’t let up. Then something happens that has the monkeys calling him a hero because he knows things that they don’t know. Big Bully Boy admits Farkle is a genius and a Smarty Shark.
If children grew up looking for other people’s strengths instead of judging their weaknesses we would see much less bullying. This fun and funny book will bring on laughs, cheers and an understanding of important life lessons about bullies and feeling stupid. (Haven’t we all felt that way some time in our lives?)
What interview question do you wish someone would ask you?
Rita, was this a good amount of questions to ask you?
Yes, perfect. Thank you for including Farkle and me.
Rita Emmett is a best-selling author of several books including The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook. Her books are published in 32 countries and have sold over 310,000 copies world wide.
She wrote her first picture book, Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid because she knows tons of children who might NOT be smart in school but they are geniuses when they talk about trains or insects or they can fix things or they have determination to stick to a hard job or they can make people laugh. Yet often — because someone bullied them or made fun of them — they are convinced that they are stupid.
Rita based this book on an Einstein quote: “Everyone is a genius.But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid”. She hopes that this book will ignite in children the understanding that everyone is a genius.
Twice Rita rode mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. This has nothing to do with her book. She just wanted you to know that.