Sandra Smith Returns

September 18, 2019 at 10:54 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Sandra Smith grew up on a farm with a tremendously large garden. She maintains that if you can’t taste the soil on a carrot, it’s not fresh enough. Although she now lives with her husband, cats, and three chickens in the city, she still manages to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyard garden. 

A licensed ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Ms. Smith has enjoyed teaching students from around the world. She began writing her Seed Savers novels while teaching middle school, and the diversity of her students are well-represented in her stories.

Smith is a member of IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association and is an 2012 OSU Master Gardener graduate. She gardens and writes at her home in the beautiful and green Pacific Northwest. Smith is the author of the  award-winning Seed Savers series, an MG/YA series set in a future where gardening is illegal.

Recently, after the publication of the last in the Seed Savers series and the republication of her earlier works, she has agreed to do her third interview with Anakalian Whims.

  1. Recently your books got new covers, who did the new art and how did you find them?
    The cover designer is Shannon Bodie of BookWise Design. She helped me find an illustrator through Illustration, Inc., a company she likes to work with. We both liked the work of Alan Baker, so he was hired as the illustrator.
  2. Early in your writing career your books were all published simply under S. Smith, what inspired the change to Sandra Smith?
    When I went with the new publishing company, Flying Books House, I worked with a marketing person and she really wanted me to change to Sandra Smith, so I did. It’s just hard when you have such a common name, which is why I had chosen S. Smith when I first began. Plus, I was already used to signing the double S on bathroom passes as a teacher. 🙂
  3. Now that the series is complete, what do you think has been your greatest lesson? Your greatest reward?
    That’s a tough one. I guess I wish I would have been able to have great covers from the beginning. You know, do everything right. But sometimes the money just isn’t there. Greatest reward? It’s really rewarding to look at the five finished books and think, “I did that. I wrote not one novel, but an entire series. It’s finished.”
  4. I’d like to say I’m one of your biggest fans; aside from myself, who are some of your greatest fans over the years who have really spurred you on while writing?
    You are one of my biggest fans, and definitely my earliest fan outside of family!
    My nieces and nephews were the ones who spurred me on. They were the ones that would ask, “How’s your book coming? Is the next one done yet?” You really need someone to do that. I procrastinated book 5 for a long time. It was such a task to think about how to end things and how to bring all the storylines and characters together. I wrote an entire fantasy novel in between book 4 and 5! That’s how much I put it off.
  5. Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writers should read a lot to keep their technical and creative tool box full. What are your favorite “tool box” books?
    I love On Writing by Stephen King! I try to read current popular middle grade books to know what’s trending. I also like to read just very well-written books that aren’t necessarily middle grade. It helps me see such a variety of writing styles and to know that I don’t have to worry so much about every little thing.
  6. You’ve interviewed with AnaklianWhims before (https://anakalianwhims.com/2014/05/06/texas-tour-interview-with-s-smith/) regarding the book signing tour you did in Texas. What have been the most memorable events you’ve participated in as an author since then?
    School and club visits are always fun. I also really enjoy vending at the National Heirloom Expo or Master Gardener conferences. Places where I get to meet people and tell them about the Seed Savers series. I also spoke at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium a couple of years ago, and that was a great experience. Oh, and this past April I went to Chicago where I attended an awards banquet and Seed Savers-Treasure won a silver award. That was very exciting!
  7. Prior to that tour of Texas, you also did a general interview and we talked of politics and your intentions for the series (https://anakalianwhims.com/2012/06/15/interview-with-s-smith/). It referred back to one of your own blog posts regarding a seed cleaner eventually losing his job. Do you feel the same way about the direction of society and the purposes of your story? Did you accomplish your goals?
    Yes, I do feel the same way. I still have some goals to meet in terms of the books becoming more widely read, but I’m happy with the finished product.
    People have gotten away from the land. I know not everyone has even a house on a lot, but if a person has even a fairly good-sized pot and some soil and seeds, they can grow something! My husband and I buy no vegetables at all during the summer just because I made part of our lawn a garden space. But that’s a little beside the point. I think eating fresh food is important for good health, and knowing at least where your food comes from and what’s in it, how to prepare it, that’s important. Food rights is (are?) important.
    I like to say there are a lot of nonfiction gardening books out there, “how to” books; Seed Savers are “what if” books. That’s the power of fiction. To immerse yourself in a world that hasn’t yet happened and make you realize you can make a difference.
  8. Now that the series is done, what’s next?
    I need to spend a good amount of time marketing the series now that so much has been invested in it. But I have another book already written and several others started. I’d really like to start something new as well, because editing and rewrites aren’t the same as that first initial draft. I’ve also started writing poetry again, because my soul was really missing that.
  9. Last, but not least, what do you have growing in your garden right now?
    Fall came really abruptly this year. I had a feeling it was going to. So the garden is dwindling. There’s a little corn, beans, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chard, a little broccoli, one kale plant, poor showing of carrots, cabbage, herbs. The usual suspects.
    Thank you for the interview!

Visit the author’s website: https://authorssmith.com

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March 14th Dan Price Book Signing

March 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , )

Dan Price JPEG

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The Best Interview Ever!

November 20, 2014 at 3:09 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , )

ToriI had the privilege of reading an advance copy of George Wright Padgett’s latest novel, Cruel Devices. I was pleased to share a cover reveal earlier in the season here on my blog; and now, I’m proud to post my latest interview with an author I’ve grown to respect and adore.

AW:I’ve done an interview with you before and I don’t want to ask all the same questions as last time…

Yet, Cruel Devices is so different from your previous novel, Spindown, that old questions apply to your new work. Never mind that you added the pressure of the two of us conducting the best interview ever! I’m not sure I can fill those shoes. 😉

Cruel Devices feels like the story just rolled out of bed completely wonderful and polished without effort. Maybe it fell from the sky like a dream; maybe it didn’t – but was its inception as easy for you as it feels? What drove you to write something so unique from what fans thought they could expect from you?

GWP:

That you say the writing feels effortless is a high compliment. I assure you that it wasn’t the case (just ask my editor and beta readers). It’s said that gold is refined by putting it through the fire seven times; Cruel Devices went through the ‘refinement process’ a lot more than that.

As for the differences between this novel and the last: Let me begin by saying that I love science fiction and I’m so very grateful that Spindown has been well received by the sci-fi community, but I felt it important to avoid being cast as only a writer of that genre. I know it can be risky to genre hop, but I want to establish early on to any readers that may follow me I intend to do stuff that may or may not involve outer space or robots.

I’m hopeful that someone that enjoys reading George Wright Padgett novels are reading them because the stories are well crafted and require them to think about aspects of life while going on an adventure. So after Spindown, I chose a story topic and setting that was as far removed from it as I could get. Cruel Devices takes place on modern day Connecticut on Earth (no alternate universe or anything like that). Just a semi-normal guy around normal people, but exposed to extraordinary circumstances.

I’ve always enjoyed how an author like Michael Crichton would write something like Andromeda Strain (which is a hard sci-fi story if there ever was one) and then he’d jump the fence to do something like Jurassic Park, or Rising Sun, or tackle time travel with a story like Timeline. Or look at H.G. Wells, he delivered The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau and all those other great tales. They’re wonderfully different stories (BTW he didn’t write any sequels to these), but they can’t be confined to a single genre other that than they’re all speculative fiction – to use a modern term for it.

Hopefully Cruel Devices (and the steampunk detective novel to follow it) won’t alienate my hard sci-fi readers. I’ll return to the genre in a few more books.

Cruel DevicesCoverAW: Cruel Devices feels like you really dug deep into your inner Stephen King (although it is very much your own work and I love it!). Is he an author you typically read much of?

GWP:

Stephen King is without a doubt one of the grandmasters of horror, and Yes, I’ve read him. What’s interesting is the reason that I began reading his work was not for horror at all. My colleagues kept going on about how wonderfully developed his characters were. I realized that I had to check their claims out, and discovered that he is a master of the craft and has a remarkable ability to create characters that seem as real as your next neighbor. It’s worth noting that the main character in Cruel Devices is also a master horror writer on the level as King and even mentions him as a contemporary.

AW: The main character is an author who starts the book out dreading his book signings, finding his fame a nuisance. I love having you out for book signings, please tell me that this particular aspect of your character’s development was not drawn from your own feelings or experience. 😉

GWPGWP:

*Smiles* No, I love meeting my readers in person. Please come see me Dec. 13th at Half Price Books in Humble and I’ll prove it.

I suspect that the character of Gavin Curtis did enjoy his readers at one time, but soured that’s over time. The reason he’s become embittered towards fans is he feels that they’ve trapped him artistically. He views himself as victim of his own success held captive by his creation. He wants to move on from writing pulp vampire detective stories, but his audience won’t let him. A major theme of the book is control, and his readers control him by forcing him to write what he doesn’t want. So he naturally rebels and resents them and the vampire detective character of his stories.

Many years ago I heard something about abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothco. The story goes that when is ex-wife hooked up with his agent, Rothco attempted to sabotage his painting work so the couple wouldn’t financially benefit from him. The more he tried to offer sub-par work the more his popularity and fame increased. I don’t know how true any of that is, but the idea intrigued me enough to include my version of that concept in the novel. Gavin’s fan base grows exponentially the more he mockingly offers worn out tropes in hopes that the readers will stop reading so he may pursue ‘serious literary writing’.

PumaJacketAW: Every author, like Gavin, has those questions they get bored with people asking about their book and their writing process – but also like Gavin, every author has those questions and comments that grab their attention, the questions they wish they were asked. What do you wish people would ask you about Cruel Devices? Why?

GWP:

Again, I’m not jaded like the character of Gavin Curtis, I love answering questions. I think it’s amazing that I get paid to lie (on the page) to people. I especially like questions surrounding themes and concepts of my stories. Some readers simply read for plot and action, which is fine, but I enjoy talking to people about how the work made them think and possibly examine their own opinions on things.

AW: If a book club were to read your book, what would you hope they would talk about? (If a book club were to read your book, would you make a guest appearance?)

GWP:

The protagonist is a spoiled, egotistical, prima donna who at first seems as unlikeable as Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces with a mix of Billy Halleck from Thinner. As the story unfolds, the complex layers of Gavin’s personality are revealed one by one until we see at his core he’s actually (do I dare say it?) a hero, or maybe it’s better to call him a reluctant hero. I enjoyed the reactions of my beta/critique group when presented with a seemingly unredeemable main character. Early on in the critique process one of the other novelists in my group took me aside and sheepishly asked “Should I like this guy? He really seems like a jerk.” I informed him that the character’s off-putting manner is deliberate, but he’d be rooting for him by the end of the book.

As far as participating in a book club:
I’d consider it a privilege to attend a book club reading Cruel Devices (or Spindown) though I think it’d be more fun to appear anonymously and at some point during the discussion dramatically tip over the coffee table exclaiming “That’s not what the author meant by using that metaphor!” When the other readers gathered there would challenge this, I’d reveal who I was and storm out of the meeting. Talk about making an impression!

Spindown CoverAW: How was writing Cruel Devices different from writing your previous work, Spindown? I understand that asking an author to pick their favorite out of their own work can be a little like asking a parent to choose a favorite child – but really, which one do you enjoy more? Which one did you enjoy writing more?

GWP:

The question is easier to answer than you might think because I enjoyed them both for different reasons. First of all, the stories are structured completely different from each other. Spindown is more of a quest adventure in which the characters are attempting to gain their freedom by reaching the superintendent station before they expire. Though a lot of introspection takes place along the way, the goal to make it to the end of the moon base is as destination driven as Dorothy finding Oz or Joseph Conrad’s Marlow character in Heart of Darkness going up the river to find Kurtz.

Cruel Devices on the other hand is more of a mystery. Gavin spends much of the book trying to understand what is going on and why things are happening to him.

The second thing I want to mention is since Spindown and Cruel Devices are books in two very different genres (sci-fi and horror) it didn’t feel like I was writing a second novel at all. The storytelling rhythms are noticeably different for the rise and falls of horror opposed to sci-fi. I think I’d actually convinced myself on a subconscious level that I was writing a second 1st novel (which in fact, I sorta was).

AW: Do you feel like you’ve grown as a writer between the two books? In the last few years as a published author, what have you learned about books, publishing, and the writing process that you didn’t know before publication? What do you wish you had known prior to your book deals?

GWP:

My experiences from Spindown helped me know what to pack for the journey of writing this book. Having gone through the process before, I knew to expect there would be times when things would get tough, but I had the confidence to get through because eventually you come out the other side.

I also learned to trust my instincts more on this book – to recognize and allow ideas in that maybe were not in the original blueprint outline for the story. Permitting that flexibility resulted in a much more ‘organic’ story than if I’d remained rigid to concepts that snuck aboard later in revisions. I think this may be how that ‘fall out of bed’ natural feel that you mentioned above was achieved.

As for the publishing business questions, I am grateful to have met up with a small publisher called Grey Gecko Press. I tip my hat to anyone who self-publishes; I understand that to be a tremendous amount of work that I’m just too lazy to do myself. My publisher takes care of all the non-writing behind the scenes details that are necessary to make and format my books. This allows me to focus on writing without getting bogged down in the machinery.

AW: I can’t help but long for a replica of the deadly typewriter to be present at your future events. Any chance of that happening?

GWP:

Unlikely – It’s at the bottom of the river *wink*

AW: If you were to select a soundtrack for people to listen to while they read Cruel Devices, what songs would make the list?

GWP:

I love this question. It’s funny you ask because the book originally had a number of songs embedded into it. In the first draft of the novel a lot of attention was paid to the grand re-opening of the bridge near the resort. Radio station WHCN, The River 105.9 (which is a real Connecticut station) was heard in the elevators, restaurant, cab rides, etc. The station contest played songs about bridges and rivers so I had the music constantly in the background of whatever was happening to Gavin.

I used Bridge Over Troubled Water-Simon & Garfunkel, The River– Bruce Springsteen, Take Me to the River – Al Green, etc. to name a few. The only reference to survive the editing process was Bobbi Gentry’s 1967 hit Ode to Billie Joe in which the lyrics describe someone throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge. As of yet, I have not attempted to listen to these songs while reading the book. If you try doing this, let me know how it turns out.

A final note: I appreciate all that your blog does to support Indie authors, mainstream writers, and everyone in between. Thanks for featuring Cruel Devices.

Madame K

http://george-p.com/cruel.htm http://georgewpadgett.wix.com/author

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May the Fourth Be With You!

May 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

See you all Saturday!
Star Wars Day 2014

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October 2013 Events

October 1, 2013 at 5:21 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

JoAnn SalmorettiWayne BastaMEB BRYANTOctober 26 HumbleOct 26 NO

ALSO, Don’t forget to check the Good Books in the Woods Event Page… That place has some nifty stuff going on this month too.  http://www.goodbooksinthewoods.com/news/

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Local Events in June!

May 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Aoristos at Good Books
Feed Your Brain 2013 HumbleFeed Your Brain 2013 North OaksPoster Peter Devine
C DAvid Cannon Book 2 HumbleC David Cannon Book 2 North Oaks

Missy Jane North Oaks

Missy Jane Humble

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Coming of Age…

April 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Coming of Age always references that adolescent stage.  But, the real coming of age, I have found, is when you’re creeping toward 30.  It’s when things really start happening.  It’s, apparently, the new 20.

I’m getting published.

And so are all my writerly friends my age.

Here’s one of them:

Babes Chicken

I look forward to reading Missing Dad by Miranda Campbell.

So, maybe we’ve been grown up for awhile now, but now it finally feels that way.

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Young Adult

January 10, 2013 at 10:06 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Confession:

indiefilms

I have an illness.  I see an indie film and no matter how awful it looks, I feel the urge to give it a shot.  It’s an indie film, which to me means it’s an underdog, and who knows, what if it’s a hidden gem of awesomeness?

Take that and a love for authors, books, stories about authors of books, and Charlize Theron in all her hotness – how could I pass up Young Adult on Netflix?  I just couldn’t.

youngadultposterOh dear God, give me that hour and thirty-three minutes of my life back.

That’s not fair, the movie is good for what it is.  It is well done.  It has a bit of wit to it.  The director of photography did this brilliant thing with a cassette tape and player and the beginning that I totally loved.

But I really don’t think it is possible for a character to stress me out anymore than Mavis Gary just managed.  I mean seriously, what was wrong with that crazy lady?! Everything! That’s what!

She is an alcoholic who drinks way too much diet coke first thing in the morning – out of the bottle.  She is chronically unsatisfied, sleeps around, divorced, 37, at the tale end of writing glory (she was a ghost writer of a young adult series that is a few years past its prime selling years), and oh yeah the most important part: she’s chasing down her married ex-boyfriend who just had a baby with his wife.  It’s a pretty ballsy role for Theron, and she pulls it off brilliantly; I just want to strangle the whole demented story, if strangling a story could ever be possible.

Patton-Oswalt-young-adultThe best part, the part that does make the movie worth a damn, is Patton Oswalt.  I sort of love him.  A lot.  He is an awesome supporting actor that shows up in everything, but I know him best as Joel Mynor in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.  He is Mavis’ voice of reason in this little fiasco of a man hunt/coming of age story.  Can you call it a coming of age story if the protagonist is 37? I think not, but I promise you, it fits.  And in the end when the Patton Oswalt’s on-screen sister asks to go back to the Mini-Apple with Mavis, I desperately wanted her to say ‘Can’t I’m taking your super awesome brother.’  Of course, that didn’t happen because despite the Esmeralda/Quasimodo dynamic, Young Adult’s own Quasimodo character was way to good for the likes of the star beauty.

Oh dear God give me that hour and thirty three minutes of my life back – except don’t.  Even though it was kind of painful to watch, it resonates a bit.  Check it out.  Let me know what you make of it.

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The Importance of a Book Signing

September 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Events) (, , , , , , )

Some people will tell you that book signings are old-fashioned, a thing slowly creeping into the world of publishing past.  As both a reader and an event coordinator, I have strongly say that it is not.

As an event coordinator, I’ll tell you that yes, they can be slow.  People don’t stop as often as they maybe used to.  If it’s an author they are unfamiliar with they have a tendency to be stand offish, uncaring, or nervous.  Fix this by offering candy or baked goods, or even a few free books, and you’ve sealed the deal.  Like a sales person, all you have to do is get them up to the table.  Your merchandise, a friendly face, and their sheer curiosity will do the rest.  As an event coordinator I will tell you that you shouldn’t worry if not very many people buy your book that day, that’s not entirely the point of a book signing.  The point of a book signing is to get your face, your name, your book titles and book covers lodged in their brain, constantly tickling the edges of their frontal lobes.  Every time they see your work, for years to come, they will say in their head: I met him/her, I should buy this.  In this day of e-books, many wont buy from you in a brick and mortar store, but will rush home and purchase a kindle edition.

As a reader with severe extrovert tendencies, I will tell you that it is incredibly exciting.  Meeting an author, whether you love everything they’ve ever done, or just barely opened the first page of a book, or have never heard of them – to me – is so very exciting.  I want to hear their voice and the way they talk, let their real voice intertwine a bit with the inner one I’ve imagined in my head.  I want to know a few factoids, a few mannerisms, put their work in a greater perspective.  Yesterday, when I met Karleen Koen for the first time, I just wanted to bask in her author-ness, in her bookishness.  Of course, I ended up chattering hopelessly because that’s what I do, but my oh my how awesome it was to hang out and listen.  It made me want to get home afterward as quickly as possible and finish reading the book that I had meant to finish before the signing.  It made me want to buy the other books she has written, and all I can think about this morning is that there is a signed copy of Now Face to Face in hardback sitting on the shelf at the store… and how it needs to be mine.

My goal is to bring more book signings to Half Price Books Humble and one day maybe be as event filled as Murder By the Book in Houston.  Book signings are not dead and they should never be dead.  If you are an author interested in setting up a book signing, email me at andiklemm@rocketmail.com.

 

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Get Ready for HPB Humble’s 1st Book Club Meeting!

August 30, 2012 at 1:52 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I made and printed little post cards in preparation of the September 3rd Book Club Meeting (8pm-9pm at HPB Humble!).  We will be discussing Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly.  Feel free to print a copy for yourself.

Pamela Aidan

Paul Anderson

Jean Auel

Bernard Cornwell

Umberto Eco

Karen Essex

Diana Gabaldon

Kathleen O’Neal and W. Michael Gear

Pauline Gedge

Margaret George

Philippa Gregory

Karen Harper

Melinda McGuire

Michelle Moran

Delaney Rhodes

Anya Seton

Anne Easter Smith

Wesley Stace

Also…

Eleanor Hibbert, who also writes under the names:

Jean Plaidy

Victoria Holt

Philippa Carr

Eleanor Burford

Elbur Ford

Kathleen Kellow

Anne Percival

Ellalice Tate

Don’t forget we will be meeting the first Monday of the month through out the Fall/Winter 2012.  Here’s this season’s reading roster:

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