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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Seed Savers – Unbroken

June 19, 2019 at 5:05 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Title: Unbroken

Author: Sandra Smith https://authorssmith.com

Genre: Teen/ Young Adult

Length: 339 pages

“Had Smith been right? Was the U.S. headed for disaster?”

This line in Sandra Smith’s latest installment of the Seed Savers series made me laugh out loud. In Unbroken, Caleb Smith is a whistleblower who sent the government a 23-page letter regarding the impending doom of monocultures. In the real world, Sandra Smith has written a riveting series that gets kids thinking about where their food comes from, who controls the sources, and who should control the sources. This one line in the book could sum up the entire series.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading each of the Seed Savers books as they come out, in advance reader copy formats. I’ve seen characters grow, I’ve witnessed Smith’s writing change and develop, and I’ve gotten to be excited with her (via email) over the much anticipated dream covers.

This series has been with me as I raise my daughter and I’ve loved having it as a reminder of why we garden, forage, and go back to the dirt and the seeds every season. We would have always gardened, but Smith’s books took it up a notch. It has always kept me true to my desire to sit with my kid and show her how to harvest a seed from a plant, or even produce from the grocery store.

Much of Unbroken concerns an ever looming food shortage in a society where food is no longer grown. Because of food shortages in my own life, I can’t express enough how much the message of this book, seed saving being the key to ensuring the world can eat, moves me. Having tomatoes planted every summer makes a huge difference for a hungry family. Being able to harvest Creeping Cucumbers, wild garlic, dewberries, grapes and grape leaves, and plant indigenous seeds in my yard for easy access, makes it that much easier to get by when faced with an over stretched budget. The books also open the door to discussion about ethics and politics, and most of all, where our belief in God and our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth overlap.

Like the Harry Potter books, the series starts out geared toward one age level and evolves into something for an older crowd. I think this is good for young adult series so that kids can have characters who grow up with them. An eight year old could thoroughly enjoy Treasure, but I wouldn’t hand Unbroken (book five) to an elementary student. With that in mind, I only read the first few books out loud to my kiddo, and the rest of the series will come later. That simply means I’ll have the pleasure of enjoying Smith’s books twice.

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Seed Savers Continues!

April 22, 2019 at 6:55 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

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It’s a Keeper

November 7, 2015 at 1:06 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

keeper-front-revTitle: Keeper

Author: S. Smith

Genre: Middle Grade/ Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Length: 200 pages

Many moons ago, it seems like forever now, S. Smith sent me a copy of Seed Savers, the first of her young adult series set in an America where growing your own food has become illegal.  Children were being taught about seeds and produce gardens in whispers; collecting, saving, and planting seeds a prison-worthy offense.

The story couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  It was the summer of 2012, I had a small daughter at home, my husband was out of work, and I had just started spending more time and care actively growing more of our groceries.  On top of that, I was beginning to learn how to forage and was focusing my daughter’s future education on as much regarding sustainability and self-sufficiency as possible.  I wanted taking care of ourselves to come as naturally as literature does for me.  I wanted finding edible grapes in the forest to be as simple as knowing that 2+2 = 4.  Then Seed Savers happened and it felt like the stars had begun to align.

Several books later (Seed Savers, Heirloom, and Lily), we finally have the fourth installment of S. Smith’s world.  The girls, Lily and Clare, have done a lot of growing up.  Siblings Dante and Clare have received a lot more education during their stay in Canada.  Rose is being indoctrinated… bad guys are getting closer and closer to turning everything upside down as rebels have begun starting riots in the street.  Soon, all four kids find themselves in Portland, Oregon, where Seed Savers headquarters has been stationed under a forested park in the city for years.

More and more, the series is resembling the fast paced action political drama of the Divergent series – without the killing, and with the added fun of things like Dandelion syrup being discussed.

Although I was sent an advanced reader’s copy of Keeper, I still made a point to pre-order a final copy for my kindle.  The book is a keeper in every format, and it’s just worth it to be as supportive as possible of this story, help it get told.  I’m looking forward to the day Smith gets a movie or mini-series deal.  Better yet, the homeschool mom in me votes for it to be a Netflix original.

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Loveliness

November 4, 2014 at 5:12 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Crosswicks 2Title: The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal Book Two)

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Genre: Memoir

I’ve been reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother for nearly a month now.  I read pieces and snippets in particular moods – moods when I need it: L’Engle’s wisdom and a bit of the outdoors.

But finally, last night, I turned the last page.

I finished and sat there a moment.  My journal open, the book closed, my pen ready and not ready at the same time.  Ready because I had a vision to capture in the ink.  Not ready because it didn’t seem to me like a book review at all, but it’s what I have – my thoughts regarding this book.

I cannot help but think of Sandy Smith while I am reading it.  L’Engle tells tales of her home life and mentally, for some reason or another, I picture Smith’s face rather than L’Engle’s.  Perhaps it is because I’ve met Sandy, but L’Engle is a series of disjointed pictures from different decades that I have plucked from the internet.  Sandy is flesh and blood to me, and L’Engle deserves to seem like flesh and blood in my mind.  Flat internet images glowing with the unnatural light of an LED background do not do her justice.  I hope Sandy doesn’t mind me stealing her image and loaning it to another in my mind.

It’s just that – in my mind, they belong together.  They are joined by associations I may never be able to clearly express, but might be able to feebly make a fraction of sense of them here.

They are each writers and humans in their own right, but L’Engle’s writing seems to have the same aura of loveliness that I find in Sandy when talking to her in person.  When I think of her, this soft spoken writer who traveled all the way from Oregon to Texas for a book signing tour, you’d think I’d remember the hours I spent with her in bookstores hanging out around tables of her young adult series Seed Savers.  But I don’t.

P1010598Instead, I specifically recall looking back at her while walking on a trail – her face lit up by the sun and a full smile as she looked back her husband entertaining my daughter with flora and fauna and a delightful hat.  (The picture on the left is not long after that moment that is ingrained in my mind forever.)

As in every moment with her, she had a twinkle in her eye.  I’d call it a spark, even.  She’s someone you meet and instantly want to be her friend, or little sister, or niece, or daughter.  It doesn’t matter, you just long to matter to her because she is wonderful and wise and everything about being around her feels enriching.

I do not know Madeleine L’Engle other than by her books, and I would not presume to say that I really know Sandy Smith either – I’ve just had the pleasure of her company, the joy of promoting her books, we’ve chattered back and forth in emails to plan signings and blog tours, and I adore her.  But in my mind, I imagine L’Engle and Smith as kindred spirits that belong to the same whisper of a thought.

Perhaps this is one of those things I’m meant to keep to myself.  I’m not sure.  I have forgotten, until recently when back in the store full time, how awkward I can be.  I say things at odd times, like tonight when I commented on a girl’s freckles.  I really love freckles.  But I’ve read The Summer of the Great-Grandmother and I’m grasping to “review” it.  I can’t.  I can only tell you about a feeling, and that feeling was a memory of sunshine and a respect for life and nature on an Easter Weekend in the woods near my old home.  Ultimately, I can only choose one word that describes it all… this book, the ladies in question, the woods, that moment…

loveliness.

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Texas Earth Day Tour Recap

May 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm (Events, Guest Blogger, Travel) (, , , , , , , )

In her own words, sans my interjections: Texas Earth Day Tour Recap

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It wasn’t a blog tour, it was a real tour. We left on April 9 and returned–on schedule–May 1. A rental car we wished we could keep carried us safely through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada as we attended the wedding of a niece and appeared in bookstores and schools in Texas. I met great folks in fifteen bookstores in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. I wrote with students at Claughton Middle School in the Spring district (Houston area) and watched in awe the presentation of projects made by students in response to an assignment after the class read  Seed Savers:Treasure at Austin Jewish Academy. I am so sorry that many of the photos from that visit did not come out for one reason or another…

I met for the first time my biggest fan in Texas and had dinner with a…

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Texas Tour Interview with S. Smith

May 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

1. You came to Texas for the first time for an Earth Day celebration book signing tour. Let’s recap, what stores and schools did you visit?

P1010693Bookstores:
Good Books in the Woods, Spring TX

Half Price Books in Houston at these locations:
Clear Lake
Humble
Montrose

Half Price Books in San Antonio at these locations:
Broadway
North Central
Huebner
Bandera

Half Price Books Austin area:
Round Rock
South Lamar
Southpark Meadows
North Lamar

Half Price Books in Dallas area:
Lewisville
Mesquite
Flagship (hpb.com/001)

Schools:
Claughton Middle School in Houston
Austin Jewish Academy in Austin

2. Did you meet any memorable customers you’d like to send a shout out to?

P1010713Oh my gosh—so many! The young woman from Spain studying in the futures program, sorry I can’t remember the name of the program and don’t know if I got hers. What a long, great conversation. There was Rob who was interested in knowing more about publishing. Marie Senter, “Viva la Fiesta!” in San Antonio who blessed me with my own pair of cowboy boot earrings. Lots of excited and, alternately, very shy kids. I met kindred spirits in the food movement who were very encouraging about the theme of my books. Answering these questions is helping me remember all the good times. 🙂

3. Where did you visit when you weren’t at bookstores and schools?
Unfortunately, my husband and I did not get to do too much touristy stuff, but we got in a little. Of course, first, I got to meet my number one fan in Texas and her family, and visit her woods—you! We also got to visit Old Spring. In San Antonio we ran into a spring festival called Fiesta that we hadn’t a clue was happening! We also were staying in an old part of town with historic homes, many included on the “walking tour.” We met the owner of one of those homes (shout out to Victoria!), who gave us an inside tour of the home. I also got to have dinner with an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in 30 years! And of course we did the Riverwalk and had dinner there the first night. Unfortunately, in Austin and Dallas it was just busy, busy, busy. On the way home we got in a quick visit to Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico and the Grand Canyon. We were sort of on a deadline to get back.

4. Do you have a favorite city or region, now that you’ve been here?san-antonio-visitor-bureau
I think we both enjoyed San Antonio the most. But it might have been because we were staying at a very good location. Close to downtown and in a cool, older neighborhood.

5. Did you learn anything new on your tour?
Sure. I learned how cool Half Price Books bookstores are, for one. Besides books, records, etc., they have lots of very nice stationery products which I am a sucker for. I also learned what the sky looks like when it’s full of dust. I got to see a lot of new terrain. We drove through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and a touch of Utah. Some of those were for the first time. And the Hoover dam is huge.

6. Did you try any new foods?
No, I don’t think so. Unless you count McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger. Although there were a different kind of beans being served with the Mexican meals than we usually have here. Charro beans?

8. Your trip ran into the Easter weekend. How did celebrating Easter on the road differ than how you celebrate it at home?

DSC00844Normally at home we would go to church in the morning and in the afternoon my family would get together, have a traditional meal where I would bring my homemade egg noodles, my sister-in-law would bring her fried rice, and five or six layer jello, my sister would bring her green or pink creamy salads, mom a pie or two, and whoever is hosting filling in with the rest (ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, more pies…). Then the kids would do an Easter egg hunt until nobody wanted to hunt anymore and everyone wanted to hide the eggs. Sometimes we use plastic eggs, but I like to use the real boiled and colored ones. It would be a lot like the scene in Heirloom where it is Easter. This year we drove from Houston to San Antonio on Easter. We managed to get to a church service late and then we were offered some food that they had eaten in the morning before the service. Since we were on the road we ate some. So I had two tamales and an orange for Easter noon dinner this year. But I guess the Riverwalk dinner at night was also on Easter. It just didn’t seem like Easter, but periodically someone would wish us a happy Easter.

9. What would you tell non-Texans to expect from a visit to Texas?

Texas_FlagIt’s hot, there are a lot of big roads around the major cities, lots of Texas flags flying, Houston people drive too fast, but folks are friendly.

10. In the third installment of the series, the story takes readers to Florida. Do you see a Florida trip in your future?

Well, I have been to Florida, just not out and about much. A reader in Florida recently invited me down, so you never know….:)

 

Even if you missed the tour, don’t miss out on the books:

seed savers book marketing

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Oh The Holidays of April…

April 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

4-20, Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, Spring Equinox, Earth Day (on the 22nd)… so many things to celebrate.  Today, we hid from them all and took to the woods after doing some spring cleaning and moving of furniture.

So as we practiced the catechism (“Who made you?” “God made me.” “What else did God make?” “All things.”  And so on), we gathered wildflowers in an ‘Easter’ basket and frolicked in the sunshine.

It looked a bit like this:

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This time in the woods was refreshing, as always.  And much needed after the exciting week we had.  All day yesterday I was out celebrating Earth Day with S. Smith on her last day in Houston, while kiddo was with her Grandmom dyeing Easter eggs (a tradition I can only get behind because I love eating hard boiled eggs).

Below are pictures from the Earth Day Celebration Seed Savers Signings at HPB Humble and then HPB Montrose.

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There’s more celebrating to be had.  S.Smith will be touring San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas before she heads back to Oregon; and HPB Humble will be giving away reusable bags to the first 25 customers Tuesday morning.  Next Saturday (HPB Humble) there will also be a seed presentation by the Mercer Arboretum volunteers!

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S. Smith Book Signing – Earth Day Every Day Part Four

April 17, 2014 at 12:18 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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The Half Price Books Clear Lake store was a lovely host today for S. Smith’s first signing of her Texas Earth Day Tour.

The weather was gorgeous, a little chilly for we Texans, but quite beautiful.  A great day for an author from Oregon to set up shop in Houston.

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Last night, in preparation, I made seedling cupcakes. Yet another great Pinterest idea that the Texas humidity took a toll on. The fondant sort of got floppy the warmer it got throughout the day, and the green sort of melted a bit. But over all, I’m pleased with my first try.

We met new readers today, and enjoyed chatting with the customers in the store. Of course, the first and most common questions was, “What are the books about?”

If you’re stumbling across my blog for the first time, Seed Savers is a young adult series about a dystopian society where growing your own fruits and vegetables is illegal.  So naturally, an underground organization is created to keep the art and know how of gardening alive.  It’s good garden sense mixed with the danger and adventure of kids on the run from the government entities hunting them down.

There are three books in publication that Sandy is signing and selling right now, but the series is set to be five volumes long.  The story is pretty epic, in my opinion, as you can tell if you read through all the past Seed Savers posts featured on this blog.  I adore this woman and all her work, and I hope that everyone who purchased her book today feels the same way when they’re done reading.

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S. Smith will be at Good Books in the Woods Friday night and then at Half Price Books Humble 1-3 pm and HPB Montrose 6-9 pm on Saturday.  If you missed today’s signing, please make time to see S. Smith at the other Houston stores before she flits off to Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas.  The author is from Oregon so this very well might be a once in a lifetime opportunity!

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Meeting S. Smith – Earth Day Every Day Part Three

April 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I couldn’t have had a more perfect day.  It all started with an amarP1010596yllis bloom opening and an email.  S. Smith had arrived in Houston and was looking to hang out before her first Half Price Books signing tomorrow.

Today I finally had the pleasure of meeting S. Smith, the author of the Seed Savers series.  I never thought this day would actually come, as I am a book reviewer in Texas and she is a young adult fiction writer from Oregon.  But lo and behold! She had a reason to come down south and booked a Texas Earth Day tour starting with Houston.

I was delighted that she wanted to go for a walk in the woods by our house.  It was a joy picking along the trails, chatting, with my daughter and her husband in tow.  We talked about the difference in the woods of Texas from where she lives in the Northwest.

Below, kiddo, Sandy, and her husband stopped for a rest on a fallen log.

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Sandy will be at the Half Price Books in Clear Lake tomorrow from 1-4 pm, Good Books in the Woods on Friday evening, Half Price Books Humble on Saturday from 1-3 pm, and the Montrose HPB store that evening from 6-9 pm.  Her books are works of fiction for young adults about a dystopian society where growing your own fruits and vegetables is illegal, a fitting discussion topic for an Earth Day celebration.

 

 

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