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Schedule An Author Visit Today!

 

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Are you a teacher, librarian, active parent or part of a large homeschool group? Want to inspire students in their writing and reading? Having an author visit is just the ticket! Author visits are great because kids realize authors are people just like themselves, while at the same time there’s a hint of *celebrity* that children enjoy. And if the kids are allowed to buy books–gulp–a book signed by the author!

Author visits are great for teachers and schools because they reinforce instruction. I always tell students how important it is for writers to also be readers. And what it means to revise, revise, revise!

I’m writing this post today to let everyone know that I still have openings in THIS SCHOOL YEAR to visit schools. Especially later April through June. My rates and what to expect from a visit are here.

If you’re looking for something different from what I offer, check out more authors at AIVS. (Authors & Illustrators Who Visit Schools.)

For ideas on how to fund author visits, read this (bottom part of the blog post).

Are you ready to inject excitement into your classroom by inviting an author to share about the writing process or discuss their book(s)?

Contact me at sandrasmithauthor [at] gmail.com today!

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Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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The Uncomfortableness of Religion in Children’s Literature

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Photo by Abdullah Ghatasheh on Pexels.com

And so here we go again.

I hesitate to write about topics where we disagree and yet because of personal bias and discomfort combined with Amazon’s algorithm, one of those irksome little reviews has risen in the “top reviews” section for Seed Savers-Treasure. Never mind that it is over a year old and the ayes far outweigh the nays…it bothers me.

Here’s why: this particular review was left by a teacher who said they could not continue reading Treasure in their classroom because it had “the Bible” and “God” in it. Let me say that there are other reviews from teachers of classrooms who have used Treasure. Let me also say that one of the reasons this review has risen to the top is because someone commented on it. Amazon’s algorithm will add weight to reviews with comments. Here is what the commenter said:

“I don’t think it’s bad to talk about religion or God in class. Many of your diverse students probably believe. And we shouldn’t have to keep it a secret.” (left by a librarian)

Unfortunately, most people won’t even see the comment, because Amazon does not make it apparent that there is a comment. I only found the comment when I was wondering how this review floated to the top. Since then, however, because it is near the top, 14 people have marked it as “helpful.” ???? This is the second the reason I am bothered. All of these people must agree that it’s okay to ban a book with “the Bible” and “God” references. Whoa. In a culture that is becoming increasingly more divisive by the minute, educators are adding to that thought train? Should we also not read books where a character celebrates bar mitzvah, wears a hijab, or otherwise expresses a spiritual belief?

Or maybe the pushback would say minority religions are okay, but the so-called dominant religion needs to either be absent or be portrayed negatively. If that’s true, then why?

Going back to the comment left by the librarian, “I don’t think it’s bad to talk about religion or God in class. Many of your diverse students probably believe.” As an English as a Second Language teacher, this has been my experience. Most of my diverse students do believe in God and would most likely enjoy a tiny thread of religion in the story. THE BOOK REALLY IS ABOUT FOOD. I have an ESL teacher friend who actually sets her room up during Ramadan for kids to come in and pray during a set time when the room is empty.

Ok, enough griping. It irks me that this review has arisen to the top again. It tells nothing at all about the book, only that the teacher was uncomfortable with it. It irks me that it hurts sales. It irks me that people seem to be aghast when books are banned for one reason or another but then turn around and do the same thing. Please people, examine your attitudes. I haven’t seen much written from this perspective, but here’s an article from several years ago by School Library Journal.  I wrote initially about it here.

Respectfully…

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Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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New Hope for A New Year

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I don’t know what it is about a new year that brings new hope, but I felt its power again today, day one of a new year.

Sometimes hope is found in places some eyes would see as forlorn.

This morning for example, I dashed out between rain showers to take a walk while the sky was blue and sunny. I came across a home that had hundreds of pots in between the sidewalk and the street. I snapped photos thinking I might blog about the way it inspired hope. Looking at the photos later at home they seemed not very “pretty.”  But to me they whispered hope.

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Writing a garden series as I have, whenever I see my urban neighbors attempting to grow things, even if it means hundreds of gathered pots, to me it says they’re trying; whether it’s vegetables or flowers, the intent is there. Obviously, in terms of gardening, spring is the season of hope, but even in the dreary dead of winter the many pots gave me a smile. So much hope.

Other sightings of new years hope: the Pasadena Rose Parade this morning had the theme, The Power of Hope. And just a few nights ago I watched the most recent Star Wars movie, which made me think of the original (I saw the first movie in the same theatre I saw the last movie!) Back in 1977 when I first saw Star Wars, that’s the only name we knew it by. Later, as the movies piled up, it began more and more to be referred to as “A New Hope.”

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And so here we are, 2020. A new decade. A new year. A new hope. I had intended to write down lot of fine plans and resolutions today, but the day is nearly done. Mostly I managed to do a lot of laundry. But you know what? I’m still feeling inspired. Here’s to a new year. Blessings. 🙂

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Thanks & Gifting

In the spirit of both Thanksgiving and Christmas, today I offer up a gift. The first book in my Seed Savers series is available to download for FREE from today until December 16th. Several other middle-grade authors also are giving away free books or samples.

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Here is the blurb for Seed Savers-Treasure:

Two kids, two bikes, and an idea they can change their world.

It’s 2077. There’s no apocalypse, but some things are different. Things like the weather, the internet, and food. In twelve-year-old Clare’s world, blueberry is just a flavor and apples are found only in fairy tales.

Then one day Clare meets a woman who teaches her about seeds and real food. Ana tempts Clare with the notion that food exists other than the square, packaged food she has always known. With Ana’s guidance, Clare and her friends learn about seeds and gardening despite suspicions that such actions are illegal.

When the authorities discover the children’s forbidden tomato plant and arrest their mother, Clare and her brother flee. Clare has heard of a place called “The Garden State,” and with their bikes, a little money, and backpacks, the children begin a lonely cross-country journey that tests them both physically and spiritually. Will they succeed in their quest to find a place of food freedom? And can they, only children, help change the world?

Treasure has won both the Mom’s Choice Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award and has many positive reviews. Go ahead and give it a try. 🙂 First in a 5-book series and the series is finished!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Order Your Author-Signed Book in Time for Christmas!

 

 

What child wouldn’t be excited to receive a book signed by the author?

Order any of the Seed Savers books directly from me and have them signed and with a personal inscription for you or your child. The Seed Savers books are middle grade reading and interest level (aging up around the last two books in the series). The setting is a not-so-distant future where gardening is illegal and most people don’t have access to or knowledge of real food. Follow along with Clare, Dante, Lily, and their friends as they learn about gardening and try to change the world they live in.

Read more about Seed Savers here, or visit each book’s Amazon page to read customer reviews.

To order an inscribed book, contact me directly with this form or email me at sandrasmithauthor at gmail dot com. Don’t delay if you are ordering for Christmas!

 

Here’s what kids are saying about Seed Savers:

Seed Savers was really good . . .The story was involved and it read well. The plot was pretty unique. I like how the setting seemed to be somewhat in the future. I also liked reading about the types of food they have (like “Sweeties”). I recommend this book to kids 9+.”—Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books

“These books are awesome. When Lily, Clare & Dante find out their food comes from plants and not just packages, and that there’s a rebellion to save fresh food called the seed savers, the kids go on adventures to other places where they can grow food legally. Along the way, they meet new friends, cross paths with spies, and much much more . . . it inspired me to try to make a change by growing my own fresh food. And it can for you too . . . I suggest these books to kids who are just starting to read more chapter books to people in the late 60s or 70s for most interest, and also for school teachers & students because these books are very educational. They are great for people who care about the planet, friends and fresh food and like exciting adventure stories.”–Bree, 11 years old

Seed Savers is my favorite book series. Lily is my favorite character.–Jess, Amazon reviewer

“My 10-year-old daughter says this series is the best she has ever read.” Bren, Amazon reviewer

Seed Savers-Treasure is a Mom’s Choice and Benjamin Franklin award winner!

 

Send for your copy today!

Seed Savers-Treasure & Lily, 12.99 each

Seed Savers-Heirloom, Keeper, & Unbroken, 14.99 each

Five book set, $65 (plus postage)

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Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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On Being a Pantser (Revisited)

I recently started a super-reader/fan Facebook Group for Seed Savers. Thought it might be fun for people to easily share news articles about the themes in my books, or to do a group read with the author along. Stuff like that.

A few people chimed in that they wanted to do the group read, and so I began again to read Seed Savers-Treasure. Obviously, I’ve read my own book many, many times over the years. Treasure was released in 2018 by Flying Books House, but I first self-published an earlier version of it under the name “S. Smith” in 2012. I think the first draft was written in 2010. So it’s been with me a long time.

I wrote in my last blog post how the first book eventually turned into a five-book series and how the need to make calendars became apparent.

As I finished my reread of Treasure this week, what struck me was this: Written as a pantser, some of the questions the characters ask throughout the story were questions I was asking myself as I wrote because I had not preplanned every little thing in the storyline! For example, how will the children see the signs of the Seed Savers if they travel only in the dark? What does a national border actually look like? The questions I asked myself became questions the characters asked.

So what exactly is a pantser? So glad you asked. I wrote a guest post on the subject many years ago. I searched out the guest post and finding it no longer available, I hunted down the original and am reposting it today:

On Being a Pantser

I’ll get right to the point: I’m a pantser.  And I’m glad we pantsers are finally out of the closet, or er, dresser drawer, whichever the case may be. For a while there all I ever heard successful novelists talk about was “the plot,” “the Story,” “the big plan.” I’d sit in my seat while Lauded Author went on and on about how she carefully outlined the five novels in her series before even beginning book one. Huh? It made me feel like a fraud.

But now we know: not everyone makes the big plan. We don’t all outline every scene, chapter, or book. Some of us just put our characters down on paper and watch what happens. It’s fun. And it’s kind of scary sometimes. Like, for example, when you’re not sure how things are going to end. And there will have to be an ending, eventually. Unless, like, you’re the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew.

If you never heard the term pantser before, let me assure you, it does mean what you’re thinking it means. It’s right there in the urban dictionary, “fly by the seat of your pants” while writing a novel.

I remember how in my first novel (not Seed Savers), one of the main characters sort of slipped into the book, just like that. The character I thought was going to be a main character was summarily disposed of; definitely not according to even the vaguest plan I might have had in my head. Another shocking case of pantsing in that novel was a scene where one character had a phone conversation with her mother. The mother had always been so kind and understanding and then, wham! The mother just turns on her over the phone. I couldn’t believe it. I think that’s when I realized how much our characters will surprise us. How much fun it is to be open to changes from what we thought was going to happen.

In the first Seed Savers book, Treasure, there is an old man character named Gruff who comes upon the children when they are so lost and alone on the street. As he approached I wasn’t certain if he were friend or foe. Turns out he was friend with a capital F; he was a Seed Saver! I swear I didn’t know it beforehand. Gruff became my favorite character in the book.

In Heirloom, I was just writing along, and whoosh! What? A character jumps on board that acts surprisingly like my late grandfather. Not long after, my grandmother wanders on stage. It was really great to spend time with them again :).

What are the disadvantages of being a pantser? Well, foreshadowing for one. Hard to foreshadow when you are a part of the audience. But sometimes it works in reverse. For example, if a character is acting all squirmy or dodging the question, I think, “Hmm, what’s up with that?” The foreshadowing leads to the ultimate action. Other times I just say to myself, “What can I go back in and add as foreshadowing?” There’s no shame in going back and tidying up a book. That’s what it’s about, the polishing piece.

Another disadvantage of being a Pantser I already mentioned. How is it all going to end???? I don’t know. And that’s scary. I have to trust that the characters will continue to lead me.

In the meantime, don’t bother asking about what comes next in Seed Savers. Because       

I       

don’t      

know.

If you’re a writer, are you a pantser mainly, or a plotter mainly? Obviously, there are times when we are both. 🙂

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

 

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The Planning In Writing a Series: Calendars of the Future

Sometimes I think people don’t realize how much research, planning, and care is taken in writing fiction. I’ve written before about the amount of research I’ve done for my futuristic Seed Savers series, but the care I’ve taken in working out the chronological order, the seasons in which certain plants would be bearing fruit in certain regions, whether or not I have the right day of the week for some date in the far future . . . these are also things I’ve worried about and painstakingly researched and planned out.

Thank God for the internet.

This whole process, of course, becomes much more complicated over the course of a five-book series with multiple storylines and characters who are not always moving in sync. (Example, in book 3, Heirloom, Clare and Dante’s storyline in Canada is not happening at the same time as Lily’s storyline in the U.S.).

When I wrote the first book, I wasn’t really planning a five-book series. The book was very seat-of-your-pants. As I started adding more books, I started adding calendars. By the time I got around to the final book, this is what I had:

 

It was really crazy! Every now and then I couldn’t reconcile a few things. Will anyone notice? I’d ask myself. Does anyone but me care? I also did this with the kids’ ages. I realized I should have already known my characters’ birthdays. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a pantser!

Or maybe I just make things more difficult than they need to be. If you are a reader, do you pay attention to the geography, seasons, distance, and timing in books you read? If you are a writer, do you make calendars and research minute details? I’d love to hear what you think in the comment section below.

Included in the new Flying Books House Seed Savers editions are links to many of the research sources used in writing the books.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

 

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