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There & Back Again: Amtrak, Awards, & Ana

It’s been a while since I posted. First, I was super busy with the last two books. Then the hubby and I traveled to Chicago by train for the IBPA Publishing Conference and Awards dinner. You may recall that Treasure was a finalist for cover design. Though it did not win the gold, it did get silver!

 

We traveled there by train on the Empire Builder, a northern route. The conference was great, though I feel like I was too tired much of the time and maybe not as alert as I could have been.

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This is me at the train station before we began the long journey.

After a whirlwind weekend of conference sessions and networking, we headed on over to Goshen, Indiana to visit our daughter Ana (for whom one of the main characters in the first two Seed Savers books is named). We had a wonderful time there!

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Cooking with Ana

After several days in Indiana we headed back to Chicago where we had to figure out the Metra train system to visit some other family members. The visit was wonderful and then we got back on Amtrak, this time the California Zephyr for the trip back. The layover in Sacramento before boarding the Coast Starlight is a killer, but the scenery is awesome.

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Our cat was very happy to see us again after 14 days on the road!

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Any questions? Feel free to post in the comment section below.

One update about the last two books: I regret that they will not be released on the former timeline (Keeper on April 16, Unbroken on June 26). The book series has a new opportunity that I can’t quite talk about yet, so I’ve had to preempt the release for a time. Thank you all for understanding.

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

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Introducing Seed Savers-Keeper

As most of you know, Flying Books House has been republishing and polishing the Seed Savers series.

I’m very pleased to announce that book 4, Keeper, is scheduled for release on April 16, in time for Earth Day! But I’m most pleased to show you the beautiful cover. This may be my favorite of them all. Once again, a big shout out to Shannon Bodie, cover designer, and Alan Baker, illustrator.

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Summary for Seed Savers-Keeper:

Beginning in a Pacific Islander village of climate refugees hidden deep in the Smoky Mountains and ending in an underground bunker in Portland’s Forest Park, Keeper is the fast-paced fourth installment in the Seed Savers series.

In Keeper, the government agency “GRIM” appears to be crumbling only to be replaced by FRND (the Food Resources & Nutrition Department), a corporate sponsored program with a more friendly public face. The Seed Savers Movement is on the verge of splintering as James Gardener’s fugitive status is viewed by some as a liability, while others don’t trust the mysterious JALIL. Trinia Nelson is bent on finding James and will stop at nothing. Earth Day parades turn into protests and someone is leaking classified government documents.

Meanwhile, Lily, Clare, and Dante, shut up in the bunker, become restless and begin sneaking out. In the park they run into Rose, an acquaintance from summer tutoring. Will their desire to rekindle the friendship lead to forgiveness, or will it end in betrayal?

Seed Savers-Keeper may be pre-ordered here.

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

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Seed Savers-Treasure, Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist!

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It’s been a while since I posted. Not because nothing is happening, but quite the opposite– I’ve been very busy.

But first things first: I am thrilled to announce that Seed Savers-Treasure is a finalist for a coveted Benjamin Franklin Award.

Read the press release here.

Treasure is a finalist in the Children’s/YA cover design category. Many thanks to my talented illustrator Alan Baker and awesome designer Shannon Bodie.

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2018 Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner!

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 is a gentle dystopian, frightening only in the possibility that we may not be far from the future it paints. First in a five book series.

Order Seed Savers-Treasure now. (Amazon)

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

For bookstores, libraries, & schools, all books available through Ingram.

 

Stay tuned for my other news!

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

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Does a Book Series Have to be Read in Order?

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I would argue “no.” Case in point: prequels. Or one better–-is there ever really a beginning? (Or an ending for that matter?)

What about those books that are told out of order (I’m thinking of Jodi Picoult’s first book, Songs of the Humpback Whale)? Or a series written out of order such as the Chronicles of Narnia? Maybe it just depends on the series.

I’ve been pondering this recently in relation to my own book series. When I book toured with the first three books in my five book series (Seed Savers), some people thought it necessary to begin with the first book. Others asked if the books “needed” to be read in order, and still others asked my opinion on which book to begin.

Here’s the thing with the first three Seed Savers books: book one–Treasure— is written for a slightly younger audience so I suggest the younger kids start there. Book two–Lily— is slightly older, and book three–Heirloom–even more so since there’s more politics. Adult readers can easily start with book 3 (Star Wars reference inserted here).

When I have the chance to talk with people personally I also explain that as a writer I like to try out different techniques. Book one is told in third person point of view, book two in first person, book three with dual storylines, dual POV. Sometimes readers have a preference. Enough backstory is given in each book to jump right in without being lost. I firmly believe you can start reading the Seed Savers series with any of the three books. (There are two more books before the series is complete; it is not a trilogy.)

This is what Portland Book Review said about Heirloom without having read the first two books:

“While it would be helpful to read the first two books prior to this one, it’s not strictly necessary.”

Another reader who read only book three (Heirloom) told me she felt like not knowing everything was good, it was very engaging that wayand that’s what I mean in my above comment about is there ever really a beginning?

Good stories tend to start somewhere in the middle. Her summation, “I think it [Seed Savers-Heirloom] works as a stand-alone just fine.”

 Seed Savers-Heirloom is a futuristic book about reconnecting to our past. In it we have a young teen searching for a father she never knew. We have a brother and sister separated from their mother and living in Canada as gardening refugees. There is a long distance solar-powered motorcycle ride, young romance, and eccentric characters. There’s politics and fresh apple cider, the heat of summer and the cold of winter, poetry, food, and gardening. Check it out for yourself!

Seed Savers-Heirloom by Flying Books House is available here.

Let me know what you think–do you ever read a series out of order?

 

 

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade series, Seed SaversVisit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter

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World Read Aloud Day is Coming!

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About a week ago I read the most wonderful Twitter thread on read alouds. I’ve been meaning ever since to add my two cents here on the blog.

One of the tweets said something to the effect of “I remember every book ever read aloud to me in school.” In terms of novels, so do I. My fourth grade teacher read us Charlotte’s Web. Probably a little every day after recess … I don’t recall. What I do remember is this: every day after riding the bus home I would retell the part read in school to my mom. I retold the entire story to my mom, one chapter at a time.

We lived on a farm, so I’m guessing the story was read in the deep of winter because otherwise Mom would have been out in the field working. As it was, she was usually down in the basement cracking walnuts by hand. I’d go on down and retell Charlotte’s Web to her as sort of a captive audience. But I remember she always seemed excited and eager to listen. What a good mom.

Needless to say, I loved the story.

My fifth grade teacher read us The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Wow! Even though I think in fifth grade we were starting to think we were too old and too cool to be read to, it wasn’t true. Again, it was wonderful. I didn’t read widely in elementary school and probably because we didn’t actually have a library at our school or a librarian so it was hard to find books I enjoyed more than playing outside. But I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and of course went on to read all of the Narnia books many times over and even write a paper in college referencing the Chronicles of Narnia.

I didn’t own many books as a child, but my husband and I raised our two kids to be readers, and readers they are! We read aloud to them until the day they grabbed the books out of our hands and starting reading to us!

It’s no great wonder why audiobooks are so popular; they are after all, just someone reading aloud to us.

Do you have special read aloud memories? I hope so. Feel free to share in the comments.

World Read Aloud Day is February 1st this year! #wrad19

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

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Teachers – I want to visit your classroom!

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I announced this last week in my newsletter, and I still have openings!

In April I’ll be attending a conference in Chicago and afterward I plan to travel back home to Oregon by train. I thought it would be fun to visit a few schools along the route home (transportation costs minimal for the schools!)

I’m looking at three possible routes, and I’ll make my decision depending on feedback from YOU. If you are interested in an author visit from me, Sandra Smith author of the Seed Savers series, take a look at the Amtrak routes below. The visit would be during the middle of April (roughly the 11th through 18th). Let me know if you are interested and depending on how many people I hear from along the different routes, I’ll make my decision.

Questions? Please use the contact form for email or comment below. Thanks! (All routes start in Chicago)

#1 California Zephyr

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#2 SW Chief

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#3 Texas Eagle

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Also, depending on the east-west decision, I will be available in California for part of the Coast Starlight route.

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I’m looking forward to meeting you!

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

 

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A Cover is Not the Book, But it Helps

Just got back from seeing Mary Poppins Returns with A Cover is Not the Book still running through my head. A cover may not be the book indeed, but a good cover will certainly help your book get noticed. I’ve been meaning for a while to write a post about the book covers for the Seed Savers series, so this little ditty is pushing me to finally do it.

Working with a small press (Flying Books House), I’ve been blessed to have a great deal of input on my book covers. Let’s take a look at the cover of Seed Savers-Treasure.

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Starting on the right are tomatoes. The Seed Savers series is set in a future where gardening is illegal and real food mostly unknown. The children in book one, Seed Savers-Treasure learn about seeds and food from an older acquaintance who becomes their mentor. The first seeds are tomato seeds.

Along the top are apples. The first time the children hear about real apples is from the mentor, Ana, as she describes what it is like to bite into a fresh apple. Later, while on a journey to find a place where gardens still exist, the children spy what they believe to be an apple tree and consequently taste their first apple. At the end of the book, the children are surprised to find themselves in an “apple forest.”

The peaches on the left and that wrap around the back of the cover represent Ana’s favorite fresh fruit which she describes as “summer sunshine.”

In Seed Savers there are also secret signs and symbols the children learn about and follow on their journey. One sign is purple lupines and another is a circle within a circle, both also represented on the cover. And of course the center graphic shows Clare and her brother Dante on their long bicycle journey traveling only at night.

I think the illustrator, Alan Baker, and the cover designer, Shannon Bodie, did a terrific job, don’t you? It’s a great cover, but as the song says, “a cover is not the book so open it up and take a look.” 🙂 (Lyrics from Mary Poppins Returns Music by Marc Shaiman; lyrics by Scott Wittman)

Order Seed Savers-Treasure now. (Amazon)

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

For bookstores, libraries, & schools, all books available through Ingram.

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

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