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#SpringThings:What to Expect at a Seed Exchange


If you’re thinking about planting a garden this year you have a couple of alternatives. One, you can buy most of your plants as starts (this adds up quickly in terms of $), two, you can go hog wild with a seed catalog (don’t forget the postage and handling!), three, wait until your local store has seeds on sale, or four, my favorite option, check your area for seed exchanges. Seed exchanges are at least as fun as the other options and cost nothing.

How do you find a seed exchange?

Often they are listed in the newspaper, or fliers are tacked up around town in stores and libraries. Try calling the local county extension office. And, of course, there’s always googling.

How does a seed exchange work–what can I expect?

The first time I considered going to a seed exchange I didn’t know what to expect. Do I need to take seeds? What kind of seeds do people bring, home harvested or partial packets from last year? I admit I felt a little nervous. Have no fear! I’ve been to several seed exchanges over the years. They should more accurately be called seed giveaways.

Most seed exchanges have hundreds or thousands of seed packets that have been donated to give away. You can come empty-handed. But you can also bring and leave seeds. Seeds you grew and harvested. Partial seed packets. At the seed exchange where I recently volunteered there were not only seeds, but seed potatoes, seed garlic, and even a few plant starts.


While most of the seeds were packets like you’d buy in a store, I really enjoyed the table of the hand labeled seeds that other gardeners brought in. Nothing germinates as well as fresh, local seed. I also liked the tiny little bags they were tucked in. I live in the city and have only a small gardening space. Most seed packets contain way more seeds than I need.



Please, seed sellers, give us the option of smaller seed packets!

Do you garden? Which do you prefer, to start from seed or to buy everything as starts? Or a mixture of both, perhaps? Leave your comments below, and happy gardening!

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!


Author S. Smith

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Calling all #Bookworms: Free Books

I’m very sorry I’m so late in getting this out on my blog, but like my 8th grade teacher used to say, “Better late than never…(better never late).” 🙂

From time to time I take part in promotional contests and giveaways as a way to find new readers. These events work both ways. They’re a boon for voracious readers in finding new authors!

Both of these contests/giveaways EXPIRE IN JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS, so you’ll want to get right on it.

First, the rare FREE PAPERBACK contest. In this contest you have a chance of winning one of nine free paperback books. They are either Young Adult or New Adult and are science fiction/dystopian. My fourth book, Keeper, is one of the books you could win. You might also win a $50 Amazon gift card.


The second contest/giveaway is a little less random. If you enjoy the younger side of YA lit, sometimes referred to as Middle Grade, check out this awesome giveaway. The Reading Wonder Giveaway features 32 middle grade ebooks that you can instantly download for FREE! Just take a look at the books and decide which ones (or all) that you’d like to read. My book Treasure is one of the books. You can also sign up to win another $50 Amazon gift card.


Enjoy! Please pass on the info to others you think would be interested.


S. 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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A Great Podcast for Authors


Today I’d like to introduce you to the Smart Author Podcast by Mark Coker of Smashwords. Smashwords is an ebook distributor. (If you are new to self or indie publishing, an ebook distributor means that when you upload your book to Smashwords, it also goes out to Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc.)

The Smart Author Podcasts are great for both new and seasoned author/publishers. I began publishing in 2012 and was glad to find Smashwords back then. I’ve been with them ever since. Because the publishing industry is always changing, there’s always more to learn.

With podcasts on topics such as Best Practice Secrets of Bestselling Authors, Working with Beta Readers, and Marketing to Libraries, you can now listen to great advice and information while you commute or do household chores. Each podcast also includes a transcript and links so you don’t have to scribble down your own notes.

I particularly enjoyed the most recent episode on marketing to libraries. I publish both print and ebooks and hadn’t thought much about marketing ebooks to libraries. The episode was full of valuable information.

Please take a look at this great resource now and start listening today!  You’ll be glad you did.

Have any favorite podcasts for authors you’d like to share?  Leave in the comments below.


S. 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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5 Great Gardening Fiction Books for Kids


There are many gardening books for kids, both fiction and nonfiction–particularly picture books. It’s harder to find books for the older grades. So with this short list, I’ve put together a few books that take you from toddler to the end of middle school. They are terrific resources for families and school garden programs. Feel free to add other fiction titles to the comment section. Enjoy!

Picture Books (preschool/kinder – grade 3)

51XmE9U9DML._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_ The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time.

While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it.

An enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms.


61tgj1HDP+L._SY400_BO1,204,203,200_Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Alice’s family plants a vegetable garden each spring, and the budding naturalist reports all she sees.  It’s the food chain, right in her own backyard!

Alice’s narrative is simple and engaging while science concepts are presented in more depth in sidebars.

Priscilla Lamont’s funny, friendly paintings make this a garden everyone will want to explore.

Early Readers

61H85GVyHcL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA Green Green Garden Mercer Meyer

Little Critter® and his family plant some vegetables. After lots of watering, weeding, and waiting, they enjoy a delicious meal—all from their green, green garden.




Grades 2 – 5

519CiNF0OFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgShow Me the Green by D. S. Venetta

It’s the First Annual Garden Contest sponsored by the local farmer’s market, and Lexi and Jason Williams are determined to win with their entry of organic vegetables.

In a battle against time and the elements, the kids are sidetracked by everything from caterpillars to worms, seeds to harvest. While  testing each other’s patience, the siblings marvel at the wealth of discoveries hidden away in their garden. Including, poop. Worm poop, mostly. Who knew a garden could be so much fun?

Grades 5 – 8

treasure most small.jpgTreasure (Seed Savers, 1) by S. Smith

In a future where growing your own food is against the law, three young friends risk their safety by studying the illegal subject of gardening.

The children’s mentor entices the children with her description of the food she knew as a child–food unlike the square, processed, packaged food they have always known.

Constantly watching, however, is GRIM, the government agency that controls the nation’s food and keeps in check all potential troublemakers.Will the children succeed in their quest to learn about gardening, and find a place of food freedom? And can they, only children, help change the world?


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#YA Treats, No Tricks

As we approach the holiday season, there are bound to be numerous giveaways and promotions in time for gift giving and to ease the winter doldrums.

Right now I’m participating in one such giveaway featuring YA novels. Because the first book in my series is more middle grade, I’m giving away Heirloom, book three in the series.

Is it okay to read the series out of order? Yes!  In fact, I wrote a whole post on it here.

If you’ve already read the Seed Savers series (If not, what are you waiting for?), there are a dozen other books to choose from. Check them out here.

Each book has a rating to make sure its all treats and not tricks. Enjoy and share!

Discoveries share-2

S. 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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Guest Post: The Three Ps of Camping: Planning, Preparation and Problem Solving

When I first started this blog five and a half years ago, I frequently posted about camping. More recently, I’ve narrowed my focus to gardening and books, with the occasional rambling or rant.

However, today I’m featuring a guest post by Jamie Strand about readiness for camping. If you’ve never camped before and aren’t sure where to start, be sure and save this article! The characters in my Seed Savers series certainly had to be prepared on their many adventures. 🙂


Photo by Pixabay

The Three Ps of Camping: Planning, Preparation and Problem Solving

by Jamie Strand

Clean breezes, crisp air, starry nights around a campfire, and the sounds of stillness and quiet: for many people, camping is both relaxing and an adventure. Millions of Americans take to the great outdoors each year, taking both active and restful trips into nature.

A camping trip needs some considerable planning, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It’s a fun and affordable way for friends and families to take a vacation filled with new experiences and adventures. But like many adventures, you have to balance fun and safety. When you’re camping, you are tucked away from civilization, where phones and GPS devices may not be reliable.

That’s why you can’t just toss a tent in your trunk and take off. Camping requires planning, preparation and problem solving. Take the time before the trip to get everything in order so you can enjoy the experience with fewer obstacles.


When you chose to camp during a specific time of year, the weather could have been predictable — but don’t expect Mother Nature to listen to weather forecasters. Plan for fluctuations in temperature and  weather patterns so you can pack the right clothing layers for rain and sun, and chilly mornings or warmer afternoons.

You’ll also need to plan for meals. If you’re car camping, you might bring along a grill or a portable stove. If you’re backpacking, you might rely on a campfire or a small can stove. Once you know your method of cooking, you’ll know what food to pack. Be sure to consider wildfires when planning for meals. All it takes is one burst of wind or one unattended smoldering coal to start a fire that can race through thousands of acres. Be sure to check the level of risk for wildfires before you go and if you smell smoke while camping, it’s best to pack up quickly and get back on the road.


Next, you’ll want to prepare for the activities you plan to do, keeping safety in mind. Make sure your first-aid kit is well-stocked and easy to access. If you’re going to be hiking, be sure to pack a smaller, portable kit that can help with blisters, cuts and bug bites. If you can fit an extra pair of socks in your pack, along with a map and a compass, you’ll be well-prepared for any curve balls nature might toss your way. If you plan on bringing your four-legged companion along, you’ll want to make sure he is prepared too by making sure his vaccinations are updated and his overnight bag is packed with all the essentials such as food, treats, water, bedding, waste bags, leashes, and any necessary medications.

It’s also important to research the specific wildlife live in the areas where you’ll be camping and hiking. For instance, some areas might have bears, but not all bears behave the same. Small little black bears might root around your campsite food storage, but they’ll run away if confronted. It’s a good idea to have coolers that lock and hang your garbage high in a tree. Grizzly Bears can be more aggressive, so you need to give them space. If you’re taking your canine best friend with you, it’s a good idea to research how wild animals in the area might react to Fido’s presence.

Problem Solving

It’s been raining and you can’t find enough dry wood to get the campfire started. You accidentally kicked over your cooler and spilled more than half the trip’s drinking water. The campsite is more primitive than you thought — and you’re out in the woods doing what bears do but with no toilet paper.

It’s inevitable — you’re going to forget something. Something isn’t going to go as planned. The most important thing to do is to not panic. With the right planning and preparation, a little problem solving can go a long way. If you prepared to use a campfire properly, you might have packed firestarters. Those can help get tinder burning quickly and brightly. If you run out of water you have options for purification — like chemical tablets, filters and boiling.

Camping trip contingencies can happen. An unexpected rain or snow storm can blow through and you’re without warmer clothes. You can blow out the sole of your hiking boot and still have miles to go. Or, in those scariest of moments, you forgot the chocolate bars for the s’mores. Stay calm and think through the situation. If you’ve planned and prepared, then problem solving will be a breeze.

Find out more at Jamie’s website: http://scicamps.org

S. 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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Free Ebooks & A Paperback Giveaway


600 x 315 Book Nerd Social Media image

I’m a little late in announcing this, but there are still a few days left to grab some free ebooks in the September Ebook Extravaganza. There are fifty books of all genres to choose from and a $50 gift card to sign up for to win!

My book, Treasure, first in the Seed Savers series, is among the books you can download for free. This giveaway ends Wednesday.


If you’re like me, you might prefer a paperback book. Paperback giveaways are harder to come by. For the Love of A Good Book paperback giveaway is a contest where you can sign up to win a box of FIVE PAPERBACK books! This giveaway ends on Thursday. Here is an explanation of how to sign up for the books you want, since these books are also of multiple genres:

There are several “lots” consisting of 5-7 paperbacks to choose from. Click on this link first. You will see three more links. The first one will take you to a site to browse all of the books–but to see the books and not just the authors–you must go to the upper right-hand corner of the page to the pull-down menu “Indie Paperback Giveaway.”

Back on the original page, the other two links will show you 1)each “lot”of books 2)the sign-up form to list your preference of books. It’s a little confusing, but well worth it if you win the box of books.

Last, but not least, the second book in my Seed Savers series, Lily, is on sale for 99 cents until the end of September (ebook). Lily is available here:

 Amazon Smashwords, NookKobo,  iBooks

Take advantage of the savings, try some new authors, and I hope you are having a great fall as the changing of the seasons is upon us.

S. 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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