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Order Your Banned Book Today

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I woke up this morning reflecting on the PBS special last night,  The Great American Read. I was surprised at some of the books on the “banned books” list. Most notably, I was surprised about The Giver by Lois Lowry.

I’ll admit, I did not read The Giver as a child; I was well into adulthood before I came across it and I loved it. So last night I wondered why it had been banned, thinking there was no profanity or sexual content.

It had been years since I’d read The Giver, so I had forgotten many of the details. Naturally I searched up “Why was The Giver Banned?” In this informative article, I discovered The Giver was quite high on the list of banned and controversial books. The reason, I soon discovered, was #1 violence, #2 unsuited to the age group. Ah, yes, then I remembered some of the details that might be disturbing for younger children but wouldn’t have impacted me as an adult reader.

The article contained a chart of the top five reasons The Giver has been challenged and comparisons to all books with those same reasons. I’ve pasted the chart below:

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Now as I was reminiscing on books and banned books and the various reasons people ask to have books removed from libraries or classrooms, it occured to me that my very own book, Seed Savers Treasure, sits alongside The Giver and other books that offend.

Just yesterday I received a sorrowful email from a teacher whTreasurefinanewfront.jpgo was using my books in her horticultural program. The students were in the middle of the book, the author had been secured for a visit, and then one parent complained about #4: religious viewpoint. Because in Treasure there is a Bible.

I felt really bad for the teacher. I felt bad for the students. I was sorry I wouldn’t get to visit their really cool horticulture program to talk about gardening, writing, technology, food, etc. And I thought to myself  what a silly and offended culture we are becoming.

But now even as I write this, I fear someone will be offended by that last thought. I mean no offense.

In fact, after watching The Great American Read and hearing which books have been banned or controversial and then realizing Treasure sits on that shelf alongside them, I felt a little proud. I’m sitting a bit taller as I type this. 🙂

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!

*Seed Savers is being rereleased with new publisher and new covers. The older Treasure will only be for sale a little while longer. The newer cover edition is available for purchase June 11 and can be preordered here.

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A Story of Tomatoes

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I live in town. My garden consists of a six-foot strip of soil along the fence that separates us from our neighbors. Which is to say that I cannot plant whatever my little heart desires. I have to make hard choices.

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For some reason I also delight in trying new varieties of tomatoes. Now it used to be that you couldn’t find very many creative tomato plant starts, although a recent trip to our local Saturday market proved this has changed. However, I had long since begun starting my own plants from seed.

Here’s the problem: Let’s say you pick up three new kinds of tomato seeds every year. Let’s say every seed packet has more tomato seeds than you can ever use. Especially if you plant only TWO seeds. You get the picture. After awhile you have a TOMATO SEED BUILDUP.

This year I decided to plant a couple of seeds from every packet I owned, no matter how old. My oldest seeds dated back to 2011. It would be a little experiment. I would see which seeds came up, whether or not there was a noticeable difference with the older seed, etc. etc. I’d save just a few of the newer seeds for next year and depending on the outcome, give or throw away the remainder.

Here are the names of all the tomatoes I planted: Silver Fir Tree (These I grow in pots; they have special leaves and are the tomatoes my characters planted in Seed Savers:Treasure. I plant these every year.), Jory (a friend gave me these seeds just this year), Tiffen Mennonite (another favorite because they are so big!!), Mortgage Lifter, Box Car Willie, Indigo Rose, Black Prince, Black Krim, Caro Rich, Orange King, Beaverlodge, Willamette Organic, Amish Paste, Speckled Roma, Brandywine, Caspian (I chose these last year at a tomato tasting event), Roma VF, Cherokee Purple, Giant Syrian (from a friend), Rainbow. Yeah, you get the picture. Multiply those by two and I had over 40 seedlings because THEY ALMOST ALL CAME UP!!! (Don’t you just love those names??)

I wish I could say I remembered to take a photo of all those little darlings before I split them up and found homes for them, but I did not. But here are some of them “hardening off” outside before being taken away.

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Where did they all go? I kept six for my garden area, two for pots. Gave four to my mom (she asked for three). I borrowed some land at her house to keep a few more for myself  because there were so many new ones I was curious about. And I took about twenty down to the community center for Mother’s Day gifts.

What did I learn? That tomato seeds have great viability. Did some of the older seeds produce runtier looking seedlings? Yes. The most vigorous, healthy plants are always the ones I get from friends. These seeds are fresh and they are local to my area.

Best of all, I can now pass on most of my seeds and not feel overwhelmed next year with all that buildup. Okay, that’s not the best of all. Best of all will be seeing all the new-to-me tomatoes!

Do you have a favorite tomato? Share in the comments below.

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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Seed Savers Treasure Cover Reveal

Here it is, as promised, the new cover for rerelease of Seed Savers Treasure:

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I think it’s gorgeous and conveys both the adventure and the garden theme. If you’re new to the Seed Savers series, here’s the scoop on book 1, 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 will be available by the end of this month. I will keep you posted. Here is the schedule for the other books:

Lily – August 30

Heirloom – October

Keeper – February 2019

Unbroken – April 2019

In the meantime, let me know what you think of the cover in the comments below. 🙂

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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Announcing Seed Savers:Treasure Cover Reveal

Many of you have probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging much recently.

I’ve       been        busy.  🙂

Here is my great news: Seed Savers is being rereleased by a new, small publisher called Flying Books House. The books are getting great new covers and interior work as well. I’m very excited!!!

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Although we had hoped to have Treasure out by Earth Day, the plan now is for it to be available to purchase by the end of May, so still in time for you to read and garden. 😉

Cover reveal  for Treasure will be right here on my blog on Monday!!

For those of you who are subscribers to my newsletter, you’ll get to see it over the weekend. Be watching your inboxes.

If you can’t tell, I’m really excited about this. I’ve always dreamed of having an illustrated cover and one that shows the gardening theme of Seed Savers. The new covers fit the bill.

Until Monday…

and have a super weekend!

S.

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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Clare & Dante Prepare for Easter

Reblogging this Easter post from a few years ago…

Sandra Smith, author

In recognition of the season, here is an excerpt from Heirloom (Seed Savers, 3), in which Clare and Dante prepare for Easter with their host parents in Canada. Growing up in a place where real eggs were unknown, it’s their first experience coloring eggs.

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CHAPTER 42

It would soon be Easter, Clare’s favorite holiday. There had been a few years, when she was eight or nine, when her friends had almost convinced her otherwise, but all in all, she was an Easter devotee. She loved the season: spring, bursting with new life and warmer weather; she loved the plastic toy hunts in the malls and parks; and most of all, she loved the Holy Season, starting with Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday.

This year, however, Clare anticipated it with mixed emotions. She looked forward to it because the Woods would finally take her and Dante to…

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#SpringThings:What to Expect at a Seed Exchange

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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.

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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.

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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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A Great Podcast for Authors

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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.

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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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