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Book Club Questions for Seed Savers-Unbroken

And they are finally finished! There are now questions for each of the five Seed Savers books.

Seed Savers-Unbroken, released one year ago Friday, is the final installment of the series and well worth reading–especially if you enjoy politics and social commentary in literature. A very recent review of Unbroken is here.

As with Keeper, Unbroken is more teen than preteen, with lots of adventure, politics, and friend and family relationship issues. Read an excerpt here.

And now, the questions for Seed Savers-Unbroken:

Book Club Questions for Seed Savers-Unbroken

  1. When James Gardener discovers Lily has been kidnapped, he tries to turn himself in despite the council’s urging him not to. Do you agree or disagree with his actions? Why or why not?
  1. The leader of Radicle is a young man named Amos. What are your impressions of Amos and why?
  1. When Jason asks Cassidy if he owns a gun, Cassidy quotes playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton saying his mantra has always been “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Explain how he and Jason end up proving this to be true.
  1. Lily is obviously one of the “heroes” of Seed Savers. What are some of her faults or weaknesses? Her strengths?
  1. Of all the characters in Seed Savers, which one reminds you most of yourself?
  1. Did any of the characters surprise you in this fifth Seed Savers book?
  1. One of the main themes in Seed Savers-Unbroken is the U.S. food supply. Had you ever given much thought to this before?
  1. There are a lot of strands in Unbroken–the unravelling politics, changing friendships, family relationships. . . which parts were your favorite and why?
  1. What does this story remind you of? (Other books, movies, current events…)
  1. What is the art of kintsugi as described by Lily’s mother and how does it relate to the title? 
  1. Seed Savers-Unbroken is the last book in the series. Compare how you thought the author might end the series with how she ended it. What would you have liked to have happened differently?

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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 Every Now & Then Update Post

So it’s June. My birthday month. I’ve had a lot of them. But this June is vastly different from all the others. First, the pandemic has kept many of us from our jobs. Shopping is not the same. Church isn’t in person. The sound of a person coughing sends chills down our spines. And now, while still in the pandemic, we find ourselves in the midst of demonstrations and protests on a level I’ve not seen in my lifetime. So, yeah, there’s that. But you don’t need an update on any of that from me. We are all living it. And this time, let there at last be real change from out of the upheaval. May we stand together in love for justice for all.

And now for the UPDATES

The Garden

I think on account of the pandemic cutting short my two part-time jobs, I caught the garden bug early this year. And although it’s been colder than usual, we had just enough dry days to get things planted. It’s early June and I have an excess of beautiful lettuce, chard and snow peas to eat, new potatoes and strawberries. The raspberries and blueberries are also turning color and I’ve had just a few shelled peas. All of my cole crops: kale, cabbage, broccoli, look terrific. We’ve harvested and eaten five artichokes.

How is your gardening going?

The Book Business

I will admit that I should be getting more done on this front. But I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors whenever it’s not raining trying to make a slope of bad soil on the south side manageable and filled with flowers for pollinators. It’s too hot during warm weather, so spring, I’ve rationalized, is my only chance. During the month of May I also taught a writing class via ZOOM to a small group of students in China.

However, I am slowly polishing up my next book, Until the Last Star Goes Out. It is unrelated to the Seed Savers series.

For Seed Savers: I am sometimes asked if the books will ever be hardbound. Yes. Will the remaining four books all be on audio someday? Yes. Are there teacher resources? Yes.

So what have I done recently for any of this? I have been preparing discussion questions for each of the five books that can be used in book clubs or school. All of the questions can be read and downloaded from this page at Flying Books House or found here on the blog.

Another project: I started last week the task of moving this website to a self-hosted site so that I could more easily have a shopping cart. I haven’t quite managed that yet, but you can still order books directly from me. Simply send an email using the contact page and let me know what you have in mind. I can give you a significant discount for orders of the entire 5-book set.

Teachers, librarians, book clubs: I also do online visits. Please be aware that as an author I do require payment. (At the very least you can purchase books and offer reviews.)

The Birthdays

As I mentioned at the start, my birthday is in June. June also is the second birthday for Seed Savers-Treasure (June 11) and the one year birthday for Seed Savers-Unbroken (June 26).

You know how much I like celebrations so keep watching for ebook sales soon!

To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Thanks for reading!

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 Twitter and InstagramSign up for the newsletter!

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Discussion Questions for Keeper

More discussion questions are ready! Hot off the press are discussion questions for Seed Savers-Keeper. They will also be available shortly at the publisher website, Flying Books House.

Seed Savers-Keeper edges up to a more teen rather than preteen audience as there is little gardening and a lot more politics. And as always, a lot of friend and family relationships, meeting of cultures, and intrigue.

Without further ado, discussion questions for Seed Savers-Keeper:

My favorite cover!

Book Club Discussion Questions for Seed Savers-Keeper

  1. At the beginning of Keeper, Lily reflects on mannerisms she loves about her dad–his love of hummingbirds, the way he pronounces “windows,” etc., but she also admits they are “still just getting to know each other.” Can you relate to spending time with a close relative you feel you barely know? How does it feel? If you cannot relate, how do you think it might feel?
  1. In Seed Savers-Keeper, Lily hears the story of the hummingbird. What is the story of the hummingbird and how does Lily relate this to her father?
  1. Why does Trinia Nelson place Lily’s friend Rose with a wealthy couple and enroll her in youth FRND classes? Did you think the plan would work? Why or why not? 
  1. While living in Whisper Creek Village, Lily experiences two cultures different than her own and learns new customs and also new skills. Have you had the opportunity to learn from other cultures?
  1. Jason tells Clare, “There’s an entire generation still alive who remembers how it was before. They remember when Monitor access was open and free. Think of it, Clare, the ability to ask any question that pops into your head. Access to talk to people around the world.” You are that generation. Have you ever thought what it would be like to lose the freedom of social media?
  1. The second half of Lily’s story in Seed Savers-Keeper takes place in Portland, Oregon. Do you know much about Portland? Where and why is Seed Savers Headquarters in Portland?
  1. Lily learns from Arturo that some states have recently passed laws legalizing home gardening though it is still illegal at the federal level. Can you think of any real life examples like this? 
  1. Are there any characters in Seed Savers-Keeper that you really dislike? Don’t trust? Want to know more about?
  1.  James Gardener worries about the hackers leaking information and riling people up. He feels the best way to change things is by voting and legislative power. Discuss these two viewpoints.
  1. In a future where the media is controlled and regulated, Jason and Monroe manage to hack into the system and show the viewing public that demonstrations are happening all across the country. What effect will this have? 
  1. Was there anything at the ending of Keeper that surprised you?

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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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Dream Cast Picks for Seed Savers

Sometimes people ask when my books are going to be made into movies. I think this is something most authors like to hear, but we can only smile wistfully. If only…

I was thinking the other morning about my dream cast. You know, during this never-ending pandemic, we sometimes have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. The old Groundhog Day effect. Same same. It’s in these moments we might do the wishful thinking of character casting for our novels. 🙂

So here goes:

For the part of Ana, the older woman mentor in Seed Savers: Meryl Streep or Oprah

For Gruff (Seed Savers-Treasure): Morgan Freeman or Bill Cobbs

For James Gardener: Matt Damon and I forget who else…

For Junko Gardener: There are really so many great female Asian actresses I haven’t ever been able to decide.

For Trinia Nelson: Reese Witherspoon

And for the kids–the real stars of the series–I won’t ever have any in mind because kid actors are always coming on the scene.

As far as direction, production, etc., of course I’ve always liked Spielberg because of the Goonies, E.T., etc. and my little group on kids on their bikes makes me think of him.

When we’re talking dream cast and dream production I think my choices are a little too obvious and wild because I don’t know that much about the industry. I think Disney could also do a good job with it. Seed Savers is great family entertainment. 🙂

Anyone else have ideas on casting for Seed Savers? Or if you are an author, have you thought of your dream cast? 🙂 Share in the comments.

Have a great week!

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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Book Discussion Questions for Seed Savers-Heirloom

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The discussion questions for Seed Savers-Heirloom are finished! These questions are perfect for book clubs or classroom use. All currently available discussion questions for the series are also available at Flying Books House. On this blog, the questions for Lily are here and for Treasure here.

I hope you enjoy reading Seed Savers-Heirloom, a series set in a future where gardening is illegal and real food unknown by a majority of the population. Heirloom is my personal favorite!

Topics and themes in Heirloom are family, journey, friendship, discovery, gardening and politics. Click here to read additional posts about Heirloom.

Following are the discussion questions for Seed Savers-Heirloom.

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Book Club Discussion Questions for Seed Savers-Heirloom

  1. Clare and Dante are considered “gardening refugees.” Explain what you think this means.
  2. Why does Lily say “That summer, the one when it all began, was when Lily Gardener finally knew her name”?
  3. When Lily first enters Florida, it isn’t what she expects. She muses “I felt a little foolish but was grateful for the reminder that there were a lot of things to learn in the world. That we need to seek out information on our own because the kind that comes to us easily might be incomplete and biased.” Can you think of an example of this?
  4. When Clare questions why it’s important to save seeds if you can buy them from a catalogue, one of things Marissa says is that saved seeds are better because they are local to one’s particular area. Had you ever thought of that? Have you ever saved seeds and planted them the next year?
  5. When Lily visits Meg and Aaron she learns that the rich and powerful are able to buy and eat fresh food. This makes her angry. Then she shows contempt that Aaron and Meg would be a part of such an unjust system. What is your opinion?
  6. Discuss Lily’s journey to find her father from the time she left her home. Which parts made you afraid for her? Which parts made you smile?
  7. Besides learning about gardening, Clare spends a lot of time learning the history of U.S. food politics. The historical part is actually true. What did you learn about farming in this country that you didn’t know before? Less than 1% of the population are farmers. Do you know a farmer?
  8. In Heirloom, we meet a new character named Jason. What is the relationship between Clare and Jason like? What is your opinion of Jason?
  9. Clare has a poetry assignment from school and finds inspiration in her garden. Where do you find inspiration for your creative endeavors? 
  10. Why do you think the author named this book Heirloom?

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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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12 Suggestions for First Gardens

Are you new to gardening? Here are my suggestions if you are planting a garden for the first time. Always use planting recommendations for your local area.

  1. Instant Gratification: Radishes. Radishes can germinate in as little as 3 or 4 days!
  2. A sense of accomplishment: Tomatoes. Tomatoes are so easy to start from seed and grow to be mighty plants full of luxurious gems of so many sizes, colors, and shapes! They can be made into sauce, salsa, juice, sun-dried tomatoes or used raw!

3. Wow factor: Beans. I love the way beans germinate, slowly showing a bent u-shaped back, then rising and standing, at last opening out large, green leaves.

4. It just keeps giving: Asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes. Back year after year after year…

5.Edible landscaping: Blueberries. If you can grow them in your area, blueberries are beautiful all year long. There are some that never lose their leaves. Leaves are red in fall, green in spring, and the blossoms are tiny white bell-shaped marvels. The berries aren’t bad either!

 6. Practicality: Lettuce, basil, green onions. Easy to grow, small space, container friendly. Why not gather your dinner salad fresh from your garden?

7. Underground wonders: Potatoes, carrots, ground cherries.

8.  Ease & reward: Peppers. Like tomatoes, pepper seed is easy to save and if it warm enough, peppers grow and produce easily. I grow almost all my peppers in pots and freeze what I can’t eat fresh, using them all year long on pizzas, in stir-fry, etc. Also, if you grow your own tomatoes, you’ll want peppers for salsa-making.

9. For the trellis or fence: Cucumbers & Scarlet Runner Beans. If you love cucumbers, go ahead and teach them to climb up! You won’t have to look as hard to find them and they’ll always be clean! I love scarlet runner beans because of the beautiful red blossoms that hummingbirds love.

10. For storage and decoration: Storage onions. I like to get a variety of onions and then braid them and hang them in my kitchen all winter, cutting off what I need as I go.

11. To attract good bugs or lure bad ones away from other plants: Dill and nasturtium. I have watched ladybugs hatch on my dill plants. The nasturtium always seem to collect aphids after a while and then I just pull them up and toss them.

12. Challenge: Anything you’re curious about! I’ve often tried things that just don’t work for my climate, or just to see if I could grow it. Have fun and try new things!

Comments and other recommendations welcome in the comments below!

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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Gardening Around the Edges

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Today is the 50th Earth Day!

Although most of us can’t go out in nature to appreciate our planet this year, we can go out and garden. Even if it’s just containers on your balcony or herbs in your window.

As most of you know, I live on a lot and a half in a city of about 174,000. I garden around the edges.

Our soil is damp and claylike, so it takes some time in the spring for the ground to dry properly for tilling or amending. I have just a couple raised beds and numerous large barrel-width containers to get around this. I also have a south-facing sunroom, so I’m able to start seed easily inside. You can browse through my blog posts to see various photos of my garden over the years. (Like this one, for example.)

Since it’s early yet, my garden is just at its beginning stages. Today, for Earth Day, I’m sharing my progress.

Enjoy!

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Bonus pic of the hens!

Happy Earth Day! Happy Gardening!

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!

Special: Easter through Earth Day Sale on all 5 Ebooks! Regularly $5.99 each, all books now on sale through Earth Day for just $3.99 each. 

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Earth Day Sale on All Seed Savers Books

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Before I forget to mention it, don’t miss my biggest sale of the year, the Earth Day sale.

In 2014 I actually did an Earth Day tour in Texas. At that time only the first three books in the series were out. It was an amazing time and I enjoyed meeting many wonderful people. So I always think of the the Seed Savers books and Earth Day fondly together.

In fact, in the fourth Seed Savers book, Earth Day is the catalyst for the “food revolution” beginning in book 4 and ending with the series finale in book 5 on Independence Day.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Seed Savers-Keeper:

Chapter 13–Earth Day Demonstrations

Clare squatted and pulled the tiny weeds competing for space and nutrients among the newly sprouted peas.

“Hey there.”

She was pleased to hear Jason’s deep voice. She’d been thinking about him a lot and about how she’d miss him after graduation when they went their separate ways.

“Hi.” She stood and smiled up at him.

He glanced around furtively. “Have you heard about the demonstrations?”

“No,” she replied. “What demonstrations?”

“On account of Earth Day. Canadian news is full of the story. Four days ago was the one hundred and eighth Earth Day. There are protests all across the U.S. This could be it.”

A couple of classmates walked by. Jason smiled at them. “Hi, how are you?” When they had passed, he continued. “This is just what I’ve been waiting for. A revolution.”

“What are you talking about?” Clare asked.

Jason put his hand on Clare’s shoulder, steering her down as he knelt and joined in pulling the weeds. “Peaceful demonstrations. But people gathering nonetheless. They started as Earth Day marches, celebratory, marking the day. But they’ve turned into nonviolent protests against the government’s food and environmental policies. A lot of people are out in the streets. Some are carrying signs: Free the Seeds, Send GRIM Packing, Gardener in 2080. Stuff like that.”

Clare gasped.

Jason’s eyes shot to her face. “Whatsamatter, Clare? It’s what we want, isn’t it?”

Clare nodded, but said nothing.

“I can’t believe it’s happening before Monroe and I—” he stopped abruptly.

“What?” Clare asked.

“We have plans,” Jason said. “But apparently we’re not the only ones. All the better.”

Before Clare could speak, he hopped up. “I gotta go. So much to do.” He sprinted off toward the classrooms.

Now through Earth Day (April 22) all five of the Seed Savers ebooks are discounted to just $3.99 each, a savings of ten dollars! The sale won’t last long and they are rarely all discounted at the same time, so grab the whole series now!

Seed Savers is a great series for this time of year when everyone is thinking about gardening. To read more about the series click here.

Happy reading and gardening!

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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Book Discussion Questions for Seed Savers-Lily!

_I don't get it. if stores have all the food we need...why would anyone need or want to make their own food__ copy

Recently I posted discussion questions for Seed Savers-Treasure.Today I am adding questions for the second book in the series, Seed Savers-Lily. The questions can be downloaded by the link at the bottom and are also available under Resources on the publisher website here.

I hope you enjoy reading Seed Savers-Lily, a story set in a future where gardening is illegal and real food unknown by a majority of the population. Topics and themes include gardening, friendship, trust & betrayal, difficult decisions. An introduction to Seed Savers-Lily is here and tips for using Lily in the classroom are here.

Following are the new discussion questions for Seed Savers-Lily.

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Book Club Discussion Questions for Seed Savers-Lily

1.Seed Savers-Lily is written in a different POV than Seed Savers-Treasure. What is the point of view, and how does this affect you differently as a reader?

2. At the beginning of the story, Lily struggles with being left behind. Have you ever felt left behind when a friend moved away? How did you deal with it?

3. Lily hides her gardening activities from her mother. Why does she do this? Do you think she made the right decision in doing so?

4.What is your impression of Rose and how does it change throughout the book?

5. Learning about growing, cooking, and preserving food is an important theme in this story. Why is this important to the characters? Have you ever grown, cooked, or preserved fresh food?

6.One of the things Lily does to sort out her thoughts is write in a journal. Do you journal? What do you do to help you process things?

7.When Ana describes how to preserve through canning, Lily feels fearful. Ana responds, “Don’t be afraid, Lily. It isn’t so hard. It’s just a new thing to learn, like all new things.” What new thing have you considered doing that made you feel afraid?

8. What is your first impression of Arturo? What about Rose and Lily, how do their impressions of Arturo differ?

9.When Lily first sees Arturo’s yard/garden she is disappointed. Describe how her feelings about it change. Why do you think her impression of the yard changes?

10.Near the end of the book, Lily gets mad at Rose and refuses Rose’s plea for forgiveness. Do you think Lily made the right choice? What kind of repercussions might this have for the future?

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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!

Special: Easter through Earth Day Sale on all 5 Ebooks! Regularly $5.99 each, all books now on sale through Earth Day for just $3.99 each. 

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Happy Easter 2020!

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I’ve always loved Easter. This year with the pandemic bending the cultural traditions of many of us, I thought it more important than ever to keep the traditions I had control over.

So I dug deep in my cupboard, not knowing whether I had an egg dye kit or not. I figured I have food coloring one way or the other. It turns out I had two coloring kits. Our kids are grown and have been out of the house for years so I hadn’t actually dyed eggs in quite a while. My husband and I sat down and colored eggs together, just the two of us.

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I also baked a cherry pie, cleaned, and have a ham ready to go in the oven. Tomorrow I’ll do my best to cook many of the traditional foods we usually have on Easter, including the ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, home-made egg noodles, home-made buns, etc. I will miss my sister-in-law’s fried rice and my sister’s green fluffy stuff salad. I will also miss not having more than one kind of pie to choose from.

But most of all I’ll miss sharing the dinner and afternoon with a bunch of my relatives. I suppose later on we’ll drive out to see them, keeping our distance, of course.

We’ll still have church, but it will be on Zoom. The Easter breakfast at church I was supposed to help prepare won’t be happening. The wonderful Mennonite singing together doesn’t quite work out either.

But the weather is fine and we are all safe. We keep the traditions we have control over and have the hope inherent in the holiday for brighter days ahead.

May you have a blessed Easter.

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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!

Special: Easter through Earth Day Sale on all 5 Ebooks! Regularly $5.99 each, all books now on sale through Earth Day for just $3.99 each. (You may have to wait to see the price change if it isn’t showing yet.)

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