Saturday, October 19, 2013

Inspiring Teens Blog Hop with Debra Smith

Greetings, my Mess-y friends.  This Saturday, I am happy to be participating in the Inspiring Teens Blog Hop, organized by Greta Burroughs and Vickie Johnstone, and bringing to you another great author, Debra J. Smith, author of Secrets Beyond Scymaria.  Debra will be answering some questions about reading, writing, and her books, which you will be to win a copy of through the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.  Make sure you enter for your chance to win.

So settle back with your morning coffee and enjoy Debra's interview.  Feel free to leave her comments and questions at the end.  

1. Reading
Why do you think Teen Read Week is important?
I believe Teen Read Week will help teens and adults with teens, giving them a great resource for books, authors and a sound knowledge of what is available for them.  The library (at my elementary school) is where I found a mentor to draw me into reading, even though I hated the thought of reading because of a learning disability—she changed my life and how I looked at reading. I am so thankful!

How do you think we could encourage youngsters to read more?
Always reading to them, no matter how drained one is at the end of the day; be a reader—set a good example for the younger set; help them to discover the kind of books that will draw them in and become engaged in the world of reading; be an advocate for the local libraries…they are there for the public—help them stay there s they may continue to encourage youngsters and adults alike.  Volunteer time or ideas that can be used to draw people back to the libraries.

When you were a teenager what books did you like to read and did you have an all-time favourite character?
As a teen I leaned toward sci-fi the most, and Ray Bradbury seems to be the author at the top of my list …The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451…but I also read other books, like A Wrinkle In Time, Pollyanna, and Anne of Green Gables. Funny thing is, I really never had a favourite character…I just liked to soak up as much different stuff as I could—I’m still that way, but must admit, I still lean towards sci-fi…

2. Writing
Were you writing as a teenager? If so, what were you writing and what inspired you? Did a person inspire you to write?
Yes, I wrote as a teen—actually that’s when I became really serious about writing—all because of a writing assignment in class in 6th grade. Then, as now, we were encouraged to write about “what we know”—good advice, I guess, but…oops.  I didn’t.  I wrote a short sci-fi story (I think I still have it somewhere stashed away for safekeeping) and she gave me an A. I just couldn’t put my pen down after that.

Do you think today’s teens are in a better position if they want to be a writer than you were all those years ago (hee hee)?
Funny thing, that.  In a way, yes, because they have the Internet at their disposal to do research in an instant.  Methodology can be researched much more easily, Webinars are available, how-to YouTube videos, (among other things) are there to help a budding writer.  But the ‘old fashioned’ way has its good points also. I think the time required to do things ‘manually’ allowed time to mull over each point or item longer before progressing onto other things. We had to pick and choose the best materials to glean and then enter the information rather than just copy and paste bits. It meant higher retention of material, I think.  At least for me.  I’m definitely old-fashioned—I love the feel of paper and books in my hands as I read.

What advice would you give a youngster who enjoys writing?
Write.  Keep a notebook with you at all times. Write down feelings, ideas, random thoughts that pop into your head.  Keep reading books.  Not just one genre. Try something outside of your comfort zone—it took me forever to do this and I’ve been kicking myself for being so narrow-minded for so long.  You might find that you like it.  If not, you may at least glean some ideas or see some terrific examples of word usage, words that paint pictures of scenes that you like. And try getting involved with National Novel Writing Month—an awesome adventure in writing for writers of all ages! ( There is an annual even each November (1-30) where the goal is to write 50,000 words…whether you reach the goal or not is not important.  That you try, that words are written, a story is started—that’s what’s important.  There is also an event in the spring and again in the summer with less ambitious goals, but it’s the same idea: WRITE.

3. Your books
What is your latest book about?
My very first published book, Secrets Beyond Scymaria, is a sci-fi fantasy about two eighth graders as they cope with classmates and a sinister professor, in addition to befriending a very strange creature and discovering a portal to another world.  Choices they make might be the undoing of this new friendship.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I have two more stories waiting in the wings—the next one up is titled Warriors of the Forest—that will be added to the series (they were actually part of one overly large story that I decided to break it into three—there is still a little work to do so each will stand on it’s own, then there are at least two or three more spinning around in my head, waiting (not so patiently) to be put onto paper. I’ll probably start one of those with the next NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) coming up this November.

What do you love about being an author?
What do I love about being an author? That’s easy--taking those fractured thoughts swimming around in my mind, bringing them together on paper to see what and where they will lead.  I’m always amazed and delighted every time!

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All About Debra:

Wandering from the world of reading into creating my own stories seemed natural.  I was hooked when my sixth grade teacher assigned the class to write a story. Later, as a parent with a child, I did storytelling in her classroom, then for other classes at her school. The children helped me weave the stories by supplying descriptive bits and pieces; next I decided to transcribe these stories or make up similar ones. Finally, when novel began to form in my head, I started on my long journey that brings me to now.  I'm a storyteller, turned writer and blogger, turned published author.  

Where can you find Debra?

Creations by djamesonsmith -

You can also find her book at:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Make sure you stop by and pick up your copy.

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And now for your chance to win

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The three winners for the Rafflecopter of the Inspiring Teens Blog Hop with Debra J. Smith are Sheila Deeth, Jill G. Roberts, and Debbie Manber Kupfer.  Congratulations and Debra will be contacting you via email.  Thanks for participating!

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Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

Other posts you might enjoy ~ I'm Going to Cat City 
                                            Let There Be Noise 
                                            Bloggers Against Bullies

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!


  1. Thank you Robbie and Debra for being such a wonderful addition to the blog hop. Good luck!

    1. It was my pleasure, Greta :) Thanks for allowing me to join in the fun.

    2. Mine also, Greta! This has been fun! And thank you Robbie for coming to the rescue!

  2. Thanks Robbie for hosting and Debra for taking part. Wishing you lots of luck with you writing :)

    1. Thanks for allowing me to participate. It was great working with Debra :)

    2. Your welcome, Vickie--and Robbie...I've enjoyed this very much!

    3. My blog is having a whopper of a tantrum right now (at least for me). You may not be able to enter profound apologies.

      YOU CAN FIND ANSWERS to the questions at my Website--go to the page DJJamesonSmith... apologies!

  3. I like your answers. There's a lot to be said for a varied diet of reading, as a teen and as an adult.