Interview with Christina Smith, author of 'Joseph's Journey'

Christina Smith is an entrepreneur, consultant, mother, and published author. "Joseph's Journey" is her first children's picture book.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, she grew up in a house with 3 children, WITHOUT the white picket fence and no dog! However, there was lots of love and laughs to go around. When she was about 10 years old, she thought she was going to be the "next coming" of Whoopi Goldberg! Well, "life happened" and "that" did NOT happen, but in 2014 she was able to cross ONE ITEM off of her bucket list and perform stand-up comedy in front of a live audience.

When she's not homeschooling her son or driving him all around town to his various activities, some of Christina's favorite things to enjoy are: PEET'S COFFEE, the local library, a throw-your headback, "that brought tears to my eyes" kinda laugh; organic, gluten-free, dairy free, non-gmo food (did we mention she's from the BAY AREA?) and good music.

Christina is a certified graduate/alumnus of, certified professional speaker/author, George Ramirez' "Present with Purpose" (2008) & two-time student of his "The Miracle in the Mirror" programs. She has received a Certificate of Recognition from California State Assembly in Honor of Graduating from the Women's Initiative for Self Employment and dedication to empowering the quality of her life and her community (2007). 

Additionally, she is a student of Certified Rebirthing-Breathwork Practitioner, Iris Nelson. She holds an Associates degree in Legal Administration/Paralegal Studies from
Heald Business College.


About the Book:

As a mother, how do you explain an absentee father to your child without blame, anger or
resentment? Empower them! Seven-year-old Joseph shares his story about when he first learns about the POWER of choice he possesses after his father leaves and doesn't come back. His mother teaches him the difference between his father’s choices and his own. Do Joseph and Mom become angry with Joseph’s father? Well, a belief is just a thought you keep thinking over and over...find out what happens on Joseph’s Journey!

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Personal experience gave me the idea to write this book. 

January 2009 is a time I’ll never forget. My son’s father walked out & never came back.
Joseph was three years old. It literally changed my life. As time went on, Joseph started asking me where his father was.  I had heard about the harmful repercussions of speaking disparaging words about a child’s father in front of or directly to the child.  So, I consciously chose not to do that.  But still, I couldn’t think of ONE NICE THING to say about his father so instead, I chose to say nothing.  I was too consumed by anger to even talk about it. This was eye-opening.   Here’s what I knew at the time: 

I knew I needed help.  I searched the internet for answers, however, I found no children’s book that came close to what I was dealing with.

I knew Joseph was watching me and expected guidance and answers. I had to find the best words to talk to my son about his father not being around. I was also determined to not let this whole situation “take me out” emotionally.

Lastly, I knew wanted to deal with this situation in a positive way. 

Then divine inspiration hit me…you write the book Christina.  So, I did. 
I have a book trailer on my youtube channel, cnsmithauthor, that is a fantastic depiction of how Joseph’s Journey came to be.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

For me, writing this book was not difficult at all.  I simply say that for two reasons (1) I’ve enjoyed writing since my early 20s when I discovered I was good at it, which gave me a high level of confidence and trust in my writing abilities and (2) I didn’t put pen to paper until I was inspired and then the words flowed easily.

My first piece of advice for other writers is to write about a subject or in a specific genre that will come easy for them or that they feel comfortable with when first starting out.  Secondly, only write when they are inspired and feel a sense of calm, then their writing for the day will be easy, fulfilling and enjoyable.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published my 1st edition through Createspace and my 2nd edition through Ingram Spark.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes!  When I published my first edition of Joseph’s Journey, I wasn’t aware of the importance of including a Publisher’s CIP (cataloging-in-publication) block on my copyright page.  A CIP block allows librarians to catalog your book with ease into their cataloging system should they choose to purchase your book.  I also wasn’t aware of the importance of having your book included into as many distribution channels as possible.

Additionally, many self-published authors don’t know that if they utilize the Amazon Kindle Kids’ Book Creator, (which I did for my 1st edition eBook version of Joseph’s Journey) that their eBook will only be available on Kindle branded readers and through the Kindle app.  That drastically hurt my sales of my first edition eBook because iPhone/iPad, Kobo and Nook users were excluded from buying my book.  Even when they downloaded the kindle app on their devices, many people I contacted to test things out were consistent in telling me that it just wouldn’t work and an error message would come back.

I also think your readers would be interested to know that another unfortunate part of utilizing the Amazon Kids’ Book Creator software to create and self-publish your children’s eBook is the fact that the author will not be able to utilize the Look Inside the Book feature in the Amazon eBook Store.  I was told that by an Amazon Customer Service Rep that all eBooks created with the Amazon Kids’ Book Creator software generated a different type of file that was not compatible with the Look Inside the Book Feature.  I think this drastically hurt my sales too, because most people want to Look Inside the Book of a book they are considering purchasing; especially a children’s picture book!

Needless to say, I took all the pitfalls I encountered from the time I published the 1st edition and was able to navigate around them when I published the 2nd edition.  The second time around I utilized IngramSpark and I am pleased with the results.  Amazon is great for many things and based on my personal experience, I preferred publishing through IngramSpark.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on a parents’ companion book to Joseph’s Journey, a baby book, and a Pre-K through 2nd grade book that incorporates the teaching of the alphabet while incorporating social and emotional intelligence learning.  In the educational community teaching very young children the importance of controlling and understanding your emotions in order to navigate your social surroundings is huge right now.  There’s definitely a need and a demand for books, materials, teachings and support systems to assist educators with incorporating this type of learning in schools across the country.

As far as the parents’ guide is concerned, I’m writing this because I need parents to know that just because they buy Joseph’s Journey for their child it doesn’t mean that their problems are solved.  Joseph’s Journey is perfect for opening the door to having that difficult discussion with a child about their absentee father in a way that empowers the mother/guardian/caregiver and the child because here’s no blame, guilt or resentment involved.  In other words, social and emotional intelligence is used and modelled by the mother in the story to help the child.  So, the parents’ guide will assist the parent/guardian/caregiver of the child in need on the next steps to continue their journey in assisting their child along with resources that are available to them.

My goal is to publish these three books within the first half of 2017.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

Many people are surprised to learn that Joseph’s Journey is a true story based on my experience of my son’s father being absent and my talk with him when it came time for me to explain his father’s absence. Yes, my son’s name is Joseph and the characters in the book are us. Those illustrations are the illustrator’s depictions of me, Joseph and his father.  The opening illustration where the reader sees Joseph in his room is how is actual room looked when he was 7-years-old.  That’s our body language and everything.  The closing illustration where you see Joseph and me with two other adults; those are his maternal grandparents, whom we both lived with during this journey.  My father, has made his transition and passed on last year in August 2015. However, the reader is receiving a glimpse into our family’s life at a specific moment in time.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Joseph’s Journey provides the reader with a very personal snapshot of how I and my family are trying to raise Joseph; conscientiously, amidst what some could label or perceive as hard-luck or bad-luck circumstances…an absentee father. 

According to statistics, Joseph is most likely to be in poverty, will get low grades in school, act out, maybe even become anti-social and yet the opposite is true.  When one knows better, they feel like they can do better. This is what I’m modelling for Joseph and he’s the beneficiary of that knowledge which he simply copies.  I can do it, you can do it, we can all do it.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

To all the fathers who are absent in their children’s lives because they feel there is no other option and no other way but the way they have chosen— don’t be afraid to be amazing.

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