Annette Bentley Smith Interview

Annette Bentley Smith is a writer of children’s short stories, rhyming poetry and picture books, for ages 0-4 and 5-9.

What inspired you to write?
I was inspired to write when I was in elementary school. My teacher would always select me to be the reader in my class. I loved the creativity of the stories then, and I love being the one to write and create stories now. Second, my two boys were my inspiration. It was when they were born and growing up that I decided to go ahead and put pen to paper. It was a learning as I go process. Now my granddoll is my latest and greatest inspiration.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
The inspiration to write is sometimes instant and at other times, they are building in my mind and stored in my mental filing cabinet until I can put pen to paper. Once that happened, I would write a story all the way through in one sitting. Of course, I would then put it away for a few months and go back to it to edit it.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I told my stories with drafts. Since my my mind is like a filing cabinet, when ideas and inspirations popped in my head, I filed them away, so to speak, until I was going to explode. Then, I would write them as drafts. Sometimes I ended up with more than one story all at one time. Also, my environment is always my outline. One day, my husband Danny saw two balloons in a huge field and pointed them out to me. He's creative like that, too. Immediately I thought about how children lets their balloon escape by mistake, or perhaps someone would have a balloon release to signify something. Where had those two balloons come from that we saw? Was a child's heart broken when their balloons flew away? How far had they traveled before resting in that field? Where would the wind take them to next? To me, it was an instant, think outside of the box children's book! The six books that I have published and others that are still in manuscript form, are 65% realistic. Although they are not true stories, they are inspired by true stories. I have a children's bullying book called "Nyrah's Bully" that was inspired by a true incident that happened in May of 2016 and my sister and I were bullied. I have a children's divorce book called "Divorce Through the Eyes of a Child; Dear Mama and Dad," that was inspired by a video I saw of a little girl encouraging her parents to just be friends and this book is also inspired by my granddoll. These situations were my outline.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
I received encouragement from both family and friends. At first I started writing alone. I didn't really let anyone know I was writing. Then when I was inspired to write my first book called "What Color Am I?" I let my family in on it, when it was finished. The book is currently under revision. The support came gradually and then after my third or fourth book, I started receiving support.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
The most difficult part of writing my book, was when I got writer's block. Although my surroundings in general were my outline, I used it to come up with my title, but it was getting past the title and narrowing down the many directions that title could go in, was when writer's block was triggered. When that happened, I moved the title to the back of my mind and went back to it at a later time.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
The most enjoyable aspect of writing my book, is knowing my book could have a positive affect on a child. A ten year old boy was reading my children's divorce book that encourages friendship between parents. His eyes teared up! It touched him! That solidified the joy I had writing that particular book. If I've made children happy, touched their heart, helped them use their imagination and took them on a think outside of the box adventure, then that is THE most enjoyable aspect of writing.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
My personal transformation after my books were published, was that feeling of finally being a children's book Author! Not only do I carry the title of wife, mother, aunt and friend. I am now an Author!

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Something that gets in the way of creativity for me is stress! No one has perfect health. If you do, then tell me how you obtained it! lol I have many health issues and it sometimes affects my zeal, motivation and creativity. Plus we are ALL busy with life and if I don't find a balance in there somewhere, my creativity gets lost in the mix.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
The strategies I use to deal with criticism, is venting to fellow writers, and just taking a step back to see if the criticism was warranted. I'm learning to take many things with a grain of salt. While I don't handle criticism too well, I do my best to accept it, move on and not let it tear me down, too bad for too long.

Are you currently working on another book? How do you spend your time nowadays?
I have a book called What Color Am I? It was written about seventeen years ago. It was hard getting it published through a traditional publisher, plus I went through several illustrators trying to get the right illustrations. I have chosen to do another version. I'm amazed at how my writing has improves since I wrote the manuscript to this book. I have a series, a chapter book, and six other individual books I am currently working on.

Have you received any accolades for your books?
I don't have any honors or awards as of yet, but I look forward to receiving them as I progress as a children's book author.

Do you have any author appearances coming up?
I will be appearing at a Let's Read Book Festival for Children in Atlanta. Plans are in the making to talk about bullying for a summer camp in Michigan in June or July. In July I will be doing a book signing for Nyrah's Bully in Morrow, GA.

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
Telling where I grew up is a trick question. My favorite thing to say is, "I was born in Macon, but raised everywhere! We moved a lot. I didn't even settle down once I got married. I moved 14 times!! My children will be saying the same thing!

Do you have a favorite quote?
My favorite quote is something I wrote, while in search of support: "Support is something we thrive on. Without it, the journey is harder, but not un-achievable. It'll just take longer to get there..."

What is your favorite show on TV?
My favorite show on TV is "The Little House on the Prairie."

Favorite movie?
My favorite movie is "Dance with Me."

Favorite book?
My favorite book is the Bible.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
The person I would want to meet, is Jesus Christ. Just to look at such perfection would have me fainting every time I looked into his eyes! How did the women of Bible times do it? lol

Is there a talent you wish you had?
The talent I wish I had is singing with perfection and confidence like my favorite singers, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys!

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
There's nothing really about me that would surprise you. I'm a regular southern gal that can carry a tune, so they say, a good cook, so they say, an awesome Therapeutic Massage Therapist, so they say, can dance, so they say, and I'm a great children's book Author, so they say! lol However, I did give birth to a child that was born with a tooth!:)

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Describing myself in three words would be caring, giving, and sensitive.

You are holding a portrait of your dad in one of the photos. Can you tell us about it?
I am an advocate for Medical Malpractice/Errors, specifically Failure to Monitor/Rescue. I was chosen by a Non-Profit Organization called Face To Face Fine Art, to have an artist draw my dad in recognition of his tragic death in 2012. I found him un-responsive while he was in ICU. He coded and the medical staff did not know. He ended up on life support, in a coma, brain dead and paralyzed. He died days later.