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Catching An Idea

August 11, 2016

Chrysa Smith 2I have a treat to broaden your smile while you’re savoring the last weeks of summer. My friend, Chrysa Smith, is visiting and sharing an inspirational moment. Chrysa is a very special person – an author of children’s books. 

From Chrysa:

Whenever inspiration strikes, I always imagine myself dressed as if on safari, with camo gear on and net in hand ready to capture the prize. And so it was with me many months ago.

I was standing in a gift shop looking at silk flowers  when something down the aisle caught my eye.  I turned and walked toward the children’s section, and it was there staring me in the face. It was another ‘Once upon a something’ book.  I don’t know just how many of those I’ve seen in five decades. But something about it was different. Something about it struck a chord with me– perhaps speaking to a younger audience, the absolute adorableness of it all,  imagining a writer really reaching the tiniest  listeners and critics on the face of this earth.

Having an easy-reader series (The Adventures of the Poodle Posse) grow and change during the past eight years has been rewarding. But as one who always welcomes a challenge, I felt inspired to do something a little different; something for kids out of the grade 2-3 Chrysa's book 2range or perhaps on a different topic  altogether.  For about a year, I’ve been working on a juvenile fiction piece based on a twisted experience I had with growing plants (no, not those kind). But as happens with most of us, the story has been in a deadlock.  Good ideas, good character development, but I still need the hook—what magical, fascinating, attention-holding action is going to grab these young readers? Still no clue.

So as the ‘Once upon’ idea took hold, it marinated for while until ready to really cook. Why not go back in time with a prequel to the existing series? Why not make it a picture book that would explain how the initial characters in the series came to be? Why not grab a different age group that would lead to a different market for me? Why not make it an entirely different title, apart from the series? And why not capture little imaginations with a story that might lead them into the easy-reader series down the road?

Chrysa's pic 1So as I write, the book is in illustration stage. And it is most exciting to see full color characters come to life, where in the easy-reader/transitional series, they are black and white. The reviews are beginning to come in—so far, so good.  The real test will come this fall as the book goes on Amazon(yikes!), my website and down those roads that lead me into classrooms. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck. And kudos to all of you who are out there with nets, busy capturing ideas.

Chrysa Smith has been a lifetime feature magazine writer, and shorter term juvenile fiction author. For more information on her and her scribbling, visit, and see her featured in the fall issue of Bucks County MagazinPat Achillese.

A special shout to Pat Achilles, the talented illustrator of this book. Thanks, Pat, for allowing us to include your drawings.  For more information about Pat Achilles, visit

I can’t think of any job  more important than creating stories and images that help a child’s imagination soar. Kudos to both of you, Chrysa and Pat.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. janispattersonmysteries permalink
    August 11, 2016 8:12 AM

    I envy those who start out with children’s books. I didn’t start reading children’s literature until I was well into adulthood. As a child, my parents discovered I was reading when I was three, and made me prove it by reading a story from a newly-arrived magazine (the Saturday Evening Post, as I recall). By the time I was five I had read every Ellery Queen book we owned, and then I discovered Shakespeare. I began to detest school on the third day, when the rest of the class was struggling with the abysmal inanities of Dick and Jane (yes, I am that old) and I was caught hanging in the back of the group trying to grope my way through Troilus and Cressida. (Most definitely not my favorite play, even to this day!) The principal was called, and he took me to the office where he telephoned my mother, telling her that he had found the book of Shakespeare I had stolen. I still remember his face when she told him that I had taken my personal copy to school, that it had been bought especially for me. (it was a sturdy, high-school version, with a buckram binding and cheap paper pages, while my parents’ was leather-bound and had elegant paper. I hated the small-mindedness and one-size-fits-all mentality of school from then on. Children have such wonderful books these days. Thank you for contributing to this oeuvre.

    • August 11, 2016 8:40 AM

      That’s an amazing story, Janis – and perfect proof that one size does NOT fit all. I’m glad you finally discovered children’s literature. There are some real treasures.

  2. August 11, 2016 8:26 AM

    Chrysa, Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this well-written blog post. As a writer, I so understand when we come to “deadlock” with a great idea. But you took that idea, let it simmer and turned it into something wonderful that I know will be a real treat for many “wee” readers — and encourage them to keep reading. 🙂 And Pat, your artwork is wonderful! I have no doubt those great reviews on Amazon will continue to come in. Much success to you both!!!

    • August 11, 2016 8:42 AM

      Thanks, Marielena, for stopping by. As a writer, I know you have a special appreciation for the simmering process.

  3. August 11, 2016 9:16 AM

    I so relate to your finding your idea out of the blue in an unexpected setting. Yes, the idea was there, but you were receptive to it, because you were working in the problem in your mind.
    BTW, I am one of your early readers and can´t wait to see the finished book. The pictures of Pat Achilles are amazing. So much detail, I can be looking at them for an hour and still find new things.
    Congratulations and Best of Luck!

    • August 11, 2016 9:28 AM

      Thanks, Carmen, for taking time to leave a comment. I, too, love Chrysa’s gentle, funny stories and exploring the detail in Pat’s illustrations.

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