Annette Bentley Smith loves writing her stories in a way that will educate, entertain and give children a temporary escape into a think outside-of-the-box adventure.
Annette’s books are aligned around a city-to-city strategy called “Get Hooked on Mrs. Annie’s Books” which centers on an exceptional reading experience. She is committed to continuously enhancing your child/children’s experience. She wants her stories to inspire your children to become creative and allow their imaginations to run as far as it will take them.
She took a writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature, but she feels her best qualifications come from her readership as a child in elementary school, and raising two boys. Watching their growths and incidents, gave her many ideas for stories. Also, she began caring for other children at the age of fourteen and still cares for other children now. Her books have received starred reviews on Amazon and social media sites. Authors such as J. Hale Turner and Maxine Billings, regard her as “an amazing writer.”
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INTERVIEW with Mrs. Annie
When you first became an author, was your goal to make an impact in the lives of children? How has this journey been for you so far?
Annette: When I first became an author, my goal was just to write about an incident that happened to one of my boys, Danmario.
I loved reading and writing as a child. My mother planted the seed but it didn’t germinate until my first son had a skin tone incident, which prompted my first book back in 1998 titled “What Color Am I?” When he was in daycare during art, a little friend of his was going to color his face with a black crayon. This upset him so bad because he was such a literal child back then. When I picked him up that day he was crying and told me he wasn’t black he was brown! That day was a learning lesson in race, heritage, self-confidence and mindfulness of his skin color. This story was loved by a teacher from “The Institute of Children’s Literature where I decided to perfect my writing. They inspired me to continue writing and impact other people’s lives.
The journey was not an easy one. It was extremely hard to get in with traditional publishers. Then Amazon came out with “Create Space”. It was a free platform to self-publish books. It has since changed to “Kindle Direct Publishing” (KDP). This platform made my writing journey a bit easier so much so that I was able to publish fourteen books! Hiring illustrators, formatters, and editors was made possible through a website called “Fiverr”. You can hire someone there starting at $5! But you have to be careful and knowledgeable because you do get what you pay for! I learned that the hard way. My writing journey has paused for a moment. I am currently working on two other projects that I invented.
What keeps you motivated to keep writing and creating?
Annette: To start, my two boys Danmario and Danniel keep me motivated to keep writing. Now I have my granddaughter, Melody. She is my latest and greatest inspiration. Many of my books are centered around her. There are many things she has experienced that I feel other children can relate to. Seeing the emotions on the faces of children inspires and motivates me to continue writing and creating. I love it when a child can see and feel themselves in my stories. Then of course friends and family are always encouraging me to continue to do what I do. I think it inspires them, too!
Please tell us about Story Time Sheet Tales. How did this innovative idea come about?
Annette: I came across someone who printed games on bed sheets. A light went off in my head and I started thinking; ‘if everything else can be printed on bed sheets, why not my stories.’ I did some research and came across a picture of a huge book in the shape of a bed with writing on it. Little children were trying to climb on it and read. That did it for me! I decided to figure out how I can print my stories onto bed sheets, too! I reached out to the person who made the game sheets, and he encouraged me to go for it! He even suggested I do Bible stories! Another idea for another day!
I started out with a very good friend of mine Ben Pardo who made T-Shirts and had the equipment to help me. Then I took what we started to a seamstress. From there I was able to take pictures and submit them to a company that made custom bed sheets. This would help give a manufacturer that I found in China an idea of how to professionally make them. Story-Time Sheet-Tales was born! It has my entire bullying book printed on it, positive affirmations, an open book with questions, a word search game, and a typing keyboard so that children can pretend to write their own stories!
They are now available for purchase on my website.
What can you tell us about Kobe’s Story Time Plush Tales?
Annette: My granddaughter is unfortunately the product of divorce. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like. When she was around four or five years old, she told me she wished I could read to her every night through her teddy bears. I told her maybe one day someone will create something so that I can. Little did I know that someone would be me! One of her favorite animals is a koala bear. Again, I began doing research. While there are similar products on the market, none are like Kobe. Kobe will play five of my original stories, and he plays soothing music. You are also able to download your own personal songs, stories, or messages. It also has a volume control button and a headphone port for children to have a quieter option to listen. Kobe is also a soft pillow to allow for comfort. The koala bear will also shut down after a few seconds of no use. He holds a book so that a child can put a picture of their loved ones in it.
He is available for pre-sell on my website.
Which of your books would you highly recommend for children to enjoy during the summer and as they get ready to approach the new school year?
Annette: Bullying is still and always will be so prevalent these days. I would highly recommend my bullying book not only for summer reading but for continuous reading throughout the year. It is called “Nyrah’s Bully/friend”. I would want them to head off bullying with confidence, knowing that they can identify whether they are a bully if they are being bullied and identify bullies themselves.
What exciting projects are you working on now and for the remainder of the year?
Annette: I will be continuing to print my books onto bed sheets and print them in different colors. My goal is to also offer other authors the opportunity to print their children’s books onto my bed sheets as well.
As for Kobe, my goal is to license him, however, there’s always that journey to do it on my own and sell to specialty stores, hospitals, shelters, and other specialty places. I also plan to make him in different colors and create new animals with all my stories installed in them, as well as other authors’ stories.
Keep up to date: https://www.mrsanniebooks.com/