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27 September 2011

Why I Published My New Book: "Laid-Back Skier" When Books Are Going Downhill

Yes, I've read all the abysmal news about the post-literate age and the demise of printed books. In fact, all those discouraging words served to inspire my new book"Laid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life."

Of course, snow skiing inspired me, too. As I carved turns, I began crafting this new book's text in my head. All the while, I envisioned a charming book in three-dimensions, with luscious eco-friendly paper pages and colorful illustrations between hard covers.

I'm trained as a writer, and I've made my living as a writer. Consequently, books are an integral part of my life. They have been since I was a wee one. In fact, in my baby book, my mother noted that "book" was one of my first spoken words. My mom told me I always loved to be read to; and she related more than once that whenever she tried to skip pages - turning more than one at a time to rush through a reading - I always busted her.

"Laid-Back Skier" is for people of all ages and not for skiers only.

I hope mothers and other adults will read "Laid-Back Skier" to their children or grandchildren. I intend this book for "skiers, riders and snowflakes of all ages." The vocabulary might include a few words kids won't know, but the book will provide an opportunity to learn. Besides, they'll be captivated by the playful pictures, anyway. For Friday Jones Publishing, Denver artist Patty Leidy did 38 original illustrations.

"Laid-Back Skier" will delight adults, too. I hope this book reminds adults of the tactile pleasure of sitting with a book, turning pages, relishing full-color illustrations reflecting the text, reading. Yes, reading! An actual book!

"Laid-Back Skier" is a quick and easy read with special features.

If you're like I am, reading is not as easy as it once was. We've created an ADD culture with head-spinning distractions bombarding us constantly. "Laid-Back Skier" takes that into consideration. Intentionally, I kept the text very simple with only one sentence per page in the body of the book. Just about anybody can read this book and recall the joyful accomplishment of reading a book cover to cover.

To add to the practicality of the book, I added a skier's journal and a skier's packing list.

"Laid-Back Skier" is my second brainchild brought into the world by Friday Jones Publishing, my independent publishing company. Last September, Friday Jones Publishing released my first novel, "Glass Halo." While the books' subject matter varies greatly, both books present artful design and attention to graphic details that make quality 3-D books worth preserving even in the 21st century.

"Laid-Back Skier" is available through and Coming soon to a bookstore or boutique near you! Thank you for helping us wag this tale. Share/Save/Bookmark

26 September 2011

Architecture: Santa Barbara's New Airport Evokes Old Missions

The old Santa Barbara airport terminal was probably my favorite in the United States. With arched windows, octagonal tower, wrought iron, and a red tile roof, the little old open-air airport charmed me and made me feel I was in another country--especially the baggage claim area--so I was sorry to see the old terminal go.

At top, Santa Barbara's old airport, September 2010.

But Santa Barbara's new airport terminal also includes appropriate, pleasing Spanish architectural charms, too. Riffing on the old Santa Barbara Mission at the heart of this splendid enclave on California's central coast, the new airport includes architectural elements from the centuries old Spanish churches. Outside, the white stucco rises to a peak reminiscent of a steeple. Inside, wood trusses are stenciled with colorful patterns that call to mind the handiwork in California's old missions. A cheerful palette of vividly glazed ceramic tiles jazz up the risers of stairways.

Above, Spanish tiles decorate stairways in the new Santa Barbara Airport.

As I checked my bags, when I lamented the loss of the quaint, old, stucco building, a man at the counter told me it would be preserved as a museum. I'm glad that idea got off the ground.

And, architecture aside, I'm glad to fly back to Denver from Santa Barbara, rather than LAX, which also happens to be currently under much needed renovation.

"LAID-BACK SKIER" is the second title by Friday Jones Publishing. Friday was my beloved dog and remains my muse. A three-legged shelter rescue dog with health issues her entire life, Friday was diagnosed with cancer at age six. In an intense, alternative medicine clinical trial, she lived to age 15.5 people years, exemplifing an indominable underdog spirit.

For more information, visit and see LAID-BACK SKIER tab. Wag your tale.Share/Save/Bookmark

14 September 2011

LAID-BACK SKIER: Ski Bunny Illustrations by Patty Leidy, a Facebook Friend

Here's a link to a gallery of "Laid-Back Skier" illustrations by Patty Leidy - see her self-portrait at right.

Below, one of the earliest ski bunnies by Patty Leidy for "Laid-Back Skier."

And here's the tale wagging of how these ski bunnies came to be:

When I was preparing to publish my first novel, "Glass Halo," Jesse - one of the Friday Jones Players - opened a Facebook page for me. I was upset. I had railed against Facebook without really knowing what it was. "I don't have time for Facebook," I argued. "Besides which, I like my privacy."

Jesse gave me one of his sage young adult looks and said, "If you want to sell this book, you have to have a Facebook page," he said.

Jesse is wise, so I said "Okay." But I left the Facebook page dormant for months.

Until another Friday Jones Player, Josie, told me, "You really need to get into Facebook." Josie is wise, too, but I dug in my heels. "Things will happen on Facebook that you would never expect," Josie said.

So I jumped into the Facebook vortex. And how! I post regularly now, and I enjoy Facebook, I admit. Jesse was right: Facebook helped sell my "Glass Halo." My first novel reached readers I knew only through Facebook.

Moreoever, I met the illustrator for my second book - "Laid-Back Skier" - on Facebook. I'm not sure how Patty Leidy and I got connected, but I began noticing her "Cafe Neurotic" comics on Facebook. I loved Patty's style and the fact that she is a fan of bacon and cupcakes. Her gags made me smile and sometimes even LOL. Mostly, I admired Patty's artful drawing. Genius flows through the ink in her pen.

When I figured out that Patty lived in Denver, as do I, I messaged her about the possibility of commissioning her to do some drawings for the ski book I envisioned. Yes, she was interested!
At our first meeting, I explained my idea for "Laid-Back Skier." She showed me her sketchbooks: Moleskin books filled with doodles and drawings in a wide range of styles.

Patty and I began meeting at the coffee court outside Nordstrom in Cherry Creek North.We worked through some initial drawings, but Patty's first sketches of people--tho' expertly rendered--were not matching the playful spirit of what I had in mind for "Laid-Back Skier's" messages that apply to everybody's ups and downs.

One day, on the first of the month, I posted on Facebook one word "Rabbit." Saying "rabbit" on the first of the month is a common British superstition to bring good luck.
Patty saw my Facebook post and shot me a message of a single word: "Bunnies!"
"Ski bunnies!" I realized, would be perfect.
Patty hopped to and drew some initial bunnies to set the style. I knew we were on to something better than the humans. We met several times to collaborate on the bunnies, their fur color and eye color, their attire, equipment, actions, and the general gist of alpine landscapes. We created scenarios to illustrate the truisms I'd written to compare alpine skiing to life.
Along with ski bunnies, we added foxes, birds, and even a rare lynx. In the end, Patty completed 38 illustrations for "Laid-Back Skier." Each is adorable and expertly rendered with expressive faces, dimensional shadows, and creative coloring.
Here at Friday Jones Publishing, we all have our favorite illustration by Patty. The cumulative effect of the illustrations plus all the other elements of design and the truisms in "Laid-Back Skier" should bring a smile to reader's faces - even if they've never ever been on skis.
Which is the case with Patty Leidy, making her illustrations even more impressive.
Wag your tale, Patty Leidy!
And thank you Jesse and Josie for dragging me into Facebook. I'm red-in-the-face about my initial resistance.

P.S. To contact Patty Leidy about commissioning artworks, e-mail her at
Patricia Leidy hkit1@mindspring.comShare/Save/Bookmark

04 September 2011


I'm laboring this Labor Day Weekend. I'd complain - particularly given glorious weather in Denver, Colorado this holiday weekend. I've been holed away in my basement sorting old papers to make way for my new books: "Laid -Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life."
Friday Jones Publishing expects the books delivered at the end of next week. As the book's author, creative director and publisher, I'll also serve as "Laid-Back Skier's" publicist.

Laboring as a writer, editor and art director involves paper. A lot of it. Even in the digital age, I keep on file thousands of photographs, back issues of magazines,

This sorting strikes deep chords of melancholy in me, attached as I am to personal correspondence, old calendars, ephemera of not only my lifetime, but also generations of my family. I'm sentimental.

And I just might qualify as a paper horder. I filled cardboard apple boxes with yellowed newspapers, dusty greeting cards, business cards. I happened upon a box belying a book I wanted to write when younger about the Los Angeles Lakers and their three-peat seasons. Now I know little or nothing about the NBA. At this age, I'm almost positive I will not get that book written, so with relief I heaved three year's worth of clippings from both The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News.

Letting go of some of this old job stuff feels good.

I'm laboring in my gardens this Labor Day Weekend, too, but yard work feels more like play.

I like to think of myself as a hard worker. I'm from a line of hard workers, and my farmer and immigrant genes kick in when it comes to work.

Jobs I've held, a partial list: babysitter, lifeguard & swimming instructor, restaurant worker, parks & rec camp leader, fitness trainer, college writing teacher, bartender, clothing store sales clerk, framer's apprentice, journalist, Avon lady, Pepsi factory worker, calligrapher, staff writer, editor, public relations director, media relations officer, assistant communications director, freelance writer, publisher, author, columnist, novelist, book/music reviewer, reporter, dining reviewer, florist's assistant, greenhouse worker, and probably some I've forgotten.

I did not love all these jobs, but each of them taught me something and added to my current skill set.

This first weekend of September, this unofficial last weekend of summer, Happy Labor Day weekend whether you labor or laze.

Friday Jones Publishing will release Colleen Smith's new book LAID-BACK SKIER: AS IN SKIING, SO IN LIFE later this month. The book is a labor of love.

02 September 2011

LAID-BACK SKIER: How the book idea began on Colorado's ski slopes

COLORADO COLLEEN ~ ALPINE SKIING demands one to be in the now with pretty much every potentially perilous turn. Part of the appeal of skiing lies in the sport's ability to focus the mind and body, and, in turn, the spirit.

Illustration by Patty Leidy for Friday Jones Pubishing. One of 38 original drawings for "Laid-Back Skier."

When I ski - especially on challenging terrain - I tend to think almost exclusively about what I'm doing. I consider my line, my turns, my form. I look for fresh snow, obstacles, other skiers. My awareness is attuned to the mountain and myself on the mountain.
If I start fretting about deadlines or bills or household tasks, I might fall and seriously injure myself. When I ski, my interior dialogue deals with skiing. On black diamond runs, I'm frequently coaching myself, consoling myself, sometimes bolstering my confidence.

Which is how I happened to begin creating short ski mantras for myself. The first was "Lead with your heart." Alpine skiers seek good posture with a lifted chest and no bend in the waist. Lead with your heart, I reminded myself while making runs down the mountain. Lead with your heart. Good advice for life in general, I realized.

And eventually I collected in my mind several ski mantras: "Stay focused." "Don't hold your breath." "Face your fear."
I added language from ski resort signs: "Respect others." "Know the code."
Skiing provides a metaphor for life's ups and downs. I began adding the preface, "As in skiing, so in life" to my ski mantras. Soon I had a string of these sayings and discovered I had the bones of a fun book about skiing.

As in skiing, so in life, sometimes we encounter bumps. That was true along the way with my new book; but I copies of "Laid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life" were delivered yesterday - just in time to get introduce this lighthearted volume before ski season opens again.
As in skiing, so in publishing: Expect ups and downs. Here I go, wagging my ski tales, trying to stay balanced, and hoping to enjoy the ride. Whee!

"LAID-BACK SKIER" is the second title by Friday Jones Publishing. Friday was my beloved dog and remains my muse. A three-legged shelter rescue dog with health issues her entire life, Friday was diagnosed with cancer at age six. In an intense, alternative medicine clinical trial, she lived to age 15.5 people years, exemplifing an indominable underdog spirit.

For more information, visit and see LAID-BACK SKIER tab. Wag your tale.

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