Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Guest today, Brad Smith, Accidental Author

My guest today is Brad Smith, husband of mystery and screen writer Nancy Raven Smith, and an author himself. Although he swears it was an accident. Please enjoy this charming post.

My First Book was an Accident
by Brad Smith

My wife, daughters and I were writing a memoir, a light-hearted love story about early years of my marriage with a wife, two youngsters, 26 horses, 12 cats, 10 dogs, and a cow, plus 2 suburban teenagers. I read that to get an agent and attract a traditional publisher, we would need a large online platform to help market the book.

So about five years ago I found myself in a social media class thinking through an assignment to start a blog. Now I come from an engineering background and like the idea of passing along some of the things I’ve learned to others, but where could I find content that would be useful to a reader. Being a jewelry teacher in the Santa Monica adult-ed school, I opted to document many of the little pieces of advice I give my students. These are solutions to common problems you run into when fabricating jewelry and tips that help to increase productivity or show how to avoid accidents. I called it the BenchTips blog.

I vowed to post short tips to the blog twice a week, and it turned out to be quite popular. BenchTips was hosted as a Facebook page and was adding followers at about 120 per month. I was amazed at the reach that social media could provide. Part of me kept polishing our farm life manuscript, doing research for the book proposal, and learning how we could find an agent while the other part of me was reading about the exciting world of ebooks and self publishing.

As my followers on the blog approached a couple thousand, I started thinking about publishing the bench tips as an ebook - first because there was an eager audience, second because there were few competing books, and third because it would teach me a lot about publishing in the rapidly changing book market. I read all I could on how to create an ebook and discovered there were print on demand companies like CreateSpace that would let me put out a paperback as well. So why not do both?

Editing the blog material into a book format took about two months, mostly for learning how to use Word functions like styles, page breaks, page numbering, and generation of TOC and Indexes. I also had to re-shoot a lot of the photographs, resize them, and adjust their resolution - there were 82 in the Bench Tips book. I shot my own cover, went over the proofs, made final changes, and OKed the paperback for release to Amazon. It was September 2012, and the realization hit me - I was actually an international author, published on Barnes & Noble and eleven Amazon country websites. I had learned a lot about publishing, but it was not with the book I had started to write.

But I now had what it would take to publish my full length, true love story “The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill” and I’m excited that it is currently in Kindle pre-sale and will be available in paperback and ebook formats on June 29, 2016. Catch it on Amazon - - or read a sample chapter at

Here's a bit about the book:
We all know the saying—opposites attract. But the real question is how long can such a relationship endure? That’s what troubles animal-phobic, robotics engineer Brad about his recent marriage to animal-lover Nancy. According to the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test, their union is doomed. There’s only one problem: they took the test after the wedding.

Whether he’s chasing a steer named Pork Chop through the woods with a lasso, locked in a tack room by the family pony, or trying unsuccessfully to manage their barn using his robotics experience, the odds are stacked against him.

Come enjoy the warm, unique, and hilarious stories of Brad’s early marriage and the bumpy road from his robotics lab to rural Virginia.

Bio for Brad Smith:
Smith’s early professional career with the U.S. Navy and the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. focused on manufacturing technology and computer-aided design. The resulting technologies developed by Smith are now widely used in the aircraft and automotive industries worldwide. He helped write numerous industry and government publications, and has presented speeches all over the world. As an adult school teacher, he has self published two how-to-books to support his students.

While his work environment was highly technical, his home life was not. With his family, he built and managed Whimsey Hill Farm. Smith partnered with his wife in a horse show business which included annual sporting events with over 1000 equine competitors. The couple was frequently featured in equestrian-related magazines, newspapers, and local publications. Smith says that the contrast between the farm and technology gave him the best of both worlds.

Please visit Brad at


  1. Congratulations on your book! I'm overwhelmed by all the animals you had. Then tossed in a few kids and a wife. LOL

  2. You're right, Kay. This is a charming post and The Reluctant Farmer sounds like a charming read.

  3. What a nice post. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. Sending best wishes for great sales and wonderful reviews for your new release. Marilyn (aka cj)

  4. Thanks Vicki, Sandy & CJ

    We had a wonderful life on the farm, and the animals made it special. - Brad

  5. I'm looking forward to reading your book! Great article.

  6. Congratulations, Brad!!! I am so much looking forward reading the book and somehow charging from the cover i think my 6 years old daughter would LOVE it too!!!
    Congratualations again!!!!

  7. That makes my standard bio comment about having too many pets seem like a lie.
    Loved the blog.

  8. Thanks for all the response to Brad's post! His wife, Nancy Raven Smith, will be here later in the summer to tell us about her new book--back to mystery for that.

    Brad, what ages do you think this book would be suitable for? I have a couple grandkids that might like it.

  9. Hi Kaye,

    I believe children should be fine with the book. It's light-hearted and humorous with no bad language or sexual references other than kissing.

    There is a chapter where I chase after a pony late at night in my pj bottoms. When I catch him, I have no way to lead him home except to wrap my pj bottoms around his neck. Unfortunately, I'm noticed by two locals who rib me for a short time - no coarse language, just taunts.

    And there is one sad scene where a dog dies after being hit by a car. So the age of the children might be important, or those chapters can be skipped without harming the story.

    I hope this answers your questions. I did consider that children might read the book and tried to write appropriately.

    Thanks for asking.


  10. The part about all of your animals sure sets you a part from the average family man. I think some books do come about sort of by accident. When you talked about the encouragement you got from the huge audience to your blog, I thought about John Grogan who had a news column. He wrote one of his posts for it about his dog that had died and got so many comments and pulled out so much interest, he felt he had to put it in a book. Marley and Me turned out a bestseller too. Sounds like you're on the right track.

  11. Wonderful post, Brad, and you've shown that you really do have a way with words. My TBR list keeps growing.

  12. Thanks for all your gracious comments.

    - Brad

  13. Next time you accidentally write a book, come back, Brad.

  14. I'd love to Kaye

    - Brad