3 Books I’m Reading

Hi everybody. It’s been a while since I’ve sent something out so I wanted to share a brief update as well as three middle grade books I’ve been reading that your kids (or you) might enjoy.

On the writing front, I’ve been working on a new series called Brother Wars, which builds off two of my short stories, Pitch Black Dark and Rapids Ahead, about the rivalry between ten-year-old Harry and his older brother Randy. I’m close to looking for beta readers open to writing early reviews, so if your family is interested, let me know.

I’m also in the final stages of my first attempt at a “grownup book” (PG-14ish Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance) called Harborwood, to be published under a pen name. If this genre is up your alley and you’d like to join my advance reader team for that book (and learn my pen name!), shoot me a note and I’d love to get you on board soon.

Finally, next up on the writing list is Book 6 in my Virginia Mysteries series. All indications point to it being set at Jamestown (much to the joy of several 4th grade teachers I’ve told recently!). My hope is to have it out in the fall, so stay tuned!


Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project, by Dan Gutman  This is the first in a new series by the author of dozens of books including the My Weird School, Baseball Card Adventure, and Genius Files series. What caught my attention is the history connection with a group of kids going back in time to the day that Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. I’d been reading it with my second grader when we stopped at the historic Gettysburg battlefield on the way home from a trip to Pennsylvania. We had a great talk with a Union soldier re-enactor who shared lots of fun facts about his uniform and weapon. The second book in this series is coming out later this month and is set on the Titanic.

Serafina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty This popular best-seller drew me in with its setting at the historic Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina. Since my books are also set against historical backdrops like The Jefferson, Maymont, and St. John’s Church, it was fun to read how another author does it, albeit with a greater fantasy element in the story. Our family is going to Ashville this month over spring break so I’m excited to learn more about the Biltmore. The second book in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, is also available.

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson  
I recently read an interview with Katherine Paterson celebrating the 40th anniversary of this amazing book. My teacher read this book to us in fourth grade, and it became one of the most influential books in my childhood. It brings back so many memories of exploring the woods behind my house as a boy, mapping out my own adventures and kingdoms that became my own Terabithia. While certainly a book with a lot of sadness, I learned that Katherine Paterson wrote the story as a way to cope with the grief from her son’s friend being killed by lightening. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my first book was about exploring and adventures in the woods.

Now Splashing!


I’m very excited to share that my new parenting memoir, Splashing in the Deep End: Adventures Raising Boys, is now available! Check it out on Amazon here.

Life with small kids is not easy, but it just might be the best thing out there. If you’ve ever wondered whether you should laugh or cry at the end of a long day, you’re not alone. Steven K. Smith, children’s fiction author, husband, and dad to three boys, recounts in equal parts humor and sentiment the adventures of raising young children. Parents will quickly relate to the tell tale signs of life with kids like surviving the dreaded family car trip down the interstate, lightsaber battles, middle of the night diaper changes, demanding only striped pajamas, or boycotting tomatoes at the Mexican restaurant.

“The hardest part of raising our three little boys is the exhaustion. We weren’t prepared for that in the beginning. Now we’re prepared, but just not handling it well.” 

“Sometimes being a parent is like a heavyweight fight—you keep moving with the punches and try to stay on your feet, waiting for that bell to ring so you can take a few breaths before the next round.”

“The room was pitch black, and as I opened his diaper, I couldn’t distinguish stink from pink. I felt like I was in a dark foreign land and had never changed a diaper in my life.” 

“Traveling with children is not fun. Ever. Even the quiet times when games and movies are playing is only masking the pain bubbling just beneath the surface.”

“Sitting little boys around a table full of china is like dropping your husband in the middle of a Victoria’s Secret store. There’s a lot to look at but little you can touch without being yelled at.”

“For all the frustrating times, there’s that moment when he’ll shuffle over when I’m not expecting it. He’ll look up at me with big blue eyes, wrap his arms tightly around my neck, and with a groan in his voice from the strength of his hug whisper, “Daddy, I just really love you.” And suddenly it’s not so bad.”

“The major downside to car seats is the inability for the kids to pick anything up off the floor. Because they drop things. Constantly. Usually to that one unreachable place, despite my Plasticman-like attempts from the driver’s seat. Those dangerous maneuvers alone probably negate any safety advantages to the kids being strapped down in the first place. I’m seriously considering getting rid of the car seats completely.”

Secret of the Staircase – Now Available!

SOTS front cover fileToday is the day, my new book, Secret of the Staircase, is officially available! Thanks to everyone for their support.

You can find it online at Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. It will be available on B&N.com shortly, and locally in Richmond at The Jefferson hotel gift shop, Fountain Bookstore, bbgb books, and hopefully more!

About the book:

Something’s lurking beneath the famous staircase at The Jefferson, Richmond’s historic downtown hotel. Back in 1895, when the hotel opened, real alligators roamed free in the courtyard fountains. That was ages ago … or was it? When young brothers Sam and Derek arrive at The Jefferson for an elegant wedding weekend with their parents, they love exploring the old hotel. But when the wedding rings go missing and Sam is blamed, the boys and their friends must hunt down the truth no matter where it leads. If they’re not careful, they might become dinner for the hotel’s most unusual guests.


New Audiobook – Summer of the Woods!

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I’m really excited to share that Summer of the Woods, Book One in The Virginia Mysteries series, is now available as an audiobook!

I worked with a great narrator, Tom McElroy, to produce this first book, and I’m very happy with it. It’s a bit surreal to hear someone else reading back your words, but he did a good job. Hopefully this new format will be attractive to families that listen to books on car trips, younger readers, or just folks who want to have it to listen to as they’re doing other things.

The audiobook is available for purchase on Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.

For a limited time, if you are willing to write a short honest review on Audible or iTunes, I have a bunch of coupon codes which can get you the book for FREE! I really need to use these for folks that will write a review to help expand visibility to this new format, but I’d love to send you one if you are willing.

I’d also love to hear from you about whether your kids or friends you know listen to audiobooks. Depending on how this first release sells, I’ll be considering whether to put other books in the series into this format.

Thanks and happy listening!

Hotel for Alligators?


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I did some last-minute fact checking this past weekend as I get closer to the launch of my new book, Secret of the Staircase (The Virginia Mysteries Book 4). The story takes place at Richmond’s historic downtown hotel, The Jefferson. The new book is schedule to release in late October, so be on the lookout!

I’m always looking for readers who would like an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, so if you’re interested please contact me! Kindle versions can also now be preordered on Amazon.

A few fun facts about The Jefferson:

  1. Live alligators once resided in the hotel fountains
  2. It was built in 1895 by Lewis Ginter as one of the finest hotels in the country
  3. The Grand Staircase was rumored (probably falsely) to be the inspiration for the staircase in Tara from Gone with the Wind
  4. The hotel was nearly destroyed six years later during a great fire. Workers rescued the prized Jefferson statue by wrapping it in a bed mattress, however they dropped it in the street and the head broke off. (It was later fixed.)
  5. The Jefferson has been host to 13 US Presidents, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and many more.

Here are some pictures of my six-year-old junior investigator as we checked out the alligators, staircase and ballroom, Thomas Jefferson statue and more.

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