This month we were fortunate enough to be able to talk with Gina Smith, the lovely wife and partner of author S.D. Smith. As running a family business involves more than just "the Author" we thought it would be fun to take a look, from a new angle, at the clan that brings us The Green Ember. Enjoy!

How/when did you and Sam meet? Was it love at first sight?

Sam and I knew of each other in high school, having attended rival schools. I can safely say it was love at first sight for him! Once, at a soccer game we were both attending, he pointed me out and told a group of friends that he was going to marry me! (I was there on a date with someone else though.) We met and became dear friends in college, which eventually led to love and marriage (and babies in baby carriages, as the rhyme goes.). He likes to tell people it just took a while for him to wear me down.

Did you always know Sam would write or was it an awakening after having kids? Were you on board right away or did you gradually warm up to the idea? Were there any other dreams that were set to the side to allow this one to bloom?

Sam has always been full of ideas, poetry, songs and stories, as was evidenced by notebooks and scraps of paper lying everywhere and filled with scribbles. Where that creativity and passion was going to lead, we didnít really know for quite a while. Being very cautious people, we both worked hard to maintain security for our family, so Sam followed his passion for story telling by writing during his spare time, while working another full time job. Seeing him happy, fulfilled, and content was more than enough for me to feel supportive of the idea.

Sam was able to quit his nine-to-five to write full time this year. Congrats! What's been the greatest adjustment to that lifestyle change for you and the kids?

Thank you! We are so grateful and feel so privileged to have this opportunity. I love having Sam around during the day. He works in a tiny office behind our house, but is able to step in and help me if I need it, which has been very freeing for me, and definitely one of my biggest blessings.

How do you juggle school schedules with travel schedules?

Homeschooling makes it a bit easier than most for us to be able to travel together. However, we are committed to attending weekly classes as a part of our homeschool experience, so often we juggle the travel by staying home and carrying on while Sam hits the road. If our schedules align, and the event is within a few hours of us, we are inclined to come along.

In what ways are you and the kids involved in the day-to-day of the business? How have you seen the family business bring out the best in your kids?

Some of us are more involved than others, like my son, who helps with a lot of promotional elements, especially dealing with images for our website and social media. Heís a wiz and makes things so much easier and quicker to handle when there are deadlines to meet. I sometimes help with social media, and we all just generally jump in and help out however we can as different needs arise.

What is one of the biggest challenges of this family business?

Iíd say one of the biggest challenges for me would be maintaining a routine at home. I feel the pull to be more flexible with our time, which is such a blessing, but can also interfere with our productivity where school is concerned. Iíve found that sticking to a pretty rigid routine when we can gives us the freedom to be flexible when we want or need to be.

If you could spend the day with a character from The Green Ember series who would it be and what would you do?

Most definitely Maggie Weaver. I imagine we would sit with some crochet or embroidery and chat about life. I feel like she would have a lot of wisdom, insight, and encouragement for someone like me.

What does Sam do to unwind from writing?

Sam enjoys being active when he needs to unwind. Sports with his brothers or friends, watching, coaching, or playing soccer with our kids, hiking, movies, games and puzzles with our family.

How do the two of you prioritize alone time?

We arenít great at prioritizing alone time, haha, but we try to grab a quick dinner out every now and then thatís just the two of us. Itís getting easier now that the kids are a little older.

Does Sam have any interesting quirks when he's deep in writing?

I donít know of any strange quirks that Iíve noticed while heís writing, other than a heightened susceptibility to being startled.

Writing is definitely a creative activity. What's your personal creative outlet?

My kids are convinced that cleaning is a hobby since I do it a lot in my spare time, but I can assure you it is not. However, I do enjoy home projects, hiking or working out, cooking a delicious meal, sewing, reading, and watercolor painting if I ever get the chance.

How does your family handle social media? Clearly it's a large part of promoting the Green Ember series. How do you manage your business time requirements and teaching your children good habits.

It all still feels pretty new to us, so we try to talk about healthy margins often, and voice some of the dangers that we all can fall prey to. Communicating with our kids and admitting honestly that we ourselves struggle in these areas, then demonstrating healthy ways to step away from overstimulation feel like good places to start.

Also, we've seen some of the hysterical negative reviews Sam has featured. How do you talk to your kids about navigating negative press and reviews? Do you allow them to read negative reviews? I'm sure they're as fiercely loyal to the series as their dad is.

We donít claim to be experts, but humor goes a long way in dealing with negativity. Although at this point, we donít feel the need to draw their attention to these things, we remind them and ourselves that itís important to think true thoughts about life and about who we are, in any life circumstance, not just interactions with people on the internet that we donít know.

Sam speaks out passionately about fighting the good fight alongside families and forming right moral imaginations in children. What do you feel your family's responsibility is in this arena with your circle of influence? What are some of your favorite resources for building strong families?

We love anything that Clay and Sally Clarkson publish for families. They've been a huge source of light and encouragement in our lives. I also love the book A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle. So many others, but I do appreciate these.

Who are some of the favorite living authors your family reads?

In different capacities, since our kids are different ages and have different needs, we love N.D. Wilson, Kate DiCamillo, Andrew Peterson, Jonathan Auxier, Maryrose Wood, Gary D. Schmidt, just to name a few!

What are you reading right now?

Iím reading The Yearling, Home Body by Joanna Gaines, Courage, Dear Heart by Rebecca K. Reynolds, and Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass.

What are three books from your childhood that either greatly influenced you or you would be sad to hear that no one else has read them.

Iíll count the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary as one, On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Picking just three is hard!

Questions from my daughter: Are any of the characters in the book based on you or your kids? When does the next book come out? ;)

Not really. The kids were the first audience and they inspired the stories, for sure, but they arenít really represented by any of the characters in the stories. I donít know!

Ambre Sautter Ambre Sautter is a wife, mother, sister, friend, reader. She was homeschooled herself and is currently homeschooling her kiddos in the Midwest with her husband, Erik. She learned to collect (hoard) books at a young age from her Dad. Being the delusional person that she is, she was shocked to discover what she assumed was her 750 book personal library was, in fact, closer to 8,000 volumes.