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Local children’s author shares love of writing

by Christine Wolkin

You never know where writing is going to take you, Chrysa Smith likes to tell the elementary students she visits. For the corporate communications manager turned children’s author, this piece of advice couldn’t ring truer.

The Warwick Township resident of 30 years grew up in New York with a love for stringing words together, but never fancied herself a writer. Chrysa began her career in the corporate world, where time and time again she was drawn back to writing. “I wound up in another sales promotional role, but was drawn to writing copy. And it was then that my light bulb went off, and I realized that I might really desire a career in writing,” she says.

Fast forward some years and Chrysa now has more than 25 years of freelance magazine writing experience, and not one, but five children’s books published (along with an accompanying picture book) with over 8,000 copies sold and counting.

Chrysa’s inspiration for her self-published series, “The Adventures of the Poodle Posse,” come right from her own dogs. “I watched them do so much more than play – but trick, steal and manipulate each other. So, I took fingers to the keyboard and began to capture their antics,” said Chrysa.

“The Adventures of the Poodle Posse” began eight years ago, as a single book and turned into a series.

The first story, “The Case of the Missing Steak Bone,” is based on something that took place in Chrysa’s own home, with her own posse of poodles. Chrysa worked with Doylestown-based illustrator, Pat Achilles, who handled the layout and illustrations and found a local printer all in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Nowadays, Chrysa travels up and down the East Coast presenting her books, speaking to kids, as well as adults, about the writing process and hosting her own creative and non-fiction writing workshops. She’s taught writing to kids at Temple University’s summer programs, as well as Warwick Township programs.

“Children can learn to enjoy reading and writing by the use of their imaginations to create stories that everyone can enjoy,” said Chrysa.

Designed for students from grades three and beyond, her workshops are designed to help develop skills on a variety of levels. Chrysa uses brainstorming sessions, headline and opening sentence exercises and more to get students’ creative process flowing.

“I love it when kids are mesmerized by my presentations, when the lightbulb goes off in their head, when they start furiously writing their own stories,” says Chrysa.

Students are engaged in both instruction and practice, as they write from visual, oral, and written prompts.

“The other day a school principal said she saw the kids after my program. They had pencils and clipboards in hand and were still writing; some didn’t want to stop. Now that’s rewarding,” she said.

Just like her own experience of gaining inspiration from her dogs, Chrysa tells students that ideas are all around them. All they need to do is observe what’s happening and “Voila! An idea. It’s all it takes. And it’s exactly where my dogged existence began,” she said.

Adult talks on the writing process include all aspects of navigating the process and moving manuscripts from rough drafts into finished manuscripts.

Chrysa has received a Mom’s Choice Silver Medal for excellence in Juvenile Fiction, as well as an endorsement from The Dove Foundation. Currently, she is working on an e-book called “The Making of a Book,” which explains the entire author process in great details.

The book’s expected release date will be sometime this fall. Chrysa is attending the Abington Library Author Expo on Saturday, April 22nd for anyone interested in meeting with her.

Her books are available at The Doylestown Bookshop and The Newtown Bookshop. For more information about Chrysa and her presentations, visit her website at http://www.wellbredbook.net.