By Rodney Hays
Kent Smith has spent most of his life writing or teaching about writing. Now, the Prosper resident is coupling his love of books and writing to open his own publishing company.
Lucky Shoe Books’s first offering last year was Smith’s own children’s book called, "My Homework Ate My Dog."
After two decades of working with letters, Smith said he felt like it was time to step out of his comfort zone.
"I’ve been in some form of publishing for 20 years now. I just figured it was a time in life where God was pushing me to step out and take the risk of opening my own company." Smith said.
He and his family moved to Frisco in 2006 and recently made the move up Preston Road to Prosper. He had ties to Prosper before he moved here permanently.
"We originally lived in Frisco back in 2006, but went to church at First Baptist Prosper because we felt at home there," he said. "We later moved to Prosper because it was where we wanted our daughter to go to school. The irony is now we live in Prosper and go to First Baptist Frisco.
Smith and his wife had two children, a 1-year-old son and a daughter, who is a student at Rucker Elementary. He said his family wanted to be a "part" of Prosper.
"We also wanted to be part of a community. My daughter plays softball in PYSA with the Pink Cheetahs and I help coach."
After several years working as a sports reporter, Smith gave up writing and decided to teach. During his 10 years teaching, he led award-winning journalism programs at high schools in Gainesville, Highland Park and Hebron.
At Highland Park High School, Smith met the illustrator on his children’s book, Elizabeth Ygartua. She graduated from Highland Park in 2008 and went to school in Virginia.
According to her bio, while in college Ygartua, "cultivated her love of making and appreciating art by majoring in Studio Art."
Several of her prints and paintings were exhibited at student shows across Virginia. She is also the assistant art director for People Newspapers in Dallas, an affiliate of "D Magazine."
"When I decided to retire from teaching to open my own publishing business, she was the first person I called," Smith said. "I watched how skilled she was in high school. I knew her artistic skills would be even better now after studying art in college. She always so professional and put so much pressure on herself to be perfect in her work. I knew if we could sign her, we’d be in great shape."
The book follows the story of a girl who has reason to be nervous about her first day of second grade. There she meets Mr. Jones, a strange bare-foot teacher with one yellow eye, a green glow and worms for hair. Mr. Jones assigns his students to take care of fully grown, live alligators for their homework assignment. Once the girl gets the gator on the bus and home, the problems begin as her homework and the family dog meet for the first time. The book is aimed at kids 4-8 years old.
Smith will feature his work at the Prosper Community Library’s "Bring Your Child To the Library" Day on Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The author will be on hand to sign copies of his book.
Lucky Shoes is also working on other titles expected to be released this year. "Super Can" is the story of a toddler hiding a secret super hero life from his sister; "Herbert’s Lucky Shoe" is about a boy trying to find a missing shoe; "Sleepy, Sleepy: Oreo’s First Chistmas" is an adoption story; and "Once Upon a Dream" is a fantasy novel aimed at tweens and teenagers.
Smith said his publishing company will also add a used book devision, where other authors can cosign their books.
"We only keep 20 percent, plus whatever fees the credit card companies charge us on the transaction. We’re hoping the people of Collin County will have an interest in getting their books listed with us," Smith said.
The books can be found on the publisher’s website, www.luckyshoebooks.com. Books donated to local libraries and to classrooms are only $5, while personal purchases are $10. Anyone interested in scheduling a visit from Smith can contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People in Prosper, Celina, McKinney and Frisco get to choose event shipping, which means customers don’t pay shipping.
"We’ll either have the book for them at an event, or, if they can’t make an author event, we’ll make arrangements to drop it off with them," Smith said.
Smith is also putting together an e-book version of ‘My Homework Ate My Dog’ that he hopes to have available on the publisher’s website and Amazon.