Monday, February 4, 2013

Princess April Morning-Glory Blog Tour! Interview & Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

Thank you for this interview, Kelley.  Can you tell us what Princess April Morning-Glory is all about? 

Kelley: Princess April Morning-Glory is a children’s fairytale about a fairy princess – Princess April, the title character – who leaves the Enchanted Forest to see what is out in the Great World.  Once having left her home, she’s instructed by the Wise Wizard that in order to return home, she must first do three good deeds. 

What can we find inside the book? 

Kelley: The storyline is the selection of good deeds Princess April chooses to complete and her efforts to evade Fairy Misery – the villain of our tale – who chases after Princess April, seeking to thwart her return to the Enchanted Forest and instead have her do Fairy Misery’s evil bidding.  How Princess April overcomes obstacles and performs her good deeds is the crux of the story. 

Why after 70 years is it now being published? 

It’s taken that long for technology to be capable of easily and accurately capturing the intricate use of delicate watercolors, along with gold and silver gilt, used in creating the original 49-pages of illustrations. 
What is the publishing date of release? 

January 2013, the 72nd anniversary of its original copyright registration.   

What is your relationship to the late author Letitia Fairbanks and why do you and Amanda Fairbanks feel this is a book that will resonate with book buyers today? 

Kelley:  Princess April Morning-Glory is timeless in its appeal; how can ‘doing the right thing’ ever be out of date? 

I am Letitia Fairbanks Smoot’s step-daughter, my father Harold (Hal) N. Smoot, married Letitia when I was six years old.  As the child who was closest to Dad and Letitia, Letitia selected me to see Princess April Morning-Glory through to publication.  Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, Letitia’s granddaughter, was just twelve years old when Letitia died, and has grown up into the journalist and writer that her grandmother would be so proud of. 

Your press release for the book says “Letitia derived inspiration for the illustrations from then-current Hollywood blockbuster films, as well as deriving her portraiture from a composite of that era’s celluloid legends, along with immediate family members including her mother, father and sister, Lucile.”  Are any of these “celluloid legends” still alive and are they in some way participating in the release of the book? 

Kelley: We are in the final round of negotiations with those celluloid legends and/or their estates and will have announcements regarding that soon. 

Tell us about the author and her background.  How did she fit into the Fairbanks family? 

Kelley: Letitia was the niece of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. And Mary Pickford, founders of United Artists along with Charlie Chaplin and DW Griffith, at the very beginning of Hollywood in 1919.  Her cousin was Douglas Fairbanks Jr., family thespian scion, ambassador and naval officer, serving with distinction during WWII.  Douglas was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949.  Douglas Jr.’s grandson, Dominick Fairbanks, continues producting movies in the family tradition, through Fairbanks Productions. 

Any reason you think why she created a book like she did? 

Kelley:  Letitia envisioned a complete work of art – she painted every two pages, back-to-front on specialty, hand-crafted, 13.5” wide by 16” tall, French watercolor paper, so that the finished artwork is a unique book, at the intersection of art and literature.  We have faithfully maintained Letitia’s thoughtful presentation in this initial printing, preserving old-style publishing guidelines, such as never putting text on the reverse of a full page (plate) illustration, and always presenting full plate illustrations on the right side of the open book. 

Did she often spend time at the famous Beverly Hills mansion called Picfair where her uncle Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his wife Mary Pickford lived? 

Kelley:  Absolutely!  Letitia and her sister Lucile (the inspiration for the title character, Princess April Morning-Glory) were frequent visitors to their aunt and uncle’s mansion, as it was the center of gravity for the entire, extended Fairbanks family.  It was at Pickfair that Letitia got to meet and know her cousins – not just Doug Jr. but also Flobelle and Mary Margaret, daughters of the third Fairbanks brother, Jack. 

What do you want readers of Princess April Morning-Glory to come away with after experiencing this unique and lost book? 

Kelley:  That everyone – not just fairy princesses – creates their destinies by the good deeds they do.  Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, a former middle school teacher, and I, in association with special educator Martha Ash, are developing a children’s curriculum around doing three good deeds as part of a daily course of life.  Letitia would be extremely pleased if she were remembered by the (re-) introduction into society of treating one another with great dignity and love, through the performance of good deeds on a daily basis. 

Where can the book be purchased and how much is it and how many pages is it? 

Kelley: The book can be purchased at Amazon, priced at $23.95.  The ebook can be purchased for $7.99 - $9.99.  Distribution to brick and mortar stores is in the works. 

Do you have a dedicated website for the book?   

Kelley:  Please go to for more details. 

Is this a book for kids and adults alike?  Why? 

Kelley:  Princess April Morning-Glory is a rare book that works on multiple levels, engaging children in the delightful exploration of the written word through illustrative examples, while interesting adults with larger themes of original Hollywood and detailed watercolor painting technique.  For both children and adults, the idea of creating one’s destiny through the good deeds performed can be adopted into our lives, to great effect! 


About Letitia Fairbanks: 
Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, lived a life guided by artistic passions. In 1939, wanting to commemorate her late uncle, Letitia began work on Princess April Morning-Glory, allowing a creative outlet for combining her lifelong loves: painting, writing, and illustration. 
Holding firm to her artistic identify, Letitia gravitated toward portraiture, landscapes, and still-lifes. She was also a biographer, co-authoring Douglas Fairbanks: The Fourth Musketeer, with Ralph Hancock. Her marriage to Hal Smoot in 1966 marked the beginning of a particularly joyful and creative period. Needle points and annual Christmas cards, which featured a painting from the previous year, not to mention her role as a wife, mother, step-mother and grandmother brought her much fulfillment. After a life rich in artistic accomplishment, Letitia passed away in September of 1992. 

About Kelley Smoot Garrett: 
Kelley Smoot Garrett was born in Dallas, raised in Manhattan and has lived the life of a West Texas wildcatter as well that of an IT professional. At one time or another in her life she’s called places as diverse ScourieScotlandAustinAbilene and MidlandTexasSingaporeParis; and AucklandNew Zealand — home. She is proud to be the daughter of Sue Ashby and Harold Smoot and the step-daughter of Letitia Fairbanks Smoot. She currently lives with her husband Danny Garrett, three cats, and one happy only-dog, Moxie in the Texas Hill Country. 

At long last, Princess April Morning-Glory emerges as a lost treasure from the golden age of Hollywood. 
Written and illustrated in 1941 by Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, the seemingly traditional children’s book is transformed into a modern-day fairy tale that will captivate child and adult readers alike. 

Letitia was inspired to create portraiture for the characters of Princess April Morning-Glory from film stars of the day. John Barrymore, and Letitia's cousin Douglas Fairbanks Jr., provided glamorous inspiration through their then-current films. The Wicked King's (Barrymore) costume was sparked by his role as Louis XV in Irving Thalberg's 1938 Marie Antoinette, while the hairstyle resembles his eponymous role in Archie Mayo's 1931 Svengali. Prince Chivalry was inspired by her cousin's (Fairbanks) sword-fighting role in David O. Selznick's 1937 The Prisoner of Zenda. 

Viewed as unconventional when it first debuted – up until then, no one had thought to meld a Disney-like moral tale with a swashbuckling adventure – the story centers on the prescient acknowledgment that we create our destinies by the choices that we make. 

The main narrative is focused around the brave and courageous Princess April who must first transcend darkness and evil before she can realize her true potential. Intrigued by the Great World and its sense of adventure, a young Princess April decides to abandon the familiarity of her home in Fairyland and undertake a voyage into the unknown. Once outside the Enchanted Forest, she finds comfort and friendship in the company of various creatures who ensure her safe passage. 

But returning home proves more difficult than at first she realized. In order to go back to Fairyland, a friendly wizard informs Princess April that she must first accomplish three good deeds. Can Princess April resist the temptation of darker forces and summon enough courage to continue doing good deeds? And if she dares to hold true to herself, will it someday lead her back home again? 

 Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!


  1. In Letitia Fairbanks' memory and on behalf of her step-daughter, Kelley Smoot Garrett, Pump Up Your Book would like to thank you for hosting this beautiful book today. If you haven't read it, buy it, it's a one of a kind...;o)

  2. Hi Minding Spot and Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book,

    It's exciting to be here, visiting Minding Spot, and seeing my story told to the public! Woo-hoo!

    Some film historians and movie buffs will remember the hey-day of Hollywood - at its very start in 1920 - when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford created the first, larger-then-life, film star legends, with their lavish home Pickfair as their stage. My author and illustrator, Letitia Fairbanks, was the niece of Doug and Mary, and she and her sister Lucile, and their cousins Flobelle and Mary Margaret (known as "Sissy") would visit with their sole male cousin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. when he visited his Dad and stepmom, at Pickfair. All five cousins were within 6 years of age of the others, so it made for a closer, sibling-like relationship.

    My story, “Princess April Morning-Glory” captures so much of the essence of those early, wildly-popular, films of the day, that Uncle Doug and Aunt Mary produced, often wrote, and always starred in, in an original fairy tale story that Letitia wrote in 1941 to commemorate her uncle's exuberant spirit. When they say, “They don't make fairy tales like this any more,” it takes on a whole new meaning with “Princess April Morning-Glory”!

    Ultimately the message Letitia Fairbanks would most like to have the public remember, is the idea that we each create our destinies from the Good Deeds we choose to do. And if each of us were to do Three Good Deeds each day – simple actions such as sharing a smile or a laugh, picking up trash that you find from a public spot, or cleaning up a mess in your house – that you didn't make, or helping a friend send an email, or get on-line, or just calling someone to tell them you love them – these are all simple actions that cost nothing, but can really make a difference in our lives. And it's through the small, every day moments that our larger-then-life lives take on rich new meaning.

    Thanks for inviting me to Minding Spot. If anyone has any questions, I'll check back periodically during the day to answer them, along with the producer of the book Kelley Smoot Garrett, and her husband, and restoration artist, Danny Garrett.

    Thanks all – and remember: Do 3 Good Deeds!

    Princess April Morning-Glory

    1. And I forgot to add: "Princess April Morning-Glory" is available through CreateSpace at

      At this date (Feb 4, 2013) this page on CreateSpace is the only place you can purchase copies of "Princess April Morning-Glory." We hope to have an eBook version soon, as well as have this 8.5" x 11", perfect-bound, softcover edition available at Amazon and B&N soon, too.

  3. I think that Princess April Morning-Glory is an exceptional, though traditional, fairy tale with something for every age group. Intertwined with this timeless children's story is another type of fairy tale -- that of classical Hollywood. Together, they form an interesting coupling beneath the surface of a simple and compelling narrative - how to grow an inner life, and grow up to be good.

    1. I have not read Princess April Morning-Glory; however, considering the caliber on indiviguals involved in the project: [initial writing and artwork, and the recent producers, publishers and artists] I cannot but believe this must be an absolute 'winner' in the World of Literature and Film". I'm looking forward to making the purchase.

  4. Good deed? I cooked for my family from scratch today; does that count?

    1. You bet, Bethany -- that sounds like all three good deeds in one, to me :-)

  5. I transferred money into my son's checking account so he didn't get stuck with being overdrawn when he had an auto-deduction come out later today or tomorrow. I think that was pretty nice since he is out of town.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    1. A Good Deed is measured by the purity of intent you hold in your loving heart, and it sounds as if you exceled at that today Linda. God speed!

  6. Kelly, YOU are a very awesome person. YOUR talent goes the way of "TRUTH, BEAUTY AND JUSTICE" I look forward to purchasing the BOOK! Thank YOU.
    ~!~ Ron

  7. ..., YOU have many Friends, as well! :)

  8. Hmmm... well, I didn't really go out of my house today. But, I did cuddle with my dog and played with him.

    1. That counts, Meghan. Just think how happy your dog is now, and you, too. :-)

  9. This book touches my heart and hits close to home. My grandmother, my namesake wrote a wonderful book when my mother was a child. I've been searching for it for years, having heard so much about it. This is just... wonderful.

    Good deed.... Not sure if this counts, but I made my grandpa a really awesome sandwich today. He lives with us, so I make him food every day, but he usually tries to make things easier and only asks for cheese sandwiches. I try to make them special whenever I can.

  10. I made my husband the ham salad he requested yesterday.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. While at a gas station filling up my vehicle a family of three had pushed a station wagon that ran out of fuel into the parking lot. The man approached me asking if he could just borrow $1 of gas from the gas hose I was using so they could make it back home. I decided what the hey, and gave him 10$ fuel. A woman on the other side of my pump thought that was so kind that she topped his gas off with 5$ more. The family was super happy and appreciative, thanking us both profusely.

  12. Well, normally we go out to dinner on Friday nights, but tonight I picked up take-out so my husband could watch the NFL draft.


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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