Deborah Smith Ford is one of those people who looks familiar. Is she famous? Semi-famous? Really famous? Kind of, yes. She has an extensive background in acting and modeling and you’ve probably seen her on television. You might remember seeing Ford as the spokesperson “Farmer Ford” for Citracal:
But this celebrity lookalike is gaining attention for something other than her extensive acting and modeling career. It’s her writing that’s in the spotlight now.
Yes, Ford has won numerous awards for her acting and modeling. But now she’s an award-winning author, having launched a children’s book series called Allie’s Adventures. So far The Little Apple, the first book in the series, has won eight book awards, including awards from book festivals in Paris, France, NYC, San Francisco, and Hollywood.
Deborah Smith Ford was raised in upstate New York on an apple farm. Her experiences on the farm with her parents–Richard Charles Smith and Betty Jane Pike Smith–would later inspire her Allie’s Adventures book series. In fact, many of the illustrations in the book are almost exact replicas of existing photographs from Ford’s childhood. This makes the book series not just a collection of random stories but an authentic retelling of cherished memories.
Ford currently lives with her spouse, Alton, in South Fort Myers, Florida. She received a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and pursued post-graduate work in Communications and Acting. Ford has worked behind the scenes on a wide variety of film and TV projects and is also a lifestyle model.
She has an extensive acting career in film and has won numerous awards, including 2 Reel Awards in 2007 for Best Actress and Best TV Commercial Spot, and another Reel Award in 2010 for Best Actress.
Casting – The Film
In 2013, Ford wrote the script for the film Casting for the United Film & Television Artists (UFTA) entertainment organization, of which Ford is an officer. Its other officers include Al Quinn, President, Dr. Joe Reyes, Executive Vice President, Geri Muck, Vice President and Carrie Belluso, Secretary.
Casting, in which Ford acted and was line producer, was shot both in Fort Myers and Naples in early 2014. The film is about the dos and don’ts of how talent should ‘act’ when it comes to a film or TV casting.
“Casting is a project that began a few years ago, and its final title and premise began about 1 1/2 years ago. I wrote the screen play, a feature film, last year, but then due to money and time, I shortened the film,” Ford said. “Why shorter? Well, shorter films are much more popular at film festivals.”
The film has been entered in about five festivals so far. Three of them are the Naples Film Festival, the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival and the Fort Myers Film Festival.
There is talk of a new film project happening soon, also involving UFTA.
In between working on Casting in 2014, Ford portrayed the Mom in the film That Shattered Flower, shot on location in Savannah, Georgia.
Children’s Books – The Allie’s Adventures Series
While Ford was successful at acting and modeling, and was also doing plenty of online writing, she entered exciting new terrain when she began writing children’s books.
Ford’s first book, the award-winning children’s book, The Little Apple, was released in 2009. It is the first book in the Allie’s Adventures series.
The second edition of the book was illustrated by Susi Galloway Newell. Ford had originally illustrated the first edition but decided to use a professional for the new release. Newell continues to illustrate the Allie’s Adventures book series–more books are coming.
The Little Apple is about a life on an apple farm, from a child’s perspective. It explores a child’s personal feelings when it comes to family, friends, home, pets and life on an apple farm. Ford brings to life the world she knew with details that awaken the senses. The book is authentically written and reminds one of the simple, much loved books of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie book series, which similarly captures life from a child’s perspective in the days of the pioneers. You will definitely be craving some fresh baked homemade apple pie and may even want to buy an apple farm–if, in fact, there are any still in existence.
And there are recipes in the books. Children’s stories with recipes! Naples Noteworthy loved this idea. What a great way for children and parents to interact–read the story and then go bake something together!
The series’ second book in the Allie’s Adventures series, The Little Goat in Africa, was released late August 2014. It is geared for ages 9-12 and is about a child’s take on her travels in an action/adventure type genre. Allie meets new friends along the way on her adventures – some are human, some are not.
The book offers a DVD about the Florida Everglades featuring Totch Brown in “Yesterday’s Everglades.”
Interview with Deborah Smith Ford
Naples Noteworthy was honored to get to know Ford a little more while working on this feature. She is a delightful, multi-talented woman with, as you might guess, a very full schedule.
Now with two published books and a third on the way, she has a heavily marked-up calendar of related promotional appearances, book tours, signings and speaking engagements. How she has managed to act in two films during all this–one of which she wrote and produced–is really beyond us.
We were lucky to be able to catch Ford in between events to answer a few questions for us.
Naples Noteworthy: “Why children’s books?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “Well, I’m a child at heart, and due to training as an elementary school teacher, former Sunday School teacher (30+ years), shuttle missionary, being a mom and grandma… well, it only seemed natural to turn my direction towards all things children, including writing about them!”
Naples Noteworthy: “Do you plan to continue exclusively in children’s books or pursue other types of books as well?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “Actually my writing, before children’s books, was geared in a whole ‘nother direction. I have written online articles for almost six years. In those, my attention has been and is centered on entertainment, pets, obituaries, music, art, farming, and more. So, I’ve been there done that, and prefer, right now, to write children’s books.”
Naples Noteworthy: “Did you write as a child?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “I kept a journal/diary, and wrote letters ALL the time. My mom and I traveled quite a bit, so the only way to keep in touch with family and friends was by writing. Phone calls were too expensive. In addition, my imagination was expressed in my drawings, and I thought I’d be an art or P.E. teacher (as I was also good at sports). Later on I realized that schools only needed a minimum of teachers to teach art and P.E., so elementary education became my goal instead. It took 21 years, but I finally earned a B.S. in IT/Elementary Education from the University of South Florida. Later I obtained post-graduate studies in acting and communications.”
Naples Noteworthy: “Where do you get your inspiration?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “I’d say my inspiration has been a combination of my childhood, education, experiences and all those around me that drew me to writing about and for kids.”
Naples Noteworthy: “How often do you write and what is your routine, if you have one?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “Due to writing articles, and now emails vs letters (although I still write letters and cards), I’d say I write daily. When I get going on a new book though, I write every few days, about 2-3 hours at a time on the computer in a quiet area. My routine depends on what the household is doing, as our home is very open. I write my books when no one else is home. However, “noises” do not bother me when I write other things, just not my books.
“Also, I find myself getting burned out if I’m not careful. I don’t always write at the computer. I still use a typewriter (which one has to be careful, as one can lose finger strength from only using a computer keyboard), plus I use pen and pencil to jot down my thoughts ANY AND EVERYWHERE I’m at. Caution, a writer is seated all the time, so exercise (for the body and mind) is very important!”
Naples Noteworthy: “Are you working on anything now that you want to share?”
Deborah Smith Ford: “Yes, in September I completed seven chapters in my new/third book. I paused as I had a conference to attend, and I’m trying to get my new second book “out there” as well. Writing and promoting are difficult to do at the same time.
“Yes, now I can share about the new book-to-be. The working title is “Behind the Scenes.” It’s about a child’s take on the entertainment business, featuring all aspects of it – celebrity impersonating, music, dance, acting, hair/makeup, etc. During my recent conference, Sunburst Conference of Celebrity Impersonators (held in Orlando, FL), I approached many of the talent to see how interested they were in being a part of my new book/project. They were excited, and I have over 50, so far, who have signed up to be part of Allie’s next adventure!”
Storytellers Creative Arts Conference
Ford will be presenting at the Storytellers Creative Arts Conference in Naples, November 6-8. The Conference is an exciting offering of over 40 workshops in visual arts, film, writing, acting, music, media/tech and inspiration. Register now at scaconference.com.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Storytellers Conference, and honored that they asked me back,” Ford said. “I feel that I not only have more to offer this year, but that everyone involved with this wonderful event has been gracious and supportive to me as well (even before it begins), and they have so much to offer to everyone as well! Thanks Storytellers, you are a blessing!”
You have a chance to meet Deborah Smith Ford in person and benefit from her presentation at this conference, so be sure to take advantage.
Where to Get the Allie’s Adventures Books
You can find Allie’s Adventures at Amazon.com or at Barnes & Nobles online. Find out more about Deborah Smith Ford and her book series, Allie’s Adventures at her website, www.debsford.com, or visit the Allie’s Adventures Facebook page.