Look no further than your backyard for additions to your fall reading list. These ladies are your neighbors and published authors.
Food for Thought
Orlando native Pam Smith was in her final semester at Florida State University, studying fashion design and marketing, when she took a course in nutrition that would change her life forever.
“I learned the true impact of food on the body – how it can prevent illness and increase energy,” she says. “I switched majors right away and a few years later graduated with a BS in nutrition.”
At that time, nutrition wasn’t what we know it to be now. Smith recalls that it was all about losing weight in the late 1970s.
“Dietary adjustments weren’t made until people already had health issues such as high cholesterol or diabetes,” she says.
After working with ill patients in a hospital setting, Smith came to a realization.
“If I could work with clients who had propensities for certain genetic diseases while they were healthy, I could help them to offset those diseases,” she says. “Heredity does not mean destiny.”
In 1978, Smith decided to open up her own private nutrition practice, something nearly unheard of at the time. It was her desire to provide a lifelong nutritional guidebook for those patients that led her to write her first book.
That book, titled “Eat Well, Live Well,” went on to become a best seller. Smith has since written another fourteen books, three of them co-authored with Orlando’s Carolyn Coats.
“All of my books are based on practical principles for living a life of wellness,” she says.
Over the last few years, Smith has developed P.S. Flavor!, a wholesome spice blend company. She plans to write another book on the power of spices.
“Spices don’t just provide flavor, they provide a wealth of health,” she says. “The antioxidant properties and the nutraceutical properties in spices are plentiful.”
In addition to all her many endeavors, Smith has also served as emcee and host of the culinary events for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival since it began in 1995. She will again host at this year’s festival, which runs from Sept. 14 through Nov. 14.
A Whole New World
Windermere attorney David Jimenez has always been a storyteller at heart. When his daughters, Krystal, 18, and Victoria, 14, were young, he would often make up stories for them at bedtime, so his wife Erika suggested he write a brand new story to share with family and friends. What began as a short story about a family going on an adventure soon blossomed into something much bigger.
“The story started taking on a life of its own,” he says. “Erika encouraged me to keep writing, and eventually I decided to turn the story into a novel series.”
In 2014, after a year of writing, Jimenez completed his first book. Initially, he self published the story as an e-book and promoted it through social media. Within months, the book had quite a following and Jimenez was offered a 10-year, seven-book contract with Tate publishing. The book, titled “The Living King and The Twelve Kings,” was officially released in January 2016.
Jimenez says his fictional series is not the typical fantasy story.
“Each book has a particular purpose and meaning behind it,” he says.
Jimenez is nearly done writing the second book in the series. You may see him attending signings at local bookstores, and he welcomes you to stop by to say hello, as he enjoys speaking with fans of his book.
“The book has so many unique characters and situations that appeal to a broad range of readers,” he says. “I enjoy hearing from fans of the book as to which characters they are rooting for or which storyline most excites them.”
Surviving and Thriving
Pam Franklin grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1950s. At age six, she became victim to an abusive older sister, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder. The abuse lasted for years, ending only when Franklin grew bigger than her sister and decided she had no other choice but to fight back.
She credits her inner strength and years of therapy with her ability to eventually live a healthy and productive life. Franklin went on to become a successful businesswoman as well as a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She and her husband of 25 years currently reside in Celebration.
In 2014, Franklin decided to write a book chronicling the abuse she endured. The riveting book, titled “My Five Sisters,” has since become an international best seller.
“The writing process was both painful and therapeutic,” she says. “When I finished, I realized I’m not that person anymore. That is now just a character in a book.”
Franklin is currently working on a follow-up book, which will tell the interpreted point of view of her abusive sister’s five alter personalities. She is also writing a screenplay for “My Five Sisters.” She says one of the highlights of writing that first book has been the overwhelmingly positive feedback she has received.
“The book has helped start a much-needed conversation, not just for abuse victims but for society as a whole,” she says.