Washington business owner authors book inspired by granddaughter

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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Lisa Smith-Gargaro always thought her first book would be a novel for adults; however, when an idea for a children’s book “popped” into her head, she had to put pen and paintbrush to paper. 

“Buttercup’s Bubble Adventure” is Smith-Gargaro’s first book which she both wrote and illustrated. Owner of Capelli’s Salon on Market Street in Washington, Smith-Gargaro is a water colorist and newly minted author. Using multimedia techniques, she created images of her granddaughter and a puppy named Bailey that paralleled a story of the pair going on a journey in a magical bubble. 

“I always knew I’d write a book. I just didn’t know the first one I would publish would be a children’s book,” Smith-Gargaro said. 

Smith-Gargaro’s granddaughter is four-year-old Sanniah Andrews whom she calls, “Buttercup.” The nickname came to Smith-Gargaro while on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina where Andrews once lived. As Smith-Gargaro drove, the song, “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations played through radio speakers. In the car Smith-Gargaro decided she’d call her then newborn granddaughter “Buttercup.”

One day, as Andrews played outside with bubbles – a favorite of hers- Smith-Gargaro took photos of the joy and excitement on her face. Image after image, the idea for a children’s book developed in Smith-Gargaro’s mind. 

“I took some really really good photos of her capturing her face and with bubbles in it, and it just kind of went from there,” Smith-Gargaro said. 

“I’ve always journaled and written – I love creative writing – and words came to my head. The story really, in an afternoon just popped into my head,” she continued. 

Creating an heirloom for her granddaughter is special for Smith-Gargaro. Andrews is beginning to realize that the book is a sweet expression of love and admiration from her grandmother. 

Andrews thought it was “pretty cool” when Smith-Gargaro read a book about her to her daycare class, Smith-Gargaro said. Later, two more cases of books came in and Smith-Gargaro opened them in front of Andrews. Andrews exclaimed, “I love that book!”

“Buttercup’s Bubble Adventure” is the first in a series of five upcoming “Buttercup” books. Smith-Gargaro has written three more stories and is working on illustrations for them. She is close to publishing a second book in the “Buttercup” series. She plans to have it published this Spring. “Buttercup’s Bubble Adventure” was initially published in October of 2023. 

Smith-Gargaro shares her advice for those who may be hesitant to take the plunge into writing and publishing the first book. 

“Get any and all ideas you have on paper. The minute you start putting it in black and white is the minute that it starts to come to life,” Smith-Gargaro said. “No matter if it sits in a notebook. It’s there. It’s out of your head and it makes it real.” 

First-time authors should be prepared for the tedious work of editing and page design of their book. “There’s a lot to something that seems so simple,” Smith-Gargaro said 

Smith-Gargaro also encourages all writers to join a group like Pamlico Writers. She is a member of Pamlico Writers and said it’s where she found the courage to be vulnerable enough to share her story with others. Writing groups, she added, is where authors can find good feedback and constructive criticism for their stories. 

From an author’s point of view, very few things beat the feeling of holding their book for the first time. Smith-Gargaro said when she held “Buttercup’s Bubble Adventure” for the first time, it was a “very emotional” experience that brought forth “happy tears” and a “rush” to share it with everyone. Then came the relief that her hard work was complete. 

“Buttercup’s Bubble Adventure” can be purchased from local retailer, Pamlico Books (149 N. Market Street) or from Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.com for $24.00. It is published by IngramSpark