About The Team

Judy Wilkins-Smith

Judy Wilkins-Smith

Award Winning Author & Business Partner

Born and raised in South Africa, a new adventure began for Judy Wilkins-Smith (penname JM Ashwell) when she and her family relocated to Texas in 1996. Judy always says that underneath every train wreck is a pot of gold if you simply know how to look for it. As a new American immigrant, whose father had just been killed in this country, she was finding it difficult to spot the gold. She had two choices; to be destroyed by the tragedy or to use it as motivation to create something special. And then 9/11 happened! At that time two things shifted for her. She suddenly realized that this was her country and that the two disasters could either pull her completely under or it was time to do something beyond grieving.

Although she didn’t know it at the time, she was about to fulfill a long-time prophecy made by her 4th-grade teacher, Mrs. Crawford, when she was only 8 years old. She said, “One day you are going to write a story that changes the world and you are going to be a famous writer.” Christmas at Jim’s Place is that story and it will change the world.  Her Dad had always wanted to write a children’s book and now would never have that chance. Suddenly, with the tragic event we now call “9/11” there were other parents who would not be able to fulfill their dreams or return home either. It was time to create a legacy of hope and to turn two disasters into something that would make a positive and lasting difference.

Katherine Hartvickson

​Katherine Hartvickson

Award Winning Author & Business Partner​

Katherine was raised in California and had moved to New Jersey to work with American Standard in April 2001. She and her family were frequent visitors to New York City and had taken family to visit the iconic NYC skyline two weeks prior to 9/11. She was in a global leadership meeting in an upstairs conference room when an administrative assistant interrupted to let them know that a plane had hit one of the towers. The meeting continued, everyone assuming a small plane had made a tragic mistake. Then only minutes later, that same assistant ran back into the room and told them of a second plane.

Leaders from around the world quickly ran to a wall of monitors and watched in horror. Many of them had planes to catch – but they would have to wait because all planes were grounded into or out of the three major airports nearby. A scramble for hotel rooms and co-workers who could provide food and shelter for displaced business leaders ensued and chaos continued as employees worried about family and friends working in the city. One employee lost a brother in the towers and other employees lost long-time friends and associates. In her neighborhood, there were several people who didn’t return home. She, too, had to watch families turned upside down and hope lost and wondered at the time what she could do to make a positive difference. It was a thought that lingered.

Fast forward to Tyler, Texas where the two met over a completely different business project only to discover their common desire to showcase the best of humanity, create an adventure and prove that anything is possible when you take a good idea and take the right actions. Both Judy and Katherine are executive coaches and help others achieve their dreams using their own unique style of magic.

When people collaborate,they turn the IM-possible into IN-credible. This is how dreams come true and it is the thread that runs through all of their projects, especially Christmas at Jim’s Place. Judy had written the book before they met, and when Katherine read it she absolutely knew that this story had to be shared with the world. And so the idea for the animated movie was born! They both realized that this adventure was bigger than “just another book” and everything swung into focus. With exemplary talent jumping on board the magic is happening.

And finally, the legacy is being created and the gold beneath the train wreck discovered.Christmas at Jim's Place introduces you to Jim, who shows you what happens when the heart of a little boy with the ability to wish, believe & inspire collides with a bustling city - too busy to notice a small child with the courage to wish big. Jim's clarity, focus, belief,generosity and commitment are the perfect ingredients for unlocking the hearts of a community and revealing the hero in all of us - and sometimes we call that magic.

Some of J.M. Ashwell's Work

Her third thriller Echoes of Madness is due for release shortly. Saturday Morning at eMkhambathini has been published in Highlights Magazine and she has included in Nothing is Too Good to Be True, an inspirational bestseller by John Randolph Price.