Thursday, August 28, 2014
Growing up, Julie R. Smith remembers when her dad would come home every night: he would get the newspaper, sit down and read the paper – front, back, sideways, upside down. Every single word and every single classified.
“That made such a big impression on me because he thought it was so important to be informed, and know what was going on in the world and in the town,” Smith said.
Smith decided she would one day write for a newspaper. She would go on to start writing a column in North Carolina before moving to Summerville in April 1990, and then began working for The Summerville Journal Scene, covering crime, education, government and more. She was at the paper until 2007 — and still pens a weekly column to this day.
Smith said the one thing her late mother always wanted her to do was publish a book. People who read her columns had been asking her for some time when she planned to put out a book. Finally, under the encouragement of her readers and her husband – whom she calls “Widdle Baby” – Smith has assembled a collection of her columns in her first book, “Southern-Fried and Sanctified: Laughing When Life is One Hot Mess.”
The book was self-published and officially released July 28.
“It’s exciting — I think my mother would like it,” she said.
In her columns Smith writes about family, work, relationships, her dog Nicky and more. She said her columns are a mixture of “opinion and anecdote.” Within the book her columns are categorized by chapter – with Smith’s favorite chapter title being “I don’t need therapy, and other lies.”
“It just came to me when I was soaking in the tub, working through a very minor issue and thought, ‘Maybe I should get into therapy,’ and then I thought, ‘Pssh, I don’t need therapy,’” she said with a laugh.
She is planning on a second book with more of her columns, depending on how well her first book sells – they are available on her website www.widdleswife.com.
Smith hopes the one thing her readers get out of “Southern-Fried and Sanctified” is that humor can be found in any circumstance.
“Life is short, you might as well laugh,” she said.
Outside of writing her columns, Smith works at the YMCA at The Ponds in Summerville and lives in Cottageville. She said a big thing she learned from publishing her book is that finding a good design person is pivotal; the cover of her book was designed by Cindy B. Ensminger, also a former co-worker at The Summerville Journal Scene.
“Find somebody who can format and design your manuscript,” Smith said. “It’s going to take some time, some effort and some money to get it the way you want it but it’s worth it.”
Smith said she had no fears when she published her book; she said it was something she had to do.
“Even if nobody bought a single copy it was something I had to do,” she said. “And Cindy was so great to work with. It was just great.”
Smith encourages those who want to write a book to just do it.
“If you think you got a book in you, do it,” she said. “Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal. Even if you just want to write a book for your family, just do it.”