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Archives 10-02-2002

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Cookeville author sees first book published
Route chosen for Hwy 52 improvement
Large crowd attends Hwy. 52 meeting

 

Cookeville author sees first book published

Upper Cumberland author D.S. Smith is working on her second book, which she plans to have finished by next fall. The author of "Trusting Eyes", which was based on a true story and hit bookstores on June 6, intends to keep drumming out the novels now that she has her first book out there. Copies of "Trusting Eyes" may be ordered online at www.orders@xlibris.com.

 

By BECKY MEREDITH, OCN Exclusive

Someone once said, "The writer produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create, as it is the nature of water to run downhill." Such is true for a Cookeville author who just saw her first book published.

D.S. Smith knew when she was 12 she wanted to be a writer. The 46 year-old Detroit native grew up in a broken home in Roseville, MI, and found her release in writing.

"I always wrote stories and poems and stuff like that," she said. "I used to keep notebooks full of them."

As a small child, Smith faced countless tribulations. Her parents divorced when she was 3, and her mother had custody of her until she was 7.

Her mother often left her at her grandmother's house, where she was neglected, ignored, and much of the time mistreated.

Finally, at 7 years-old, her father was able to gain sole custody of her. She lived with him and his wife in Roseville until she was 16. She then moved with her father and step-mother to Tennessee, his home state, where she has lived ever since.

Inspired by emotions she experienced in her childhood, she was compelled to spill her feelings into a book she titled "Trusting Eyes".

"I always knew I was going to write a book – this particular book," Smith explained. "I'm writing another book right now, but I always knew I was going to write this particular book, since I was really young.

"I was inspired to write it by my life and the things that went on in my life and how my point of view was so different from so many others who thought if they came from a bad life they didn't have a chance and that you treated people the way they treated you. I always knew what that felt like, so I tried to tell other people that's not an excuse.

"Like the people who are in prison who do these terrible things, they say, 'It was my childhood.' I always thought that was a cop-out. If you know what it's like on the other side, you don't want to do people that way. So it was just really important to me to tell the world that story; I always knew I was going to write about that.

"I put things in here I felt other people could relate to, and in turn, they would realize even though those things happened to them they could go on and make something of their life."

Sharon Ann Massa, both friend and agent to the author, explained Smith's motive for writing the book.

Massa said, "When we sat down the first time, I asked her, 'What is the one main reason you have for wanting this book published? Why do you want it out there?' She said, 'I'd like to see it on book shelves in crisis centers for women who have problems, who have gone through bad mistakes, who have made bad judgment calls, and have gotten into really tough situations. They need to have hope. I want it to be in places where people can get to it, who wouldn't go to the library. I just want them to have access.'"

Smith briefly described what her book was about.

"It's about a lady who reflects back on her life, trying to realize how she got to the point she was at in her life. She goes over all the things that happened to her, and she realizes that even as a child she had belief and faith and that's what got her through all the things that she got through....that anyone can get through those things and go on to achieve success and make something of their life."

Smith intends for her book to encourage others.

"I wrote it to let people know there is hope, regardless of what happens to you in your life and if you have enough faith, you can go on and achieve anything you set your mind to."

Smith has had faith since she was very young.

"Well, the way I put it in the book, the child has a make-believe friend who goes on with her many years of her life. As she gets older, she realizes that it's really God that she's talking to and not just a make-believe friend. And a lot of things happen that this 'make-believe' friend does for her: she has dreams that forewarn her of things and dreams that help her get through life. And the person who she's talking to that she calls 'George' when she's a kid becomes 'God' when she gets older.

"I do believe that guardian angels, the Holy Spirit, whatever, however, I do believe if you are in tune and you pay attention that that spirit does forewarn you of things that are going to happen and if you listen to your intuition, you can pick up on a lot of things before they happen,” she said.

"You have to use those parts of your mind and not be so wrapped up in everything that's going on around you to not pay attention. I do believe it's there if you listen."

Smith has thought about getting her book on the market for years.

"Originally, I went to Tech and took a class on how to get your book published, and that's probably been 10 years ago.

"They had always said if you're an unknown author, you need to start contacting the publishers actually when you start your book because it takes a couple years for them to get back in touch with you – if they ever do, you know, an author that they don't know.

"I had sent out letters back when I had scratched the book out on paper but hadn't really done it seriously to get a response. Believe it or not, I got a response in two weeks, and then I really didn't have the book finished to get to them," she said.

In a period of seven months, Smith completed the book. She then began to contact publishers again.

"I waited until I had finished it, which was about a year ago, and I sent letters out to all the publishers who I felt were ones I might want to go with."

Late one night while Smith was watching television, an interview of Stephen King caught her eye.

"He was on television doing an interview, and he was talking about how hopefully someday the actual publishers will be obsolete and you'll be able to just bypass them and go direct. That's what he's pushing for."

So Smith adhered to King's advice and was seriously considering going out on her own when she received a letter from Random House, suggesting that she contact the company's subsidiary, Xlibris, about getting her book published.

She contacted Xlibris and asked if the company would be interested in the book. Xlibris contacted her back and indicated they would be interested in publishing the book for her if she agreed to a publishing fee.

"I had to pay them that because every publisher, even Random House, has a $500 publishing fee. Normally, they take it out of your first royalties or whatever, but they charge you for that. These people wanted you to pay that up front. And because it came from Random House, I went ahead and did that with them because they have great connections."

Everything was in the motions, with the exception of a book cover, and Smith knew exactly what kind of cover she wanted to grace the book.

"I was having trouble getting that communicated to them, so they told me to try to put something together and send it to them on disc so they could look at it.

"I actually got to do the book cover myself, which that's my husband's hand and my grandson's hand and my eyes on the cover; that's what I wanted on the front."

Xlibris went with the cover designed by Smith, and in just a short time, her book was fresh off the press.

Now available in hard cover and paperback, "Trusting Eyes" is doing well, as the book has only been on the market since June 6.

"They're selling it in the Barnes and Noble stores, they're selling it in some of the local bookstores. They are also offering it in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan. So far, it's doing really well."

She offers advice to other prospective writers in the area.

"People think you have to have a lot of luck, so much education, you have to know everyone, but basically all you have to do is have the right attitude and try. I would recommend people trying to go on their own about the publishing, that way you don't have a contract with the publisher, and them take everything, you just getting the crumbs.

"If writing is what you want to do, you need to set your mind to it. Get your book finished. It is a lot of work, but get your book finished and do a research. Contact maybe someone like Xlibris, or some of the larger publishers who might direct you to one of their subsidiaries, and just go for it because it is possible."

While she enjoys reading books from various authors, Smith has her own list of favorites.

"Stephen King is my number one. Norma Roberts, I like her a lot. I've been reading some of her stuff lately. And John Grisham. Basically those are my favorites."

With her second book in the works, Smith is enjoying success as it comes her way.

"I haven't pushed for the next one because I wanted to see where this one's going. Instead of trying to finish it as quickly as I can, I've set the goal in my mind to having it done by next summer and having it out by next fall. That way I don't have to push so hard."

She believes writing for the second time is simpler.

"The second book, believe it or not, is a lot easier. You don't have the doubts, you kind of know where to go, what to do. Now that I've actually got my foot in the door, all I have to do is say here's the next one, then here's the next one. And I can stay with them or I can go with someone else. And if a larger publisher comes along and sees a book, likes a book, or whatever, and offers me a good enough deal, I'll at least be out there and have the opportunity to go anywhere I want to go. Right now, no one has any ownership in it but me."

Her agent gave her impression of the book.

"People ask me what I thought of the book and I say it's a very hard read because I know the author and I know some of the things that are in the book and why they're there," Massa said.

She also gave her impression of the author.

"I've known her for a long time, but we've just grown together in the last few years. The process has given her another realm to her personality that I hadn't known was there before. She's a very genuine person. She believes very deeply that God has led her through her life, even from very young childhood. She believes strongly in people and that they can accomplish a great deal if they'll only open themselves to the fact that they need to try. I'm very proud to be her friend."

As a wife, mother of three, grandmother of one, and successful manager at an independent sales firm in Putnam County, Smith has achieved her ultimate goal: being able to share her book with others.

"I just want to get it out there, and it's not for the fact of me being a successful author," Smith said humbly. "People have a purpose in life, and a lot of people never realize that. This particular book right here was my purpose in life. It was my story that I had to tell and relate to everyone else in the world and I wanted them to have it. That's why I'd like to have it on the shelf at Wal-Mart and everywhere like that. Just so everyday people can buy it.

"When I was really young I kept thinking, 'Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to me?' Then I realized that as you're going through those things, you can either come out of them or you can drown. And when you come out of them, you can come out a much better person, a much stronger person. So your purpose for being here or whatever it is you want to do in life, anyone can achieve that, anyone can. You just have to tell yourself that you can, but it's not easy – it doesn't fall out of the sky. You just have to work for it. And if you work for it and you have faith and believe, you can achieve anything, anything you set your mind to. That's the purpose of this book."

 

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Route chosen for Hwy 52 improvement

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has announced the selection of "Alternate A" as the preferred alternative for improvements to State Route 52 in Clay and Overton counties.

The project, which runs between SR-53 and SR-136 will correct route deficiencies, improve traffic flow and safety, and provide a completed segment of the East-West Cumberland Development Route. It was one of four alternatives under consideration.

According to Transportation Commissioner Bruce Saltsman, "Alternative A" is the most direct route and provides the best continuity with the East-West Upper Cumberland Development Route.

"Other factors in making this selection include cost, construction requirements, and input from the public and local officials," Saltsman said.

With the selection of Alternative A, the environmental document can be completed and the project can move forward to the next phase of development.

 

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Large crowd attends Hwy. 52 meeting

A large crowd was on hand last Thursday evening for an open meeting on the proposed East-West corridor of the new Highway 52 through Overton County.

The meeting, held at Tennessee Technology Center at Livingston, was for the purpose of presenting to the general public the various proposed routes of the new highway, and to record their comments and answer questions concerning the project. A number of Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) representatives were on hand to offer assistance and answer questions.

On display were various documents concerning the project, including aerial photographs with overlays of the proposed routes, engineering drawings of the project, and environmental impact information.

All of the comments received at the meeting or sent to the TDOT office by September 30 will be considered in making the final decision on which route will be used. Other factors to be considered in making the final decision will be cost, expected traffic load, tracts of land affected, and the number of family and business relocations that might be involved. The decision should me made within the next few weeks.

Land acqusition for the project is set to begin in July 2003 with the first contract letting scheduled for April 2004.

Comments and questions about the project are being solicited by TDOT and may be sent to: Legal Office, Tennessee Dept. of Transportation, 700 James K. Polk Bldg., Nashville, TN 37243-0332. Only those comments received by September 30 will be included in the official transcript.

 

 

 

 

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Overton County News
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