Member of the Week: Sandra Smith, author of A Cook’s Tour of Epicuria

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith

Name: Sandra CH Smith

Book Title: A Cook’s Tour of Epicuria…One Woman’s Adventures

Your book’s Amazon purchase link: www.amazon.com/author/sandra.ch.smith 

What is your book about? A spiritual odyssey I experienced when, at age 43, I bought a 35-foot sailboat, taught myself how to sail, turned everything on the boat hot pink, and spent the next 7 years sailing either short-handed or single-handed and occasionally with my teenaged daughter, from San Francisco to the Sea of Cortez and eventually, as far as Easter Island.

What inspired you to write your book? With 8 years of sobriety tucked into my life jacket, I wanted to find out if God was really out there watching out for me.

Can you describe your writing process? As a retired journalist used to staying up all night to meet deadlines, my best way to write is to set aside time where I won’t allow intrusions, and to keep writing without any distractions or interruptions until I am exhausted; go to bed and get up the next day and continue the same schedule. 

A Cook's Tour of Epicuria

A Cook’s Tour of Epicuria

How did you come to do what you’re doing today? I “retired” from my sixteen-year journalism career with a Philadelphia-area newspaper to move back to California to take care of my 80-year-old mother who had become paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t live with her as she would push all my buttons, so I bought the sailboat to live on. Three years later when she passed on, with nothing else pressing, I meditated and got the message it was time to go out in the “Big Blue,” and I took off. Later, I sold my boat in Puerto Vallarta and moved to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where I opened a B&B in a tiny Victorian artist colony, Eureka Springs. So many wanted to hear my sailing stories and other tales of adventures I’ve had that I decided it was time to write a book about it all.

Can you describe a typical day in your life? Innkeeping takes up a lot of my time so at the moment, my writing is on hold until the season slows down when I then have time to write.

What do you most enjoy about what you do? My love of writing began when I was 10 years old and wrote a “book” about bullfighting in Spain from the bull’s point of view. I am happiest when I am at the keyboard playing with words and coming up with stories.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey? When I was in the midst of writing my book about the sailing, my daughter was run over and killed by a drunk driver and I couldn’t write…it was too painful. A friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and that got me back to my writing. I’ve taught The Artist’s Way now for about 10 years (strictly as a volunteer) to many creative people. 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you? When I was a teenager, Ken Kesey took me under wing and I hung out with all the Beat poets in the ‘50s, including Ginsberg and others, all with my father’s approval. (I made Ken and a couple of the others come over and talk with my father, and Ken promised he would take good care of me, which he did.) Thirty years later, I dated Ferlinghetti and took him sailing on the S.F. Bay, as I had my boat docked at Pier 39—just a short walk to North Beach.

What’s next for you? I just put the inn up for sale so that I can spend all my time writing. I will be able to focus on either finding an agent or self-publishing the first volume of my sailing adventures. When I wrote it, it was over 800 pages long, so I have broken it down into two books.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I had no idea I would have to be a marketer and promoter when I wrote my first book. Times have changed from the old days when an author easily found an agent or a publisher and could sit back down to write the next book.

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