Storycatcher Dickey Smith uses words to communicate passion for life

Sylvia Dickey Smith

Sylvia Dickey Smith

She entered this world backwards and when Sylvia Dickey Smith gets bored she finds a way to reinvent herself. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member who takes life by the horns and finds a way to do things her way.

Name: Sylvia Dickey Smith

City and State: Hot Springs, Arkansas

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

My first experience with NFPW came by way of Ginger Mynatt who introduced me to Press Women of Texas. I had sought a journalist to write a newspaper article about WWII and to include information about my historical novel, “A War Of Her Own.” Ginger heard about my need, called me and agreed to write the article.  She urged me to not only join NFPW but to enter the book in the Communications Contest, and I did. It won 1st. place at state and went on to win 2nd place in the national contest.  Note: Ginger sold her article to a monthly magazine, but in order to save space, the editor slashed the paragraph about my book—and Ginger and I both gnashed our teeth.

Years a member of NFPW: Three gong on four years.

Tell us a little about you:

I tend to reinvent myself—over and over again. Read on and you will understand.

I entered this world backwards—feet first and left-handed—and have done most things backwards every since. (I have a list!) I married at 17 and spent the first half of my life as a stay-at-home mother and pastor’s wife. Six of those years were on the Caribbean island of Trinidad where we worked as missionaries. In the late 70s, we moved back to the states due to a health issue. Boredom overcame my fears of being too dumb to go to college and at the age of 40, I enrolled in my first freshman class at the University of Texas at El Paso. Over the next five years, I fought my way to a BA (Honors) in Sociology and a Masters in Educational Psychology, all while rearing four children, being a pastor’s wife, and a foreign missionary.

After graduation, my life took a different turn. I struck out on my own and began a career as a single mother working with non-profit and for-profit organizations within the human services field. I conducted private practice as a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, and taught graduate school as an adjunct professor. Five years later I married My Bill, a full-bird Army Colonel, retired. We moved to the Austin, Texas area where I continued working in human services. After retirement, and bored again, I started writing novels—and haven’t looked up or stopped counting since.

A year ago, my husband and I fell in love with Hot Springs, Arkansas, sold our condo in Texas and headed east. After settling in, I took a real estate class and recently started working as a REALTOR®. Meanwhile, I hold my breath waiting for a call from my agent telling me she’s sold my latest novel.

Any career advice you would give? As my friend said to me, “Sylvia, I’m tired hearing you say you want to write a book. Put your derrière in the chair and write it.”

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish singing was in my wheelhouse. Folks say perhaps I am tone deaf. No, I’m not. I can hear when I am off key. I just can’t hit the notes. Music moves my soul. I long for the ability to belt out that passion. I guess that is why I write.  I am a born storycatcher, so I use words instead of music to communicate that passion.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Wow. Now that’s a tough question for me to answer. I love living in Hot Springs, but I also love Hawaii. Then again, I’d love to check out Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden …

What book are you reading?

Wired For Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, by Lisa Cron. An excellent book! I suggest every author read it. And no, I am not receiving royalties on this book.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I see and hear everything—I miss nothing. Seriously. Living in the present moment tends to result in opportunities to touch another person’s life in a positive way. I embrace those moments.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I love associating with strong women. It doesn’t take a person long to learn that NFPW is FULL of strong women—women who have been strong longer than I knew women could be. They inspire me, challenge me, honor my path, and encourage me to aspire for even greater accomplishments. When I attended my first national conference I was overwhelmed at the intentionality I witnessed by the women welcoming new members. In the midst of 400+ women, I felt home.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

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