A local attorney with deep roots in Forsyth County has penned a new book that features local history, the present, columns published in the Forsyth County News and other works.
Attorney Phill Bettis, of Bettis Law Group, recently released his new book, “Wandering Off: Stories of a Blessed and Somewhat Mischievous Southern Life,” which was published by Westbow Press.
“I think that ‘Wandering Off’ is kind of this evolution of life as we grow and age and mature,” Bettis said. “It looks at spirituality, it looks at child-rearing, it looks at how the community changes. There are several aspects to it, so it just shows how we wander and how we grow.”
Rather than a single narrative, ‘Wandering Off’ features a collection of writings from Bettis over the years separated into several themes.
“I think the beauty of it is [the] vignettes,” he said. “You’re going to read it as much as you want. I’ve had a lot of people say they can’t put it down, so they keep reading it. They’ll blow through it in a day or a weekend, which is encouraging.”
Bettis said the book contains several themes, including a look at North Georgia history, changing careers, children growing up and political and church commentary.
Several of the book’s works are columns written by Bettis for the Forsyth County News, where he has been submitting columns for over 20 years, and ‘Wandering Off’ features a forward from Forsyth County News General Manager Norman Baggs.
Bettis said pulling more than 20 years of writing into one book was a “long and arduous” process, and portions of the books come from speeches, unpublished writings, eulogies and even looks at historical events, such as Bettis’ son going to war in Afghanistan, 9/11, COVID-19 and racial issues in Forsyth County in the 1980s.
“Some are just historical pieces,” he said. “I tried to capture how we all felt after 9/11. That’s not necessarily relevant now, but a historian might look at that about a night sky with no airplanes flying, that’s not something you see very often. I tried to capture events that might be significant like that.”
Bettis said even the title of the book comes from a commencement speech he gave to students in 2017 at Shorter University.
“What we’re doing right now is not necessarily working well for our nation, so it was a challenge to those graduates to try something different, to look at how we worship, look at how we conduct business, look at how we get along with each other, so that was the theme, but there are several stories within the book. These are a collection of writings over the last 20-plus years.”
‘Wandering Off’ is Bettis’s second published book, following ‘The Little Book of Annoying Questions: Understanding the Coming New American Revolution and an Unexpected Generation,’ which was published in 2016 and is a look at the millennial generation, which he said is sometimes unfairly characterized.
So far, Bettis said the book has been well received, even if not all of his columns could be included.
“A lot of people say they laugh one minute and cry the next,” Bettis said. “So, it’s kind of this extreme of emotions in reading.”
‘Wandering Off’ is available in electronic, hardcover and soft cover options and can be purchased online and in book stores.