PubSmart Dynamics

I entitled this article PubSmart Dynamics, because I view the PubSmart Conference I just attended in Charleston, South Carolina, a force that emerging authors should embrace. I gained insights into the world of publishing that I didn’t have before. Author, Hugh Howey, has proven that writers’ can use forms of publishing outside the traditional model and achieve great success. There were experts from all realms of the publishing and book marketing industry that spoke during the event. For you writers who couldn’t attend this time, here are a few of the most valuable points I took away from the conference.

Writers: Get to know your local Arts and Humanities Councils to see what grants, events and opportunities are available.

Discovery of writers’ work: 80% is word of mouth, 20% comes from social media, check out booksilove for recommending titles along with goodreads.

Branding: Your brand is a promise. What is the reader going to get from interacting with my book? Your brand is your most important marketing tool. What makes your work compelling? How do readers thing about my book?

Foundation: The voice you use on social media should be the voice you use when you write.

Launching a book: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself during the launch phase. You’re running a marathon, not a sprint. As my publicist, Lynda Bouchard points out: run your own race, don’t compare yourself to other writers.

Adjacent Readers: You want to turn readers into fans. For instance, if your book takes place in the Low Country of South Carolina, search the communities in that area for groups and organizations you can introduce your work to. They don’t have to be book clubs.

Many thanks to the PubSmart team for putting together such a wonderful conference. It’s always great to learn new ideas!

A Neat Experience From My Last Visit To Beaufort!

In my last post, I discussed the wonderful presentation of my novel, Catherine’ Cross, by Beaufort County Sheriff, P.J. Tanner. After the program was over, a lady met me in the hallway with a question. She had read Catherine’s Cross and while in Charleston had visited the Gibbes Museum to see the portrait of Miss Iris Elliot. She also enlisted the help of a museum guide to help her locate the painting. For those of you who have read the novel, the 18 carat gold cross with rubies is owned by Iris’s family at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Her father had purchased it on a grand tour of Europe in the late 1850s and it had belonged to Empress Catherine the Great.

I explained to the lady that Iris’s painting was fictional as well as the cross. I was sorry to disappointment her, but I felt delighted that my fiction seemed so real that she had gone in search of the portrait!

Many thanks to Beaufort County, SC, Sheriff P.J. Tanner!

I was recently honored to have my novel, Catherine’s Cross, chosen as the kick-off book for the Beaufort, SC, Library’s “Books Sandwiched In.” Sheriff Tanner, who assisted me with the authenticity of my hero, Detective Seth Mason, presented the novel to friends of the library. I was thrilled when he referred to Seth as his deputy. I can’ t thank him enough. He did an excellent job of discussing my novel.

Again, I’d like to thank Master Sergeant Robert Arbelo, Chief Deputy Mike Hatfield, and Sheriff Tanner for their assistance, courtesy, and professionalism in bringing accuracy into Catherine’s Cross!

Support independent book stores!

In support of independent book stores, this video was produced by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Please check it out!

Why I set Catherine’s Cross in Beaufort, South Carolina

  1. The Beaufort, South Carolina area is perfect for the plot of Catherine’s Cross. Beaufort was founded in 1711. Over the centuries, a number of taverns were located along the waterways in Beaufort County, especially the Beaufort River and the Morgan River. Beer and wine bottles were thrown into the rivers after consumption. I have been visiting Beaufort for about twenty years and have seen these ancient bottles for sale in antique stores after they were recovered by divers. In my novel, Jenks’s identical twin sister dies while diving for artifacts in the Beaufort River. Bottles weren’t the only things she found.


Civil War Period: In the fall of 1861, the Federal Navy invaded Beaufort, Port Royal, and Hilton Head setting up a naval base that would be maintained throughout the war. Catherine’s Cross is a fictitious gold crucifix that was from the collection of Catherine the Great. A wealthy plantation owner, Luke Elliott, purchased it for his daughter, Iris, on a tour of Europe prior to the war. Early in the Federal occupation, the cross and other valuables were stolen from the Elliott plantation home by Union soldiers. According to legend, a ship bound for a northern destination sank near St. Helena sound with the cross on board—going to rest at the bottom of the sea—until, it was recovered.


Also, there are descendants of Gullah people (descendants of African slaves) who play an important role in my novel, spiritual advisor Meta Jane Andrews and her sister, Ida Mae. Meta Jane and Ida Mae are in possession of old diaries written by their ancestor, a slave, Joseph Andrews. These diaries document the Civil War period in Beaufort and include a valuable reference to the lost cross of Iris Elliott: Catherine’s cross.  Another figure, the old fisherman, Mose Lafitte, represents purity and honesty. The Gullah culture is unique to the Sea Islands of South Carolina, and Georgia. For many years, the Gullah people were isolated from the outside world, but due to development on these islands, their culture is changing.  Check out this link:

Something You’d Never Guess About Me!

I’ll go back to the earliest thing that I believe influenced my thinking. (For Life) Would you believe that it was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon? When I was about five years old, an action/ adventure series came on television. I think it was 1965. The name of the show was The Adventures of Jonny Quest.

In the series, Jonny and his friend Hadji, travel with his father, Dr. Benton Quest to far away countries for scientific adventures. Dr. Quest sometimes works for the United States Secret Service, and has a body guard by the name of Race Bannon. I experienced my first crush at age five on Race Bannon.

As I grew older, I found that I had a love for travel and exploring rural areas. I think this is exhibited by the locations I write about in my novels (So far, I have visited the places that I have written about.)

There was also my infatuation with Race’s piloting skills. In my early twenties, I became a commercial and instrument rated pilot, eventually earning the Airline Transport Pilot Rating while I was a captain at Sunbird Airlines. My last full time flying job was with United Parcel Service. After my daughter, Whitney, was born, I stopped flying full time and went into real estate.

Advice for authors: The power of the bookmark!

For sixteen years, I worked in the real estate business; eight of those years I ran my own company, Portfolio Real Estate. I specialized in properties on Lake Murray which has over six hundred miles of shoreline and is located northwest of Columbia, SC. During my real estate days, I learned that promotional items are key to maintaining a successful business. I developed a buyers’ guide to Lake Murray called the Lake Murray Portfolio, where I previewed and photographed lake houses that were for sale. I advertised in my local newspaper, and with the help of an advertising company, created a brochure about my business that was distinctive, memorable, and brought me sales. I took these lessons learned from real estate into my business as an author.

When I do a book signing, I am armed with several hundred bookmarks that were designed by the talented man, Robin Krauss, who creates the book covers for my publishing house, Boutique of Quality Books, Atlanta, Georgia. The book marks are eye catching and provide information to help customers learn about, and purchase my novels, The Cast Net and Catherine’s Cross. I have found that people who take a bookmark from me sometimes later purchase my books, or download them in an ebook format.

Another important rule to having a successful book promotion is to schedule your signing alongside a community event that will bring foot traffic in front of your table. This past Memorial Day weekend, I signed copies of my novels at McIntosh Book Shoppe, on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort, South Carolina. Since both of my novels are set in the Low Country of South Carolina, a couple of weeks before the book signing, I made a tour of the Low Country of South Carolina visiting newspapers and book stores along the coast. I visited over fifteen venues, but heard back from one very important news source, The Hilton Head Island Packet. A reporter for this newspaper called and interviewed me about my novels and wrote about them preceding the scheduled book signing. His article was outstanding. Not only did I benefit from the foot traffic that was in Beaufort for the Saturday before Memorial Day, but I had customers who had read the article and came especially to purchase my novels. I had a wonderful signing event and sold thirty copies of my novels. This broke my old record of twenty-six books that I sold last summer during an annual celebration that takes place in Beaufort.

I would like to say more in regards to giving away bookmarks. It is a nonthreatening way of introducing yourself to passersby. As people go by my signing table, I ask them if they’d like a bookmark. Usually, the answer is yes. When a person comes forward to receive the bookmark, I tell them that I’m signing my novels, and I give a brief synopsis of the stories. I find that this works in a positive fashion, and then I close on the sale. I don’t sell everyone a book, but I have a good success rate. If you think about it, I signed books for three hours and sold thirty books. That’s a book sale every six minutes!

All right authors—get those bookmarks ready! Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with passersby at your signings, hand them out, and smile!

Please check out these links. The first one is the article written about me in The Hilton Head Island Packet:

This link is to Southern Writer’s Magazine. Catherine’s Cross was recently the must read of the week:

My website:

Upcoming Events

I will be signing my novels, Catherine’s Cross and The Cast Net, at the following locations. Thanks to all my hosts for having me!

July 13th  The Book Dispensary, 710-C Gracern Road, Columbia SC, 29210  1:00 PM until 3:00 PM

July 20th  Hair Perfections,  130 Amick’s Ferry Road, Chapin SC, 29036 from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM

July 27th  McIntosh Book Shoppe, 917 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC 29902 from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM

August 3rd  Barnes and Noble, 278-A Harbison Blvd, Columbia, SC 29210 from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM


How I Researched the Gullah Culture for Catherine’s Cross

I’d like to start by saying that I have been visiting the Sea Islands near Beaufort, SC, for the last twenty years. During that time, I have met and spoken with the descendants of Gullah people. I have listened to the pronunciations of their words and attempted to duplicate the language patterns through characters, Ida Mae, Meta Jane, and Mose Lafitte.


While I was writing Catherine’s Cross, I read a novel, Daughter’s of the Dust by Julie Dash. Her novel follows her heroine’s introduction to the Sea Islands near Beaufort. Her mother having been raised on the Sea Islands, has moved north to New York City, but her daughter wants to know her relatives and the land of her ancestors. I thoroughly enjoyed Dash’s depiction of the islands and the Gullah people. In addition, I read The Gullahs of South Carolina by Pearce W. Hammond. He discusses the Gullah culture, their language, and superstitions. For instance, I learned that the cry of a screech owl is a sure sign of death. I reference this superstition in both The Cast Net and Catherine’s Cross.


Lastly, I purchased and scanned the Gullah New Testament, De Nyew Testament. I found the writings difficult to understand. For the characters in Catherine’s Cross who speak a version of Gullah, I decided that their pronunciations would be a mix of Gullah and Standard English so they could be understood. Each of the Gullah descendants in Catherine’s Cross are pure and honest individuals.

Virtual tour of Catherine’s Cross

Hi everyone! Please visit the virtual tour of Catherine’s Cross this week. Here’s the schedule:

June 24:  Andi’s Book Reviews
June 25:  Just Jeannie’s Books and Bling
June 26:  Book ‘Em North Carolina
June 26:  Long and Short Reviews 
June 27:  Writers and Authors
June 28:  It’s Raining Books