I am looking for readers who would like to give me their opinion of the beginning of the novel I am currently working on. It is the sequel to The Cast Net and is about the redemption of a wayward character, Jeff Radcliffe. I’d love to have feedback. Please contact me at email@example.com I look forward to hearing from you!
I was recently invited by two wonderful authors, Deb Mangault and Jackie Madden Haugh to post a blog in a virtual tour featuring authors. We all like to get “up close and personal” with our favorite authors, learning more about them and why they do what they do. This blog is a part of a virtual blog tour that is giving us the opportunity to do just that with people we know, and introducing us to people we would like to know.
I met Deb at the South Carolina Book Festival two years ago. Deb and I are both fortunate to have the Where Writer’s Win team of Shari Stauch and Kendra Haskins design our author websites. We were on a panel at the festival that featured some of the authors who work with the Where Writer’s Win team. We had a great time!
Deb co-authored a girlfriend oriented platform book called Drink Wine and Giggle. I have an author signed copy!
As an Event Planner and Certified Professional Coach, Deb brings her positive attitude and bubbly personality to turn family reunions, corporate events and women’s retreats into memorable and intoxicating experiences that demonstrate the power of true compassion.
Deb’s former career in corporate finance has taken her across North America from Ohio to Tennessee to Toronto and finally to Charleston, South Carolina where she resides with her husband. A devoted hospice volunteer, member of the Charleston Center for Women, and an avid golfer and runner, Deb completed the Kiawah Island Marathon in less than five hours. Check out this link:http://drinkwineandgiggle.com/personal-favorite-authors/#more-6520
Jackie Madden Haugh
I met Jackie this past spring at the PubSmart Conference in Charleston, SC. The conference designed to educate writers about publishing options was set up by guess who? Yes, the Where Writer’s Win team. Shari Stauch, Kendra Haskins and the rest of the team have deepened my knowledge of author marketing and the publishing industry.
Over a breakfast of shrimp and grits,(simply marvelous!) Jackie and I talked about our writing and the publishing business with my publisher, Terri Leidich, of Boutique of Quality Books. Jackie is now a Boutique of Quality Books author with her soon to be released memoir, My Life in a Tutu!
A true native of California. Born in San Francisco, on December 31, 1952, to the son of Irish, Catholic immigrants, who fled the potato famine in the late 1800′s, and the daughter of silent movie actors, circa 1915 in Hollywood. Sandwiched between three boisterous brothers, life for Jackie in her youth was anything but calm and trying to have a voice amidst the rampant testosterone and alpha-male posturing was an impossible feat for her.
With the gift of a small six-by-six diary on her tenth birthday, Jackie discovered the joy of journaling. Hiding in her room, pouring her heart and soul out on the blank pages not only gave her solace, but a friend who would listen to her thoughts, dreams and desires without any judgment.For the next forty-five years, she continued writing and in April, 2009, she self-published her first memoir, “My Life in a Tutu.” It started as a simple gift for her children, but instead morphed into something much larger. Word got out about this project in her small suburban town of Los Altos, California and to date she has sold several hundred copies there alone.
Jackie still resides in the loving home where she raised her four adult children. She continues to work in her career as a real estate agent, but devotes her spare time to her writing and her love of teaching dance to children. Currently, she is working on her next project in her series of memoirs, “Tipsy in a Tutu.” It is the hilarious story of friendship between three single woman in a world of married people.
As a part of the tour I am required to answer several questions.
1. What am I working on?
I’m writing the sequel to my first novel,The Cast Net. The book will follow the redemption of a seriously flawed character, Jeff Radcliffe. He learns a heart breaking lesson about love and relationships in this follow-up novel set in several locations across the globe. Cooper Heath and Mills Taylor Heath, the hero and heroine of The Cast Net will also return!
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I do a great deal of historical research about an area and the people who live there,(or have lived there,) before I write. I like to intertwine my story line with historical facts. Sometimes, I create fictitious accounts in my novels, but still based on actual people or places. For instance, the setting for The Cast Net is a small community, Alston Station, on the Edisto River near Charleston, SC. There really isn’t an Alston Station, but there should be! The town is named after Joseph Alston, a former governor of South Carolina, who was married to Theodosia Burr Alston. (She was the daughter of Aaron Burr. You may recall he shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel.) Theodosia disappeared on a voyage from Georgetown, SC, to New York. Theodosia’s fate is compared to that of a character in The Cast Net, Elise Heath.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I enjoy mystery / suspense stories with a twist. I’m a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock who was the master of suspense movies. As a child, I believe my interests were shaped by several exciting stories, Caroline and her Friends, The Box Car Children, and The Adventures of Jonny Quest. All three of these children’s classics deal with young people who are daring, take risks, and handle situations that are often dangerous. The heroes and heroines bravely take on responsibilities that most people would run from. I’m certain that The Adventures of Jonny Quest influenced me to become an airline pilot and travel many parts of the world.
4. How does my writing process work?
I had the idea for The Cast Net in my head for many years before I actually sat down and wrote the novel. When I finally had time to write the book, I researched the location I was writing about. For The Cast Net, which is set in the Charleston and Edisto areas of South Carolina, I read at least twenty-five history books to make sure I got the details correct. While I was doing the research for The Cast Net, I came up with the idea for Catherine’s Cross which I wrote in less than a year. Knowing the history of an area, gives me ideas for my stories and helps with character creation and development. I like to intertwine actual history with fiction I create.
As part of the blog tour and would like to discuss two authors that I think very highly of and enjoy their work. The first author, Julia Allcut, is a friend of mine and the leader of the writer’s group I participate in. We have a lot of fun and constructively critique each others’ work. Julia is the author of a Christian spy novel entitled, The Good Spy Wife. Julia’s web address: http://www.christianspynovels.com/
The Good Spy Wife is a story of aging FBI agent, Gunter Martini, as told by his wife, Bootsie. The saga begins with her suspicions that the next-door neighbor, Alexander, is a Russian agent. The reader is drawn into the drama as the story explodes along with the cigarette boat when Gunter dares to venture out for a boat ride to Bomb Island on the 50,000 acres Lake Murray on the night of an impending hurricane. His drowning is dubious, as no body floats to the surface. The wife trusts in God and believes that he is alive. When he reappears later in the Soviet Union he invites his wife to join him as he works toward an assignment involving the elimination of the American president, as the Soviet country believes the President of the United States and his democratic ideals stand in the way of progress for the Soviet Union. He must die, as the current leadership in America is an affront for growth of the new Russia.
Set during the Cold War in the late 1980s, this novel follows Bootsie and Gunter as they struggle with separation during difficult times in their own marriage. Bootsie grows spiritually through the unexplained meeting of strangers who appear to her as angels, and through drawing on her own strengths when alone. Ultimately, after many twists and turns of the story, the couple realizes that God is the only help for the frailty of their lives, and each makes plans to rebuild his or her life around their new beliefs. However, will this turn out to be the happy conclusion? One can only discover this knowledge through reading the book.
Another friend in my writer’s group is Edith Hawkins. Like Jackie and me, she is a Boutique of Quality Books author. Not only is she a talented writer, but she is a wonderful gardener. We explored an orchid growers facility together, and I learned about these exotic plants. Edith’s orchids survive and flourish. Mine didn’t make it.
Edith has written a wonderful children’s book about the adventures of Kate and JR. Here’s a bit about Edith and her story.
As a retired medical laboratory technologist, Edith Hawkins is pursuing her love of photography, gardening and writing children’s stories. Her first book entitled “Summer Adventures with Kate and JR” was released by BQB Publishing in May 2013. Edith has enjoyed sharing stories from the book with school age children at local elementary schools. She also enjoyed meeting people of all ages as she sold the book along with greeting cards made from her photo collection of flowers, butterflies, beach sunrises, Canadian geese on the lake, and anything nature has to offer during the summer farmers market. Edith is a member of the Chapin Writers Group, the Newberry Master Gardener Association, and Macedonia Lutheran Church where she teaches the four and five year old kindergarten class.
Summer Adventures with Kate & JR
Do you like to play with friends in your backyard? Go on a vacation with your parents to the beach? Visit and spend time with your grandparents? Kate and JR do! Share in their adventures, as Kate the older sister and JR the younger brother find that learning new things from adults can be fun. That being patient is hard work. But, the end results are worth the wait.
Summer Adventures with Kate & JR is a collection of stories to be shared by children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The stories relate the special bond that forms when a garden is planted, a handmade toy car takes shape, scrapes of material turn into a beautiful quilt, fish are caught, the beach is a great place for a vacation, and just a simple walk in the woods can be exciting.
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!
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!
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!
In support of independent book stores, this video was produced by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Please check it out! http://www.youtube.com/embed/FzRKd2y1nXY?rel=0
- 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah
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.
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: http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/05/19/2509240/a-chat-with-millie-west-author.html
This link is to Southern Writer’s Magazine. Catherine’s Cross was recently the must read of the week: http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/
My website: www.milliewestauthor.com
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