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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome Cathy West and Yesterday's Tomorrow

Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. Your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


CATHERINE WEST was educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, and she holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released March 15th, through OakTara Publishers.

OakTara Website:

by Catherine West
Published by OakTara Publishers


She's after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He's determined to keep his secrets to himself. Vietnam, 1967. Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they're forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Book Trailer:

Readers, buy your copy of Yesterday's Tomorrow today!


What I Learned Along The Way...

About a hundred years ago, I got this crazy idea that I should try to get published. Okay, so it was really only about twenty years ago, it just feels like a hundred.

I’ve always loved to write. I was notorious for daydreaming when I should have been paying attention in class, but everyone loved my stories. It seemed a natural fit that I should become a writer.

In college, I tried my hand at journalism. I enjoyed talking to people and writing down their stories, but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing forever. Made-up people are sometimes so much more interesting! Once I’d had my kids, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I began to make time to write.

Here’s the first thing I learned: Any idiot can write a book.

And this idiot wrote some pretty bad ones. Admittedly, I had some good storylines, I just had no idea how to put it all together. But I was willing to find out. So I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve learned along the way.

First, have a good heart-to-heart with yourself. Is this really what you want to do? Are you called to do it? Do you think you can handle it? If you’ve answered yes, then you proceed.

Where do I Start? – You’ll need to learn about plot, point of view, do you want to write in first or third? Characterization. Formatting. How to write a query letter. Who to send it to. The list is long. Very long. It can all be a little overwhelming. Do not travel alone.

Circle the Wagons - Writing is not for the faint of heart. The first thing you need to know, after you’ve made the decision to pursue publication, is that you will be rejected. Multiple times. Unless you are a literary genius, this is just fact. Nobody is intentionally trying to hurt your feelings, there are just way too many writers out there and agents editors only have so many slots to fill. You need to find yourself a community of fellow writers who will encourage you, support you, teach you and give you a good kick in the pants when you tell them you give up. There are lots of places to find these people. I found my community within American Christian Fiction Writers.

Join a Critique Group – Your writing community should also provide you with the tools you need to improve your craft. Unless you are the aforementioned literary genius, in which case you’re probably not reading this anyway, you have much to learn. Try to find a group that has writers at a variety of levels. You’ll want to make friends with those more seasoned authors, because they have information you don’t. You can learn from them. If you want to get anywhere in this business, you must have a teachable spirit. Learn to be okay with the fact that you don’t know anything! Later, if the larger group thing isn’t quite your cup of tea, stick with one or two critique partners. I like working with three or four max, if I can. You should always have a few extra pairs of (knowledgeable) eyes on hand to help you along the way.

Networking. The Internet Is Your Friend! – I’m not a very outgoing person, but I have to say I love socializing on the Internet. If you don’t Blog, start. Even if you think you have nothing to say, you probably do. Everybody has a story. Visit Blogs and comment on them – see Blogging as a way to make a whole bunch of new friends from around the world. Think of it this way – if you create a Blog that people start reading and you end up with a hundred or so followers, right there you have a hundred people you can talk to about your debut novel, who can potentially tell a hundred of their friends, and so on. Word of mouth is a wonderful tool. Use it wisely. Don’t be a pain. Nobody likes a whiner or an over-inflated ego! Likewise with Facebook and Twitter. You can definitely go overboard with the social networking thing, so I try to limit my time and make sure I get my writing done too!

Get An Agent!Do I really need one? Some publishing houses do not require you to submit through an agent, in which case, no you don’t need one. But most of the larger publishers definitely do want you to have an agent.

Once you have conquered the ins and outs of punctuation, plot and structure and head-hopping issues, and you have a completed manuscript with a killer synopsis, you are ready to start querying agents. Please do your homework. Do not waste their time or yours. Find out which agents represent the genre you write in. Address them by name. You can’t expect them to be interested in you if you haven’t even bothered to find out who they are. Then sit back and be prepared to wait A. Long. Time. Some agents are great about answering back in a timely manner, others not so much. Most will give you a time frame in which you can expect a response on their websites – if that time has elapsed, don’t be afraid to follow-up, but be polite.

When the Going Gets Tough – You Get Tougher! - Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times over the last few years I’ve wanted to give up. There were days I thought if I received one more rejection letter, I’d pack it all in and start selling Avon. That’s when you rely on that community I talked about earlier. They’ll get behind you and remind you that you are a good writer—you can do this—and you cannot give up!

Believe in yourself.

Yes, it is hard, but so is following after any dream, right? I can tell you, as I prepare for the release of my debut novel, it’s all worth it. But just because I have a book coming out doesn’t mean my journey is over. It’s really just beginning.

So I will take all these things I’ve learned along the way, no doubt add to them as I go, and plod on toward the next fork in the road. The best part of this adventure is that I know I’m not alone.

Thank you for traveling with me!

* * * * *

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: If you are a writer, what life lessons have you learned along your journey? If you're a reader, what have you learned from the books you've read? Feel free to answer either or both questions.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Richard Mabry said...

Great interview and post, Cathy and Amber. Would love a signed copy of the book.

As a published author, who has been turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread, the lesson I've learned is: Rejection happens. Get used to it. If you persist despite rejections, you are truly a writer.

Richard Mabry
Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com

Catherine West said...

Good point, Richard! Those rejections are indeed where the rubber meets the road. It's tempting to give up, but I think most of us that make it to publication are glad we didn't!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Here I am angling for my signed copy!


Cathy, it's good to hear your advice. These are solid points that ring true for me as well!

inkhornblue *at* hotmail

Linda said...

You write, I'll read! I would love to win your book.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Sylvia said...

I haven't read any books set during the Vietnam War yet, so this would be a good starting place!

Most of the things I have learned in books is either new research information on a subject I didn't know much about or stressing over and over again important spiritual/physical life truths that I already knew. Just the other week I was struggling with doubt over God's love for me. I know He does in my head,but I come up with all these reasons why he probably loves other people more. I was reading along in a fiction book and this subject came up for the main character. I felt like that, along with other non-book situations, was God's way of trying to cement that truth upon my heart. Whew! I've been rambling.


Courtney said...

I am a reader and read a lot of Christian Inspirational books. The thing I've learned the most has to be that God is in the redeeming business. He can take any person, and broken spirit or life and make it great and wonderful!! Always gives me hope!
This book sounds great!!


Anonymous said...

You book sounds wonderful...and the things I learn most...that God can take a broken we think there is no hope, and turn it around for His glory...making it wonderful again.