“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” A quote from “The Mouse” by Robert Burns.
In the fall of 2019, my friend Tammera sent out an email to see who would be interested in joining her at the NC Book Festival 2020 in Raleigh. I’d never heard of it but as an Indie-author I’m always looking for ways to get my name out into the public, so I said yes.
In October, we divided into two groups, Alison Paul Klakowicz author of Mommy’s Big Red Truckhttps://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com/ and Tammera Cooper author of The Water Street Chronicles https://www.southernromanceonthepamlico.com/brackish-blogging, and Adrienne Dunning author of several sweet romances https://adriennedunning.com/ and I would have two tables at the festival. I went to the website and posted and reposted anything I saw to help drive traffic to their website and to the festival. Tammera made us lovely banners to put on our social media. We posted, Tweeted, chatted and blogged about it, and still people did not know about it. From October to February there was very little traffic on their website. I saw no advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram except what I or my friends posted but I hoped since they charge so much for a table, that they had at least put out signs and advertised locally.
Then the snow came. We had had a lovely winter with temperatures averaging in the seventies until the week of the festival, then we get twenty-degree weather and snow. I know, you cannot plan for these things. I was hoping that like the hurricane that came when I went to Murfreesboro for a writer’s retreat that everything would turn out just fine. Well, the weather warmed, the snow and ice melted, and everything went off without a hitch…mostly.
Without proper advertising and publicity, people were unaware that we were even there. My friend was on the same block as the book festival and had no idea it was even going on until she returned home and saw my posts on Facebook.
It wasn’t a total waste of time. I had a nice weekend away with my friend although the weather derailed some of our plans. I met some fantastic people at the festival, promoted the upcoming Pamlico Writers’ Conference and made some connections for future interviews on my website but I only sold two books.
It is difficult to balance the cost of the table, hotel, gas and food, not to mention the books and bling we bought to attract people to our tables with the number of books sold.
While I am trying to remain upbeat and positive, I know that I blew my budget on this weekend and have little to show for it. Will I do it again? Not if I’m paying for it. Do I think it’s a waste of time? Not for a group like the Pamlico Writers who wanted to promote their conference but for an individual author, yeah, it wasn’t worth the cost.
I think the NC Book Festival could be a profitable and fun event. It needs to be in a central location instead of spread out to so many different venues, and it needs more marketing behind it. Every writers’ group or organization, publisher and agent in North Carolina should have been contacted as well as all the libraries and bookstores. There should have been signs up around town and especially at the venue alerting people that something cool was happening. I feel like this was a missed opportunity and for an Indie-author with a small budget, this failure hurts the pocketbook and sets me back.
But I did have a good time. As I was setting up my table the man across the way greeted me and we exchanged information about ourselves and our books. Come to find out, we have a friend in common, my mentor, Marni Graff. Thomas A. Burns, jr. author of Stripper, Revenge and Trafficked also deals with the darker side of life, especially sex trafficking. I am presently reading his first book and Tom and I have plans for an interview. It will be interesting to compare notes.
I also met two lovely ladies sitting behind me, a lady who’d written a biography and has ties to Washington, a lovely British woman a former history professor who is now writing young adult time travel adventure novels. The day was filled with lovely people, authors, publishers, poets and even a handsome economist.
While financially I don’t feel as if I can recommend this event, culturally and for the connections, it was a lovely experience.
Sleeping Mallows is the second in the Water Street
Chronicles, the sequel to Drenched
Sunflowers. The story of Beth Pearse, her husband and Sam are simmering in
the background while a mysterious woman turns up the heat and everything
threatens to boil over.
A dog, a
boy, a ghost, a hurricane and an unplanned romance come together to add to the
rich tapestry Tammera Cooper has woven. Set amid the backdrop of little
Washington on the banks of the Pamlico and Tar Rivers, the town, the swamp and
the river are as much characters as the people and dog who populated this
is a continuation, Savanna’s story adds another layer to the drama begun in Drenched Sunflowers. Ms. Cooper twines
Savanna and Charlie’s stories with those of Beth and Brad, ratcheting the
intrigue to another level.
I feel that Sleeping
Mallows is even better than Drenched
Sunflowers. As with the first in the Water Street Chronicles, the ghost of
Abram is an import piece of the puzzle.
Rich with history, atmosphere and drama, if you like an old-fashioned southern gothic with a modern twist, check out the Water Street Chronicles. You will want to start with book one, Drenched Sunflowers.
To learn more about Tammera Coooper and her books, check out the interview I did with her earlier this year.
Today I’m sitting on
the porch of Creekside Café with my writer-sister, Tammera Cooper. Tammera is a
fellow member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group as well as a member of, the Heart
of Carolina our local Romance Writers of America group, and the Women’s Fiction
Writers Association. Welcome to Creekside, Tammy.
Tammy: Thanks for the invite. It’s the perfect day to sit on the
porch and visit.
Sherri: You’ve been out this way before.
I make my way across the river every once in a while. I love it when I get over
this way. The Aurora Christmas Craft fair was awesome. I was able to sign some books for readers. We
had a lot of fun.
Sherri: You’re almost local especially if you go by
Tammy: Yes, I live by the Pamlico River with my fiancé. If you look really hard, you
probably could see me waving from shore. Patrick did an awesome job building
our house. Definitely set us up for our own Happily Ever After.
Sherri: You’ve not always believed in happy ever
Tammy: We will just put it like this, life hasn’t been
kind. But that gives me an appreciation for the good times and more angst for
Sherri: I’m so excited to announce that your second book, Sleeping
Mallows will be out soon.
Tammy: It’s almost here, May 15th. If you preorder now,
you will get your copy May 14th.
Sherri: Your series is called the Water Street Chronicles, give our
readers a little taste of your books.
Tammy: My first book, Drenched Sunflowers came out last
fall. I mixed a contemporary Southern fiction with a historical love story. The
ghosts in the Water Street Chronicles tend to be everyone’s favorite
I’ll share what I have
written on the back of the book:
Rainy days and river
views fill Beth’s summer as she makes a new start in small town Washington,
North Carolina. After the loss of her husband in a tragic accident,
simple seems better. It’s time to renovate her life, starting with a
future art gallery on the river. Sam, her contractor, has everything
under control, but the stress of the construction project and new business is
beginning to make her crazy. Nightmares and visions of ghosts become the
nightly norm. She doesn’t have time for this. She doesn’t have time
for her heart to make room for him.
Sam is happy filling his days and nights
with work. His two jobs as a teacher and contractor are his passions and
do not leave room for much else. This new project has possibilities: a
beautiful owner, the history of the house, and an 19th-century diary. Beth’s
dream is becoming a timely reality until she disappears.
Mystery and intrigue fill the haunting
river bank of the Pamlico as Sam and Beth find the truth behind the Water
Street house and each other.
Sherri: Yes, I am Team Sam, but your daughter is Team Brad? Do you
want to give a little hint about this competition?
Tammy: The main
character in the Water Street Chronicles, Beth Pearse, is a young widow and is
having a hard time learning to love again. She had a fairytale marriage, and
when you lose someone so early in life, it makes it hard to start over again.
Sam is her contractor, and her heart wants to take the leap again with him, but
Brad was meant to be her one and only. My readers like to choose sides and tell
me who they think Beth’s heart should be loyal to.
Sherri: You’re a self-published author. I know you’ve had a few
challenges publishing your first book. What are some of the things you learned
with the first book? Was the second a little easier?
Tammy: Number one
give yourself plenty of time to get things done. A cover can be designed and ready 3 months in
advance. It sits there patiently while you get the rest ready. But if you wait
till the last-minute little things, for instance hurricane Florence, can cause
delays and extreme stress. Not that Florence was a little thing. The other
creatives on your team need time too.
Sherri: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Tammy: My favorite Romance book was To Love a Rogue by
Valerie Sherwood. After reading it many times in High School, I headed to the University
of West Florida to study marine archeology, final destination, Port Royal
Jamaica. After finding out I wasn’t a great swimmer, I changed my
major to Art History. And so, started my career in retail management.
In 2014, as a Retail
Store Manager, the writing bug bit. The characters started speaking
and would not leave me alone until I started to put them on paper. The Water
Street Chronicles were born. I have always loved historical romance
and assumed that was what I was writing. Each of the book titles come from
code flowers of the Underground Railroad. During a brainstorming
exercise with a Harlequin Editor at the Babes on the Beach writers retreat, the
contemporary story came to life. I haven’t looked back.
Sherri: I too love historical romance and always planned to write it
but then life happened, and things changed. I still have a historical series
I’m planning to write. What about you, will you write a historical or do you
plan to write in another genre?
Tammy: There is a prequel in the planning for the Chronicles, telling
Selah’s and Abram’s love story and the story of the Underground Railroad in
Washington NC. After that, I guess I will see where life takes me.
Sherri: I’ve read Drenched Sunflowers but only
excerpts of Sleeping Mallows. Share a little of your upcoming book. I know
everyone is getting excited about it.
Tammy: Book two, Sleeping
Mallows, continues the
mystery along the river from the law enforcement point of view. It’s non-stop
action, cover to cover. I’ll share the back of the book:
A river overflows with secrets and ghosts of the past… Will it
reveal what they seek?
The day the Pearse woman was pulled from the river, Deputy Tim
Whitaker knew this was a make or break case. He worked his whole
career cracking the hard ones. Why can’t he catch a break? He should have known
it might get complicated with a much-loved local as the primary suspect and a
second man everyone has seen, but no one knows. All he needs is one clue, one
thing to bring her closure.
Captain Savanna McCormick needs closure – the kind she provides
for other families thanks to her partner Max, her K9 cadaver dog. Too bad she
can’t get her own. Her parents’ disappearance may no longer be a newsworthy
item, but the still-open case is always on her mind, especially now she has
custody of her younger brother. Chaperoning a field trip forces her to confront
her worst fears; returning to Washington, NC where her parents were last seen.
A special assignment brings them together while the job keeps
them apart. Will the Pamlico River prove to be their toughest adversary? Can
they work together and solve the case before the Pamlico washes it all away and
hides its secrets forever?
Sherri: Water features heavily in your stories.
Tammy: I grew up on the
Rappahannock River in Virginia watching the riverside community change with the
times but remaining the same in spirit. The waterside lifestyle is in my blood
and influences my writing every day.
A short time ago, I
made some changes in my career and personal life to put the words on
paper. I now live in Washington, NC. Writing is my second job. I
enjoy the research required to write stories that are woven with the small
Sherri: Before we go, you have a list of actors who you wish to play
your characters if your books are made into a movie.
Tammy: Yes, I do. This is a list of actors I would want to
portray my main characters if my book was made into a movie:
Beth ran to the back of
the house. Her chest hurt as she gasped for her next breath. Screams came from
the small outbuilding at the corner of the yard. Rain poured down in sheets as
the lightning flashed around her. Sunflowers waved in the wind, bending, almost
touching the lawn. The trees joined in the harsh dance forced to follow the
rhythm of the storm. It had gotten worse. Someone was stuck, and they couldn’t
get out of the shed. She kept running, but it seemed the shed was getting
farther away. The yard was starting to flood.
“I’m coming,” she
yelled, but no words came out of her mouth. The screaming got louder. She
finally reached the door. The lightning flashed with a loud clap of thunder.
Beth jumped because it was so loud. She reached for the doorknob, but the
handle was gone.
“Help! The water is
coming in. I can’t get out.”
It was a woman on the
other side of the door. The banging was so loud. Beth tried to get some
leverage on the door, but there was nothing to grab. The rough water was
getting deep, up to Beth’s waist. It wouldn’t stop coming. It must be coming
over the river bank.
She looked around the
yard for something to pry the door open as the structure started to sway. She
had to get her out of there. She ran back to the shed just as it collapsed. A
horrible scream split the night air. The roof fell, and the walls ripped apart
in the surf as they disappeared into the darkness. Maybe she could still save
the woman. Maybe she wasn’t badly hurt. Beth grabbed at the debris tossing it
out of her way like a mad woman. Under a broad beam, she found a young black
woman strangely dressed. The beam held her pinned under the water. Yard tools
and other rubble floated in the waves that churned around her. A basket floated
by Beth as she bent to move the massive beam. She looked down at the person
struggling under the water. It was the woman she had seen in the bathroom
mirror, her eyes pleading for help. She tried to grab Beth as air bubbles
escaped her mouth.
“Oh, my God, it won’t
move.” Beth looked down at her, the hope draining from her spirit. The beam
wouldn’t move. She tried again, but the water was too deep now. With a quick
glance back toward the house, she spied an older woman standing in the window.
Beth waved her arms, hoping for some bit of salvation, but the woman turned
away as if she couldn’t see Beth at all. Beth turned back to the woman and
reached out to lay a reassuring hand on her arm only to find, there was no life
left to be saved.
A K9 cop struggles to adjust to her new role as guardian to her
younger brother after the disappearance of her parents. Washington, North
Carolina needs her help to solve a kidnapping case but first, she must face her
fears of returning to the town her parents were last seen.
*Top 10s list (A
List of your top 10 favorite things OR a list of 10 fun, random facts
1. I lived
in the Netherlands for 5 years.
2. I was an
Army wife for 15 yrs. My fiancé is in the Army Reserves.
3. I live
in a house 14 ft in the air.
4. I have
been to 48 states.
date of all time was flounder gigging at midnight in the Newport River.
movie is the Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
7. When I
graduated from high school, I wanted to be a marine archeologist because of a
romance novel by Valerie Sherwood, To Love a Rogue set in Port Royal, Jamaica.
8. I have a
Weimaraner, a kelpie, a black cat, and a gargoyle gecko.
drink is Sweet Tea.
10. I’ve ridden a motorcycle over the Continental Divide in a sleet storm. By the time we made it to the top, I had icicles hanging from my glasses.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss