Catherine West writes romance and women’s fiction. Her debut novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, is a romance set during the Vietnam War. The book, contracted by OakTara Publishing, was released in March.
Cathy is blessed to live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, a British colony located about 700 miles east of the coast of North Carolina, in the Atlantic. She shares her home with her pediatrician husband, their seventeen-year-old son, who is off to The Berklee College of Music in Boston to study guitar in the fall, and a two-year-old Border Collie. Their daughter is attending college in Canada. Cathy is surrounded by males most of the year—but only one of them obeys her without question. She graduated from the University of Toronto “some decades ago” with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Through the years, Cathy has tried her hand at a number of things, including crocheting, stained glass, scrapbooking, and dried wreath making. She says she completed a few blankets and a cool scrapbook that she gave to her sister, “but that’s about it.” Cathy enjoys gardening, has a passion for roses and orchids, and spends a lot of time training her border collie. She loves to sing and is on the worship team at her church, serving alongside her worship leader hubby. And Cathy has volunteered with Riding for the Disabled in Bermuda the past four years working with children from five to eighteen years of age.
Cathy, I was thrilled when I went to the post office and found my copy of Yesterday’s Tomorrow in my box. I’m eager to read your intriguing story.
I’ve watched your journey with interest since we met in person at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis last September. A month later your story sold. Less than five months after that, it hit the shelves.
Often an author’s journey from contract to book in hand resembles a leisurely drive on winding country lanes. In your case, you zipped along the Autobahn. What did the last few months look like, and how did you catch your breath? Or have you?
It’s been a pretty wild ride, that’s for sure! No, I don’t think I’ve had a chance to catch my breath! After I was contracted I started forming a marketing plan right away. That’s been the biggest project so far and even more time-consuming than my edits! But it’s real important to me to try to get as much exposure for the book as possible. I feel like a lot of people, including myself, have a huge investment in this story, and I’d love it to do well. Aside from the hard work, it’s been a lot of fun too!
We held a launch party for family and friends at my house, in ’60’s style! A lot of people dressed up, which was cool, and my son and friends played live music. My daughter took all the pictures and I’m waiting for those to put up on Facebook as well!
The reviews of Yesterday’s Tomorrow began to appear within days of your release, including a slew of five-star reviews on Amazon. Of all the reviews you’ve seen so far, which have meant the most to you, and why?
Wow. That’s tough. I’m pretty blown away by the response the book is getting. All the positive reviews are wonderful in light of the fact that there was so much negativity when we were trying to pitch the book. I really think a lot of publishers just didn’t want to take a risk on it, probably because of the Vietnam War backdrop. So I’m really thrilled that my readers are so into it!
While the reviews are terrific, I’d have to say though, that it was actually one of my endorser’s comments that has meant the most so far. Don Brown, author of Zondervan’s Navy Justice Series, read the book and said the following:
As an ex-naval officer, I am grateful that Catherine chose the Vietnam War as the exciting backdrop for this novel. In doing so, she has done a great service to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have shamefully been forgotten over the years, and has admirably brought attention to their sacrifice.
For me, this was the ultimate reward.
Yesterday’s Tomorrow is about a journalist and a photographer? Have you worked as a journalist? Are you a photographer, perhaps snapping pictures of those roses and orchids you raise?
Not exactly! I did work as a junior report on our local newspaper for a couple of summers, but that’s as far as I’ve gone! I knew even then that journalism wasn’t the avenue I wanted to pursue.
I love taking pictures, but I’m not exceptionally talented at it. That would be my daughter’s forte! I had to do a lot of research for the book to really understand those two professions, Kristin’s more so than Luke. It was very interesting.
What have been the most surprising aspects of having a book on the shelves? The most humorous? The most heartwarming?
Well, it hasn’t been that long yet. I’m not sure. I found it kind of funny that I cried all the way home after picking up my first box of books and holding the book in my hand for the very first time. The most heartwarming has been the enormous outpouring of support from family and friends, and the impact my story is having on them.
You’ve put a lot of time and energy into promotion. Where have you directed most of your marketing efforts? Based on what you’ve seen so far, which do you think have been the most beneficial?
I don’t think you can go wrong with Facebook and Twitter. It’s so easy to communicate with people that way and to get the word out about the release, book signings, reviews, etc…
Again, the support from the writing community and my fellow WordServe clients has been just awesome! I’ll tweet something about the book and suddenly ten re-tweets pop up!
I have been trying to keep up with my own blog, but lately it’s been hard. I’m doing a lot of blog posts and interviews on other blogs to promote the book, and I’d say that is a great way to get the word out too.
Mostly though, I think reviews are going to be the thing that will spark interest. I have a blog tour scheduled with First Wild Card Blog Tours on May 2nd, so it will be fun to see how much publicity that generates.
Your journey to publication spanned sixteen years. Obviously perseverance played a big part in your eventual success. What are three other traits you believe will help a writer eager to see her name on the cover of a book?
Determination, confidence and resilience. It’s so easy to get discouraged and I’ve been down and out too many times to recall, ready to pack it all in after a lousy critique, low contest score or another rejection. I really had to learn to believe in myself, and ‘screw my courage to the sticking place’, in order to keep going when all I really wanted to do was crawl under the covers.
Cathy’s Debut Novel
Please tell us about Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
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.
You can view the Yesterday’s Tomorrow trailer on YouTube if you’d like.
Questions for Cathy
Cathy, it’s been wonderful having you at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on your release!
I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel, and what life is like for an author with a book on the shelves. And, of course, feel free to squee with Cathy all you’d like.
Learn More About Cathy
Visit her website ~ http://www.catherinejwest.com
Visit her personal blog ~ http://catherinewestblog.blogspot.com
Visit her group blog ~ International Christian Fiction Writers
Follow her on Twitter ~ cathwest