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ILHS student writes, publishes first novel

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By Chris Sardelli

INDIAN LAND – It only took a couple of words to spark Taylor Altier’s imagination.

Altier, 16, was working as a restaurant hostess at Murphy’s Tavern in south Charlotte when a word caught her attention.

From there, the Indian Land High School student created what would soon be her own self-published novel.

“One day at work, I was doing my normal routine, working on the floor charts, when I noticed a word written at the top of the chart, ‘dinner.’ I put ‘lunch is better,’ just as a funny response. And that got me thinking, what if this conversation kept going?” Altier said. “It turned into this story about who these people were and what I wanted them to do. And these two people having a conversation turned into a novel.”

Called “Hostess,” the 202-page book follows main character Marcie Anders, a teenage girl trying to survive her family’s move to Rhode Island.

Marcia creates a new persona while working as a restaurant hostess, and strikes up a conversation with someone via sentences in a notebook on the hostess stand. The story focuses on her search for this mystery person.

It took Altier only six months to write the novel, her first attempt at writing.

“I never even thought about it. I’ve never written in my life other than English essays,” Altier said.

After writing the novel, Altier began the arduous process of actually getting the book published.

She sent it to at least 10 publishers, hoping to hear a positive response.

But with two rejections and no answers from the rest, Altier decided to take a different approach.

“I thought they weren’t taking it seriously because of my age. So I thought I could self-publish just to get it out there,” she said.

Altier headed to the Internet and researched book publishing.

She narrowed the field of companies down to one – Xlibris, based on its services and affordable pricing plans.

Choosing the company’s professional package, she received a variety of marketing materials and press releases to help attract attention to her book.

After proofreading the novel, she e-mailed the manuscript to the publisher. Within a month, she had received five copies of the book.

The difference with self-publishing, she said, is that copies of her book are printed on a request-only basis.

Interested readers can buy the book directly, and have it printed just for them, at  http://xlibris.com/hostess. Paperback copies costs $19.99, while hardcover copies cost $29.99.

The distribution company also offers the book for sale on several bookseller Web sites, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Altier said if a bookstore sells a high number of copies online, they are more inclined to carry the book in their stores.

“I’m in the marketing stage now, trying to promote it,” she said. “Getting it out there is kinda difficult.”

Altier, who lives with her mother, Amy Hall, and her 15-year-old sister, Tiffany, and 11-year-old brother, Thomas, cites several authors as her inspirations.

Stephenie Meyer, of “Twilight” fame, is one of her favorites, as well as horror writer Stephen King. She also admires North Carolina writer Sarah Dessen, an author who sold her first novel while working as a waitress.

With an interest in all types of media – from chick-lit to horror flicks, Altier has a style all her own.

She enjoyed the experience of writing so much that she has already started a second novel, incorporating her interest in the paranormal.

She is even tentatively looking at colleges with creative writing programs.

“I definitely want to keep writing,” Altier said. “Once I get started writing, I keep going and going.”