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Andalusia native releases first romance novel

Andalusia native Judy Cooper “loves” to write, as she demonstrated in her first novel – “Designs in the Sand.”

Cooper, a 1966 graduate of Andalusia High School, penned the recently published romance and mystery novel.

“The story is about choices and consequences and real heroes, and how they play a part, not only in love, but in everything else,” she said.

The story is told by the main character, Joy Carlisle, a blond blue-eyed beauty, who is on her way to becoming a successful architect. Carlisle has been assigned to a beach house in Florida to remodel for a wealthy client and his family. Through the project, she falls desperately in love with the guy next door, who is also the brother of her client.

Cooper said writing is something that has always been a love of hers.

“I have always loved to write,” she said. “I would write love letters for classmates in school, jot down little stories that came to me in the night.”

Cooper said her book is also a mystery, with nail-biting action and suspense with rescues and drama at sea.

“I grew up enjoying the panhandle of Florida, and have watched it go from wilderness to the commercial entity it is today,” she said. “There are still a few remote isolated areas where the ‘old Florida’ still exists and flourishes. The spell of the old South still has its charm in out of the way places. Alligator Point is a real town and one of those places. That is why I chose it as this setting for my book.”

Writing a novel is something that Cooper said she has always wanted to do.

“I was a freelance writer for The Montgomery Advertiser and enjoyed that work immensely and knew one day, I wanted to write a novel,” she said.

Cooper, who now lives in Pike Road, Ala., is a painter and photographer, said she plans to write more novels.

“I have two I started several years ago that now have my attention again,” she said. “I was very blessed to have a very dear friend, Larry Jordan, edit ‘Designs in the Sand’ for me. Without my husband’s and Larry’s support and suggestions, I would probably still be writing the book.”

Cooper said having a book published is unbelievable.

“It feels strange to have your words and photos out there in the world,” she said. “I was recognized in the dressing room at Ross’s the other day, and I had to stop and think, ‘How on Earth would they know me?’ I had to laugh when she told me she saw my photo on my book, and then went to Facebook to find out more about me.”

Cooper said the publishing world “is a hard nut to crack.”

“With the economy, the self-publishers are gobbling up the traditional publishers, and an agent is really hard to find, unless you have time to waste,” she said. “The wave of the future is that most traditional publishers will become self-publishers or are selling out to other houses.”

Cooper said that just because you find a reputable self-publisher, it doesn’t mean the book will get published.

“They have editors who read work submitted to them, and if they don’t think it is a good story that will make them money, they will turn you down,” she said. “I had an offer from two traditional publishers and several self-publishers.”

Cooper said she eventually decided to go with IUniverse because she did not want to make some of the changes the other publishers asked.

Cooper said that since her book was published, her calendar is getting rather full.

“I am being contacted for book signings and interviews. I was just contacted this morning for a radio interview and put on the program with the AARP Convention in Orlando,” she said.

Cooper is the daughter of Etta Windham and the late Earl Ray Windham.

“I grew up in Andalusia and lived there until I was 30 years old before I moved away, I have always felt my heart and my ties never left,” she said.

Cooper’s book may be purchased from Amazon.com or ordered from any bookstore.

Andalusia native Judy Cooper recently released her first novel, titled “Designs in the Sand.” | Courtesy photo