Article in Uniontown Life magazine, August, 2013

Uniontown is Inspiration for E-book

by Millys Altman

           The life styles of wealthy coal barons during the era when coal was king in her home town of Uniontown were the inspiration for Millys Altman’s historical mystery novel “Innocent Strangers”. She was enthralled as a child with the fascinating stories that revolved around these people’s lives and legends. The book was published as an electronic (e-book) in early July 2012.

An Amazon description reads, “A beautiful wealthy heiress is murdered in Mt. Hope, Pennsylvania, at the height of the golden era of the coal and coke industry, and hapless strangers, a father-and-daughter are accused.…”

“To get the book published, I had to vastly upgrade my computer skills,” Altman said. “And I am still learning promotion. Writing a book is difficult, but I discovered it is only the first step in a long process, and I have had to have help along the way.”

The respected Kirkus Reviews described the book as “peppered with the appealing ingredients of the mystery/crime genre, including wealthy heiresses, double-crosses, cover-ups, blackmailing, legal maneuvering and adultery.”

Also, “Altman convincingly sets Jenny and Marc’s evolving father-daughter relationship and Jenny and the doctor’s blossoming romance against the seedy corruption of the coal-rich town, all the while teasing out the mystery and hiding the real culprit until the very end—no small feat for a debut author.” 

For the cover of the 215-page book, Altman chose a picture of a coal baron’s mansion, the former home of J. V. Thompson. The house is now Mt. Macrina, and it belongs to a religious order.

“The only character in the book that is based on a real person is the young doctor,” Altman said. “I copied him after my father, Dr. H. J. Nixon, an obstetrician, well-known as “the baby doctor” in the area.  His practice was not so far removed from the period I was writing about.  I always wanted to be a doctor and he discouraged me (you’ll just get married and have children), and the daughter in the book wants to be a lawyer and her father discourages her.”

The book has had positive feedback from reviewers.  Customer satisfaction has given it a 4.7 star rating out of five stars on Amazon.  The book can be purchased wherever e-books are sold and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, Kobo and Sony.

Altman graduated from the Uniontown Senior High School, where she was valedictorian of her class, and Hood College, Frederick, Maryland. In World War 11, she gave up her teaching job to be with her husband, who was a naval commander. She followed him from base to base for several years, and when he shipped out for the Pacific, she came home.

After the war, Altman and her husband returned to Uniontown and settled into a mid-Victorian home. He practiced architecture, and they raised three sons.  Mark is a third-generation architect, and Gary and Dan are lawyers.  There are five grandchildren.

“I wish I could say that I always wanted to write because it would sound as though I was star-kissed., but the truth is more mundane, “Altman said.  “I started to write when my boys were teenagers for something to do that would keep me at home. I was soon bitten by the writing bug.”

At first, she wrote feature articles for various newspapers, the local paper, the Pittsburgh Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore Sun. As she gained confidence, she wrote for small magazines. She attended writers’ conferences. Two of her boys were into sports car racing, and her first book “Racing in Her Blood” was based on experiences following them around to the different tracks.  “I was incredibly lucky since I sent the manuscript to New York unsolicited, and it was published by Lippincott.” The book is a young-adult novel, and it is now also published as an e-book.

“I hope to write another novel,” Altman said, “and it may be a sequel to “Innocent Strangers.”