In March, I got the most interesting email from my agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. It said: Not to give anything away, but today or tomorrow might be a very good day. My email response: Oh. My. Word.
What's Wish You Were Here about?
Here's how I pitched the contemporary romance at ACFW last year: Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right? What happens when a woman impulsively kisses her fiance's brother five days before the wedding? Which is the mistake? The kiss? Or the wedding?
How did you create such strong characters as Allison, Daniel and Seth?
Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I went to the 2010 My Book Therapy (MBT) Storycrafters Retreat and learned about discovering my characters' dreams, their wounds, the truths they need to learn. I also endorse the MBT exercise of asking "why" until you get to the bottom of what motivates your characters.
You first published in nonfiction and said you thought in headlines and that you didn't understand me or other fiction writes who heard "voices." Tell us how you switched to the "Dark Side," as you like to call the fiction world.
I blogged about this over at my blog, In Others' Words. (And my apologies for misunderstanding fiction writers for so long!) I was burned out--not an ounce of "want to" left in me. I dug out two Christian Writers Guild assignments from the Apprentice course and decided to have fun with them--that's all. And I got carried away--all the way to a contract--three years and many drafts later.
Your manuscript began with a serious thread on cutting, then became romantic suspense with a kidnapping, finally turning contemporary romance with some humorous elements complete with llamas--all on your way to discovering your voice. Many authors struggle with finding their voice. What advice would you offer them?
Wow, you remembered all that? All those versions were my newbie attempts to create tension. Need tension? Kidnap somebody, right?
My voice showed up the more I relaxed into the story, and that happened as I gained confidence as a fiction writer. That took time and listening to others who were encouraging me. Sometimes I had to believe what they were saying--that I could do this--more than I listened to my doubts.
Even when I speak to women's groups on challenging issues, my humor usually shows up. And while there's a little fun with llamas, there are some serious themes in Wish You Were Here. And my journalism training still affects my fiction. I tend to write tight.
You're one of the elite few who've sold their first books. How did you learn your craft?
Everyone has their story. Mine could have the subhead: Never say never. I said I'd never write fiction--and here I am, flabbergasted with my first sale. Crossing-over from nonfiction to fiction was challenging. I felt so comfortable writing nonfiction--I knew that world. There were times writing Wish You Were Here overwhelmed me. Would I ever get it right? I wanted to quit. Finding a supportive critique group is key. And attending--and re-attending--all of the MBT coaching retreats. That's where I found community and learned how to write a deeper story.
|Me & my husband Rob|
You wear many hats: editor of Connections magazine, writing a bimonthly column for MOMSnext e-zine, helping with Voices, the MBT e-zine, and being the mom of a 10-year-old, as well as three adult children. How do manage to write too?
There's a lot I don't do--like cook every night and clean house every day. And file. And do crafts. And sometimes life is c-r-a-z-y when I'm dealing with multiple deadlines. I prefer blocks of time to write, and some days that doesn't happen. Sometimes I write in the carpool line at my daughter's school--no interruptions!
How has your family supported you?
|My kiddos (+ one daughter-in-love & we're adding a son-in-love in July!)|
Beth, thanks so much for letting me share your news with our readers. You've worked hard to become a novelist. I can't wait to hold a copy of Wish You Were Here and attend one of your book signings. I believe this is only the beginning of a wonderful career and wish you much success!
Contest: For a chance to win a red Moleskin notebook--one of Beth's favorite ways to write drafts of scenes when she's sitting in her car--leave a comment below and tell us about your current work-in-progress (WIP.)