I didn't start out as an indie author. My first novel found a publishing home and I was quite happy there. However, when I finished my second novel, I wanted a bit more quality control than my publisher offered. I wasn't thrilled with my first novel's cover and the second one wasn't what I had in mind either. While I went ahead and published #2 with them, I took that time to became a publishing expert.
As I read, I knew that the publishing aspect of writing was something I definitely could enjoy. So, after my contract was up with my former publisher, I retained the rights to my books and published them myself.
I adore life as an indie author. I enjoy interacting with my readers, I love the lifestyle, it's the writing life I imagined when I started this freelance journey back in '95.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The blank page.
It's such a rush to stare at it every morning and realize I get to fill it.
I do this by allowing my characters to "play." Every spare moment I have, I'm somewhere in my head observing my latest character's antics. (Walter Mitty has nothing on me.) :)
Writing, for me, is more of a pouring onto paper. I watch my characters, then simply describe the stories they tell. Every character is a unique individual and my challenge is to present that uniqueness to the reader.
It's an incredible challenge... one I love.
What do your fans mean to you?
People who read my novels mean everything to me.
Not everyone loves the stories I present, and that's OK. I'm quirky. I see the world through glasses of various colors. I love to hang out on the narrow ends of the bell curve.
To write my stories, I have to live on the edges and view the world through other people's eyes. To accomplish this, I go on what I call "Writing Adventures." This means, for three to six months, I take a temporary job to experience a life I otherwise wouldn't.
For example, I've worked as a DJ, a senior citizen activity director, Walmart employee, carpenter, strawberry picker, copywriter/marketer, metaphysical go-fur, and more. Each of these experiences gave me a unique insight into building believable characters, human motivations, the importance of understanding another person's point of view.
Most recently, I got the privilege of becoming a cancer statistic. Through that experience, my repertoire expanded to include oncology units, CT scans, needles, and the unique horror of encountering an invisible, deadly enemy.
So, what do my fans mean to me? Everything. Through the years, my readers have been with me through an incredible array of truly human experiences. They're awesome. They're uplifting. They're incredible... every time. :)
What are you working on next?
Funny you should ask...
I'm writing a Romantic Suspense with the working title, "Murder on Third." It's going well, the characters are gelling, as is the storyline.
After these past two years, dealing with the realities of cancer, the main heroine in this tale is in a similar situation. While I don't model my characters after myself, I generally enjoy applying my experiences to their story arc. The realities of cancer are quite frightening, inspiring, absurd, embarrassing, empowering... it's a slurry of emotions that I don't feel have been properly explored.
While I've read many cancer related titles... most with exceedingly sad endings... the middle ground between diagnosis, treatment, and remission, this period's effect on relationships is fascinating to explore. Also, the dark cloud of relapse is a particularly interesting/invisible antagonist. There is much to laugh, cry, and mine in this little patch of limbo.
So, yeah. That's the status of my latest project. It's inspiring, intriguing, lots of sexual tension and fun to write.
Who are your favorite authors?
Easy answer. I adore anything by Minnesota author John Hassler. While he is no longer alive, I enjoy how he weaves his tales, dealt with ageing characters in his literature, the gentle manner in which he teased the absurdities of life.
I enjoy Janet Evanovich's punchy writing style. I've laughed aloud while reading her books.
Jonathan Safran Foer touches my heart when I read his books.
And to the writer who started it all for me: Sidney Sheldon. Holy cow. The first time I picked up Master of the Game, I was forever hooked.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'll admit, during the thick of cancer stuff, I didn't want to get out of bed. I'd open my eyes each morning and think, "Damn. I didn't die last night. Guess I have to figure out how to do today." I honestly felt like cr*p. Sitting at my computer desk was excruciating. Of course, the pain pills made for interesting, yet unmemorable dreams. I recall some doozies, though.
I think I had definite situational depression for a while.
But time has been kind.
As I've regained health and, quite importantly, stamina, the spark of a character’s voice began as fleeting images, intriguing story ideas, then they finally persisted until I was able to entertain their presence. Finally, stories began to gel.
And that's when I had a reason to get out of bed... the stories. The images. the tales begging to be told.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I live life. I treasure my moments.
I walk my two rescue pups every day. It's during this time that I watch life, form stories, engage in story building. In other words, when I'm not writing, I'm preparing to do so.
I love biking the local trails. Wow. Minnesota summers rock. Again, when I'm cruising on my Specialized, when my body is working, blood pumping, lungs expanding, my mind lingers with my characters.
I adore travel. Every scene in every book reflects a real life experience. I rode the TGV from Paris to Mons. I've felt desert sand between my toes. I've driven the winding back roads of Connecticut. I use every experience I can to make my novels true to life.
Of course, I enjoy my family. Raising a fabulous son is/was one of my favorite experiences. Also, I happen to be married to the kind of man who held my hand the entire time I was in the hospital. He's attended every oncologist visit, too. Real life relationships definitely support my rich inner life.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yup. Eighth Grade Composition. Mrs. Iverson stood in front of the class and said, "I've never read a better essay than the one Beth just wrote."
I about dropped my drawers.
That's the exact moment I knew I wanted to write professionally. :)
What is your writing process?
I write in the morning. I market and such in the afternoon. Nothing happens until I get my word count finished for the day.
I read in the evening unless my family and I are in the midst of a particularly interesting Minecraft world. If that's the case, I crack open a Mikes Hard Lemonade, repair my pick, and hop to it. :)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love my Android Asus tablet. It's older than the hills. One of the pixels has long since bit the dust. But it's so full, it's bursting at the seams. It's travelled with me from one end of the country to the other.
I love it and have no plans to upgrade... yet.
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