What has this journey been like for you?
Beth: Writing is an ongoing adventure, the never-ending story, only the characters, plot and setting change periodically.
People often think of writers as having “overnight success”. What was your "overnight success" like?
Beth: Those would be the people who haven’t actually undertaken the challenge. After 12+ years of tenacious writing and rewriting novels, better honing the craft, and oodles of agent/editor rejections, I was finally offered my first contract by the Wild Rose Press. Since then I’ve signed nine more. Why did I keep trudging onward like a sled dog in the blinding snow with no refuge in sight? Because writing is what writers do, for better or worse, sometimes a lot of worse before it gets better.
Beth: The connection I feel to the past and those who’ve gone before me is the ongoing inspiration behind my historical romances, including the time travels. Research into my wealth of family genealogy coupled with living in the richly historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia kick started my venture into writing historicals. I’m particularly fascinated with my early American Scots-Irish forebears. With Into the Lion’s Heart, I more deeply explored my British ancestry. Writing historicals is my way of communing with the past. Research is vital, along with inspiration. Getting into the minds of historical characters isn’t difficult. I have more trouble with the contemporary ones.
|Shenandoah Valley of Virginia|
How do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on?
Beth: First, I must know them exceedingly well, what they would or wouldn’t do and why. I listen deeply to my characters.
What challenge or struggle do you face when you tried to build emotional bonds between the characters?
Beth: Sometimes the hero and heroine can’t stand each other which can be a challenge. If they’re irreconcilable, then I must find another way which is what happened with the H&H in Into the Lion’s Heart until I realized she wasn’t who she seemed. At other times, the secondary characters cause trouble. Some want to take over the story. I rope them in enough not to outshine the main characters and promise them their own book later.
Which is more important in your stories character or plot? Did you outline before you write? Will this be a series?
Beth: My stories are very character driven. I try to plot and have some idea where the story’s going, but I’m inherently an organic writer. Yes, I’m pondering a sequel to Into the Lion’s Heart.
What do you find most rewarding about your writing career? Most disappointing?
Beth: I’m pleased when a reader/reviewer truly ‘gets’ the story. Sharing what matters to me is the most rewarding. All the promo is a bummer.
If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Beth: Write what you love because you’re going to be doing it for a very long time, revise, revise, revise…
What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
Beth: Telling rather than showing is common. And not understanding point of view. When I first started writing, I was in everyone’s head, including the dogs. Grounding the characters firmly in time and place is often lacking. All of this comes with continual practice and heeding good advice.
If you could have a beer, coffee, or tea with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?
Beth: A hot cup of tea with CS Lewis. I’m still looking for Narnia; maybe he can give me directions.
What’s next for you?
Beth: I’m at work on the third novel in my colonial frontier series, the sequel to my Native American historical romance, Through the Fire. And I’m just finishing final edits to Somewhere the Bells Ring, a vintage American Christmas romance set in 1968 with a ghost and flashbacks to 1918, coming out later this year. The idea behind my ‘Somewhere’ series is that the story opens in one place, so far various old Virginia homes, and then transports the reader somewhere else, either back in time in the same house or another place entirely such as Scotland which I did in Somewhere My Lass. I’m also working on the sequel to that story. And pondering others…