I want to introduce a friend of mine. Betsy St. Amant is a Christian romance writer. She's twenty-five and has a new series coming out, starting with the first Return to Love in July. She's married and has the most adorable baby girl ever! :)
Remember, if you have questions, post them here! I'm going to have a Q&A to wrap up this series on writing and if I don't know the answer, I will ask one of these amazing writers if they know it!
On to the interview!!
Erynn: Why did you decide to write fiction?
Betsy: I started writing short stories and poetry when I was about 7 years old and my dad brought home our first computer. I was an avid reader at the time, (still am!) my mom said when I was really little I used to sit on the floor surrounded by books and cry because I was too young to know how to read! But I first realized I wanted to write Christian fiction when I was eleven years old and read my first Robin Jones Gunn novel. I found it on the floor in my older sister's room under a pile of her laundry. At the time, I was still stuck on Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley books, but after reading RJG, I was totally hooked. I wanted to make readers have that same feeling of awe and satisfaction after closing a novel, wanted them to feel closer to God and hopeful about romance all at the same time like I did that day, wanted to make them feel like Mr. Right really did exist but that God's love was more important anyway, just in case he didn't. I've never been the same since. =)
Erynn: How did you get published?
Betsy: I was first published by The Wild Rose Press, a small print-on-demand press that has really taken off these last several years. I wrote a few short estories for them and a full length novel, Midnight Angel. Those were great stepping stones for me in my career as I continued to learn and grow and work with editors. I acquired my agent, however, (Tamela Hancock Murray with Hartline Literary Agency) in 2007 after an ACFW conference, and soon after that she sold my first novel to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. That was "my big break" and currently I've got three contracts with them, with plans for more. God is good! My first release, RETURN TO LOVE, hits stores July 1st.
Erynn: How do you usually get ideas?
Betsy: There is absolutely no usually. Something will hit me from anywhere or no where - it could be a setting I want to pursue, or a character I suddenly vision, or a situation I want to explore - and usually it hits right in the middle of a contracted work in progress, so I can't stop and work on the new idea! That ALWAYS happens! But it keeps me going. I am never without a new book idea for that elusive "next". =)
Erynn: Do you ever have problems finishing a book or an idea? How do you overcome that?
Betsy: Despite sometimes having too many ideas at once, I usually have no trouble finishing a book. Sometimes it becomes tedious, especially under a tight deadline and having that extra pressure, but I actually write better under pressure. I stay more motivated that way, and with my lifestyle of full time employee, wife, homemaker, and mother, I need motivation to keep at it and not just stop and take a nap!
My advice for authors feeling stuck or bored with a story is to ask themselves why they are writing it. If its contracted, the answer is obvious. But if its not a contracted story, and they're already bored with writing it, well, chances are the editor/agent they are sending it to are going to be bored reading it. They should step back and re-evaluate, and maybe in that process, some new idea or thought will hit that will help them muddle through and make the book better.
Erynn: Are there any books on writing that have helped you?
Betsy: To be honest, I don't read a lot of books on craft. Donald Maas WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL is of course a must-read for every author but past that, I've found I learn better from in-person teaching at conferences, workshops, writers meetings, crit groups, and of course, reading everything I can get my hands on and seeing what works and what doesn't.
Erynn: What's your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite part of writing?
Betsy: Favorite - brainstorming new ideas. It's so fun to sit back and think and know there are no limitations, no boundaries in creating a new plot. It's the most fun part of the entire process. Very freeing. Least favorite - definitely writing the synopsis. Preparing a synopsis for submissions is the pits. I guess because its "telling" and not creative. Makes it hard to get inspired! But, its a necessary evil in the industry. So I persevere =) Erynn: How do you take your coffee? :)
Betsy: I take it from Starbucks, and Starbucks alone! I'm a nonfat, white chocolate mocha junkie, normally with no whip unless I'm feeling spunky. I've tried so hard to drink "homemade" coffee, black or doctored or any stage in between, but I just can't do it. Apparently I'm more diva than I realized. =) ~~~~