Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I have author Bettie Boswell with her debut novel as my guest! I so admire people who are immersed in the arts. I am not artistic nor do I hear music properly, so I just sit on the sidelines in amazement. Bettie not only write about a character who wrote a musical, she wrote a musical! How cool is that? I’m so excited to help introduce Bettie’s debut novel, On Cue! it sounds so good! Read on to see how you can enter to win your choice of an ebook or audiobook!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I love to read, make music, write, and dabble in art. My husband is a minister and we have two grown sons and three grandchildren. I am a retired elementary teacher with 4 years in the primary grades and 29 years in general music. My last year was during the height of COVID so I opted to teach a 2nd grade online classroom. I have always enjoyed creating stories through songs, plays, and now books.
Tell us about your current release. On Cue is my debut novel. It was published November of 2020. The book tells a story dear to my heart and is loosely inspired by a musical theater event that I participated in. Ginny is my main character who has written a musical. Ginny’s musical may save the local museum, but restoring her trust in men is another matter. When theater professor Scott finds himself coerced to direct her musical, they must work through humorous misunderstandings and a couple of pet disasters, until they finally discover that forgiveness and trust produce perfect harmony.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes. I think that it is important to realize that someone needs the message in your book. Maybe it will even touch a family member who sees an unpublished manuscript.
With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? I try to write in a journal every day and have many dog-eared pages where ideas for stories and characters have had their start. I also tape scraps of paper with character and plot ideas into that notebook. Sometimes entire scenes for works in progress are drafted with pen and paper within the confines of the journal. Later when I transfer them to the computer, they are refined as personalities, settings, and conflicts grow.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? I went without fear to my first ACFW conference thinking I had a decent manuscript for On Cue. I came home in tears until I got over myself and decided to become educated in all the things I did not know. I became active in American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I took classes both in person and on-line. Then with much fear I started submitting again. The story was rejected again, but I took what I was learning and improved the story each time it came back to me. After a final rejection from the big publisher I had dreamed of, I started looking at smaller presses and got offers from two of them. I lived in fear and prayers for a few days before choosing Mt. Zion Ridge Press. I have been very happy with the editorial process, which further improved the manuscript, and was very happy to see my story come to life.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Just sitting down and trying to write a few words is a good start, even if the words aren’t your best work. I also have learned to accept that I’m not going to write something every day. I tend to let things simmer in my brain for a while without writing and then sit down and write steadily for several days. Going back and adding details to an already created scene will keep your manuscript moving forward if you are stuck. Taking a walk helps me free up the mind to create. Having a critique partner, who holds you to your promise to have something to share by your next meeting helps keep me motivated.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I have a general idea of what will happen when I get started but I am not a detailed plotter. I let my characters lead me through their personality and background into scenes that were not planned in detail or at all. In the case of On Cue, I wrote a nice story and then learned that I needed to add more drama into the book. So went back and did a lot of rewriting. When I did that, the story improved and I found my publisher. The novel I’m working on now is coming together like a patchwork quilt. I have sections done but there are holes where I will be putting in scenes here and there. I think I know what the missing scene will be like but that tends to change as I work through it using the minds of my characters. Sometimes this is affected by research that adds to the events.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? I have been shooting for around 55,000 to 60,000 words. As a reader, many of the books I have enjoyed in the past have been around that length. I have also been a contributor of smaller stories to anthologies and have enjoyed creating something shorter. I also write for children and the trick with those stories is to put everything you can into as few words possible.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write for yourself and be inspired by what you have been through in life. If what you write is not published, at least you will have some heritage pieces to hand down to your family or close friends. I have a few poems from some of my ancient relatives that never found a publisher. I love rereading them from time to time and remembering the author. If you desire a publisher, keep trying, accept rejections with grace, and don’t be afraid to try smaller publishers who you know are legitimate and who don’t ask for upfront money.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality? Ginny, the main character in On Cue and I have several similarities. We both have written a musical and taught in the elementary school. I owned several basset hounds which inspired the comedic dog, Jezebel, owned by Ginny. My publisher allowed input on the cover and the dogs featured there have a strong resemblance to the pets I had. I have an interest in local history and did end up co-writing a full musical for the historic museum in the town where I worked as a teacher.
Here is where you can find Bettie online:
Bettie is giving away the winner’s choice of an ebook or audiobook of her debut release, On Cue! Check out all of the ways you can enter to win:
Bettie, loved the interview and learning more about you writing this novel. You are so gifted! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you commenters. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview!