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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Interview with Betsy St. Amant

Today we’re pleased to welcome Betsy St. Amant. When you’ve finished reading her interview, enter our contest to win a copy of her book. And check out her website: http://www.betsystamant.com/

First, tell us about yourself and give us a plug for your latest release, as well as your upcoming releases.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an author. It was always just a part of who I was - it was in my blood! As I grew up, I realized it was more than just a dream or a hobby. It was a calling. I never feel more alive than when I am writing! I've been married to my sweetheart for 2 1/2 years. Brandon is my number one fan and encourager. He's the one that planned my celebration party the night I got the contract from my publisher. He's my best cheerleader and supporter! No kids yet, but we have a black lab, Samson, that is all the baby we need for now! My hobbies include reading, of course, as well as kickboxing, singing, and shopping...I have this thing about purses and shoes. As for my latest release, Midnight Angel, a romantic suspense, was first an e-book through the Wild Rose Press and, as of January 26th, is available to buy in paperback through Amazon.com!

Was there any particular research you had to do for your present release that our readers might enjoy reading about?

Not extensively.

Many authors say they grow personally with each book they write, discovering pieces of themselves in their characters as they write. Has this happened to you? If so, can you elaborate?

Oh, definitely, I grow every time I sit down at my keyboard! Sometimes the process is joyful, other times it is very painful as my faults are presented to me in bold Technicolor. Often times the doubts and fears we give our characters stem unknowingly from our own souls. I've found this to be particularly true in my current WIP, where the heroine struggles with understanding the fullness of God's forgiveness.

Can you briefly tell us about your writing process? From the germ of an idea to the completed novel? And how long it takes you?

My writing process differs with each book. Midnight Angel is my only published novel to date, but I've written two other full length novels since. Midnight Angel took the longest to write, though it's the shortest of my books, because of circumstances at the time - a stressful full-time job, being a newlywed, etc. My most recent WIP I completed just two weeks ago, and though I'm still editing, the story only took me about 3 1/2 months to write. I've now gotten settled into a good routine and though I still work full-time, my current job allows me the free time I need to write during the day. So, as I said, it varies with each book. But, I always start my book ideas with a situation. Some authors get story ideas after first inventing the characters, but I always create my hero and heroine after knowing the plot and conflict first.

Is writing your full-time job? If so, are you a nine-to-five writer? If not, how do you fit your writing into your schedule?

I'd love to be a nine-to-five writer!! But, as I said, I have a full time job in an office. However, it allows me free time during the day to write as my work schedule permits. Some days are busier than others, but I try to write a few pages on my current WIP each day. With my old job, I had no free time during the day at all and was held to a very strict work schedule. That made writing very hard, because I would come home exhausted and not have one creative bone in my body! But, we make time for the things that matter to us. Some days we just have to try a little harder than others. =)

Do you have any particular writers' resources you use regularly? Any that apply to suspense in particular?

My thesaurus is my best friend. haha And I always keep a "google" internet screen handy to research an idea quickly as I write. There are a ton of good writer's books out there, though, including "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Browne & King. And, this might sound silly, but I found "Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life" to be very fun and refreshing! I collect all things Peanuts, and to see Snoopy pecking away on his typewriter and waiting at the mailbox for rejections just made me feel better! =) The book also has great insight by various well-known authors, including Danielle Steel and Sol Stein.

Do you have any future plans for your writing you'd like to share? Any specific dreams you'd like to accomplish in the area of writing?

I'm currently searching for an agent, and trusting God's will and timing with that. And soon I will be submitting my current romance WIP to various places. Then, it's off to my write my next book! I try to always keep something going so there is never that lull in between. Writing means waiting, and its best to be productive in those times when you're hovering over your mailbox or biting your nails each time you check your email. =)

What is the number one thing you've learned from your writing journey?

Oh wow, I've learned so much. If I had to pick one thing, it's that I've learned God truly is in control. All authors seeking publication must learn patience, and that journey is long and painful! But God is right there the whole time, closing and opening various doors along the way. I've realized that ANYthing outside of His plan for me just isn't worth it. I'd rather never have an agent than have an agent that God didn't pick for me. I'd rather never be published again than be published outside of God's will. His way is the only way that matters, and His opinion is the only one that truly counts. Without Him, my words are in vain.

Because many of our blog readers are aspiring authors, can you share any tidbits of wisdom about getting published?

NEVER GIVE UP! Write, and submit, and write, and submit. Keep the cycle going. Learn to decipher the good criticism from the petty, the productive advice from the ridiculous. Don't let rejections slow you down. Put the letter in a drawer, eat some chocolate, and get back to that keyboard! Also, joining groups like the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) will help you grow literally ten times faster than you would on your own.

How do you see the future of suspense and mystery in the inspirational market?

I think suspense and mystery novels are really catching on and making a name for themselves in the inspirational market. Christian readers want a good, clean romance story, but they also want to be entertained. They want their spines to tingle and their feet to tap just like any other reader of secular suspense. Romantic suspense and even plain suspense novels give those readers the broader range they seek.

If you could change one thing about the Christian suspense and mystery market right now, what would it be?

I wish that publishing houses would be a little bit more open to edgier topics, such as spiritual warfare. Christians readers want to read about those types of subjects, and though I understand the publisher's hesitation, I think it is time to progress in this area. So, like with everything in the world of writing, we wait. =)

What suspense/mystery authors do you read for pleasure? (Inspirational and secular)

In inspirational suspense, I absolutely cannot get enough of Susan May Warren, Colleen Coble, Dee Henderson, Brandilyn Collins, Eric Wilson, Melanie Wells, Kathy Herman, Kristen Heitzmann, etc. The list goes on and on! In secular suspense, I enjoy Grisham, of course, and Nicholas Sparks has written several novels with a strong suspense element, such as The Guardian and True Believer.

Do you have anything you want to leave with our readers? Something the Lord is speaking to you?

Believe in yourself, because God believes in you! Published or not, represented by an agent or not, God has a plan for the stories He puts on your heart. Be faithful to writing to honor Him alone, and don't focus on the idea of publication. Publication is a good goal to have, but pleasing our Heavenly Father and taking His path for our lives is an even better one.


Blogger Cathy West said...

Great stuff and congratulations Betsy on the book!
I have the privilege of being one of Betsy's critique partners and I'm proud to know her! I hope this is the first of many books to come.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Audra said...

I enjoyed this interview. It was both encouraging and thought provoking.

Oh and love Snoopy! I have the book The Literary Ace Strikes Again! :)

1:49 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I think you did an excellent job with this interview! We get a definite feel for Betsy's heart and personality through the questions and her words. I highly recommend her book, too! It's one that you will want to finish all in one sitting because you want to see how it all resolves.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Brian Reaves said...

Betsy's a great person as well as a fabulous author. The book is great start to finish, and I can't wait to see what she has coming out next!

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Joyce said...

I enjoyed reading your interview Betsy! God Bless You!
I can't wait to read the book!
Keep on writing!

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Jill Elizabeth Nelson said...

Great thoughts and advice for up-and-coming authors. I look forward to seeing many more of your books published. Congratulations on Midnight Angel! Cool title!!

8:32 AM  

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