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Monday, November 26, 2007

Interview with Beth Goddard

Lisa: I'm thrilled to introduce one of our own KMIS hosts, Beth Goddard. Beth recently sold her first romantic suspense, Seasons of the Heart. Welcome Beth! Tell us your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell us about. . .THE CALL

Beth: Well, as you know, with Heartsong, “the call” is actually an email. I’ve received so many rejections that when I first saw the email, I figured it was yet another rejection. I opened it and scanned the first line, quickly realizing that it wasn’t a rejection but congratulations!

I gasped in utter surprise, then ran up the stairs to tell my daughter. Before I reached the top of the staircase, I remembered that I hadn’t read the entire email. So, I ran back down the stairs to read the rest!

My daughter was on the phone with my mom so I told her too. She was thrilled to share the excitement with me since she, as well as the rest of my family, have supported my dream through the years.

Lisa: Tell us some of the background behind your story.

Beth: When I first began writing novels I trained my mind to stay tuned to those little nuggets of inspiration that could generate an idea for a novel. I saw a short news clip on cranberry farming. The bright red berries floating on top a bog as they were harvested completely intrigued me. I decided I’d love to set a story on a cranberry farm.

Several years passed before that opportunity came. I needed a story set in Massachusetts, the perfect opportunity to write my cranberry story. The other aspect comes from my background and education in computer software and technology.
When Grandpa Sanderford asks Riley O’Hare to give up her climb on the corporate ladder and take over the family cranberry farm in Massachusetts, she actually considers it. Her mind is made up when her brother dies and she becomes the guardian of his son. Riley hopes the move and her new roles will help her find the purpose and peace she desires.

With the death of his friend and business partner, Zane Baldwyn’s world is turned upside down, and his company is in trouble. As he looks to replace John, strange things begin to happen that make Zane wonder if John’s death was really accidental. Riley has a farm to save, and Zane has a mystery to solve. Somehow the two goals seem related. As Riley and Zane are drawn closer together, can they stay out of danger and discover a season of love together?

Lisa: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

Beth: There’s no doubt that writing causes you to slow down and look deeper into your own motivations as you explore those of your characters. In Seasons of Love, both the hero and heroine’s discoveries about their lives are based on my own experiences. Riley realizes that she doesn’t make enough time to spend with God because her life is consumed with work. Zane learns that maintaining control over his life and achieving worldly success is not going to make him happy.

These are things I learned during my own stint at climbing the corporate ladder. I started out knowing these things about my characters, but what I learned from both of them was that I could have a deeper sense of trust in God’s plan for my life.

We spend our lives going to school, getting educated to have a career. I think it can be difficult, especially for women who choose to stay home with their family, to let go of your career. I thought I’d left behind that desire and drive to succeed in corporate America. The characters in Seasons of Love allowed me to release that remaining portion, though small.

Lisa: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

Beth: Well, I have to say that content, craft and connections must take a backseat to the spiritual side of things. Writing forces you to dig down deep and discover things inside you’ve ignored for years. It forces you to cry out to God and ask him why he called you to write. And because of that, the writing journey is more a spiritual journey. The desire to become published can be overwhelming. I’ve learned that the writing really has to be about God, for Him and to Him, and content in writing for Him alone.

Lisa: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

Beth: It’s funny but I’ve spent most of my writing years working on historicals. Then the one and only contemporary that I wrote is what is getting published first. I have to say that I loved writing this story and it’s sparked a desire to write others along the same vein—suspense stories. But the main thing I’d love to accomplish is to write something that affects someone in a powerful spiritual way. Of course, author Francine Rivers comes to mind. I think the spiritual depth she achieves in her novels is something we all aspire to achieve as writers

Lisa: What is the process you use when writing a mystery/suspense?

Beth: I’ve attempted various methods including the Snowflake method of plotting out my novel. But my brain shuts down when things become too complicated. The old-fashioned chapter synopsis works wonders for me. I’m able to look at each chapter and in the case of suspense, quickly see the pacing and how much I need to increase tension in each chapter.

Lisa: What is your system to keep the story/clues organized?

Beth: This question made me laugh. Organized? I admit, I haven’t developed a good system for this. But I know they exist. In fact, if I were to use a system for keeping clues organized I would follow suggestions in Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days. She has a great chapter for mystery and suspense writers discussing timelines, fact sheets, and motives and alibis—all of these are in worksheet format.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about the research you had to do for this story?

Beth: The research is always the fun part. For the setting, I had to research from
the library and internet as well as have many conversations with cranberry farmers. That’s the wonder of the internet. . .Massachusetts Cranberry farmers were available to chat with me via email, answering every detailed question. I even received a video of the entire process from one farm.

For the police work I emailed with the Chief of Police in the town where my story is set. He was readily available to answer questions and very helpful to offer suggestions. I’ve been amazed, and blessed, at the way people have offered to help. I also enlisted my husband as well as another techno guru for technology related questions involving encryption, etc.

Lisa: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

Beth: I’m sure there is no new advice that I can offer. We all know that persistence pays off. To work hard. Read, read, read, and write, write, write. I think something that has really kept me going is the fact that I haven’t been bowled over by rejection. I’ve received plenty of rejections, yes. Coming from a sales background, I know that it’s all about the numbers. The more you write, the better you’ll become. The more manuscripts you complete and have circulating with agents and editors, the better your chances. I think it’s important to keep yourself thinking positive and when you receive a rejection, go back to the numbers. Look up one of those sites that lists all of the rejections received by famous writers. Because even the big guys have gotten them, and still do! That always encourages me to keep moving forward.

One more thing is to cultivate those relationships that God places you in because God will use those. We really do need connections to help us along the way. God has blessed me with some wonderful writing friends, people that I can say are really my best friends because who else can understand me better than another writer.
The writing journey is truly about your relationship with God and with others.

Thanks so much for joining us, Beth! Find out more about Beth and her writing, check out her website or her blog. And remember, you can leave a comment on our contest page for a chance to win a copy of Seasons of Love!


Blogger Jess said...

I posted a comment on the contest page but Beth's answers were so good I'm back to read them again. Guess it spoke to me, huh?
:-) Really want to get my hands on her book!

8:52 PM  
Blogger :-)Ronie said...

Yea, yea, yea, Beth! So giddy to see you FEATURED here, girl! CONGRATS!!!! Great interview, y'all. :-D

8:38 AM  
Blogger Beth Goddard said...

THanks Ronie and Jess!!!


3:42 PM  

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