Today we have author, Betty Bolté, sharing some of her thoughts.
RWF: Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?
BB: I’m writing a series of historical fiction about famous American women that have romantic elements since each of the ladies was married, which I think should qualify as romantic women’s fiction.
RWF: Do you write in other genres?
BB: I also write American historical romance and paranormal romance (think witches and ghosts…). I’ve also written and published in nonfiction books and in magazine/newspaper articles.
RWF: What is your last published title?
BB: In May, I released The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3), a paranormal romance set in the forests of southcentral Tennessee. You can read an excerpt of it and my other books on my website at www.bettybolte.com.
RWF: What do you think helped you get from unpublished to published?
BB: Hard work, persistence, and a bit of luck. I determined in the 90s that I wanted to be an editor of a children’s magazine, but I needed a degree to be considered. So I went to Indiana University and got a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Then decided I wanted to write, not edit a magazine! I worked at freelancing articles for magazines, newspapers, and did tech editing from home. All the while, I wrote my stories and worked on improving the craft of writing fiction, which is a very different animal from writing nonfiction! I joined RWA and went to chapter meetings to learn about the industry and craft. Bought craft books, attended conferences and workshops, etc. In 2006, I decided I wanted a master of arts in English with a concentration in literature to further study and analyze story, which I received in 2008. Slowly but surely over the course of 20 years, I learned how to write fiction that others want to read. In fact, my first romance to be bought by a small press was the result of a tweet pitch I did in January 2014. As of 2017, I’ve published 9 romance novels and will release my 10th, a novella, in Dec 2017.
RWF: What would be your number one tip you’d give to someone who’d just finished their first manuscript?
BB: Congratulations! Don’t be in a rush to publish. Take the time to make sure the story is really ready by having beta readers provide feedback. If you’re going the indie route be sure to hire a professional fiction editor to assess and help you refine the story. Your reputation as an author is determined by your storytelling and writing skills. Be sure to put your best foot forward!
RWF: What advice would you give an author who has just published her first book?
BB: Don’t panic. Take one day at a time, one task at a time. Then get busy writing the next book to the best of your ability.
RWF: What are your favorite books to read?
BB: I enjoy women’s fiction, historical romances, light paranormal romance, some contemporary romance, historical fiction, mysteries, and some of the classics.
RWF: When writing do you read in the genre your writing in or something else?
BB: I’m an eclectic reader so am reading a variety all the time. I tend to read more nonfiction when I’m writing my historicals for research into the time and place of the story.
RWF: What type of non-fiction?
BB: I read a lot of historical biographies, analysis of conflicts or lifestyles during the conflict, and documents about people and places related to my historical fiction. I find books in historical site gift shops, in the library, and online, sometimes dating back to the 1700s. I’ve also found it fascinating to read about medicine and cooking in the 18th century. I’m in the process of adapting some 18th-century recipes to modern cooking techniques and tastes and sharing the results on my blog at www.bettybolte.net. It’s been quite a challenge but fascinating, and gives me fresh insight into how cooks managed to put together a meal with limited resources.
RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?
BB: I’m fortunate to be able to write full-time now. I used to run a freelance writing/editing business, and previous to that a word processing business, from home during the 1990s through about 2002. From 2004-2012, though, I worked full-time as a tech writer/editor for a major corporation and wrote on the weekends as I had time around my family obligations. I’m not mentally functional before 6 am nor after 10 pm, so I don’t have the option of writing before or after work like some authors I know. Thankfully, now my time is my own.
RWF: Do you plan your writing time? Or do you go with the flow of family to-do’s and work out your writing in between?
BB: I write Monday through Friday, 8 am to noon, unless there’s a very good reason for me having to be elsewhere or handle some other task. Like this past spring when my hubby and I moved from our farm in Tennessee to a house in Alabama. Writing didn’t happen for almost a solid month while we dealt with packing, movers, shedding clutter, and unpacking, and a myriad of tasks and issues in between. Now I have an office again for the first time in 20 years where I have an actual desk to work at. Talk about being in heaven!
RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?
BB: I have never had an interest in pressuring myself into writing a book. For one thing, since I write mainly historicals, I want to have the time to understand my characters and their world. The interaction between who they are and the limitations on them from their environment and societal expectations as well as the facts of day-to-day life play a major part in determining the action and setting of the story. For example, questions need to be answered before I can write a scene about how my character traveled from point A to point B – on foot, horseback, carriage, boat? The kinds of situations each mode of transportation would present varies drastically. Rushing through a draft would mean upping the likelihood of major revisions later, so I’d rather not go down that path.
RWF: Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?
BB: It depends on the story. For my A More Perfect Union historical romance series I defined the first three women first – Emily, Amy, and Samantha, and then added Evelyn and Elizabeth’s stories later. Their situation and viewpoint was a direct result of reading an essay written in the 1780s about how women should not have the same education as men or they’d become masculinized or perhaps even injure their brains! I wanted to bring to life their reality during the American Revolution and how the women of that time actually sowed the seeds of the women’s rights movement in America. For the historical women’s fiction, the ladies actual history dictates the story details. My paranormals in my Secrets of Roseville series tend to blend both the characters and the setting as the basis for the entire story, so I can’t really divide them. They work together to guide the story, in other words. Each story presents its own challenges and appropriate approaches. I just have to be willing to be flexible. Most of my stories are written in third person, but the ladies’ stories are all in first person, which is a new adventure for me!
Thank you, Betty, for sharing a little bit about yourself and your writing world.
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master of Arts in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.