Today I’d like to welcome Beth Bolden to Creekside Café. Beth it is so good to have you here today.
Beth and I are both members of the Romance Writers of America and our local chapter, The Heart of Carolina. You have just released your thirteenth book, is that correct?
Beth: Yes, Impossible Things is the second Star Shadow book, but my thirteenth contemporary novel.
Sherri: Thirteen novels, wow, I’ve just managed to publish three. Are you a full-time writer?
Beth: We recently moved to North Carolina. Our move required me quitting my full-time job as an office manager and accountant at a small business in Portland—but we’d talked forever about me doing that to write full-time. I’d tried it once before, to less than stellar results, but that was also five years ago. I’m happy to report that this time around, it’s been fantastic, and I’m really enjoying my ability to tackle new projects, devote all my attention to my writing, and also wear pajamas all day!
Sherri: Where are you from?
Beth: Originally, I’m from the Portland area in Oregon. I lived there until November of last year, when we moved to North Carolina. I always get asked why we would move 3,000 plus miles and deal with the logistical nightmare that’s moving to a state on the other side of the country. Simplistically, it was time for a change. We also wanted to be closer to family.
Sherri: That’s a couple of major changes. How are you managing?
Beth: Better than I thought I would be, to be honest! It’s so great to be able to finally write full-time, and I really love North Carolina, which is a lot more like Portland than you’d guess!
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Beth: All my life! There was a brief period in college, when I was majoring in English literature, that I became convinced that I couldn’t write fiction. A few years after I graduated, I stumbled across fanfiction, and that was my gateway to writing fiction again.
Sherri: What is it you love about writing?
Beth: The very first book I wrote was not only a story I wanted to tell, but a book that I couldn’t seem to find in the market. So, at the most basic, I guess I write books that I like to read. Not that I spend much time reading anymore (terrible secret no authors ever tell you: finding the time to read is very difficult), but for a semi-control freak like me, laying out the plot and characters and arcs exactly as I like them is very fulfilling. But sometimes the characters don’t always cooperate, and then it’s also satisfying wrangling them.
Sherri: I agree, writing books that we would want to read is the key. I don’t know how people can write for the market. Don’t get me wrong, I want to sell books but trying to write to trends doesn’t seem profitable in the long run. Trends change. I think it’s important to build a brand, even if you write in various genres, I believe it’s important to stay true to your own theme.
Beth: I couldn’t agree more! I actually was very anti-trope not that long ago, but I’ve found that a happy medium between writing books that speak to me, and then using the tropes in them to promote them to readers who happen to enjoy that trope. But it’s taken a very long time. The other nice thing about tropes is while certain romance subgenres might be more popular than others at any given time, tropes are one of the cornerstones of the whole romance market. Tropes are like the classic little black dress, they never go out of style!
Sherri: Oh, I love that analogy.
What do you find the most difficult about being a writer?
Sherri: Yes, well at three books, I definitely feel like I’m a poser. I want people to like my books, but I still feel like I’m not as good as other writers. It’s hard to promote yourself when you’re not feeling confident. On the other hand, some days I get to talking to people and I really get excited about telling them how I came up with my characters and stories, those are the days I need to bottle up all that good energy and spray it on like perfume on those doubter days.
Beth: Even thirteen books in, I still find it awkward to suggest to readers that they might like my books and should try them. I think we all have imposter syndrome to some extent, and it definitely crops its ugly head every single time I go to promote my work.
I think this calls for a glass of wine. I understand you are quite the connoisseur. What is the best wine for a couple of less-than-confident writers?
Beth: It all depends on the flavors you enjoy! When my husband and I first started drinking wine, we still lived in Oregon, and being in the heart of the Willamette Valley, we were spoiled by choice. We could go to hundreds of wineries within a day’s drive and spend the day touring. This is probably why we ended up shipping eleven cases of wine from Oregon to North Carolina! But I think you can’t really go wrong with a light refreshing glass of pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc in the summer (or even a glass of rose!). As for me, I’ve been really into Italian reds and the employees at the Total Wine store by my house almost always have a good suggestion for a new wine for me to try. Another great way to figure out what kinds of wines you like is to stop by the Winestore in Morrisville. They have 10-12 whites and reds on their tasting machine at all times, and the first taste is free, and subsequent tastes are very cheap!
Sherri: Sounds like I need to make a trip to Morrisville.
As a full-time writer, do you have a schedule? When is your best time to write and check emails?
Beth: Even with my requisite Diet Coke in the mornings, I’ve found writing before 11 AM is impossible for me. I spend the time between 9 and 11 answering emails, setting up promotions and doing other business-related tasks. I usually do one one-hour long writing session in the morning, and another two to three of those in the afternoon.
Sherri: What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Beth: I think my strength resides completely with character. My plots are definitely not that original, and they’re all completely character-driven. But characters I do love. I love it when they surprise me, especially when something comes out of their mouths that I never expected (okay, that’s mostly true, sometimes it makes me want to pull my hair out). I love creating a wholly unique person who might be sitting next to me, living and breathing. Psychology is a fascinating science, and I spend most of my prep work for a book doing character studies, taking personality tests, and nailing down exactly what a character is like.
Sherri: Who are your favorite authors or your favorite genres?
Beth: When I first started reading romance, I was a huge historical romance junkie. I loved Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Hoyt, and Eloisa James. I branched into contemporary, and found Julie James, Jennifer Crusie and so many others. My first two novels were romantic comedies set in the major league baseball world. But like so many things, I got a little burned out, stopped writing and stopped reading even, for a while. I started again because I had a friend send me the first book in this new series and I was hooked. The Captive Prince series by C S Pacat changed my opinion on everything I thought books could be. I read some additional gay romance after that, and then had another friend say to me, “wouldn’t it be funny if those two characters from one of your books ended up together?” And I thought, it wouldn’t just be funny, it would be awesome, and I could do that! I wrote my first gay romance after that and haven’t looked back.
Sherri: Are you indie or traditionally published, or hybrid?
Beth: I’m solely indie published.
Sherri: Tell me your journey to getting published.
Beth: I wrote my first novel (or part of it) during Nanowrimo. I discovered at that time this was the worst way for me to write a book. I was too new, too raw, and after I got started in the completely wrong direction—kept going instead of realizing that I should really stop and figure out what I was doing. I ended up rewriting that manuscript about three total times, and finally publishing it in May 2014. I published the sequel in December of that year, and then took several years break. I published another sports romantic comedy in the summer of 2016, and then in early 2017, switched over to writing gay romance with the release of The Rainbow Clause.
Sherri: Do you have any other hobbies or interests? Do these show up in your stories?
Beth: For a long time, it was hard to have the time for other hobbies or interests! I was working full time and writing on the side. The move to North Carolina changed that and I’m rediscovering stuff that I used to like to do! I’m an adult coloring book addict, and it’s too bad that isn’t more interesting, because I would write about it! The hardest part is coming up with convincing and interesting jobs for your characters and stuff for them to do! Unfortunately, they can’t always do what I do, and binge-watch weird Netflix shows or collect new sets of markers.
But a trip my husband and I took to the Napa Valley did show up in a whole series I did about ambitious chefs who live in Napa and work for a fictitious high-end restaurant named Terroir. Husband sometimes teases me that my love of wine and food resulted in a four-book series. . .and he’s right!
Sherri: When I took a beginning writing program with Judi McCoy she said if you use it in a book you can take it off on your taxes. That Napa trip sounds like research to me. I use my hometown as inspiration for my novels, I drive around and take pictures to inspire me, I wonder if I can take my van off on my taxes. My mobile office? Oh well, it was just an idea. I can hear my accountant fussing at me.
Who or what has most influenced your writing?
Beth: Every book I’ve ever read has influenced me in some way—whether it gives me inspiration or reminds me of the things I don’t like in a romance. But the thing that’s inspired me the most in my writing is that little voice in the back of my head that constantly questions: “can you really do this?”
I’ve written lots of books solely because of that voice, and I never stop enjoying proving it wrong.
Sherri: That voice is difficult to silence. I’ve heard other, well-known authors say they fight the negativity. Sometimes it’s our own voices that are questioning are talent and at other times it is the outside world, family or friends who treat writing romance as not really writing.
We’re lucky that our spouses support our dream. How long have you and your husband been married?
Beth: My husband and I have been together for almost nine years, married for four of those. We met in a bar, and I like to tell people he didn’t know I was flirting with him (he didn’t).
Sherri: What are your plans for the future of your writing?
Beth: Write more books! I’m about to tackle my first, very different, non-contemporary project. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a slightly different genre for a while, so I’ll be diving into a fantasy fairytale, complete with unicorns. I’m really excited to try something different. Finding a new voice is a little terrifying, but I’m determined to succeed.
Sherri: Beth, I’ve enjoyed our chat and hope we can get together soon. I make it to so few Heart of Carolina meetings, I am so glad you and the others join me for Book in a Week.
Beth: Thank you so much for having me today! I had a lot of fun talking about writing!
Sherri: If you have enjoyed my chat with Beth Bolden, you can find her links below. Check out her books, follow her on social media and don’t forget, if you love a book or a writer, leave a review. Thanks again Beth and best wishes for you new home and your new release.
Follow Beth on Social Media:
Amazon Author Central https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Bolden/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/bethsboldest/ Facebook Readers Group