Tuesday, December 5, 2017

BETTE A. STEVENS, AUTHOR INTERVIEW




I am pleased to introduce, Bette A. Stevens to this blog. She is an accomplished and award winning author; member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Authors. She writes children's books, about social issues, and a novel about coming of age. She is a writer inspired by nature and human nature, and an illustrator.




           1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing most of my life—initially it was in the form of photo blurbs and poems to celebrate family outings and events over the years. During the 1980s I worked in the business world as an editor/writer/photographer, honing my skills in business writing. By the early 1990s, after taking courses in journalism, creative writing and poetry at University of Maine Orono while pursuing a degree in education, I discovered that writing was a strong point in my repertoire of skills and one that I pursued with passion. Teaching became a career and sharing my passions with upper elementary and middle school students for over a decade before retirement was a pure delight.

2.  How long does it typically take you to write a book? What does your writing area look like? Do you like music or quiet?

Typically, it takes about six months to complete the first draft of a book and usually a year before I’m ready to hit the PUBLISH button. My writing room is located at the west end of an open floor plan entry in our circa late-1800s renovated farmhouse. Furniture includes large computer desk (reorganized weekly), computer chair, book shelves, reading chair, lamp, three windows, door to front entry and wood stove. I love the openness of the location, since I’m able to glance through the windows as well and enjoy a lovely view in any direction, while keeping an eye on hubby when he’s working in the yard or barn and catch sight of Kitty Middie when she’s ready to take a break from the great outdoors.
As for music, a CD/Cassette player sits within reach on top of the bookshelf. Classical and Contemporary CDs are my favorites, which is often, but not when I’m doing serious writing or under time constraints for a project. However, during Christmas holiday season (Thanksgiving Day through Mid-January) magical melodies linger as the beat goes …

3.   What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Being a nature lover, I carry my faithful "Canon SureShot" with me wherever I go. Snapping pictures, I download the best ones to my computer and give them inspirational labels—they make great writings prompts. And, of course, I file everything in folders on my desktop so I can recapture "the muse" in a moment with the click of a mouse. 

4.   What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Spending time with family is top on my list. Then there is reading, gardening and preserving our abundant produce from the farmstead (and watching for those amazing monarch butterflies searching for the milkweed interspersed in our flower and vegetable gardens), bird watching, playing with Kitty Middie, walking trails on the farmstead and taking photographs, reading to children at our local library and schools, visiting with family and friends, Bible study on Tuesday mornings, day trips to the coast with hubby Dan, supporting friends who are involved in local theatre productions, book club at our local library and the list goes on…

5.   What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

First surprise was the amount of time and toil that goes into the creation of a children’s book. Since I wrote and illustrated both THE TANGRAM ZOO AND WORD PUZZLES TOO! and AMAZING MATILDA, it meant coordinating illustrations with text and even learning how to draw the figures from THE ZOO… online. Needless to say, getting these books to the published stage was challenging and rewarding. As for PURE TRASH and DOG BONE SOUP, major challenges were in formatting for kindle and print.

6.   What do you hate most about the writing process?

I wouldn’t say that I hate anything about the writing process, but getting to the stage where I’m ready to publish can be exhausting.


7.   What do you think makes a good story?

For me, a good story is one that I enjoy because I can relate to it and learn something new from it as well. A book that captures my interest and draws me into the plot in a personal way is what I call a great read.

8.   Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I consider myself a writer inspired by nature and human nature. My ideas come from my surrounding, whether it’s people, places or things—the wonders abound. 

9.   Tell us something about yourself that we might not read in your bio.

Kitty Midnight is my side-kick. She follows me everywhere and has the ability to make me smile even on the gloomiest of days. She has her own grooming table suited with a kitty toy basket, a tree cookie (slice from an oak tree) for her manicures and pedicures; she even has her own brush and comb. Needless to say, I’m her stylist and often misquote Shakespeare to her—“Vanity, vanity, they name is Midnight.” Midnight rules!

10. Please give us an excerpt from one of your books?


Excerpt from DOG BONE SOUP (Literary/Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens

ANOTHER SUMMER HAD ENDED. Molly was up at the crack of dawn and ready to embark on a kindergarten adventure—she’d been practicing her ABCs, colors and numbers all summer. Annie was excited about heading off to fifth grade. Willie was on his way to seventh and thought he was super cool. Well, I wasn’t about to disappoint him about the benefits of higher education. Somehow Willie always managed to fit in.
The high school was right next to the junior high. When we got off the bus Willie sprinted off his way and I went mine. I was high school bound on the college prep track. That’s what Mr. Edwards, Mrs. Gardner and Mum had agreed to in June.
“Shawn has a fine mind,” Mrs. Gardner told Mum.
“We don’t have money for college.”
“Don’t worry about that, Mrs. Daniels, as long as he keeps up his grades, colleges will be competing for your son.”
So, I marched straight into Lebanon High and headed down the college track.
I wouldn’t see Timmy that year. His folks were sending him off to a private school, some academy in New York. He’d have to live at school and come home on holidays and vacations. It would be hard on Timmy, and probably not much easier on me being left here without him.
By a stroke of luck, Diana Dearborn was still in my classes. We studied together last year. She was smart and between us we would drill some of the other kids for tests and quizzes. She was the history and English whiz; I led the math and science.
Turned out that Buddy wasn’t in any of my classes, except gym and shop, and even that was two too many. Sure wished that kid would get sent off to an academy. But not the one Timmy was at.
Mrs. Fletcher, our Algebra teacher, was a real hoot. She was as short as a fresh-mowed lawn and wore high heels as tall as a northern pine. She didn’t take a bit of guff from the wise guys. More than once, I’d seen her grab one of them by the collar, throw him up against a locker and send him to the office. Algebra was cool.
Science was boring since I had most of that stuff figured out already. Wood shop was the best. You got to get your hands on things and solve real problems—unless old Buddy got too close. He wasn’t sing-songing anymore, but he sure had other ways to hit a guy where it hurt.
“Quite a festival this year,” he hollered out the first day of class. “Didn’t see much of you, momma's boy. But your pop sure made some spectacle of himself.”
I tried to ignore him, but he’d jump me or slap my arm just when I was measuring a line or working with a tool. He got a few of his buddies to do the same. The shop teacher thought I was messing up real bad. He never did catch Buddy do anything wrong—that jerk sure knew how to butter up the teachers.
I dreaded gym. We had to buy tennis shoes and special gym shorts and I didn’t have mine for the first few weeks—a complete waste of money as far as I was concerned. After gym we had to go back into the locker room to shower and change up for the next class.
“Pop spending too much on his beer to get you a pair of gym shorts? Or, did the sheriff nab him again for disturbin' the peace?” Buddy’d ask.
When I tried to ignore him, he’d get his friends to box me in. One of them was on the football team. They’d poke fun at me, saying nasty things about Dad, even about Mum. None of those jerks even knew my folks.
Once I got my gym shorts it was even worse. Changing and getting in and out of that shower room was worse than facing eternal damnation in Hell’s fire.
“Shawn finally gets to find out what runnin’ water feels like. He needs a good long shower, boys,” I could hear Buddy holler while the water beat down on my body parts until most of the guys were finished.
I tried to stay away from the jerks out on the gym floor, but that wasn’t easy. Getting off by myself in grammar school had been a cinch, but this wasn’t grammar school. Even middle-school was something I could manage. This wasn’t middle school either. I wanted out and I wanted out bad.
On shop and gym days, stepping off the school bus at three o’clock felt soothing as sippin’ an Orange Crush at Starks General on a steamin’ summer day.
Home was my ‘fishing rock’ on weekday afternoons. At least it was until I got my report card. Kept it hid in my math book as long as I could.
“Shawn, where’s yours?” Mum asked after she signed Willie’s, Annie’s and Molly’s.
“You’re not gonna like it, Mum.”
“You kids run along. And you, young man, bring me that report card and sit down right now.”
Soon as Mum looked at it, her hands flew in the air and she lit into me like a matchstick on a striker.
“Shawn Daniels, these grades are a disgrace. You’re not going to get into college like this. You tell me right now what’s going on.  C – in History, D in Wood Shop and an F in Physical Education? What on earth is wrong with you?”
I told her about Buddy Wentworth and his gang.
“It’s about time you started standing up for yourself. You’ve got to think up something to say that will stop those boys in their tracks. I don’t want to see any more grades like these. Do you hear me?”
I lifted my gaze from the table and nodded.
“Your brother wouldn’t put up with those kids.”
“OK, OK.” I stared at her and shook my head before I got up and shot out the door.
I knew Willie’d sooner land a good punch than run off or ignore those guys. Willie didn’t talk things over with anyone—not even with me.
That was Willie. Well, I wasn’t Willie.
I couldn’t think of anything to say to Buddy to get back at him. What he said about me was true. It was downright mean, but it was all true. Even what he said about Dad. I’d already tried to keep as far away from him and his buddies as I could. Figured I could get my schedule changed. Knew of a couple kids in homeroom who did.
∞∞∞
“Come on in and sit down. Mrs. Gardner told me that you wanted to talk about changing your schedule.”
The wooden sign on the desk read: Mr. Neil, Guidance Counselor.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place, young man. But changing schedules isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve pulled out a copy of your report card and it looks like you’re having some trouble. Tell me about it.”
“Buddy Wentworth and his friends have it in for me, and there’s nothing I can do about it, Mr. Neil. All the things they’re saying are true. I need to get away from them. There’s no way I can do that if I’m in the same class. I know—I’ve tried.”
“First, tell me, is there something you need to change, so they won’t have an issue with you?”
“A kid can’t change his folks or the way he’s living. And it’s not just teasing. It’s poking, spitting and doing everything they can to make me mess up in class.”
“What do your teachers say about it? I haven’t had any reports from them.”
“No, sir. They’re sneaky—you know—they do stuff when the teacher’s not looking. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, I’m not a snitch. I just figured if I can stay away from them, that’ll solve my problem, because they’re not about to stay away from me.”
Mr. Neil took out a pad and scribbled down a few notes before he tore off the page and paper clipped it to my folder.
“Looks like you’re having trouble with your grades in Wood Shop, Gym and History. Is that right?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Are the kids you’re having problems with in all of those classes?”
“Not in History. History’s right before gym. No problems with anyone in that class.”
“Hmm. I’ll see what I can come up with and I’ll get back to you by the end of the week. Changing schedules needs everyone’s approval.”
“Thank you, Mr. Neil.”
By the end of the week Wood Shop and Gym classes were switched around. That problem was solved.
I made it through my freshman year with mostly As and Bs, though I always got a C in gym.
∞∞∞







  • Visit Bette's Website/Bloghttp://www.4writersandreaders.com
  • Follow Bette on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteastevens.officialfanpage?ref=hl's
  • Find out more about Bette & her Books on Amazon http://viewauthor.at/BetteAStevens 

  • 12 comments:

    1. What a great interview. I loved Dog Bone Soup, and the excerpt brought back the reasons why. Wonderful writing, great story. Thank you both for this delightful visit. ♥

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      1. Bette is an amazing author and I am honored to have her as my guest today. Thanks for your comment,Gwen.

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      2. Thanks so much, Gwen. Your thoughtful comment made my day! xo

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    2. Lovely interview ladies. Bette, I enjoyed learning more about you. Your writing space and your renovated farmhouse sound divine. I had a nice chuckle over Kitty Midnight being a cat owner myself. This post really made me smile.

      I positively loved Dog Bone Soup and hope many other readers discover it. What an amazing tale!

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      1. Thank you, MaeClair for sharing your thoughts. Bette is a wonderful and inspirational author.

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      2. Hi, Mae. I'm chuckling over our fur babies, too. Raven and Midnight are awesome--Kitty Girls Rock and you do too! xo

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    3. Not sure where my first reply went, but I really enjoyed this interview! It is always great to learn more about fellow,authors. I love your writing companion, Bette. I have five of those. Nature is a very inspiring muse i have fpumd, too. Loved the excerpt and look forward to reading it and it is a Christmas present this year too!

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      1. The Internet sometimes loses our comments, but I am glad you found yours. I am very grateful that Bette did the interview. I got to learn more about her.

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      2. Hi, D.L. Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit and for your awesome support. Between the great outdoors and our indoor furry muses, we can't help but be inspired. Wishing you and yours (family and furry babes) a Very Merry Christmas! xo

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    4. Dear Karen,

      It's been an honor to appear on your beautiful blog and get to chat with our awesome visitors too. I just downloaded Google Chrome browser and my online problems seem to be fixed. I really enjoyed chatting with you and loved reading your fascinating novel NOVY'S SON: The Selfish Genius. Wishinhg you A Beautiful and Blessed Christmas, my talented friend.

      Hugs,
      Bette

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      1. Bette, it has been my pleasure to have you on my blog this week. You are a talented writer and illustrator so you deserve all the recognition. May your Christmas be blessed with health and peace.

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