Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Garden Interview with Barbara Bettis

Hello Barbara


Tell us about you and your books.

Do you plot or let the story unfold as you write?

I used to say I let the story unfold…then I realized it wasn’t that simple. Usually, a book idea starts with a character and often a character in action of some sort. Then after the initial inspiration is formalized and the story begins to unfold, I stop and do a three or four page, single spaced narrative summary (rough synopsis) of the book, including some of the touch points and the ending. That way, I always know where everything is headed.
But from there the story unfolds as I go. Often it takes off in an entirely unexpected direction, although it reaches the original conclusion.
I remember after one book ended, I looked at that original rough synopsis and thought, “That’s a good storyline. I should write that sometime.” J
Formal, detailed plotting doesn’t work for me. When I finish that, I feel like I’ve already told the story, and it no longer holds my interest.

Do you have trouble saying goodbye to characters?

Absolutely, I do. I get very attached to my main characters and even the secondary ones. Although I’m relieved when the work on a book is finished, I’ve grown close to people and want to know how they’re doing later. That information usually pops up in following books because at least one of the main characters is related or well-known to one or more of the others. (I guess calling them ‘people’ is a giveaway of how they come alive for me during writing!)
All my stories are set in the same medieval time frame of the last decade of the 1100s and the first few years of the 1200s. (Richard I’s reign and the beginning of John’s.) My next medieval takes place in the years leading up to John’s signing of the Magna Carta.

Do you research your action/fight scenes?

I kind of do. I’ve watched videos of certain fight techniques of that time. The History Channel has had some good programs on medieval warfare. Also, I’ve researched how one could battle wearing chain mail and employing the kinds of weapons used then, as well as the way the armor was constructed, where and how a telling blow might be struck, etc.
I do have fun diagraming my actual fight scenes. Since I’m no artist, only I can make sense out of the lines, curves, and arrows on the paper.
Diagraming is useful because…ahem…I often say east and mean west or left and mean right.

Do you research your sex scenes?

No. As a widow of a certain age, I tell people I just have a good memory. J

Does working to deadline inspire or annoy you?

I’ve always worked well under deadline. It forces me to focus my thoughts and not dawdle over whether a scene should go this way or that. I learned to refine that deadline mentality when I worked as a daily newspaper reporter and editor.
Working on deadline, ironically, helped me understand what a writer’s ‘voice’ is. We didn’t use bylines on our paper, but I would have people comment on a story and when I asked why they thought I wrote it, they’d say, “It sounds like you.”

Do you write under a pen name?

I have a half pen name. I kept my real first name but tried to come up with an easy second name to go with it. A friend in my chapter recommended that tactic. She took a completely different name and said she found it too confusing. People who knew her before she published called her by her real first name, those of us who became acquainted with her later knew her by her author name. She said she never knew what to answer too.
When I was researching names, I didn’t come up with a ‘Bettis’ anywhere—but wouldn’t you know, not long after I became officially Barbara Bettis, Bettises started popping up everywhere. Of course!

and for a little fun...

Do you have any hobbies?
Actually, I’m pretty boring, all told.

I cannot sew a straight line. As for gardening—every flower or other plant I try to raise, dies. I cannot embroidery without knotting the threads. I’ve lost the ability to cook (except no bake cookies, which my grandchildren love). I can crochet—a single chain. I am not a happy camper, (yay motels). I tried scrapbooking and ended up with more glue and glitter on me than on the pages. I’m highly allergic to cats and even some dogs. I have no eye for antiques, although my husband was very knowledgeable about those things.
So, hobbies most people find relaxing and fulfilling unfortunately frustrate me.
What’s left? Well, my friends and I do go ‘antiquing’ frequently —but those outing are generally an excuse for a girls’ day out.
I love spending time with my grandchildren. I love to read, go to movies, attend music and theatre productions. I love to travel. I love hanging out and talking with friends. I love to laugh. I love to write.
Many of those things probably can’t be counted as hobbies, but they make me happy.
Still, I’ll keep trying out recipes I get from friends, if only to mourn the results I produce.
I’ll keep trying to stitch face masks, but end up wearing them all myself because I’m embarrassed to give them to anyone else.
I’ll keep planting tulip bulbs for the moles to eat and rose bushes for the deer to denude.
I’ll keep buying and transplanting geraniums and sun impatiens only to drown them with too much water.
But I’ll keep cheering on my friends who can achieve all those things—because I’m proud for them!
And because I’ve learned to accept—I’m boring J

 Where can we find you online?

Download For This Knight Only on Amazon and other online retailers.


Barbara Bettis said...

thanks for having me here today. And another thing--I'm manic about my own mistakes. I just saw a Horrible misspelling of too (shoulda been to) up there and now I'm wishing I can get in the post and change it :) Must have been a bad auto-correct. That's it :) :)

peggy jaeger said...

Barbara- this is one of the best and funniest interviews I've ever read!!!! I love that you list all the things you can't do and the hobbies you don't have!!!! The most important things you do have are your grandchildren, your family, and your writing!!! And those are the three most important, so YAY!!!!
Fab Interview.

Judith Sterling said...

A wonderful interview, Barb! In no way are you boring! said...

Never boring! Your books are SUPER and that is from a person who doesn't gravitate toward historicals even though I love history.
Getting together with friends and family is the best hobby of all.

D. V. STONE said...

Hi, Barb! Great interview I enjoy antiquing as well. D. V.🦉

Laura Strickland said...

ALWAYS blame autocorrect! I love the period wherein you write your books, and I think your hobbies of reading and baking for your grandchildren qualify nicely. A lovely interview!

Barbara Bettis said...

Hi Judith. Thanks for the words of support--:)

Barbara Bettis said...

Oh, Charlotte, you are a doll! Yep,I've been missing friends and family these days. One friend and I just 'knew' a local fast food restaurant was open so we met for coffee there last week--ended up sitting in the car trying to eat biscuits and balance hot liquid :) Oh, well.

Barbara Bettis said...

Thanks, Donna. I'd never been to an antique auction before I met my husband and I was fascinated. The first time I attended one on my own while he was working, I bid on and won a Mission Oak desk--but I was so surprised that I got it, I was afraid I'd paid too much, or that it wasn't worth it, or... well, you know. Jay assured me I did fine. He was such a good guy :)

Barbara Bettis said...

Peggy, you're the greatest! Thanks for the sweet words. I have to poke fun at myself sometimes because, well, it's true :)BIG HUGS!

Susan Antony said...

I hate to say goodbye to my characters, too.

Barbara Bettis said...

Laura, you are absolutely correct. Errors are never my fault!! LOL.

Barbara Bettis said...

Hi Susan. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets attached to characters. Yours are so delightful, I'm not surprised it's hard for you to say Goodbye!

Helen C. Johannes said...

Love the interview, Barb! You sound like my kind of person: loves grandkids, reading, travel, friends etc. My local circle of friends has hit on the idea of bringing our own food to the parking lot of a non-busy business, parking in a circle, and setting our lawn chairs 6 ft. apart to have a good, old-fashioned confab and lunch.

Maria Imbalzano said...

Hi Barbara: You are not boring!!! Writing, reading,, travelling and spending time with friends and grandchildren is the perfect life. Enjoy!

Glenda Thompson said...

"Formal, detailed plotting doesn’t work for me. When I finish that, I feel like I’ve already told the story, and it no longer holds my interest."

This really hit a nerve with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was afraid I was the only one. It's great getting to know more about you and I can't wait to read "For This Knight Only"

Nightingale said...

enjoyed getting to know you better

Deb N said...

Barbara - loved your list of non-hobbies. I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit. I used to garden and used to knit and sew and...the only thing I really still do is cook (but only when the whim and renewed-energy overtakes me.) I used to cater and cook in restaurants and learned from many generations of cooks. I just read one of your books and loved it - will put up review soon. Fun to get to know you better!

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Entertaining post! Enjoyed reading your list of non-hobbies. :)

CB Clark said...

Hey, Barbara. I really enjoyed your interview. Your honesty was very refreshing. Best of luck with your next writing project.

Sydney Winward said...

Great interview! I do a similar thing with vaguely outlining my stories. I go back and wonder what happened?? The outline and the story are completely different haha!

Donna Simonetta said...

This was such a fun interview! I laughed out loud more than are the polar opposite of boring, Barbara!

GiniRifkin said...

Hi Barbara: Wonderful interview, and from one widow to another, yes thank goodness memory still serves on those love scenes! Thank you for writing such great stories steeped in history. And thank you for the comment on N N Light.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Loved the interview!

I don't think you're boring at all. I love all those things you do, too! I miss going to the theater and concerts. Can't wait until we can to those things again.

I have a good friend who loves to bake and she shares! I think my new hobby is food taster. lol

Wishing you the best!