Today I have the greatest pleasure of hosting Bette Lee Crosby on my Blog.
An Award-winning author, Bette is originally from New Jersey, but now makes her home in Southern Florida where she lives with her husband Richard and a feisty Bichon Frise named Katie. A highly entertaining public speaker, Bette makes frequent appearances to support the various charities of women’s groups, and schedule permitting, she will join book talks and book club discussion groups.
In 1997 Bette abandoned the fast-paced world of advertising and embarked on a career as a novelist. Her books, frequently written in a Southern voice, cover a wide spectrum of locales and personalities as they tell tales of courageous women overcoming life’s obstacles. Her novels were first recognized in 2006, when she won the National League of American Pen Women Award for unpublished fiction with What Matters Most. In 2007 she won the National League of American Pen Women’s First Place Fiction Award for her novel Girl Child; and in 2009 her latest novel Cracks in the Sidewalk received the prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association; and in 2011 it won the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal. Bette has recently completed an biography of Lani Verner Deauville, the amazing woman who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest living quadriplegic. This book, which was released in February 2012, is titled “Life in the Land of IS…the Amazing Story of Lani Deauville, the World’s Longest Living Quadriplegic.”
Before redirecting her talents to works of fiction, Bette enjoyed a noteworthy career in advertising and marketing, working in a diversity of industries ranging from financial services to collectibles. She served as Editor-in-Chief for Innovations, a new product development publication, and as Contributing Editor for numerous trade publications including Giftware News, Supermarket News and Packaging Digest.
As the U.S. Marketing Director for the distributor of world famous M.I. Hummel figurines, Bette served as a company spokeswoman and public relations figurehead. Much of her career, however, was spent in the challenging environment of advertising agencies—including a five-year stint as co-owner and Creative Director of the award-winning OTK Advertising Agency.
“When tragedy strikes a West Virginia coal mining family, two children start out on a trek that they hope will lead them to a new life. Before a day passes, the children are separated and the boy is caught up in a robbery not of his making. If his sister can find him, she may be able to save him. The problem is she’s only seven years old, and who’s going to believe a kid?
Jubilee’s Journey is Book Two in the Wyattsville Series. This story of discovering lost family and finding love reconnects readers with Ethan Allen and the other heart-warming characters of the bestselling novel Spare Change.”
Welcome to Book Muster Down Under Bette. I am delighted to have you here to answer some questions. So, without further ado, here’s your first one:
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My mother, born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, was not a writer, but, she was a wonderful storyteller. Not realizing that at heart I was my mother’s daughter, I studied art intent upon becoming a graphic designer. My first job was that of a packaging designer, but it was a short-lived career. Faced with an immediate deadline and a blank space where the copy should have been, I began to write. I never looked back, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my love for words far outweighed any design skills I acquired along the way.
Jubilee’s Journey is Book Two in the Wyattsville Series, but wasn’t Book One, Spare Change, written as a stand-alone novel?
Yes it was. Actually all of my books are stand-alone novels, but after Spare Change was published, I discovered that both I and my readers were not ready to leave Wyattsville and the people living there. That’s when I turned it into an ongoing series. Like many writers, I tend to favor the books that reflect the most poignant aspects of their life. For me, it’s my Southern heritage.
Will there be more books in The Wyattsville Series?
Although I do not have one currently planned, I’m sure there will be. Once you get involved with characters you are fond of, it’s hard to let them leave your life forever. I find that I think of characters like Olivia Doyle, Ethan Allen, Paul and Jubilee as friends. I might not get back together with them for six or eight months, but I always know they are there…waiting for me and ready to start off on a new adventure.
You’ve written six novels, in those books, which character is your favorite and why?
I suppose I’d have to say Ethan Allen of Spare Change and the reason why is because he is the type of kid I imagine my mom being when she was his age. She came from a family of eleven siblings and they were what many of us would consider poor; so she had to be resilient and determined to survive. And although she wasn’t one to toss around obscenities indiscriminately, she could cuss up a storm when she was really mad. When Mama started cussing we knew to step aside and mind our manners.
Is Ethan Allen modelled after your mom, is there a character that you’d modelled after yourself?
There is probably a bit of me in every character, but the one most like me would probably be Olivia Doyle in both Spare Change and Jubilee’s Journey. Like Olivia, I have quirky ideas about life, I am an eternal optimist and regardless of the odds, I will always go down swinging. When life takes a turn for the worse, that’s when you need to be strong, draw on your Faith and cling to the love of those around you…which is pretty much what Olivia does.
What is your next book project?
I am currently working on a novel titled “Previously Loved Treasures”. Although it is not a sequel, it does dovetail into the mystery that ended “The Twelfth Child.” One of the protagonists in this book is a delightful man of magical talents called Peter Pennington and much of the story centres around a very special second-hand store. I believe this book is scheduled for release in April or May of 2014.
What is your favourite quote?
It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…”The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues” – Elizabeth Taylor.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble on that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do. Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing – because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.
Bette, thank you so much for joining me here today.
If you would like further information on Bette, please feel free to visit her website here.
Bette also loves to connect with her fans and can be found at the following links:
Amazon Author Central (http://www.amazon.com/Bette-Lee-Crosby)