Today we sit down with author and blogger Linda Bethea. She has published her first book and we are going to hear about her work, inspiration and even get a sample of her first completed effort.
Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I saw books, I wanted to write. I drew pictures on typing paper and tried to sew the pages into a book before I started school. I thought people who wrote books had to be the finest folks in the world. It was like a superpower!
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
I’ve only published one. It took a couple of years to write and vegetated a few months before I really got serious about publishing. I was very intimidated by the process, imagining it was so much harder. I have two more I was working on at the same time that are almost ready to go. They were so much easier. I dawdled and held myself back.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write off and on all day. I am retired and don’t watch TV, so I have a lot of writing time. I usually get started in earnest by ten in the morning and knock off before dinner.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am always on the lookout for a story. I love to laugh at myself. Even going to the grocery store is fodder. Yesterday, I saw a woman with a pair of six-year-old twins and a set of year-old-triplets. All the kids were barefoot and the babies were only wearing diapers. It was a hundred degrees, so the pavement had to be blazing hot. I wanted to see how she got them back out to the car. They were all going crazy, all over that store like a bunch of billiard balls. She just grabbed one at random when they whizzed by. That looked like a big story.
Q5) How are your books published?
I am doing indie. I got tired of querying.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My books come from life, myself, my family, my friends, everyone is liable to get caught, though I do get permission if I want to write something that might embarrass. I don’t want to have to go into exile and I never have been a fast runner.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
I have just published my first at the age of sixty-five when I retired from making porn movies. (joke) I hope that’s not too early to start.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have serious Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I garden, quilt, crochet, can everything I can get my hands on, camp, fish
Q9) What is your favorite book?
I have three: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
They love it, but I do get in trouble if I neglect them. “Don’t forget to tell about the time I …….”
I don’t write mean or embarrassing things. They get to read before I publish.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I was surprised to learn people like simple, homey stories.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Getting organized is the worst. Now I write first, then organize. I don’t think I’d ever have written if the computer hadn’t made it so easy.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Just published my first, Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad. Two follow ups are almost ready. They are in the organizing phase and should be available very soon.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Write what you know. Write every day. Soon it will be a compulsion. Write for yourself.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
I get a lot of feedback on my WordPress blog. Everybody enjoys a family story they can relate to.
I am starting to get reviews on Amazon. They are very encouraging. Since I started writing, I have definitely learned the importance of writing a review.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
My preferred reading audience is people who have families, people who wish they had families, and people whose families drive them crazy.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
Being unpretentious and open to people makes a good story. Let them form their own opinions.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a cowboy and ballerina. My mother ruined my life and told me I couldn’t be either. “Girls can’t be cowboys and ballerinas get big legs.” I have big legs and can’t dance a step. How did that happen?
Q19) Where can we find your books?
For now, I am exclusively on Amazon.
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
To set this up, five-year-old Kathleen accompanied her mother to the doctor. Raised during The Great Depression, Kathleen was acutely aware the family had no money to spare. Mama leaves her in the waiting room with instructions to behave herself and not “bother” the nurse at the desk.
When she called Mama in, Miz Brown( the nurse at the desk) pinned me with a hard look, making sure I didn’t feel free to bother her. I was too shy and worried to bother her anyway. Mama must be dying if she is spending money on the doctor. A small fan oscillated on Miz Brown’s desk and a few flies meandered through a hole in the screen and stopped by for a little taste of me sweltering in the corner, waiting for Mama and her bad news. I could have moved two chairs over and caught a small breeze, but dared not move without Mama’s permission. With no experience at doctor’s visits, Mama’s illness intensified with the wait. Eventually Mama reappeared, looking just the same as before. I hurried to her side as she counted out eight quarters into Miz Brown’s hand and took a receipt. As we turned to go, Dr. Payne stuck his head out of the office and spoke to her, “Miz Holdaway. I forgot to tell you. When you come back in two weeks, be sure to bring a sample of urine.” I felt sick. A sample of urine? A sample of urine? Why in the world did we have to bring Dr. Payne a sample of urine? Mama had already given him two dollars. I knew better than to open my mouth in the doctor’s office but was tugging on Mama’s skirt as soon as the door shut behind us on the landing. “Mama? Mama? Where are we supposed to get a sample of urine? Dr. Payne has a lot more money than us. If he wants a sample of urine, why can’t he buy his own?” Mama shushed me but explained once we met Daddy and John at the wagon.
About Linda Bethea:
I live in Greenwood, Louisiana, with my husband and dog. I got serious about writing when I retired after thirty years as a Registered Nurse. I’ve always been a lover of stories and reading and learned to read on my own before I started school because my mother wouldn’t give up her life to sit and read to me all day like she should’ve. I was to a family of accomplished storytellers, and am passionate about sharing the stories I love. Not a day goes by that I doesn’t find a story worth telling.
Kathleen Holdaway Swain, mother, collaborator and illustrator heard many stories at her parents’ knees, then added her own as she grew and thrived during The Great Depression. Nearing the end of her eighties now, Kathleen still goes to the gym twice a week, is deeply involved in her neighborhood and church, and is the hub of a large, loving family. She is a much-beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, living in the midst of her family in Shreveport, Louisiana.
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