If you're dropping by today after reading my devotion about trusting in numbers, welcome! On Fridays, I run a regular feature called "Fiction Fridays." Today I am continuing a series of interviews I began last week... read on to learn more about another blog I am writing with. If you love southern fiction, these are some ladies you are going to want to meet!
This week I am introducing you to one of the Southern Belle View ladies I write with, also known as "The Belles." We're a group of 5 inspirational fiction writers who gather Monday through Friday to talk about faith, fiction, family, food and fun. You can find us at http://www.southernbelleview.com/
Last week you met Lisa Wingate. This week meet Beth Webb Hart!
Thanks for dropping by my blog today, Beth. Will you share a little about who you are when you're not writing books?
In this particular season of my life, I spend most of my time and energy in the good old-fashioned role of wife and mother. That sounds so 1950’s, but I’m certainly no June Cleaver. (You should see how disheveled I am at the end of the day, not to mention my poor house.) However, I have a husband with a busy work and creative life, and my children are 9 and 3, and well, someone has to steer the mother ship, and truth be told, I enjoy the job. I’m frequently wiping a nose, refilling a sippy cup, reading a story I know by heart and scratching my head over a homework assignment (usually math.). Before I had kids, I was a teacher. Being around children is life-giving. Kids bring such a fresh perspective and an afternoon spent being truly present with one is usually better than even the most eloquent of sermons. So yeah, I’m a playmate, a housekeeper and a perpetual nose wiper, and I hope I can continue to play that role in some way, shape or form after my kids grow up because it brings me a good deal of joy.
Beyond that, I’m a student and (a on a much smaller scale, still a teacher.) I read as much as I can. I’m in two book clubs – one that focuses on literary novels – new and old - and the other book club focuses on Christian theology. I love a good discussion. I could be a professional student without ever looking back, and I adore an academic setting. (though God is often prodding me out beyond the pages of a good book or a thought-provoking discussion, and I’m grateful for the prod.) While I’m retired (at the moment) from teaching full time English, I still enjoy being a guest instructor from time to time and I mentor a few high school students each year. I love working with young writers. Again, they bring a fresh perspective, and I think I learn more from them than the other way around.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
I was a daydreamer as a child. I would create characters in my mind and revisit them for hours on end to pass the time. These stories would go on for weeks. Also, my two younger sisters and I spent countless hours making up plays which we acted out for whatever poor soul had a few minutes to spare. In high school I wrote a poem as part of an English class assignment and my teacher pulled me aside and gave me an application for the local fine arts high school. Once I attended the fine arts high school and started writing poems and stories on a daily basis, I never looked back. Also, at that age I fell in love with reading and realized there is no better teacher (for writing and life in general) than a good book.
Share a little about your publishing journey.
I wrote my first novel when I was in graduate school. It’s not necessary to get an MFA in creative writing in order to write a book, but I found it to be really helpful because my book was critiqued by ten people every week, and I always had someone holding me accountable. Writers have blind spots and if you have several eyes on your book, it turns out to be a better one. After I finished the novel, I spent three years trying to obtain an agent. Once that finally happened, I was able to find a publishing home. My agent didn’t actually connect me to my editor, but she gave me a kind of legitimacy. It was actually a gracious writer who I met at a writing conference who called my editor and told her about my story. I will never forget how generous that writer was to me.
What book are you most proud of right now?
Ever feel like life hasn’t turned out quite the way you envisioned it? I think a lot of women struggle with this in their late-thirties amidst the business and minutiae of everyday life. I’m most proud of my latest novel, Love, Charleston because it addresses this struggle and seeks to provide a hopeful ending for three women in three very challenging mid-life situations.
What about being a "Belle" is most fun for you?
The camaraderie. No doubt about it. The life of a writer is a very solitary one and while I’m an introvert by nature, it sure is nice to know that there are other folks out there racing toward deadlines and facing the same challenges I am. I love my fellow belles. The cyber porch has provided a place for us to become good friends, and we try to cheer one another on as often as possible. Also, collaborating on a story the way we have with Whirlaway is extraordinarily fun. It is so great to be handed off a scene and then to turn and hand off the next scene to the next person. Five heads are definitely better than one.
Share a writing tip that you've stumbled upon in your years as a writer.
Dialogue must always do more than one thing – otherwise it is too lethargic. Yes, it should give information, but it should also heighten tension by either characterizing or propelling the action forward.
What's next for you?
I’m really excited about my new novel, Sunrise on the Battery, which will be released this coming fall. It is about a wealthy Charleston family making their way up the tricky South of Broad social ladder. However, their life is in for a dramatic turn and this turn will either rip them apart or bind them together in an entirely new way.