A writer inspired by nature and human nature


I thank author J. Naomi Ay for inviting me to join this interesting and innovative tour. You can find out what this amazing Sci/Fi Fantasy author is doing right now at: http://www.jnaomiay.wordpress.com

Now, to get to my assignment for today—interview myself… This post will update readers on my latest work-in-progress (WIP). I’ve asked some of my author friends to join the tour. You will find them listed at the end of this interview and you’re invited to visit them next Thursday, December 19th to find out what they’ve been up to!

Bette A. Stevens

That’s right, it’s me…

What is the working title of your book?

PURE TRASH: The Short Story by Bette A. Stevens

Sean and Willie

Sean and Willie Daniels, the talk of the town.

Opening excerpt from the short story:

Saturday morning, I could see a patch of sunshiny, blue sky peeking out through the torn curtain as I yawned good morning to my little brother. Willie was six. I was nine. No school, I thought, as I smiled and plotted our course for the day. Sometimes I wished Saturdays would last forever.

“Good morning sleepyhead,” Mum smiled as I bounced into the kitchen. “Get yourself dressed and run out and split some firewood and bring it on in. I’ll fix you some hotcakes.”

I slipped on my overalls, grabbed the ax from behind the broken chair and headed straight for the outhouse. I had to pee bad. Didn’t know if I’d make it. Whoopie, I managed to hit that darned hole just in time. I whistled as I thought about what a great day this was doing to be. Willie and me, we were going to ride our bikes into town, and I was sure we’d find some empty bottles and cans, maybe enough to buy some soda pop. The birds chattered back and forth in the maple branches that hung down over the old two-holer as I sat and thought. Sunshine streamed in through the east cracks. Yes, it was going to be a great day.

“Gee, Mum, can we go now?” I asked, as I gulped down the last forkful of hotcakes smothered with the maple syrup Mum had boiled down from this winter’s sap.

“Now, Shawn, you be careful. Willie hasn’t gone out on the roads much, so you let him ride ahead of you. Keep a good eye on him, you hear?”

“Sure, Mum,” I answered as I headed for the living room to get Willie. Dad sat in the big brown chair, his feet propped up on the worn hassock. Beer can in hand, all he heard or saw was the TV. It was Saturday, and Dad loved his baseball. Though I knew he’d find time to take us boys to do some fishin’ later. The games would be over by the time we got back. We’d run down to the brook, walk out into the cool swirling water and catch some fish for supper. Yes, it would be a great day all right. “Come on, Willie,” I hollered. “Let’s go!”

Willie jumped up and raced me to the door. Mum reminded us to be careful. “Yes ‘um,” I hollered back. Willie and I jumped on our bikes and peddled hard up the dirt driveway.

Mum said it was three miles to town. I kept my eyes on Willie as we pumped up the first hill and coasted like skiers down the other side, invigorated as we headed up the next climb.

“Pull over, Willie.” I hollered when we got to the top of Andover. That was the biggest hill we’d have to climb and the perfect spot to find empty cans and bottles on either side of the ridge. I never did understand why anyone would just throw them out like trash. But I was sure glad they did. Stark’s General Store paid cash, two cents each, and we thought we were rich every time the clerk handed us our loot in real money.

Peddling up the half-mile hill was a lot of work, but it was worth it, and not just the empties. Coating down the other side gave me the best feeling in the whole wide world. I guess that’s how eagles feel inside when they soar above the pines under those high, puffy clouds.

Once we reached the peak, we plopped our bikes on the ground and threw ourselves onto the soft bed of leaves at the edge of the woods. It was so peaceful. My mind wandered into the sky and I dreamed about the ride down the other side and about the Orange Crush we’d buy at Stark’s.  (to be continued…)

I would love to get your feedback:

  • You can leave your comments at the end of this post.
  • Please leave feedback in the Poll below by clicking the relevant circles YOU LIKE from this excerpt from PURE TRASH: The Short Story:


Where did the idea come from for your book?

The idea for this story came from many years of actively listening to friends and family. Many of the life experiences of kids growing up in the 1950s and 1960s were very different from what mine had been. I lived a fairly comfortable middle class life with lots of support from family. Shortly before I wrote the original draft of the short story, I had read THE BEANS OF EGYPT MAINE by Caroline Shute. Her story reminded me of the personal stories I had heard over the years about a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken family, also from New England. This family included an alcoholic father, who had little thought or ambition to improve his own lot in life, never mind his family’s. The kids were the butt of the entire town’s jokes. School provided no respite. The oldest son was responsible for any shred of normalcy that prevailed. The mother had ambitious plans for her family, but little hope in having those plans materialize. As a listener to these tales, I was interested and empathic; I felt that others would be interested as well. Since my childhood had been what could be labeled as normal, I thought it would be a story worth telling — The story of a boy growing up in a family whose turmoil pervaded every aspect of their lives.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult/ADULT Fiction, Coming of Age

Which actors would you choose to play in a movie rendition?

Sean Penn as the ne’re-do-well, alcoholic dad, Ed Daniels.

Jodi Foster as the mother, Mum to the kids: a woman with high aspirations, but little power to see them realized.

Various Child Actors: two boys (ages 4-18) two girls (infant-13)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Sean Daniels grows up as the oldest child in a family whose abject poverty defines who they are and inevitably determines the young man Sean will become (PURE TRASH: The Novel: memoir of a young army recruit on his way to boot camp).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As an Indie Author, I’ll use CreateSpace to publish. My plan is to start by publishing PURE TRASH, The Story (This short story encompasses one day in the life of young Sean Daniels) first as a paperback, then as an eBook. Next, I’ll incorporate this one day into a coming of age novel. I’m working on the novel now. The novel will be a memoir as Sean looks back on his life and heads toward his future as a U.S. Army recruit. The short story will be appropriate for middle-grade students as well as young adults and the general public. I think it would be helpful for a younger audience to be exposed to the dark side of growing up in a family engulfed in alcoholism and poverty. Since bullying is such a hot topic in our schools today, this story will help open up the table for further discussion.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about a month to write the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to?

I’ll choose a few that come to mind about coming-of-age and dysfunctional families (not to compare in any other way):

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Tale of Lucia Grandi: the Early Years by Susan Speranza
  • Before, After, and SOMEBODYIn Between by Jeannine Garsee
  • A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I was taking a creative writing class at The University of Maine. The stories I had listened to over the years were fascinating to me and I felt that others would enjoy them as well. When I read the original short story to my peers , they were drawn in to this little known adventure about growing up in the have-not environment the Daniels kids called home. My classmates wanted to know a great deal more about Sean and Willie Daniels. I thought that a novel, written from Sean’s perspective would find an audience among young adults.

What else about the book might pique the readers’ interest?

When most of us think about the 1950s and 60s,TV’s hit series “Happy Days” often comes to mind. It’s fun to reminisce if you grew up in that era; but those times were far from happy days for the children growing up in poverty in a dysfunctional family. Sean does enjoy some happy days on his journey to adulthood, but the not-so-happy days are the ones that help to mold his character.

Thanks for visiting and for your input on my latest work-in-progress: PURE TRASH: The Short Story. Don’t forget to leave me your feedback in the comments section at the end of this post. THANK YOU! Bette A. Stevens

You can find out more about my books at


BE SURE TO MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Here are the links to some awesome authors. You are cordially invited to visit them next Thursday, December 19,2012:

Linda Loegel:  www.lindaloegel.blogspot.com

Sherri Rabinowitz:  http://rithebard.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/special-blog-book-tour-edition/

Terri Kelley:  http://terriLkelley.com/

Amelia E. Curzon:  http://ameliacurzonblogger.wordpress.com/

Susan Speranza:  http://www.susansperanza.com/#!blog/cgh3

Comments on: "Author’s Work in Progress…" (14)

  1. What a great idea, Bette. The self interview. I think I’ll do something similar on my blog, if you don’t mind. Although I’m not as far along as you are. My novel, Three Sisters Exclusive, is going very slowly. I think your story is well written because I had the taste of hotcakes in my mouth and felt the sweat on my brow riding up the steep hill.


  2. I am so impressed with your talent! This story “sneak peak” definitely left me wanting more! Thank you for sharing and for including me in your Author’s Tour.


  3. This is great!


  4. oh, I see now. The blondie is you! So cute!


    • Old family photo, but not me… (Have to keep everyone guessing/create supense lol.)Just wanted to have a graphic to go with the story to create interest.


  5. I don’t understand how the voting worked. I just ticked the boxes. I wanted to give you straight A’s! The title is pure genius. Your not blowing your own horn with it are you? Your no lotus flower or all the other ridiculous names celebrities give themselves in their memoirs. The photo perfect. Which child is little tomboy you???? The story engaging and interesting. Really wonderful. I want to read the book.


    • You’ve got me laughing and smiling. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, Cindy. I’m not sure about the voting, but I guess I’ll have to find out about it since I’ve got some vote. THANK YOU!


  6. Loved it, Bette! It made me think of one of my favourite films – Stand By Me with River Phoenix, which I think may be more or less of the same era! The photograph is perfect, too! 🙂


  7. Great opening, Bette! I definitely want to read more. You might want to change “wondered into the sky” to “wandered into the sky.” Or not. Your story has detail, humor, foreshadowing, and just the right pace.


  8. Very nice opening–makes me want to read more.


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