A writer inspired by nature and human nature

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#FREE Limited Time: PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens


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PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens
#FREE eBook through February 26, 2017
Grab a copy of this must-read prequel to DOG BONE SOUP today at Your Amazon http://amzn.to/1T5tMAZ today!

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“This is a glimpse into the characters of Shawn and Willie Daniels who take front and center in the author’s full-length novel, DOG BONE SOUP. A nostalgic vignette, PURE TRASH will whisk you into an era and place where many struggled to survive the grip of poverty. This short novella is filled with adventure, and the fun of boys being boys–riding bikes, collecting bottles for penny candy, and running into trouble…and prejudice.

“Enjoy this short read but when you are finished, I highly recommend purchasing DOG BONE SOUP. It’s a gem of a book that will leave a lasting impression with its memorable characters, heart and story line. Don’t miss it!” ~ Mae Clair, author

Book summary

PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult) In this short story adventure set in New England in the 1950s, two young boys set out on a Saturday adventure you won’t want to miss! Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard-earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short. PURE TRASH is the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP, Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP.

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Author Spotlight—Meet Stephanie Collins


Happy Love Month! I can’t think of a better way of spreading love than by sharing my love of reading and writing with you.  So, today, I am sharing with you a fellow author, hard-working mother of four, loving wife, and the unsuspecting author of a true medical drama/unconventional love story called With Angel’s Wings.  Stephanie is a member of Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA). Join me in welcoming award-winning author Stephanie Collins and learn more about this amazing gal in our interview. ~Bette A. Stevens
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Stephanie Collins, author of award-winning memoir With Angel Wings

Welcome, Stephanie Collins. How long have you been writing?

I began writing therapeutically in 1996. It was sometime around 2010 when I started seriously considering turning those writings into a book.

How many books have you authored?

I never intended to be an author at all. As I said, I wrote therapeutically through some rough times in my life, and later turned that into my one and only book—With Angel’s Wings.

Do you have a writing schedule?

I’ve been asked a number of times to write a sequel. That project doesn’t feel right to me, so I “compromised,” and write a monthly blog that acts as something of a continuation to the book’s epilogue. Writing once a month feels like a comfortable pace. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and the length of time between posts gives me plenty of time to find a new, interesting subject matter to focus on.

You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was accepted into RWISA because I didn’t have a lot to do with the writing process. I am in awe of REAL authors. I wrote a memoir. I didn’t have to come up with a plot or a storyline. I didn’t have to worry about character development or believable dialogue. Someone with a much higher pay grade (and apparently a rather twisted sense of humor) took care of all that for me. I just had to play my role, then honestly and accurately document what happened. Now, living it…THAT was a challenge. Writing it down was a relative walk in the park. Heck, I didn’t even have to have good grammar; I had a great editor for that!

Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

In all seriousness, what sets our story apart is the story, itself; not my writing. It’s all about the content. I’m not the star of my book (as a character or as the author), it’s the circumstances I and the rest of my family faced. Having a compelling, intriguing and thought-provoking story that demonstrates humanity (at its best or worst…or, better yet, a little of both) and touches the reader’s heart—that’s what can make a story great. Like I said, I am in awe of fiction authors when they can create that for us readers. As an author I was “lucky” enough to have all of that taken care of for me. I guess you could say I had the best writer of all on my staff! I WILL take credit for finding a great editor before I ever shared our story with anyone. That’s advice I’ll give to EVERY author. Find. A. Good. Editor!

If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

There are a number of authors I’d love to sit and chat with. I’m a romance junkie, and something of a history buff, so I’d have a particularly great time talking with any historical romance author who has done extensive research. One that comes to mind (off the top of my head) is Pamela Clare, who wrote a historical romance trilogy that had to do with the origins of the US Rangers. The love stories were great, but I was fascinated by the history of the Rangers, and would love to chat further about all she learned in her research.

Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I’m a fan of being an indie author. I’m a bit of a control freak (and by “a bit” I mean JUST shy of obsessive/compulsive), so I guess it fits my personality. I started off with a small publisher (who was also my editor). We were a great team, I learned a lot from her, and was happy to begin my publication journey with her. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year after we published, so she had to sell her business. The woman who bought the business was NOT at the same level as the woman she had bought the business from. To make a long story short, I fired her and went solo. I have LOVED being an indie author. I don’t know that I would have been so successful as an indie author without the lessons I learned from my publisher, so I’m thankful for that experience, but I can’t imagine ever accepting a publishing deal in the future.

As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be pretty much where I am now as an author. I set out to educate people about some realities of special needs parenting. I think I’m rather successful in getting the message out there. If I’m still reaching new people in five years, I’ll be ecstatic.

What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

My marketing “plan” heavily relies on social media. It has been an AMAZING marketing tool…at JUST the right price! Twitter has been, by far, the most useful tool for me, but I try to keep up with multiple pages (mostly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).

Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I read Amie O’Brien’s “The Merchant’s Pearl” months ago, and I still find myself thinking about the story. It was a unique, memorable, and touching read. I can’t think of better qualifiers for mention, recognition, and addition to the RWISA library.

What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Write with your heart. If it doesn’t reach you it won’t reach your readers. Then find a good editor.

Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

I’ve never paid too close attention to the publication dates of the series I’ve read (or multiple stand-alone books by a single author), so I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question. I’ve certainly read books that felt rushed (lack of editing, “shallow” plots, etc.), but I don’t know if that was due to rushing, neglect, or lack of writing talent (or some special combination of the three).

If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I wouldn’t want my name attached to anything that is less than the best I feel it can be. That has actually happened in the past, and I’m still horrified. I had my book translated to Spanish. It was a reputable agency and the translator had a good track record. The book was in Spanish, though, and I’m not fluent in Spanish. I just assumed it was fine and I published it. Not long after publication (and THANKFULLY before I made any sales) I had a friend from Madrid and another friend from Mexico City read a sample. Both women said it was a horrible translation. I immediately pulled the book off the market. After some legal intervention, the translation agency gave me the choice of a few new translators to re-translate the book. I chose a gentleman who I felt would do the best job. He finished the translation months ago, and—despite the fact both of the women who read samples from the previous translation have given it a thumb’s up, I hesitate to put it back on the market until I can find at least one more person to check it over.

In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

A “great book” is one that the reader thoroughly enjoys reading. What might have been a “great book” to you last week might not be this week, because last week you were in a different mood. A book that you’re not enjoying today you may enjoy next month. There are things that, in my opinion, make books more difficult or frustrating to read (editing concerns, proofreading concerns, inconsistencies in the story, etc.), but I don’t think there’s anything specific that makes a story “great.” Reading is subjective—even to a single reader. I read “great books” as a kid that I’m sure I would roll my eyes through today, wondering what I was thinking to ever consider it a “great read.” So, I guess you could say what makes a book “great” is the perfect combination of content and current reader mindset.

If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I have occasionally been alerted to typo’s in my book and I, of course, made the corrections as soon as I could. That process is much easier now that I’m independently published. With other issues mentioned, however, I carefully consider what is said. I recently received a review that suggested I get the book re-edited because the reader didn’t care for the amount of inner dialogue included. I respect and value the reader’s opinion, but I don’t think I will act upon that particular suggestion. I have received reviews that specifically commend the quality of editing, and others who specifically mention their appreciation for the inner dialogue. I think you have to balance out what is truly an editing issue and what is reader preference. Certainly, if you see a trend in reader feedback, you should seriously consider making adjustments. You can’t please everyone, though, so—to some extent—you have to follow your heart.

with-angel-wing-cover-for-rwisa-tourWhy You Need to Face Down the Fear of Publishing a Memoir by Stephanie Collins

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There was suddenly an overabundance of OMG moments, WTH moments, and “Hold my head in my hands in utter disbelief while I try to just breathe through it” moments. I began writing therapeutically.

Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and urged me to share our story, insisting it would be helpful to other special needs families. I wanted to help others if I could, but my heart was laid bare over those pages, and I feared judgement—as a writer, as a woman, and scariest of all—as a mother. After years of similar feedback, however, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and offer my exposed, bleeding soul to the world.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the generally supportive response from readers. Here is why I am thankful to have been talked into publication, and why others with important stories to share should work through whatever fears of judgement they may have: A mother in of a special needs, medically fragile toddler reached out to me via social media about 2 years ago. She said, “I recently stumbled upon your book. Reading it gave me hope that things will get better when hope is hard to come by. Also, before reading it, I never felt understood. I’ve ordered 3 more copies to give to family and friends. I’m hoping if they read about you, they’ll better understand me. Thank you so much!” Now, tell me; could there be any bigger reward for taking a leap of faith than that?

Find out more Stephanie Collins, take a look inside her award-winning memoir and follow her:

Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

[Visit Bette’s Blog]

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Book Quote Corner #44


Great quote! By the way, I’m currently reading “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult and “Echoes Beneath” by J. A. Owenby. What are you reading? —Bette A. Stevens, Maine author https://www.4writersandreaders.com

“Books speak to us thoughtfully, one at a time. They demand our attention. And they demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s. There’s one questions I think we should ask one another a lot more often, and that’s “what are you reading?”

 

Books for Living, written by Will Schwalbe

A Writer's Path

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How to Characterize Love in Your Writing


GREAT TIPS & RESOURCE LINKS…
Happy Love Month & Happy Writing! ~Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

WordDreams...

valentineI posted this last year, but it’s worth repeating: How do we characterize love in your writing?

Because, if you’re a writer, you must. It doesn’t have to be sex but it has to take readers that direction, right to the edge of the cliff. Yes, you can leave the lurid details out, but let readers peek over the edge.

How do you do that? Start with a few decisions:

  • Is it platonic?
  • Is it unrequited?
  • Is there conflict?
  • Is it lust disguised as love?
  • Is it serial love? Or one-of-a-kind?
  • Is it kinky or traditional?
  • Does love bring joy or sadness–or misery?
  • Is the manifestation of love baby-ish or mature–goo-goo eyes and saccharin words or Paris vacations?
  • Is love verbal or silent?
  • Is this love constructive or destructive? Flowery or brutal?
  • what part does the spiritual play in the emotion–or is it uninvolved?
  • Is it a subplot or a…

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Love is What Life’s All About!


Love is What Life’s all about!
by Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

share-the-love-of-reading-bette-reading-with-sam-2017It’s February—LOVE MONTH!  That’s what I love to call it. With Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world on February 14th, it’s the ideal month to set aside some time to dwell on the meaning of love in our own lives.

Love of God and the magnificent world He’s created for us to enjoy, love of family, love of our neighbors (everyone outside of our families). Love is what we’ve been called to do—that’s right—love is a verb, an action word. Do we sometimes fall short? Sure, as humans we all miss the mark at times. But that doesn’t confine us to loving less; it inspires us to love more.

Reading with kids is one way we can demonstrate our love to the younger generation.  In fact, older kids love to be read to as well. Reading together gives us a chance to bridge the generation gap and discuss real life issues, allowing time for adults to listen to what kids have to say on crucial issues that affect us all. No kids around to share the love with? No problem. Simply contact your local school or library and let them know you’re ready to share the love of reading with the kids. They’re sure to feel the love and I promise, you’ll feel it too!

Whether writing for children or adults, the theme of love somehow always seeps its way into heart of the story.  In fact, when I really take time to reflect upon it, love is often what inspires the book, the story or the poem. Love really is what life’s all about. When we follow our passions and encourage those around us to follow theirs—that’s love. When our pages help to turn someone’s hurt or apathy into understanding—that’s love. When a verse we’ve penned discloses our Creator’s unconditional love for us—that’s love. Let’s do our best to share the love!

About the ‘Love’ in Bette’s Books

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  • In AMAZING MATIDA (Children’s Picture Book/ages 4-11), a frustrated Monarch caterpillar who is ready to give up on her dreams is inspired to keep trying to find her wings. But she’s not alone, Matilda has friends to teach her about patience and persistence by encouraging her. Now, that’s what I call love.
  • In PURE TRASH (Short Story/Historical Fiction/Ages 10-Adult), two young brothers are off on a Saturday bicycling adventure when one gets injured. The eldest boy, Shawn Daniels, seeks help for his brother from a wealthy neighbor who grudgingly does her good deed leaves a lasting impression upon the children. Brotherly love and bigotry leave readers to decide on their own about what love really is and what love is not.
  • In DOG BONE SOUP (Coming-of-age Fiction/Novel set in 1950s & 60s New England/Ages 11-Adult), Shawn Daniels tells his own storythe trials and triumphs of growing up poor in an affluent rural New England town. Though many of the town’s people, young and old, see Shawn as a poor boy they disregard or try to humiliate, there are many who encourage and support him in both words and actions. Adventure abounds in this coming of age novel readers of all ages will long remember as they discover for themselves what love really is all about.
  • Inspired by and for the love of kids and the love of learning, I’ve written, illustrated and used The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too! in my own classroom with students from 4th through 8th grade. The Zoo… is a great resource for integrating research and creative writing into a math and/or science curriculum. One of the project ideas included in the book is for the kids to create their own tangram animals to add to The Zoo… Then, to research their creature creations and write their own rhyming riddles. Readers and colleagues agree: “At home or in the classroom—it’s hands-on learning that’s creative and loaded with fun for everyone”—The Tangram Zoo.

Take a “Look Inside” all of Bette’s books at http://viewauthor.at/BetteAStevens

Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

“A writer inspired by nature and human nature!”

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to share it on your media sites.

Happy love month!
Bette A. Stevens

P.S. Up for a #Loveuary Blog Challenge? Visit Ritu’s blog https://butismileanyway.com/2017/01/31/loveuary❤-a-prompt-list-of-sorts/ and have a wonderful time sharing the LOVE all month long. ~Bette

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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10 Tips For Editing Your Short Story


Don’t miss these great writing/editing tips! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator http://www.4writersandreaders.com

A Writer's Path

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by Writer in Wedges

So you have written your short story and cannot wait to release it into the world. But before doing that, it is important to take some extra time to make sure your story is properly edited, despite the fact that editing is nowhere near as fun as writing.

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Are you Book Club ready?


AUTHORS: Don’t miss this! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Myths of the Mirror

book-club

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your book selected by a book club?

Well, yeah.

The main thing that makes a book “book club ready” is the presence of questions that invite discussion. For each of my books, I have 10 questions that I compiled specifically around the themes, characters, and reader experience of the book.

Book club questions (also called Discussion Guides) are common in many academic books and are often located at the ends of chapters or in the back matter. When it comes to general fiction, placing your book club questions in the back matter is the best way to get them noticed, but not the only way. You can also direct readers to your website where a separate page or pretty pdf is linked to your book’s info.

At the end of this post is a list of potential book club questions that you can customize…

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