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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Welcome Author Stephanie Beck...

*Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?

I’m from a little town in southern Minnesota. I don’t think Lake City is a town you can appreciate as a kid, but now as an adult, I love to go back and see the lake and bluffs that surround the town.

*As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

I wanted to be a lawyer growing up, because, you know, you had to know law to be president. It didn’t take me too awful long to realize that wasn’t what I really wanted to do, but honestly, I think I could be good at anything I tried to do. I’m just glad that instead of spending tons of time fighting with people and being buried in paperwork, I can write from my own home with my kids close and truly enjoy every day.

*What do you do for fun?

Most of my fun comes in kid-sized packages. I love taking walks with my kids and spending time with them. We go to the zoo a lot and I think I enjoy that more than they do sometimes. For just me, I love to knit and read. My husband is wonderful and I love when we can sneak off for dates—even if it’s only to the grocery store together. I also have a small group of friends who are very special to me. We do Bible studies and spend hours knitting and visiting once a month—an absolutely beautiful way to spend an evening.

*How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?

I think since I was raised in a loving home with family always around, I tend to make family a part of every story. There are so many dynamics in a single group of relatives and I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiration.

*Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

My latest book is A Winter Tale With Marshmallows. It’s a werewolf novella with—you guessed it—a winter theme. Pregnant and ready for peace, Mona is running from her former pack with this picture in her head of giving her twin daughters the peaceful home life she never had. She heads to Pennsylvania after her mate is killed, looking for sanctuary and finds more than that when Chris Myters, alpha of the pack welcomes her in. She’s a former assassin for her pack, but longs to put that behind her in favor of being the kind of mom she wished she’d had. Chris stumbles around that fact, trying to give her the options and support she’s never had. That support leads to much more and, well, let’s just say the marshmallows aren’t the sweetest things in this story.

I’ve always got things in the works. I’ve got a romantic suspense due out from Lyrical Press in September called “Teaching Ms. Riggs” and several other things in submissions and edits at the moment. It’s always a surprise to me what is next. From paranormal to heavier lifestyle themed stories, I just love writing and sharing stories.

*How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

Well, I name them something ridiculous or silly to start, just so I can identify the file easily. Like Poppy’s Passions started as “Poppy and Pals”—not exactly super sexy. A Winter Tale With Marshmallows was “Chocolate Covered Werewolves”—I might still use that one day! For the most part, I try to find the title in the book somewhere. There’s always a driving theme within and I try my best to find it, and when I can’t, I ask my friends for help.

*Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

Sometimes there are elements of that in my stories. I read news reports about people and when the writer focuses on the person’s marital status or sexual orientation that does lend to me wondering what affect that really had on the situation. Sometimes a full story will flesh out around that wondering.

*How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?

I think for me a lot of what I write has to be real because so much is fantasy. I do a lot of research especially for the lifestyle stories I write because I want to make them believable and enjoyable without making them text books. The balance I make comes when I add pieces I absolutely do know about. I might not know my way around a polygamist marriage, but I do know how to bake cookies and kiss a skinned knee. That mix makes a story believable.

*Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

I use the same words over and over again and that is very frustrating for me in edits. I finally invented my ‘kill list’ of words I check for to make sure I don’t over use. I hope that by the time a book gets to a reader that the problem is fixed.

*What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Get your book finished, find someone who has been writing for a while and beg for an honest critique and edit. A new writer is absolutely making new writer mistakes and those aren’t anything to be ashamed of, but if they can learn early where they need to improve, they save a lot of time and frustration before even submitting for the first time.

*Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I write in cycles. 1. Big blocks of writing (like 100,000+ in a month) 2. Knitting/crafting/promoting 3. Editing/submitting/promoting. I’ve been writing professionally for about two years now and keeping that routine has kept the writer’s block at bay.
*Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

For fiction, I’m a Julie Garwood kind of girl, especially her historical romances. I just love how real her stories can get and how much I wish I could be part of them. If I could be Rose from ‘For the Roses’ I would in a heartbeat. For other books, I really enjoy C.S. Lewis. I love to think and picking up one of his essays really gets me thinking of things beyond me which is a gift.

*How did you deal with rejection letters?

I pout for a little while, but before the end of the day, I usually am reformatting to submit for another company. When I know the story is good, I know that chances are that company just didn’t have room for it on their roster. If I get a few rejections though, it makes me go back and start looking for problems I might have missed.

*What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

An internet connection is mighty handy. Computers too are fabulous. I do a lot of writing and note taking in note books by hand, so that’s a tool I love to have on hand. Internally, the ability and desire to learn is invaluable. A writer must have an innate desire to learn—it makes the research and writing process that much easier.

*Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

My line is fuzzy and depends completely on the characters. Left on my own I get a little gory at times and I’ve been told my yuck-tolerance is higher than others. I think it’s a very personal line for people and I try to respect that to a point and just stay consistent, or at least give plenty of warning to where the erotic elements could go.

*Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Oh yeah, and that kind of research has lead to some pretty gory nightmares. I researched demons and angels, thinking a lighter story would emerge, but nope, I ended up writing something that is probably horror.

*Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

I like them all, I really do, but my favorite is A Winter Tale With Marshmallows. It has so many elements of family and winter that I adore and I was so happy to put them all together with some really fun werewolves, making it my favorite.

*What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

No comment, but let’s just say my husband didn’t mind. LOL.

*Where can we find you on the net? Where can we find out more about your books?

My website is www.stephaniebeck.net. I hang out there quite often, but for the day to day fun, I am at Facebook. www.facebook.com/stephaniebeckauthor  That’s where I run most of my contests and give away lots of fun stuff.  All of my books are at both places and also on my Amazon page key word ‘Stephanie Beck’.

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