Today we welcome member Betty Rollins Busch to the blog:
Q. Introduce yourself to the group, Betty:
A. I’m a semi-retired Certified Professional Legal Secretary by trade, and still enjoy filling in on occasion. My passion for writing began early in life and includes writing poetry, short stories and essays. While working on Rendezvous With a Perfect Stranger, I also drafted two other novels. My late husband, Richard, and I were married 32 years. We have two children, five grandchildren and one great grandson. I’ve been a member of SCWW since soon after it was established I previously served on the board as membership chairperson, and as chapter leader. I’m a lifelong resident of Aiken County and enjoy the fact that most all of my family live within a three mile radius of my home.
Q. Tell us a little about your new release:
A: The cover features my beautiful daughter, Allison, and her gorgeous husband, Jake. The picture is from their wedding ceremony. The plot involves Francine Bruckner agreeing to have her three housemates arrange blind dates for her. This was to get her back into the dating game after she’d had a break-up with a longtime boyfriend. When widower Jackson Tanner shows up at the designated place, Francine mistakes him for her third and final blind date. The attraction and conflict intensifies throughout the story as Jackson’s ten-year old daughter, determined to make Francine her new mother, creates daily chaos and hilarity. Only two characters in the book are real: Katie, a beautiful golden retriever and universal blood donor, and Katie’s owner, Shirley. I’d never heard of animal universal blood donors and was intrigued by this and wanted it as a part of the story.
Q. What was your inspiration for this project?
A. I love romance novels and old love movies like “An Affair to Remember.” I guess it was a combination of both as well as my relationship with my sweet late husband. I’ve been blessed with a ton of great friends and a wonderful family, and things that happen to them and me always set off my imagination. I wanted this to be something read and enjoyed by most any age or gender, and for it to be something my mother would have approved. According to comments and reviews, I believe that was achieved. The first chapter written under my working title, Perfect Blind Date, was critiqued by Janelle Taylor, at Sandhills Conference in Augusta, later submitted to and placed second in 2001 Horizons. So, it was time to finish this project.
Q. How long have you been writing? Tell us about your writing journey.
A. I’ve enjoyed writing most all of my life, beginning with my love of reading and writing rhyming poetry. There are stacks of poems, essays and short stories on my desk, file cabinets and in boxes on the floor. Quite a few have been published in the various anthologies of the SCWW as well as other publications.
Q. What publication path did you choose for your novel and why did you decided to take that route?
A. Finding an agent or a publisher seemed daunting. It’s a long process. Maybe there’s a bit of laziness on my part with regard to sending out manuscripts, or maybe I didn’t want to suffer “rejections.” I took an online publishing course through USCA and surfed the web for self-publishing guidelines. When I happened onto Westbow’s website and requested their guidelines, a representative called and kept urging me to complete the manuscript and submit it. Westbow Press is a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, a Christian Publisher. When they offered a great deal, the manuscript was submitted, and they have guided me all along the way.
Q. What are your greatest strengths as a writer?
A. My attention to detail and my love of reading. My facts have to be correct, and the tone and traits of a character must be the same (and visible) throughout the story. Most of my poetry is written from my experiences or from the experiences of friends and family members. A poem or an essay tells a story, and those facts must be true as well. Secondly, I’m not lazy when it comes to research, whether it’s on the internet, talking with people or visiting places I’m writing about.
Q. What do you find most challenging about the writing process?
A. TIME. Blessed with a busy life and lots of friends and family close by, there’s always something to do and somewhere to go. I neglect my writing.
Q. What steps do you take to fine-tune your writing? Do you participate in critique groups/conferences? If so, what benefits do you find in such groups/events?
A. I joined SCWW shortly after it began. After responding to a notice in the local paper that a writer’s workshop would be held in Aiken. The small group attending formed the Aiken Chapter. Because of the meeting time conflict, the Aiken Whiskey Road Chapter was formed. At the present, we aren’t meeting but hope to find a suitable meeting place and resume in the near future. I’ve attended many of the conferences and workshops, and assisted with some of the earlier ones when I served on the board. They’ve gotten bigger and better. I don’t know how a writer can live without these groups and conferences. Being a writer doesn’t have to be “lonely.” I love having my work critiqued by members of a writers group, friends or avid readers, then I edit, edit, edit.
Q. What’s the first book you can remember reading and loving as a child?
A. Loved all of the Laura Ingalls books and anything about horses, particularly Black Beauty.
Q. If you could pick the brain of any author, living or deceased, who would that be and what would you really like to ask them most?
A. My favorite fiction writer is Debbie Macomber. I would probably ask something simple like how she came up with the idea of the town of Cedar Cove and whether or not it was inspired by a real place. Mike Snow, (deceased), was a former member of Aiken Chapter and a former board member. He had a map of his fictitious town on one wall in his den. He’d named all of the streets, the stores and placed landmarks. So real and intriguing.
Q. What’s next for you? Do you have a new project underway?
A. I have two full-length novels drafted. One is a mystery. The members of the book club at my church used the first draft as a book of the month. They’ve critiqued it and made wonderful suggestions and corrections. The other one is set during Civil War times. Not about the war but about friendship and relationships. I’m looking forward to completing both of them.
Q. Where can we find you and your novel online?
A. Rendezvous With A Perfect Stranger can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A’ Million and Kindle or ordered from the author or the publisher.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Betty, and good luck with your new release!