Welcome back, readers and writers! Over the life of this blog I’ve had the opportunity to interview several different authors to talk about their individual paths to publication- authors like Jonathon Mast, A.M. Heath, Jean Lee, Vanessa Rasanen, Dan Alatorre, and Lydia Eberhardt.
Today, I’m pleased to introduce author Betty Thomason Owens! Betty has published seven novels and is about to release her eighth, Annabelle’s Joy.
Welcome, Betty, and thanks so much for stopping by today! First of all, I’d love it if you would tell us a little bit about yourself- who you are and what you love to write!
Who am I? My friends say I’m creative, loyal, thoughtful and funny. I’m a storyteller. A word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. If I was an artist working with oils, I’d want to paint scenes so real, you’d think you were looking at a photograph. They’d include minute details that grab your attention and pull you into the picture. My characters could be your next-door neighbors. They’re open and friendly. They include you in their conversations.
Those are the kind of stories I like to read, so that’s what I aspire to do. I’ve written fantasy-adventure, then moved on to write two historical series, the Legacy series, and the Kinsman Redeemer series. Annabelle’s Joy (release date August 6) is the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series.
These sound like fantastic aspirations to me!
You’ve had the opportunity to explore some pretty varied storylines- where do you find your inspiration? Are there particular sources that influence your writing?
The first book in the Kinsman Redeemer series was directly inspired by my study and love of the biblical book of Ruth. When it was picked up by my publisher, she requested a series, so I made something up. What happened next followed the life of my “Ruth” character until she was happily married and settled into Sutter’s Landing, the “Boaz” character’s home. That left Annabelle (the Naomi character) all alone. The third and final book is her inspiring story as she discovers true joy.
Before writing this final book, two friends of mine, who happen to be sisters, lost their husbands within months of each other. I watched prayerfully as they learned to navigate life as widows. At times, it was painful to watch, but I was interested to note how differently the two handled the times that followed. Their journey helped me flesh out Annabelle’s grief and mourning process.
Those hard life experiences have a way of finding expression in the fictional world, don’t they? I think that’s one reason why I find writing therapeudic during stressful times.
What about the historical aspect of your newest series? What themes inspired you as you adapted Ruth’s story into your Kinsman Redeemer story?
The Kinsman Redeemer series is historical fiction that includes plenty of sweet romance, but it’s also a touching story of two women overcoming tragedy and loss, amidst a background of racial unrest in 1950’s west Tennessee. The characters are based on memories of my childhood, so they’re close to my heart. I only touched on some of the events that were frontpage news, like rioting and desegregation. The necessary research for the books fascinated me, even though they stirred old memories. I hope I did them justice and treated all my characters with the respect they deserve.
It sounds like a fascinating backdrop- turbulent times for your characters to navigate!
On to your writing process! With eight novels under your belt, do you create them with diagrams and notes and careful planning, or do you tend to write more by the seat of your pants? 🙂
I confess, I’m a “pantser.” I often start with an outline, but my characters tend to take the lead and I end up in a different place than first intended. I work part-time, so I write part-time, too. Sometimes I’m up early, typing away, hoping for just enough time to finish the latest scene or chapter before I have to leave for work. I usually write chapter by chapter, but occasionally, I get stuck so, I jump ahead and write the action scenes. Then I go back and fill in till everything fits. It’s what I call my jigsaw method. LOL
Fantastic! Whatever works, right?
So, how did it all begin? What path did you choose to get your writing out into the world- indie? Traditional? Something in between?
In the beginning, I wrote a couple of fantasy novels that no one wanted. A familiar spot for many writers. I chose to indie publish those. They were later re-published in a second edition by Sign of the Whale books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press. I’m extremely grateful to Gregg and Hallee Bridgeman for their help.
After my lack of success selling fantasy novels, I worked on a couple of historical novels. One of them, Amelia’s Legacy, was picked up by Write Integrity Press.
How have you liked working with a small press?
I’ve been very happy working for a small press. It’s kind of like family, where you work closely with your publisher and editors. You have a little more say in the process. You still need to work hard and do your part in the marketing process. Writers are like any other professionals who have to constantly hone their craft, watch the industry and change with it.
So, do you have any advice you’d be willing to share with writers who aspire to publish?
My advice is to do whatever it takes to learn your craft well, even it takes longer than you’d wish. Write with excellence and produce work that you can be proud of. If you decide to self-publish, pay for editing and an excellent cover. Otherwise, you’re throwing effort into the wind. I’ve done that, so I know. Most of us have to work hard at writing. When I pick up a book, especially one I’ve paid for, I want it to be excellent. I want to know the writer did their research and due diligence to craft a story that will hook and hold my interest from beginning to end. I’m not saying all my books are excellent, because it’s been a learning process. My writing was pretty rough in the beginning. Thank God for good critiquers and editors! I just hope my works show improvement and reflect my love for storytelling.
Thanks for the great advice, Betty!
And thank YOU, readers, for stopping by today!
For a chance to win a FREE print copy of Annabelle’s Joy, leave a comment* below on or before 8/21.
(*Comments from anyone are more than welcome- I love to hear from you! However, I’ll only be able to put names of U.S. residents into the drawing, because of international laws and all of that…)
Oh…you’d like to know what the book being given away is about? See below!
She’s waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again?
Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate.
Drift back into the simple, country life of Tennessee in 1957 with this sequel to award-winning ANNABELLE’S RUTH.
“A 1950s Clean & Wholesome Romance”
Betty Thomason Owens considers herself a word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. Besides her work on the KCWC planning committee, she also leads the Louisville Area ACFW group and is a co-founder of the multi-author Inspired Prompt blog. Married forty-four years, she’s a mother of three, and a grandmother of eight. A part-time bookkeeper at her day-job, she writes for Write Integrity Press, and has seven novels in publication. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.