H. Lovelyn Bettison, whose books include Flying Lessons, talks about her approach to writing and her plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done or always wanted to do?
When I was a little girl I wrote lots of stories. I loved getting lost in an imaginary world, and I still do. My characters become like old friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. I’ve never really wanted to do anything else.
Tell me a little about your books.
I write stories that inspire in a subtle way. My novels focus on journeys of self-discovery in which the main characters realize their full potential in this world. All of the stories have otherworldly elements, but they focus on the characters and their relationships.
My latest novel is called Flying Lessons. It’s about a father and daughter, Henry and Chandra, who are stuck in a rut. Henry is recently retired and now that he has time to reflect on his life he’s realized that he wasted most of his time in life on something trivial, his work. His wife died years ago, and now he has the time to think about how he didn’t spend enough time with her when she was still. For Henry his wife represented missed opportunities and the squandering away of what is most important in life. Chandra has been working in a job she hates for years. She has sacrificed her happiness because she feels like she needs to take care of her father, but she’s feeling restless and really wants to make a change. Her mother represents possibilities to her. I mention Ava, Chandra’s mother and Henry’s wife, so much in this description because she makes some ghostly appearances in the book as a vehicle for them to work through these issues. In the story both Chandra and Henry start new relationships that help them see the world differently.
My previous novel, The Box, is about a woman named Indy who has been out of work for a little while. One of her neighbors offers to pay her to transport a mysterious package from California to Florida for him. Indy needs the money so she accepts the job. She brings a few friends with her on the trip that turns out to be anything but ordinary. Once they’re already on the road they discover that the box contains a mysterious force. Together they try to complete the trip while attempting to control the mysterious force inside the box.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Lots of authors inspire me. I read a variety of genres. Recently I’m quite into Virginia Woolf and have downloaded several of her books onto my Kobo.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I have a lot of ideas for stories. I have so many ideas that sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up. My goal is to write at least a thousand words a day. Because I have multiple stories going at once I tend to work on whichever one is inspiring me that day.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
When I finished The Box I wanted to get an agent and go the traditional publishing route. I didn’t try very hard though. I had started looking into self-publishing at the same time and thought it seemed like it would be a better option for me. I only sent out five query letters to agents before deciding that I would just try publishing my book on my own.
Have you signed up for KDP Select?
I signed up for KDP with my older book, The Box, last month just to see how it would go. I’ve been reluctant to use the program, because I don’t like the exclusivity clause. I did my first free promotion last weekend and more than 500 books were downloaded for free. It’s still too early to know if anything will come of that.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
The bulk of my sales are coming from Amazon with Smashwords coming in second and Barnes & Noble last. Kobo has recently started their platform for indie authors to upload directly onto their site. I’ll be doing that this week.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
That’s not something I worry about. I know that some authors are exclusively putting their books on Amazon and I think that is a mistake. Being too dependent on any one platform is always a mistake. As a self-published author you have a lot of control and a lot of options. I think it’s important to have your book available everywhere you can.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I’m cleaning up a short story that is about 10,000 words long right now. It’s about a woman who is trying to decide whether she wants to change something fundamental about herself. It’s still untitled. I plan on putting up for sale at the end of September.
I’m also writing a novella about a woman who finds out that her six year old son has psychic abilities. The novella focuses on the stress this and other realizations put on family relationships.