In the Mind of Beth Ciotta – 2015 PYHIAB Conference

This week we’ll be getting to know our 2015 luncheon speaker, NJ Romance Writer’s very own Beth Ciotta. If you attend our conference next month, you’ll also get a chance to attend her workshop, Shutting Out the News; Letting in the Muse.

For more information about the conference and to register, please go to www.njromancewriters.org.

Welcome, Beth!

How did you come up with the idea for “MARRY POPPINS”?

Spontaneous inspiration! I work part time at my local library and one day a patron approached the circulation desk with a copy of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. Just handling that book makes me smile and for whatever reason, in that moment, I thought: Marry Poppins. A play on words that sparked an idea involving a nanny, a marriage of convenience, and a spoonful of magic. At the time I was neck-deep in writing two different series, so I filed the idea away with a bazillion others.

A year later, I was in the position to explore a new concept and Marry Poppins came to mind. My brain revved and soon after IMPOSSIBLE DREAM, a modern-day fairy tale series, was born. Marry Poppins ended up being the third tale. I launched the series last fall with Beauty & the Biker.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

Because I decided to bring IMPOSSIBLE DREAM to life as an indie project, the only person I needed to enchant and excite was me (and readers!). That was a lovely feeling indeed. Since I already had a strong fan base with my small town contemporaries, I wanted to create something that would appeal to those readers while also indulging my love of magical happily-ever-afters. Readers have described these stories as “feel good” reads which makes this dreamer very happy.

Why did you decide to write romantic mystery?

Ah. This question refers to future projects! I have this problem. I’m a creative spaz. I can’t stick to one sub-genre and now I’m inspired to broaden my horizons even more. I have a partially written story that has made the rounds in NYC twice now. A lot of interest, but no takers for various reasons. It’s not a straight ahead romance. In fact it’s not a straight ahead anything. It’s a genre-bender—a romantic fantasy mystery—and for the life of me I cannot stick that story in a drawer. It’s been three years since I wrote the first draft of that proposal and I still get jazzed every time I think about it. That’s very telling to me and I’ve decided now is the perfect time for me to explore new worlds. I’m going Indie with this particular project. Meanwhile I have another romantic fantasy mystery with my agent and another proposal in the making. In a perfect world, one of these will sell to a traditional publisher and I’ll be a hybrid author in yet another genre. Bottom line, it’s about personal and creative growth.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I’m a mixed breed. Part plotter/part pantzer. I always start with page one and I always write sequentially. I’ve tried skipping around. That doesn’t work for me. I’m also unable to put a question mark in place of something or to highlight things like DESCRIBE LATER and move on. I need to know the research and descriptive aspects now because everything I write leads me to the next sentence, the next scene. One bit of research could spark an epiphany. As for characters or plot… those two things generally come to me hand in hand.

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I write in layers. I can’t move forward until the scene or chapter I’m writing clicks. Once it clicks, I move on. The next day I go back and read what I wrote and, with a fresh eye, I polish or embellish and then move on to new material. I tend to go back and layer more and more in the first half of the book. The second half of the book tends to write itself.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

The characters. I don’t care if I have a smoking ten-page synopsis that sings, while I’m writing the characters always take over and quite often steer the story in very different directions. I’ve had numerous “a-ha” moments as I’m typing. A plot twist or an epiphany via something the character did or said on the fly. For me, that is the ultimate rush.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

Two more books in the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM series, a contemporary romance in Wanderlust (an anthology with Erin McCarthy, Kathy Love, and Elle J Rossi), and Loving a Legend, the final book in my historical western series, PEACEMAKERS: OLD WEST. After that I’ll shift to the romantic mysteries. That’s the plan anyway.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

Perseverance

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I own a Kindle Fire. I never thought I’d say this, but I am addicted to digital books.

What makes a man attractive to you?

A sense of humor and a big heart.

What are you reading now?

Dream More by Dolly Parton (motivational non-fiction) and Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

What is your favorite quote?

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”—C.S. Lewis

 How long have you been writing?

I was a late starter. Twenty-two years.

What’s your biggest dream?

To write full time… while living in Canterbury, England or Salem, Massachusetts.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Absolutely.

Cat or dog person?

Both. Although if you follow me on Facebook you’ll see that I’m obsessed with my dogs.

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?  

Favorite color: Pink. Or purple. Except when it comes to clothes then black.

Favorite number: 18

Favorite Actor: Cary Grant

Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? COFFEE!!!

Decaf or caffeinated? Seriously?

Boxers or briefs? Neither. I wear… Oh! You mean on him. Briefs

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Depp

 Want to meet Beth or attend her workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org. Registration ends October 4th!

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