Bettye writes "contemporary stories today's woman can relate to". That's a fact! Sometimes her stories are a bit too, uh, real, depending on what may be happening in one's life. You may cry as well as laugh but you'll always be entertained!
We had a chance to meet when she was in FL over the Christmas holidays. Such a lovely woman! She's the adorable one on the left.
Her newest book, ONCE UPON A PROJECT, releases today! When I asked Bettye to write a guest post for my little blog to help promote her book, she didn't hesitate.
About the Book:
Elyse, Susan, and Grace are tickled when their friend Pat organizes a reunion luncheon for past residents of the Chicago Housing Project where they all grew up. It is, after all, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its opening, and the lifelong friends are also turning fifty. But none of them suspects the event will have life-altering changes.
Elyse plans to attend with her husband, but as usual lately, he bows out, pleading fatigue. He's thirteen years her senior, and Elyse fears he's slowing down. But does that mean she has to do the same?
Susan also arrives alone. Her marriage is faltering since her diagnosis of breast cancer. But when she runs into a former flame at the after-party, it feels like time has stood still . . .
Twice divorced, Grace worries she'll grow old alone. Once a cute kid four years Grace's junior, Eric is now a handsome man whose age doesn't matter - but their differences in financial status might . . .
Forced by tragic circumstances to give up the love of her life, Pat never again found love. When an old friend from law school sees a media report about the reunion and contacts her, will she at last find the love that's eluded her?
Without further ado, here's Bettye:
My latest novel of women’s fiction, ONCE UPON A PROJECT, will be released today, April 29th.
The idea for this novel about lifelong friends turning 50 came to me--when else?--shortly after I turned 49. I was rather morosely reminding myself that in another year’s time I’d be 50, a half century old. I used to marvel that my late father was born just 50 years (1911) after the firing on Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. It seemed like an eternity, especially since he lived until 1999. And soon, I thought, I’d have been around that long. It didn’t matter that I was too young to remember the major events of the year I was born . . . the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, the launch of Sputnik, Sam Cooke’s first #1 hit, "You Send Me;" or the catchy tune from the film that would go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, "The Bridge Over The River Kwai." I was around. That’s what mattered.
I felt a lot more traumatized than I did at turning 40. At least then I could presume that I might not have hit the halfway mark in my life, if I were to be fortunate enough to have the longevity my parents enjoy/enjoyed. But at 50 there’s definitely more yesterdays than tomorrows. (Did I mention I was morose?)
I dealt with my blues like I usually do . . . I put on some music, danced around a little, and then asked myself if there could be a story idea behind all my angst. Why not write something about turning 50?
So began my idea, which soon became brainstorming. There would be four main characters, each with different life circumstances. I wanted to reach as many women as possible and wanted everyone to be able to identify with at least one of these characters. So I created one who’d never been married and who had no children (Pat), one who’d become pregnant at 17 and who is now a grandmother (Grace), one who’d been a first-time bride at a later than usual age and became a mother around age 40 (Susan) and one who married a divorced father and had both children and stepchildren (Elyse). I agonized over the problems I would give them, which included some very stressful situations that many people go through in real life. I didn’t want to bring up any bad memories for anyone, but if everything was rosy or their only concerns were getting older I wouldn’t have much of a book, so I went for the jugular.
Using the "what if I'd done this . . . or that?" mode of thinking with all the wisdom (giggle) of someone of my years, I had a synopsis fairly quickly, but as I wrote I wondered if my editor would greenlight the project or reject it. I don’t keep up that well with the writing trends, but from what I knew, a lot of women writers out there over 50 are writing about main characters much younger . . . most often in their 30s, and sometimes even their 20s. (I’m reading a Danielle Steel novel right now, where Steel, now in her 60s, writes about a heroine who’s 42.)
If today’s novels do have older characters, they’re usually relegated to subplots taking up small amounts of print, often with nothing to do but support the younger heroine. After all, we do live in a youth-obsessed society. Just because my gray hair isn’t bothering me enough to cover it up with Clairol doesn’t mean my editor will jump at the chance to buy a book where all the main characters are 50, not just occasionally seen mothers or older sisters, and having hot flashes to boot. So the minute I sent the synopsis to my agent I started writing an alternate synopsis for something that might be more in line with what book buyers seem to want. Besides, I’d need something to do as a follow-up, lest I be dismissed by readers as “the one who writes about old people.”
My agent loved the story and sent it on to my editor. As it turned out, the editor liked it, too. I completed the manuscript on my 50th birthday last summer while on a blues music vacation in Memphis, which I took as a positive sign. So if you enjoy a nice, meaty story, by all means, check it out!
P.S. That alternate story I wrote in order to have something else to offer my editor in case of a rejection will be in stores next year.
Thanks so much, Bettye! I expect my pre-ordered copy from Amazon Any. Day. Now... And the rest of y'all? Go out and get this book!
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Move Forward. Believe.
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Be deliberate. Believe.