Today on Monday Musings we welcome Barbara Bettis to tell us a little about herself and her novel, THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX. First, let’s find out more about Barbara.
A former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, a former journalism teacher, Barbara Bettis plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.
What type of places do you most like to visit?
I do love to travel. Any place with castles. There are other criteria, as well, of course. Not that I’ve done a tremendous lot, but I’ve been lucky to have traveled to Scotland with a brief stop-off in London. I’d so love to visit both places again, but with a long stay in England to take in all the marvels—well, all the things I think are marvels, including the British Museum.
I’d love to see some grand old castles too! I’ve never been anywhere in Europe, but it’s high on my bucket list. I hope you make it back there one day soon. Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite author, actually. There are so many wonderful writers with books I enjoy reading multiple times.
What are you reading right now?
I haven’t had a lot of free time to read lately, what with the end of the semester and finals. But I do read a bit just before I turn out the lights at night. I just finished one of C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mysteries. I do enjoy that series.
I try to read for a bit every evening too. It’s the only time I can fit it in. What is your favorite genre? Is this the genre you write?
My favorite genre is historical, and all its subgenres (fiction and non-fiction). I do write historical. Both my books are medieval. I do enjoy reading my friends’ books outside that genre, of course. Growing up I devoured anything I could get my hands on. I used to use my school lunch money to buy books—until my mom found out. When I was younger I went through a series of different phases when I inherited scads of books after my uncle married. I discovered: Westerns (Luke Short was a favorite—he wrote short and tight and I liked the way he could say more with fewer words); sci-fi, mystery. My mom and dad weren’t readers, so when I asked if I could read my uncle’s Mickey Spillane novels, they didn’t mind. (He said I had to get permission.) I was 13. I remember calling him after I read one and saying, “Now I know why you didn’t want me to read these.”
I love a good historical, but doubt I could ever write one. It takes a lot of effort and attention to detail, so congrats on the hard work. What does your family think of your writing?
My sons and grandchildren sort of take it in stride. They are quietly proud and very supportive, especially when I disappear into my office for days on end.
Have they read your work?
Not that they’ll admit. My young grandchildren shouldn’t and my two sons won’t. I rather think they don’t like to picture Mom writing some of the love scenes they know are included.
My boys haven’t read my books either. Probably a good thing, lol. How many books have you written?
I’ve written three books and published two. I’ll have to do some major revising before I publish the first one I ever wrote. I jokingly say it has everything in it but the kitchen sink.
Do you have a favorite?
I love them all, because I love my characters so much. They become like friends or family.
I love my characters too and tend to be a character driven author. What comes first for you, plot or characters?
So far, the characters have come first. But since I usually picture them in a scene or doing something, some basic plot points are woven in immediately.
That sounds familiarly like my process. Is it difficult or easy for you to come up with titles and character names?
Oh, my, both are so difficult. I’m terrible at titles. And names have to fit the characters. My first published book, the heroine had three different names and with each one, her ‘character’ was different. The story didn’t really come together until I came up with the name Emelin. Finding men’s and women’s names for 12th Century characters can be challenging.
What inspired you to write about these particular characters?
Both were characters from my first book who had caught my imagination. Stephen had been gone for seven years, presumed to have died while on crusade with Richard 1, when suddenly he returns. Where had he been and why did he stay away for so long? Evelynn was the younger sister of other characters who deserved her own story. Why should they not have their HEA together?
Been there, done that. Everyone deserves a happy ending. How much like yourself is your character?
Evelynn—Evie—is the way I’d like to think I would have been living in that era—independent and a little stubborn. Well, maybe I have that stubbornness now.
Is this a stand-alone story or part of a series?
The Heart of the Phoenix is a stand-alone story, although it does feature characters that appeared briefly in the previous book.
Tell us more about The Heart of the Phoenix.
Love to. Here’s the blurb:
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen’s cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.
After such intriguing blurb, we’d love to read an excerpt.
In this excerpt, Lady Evie is being escorted home by Sir Stephen and his men. They are crossing from Normandy to England when he pounds on her cabin door late in the evening to give her unexpected news, then bursts in when she doesn’t answer. She has actually tripped in the dark and fallen.
Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.
“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.
“What? What about him?”
“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”
“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”
“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”
“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”
Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.
“Evie, Evie. What the hell?” His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled his words. Betrothed.
Her betrothed was on board?
Dear Lord, just let me die.
Right now I’m working on a novella showing how Evie’s brother, Lord Henry, met his lady, Katherine.
Where can we find you and your books on the internet? Please share your links with us.
Stephen and Evie’s story is on sale right now at:
You can also find it at: TWRP: http://bit.ly/1nIViQy
Thank you so much, Barbara, for spending time with us today. And best of luck with The Heart of the Phoenix and all your future writing endeavors.