Beverly and I developed our writing connection through The Muse It Up Club about two years ago. Since that time our relationship has bloomed into a full fledge friendship. Beverly’s heart warming words of advice and encouragement flow into her writing. Come along with me on a personal interview to learn more about Beverly’s accomplished writing career.
DMc: Please describe the inspiration behind Rebel in Blue Jeans.
BSMc: Today, and even when I was teaching years ago, many children’s lives are disrupted by divorce. Often they don’t understand why their parents split and are caught in the middle, loving both their mother and their father. How does a teen cope with being torn in two different directions? Rebel has to deal with her conflicting emotions. Along the way she discovers that people are not always what they seem and she is a lousy judge of character.
DMc: Your main character Rebel, was born and raised on a ranch. Have you used any of your life experiences being a Texan in creating her personality?
BSMc: The animals, mostly, helped create Rebel’s personality. The mare and foal in this story are based on a couple of horses we once owned, my favorites, though Sunrise’s and Stormy’s stories here have a much happier ending than they did in real life. People who live in the country usually end up with a lot of stray puppies and kittens that people dump. We’ve taken in our share, so of course Rebel needed her furry friends to be a true Texan.
DMc: I find it true to life that the Garret boys are protective of Rebel in a brotherly way, but other feelings arise. How did you develop the characters’ background to reflect their emotional changes?
BSMc: Many romances begin as friendships. My Garret cousins grew up with Rebel tagging along after them, so they treated her like their sister. Since they were the same age, they were like triplets, taking care of each other. Also, I’ve found that most brothers are protective of their sisters. As they reached the teen years, however, the hormones took charge, and friendship blossomed into romance. Remember those agonizing teen angst years?
DMc: You recently participated in the Paranormal Convention to promote Listen to the Ghost. Please share with us your experience.
BSMc: The convention was an interesting experience. The ghost hunters are quite serious about their work and use very complicated equipment to track down spirits and supernatural beings. Speakers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas shared their stories. We listened to sounds of ghosts that had been recorded and saw strange images in photographs. I had an enjoyable day, but when it came to my book, most everyone asked if she was “my ghost.” It seemed they were interested in the “real” spirits and not so much in fictional ones. I did meet some wonderful people so it was worth my time.
DMC: You are a retired school teacher. Have you conducted school visits within your old school district? If not, do you conduct school visits elsewhere?
BSMc: I wanted to do school visits at the schools where I taught, but they have been very cool to my requests. So much has changed in the years since I retired: a new principal and a new librarian who does the scheduling and has pretty much ignored my requests to talk to the students. The teachers would like for me to come, but they don’t have a say in the matter. That said I did have a wonderful visit to an area elementary school, grades 1 through 4. The kids were super, asked neat questions, and I hope enjoyed themselves. I presented different programs for the age levels, using my magazine articles on animals for the younger students and my books for the older students, and thought it went well.
DMc: Do you dedicate your writing sessions to one manuscript at a time or do you work on several projects at a time?
BSMc: I usually work on two to three projects simultaneously. Now, for instance, I’m revising a MG paranormal story, writing the first draft of a YA contemporary, and plotting in my head another YA humorous novel. Also, a couple of PB ideas are snoozing in my brain, for when I have time to think about them, though I really am not a PB writer. I’d like to try these, however.
DMc: When developing a manuscript, have any of your characters taken a direction you never intended them to take?
BSMc: I would say most of my characters have done this. I usually don’t outline, but let them follow their own path and see where they lead me. It’s more fun that way. Rebel in Blue Jeans started out to be more about Rebel and her parents, but the boys became an important part of the story because they helped her through the difficult days. Rebel then had other problems relating to them, which became the subplots and added a lighter touch to her story, instead of it being so serious.
In Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, my forthcoming Civil War story, my plans were for Lizzie to join the army (posing as a boy) and fight to defend her town as her brothers were doing. She had different ideas, and I just followed along.
DMc: In your opinion, should a writer stay “married” to their words? And should they be willing to shift from their original outline and/or plot as the story develops?
BSMc: I can only speak for myself, but if you look at my many edits of a manuscript you’ll see that the final story many times bears little resemblance to the first draft. My words change so often it’s like musical chairs. I’m constantly looking for a better word to show the emotions of the characters. And my plot often takes unusual twists, which makes me happy most of the time. I don’t work from an outline at first. Sometimes, around the middle of a story, I write down what possibly may happen in the final chapters. That doesn’t necessarily mean the story will follow my thoughts. It’s more a guideline of where my characters might go to help me find both the characters’ arcs and the arc of the plot.
DMC: Please share with us your latest novel coming down the publishing pipeline.
BSMc: You bet. In July 2009, Just Breeze, a contemporary story for MG readers, about a girl who wants to be popular like her older sister, is scheduled for release from 4RV Press.
Also, in 2009, my YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, will be published by Twilight Times Books.
Kate, Little Angel Sometimes, a chapter book, is forthcoming in 2010 from Blooming Tree Press, their new paperback line, and I Live in a Doghouse, Twilight Times, is TBA.
DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Bev, can you please share one with us?
BSMc: Well, I’m giving away a secret here, but that’s okay. I went green before going green was popular. It has nothing to do with clean air or saving trees or fossil fuels or whatever, but with my hair. Yes, I color my hair. For a while I used the shade “golden light brown,” but my hair was turning too reddish, so one day I changed and used “ash light brown.” Big mistake. My hair turned green. What’s a girl to do when she has to go to school the next day? Shaving my head was not an option, so I convinced myself no one would notice. During the day my students were very polite, but they kept looking at me with weird expressions on their little faces. Still, none of them made a comment or asked me what happened to my hair. The teachers were more outspoken. Finally, in the teacher’s lounge at noon, one teacher asked what I’d done to my hair. We had a good laugh about it and I decided to confess to my students. That afternoon, I told them I’d dyed my hair for the football game that night. The school colors were green and white and bless their little hearts they believed me. Or else they pretended they did. Now you know my secret.
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