Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Writing with Betty: Beverly Farr

Betty Beverly was kind enough to come around for a cuppa and a chat about her literary adventures. I've dipped into her catalog and found it to be full of humor and sweetness. Let's find out more about her! 
You write under pen names. Can you tell us a little bit about the genres under each one and why you decided to split them this way? The pros and cons of pen names and, now that you're down the road a little bit, if you would do it differently?

Some people want to publish everything under one name, which is fine, but years ago, I remember picking up a Georgette Heyer book, thinking it was one of her historicals (yay) and finding out it was one of her murder mysteries (boo) so I think of my names like that.
Beverly Farr writes sweet contemporary romances and contemporary Jane Austen Variations
Jane Grix writes traditional Jane Austen Variations and Regency Romances
Cass Grix writes the paranormal/fairy tale Jane Austen Variations

And I wouldn't change it, I like having the three names.  Beverly Farr is my maiden name, Jane Grix is Jane for Jane Austen and Grix (which was my mother's maiden name and her family came from England), Cass Grix is Cass for Jane Austen's sister Cassandra.
Betty Beverly assured me it was nothing like
being a three-headed dog... Bit of a disappointment, really.

Are you traditionally published, self-published, a hybrid?

I am self-published. 

When did you get your start writing and is this what you do full time?

I've been writing since I was 8 years old, and started writing romances when I was about 12.  I wrote more as a hobby for years, self published in 2012 and in 2015 started writing full time.

What does your output look like? (From what I can tell, you have a pretty good catalog and I wondered how long you tended to work on a book before you sent it into the world.)

Some stories take a long time (I'm currently working on a story I began more than 20 years ago) but some are quicker to write.  My quickest book was DARCY'S SPOTLESS REPUTATION which I wrote in 8 days.   But it's a novella and funny, so it almost wrote itself.  On average, though, a novella takes about a month and a novel about 2 months.
"Of course, it goes slower when I take time to write
original poems about my love of software user interfaces.
You might be our only Jane Austen Variations writer among the Betties. What appealed to you about that genre? When reading Pride and Prejudice, for instance, how do you find the right thread to start pulling, unravelling the tale and knitting it up into a different pattern?

P&P is my absolute favorite book of all time.  I used to read it at least once a year, but now I keep it on my desk and read bits almost every day.  I still find passages that I never noticed before (because I read too fast)

I get ideas when I'm driving in the car.  For my current story DARCY IN LOVE AND WAR, I just thought, "What if Jane was dead before the story starts?  If Jane wasn't around, would Bingley just fall in love with the second prettiest girl in town - Elizabeth Bennet?  I think so, and then what would Darcy do when his best friend is falling for the woman he is falling for?  And how would the Bennet family dynamics change?  

Is it wrong to be rooting for a round of shirtless fisticuffs?
Who, among your books, is your favorite set of main characters and why? (Or in the case of Darcy and Lizzie, which of their books delights you most?) 

I do love Darcy and Lizzie, but with now that I've written 23 variations for them, it's hard sometimes to remember what events go with what story!  As for my other books, the one I'm working on is usually my favorite.  I just re-edited HER EX NEXT DOOR which I published in 2012  (it's one of my husband's favorite stories) and I was surprised how much I liked it again.  I really like Derek, the tall, dark and sexy IT geek/billionaire hero of that story. 

What was the hardest of your stories to write and why?

The easiest answer is that the hardest story is always the current story.  I tend to hit an "oh, no, I'll never finish this" moment in the middle of every story.  However, it is true that some stories come more easily or flow more easily.  One of my most emotional/difficult stories was SOMETHING SWEET by Beverly Farr, book 3 in my Love and Chocolate Series because the heroine is a single mom with an Autistic child.  I have three children on the Autism Spectrum, and I wanted to be true to them as well as to all the moms with children with special needs.  Amanda in that story is a Cinderella figure, downtrodden, but still kind and hard working.  She gets a prince of a guy in Rick, the owner of a popular bakery chain in Dallas.

What tools to you use to help you write? (I'm thinking of things like Pinterest or Tumblr or favorite songs to put you into a head space or a Costco-sized tub of peanut M&Ms or software or, or, or...)

Country Western music helps me because it can be angsty.  I particularly like Keith Urban music.  I often pick one song that provides an emotional theme for a book.  My story Forgotten Honeymoon was written while listening to Faith Hill's THIS KISS on a perpetual loop.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?

My absolutely favorite part is seeing my books in paperback - opening up a box of new books!  Then I can give them out to my friends.  My least favorite part - finding an obnoxious typo after I've already hit publish and I have to wait 12 hours before I can upload a correction on Amazon.

Betty Keira dislikes the part where the computer fails to read her mind.
Besides The Great Betty, of course, who are your favorite authors that you dip into again and again?

Georgette Heyer for Regency Romances/Romantic Comedies
Carla Kelly for Regency Romances
Dorothy L. Sayers for her Peter Wimsey mysteries, particularly the romance ones with Harriet Vine
Diana Gabaldon for the Outlander Series.  It gets racy and I skip some violent bits, but she is great with dialogue.
Dick Francis - His books about steeple chase jockeys fascinate me
Sarah Price  for her Plain Fame Amish series (she's a friend in real life, and is brilliant!)
Beverly Cleary.  I adore Ramona the Pest
Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I read all the Tarzan books and lots of his other adventure stories.

Why do you continue to read and reread Betty Neels books?

They are warm, comforting books - like a hot bath at the end of a long day.  I like them because they contain interesting things - interesting homes, interesting food, interesting medical problems.  I like them because there are no trips to Brighton (although I would like the stoic heroes to talk a little more!)  And although some of the characters can be over the top, there are often clever lines of describing people and why they do what they do.  When I read a Betty Neels book, I imagine a movie in my head.  Her books are a perfect escape.

As an extra bonus, here's Betty Beverly, herself, chatting about the joys of sweet romance: