Sunday, February 28, 2016

Celebrate Love Blog Series with author Beth Honeycutt and What Dreams May Come

WooHoo! I am off for a week, and can stay around home with my girls, take them skating and warm ourselves by the fire. I can't wait! Savannah, my two-year-old has been pretending to skate around the kitchen wearing slippery socks. I am excited to see how she likes the real thing, and we're lucky enough to have this awesome place to go where the icy path winds its way through the woods. I might even share pics.
OK, ok, back to work now...and on to our next guest, Beth! Read on, you won't be disappointed. 

Could you share a little about what led you to become a writer?
I love stories of all kinds, especially those with happy endings, and being a writer is the only career I've ever really wanted. When I was in fourth grade, I wrote my first book—a story about some baby birds we’d rescued. It won a Young Authors award at school and my mom laminated it (the book, not the award, LOL) and I've never looked back. Wow, that is so cool!

Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I do write full-time but sadly, not novels. In my day job, I write marketing copy and corporate communications. Now I have to wonder if your work writing interferes with your creative writing, or does your creative writing disturb your work writing.

Could you tell us a little about your novel?
What Dreams May Come is about Ellie, a shy and overlooked girl who would rather live in her dreams than in reality, where she’s a constant disappointment to her mom, who wants her to be slim and pretty, popular and outgoing. Her one comfort is her imaginary friend, Gabe, who's always there for her, waiting in her dreams whenever she needs him. Ooh, I like that.

But then a new guy shows up at her school and he knows things about Ellie—secret things—that he shouldn’t have any way of knowing. Suddenly, Ellie’s faced with the possibility that she may not be as ordinary as she’s always thought and that maybe it doesn't matter if the whole world knows your name, as long as someone special sees you for who you really are. I love it.
Where does the inspiration for your story come from?
This was actually an idea I had for a short story, but as I started writing, it grew into a novel. It all grew out of one tiny seed of an idea about a girl who meets a boy who knows things about her that he shouldn’t have any way of knowing, like how she got the scar on the bottom of her foot. She doesn't know him, but he knows all about her.

I thought about how unnerving that would be, to be faced with someone you couldn’t hide from, who already knew all your deepest secrets, and how interesting it would be to see that play out—especially for a girl like Ellie, who’s so used to being invisible and overlooked, who’s made her way through life hiding away from the world. And how cool it would be to find that this person who knows you so well—the good, the bad, the ugly—loves you anyway, just as you are. Sounds like a great read, something you definitely want to fall into.

What do you think makes a good romance story?
A happy ending, of course. LOL It might be easier to say what I don’t think makes a good romance. I don’t like stories where one of the characters is abusive or mean to the other, who puts up with it in the name of love, hoping to improve them. I don’t like stories where both characters would be better off if they didn’t get together, since their relationship obviously won’t be healthy. And I don’t like stories that aren’t grounded in genuine emotion and character development, but are just focused on the physical aspects of the relationship. Also (and I know this is unpopular), but I hate love triangles. I truly believe you can have a compelling romance without introducing a love triangle. I love romances where the relationship brings joy and light and love to the characters’ lives and they become better together than they were alone. I love romances where the main characters are good friends and really like each other, as well as love each other; where they respect each other and really talk about things. Thanks for sharing, those are good points.

What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
A little bit of both. The message behind my story is that you don't have to change in order to be loved, that there is someone out there who will love you and accept you, just as you are. You have value, even if you don't meet the definition of what our culture calls beautiful. There is beauty in you, no matter who you are or what you look like. Now you need to go print out t-shirts with that message and pass them around.

Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow?
I fly by the seat of my pants. I used to try to outline, but I found that knowing everything that is going to happen makes me lose interest in the story. What drives me to write is finding out what's going to happen next. I do usually have a vague idea of the beginning and, hopefully, the end. But for what comes in between, your guess is as good as mine. J Now that's my kind of writing!

What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years?
My novel takes place over the course of just a few days. However, there are flashbacks to incidents in the past that show our couples' history together before they actually meet in the novel.

How much research went into your story?
I love research! It's actually kind of dangerous for me, because I get so wrapped up in finding cool information that I forget I’m supposed to be writing. LOL Actually, this story didn't involve as much research as some of my others. I read interesting things and they stick with me, and then I sometimes incorporate them into stories. That's something that happened with this one. I am the same way with research and I often end up with pages and pages of notes that never make it into the story, but hey, I learned something!

How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
Most of my other novels are more plot-driven and often have some sort of suspenseful or even scary elements in them. This novel was definitely driven more by the characters and getting to see their relationship blossom. The remaining two books in the trilogy will have more of the suspense and plot-driven elements, but this one is really sort of a gentle love story, allowing the reader to get to know the characters as people and as a couple before we jump into the actiony parts of the series.

How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
The amount of planning I do varies—sometimes I have a plan I’m following, other times, it’s just a day at a time. I've attended a lot of sessions on marketing at conferences and try to follow the advice I’ve gotten there and from other authors. I definitely don't spend as much time on marketing as I should, though, because my free time’s so limited. When I do have free time, I’d rather write than do marketing. I’d kill for a publicist. I hear you! 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My biggest advice is to find out what method works for you, whether you’re a plotter (someone who outlines and plans it all out) or a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) or a mixture of the two. Either way, I find the most motivating thing for actually finishing a project—whether it’s flash fiction, a short story, or a novel—is to have a deadline and accountability.

For this reason, one of the best resources out there, and one that I recommend to all aspiring writers, is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Not only is it a great motivator that provides accountability and a deadline, but it provides companionship with other authors and turns the novel-writing experience into a wild, crazy roller coaster of writing fun. Definitely check it out! If nothing else, it’s nice to hang out with other people who won’t look at you funny if you say something like, “I just found the coolest way to kill someone!” For sure, LOL. I remember getting worried because of the strange searches I was doing online. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
Definitely! I'm working on WHERE NIGHTMARES WALK, the sequel to WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. It starts to introduce more suspense and danger into the couple's storyline, but rest assured that everything they face, they face together.

 What Dreams May Come: In Dreams, book 1

He knows her darkest secrets, sees into her dreams. Math class will never be the same.

Reality is overrated. Or so Ellie Cross believes. She greatly prefers the dreams she shares with her imaginary friend and lifelong BFF, Gabe, to the nightmare of her real life. And okay, so yeah, lately Ellie’s noticed that Gabe’s kinda hot. Make that incredibly hot. But that doesn’t mean she’s crazy or anything. So what if she happens to have an itsy-bitsy crush on her reality-challenged friend? Who’s it hurting, really?

But things are about to get complicated, because there’s a new guy in school—a guy with hauntingly familiar eyes. A guy who knows things about Ellie that he shouldn’t have any way of knowing…

Come check out the book that readers are calling "fantastic," "wonderfully sweet," and "a young adult novel with true heart and soul."

Across the room, their gazes locked. Time seemed to move syrup-slow. Green—she could see now that his eyes were a familiar, brilliant green. All the saliva in her mouth dried up.
Those eyes…they were the eyes from her dreams. It was impossible, but…he had Gabe’s eyes.
For a long moment Ellie sat stunned, just staring at the new guy. She felt lightheaded and dizzy, like the world had fallen off its axis and was spinning madly.
She realized she’d forgotten how to breathe. Crap. Breathing—that was important. How did that work again?
She started to panic as black dots appeared in front of her eyes. So not good. Forcing herself to close her eyes, she concentrated and finally drew a shuddering breath, then another. Phew, back in business.
Now that she was fully functional again, she opened one eye, peeking at the new arrival, then, when he still appeared to be there, she opened the other, looking at him full on.
He was definitely still there, still staring back at her with those impossible eyes as he took his new textbook from Mr. Barker and deliberately made his way across the classroom toward where she sat.
Was this a dream? None of her Gabe dreams had ever taken place at school before. Just to be sure, she pinched herself. Yep, that hurt.
Still, this couldn’t actually be happening—she had to be dreaming. Or was this it? Was this the moment she finally lost her ability to tell the waking world from the dream one?
It was just…his eyes. She looked down at the notepaper in front of her, then back to the new guy who seemed to be watching her with interest, as if somehow aware that she was experiencing an existential crisis. Watching her with Gabe’s eyes.                
Ellie shook herself, trying to dislodge the idea. They were just green eyes. Just regular, ordinary, not-belonging-to-a-figment-of-her-imagination eyes. Not Gabe’s eyes. Just eyes…belonging to a guy with an admittedly similar name...
That must be it—the name. It was making her see things that weren’t there, making her think he was looking at her like he knew her. But…that wasn’t possible. Gabe was imaginary. As in not real. She’d made him up. And—this was ridiculous. She was arguing with herself.
Someday I’ll find you, Ellie, her memory whispered in Gabe’s voice.

Beth M. Honeycutt

A professional writer and editor, Beth has written everything from poetry and short stories to proposals for government contracts, science textbooks, and standardized tests (yes, you have her to thank for those!). Her real love is writing fiction, though, especially YA. She loves to travel and has been to nine different countries (more if you count layovers!). At home or abroad, she can usually be found with her head in a book or madly scribbling down ideas for a book of her own. She loves spending time with family, stories of all kinds, and happy endings. She firmly believes in the enduring power of love.

"I haven't found a book since the Twilight series that held my attention long enough to finish. I couldn't put this book down. 5 STAR all the way."
"Wow, this book rates right up there with some of the best I have read. LOVED IT."
“Ms. Honeycutt weaves a tale of magic. Effortlessly written and thoroughly enjoyable.”

“This story was everything I hoped for as well as everything I believed that it would be. It was sweet without being too sensual and romantic without being too sappy. My heart just smiled with every endearment that was spoken. It was truly just beautiful.”

"A sweet story about finding love unexpectedly and finding the courage to take a chance with the seemingly impossible. It's a quick read, but a must."
"I'm so glad I read this book. This is a well written, 'clean' book that proves that you don't need sexual innuendo and filthy language to keep a reader's attention. I love the unique story and very likable characters. I can't wait to read the sequel!"

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  1. Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog, Debbie! I really appreciate it!