Beth Knows Books!

This week's guest is Beth. She has a lot of great stuff to say about books, so we'd better get started!

Hello, I’m Beth.  I am a 48-year-old widow raising a 12-year-old daughter.  My calling in life is teaching.  I’ve been a creative writing teacher on the high school and college level for 25 years.  I pretty much am reading something 24 hours a day, if not then I’m asleep. 

I love all genres really, since I do have to teach them, but it seems since my husband died I am drawn to romance with HEAs.  In self analyzing this, I think it’s because I want to read about romance, falling in love, and happily ever afters because mine was cut short.  My favorite romances are sports.  Sports have always been a part of my life since I was a little girl.  I learned to draw football and basketball plays before I learned to color in the lines or draw stick figures….still not good at those.  I’m not limited to sports romance, because I love all romance.  I will say that I am drawn to new adult/college because I’m around young adults and new adults every single day.  I like to think reading NA romance keeps me tuned in to what’s going on in my students’ lives, who knows though.

SUE: Thinking about the books you’ve read over the years, what character stuck with you the most and why?

BETH: As far as characters that have stuck in my mind, I can’t say definitively that there is just one, two, or even ten.  I have loved many characters as well as hated many characters.  Then there have been the characters that did not move me and are therefore not very memorable.  Honestly, there are writers out there who write characters that I am always fascinated to read about, just a few examples are Jen Fredericks characters.  I can’t think of one of her characters that I haven’t been happy with.  I like Kristin Proby’s characters as well.  Kristin Ashley has characters that draw me in.  Lani Lynn Vale has got me quite obsessed with her reads.  There are so many other writers I could mention whose characters have enthralled me in one way or another.  I look for characters who show growth.  I look for characters who I would want to actually meet if I could.  Those are the kinds of characters who stay with me long after the read.

SUE: Have any fiction books affected your life? If so, how?

BETH: All books affect my life in the moment that I’m reading, but there have been some that have affected me more for one reason or another.  There is one book, and I just happen to have read it right after my husband died, and that book has stayed with me to the point I haven’t read a book by that author since.  Taking Chances by Molly McAdams.  That book gutted me.  It just happened to be the first romance I had read in like forever that I hadn’t assigned in one of my classes.  I wanted to read about someone finding that person and living a long and happy life because mine had been stolen.  I needed to know it was still out there.  If you’ve read it, then you know the hero dies.  My heart broke, and I honestly didn’t think I would pick up another romance novel ever.  Kidding, I just grabbed another and prayed that not all romance novels were like this.  Fortunately I have found many, many wonderful HEAs which keeps me inspired to read more and more and more.

SUE: Pet peeves?

BETH: My pet peeves, well they happen to be many.  Right now, trying to find a book and it’s nothing but stepbrother romances.  I have been asked to review a lot of stepbrother romances.  Since I hardly ever turn down a personal request when someone ask me to read for them, I grin and bare it.  But seriously, when I want to pick something from the Amazon shelves, the cover looks good, the title is promising, then it says stepbrother romance I want to scream….ENOUGH. Since they keep popping up, I’m assuming I’m in the minority here.  Other pet peeves are books that tell and don’t show plot development.  I want the full experience if I’m reading about two people falling in love, otherwise I don’t connect with the characters or their love story.  Then there are writers who think that creating a bitchy heroine is attractive, and it’s not.  There is a difference between snarky, sarcastic, or witty and being an outright bitch.  The romances with back and forth for 28 chapters and one or two chapters with a short prologue that actually has the characters together are very irritating to me.  I’m one of those people that think, if the character spends the whole book trying to talk him or herself into being with the other, then they need to move along. I understand that beginning a new relationship can make people cautious, and that is totally fine, but when characters refuse to even try because of reputation, or a difficult past, or they don’t feel adequate or pretty…god that list goes on and on, but needless to say; I get so bored in these.  The sad thing is the back and forth and push and pull reasons are never really validated.  I’m not on board with characters who had their hearts broken by a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school taking the baggage to college or adulthood and making them so unforgiving or untrusting toward the love interest that they spend the book playing catch and release.  Or using the death of a loved one to try to sell a character being so damaged.  I don’t get it, and I lost my husband who was everything to me.  I never became angry or bitter to the point I needed therapy.  My biggest pet peeve, and I know this is one no one quite gets, is the overuse of angst and drama in one love story.  I’ve read authors who throw everything but a leading kitchen sink in a book to cause some silly dramatic twist, and I think it’s probably because they just didn’t think of it or they would have.  I am looking so diligently for authors who can still develop a creative, emotional, and exciting romance with drama not revolving around broken hearts, hurt feelings, death, stalkers, crazy exes, etc.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that unless a couple has to weather 50 OTT angst-ridden moments, then the love can’t be real.  These are just a few of my heavy-duty pet peeves.  A few agree, but so many disagree.

SUE: What pulls you in?

BETH: What draws me into a book, usually the first chapter or the prologue.  Of course I read the blurb and see if it sounds like something I want to read, but these unfortunately sometimes are the best part of the book.  Sometimes the title will capture my interest.  What really draws me though is the use of dialogue.  Lord knows how many times I’ve read a book where there was actually no decent conversation between the characters.  Nothing they conversation to attract them to each other.  To me it just became a book based on lust, I guess.

SUE: Paper or Kindle?

BETH: I love my Kindle.  I love my Kindle so much I have four backups, you know, just in case.  Oh, and I always have one of my Kindles with me, or two.  I hate to mention the fact that the Kindle App is also downloaded on my laptop, cell phone, and tablet.  Trust me, I’m never, ever without the ability to pull up a book I’m reading on some device at hand.  I refuse to admit I may be obsessed.

SUE: What are your thoughts on book reviews? How important are they? Do you trust them? Do you ignore them?

BETH: When I find a book I’m interested in, I have to admit that many times the cover will catch my eye.  I try not to let that be the sole reason.  I also look for the author’s name and the title.  If any of these pique my interest then I will read the description.  All that being said, and call me crazy, I don’t read the reviews.  How I feel about a book or how I review a book is based totally on my reading of it.  I don’t want to be influenced by why 200 people thought it was a five-star read and 20 people thought it was a one-star read.  After I have read it and formed my thoughts and reflections on the book, then I leave my review.  After I have reviewed then I begin reading a few reviews in the five, four, three, two, and one ratings to see in what vicinity I fall in when it comes to the read.  So, I really don’t put a lot in others' reviews except for curiosity’s sake.

SUE: Do book covers matter? What are some of your favorites?

BETH: I think book covers are a huge influence on attracting a reader.  I know when I see a book cover that captures my interest, hot guy, well I need to check out the description next.  I always think of myself as a shallow and unprofessional reader at this point, because books and writing being my life I know I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  And I promise, doing just that has come to bite me in the butt many times.  Just because some insanely hot guy is on the cover with a really intriguing title to go with it does not mean quality writing.  It just means the writer has good taste in guys.  Yeah, I’ve lived and learned many times.

SUE: Final thoughts for our visitors?

BETH: Reading to me is always personal.  I’m a reader that wants and expects to fall head over heels into a novel.  I want the words to suck me in for the hours that I plan on spending in the pages of the book.  I want the characters to make me want them for my new best friends.  Honestly, and this is something else that so many readers disagree on, but I love first person, dual POV, especially in the romance genre.  I love it because I feel like the author takes the time to involve BOTH characters in the story.  So many times when it’s single POV there is chapter after chapter of one character with little pop-ups of the other characters.  Somewhere in the midst the love interest becomes almost a secondary character.  I never want to read a romance where I feel like the other MC is a secondary character.  Dual POV gets inside the mind and lives of both characters.  It makes both of them falling in love something I can believe for the time I get to be in their world.  I always begin reading a romance under the impression that the author wants us to root for this couple and fall in love with this couple, but if they don’t take the time to make me believe there are two people in the relationship, then by the last page of the book I am totally ambivalent to whether they get an HEA or not.  I don’t want to be feel like I’m being told these are the MCs, they will fall in love, and you are to be happy that they did.  I want to be introduced to them.  I want to feel them both fall.  I want to feel in my mind and heart that they both fell in love and deserve the HEA the author gives them.

SUE: I just want to say thank you so much, Beth, for your incredible insights, that was a fantastic interview! Now it's time for me to go and read a good book!

* * * *

Sue Wyshynski is the author of The Butterfly Code. Sue loves bringing the immediacy of TV and film to her novels, having spent many years in the entertainment industry. Sue believe stories should be immersive, emotional and action-packed. If you'd like to download a Kindle sample, click to see it in the Amazon store.