Today, we‘re visiting with Beth Cornelison, a talented and prolific writer. She’s won Readers’ choice awards, an RWA Golden Heart, and was a finalist for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. And she’s done all this in a rather short writing career. So, let’s discover a bit more about Beth.
You started writing after you left Georgia and moved to Louisiana. Was there something in Louisiana that prompted you, or just the change in your employment?
Beth: First, thanks for giving me the chance to share my story and a bit about my books with your readers! I’ve actually been writing my whole life. Many of my earliest books will never see the light of day, but they fueled the fire in my belly to be a writer. When we moved to Louisiana, I looked for a job in public relations, but nothing was available locally at the time. With a bit of free time on my hands, the creative juices started bubbling, and I started writing again. Within a few months, I’d decided to pursue writing and motherhood as my dual careers.
JRC: And now you have more than twenty books published. It looks like 2011 was your most productive year with five books. What kind of writing schedule do you have?
Beth: I write in the morning with a daily page count in mind and continue working until I reach that page count. The page count goal varies depending on how close I am to my deadline and how much of my manuscript is left to complete. If I fall behind my page count for the week, I will often work on Saturday morning as well. In the afternoon, I do other writing-related business such as answering email, reading, editing, promotion planning, etc.
JRC: Your May 2012 release is Soldier’s Pregnancy Protocol. A different title. Tell us a little about it.
Beth: Soldier’s Pregnancy Protocol is the title my editor came up with. At Harlequin, they’ve put a lot of research into what key words and themes their readers respond to, and the editors work to get those hooks in the titles whenever possible. The plot of Soldier’s Pregnancy Protocol (which is the first book in a series about a Black Ops team) involves a black ops agent who is trying to find out what happened to his black ops partner following a mission that went awry in Colombia. When the woman who bought his house mistakenly gets drawn into the crossfire, he takes on the duty to protect her and her unborn baby from the killers who are after him while he uncovers the truth about what went wrong on his last mission in Colombia. The story is a romance, but it includes lots of adventure and suspense. The story was lots of fun to write and spawned the ideas for the series that will feature other members of the black ops team.
JRC: I notice this is a Harlequin Romantic Suspense. But, it also said “Black Ops Rescues.” And one of your 2011 books also included a special ops character. Tell us a little bit about this.
Beth: Many books for Harlequin Romantic Suspense books feature special ops characters, policemen, firefighters, soldiers…any career that lends itself to a suspense plot in addition to the romance storyline. I’ve written a few characters with special ops backgrounds, but usually the reader meets the character once they have returned to civilian life after leaving special ops. In Soldier’s Pregnancy Protocol, however, the protagonist is still a black ops agent but is working a personal case, trying to discover who betrayed him and his partner months earlier. The Black Ops Rescues series will feature other black ops agents from the same team of agents with their own private missions on cases personal to them.
Beth: Romance books are by nature emotional books because they are about the relationship between the hero and heroine of the story and the obstacles they must overcome to reach their “happily ever after.” Danger At Her Door was an especially emotional book because of the subject matter. The heroine had been raped by a serial rapist years earlier, and the rapist was never caught. Through her connection to the hero of the story, she discovers the identity of her rapist and finds her life in jeopardy when the rapist comes after her again to silence her. The hero risks his career to help bring the rapist to justice. Writing books that deal with especially emotional subject matter can be gut wrenching, because I try to put myself in that character’s shoes, really immersing myself in their mindset. I read interviews, research the psychology of certain traumas and draw on conversations I’ve had with people in similar circumstances, trying for realism with my characters emotions.
JRC: In 2010, I invited you to speak at a conference I directed (NETWO’s 24th annual conference). The title of your talk was “Perfect People Are Boring: What You Need to Know about Character Growth.” How have you grown as a writer?
Beth: I try to continue learning about the writing process by attending writer’s conferences, taking online classes, and looking for fresh ways to portray my stories with each book. I read as much as I can both within my genre and outside it. Of course the best way to improve my writing is through practice! I write constantly and am always looking for ways to make each story the best it can be.
JRC: Do you have some advice that you would like to give to every aspiring writer who has not achieved the level of success you have?
Beth: The best advice I have is to persist! Rejections are hard to take, but they are part of the business. Keep writing, keep reading, keep learning about the craft and the business of writing, and never, never give up!
JRC: Great advice: never give up. The world would have already lost many great books if the author had given up after a hat-full of rejections. You can find out more about Beth Cornelison at her website: http://www.bethcornelison.com
Please leave a comment for Beth. Thanks.