Congratulations to the winner of the Author Spotlight giveaway of Silence in the Dark, PAT JONES. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Beth White, author of The Magnolia Duchess, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

White_BethIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug? How would you describe your writing style?

I entered the world as a story-teller—started keeping a journal when I was in the sixth grade, and began to write little scenes, short stories, and plays around that same time. A contemporary comedy-romance novella I wrote in college got passed around the dorm to rave reviews. I finished my first full-length YA romance sometime during the early ‘90’s, sent it to Bethany House and got really close to landing a contract! At that point, realizing how woefully ignorant I was, I joined Romance Writers of America to get some feedback, training, and industry connections.

Style? Is “Southern” a style? As I write, I feel myself channeling Zane Grey for romantic sweep of setting, Max Brand for adventure and humor, and Jane Austen for deep but quirky characters and firm sense of irony.

Tell us about your new release:

My April 2016 release from Revell is The Magnolia Duchess, the third book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles series. This is a very loosely-tied historical romance series, where each book involves a different generation of my fictional Lanier family. In Duchess, set near the end of the War of 1812, Fiona Lanier finds out her brother has been taken prisoner by the British Navy on the same morning British naval lieutenant Charlie Lanier washes up on the beach near her home at Mobile Point, half-drowned and claiming not to remember what he’s doing there or how he got there. As Fiona and Charlie fall in love, his memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, and she must find the line where patriotism and family loyalty war with her heart’s desire. To make things interesting, we’ve got horses, pirates, sugar plantations, British aristocrats, and the Battle of New Orleans involved. (Side note: I didn’t have the heart to tell the marketing folks at Revell that magnolias relate to Mississippi, not Alabama—because, great title, right?!)

How can readers connect with you online?

I’m at www.bethwhite.net; @bethsquill on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

I recently signed a three-book contract with Revell for a new historical romance series set in Tupelo, Mississippi. After the Civil War, the three Daughtry sisters—Selah, Aurora, and Joelle—find themselves evicted from their family plantation and left responsible for a gaggle of war orphans, as well as a family of freed slaves. The first book launches with the arrival in Tupelo of retired Union Major Dai Jernigan, now a Pinkerton detective on the trail of rail saboteurs. Ostensibly charged with converting the confiscated Daughtry House into a railside inn, Jernigan convinces middle sister Selah—whose plans do not include falling in love with a bossy Yankee musician—to manage renovations and operations and to serve as liaison between him and naturally suspicious townspeople. My goal is to create fun characters, tight suspense, and thrilling romance.

What book have you reread the most?

Little Women.

Right this moment, what does your office look like?The Magnolia Duchess-Book Cover

It looks like someone is moving in. That’s because… we just moved in. So I just sit in the living room with my laptop and write.

What book is on the top of your TBR pile?

I’m in the middle of two books at the moment: The Martian by Andy Weir (for fun) and The Rape of the Mind by Joost Meerloo (because I wanted to understand).

How do you solve a grammar dilemma?

I don’t have grammar dilemmas. Seriously. I had a 9th-grade teacher who made us diagram sentences until our eyes bled and grammar is in my DNA. It makes my life miserable, because nobody else cares that much anymore. I can’t even read my church bulletin without cringing. Don’t get me started on spelling.

What’s your favorite writing snack?

Peanut M & M’s

Can a person make a living as a writer?

Obviously, some people can. I can’t. I tried, but just couldn’t discipline myself with all that “free” time. I found myself being less productive without a day job, and if you’re going to run a business, you have to be productive. Writing is a business as well as an art.

What are your biggest distractions?

Sudoku. It’s an illness.

What is the role and importance of an agent?

An agent serves different writers in a variety of very personal ways. I don’t need an agent for critiquing or editing. I just need my agent to sell my work, so I depend on him to maintain positive connections within the publishing industry. A couple of times I’ve hit on dry periods where I just needed to back off and regroup. My agent didn’t bug me during those periods, but he kept the connection and encouraged me not to give up, and he talked through options with me so that I could make informed decisions as opportunities and ideas came to me.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Read. Study craft books by successful writers and editors, then pick a couple of good systems to try—until you hit on what works well for you. Stay humble and teachable. Have the guts to submit. Don’t publish too early (probably not the first four books you write).

What was your biggest break?

I met Tyndale House editor Kathy Olson at a Gulf Coast Romance Writers of America conference in 1998. I transported her to and from the airport, which gave us time to connect. I had a partial manuscript ready to show her, and she liked my writing enough to request a submission to a Tyndale anthology series.

Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far? Explain:

Dan Lanier is the hero of my second completed YA romance, The Outlaw. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful anybody will ever read it, because it would take too much work to fix all the mistakes I made before I knew what I was doing. Dan is the forerunner of all my funny, chivalrous, artsy, bad-boy heroes who have made it into print.

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? In-between?

Extreme introvert. I can have lovely one-on-one conversations, and I can teach music or the Bible to a classroom full of teenagers or kids, but crowds of adults wear me out.

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