Ashley here! I am beyond thrilled today to be hosting my dear friend Betsy St. Amant on The Writer's Alley! You may know Betsy from her Love Inspired stories, her book Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK, or her newest release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. Betsy is just delightful and loves sharing stories of God's grace in her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable daughter Audrey (pictured here with cupcakes!) and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray. I know you're going to love her as much as I do, so get comfortable, make a cup of tea, and get to know Betsy!
Oh, and be sure you don't miss her upcoming 3-1 in novella collection, Winter Brides, featuring Denise Hunter and Deb Raney! It releases this month, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!
You can find Betsy online at www.betsystamant.com and www.writergetsreal.blogspot.com
1) Tell us a little bit about your new book, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes.
All's Fair in Love & Cupcakes is about a female baker, Kat, who is longing to break free of her stifled job baking for her great-aunt at a small town bakery. She is stuck in a very vanilla existence and longs to shine - yet at the same time, doesn't realize she is hiding her insecurities behind that stifling. Her best friend is high school football coach, Lucas, who has discovered his feelings for his BFF have switched to something more As a coach, he has to have the perfect play, at all times - so as his big gesture to show Kat how much he believes in her and cares for her, he signs her up for a reality TV contest, Cupcake Combat, not realizing at the time two important details - 1. He would be the one suckered into being her baking assistant on the show, and 2. That the grand prize included a year long baking internship at the most prestigious cupcake bakery in NYC. Now Lucas has to decide if he is going to help the woman he loves accomplish HER dreams by sacrificing his own...
2) What inspired this story?
This story was inspired by cupcakes, mostly. LOL Everyone on social media would joke and laugh over how many times cupcakes would appear in my newsfeed, be it a photo or me talking about them or referencing how me and my young daughter would watch the TV show Cupcake Wars together...when someone suggested I should write a cupcake book, I thought, HMMMM. That could be fun! The story was also inspired by the theme of "best friends to more" because I just love that whole concept and think the best relationships stem from friends-first.
3) What does your writing process look like?
In a nutshell, my writing process is one, big, giant, huge, HOT MESS. I'm a single mom with a full time job outside of writing, so my writing time is limited and sometimes completely non-existent. But somehow, by the grace of God, it always works out! I had to learn not to wait to write when I had hours free, rather, I need to discipline myself to write even if I only have twenty minutes at a time. Word count DOES add up. Now, writing-craft wise, my style is very character-driven. I always seem to know my character's heart and struggles and internal conflict before I ever know the plot of the actual storyline.
4) What are you favorite books? Do you think they've shaped your writing style?
I don't have favorite BOOKS so much as I have favorite AUTHORS. It's more clear cut to put it that way because I have several distinctive authors in my life who I truly love ALL of their books. These authors include but are not limited to - James Rubart, Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Lisa Wingate, Susan Meissner, Kristen Heitzmann and Julie Klassen. They all write a variety of genres but the heart of their stories are so vibrant and they are all such gifted authors. One of my favorites from some of these is The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck and The Girl In The Glass by Susan Meissner.
To finish answering that question - yes, I think they have influenced my own writing, because while their writing styles all vary, they challenge me to focus on the HEARTBEAT of the story and really put myself into it and not hold back.
5) I loved The Wedding Dress too, Betsy! Definitely one of my all-time favorites. What advice do you have for writers who are still looking for an agent or editor?
My advice to writers who are still looking for an agent or an editor is to KEEP TRYING and go to writers conferences. I would not be where I am today without the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Author Gayle Roper recommended that group to me when I was just a baby, and nothing has been the same since! The ACFW conference is where I landed my agent, and where I networked with the editors that put me in the publishing house I am in today. Nothing done at conference is wasted. So I highly recommend learning the craft of writing through courses, even online courses, and going to as many conferences as possible because that in-person, face to face contact makes such a difference in a saturated industry.
6) I agree. Plus it's so fun to meet other authors. What do you see as the theme of this story, and what do you hope readers take away from reading it?
I love the theme of this book, about sacrificing dreams, because in my life personally, I've had to sacrifice some pretty major ones, or rather, let them go and trust them to God. I think everyone in their walk with God reaches this point eventually, in one way or another, and it's so liberating and freeing to truly open your hands to all that you hold so dear and hold those empty palms up to God and say "HERE". I had to do this the hard way, but, as Lucas and Kat learn in the story as well, sometimes our dreams come true only after we surrender them fully.
Well, that's all for the interview! A HUGE thanks to Betsy for being here today. Be sure you welcome her to the Alley, and feel free to ask her any questions you might have about writing or her stories. And don't forget to get your copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes!