~ Interview by Melina Kantor
Years ago, before I even dreamed of becoming a writer, I was addicted to a blog called Literary Chicks, a group blog run by six fabulous, highly talented authors.
I was there every day, devouring their posts and their books.
One author I discovered, thanks to Literary Chicks, is Beth Kendrick.
It’s a honor to have her visiting us today! What a thrill.
And. . . She’s giving away a copy of her new book!
Read on. . .
Welcome Beth! 🙂
Congratulations on your new book, which I can’t wait to read! Especially since it involves pie. Would you mind telling us a bit about The Bake-Off?
Secrets, sisterhood, and unlawful amounts of pastry—plus, I included recipes for vodka-butter cake and killer apple pie. My readers deserve the very best!
Here’s the thirty-second summary:
Suburban soccer mom Amy has always wanted to stand out from the crowd. Former child prodigy Linnie just wants to fit in. The two sisters have been estranged for years, but thanks to a series of personal crises and their wily grandmother, they’ve teamed up to enter a national bake-off in the hopes of winning some serious cash. Armed with the top-secret recipe for Grammy’s apple pie, they should be unstoppable. Sure, neither one of them has ever baked anything more complicated than brownie mix, but it’s just pie — how hard could it be?
When the competition heats up, what began as a straightforward pact for victory deteriorates into a sugarcoated free-for-all. Amy and Linnie struggle to rebuild their relationship as family secrets, old betrayals and new romances arise. Given the right recipe and an unexpected blend of bitter and sweet, even the oddest pairings can produce something delicious.
I absolutely adore your story about how being invited to a wedding also got you invited into a critique group. Would you mind sharing it here?
I was in my early twenties and had just started seeing this guy, and on our second or third date, he invited me to be his guest at a family wedding. Being young and a bit commitment-shy, I was about to decline until he casually mentioned that the bride was a successful romance novelist. Well, the second I heard that, I had to go. Being a writer had always been my dream job, and I’d never met anyone who’d actually beaten the odds and made the leap into big-time publishing. So I RSVP-ed, sidled up to the bar at the reception, waited until the bride and all her author friends uncorked the good champagne, and then peppered them with endless questions about writing, editing, and landing an agent. (This just in: Beth Kendrick has no shame.)
Next thing you know, I had joined a critique group and was knee-deep in the manuscript that would eventually become my first novel, My Favorite Mistake. The open bar at that wedding changed my life forever. Thank you, Dom Perignon!
How has being a member of RWA benefited your writing career?
I’ve learned a ton from all the conference workshops over the years, but the other benefit for me has been meeting my fellow writers. Writing is such a solitary occupation, and where you’re holed up in your office with only your dog for company, it’s easy to feel isolated and let self-doubt creep in.
I’ve met some of my BFFs at RWA events, and they are the ones I call when I’m stuck on a plot point, reeling from unexpected news (good or bad!), or just need a bit of fun and perspective. The very best part about being a writer is hanging out with other writers.
Considering that you often write about complex relationships, it’s not surprising that you have a Ph.D in psychology. How has your degree impacted your writing?
Practically speaking, the best thing I learned from doing the Ph.D. was how to sit down in the chair every day, face the blank screen, and get my pages done. A dissertation is similar to a novel in that you have to provide your own motivation—there’s no one standing over you, cracking the whip. You learn to set your own deadlines and meet them, and that has served me well over the course of my fiction career.
From a more theoretical standpoint, I do think that psychology and romantic fiction go hand-in-hand. Rules of attraction do exist, but they don’t always work the way you’d expect, which keeps stories fresh and exciting.
What do you think of the term “chick lit?” Are your books “chick lit”?
Ooh, the great “chick lit” controversy! The way I see it, my job is to write the best books I possibly can, and my primary responsibility is to my readers. My novels have been categorized as “chick lit”, “women’s fiction”, and “romance”, and honestly, all those labels do apply. But they’re also kind of pointless, arbitrary distinctions. Good stories with compelling characters encompass all those elements and more.
I think readers are savvy enough to know what they want, regardless of media/marketing labels. I write books with a strong females protagonists, supportive female communities, and happy (or at least, hopeful) endings, and I’m very proud of that.
Have you got any advice for as of yet unpublished writers?
Put your head down, start writing, and don’t look up until you’ve finished a first draft. Of course it will be a hot mess. Everybody’s first drafts are a hot mess! Who cares? You’ll fix it up later.
Designate “writing hours” every day, and stay off the Internet as much as possible during that time. There’s so much information available now—so many blogs and chat forums and Facebook groups—and it’s easy to do everything except write. You feel like you’re writing, because you’re reading up on publishing news and agency updates, but none of that matters if you don’t have an actual manuscript to sell.
Oh, and when you’re completely stuck and/or on the verge of a nervous breakdown, call one of your RWA friends to talk you down. Works every time!
Thanks so much Beth! I can’t wait to read your book (and try those recipes)! 🙂
For more about Beth’s book, check our her guest post on Lucy March’s fabulous blog. (Like Beth, Lucy was also a Literary Chick.)
Don’t forget to leave a comment. One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Bake-Off. The winner will be announced on Friday, 5/6.
Beth Kendrick is still mastering the fine art of making piecrust, but she can whip up a decadent chocolate-cranberry cheesecake, and her chocolate chip cookies have been described as “utopian.” Her previous novels include Second Time Around, The Pre-Nup, and Nearlyweds. For more information, please visit her website (www.BethKendrick.com) or Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BethKendrickBooks).