Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Beth Orsoff, author of HONEYMOON FOR ONE which is a Kindle book. You'll probably want to order Beth's book, so here's the Kindle ASIN: B003VYBEOS to make it even easier for you to locate it.
I read Honeymoon For One, and reviewed it last week. In a word: delightful.
Beth Orsoff writes humorous women's fiction. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an eight-year-old Tickle Me Elmo. You can find Beth on the web, at these sites:
Beth on Facebook
Beth's Amazon Author Page
If you'd like to write to Beth, you can use this email: beth (at) bethorsoff (dot) com.
Now, let's pour a fresh cup of coffee and start chatting with Beth Orsoff.
Fun Questions To Break The Ice
Joan: Moby Dick or Jaws? Why?
Beth: Definitely Jaws. I read to be entertained, not put to sleep (I apologize in advance to any Moby Dick fans out there). Plus I'm fascinated by sharks. I'm an avid snorkeler, occasional scuba diver, and I never miss a "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel.
Joan: What's your TV guilty pleasure? Why?
Beth: VH1's "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s." I generally avoid reality television, but I cannot turn away from this show. I think it's because every song they play brings back a childhood memory.
Joan: Name a book, any genre, that means a lot to you and tell us why. (Feel free to mention more than 1.)
Beth: Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. It was the first "chick lit" book I read (excluding Jane Austen, who we weren't calling chick lit back when I was in high school and college). It was laugh out loud funny, and it made me realize that you didn't have to write like Hemingway or Fitzgerald to be a writer.
Joan: Name a book that you were forced to read in school that you think was a time waste and please tell us why. (In school, because that means dead authors, and we don't want to hurt feelings. Again, feel free to mention more than 1.)
Beth: This is a tough question. I was an English major in college so there were a LOT of books that I was forced to read that I thought were a waste of time. Since I've managed to purge them from my memory, I had to go to my bookshelf and pull out one of those old college Norton Anthologies. I had vague recollections of reading Tennyson's "Ulysses" and sure enough, it had my notes all over it. Finally, a justification for having saved those thick, heavy, boring books for twenty years!
The Sweet 16
1. How long have you been working at your craft? Please tell us something about your first published book, the journey from the idea that you wanted to write a book to finally writing one for which you received a publishing contract.
Beth: I purchased my first "How to Write a Novel" book in 1994. It was the first book I'd purchased after completing the torturous three-day California Bar Exam. Clue that I'd chosen the wrong career path? I was a very tentative fiction writer. I wrote all the time as a lawyer, but that's a very different kind of writing.
During my early years as a lawyer, I took many writing courses at UCLA Extension, and I didn't really find my "voice" until 1999 in a class titled "Discovering the Writer Within." I wrote a story about a date I went on with a budding pilot who couldn't land the plane. That story got a lot of laughs, and I had my lightbulb moment – this is what I should be writing. It took a couple more years and ultimately a sabbatical from the day job, before I finished my first book, Romantically Challenged in 2002.
Or at least I thought I was finished. I started sending out query letters to agents, and received a lot of requests for partials, and fulls, but they all passed. I thought, I'm close, but not quite there yet. I ended up submitting the novel to UCLA Extension's Manuscript Evaluation program and getting a professional opinion from a writer/editor/instructor. I sent her the fifth draft with the notes I'd received from agents who rejected it (all containing conflicting advice, of course), and she sent me back an eight-page single-spaced e-mail detailing all of the things that were wrong with my book.
I adopted the vast majority of her suggestions (she wanted me to ax my character's Tickle Me Elmo doll, but I just couldn't agree to that one), wrote two more drafts, set it aside for almost a year when I got engaged and planned my wedding and honeymoon, then started sending it out to agents again. Two months later I had an offer of representation, and six weeks after that I had an offer of publication from NAL.
The book was published in 2006, and I threw a book signing party at Borders to celebrate. I thought I just had to sign the books (and provide the wine), but I was told by the homeless woman who attends all of Borders' events that, no, I had to read from the book too. I read the version of the airplane/date story that made it into the published version of the book. It still got a lot of laughs.
2. The book about which we're talking today was what number book for you? 1st, 3rd, 7th?
Beth: Third. I'm not the world's fastest writer.
3. Tell us something about this particular book. How did you come up with the title, and do you have a 1 sentence blurb or log line to tease readers?
Beth: I had always dreamed of going to Tahiti. When my husband proposed, I had no idea what kind of wedding I wanted, but I knew exactly where we'd be going on our honeymoon. I suffered through planning the ceremony and reception, but I relished every moment of planning the honeymoon trip.
We visited three Tahitian islands (including Bora Bora, which is just as beautiful as you imagine it would be). Every couple we met was either a honeymooner or a couple celebrating a special anniversary. Tahiti is not a place one would want to go to alone.
It was a couple of years later (maybe I'd been thinking about the honeymoon) when I had a dream about a woman who was dumped at the altar, but still wanted to go on her lovingly planned and long dreamed of tropical honeymoon. And that's how Honeymoon for One was born.
I changed the setting to Belize, added a murder, a neurotic, conspiracy-spouting best friend, a mysterious antiquities dealer, a hot scuba instructor, and an adorable turtle named Fred. Six months later, I had a novel AND a logline: There are worse things in life than getting dumped at the altar, and being accused of killing your fake husband in a third world country where you can't speak the language is one of them.
4. This book is one you published for eBook readers. How did you make that transition from print to eBook?
Beth: My agent shopped Honeymoon for One to all the major publishers in 2007, but it had no takers. At the time I thought about submitting it myself to e-book publishers, but my agent was against it. She felt that once my next book sold, that Honeymoon for One would sell too.
Fast forward three years, my new agent was shopping my new manuscript, How I Learned to Love the Walrus, when my first book Romantically Challenged, went out of print. The rights reverted back to me, and I decided to re-release it as an e-book on Kindle. It began selling with absolutely no promotion (I suspect the $2.99 price point helped), but since it had been print published, it already had a lot of critical and reader reviews.
Honeymoon for One was an experiment – could I sell an e-book that had never been print published? To my surprise and delight, Honeymoon for One immediately started selling better than Romantically Challenged, even with no reviews. In fact, several readers have told me that they enjoyed Honeymoon for One so much that they went back and bought Romantically Challenged too. I believe that's true because after Honeymoon for One started selling, the sales of Romantically Challenged picked up too.
5. Do you have any "under the bed" books? If so, how many, and what do you plan to do with them?
Beth: I have one "under the bed" book. It's a chick lit novel entitled Disengaged which I wrote after I sold Romantically Challenged but before that book was published. A few friends who have read it and liked it asked me why I haven't put that one up on Kindle too. The answer is eventually I probably will. But I know it needs a rewrite, and I'm focusing my energies on newer projects right now. But someday . . . .
6. If they made a movie of your book, who would be cast to portray the characters?
Beth: Lizzie - Anna Kendrick; Jane--Emily Blunt (with a blonde wig)
7. What keeps you going when you get rejected?
Beth: It's hard sometimes. But a good writing day is the best high I know. I guess you could say I keep going because I'm an addict.
8. What's your favorite "oh crap I got a rejection" food and/or drink to soothe the savaged ego?
Beth: Baskin-Robbins Hot Fudge Sundae. Good for the soul, bad for the thighs.
9. Who are your writing influences?
Beth: I love Emily Giffin's first two novels, Something Borrowed and Something Blue. She managed to make readers care about heroines who do some less than heroic things. That takes real talent. Giffin's also a former lawyer, which gives me hope too. I'm also a fan of Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" series. Ranger or Joe? Joe or Ranger? Someday that girl is going to have to decide. In the meantime, it's fun watching her struggle.
10. What are you working on now?
Beth: I'm one of those "seat of the pants" writers who doesn't outline, so I never really know what a book is about until I've written it. I'm tinkering with a new book that is going to contain two sisters, a couple of hot guys (one good, one bad), and a lost fortune. That's all I know so far!
11. What do you now know that you wish you'd known when you started?
Beth: That selling the second book is even harder than selling the first!
12. What's the best thing about writing?
Beth: When the characters come alive. It's an amazing experience.
13. What's the worst thing about writing?
Beth: Rejection, whether it's in the form of an editor passing on a manuscript, or a reader's bad review.
14. Do you have writing goals? If so, would you share some with us?
Beth: I used to want to be a NY Times Bestselling Author. I've scaled back. Now I just want to be a selling author :) Although my goal is still to eventually be in a position where I can earn a living off of my writing and quit the day job.
15. What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Beth: The Stephanie Meyers's, J.K. Rowling's, and Stieg Larsson's of the world are aberrations. For most of us, the road to publication and professional success is a marathon not a sprint.
16. Do you have any particular advice for a writer wanting to publish for eBooks?
Beth: Just because you can publish your first draft, doesn't mean you should. E-books offer an amazing opportunity for writers. But if you want to be a professional writer, you need to put out a professional product. Do not type "the end" and immediately upload to Kindle.
Joan: I've really enjoyed chatting with you, Beth. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about anything?
Beth: Thank you, Joan, for offering me this opportunity; and thank you, readers, for buying my books!
Honeymoon for One is a delightful blend of mystery, humor, and BFF relationships with a dash of romance tossed in for good measure. Try it. I think you'll like it.