July 12, 2011

Plotter-Pantser: Talking with Author Bettye Griffin

The Writer

Bettye Griffin is the author of eleven contemporary romances and six works of women's fiction. In 2009 she founded Bunderful Books and has been publishing her novels independently since that time.  Originally from Yonkers, New York, she now makes her home in Southeast Wisconsin.  For more information about Bettye and her novels, visit her web sites, www.bettyegriffin.com and www.bunderfulbooks.com.

You can also learn more about Bettye at the following sites: Facebook, Her Blog, and YouTube channel (book trailers).

The Book

In this updated, revised eBook version of Bettye Griffin’s classic novel originally published in 1999…

Ava Maxwell has made a career out of helping other people with their dreams as the leading wedding planner in the trendy but troubled city of Palmdale, Florida. She cherishes the idea of couples starting marriages and creating families…knowing that for her, the reality was painfully different.

Ten years before Ava walked out on her marriage when she and her ex-husband received the devastating news that she would never be able to have children…the one thing her ex wanted most. The intervening years have been marked by aborted relationships, her only comfort being the belief that she will finally be able to claim happiness once she reaches the point in her life where she would no longer be expected to bear children…but she’s only thirty-five years old and lonely, and ‘that certain age’ is still a good ten years away.

Then, in the same remarkable evening, Ava encounters both an eight-year-old purse snatcher and an exciting new man in town.  Unlikely alliances are formed, bonds that soon deepen into something more special than she’s ever known. Could these two be the key to her attaining…A Love of Her Own?

Click the cover above to purchase A Love of Her Own today!

Plotter ... Pantser

Are you a plotter or pantser...and why?
I'm definitely a plotter.  In my years as a tradntionally published author, I sold on synopsis, not on an entire manuscript.  Even with me now independently publishing my novels, I have to make sure a story will work before I start writing...don't want to get halfway through and then have to throw it out.

Talk to us about your plotter/pantser role as it relates to the experience you had in writing your latest publication.
My latest eBook, A Love of Her Own, is actually a re-release, although one that has been revised and updated.  My most recent new project, The Heat of Heat, started with a general idea:  I wanted to give my readers the sequel to From This Day Forward that they wanted, about the heroine's much younger half sisters.  Then I decided to add the daughter from my book Closer Than Close, who was in the same region and was about the same age.  I made them college friends.  I knew I wanted different types of romances:  the scenario where a woman gets swept off her feet, the scenario where the couple act on sexual impulse, and the traditional scenaro loaded with angst.

From there I laid out the women's characters (they had been introduced previously, but as teenagers...they are grown women now).  I decided they had all been business majors and were all running service industries:  a limousine service (Sinclair), an event planning service (Yolanda), and, the least glamorous, an office cleaning service (Chantal), because Eastern Long Island is also a place where ordinary people live and work.  That made choosing the men's professions easier:  the partner for Sinclair's limo service operator would be a wealthy businessman visiting the area (Ivan), and she had to drive him herself because they were so busy.  I originally had event planner Yolanda meeting her partner, rising pop singer Carlos, at an event she was organizing, but changed that to a concert at a small, intimate venue.  I wanted to give that aura of magic as he spotted her in the audience and visibly became mesmerized, plus it seemed like a good way to introduce most of the major characters.

As for Chantal, the custodial service manager, I had her having to fill in for an ailing employee at an upscale office, where she encountered Trystian, a CPA who instantly antagonizes her by calling her by the name of the regular cleaning person without looking up. I had heard about a 1930s script writer who wanted to use a real-life incident of the back of a woman's dress getting caught in the fly of a man she didn't know at a party (in the end he had to modify it somewhat to appease the censors of the time), and decided that would be a good way for them to have their second encounter, after both of them had freshened up in the locker room on the premises.  There's more to it than that, but I don't want to spoil it for readers who might not yet have read the book.


Excerpt from A Love of Her Own by Bettye Griffin

Frank’s Fish Box was a popular informal seafood restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Nile Beach. The two-story restaurant was large and square, actually shaped like a box. Like every other building in the area it was lit with Christmas lights. Because of its boxy shape, the overall effect was that of an oversize Christmas gift.

It was also full, but only four people were waiting to be seated in the reception and bar area in the front. The hostess took their name and assured them a table would be available within the next fifteen minutes.

“Let’s have a drink,” Hilton suggested. They sat at the bar, and Ava ordered a Chardonnay, Hilton a Seven and Seven.

“Ava, hi!”

“Linda! What a surprise! I thought you were living in West Palm.” Ava warmly hugged the attractive fortyish woman who’d been passing by with a companion.

“I am, but we came to spend the holiday at my father’s. It was here that we met two years ago. I guess we’re just sentimental.” She took the arm of the bespectacled man standing to her left, whose black hair contained a smattering of gray. “Honey, this is Ava Maxwell, an old friend of mine. Ava, this is my husband, Neil Barkley.”

Ava shook hands with Linda’s husband, then introduced Hilton to both of them. “Tell me, will you be here for the entire holiday season?” she asked, beaming. She was so happy for her friend, whose face just glowed.

“Until January second.”

“Then you must come to my open house New Year’s Day. Take down my address.”

The bartender placed their drinks in front of them just as Linda completed writing down Ava’s address. Neil held up his hand. “I’ll take care of that, bartender,” he said.

“Oh, that’s all—” Hilton began.

“No, I insist,” Neil said. He squeezed Linda’s shoulders affectionately. “We’re celebrating. Linda’s pregnant.”

Ava placed her hand palm down on the surface of the bar and swallowed hard. Pregnant? Linda? If it were anyone else…but Linda? How could that be?

The answer came to her just as quickly.

It couldn’t be.

Hilton was offering congratulations and pumping Neil’s hand. “Hey, that’s wonderful.”

“Um...will you excuse me?” Ava asked. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She knew Hilton and Neil would think her behavior odd, but she had to compose herself, quickly, and in private.

“I think I’ll go along,” Linda said. She hurried off behind Ava.

In the privacy of the lounge area of the ladies powder room, Linda said, “Thanks for not giving me away. I know Neil’s announcement came as a shock.”

“Linda, what’s going on? In our infertility support group you said your endometriosis was so severe you had to have a hysterectomy.”

“I did. It cost me a husband, and I thought I’d never get over it. But then I met Neil. He’s wonderful, Ava. He’s been married before, too, but only for a few years. He’s gotten everything he’s wanted out of life except children. He told me from the beginning that he wanted a family, that even one child would be fine. I agreed.”

“Linda, how could agree to such a thing when you knew it was impossible?”

“I didn’t want to lose him, Ava! Don’t you understand? I can’t be dumped twice in a lifetime because I can’t have kids!”

Ava took her friend’s hand. “I know what happened to you was devastating, and I think your husband—your first husband, I mean—was a macho heel to treat you the way he did, but don’t you see how wrong this is? Obviously you can’t keep up the charade forever. So what happens? A miscarriage? Surely you’re not going to steal someone’s baby!”

“Of course not. It’ll be a miscarriage. What other choice do I have? I’ve been faking having periods all this time.”

Ava shook her head. “Linda, how could you?”

“Everybody can’t be as noble as you are, Ava, and walk out of an otherwise happy marriage.”

“But it’s what Neil wanted. How can you knowingly deprive him of that?”

“I have no choice,” Linda repeated. “It’ll be soon, after we’re back home. He has to go out of town on business the second week in January, and by the time he gets home it’ll all be over. Then I’ll just never be able to conceive. That’s not so unusual for women my age. I’m forty-two, you know. Maybe then Neil will want to adopt. He wasn’t too keen on the idea when I suggested that my childbearing years might be behind me.”

“Oh, Linda.” Ava shook her head.

“Please go along with me on this, Ava. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”

“What about your family? How do you know your father won’t give it away?”

“My father doesn’t even know I had a hysterectomy. All I told him at the time was that I needed gynecological surgery. He knew from when my mother was alive that I had all kinds of female troubles, but I didn’t have the surgery until after my mother had passed. You know how uncomfortable men are with those details. He’s remarried now, and my stepmother doesn’t know about it either. Ava, are you with me on this? I need to know.”

“I won’t say anything,” she said after a long moment of silence.

“Oh, thank you, honey!” Linda hugged her, but it was with a limp hand that Ava patted her friend’s shoulder.

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