Thursday, April 18, 2013

Author Interview: DeEtte Beckstead

Today I'd like to share with you an interview I did with author DeEtte Beckstead, who, funny enough, is the official winner of my Ontario giveaway! I interviewed her a while back and I only realized this week that I neglected to post it. Sorry DeEtte! I hope you all enjoy getting to know such a great lady!


Tell us a bit about yourself. I started writing in 2007 after my son challenged me to try NaNoWriMo. The manuscript sat untouched with several others until January 2012 when my good friend encouraged her to seek publication. The Christmas Visitors is my first short story, and Victory is my first novel.

I spent much of her childhood playing piano, reading, or making up stories. I was active in Girl Scouting, which gave me a wide variety of experiences. While in college, I was on the University of Utah Synchronized Swimming team, and I taught winter camping and survival for Girl Scouts. I have spent most of my life working with people with disabilities, including managing a group home for several years.

I now live in New England where I write full time and work on the editing team of Master Koda Select Publishing. My other interests include swimming, crocheting, reading, dog rescue, and my many grandchildren.

What do you like to read? I like to read classics, historical fiction, Christian fiction. Pride and Prejudice, Beowulf, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Canterbury Tales and Moby Dick are some of my favorites.

Are there particular writers that you admire? Jane Austen, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Max Lucado.

What have you learned about writing from reading the books that you love? I have learned to paint with words. I am detail oriented, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I hate having to pull whole sections out because they aren't needed. I am saving those if for no other reason than I can read them again myself.

If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose? I would love to spend time with Max Lucado. I really enjoy his writing.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers? Write about what you love, what inspires you; write about the people who have touched your life; write about places you have been. Write. If no one else likes what you write, write. Just write.

Any advice for the editing process? I think we all at least dislike editing. It is a necessary evil, and must be endured. I am also an editor, so my advice, besides the obvious checking punctuation and grammar, is to watch. Watch for clichés. Watch the flow of the story so you have a river and not a mud puddle. Watch for the common pitfalls. Remember it is “could have” not “could of” and that “it's” means “it is.” It is not “me and Sam” but rather “Sam and I.” I don't think Sam is necessarily mean. (Read the first one out loud. It sounds like “mean Sam.”)  And there is the issue of “there,” “their,” and “they're!”

A trick that I find useful is to go through your book and do the best you can, then go through it again, but start with the last paragraph to double check for errors. Proceed paragraph by paragraph from the end to the first. That way, you don't get so caught up in the story and forget you are looking for typos, misplaced punctuation, etc. It is time consuming, and can drive you nuts to start with, but it helps to block out the entire story and just look at the details.

If you, as the writer, can take care of these basics yourself, your editor will be able to help you better with the other parts of your story to make it the best it can be.

If you could do everything over (writing your book, or publishing, etc.) would you change anything? I would probably have started earlier. I had no intention of publishing when I wrote Victory in 2007 as my NaNoWriMo project. It sat, unnoticed but not unloved (or I would have deleted it), on my hard drive for five years before it was published.

Is there anything particularly helpful you have found as you have written/edited/published? I have learned that I can. I have also learned first hand how hard it is to put my “baby” in the hands of someone who has the potential to tear it apart. I remember that feeling as I edit others' works and try to make the changes as painless as possible.  

What did you want to be when you were little? When I was little I wanted to be a nurse, have a home for children with disabilities, be a teacher, be a mom, be a concert pianist. There was even a moment when I wanted to be a ballerina. 

Do you plan on being a full time writer, or do you have other career plans? I would love to write full time, but that isn't a viable option right now, so I am looking for a job where I can write my own stuff and get paid at the same time. I wish I could retire and just play with my grandchildren and write,  read, and crochet.

How long have you been writing? I suppose I have been writing most of my life. I loved to write in school, and often went above the expectation when I had reports and other compositions in school. One high school paper was supposed to be 15 to 20 pages, but mine was 50! And that was in the days of typewriters, carbon paper, and no copy machines or auto-correct!

I started writing seriously when my older son finally talked me into being his writing buddy for NaNo in 2007. He had to quit in the middle, but I continued.

What do you write? Specific genres, ages groups, etc. Usually I write words, but sometimes I write numerals. Just kidding!  I have Christian fiction published, but I also write non-fiction, children's stories, and have been known on occasion to write poetry.

Why that particular genre/age group?  I write what is in my heart. I love my Lord and want everything I write to bring Him glory. I want my readers to be touched by my stories and put them in a place where they need to think about their own lives. I write children's stories because they are fun, and their worlds are so full of imagination.

Ebook, paperback, or hardcover? My books that are out now are both ebooks only. I would love to see both of them available in print someday at Christian Book Distributors, and in Christian bookstores, too.

What are you currently working on? I have a couple projects in the works. One is a non-fiction story about the first puppy mill mama I adopted. Actually, it was she who adopted me, and rescued me. She was 12 years old when she was rescued from a Missouri puppy mill. She had suffered terribly physically and emotionally, and lived in her own little world. After she had been with my daughters and me for awhile, she blossomed into a funny, sweet little girl who loved to be rocked like a human baby. That one is called From Tinker to Belle; From Worthless to Priceless. It won't be out for some time.

Another that I am working on is a fictional story laced with true stories of my own family's history. It is untitled at present.

I am also working on some short stories about my grandchildren. Each one is a superhero created from his or her own imagination. They have the superpowers that they choose, and I use the disabilities some of them have as strengths and superpowers, again, by what they told me.

What makes your writing unique? I write in my own style. I don't model it after anyone I know, and I write from my heart. I usually write from the seat of my pants because I often find that I struggle to try to make a story work if I have to outline it before hand. Sometimes I will write a skeleton story, then fill  it out after.

Do have any writing rituals? Treats you have to have, places you have to be, etc.? I used to have to have my writing buddy with me. My Maltese Max would sit on my lap, next to me, or lie beside my feet as I wrote. He would listen to me and give me encouragement. He died at the age of almost 14 years last February.

I like to listen to contemporary Christian music or classical music, usually, but not limited to, Mozart or Bach.

And then there is chocolate.......

What are some of your hobbies besides writing and reading? I crochet for fun and profit. Well, mostly I crochet for fun. I haven't made much profit yet! I love spending time and doing activities with my grandchildren. I love to visit historical places. Since I came to New England about a year ago, I have only been able to visit a few places, but I intend to visit more!

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to? Yes, I like to listen to contemporary Christian music or classical music.

Why would someone like your book(s)? I have been told I am a storyteller, not just a writer. People like my style. My books have strong patriotic and Christian themes and encourage people to trust God and His Word, as well as to enjoy the story.

What made you decide to be a writer, and when was that? I don't know when I really “decided” to be a writer. I think it was in me when I was born. It just took many (I won't admit how many!) years to realize what I wrote was worth publishing.

How old were you when you finished your first book? I was probably in elementary school when I first wrote a book, the handwritten and illustrated, and bound with staples. My mother was a teacher and I often played school as a child. Writing was part of that experience.

My first published book was written in 2007 and was just published in December 2012.

How long did it take you to write it? The actual writing of Victory took 30 days since it was my NaNo project. I let it sit on my computer until January 2012 when my long-time friend (and now publisher) Kim Emerson told me I should publish it. It was then the editing and reworking began.

Do you have any published works? Two: Victory and The Christmas Visitors.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, how many times? I have participated in NaNo five years. Both Victory and The Christmas Visitors were from NaNo projects.

What do you do to keep yourself going when you aren’t motivated? I take a break and don't think about writing. I crochet, watch television or a favorite movie, play with my grandkids. Usually those will help me shake the dust out of my brain and get me started again. Sometimes it takes a deadline to push me, but I don't do my best writing when I am pushed.

Why would someone like your book? People who love their freedom and faith would enjoy Victory. It's a story about an 8 year old orphan and the town she lives in with her distant cousin. It's a story of faith, freedom, forgiveness, and redemption. Victory is a town where the people love their country and their neighbors in spite of their differences, but something happens when two visitors come to town. One comes with fear and control, slowly taking away the freedoms the people love. The other comes with faith. When darkness overtakes the town and even the child's very life is threatened, who will have Victory?

How old were you when you wrote your book? The age I am now less 5 years and 3 months! :)

How long did it take you to write it? Initially, it took 30 days to write, then it sat on my computer hard drive for five years before I started preparing it for publication.

Did anything in particular inspire anything in your book, or anything you have written? Some of the incidents in Victory were inspired by events in my own life, or in the lives of others I have known. Others are dreams I have had and would like to see realized. The town itself was modeled after a small, rural town my youngest daughter and I lived in for a few years, and the attitudes and naiveté in the town in my book were influenced by some of the locals.

In my WIP, From Tinker to Belle, From Worthless to Priceless, the entire story was inspired by BelleKyra Joy, whose story it is. I could write a book on how she influenced it! LOL! 

And now last, but not least, where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

My short story, The Christmas Visitors, is available at

My debut novel, Victory, is available at

My author page is

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