Thursday, July 21, 2011

"I Think I'm Writing a Book" by Betsy Dornbusch, Guest Blogger

I'm pleased to introduce Betsy Dornbusch, fantasy and sci fi author as well as an editor at Electric Spec, a not-for-profit speculative fiction magazine published four times per year. There's also an Electric Spec Blog.

Betsy's personal blog is Sex Scenes at Starbucks. Each day she's posting where she'll be on her virtual book tour. There's an interview, a post about writing erotica, another about being mean to our characters. Something for everyone. Today Betsy is talking about her path to publication.


"I Think I'm Writing a Book" by Betsy Dornbusch, Guest Blogger

First of all, thanks, Patricia, for hosting me today!

I wanted to talk a little bit about how I came back to writing after taking a number of years off and how I came to find a home for my current books.

When my daughter was about six months old, my husband went away on a business trip. He came home to find his house a disaster and his entire family unkempt. He asked me what was going on, no doubt expecting some tale of depression or sadness.

“I think I’m writing a book,” I said.

Poor guy. He just nodded and sighed. (And he’s still nodding and sighing. I truly do have the most tolerant husband in the world.)

I was a writer when we met, and I’d even been invited as a sophomore to take graduate level creative writing classes with a particular teacher. Talk about intimidating! I got some surly looks from my classmates, for sure. I mean some of them were old! Like twenty-five, even! Who was this young uppity underclassman? But my professor liked my work enough to write on the top of one story: Polish this and send it to the New Yorker right away! I took the risk and found some success in my craft, if not in sales.

After college, life intervened, and for a number of years I lived the life of a muggle (my term for non-writers, since we ARE the magical ones). But then, after my last baby was born (we knew she was our last) I felt the need for a new “baby.” Aidan and Kaelin and a race of demi-demons were spawned. I was writing urban fantasy before I even had heard of the genre.

I wrote those boys on and off for 8 years before selling the first book in the series to Whiskey Creek Press in January (Sentinel: Archive of Fire comes out January 2012). In the meantime I wrote a number of other books, which was a great way to break past bad habits (I’m a firm believer of putting your early efforts aside and starting fresh) and achieved a number of short story sales. None of my books, though, attracted enough interest from agents. Though Aidan and Kaelin’s story did make a couple of editing rounds with two agents and also saw some interest at DAW books, I had no takers.

I took on a contract for Quencher and Quenched for the creative challenge, again stepping well outside my comfort zone, and realized that writing sex and romance is not only fun, the genre is wide open to books of all stripes. I had always wanted to write a space opera, for instance, but I knew the mainstream SF world wasn’t taking any at the moment. I could risk putting the effort in and selling it on spec, but it never felt quite right. And lo, my publisher actually put out a call for erotic SF.

I had so much fun writing Lost Prince (dog fights in space! rebellion! torturous aliens! an evil overlording junta! unlikely lovers!) that when my editor asked me what the series name was--implying, of course, that they wanted a series--I got busy and brainstormed the series. I can’t wait to bring more of Katriel and Aric’s story to my readers, with hopefully another installment appearing later in the year.

I also make an effort to get around and talk to people in my industry. Funny story. A muggle friend of mine went to Mile Hi Con in Denver with me last year and we sat around with my writer posse and chatted. When we were alone, later, my friend said, “Wow. You know a lot of famous authors.”

I guess I do, though to me they’re more my friends than anything else. But I wouldn’t have any of them in my life unless I’d made the effort to approach people, to network online and in person.

I don’t know that my story is all that inspiring, but the lesson I take from it is that I tend to succeed when I step outside my comfort zone. I think it’s a lesson well worth applying to the craft of writing, as well. I try more now than ever before to push myself and my characters to be the best they all can be. And so far, everything I’m writing lately is selling. And I’ve realized how important it is to push myself in writing, even when it came to attending that first graduate level class as a measly sophomore.


Betsy, thanks so much for being here today and sharing your story. "Step outside your comfort zone" sounds like very sound advice for writers (and maybe for adventurous muggles as well).

To learn more about Betsy and her new release, Lost Prince, visit her blog Sex Scenes at Starbucks.

Buy Lost Prince at Whiskey Creek Press or for your Kindle.

The only thing that’s kept Alaric, the so-called Lost Prince of Calixte, from giving into his grief over his beloved homeworld is the thought of revenge against the man who betrayed his people. But he couldn’t be more wrong about Haydn, who actually saved two thousand Calixten soldiers from certain death and secreted them on an inhospitable planet. There, they’ve launched a fledgling rebellion against the Coalition that rules six galaxies, including the lucrative Salt Road. They only need their prince to lead them.

Alaric needs a pilot to get him to his soldiers, someone too desperate to betray him. Katriel, a hotshot deserter pilot enslaved to Haydn by debt, is perfect for the job. But neither Katriel nor Alaric realize how the battle over Calixte binds them closer than blood, and when they find out, their collision will send shockwaves through the universe.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Betsy.

Betsy - Thanks for sharing your story. You make a good point about the value of stepping outside one's comfort zone, too. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I write science fiction space opera as well! Everyone was saying that genre was dead while I was writing my first book, but I wrote anyway, and it finally found a home. Glad you kept writing as well!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I love science fiction with a romantic twist. (Anne McCaffrey is my favorite.)
I never told my husband when I began writing again. He had to catch me in the act before I confessed!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, Alex, and Diane -- thanks for being here this morning.

Alex, I didn't realize your book was called a space opera. Now I need to figure out what that means. :)

Marlena Cassidy said...

Hi Patricia! Thanks for hosting Betsy!

Betsy, congratulations on your success! I think that when we step outside of our comfort zones, we automatically step up our game because we feel that we need to work extra hard to succeed in an area we're not familiar with. In our comfort zones, we think we know everything and start taking shortcuts.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Alex, what's your book called? I'd love to read it.

Good points, Marlena. You do have to try harder.

Thanks for stopping by everybody!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Pleased you kept at writing. Loved your post.
Thanks to Patricia for hosting.


Lynda Hilburn said...

Great post, Betsy! I love the idea of calling non-writing folks "muggles." Brainstorming your next book was a blast the other day. Can't wait to read Lost Prince.


Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a great book! :) I love the advice to step outside your comfort zone - that's not always easy! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Betsy, in case Alex doesn't get back to answer your question, his book is CassaStaR (

irishoma said...

Good advice! Your husband sounds like a great guy. Mine is the same. If not for him I never would have time to write.
Donna V.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Thanks, Patricia!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks a bunch for being my guest today, Betsy. I expect I'll see you at Colorado Gold in September.