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Monday, July 01, 2013

Author Spotlight: DeEtte Anderton

This month's spotlight shines on Christian author and Master Koda Select Publishing editor DeEtte Anderton.


Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I am the mother of 6, grandmother of 12, and have been mom to many furkids, canine, feline, and aves. My cockaiel, Cricket is currently living with my good friend in Utah. I couldn't bring him to New England when I came. He sends me videos periodically to let me know he is happy and doing well. My family is extremely important to me.

I also love to crochet. I have made so many things over the years I couldn't begin to list them. My grandkids all know all they have to do is ask and I will make them what they want, whether it is a new blanket or beard beanies or toys. 

History is one of my loves, too. Now that I am in New England, I have many new places to discover!

I also have spent most of my life working with people with disabilities. My family took foster children as I grew up, and we specialized in those with disabilities. I have also directed camps for them, evaluated properties for camps, and worked as a group home manager for many years.

Do you write under a pen name? 
Yes, I write using my maiden name, DeEtte Beckstead.

What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you? 
I have written for years.  I used to teach creative writing at a private school for a few years. I also homeschooled my two youngest through high school. I have had a few poems, essays, and editorials published in various newsletters but I didn't start writing seriously until 2007 when my older son finally convinced me to join him in writing during NaNoWriMo. When I started writing then, I just started writing. I had no plan for the story or for publishing it. I was writing because I enjoyed it. Victory is the result of that. 

Do you have another job or are you a full-time writer? 
I am a full-time me! I am unemployed, but I am helping my daughter with her kids right now. 

What books have you written so far? 
So far I have two works published: The Christmas Visitors, which is a Christian paranormal short story, and Victory which is my debut novel.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? 
I crochet. I make all kinds of things from afghans and baby items to toys to children's things and pet sweaters and accessories!  When I'm not crocheting, I like to do things with my grandkidlets, read, or watch movies. I also enjoy camping and being “in the woods” when I can.

What genre or age groups do you write? Why? 
Victory is Christian fiction for anyone 13 and up. I also write children's stories and have a nonfiction WIP. I write Christian fiction because I love the Lord and want my writing to reflect that.

Are your books or characters based on real life? 
To some extent, yes, some characters are; some are composites of people I know, and some are purely fictional.

Who is your favorite character from your books? Why? 
My favorite character from Victory has to be Brown Eyes. She is a child, but she has a wisdom beyond her years. She has a pure heart and, even though she has had a rough time in her young life, she remains sweet and loving. 

What is your favorite scene in your story? 
In Victory, my favorite scene is with a pigeon that dies, and Brown Eyes buries it.  

Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer. 
My typical day is different from day to day. There is no typical to it for me right now! I get up, at some point I sit down with my laptop and write. Beyond that, life is a roller coaster and mine is always full of surprises!

Where and when do you write?  
I write at the kitchen table right now, and usually when my grandkids are at school, but since it's summer, I will have to find a time!

How long does it take you to write your book/s? 
Both my published works started out as NaNo projects, so originally they took 30 days, or thereabout. They sat on my computer for 4 years, and were finally brought out again last year for editing and polishing that led to publishing.

Do have any writing rituals? Treats you have to have, places you have to be, etc.? 
I like it to be peaceful. I didn't say quiet; I said peaceful. I don't do well with conflicts going on. I can write with little kids playing and running around, but I cannot write when they fight. I like to listen to classical music or Contemporary Christian music while I write. Both help me focus on what I am doing. I don't like to be interrupted when I write, unless it is a grandkidling needing a hug or some help. I like to have coffee or water with me, and perhaps some chocolate, too. 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to? 
I like to listen to either classical or Contemporary Christian music. I can't have it quiet because I get too distracted by the ringing in my ears.

Do you have to be alone to write? 
I prefer to be alone as far as people go, but I used to have my dog with me. He isn't with me anymore, and I have found writing more difficult without him.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants? 
I am a linear writer for the most part. I may go back to adjust or change something so it will work, but most of the time I just keep moving forward. I usually write by the seat of my pants. I find I write better that way. If I try to plan, my writing comes out as contrived and doesn't have the flow it does when I don't. That could just be my own perception of it, but if I don't like it, I don't like it! I have to be happy with my writing before I am willing to take the next step with it.

What makes your writing unique? 
My writing is unique because I am unique. I write from my heart, which I realize is how most writers write, but since I am unique, I see things differently from how others do. My life experiences are different from everyone else's and that makes my perspective different. I like to use  a Christian theme in my fiction writing because that's who I am. 

I like to paint word pictures to help my readers feel part of the story, not just an observer. It's easy to get carried away with that, so I write a lot, then pull out what isn't necessary, leaving enough to still keep the story alive and warm.

Are there any messages or common themes in your stories? 
Strong family values, compassion, forgiveness, faith, freedom are all common in my stories. I like to let the reader know he is worth being loved, no matter what, because God loves us all. He may not like what we do, but He loves us!

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?  
Probably getting up the courage to let it go out into the world, stopping at the editor and publisher first. All writers think of their stories as their babies, and it's hard to let go of something so full of our time, our hearts, our passion.

What have you learned about writing from reading the books that you love? 
Characters need to be real. Even fantasy characters need to be believable. The plot needs to move the story forward and not stagnate, and the passion (love) the author has for his story needs to pour through.

If you could do everything over (writing your book, or publishing, etc.) would you change anything? 
I think I would start the publishing process sooner instead of leaving my story sit for years.

Is there anything particularly helpful you have found as you have written/edited/published? 
Have a good relationship with your publisher and editor. I am also an editor, and I like to be a teacher to the writer, telling him or her why I make the suggestions I do, as well as ask questions about things I don't know about in the story. I have learned a lot about different parts of the world, different jobs, different things by asking the writer these things. I appreciate my editor asking me about such things, too.

Do you have to travel/do much research for your books? 
With Victory and The Christmas Visitors, no. I used places that were already familiar and I created the story around those.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members in your writing journey.  
Without a doubt, it would be my long time friend and publisher, Kim Emerson. She encouraged me to get my manuscripts out, dust them off, and publish them. She has encouraged me, helped me in some tough spots, and been a wonderful friend through it all.

Do you design your own covers, or have someone else help? 
The cover for The Christmas Visitors was designed by Rebbekah White, who works with MasterKoda Select Publishing. My son Christopher Anderton did my cover for Victory. He is a graphic designer for Columbia University. I feel blessed to have both these people do my covers for me.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit? 
I self-edit till I am ready to send it to my publisher, who sends it to an editor. I had a friend read Victory before it was published.

Any advice for the editing process? 
Don't self-edit without sending your work to an editor. We know too well what we mean and we will see that instead of what is actually there on the page. It's easy to miss a comma, period or misplaced apostrophe. A pair of trained eyes is well worth the time and money. Your editor should be someone you trust and have good communication with, one who will explain things to you, not just tell you to “change this!”

What do you do to keep yourself going when you aren’t motivated? 
Sometimes I just walk away for awhile. It could be a few minutes or a couple days. Sometimes I just sit down and write. I often find that writing a descriptive paragraph of a setting helps me.  

What types of hero or heroine do you like best? 
I like strong heroes or heronines. Not necessarily physically strong, but emotionally strong, confident. They need to have flaws, too, but they overcome those flaws somehow to be the hero. Size isn't important in being a hero, either. 

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?  
A good novel needs equal parts: strong characters, a good plot, and good dialogue that moves the story forward. Carefully mix with love. Sprinkle with laughter in all the right spots. and pour out into the hands of the readers in such a manner as to not overwhelm them, but to entice them to beg for more. 

A good plot should be realistic even if it is a total fantasy. It should fit the overall story and characters. Good dialogue can be used to “fill in the blanks” of the plot or background story. A good novel shouldn't have a lot of extras that don't contribute to the story. And it should be written from the heart.

How do you go about naming characters? 
That's an interesting question. Some characters seem to name themselves, and others have to be named. Writers need to be cautious when choosing names, though. In one of my stories, the antagonist had a name very close to a man who became my son-in-law a couple years after I wrote it. I changed the antagonist's name because my son-in-law is NOTHING like the antagonist! 

Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures? 
No, I have never done that. I create pictures in my mind and describe them from that. I personally would find a physical picture limiting. Not everyone is like that, and that's fine. 

How do you pick locations for your stories? 
The town where my youngest daughter and I lived for three years is the model for the town of Victory. The setting for The Christmas Visitors was a thousand places I had seen over the years. Sometimes I use local settings, sometimes I get an idea when I see a photo.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?  
I am published through a small publisher, MasterKoda Select Publishing. It has been a wonderful experience, with people who truly care and are helpful and encouraging. 

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Write about what you love. Write what is in your heart to write. Some people journal; I do not. I find it more of a hindrance than a help for me.  Don't worry about making it all work to start with; just write. There will be time later to go back and make corrections, adjustments, deletions. Write what you feel. There is that old saying “Strike while the iron is hot.” When you know you have something to write, get it written then. Carry a notebook and pen with you to make notes or write complete scenes if you are away from the keyboard. 

If a word count is important, don't fill in with words that don't add to the story. Just write. Once the first draft is finished, you can go back. 

Don't be afraid of editors; they are your friends, there to help you make your story the best it can be. Your family and friends are not generally good editors. 

Find the method that works for you and stick with it, even if your best writing buddy uses a different style. If you need to write an outline and character sketches first, do so. If you write better just sitting down and writing, do that.

Don't be discouraged. Not everyone should be published, and not everything should be published, even by the best authors. If you enjoy writing, then write! Whether or not you ever get anything published, you are a writer if you write.

When you read, what is your favorite genre? 
I enjoy classics, as well as other fiction. I generally don't go for much sci-fi/fantasy, but I love LOTR, The Hobbit, and Chronicles of Narnia!

What books have most influenced your life? 
Undoubtable, the Bible has. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein's writings have, too. 

Who is your favorite character from any book and why? 
Again, a hard question. I love Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. She is a strong woman in a world that doesn't always appreciate that quality. She is loving and cares for her family. 

I also love Samwise Gamgee in LOTR.  He is a faithful friend, willing to die with or for his friend. He is loyal and has strength when others fail. 

For reading, do you prefer ebooks or physical books?  
Personally, I love the feel of a nice hardcover book in my hands! Paperbacks are next, and ebooks follow that. However, since I have a limited space, I am thankful I have the Kindle app on my iPad and can carry an entire library with me wherever I go! I think the most important part is being able to read, not so much how it is available!

What is your most favorite book and why? 
I love Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, Moby Dick, LOTR, Narnia, Pride and Prejudice..... but of those, right now I would have to say LOTR  because of the good vs evil and the strong, inspiring characters. Each of the main characters is unique and brings something different to the story.  

What is the worst book you have ever read and why? 
I really couldn't say because if I don't like a book, I won't read it! 

What tips would you give readers when choosing a book? 
Every once in a while, try a different genre from what you normally read. You may discover a new favorite!

Are there particular writers that you admire? 
Again, I would say C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I love how they tell their stories. 

If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose? 
C.S. Lewis would be the one.

Who has most influenced or inspired your writing? 
That would be Kim Emerson. She believed in me before I even thought I could be published. She encouraged me all the way, and continues to help me now. She is a good friend to have. 

Which three authors would you like to hang out with socially for a day? 
C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jane Austen

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
Yes! G Mitchell Baker, Joe McCoubrey, Brad Fleming, KD Emerson, to name a few!

What are your current projects? 
I am working on a story with my own family stories included.

Is there a genre you haven’t done before that you would like to try?
I have plenty to handle right now!

Do you have any ideas that you plan to work on in the future? 
Yes. I have a WIP about my first puppy mill rescue. It's her story, and I hope to include a few stories of other rescues I know!

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?  
I'm still working on them. I will keep working on them till I die!

Five book recommendations from you… 
In no particular order:  Victory (of course!), Lethal Believers—The Innocents by G Mitchell Baker, Digitus 233 by KD Emerson, Death by Licence by Joe McCoubrey, and  Fateful Night Book One (What She Knew Trilogy) by KR Hughes and TL Burns.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about? 
My blog is http://deetteanderton.wordpress.com. I blog about writing, pets, crocheting, family, and I frequently interview other authors!

What would you like to achieve in the next five years? 
I would like to publish two or three more books. I wouldn't mind doing a workshop for kids to encourage them to write, either. :)

What is the best review of your work you've received to date? 
“When I first heard this was a Christian story I thought, are they going to be conking me over the head with biblical verses? Then I started reading it. It is a story of hurt and abuse, but most importantly redemption. It is a modern tale that is very relatable to anyone who has a past. It lets you know that no matter who you are you are worthy of love. I loved how it seemed to be from the viewpoint of a young girl who tells the story from her perspective. Not all is at it seems and many judge a person based on looks. This is one book that once you start it you won't be able to put it down. I found it a very enjoyable read that kept me entertained and guessing throughout the whole book until the last page. I look forward to other stories from this author and would even be willing to read more Christian books from her. Thank you very much for a great story DeEtte!"

What format(s) are your books available in? 
They are available as ebooks for Kindle. 

Is there anything else you would like to share or tell us?
Author and blogger, DeEtte Anderton started writing in 2007 when her son challenged her to get involved in NaNoWriMo. The manuscript sat untouched with several others until January of 2012 when a good friend encouraged her to seek publication. The Christmas Visitors is her first short story, and her current novel, Victory is also her first.
DeEtte spent much of her childhood playing the piano, clarinet, and guitar, reading, and making up stories. She was active in Girl Scouts, which gave her a wide variety of experiences. While in college, she was on the University of Utah Synchronized Swim team, and taught year-round camping and survival skills for Girl Scouts. She has spent many years working with people with disabilities.
Originally from the State of Utah in the U.S.A., currently DeEtte lives in New England where she writes full time and works on the editing team of Master Koda Select Publishing. Her other interests include swimming, crocheting, reading, traveling, history, and her grandchildren. In addition, this devoted mother of six and grandmother of twelve has been a concerned participant in dog rescue services for many years.   
The Christmas Visitors: http://amzn.com/B00ACNOXOY
Twitter:  @DBAnderton


I'd like to thank DeEtte Anderton for stopping by. I read a sample of Victory and really enjoyed it. Hopefully, I will get around to reading it (my to-read list is getting longer and longer). If you enjoyed DeEtte Anderton's work, support her by leaving a review from wherever you bought her book. As always, thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. These both sound like great reads :)