Sunday, March 16, 2014

Novel Notions Welcomes author Beth Camp to Self Published Sunday!

I am so pleased that Beth Camp is our feature author.  She is not only talking about her writing process but sharing an excerpt of her novel, Standing Stones.

About Beth Camp: When I was a kid, I prowled the library to check out the thickest, heaviest books I could find. Two Years Before the Mast. The Wandering Jew. Quo Vadis. Books I could fall into and pretend I lived in the past. Places I dreamed of visiting some day. As a teen, I discovered my grandmother's 5-volume sets of Hemingway, the short stories of Poe and de Maupassant. I began writing poetry and short stories then.
Sometimes it seemed that my family moved every time the rent was due. I attended some 13 high schools on the West coast of the US and daydreamed of attending college. I balanced working full time with taking classes; it took ten years to earn my degree, with odd jobs and careers in international banking and corporate consulting along the way before I became an English teacher at a community college where I taught for 26 years. Today, I live in Spokane, in eastern Washington, with my husband, and close to our daughter, her husband, and granddaughter. Restless feet and writing projects keep us traveling. These days, we’re planning a three-month stay in Spain. The writing travels with me!
What is your writing process? 

I’m often asked when I find time to write. Each morning, before coffee, I wake with half-remembered scenes or conversations that my characters are somehow in the middle of. I sit at the computer and reconstruct what they are telling me, images of who they are and what they’re involved in coming to life before me. An outline emerges out of that combination of history, setting, and then, scene upon scene, their lives unfold.

As a writer, I’m rather a sprinter, more intuitive than methodical, going ahead into story with multiple revisions ahead. I want to discover how it felt to live in a certain time, and how others have conquered their deepest fears to achieve their goals.
My books begin with a flash of an idea, a portrait spotted in a museum, a slice of history that compels me to look more closely. For example, I visited the National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris to see the unicorn tapestries and later read Tracy Chevalier’s wonderful story, The Lady and the Unicorn. The real history of these tapestries is shrouded in mystery, but I found a clue in Scotland that suggests a very different story. Fiction allows us to play with alternate realities. I hope my readers come away with greater compassion for how others struggle to create order, harmony, and beauty in their lives. 

Why did you decide to jump into self-publishing? 

As many writers discover, after “the book” is done, the round of submissions begins. We are lucky to get an acknowledgement these days whether we are subbing to a potential agent or to a publishing company. Routinely websites suggest a turn-around time of 3-6 months, even for ‘exclusive’ submissions.
Standing Stones took second place in historical fiction at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest in 2010, but I spent the next several years subbing to potential agents and then independent publishers before deciding that I really wanted readers to read my stories.

I first self-published The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales, a collection of short stories and poems about mermaids, to learn how to format for  Kindle and CreateSpace.
With Standing Stones, I discovered fiverr, a wonderful site that highlights freelancers. Angela Zambrano of pro_ebookcovers created the cover for Standing Stones; I think her work is remarkable.

What is Standing Stones about? 

Standing Stones is the first of two books that begins when Lord Gordon comes to Foulksay Island. His uncle has died, and inspired by the sweep of the Industrial Revolution, Lord Gordon wishes to make his new estate profitable by replacing tenant farmers who have lived on the island for generations with sheep.
Mac McDonnell, a fisherman and head of household for his sister and three brothers, leads protests against Lord Gordon’s changes, but Moira, his sister, falls in love with Dylan, one of the men Lord Gordon has brought to the island. The people of Foulksay Island have gathered to celebrate the end of summer. Dougal, the second oldest brother, is playing the fiddle. Here is the moment that Moira and Dylan meet:

Moira watched Dougal’s fingers fly over the fiddle. She felt proud of him, and her feet tapped the rhythm of the drum. The dancing grew frantic as more people pushed into the hall. Moira closed her eyes and gave herself over to the dance, the music keening in her head and heart. A strong arm held her at her waist and twirled her around.
Moira’s eyes flew open. “And who might you be?”
“I’m Dylan, from across the water, ready to dance your feet off and steal your heart.” He grinned and bowed.
Dylan was much shorter than her brothers, wiry, and dark when they were fair, his hair curly with sweat. His eyes, nearly black, sparkled. He smiled again, and Moira felt her breath catch. “Dance with me?”
She gave him her hand, and they danced one set after another, until they were both breathless.
“Any others like you at home?” he asked.
“No, not a one. Just me,” Moira shouted over the music, turning away and then back as he twirled her to the music.
“Ah, ‘tis fortunate I am, for then I’ll only have me heart broken once.”
Moira laughed. His hand caught and held hers, and his dark eyes dared her to let go.
“Wait until you meet my brothers.”
“And how many brothers do you have, all tiny men, as small as trolls, no doubt?”
“Four brothers,” she replied on the next round. “Mac, Dougal, Colin and Jamie. All of them are giants compared to you.” She glanced over at Dougal and waved. “There’s Dougal.”
“He looks ferocious,” said Dylan. “Does he have an evil temper?”
“None of my brothers would harm a soul.”
“Then why is he glaring at me like that?”

To Purchase:

Standing Stones is available on

The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales is also available on Amazon at


Beth’s Writing Blog:

Beth’s Travel Blog:

On Twitter: @bluebethley and Facebook.  Beth Camp's Author page: 

Drop a note to Beth at to find out about upcoming releases with her occasional newsletter.  She’d love to hear from you!

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