I am thrilled to spotlight Beth Carter and her delightful novel, Thursdays at Coconuts, one of my favorite summer 2014 reads. I am also impressed and inspired by her remarkable writing journey.
My writing journey has been filled with sunny days, pouring rain, hills, curves, pot holes, and detours. But let’s get off this country road, shall we?
I’ve always loved to read and checked out many library books as a child. Reading and writing were my two favorite school subjects so it’s a natural fit. My first foray into writing was in eighth grade. I was hooked once I read my byline in the Pipkin Pirates newsletter. I was a staff writer and the roving reporter. From there, I loved writing papers in my English and literature classes in high school and college. Almost all of my college papers received “As” with encouraging remarks that I should submit them to national magazines. I didn’t. I just wanted to hold onto those words from an esteemed professor. She gave me the hope and boost I needed.
Enter marriage, a baby, and a divorce by the age of 25. Suddenly, I was a single mom and the head of our household. I had bills to pay. I worked full time and went to college at night. My daughter was just three years old. I wasn’t able to attempt a novel then, but I did a great deal of non-fiction writing. After my divorce I worked at a private college where I was executive secretary to the president, got a business administration degree, and later left and became a public relations director for a local hospital.
There, I had the opportunity to spread my wings and write press releases, newspaper articles for our various departments and physicians, and a hospital newsletter. I also ventured into script writing and created television commercials for the hospital and later for a bank. I won a second-place award in the state of Missouri for one of my television commercials on substance abuse. I also won two third place state-wide awards for an annual report and newsletter. It was a thrill but I still wanted to write a novel.
After being in marketing for over 20 years, watching my daughter grow up and go off to college, I turned back to my dream. In 2009, I enrolled in a “How To Write Your First Novel” series of classes at a community college. It was taught by a novelist who had written about 90 novels. He was entertaining and full of great information. I started my novel the next day. It was a romantic suspense and when I was nearly half finished, I lost the manuscript. I mean my computer ate it. I was sick. I was depressed. I cried. I got angry. We hired a tech guy who was the “best.” He couldn’t retrieve it. My hopes were dashed. Then, we heard about a computer lab in California that could find anything on a hard drive. My sweet husband paid the fee, shipped it off, and we crossed our fingers and toes. The lab described their clean room as akin to a hospital operating room where everything is sterile and the contents are spread out on a table. I didn’t hold out much hope. Months had passed, so I started a second novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS.
Once I got into THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, I fell in love with my characters and their journey. I was about one-third into it when we received the amazing news that the lab had retrieved my first novel. I was ecstatic but really wanted to finish COCONUTS, so I did. In the meantime, my husband copied off my first manuscript so I’d always have a back-up and bought a second hard drive. I still haven’t finished that novel but I will. In the meantime, the sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS is calling. Loudly.
That’s not the end. We had a family tragedy of epic Dateline proportions. Everything stopped. The world stopped. My writing stopped. Tiny spoiler: I have a tragic scene in THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS so I couldn’t bear to read my own work and the ensuing grief and depression that follows. (It all works out and there’s a happy ending.)
So…I turned to writing children’s picture books. Some family members went to grief therapy but writing kidlit became my therapy. I have three picture books that have been published including WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? THE MISSING KEY, and SANTA’S SECRET. My fourth, SOUR POWER, is with an editor now. Going to schools and reading to kids has been a tremendous joy. I will always write children’s books in addition to novels.
All of this, and I didn’t even get to my pitching fiascos. Suffice to say, I flew to one state to pitch to a well-known agent and broke out in hives. I pitched to agents and editors who came to conferences in Missouri. All were receptive and asked for partials and fulls. My contract came when I pitched online where we had to boil our novels down into just five lines. A huge thanks to Debby Gilbert, senior editor of Soul Mate Publishing, for believing in me and my work.
Thank you for this opportunity, Joanne, and I hope you enjoy THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. I’m happy to say I’ve gotten rave reviews (mostly from strangers!) and I can’t wait to get back to the sequel and that mysterious, playing-hard-to-get first novel.
As the go-to wedding planner, Suzy can’t find her own wedded bliss and has one shocker of a wedding day. It doesn’t help that she’s still pining for her high school sweetheart, the one who got away. Handling neurotic brides is the best part of Suzy’s day until her son brings home a bombshell from Europe.
Alexandra, a beautiful marketer with a “touch” of OCD, falls for a bad-boy cop who’s married and possibly stalking her. But he sure is sexy. Alex tries to stay at arm’s length after she puts her job—and life—on the line for the officer who isn’t always a gentleman.
Hope hates her name, looks, and frizzy hair. As a high school counselor, she dishes out sage advice to students, yet can’t see she’s enabling her deadbeat, stuck-in-the-seventies hippie parents. After tragedy strikes, she reexamines their relationship and discovers a secret that almost went to the grave.
Friends since high school, the thirty-something women meet every Thursday at Coconuts for their own form of friendapy.
A former bank vice president, Beth Carter shed her suits and heels to pen novels and children’s picture books. Her debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, released in August, 2014, by Soul Mate Publishing. A sequel is planned.
Her three picture books are: SANTA’S SECRET, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? and THE MISSING KEY. Carter’s short stories and poems are published in four anthologies and three six-word memoir collections alongside famous authors and celebrities. Previously, she worked in marketing for 20 years in healthcare and banking. When she isn’t writing, you’ll likely find her sipping a skinny vanilla latte or at T.J. Maxx.
Where to find Beth…
Facebook (Women’s Fiction): https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter
Facebook (Children’s Books): http://is.gd/ii12F2