USA Today bestselling author Heidi Betts is the daughter of an Arabian sheik and a Las Vegas showgirl, as well as the heiress to the Chocolate is Better Than Sex Candy Company fortune. Because of this, she eats chocolate in all its many delicious forms for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between snacks . . . without ever gaining an ounce on her perfect five-foot-nine, size zero figure.
Each and every one of her breathtaking, award-winning novels has been adapted to film and gone on to become a phenomenal box office smash, featuring such mega-stars as Hugh Jackman and Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, and Harrison Ford and Charlize Theron.
Heidi readily admits that she is only able to write such passionate love stories because of her real-life happily-ever-after romance with superstar actor Dwayne Johnson, who makes every day a fairy tale. When she’s not writing or making hot, toe-curling love with her “Rock” of a husband, Heidi can often be found riding naked on horseback (a la Lady Godiva) along the beaches of Malibu or hobnobbing with the rich and famous on Martha’s Vineyard.
If you’d like to experience your own perfect, idyllic life just like the one Heidi lives, be sure to take the little purple pill. (Not the red one. Never the red one.)
QUESTION: Where do you get your ideas?
ANSWER: I always cringe a little when asked this question because the honest-to-goodness truth is I don’t know. Or I don’t always know. Scenes, characters, and story ideas just seem to come to me. Sometimes, I have to actively plot and brainstorm for a particular book, and other times ideas just pop into my head. I can think of something while reading, watching TV, shopping…anything. Water, too, seems to be very conducive to creativity. Or maybe it’s water-related activities that help the brain to relax and delve a little further into the subconscious, because any time I’m doing dishes, swimming, or taking a shower, I notice an influx of ideas racing through my mind. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to write these ideas down when your hands are submerged in water.
Q: When is your next book coming out?
A: I’ve got a few things in the works, but can’t talk about them right now. Which is why I call them my Top Secret Projects on the WIPs and Chains blog. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some details soon, but until then, remember…
Q: I love your books, but have to wait too long between releases. Can’t you please write faster?!
A: LOL I definitely love to hear this sort of thing, thank you. And I’m thrilled to hear that you wait impatiently for each new release. Truly, I don’t think an author could wish for a better compliment. But trust me, I am writing as fast as I can. Unfortunately, it takes me a lot longer to write a book than it does for you to read them. (Slow down, wouldya? ) On top of that, life does have a way of interfering with my best laid plans—even the hard and fast ones that involve drop-dead deadlines. And without fail, every time I start to really get rolling with a new story, revisions or copyedits or something else to do with the last book I turned in will be dropped on my doorstep, and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing to deal with them. Like I said—life. But rest assured that I am almost always typing away, trying to get fabulous new characters and fabulous new romances to you as quickly as I possibly can!
Q: Are you ever going to write another historical romance?
A: I honestly don’t know. I don’t like to say “never,” but I will say that I don’t have plans to write more historicals any time in the near future. As much as I enjoyed them, my career has moved in a bit of a different direction, and I expect to stick with contemporaries (and paranormals?) for a while longer. But again, I’ll never say never, so it could happen.
Q: I love your books, but am not a fan of vampires or paranormals. Why can’t you stick with straight contemporaries?
A: Because I’m fickle and get bored easily. LOL Okay, that’s at least partly true. But I also just love writing all kinds of romance, and since I am a fan of vampires and the paranormal, I jumped at the chance to do some stories like that of my own. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though: I don’t do dark, scary, gory vampires. I don’t do dark, intense, bloody paranormals. I’ll leave those to the dark paranormal and urban fantasy authors who do them so well.
Instead, I do sexy, funny paranormals, just like my sexy, funny contemporaries. In fact, I’d venture to say you could describe my paranormals as contemporaries in which the characters just happen to have fangs.
So if you’re on the fence or nervous about reading one of my vampire romances, I urge you to go for it. I’m pretty sure you’ll get a kick out of them, and I can guarantee they won’t scare you. Much.
Q: I’ve started writing a romance novel of my own. Would you please read it for me and give me some feedback?
A: So sorry, but I can’t. For legal reasons, my agent and editors have all asked me not to do that. In addition, I’m a very slow reader (and not that speedy a writer) and simply don’t have the time. There are some great writing organizations out there, though, and local chapters that often have critique groups. If you’re serious about writing for publication, I suggest you look into something like that.
Q: How can I get my own writing published?
A: There’s a lot more to this than I could ever provide here, but I’ll start by saying that you first need to decide what you want to write and then go about researching the market for that genre. One of the first things I would suggest is joining a local writing group and then a larger professional organization. Since I write romance and mostly get this question from others also interested in writing romance, I highly recommend joining Romance Writers of America (www.rwanational.org). You can learn a lot from them about the craft of writing, as well as the industry. But whatever genre you choose to write in, I’m pretty sure there’s a “Writers of America” group for you—Mystery Writers of America, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers of America, Horror Writers of America, Western Writers of America… Do an internet search for whichever organization you might be interested in, and I’m sure you’ll find a matching website.
Once you’re involved in some local writing groups and moving forward with learning the craft of writing, my best advice would be both to read, read, read and write, write, write. Read whatever it is you want to write—and I mean this very specifically. If you’re writing romance, then you’ve probably already been reading a lot of romance, but I mean that if you want to write for a particular publishing house or line (such as Harlequin Blaze or Romantic Suspense), then read as many of those books as you can get your hands on, especially the most recent releases. And writing is the only way you will ever hone your craft and have something solid and polished to submit to publishers. Even if your first book or two never find their way to publication, you still will have learned a great deal from the process of writing them. So just keep writing, keep learning, and keep submitting.
Q: How do I find an agent?
A: A better question might be “Do I need an agent?” Some people say yes, some people say no—I say, it depends. It depends on what you’re writing and where you are in your career. If you’re just starting out, it may actually be easier to sell your first (or first few) manuscripts on your own than to find an agent as an unpublished writer. Do your own legwork instead of getting caught up in thinking you have to have an agent, because you can always get one later, after you’ve already gotten your foot in the publishing door. And if you’re concerned about negotiating your own contracts, talk to some writer friends (from those local or even long-distance writing groups you will by now belong to) who are familiar with literary contracts, or read some of the wonderful books that are available on that subject, such as How to Be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis. They are very informative and can teach you a lot.
If you’re already published…well, if you’re already published, you probably aren’t reading this because you’ve already taken a lot (if not all) of the above steps. But on the off chance that you’ve already sold a book or three and feel you’re ready for and in need of an agent, there are plenty of sources available out there. Literary Marketplace and other such books/websites have extensive agent listings. And again, your best source would probably be your local or long distance writing groups, where others will be able to share names and experiences with you.
Q: I found a bunch of your books at a used book store…is it all right with you if I buy them there or would you rather I buy them at the regular bookstore?
A: Ouch, this is a touchy one. The short answer is, No, I would really prefer you bought my books brand new, at a regular bookstore (Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.) or any other retail outlet where they’re sold (Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, even the grocery store). Or online, as long as you’re buying new rather than used. I suspect most authors would answer the same way.
But more important is why it’s so important to buy books by your favorite authors new rather than used. It’s not just about money, although most people would be startled by just how little authors really make. We hear about the multi-million-dollar deals being made by Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steel…but the sad truth is that most of us are not anywhere near that sort of pay scale. We’re more like starving artists, making literally pennies on the dollar of whatever the cover price is of our books. (You do the math. It’s downright scary.)
And it’s not about giving used bookstores or used booksellers a bad name. Absolutely not! I know a lot of folks who run used bookstores…they are wonderful, voracious readers who love to help customers find new authors or catch up on great stories they may have missed. There are lots of times, too, when you find a book you love only to discover the author has a backlist of titles that are no longer in print or available new. Used bookstores are great for finding those old, out-of-print copies. I’ve used them myself for that very reason.
But when a book is brand new, or still available new through a retail outlet, it is really, really, really important to buy your books that way. Let me say that again: REALLY IMPORTANT. Why? Because it’s not so much about money as it is about numbers. Publishers print a certain number of copies of the book they want to sell, then send it out into the world and hope it does well. If a large percentage of those books come back unsold, that’s not good. Many times, the publisher holds it against the author, and is reluctant to give her/him another contract to write another book. Doesn’t matter how talented the author is. Doesn’t matter how much you enjoyed her last book. If her numbers are low, there’s a very real chance she’ll be cut from the publisher’s list. If a large percentage of the copies they’ve printed sell, this is good. It means fewer returns and better numbers for that title. The publishers like better numbers and are more likely to ask that author to write more books for them in the future, which means the authors is likely to be able to write more great stories for you to read! (Yay!)
Please don’t ask why things are done that way or why they aren’t done differently. I couldn’t even begin to tell you. It’s been done this way since the Depression, as I understand it, and probably won’t be changing anytime soon.
So the bottom line is, if you like an author and want to keep reading more of her work, buy her books new. (This holds true for websites like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, too. It’s fine to buy books from them new, but please don’t click on that “buy this book used” button.) You can still go to the used bookstores for out-of-print backlists, but try to keep your shopping there to older titles, rather than new ones that may still be available at your local bookstore. Your favorite authors will thank you for it, and will be able to write the stories you love well into the future.