I met Bethany at ACFW in 2016 (see below), and we became Facebook friends, but that’s about it. Fast forward to ACFW 2017, and somehow, every time I turned around… there she was! (This was a good thing.) Since then, I have come to absolutely adore her.
She, along with Mikal Dawn, are some of the first people I go to these days – with anything – good or bad. Story breakthrough? Head to Voxer and record a message for them. Petty jealousy I know is ridiculous? Group text (because who wants to actually SAY that).
Not long into our real friendship last fall, she sent me a copy of her debut! I devoured The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and knew, friend or not, Bethany was a writer to watch!
In 2016 I attended my first ever American Christian Fiction Writers conference. No one knew who I was. I don’t just mean I wasn’t a known author. I mean no one knew who I was. At all. I had signed a contract for my first traditionally published novel, which also happened to be my first inspirational novel, but apart from my editor, no one knew me from Becky Wade. Okay, that’s not true. Everyone knew I wasn’t Becky Wade. In fact, the recurring theme of my nightmares as I prepared for the conference was all of the people shouting, “You’re no Becky Wade!” (For the record, I adore Becky Wade, Christian Fiction is blessed to have Becky Wade, and only Becky Wade is Becky Wade. That is all.)
So anyway, no one knew me. But I had a little bit of a secret weapon up my sleeve. You see, I’m an extrovert. I tend to walk into every room as if I belong there, no matter how untrue that may be. (Just in case you mistake that as ego, rest assured that I walk into the room as if I belong there, but on the inside my self-doubt is screaming, “Run! Run away! You’re a fraud!”) I walked into every room like I belonged there, went straight up to everyone I saw and said hello, and ended up making tons of fabulous friends who I now can’t imagine my life without.
So many of those initial conversations with complete strangers began the same way—because author conversations don’t work the same way as normal conversations. We’d introduce ourselves, but then rather than asking “What do you do for a living?” (Duh…) or “Where do you live?” (We’ll get to that. In fact there’s a whole meal where we sit according to geography.) or even “How about this weather?” (Which we know nothing about because we’ve been inside a hotel for four days…), we’d ask each other, “What do you write?”
Have you seen You’ve Got Mail? (If not, please notify me immediately and I will be at your house with a DVD and some cookie dough STAT!) There is a scene, after Kathleen Kelly’s charming little bookshop has been put out of business by Joe Fox’s mega bookstore, that Joe’s girlfriend Patricia reflects on a day in her life as a publisher. A day in which all anyone can talk about is the suddenly-available, talented, literary phenomenon, Kathleen Kelly.
“Kathleen Kelly. I swear, it was like her name was in the air, Joe.”
So it is with genres when writers get together. Amish. Speculative. Historical. Women’s Fiction. YA. Romance! Historical Romance! Contemporary Romance! Romantic Comedy!!
Hang on. Romantic Comedy? Whenever I told someone I write Rom-Com, they were either a) instantly delighted, and ready to discuss Colin Firth ad nauseam (as I, for one, always am), or b) instantly bewildered, and ready to grab their camera, since they’d seen so few Rom-Com authors out in the wild, in their natural habitat. But either way, there was always one question that I was asked—over and over and over.
“Are you funny?”
What? Am I funny? How should I know? And even if I do think I’m funny, can I really say so? “Yes. Thanks for asking. I’m hilarious.” Um, no. On the other side of that coin, if I ever hope to sell books, I can’t really say, “Nah, not really. But…eh…what can you do?” So I answered the only way I could, and I spoke absolute truth when I said it.
“I hope so!”
At the end of the day, it’s not really up to me anyway, is it? I can think I’m the funniest thing since sliced bread (and let’s face it…sliced bread is hilarious) but if my readers don’t think I’m funny, then…no. I’m not funny. Readers, your power is greater than you realize. Are our characters relatable? Is our voice appealing? Are our kisses swoon-worthy? Are we funny?
Well, that’s entirely up to you.
For the record, Bethany makes me laugh All. The. Time. so she is totally funny. (That’s why all of our pics together were blurry.) But maybe not funnier than sliced bread. Because sliced bread.
Also, I know Becky Wade. She is amazing. And Bethany is, too. I’ve gotten a sneak peek at what she has written of her next book and… y’all, it is SO GOOD! I text her often telling her I need the Whole Rest by 10pm that night. Somehow that hasn’t worked yet… I get chunks, but not the Whole Rest. Sigh.
What’s your favorite rom com? Movie or book? I’ll choose one commenter to receive a Kindle copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck.
Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned thirty-five), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.