Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Beth White


I'm so glad to welcome the delightful Beth White to The Power of Words today! In addition to being a talented writer, Beth is a fascinating person, especially when it comes to her "day job," and I believe you will enjoy getting to know a little about her.

I was initially drawn to Beth's recent release, The Pelican Bride, by its beautiful cover that promises romance - but it is so much more! Rich with fascinating historical detail about a place and time I've never read about, there's also good characterization, adventure - and, of course, romance! Please click on the title, The Pelican Bride, to see my review.

Beth is graciously giving one of you a copy of The Pelican Bride (entry details at the end of this post). Now enjoy Beth . . .

Q:  You are a very creative person and I'm fascinated by your bio, Beth. Would you please share a little about your "day job," and maybe about one student who has particularly touched you over the years?

        I teach choral music at an inner-city public high school in Mobile. Though I'm classically trained, my music background is fairly eclectic. Besides standard choral literature, I have roots in Southern Gospel, marching band, Christian rock, classic rock, Broadway, and opera. Still, when I landed in an urban high school where R&B, Black Gospel, and rap is standard listening fare, there was a bit of a cultural learning curve.
        Music is a universal language, though, and it has been a joyful, fascinating ride for me and my students to find all the ways we connect. One of our ongoing projects is writing an original Broadway-style musical, based on a beloved middle-grade novel, Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. The first act of the script is written, plus lyrics to six songs, and we've set a couple of those to music. I'm determined to produce this thing within a year or two.
        There are a couple of senior students this year who have been with me since they were freshmen. Asia, who is now at the top of her class academically, is pursuing classical music and opera. She has already made All-State chorus twice, county honor choir three times, and recently successfully auditioned for a community women's classical chorus, Bella Voce (which means "beautiful voice"). Asia is one of only three high school students in the group. She aspires to be either a pediatric neuro-surgeon like Dr. Ben Carson or a university music teacher! I think she could do either. The other kid I like to brag on, Donavan, leans more to the classical jazz side, along the lines of Harry Connick Jr. He's also made All-State twice, plus the All-State show choir, and county honor choir and show choir. Donavan composes his own music when he performs for talent shows and local party gigs, and when he sits down at the piano, he always attracts a crowd. We may see him on the Billboard Top 100 one of these days.
        As you can tell, I absolutely adore what I do, and though it saps some writing time, I doubt I'll retire anytime soon!


Q:  How does growing up and living in the South influence your writing?

I can't not write about the South. Though I literally read everything I could get my hands on, I grew up particularly influenced by writers like William Too-Many-Words Faulkner, Harper One-Book-Wonder Lee, and Flannery Grotesque O'Conner. I dunno...maybe Southerners always feel we have to explain ourselves, describe the weirdos in our lives, make fun of our relatives. I grew up in a family of story-lovers and story-tellers. I just happen to be one who writes it down.


Q:  What are two things that most people don't know about you?

Well, I generally don't try to hide anything. It may come as a surprise to know that I really like math. I mean, I really really like it, almost became a math teacher. There's something infinitely comforting about equations that come out the same every time. Let's see...I eat the same breakfast every single day: oatmeal with brown sugar, toasted pecans and walnuts, dried apples, bacon, and cream. Again, life is so uncertain, I give myself something healthy and comforting at the beginning of the day. Okay, that's weird. Moving on...



Q:  Tell us about the Gulf Coast Chronicles and the novel we're featuring today, The Pelican Bride.

        What I wanted to do with the Gulf Coast Chronicles was to launch a historical series along the lines of Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg novels, a series written in the 1930's that I absolutely adore. I thought it would be fun to trace a family line from its beginnings in French Colonial Mobile, all the way to contemporary times. (Parenthetically, I didn't think about the fact that my brilliant idea was going to require historical research that would rival the hours spent on three doctoral theses.)
        By the time I pitched the idea to my agent, Chip MacGregor, I'd already written and published eight contemporary novels, two historicals, and four novellas—all generally based around three different southern families, with sundry branches and a couple of outside-the-box settings. So as I developed these "new" Gulf Coast stories, I imagined the ancestors of my contemporary characters (who by now are as real to me as my own relatives) and created dramatic adventures that explained their presence in South Alabama and South Mississippi.
        Genevieve Gaillain and Tristan Lanier of The Pelican Bride are the ancestors of Gillian Kincade of Tour de Force and Gabriel Lanier of Redeeming Gabriel. Genevieve is a refugee from religious persecution in France, who comes to the New World as a mail-order bride. Expatriate Tristan becomes embroiled in political machinations within the colony of New France, and marriage to Genevieve only complicates the dangerous situation. As they get to know each other, love blossoms, war with local Indian tribes explodes, and forces from nearby English colonies threaten to invade. All this is based on true events in the history of Mobile, Alabama.


Q:  Five adjectives that describe The Pelican Bride . . .

Romantic, adventurous, complex, passionate...and occasionally (I can't help it) funny.


Q:  In what must have been extensive research for this series, what drew you to this era/setting and did any historical facts stand out or surprise you?

I was interested in the beginnings of European presence along the Gulf Coast. I'd studied the French colonial era a bit in the process of writing an earlier novel, and found the personalities of the LeMoyne brothers both fascinating and mysterious. So I figured out a way to tie my fictitious hero to the adventures of Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville. Tristan became a cartographer (mapmaker) with some serious objections to the treatment of indigenous peoples, but simultaneous loyalty to his French-Canadian heritage. I think what surprised me, as I studied contemporary writings, was the amount of controversy surrounding the commander's leadership style. Bienville was both loved and despised by his peers and subordinates. Great fun to imagine the implications for establishing a colony that managed to survive to 21st Century Alabama.


Q:  Religious intolerance plays a big part in The Pelican Bride. What are your thoughts about this, and do you think it's something that will ever end this side of heaven?

In a word, no. 21st Century Evangelicals (and I consider myself one) tend to make heroes of the Reformists who broke away from the Catholic Church in the late 17th Century...but there's always a danger of taking our convictions into the territory of error, if not terrorism. I've had readers/reviewers critically "ding" me for refusing to take a stance on who was right, but I prefer to let my characters experience, and work through, the complications of interpreting Scripture and following Christ in the real world. I mainly want readers to think, for example: what would I do if I were in Genevieve's situation?


Q:  What stories can readers expect from you in the days ahead, Beth?

        The next book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles, The Creole Princess, will release in spring of 2015. Genevieve and Tristan's great-granddaughter, Lyse Lanier, comes of age during the American Revolution and falls in love with a young Spanish merchant/spy named Rafael Gonzales. American history has pretty much ignored the influence of Spanish aid to the Patriots, and the importance to American independence of the action and intrigue between England and Spain along the Gulf Coast between 1776-1781. I took it upon myself to bring all that to light—plus, Lyse and Rafael have this great chemistry, and Rafael is a hoot...
        Currently I'm in the early stages of writing the third book in the series, The Duchess of Navy Cove. The War of 1812, though a somewhat forgotten era in American history, pretty much determined whether we remained a sovereign nation or allowed ourselves to be plugged back into Britain. The last battle of that war, the Battle of New Orleans, featured some fascinating characters like Andrew Jackson...and of course my Mobilian Gonzales and Lanier families!


Q:  How can we support and/or pray for you, Beth?

This is such a comforting question. Anybody who reads this is humbly requested to pray for my ministry and work among the teenagers of LeFlore High School—that I would love them, teach them discipline, and model a walk with Christ. Also, prayers for continued writing creativity and focus in shortened time constraints would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for this opportunity to interact with you and your readers, Carole. I wish you every blessing in your own writing and ministry. Anyone who wishes to, can find me at bethwhite.net.



____________________

GIVEAWAY

To enter the drawing for The Pelican Bride, simply answer the following question that I asked Beth. E-mail address are required for the drawing and be sure to leave them in a safe format - [at] and [dot]. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.


Question:
What is something that most people would be surprised
to learn about you?

Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!


  • E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
  • Contest ends at midnight PST on Thursday, September 11. No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail within a couple of days. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: US residents, 18 and older

44 comments:

  1. I think people would be surprised to know that I have visited forty six of the fifty states.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. That's great, Melanie! I could never accomplish something like that because whenever I get a chance to travel, I keep going back to the New England area. Do you plan to visit the other four?

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  2. I think that what would surprise people now is that when I was younger I danced with a group of ladies and learned to do some of the Jewish dances and performed them for our church.

    This was a wonderful interview and sounds like a wonderful book.

    Ann Ellison
    abilene_nana@yahoo.com

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    1. Ann, even though I'm a musician - pianist - I can't dance at all, but I love to watch dancing. Learning some of the Jewish dances sounds like so much fun and also a great way to learn about their heritage.

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  3. Possibly that I am nurse. I haven't practiced in almost 17 years. When I started my family I decided I wanted to be home while they were little. I always planned to go back once they started school, but since Megan started college I would say that time has passed. I am thankful that I was able to be with them growing up and that's the most important thing to me.
    Great review. I love the book cover.

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    1. Katrina, I'm glad you were able to prioritize your children that way and I imagine you got to do some home nursing along the way. Would you have to do more training if you decided to go back?

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  4. When I was a preteen/early teen, I was one of the top swimmers in my age group in the state of Wisconsin. Missed the cut-off for Nationals by one second. I got to go to Florida with the team anyway, because my dad drove the bus (my sister made the team) and the whole family went.

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    1. What an awesome swimming record, Terri! One second hardly seems measurable until it comes to a competition like that. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. People would be surprised to know that I have moved 9 times!! :) This book looks so great, thank you for the giveaway! i_lovenuk(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Anne, that makes me tired just thinking about it! We've only moved twice and I don't think I've ever completely unpacked.

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  6. I have been to most of the countries in Asia. I can actually count the ones I have not been to easier than the ones I have been to. I served as a missionary with YWAM for 10 years in Asia. Loved every minute of it.

    Would love to read this book. Sounds like one I would enjoy. I think I will put it on my wish list.

    Carol Dyer
    cgdinasia @yahoo.com

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    1. Carol, does YWAM stand for "Youth with a Mission"? I didn't know how long you were on the mission field.

      My daughter, Beth, spent 10 weeks in Indonesia during the summer of her sophomore year in Bible college and loved it. Did you learn a foreign language?

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  7. Carole, this is a wonderful interview. Thank you so much for sharing. Beth is a new author to me. I love all the history that is going into this series, and I'm really looking forward to reading The Pelican Bride.
    may_dayzee(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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    1. Thank you, Kay. I've been wanting to read Beth's books for a good while and am glad I got this opportunity.

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    2. I was checking back here, and I see that I totally forgot to answer the question. Sorry about that. Some people would be surprised to learn that growing up I went to 11 different schools in grades K-12.

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  8. People may be surprised that I once had a shipboard romance on a cruise ship. Like the cruise, it was fleeting ;o) - I am looking forward to reading The Pelican Bride - momrain(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Shades of "The Love Boat," Loraine? LOL!

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  9. I would love to win this book, as I have not read anything by this author.
    I don't have anything that would surprise people about me.
    rita.navarre@yahoo.com

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    1. Maybe not, but I bet you have something unique or very interesting in your life, Rita.

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  10. While I was in grade school, I always wanted to be a teacher. Thanks for doing this giveaway, Carole! christine(at)comcast(dot)net

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    1. I did too, Christine! Being "teacher" was my favorite way to play. So did you become one? I became a piano teacher - not quite the same as I imagined, but very fulfilling.

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  11. I think people who know me today would be surprised to know that I was once an Emergency Medical Technician with a local ambulance corp.

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    1. I imagine your experience in that field was a little different than what we see on TV!

      Be sure to leave your e-mail address to enter the drawing. Thanks!

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  12. I think people would be surprised to know that in early Elementary School I missed more days of school than I was present due to chronic bronchitis. Guess that is why I love to read so much. Books kept me busy during those stay at home days. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Loraine
    Lpertelt@aol.com

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    1. Hate that you struggled with bronchitis so much, but that's a great way to develop a love for reading, Loraine. Thanks for visiting.

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  13. Thanks for the interesting interview, Beth and Carole!!

    Since I worked for 46 years, and numerous jobs at the same time - while raising my children, I have worked in numerous fields: collections (25+ years), cash advance store manager, courier, correctional officer, warehouse, assistant secretary/bookkeeper and other clerical, supermarket checker, night auditor (for hotels and Louise Mandrell Theater), hostess, waitress, toll collector (on I-65), marketing research, credit investigator, convenience store night manager (was robbed at gunpoint), cashier (Grand Ole Opry, Opryland, Anita Bryant Theater and other stores/gift shops in the Gatlinburg, Tn. area), clerical assistant/babysitter to Ron Blackwood (The Blackwood Quartet), night manager of a spouse abuse center, my last position was as a houseparent for a home for abused and neglected children. The most inspirational position was as a cast member of an ongoing Passion Play when I was living in the Gatlinburg, Tn. area.

    Pelican Bride sounds like such an exciting, intriguing book with interesting history and lots of colorful characters - the romance is an added treat. I love books based on actual events and/or people, and music is one of my passions (along with books).

    You have a fascinating job, but also one with great responsibility, as you teach and witness to the children that will be our future leaders. Saying a prayer for you re: your teaching and also your writing, Beth - as you shine His light!!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

    I am a blog and Facebook follower and have shared this post!!

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    1. My goodness, Bonnie!! If there was an award for the greatest number and most fascinating jobs, you would win hands down! To have worked around some of the country & gospel musicians you mentioned must have been a blast. And then the children in need and the Passion Play - what a life, Bonnie! Thank you so much for sharing all that.

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  14. That is so interesting, that you love Math & eat the same thing every morning, sorry I can't do oatmeal. I don't think people would know that I always went for the Math classes. You must be an awesome teacher. Such talented students :)
    d_stevens310 (at) live.com

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    1. I have the utmost respect for math scholars because I'm not gifted in that area at all. Maybe it would have been different if I had you or Beth to tutor me, though!

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  15. That i was a nanny in Great Britian.
    mardox@consolidated.net

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    1. You make me think of Mary Poppins, Marcy!

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  16. People would be surprised to learn that I love to go fishing and that I was a very good basketball player long ago.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
    Merry

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    1. I think I would enjoy getting out on the water to fish, but not if I had to bait my hook or clean the fish!

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  17. That I have a degree in Cultural Anthropology...here I am from a Mexican heritage, married to a French man from Louisiana...who loves Italian cuisine and I studied Asian cultures! O' and let's not forget I love my heroes when reading historical romance novels to be from Scotland!...silhouettesinscale @yahoo .com

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  18. I think I'm pretty transparent to people, so not many surprises, but I did marry a wonderful man 16 years older than me. (And I've only been to 45 states...I'll have to get busy to catch up with Melanie)

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  19. Wow how fascinating that you thought about becoming a math teacher because you love math so much! Also I think it's pretty cool that you eat something healthy every morning! I'm a good old fashion cereal every morning girl (I literally ate the same cereal for more then a year until my store stopped carrying it)! Thank you for the giveaway! :) sylvesternator at yahoo dot com

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  20. I think people would be surprised that I like to abuse flies. I know, weird...

    kathrynlvoss@gmail.com

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  21. Most people are surprised to hear I lived in Iceland five years, had our two oldest kids there, and one on the way when we moved back. :)
    What a fun interview. I look forward to reading this book.
    Blessings!
    Kelly Y.
    kelly *at* dkcountryarts *dot* com

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  22. People would be surprised that I survived Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria). It usually kills within a few hours. By the grace of God I am still here. Great interview and I look forward to reading this book and meeting a new author - to me - ! Thanks for this giveaway and the chance to win a fantastic read.

    Blessings,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10@tx.rr.com

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  23. Most people would be surprised that I am actually quite lazy. When I work, I work ceaselessly, but when I do not have to work...I am lazy!! maryar39[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  24. I love the sound of this series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this interview! Thanks for much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday at Mommynificent.com! Hope to see you again soon!
    Tina

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  25. People that dont know me might be surprised to know I can speak two languages - somewhat fluently :-)
    Think I made it in by the skin of my chin on the giveaway!
    Thanks for the great review - Introducing a new author to me.
    amylsmith at bledsoe dot net

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  26. I'm a person of many words, so most people who know me would not be surprised by much. I'm thinking maybe one of the least known things about me, might be that is used to be a van-school bus driver for handicapped children. God has blessed me with a special love for special needs children, so I loved that job.
    I also, have done MANY different jobs--here's a listing: Nurses Aid @ a Nursing Home (straight out go HS; Preschool Teacher; Newspaper Deliverer (by car); Van-sized School Bus Driver; babysitter (including for a Pro-Football Player); Teacher Assistant/Substitute Teacher @ a Christian School (including a short time teaching business math--YIKES! I am NOT a math person...); Wilton Method Cake Decorating Teacher; Ice Cream Cake Maker/Decorator for Dairy Queen; Teacher Coordinator/Academic Coordinator for a Foreign Exchange Program; Cashier/Order Taker etc. at a 50's Style Fast Food Restaurant/Diner; Cashier/Stocker at a Gift Shop (selling things made in the Northwest. Now, I follow my husband all over the world as he travel's with his job & we have now been to 26 different countries (soon to be 27). We spend more time between 2 main brand hotel's than we do at home! I'm also spending my 'spare time' as an aspiring author, currently working on an Inspirational Contemporary Romance, and my Memoir as a breast cancer survivor, soon to be 20 years. I also, occasionally write book reviews...
    Vicki
    vmarney (at) hot mail (dot) com

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  27. That I really want to go to Jerusalem and walk where Jesus likesmusic2 (at) consolidated(dot) net

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