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Beth James displays a copy of the Dec. 10 Time magazine containing a story on electronic book self-publishing in which she is quoted. The edition has a picture of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on the cover.

Hudson romance writer gets mention in Time magazine

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For a budding novelist, Beth James of Hudson has already gotten some big-time publicity.

The Dec. 10 issue of Time magazine contained a story on electronic book self-publishing in which James was quoted.

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A few years ago, self-published authors were given a bad rap, but that is no longer true, James said in the story by Andrew Rice.

The article appeared under the headline "The 99 cent best seller."

James is preparing to have her first romance novel, "Gitana - Life Plan," published on e-readers like Kindle and Nook. It's about a well-planned life that veers off course and a pregnancy tied to deceit, according to James.

She was at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago last April when a sales representative for Smashwords, an e-book publisher, asked if she was willing to be interviewed by a journalist writing a story on electronic publishing.

James provided her email address and later that spring received a message from Rice requesting a phone interview. When Rice called, they talked for about an hour.

He asked her why she was at the convention, what her novel was about, and why she was pursuing the e-publishing route rather than trying to get her book into print.

At the end of the interview, Rice said he couldn't promise that her name or what they talked about would appear in the magazine article. He thought Time might run the story in June.

"It was kind of fun going through that (interview) process, having never done that before," James said in a recent phone call.

In an earlier blog entry, she wrote: "June came and went. I didn't think too much about the interview after that. I figured the timing wasn't right for the story, or that the story may have been completely dropped." (Her blog can be found at www.bethmjames.wordpress.com/.)

But on the first day of December, Rice emailed James to say that his story would run in the Dec. 10 edition of Time, and that she would be quoted.

"I have to admit, it was quite a thrill to see my name in Time," James said.

A business analyst for the state of Minnesota by occupation, James has been writing as a hobby for a long time.

"I have been wanting to be an author for many, many, many years, but I let life get in the way," she said.

Now that her two children and a stepdaughter are grown, she has more time to devote to her dream.

She has completed the novel, except for some polishing, and is in the process of getting it published electronically. She hopes to have it available for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers by spring.

"I am doing this all on my own. I'm not going through an agent or a publisher. I am the publisher," James said.

She is one of many new authors going that direction, which is the subject of Rice's article in Time. It is extremely difficult to get a book printed by a major publisher nowadays, James said.

"They have to be very picky. They want the best sellers," she said. "But there are some really good, fun stories out there that are written, but never read. That's why I decided not to go that route."

James is hopeful of finding an audience for her book through e-publishing.

"My editor loved it. She said I had very strong characters, a good storyline, (and that) it was very enjoyable to read," James said. "So now that the writing part is done, I have the learning curve of getting it on e-book ... then I can start marketing it."

James said her mother read to her as a child, and she has loved reading and writing ever since learning to do it herself.

"I have a very creative imagination," she said. "I need to write. If I don't write, I get crabby. It's just in my blood."

She has stories in mind for five or six more books, and intends to write as a career when she retires from her government job.

James and her husband, Michael, moved to Hudson from Oakdale, Minn., five years ago. She is a native of Oakdale.

She has a son stationed in Germany with the Air Force, and a daughter who lives in River Falls and is a student at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond. Her stepdaughter, who lives in Somerset, also is a college student.

James is an active member of the Pen 'N ThINK Writers Group that meets the third Wednesday of the month, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Hudson Bagel & Coffee.

"We love getting together. We critique each other's work. It's a lot of fun," she said of the group.

In addition, she is a member of the Wisconsin chapter of Romance Writers of America, which meets once a month in Chippewa Falls.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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