Monday, May 5, 2008

Meet Author and Artist Betty Anne Bantz

betty Anne BantzIt’s my pleasure to introduce the multi-talented Betty Anne Bantz. Sit down a spell and get to know her!

THE BIO

Elisabeth, better known as Betty Anne, can see God's call on her life, from her earliest interest in art and music, to the scriptures she learned at the family supper table; from her choice of a Christian college, to her first job as a proofreader; from designing Yellow Page ads to her graphic arts job (that included everything she had learned thus far); from her encounter with Christ as a teenager, to her prophetic call later in life. Every newsletter, every article, every song, every novel she writes is built on this foundation set by God. Her most recent song from Psalm 31:15 sums up her trust in God: My Times are in Your Hands. She and her husband have been walking together with Jesus Christ since 1966. They live in Illinois, fifteen miles due south of the St. Louis Arch, surrounded by most of their children and their families.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: What inspired you to begin writing Christian fiction?
BAB: The short story is: I saw a need, and God led me to do my part to fill it.

The long story goes back to 1976 when my thirteen-year-old daughter, already an avid reader, brought home a bag of Romance novels a relative had given her. I understood her passion for reading; I had it, too. But I felt uncomfortable letting her read the world’s concept of love, even though I weeded out the worst of them, and it bothered me all summer. These books leave God out of the picture altogether.

I remember wishing that there were Christian Romances available, but there weren’t. Suddenly I received a vision while registering my youngest son in kindergarten, and the story grew in my head until the characters seemed so real, I didn’t know what to do with them. So I asked God, and He said, “Write a Christian Romance.”

From that unusual beginning came my first four books, but I didn’t write them in order since I had no idea I’d be writing a series. I wrote the second book first, the third book next, and the first and fourth I wrote alternately at the same time to bring the series full circle. I love a challenge!

JA: Secrets of the Heart is a four book, generational saga. Please tell us about it.
BAB: The story begins in the near present when Kinzey White, a young columnist, meets a spry 90+ lady who’s led a remarkable life, and decides to write her story in the form of a novel. As book one takes off, she adds sequels, until her own story takes over.

BAB - Family SecretsFamily Secrets, Ruth’s story, begins in 1904 where her parents meet at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Or so she thinks. That’s the first secret, but Ruth has many miles to travel before she finds the answers she seeks.

Next, Ruth’s niece Rachel takes the spotlight in The Secret Cove, when she elopes with her young math teacher to avoid the man her father had chosen for her. The marriage lasts less than a day.

Book 3, Sins of the Fathers, follows the children of Rachel and David Christianson who befriend a new student in their 6th grade class and become embroiled in Melissa’s mystery.

Snatched, begins when Kinzey White’s four-year-old daughter disappears while shopping at the mall with her grandparents. Ruth and the Christianson clan come to her aid, but something more than a kidnapping is happening behind the scenes.

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading this series?
BAB: Besides the benefit of taking four fabulous mini-vacations across the country in my books, I hope the series conveys that no matter how devastating the circumstances may be, God can and will make something good out of them if we trust our lives into His care. Forgiveness is the key, God forgiving you, and you forgiving those who have hurt and disappointed you.

JA: You’re an artist as well as an author. These two talents are combined in your picture book, God Made Me. How did that come about?
BAB: Ah! (Smile!) I’ve had the joy of watching my younger grand-twins (both our daughters have twins) since they were babies, and when they were about two, I was rocking them before naptime, and singing “God is so good” to them. It got me wondering if their young minds could grasp who God is.

BAB - God Made MeWe had just come in from a walk, so I just started singing about all the beautiful things we had seen on that walk, and it turned into rhyming verses like: God made the animals. God made trees. God made the birds that fly. God made bees. God made the sun and sky. God made the butterfly. God made the world and God made me. I soon added hand motion to each verse, and we had fun practicing it almost daily. Then, knowing their love for books (I wonder where that came from?!), I painted a watercolor of each subject, scanned them into my computer, and printed them each a book they could pretend to read.

A few years later, the song (and the book) got adopted by their pre-school, and from there I switched the pages over to my Quark program so could scan each child’s picture, drop it into the pages, and print it out with his or her own name. God Made Me comes with the musical lead sheet (melody & chords) and hand-motion instructions. It’s a small 24-page 4.25” x 5.5” book printed on 44 lb. glossy card stock. (Did I mention that I’m a retired graphic artist?) You can see some of the pages on my web site if you’re interested.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
BAB: A modern mystery with a biblical twist, Light in the Darkness follows a fallen angel (who thinks he was banished to the earth by mistake) as he tries to get a Harvard professor to tell his story before it is too late. (Think stuck with the bad guys in you-know-where.)

But I’ve put my goals on hold for a while to help others reach their goals. I’ve been reviewing more manuscripts lately. And doing book reviews.

JA: You’re the mother of five and grandmother of fifteen (so far). How do you keep up with all those precious kids?
BAB: One step at a time. No. Actually, I tell them to slow down. They are a joy, that’s for sure. I guess the grandchildren are our reward for raising five great kids (despite our mistakes). And all but one of our children live nearby. When we all get together, there are 27 of us.

JA: Is there something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
BAB: This might not sound surprising, but I also write music. I figure if other people do, why not me. And I play the guitar, ukulele, a home-made banjo, and a little piano. No, not a small piano; I play just enough to get by.

JA: What authors inspire you?
BAB: T. Davis Bunn. Michael Phillips. Craig Parshall. Karen Kingsbury. Tracie Peterson. Apostle Paul. Saint John. Moses. And oh, so many more! I love reading all the new authors’ books I’ve been reviewing.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
BAB: Come see me at www.bantzbooks.com (It’s my first try at setting up a web site.) And be sure to leave a message in my guest book. I’d like to meet you!

Thanks for reading this far. God bless you!

It’s been a pleasure having you here, Betty Anne. May God continue to bless you in your writing journey!

WIN A BOOK

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Family Secrets just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on May 12th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck

20 comments:

Karin said...

Sounds like an interesting book series.

Julie Lessman said...

Jennifer and Betty -- Great interview!! I have the pleasure of living in the same city as Betty, so I have met this fascinating (and very generous) lady! Betty gave me a packet of her note cards designed AND printed by her, and they are beautiful. I pretty much hoard them, though, only using them for VERY special notes. :)

Don't include me in the drawing because I am already blessed to have Family Secrets -- great book!!

Hugs,
Julie

tetewa said...

Nice to be introduced to another new series, sounds good!

Anonymous said...

Betty Anne and I graduated from the same school: Christian High School, in Cambridge, MA We have already celebrated 50 years post high school.
It is wonderful to see how the Lord has/is using Betty Anne with all her talent, to His Glory.
Evie

ruth said...

I enjoyed this lovely interview and learning about this wonderful novel. Thanks for this great giveaway.

petite said...

This series sounds fascinating and It appeals to me greatly. Thanks for this great giveaway. The interview wzas interesting.

ChristyJan said...

Please enter me to win a copy of Family Secrets ~ it sounds like a wonderful book - saga.

windycindy said...

Hello! I thin Betty Anne and I are practically neighbors! I enjoy books written in a series format. I enjoy reading historical romance. Her books sound like a lovely read. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Nancy said...

I've known Betty Anne for 34 years now.. She is truly a talented woman. God has indede blessed her! If you get the chance to read her books I promise you won't put them down until the last book is read!
Nancy in Arizona

Anonymous said...

Betty Anne is definitely a talented lady. I am proud to be related to such a wonderful Christian woman who uses the gifts God has given her to lift others up. Super interview.

stampedwithgrace said...

this book series sounds so good! I would love to read it.
my daughter is Kelsey Elisabeth with an S
you don't see that very often :)

Caroline said...

Interesting interview. I've checked out her website before. And the book sounds fascinating. Would love to read it.

luv2read said...

Enter me in the contest is sounds good. spowell01(at)bellsouth.net

dolls123 said...

I liked the song

dolls123[at]gmail[dot]com

California Pat said...

Betty Anne and I were in High shcool together in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. We missed the opportunity to get to know one another closely back then but have made up for it since our 45th and 50th class reunions. Her books are precious reminders of God's hand of love and mercy on those who trust in Him. I highly recomend them to all.

annie said...

Interesting and compelling series which appeals to me. Thanks for this giveaway.

ellie said...

What a lovely and captivating series. I enjoyed the interview and learning about your talents. Thanks for this lovely giveaway.

Anonymous said...

This series sounds great. Please enter me in the drawing.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40 (at) aol (dot) com

kamewh said...

Sounds like a wonderful series! Thank you for the giveaway!

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... ladijo40

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who stopped by!