Reviewer Tina Burns talks to Beth Ciotta
Hi Beth and welcome
back to The Road to Romance!
First off, tell us a
little bit about Beth Ciotta the person.
TB: How did you get
BETH: I dabbled
with writing when I was in grade school and then again in high school,
but I never wrote seriously, with the intention of being published,
until about ten years ago. I remember the exact moment of inspiration.
On a whim I picked up a romance novel (I hadn’t read one in years). I
devoured the book in a few hours and when I got to the end I thought, “I
want to do this. I want to write romance novels so that I can make
people feel the way I feel right now. Happy and hopeful.” The next day
I started writing my first manuscript and I haven’t looked back. Of
course, at the time, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing
technically. Thank goodness for writer’s workshops, organizations, and
an incredible support network of fellow writers.
TB: Do you have
your own love story and if so, does it inspire your writing in anyway?
BETH: My husband,
Steve and I have been together for almost twenty-five years. For me it
was a genuine case of love at first sight. I remember the sensation of
‘walking on air.’ After all this time I still experience that thrill
time and again. I suppose it does inspire my writing as I truly believe
there is nothing more exciting and fulfilling than the adventure of
falling in love and living happily-ever-after. It’s something I wish
TB: For your
personal reading, what type of genres do you enjoy?
BETH: I enjoy just
about every sub-genre of romance. Historical (all periods),
contemporary, paranormal. Favorites just now are romantic comedy and
romantic suspense. I am also a great fan of Robert B. Parker. His
Spencer stories rock!
Let’s talk about
TB: JINXED is the
first book you’ve written by yourself. You’ve written with a partner
before under the name CB Scott -- how different was this?
BETH: Writing with a
partner has definite advantages. You’re always there in the thick of
the story cheering each other on. When you’re blocked, more often than
not, something the other writer contributes inspires you to move in a
direction that had not yet occurred to you. There’s a definite rush in
living and creating the story with someone who is as jazzed about the
project as you are. If you’re very lucky your partner challenges your
brain and compliments your style. I consider myself very fortunate to
have written three novels and a short story with Cynthia Klimback (C of
All of our CB Scott
books received wonderful reviews, so there was a certain fear factor in
writing alone. A fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, that people
wouldn’t enjoy my offbeat stories. I can’t tell you what a confidence
boost it is every time a favorable review rolls in on JINXED. Even
better the enthusiastic response of readers who identified with my
characters as greatly as I did. I’m learning to trust my heart and
voice and to simply go with my gut. I have critique partners whose
opinions I trust implicitly, and who cheer me on when I have the
occasional panic attack. The thrill of writing solo is that it is pure
you—your ideas, your passion, your voice. It’s extremely
TB: Your previous
books have all had a fantasy or paranormal theme, why the switch to
BETH: It wasn’t a
conscious choice. It just so happened that several story ideas flowed
out of me at the same time, and all of them were straight ahead
contemporary comedies. Actually, I wasn’t surprised. One of my greatest
loves is watching romantic comedy movies. I’m a sucker for the
classics. Doris Day/Rock Hudson, Katherine Hepburn/Spencer
I’m a huge fan of any Cary Grant or Meg Ryan romantic comedy. As far as
reading, I’m particularly drawn to suspense. So I guess it makes sense
that my solo stories, though comedic, include a dash of danger. My next
book CHARMED is a follow up to JINXED, and it looks as though there will
be a third book in the series—all romantic comedies with a twist of
I also have a
western romance coming soon from Medallion Press. Although LASSO THE
MOON is a historical, the tone is the same—light-hearted romantic
comedy. I wouldn’t be surprised at some point if I end up writing
TB: You signed with
Medallion Press, a fairly new publisher, for your current work – how
does an author decide who to sign with and why Medallion?
BETH: I think the
answer varies depending on where you are in your career. Although I had
three novels published as CB Scott (with writing partner, Cynthia
Klimback), as a solo author I was unknown and unproven. Medallion
expressed an interest in me and I was only too happy to submit a story.
The result was this writer’s dream come true. They didn’t just love the
story, they loved my style, my voice. They wanted more. They wanted to
advance my career. And they’ve done just that. Their advertising and
promotional efforts on my behalf have been astonishing. Very rare for a
new author. Lastly, the powers-that-be at Medallion Press are highly
motivated and passionate about their books. That’s very appealing to
TB: Jack Leeds is a
really strong Alpha male, and they’re so much fun to read. Are they as
much fun to write? Do Alpha men give their authors orders the way they
try to give their women orders?
BETH: Jake was a
blast to write. In real life I can only hope that I’d be able to deal
with a man like that as well as Afia. It took her awhile, but she saw
through the toughness, understood how and why he ticked, and loved him
for it. And yes, he bossed me around quite a few times as I wrote.
What a control freak.
TB: Afia St. John
is pretty flighty at the beginning of the book. How hard was it to take
a character like that and believably change her into the competent woman
at the end of the book?
BETH: I worried
when I first wrote Afia, those opening chapters, that she was too
flighty. But that’s how she came out, that’s how I envisioned her. I
hung with it because I just knew there was more to her. I knew that she
was emotionally on-the-edge and that there were multiple reasons for her
actions. Because I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, as I
continued on I learned that she was a product of her mother. I hurt for
Afia because I knew she wanted to be so much more than she was. I knew
she was strong. I knew she was bright. She wasn’t hard to write at
all. She naturally evolved (with Jake’s help) with the story.
TB: Next up for you
is CHARMED –- tell us about that. Can you give us a little excerpt?
BETH: CHARMED is
scheduled for release December 2004. This book is a lot of fun because
I am drawing from real life experiences. My background is in
entertainment. I’m a professional singer, but I also work in the
Atlantic City casinos as a character actress. Some of my best friends
are strolling entertainers: jugglers, magicians, stilt-walkers, clowns .
. . In the past I have also combined my acting skills with my writing
abilities. I developed interactive fairytales and performed them at
children’s parties. Bits of all these past adventures show up in
CHARMED. The heroine, Lulu (aka Princess Charming) is a children’s
storyteller. To make ends meet she also works part time at the
Carnevale Casino as a juggler. She’s an optimistic goody-two-shoes who
champions non-violence. Imagine her distress when world-weary,
professional bodyguard Colin Murphy shows up on her doorstep claiming
she’s the fantasy target of a mobster's fixation!
CHARMED is jammed
packed with colorful characters. The feisty, Disney-ized heroine, Lulu,
her kick-butt, action-star-wanna-be sister, Sofie, protection specialist
(and Alpha-hero), Colin Murphy, and his best friend, FBI special agent,
Joe Bogart. Also returning from JINXED, Jake, Afia, Rudy, Jean-Pierre,
and some unscrupulous others.
In coming together
to save Lulu, some of the cast, including the hero, are forced to face
their own personal crisis. CHARMED showcases the absurdity of life and
the best and the worst in mankind.
Here’s a short
Even with his
sunglasses on, her smile was as bright as her neon pink lipstick. Her
dimpled cheeks shimmered. Her brown eyes sparkled. Her pixie face,
decorated with artfully applied glitter and rhinestones, radiated pure
joy and whimsy. A crystal tiara winked at him through an upswept mass
of wild, golden curls. She wore a pale pink, floor-length gown—corseted
bodice, the skirt a voluminous mass of stiff crinoline. A gown
befitting a Princess. A fairytale version anyway.
said, hoping to hell she didn’t expect him to add Your Highness.
“I’ll be with you in
a minute.” She waved him inside the foyer and then turned and limped to
the far side of what he assumed to be the living room. The only hints—a
couch and a nineteen-inch television.
He moved into the
obscenely cluttered room, sliding his sunglasses to the top of his head
for a clearer look. Scattered stuffed animals. Piles of books, videos
and dog-eared magazines. A Hula Hoop. Pink-wheeled roller skates and a
Twister game. Walls of theater posters and cartoon art. Broadway meets
To top things off,
the place reeked of lemons and bubble gum. Could a man O.D. on sunshine
He focused on the
princess who was in obvious search of something. Considering the
disorganized state of the room, she could be looking forever.
“Where is it?” she
mumbled to the underside of a chair, its style and color
indistinguishable as it was heaped with bolts of multi-colored,
multi-textured fabrics. All of them accentuated with glitter or sequins
or some sort of metallic trim.
He sidestepped an
overflowing sewing basket. “Can I help?”
red-faced and winded, her tiara askew. “That would be great.” Lips
pursed, her gaze darted from one pile to another, searching.
She’d yet to focus
on Murphy. Yet to ask him who he was or what he was doing here. He
could be a murderer or a rapist and yet she’d invited him in without
hesitation. No peep hole. No chain lock. No “who’s there?” Just
opened the door and invited him in.
If Bogie was right,
if she was in danger, she was oblivious. For the moment, he allowed her
the fantasy. “What are we looking for?”
“A glass slipper.”
“Well, it’s not
really glass. More like acrylic or plastic. Whatever, it’s
see-through.” She hiked the hem of her gown. “Pretty, huh?”
Murphy admired her naked foot through the transparent pump. She stood
lopsided, one shoe on, one shoe lost, her left heel elevated a good
three inches above her right. Her toenails painted a frosty shade of
pink. Cotton candy came to mind. “Where’s your bedroom?”
TB: What are you
going to do with Jean-Pierre and Rudy? Give us a hint…!
Jean-Pierre and Rudy. I was astonished by the enthusiastic feedback on
these two men. Everyone, including my publisher, wanted their story to
continue. I was more than happy to comply. When we last saw them in
JINXED, Jean-Pierre, the younger though more self-confidant of the two,
had finally convinced Rudy that he was serious about settling into a
‘relationship.’ When CHARMED opens we are four months into their
relationship and Rudy is still fighting the notion that the union is
doomed. In his mind, it’s only a matter of time before JP leaves him
for a younger man, or before Rudy, himself, is tempted to stray. A
self-help book enthusiast, Rudy successfully guides his friends’ love
lives. How sad that he is unable to practice what he preaches.
In his determination
to push their relationship to the next level, Jean-Pierre unwittingly
involves the romantically shaky couple with the mob. Will they survive
the fall-out? Will Rudy overcome his insecurities or will he sabotage
Let’s just say it’s
not an open and shut case.
TB: If fans want to
contact you, how to they go about doing that?
BETH: Do please
visit my website.
www.bethciotta.com Feel free
to email me at email@example.com
TB: Now we come to
the end of our interview but before we say goodbye, let’s go…
“Inside the Author’s
TB: What is your
TB: What is your
least favorite word?
TB: What turns you
TB: What turns you
TB: What genre
would you most like to write?
TB: What genre
would you least like to write?
TB: If you could
meet anyone, real or fiction, past or present, who would it be and why?
BETH: William Shakespeare. He wrote it all. Comedy, tragedy,
history. Plays, sonnets. He wrote beautifully, magically. Romeo and
Juliet? The Twelfth Night? I am in awe of his imagination and word
choice. He wouldn’t even have to talk to me. I’d be happy shadowing him
for a day and basking in his brilliance and passion. Shakespeare has
been touching people for centuries and will continue to do so for
TB: Thanks for
joining us today, Beth. We look forward to more from you in the
Interviewed by Tina
Burns for The Road to Romance.