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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed writer and marketing expert Paulette Stout about her career, what motivates her, and the creative process that went into her latest book; Love, Only Better.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Paulette Stout, author of Love, Only Better, interview on The Table Read
Paulette Stout, author of Love, Only Better

My name is Paulette Stout, and I’m a lifelong marketer, writer and wordsmith. Born in Manhattan, and raised by a single father, I was empowered at a very young age to ask questions and follow my passions. That road led me from media buying and planning at top New York agencies to leading development at nonprofit agencies in Massachusetts to finding my rightful home in content creation. Now as the owner of my own content agency, Media Goddess, Inc., I tinker with words all day for my roster of clients, and then wake in the wee hours of the morning to work on my manuscripts. I’ve never been happier!

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Back in 1996, I was enthralled with murder mysteries, so tried my hand at one. That was my first completed manuscript, which is currently unpublished. After that, I’d read novels and get frustrated with the authors’ choices. So, I decided to try writing one of my own.

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How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

Paulette Stout, author of Love, Only Better, interview on The Table Read

From idea to release, it took about fifteen years. I wasn’t consistently writing that whole time, with some pauses lasting a year or more. But I did periodically query to find an agent and publisher. This last push took about a year, taking that rough manuscript and finishing it until it shined.

What made you want to write Love, Only Better?

I loved my father, but he totally dropped the ball in the sex education department, which left me woefully unprepared for womanhood. The journey I had to take to learn my body and gain intimate empowerment was long, lonely and packed with shame. I felt compelled to share this story to the world. Hopefully, it will give women the answers it took me years to find.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Love, Only Better?

Because the intimate journey was one I personally experienced, there came a time when I had to detach myself from the main character, Rebecca, and craft a narrative true to her. I was no longer writing about myself. I was writing Rebecca’s story. This was difficult but likewise liberating, as it freed me to create the story the needed to be written.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

My protagonist is loosely based on myself but includes elements I like to believe all women share. Traits like self-doubt, vulnerability, strength, persistence, and the ability to surprise ourselves by accomplishing great things.

What is the inciting incident of Love, Only Better?

The inciting incident happens just as the book begins. My main character is reeling from being cruelly taunted and dumped by her boyfriend. The pain stings, but it motivates her search for intimate clarity and self-worth.

What is the main conflict of Love, Only Better?

The conflict is between the main character and herself but is also with society’s expectations about how women can and should express their sexual agency.

Did you plot Love, Only Better in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I was a pantser, for sure, but never again!

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Love, Only Better need?

Absolutely! Editing is essential for a quality end result. In all, I had about thirty versions. That included alpha and beta readers and subsequent reworking. After that, the manuscript went through a professional developmental edit and a copy edit before heading to the proofreader. I viewed this process as an essential literary education and gained from it immeasurably—as did the manuscript.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Sit down and write. There’s no fairy dust that falls from heaven to make you a writer. It only takes creativity and persistence. Oh, and don’t be afraid if your first draft is garbage. The magic happens during editing.

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Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Right now, I’m editing book two, the sequel to my novel, Love, Only Better. It follows the same two main characters and dives deeper into their relationship, introducing critical new characters that ratchet up the conflict. We’re so mean to our characters, aren’t we? Book three will follow, and I have a spreadsheet of other stand-alone book ideas that I may write under a pen name in a different genre.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

I am beyond proud of my accomplishment of becoming an author. It’s one of those bucket-list goals. To have achieved it and to find myself on the road to doing it again is utterly amazing.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Here’s the link tree to find my book wherever you read. It’s available worldwide on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google Play, and Apple Books, and you can request it at your local bookshop or library in any country once it launches:

Follow me on social media:

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