It's great to welcome my online friend and fellow author, Mimi Barbour to share a bit about her busy life. As I post more and more of these interviews, I cannot believe how much writers stuff into their days without a complete burn-out. Maybe some of us are burning out and don't actually know it, lol!
Let's see how Mimi fits all she does into her day...
1) When and why did you decide you wanted to be a published author?
Actually, one day after throwing a romance book on the floor and pouting over having wasted almost $10 on it, I ranted about how I could write better. Poof! Light bulb moment and we’re talking halogen bulb! I ran to my bookcase and feverishly sorted through old books collecting dust and found a one I’d bought about fifteen years earlier called How to Write Romance for Money. It saddened me somewhat to think of the wasted years, but once I’d made up my mind, I set forward on the path I was always meant to take.
That’s when I wrote my first romance book and thought it was such a masterpiece that I sent it to Donald Maas, a great agent, and told him to tell Nora to move over, as there was a new best-selling author in town. I shrink about four sizes and tend to metaphorically slither under the nearest piece of furniture every time I think of how uninformed and naive I was back in those days. Needless to say, that manuscript still lies in the bowels of my closet festering, whimpering to come out and get repaired. Don’t think I have enough energy—it’s that bad!
So, I decided to write romance novels because after four years of trying to break into the children’s magazine market, and only getting one story published (by a non-paying multicultural magazine – go figure!) I thought maybe I should switch to writing what I love to read. And where there was a better likelihood of maybe earning a living.
I’m never happier than when I’m immersed with my characters and plotting more fun.
2) What is the best and worse thing you have learned from an editor/agent?
The best thing is I’m good enough to be contracted. The worst thing is that I’m not so flipping great that my work doesn’t need editing, again and again. I’m just so darn happy that they think I’m worth the time and effort. And, to my ultimate glee, with each book I send in, the edits are getting less and less, which means—I hope—that I’m getting better.
3) Favourite author/s?
I love Susan Elizabeth Philips and Nora Roberts. They both make me laugh while I’m reading their stories, and getting near the end of one of their books always makes me sad to leave their great characters.
I must admit to having a rather eclectic taste in what I read. I love suspense and therefore Linda Howard, Joy Felding and Lisa Jackson are books I reach for. But then I do like law-type tales and John Lescroat is a good one to follow. I guess I could go on and on – needless to say – I read anything and everything.
4) What is your typical day?
About eight am I start my day either on my treadmill or walking the seawall close to our house in Qualicum Beach. Then I tidy the house a bit and ready myself for the day. I eat breakfast in my office while I have my first game of spider (my bad!!). Then I check my e-mails and waste a bunch more time writing notes and checking Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc, etc. I call that my promo time so I don’t feel too guilty.
Then I cuss once I’ve seen that the morning has flown and I haven’t written a word. I quickly grab lunch and have my second game of spider. (my real bad!!) Then I open my manuscript and lose myself for at least three or four hours. On a good day I can write 2,500 to 3,500 words.
If I’m under the gun, I start writing first thing in the morning and go for it all day. I guess that’s how I got my latest book written and edited in two months, and it was a full-length manuscript. Wild Rose Press sent me a contract for it very shortly after I submitted it – Bless the little Angels. It’ll be a Christmas release called “Together for Christmas” #5 in the Vicarage Bench series.
5) Share your blurb or short excerpt from your latest release with us
This is an excerpt from my new release called “Together Again”
“So this is what the inside of the pub looks like. I’ve wondered.”
“Why would you care?”
“And so they should be. It’s no place for youngsters.”
“I’m a youngster. I’m here.”
“Yeah! But you’re with me, and if there’s any nonsense going on you shouldn’t see, I’ll close my eyes.”
Erupting giggles tickled him. He lowered his head and stared at the beer-foamed glass in his hand so no one could see the silly grin fighting to appear on his face.
Dani, the bane of his existence, made him laugh more than anyone else he’d ever known. And she was only sixteen years old.
“I’m not a child, you know. And I’m almost seventeen.”
“So tell me, Miss Methuselah, how did you get inside me? Are you ever going to explain? I’m thinking to take out a long-term lease if you’re planning to homestead.”
She teased right back.” You’ll have to co-sign for me, ‘cause I’m underage.”
“Whoa! I’ve never met anyone who can play the age game better than you. You’re an adult when it suits you, but reverting back to childhood when you feel the need doesn’t bother you at all.” He loved hearing her cheeky laughter, but not nearly as much as he liked the warmth flooding over his internal self. Exuberance filled him, and he had to admit to getting hooked on the high.
“You are so easy, Troy. I’m gonna hate to leave you. But I guess I’ll have to, since tomorrow’s Saturday, and that’s the day we’ll be able to undo the switch. Right. Here goes—and don’t interrupt, no matter how silly it seems. The fact is – well, it really is the rose bush.”
“You’re still trying to feed me that baloney. The rose bush! I thought we settled that subject. Next you’ll be saying it’s magical.”
“It is.” Her voice strongly emphasised the last word.
He filtered through his senses systematically. And was forced to accept one thing. She was telling the truth. A magic rose bush! “Holy cow!”
“According to my uncle’s notes, if I understood them correctly, and I think I did, I read them twice and—”
“Right! He’ll have my body near his rose bush—the one I pricked my finger on, at precisely twelve noon each Saturday until the changeover occurs to get me back there. He’ll prick my finger in hopes that you will also prick yours at the same time. He knows I’m aware of the magic and how it works, because he’ll know I read all his notes about a similar case he investigated last year. I accidentally knocked them off his table, the notes that is, and probably didn’t get them back in their correct order. It’s what started this whole thing.”
“And you’re sure it’ll happen?”
“No. But it’s what I gathered from going through his papers, and it worked for two other women who had the same experience.”
“Great! Tomorrow! We’ll be there early.”
He had hurt her feelings.
She shut herself off, hiding away so he couldn’t feel the devastating ache that clutched at her and made her gasp. Tears, a physical reaction to release overwhelming pain, weren’t available to her. Emotions too advanced for a young girl tore away rose-coloured glasses, wounding, maturing. Her almost seventeen-year-old psyche had started connecting to him in a way that confused her. Every moment she’d shared his life, little bits of her soul had shifted to him until there wasn’t much left he didn’t own.
6) Who would you cast to play your hero & heroine in a movie?
For the hero I could see Orlando Bloom, Sam Worthington or maybe for the younger crowd Robert Pattison
For the Heroine I have to admit to loving Jennifer Lopaz.
7) Did you plan this book? Or write it as it came?
I never really plot my books very much. I think about the story a lot and get the overall idea cemented in my head before I ever put anything on paper. It’s like a TV show that I keep replaying until it seems familiar. Once I know the gist of the story, I do a character analysis of each of the main people, and then I work on the beginning. To me that’s the hardest part to get right – the first couple of pages. It’s making sure that I’m starting the story in the proper place, and that I’ve set everything up the way it needs to be – for instance the personality of the heroine and the same for the hero. Once I’m satisfied with the beginning, I’m off. Since I know pretty well what the ending will be, and the direction I want my characters to head, the rest of the plotting is all brainstorming as I go along. It’s always great to have a good friend or critique partner who you can run some of your theories past and get feedback. It’s been a tremendous help to me in the past.
8) What surprised you the most when you became a published?
That it happened so fast. I’d only written one book (I call it my book of errors because every mistake a new author can make was included in that book—the one still in the closet!) Then I joined Romance Writers of America, made friends in the writing community, and began to learn what we all need to know to have a chance of getting published. Because of these contacts, I found out about a contest being offered by The Wild Rose Press. I entered it. My submission didn’t come close to following their guidelines. They’d asked for a short story, which had to be about a woman who would walk through a garden gate in a small town in England called Bury. Once she walked through, she had to go back in time to one of four eras. I chose the Vintage era. (Since I can still remember the sixties, it seemed the most sensible choice to me.)
So…being a person who never fully reads or follows rules, I had my heroine go through the gate, walk over and sit on a vicarage bench, and prick her finger on a rose. This made her body fall into a coma and had her spirit go back in time to invade the body of another woman sitting on the same bench, but forty-three years earlier. It’s quite humorous what our heroine, a top model from 2006, can get into with a shy, chubby librarian. But by the conclusion, they both end up with their heroes - happy and in love.
Wild Rose didn’t accept the story for the contest, but they did offer to publish it as a stand-alone. Once I became earthbound again, I e-mailed them back and accepted the offer. That story was called “She’s Me” and is the first of the Vicarage Bench series. I wrote two more novellas called “He’s Her” and “We’re One” and they published the three in a anthology appropriately called “The Vicarage Bench”.
9) Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look like?
I guess my main room for writing is in the front of the house overlooking the street (lots of beautiful trees – sigh!). The office is quite small, has a pull-out sofa, an old floor-model TV, a closet full of shelves which are full to bursting with paraphernalia that every author must have (magazines, writing books, old manuscripts, blank paper , junk, blah blah…. Along the other wall my desk fills most of the space, while a filing cabinet, a half table with a printer and ‘precious stuff’ fills the rest. My favorite wall is behind me and I stare at it often while running scenarios through an overloaded brain. That wall holds my Rogue’s Gallery – large framed photos of the important people in my life.
10) What’s next for you?
As I mentioned above, I did recently get a contract for a Christmas story for this series, and to tell you the truth, I kinda believe there was an angel or some unworldly spirit that fed me the words—they flowed that easily. I started writing it on Jan 4th and had it edited and to my editor for the deadline March 1st. I’ve never been able to write so fast. I’m a bit scared to see the first corrections from my editor…gulp!
This story follows the same as the others where an adorable but conniving heroine spirit-travels into the body of our hero, a cranky but gorgeous workaholic. He’s recently inherited his widowed mother and has agreed to move to a town of her choice and open a new accounting office. Between the two females, they make his life crazy with lonely elders, orphaned chilren, a stray mongrel, and more holiday festivities that he’s ever wanted to be involved in. But of course it’s Christmas, and who better than someone lurking inside him to see he’s not nearly as heard-hearted as he tries to make out. Love grows between them, and rather than a smooth passage into romance, they have many obstacles that stand in their way to a happy ending.
Once those edits are finished I plan to work on Nurse Grace Joye’s story (which will be called “Together Forever and Always”) another for the Vicarage Bench Series. Grace was a secondary character in “Together Again” who made her way into my heart. I pictured and characterized the poor girl with a large blemish on the left side of her face and living a sad, lonely existence. During the time I wrote that book, I kept seeing her personal story building in my mind, and it wouldn’t shut off. So, I guess it needs to be written.
I’ve also been working on a new series called “Angels with Attitudes” and have sent my first manuscript called “Endless Possibilities” to various publishers with hopes that it’ll get contracted soon.
Please know that I love visiting with readers so come and say ‘Hi’ on my website at http://www.mimibarbour.com/ and join my newsletter for a chance to win a free copy of my latest release.
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See what I mean? We writers are crazy busy but nothing gives us more 'me' time than when we are writing so I suppose that's how we keep doing what we do! I didn't know that TWRP contest was how you managed your first acceptance, Mimi ! That's great. I love working with TWRP and it's opportunities like this that launch so many successful careers for us writers trying to hit the big time!
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