Thank you all for stopping in to meet Barb - she writes from West Yorkshire in the north of England and I'm so glad she is here to chat this week. I'm a secret Anglophile and love everything England! I began my love of the romance genre by reading those wonderful historicals set in England. But I digress. On with our chat to learn more about Barbara!
Tonya: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk wit us! Tell us a bit about yourself. Do you have a day job?
Barb: Slave to husband, son, his partner and their miniature dachshund. And I’m not paid for that!
Tonya: *laughing* Oh my, sorry to hear that, Barb, but I’m sure you love your job! Some of us have things we do to get into the writing frame of mind like music, or drinks. Do you have anything special you do to get into the writing mood?
Barb: I grab a huge mug of black coffee, turf the dog off my chair and then sit and stare into space. Eventually words come to me – usually really important ones like – and, but, then.
Tonya: I know better than that! Are you ever at a loss for ideas? What do you do to get past those time? I don’t have them often but being out in my yard and gardens helps me get creative.
Barb: I have lots of ideas that seem good at the time but when I come to write them, sometimes they look like a pile of – something not very pleasant. I have to choose then whether to keep trying or start something new. I’m in that position right now. I wrote a chapter of a story about 5 months ago. Loved the idea, now I have time to write it and the excitement and inspiration have gone. I can’t actually see what the damn thing is about. I wish going out in my garden helped but it reminds me I need to weed!! My best chance of reviving my story will be in those minutes after I wake before I need to get up. I sort stuff out in my head then.
Tonya: That just goes to show everyone that we all process our planning ideas differently! Do you have a card file where you keep story ideas? Where do they come from?
Barb: I have a file on the computer where I add thoughts and ideas. They usually start from a dream or from music lyrics – particularly Robbie Williams. But I get inspiration from everything - people, books, walks, the dog. Course, I ignore the dog.
Tonya: Tell us about a day in your life as a writer.
Barb: Up at 5.30. Gym every other day from 6.00 to 8.00. (Yes, I’m a saint. Aren’t you impressed! Just as well you can’t see me reading on the exercise bike – don’t like to waste time) Write all day until 5:00 – breaking for lunch and demands of husband and dog.
Tonya: I commend you for staying in shape! I need to do a better job at that. With exercise equipment right here in the house, you’d think it would be easier! Are you a daytime writer, night time writer, and do you have to be alone to write?
Barb: I’m most productive in the morning. I don’t find it easy to write in the evening. Yes, I have to be alone – well apart from the dog who sits at my feet.
Tonya: Do you have critique partners or ever been in a critique group? What was the best thing you learned from a critique?
Barb: I have a little group of critique partners. I met them on Critique Circle and I’m still part of that community. I think finding Critique Circle has to be one of the highlights of my life. I’d written for years but in a vacuum and had nothing but rejections with no comments. I had no idea whether I could write or not. I joined CC and had feedback on where my stories worked or didn’t work. I learned that you can’t please everyone!! But I made people laugh and when a few of the critiquers heaped praise on me, I began to accept that maybe, perhaps, possibly – I could one day be published. To pick one thing I learned from a critique? How to maintain point of view and not jump around.
Tonya: That is my biggest pet peeve - head hopping makes me crazy! Do you write better when you first have an idea of what your characters look like or do you write, then add character looks?
Barb: I do like to have an image of them in my mind, but not an actual face. The men are almost always dark haired and very tall, the women tend to be blonde and tall, but I have had a few dark haired ones too. If I see a photo of a guy who seems right for my hero – I save it. But I’ve never done that for the women. Maybe because in my heart – they are all me.
Tonya: Well that’s one way to look at it. Do you always include HEA and is that type of ending important to you?
Barb: Yes, all my stories are HEA. I think they have to be in a pure romance. I don’t want to be cheated out of that when I read a romance and I wouldn’t do that in my stories. Life isn’t happy for a lot of people and reading about worlds where everything turns out all right is comforting. Doesn’t matter that it’s not realistic, it lets people dream that life can work out for them.
Tonya: Where can our readers find you and your books?
Barb: I’m published by Ellora’s Cave, Loose-Id and have one short story with Ravenous Romance. Decadent Publishing has been brave enough to take on my suspense story – Chosen – which comes out on the 3rd of June.
Tonya: Congrats on your new releases and best of luck with both of them! Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
Barb: My latest book from Loose-Id is out on the 24th May. It’s a paranormal ménage at http://www.loose-id.com/Rocked.aspx
Desired by men and women, Eli’s good looks make sexual conquest easy until he attends a party at the Supernatural Museum, where they land him in deep trouble. He says no to the wrong women, and his punishment is to learn the ultimate meaning of loneliness.
The Stone Maiden:
Much to her family’s disappointment, not only is Pepper single but she works a hard and dirty job as an apprentice stonemason. Pepper loves bringing stone to life with her chisel but struggles with the isolation that comes with being different. Then there’s her attraction to her boss, Alessandro, who appears to prefer men. When Eli materializes out of nowhere, Pepper can hardly believe her eyes. Now she’s caught between a rock and a hard place.
The Hard Place:
His hands hardened by years training to become a master stonemason, Alessandro is an expert at his craft, but not in matters of the heart. A daily frustration when he’s in hopelessly in love with Pepper and the man of his dreams has disappeared. As Alessandro’s team begins to restore the Supernatural Museum, he, Pepper and Eli are drawn into the building’s secrets and risk losing everything they hold dear.
Tonya: Wow, that sounds like a great plot and beginning to a wonderful story. Barb, I so enjoyed chatting with you. Readers, Barb will be around all week so be sure to leave her a comment to be in the drawing on Saturday. Contest info is listed below.
Barb: Tonya, thanks for having me!!!!!!! Readers, I can’t wait to chat with you!
Contest: Leave a comment and be sure to include your email so Barb can reach you. She will choose one commenter on Saturday to win a copy of her book, In Small Print. Enjoy the excerpt!
BLURB FOR ‘THE SMALL PRINT’
I’m in trouble.
Matty suddenly finds herself back in her childhood home, naked and alone, with no clue how she came to be there. When her greedy uncle sells Milford Hall from under her, Matty hides in the attic.
The woman is trouble.
Vampire historian, Turner, has long had his eye on Milford Hall and there is no price he won’t pay to own it. He doesn’t expect to find an aggravating female living in his attic insisting she has a right to be there. The small print in the contract backs her up but Turner is determined to maintain his privacy. Doesn’t matter she’s the hottest thing he’s seen for years— in order to protect her from his mistakes, Matty has to go.
I eat trouble for dinner
After a self-imposed twenty year absence from Turner, werewolf Catch arrives to put the past right and save his former lover from circling enemies. But one kiss from Matty and Catch has more than Turner to worry about. Neither boy wants to share their new toy.
Excerpt from THE SMALL PRINT:
Dava jumped to her feet when the hatch overhead swung open. A ladder descended and she wanted to squeal with joy. Except, what if they changed their minds and kept her imprisoned?
She’d squeal later.
“Rise,” said a voice, and Dava climbed out of hell to teeter on the edge of heaven.
Say the right thing. Say the right thing.
“Warden Trease.” Dava inclined her head to acknowledge the one in charge and glanced at the other three in the room, cementing their faces in her memory.
Trease cleared his throat. “Dava Arno, you have served the sentence imposed upon you by the Vampire High Court and been cared for according to our statutes…”
Blah, blah, blah. She tuned out, her mind on new clothes, high heels, night air and warm blood.
“Are you seeking to engage in illegal or immoral activities?” the warden asked.
Dava blinked, blurted, “No,” and pressed her lips together in case she laughed.
“Are you planning to associate with Gabriel Junger?”
“No.” She was planning to fuck his socks off.
“Do you fully understand the conditions of your release?” Trease asked.
Dava scribbled her signature at the bottom of the document.
* * * * *
Gabriel pasted humility on his face as he stood before the warden and the three representatives of the Council. He kept his head bowed while inside his chest a seed of fury burned as bright and fierce as phosphorous. Confined for twenty years in little more than a hole in the ground, most would have lost their mind. Gabriel wasn’t most. He’d had years to plan his future while he waited for this day of freedom.
“Gabriel Junger, you have served the sentence imposed upon you by the Vampire High Court and been cared for according to our statutes and creed. You have been found sane and are hereby released from custody. Consider carefully the consequences of the path you now follow. Lead a law-abiding life and you will be accepted back into our society. Choose otherwise and there will be no second chance.”
Fed only enough to keep him alive, forbidden the company of others, denied knowledge—that was being cared for? Did these pathetic excuses for authority really believe they could tell him what to do? Control him? He’d have his revenge, but he’d tread carefully. Gabriel had no wish to return to this hellhole.
“Are you seeking to engage in illegal or immoral activities?” the warden asked.
Fuck yes. “No.”
“Do you fully understand the conditions of your release?”
Who gives a shit? “Yes.”
Gabriel didn’t bother reading. He added his signature at the base.
“I feel terrible leaving you like this.”
Turner lowered his freshly ironed newspaper and looked at his valet. George stood by the door with a large black bag in one hand, passport clutched in the other.
“Really? I shouldn’t mistake that look on your face for delight then?” Turner’s gaze dropped back to the article he was reading about risk measures satisfying properties of monotonicity, homogeneity and translational variance.
“I ought to be there to help you settle in, unpack your books and equipment and ensure everything runs smoothly,” George said.
Yes, you bloody well ought.
“How will you cope with reading an un-ironed newspaper?”George asked.
Turner’s head shot up. Was that sarcasm? George’s expression might show nothing more than polite concern, but it didn’t fool Turner.
“Perhaps you’ll have more luck persuading our next delivery person not to take such delight in cramming the newspaper through the letterbox,” Turner said.
“If your Christmas tip to the last one had been money instead of an instruction manual on how to avoid creasing your Financial Times, maybe he wouldn’t have seen it as a personal challenge to inflict the maximum possible damage with every delivery,” George retorted. “You know, I’m not sure you’re fit to be left on your own.”
“I can manage without you for two weeks. Your taxi’s waiting. Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about me. I’m sure I’ll survive.” Oh God, he hoped he did.
“Don’t forget to take the blue bag from the kitchen.”
Turner sighed. “As if I could.”
“You’ve got Simon’s number on speed dial in case you need help?”
“Yes.” He’d call Simon, George’s idiot brother, over his dead body. Ha.
“You did read the contract carefully before you signed it?”
Turner looked up again. Where did that come from? “Yes. Signed it in blood. Apparently the devil wants my firstborn. He’ll be waiting a long time.”
“Very funny. You do know—”
“You’ll miss your plane.”
When Turner heard the door slam and the taxi pull away, he put down his paper. It irked him that George didn’t think he could cope. Turner might not have moved house in a long time, but really—what was there to worry about? Compared to the reason for the relocation, the actual move held no concerns. All his and George’s possessions had been boxed up yesterday, carefully he hoped, labeled for the room they were meant for, packed into a removal van, and by now—Turner glanced at his watch—they should be inside their new abode.
Better that George didn’t know the truth behind Turner’s insistence he take a vacation, otherwise he’d have not left the country. It had been beyond difficult convincing George to leave, considering how much Turner relied on him. Turner knew how suspicious it looked, and he worried George had ignored his request and asked his bulldozer of a brother to come play bodyguard. Turner could handle the situation on his own—should any situation arise. He wasn’t worried or frightened, just practical and prudent. He’d done the best he could to muddy his tracks, though Turner doubted it had worked and thus hoped it hadn’t been necessary.
The only thing left to do was collect the key from the estate agent. Turner picked up George’s note from the table.
Call to arrange key pick up before you set off.
Piece of cake. Turner took his phone from his pocket and froze. George had forgotten to tell him the number. The idiot.
Turner cringed. No, George had written it down and told him to put it into his phone and Turner had…lost the piece of paper. He tapped the edge of his mobile on the table. The name of the estate agent was… Shit. He’d forgotten. He let the phone drop.
George had dealt with everything from the moment Turner had expressed an interest in moving, no doubt excited at the prospect of having something better to occupy his time than ironing newspapers. Turner had told George what he wanted and where he wanted it, and his valet-cum-personal assistant had searched for suitable properties, gone to view them and taken photographs. Turner had asked for a few of each house, but George had snapped thousands of the damn things and from so many angles that by the time Turner had gone through them, George at his shoulder, congratulating himself on his skill, one place pretty much blurred into another. It served him right for giving George that digital camera for Christmas.
Yet in the huge body of photographs, one place stood out. Not a surprise since Turner had been aware long before he sent George looking that Milford Hall was the place he intended to buy. To Turner’s acute amusement, it was the place George preferred too. He’d never heard George so vociferous in praise of anything. So while Turner allowed his assistant to neatly steer him toward Milford Hall, just to be awkward Turner professed a strong interest in somewhere else entirely.
Though even as Turner played his games he wondered what the hell he was doing. Moving now made it look as though he were running scared. But he had no choice. Once the hall had come onto the market, he had to buy it. At any cost. Provided his reason for making the purchase remained secret, Turner thought he should be safe enough.
According to George, Milford Hall was stunning, wonderful, fabulous and required no major work to enable Turner to live there, just a small amount of modification. Turner trusted George, who had impeccable taste. He wouldn’t be working for Turner otherwise. So Turner had outbid two other interested parties and signed on the dotted line. Not in blood, though the damn place had still cost him a fortune.
Turner’s hand strayed in the direction of his mobile and he yanked his fingers back. He could last longer than five minutes before he called for help. How hard could this be? All he had to do was look up the names of the estate agents around Milford. He’d recognize the right one when he saw it. Turner reached for his laptop.
Ten minutes tapping keys and the damn thing still told him he wasn’t connected to the internet. Turner was well aware he was probably missing something obvious but frustration got the better of him.
He called George. “Sorry to—”
“Tool bar. Top right. Make sure there’s no tick in the work offline box.”
“Hartley and Stonehouse,” George said.
Turner glared at his phone. “I haven’t even asked you anything.”
“Didn’t you want the name of the estate agent?”
“I was just calling to tell you to be careful in the sun. You know how it burns.”
George had the temerity to laugh. “Take this contact number down.”
Turner scrambled for a pen and scribbled on the top of the newspaper.
“That’s the number of the young lady who has the keys,” George said. “Her name’s Matty Hobsbawn. You’ll like her.”
He’d like her? He wondered why George had come to that conclusion. The name was off-putting enough. Turner imagined some frog-like woman, rounder than she was tall with flabby cheeks, bulbous eyes, poisonous skin and a tongue that… Turner shuddered. Too much late night TV. He called the number.
“Hi. I’m not here. Well, I might be here but I’m not with my phone, so please leave a message after I say now. No, not that now. This now. Wait for it, wait for it—now.” A laugh followed.
Turner rolled his eyes and spoke in a clear, loud voice. “I’ll collect the keys for Milford Hall at six thirty this evening.”
He switched off his phone. He didn’t like dealing with idiots. Especially idiot females.
Be sure to leave a comment for Barb to be included in the contest - with your email addy! Thank you for being with us this week and good luck!