Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome Author Mimi Barbour!

Readers, please help me welcome author Mimi Barbour today. Mimi, thank you so much for joining us today. You’ve led a richly diversified life. Tell us about your time in Africa. Then, tell us about your life now.

Hi Caroline. Thanks so much for inviting me to join you today. I really do enjoy these interviews. Humm?? Wonder what that says about a person. Ahh Dr. Phil…?

I have had a fun life. Moved many times around Winnipeg as a child, and I think it created a traveling niche in my psyche. I love to meet new people and go to different places. Spent the first eight years of married life in various areas in the Yukon. Then stayed in one small town on Vancouver Island for fifteen years and raised a family. Got an opportunity to move to Chile and lived there for seven years, and then ended up in West Africa for two more, and finally back to Canada to settle down Mid-Island where I live with my hubby, and two rambunctious turtles the size of small plates. (Okay maybe not rambunctious but they do come when I splash the water!!?)

Being in Africa was like living in a National Geographic program. I loved the people and the color and hated the poorness and the enforced oppression by their own government. Being called Mammy by the kids turned me on - they knew a soft touch when they saw one.

What led you to writing? I know you took writing classes, but why writing rather than, gardening or photography or bridge?

In Africa I had too much time on my hands and needed to take on a challenge. I was already teaching English to the fellow who worked as a gardener, quilting and cross-stitching, but I’d decided I needed more focus for my brain. I’d always loved writing letters and stories and thought I’d could to learn how to write for children. I took two years correspondence classes on creative Writing.

(There’s a story on my website called ‘Run for Joy’ which was the only children’s story I’ve had published. In truth, this image was the whole reason for me to start learning how to write. I had to tell the story about the naked African boy running in the rain and kicking a ball only half full of air. His protruding little tummy looked like a beer belly and he was so happy. The memory always makes me smile.)

Do you think you’ll diversify the types of romance you write or stay, as we say in Texas, stay with the one who brung ya?

My series is in the paranormal genre because I wrote the first story ‘She Me’ for a contest and I had to follow their guidelines (more about that later).

But, I’d love to write series romances. We all have to start somewhere and since I’ve read them for many years, having a gold star on my personal stairway next to Harlequin would be a real joy.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

I’ve been reading the J.D.Robb series because it’s all I have left of Nora’s books to read. I love Susan Elizabeth Philips and find her bad-boy stories a delight. I particularly enjoy courtroom dramas and who-dun-its so Richard North Patterson fills that slot for me, and when I get in the mood for a good historical there’s no one better than Jo Beverly. Sharon Ashwood is also a new favourite of mine in the paranormal line with her quirky voice and ghost-busting heroine. But I guess my all-time best read is ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts.

Oooh, Sharon Ashwood sounds like an author I should read. When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

I garden, but always with a pencil and paper nearby. It’s amazing how many plot problems have been solved when I’m on my knees, with a spade in my hand and sweat dripping. Gotta stop and pull off the gloves, stand up groaning and kvetching, and go over to the table to capture my ideas. Then I resume my place only to have the next, greater than before idea hit me that also has to be written down. Sigh!! Sometimes I just give up and go back to the computer.

I love spending time with friends and when I do that, the stories are forgotten….mostly Unless while people-watching, a favourite habit of mine, I see some behaviour that just needs to be documented.

What would you like to tell readers about THE VICARAGE BENCH? What inspired you to write the stories in this book?

The Vicarage Bench has been so much fun to write. The first story “She’s Me” was to be an entry for a Wild Rose Press contest called Through the Garden Gate. Well, instead of going through it, I sorta jumped over the flippin thing by ignoring some of their guidelines, and so was notified that they couldn’t accept my story as part of the contest but…they’d like to publish it as a stand-alone. I calmly agreed the same way any hysterical banshee would, and so my first story got released.

The second story “He’s Her” came about because the fact that I was now a published author went straight to my swollen head, and I figured heck – if I could do one, I could do two. And I did!

Running with the ball was too hard to stop and along came number three “We’re One”

I guess the premise of the books—having the protagonists either reside in someone else’s body (along with the owner), or have the hero invade hers, just tickles my fancy. It’s great fun writing dialogue, and the emotional side of each character can be stretched further than normal, because now it’s two souls who have to deal with the emotions involved. Also—because my favourite part of writing is characterization, I believe the people in my stories have wonderful personalities, are fun and full of surprises….at least I hope they are.

Beautiful cover, Mimi! Write a paragraph using the following words: peach, prize, leather, stocking, pig.

The curvaceous blonde wriggled and retied the waistband of her illegally-short shorts, trying to secure them from sliding down again. Her long pigtail swung freely with each move she made, as once more, she climbed the tree stretching and struggling for the peaches that hung just out of reach. Sara knew her sleeping child, cuddled in the car seat, would consider this a wonderful prize, and if she could gather all three she aimed for, then stocking them away for the next day would save her from having to spend her hoarded cash on fresh fruit. Sara would have gotten them too, if it weren’t for the leather-jacketed idiot barrelling towards her on a screaming motorcycle. Noticing her, he skidded across the road and flew off his bike, landing close to where she now hung on for dear life. Screams from inside the car grew louder, but didn’t come close to drowning out her cussing.

Do you write each day? What is your writing schedule?

Yep! I write each day unless I absolutely can’t. If I’m on holidays and am expected to be sociable with friends, I normally wait until everyone else’s has gone to bed. I’m a night owl and therefore can usually outlast most of my friends. If nothing else, I have to clean up my e-mails because after two days the amount collected is mind-blowing.

Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

First I come up with an idea and plot out most of the story in my mind before I jot down the main items. Then I write out a rough draft for the characters. Later, once I actually start writing, everything changes. But without that small guideline, I really don’t have any direction to go towards or what will happen when I get there.

What advice would you give pre-published writers?

Oh goodness… now might be a good time for a bathroom break or for fresh coffee. Just kidding. I won’t go on and on except to say this. If you think you’re really good enough to be published, but you haven’t had any formal writing education, or haven’t taken any classes— then think again. Creating a novel that will interest an editor today is very hard to do. If you truly want to it - be prepared to work your ass off, have a real job to cover the bills, and study - learn your craft. Read the to-do books, but try and choose the best ones as there’s so much out there. Join a writing group and learn by others’ mistakes. Every author I’ve ever met is more than willing to help the wannabies, because most of us remember the good old days. And never think your work is so good that it can’t be better. Edit and revise and then do it again. It’s how I spend my days. Writing the story is the easiest part…making it saleable isn’t. The two most used reference books in my office are ‘Don’t Sabotage Your Submission’ by Chris Roerden and a big fat Thesaurus.

Give us a blurb about THE VICARAGE BENCH:

The Vicarage Bench is actually an anthology of three novellas. The first ‘She’s Me’ was my original contest entry, and my first attempt at spirit/time travel. I had a lot of fun writing the story of a beautiful, spoilt model from today invading the body of a chubby, sweet librarian from the sixties. The second story ‘He’s Her’ follows the same sort of spirit/time travel, only in this story a sophisticated, cranky fellow moves in on a virgin-sweet, lovely teacher. The third ‘We’re One’ went slightly different, and again I pushed the envelope somewhat. A charismatic, casino owner forces gorgeous, casino starlet to hide inside him in order to save her from a killer out for revenge.

Would you care to give us an excerpt from one of the stories?

Sure - here’s an except from the first ‘She’s Me’.

Chapter Five

Early next morning Jenna was up and forcing her new body into old practises.

“Ow! Stop that.”

“You are so out of shape, I can’t believe it.”

“Enough sit-ups! My heart is pounding so hard it’ll definitely stroke, my back aches—undoubtedly traction will be my only option—and my legs can’t handle so much running. I’ll surely get attacked with varicose veins.”

“You’re nuts. Stop griping. And by the way—we’re walking fast, not running, and it’s good for you. Exercise keeps the blood flowing, builds muscle and inflates energy, and that alone prevents problems. Your skin will benefit, not to mention your heart and lungs. Right now you’re breathing like a stuffed...

“Don’t you say it; don’t you dare.”

“Okay! Don’t spaz!”

“I’m hungry. Let’s eat now.”

“Right! One egg, a slice of twelve-grain bread and a small apple.” This was typical of Jenna’s usual diet.

“Never heard of twelve-grain bread. One egg isn’t enough. I usually have three, with bacon rashers, steamed tomatoes, toast and jam—oh, yes, and a bowl of oatmeal. And of course two cups of tea.”

Sarcasm dripping, Jenna said, “No wonder our arse is as big as an elephant’s. News flash! Lifestyle changes missy, starting right now. We eat healthy as of this moment.” And arguing all the while with her physical landlady about calories, metabolic rates, nutrition and energy, she strenuously suppressed Lucy’s habit of wolfing down every morsel on her plate.

Great excerpt with everything I love, including humor and a paranormal element. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

It’s lovely to be able to visit with you here on Caroline’s blog, but, please do drop by my website and sign up for my newsletter – (which doesn’t get sent out all that often, mostly when I have some news to share.) I also have contests going on from time to time, and so anyone on the newsletter list is automatically entered. There’s an e-mail address also on my website for anyone who has questions. I love hearing from readers.

You can find Mimi on the web at You’ll also find a free read on her website.

Mimi, thank you for stopping by today. Continued good luck with your writing!

THANK YOU Caroline. It’s been a real pleasure. Hugs, Mimi

Readers. don't forget that leaving a comment enters you in my drawing. You can also sign on as a follower or on my RSS feed for another entry. Please leave your email in the comment.


Caroline Clemmons said...

You can also leave Mimi a question about her books or writing.

Earl Staggs said...

Good interview. Mimi sounds like someone who'd be fun to hang out with. Loved her upbeat attitude and sense of humor. Also love your blog site. Excellent job.

Mimi Barbour said...

Hi Earl,
Thanks so much for commenting. I do tend to go on, don't I? But then again, it's quite fun having all those questions to answer and no one to interrupt.