Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's All About the Author with Barbara Valentin !!







It’s All About the Author…

1)  Please tell us 5 interesting facts about yourself that readers might not know about you …

a.    I crochet to relax. When stressed, I can actually generate sparks with my hook and have to be careful not to scorch the yarn.
b.    I snort when I laugh.
c.    The whole concept of down time makes me fidgety.
d.   I think whoever invented hot showers ought to be canonized.
e.    I’m the youngest of five kids. My mom contends I’m her favorite, but we all know it’s my brother (points for trying though, Mom).


2)  What do you like to do in your spare time? 

  Catch up with my friends (if I still have any, that is; it’s been awhile since I’ve had some spare time).


3)  Is there one book that you love to read over and over again?  If so, what is it and what is it that keeps you coming back to it?   

That’s a tough one. If I were to pick a good multi-layer, heart-warming romance, I’d say anything by Kristan Higgins (esp. Best Man) or Susan Elizabeth Phillips (esp. The Great Escape).



4)  How did you get started writing and have you always wanted to be an author? 

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid sitting in the newsroom at our local newspaper waiting for my reporter mom to drive me home after school. While I didn’t start out in journalism, I did some freelance writing for the Chicago Tribune that led to creating a family-oriented column that turned into a long-running feature in their local editions. That, in turn, led me to develop a manuscript (about 8 years ago). When I couldn’t get it published, I wrote False Start. Once that sold, I realized my series was rooted in my first manuscript, which eventually became Help Wanted.  

 

5)  If you for some reason couldn’t be an author, what would your other choice be? 

 I professional taste tester for either Lindt, Godiva or Ghiradelli (of course, I’d play them off of each other to see who would be willing to give me the most chocolate).



6)  Did you like school?  Were you a good student? 

No and not especially. The light bulb went off for me when I was in college. I switched majors and ended up in the remarkable Dr. Jan Youga’s Advanced Creative Writing class. She helped me find my voice and encouraged me to keep writing. That I didn’t heed her advice and instead took a technical writing job straight out of college is another story (Help Wanted, as a matter of fact).


7)    When you write, is there a specific way you have to write, ie:  certain room, noise or quiet, computer or paper etc…

 I don’t start writing until I have a semi-detailed synopsis nailed down. I write on my laptop, usually at the kitchen table, but keep a small notebook with me at all time because I never know when inspiration will hit. And it’s got to be quiet. Otherwise, my manuscript might be peppered with phrases like, “Why isn’t there ever any food in this house?” and “Who took the batteries out of the remote?”


8)   If you could write a collaboration with another author, do you have one in mind and what would you write? 

I’m going to go with Mark Twain. I’d like to put a modern spin on “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” – maybe “A Plate Spinner in King Arthur’s Court.”



9)    How do you come up with your story ideas?  

 Partly observing what’s going on around me and trying to find the humor in it; partly by coming up with unique stories that I would want to read.



10)                   Do titles stump you or do they come easy?  When do you pick a title, before the story is written or when it’s done?

  Once I have an idea for a story, I try to come up with a title, but it has to be just right because it sets the tone for the whole book. I really struggled with Help Wanted until I stepped back and saw that that was the underlying theme not just for the heroine, but also for the hero and several supporting characters. Tying it all together in the end was the fun part.



11)                   Do you keep a notebook near you for when new ideas pop into your head? 

  Yes, but I’ve also used post-it notes, the Notes feature on my phone, the back of receipts and, when I’m in a really tight spot, the palm of my hand.



12)                   If you write a series, do you re-read your previous books before you begin the new one?

  Guilty as charged. 



13)                   How does your family feel about your writing?

  They tell me having a published author for a wife/mom is pretty cool. That they’ve all learned to do their own laundry and fix their own meals in the process is, I think, the best thing ever. 




Thanks for sharing “you as an author” with us !  We hope you’ll come back and visit again soon!

* * * * * *
Help Wanted
An Assignment:  Romance Novel #2
Barbara Valentin




When Claire Nelson decided that her happily-ever-after lay not in marriage but in a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, she vowed never to tie the knot. But that was before she met Paul Mendez, handsome and charming enough to have her breaking said vow and marrying him shortly after college.

Almost fifteen years and four sons later, Claire is now a burned out breadwinner ready to ditch her quest for happily-ever-after, and Paul has traded his dream of chairing corporate board meetings for volunteering at PTA meetings as a stay-at-home dad. Feeling trapped in a demanding job, Claire's repeated attempts to get Paul to return to work fall flat. Contemplating divorce, she drafts a letter to the Plate Spinner, a popular advice columnist, asking for help. But when the reply contains an offer that may just put her bestselling author dreams back on track, Claire's only question is: will Paul be on board? Or does her charming husband make a surprise move of his own? 


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Excerpt:

            "Dear Plate Spinner—I need your help."
            After reading the plea out loud, Mattie Ross, the Chicago Gazette's reluctant advice columnist and marathon-runner-in-training, cringed.
            Another letter from a frazzled working mother, seeking direction and hope— commodities she herself was in dire need of ever since her coach walked out on her, taking her heart with him.
            Nick.
            Her heart squeezed in her chest and she closed her eyes. After hiding behind the same I'm married with kids lie she her perpetuated with her publisher and readers for the eight months he had spent training her, she could hardly blame him for being upset.
            With a heavy sigh, she texted her editor, Dianne Devane. Any openings in Metro yet?
            Almost before she hit Send, she got her response. Sit tight, sweetie. I'm working on it.
            Emitting a quick growl, Mattie turned her attention back to her computer screen and skimmed the brief account of the weary woman's conundrum.
            "The salary of my demanding, soul-sucking job is holding me hostage. I haven't had a vacation in over five years (maternity leaves do not count). I see my kids so infrequently, that if I don't keep their pictures on my desk current, I tend not to recognize them in passing (their resemblance truly is jarring). Any friends I have left have given up hope of ever seeing me in person again, especially when I had to cancel my appearance at an intervention they were staging on my behalf, because I had to meet an absolutely critical deadline. As it is, I'm spread so thin, I make plastic wrap look opaque. My only hope is to convince my husband, a stay-at-home dad to our boys, to return to the corporate world. Chances of this happening, though, are slim to none—especially after he machine-washed yet another one of my dry-clean- only sweaters, and I leveled him with a 'does not meet expectations' on his most recent performance review (I mean, seriously—can you blame me?).
            Needless to say, it did not go over well. He has since relocated to the man cave-slash-office down the hall and has barely spoken to me since.
            So, tell me. Should I force his hand and quit my job, or file for divorce and offer him a job as a live-in nanny (because he looks a hell of a lot better in an apron than I do)?"
            It was signed "Burned Out Breadwinner."
            Mattie didn't know whether to send the writer a list of local marriage counselors or encourage her to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. Staring at the ceiling above her cubicle for a moment, the advice columnist tried to think of a fitting response.



About the Author:

Barbara is an award-winning, best-selling novelist. A member of RWA's Windy City chapter, she still dreams of the day when her to-do list includes "Accept Godiva's request to be a taste-tester." False Start, the first book in her Assignment: Romance series, was published in 2014 (Gemma Halliday Publishing). 





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