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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome Author Barbara Longley

Where do you live, and what do you love/hate most about your hometown?

I live in Minnesota, which is a beautiful state with lots of lakes and forests, but I could really do without the 20 inch-at-a-time snowfalls and the sub-zero temperatures. On the other hand, the long winters are very conducive to reflection and creativity. Maybe living here is a good thing for writers.

Tell us about your books. Do you have anything new in the works, and can you tell us a bit about it?

I love writing paranormal romance, and even though HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD is my debut novel, it's not the first story I've written in that genre. I have a time-travel historical that needs some work. Once it's fixed, I'll see if I can find a home for TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER. I also have a sequel planned for HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD, called HEART OF THE FAE.

I also write contemporary romance, and I'm currently working on a story set in Southern Indiana. This story developed from an article I read in the news about a platoon of American soldiers providing an escort to Iraqi officials traveling to Mosul, a known hotbed of insurgents. They were hit by a roadside bomb, and five of the soldiers lost their lives.

I have so much respect and admiration for the men and women serving in the armed forces. My research for FAR FROM PERFECT has given me a much deeper understanding of what our military personnel face 24/7.  The hero I created is the commander of that platoon, Noah Langford. He lost his left leg and suffered burns over 25% of his body, but he survived. He gets out of the VA hospital just in time for his stepbrother's funeral. While going through his step's condo, he discovers an envelope with $10,000 and a letter of apology written to a woman Matt ran out on when he discovered she was pregnant.

All Ceejay Lovejoy has ever wanted is to get as far from Perfect, Indiana as she possibly can. Abandoned by her drug-addicted mother, and then by her no-good boyfriend, she longs for a new start in a big city where no one knows her entire life history.  She wants to provide her daughter with opportunities she never had as a child. When Noah Langford shows up on her door, she recognizes right off that he's broken, and she finds herself drawn to the wounded soldier. Attraction blossoms between the two, until Noah's stepmother shows up unannounced and blows Noah's cover. When Ceejay discovers Noah's connection to the man who broke her heart, she wants nothing more to do with Noah or his parents.

Without going into too much detail, let's just say that a journey of healing begins for both parties that leads them down a bumpy path toward a happily-ever-after.

If anyone is interested in reading excerpts from my works of fiction, please visit my website. www.barbaralongley.com

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories from the headlines?

I do. I also get a lot of great ideas while listening to country music. Each song is a novella, and when I listen to them, stories explode in my mind.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Yes. Lack of time. I work full time, and by the end of the day, my brain is done working. That leaves weekends and holidays for writing new stuff, and weeknights for editing, tweaking and critiquing for my writing partner, judging an occasional contest, and reading. Plus I have a dog. She has to have her daily constitutional to the dog park. Plus, now I have promotion for my debut novel to add to my list of things to do. Time. There just isn't enough of it.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Take classes and workshops. Join writing organizations devoted to your genre, and get involved with a critique group. Out of all of these, I'd say getting involved with a critique group is the most critical for improving your craft. Also, let the setbacks become your impetus, rather than your discouragement. When you get a rejection from an agent, query five more. When you get a rejection from a publisher, submit to three others.

Do not give up. Develop a thick skin. Rejections and criticisms are subjective, and all it takes is one editor to love your work. Just one. Plus, this is a business. Think of your work as a product you wish to sell. Be willing to improve the product, and don't make the rejection/criticism about you. Make it about the "product."

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I have not yet experienced writer's block. I've learned things go easier for me if I do a thorough job plotting. If you have your character sketches, your outline and bullet points for each chapter down, you've gone a long way toward preventing the "Now what?!" void that often occurs in the middle of your book. I know everyone's process is different. I'm only sharing what works for me. I keep a three ring binder full of ideas and notes for future stories. Research is another great protection against writer's block. The more you know about the subject, area, era, whatever, the more things flow. Besides, research is just plain fun. Geek here.

What is the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

I interviewed a past-life regression hypnotherapist a couple of times while doing research for HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD. I also traveled to Scotland, though not only for research.  I wanted to hear Scottish people speak. Okay, Okay, I also wanted to see Scottish men in kilts, which I did, because we happened to be there for Armed Forces Day. Saw lots of parades that day, and lots of men in kilts.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

I guess that depends a lot on your genre. Have your treasure trove of resource materials nearby, and don't just rely on the Internet. Academic type books are valuable tools. So is a thesaurus, and a dictionary. No! Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT rely on your computer software's spell check. 

I once read an entire manuscript (by a well known best-selling author friend) where every time she meant "foyer" her computer corrected it to "foray." Turn your auto-correct off, and look for commonly misused words. I have another author friend who was bemoaning the fact that she used callous, when what she really meant was callus, through her entire published book. No one picked up on it.

Where do you draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

I'm not really interested in reading or writing erotica. It's not an approval or disapproval thing, it just doesn't do anything for me. I write sex scenes, but they're integral to the  deepening relationship between the hero and heroine, and I'm not extremely dark with my content, so gore doesn't come up. Might that change someday? Who knows, but for now, I prefer to focus on the emotional journey between the hero and heroine.

Thanks for having me here as your guest today! If anyone has any questions or comments, I'll check in throughout the day and will get back 


Heart of the Druid Laird
by Barbara Longley

Blurb:  Cursed with immortality, Dermot MacKay craves death. To lift the faerie curse placed upon him and his men over 1,600 years ago, he must return the soul of his reincarnated wife to the exact place and time of her murder. But her soul is currently residing in the very modern Sidney St. George—and first he has to convince her to accompany him to Scotland.

Sidney doesn't believe Dermot's wild claims of immortality and rebirth, yet she cannot deny that she is drawn to the sexy Scot. Nor can she explain the sense of déjà vu his touch elicits. Desperate for answers, she agrees to go with him—only to learn too late that to help the man she loves is to lose him forever...
84,000 words


Barbara Longley said...

I love your site. It's very appealing. Thanks so much for inviting me here today.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Great interview, ladies. Barbara, I agree that a good research library is vital!

Jody Vitek said...

Great interview Barb! I learn something new about you everytime I read a new blog. I hear you about living in MN, but I wouldn't give up the four seasons. Congratulations again on your first release!

Anonymous said...

So true what you had to say re lack of time! The hours after the day job are so few and there is such a list of things to do but I definitely try to write every day and keep my inner eye on the publishing priorities. The whole blog was excellent!

Georgie Lee said...

I enjoyed the interview and sympathize with your struggle to find time to write. It is hard but worth it in the end. Congrats on the new release!

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks, Veronica, Jody and Cindy! Once I bought e-readers, I cleared out all paperbacks with the exception of the resource books! I love them, and I'm always looking for more. I think I have like 8 books on Celtic Mythology, and 4 on Druids and Celts, plus the Book of Celtic Days...I should get a PhD...

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks, Georgie. I agree. It's worth it. I get edgy if I'm not writing.

Shawna Thomas said...

Hi Barbara!

I hear you on the lack of time. I think I may need to take a vacation just to finish my WIP!

Congratulations on the success of The Heart of the Druid Laird, you, and it, so deserve it! Wonderful book!

Adrienne said...

Hi Barbara. I think your advice is writers is spot-on. Great interview.

I wish you many, many (many!) sales. :)

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks for your kind words, Shawna! I feel the same about your work. Thanks, Adrienne. I wish you many sales as well!.

Shelley Munro said...

Great interview. I' m glad I don't live where you do. The thought of all that snow sends shudders through me! I totally agree about having a selection of good research books. I'm always adding to my pile.

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Barb,
Great interview--very insightful and spot on about tools and research and, of course, needing to see men in kilts (for research AND for pleasure)! To your list of necessary writer's tools I have to add: time with a computer that has NO access to the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it is the bane of my writing life.

One more thing--for those still waiting to read "Heart of the Druid Laird," move it up your TBR pile. It's a wonderful story!!!

Alison H. said...

Great interview, Barb! Lots of pre-planning also works for me in avoiding writer's block, and I LOVE the research part, too!

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks, Shelley, Liz and Alison! Liz, just wait till you're on twitter! I tweet for breaks from intense writing, and I'm not sure if it's a good thing! Habit forming.

Thanks for the plug, Liz. :0)

Alison, don't you think writers are naturally curious people in general?

Yeah, Shelley, about the snow. I know I want to retire in the Southwest somewhere. Maybe New Mexico, or maybe Austin Texas. We'll see.

Laura Breck said...

Very nice interview, Barb. The best thing about 20+ inch snowy days are that your day-job office closes, and you can get some writing done! Congrats on the success of your book.

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks, Laura. Our school never calls snow days. :0(
I busted my fender trying to get to work on one of those 20+ days! Bummer.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Barbara! Thanks for being here today. Hi, all! Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara Longley said...

My pleasure, Brynna!