Barbara passed away this past summer, 2007, but we loved her work. Below is an interview with her after her story received out Story of the Month recognition.
Congratulations, Barbara. Your story, "Eyes of the Heart" was chosen as our story of the month for May, 2005. We'd love to learn a little more about you. Would you tell us about yourself?
A. Two of my books are available from bookstores and from Xlibris online. They are TERSE VERSE, a collection of light verses, and SAVORIES, short stories, articles, and humor.
Q. What would you want our readers to know about you?
A. After winning a medal from American Legion Post #413 at age 13 for my essay, "Why I Am Glad I am An American," I never stopped writing. When I went to Antioch College to study journalism, they gave me three days of tests and decided I should build bridges. I took some engineering courses, but I liked the writing courses a lot better. Eventually I became a jewelry designer, so I guess the engineering background helped, because I won 23 International Awards for jewelry design.
Q. Do you write in a particular genre? If so, what genre is it?
A. Mostly mainstream, but I have done some mysteries, too. I also write plays--34 have been produced off-off Broadway. I also write light verse, poetry, and articles.
Q. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A. The most important thing is to entertain. No matter how well constructed the story, no one will read it if it doesn't pull them in. I try to create intriguing characters and embroil them in escalating conflicts.
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
A. Characters who are opposites lead to conflict right away, and I escalate conflict as the story progresses. The formula I use is to begin with the ending, and when I know the outcome, I write the first paragraph so it leads to that end.
Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?
A. Flower arranging and baking goodies is very relaxing.
Q. What inspires you? Who inspires you?
A. Inspiration is everywhere: on TV, in the newspaper, eavesdropping on conversations, talking to friends on the phone, etc. etc. I am inspired by good writing, and always feel I come up short, so I try, try again.
Q. Are you working on any projects right now?
A. I'm rewriting my novel, EGRETS TO THE FLAMES, and hope to get it to the publisher this year. It was voted one of the Top Ten at the Florida Writer's Festival, so I feel that it is worth publishing. It is a saga of love, lust and greed set against the burning sugar cane fields of South Florida. I am also beginning to chronicle my misadventures in a book titled, MY GUARDIAN ANGEL IS EXHAUSTED.
Q. What is most frustrating about writing? Most rewarding?
A. That there are only 24 hours in a day--never enough time for writing. Most rewarding is having my work recognized by my peers as worthy of awards, such as Writer of the Month.
Q. If I were sitting down to write my very first story, what would your advice be?
A. I tell my students at USF to work the story out in their minds while doing mindless chores, such as making beds, washing dishes, driving, etc. When all the twists and turns are clear, establish the premise. The premise differs from the theme in that the theme is what the story is about, and the premise is the author's take on the theme. It is the deduction--what you want the reader to believe after he has read the story. When the premise is clear, write the last sentence. Then write the first sentence. Then write the story you have established in your mind, never straying from the premise. This prevents writer's block, eliminates false starts, and prevents wandering.
Q. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
A. Approach writing like you would approach a sport, knowing that the more you practice the better you will become. Write, submit, and keep on writing. Never let anyone or anything discourage you and you will succeed. Good luck!