TweetBarbara Ellen Brink is an author, wife, mother, and dog walker. She grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with her husband and their dogs, Rugby & Willow. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to ride motorcycles, visit local wineries, and catch up on the latest movies. She is the author of The Fredrickson Winery Novels, Entangled, Crushed and Savor, as well as the young adult Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy series, inspirational suspense novels Running Home and Alias Raven Black, and speculative thriller Split Sense.
Time to chat with Barbara!
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
Savor, the 3rd book in my Fredrickson Winery series, was just released into the world! It has actually been 2 ½ years since book two, Crushed, debuted. Since then, I have been bombarded by fans of the series asking when the next book would be available. And here it is!
Savor continues the saga of the Fredricksons and Parkers as they run a small California winery and find love and mystery in the Napa Valley. Savor celebrates the joy of romance, laughter, and family.
Here is a brief blurb:
Savor the moment, cause it just might be your last…
Newly married, Billie and Handel find themselves knee-deep in another mystery. Defending a wealthy San Francisco businessman against capital murder charges, Handel soon discovers that media attention brings more than fame and fortune. When Billie’s life is threatened, he believes it’s connected to the case, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe.
Across the vineyard, Margaret has problems of her own. Davy’s Italian grandfather is in town and starts right in where his son left off. Throwing the weight of his money around, he intends to prove that Davy would be better off living with him in Italy. To complicate things further, Billie and Adam’s mom flies in from Minnesota and starts dating the man who is making Margaret’s life miserable.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
For me the challenge was learning enough about the wine industry to sound like I know what I’m talking about, without boring people silly with too many facts. Also, I needed to keep the characters fresh, give them some new adventures, new interests, and of course new hurdles to jump.
What else have you written?
This past year I published a young adult series called, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy. Chosen, Shunned, and Reckoning. It was a ton of fun to write, filled with humor, romance, teenaged angst, and of course lots of vampire slaying. Sort of like Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets the Amish Mafia. Or something like that. Of course, my slayer’s name is Jael and her ancestor is actually from the Bible, in the book of Judges. She was the character who killed an evil general by pounding a tent peg into his head while he slept. She was the very first vampire slayer. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
Indie authors are often lumped all together – writers who just don’t have what it takes or aren’t good enough to get published the traditional route. Because of the ease of putting stuff up online these days, there are many self-published writers who haven’t taken the time to learn the craft, don’t bother to edit, and probably shouldn’t be sharing their work until they put a few thousand more hours of learning in. I’m sorry to say, I’ve read a few of those myself.
But as in any occupation, there are those who just want to get by and those who really care about what they do. There are many more wonderful self-published authors who are dedicated to their craft, striving to improve and make their work the best it can be. I prefer to be in that camp.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I do tend to go back after every few pages and rewrite and edit as I go along. Of course I still do multiple edits afterwards, my editor has a go at it, and I usually have trusted people read and critique before I feel comfortable releasing it into the wild.
How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?
Actually the thing I have the most problem with when I begin a novel is giving all my characters names that begin with the same first letter. I get halfway through a book and suddenly realize I have a Sam, Stan, Stacy, and Sheila. Confusing, right? It’s a crazy problem but has happened to me more than once. So, I usually rename half the characters well into my writing.
Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?
Yes, in fact, one of the characters that showed up in both Entangled and Crushed was a horrible man. I won’t go into any details because I wouldn’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but he is despicable and I just wanted to throw him under a train.
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
I have always been shy about showing my unfinished work to anyone. Even my husband. I only hand it out when it’s complete and then wait on pins and needles for him to read it (pretending all the while that I really don’t care that much), and hoping for lavish praise. *That’s why you should never rely on people you feed for an honest and trustworthy opinion. 🙂
Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?
Yes, I hate writing synopsis. Condensing a four-hundred-page book into two to five pages is nothing short of water-boarding. I think the birth of the synopsis came about during the Middle ages as a form of torture for fools in the king’s court, or something like that. The fool was probably a profound and deep orator before he was forced to condense his words into a high-pitched laugh of madness.
If you were to write non-fiction, what might it be about?
I have actually been doing some family research and found ancestors with stories just begging to be told, so IF I were to follow that lead, I would write some type of historical family history probably set in the early 1800’s.
Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?
I’ve seen many new writers get totally thrown by one bad review. They can’t believe someone would be so unkind as to say something negative about their perfect, awe-inspiring, totally amazing story. I think they may have grown up in one of those bubbles where their parents, friends and teachers all said how wonderful they were and they could be anything they wanted to be, even a fairy princess, with or without hard work. So, they believe a lie and refuse to believe they are fallible. Therefore, the reviewer must be crazy, or mean, or a horrible person who is personally trying to destroy their career.
First of all, I don’t think most reviewers are out to destroy anyone’s career. I think most are just giving their honest opinion about what they’ve read. The thing about opinions is, everyone has one and they don’t all have to be the same. As writers, we can learn from bad reviews much more than we will from the good. We agree with all the lavish praise but when someone points out negative aspects of our book, we cringe. What we should do is take an honest look at what they say and see if there is something there that actually rings true. Something we can change, improve upon, or watch out for.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
As a self-published author I want to have a very professional looking cover. Books are certainly judged by their covers. Humans are prone to judge everything by the outward appearance first. So that cover is their first look at my work and if it doesn’t attract, they pass on by and go to the next cover that does. Sort of like speed dating. I want them to stop long enough to read the blurb and get sucked in, so a great cover is very important.
I’ve been lucky because my daughter is a graphic designer and after helping her through college, she owes me more than she can ever repay. I’m like the Godfather. I keep asking her for just one more cover… She has actually done a fantastic job on all of my covers and I couldn’t do it without her. You should check out the Amish Bloodsuckers covers. She drew them all out by hand first. I think they’re amazing. They give just the right feel to the story.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I live in Minnesota, but I would love to live further west. I grew up on the West coast and still prefer the dry desert air to Midwest humidity. Western Wyoming, where tornadoes are no longer an issue, would be about perfect.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
Wine makes me dizzy.
What makes you angry?
Slow drivers clogging the fast lane.
What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?
Study hall. I had plenty of time to read lots and lots of books.
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?
Right now I would say my favorites are Longmire, Blue Bloods, Foyle’s War (a British series), and Red Widow (which I just heard was cancelled).
What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?
Get out of the fast lane if you’re going slower than the other traffic.
Write letters to the networks and complain about them cancelling decent shows while horrible reality TV is force-fed to us day after day.
Write a review for every book you read.
CONNECT WITH BARBARA
Thanks for having me over to the Writer’s Chateau, Lisette! You always have such fun questions and I enjoyed sharing the release of SAVOR with your readers.
Great interview! I’m a big fan of Barbara’s and am delighted Savor is out. I’m not a wine drinker, but I love this series. I’m not a fan of vampires either, but loved the series Barbara wrote. 🙂
I enjoy Barbara’s dry wit which comes out in her characters. And I would agree with Joy (above), you don’t have to like wine or vampires to enjoy Barbara’s books!
Nice interview! All of your books look great! Thanks for sharing!
Great interview and what a funny coincidence! My current WIP takes place on wineries in Tuscany and California and I’m busy doing research, reading books about winemaking, visiting vineyards, and tasting wine (of course). It’s a very enjoyable kind of research. I just got your first book in the Fredrickson’s Winery series and am enjoying it very much!
Barbara was a great interview. I am a fan of wine and the the art of wine growing so stories set in that realm appeal to me.