Friday, October 8, 2010

Guest Blogger, Barbara Ellen Brink

Please join me in welcoming author Barbara Ellen Brink as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Barbara’s current release is ENTANGLED. What if you inherited a California winery, fully equip with a house, vineyards, and a sexy blonde lawyer, and not only does it reawaken your worst childhood memories and give you recurring nightmares, but your mother decides you need her and moves in with you indefinitely?

Barbara stops by today to answer some questions about writing and her book.

What inspired you to write this book?

A few years ago I was visiting relatives in Washington State and noticed how many wineries and vineyards had popped up across the countryside. I’d read a number of articles about how popular wine tasting rooms were becoming in numerous states, and wondered what it would be like to own and operate a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington but my memories aren’t so good. Not that they’re repressed--just poor. I found my memories often jogged through things like the smell of apricots ripening on a tree, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or the sound of frogs croaking in unison down by the creek. It set my mind spinning this story.

What is your writing schedule like (do you have a certain time or place to write)?

I try to write mornings and afternoons while things are quiet and I’m home alone. The pull of blogs, Facebook, and email sometimes eats up too much of my time, so I have to limit how much I check these things. I have a small office where I write, surrounded by hundreds of hardback novels for inspiration and two lazy dogs to keep me company.

What type of research did you do for your book?

I happily visited a winery or two—just to get the feel for such a place of course. I also had a critique partner who kindly handed over a pile of research she’d done on wineries while living in California. For other aspects of the story I visited the local library and a few interesting winery websites.

What was the hardest/easiest part of writing?

The first one hundred pages are always the easiest for me to
write. I have this exciting new story idea bursting in my head and I have to get it out on paper (or rather onto my computer screen). The middle is the hardest part for me. I tend to struggle a lot with each sentence as the plot begins to unfold and characters evolve, but later find that some of my best writing is where the biggest struggles were fought.

Writing the story is easy compared with selling the story. Selling the story involves preparing a 2-5 page synopsis once my novel is finished. Condensing down 300-400 pages into a few short paragraphs is excruciating. Then basically shrinking that into ONE solid, exciting paragraph that states the gist of my book for an agent or publisher who will only request a one-page query letter to decide whether they’d even be interested in my story.

What is next for you (a sequel, different characters, different genre)?

I have recently finished another novel that I am querying agents for at this time. It is a suspense/thriller tentatively titled, “INJECTED.” I am also currently working on another story set at the Fredrickson Winery that stands on its own but has many of the same characters as ENTANGLED.

Barbara, thanks for stopping by today and answering questions for me. A story set at a winery sounds intriguing.

Here’s a brief synopsis of her book: ENTANGLED is told in the voice of Billie Fredrickson, a twenty-eight-year-old cynical divorce attorney from Minneapolis who inherits a winery and must decide whether to stay and run it as her uncle wished, or sell out and return home. Billie has every intention to cut and run, but her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle's will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting more questions than anyone is able or willing to answer.

A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone's way of pulling the Welcome mat out from under Billie's feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper. More secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery's innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root. In her search for the truth, Billie unintentionally lays bare painful secrets in her mother’s past as well. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure?

Along the way, Billie’s love of winemaking is awakened, as is an attraction to her uncle’s attorney. But before she can pursue these options, she must learn to see past hurt and regret to hope of the future, like a good wine that stands the test of time. Great wine evokes a sense of place, a connection to our heritage, much as a good story. Billie’s story is about finding that connection, that sense of belonging.

For a little background on Barbara. She’s a freelance writer, supported financially by a loving husband who just happens to have a paying job. She is currently working on another novel in the Fredrickson Winery saga. Her mainstream novel, “TIME IN A BOTTLE,” was selected as a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association 2006 contest and her suspense novel, “SENSE OF DANGER,” was a finalist in 2007. Barbara’s short stories and articles have been published in THEMA Literary Magazine, The Springhill Review, Evangel, Liguorian, and others.

Barbara 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. With her kids now pushed out of the nest and encouraged to fly, Barbara spends much time writing, motorcycling with her husband in the summer, and hiking through snow with the dogs in the winter.

For more on Barbara and her writing, check out her webpage at or her blog at

You can also download a sample or purchase ENTANGLED here:  ENTANGLED is also available at:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Sony, and Kobo

Okay, what are your thoughts on inheriting a winery?


  1. That definitely sounds like a great book.

  2. Wineries are fascinating places both in people and in the wine making/selling itself. Perfect for a story.

    Like the cover, Barbara. Minnesota? Sheesh. There's a hell of a lot of snow to go hiking through. Me? I like snowmobiling. My parents used to live in North Western Wisconsin (Hayward) and I'd visit every February, while living in California. Then we all moved to Missouri. Not MUCH call for the snowmobiles, not like the fun adventures I had in Wisconsin's trails.

    Wishing you the best, ma'am!

  3. I will have to think of some new questions for Barbara. I am hosting her on my blog soon. :)

    I live in Cyprus in a winery village. I love the buzz of September, the grape picking season. Owning a large winery would be hard work, but a small village one would be fun.

  4. Barbara, thanks so much for blogging here today. A winery sounds like a great place for a story and a wonderful place to visit. Best of luck with your book and your writing.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'm off to work (as I'm already behind this morning). I'll try to catch up with everyone later today. Have a great day.

  5. Mason - Thanks for hosting Barbara.

    Barbara - I think it's fascinating how scents and sounds trigger memories. I also agree with you that wineries are becoming increasingly popular in real life and in fiction. Your book sounds interesting, and I wish you much success with it.

  6. What a great premise. I enjoy these types of stories, where the mc finds the unexpected opportunity to change their life completely, and think about all the what-ifs. Thanks Mason and Barbara.

  7. Thanks for having me today, Mason. I appreciate the opportunity to share with your friends.

    Sia, you are right. MN is a snowy, cold place, but we're used to it now and quite like it. Although I appreciate a vacation to sunny beaches much more now:)

    Margot & Rayna, thanks for stopping by. And Glynis, I look forward to my visit to your place.

    Thanks for all the comments and interest. Hope you all check out the free sample and get Entangled in the story:)

  8. Barbara, It's too bad I didn't write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then I could have researched chocolate.

    Interesting concept. I love it. Cute photo too.

    Mason, thanks for having all of us over.


  9. This book sounds interesting. Scheduling is always important and too true that face book and such always draws us away from our writing.
    Great post!

  10. Sounds like a great read. What is not to like about wineries?

  11. Teresa, I think you could still do the research on chocolate. Just write a sequel:)

  12. inheriting a winery? Yes, please! :o) This sounds like a cool book, and it's funny that Brink and I have so much in common~ Thanks, Mason!

  13. Looks like a great book I could get Entangled in. Love the interview.


  14. After reading about your "special guest," I'm definitely interested in reading her latest book (and her other books too). Thanks for hosting her.

    And I'm glad to be back in blogger land after a needed break from my caregiving duties. I have a lot of books lined up to read, including several that I "won" from you!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.