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 http://www.barbaraellenbrink.com or her blog at http://barbarasthinline.blogspot.com
You can also download a sample or purchase ENTANGLED here: http://smashwords.com/books/view/21539 ENTANGLED is also available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Sony, and Kobo
Okay, what are your thoughts on inheriting a winery?