Author on the Couch: Barbara Meyers
Today I’m conducting a session with…Barbara Meyers!
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Barbara: When my daughter was 16 she lost control of her car one night and hit a tree. When we got to the hospital she didn’t know who we were and later we found out her best friend Rachel, who’d been in the car with her, had been killed. This is one of those tragic things you think will never happen to your family. You don’t know how to deal with it, but somehow you do because you have no choice. My daughter survived with minimal physical injury and in the 13 years since, she’s never been involved in a car accident that was her fault or where there was serious injury. We’ve all asked ourselves the “what if” questions many times and tried to make sense out of what happened and how it happened. My daughter has no memory of the actual accident. I don’t think I ever prayed more than I did during this time and I still pray for Rachel’s family. One of the ways I tried to help my daughter was to tell her to live the rest of her life in such a way that Rachel would be proud to be her friend. One of the big lessons I learned was that everything in life can be fixed. Except death.One of the big lessons I learned was that everything in life can be fixed. Except death. @BarbMeyers #quote Click To Tweet
Me: Barbara… Oh, my. I can’t imagine what that time must’ve been like for everyone involved. So much tragedy, but you handled it with such grace.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Barbara: My mother used to tell me I was the original “why?” child. I always want to know why people do the things they do and how things work. She’d also often expect me to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I think that and my sense of fair play helps.
Me: For some reason I think empathy–the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes–is underrated in our society. Just think how much better everything would be if everyone was empathetic.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Barbara: A severe lack of self-discipline!The most painful part of the writing process is at the end. Agonizing over editing details, the blurb, the cover. @BarbMeyers Click To Tweet
Me: What was your high point as a writer?
Barbara: My first paid publishing experience was with a short story in STAR magazine. But I didn’t know when it would appear as that was toward the end of them publishing short stories. I was in the supermarket one evening and picked up a copy while I was in line to pay and there was my story!!! I had to share it with someone so the unsuspecting cashier was the first to learn of it, and then the bagger, who didn’t speak English, but smiled and nodded trying to share my excitement of unknown origin. I did a Sally Field thing: “They like me! They really like me!” Then came the fight to get the check from the magazine. But that’s another story.
Me: There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get the first time you see your words in print.
What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path?
Barbara: Oh, well, that was this past year when Samhain Publishing said it planned to wind down its business (and eventually stop publishing). I had published six books with them and I had an editor I loved. I was gearing up for doing some significant promotion and had just been interviewed for the local newspaper (got a Sunday spread out of that with photos and everything!). I’d been working so hard and I was so excited for the future and was under contract for two more books when they made that announcement.
I have struggled for a long time to gain traction in the publishing world, but I’m like a cat climbing an ice-covered mountain. I make progress and then hit a really slick patch and, nails scraping, slide all the way to the bottom.
I don’t have an agent and my sales aren’t great, but I kept thinking the more books I have out, the better for the future.
When Samhain decided it couldn’t compete effectively in the marketplace, I thought, great, what do I do now?
I got the rights back to the two books I’d contracted with them and then they made the announcement that the cuts they’d made would allow them to stay in business after all and they’d start publishing again in a few months. I have a permanent lump from banging my head against the wall.
I ended up self-publishing one of those books (Cleo’s Web) on my own, but it’s not cheap to do it yourself and I’m not great at or all that interested in marketing, so again, it’s the sales thing. But readers, especially those in my age bracket, love this book. Even my 20-something daughter gave it five stars.
Recently though, I’ve wondered once again if I could give up writing. My husband rolls his eyes, as does one of my best friends who used to write. She tells me I’ve got the writing thing down, I’ve got the creativity, I just need to dig deeper.
I’ve taken a break these last several weeks and done a lot of reading instead of writing. Then I remembered that I’d been working hard to revise a book I’d written several years ago and had planned to self-publish. So watch for White Roses in Winter coming…as soon as I’m done with the deep digging.Recently though, I’ve wondered once again if I could give up writing. @BarbMeyers #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: Ugh… This industry can be soul crushing at times. I’ve known many an author who had to take a break, but then returned to fight for their dream.
If you had to pick a mental disorder to have for only one day (purely for writer research purposes), which one would you choose? Why?
Barbara: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I’ve used PTSD a couple of times for characters, most recently because the hero of Cleo’s Web is a veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan. I’ve done a lot of research on it but no one can know how it really feels unless they’ve experienced it.
Me: Speaking as a mental health counselor I can attest to the truth of your statement.
How many books have you written? How long does it typically take you to write a book? What’s the most painful part of the writing process for you?
Barbara: I’ve written a bunch of books, but I think to date I’ve had 13 published. Lucky 13. Sometimes it takes me years to write a book because I have a tendency to start them and get distracted by a new idea and start something else. And then I might start something else as well. I often have two or three projects in different stages I work on at different times. But I’ve also finished projects quickly and sold them within a few months from the date I started.
The most painful part of the writing process is at the end. Agonizing over editing details, the blurb, the cover.
Me: Name a writing pet peeve of yours. Something that hits you like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard every time you see it. Why does it bug you?
Barbara: Just one? Tee hee. My absolute biggest pet peeve is an unedited or poorly edited book and that includes proofreading. There are lot of them in the marketplace right now. This wave of everyone writing a book and throwing a cover on it and putting it up for sale on Amazon for free or at some bargain-basement price. Some of it is just bad writing and incoherent ideas and the arrogance of it pisses me off. If you’re going to do it, do it right. First of all, make sure you have a cohesive story and for God’s sake hire an editor if you’re self-publishing. And proofread! If you as the author don’t care about the quality of the finished product, why should I?
Okay one more pet peeve is when an author repeatedly tells me what color hair and eyes the characters have. By page fifty when they’ve mentioned it yet again I’m like, “Okay! I get it! She’s got blue eyes!!!!!”If you as the author don’t care about the quality of the finished product, why should I? @BarbMeyers Click To Tweet
Me: Amen Sister!
Tell me about your romantic comedy, Cleo’s Web.
Unconvincing disguises, reverse stripteases, and an uncooperative feline…
Itching to start over, Cleo Ward is preparing to leave her bad choices and troubled past behind. A temporary gig cat-sitting will benefit her relocation fund. All she has to do is blend in with her aunt’s retirement community.
Easier said than done when Daniel “Web” Webster, the sexy property manager shows up…
Nothing gets by Web, especially an intriguing too-young-to-be-a-resident female masquerading as a senior citizen. But since it’s for a noble cause, he might be able to overlook Cleo’s rule-breaking for a favor–or two.
But what happens when Cleo becomes more entangled with Web than she intended? Does she even want to escape the invisible threads he’s woven around her?
Warning: Contains frequent retirement community violations and unauthorized use of adult diapers.
Me: OMG. I’m chuckling at your warning.
Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release, Cleo’s Web.
I love this excerpt because it sets up the plot and the kind of back-and-forth bantering that is part of Cleo and Web’s relationship. It’s special because it’s personal. When I moved into a 55+ active lifestyle community I was told more than once that I didn’t look old enough to live here. That’s where the idea came from because what if someone wasn’t old enough to live there and got caught?
“Hey, they aren’t my rules. I’m just supposed to enforce them.”
Cleo saw an opening. “Supposed to?”
“Look, it’s fine if somebody’s minding a pet for a resident, but they can’t live on the premises. It’d be one thing if you were visiting Gertie, if she were here. But she isn’t. You’re living in her unit. Even with her permission, you’re, uh, under-age. The rules say you’re not allowed to be here.”
“And what do you say?”
“I say I’m supposed to follow the rules. But I might be willing to make an exception.”
“Okay. Here we go. Of course you want something for looking the other way.”
“It seems reasonable.”
“I’m not sleeping with you.”
Web raised his hands up defensively. “Whoa. Where did that come from? I wouldn’t even suggest it.”
“Good. Because it’s not an option.”
“Apparently it was. At least in your mind.”
Damn him, Cleo thought. He was grinning again. He ducked his head and sipped his coffee, amused.
“I am not sleeping with you,” Cleo ground out. “That is never going to happen.”
“Well not like that anyway.”
“Not in any way.”
“Never say never.”
“This conversation is ridiculous.”
“I’m enjoying it.”
“That thing you mentioned about never sleeping with me? It sort of sounded like a challenge.”
“God, you’re annoying.”
“You’re just cranky because I woke you up. Want some more coffee?”
“Me too.” He slid his cup over to her. Cleo gave an exaggerated sigh and pushed away from the table. It was probably best to put some distance between them before she lost her temper. He seemed determined to twist her words, to one-up her at every point.
She refilled the cups, wishing she had some arsenic to add to his. She set his cup in front of him and regained her seat.
“Mind getting the cream and sugar?”
“Actually I do.” She smiled at him sweetly and sipped her coffee.
“Forgot about those missing social skills,” he said pointedly as he got up and went back to the fridge.
“Do they include barging into someone’s house uninvited?” she asked in a syrupy tone.
He returned to the table. “This isn’t your house.”
“I never said it was.”
She watched him doctor his coffee again, mesmerized by the strong hand holding the spoon, of his wrist flexing as he stirred. She tore her gaze away before something could stir inside her. “What do you want?”
“A home-cooked meal is what I was thinking.”
She turned to stare at him. “You want me to cook for you?”
She must have sounded horrified because he said, “Now who would have thought you’d find that more abhorrent than sleeping with me?”
“I didn’t. I don’t. I can’t.”
“Why don’t you pick one of those and go with it?”
“I, uh. I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, come on. You must have learned something from Gertie.”
“No. I’m a lousy cook.”
“Oh. Did you want to reconsider the sleeping with me option? I promise not to hog the covers.”
She stared at him not entirely sure he wasn’t serious. “I’ll cook,” she finally managed.
“See? That wasn’t so hard. One other thing. Don’t ever answer the door wearing what you did this morning. That disguise you had on? Wear something like that whenever you go out. I’m willing to look the other way, but the residents won’t, I can guarantee it. If they figure out you’re breaking the rules and I’m allowing it, I’ll lose my job and you’ll lose a place to stay. Got it?”
“And try to look less, er, that is, try not to be so, um…”
“So?” Cleo raised an eyebrow.
Cleo couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. And once she got going, she couldn’t stop. The tops of Daniel’s ears turned pink. But he grinned at her. Again.
Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd: https://books2read.com/u/mK9wKd
You can find Barbara here:
Lakeland Ledger Article: http://www.theledger.com/news/20160313/auburndale-author-finds-success-with-amorous-tales
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! SAVING MERCY Book 1 in the Fatal Truth Series is now available for pre-order.