In recognition of Hobbit Day, my niece just posted a picture on Facebook of this quilted wall hanging I made her for Christmas last year. It might not look like much work, but if you could see it close up, I assure you it was.
I started with a fabric panel from Spoonflower of the vintage Hobbit book cover, added coordinating batik and other fabrics, and then quilted the heck out of the thing. In fact, it really went beyond quilting into thread painting. I even used sparkly white thread to “paint” the snow caps. My shoulders ached after pulling that thick fabric around under the sewing machine for hours! But it’s fun to make things for folks who actually enjoy them.
Oh, and on a Tolkien-related theme, there are the blocks from my multi-fandom quilt having to do with Lord of the Rings.
What was your first published novel? Did you go indie or traditional?
My first book was in the mystery genre and written from a collection of short stories while I worked as a journalist for a nearby newspaper. When the story was finished, I sent query letters to several traditional publishers expecting to be “discovered.”
Eleven rejection letters later, I began to explore self-publishing. .
The name of the book is Mind Trap. It is the story of a woman with anger issues stemming from abuse when she was a child and how it affects her life and the lives of those around her. Road rage is a topic that radio shows and TV interviews picked up on because she used her car as a murder weapon in a fit of rage. That was in 2003. Then in 2004 I attended my first writer’s conference and learned what I didn’t know and why the book was not picked up by a traditional publisher.
I chose to use Authorhouse. I learned a lot but found over the years better ways to publish that are less costly and more supportive. I discovered that whether you publish traditionally or indie, the work of marketing is pretty much left to you. These days we need to have a social media voice and a brand before the traditional publishers will even look at you. I also write in different genres (May be good or bad depending on who you listen to) and a traditional publisher, I’ve been told, won’t let you do that.
Authorhouse created my cover based on the short synopsis I gave them of the book. However, now that I’ve pulled the book to rewrite and edit it, I will also have a new cover designed. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do since Mind Trap was published so plan to put my knowledge to work to perfect the story. Once they had the book done, I began to make the rounds of bookstores in major cities nearby and schedule TV and radio spots when I could to let people know I was in their city. It was a learning experience all around but fun.
How did publishing make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?
I experienced a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I held that book in my hands for the first time, as I do with each subsequent novel I’ve written. I was disappointed that some publisher wasn’t just waiting for my work but then I didn’t know how many manuscripts they have to peruse and at the first writer’s conference I learned they can afford to be choosy. I also learned that my boss was God and that to submit shoddy work was not appropriate. Writing from a Christian perspective is ministry, a calling from God. So the results, if I’ve done my part, are His.
Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.
Since that first book, I’ve successfully self-published 18 titles. I’ve completed a four-book series in the mystery genre with two books of another series done. Six devotionals speak to motorcyclists and others on a variety of topics and three books are children’s stories with another children’s series in audio book form only. I completed a collection of short stories honoring the veterans of the Korean Conflict, and a household management guide for busy parents. I am currently working on Book three in the Finder’s Keepers Mystery Series.
Shadow Stalker, Book one in Finder’s Keepers:
Born in Canada, Barbara lived in the US for 12 years. There her writing surfaced as she worked under contract as a journalist for six years with over 2500 articles published in newspapers and magazines during that time. Meeting and interviewing people, digging for the hidden gems in their lives, made those years informative as well as instructive. She began attending Colorado Christian Writer’s Conferences and each year, under the tutelage of great Christian writer’s like James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, and others, she honed her skills.
Barbara has developed a speaking platform and has spoken across the US and in Manitoba, Canada for women’s groups and in church services on topics such as The Writing Experience, working in the ministry of Christian Motorcyclists Association, Love, Parenting, Time Management, and a host of others.
With 17 books to her credit, one currently inactive and awaiting revision, each one surpasses the last, according to her readers. They look forward to discovering the new characters in a new series Finders Keepers. (Book One is Shadow Stalker.)