Barbara’s childhood dream was a house big enough to have an entire room devoted to books. As an adult she’s surpassed that goal, a personal library that fills a room and a half. She’d say two rooms, but she managed to squeeze her writing desk and computer into one of them. In between childhood and adult, she graduated college with degrees in both Biochemistry and Computer Science. Even she didn’t know that behind all that science a writer lurked until a few years ago. She’s always been a joiner, and currently she’s a member of several RWA chapters, including Chicago North, WisRWA, Rose City RWA and YA RWA. Currently she primarily writes YA, and PULL, her debut YA novel comes out in October, 2010. But she also writes Mainstream with Romantic Elements. Her Golden Heart novel in that category is DAMAGED GOODS.
In addition to finaling in the Golden Heart, DAMAGED GOODS also finaled in the 2009 Finally a Bride contest and the 2009 Golden Opportunity Contest. Her YA novel, PULL has won both the 2009 Golden Rose contest and the 2009 Finally a Bride contest and finaled in the 2009 Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest.
To learn more about Barabara, visit her at the following locations:
Website – http://www.babinns.com
Twitter – barbarabinns
Facebook – Barbara Binns
And now here’s a blurb about DAMAGED GOOD, her Novel With Strong Romantic Elements…
Eric Bolan stops on his journey back to the home he fled years earlier to help Lucinda Marie escape her life as a small town prostitute. Lucinda never expected to find herself falling for anyone, but as she travels with Eric she begins to believe that both redemption and love are possible. Then she discovers his secret, an obsession that includes a heritage of violence placing both her and her mother’s lives in danger.
I asked Barbara to tell us a little about herself. Here’s what she had to say…
1. How long have you been writing?
Discounting an attempt at a mystery novel in my early twenties (and having found an old copy of that “epic” I totally discount it) I’ve been writing seriously for four years.
2. Did you always want to be an author or is this something you fell into later in life?
I’ll say I fell into this. I always loved reading. Whenever I felt unhappy at the ending of a story I’d make up a new and better ending and created sequels to all my favorite books inside my head. Until the day when one character who’d lived inside me for more than a decade demanded to be released. I picked up a pen and wrote Damaged Goods to shut her up.
3. What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I’m retired!! Means I get to sleep late and do a lot of volunteer work and help out at my church. It also means I get to write.
4. Who are your favorite authors?
How much space do you have? My extensive list of favorite’s includes: Historical romance – Georgette Heyer, Sci-fi – Robert Heinlein and Andre North, Paranormal romance – Kresley Cole and Sherrilyn Kenyon, Horror Steven King, Suspense – James Patterson and Karen Rose, Mystery – Dick Francis and Tess Gerritson (Yeah for Rizzoli and Isles the new TV series based on her creations), YA – Sharon Draper and Tanita S. Davis, Contemporary romance Brenda Jackson and Linda Howard. Literary – Jodi Picoult. As you can tell I’m pretty much genre neutral as far as reading is concerned. I love anyone with a good story.
5. Do you have an agent?
Yes, I signed with Andrea Somberg from the Harvey Klinger agency in January. She was the final judge for my Young Adult novel, PULL in the Golden Rose contest, asked for the full which I sent the next day, and five days later she asked to represent me. In March she presented the story to WestSide Books, in June we signed the contract and PULL will be published and available at your local bookstores in October, 2010.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
To paraphrase Browning, a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp, else what’s a heaven for? So I’m out for the brass ring – topping the NYT bestseller list in five years or less. Seriously, I’m hoping to be a multi-published author of both YA and Adult fiction with a good and loyal following.
And now, in Barbara’s own words…
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
Recently my editor at WestSide voiced her discouragement over manuscripts with strong beginnings and compelling middles that faltered at the end. After spending hours at home reading the most recent one (9-to-5 is a myth in the publishing world) the ending failed to fulfill the promise of the start and she was forced to reject the book.
Which left me thinking: what are the ingredients that make for a compelling ESE – Emotionally Satisfying Ending? The kind of ending that makes readers seek out an author’s backlist and yearn for the next release, that sends them gushing to their friends about their new favorite author?
We all know that the Act 1 Hook is crucial. So we spend long hours crafting that perfect first line. We take classes to make us better at hooking the reader, work with critique partners and use feedback from contests to make the opening pages zing as we lead our protagonists from their ordinary world into the end of Act 1 Crisis.
Then we roll up our sleeves and tackle the vast wasteland of Act 2. It’s a minefield, so we devote time and energy to keeping those hundreds of pages from sagging and loosing the reader’s interest. With nose to the grindstone (can you tell how I love cliché’s) we check plot points and sub-plots, speed up the pace, vary the setting, and make the disasters our protagonists have to face gut-wrenching. We verify goals and motivations and ensure that conflict rises to make our book a page turner.
Finally we, and our characters, reach Act 3. At this point we often sigh with relief and say “they lived happily ever after.” Mission accomplished, we’re ready to send the manuscript off.
Problem is, sometimes we relax too soon.
Act 3 is usually the shortest act, but it contains a major story checkpoint, the emotional release the Greeks called Catharsis. This checkpoint occurs in the moments when the protagonists, and by extension the reader, exhales. The emotions should reach from the page and grab the reader’s heart, providing him or her with a reward for following along the difficult road. This checkpoint, that may take a single paragraph or several pages, can make he difference between a good story and a great read.
All my favorite books have that exhale moment, that feeling of emotional release. Whether it’s a romantic comedy or romantic suspense, paranormal or historical; no matter what happens in the plot, my favorite are defined by the end of the inner journey. They all give me endings that makes me laugh or cry or just a warm glow of triumph.
How do we as authors give our readers that sometimes elusive ESE. Those strong endings result from the build-up of emotion through every step of the Inner Journey, until the protagonists realize and overcome the character flaws that have kept them in turmoil. The writer’s final job is to provide the moment of release the reader has been waiting for. Done right, a writer leaves readers wanting more–begging and dying for more. And that frequently results in an agent or editor giving you a CALL.
My questions to writers — How do you bring your readers to the point where they feel it’s safe to relax and bring their heart rate back under control? How do you make them yearn for another book just like the one in their hands? How do you keep the reader haunting bookstores looking for more books with your name attached?
My questions to readers — Are there books that give you that exhale moment? What are your favorite books where the ending just won’t let you go?