Blogoversary Day 18: Barbara Westbrook

Jen: Today we are happy to welcome Barbara Westbrook to Romancing the Book. Barbara, will you please share a short bio with us?

Barbara: Absolutely. I’m happily married and the mother of four children and three gorgeous grandchildren. I currently teach literature and writing. I love to travel and have lived in Europe, and traveled extensively all my life My favorite reads are Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Romantic Suspense. My novel, Standing on Stolen Ground is a kind of combination of all these genres, in a way. I really enjoy writing Historical Romance, and I’m currently working on a story set during the Civil War. I was born in Virginia,and I heard stories about the Shanandoah Mountains all my life from my mother. My new novel is set in this beautiful area and I’ve included some of my mother’s wonderful stories in this book. I live in Georgia, and also have a home in the North Carolina mountains, near Sapphire NC. This novel is the first in a 3 book series called Brides of the Blue Ridge.

Jen: Tell us about Standing on Stolen Ground and where it can be purchased.
Barbara: The year is 1934. In the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, Lila Bruce, a young woman nearing the age when she might be called an “old maid” marries handsome widower, Joe Jenkins, a man she has loved since she was a young girl. He’s made it clear to her that this is a marriage of convenience, only to give his young daughter a mother, but Lila still has hopes that she can somehow make him love her, because she’s been in love with him for years. Their lovemaking is passionate and steamy, right from the start, but can she connect with his heart? Standing between them is his first wife, a beautiful young woman named Annie. Ironically, she had been Lila’s best friend, and Lila hates the fact that she’s jealous of a dead woman, a woman who had always been kind to her. Their lives become threatened by forces beyond their control, and they’re faced with the loss of their home and the beautiful mountains they love. They share an absolute passion, but can they find love before it’s too late? Set against a backdrop of conflict and danger, this is a novel of great love and great courage. It can be purchased on Secret Cravings Publishing website and will soon be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Barbara: I guess I’ve loved writing ever since I was a little girl. I’ve written stories before, when I was much younger, but never even tried to have them published. I was always afraid that it was just too hard to get published, and probably I was insecure about my writing. I teach literature, and constantly have the example of classic, wonderful authors in front of me. This can be pretty intimidating. Like, how dare you think you can write anything to compare to them! (the voices in my head keep telling me ) I wrote this story, Standing on Stolen Ground, years ago, and almost lost it for a while. Then last summer, I ran across it, reread it and thought about actually trying to have it published. I decided that even if I wasn’t a classic author, I still had some stories to tell, so I did some rewrites and sent it to a few people, and got published! It was so exciting to be a published author after so many years. I still have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Barbara: I guess I’m more of a “go with the flow” kind of writer, because I don’t do elaborate outlines, or any kind of outlines to be honest. I do have a general idea of where I want my plot to go, but sometimes, if the writing is going really well, I feel as if my characters decide to do their own thing. Sometimes I have to drag them back on track, and sometimes they don’t want to go.

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Barbara: The stories in my head—sometimes they just call out to me. Since I write historical romance, primarily, I find that a lot of history is fascinating to me—especially some of the little known stories in history. I like to find those stories, think about them and come up with my own twist. Standing on Stolen Ground is about one of these little known stories. In the 1930’s the Unites States government decided to build a national park. They declared the Blue Ridge mountain land to be eminent domain, and made all the mountain people move away. Many of them had lived there all their lives, and resisted moving till the last minute, when they were finally forced to leave their homes and go. Most of them never owned their own land again. Stories like this one need to be told, I think.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?

Barbara: Romance is just so delicious! I think everybody loves it whether they admit or not. Most of us are looking for more romance in our lives, and some people never really find it. I’m lucky enough to have some fabulous romance in my life, and my parents lived a wonderful love story. My dad died in his sleep, holding my mother’s hand, after sixty-five years of marriage.

Jen: How do you pick character’s names?

Barbara: It’s one of the hardest things to do, isn’t it? At least it is for me. Sometimes I use names of family members, or at least first names. Mostly I just try to find a name that I think suits my characters. In my novel, Rebecca’s Choice, for example, the third novel in the Brides of the Blue Ridge series (due out in October), my hero’s name is Jake. Now Jake is a very special and handsome young man in my real life, so that fit perfectly. Jake is also something of a bad boy, in real life and in my novel, and the name Jake just seems perfect for that kind of character. I love the Alpha Males, so I try to use strong, macho names like Joe, Zach, Connor and the aforementioned Jake for the men. For my female characters, I like pretty, old fashioned names that sound strong—names like Rebecca, Kate, and Lila.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Barbara: Ooh, interesting question. I think I’d love to go back to Elizabethan England and see Shakespeare. What would I take with me? Definitely some antibiotics, a toothbrush and a year’s supply of malted milk balls.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Barbara: I have so many! Jane Austen and Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy and John Gardner. I love Diana Gabaldon, and Stephenie Meyers too. Also Stephen King and Peter Straub and Stieg Larsson. Right now, I’ve been reading an old Michael Crichton novel, Eaters of the Dead. As you can see, I have a very eclectic taste in books. I just love them all.

Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished this, is there something else you dream of doing?

Barbara: I so love to travel that I’m always planning my next trip. I’d love to go back to Paris, and if I could live in Paris for a year or so, that would be a dream come true. I’d never want to leave the USA for a long time, but living in Paris would be so much fun, I think. It’s such a gorgeous city, and full of romance.On my last trip there, I was on a touristy boat ride down the river in Paris and people were sitting out on the banks with their wine and their friends, just hanging out. I remember thinking, now that’s the way to live!

Jen: What do you do in your free time?

Barbara: (insane laughter) With a full time job, a 97 year old mom I take care of, all the grandchildren I can handle, and a sweetly demanding husband, I barely have time to write. So I guess that’s what I do in my spare time—write stories.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Barbara: I’m writing three books right now at the same time! (more insane laughter) I mentioned my newest historical novel about the civil war. I’m also working on a Paranormal Historical Romance, that you can find on Secret Cravings Publishing website. It’s a Free Read called Northern Lights, and my publisher puts up a new installment every Saturday. In addition, I’m writing a new genre for me—erotic romance with a writing partner, under a pen name. It’s been a lot of fun for an author like me who usually writes more or less sweet romance, with just a little heat.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Barbara: Standing on Stolen Ground — http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/Mainstream.html
Restless Hearts — http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/Mainstream.html
Rebecca’s Choice no link yet, but it will be the same as the two above
Northern Lights — http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/FreeReads.html
Blog address — http://barbarasremarkableromance.blogspot.com/?zx=cd7929c4d1fd0a7
Website address — http://www.barbarawestbrook.com

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Barbara: I’d love to know what they think about first person POV versus third person. I write in third person, but I like the intimacy of first person. I’ve been told that many romance readers don’t like first person. Is this true?

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