Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Barb writes emotionally gripping Women’s Fiction and Romantic Suspense. She speaks Spanish,and studies French and Mandarin. She loves sports and spends much of her time on or around a basketball court. In her down time she plays video games and loves reading with her children.
She also has a passion for great cause.
Let's get to know Barb!
One of your passions is educating people about dyslexia. Tell us about that.
It's simple. Dyslexia affects my family. Texas Scottish Rite gave us a video, which had been produced by dyslexic children, in which kids talked about feeling stupid because they had a hard time learning to read. Some dyslexics never read. To compensate, they memorize the shapes of words. Imagine that.
The kids talked about the pain they felt at being treated differently by teachers and teased by peers. My junior high son, who is dyslexic, is extraordinarily bright. But, if you graded his intelligence based on his ability to spell, the picture would look different. He couldn't really read until fifth grade. He has an amazing support system through home, school, and friends. As a result, he's doing incredibly well. He's fortunate. Many kids don't have that kind of support. When I heard how many otherwise bright children were suffering poor self esteem and flunking out of school because of this condition, I knew I had to do something. Especially when I learned the kids who succeed, despite this condition, had one person believe in them. Think about that.
I call it The Power of One.
If people understand the condition, we can help so many kids reach their potential. Knowledge is a powerful thing.
I can't be that person for everyone, but if I can help turn on the light bulb for a few dozen or a few hundred people, then imagine how many children's lives would change.
I'm incredibly proud to say my son is in the process of creating a charity, The Dyslexia Fund, to help raise awareness and funds to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?
I write every day, seven days a week. I work as much as I can while my children are in school. After night time routine and showers, I've been known to squeeze in another hour or two. On weekends, I work throughout the day when I'm not attending horseback riding lessons, basketball games, or grocery shopping.
I always chuckle when people ask where I usually write. I write everywhere. In my office. On my laptop. At my local Starbucks (I know, it's cliché, but whatchagonnado?). While waiting for carpool to start. On bleachers during my kids' sporting events (Of course, I always stop to watch when they're up).
I practice my pitches everywhere too (including to my dog who I swear rolls his eyes and walks away when he's heard a pitch for the 30th time). I have to give a shout out to the very gracious mothers who've let me practice my pitch during our daughters' gymnastics classes too. As you can see, no one's safe around me.
Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?
Normal life? Balance? (insert string of laughter)
Let's see, I have children ranging from college to elementary. We help care for my mother-in-law (who suffers from Alzheimer's). Oh, and we're a dual career family. Guess you could say we're the meat in the sandwich generation.
I used to feel a lot of stress about being everywhere I needed to be and being everything to everyone. I had to give that up or I was going to go insane. Now, I've accepted the fact that these are the busy years.
Since my children are spread out in age, I know how much I miss the oldest who's in college, so I really take time to enjoy my junior high son and first grade daughter. I love being involved in their activities and volunteer as much as I reasonably can in their school.
Despite my sometimes crazy, hectic schedule, I always make time for the important stuff. I read with my kids. I play video games (great stress reliever!). I'm involved in their lives. We sneak away on as many fun vacations together as we can. We get outside. I play with them at the playground (it's a great way to exercise).
I get everything done because I've paired my life down to the basics. Family first. Work second. Then everything else.
I got rid of tasks that didn't support my goal to be a good wife and mother, or advance my career. I don't do housework anymore. I hire out.
I think it's important to talk to your spouse about your career goals. Mine knows exactly what I'm trying to accomplish. He's the biggest supporter of my dream and he's great about pitching in to make sure I have time to get everything done.
I have wonderful, understanding friends who know what I'm trying to accomplish, support me, and understand I may not check in every week. It could be as much as a month or more before we talk, but you can be sure I'll be there in a heartbeat if they need me. It's reciprocal.
I say no (this is oh-so-tough because I really love to roll up my sleeves and volunteer). I'm getting better with practice.
This is a biggie: I don't bring my cell phone into my office. Interruptions are time killers.
I'm crazy about prioritizing. It really is the best way to cover what you need to in a day instead of letting the day get away from you. I make lists. I write down my daily work goals and check each one off as I accomplish it. I have a whiteboard downstairs in the main traffic area where I list kid activities for the week and a wall of white boards in my office where I post everything from daily goals to accomplishments to storyboards.
I like to work hard, have fun, and I don't take things too seriously. My description on Twitter is this: I write. I cook. Run carpool. And repeat.
What is the best advice you have received about this journey?
I've learned so much from other successful writers who are gracious enough to share what they've learned. Candy Havens and Tracy Wolff are two of my all-time favorites. They've given so much great advice, I couldn't possibly list everything here. I'll settle for sharing a career-changing moment.
I'm a fast writer because I'm used to working on deadline (I was a journalist in a past life). Early in my career, everyone kept saying, "Slow down. It can take a year or two to write a story." I kept thinking I would die if I had to work that slowly. Then I heard Candy Havens speak at a DARA meeting. She was the first person who said, "Hurry up! And I'll show you how."
A career-defining moment.
She gave me revision tools that worked perfectly with my work style. I used her Revision Hell method on my WIP, submitted my entry to a publisher's contest, and wa-la was contacted by an editor (which began a two-year relationship where she taught me how to write romance).
I listen to Candy Havens speak every chance I get.
What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?
It's a marathon, not a sprint. Learn craft the way you would train—try to learn something new every day. Be dedicated.
Approach your work from the perspective that you've already "made" it. Work like you're the success you know you're going to be.
Keep it fun.
Tell us a bit about your work in progress.
This idea came to me a few years ago. The premise is simple: How well do we really know the person we live with?
We like to think we know each other intimately, don't we?
But what if we didn't?
In my story, a woman's husband was killed outside of Central Park in what authorities have told her was an extreme mugging. After two years of mourning, she decides to rejoin the living and reclaim her life. She’ll sell the country house and move into their small place in the city.
But when Taylor cleans out her husband’s NY apartment–a place he kept to be close to his job in the Financial District–she finds a strange bank account. Investigating the rogue account kicks off a chain of events that put both she and her college-aged nephew in danger, and makes her question whether her husband’s death was an accident. But that’s not all, she unearths information that makes her unsure if any part of the life she shared with her husband was real.
Shaken to the core, she leans on her friend, Emma, and becomes friends with Alex’s neighbor, Ian. But Ian doesn’t have the same warm feelings for Emma. In fact, he seems downright suspicious of her. But Taylor thinks he’s pinned the wrong person. It’s Emma’s politically-aspiring husband, Richard, whom Taylor doesn’t trust.
Determined to find the truth, Taylor’s life hangs in the balance as she searches for answers.
How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?
My Web site: www.barbhan.com
I Tweet at @BarbHanAuthor
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Barb! Your story sounds very intriguing!
So, what else do you want to know about Barb?