Barbara W. Starmer is a native of the Midwest transplanted to Montana following her passion for western romance. She is a member of the RWA, the Montana RWA, a freelance writer in romance, mystery, and medical self-help along with publications in the EPA on water quality. Her published romance novel Undercover fueled the short story Mirrors of the Hearts, making the finals of the Fantasy Writers of America Contest. Barbara is well-known as Stormynite on the web for fan fiction.
She holds a B.S. in Food Science and Chemistry, an M.S. in Environmental Studies along with thirty years of business experience in the medical industry. She lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband, three cats and two horses.
A: Well, to be honest, I'm a graphic artist as well. My idea of a good rainy afternoon is to sit down at the computer and design covers for books. I started learning graphic arts about two years ago and really enjoyed it, so I began creating desktops for others and myself. I have friends who are into Forever Knight, Andromeda, the X-Files and Romance Novel, so I started making desktops for them and dropping them to a web page. I got several emails from people who watch my web page asking for special pics and started doing those in my spare time as well. I just find it fun and it's very handy for doing your own covers. My first book graphic, Undercover, is mine as well as my short story cover, Mirrors of the Heart.
Q: Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?
A: I wouldn't go as far as to say creative, but imaginative. I used to pretend when I was a child that I was the main character in my favorite TV show. I'd change the plot to fit what I thought should have happened. I didn't start putting my ideas to paper until I was about twelve. I guess I was a late bloomer in the writing area.
Q: Could you share the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing lead you to this novel?
A: That's a bit of a long story. As I grew older and started rewriting the scripts to the TV shows, I found that I enjoyed changing the characters. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I started writing short stories using the same characters of the TV shows, but in a different format. Of course, they never left my notebook unless I submitted them for a class in high school or college. They always did well, and I got notes from the professors telling me just how much they enjoyed the story and I should continue writing.
Unfortunately, the real life of job, husband, and children caught up with me. I didn't get back to writing for fun and entertainment until I got much older and life settled down a bit. Then one afternoon, I decided it was time to take the story I had been writing in my head as I drove around the countryside working (I traveled a great deal for work), and put it to paper. It took me six months to put it to paper and then another two months to do the rewrite where I thought it was acceptable. I sent it to several close friends to look at and they pronounced it good and said I should try to sell it. Then I went in search of a publisher and found Siren-BookStrand, Inc. So that's the story of Angel and the Lawman.
Q: How did you prepare for the creation of this novel? How much research was necessary?
A: The novel is about the end of the Oklahoma land rush in the U.S. I started with a few phone calls to the Oklahoma Historical Society and they pointed in the right direction on the internet and in their archives. I needed some authentic verbiage and background for the story to be believable. I've traveled Oklahoma a great deal in my early years and always loved the history and the bloodshed that it took to settle the land.
Q: What is your standard writing schedule?
A: I'm not like most folks who write, so I'm told. I try writing five days a week for at least four hours a day. I'd like to say it's always the same time everyday, but I'd be lying. I retired from being a traveling sales representative for over thirty years this past December, and decided it was time to do what I enjoy in life and write stories about it. I try to ride my horse four days a week for a couple of hours, play golf twice a week, and make at least one trip to somewhere I've never been before each week. It's amazing what things you see and the stories you hear being outside in Montana. If I ride in the morning, I write in the afternoon and vice-versa. The weekends are for hubby and the trips, which always gives me an idea or two to write into a story.
I always write for four hours straight, not watching out for language or plot connectivity. The next day, I will correct, add, and connect to each chapter before. The day after that, I start something new. I always plot out my stories for A, B plots, and the twist I need for the end or near the end. I'm a Taurus and I'm methodical about the way a story comes together. I sort-of admire those people who can write a scene and then piece a plot together. To each their own is my motto.
Q: What kind of reaction do people have to your writing?
A: Most people either love it or hate it. If you aren't into romance where the characters are individuals in their own right and don't really need each other, you probably won't like my style of writing. I like the characters to have chemistry between them that leads to passion and intrigue in the story, but not make either of them out to be needy or dependent on the other.
I have a tendency to write at least two plot lines in my stories now and I'm working on three in the next one. I'm not into just romantic scenes with no real story behind it, and it has to have a twist in it somewhere. Even my short story, Mirrors of the Heart managed to have a twist to it in the end. I find short stories and children's books more challenging since they have to be so short. I already have a sequel planned and underway for Angel and the Lawman with that bad-boy character, Blackie. I strongly believe in historical accuracy as well as building each character over time.
Q: Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so what?
A: Copy-editing is the worst for me. It is so hard to find your own errors. If I get lucky, I have a couple of friends copy edit for me before I send it off to be looked at or read by a publishing house. I'm the world's worst for writing 'your' for 'you're' and 'her' for 'here'. Wish I could set my computer to catch all those, but since both are perfectly good English words the computer doesn't help me out. I am getting better over time and I know my weaknesses, so the mistakes are getting fewer and fewer.
Q: Do you currently have any writing projects?
A: Currently I'm writing the sequel to Angel and the Lawman and a series of children's books that create a completely new genre for kids. I write several non-fiction articles for kids each year as well. Since my move to Montana, everything seems to have a western flair. Guess my horse, Jester, influences me on that.
I'm also working on my new Sci-Fi novel, which I hope will be out next year. It's about a mysterious woman who keeps showing up all over the country working for the police departments, either in vice or homicide. She is followed by an FBI agent who has a secret agenda about discovering his own past. Now I won't go any further into it, because I don't want to give away any clues as to how they are connected. It will be a fantasy/romance story with a big mystery to solve. Hopefully, I'll do it right. I never lack for something to write about.
Q: If you could do anything with your books, what would it be?
A: Oh, that's an easy one. I would love to have the books turned into a TV series. I loved the old shows where you had to have some talent and plot line to make it a success. Don't get me wrong, I do love some of the live reality shows, but nothing is better than a well-written TV show based on characters in a book. It's a way to make the characters live on in more than just one person's mind.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I just want to add my personal thanks to BookStrand for taking the time to interview new authors and give us a chance to promote our books and short stories in a media that can be overwhelming to the ordinary person out there. I also hope everyone will take the time to read something new every week by a new author. There is so much talent out there left undiscovered by the mass-market book publishers.
I read constantly and I've promised myself to try a new author every other time I purchase a book, whether it be online, the library or at the bookstore. I hope others will follow suit and I think they will find a total new world of intrigue, romance and fantasy out there they didn't know existed.
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