It gives me great pleasure to welcome Indie Author Barbara Goss to The Book Corner. She was gracious enough to be my very first interview volunteer when I announced that I wanted to do an interview series for the blog. I found out about Barb’s books through a friend’s recommendation (Thank you Linda!). She recommended I read Barb’s Temptation By Moonlight and I absolutely loved it! I immediately devoured the rest of Barb’s catalogue, and am now not only lucky enough to call her a friend, but I also get to proof-read her books before they’re released! ;)
Today marks the release of Barb’s 27th book, The Reckless Proposal. I was able to get together with Barb through email recently to ask her a few questions about the new book, her writing process, and more…
Me- Hi Barb! To get things started, can you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
Barbara Goss- I was born in Buffalo NY and have always lived in the suburbs of Buffalo or Niagara Falls. I had 3 sisters, but they all moved away. I’m the only one who stayed.
Me- I’m also an Upstate New Yorker, born and raised. I live about 4 hours from Buffalo, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, which I love. I’ve always been a mountain girl and I love to go camping in the Adirondacks, which I do every summer. My favorite spot in NY is actually a place in the Addy’s called Buck Pond. What’s your favorite thing about New York? Do you have a favorite spot or activity?
Barbara - I like changing seasons and living near Niagara Falls as it gives me a great place to take visitors. We have the best non-chain restaurants and the best food. There are still a lot of ethnic foods here, too. I know that gambling is not a Christian approved thing, but I do love playing the penny slots, though I don’t play for monetary gain. I just play for the enjoyment. The games are fun, and it isn’t any worse than Bingo. Any money I win, stays in the casino bucket to give right back the next time I visit. We have many good casinos in Western NY, as well as a football team (Buffalo Bills) and a hockey team (Buffalo Sabres). Buffalo is between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, linked by the Niagara River so we have a lot of water recreation here.
Me- I also don’t see the harm in gambling (though I don’t partake in it myself), as long as it’s in moderation and doesn’t get out of hand or turn into an idol. The Bible itself doesn’t actually condemn gambling or betting, so I think that those Christians who judge people who partake in those activities should show a little grace and read their Bibles more. ;) Particularly Matthew 7:1-3.
As someone who has always loved to write, I always wonder whether that’s the same for others in this business. Have you always loved to write or did the passion come later?
Barbara- No, I was always good in English but my passion for writing didn’t come until later, though I was an avid reader from an early age. Buffalo winters were tough and I spent most of mine with my nose in a book. There has never been a time since the age of 10 that I haven’t been surrounded by books. My parents were avid readers and that had an influence on me.
Me- So when did you first start writing stories/novels?
Barbara- I went to grade school at a Lutheran school, so I’ve always believed in God, but in 1980, I made it personal, and became a born again Christian. In the next 8 years God had blessed me so much that I asked Him--what could I do for You? Up until 1980, I was reading more explicit romances books: Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, etc. When I became a Christian, I felt the books were no longer good for my walk with God. A friend at church handed me a Grace Livingston Hill book, when I told her I missed reading romantic fiction. Grace’s books became an addiction. In the next few years I’d read all 100 of them and still craved more. At that time there weren’t any other Christian romance writers… and I decided that’s what I would do for God. When I had success with the first book—I knew it was what He wanted.
Me- Wow! That’s wonderful. I use to read more explicit romance novels as well, until I became born again, and then, like you, I felt that those books no longer fit my walk and lifestyle, but I still wanted romance! I was blessed to stumble upon Deeanne Gist’s books and then of course, Linda recommended one of yours, and from that point on I have found a whole new world of fiction!
Can you tell me a bit about how you got started as an author?
Barbara- I never went to college, not because I didn’t have the grades, but because my parents had sent my older sister to college and they were out of money. There were no student loans back then, so I joined the Christian Writer’s Fellowship and took a few mail order courses. I’m still friends with my teacher, Mary Harwell Saylor, from CWF on Facebook. My first book was Forbidden Legacy. The first chapter was my assignment for the course. I finished the book, and sent it out to every Christian publisher and received rejections from all of them. I found out later that unsolicited manuscripts find themselves in the slush pile and no one reads them.
I was about to give up, when I received an invitation to the Christian Writer’s Fellowship Conference. It was expensive since I’d have to fly to Orlando, Florida and also get a motel room since it was a 3 or 4 day conference. I borrowed the money and went. I told my family if this didn’t work I’d know this wasn’t what I was meant to do and I’d give up on writing.
I arrived in Orlando but my luggage didn’t. So I had to spend the first 2 days of the conference in the same clothes! I was upset and frustrated, especially when my book won first prize for fiction and I had to get up in front of everyone to accept the prize in the same clothes I flew in with. But even that was a blessing because by then everyone had heard about my luggage problem and it brought attention to me and my books. On the last day, my clothes arrived, and after reading my manuscript, 3 Christian publishing houses wanted to sign me up for a contract. I took Fleming Revell because it was the company that was reprinting all of Grace Livingston Hill’s books. They signed me up for two 2-book contracts.
Barb at the Christian Writer's Fellowship Conference, wearing the legendary 2 day outfit ;)
Me- That’s incredible! I, as someone trying to break into the publishing world, also find your story very inspiring. Gosh, I would have probably had a meltdown over the luggage issue! God truly works in amazing and unique ways, doesn’t he?
I’m sitting here trying to add up all of your books in my head and am trying to remember all of them in the process. How many books have you written so far?
Barbara- I’m almost finished with #27. The first four were written in the early 90’s, but in April 2015 I started writing again and wrote the other 23. I’m retired and writing sure fills up the time.
Me- Wow, so you’re just a few shy of 30 books, which I have no doubt you’ll achieve by the end of this year, at the rate you write. ;) As a writer myself, I’m always interested to learn about an author’s writing process. Could you tell me a bit about yours? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing?
Barbara- I make a basic outline with character names and the direction I want to go with them… however, once I start, the story takes on a life of its own and sometimes veers far from the first plan.
Me- That’s interesting how it works out that way. Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?)
Barbara- When I first started writing I was a soap opera fan, and often I would model a character after a soap actor, this allowed me to do the dialogue—like what would he or she say and how would he or she say it. I no longer watch soaps, and seldom watch TV or movies, so I just let the characters model themselves.
Me- I know a lot of authors have certain rituals, schedules, and other things they do to help their writing process. Do you listen to certain music or write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Barbara- I listen to country music to get romantic and I write mostly at night when the house is quiet. I like to stay up until 2 a.m. and then sleep-in the next morning. I want to use as much of the quiet time as I can. I use daytime to edit, proof-read, research, promote, look for stock photos, and manage the group Sweet Wild West Reads… Oh yeah, and do housework! ;)
Me- That’s cool! As a country music fan myself, I also listen to the genre to get into the right kind of mood. I think country is wonderful because there’s a song for every emotion and situation. I tend to lean towards the older, classic country artists myself, though I have a few 80s/90s and newbies mixed in as well. My favorite artists are Johnny Cash, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, etc. Who do you listen to the most?
By the way, I LOVE Sweet Wild West Reads! I highly recommend readers to join that group! You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sweetwwreads/
Barbara- Conway Twitty tops my list and I play him before my romance scenes. For just listening, I love Jim Reeves, Garth Brooks, Ray Price, Don Gibson, and Merle Haggard.
Me- When I put a feeler out in the group you admin, Sweet Wild West Reads, asking fans if they had any questions for you, the reoccurring question was: How do you keep things fresh and come up with original ideals?
Barbara- I had 22 years between writing my first four books and starting again in 2015. During this time I devoured one book after another. I’d spend my lunch hour at work reading in my car—mostly because if I tried to read in the lunchroom I’d be too distracted to concentrate. I bet I read hundreds of romance books in that time and my head was full of ideas… After writing the 23rd, I’m now starting to struggle a bit to come up with new ideas. The best ideas come to me on long rides. My husband and I like to take long rides around the area and we listen to Sirius Willie’s Roadhouse while riding, and I just sit and think of a great storyline, or if I’m in the middle of the book, I think of the best thing to have happen next. I’ve always had a vivid imagination.
Me- I think it’s incredible how you’ve been able to keep things fresh and original after 26, soon to be 27, books. I’m not sure I have that in me! hehe. As an avid reader myself, I’m always interested in my favorite authors’ reading habits and tastes.
What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer? Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Barbara- Grace Livingston Hill has definitely been the greatest influence on me. As far as a my favorite authors go, a few are: Laura Landon, LaVyrle Spencer, and many of my Indie author friends which I’d name, but if I forgot just one of them, I’d be horrified. There are many. I write Historical Romance, but when I read, it’s usually Victorian novels. Strange huh?
Me- That IS interesting! What is it about Victorian novels that draws you in?
Barbara- Reading about the aristocrats, the royalty, the Dukes, Earls, etc. I find it all very romantic and interesting. Don’t we all wish we could be Princess Diana? The characters are rich with servants, and it just lets me escape the real world for the short time I’m reading. I prefer to write about the West instead though, because I know I’d never get all those titles right, and I’ve always watched westerns on TV and western movies. It’s also an easier era to research.
Me- When you put it that way, it makes me wonder why I haven’t read more Victorian era books! I love that era, and am currently obsessed with the Masterpiece Theatre show Victoria, which is actually about Queen Victoria. I also love Downton Abbey, which deals with Earls and other titled people with servants and grandeur. I think I’m going to have to hunt down some Victorian era books! ;) And of course, who doesn’t want to be like Princess Diana?! She was an incredible person. Though, I’m the same way, in that I prefer to write westerns, having grown up on them. The West will always have the greatest draw for me.
What are a few of your all time favorite books?
Barbara- Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (which was one of the first books I read as a child and I can still recite some of the poems), Gone With the Wind, Forever Amber, Bambi, and any of Grace Livingston Hill’s books.
Me- I actually have a Grace Livingston Hill on my TBR list. I found it in my church library and just had to read it after hearing glowing recommendation from you! ;) I also love Gone With the Wind and the classics like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. I’ll have to check out the other others you’ve mentioned.
What are you currently reading? Any recommendations?
Barbara- I don’t get a chance to read other author’s books much since I’m always proofing one of my own, but right now I’m in between and reading Linda Ellen’s new book, Her Blue-Eyed Corporal. I recommend Linda’s books, which are historical 30’s, 40’s books. I anxiously await Laura Landon’s next book,—and so many other Indie writers.
Me- I’ve also read Linda’s new book, which for anyone interested was just recently released on the 10th, and I absolutely loved it! I have yet to read any of Laura Landon’s books, but I’ll be sure to check her out now! I love discovering new authors ;)
Your latest release is The Reckless Proposal, which by the way, is yet another wonderful installment in your Heroes of Hays series. Could you tell me a little bit about the book? How did you come up with this particular storyline? What, if anything, inspired it? What do you hope the reader takes away from the book, if anything?
Barbara- The Reckless Proposal is Book 2 of the Heroes of Hays Series. This book takes us from Kansas to London, England for a few chapters, and that’s very different. It’s about a young man who meets a temptress of a woman and thinks he’s madly in love with her, but after she goes back to England, he isn’t sure about his feelings. He meets sweet Maria, but she won’t agree to a relationship until he sorts his feelings for the temptress, Ellen. He travels to England to discover what has been there the whole time, but he just didn’t realize it.
When I’m doing a series it’s easier to get the book started because the main character already has a past and a personality as a secondary character in the book before it. When I have to write the first book of a series or a stand-alone, it’s harder to get going with the book and develop the characters.
I tried to show in this book that there is a big difference between infatuation and love. So many people confuse the two and I thought it would be an excellent subject to write about. There is a lot more going on in the story, but that’s the main storyline. The majority of my books have sub plots too.
Many of my books, especially the Shadow Series, have good Biblical lessons, and I pick subjects that I know people in life really struggle with: sins that burden them, deceitfulness, fornication, drinking, prejudices, etc.
Me- That is one of the many things I love about your books. I can always count on an inspiring, Christian message and relatable, realistic characters. Your books really speak to the reader and have the power to touch them and demonstrate God’s power and love.
Barbara- The very best review I received was short and sweet it read: “This book made me really think about God again.” Another reviewer had recently faced a personal loss and felt that God was punishing her for past sins, and she said my books woke her up to the fact that once you accept Christ as your personal savior and ask for forgiveness… your slate is wiped clean like your sins never happened. I love reviews like that, because my book made a difference in someone’s life.
Me- I love that! And they are totally right. For me, the Shadow series had the largest impact on me. They all had amazing messages that really spoke to a reader’s soul.
Well Barb, I’ll let you go now. I’m so incredibly thankful that you agreed to do this interview for me! It was so much fun getting to know a little more about one of my favorite authors! I hope your other fans have as much fun reading this as I did putting it together! Any last words or thoughts you’d like to add?
Barbara- I’d like to thank the members of Sweet Wild West Reads, their suggestions and input help me a lot. They even helped me find a title of one of my books, and they help me decide on covers. Thank you guys!
Also, thank you Liz for the interview and for starting this feature. I’ll look forward to reading everyone else’s answers too.
Thanks for joining us everyone! And special thanks to Barbara Goss for doing this interview! Everyone be sure to grab Barb's new release, The Reckless Proposal which is out TODAY!
Also stay up-to-date with Barbara Goss through her website: www.barbaragossbooks.com
Liz Austin. Born and raised in Upstate NY. Bibliophile. Writer. I would rather be reading....