Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed C.J. Anaya’s character on December 18th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Barbi Barnard, the author of Mercy’s Angels, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her characters, Elizabeth Clayton, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Barbi in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Elizabeth!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Elizabeth. Please have a seat.
Character Elizabeth (Momma) Clayton: Thanks for having me here.
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Elizabeth: I am self-employed. I own a bar/ pool hall.
Am I any good at it? I think so. I make a good profit and have a steady clientele. People enjoy coming here and return again and again.
Do I like it? I like that my bills are paid and I can support my girls the way I want to. I’m happy with being my own boss and doing things the way I want. I like not answering to anyone.
Marie: Can’t blame you there! 😉
So, tell us. What is your family like?
Elizabeth: Female! I have a step-daughter and an adopted daughter. My daughter Jenni is grown and married, and my adopted daughter Tiffi just graduated college. I have been separated from my husband twice as long as I was with him, so I don’t count him. I love the fact it was just girls. I never had to have the puberty talk with a male child.
Marie: (Laughs.) Okay.
What did your childhood home look like?
Elizabeth: Typical small wooden two bedroom clapboard home. Nothing fancy. My mother kept it clean and decorated for a family. My father took pride in his yard work.
Marie: I see.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Elizabeth: Quilting and reading. I enjoy going to my pond and watching the ducks and swans swimming. It’s restful to me. When the weather is bad, I enjoy reading fiction.
Marie: (Smiles.) Reading is awesome!
So, tell us…what is your greatest dream, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: To see my girls do everything they can dream of. I want them to be happy and successful in whatever they choose.
Marie: All right.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Elizabeth: A little more confident and assertive. What’s stopping me? Insecurities from childhood have carried over and sometimes I don’t feel confident. When it comes to my girls, I can find the courage to speak up for them but not always for myself.
Marie: Yeah, I think sometimes it is hard for us to defend ourselves as women.
Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Elizabeth: A sweet young man who seemed larger than life to me. Sometimes I think he was just a figment of my imagination.
Marie: Ooh, I would love to press for details, but I see you’re trying to be mysterious. Still, I just love romance so I can’t help but want to hear it…
All right. So, let’s try something else.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Elizabeth: I was held hostage for close to six years. Abused in every way imaginable.
Marie: I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s horrible. 😦
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
I can see this is difficult for you. Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Elizabeth: I wanted the fairy tale. Children and a husband. A happy family that spent a weekend with the grandparents. Did I achieve that dream? No. I have my girls, but there are no grandparents to visit and no husband. I didn’t have a happy marriage. And never had any children of my own. Both my parents are deceased. I have tried to do right by my girls and to be everything they need, but I worry they missed out on a “normal” childhood.
Marie: Well, I think you can only do your best. And you sound like a great mother. 😉
Let’s try something else.
So, can you tell us…who is your role model, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: I honestly can’t say I have one. I try to be one, but I brought myself up and never had a mentor. In a way I guess my girls are role models for me as I live vicariously through their success.
Well, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Elizabeth: Yes, a few actually. Mostly men I have come across in my life. In business, you have to smile through a lot of negative things.
Marie: I hear that.
So, what is your deepest desire?
Elizabeth: To live life happy and content. And to visit a foreign country.
Marie: All right.
How about another question…
What is your greatest fear, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: To relive my past or to have my girls live my past. I donate money to shelters for women. I never want someone to not have help when needed.
Marie: How admirable!
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Elizabeth. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂
Elizabeth: Thank you for having me, Marie!
Marie: My pleasure!
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Marie: Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Barbi Barnard on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to meet you! Hello, Barbi!
Author Barbi Barnard: Hello, Marie! A pleasure to meet you.
Marie: The honor is mine. 🙂
So, we just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Elizabeth. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Barbi: Elizabeth is a survivor. She doesn’t see her own strength and how her strength impacts those around her. She has let herself become an introvert and isolated herself.
Marie: I think we all struggle to see ourselves the way others do…
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Barbi: She has a strong independent nature. She can do anything without any help. She makes things happen. She can see a problem and find a solution for it.
Marie: Awesome! And what are her greatest weaknesses?
Barbi: Her insecurities. She is afraid to let people get close to her. She doesn’t trust people. She is afraid of people she lets into her circle hurting her.
Marie: That’s sad, but knowing her past, I can understand her hesitance.
Let’s try something else.
What are some of her favorite foods?
Barbi: Elizabeth loves Mexican food. Chicken enchiladas are her favorite.
Marie: Those are pretty good! 🙂
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Barbi: She has an inner strength. She has no idea how others see her. She feels shame from her past and sees it like a cloak when looking in the mirror. No one else sees it. They see a strong, confident woman.
Marie: All right.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Barbi: I believe they will love her. She comes from a background that few have lived. Her survival of that makes her a hero to some and a strength to others.
So, now that we have a real taste of Elizabeth, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Mercy’s Angels?
Barbi: I was told to write what I know. To put on paper the thoughts that plagued me. There is a lot of truth in the stories. Some are happy, and some are dark and twisted.
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Barbi? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Barbi: Definitely a pantster. I tried the plot outline and having a plotted out story line for each chapter. When I look back on the notes, I see so much that went way off track.
Marie: I can respect that. Sometimes it’s better to listen to the muse.
Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Mercy’s Angels or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Barbi: Getting published these days is just a matter of clicking a mouse, but having something worth reading is harder. You have to take the time to have it edited and proofread. I thought I did an okay job and when I see the original file, I cringe. Nothing beats a professional editing job. Talk to others. There are plenty of Indie writers that are willing to give advice or just be a sounding board for every aspect of your project. What would I do differently the next time? I would have spent more time with the characters’ development. Let the reader see more of what made them who they are.
Marie: That’s sound advice! And I have to agree. It’s certainly not good to rush into publishing. And readers will call you out for those mistakes. I’m glad you figured it all out, hon.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Mercy’s Angels appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Barbi Barnard, a very talented author! 🙂
Here is the blurb for Mercy’s Angels:
First in the Mercy’s Angels Series.
This is also the story of three women who all have one thing in common: Angels Mercy MC.
Elizabeth forced to live the club life by threats and violence.
Jenni watched in disgust and confusion.
Tiffi heard the stories from her family.
Three women. Three tales of courage, determination… and a little humor. Find out how “Momma” became the owner of a Motorcycle Club…
Barbi is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
The sound of the bikes coming in through the back has me rising out of my chair and throwing my e-reader to the floor. I can see four of them through the doorway, coming up from the path by the pond. I miss that sound, of multiple engines rumbling along.
Some would be afraid. Not me. It brings a sense of security to my heart. The memories of riding in a group of hundreds, going on a day trip to a park are fond. The charity rides and relays where we met lots of other charters and clubs were great. Too bad the memories of the people I was forced to live with aren’t.
Greg looks good. He has grown into a good-looking man. He doesn’t look old like some bikers do. His eyes are bright, his skin is smooth, and his clothes are clean and new. The exact opposite of what my mind remembers from my youth.
He sees me and his smile is big. He takes a step to walk to me and stops. Is he unsure of his welcome? I walk out the door toward him and see the smile on his mouth curl up to his eyes. He is now running to me. I am crushed to a broad chest and spun around.
“Oh, baby girl. You are beautiful. I’m so sorry I didn’t stay around for your transformation into a woman. Wayne is one lucky f****er,” he laughingly tells me.
I have to swat him for the remark. “Your mouth hasn’t changed, but the rest has. You look good,” I snort at him between laughs.
“Clean living, little sis. Clean and sober living.” He looks into my eyes, so I know he means it.
I gasp. “Are you telling me the truth? How can you be clean and still wearing an Angel cut? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” I cry.
He laughs. “The club is all clean. Nothing dirty at all. We lost a lot of our members to other charters because of it. I think it was worth it and as it was my turn to hold the chair, I brought it to the table for a vote. Those that wanted to stay, did. And those that wanted to transfer out, left. It is that simple.”
My head is spinning and my knees are weak. I can’t picture a clean club. I was born into the drugs and guns. The sex and mistreatment of women. People naked on the bar. Men ripping clothes from the women and forcing them to take on two or three men at a time. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn into a nun from what I lived through.
“I’m so glad for you,” I tell him. “I worried you would walk the path Richard walked. I never want that for you.”
“Not to worry, baby, I have a legitimate job and I stay on the right side of the law and government. I’m a productive member of society with not even a pimple of a criminal record,” he boasts.
This makes me happy. I jump and crash myself into his chest. My hold on him would strangle a smaller man.
“Come meet the guys. I told them about you on the way here and I don’t think they believed me,” he tells me.
Ooh…I definitely want to know what happens next!
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B013OGE96M
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1NzCv9u
About Barbi Barnard
Barbi Barnard is a native of North Louisiana. Married with grown children. And a growing amount of grandchildren (eleven at last count). Barbi went to college after the youngest started school and has a degree in Office Management and Accounting. Barbi loves to spend time with her family. With such a large family, a revolving door would help as there are always people coming and going in the Barnard house. The need to read books was instilled at a young age as it was the preferred pastime of the adults that influenced her life.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Barbi Barnard, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1NIGA99
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Elizabeth Clayton, the female main character from Mercy’s Angels, and Barbi Barnard, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so much fun to have you here! 🙂