Author Archives: Barbara Barrett

Midwest Musings: A Flood of Memories

I started the third and final installment of my “Matchmaking Motor Coach” series, Keeping It Casual, with a memory from my final days of high school. That year, just prior to graduation in my hometown of Burlington, Iowa, which is directly on the Mississippi River and where most of the action of these three books takes place, the town and surrounding area suffered one of the worst floods in its history, surpassed since then only by one in 2008. untitled

In my story, the hero, Geoff McKenna, returns to the motor coach customization business he runs with his two brothers exhausted after a tough night of sandbagging. Sandbagging is one of the major defenses against the rising water. Geoff has multiple sclerosis and has overextended himself physically. Later in the story, rested, he takes the heroine, Alexandra Appleby, to Crapo Park, which overlooks the river, so she can see how far the river has overflowed its banks on the flatter, lower Illinois side.

The flood from my high school days was a far off memory. To ensure credibility, I went to members of my graduating class for their recollections. Here, in their own words, are some of their reminiscences.

Craig WoodI do remember being let out of school to go sandbag. I think we went to the Burlington Basket Company, or one of those factories just north of downtown. They must have called the high school for help or something. It was pretty warm, but I think it was early May. My favorite part was that somebody kept bringing us doughnuts (well, that and getting out of school). I remember being a little in awe of looking over the top of the wall of sandbags and seeing the river at eye level.

Bryan R. AlexanderI remember the 1965 flood…it was one of the worst floods. The river was 8 miles wide at Burlington, Iowa. The water got up to Front Street and in some situations up to Main Street. Some of our classmates that lived north of Burlington and in Gulfport, Illinois – we had some classmates that paid to go to the Burlington school – when the levee broke their family farms were flooded. My parent, I and other stood on the bluffs overlooking bottom land [to] watch the area flood.  

John McCartneyThe National Guard took the lead in the 65 flood. My Dad was in the guard. He was on the helicopter that almost crashed. It didn’t, just a hard landing. Citizens did volunteer to sandbag and help the guard.

Alta Masterson CookWe farm bottom land by Mississippi River and have had flooded land more than once. Most all of the people that helped sandbag in our area was volunteer citizens.

Rita CarlsonI remember Butch Thornton and others from our class sandbagging in May of 1965.

Judy ZachmeyerI was in Green bay bottom at the time and we had the Fort Madison prisoners sand bag during the day time. They couldn’t do it at night but were great during the day. Farmers did the night shifts. The levi down there held.

Bryan R. AlexanderTo see the Illinois flood damage my parents, their friends and I took a Sunday afternoon car trip on U.S 34 to Gladstone after the flood waters receded from the highway. I recall seeing a red and white 1957 Ford 2 Door Sedan buried in mud over the hood and trunk of the car…all you could see of the Ford was the windows and roof. Evidence that the flood waters had brought a lot of mud with it. In the middle of the flood waters there were houses above the water on built up mounds of dirt with docks coming from the top of the mounds with motor boats attached. Apparently, numerous farmers and home owners had prepared for the possibility of flooding…these homes which in some cases are still there became known as “Flood Mushrooms” in 1965.

Thank you, guys. I think I got it right.

Midwest Musings: In-between Television Seasons

It’s no secret that I’m a TV addict. Sometimes I refer to this habit as my interest in cultural anthropology. Anyway, it’s that time of year when the TV series I follow end for the season, or in the case of “The Good Wife” and “Castle,” forever, other than in syndication. In recent years, some cable TV series start their new seasons in the months between May and September while network television shows reruns, specials, or revisits game shows of old. In other words, finding much of anything to watch other than something I’ve seen before is a bit of a challenge.

This year is a bit different. I’ve discovered the LAFF channel, which is part of my basic cable offerings. This has come just in time, because I’ve pretty much seen so much of the old sitcoms on Lifetime, Nick at Night, and TVLand where I can recite the lines before they’re delivered. I tend to hit these channels from ten at night to 1 in the morning, later if I can’t sleep. LAFF offers old episodes of “Cybill” and “The Drew Carey Show.” The former features earlier versions of Christine Baranski, Peter Krause, and Alicia Witt, all who appeared on network shows this past season. The latter shows a heavier version of Drew Carey, a much younger, pre-late night, pre-game show Craig Ferguson, and Christa Miller and Ian Gomez BEFORE they were teamed in more recent years on “Cougar Town.”

Perhaps you share the same weird interest in tracking the careers of celebrities as I.

I’m also becoming better acquainted with other TV options. We recently purchased a Blu-Ray DVR, which offers options we have more or less avoided, because of their additional cost, like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. We are making our way through episodes of “The Newsroom,” which I think is one of the best series ever released. Thus far, I’m not a binge watcher, although I sense the possibility as we finish up the final season.  I finally took advantage of my free benefits of Amazon Prime with the “Doctor Thorne” series. As a writer of contemporary romance, viewing Julian Fellowes’ adaptation of Trollope’s novel has been an interesting visit to storytelling of another time.

My Watch List, to be pursued after we finish “The Newsroom” includes “Veep” and “Mozart in the Jungle.” Guess my interests tend toward comedy, although also on my list is “Game of Cards.” However, I probably won’t get to them until the conclusion of the last season of “Rizzoli and Isles” and “Royal Pains.” But then “Suits” starts in two weeks.

Although the networks are doing their best to lure me back to their new summer offerings with “Zoo,” “American Gothic” and “Murder in the First,” I’ve already decided “Zoo” is a little too far-fetched for my tastes. I’m still deciding on “Brain Dead.”

So many options, so little time. But I’m having a great time exploring. How about you? Any recommendations for me?

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Renaming Characters

TheSleepoverClause_w9304_750My first published book, The Sleepover Clause, was re-launched by The Wild Rose Press in December 2014. As I revised it, I decided to change the name of one of the characters. Actually, I changed two names. Here’s the background. This is the first book in The Matchmaking  Motor Coach series, which features three brothers who customize motor coaches, the McKennas. In this first book in the series, one of the brothers, Geoff, starts seeing a young woman named Peggy. That’s my sister’s name. Though she hasn’t admitted it, I think she was tickled to see her name in print. But as I’ve begun to outline the third book, tentatively titled, The Escape Clause, I realized that character might not continue as Geoff’s love interest in this book. In fact, Peggy might dump him. I didn’t want to do that to my sister, so in this revised version, I changed her name to Eileen.

Only that wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to lose the name entirely, so old Peggy’s mother, Debbie, became the new Peggy. Imagine the “fun” I had doing a “find and replace” first for Peggy and making that Eileen and then for Debbie and making that Peggy. Not a process I’d recommend for any writer who wants to keep her  sanity. I think my editor and I caught all the necessary changes.

What I failed to consider as I made this change was how this might confuse those who read the first version of this book as they move into Books 2 and 3, especially since they got used to thinking of Peggy in terms of being a girlfriend and now she’s the mother. That didn’t occur to me until I began the second book and had to make that change in my own head.

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

I got to wondering if anyone else ever renamed characters, and if they had, how they helped readers/viewers adjust and accept the decision. One example came to mind, that of the character of David Healy, Darlene’s boyfriend and later her husband, on “Roseanne.” In his first appearance on the show, his name was Kevin, although he referred to himself even then as a Healy, the brother of Darlene’s sister’s boyfriend, Mark. Sometime later, in his second appearance, he was called David, and kept that name thereafter. According to IMDb FAQs, the reason for the name change was that the actor who played Kevin/David, Johnny Galecki, now of my beloved “The Big Bang Theory,” was playing a character named David on another TV show at the time and rules then were that an actor couldn’t play characters of the same name at the same time. But since he was no longer in that role during his second appearance, Roseanne Barr chose to go back to the original name for the character, and that’s the name he kept.

It is also reported that the show made a joke of it, sort of like they did with the revolving door actresses who played Becky. In one episode, Roseanne remarked,  “David’s not even his real name! Darlene made it up!” That’s how they treated the change; they acknowledged it with humor.

This blog is my first step in acknowledging my own change. I’d love to hear your suggestions of other ways to inform my readers.


Midwest Musings: Salsafied!

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

I am one month away from the launch of the first book in my Sullivan’s Creek Series, Saved by the Salsa, which will be available August 8. Though this is my fourth book to be published, I’m still learning the ropes as far as pre-launch promotion. Because social media has become such a vast, diverse universe, there are a lot of potential places to tap.

Timing is important. Some places, like reviewers, need whatever you’re going to send them well in advance. Other places, like email blasts to readers, need to be close to the actual release date, so they can go right to the buy link, if interested. Some buy links aren’t available until a few days or weeks after the release date. It has taken me three books to become familiar with these time frames, and then, just when I think I’m on top of things, either the time elements change or new promotion points come along, which need to be figured in. SavedbytheSalsa_w8725_750

Where do you go to learn about new titles?

Here’s my current checklist and progress to date:

  1. Update website book page – Done except for buy links
  2. Prepare tweets – Done, ready for release date
  3. Establish Saved by the Salsa Pinterest page – Ready, though a work in progress. Check it out at
  4. Seek reviewers – started, ongoing
  5. Draft newsletter announcing launch – Done, to be sent July 8. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list for this and future newsletters, contact me at
  6. Seek guest blog spots – started, ongoing. I’ll be on “Just Contemporary Romance,”, July 30-31 and Melissa Snark’s “Scene Spotlight” on August 9. Watch this website for additional appearances.
  7. Write guest blog articles – in progress, never done.
  8. Update business cards – Done!
  9. Create new bookmarks – Done!
  10. Establish buy links – wait until after release on August 8.
  11. Update Goodreads page – author page done, need to add Saved by the Salsa after its release.
  12. Create Salsa playlist on YouTube. First I have to figure out how to make a playlist. This is my next social medium to tackle.

dancers pinI haven’t done a lot of giveaways, but for this book I have five pins of a dancing couple. One will be given away to commenters on the “Just Contemporary Romance” blog. I’m seeking creative suggestions for how to use the others.

Speaking of suggestions, got any other ideas for how I can add to my “salsify” efforts, i.e., spread the word about this book launch?

Midwest Musings: What to Do When Your Internet’s Down

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

By the time you read this, our internet service will have been restored, but today while I’m writing this article, I am frustrated, to say the least. In the last twenty-four hours since we’ve been without access to our email and other websites, I’ve discovered just how much time and energy I’ve come to place on them. It’s not the end of the world, by any means. All I have to do is leave the house and find somewhere that has free wifi. It’s the convenience of having the service right here, handy, I really miss.

While I’m reassuring myself that our provider will have the service up and running shortly, I’ve also been exploring what to do with all this frustrated energy in the meantime. Why not share with you? Maybe I’ll start to believe it myself, if I put it down on the screen.

First and foremost, I haven’t lost access to any of my manuscripts. I can continue working on the one in progress. This initial rereading of something I wrote a few years back isn’t easy on the ego – my writing style has changed, hopefully improved, in the intervening months – but the task certainly offers hours of something to keep myself occupied. Problem is, I’ve grown accustomed to stopping every so often and checking something on the Internet, like my latest emails or some site of the moment. Can’t do that now. Have to find other distractions.

Did I say distractions? Well, there you have it. I apparently have difficulty remaining focused on my writing for very long periods of time. Not such a great self-discovery, but definitely something to consider when I wonder why I’m not more prolific.

What else can I be doing? When I was recently prepping another manuscript for submission to my editor, I used that, as well as the heat and humidity, as an excuse not to walk for exercise. No excuse today. So I started the week off right by getting myself out and about.

I’ve also been using my writing as an excuse to hold off housecleaning. We’re still in the process of moving in, so it’s been easy to justify keeping household maintenance to a minimum, like doing the dishes and laundry and making the bed. Now I have the “opportunity” to do that sweeping and dusting I’ve been putting aside. Not glamorous and, for me, not really fun, but certainly beneficial.

After the above, there’s always the books I’ve downloaded to read and haven’t gotten to. All I’ve been managing to keep up with are the books for my book clubs. While I’m at it, I might even write a few reviews. I’m sure those authors would appreciate the effort.

Finally, this brief – I hope it’s brief – Internet-free period is allowing me time to write this article and a few others. So to quote a cliché, every cloud has its silver lining.


Follow-up: Next day. The Internet is back! Yeah!


Midwest Musings: Settling In

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’re aware that “Thoughts from the Treadmill” went on a bit of an unplanned hiatus since March 17. But I’m back now in the Iowa version of this blog, “Midwest Musings.”

I devoted a few blogs last year to my experience decluttering our home and getting it ready to put on the market. Our Fourth of July was spent cleaning out our garage for a garage sale the next week. What we didn’t sell went to various charitable organizations. Little did I realize as I left for Florida in early fall that we’d just completed Phase One of the process.

Phase Two began when we signed with a realtor and exposed our home to a stager. Even more items were removed, now large pieces of furniture. New items, like bathroom light fixtures, guest bedroom bed covers and decorative pillows appeared. To me, the house appeared extremely empty, so when we actually sold it this March, I was in for the surprise of my life when I discovered how much more still remained to go. No longer did we have a full summer to box up items and find places to sell them or give them away. Now we were working against time to get what was left moved to the new house.

There's a bit of a path around the various bags filled with goodies.

There’s a bit of a path around the various bags filled with goodies.

Phase Three wasn’t fun. While my husband dismantled electronics, my job was to clear his office. He swore he’d been cleaning it for weeks, which although was probably true, still meant more books to be boxed up and transported. The man had a small business library! Once I finally completed this task, I “graduated” to his workshop in the garage, shelf upon shelf of nuts and bolts in hundreds of varieties. Never again.

We have now entered Phase Four, settling into the new house. We recently returned from Florida facing the summer’s task, unboxing everything and finding a new home for it. Here I thought the boxing-up part took time. This is much more time-intensive, because we’re having to decide: a) to keep or not to keep and b) if we keep it, where does it go? The solution to much of these questions has been to install more shelves. Shelves are a wonderful means of storage, but beware, they also are enablers that allow you to hold onto items that should otherwise go elsewhere.

Like the game of pick-up sticks, we started with the easy-to-deal-with pieces, in my case, the boxes of items for my desk, which I so laboriously labeled last summer with the exact drawer they were to go back into.  But once those were disposed of, several more remained. I have one full box of used copy paper just waiting to have the other side printed with rough drafts of future manuscripts. But that’s nothing compared to the pile of notepads, notebooks, note paper, and various other tablets I’ve collected over the years. I tried, I really tried to get rid of them. And I did eliminate a few that were old and torn. But I kept thinking, “I might be able to use that someday.” Like shelves, beware this thought. It will have you hoarding in no time.

So that’s where we are at the moment. Progress has been made, but there’s MUCH more to do. Stay tuned for future reports.

Just one of many boxes of the books I can't part with yet.

Just one of many boxes of the books I can’t part with yet.

Oh, yes. The writing-relatedness of this post: all this sorting and putting away gets boring fast. I’ve found myself frequently seeking the solace of my current manuscript in progress. Already managed to finish the current revision. It’s just about ready for submission to my editor. Success!

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Spotlight on The Wild Rose Press Authors 2

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Last week I started spotlighting some of my fellow roses from The Wild Rose Press to introduce my readers to their work. In Week 2, Linda Joyce and Jill James are featured.  Linda is currently up for a 2014 Rone Award for her debut romance novel, Bayou Born, which is featured here. You can vote for her at Her second book in that series, Bayou Bound, is currently available in ebook format only on This is also a chance for you to win a $10 weekly gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press through the Rafflecopter drawing at  bottom of this post.

First, though, I am pleased to share with you the cover of my upcoming book from The Wild Rose Press, Saved by the Salsa. We just firmed it up last week. No release date has been set yet. I’ll keep you informed as I know more. This is the first book of The Sullivan’s Creek Series. I’m hopeful Books 2 and 3 will be joining this one in the near future.




Bayou Born – Linda Joyce

Branna Lind’s self-esteem rests at the bottom of the Mississippi River. She canceled her “wedding of the decade,” though she isn’t saying why. She wants life on her own terms, no ready-made job in the family business: no safety net of close-knit kin, and no more betrayal.

College professor James Newbern prizes his bachelorhood. Experience has taught him beautiful women are high-maintenance trouble and Branna fits that type. He is happy to avoid her until the college vice president assigns him to mentor the newest hire–Branna.

Branna is on her way to a new life, but will the scars of the past send her running from love? Even if she stands her ground, can she convince James that she truly is his “type”?

Rating: Sensual
Page Count: 320
Word Count: 77531
978-1-61217-820-2 Paperback
978-1-61217-821-9 Digital

About Linda

Linda Joyce is an award-winning author born on Christmas Eve in Biloxi, Mississippi. Her Louisiana family’s roots run deep, and they’re intertwined with her Japanese heritage. Her vagabond childhood afforded her a variety of travel opportunities. Now she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and their three dogs: General Beauregard, Gentleman Jack, and Masterpiece Renoir.

Linda penned her first manuscript while living in Japan as a U.S. Air Force dependent. Her classmates lined up at recess to read her latest pages. During high school in Florida, a literary magazine published her poetry. In college, she worked on the school’s newspaper as a reporter and learned layout and design.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Linda holds a Bachelor of Science in Management. She worked in corporate America, earned the Senior Claims Law Associate professional designation, and completed Six Sigma Green Belt training.

Linda is a self-professed foodie and has the kitchen of her dreams. She enjoys painting when she can fit it in. She and her husband, Don, love college football. They frequently go RVing, and at last count, they’ve traveled to twenty-one states with “the boys.”

Contact Info




Twitter: @LJWriter


Buy link:


8ddaf1082431c8bc51be7518974041e8.image.200x312Tempting Adam – Jill James

They both want the same thing – St. Eden Studios.

Corporate raider Yvette Giardino intends to bring St. Eden Studios to its knees. It’s a job. One her grandmother’s health depends on. That Adam St. Eden will suffer isn’t personal. Until he awakens her sympathy and stirs her body in ways she can’t explain.

Adam wants one thing and one thing only – to protect the dream his grandfather began. But when the board demands he work with stunning Yvette, a woman he’d mistakenly indulged with in a little after-hours play, his world turns upside down. Missed meetings, unhappy clients, and nights of intense pleasure – he can blame one person. Yvette.

With his corporation crumbling around him, can Adam rise above the fallout and see his sexy temptress for what she really is – a victim of manipulation and a woman who desperately needs his love?

About Jill

Jill has loved to write since she first began putting on puppet shows in her garage for a nickel a person.  Her first love was poetry until she picked up her first romance novel, after that it was all romance.  She writes contemporary and paranormal romance.  She is a member of RWA since 2004 and a member of  the From The Heart chapter, Silicon Valley chapter, and Sacramento Valley Rose chapter.  She had a few poetry contest wins and a published short story, Lunch Break before she got The Call. When Jill isn’t writing you will find her reading, her other passion. She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is the inspiration for all her romance novel heroes.

Her debut novel, Tempting Adam, released February 2011, from The Wild Rose Press. She has Indie published with Divorce, Interrupted. Book 1 of the Lake Willowbee series, Dare To Trust, Book 2 of the series, and Defend My Love, Book 3 of the series, along with The Lake Willowbee Series, Books 1-3. Also published is Dangerous Shift, her first paranormal romantic suspense.

She is now an Amazon Best-selling author with Christmas on Main Street with the Authors of Main Street.

Contact info:

Twitter: @jill_james

Buy link:

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