Rad-Reader:  So how did you come up with the idea of telling the story as you explained in the prologue?

Barbra:  Sometimes my brain moves really fast and erratically (to my husband’s dismay). Here’s kind of how it went…‘I love romance novels. Lingerie is pretty. Nightie has the root word Night. Tales of the Night. Tales of the Nightie. Ohh! That sounds like fun. How can I write a series about lingerie?’ Yeah, I’m kind of a spaz.
It was summer, and I sat on my deck Googling different kinds of lingerie and all the technical names. I wanted the series to feel like more than a bunch of sex scenes threaded together, and what better way to do that than figure out how each person ended up with the lingerie. Thus Claire and her contest were born.
In a matter of days, I had characters/plots for thirteen stories. Teaser…the final one is Claire’s story, and through her contest, she picks up tidbits and puts them into play to salvage her own marriage.

Rad-Reader:  Was that beginning with Claire St. James always in your story or something you added?

Barbra:  Claire was there from the beginning, in some form. Initially, she was just a savvy businesswoman doing some creative promo, but then I remembered we have to torture our characters to keep the story interesting, so I destroyed her marriage and business. (Sorry Claire, but you’re human.)

Rad-Reader:  Did you decide on either Alexis or Chris character first?

Barbra:  Hmm, I had to look back at my master plan for clues to this answer!
The student-professor pair was the motivation for this novella. Initially, the professor was the male and the student was the female, but when I wanted to add the secret admirer component, I liked the idea of the male student leaving gifts for a female professor.
As much as I think having a secret admirer would be totally intriguing, there’s the creepy worrisome component that I felt wouldn’t come across as strong if a man was receiving the gifts.
This brought up some gender bias thoughts for me, and in discussing my novella with fellow writers, we were all intrigued at how much gender bias we had in the word processor.
So as much as I had been looking forward to a sexy male professor, I made the female the professor for a different dynamic.

Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with cryptologist as Dr. Alexis Welsh’s field of expertise?

Barbra:  Initially she was a biochemist, but I thought the encrypted gifts would add a cute element if she was a cryptologist, and they played to her love of deciphering.

Rad-Reader:  Did you always have the scene where she thinks she has caught Chris, leaving?  What would have been the last note, or did you change it?

Barbra:  He was going to give final clues to reveal himself but decided that could cause trouble. It would have put the burden on her to go to the ballet knowing who would be in the seat next to her, basically acceptance. It would have been the final note since he would have left it in her hands.

Rad-Reader:  What made you have them both show up at the homeless center?

Barbra:  Volunteering is important! We can all give in different ways, at different times in our lives. I didn’t want to get heavy handed and tell everyone to find a way to volunteer, but you never know who you might run into! 😉
 Alexis only knew Chris as a student, former Air Force. Putting them at the homeless shelter gave them a chance to bump into each other off campus, and she got to see what a great guy he was. A reminder that we often only know people on the surface.

Rad-Reader:  Was I reading to much into Beverly’s character that she knew that Chris would most likely be there, maybe?

Barbra:  I like your imagination, but Beverly didn’t tell me she knew Chris would be there. Characters don’t always behave though.

Rad-Reader:  Though Alexis was worried about everything – her friend, Beverly was okay with it wanting her to go for it.  Was her character always like that or did you change her as the story went along?

Barbra:  Those of us that aren’t risk takers need a friend to nudge us along sometimes. For me, that is my amazing husband.
Having come through the ranks together, Alexis compared herself to Beverly. Alexis has the thought that ‘we walked down the same path…what happened?’ When Alexis takes a mental inventory and sees that Beverly is happy at more levels, Alexis has an internal motivation to find her own happiness. After all, Beverly didn’t fail just because she has a life, so Alexis wonders if it could work for her.
On a more serious note, some of the character motivation, and my choice to make Alexis Asian came from my experience with exchange students. Our family has hosted numerous students from many countries, and I serve as a local coordinator. My husband and I hold a firm belief in experiencing life, so when one of our students said she had to quit playing the piano when she got to high school because her ‘job’ was to be the best student possible, we were saddened that her life revolved around textbooks.
We learned many cultural differences from her and the students from other countries, but her devotion to her parents and the path they set for her success stuck with me. We remain her American parents who get excited about things her natural parents don’t value. When these kids cross-cultures, it is truly an amazing experience.

Rad-Reader:  Other than the story, what was the reason in having Alexis decide to walk into Mystical Boutique as opposed to a store like Victoria Secrets?

Barbra:  Shop small, shop local! Okay, plenty of the novellas involve mail order purchases from Claire, so that wasn’t really it.
I live in a super small town (less than 2,000 people). When I go to the nearest town with a mall, there is a Victoria Secrets, which is right next to the food court. Somehow, sorting through underwear, visible to the highest traffic area of the mall, just doesn’t work for me! Alexis definitely sympathizes with me on that one. A small shop would be far more personal, especially if I had to ask questions.
And technically, I didn’t want to have any legal troubles if it appeared, I was capitalizing off their brand.

Rad-Reader:  Was it your original storyline to have Alexis write puzzles as Chris did in the beginning?

Barbra:  I always think I have a great story plotted, and then I start writing. Open the window, toss it out…something always changes. Alexis writing puzzles happened after my characters developed minds of their own.

Rad-Reader:  Are you into puzzles or puzzle solving?

Barbra:  There are multiple Sudoku and KenKen puzzles at my desk. I like to do one before I start writing/editing. Word puzzles are fun too, but math is my jam. I suppose writers aren’t supposed to say that!

Rad-Reader:  Do you know someone who is a cryptologist or into cryptology?

Barbra:  My daughter has a huge interest in criminalistics, so I’ve been aware of related degrees, and this was a fun time to use one. If I was starting over, I would definitely look into it. My degree is in Genetics.

Rad-Reader:  Was Chris’ character always an older student and a veteran or did you change the character as you went along?

Barbra:  I was going to do the Cougar thing but felt that would have been too much of a stretch for Alexis. Four years in the military allowed Chris to be older and gave him the strong discipline Alexis would respect because it is an important part of her life. So, those were components basically from the start of writing.

Rad-Reader:  Was there a reason why Chris did not have any friends or friend in the story and Alexis had Beverly?

Barbra:  Because Chris is older and very driven, he doesn’t hang out with the college crowd much. And there’s only so much I can fit into this length.

Rad-Reader:  The scene and the idea that maybe Alexis has lost Chris was good.  Did take you a while to write it for you to have her finally coming into her own?  Then feeling defeated by him leaving?  I found it to be very powerful.

Barbra:  I cried! Facing our past/demons is tough, but our reaction is an important decision for either growth or stagnation. Alexis is smart, an analytic thinker, so this was something she had to go through. While she wasn’t at total rock bottom, it was enough for her to recognize. I’m glad it touched you.

Rad-Reader:  Do you write using an outline or just start writing to see where the story leads you?

Barbra:  One of two things happens…
1. I pick a trope, find some characters and conflict to carry it out, and create a basic storyline…then get busy writing.
2. Something sparks a scene in my mind, even as simple as a comment someone makes in real life. I brainstorm the scene, branching out from the conflict and characters, and create a world for them…then start putting the words on the page.

Rad-Reader:  Are you planning a story with Beverly as the main character or is this the last time with her character?

Barbra:  Beverly…I miss her already, so she might show up in her own story someday. Tidbit…Her name is an Easter Egg for one of my office mates from grad school.
I’ve started writing short stories (less than half this length), which will start coming out soon, and some of them will be tied to the novellas. Even if Beverly doesn’t get a novella, she’ll get a short story.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…

Alexis:  Grace Park

Chris:  Luke Benward

Barbra:  Here’s the weird thing…I’m not a visual person, even though everyone else in my household is. Because of this, I don’t tie characters to certain people mentally, even though I have to choose models for promo, and I put some on a Pinterest page for occasional motivation.
I like your picks!

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your couple relationship or your book best?

“Secret Love – Hunter Hayes”

“One of These Nights – Eagles”
First time meeting.  Secret…

“You Make it Easy – Jason Alden”
Coming as one.

Barbra:  Here’s another funny…I have horrible memory because of a brain injury, so I don’t recall songs very well. This is terrible since I’m a musician (cello). That’s a whole different problem.
So back to your question…I’ve noticed writers attributing songs to their stories lately, so I’m starting to think about that. Some of my stories have songs, but this one didn’t get one, yet.
I love your suggestion of Eagles, One of these Nights

Rad-Reader:  How long did it take you to write this book?

Barbra:  Write is a vague word! Here’s my schedule…
-These novellas are around 30K words. If I push, I write around 5K a day, which means I can crank out a pre-planned DRAFT in a week.
-I take a break, usually over the weekend (some people say you need longer, but my bad memory expands the time frame!) then work on editing the next week, because no one should see the mess of the unedited version. At the end of the editing, I let the computer read it to me so I can find errors that my eyes automatically fix.
-Then it goes to critique partners (CP’s) for a week.
-I take a few days to work on suggestions from the CP’s, then send it to the editor for a first pass. She usually turns it around in three days.
-She’s very clear about what she wants, so I can make the changes quickly, then get it out to Beta readers that agree to read it over a long weekend.
-Amassing the Beta reader comments, I make another editing pass.
-Then it goes back to the editor for a second pass, and back to me for final touches. After that, I spend a day proofreading (and sometimes use an outside proofreader) by tracking the page while I listen to the computer read it.
-Then the misery starts! Just kidding, but the next step is formatting, which I do myself. I am technologically challenged when it comes to electronics, so I struggle even though I’ve made extensive notes on how to do it correctly. Ebook and paperback have different formatting, so I have to keep my brain focused on which one I am doing because mingling them is a disaster. I have cried over this!
-Intertwined with the formatting, I get the ISBN’s and load the books to the appropriate websites.
-And somewhere in there, I get the covers made (and put into all the formats needed), write the tagline and blurb, work on promo, and make a social media/marketing plan. While the covers for the Tales of the Nightie series match, only needing text and color changes, the short stories I’m working on have clinch covers.
-It’s about a 6-week process from draft to publication.
-And I tend to overlap some of the writing of the next novella in the cracks.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite genre to read?

Barbra:  ROMANCE! The steamier the better. I need that Happily Ever After/Happy for Now!

Rad-Reader:  What was the first book to get published?  Was that the first book you wanted to be published or the one that was right at the time?

Barbra:  I wrote screenplays first, and they are all unproduced, although I’ve had great feedback from industry professionals. I’ll revisit them someday.
When I tried my hand at romance, I fell in love…pun intended! A mentor suggested I enter my work in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest, and I finalized …shocker!
Being a newb, I thought the publishing world was going to embrace me, and I’d keep moving along, but after watching several writer friends, I realized I needed to have control of my process. Romance writers are amazing people, and when I put the word out that I was going to self-pub, I received a ton of support. It has been a sharp learning curve, but I’m glad I did it.
I wanted the novel that was the Golden Heart finalist to be my first because I LOOOOOVE the characters, but for various reasons, it is waiting until later this year to make its debut.

Rad-Reader:  When did you start writing professionally?

Barbra:  I published my first novella in January 2019! Yes, Alexis and Chris are my first.

Rad-Reader:  What did your friends and family say when they found out you were writing and being published?  Did they know you were a writer all along?

Barbra:  Most of my family and friends didn’t realize I’d taken the plunge into romance writing because it went from hobby to career in a matter of months.
When I told people I was writing romance, the most common comment was, ‘Are you writing the throbbing member stuff?’ to which I answered, ‘Yes, but I tend to be very direct.’
There have been a few snobby comments, but most people are really supportive. I mean, what do they really care what I spend my time doing. And daydreaming about people falling in love is way better than other things I could be doing.

Rad-Reader:  Where is your favorite place to write?

Barbra:  I tend to mix it up. Sometimes my desk, sometimes my couch, sometimes a coffee shop, sometimes outside (when we don’t have freezing temps and a couple feet of snow).
I used to write in my car, outside of the middle school gym when I took my kids to basketball practice before school. They were homeschooled, so I had to stay and bring him back home afterward. I actually loved that.

Rad-Reader:  Is it hard to find time to write or do you set time every day to write no matter what?

Barbra:  Writing is my job, so I spend most of my day working on some aspect of it. That’s not to say life doesn’t get in the way…I don’t even want to talk about what all has gone wrong the last few days, but I’ll recover.
Generally, my daily schedule revolves around my writing goals.

Rad-Reader:  What is your ideal vacation?

Barbra:  I’m such a homebody! I live in a canyon in the Colorado mountains, and can’t see any other people from my house! Walking outside, going for a hike, sitting by the creek, or sitting in the hot tub keeps me really happy, so I don’t feel much need for vacations.
But I love seeing new places and loved seeing Brazil last October. Standing at the junction of Ipanema and Copa Cabana was intensely soothing…so much ocean. If all goes well, my husband and I will check out Spain and Morocco this fall.
Other than that, I like to visit the hot springs a couple of hours away.

Rad-Reader:  What are three things that you can’t leave home without?

Barbra:  1. I almost always take my laptop with me, so if I end up delayed somewhere, I can work, or I let it read stories to me.
2. My phone because I can read books on it, and it contains my credit card and almost anything else I want to do.
3. I would say my purse, but I forget it half the time. And if I do remember to take it with me, there’s a good chance I’ll leave it somewhere.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite dessert?

Barbra:  Flan. Oh my, I’m hungry now. I also love homemade eggnog, but I’m not sure that counts as a dessert.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books on the Web?  Links

Barbra:  For now, my books are on Amazon/Kindle Unlimited… 

Rad-Reader:  Where can our reader find you on the Web?  Links

We would like to thank you for being with us.  It was fun reading your book and now seeing your process of how you went about writing your first book that was ever published no less.  Good job.
Once again thanks for being with us,
Pat & Char

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