Friday, January 22, 2021

Interview with DM Barr

 
"Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself—she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband's scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?” -DM Barr, Saving Grace
     So begins the synopsis for Saving Grace, the latest offering from Dawn Barclay, who writes under the pen name DM Barr. Dawn is a bit different from past honorees in that she’s more eclectic than most and hasn’t written a series.

15) Dawn, in the acknowledgements page of Saving Grace, you'd thanked your "long-suffering husband Josh". What are some of the unique challenges in your household faced by your husband and kids of living with a committed author? 

The problem is less with me being a committed author and more about me perseverating about whatever interests me most. So right now, all I talk about are my books—writing the books, marketing the books, the reviews, etc. He is very patient, which is a good thing. He’s also very supportive so I’m a lucky gal. My kids just ignore me but that’s par for the course, right?

14) OK, the question has to be asked- How come all your novels are standalones? Why no series or is Saving Grace, for instance, the start of one?

Saving Grace could actually be Book One of The Joe Hack Mystery Series, where Joe, Kenzie and Zev go on to solve mysteries. I’ve got an idea in the back of my head that revolves around Zev, who was my favorite character. I also have a sequel to Expired Listings planned. I know some people who write the whole series before querying. I’ve never seen the point in writing a sequel before being certain of the popularity of the first book. Otherwise, if it’s not going to sell, why bother?

13) You've been a travel journalist and marketer and several other things, including your current career in sales. Have those vocational experiences aided you in setting locales or setting plots in your novels?

In my debut novel, Expired Listings, the protagonist was a travel writer-turned-Realtor (just like me) and I did have her travel a bit, but in flashback. Actually, my novels usually take place locally—Rock Canyon (Rockland County), New York City, Bergen County. But my past professions do come into play—real estate marketing in the first book, researching magazine articles in Slashing Mona Lisa (the main character is a newbie journalist), and in the newest book, The Queen of Second Chances, which comes out in June, the main character is forced to infiltrate a senior center to build up that niche for her Realtor stepmother so there’s a marketing aspect there as well.

12) Grace Pierrepoint Rendell of Saving Grace strikes me as a virtually unique and compelling protagonist. While not (I'll assume) an #ownvoices novel, Saving Grace features a protagonist who's writing an #Ownvoices novel of her own as an insurance policy to pre-expose her allegedly scheming husband. In a way, it's a reverse engineering of the old trope of a murderer deriving inspiration from an already-written book. What inspired you to write this story?

My husband kept asking me about my inheritance 😊 But seriously, it's an allegory for women of a certain age, no longer feeling like they’re seen by the world (especially advertisers!), taken for granted by their children, ignored by their husbands. Feeling trapped but not wanting to divorce and ruin their kids’ lives by what might seem like a selfish reason. Plus, what if their perceptions are off, thanks to being constantly told they’re wrong?

11) Take us into the world of Rock Canyon, specifically its real estate world. In Expired Listings, realtors are getting bumped off left and right and the surviving real estate agents see its upside as less competition. Is the "real" real estate profession really that cutthroat?

Yes and no. It’s a satire. I took small incidents and blew them up to make a point. I did want to emphasize what a dangerous profession it is—we put our glamour shots on cards and signs, then advertise we’ll be alone in an empty house for four hours on a Sunday. I will say that I knew a fellow Realtor who wouldn’t tell her fellow agents she had breast cancer, lest they use it against her, tell prospective clients not to list with her because she might get sicker and die. So, the interactions at Rock Canyon Realty weren’t entirely out of left field.

10) Describe your typical writing day, if there’s any such thing. Do you set daily word goals, if so, how many and do you draft exclusively in a notebook, laptop or both?

I can go months without writing because I’m caught up in marketing the last book or querying the newest one. When I do get passionate about an idea (or I’m competing with other writers, like in NaNoWriMo), I will usually wake up at 5:00 a.m. and write 1,000 words in two or three hours, then repeat daily until I finish the book—usually on the family room couch. When I get close to the end, it’s usually more than 1,000 words a day because I’m so excited about revising the book and then sending it off to agents or publishers. I write everything on a laptop and no, I almost never outline in advance.

9) One way to avoid “Cabot Cove” syndrome (especially in a series) is featuring a protagonist who’s a travel writer as well as an amateur detective, ergo ensuring different venues. Are there any plans to feature such a character and drawing from your own experience as a travel writer?

Probably not…I was not a “palm trees dotting the beach” type of travel writer. I wrote business articles telling travel agents how to operate their business better. So, my destination pieces would revolve on how to market the destination; they weren’t targeted at consumers for the most part. I tend to write more about the landscape of characters’ psychoses than external locales.

8) You have something in common with last June’s Author of the Month, Dv Berkom, who, as with you and your PunctuatedPublishing, runs her own private publishing venture (DuctTape Press). What are the pros and cons of running your own press? Are there challenges in outreach, marketing and distribution or have you overcome them?

I can’t honestly say that I run a publishing venture. I received five contracts from small presses for Expired Listings, but I found issues with all of them (either with the publishers themselves or the contract clauses) and I wanted control over my baby so I self-published. I created Punctuated Publishing because I felt it sounded more professional than just publishing it under my own name. I used it again for Slashing Mona Lisa because Beachwalk Press only contracted the digital rights and I still owned the paperback and audiobook rights. I haven’t used it since. I don’t regret publishing my first book because I learned a tremendous amount about what’s involved—and that’s part of what angers me most about hybrid publishers who overcharge clients for books they could publish so much more cheaply on their own. As for exposure and marketing—you’re going to have to do that no matter who publishes your book.

7) During your own series of author interviews, called Author Groupie, what was the most surprising answer you ever got from an author?

I asked one author about her book’s genre and she said she had never considered it. I mean cross-genre is fine—I’m the queen of that—but she didn’t seem to understand the concept at all. Turned out she was working with a hybrid publisher, so she never realized that it’s vital to know exactly what she was selling.

6) Has the pandemic significantly impacted your book sales or literary output one way or the other?

At first, I was paralyzed and unable to write anything. Then one of the members of my RWA group kept posting his word count for the day and being super competitive, I dove into it and decided I would beat him to the end. And I did. Thanks to him, I started writing again. I actually sold my book before he finished his and I was very grateful that he was gracious and didn’t call me out for posting MY word count on his Facebook page daily.

As for sales, I released Saving Grace in October and I’m not sure if it’s because of my marketing push or the book itself, but it’s sold better than any of my others. I can’t say if it’s because people are stuck at home and reading more or it’s just that I finally managed to write a book that didn’t span three genres.

5) Plotter, pantser or plantser?

Plantser. I go in knowing vaguely what’s going to happen, I’m pretty sure who the killer is (though that’s changed in two books by the time I got to the end) and I let my subconscious write the story. Things happen that I’d never suspect. But when I get about two-thirds done, I usually write out a list of remaining chapters with one sentence for each about what should happen to move the book along.

4) What are some of the most difficult aspects for you in writing fiction? What comes most easily to you?

The hardest part is the waiting—waiting 2-3 months for an agent or publisher to respond to a query. I’m not a patient person and publishing is glacially slow. I’m also a control freak so I want to be included in every aspect of the production, which is something that works well when you’re self-publishing but I’m sure my publishers have a D.M. Barr voodoo doll on their desk that doubles as a pin cushion. Also hard— dividing my time between writing and marketing. I like both and so it’s difficult for me to be writing my next book when the last one has just come out. I like to do one thing at a time. But what comes easiest is the marketing because I have a marketing background.

3) Who were some of your favorite authors while growing up and did any of them become influential on your own work?

When I was young, my favorite books were Aesop’s Fables, Harriet the Spy and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve grown up to write about justice (and wasn’t that what Aesop was really talking about?) and amateur female investigators. And I ate a lot of candy. What really influenced my writing were shows like The Avengers (Steed and Mrs. Peel, not the superheroes) and Moonlighting. That banter-filled writing and humor really shaped the way I write dialogue and how I insert humor into tense situations.

2) If you were offered a Big Five contract, would you jump at the chance and shutter your imprint or would you insist on retaining your independence?

I would sign that contract in the blink of an eye. But I’m sure I’d still emphasize to the publisher what was important to me—competent editing, great cover art, creative marketing.

1)  What’s next on the horizon for D.M. Barr?

I’m finally writing a non-fiction book that I’ve wanted to write since 2009. The topic is a secret. I’d tell you more but then I’d have to kill you.

If you’re interested in learning more about D.M. Barr’s work, then follow the handy links below.

The links to the three D.M. Barr books currently available are:

Expired Listings:

Slashing Mona Lisa:

Saving Grace, A Psychological Thriller:  (They’re available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo)

Her website:

Her blog www.author-groupie.com

Facebook author page:

Twitter @authordmbarr:

Instagram:

Goodreads;

Bookbub:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Pottersville Digest: Our Long National Nightmare is Over edition

(Yeah, let's talk about "unity", assholes.)
   I've often wondered about this myself since the 6th. Where's the security camera footage? It's impossible to plausibly believe they wouldn't have security cameras at the Capitol. (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Constant Reader, CC).
    
Republican Uncle Fester: "All the affidavit ballots that were cast were fraudulent, except the one that I cast."
    
You and whose army, asshole?
    
Yes, these assholes love Trump more than their own kids.
    
What else did you expect from a Trump stooge?
    
Nixon was never impeached, let alone twice.
   
Fox "News" cynically tries to claw back fast-disappearing demographic by promoting conspiracy theorist Maria Bartiromo.
   
This asshole still thinks he'll be able to kill people even after he leaves office. Thankfully, the Biden transition team shot it down.
   
These assholes not only succeeded and thrived, none of them suffered any legal consequences. Not. One.
    
Why do all these psychos have to come from my home borough of Queens?
    
Another rioter bites the dust.
    
Episode 6: The Empire Strikes Back: Democrats Struck Back Harder.
    
Your Karen o' the week.
     It's a sad state of affairs when all three people on the same TV broadcast weep tears of joy and grief at the thought of Trump leaving office and of all the people he murdered through his callous neglect. Biden at least addressed our national grief as we just tallied the 400,000th victim of COVID-19.
     Trump spent 20 minutes filming a video patting himself on the back that only Newsmax aired. That's the stark contrast in the two men: Biden acknowledged the nation's grief. Trump used that same time praising himself for his nonexistent achievements.

     Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Scottish?
    
"Repulsive" is the word we're all pretty much using today.
    
Your Brad o' the day: Inauguration Day edition.
    
Literally your Brad o' the day.
    
I don't feel one bit sorry for these fucking idiots.
     Another mad dog cop locked up.

     "The sole objective of these corporations is stability, which they expect President Joe Biden to restore. They already got their tax cuts, deregulation, and bailouts from Trump. Now they want him to leave the stage. They don't care if the president is a Democrat or Republican. They own and control both of those parties. They just want someone less erratic and disruptive."
     Yeah, this guy gets it.

     Meme intermission.
     I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later. Whichever way you look at it, it puts the lie to herd immunity. (A second tip o' the tinfoil hat to Constant Reader, CC).
    
I hope they all take him to court, including El Paso, to whom he also owes over half a million. May they all sue his fat, pasty ass into oblivion.
    
Yeah, about that "unity"... let me know how that works out, President Joe.
     Wow, that was fast. One day into his new job as Trump's and Putin's sleeper agent in the NSA and Ellis is already getting investigated by the Pentagon's IG.
    
The fucking leeches are still bleeding us dry.
    
Wipe your eyes with cotton balls and mail them to me in a plastic Ziplock so I can then squeeze them into a martini glass. To use your own tee shirt slogan, "Fuck your feelings."
    
No, Bozo, they just broke into the Capitol, shit on the floors, trashed offices, hunted for members of Congress, murdered a cop and caused six other deaths. Aside from that, yeah, they took it real well, asshole.
    
In the Trump era, crazy old men have gone considerably beyond shaking their fists at clouds.
    
I don't blame Trump's staffers for sleeping in yesterday.
    
Lame duck Congresswoman QAnon thought it would "be easier" to file articles of impeachment against a sitting president. Maybe she could get some tips from Pelosi. She has lots of experience in that.
    
Hours after getting sworn in, Biden fired this right wing asshole, the most vicious anti-union activist in the country, as the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel. Biden gave him the chance to quit with some dignity. He refused. Bye, bye, Robb.

    
World's biggest fetus, Karl Rove, "offended" by Biden's condemnation of white supremacy. This is why we can't have nice things like unity.
    
McCarthy last week: "The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters."
     McCarthy today: "I don't believe he provoked if you listened to what he said at the rally."
     38 cops from 16 states were at the attempted overthrow of the government. There will be more.
    
Trump's 2021 is shaping up to be what 2020 was for the rest of us.
     Once more with feeling: I love Scotland!
     Who the fuck is Butch Bowers? Well, he comes very highly recommended by Mizz Lindsey since he has vast experience defending other Republican scumbags under impeachment and, besides, Trump's original impeachment lawyer Guiliani can't represent him since he's one of the defendants.
    
This warms the cockles of my heart:
     "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) skipped the glitz of President Joe Biden’s inaugural ball Wednesday to walk on a chilly picket line with striking workers at the Hunts Point Food Market in her home borough of the Bronx." And finally...
    As NY AG Letitia James closes in on Trump in her ongoing civil fraud case, Trump's tax lawyer just quit. Yes, that's me you hear cackling in the background.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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