We’re absolutely delighted to introduce Mimi Barbour, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, whom we caught up with recently in a special interview. We had questions for Mimi covering various areas including her beginnings as an author, one of her recent works called Special Agent Maximilian, her future book projects, and a major blog for writers she runs. Mimi also gave some top advice on writing and publishing. Continue reading to find out what the lady herself had to say, in a wonderful exchange.
Hi Mimi, and welcome to e-Books India! Thanks so much for joining us for this interview. We’re thrilled to have you join us! Please tell us about you. Where are you from? How did you become an author?
Hi Hiten, thank you for inviting me. I’m very happy to be your guest. Please forgive the length of this interview – if you think I write a lot, you should hear me talk LOL!!
Okay – a bit about me. Well as you know, I’m a New York Times, USA Today, award-winning & best-selling author. Am I bragging? You bet I am! In actual fact, every time I write those words, I feel as if I’m talking about someone else. So, I keep saying them to know they’re real and… for the pure enjoyment.
I’m a Canadian girl and very happy living on Vancouver Island with my husband of forty-eight years. We’ve done a fair amount of travelling because of his work and lived overseas for seven years in Chile. Then we spent two years in Guinea, West Africa, which was like living in an episode of National Geographic. I have one son who makes my world perfect and a beautiful niece who’s like my surrogate daughter. I’m a very fortunate woman.
How did I become an author?
True story – One day while I was reading a romance book, I became increasingly upset at the amateurish way the author had written the story. To think it had been published boggled my mind. It irritated me so much that I eventually threw it on the floor, pouted for having spent the money and decided I could write better. Suddenly, a thought took hold and wouldn’t fade. You can write better so why don’t you? That night, I searched my shelves for a craft book I had bought years before called “How to Write a Romance.”
Bargaining with fate, I agreed that if I found the book, then it was meant to be and I would have to commit. Guess I don’t have to tell you that the book had been on the bottom shelf just waiting for me to dust it off. Was it karma? Maybe. Did I believe it was meant to be? Oh, yes, I most certainly did. Today, and over thirty books later, I just know that destiny had stepped in that evening and led me down this incredible path.
What types of books do you write?
Oh boy! I’ve tried so many different genres I’m surprised I had the stamina. My very first book I published with Wild Rose Press in 2006 was a novella called She’s Me.
Funny story – I’d sent away this book as a contest entry where the guidelines had requested a girl walking through a garden gate and then going back in time. Well that seemed tame to me and so I had my heroine, a beautiful, spoiled model from 2006 pass through the garden gate, sit on a vicarage bench, prick her finger on a magic rose bush and end up having her spirit invade a chubby librarian from 1966. The whole concept of spirit-travel stimulated me and I totally enjoyed the challenges it presented. The book received good reviews and so it became a series. The next was He’s Her and then We’re One. Finally, I ran out of pronouns so we called the next three in the Vicarage Bench Series, Together Again, Together for Christmas and Together Always.
I then wrote three books for my Angels with Attitudes series, fun books with an angel assisting each romance, and decided maybe it was time for a change. So I switched to contemporary romances and wrote two novels for the Elvis Series. These stories were both based on a song Elvis had made famous, She’s Not You and Love Me Tender.
Because life opens new doors all the time, I had the opportunity to write a short story called Partners for a box set and it became the introduction for my first romantic suspense set called the Vegas Series. Partners has been free for some time and is my gift to readers who might like the rest of the six-book collection.
About this time, I realized that as much as I loved working on the earlier books, I’d now discovered my perfect niche. I loved suspense, the gritty conflicts, the fully dimensional characters I could torture and the humour I found hidden within every plot.
Once this series ended, I had already envisioned the first book for the Undercover FBI Series.
One of your most recent books is Special Agent Maximilian, which is the third instalment in your Undercover FBI series. Can you please tell us about the overall concept for this series and about your book Special Agent Maximilian?
As I mentioned earlier, suspense had me hooked. And this series lit up every neuron in my brain like a hit of ecstasy. The first in the series, Special Agent Francesca became my focus and I spent all my energy making her as real on the pages as she seemed in my head. When I’d written the final words, I had already figured out the plot for Special Agent Finnegan.
Happy story – My husband is very supportive of my career and thoroughly excited for me when I’d published Francesca. Sitting at the dinner table one evening, knowing I would soon start a new manuscript, he asked me to write a book about an Irish FBI Agent, a masculine man who had a hard outer shell but with an inner softness he kept hidden (I knew just who this resembled.) He’d chosen the name Finnegan O’Reilly and thought the setting should be New York City. Special Agent Finnegan buried himself in my heart that night and I wrote that book in two months.
Engaging story – I was on a roll. Loved writing these tales and couldn’t wait to start the next one called Special Agent Maximilian. Now there’s some background for this novel also. Nik and Max, two boys who spent years coming to our family Sunday dinners with their single dad were very important to me and I loved them dearly. Deciding they needed a story was easy, but making only one of them the hero – not so much. That’s how I came up with the plot of twin brothers and having Nik taking on Max’s identity. What a blast to write! Such fun…
Are you working on any other books(s)? If so, can you please tell us what we can expect to see from you in the future?
I‘ve started working on a plot for another FBI book called Special Agent Kandice and it will be about a loveable hostage negotiator who wants to be like the other agents in the office – someone who can cuss and fight and wear a hard shell. Except that’s just not in her makeup, until…
Of course, the hero will be a mean bastard who loves her just the way she is, protects her all the time but hides how he feels behind a gruff exterior. In his mind, he’s just not good enough for her.
I’ve also written two (and working on the third) of the new novellas for my Holiday Heartwarmers Trilogy that will I’ll be releasing periodically over the next few weeks. The idea for this set came to me when I saw some puppies in a store window, crawling over each other and just as cute as can be. I love puppies! Anyway, I have them being abandoned in a park, left in a cardboard box and as each puppy escapes; he/she finds their story. They’ve been a lot of fun to write and I think will be well received by the lovers of Christmas romances. The first novella, Please Keep Me will be released very shortly. If anyone wants to be notified when it’s released, just follow me on Amazon and they’ll send you an e-mail.
You also run a very popular blog for authors. Can you please tell us about it and what readers can find there?
Yes, I’m the founder of the Authors Billboard, which is a website for our group of 33 some New York Times, USA Today and many best-selling authors who work together, supporting and advising each in order to reach more readers.
On our website, we’ve set up a promo page, where on the first of each month, we display a book from each author who submits. We have a weekly Friday newsletter that you can sign up for on the website and this is full of books on sale (or free) and is the place where we advertise our author’s new releases also. There’s a submission page where we welcome “any author” who’d like to promote through our newsletter.
We also have a Pinterest site, a Twitter page, two Facebook pages, a Yahoo loop and we’re on Triberr. Each month we set up a Giveaway worth $120 in Amazon Gift Certificates to entice new people to join us. The website also has a very active blog page which brings a lot of readers. Considering we only started Mimi’s Gang in April, I think we’ve done exceedingly well in such a short time.
Another of our pluses is our Book Bites 1 & Book Bites 2 that we published – BB1 is Contemporary Romance and BB2 is Romantic Suspense. Each of our authors submitted the first chapter of one of their books and we formatted them together, stuck fabulous covers on them and published them for free. They’ve been a great promotional tool and have stayed quite high in Amazon’s ranking since we released them. We’re working on the Christmas Book Bites 3 & 4 right now and will have them ready next month. They’ll also be available for free on the website.
From your experiences of being a published author, could you please share 2-3 top tips to help beginner authors who are new to the business?
Sure here goes:
Tip #1 – Don’t ever think that a great book is all you need to make it as an author today. Don’t fool yourself. What you do need is a way to promote your work so the readers can find that great book. So don’t play with the notion that you should leave all the social media work until after the book is ready to be released. Get started now!! Open a website with a blog, get on Twitter, search for friends on Facebook or Pinterest or wherever you want to spend your time. But do it!
Tip #2 – You need money to be an Indie author. If you have no budget, it will be almost impossible to compete against those who do. You need a professional editor and don’t listen to anyone – especially yourself – if you think your own editing will be good enough. It isn’t. I do three drafts by the time I’m ready to publish and I have two editors and a proof-reader go over my work and… I still get corrections from my beta readers. Also, you’ll need a professional cover artist. There are sites where you can buy covers quite cheaply, but you need money to do even that. I know some authors who make their own covers and trust me, many of the readers can tell and it turns them off. If you can’t do your own formatting, get someone who can or sign up on Pressbook which is a fantastic way to do it yourself. It’s my favourite tool and I’ve been ever so grateful to the friend who told me about it – now I’m telling you. (psst…They have videos to help you learn your way around – I love videos 🙂 )
Tip #3 – Get together with other writers. Join a group or a chapter with like-minded authors. Come visit my blog Believe and you’ll find a lot of posts about the business and all the mistakes I’ve personally made. Get on author loops and read and learn. Ask questions. Most of the professionals in those types of places remember what it was like to begin their careers and are willing to help a newbie. Don’t get discouraged. If you still can’t find answers to your dilemmas, Google it or check on YouTube. I can’t tell you how many times the answers were there waiting to be found.
Write down your dreams and then remember – if you want them badly enough, they WILL happen.
How can people find out more about you?
My contacts links:
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hv1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.[/author_info] [/author]