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Interview with Kathleen Y'Barbo

All readers appreciate a good story told well. The greatest story Kathleen’s ever read is the good news about Jesus Christ. Some people avoid it thinking they won’t relate to the characters or that the plot is too complicated. Actually, God’s plan of salvation is simple and applies to everyone. Please welcome Kathleen Y’Barbo!

How did you see the Lord’s hand in your writing career? Open doors? Prayerful partners, etc.
I was blessed to have great critique partners early on, and I know they not only helped me to write better but they also prayed with me. Janice Thompson, Myra Johnson, Martha Rogers, and DiAnn Mills kept me writing and seeking publication, and I am forever in their debts. After writing eight 100,000-word novels, I sold my first book, a novella called Saving Grace from the anthology Yellow Roses, on a paragraph. God was all over that, as He has been ever since. Incidentally, that first book of mine has been included in a fabulous book just released by Barbour Publishing called Texas Brides, so it’s having a nice second life thirteen years later.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Making room for God in my writing day and my writing life has been the single most significant thing. Without His reminder that I serve Him first and foremost, it would have been so easy to go chasing things that were not meant for me to capture. He keeps me mindful that my road is not the same as the one others walk and thus comparison is not only fruitless, it can be deadly to creativity.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
When I was a young mom just starting out, the balancing act was so much harder. I had four children ranging from preschool to junior high and there wasn’t enough hours in the day to do it all. Now those four are grown and my challenge comes in knowing when to step back from my computer and spend time enjoying my husband and just relaxing. It’s so tempting to keep writing when the muse is striking but without the recharge that I get from spending time with those I love, I would burn out quickly

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. Though not every book I write carries a heavy thread of spiritual message, each one is written from the point of view of someone who knows none of us are anything without the Lord. Thus, my characters are living and interacting from a place of faith, or sometimes the lack thereof, and the results are consistent with what happens in real life.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
There are so many! Each of the seven time I have been nominated for a Carol Award, I am just beside myself. What an honor! Then there is the RITA nomination and the multiple Romantic Times Career Achievement Award nominations, Reader’s Choices and Top Picks to consider. I am just stunned when I look back and see all the blessings the Lord has allowed.

However, all of this pales in comparison to getting even one letter (and there have been more than that) from a reader who lets me know that something I wrote drew him or her closer to God. What an even bigger honor!

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
In the case of Millie’s Treasure, I wrote the hero, Kyle Russell, as a secondary character to the hero of Flora’s Wish, the first book in the Secret Lives of Will Tucker series. Kyle and his friend Lucas are both inventors, so it was great fun to create fabulous inventions for them as the stories rolled along. The idea came from memories of watching the old Wild, Wild West tv shows as a child. Once I got going, it was hard to quit with the fun gadgets.

For my first-ever book, Saving Grace (repackaged as Texas Brides, May 2013), I only had to look as far as my family tree. My great aunt’s well-documented history of the original Texas settlers in our family uncovered a tale of a young pregnant widow forced to scrape out a life in their home along the Brazos River after her husband dies unexpectedly in the 1850s. All I had to add to this tale was a handsome Texas Ranger with a bullet hole in his chest, and the romance took off.

In general, however, I have been writing stories since I was very young. Growing up the daughter of a refinery worker in a tiny Texas Gulf Coast town, reading was such a huge part of my life. Those early years of imagining gave birth to the writing I only dared to do when I was well past thirty.

As for where ideas come from? So many places! Sometimes it’s something someone says while other times it might be an interesting tidbit I find while researching something altogether different. I keep an ideas file handy and I’m always glad I do.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I’ve been told I write “smart fiction” although I’m not completely certain what that is. I do know that I am a stickler for historical accuracy, although I cannot claim to have a perfect record in that respect. I also mix in real historical figures and actual incidents into my stories, which may be a little different than most. My characters have strong goals and often butt heads with those who would oppose them. My editor told me recently that she liked my sassy spunk heroines.

Any parting words?
Yes! Go buy Millie’s Treasure and the first book in the series, Flora’s Wish! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

And as with all books you love, please let that author know by posting nice reviews wherever possible!

Thanks for sharing with us, Kathleen Y’Barbo!

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