Writing & Inspiration

My Guest Today: Author and Donut Enthusiast Rachel Barnard



Today I have the honor and privilege of hosting my good author friend, Rachel Barnard, for a second time. She has asked me to post about her recently released YA novel, “Donuts in an Empty Field” as well as random tidbits about her.

Rachel also asked me to reveal my favorite donut, since she’s a donut aficionado.

My favorite donut: vanilla dip (a vanilla glazed donut coated with sprinkles)

Donuts in an Empty Field
Pitch: A young adult novel about two best friends, the local food challenge, and a mysterious bucket list. The more main character Vanessa fails the food challenge, the more she takes it out on the boy she blames for her father’s death because letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge. 

Short summary: Available June 3rd, 2016 (aka National Donut Day).

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge.

Vanessa hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s son from a burning building. Nessa blames the boy, but her best friend Nichole thinks it’s time to let go of the past. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge will bust her out of her shell. A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.

Full summary:

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge.

Vanessa Smith hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s wife and son from a burning building. Nessa has always blamed the boy, Ben, for her loss, and her thoughts are consumed with ways to make him as miserable as she is.

Nichole Adams knows Nessa can never heal until she learns to let go of her hatred, but bringing back her best friend is proving more difficult than she could’ve imagined. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge is just the thing to bust her out of her shell.

A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.

author info graphic

Simple Questions for Rachel:


  • Name of your car and what make, model it is: Kaito is a 1997 racing green colored Mazda Miata
  • When is your birthday: January 22nd
  • Nicknames: I don’t have a nickname, most people just call me Rachel
  • Favorite childhood toy: My stuffed teddy bear named Baba
  • Favorite pizza toppings: Sausage, Onion, and Pineapple
  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite drink: Panda from St. James
  • Favorite dessert: Straw-Bella donuts from Daddy’s Donuts
  • Favorite city: Kirkland
  • Favorite vacation spot: I don’t have one (yet)
  • Favorite activity (other than writing): Dancing
  • Favorite sports team: Seahawks
  • Favorite modern movie: Wedding Singer & Princess Bride
  • Favorite season: Fall
  • Favorite TV show: Dollhouse
  • Favorite food: Donuts
  • Favorite song: Crystal Castles
  • Favorite actor: Chloë Grace Moretz
  • Favorite ice cream flavor: chocolate and cheesecake mixed together
  • Favorite movie line: “INCONCEIVABLE” – Princess Bride
  • Favorite Halloween costume: Mugatu from Zoolander
  • Favorite Disney character: Dumbo
  • Morning or night person: Morning (but not too early)
  • Wine or beer: Wine
  • Tea or coffee: Tea
  • Go to Starbucks order: Tall child-temperature latte
  • Do you believe in love at first sight: No
  • What’s your hidden talent: I can spread my toes really wide and move my pinkie toe independently of the other toes
  • If we snuck a peek in your purse right now, what would we find: Nothing because I hardly ever use a purse
  • If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction? A dramedy
  • What’s the one thing, you can’t live without: Chapstick
  • As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up: A figure skater
  • As a child, what pet did you want to own: A pig
  • Most hated chore on the household chore list: Making the bed and folding the laundry
  • Can you fake any accents: Yes, to some degree a British, Indian, Southern, and New York accent
  • What would you do if you didn’t have to work: Read, write, dance, take classes to learn cool things (like cheese making), have coffee with friends, volunteer…
  • If you could have picked your own name, what would it be: Vanessa
  • You win a million dollars, but you have to give half to a charity. Which charity do you pick, and what do you do with the rest of the money: I would give the charity money to Puget Sound Goat Rescue. I would invest some of the other money and spend some of it on a house
  • What is something you have that is of sentimental value: My childhood teddy bear Baba
  • What was the first car you drove: A Silver Honda Civic Coupe
  • What one thing (modern convenience) could you not live without: Electricity
  • Do you like your handwriting? No
  • What will you do to celebrate your next birthday? Have a party and invite all my friends!
  • Play in the sand, or play in the water? Both
  • Pet peeves: People who don’t use their turn signal when switching lanes, drying off in a humid bathroom, and not being able to reach the fan cord
  • Country I’m most likely to visit next: Spain
  • If you could have an unlimited storage of one thing, what would it be? Food, duh!



Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , ,

What I Learned from Bestselling Author Mary Buckham


My RWA chapter hosted its annual conference a couple of weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio. Putting my school studies on hold for that weekend, I decided to make the trip up. It turns out that the conference was actually a day-long workshop, featuring author Mary Buckham.

Before attending the workshop, I’d had never heard of Mary Buckham. Call it ignorance, or just call it I’m still learning about writing world and everyone within it. I quickly learned that she is a USA Today bestselling author. She mainly writes high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories, resulting from her years of travel and curiosity about different cultures. She also writes books on how to get published, as well as crafting great stories – which was the focus of her presentation.

Mary touched on three important things during her presentation, which any writer could benefit from:

  1. Body Language – a great way to convey emotion without words, and all characters in a story should use this; so should writers when they want to convey emotion to the readers. Mary discussed the origins of body language and the different ways it can be used show emotions in a scene.

“As writers you can lead a reader into a deeper understanding of a scene, or a character, if you understand how you can, and cannot, use body signals to say what you mean.” – Mary Buckham.

2. Writing Active Hooks  – every story needs to have hooks. Something to draw the reader in. A situation that raises questions, which will make the reader keep turning the pages. Mary showed the audience different scenarios in which hooks can be generated, such as humor and overpowering emotion. Each of the categories featured specific examples from bestselling authors. The most important piece I learned from this is a hook must be present within the first three pages of a story, or else it will be rejected by an editor.

3. Character Development – we went much deeper into this since character development is so subjective. Mary had everyone work in groups where we had to list four adjectives that describe our characters. We exchanged our lists with other groups, where we then listed the opposite of list of character descriptions. Pretty clever idea, Mary! She wrapped up this part stating that characters need to be fully developed in order for readers to care about them.

After the workshop, I had dinner with Mary, as well as several attendees. We talked about my stories, and she offered suggestions on how to approach potential publishers. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mary Buckham, and benefited from her presentation. It was certainly worth the two-hour drive and sacrificing my weekend. I just only hope I will see her again at some point in the future. Click on the link above to visit her official website.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why I Don’t Write Full-Time


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on my blog, so I thought I would share this. Actually, I had intended to post this earlier, but well…that just didn’t happen. Anyway, I love writing. It gives me a rush, a reason for living, and a sense of contributing something special to the rest of the world. But as much as I love it, I would never quit my day job and pursue it full time. Sure I probably would have written and published four books by now, but the sacrifices I would’ve had to make aren’t worth it. I’m not dissing full-time writers out there. I have so many writing friends that do it, so I take my sombrero off to them. I’m just saying that it ain’t for me. And here’s why:

  1. I love my job – I’m a grad student and a part-time teacher. Soon I will be a college professor. I love what I do and the people I work with. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  2. Computer time – I simply can’t stare at a screen while I hit the keyboard for eight to nine hours a day, everyday. I need variety. I need to get out, get exercise, and enjoy this wonderful place we call Earth. After all, I won’t be here forever.
  3. Don’t want to give up everything else – I play soccer, volunteer, hike, ski, etc. If I became a full-time writer, I’d have to give up some, if not all of these precious things I love dearly. And that ain’t gonna happen consarn it!
  4. Relying on loyalties for income – Many writers make enough on these to live the same life they did when they were working full time. However, your income isn’t always certain. You can have good months and bad months in terms of sales, and sometimes you need some extra funds to offset those “cloudy days”. I just wouldn’t be comfortable having to deal with uncertain income. I had enough of that when I was a travel agent.
  5. I’m in no rush to become a bestseller – I may never even become one! But that’s OK. Even if it takes me another few years before I get my first book out there, I’m happy with the pace I’m following. It’s what works best for me, and I don’t want to change that.
Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.