Posts Tagged With: books

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: , , , , ,

Put Your Characters in Tough Situations

Creating challenges for characters requires in-depth knowledge about them. You need to know their flaws and deepest fears. The challenges cannot be obvious in the way that the reader will automatically know how they are to be resolved. The mountain needs to appear so high, that ascending to the top is impossible. What is the worst thing that could happen to your character? What or who stands in their way? Here are some things you could have happen to your character.

  1. Give them a back story. Have your character come into the story with a story to tell. In other words, they could have experienced something traumatic before the beginning of the story and now it follows them throughout. Your readers will be instantly engaged with your characters. In one of my stories, my main character lost his best friend in a car accident and now he has to get over it.
  2. A dark secret. Your characters could have a secret that they don’t want anyone else to know in the story. How long can they keep it? Make it harder for characters to keep others from knowing about their ‘dark sides’. Your readers will be eager to see what happens when the secret gets out.
  3. Decisions, decisions. Your character could be faced with a tough decision – one that will bring about consequences no matter what choice they make. People can relate to this because they’ve been faced with ‘forks-in-the-road’ at some point in life. Your reader will want to know what happens next. In one of my novels, my hero is faced with someone from his past that wants him dead, and threatens the woman he loves. Will he risk everything he’s worked for, or simply ignore him.
  4. Put them in a bad spot. A situation that seems impossible to escape. How will they get out? Can they get out? These ‘hook’ your readers and therefore won’t be able to put that book down until your characters are safe. In my novella, my characters are trapped in a room where the entire floor turns red-hot. How will they escape? Think of a similar situation for your characters and see what happens.


You want your books to be so engaging that your reader literally won’t be able to put them down. Every character has a dilemma to face. You see it all the time in movies, TV dramas, etc. What will your character go through? Only you will know what that is and how they’ll get out of it.

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

Author Interference

As writers, there are many things we must be aware of in order to write that wonderful story. One of those things, which is often overlooked, is author interference. But what it A.I. anyway? Essentially, it happens when the author narrates the story as if he or she is actually in it. While this is OK if the point of view is first-person, it is not so if it is third-person. In a bigger picture, an example of author interference would be the following:

“You lied to me, Larry!” Lorraine bellowed. “There’s nothing you can say to make things right!”

“Lorraine, if you’ll just let me-“

“Enough! I’m done with you!”

Lorraine turned her back and stormed out of the room. Poor Larry. If only he hadn’t kept secrets from her, they would still be together.

See the A.I.? A reader would ask, “Who said that?” Authors like the one in the example believe that they are strengthening the effect of the narration, when they are doing the opposite. It takes the reader out of the story, leaving him or her confused. The result: your book ends up back on the shelf only to collect dust.

One might think this doesn’t often happen, but it does. I’m currently reading a book, whose name shall remain anonymous, that has an interesting story line and engaging dialogue. Sadly, it is in third-person and the author narrates it similar to the above example. As I read, I constantly grind my teeth and say aloud, “Who said that? Get out of your damn story!” The irony of this is that I’m still reading it and almost finished. I like to finish things I start. Still, the narration tripped up an interesting story with believable characters, leaving me with a bad impression of the author.

When we write in the third person, we have to be extra careful how we narrate the story. While we know what are characters are experiencing, we cannot interfere with their actions. We are like Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and the Future. We can see and hear our characters, but they can’t see nor hear us. We can tell them what they should/shouldn’t do, but it won’t matter because THEY CAN”T HEAR US!

How can we avoid author interference? I suggest the following, which I have learned over the years:

  • let the characters tell the story. In the above example, Larry could say aloud, “Why didn’t I tell her?” We know perfectly well who said that.
  • know where the line is drawn in terms of narration. You are telling the reader what’s going on, but you can’t interfere with the characters’ actions.
  • if you want to inform the reader about the consequence of a character’s action, consider the above example with Larry: Larry pounded the wall with his fist and clenched his jaw, wishing he hadn’t lied to her. Character actions such as this emphasize their regrets, while keeping the author at bay.
  • if you absolutely want to be a part of the story, consider writing it in first-person. After all, some stories can only be told in first-person.

So hopefully this gives you an idea of author interference and how to avoid it. Luckily, I’ve learned this the easy way. We work so hard to create great stories with diverse characters, so it would be a shame to see all that go to waste because of author interference. We create the characters and stories, so let them tell the story; let them get into trouble and make mistakes. They will dig their way out the hole they’ve created.

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

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