Barbara Howell – Splinters: The Pain, The Passion, The Point

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book was published in March of 2009 and is entitled Splinters: The Pain, The Passion, The Point. It’s a memoir telling the story of being abandoned by my husband of thirty-five years and how I took “the bull by the horns” and become a success in a man’s profession: woodworking—despite suffering from a severe handicap—only having 30% of my total hearing.

Tell us something about yourself.

My personal background plays a big part in how I tackle life’s obstacles. I grew up in a small backwoods town in Tennessee. My dad, grandfather, and uncle were Tennessee whisky-makers and bootleggers. My mom and dad divorced when I was 5 years old (in the 40’s) and my dad and his brother wound up in the penitentiary. I was raised by a strict, but loving grandfather. I’ve known I had a story in me for a long time and have had a gift with words as long as I can remember. I was encouraged to pursue this dream by an English teacher in high school.

What inspired you to write this book?

While in college, my granddaughter “interned” with my business traveling for the summer. When she returned and turned in her reports on the summer adventures, one of her professors confirmed what I had already knew, “I needed to write a book”. After that my granddaughter kept prodding me until it was completed!

How did you choose the title?

The title was chosen by my daughter because it describe the contents of the book so well.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

The publishing side of things didn’t give me much trouble, but my biggest obstacle was taking the time off from my fulltime business to actually write. As a result, it took 4 years to get the book completed. After the writing was done, the rest of the process was downhill for me. You have heard the wordtiming. That describes Splinters. The encouragement and adventures and success is so timely in these so-called hard times. Barbara shows by example of hard work and keeping on, and her message of “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over!” hits home where a lot of people are at today.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

My first try at writing was plays. I’d write plays and our church would perform them and then we would travel to other churches performing. I also wrote editorials for my hometown newspapers.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Since my book is a non-fiction all my characters are real people. For most I use their real names.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Yes. That the promotion and marketing of the book is harder than the writing and publishing. I currently travel and speak to groups all over the South and that seems to be the best way to sell the book but there is a lot involved to the marketing side of things.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would start my professional writing career earlier in my life than I did.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Autobiographies, memoirs, and detective novels. I love books about other people that have overcame the odds. And of course, who doesn’t like a good mystery? Some of my favorite authors to read are John Grisham and Robert Schuller and anybody that tells their own story.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Yes. It is another true story / true crime based on a member of my husband’s family who was convicted of arson and murder. The story is ‘teased’ in my current book Splinters.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing? Learn patience. And then be patient. Sometimes it seems like absolutely nothing is happening and then it all comes in at once. Keep sending things out and you will eventually start hearing back from people in droves.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Really the perfect audience for my book is anyone who has walked the discouraging trail, the down-and-out, those who want to get back on top. The whole message of Splintersis ‘You can make it!’ and ‘It ain’t Over till it’s Over!’The book is about courage and ‘doing it afraid’, never giving up no matter what you might be facing. So again, anyone who feels like they are defeated, can be inspired by reading this book.