The Unfaithful Widow: Fragmented Memoirs Of My First Year Alone, no subject is taboo. I like to think of my book as sharing a cup of tea with a girlfriend and letting it all out. All those things I never thought I’d do again.
What inspired you to write this book?
A bad book on being a widow that I read at a favorite book shop. It scared me and I was already in fear for my life. I was determined not to let grief rule me. I found that if I opened up to the universe and was kind to myself, laughed at the oddity of my new life, great things started to happen. I went online to the dating services too soon, but I didn’t have children, retired early from my job, and with the exception of my dogs I had no responsibilities or schedule. Bad dates led to good surprises. Rescue dogs were my new bed mates. It helped that my friends laughed with me, not at me, and said, “you must write a book.” Seemed like a great plan for my lonely nights. Then the thought that maybe someone who had suffered a loss might read my book and feel they too could smile again gave me the final push.
How did you publish this book?
I self-published using Outskirts Press, Print On Demand. As with everything that happened to me that first year, I got my sign to self publish in an odd moment. I was standing in line at the Post Office picking up a registered letter which contained plastic rhinestone dragonflies from Malaysia for a project I was doing and a young gal I know who is rather loud shouted across the line, “What’s new with you?” I shouted back, “Writing a book.” The lady in front of me spun around and told me she had written several books and there was a course at Emory University that week on publishing that I should check out. I went home, got online and registered. The author teaching the class introduced me to Print On Demand. Kismet.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
My mother wrote children’s stories and true confessions when I was a kid. She had/has a great flair for words. Maybe I got a little of that from her. Years and years ago I applied to write cards for Hallmark and was rejected (and may I say to this day I can’t find a decent card to say what I want), owned and published a hobby newsletter for thirteen years and wrote articles for newsletters and magazines to promote it. I started the newsletter in 1988 and sold it thirteen years later. I didn’t start writing again until the death of my husband two years ago. I found I was sending pitiful e-mails to friends at 2 AM crying. Then I’d pull myself together and send another e-mail with the subject line message “never mind”. I got some funny calls in the morning when they read my messages. I decided I needed to channel my emotions to a journal and give my friends a break. I started writing late at night and found I loved it. Now I have three blogs, and am on several women’s writing sites. I love essays and blogging is as close to essays as it gets for me.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Punctuation. I write like I talk and run everything together. It took eight round of edits to straighten that out. Almost straightened out.
How do you do research for your books?
Personal experience, not to sound flip. My subject found me, I didn’t plan on being a widow. This is my first book and it is written from my heart. I am writing another book about my life with dogs, so I got more dogs. They are my muses. I Google everything.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I learned that I loved to write. I also learned I am not a novelist, but an essayist. I had the first twenty pages of this book and of my new book critiqued by a NY Times Best Seller author through the writing club I joined. She set me straight on that. It felt good that I could put my writing in a category. I don’t have the patience to read long novels, but I love essays and journals. So it makes sense that is how I write. Now if I could just have someone define some of the other issues in my life.
Writing is harder work than I ever imagined even with a subject that flowed through me. Trying to tighten each essay/story to be sharp and concise was difficult. I started out just telling everything and then I replaced my telling with dialog. When I did that things started to get snappy and I was having fun.
What are you reading now?
I just pulled out an old book, Dreaming In The Dust, by Katherine Chrisman, copyright 1986 and am going to read it again. I belong to several online writing groups and one of the blogs I read tonight was a journal another member is keeping on renovating her 1800’s house. I remembered this book and wrote to her about it. It is about restoring an old house, a journal that reads more like fiction. I loved it back in 1986. I was very into the old houses in the inner city neighborhoods of Atlanta. I owned an old cottage in a questionable part of town that was undergoing change. I never renovated it, but I think that love of old houses helped me snag my husband who was a renovator and commercial realtor.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I love memoirs (not the Hollywood kind) and journals. I read all of May Sarton’s journals years ago. Her journals of solitude living in Maine enjoying small town life and nature. She also wrote on each decade of her later years. I found them lyrical and comforting. I was busy working and her life seemed so lovely.
A favorite fiction author is Mary Kaye Andrews. She lives close to my neighborhood and used to visit the antique shop where I had my booth. Her recent series of books about an antique picker in Savannah and surrounding areas are wonderful. She not only gives you a snappy mystery, but all her heroine’s antiquing adventures hit close to home. All my antique dealer friends love her books.
I buy vintage/Victorian garden books and have a large collection. I love the old illustrations and chromolithographs in the early books.
If a book has a dog on the cover most likely it will end up by my bedside table waiting for me. Not the most intellectual way to pick a book, but it never fails, I like the book.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My new book is introduced at the end of The Unfaithful Widow. It is called Covered In Fur and is my journal on living with six dogs. I adopted five rescue dogs in less than a year and have my old faithful German Shepherd who it very fragile. Trying dating with six dogs. The last man in my house ran out saying he had a headache. It should be fun and I am a sucker for dogs. I am working with animal rescue groups to help raise money with my book for their cause.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
I needed something to do and self-publishing became my best friend. The course I took at Emory enlightened me on how long it can take to get an agent and a publisher and I decided I didn’t want to go that route. I emotionally needed to keep plugging away at this myself. My book and learning every aspect of writing, publishing and now marketing it, has been the bridge from my old life to my new life. I am having fun with it.
I also wanted the book to be my vision and not have someone edit my story. I wanted it to be straight from my heart. I also had a look and layout I wanted for the book and self-publishing gave me that control.
My advice to anyone is “go for it”. If you think it, you can write it.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I started researching how to promote my book as I was writing it. I have joined several online writing groups. I started a blog “Confessions Of The Unfaithful Widow”, which humorously enough is more about dogs than widows. But it is the life of this widow. I have just hired a literary agent to help with fine tuning my marketing and am anxious to see what he comes up with. It is a way off, but I have a book launch with a silent auction for Animal Action Rescue on June 26th. I am working now to get my book out for reviews and am on this wonderful blog tour. I am thick in the midst of discovering what’s next.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Thanks for asking! My web is www.barbarabarth.net. If you go to the buy the book tab you can purchase directly from me if you want an autographed copy and there are links to Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble to buy from them.
My blog can be found at: http://theunfaithfulwidow.blogspot.com/ And for fun I have a garden/jewelry blog: http://barbsbotanicalgarden.blogspot.com/. I love giveaways and have one going on every month. I usually giveaway the botanical one-of-a kind jewelry I make that is on sale at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens.