Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Say Hello To Barb Han!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Barb writes emotionally gripping Women’s Fiction and Romantic Suspense. She speaks Spanish,and studies French and Mandarin. She loves sports and spends much of her time on or around a basketball court. In her down time she plays video games and loves reading with her children. 
She also has a passion for great cause. 
Let's get to know Barb! 
One of your passions is educating people about dyslexia. Tell us about that.

It's simple. Dyslexia affects my family. Texas Scottish Rite gave us a video, which had been produced by dyslexic children, in which kids talked about feeling stupid because they had a hard time learning to read. Some dyslexics never read. To compensate, they memorize the shapes of words. Imagine that.

The kids talked about the pain they felt at being treated differently by teachers and teased by peers. My junior high son, who is dyslexic, is extraordinarily bright. But, if you graded his intelligence based on his ability to spell, the picture would look different. He couldn't really read until fifth grade. He has an amazing support system through home, school, and friends. As a result, he's doing incredibly well. He's fortunate. Many kids don't have that kind of support. When I heard how many otherwise bright children were suffering poor self esteem and flunking out of school because of this condition, I knew I had to do something. Especially when I learned the kids who succeed, despite this condition, had one person believe in them. Think about that.

If people understand the condition, we can help so many kids reach their potential. Knowledge is a powerful thing.

I can't be that person for everyone, but if I can help turn on the light bulb for a few dozen or a few hundred people, then imagine how many children's lives would change.

I'm incredibly proud to say my son is in the process of creating a charity, The Dyslexia Fund, to help raise awareness and funds to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.   

    Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I write every day, seven days a week. I work as much as I can while my children are in school. After night time routine and showers, I've been known to squeeze in another hour or two. On weekends, I work throughout the day when I'm not attending horseback riding lessons, basketball games, or grocery shopping.

I always chuckle when people ask where I usually write. I write everywhere. In my office. On my laptop. At my local Starbucks (I know, it's cliché, but whatchagonnado?). While waiting for carpool to start. On bleachers during my kids' sporting events (Of course, I always stop to watch when they're up).

I practice my pitches everywhere too (including to my dog who I swear rolls his eyes and walks away when he's heard a pitch for the 30th time). I have to give a shout out to the very gracious mothers who've let me practice my pitch during our daughters' gymnastics classes too. As you can see, no one's safe around me.
   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

Normal life? Balance? (insert string of laughter)

Let's see, I have children ranging from college to elementary. We help care for my mother-in-law (who suffers from Alzheimer's).  Oh, and we're a dual career family. Guess you could say we're the meat in the sandwich generation.

I used to feel a lot of stress about being everywhere I needed to be and being everything to everyone. I had to give that up or I was going to go insane. Now, I've accepted the fact that these are the busy years.

Since my children are spread out in age, I know how much I miss the oldest who's in college, so I really take time to enjoy my junior high son and first grade daughter. I love being involved in their activities and volunteer as much as I reasonably can in their school.

Despite my sometimes crazy, hectic schedule, I always make time for the important stuff. I read with my kids. I play video games (great stress reliever!). I'm involved in their lives. We sneak away on as many fun vacations together as we can. We get outside. I play with them at the playground (it's a great way to exercise).  

I get everything done because I've paired my life down to the basics. Family first. Work second. Then everything else. 

I got rid of tasks that didn't support my goal to be a good wife and mother, or advance my career. I don't do housework anymore. I hire out.

I think it's important to talk to your spouse about your career goals. Mine knows exactly what I'm trying to accomplish. He's the biggest supporter of my dream and he's great about pitching in to make sure I have time to get everything done.

I have wonderful, understanding friends who know what I'm trying to accomplish, support me, and understand I may not check in every week. It could be as much as a month or more before we talk, but you can be sure I'll be there in a heartbeat if they need me. It's reciprocal.  

I say no (this is oh-so-tough because I really love to roll up my sleeves and volunteer). I'm getting better with practice.

This is a biggie: I don't bring my cell phone into my office. Interruptions are time killers.

I'm crazy about prioritizing. It really is the best way to cover what you need to in a day instead of letting the day get away from you. I make lists. I write down my daily work goals and check each one off as I accomplish it. I have a whiteboard downstairs in the main traffic area where I list kid activities for the week and a wall of white boards in my office where I post everything from daily goals to accomplishments to storyboards.

I like to work hard, have fun, and I don't take things too seriously. My description on Twitter is this: I write. I cook. Run carpool. And repeat.

   What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

I've learned so much from other successful writers who are gracious enough to share what they've learned. Candy Havens and Tracy Wolff are two of my all-time favorites. They've given so much great advice, I couldn't possibly list everything here. I'll settle for sharing a career-changing moment.

I'm a fast writer because I'm used to working on deadline (I was a journalist in a past life). Early in my career, everyone kept saying, "Slow down. It can take a year or two to write a story." I kept thinking I would die if I had to work that slowly. Then I heard Candy Havens speak at a DARA meeting. She was the first person who said, "Hurry up! And I'll show you how."

A career-defining moment.

She gave me revision tools that worked perfectly with my work style. I used her Revision Hell method on my WIP, submitted my entry to a publisher's contest, and wa-la was contacted by an editor (which began a two-year relationship where she taught me how to write romance).

I listen to Candy Havens speak every chance I get.

    What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

It's a marathon, not a sprint. Learn craft the way you would train—try to learn something new every day. Be dedicated.

Approach your work from the perspective that you've already "made" it. Work like you're the success you know you're going to be.

Keep it fun.  
  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

This idea came to me a few years ago. The premise is simple: How well do we really know the person we live with?

We like to think we know each other intimately, don't we?

But what if we didn't?

In my story, a woman's husband was killed outside of Central Park in what authorities have told her was an extreme mugging. After two years of mourning, she decides to rejoin the living and reclaim her life. She’ll sell the country house and move into their small place in the city.

But when Taylor cleans out her husband’s NY apartment–a place he kept to be close to his job in the Financial District–she finds a strange bank account. Investigating the rogue account kicks off a chain of events that put both she and her college-aged nephew in danger, and makes her question whether her husband’s death was an accident. But that’s not all, she unearths information that makes her unsure if any part of the life she shared with her husband was real.

Shaken to the core, she leans on her friend, Emma, and becomes friends with Alex’s neighbor, Ian. But Ian doesn’t have the same warm feelings for Emma. In fact, he seems downright suspicious of her. But Taylor thinks he’s pinned the wrong person. It’s Emma’s politically-aspiring husband, Richard, whom Taylor doesn’t trust.

Determined to find the truth, Taylor’s life hangs in the balance as she searches for answers.

   How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

My Web site:
I Tweet at @BarbHanAuthor

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Barb!  Your story sounds very intriguing! 

So, what else do you want to know about Barb?


Jessica R. Patch said...

Great to meet you, Barb!! Your story sounds fascinating.
Loved your advice on time management. :)

Barb Han said...

Hi Jessica! So nice to meet you too. When you're trying to get a lot done in a day, being efficient becomes a priority, doesn't it? We're all juggling so many things these days, but I love people who make great things happen anyway. I hope to be one of those people. Have a great day!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Dawn, thanks for having another interesting guest. And thank you, Barb for sharing you passion with us.

Great advice from a busy woman. Your wip sounds intriguing. Good luck on your journey.

Barb Han said...

Good morning, Jerrie. Thanks, I'm really loving digging behind the scenes of this relationship to find out what was really going on...oh, and I have to hurry before my heroine ends up dead! Take care.

Tonia Knight said...

Good morning Barb! The book sounds really interesting and I can't wait to read it!

Barb Han said...

Hi Tonia,

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope to have it out sometime next year. Take care.

Diana Layne said...

I've always admired your ability to juggle everything, and that you're learning to say no, it takes practice, doesn't it, lol. Good for your son and the dyslexic fund, how many suffer with no idea? All those kids the teachers and family labeled stupid, might not have been stupid at all...

Barb Han said...

Hi Diana. You're too kind! Some days the balls stay in the air, some days I trip over them, but I get better the more I keep at it. I know, there are so many brilliant minds that have been discounted or lost because they didn't fit into a neat box. We're always talking about thinking outside the box, but the people who truly do seem to confound us, don't they? That's why it's so important for us to learn about learning differences, so we can help everyone reach their potential. Every kid deserves that from us, don't you think? Take care.

Jeanna said...

My dear friend Barb!
I loved reading your blog. You inspire me to "do the things that really matter most" in my life. Your dedication to your family, work, and friends is amazing. I will always be there for you, whether at gymnastics, basketball or wherever. I'm lucky to have you as a true friend. And our girls are lucky to have each other too. I love that they were able to spend quality time together this past weekend. God Bless You and all that you do!

Emily said...

It was great to read about Barb! It's inspiring to hear about somebody who can successfully juggle a strong commitment to her family and a determination to create. Can't wait to read her stories - sound intriguing!

Barb Han said...

Hi Jeanna. Thanks so much for stopping by. You are so sweet! Our girls were so adorable together this past weekend at the party. I'm so blessed to have wonderful friends in my life like you! And, especially for our girls to share in their wonderful friendship. Another thanks for letting me pitch to you at gymnastics this past Spring! Have a wonderful day!

Barb Han said...

Hi Emily. Thank you so much for stopping by! I think women/mothers in general are so amazing for all we accomplish. No one said it was easy, but it's important. And incredibly rewarding on those rare days when we get it right. Have a great day!

Donna JR said...

Hi Barb,
I didn't know much about dyslexia. Its amazint that some kids can memorize shapes of letters.
Thank you for telling us you pay someone to clean your house. I greatly admire the way you prioritize your life.
Can't wait to find out more about Taylor!
Donnna in Oklahoma

Barb Han said...

Hi Donna in Oklahoma!

I'm so glad you're here. The more I learn about Dyslexic kids, the more I'm amazed at their talents and how they learn to compensate! I'm always in awe at how hard my son works, how organized he has to be. When he said he wanted to help other kids, I was all in (after I stopped sobbing like the proud mother I was). I always feel a twinge of guilt about spending money to have my house cleaned, but anything that gives me more time with my family is worth it. I hope Taylor's story find a good publishing home next year. Have a great day!

Rob's Blog said...

I can't wait to get my hands on your book! I'll keep watching your sites to see when it hits the shelves.

Barb Han said...

Hi Rob! Thanks so much and you're wonderful for checking my site! if you'd like, you can sign up for the newsletter and I'll send it out when I have my first release date. Just another option to think about. Take care.

Juanita Morris said...

So Barb, I'm curious as to what do you do to relax from your hectic schedule?

I'm so impressed with your priorities. You certainly are on the right track, and you’re teaching your son the right values as well.

I'm very excited about your work and your cause.

Your story is captivating, we just can't wait for your books to be published. I'll be the first one in line to buy it!!!

Barb Han said...

Hi Juanita! Relax? What's that? LOL. Seriously, I love taking hot baths. I play video games with my kids. I have a 91-pound fur ball, a spunky goldendoodle, that I love to take for walks. I have a 20-minute Yoga workout (mostly stretching and breathing) I do at home. On weekend nights, we all pile on the couch for movie night. Thanks for your comment about teaching my son the right really means a lot! I'm honored you'd stand in line to buy my first book! Take care and have a great day!

Mohammed said...

Hi Barb,
Thanks for sharing with us, I didn't know anything about Dyslexia, great info.


Sri said...

Hey Barb,

Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your daily discipline for accomplishing your goals is worth an applause. Lot of us(normal people) get really excited when starting a task, but usually lose the enthusiasm when life gets in our way. Thanks for showing by example, on how to prioritize your life, spend time for whats important(family), and also not losing the focus on your goals. Keep it up!!

Barb Han said...

Hi Mohammed! Thanks so much for stopping by. It's great to *meet* you. I'm so honored to have a chance to share a little bit about Dyslexia. Hope you have a wonderful day. Take care.

Barb Han said...

Hi Sri! Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement! Looking into the beautiful faces of our kids has a way of keeping us on track in life, doesn't it? Take care!

Regina Richards said...

Great post, Barb. I especially love the way you prioritize your life to enhance your success in the things that matter most. It inspires me to want to do the same. Thanks for sharing.

Barb Han said...

Hi Regina. You're definitely one of the people I look up to (love your blog)! I'm honored by your comment. Have a great night!

Marsha said...

Ditto, Barb. I'm just as impressed as the other commenters. I loved the idea of not having the phone in the room with you while you're working. Just during the time I've been reading this post, one of my daughters has texted and sent some pics of one of my grandchildren. I've stopped and responded each time. Now he's been sick, but I'd have done that anyway. I don't anwer the land line, but the cell is hard to ignore. I admire your determination and will power. I too, can't wait to read your book when it comes out.
As a retired princpal, I'm familiar with students who have reading problems. It's definitely a toughy for them. As it is for folks with ADD/ADHD. But despite those challenges, with help, all can succeed. Thanks for sharing. Marsha

Barb Han said...

Hi Marsha! Cell phones are a huge time zapper, aren't they? I have a secret code to reach me during the day only the school, my college son, and my husband know. Although, surprise pics of grand kids would be a lovely interruption! It's so nice to hear from someone with your experience on children with learning challenges, and that all can succeed with the right support. Environment is key, isn't it? Take care, and have a great night!

Cindy said...

Hi Barb,
I can't wait for your book to come out I am so excited to read it. And it is really great to meet you and hear your about how you manage a career and family. My brother also has a learning disability and he has had alot to over come. I am so glad there are ways that help now. (my brother is 40 now)

Barb Han said...

Hi Cindy. I'm so happy to meet you too! Our generation had it really tough, didn't we? We're so fortunate to have more resources now. Parents still have to be diligent, these things are so tricky, and the earlier issues are caught and addressed, the better results tend to be. Have a great evening!

Dawn Alexander said...

Wow, I have been away all day. Looks like y'all have been having plenty of fun without me.

It was a pleasure having Barb on the blog. She is a sweet person with more determination and energy than most people I know.

Thank you to everyone who came by to support her!

Barb Han said...

Thank you so much for having me here, Dawn! I've enjoyed getting to spend the day talking to everyone!

Mike Doran said...

Hey Barb,
Your current work in progress sounds great. Have you traveled up to the NJ/NY area to research your book?

Your no phone rule (and I would guess no email/chat) while working is great. I sometimes have to make my status unavailable to get my work done.

Barb Han said...

Hi Mike! I've been to New York—love it there. A graveyard in the Financial District found its way into my story. It's great when I get to use places I've visited in stories, and I hope it adds a little more realism.

I hear you! I totally have to unplug to focus!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great night!

Brandon said...

Hi Mom!

I loved the interview, and I think that the subsequent comments have been very interesting.

How many kids these days would openly admit that they look to the examples set forth by their own mother for inspiration and motivation? I am proud to say that you have always been a profound inspiration in my life- in both your work ethic and dedication to the family.

Barb Han said...

Love you, Brandon! BTW, you're not supposed to make me cry! I couldn't be more proud of you! Have a great day and good luck on your test tomorrow!

Julie said...

Love your outlook on life and you are truly an inspiration putting family first! You are a blessing in my life - Keep up the great work and soon we will all be reading the latest Barbara Han best selling novel!

Barb Han said...

Hi Julie! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words of encouragement. Wouldn't it be great if I had a Y/A best seller in me? Have a great day!

Latha said...

Hi Barb,

Enjoyed reading the blog all the way through:-), love the way you juggle so many things and find time for yourself as well.

Barb Han said...

Hi Latha! Taking care of ourselves is right up there with taking care of the family, isn't it? If mom goes down, the house doesn't work. smile. It's really important to eat right and exercise (plus it has the added bonus of giving us more energy). I could certainly be better, especially about exercising, but I make it a goal to do something good for my body every day. Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

Ray B said...

Barb - Excellent interview! Thru the years I've always enjoyed you and what you do so well. You make my Bro very happy, my God Kids couldn't dream up a better Mommy and I adore your writing style. I love you Bard Han and I appreciate what your dynamic brings to our family! As a staunch supporter I am extremely excited for you and the various well deserved opportunities that are coming your way. I look forward to your first release and the many more that are sure to follow.

Barb Han said...

Thanks, Ray! And thank you for stopping by. I know you've been out of town--welcome back! And congrats again on your engagement!

Clover Autrey said...

Sorry I'm late for this. As a mom of a dyslexic child I understand how it really does affect self-esteem. What your son is doing is wonderful.

Barb Han said...

Thanks, Clover! I'm really proud of him! I think it's good for them to be able to get comfortable enough to talk about their challenge (whether it be dyslexia, or any other stress in life).