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Behind The Words

A journal by Barbara Wood

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Pumpkin Spice Everything :)

by Barbara Wood last modified Oct 24, 2018 06:44

Well, it's Fall, but it doesn't quite feel Fall enough for me. Going to hit 90 degrees today! Some kind of Fall. Looking forward to roasting pumpkin seeds, the sounds of trick or treat at my door, pumpkin spiced coffee and the changing of the leaves. Happy Fall everyone.

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Benefits Of Research

by Barbara Wood last modified Oct 08, 2018 06:39

(image of cartoon woman with head open

One of the most pleasant phases of writing a novel (for me at least) is doing the research.  For instance, I never write about a place I haven’t visited.  Therefore it has been my joy to have traveled the world and explored places like Egypt, East Africa, Australia. 

Although my latest novel, “The Far River,’ takes place right here in my own California and does not offer exotic travel, nonetheless the book had its research rewards.  The story is about three generations of two families who came to California from Germany to establish a winery.  So naturally, before
I could write about a winery, I had to visit one – several of them, in fact.  I need to give the book that authentic flavor, don’t I?  And of course, visiting wineries one must always sample the products (we have many wineries in California and tour companies that provide buses or limousines that allow visitors to go from one winery to the next without worrying about driving – aaaahhhh, beautiful).

In fact, I so thoroughly enjoyed my research into wineries and
wines, that I am now looking to my next novel and the extensive research
it will require.  My thoughts are running along the lines of a
manufacturer of fine chocolates.  What do you think?

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Treasure Hunting

by Barbara Wood last modified Sep 20, 2018 07:42

A friend of mine enjoys going to estate sales in and around her neighborhood. She works at a school and often times finds interesting and useful items for her classroom, as well as books. Books seem to be a typical find at these kinds of sales. Books of all kinds and she tells me that you really get an insight into the owners of the home by the books that once graced their bookshelves.

Yesterday was such a trip for my friend. She found an assortment of nick nacks for her classroom plus enough books to fill a large box. Books ranging from American history to science and classic novels.

The last half-an-hour of the estate sale it was announced that you could fill a long plastic bag for $5 a bag. So, my friend added a few more items, some Christmas paraphernalia, and 3 ring binders that were in abundance in this particular home – the owner had been an engineer and there was binder after binder filled with technical papers.

As she was telling me her tale I thought to myself, “at the end of the day, the stuff of life comes down to $5 a bag”. Very sobering. Things you’ve bought, things you’ve displayed in your home, things in unopened packets are worth just a few cents.

As my friend perused the enormous amount of books that were for sale, she saw something familiar lying on top of a pile: Domina by yours truly! A first edition no less. My friend couldn’t leave it behind baking in the sun, so she bought it. I must say, the owner had good taste!

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What Happended To Her Shoes?

by Barbara Wood last modified Sep 03, 2018 09:38

(image of cartoon woman with head open


I really like this painting by Vladimir Volegov. The woman looks so serene - head buried in a book, letting the world pass her by. Her shoes are off - she's care-free. I am imagining that there is a gentle breeze that lifts the tendrils of her hair and that the sun feels warm, but not hot, on her back. Ahhhh . . . such a lovely place to read a book.

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Cats Are Best!

by Barbara Wood last modified Aug 20, 2018 12:21

(image of pink birthday cake with feathers on top

I am a dog lover. No doubt about it. Big dogs especially. German shepherds, Rottweilers, Huskies. Big guys.

However, I am also a cat lover. Dogs are fun and smart and inter-active and pretty much read-able. Cats on the other hand are mysterious and independent. And no, you have no idea what they are thinking. I have had dogs all my life, I have also had cats. The cats have always ruled the dogs. I once had a 120lb Akita named Mongo who was totally intimidated by a seven pound cat. He literally quivered in Pyewacket’s presence.

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Das Goldene Tal

by Barbara Wood last modified Aug 08, 2018 11:46

(image of pen and paper)

Hello Readers in Germany,

I'm happy to let you know that my next book will be available in September 2018!

Die Schaller-Weingüter sind legendär im Weinland Kalifornien. Aber jetzt steht Nicole, Urenkelin der Gründer, finanziell unter Druck. Als dann noch in einem Weinkeller ein Skelett entdeckt wird, droht sie alles zu verlieren. Sie macht sich auf Spurensuche in die Vergangenheit...
Ein Jahrhundert zuvor: 1912 bauen die Schallers, Winzer aus Deutschland, ihr neues Leben in Kalifornien auf. Schnell sind die Brüder Wilhelm und Johann erfolgreich. Doch als klar wird, dass Wilhelms junge Frau Clara eigentlich Johann liebt, entzweien sich die Brüder in tödlichem Hass. Der Riss, der durch die Familie geht, wird das Schicksal dreier Generationen bestimmen.
Ein mitreißender Roman über einen schicksalhaften Familienzwist und die Liebe, die Versöhnung bringt.

You can order it here.


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New Discoveries for Inspiration

by Barbara Wood last modified Aug 07, 2018 16:11

(image of pen and paper)

I've had fun creating characters from another time and place: Post WW II, Cairo Egypt, "Virgins of Paradise". Two thousand years ago to the land of the Anasazi Indians of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico with "Daughter of the Sun," and in "The Blessing Stone", I travelled all the way back to the beginninng of time! So it was with particular interest that I read that new discoveries have been made about Stonehenge. Archaeologists have made new discoveries about the orgins of the 25 cremated remains that were unearthered there. At least 10 of the humans weren't from the monument site. Possibly 140 miles away. Facts like this can get the writer's mind racing. Where were they from? Why were they making the trip to Stonehenge? What was the journey like? It would make a great story!

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Yes, Authors Read Too

by Barbara Wood last modified Aug 07, 2018 14:15

(image of pen and paper)

I saw this image and I thought of all the fun times I've had while participating in book events such as depicted in this drawing and book events. If you've ever showed up to any of my events, I truly appreciated it!

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Author's Inspiration

by Barbara Wood last modified Jul 17, 2018 11:32

A friend of mine is visiting Whitby, England. Her first trip. I have never been to Whitby either.

Apparently it's a beautiful coastal village in eastern England. The photos that I've seen show an absolutely beautiful town with cliffs, a fishing harbor, hilly roads with houses nestled in between. Oh, and the ruins of a 1000 year old Abbey to boot. Pretty much typical fare for England.

What I found particularly intriguing about this cozy little seaside village is that the Abbey is mentioned in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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Writing Humor

by Barbara Wood last modified Jul 13, 2018 06:44

(image two women laughing

I tried writing humor once but my agent wrote back, “Is this supposed to be funny?” Most humor doesn't travel well. By that I mean that something that’s funny in one place might fall flat in another. And a story that is funny when told orally, can be a bomb when written on a page (you don’t get the benefit of pauses, vocal inflections, gestures). Therefore I take my hat off to those who are successful in writing humor! Here are a few I admire:

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Summer Prose

by Barbara Wood last modified Jul 03, 2018 01:25

(image of chair

Here's a lovely quote I found,

Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.

I hope you're enjoying yours :)

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Summer Reading

by Barbara Wood last modified Jun 19, 2018 11:12

(image of cartoon woman with head open

Summer's almost here.

Do you have your Summer reading list ready?

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A Brand New Day

by Barbara Wood last modified Jun 09, 2018 06:30

(image of cartoon woman with head open

When I was a teenager I watched a movie on TV starring the great Barbara Stanwyck.  In one scene it’s morning and she’s waking up her children. She walks to the window and throws open the curtains to let the sunlight in.  And she declares, “It’s a brand new day that’s never been used!”

That phrase has stuck with me ever since – the concept that each new day is a clean slate, a chance to start over.  Forget what you did yesterday, whatever blunders or mistakes you made or the laziness that got into you (as it gets into us all!).  And tomorrow is no guarantee. So we have today, a chance to write that story that’s been rolling around in your head, or to begin that book you’ve been itching to write, or to drag out that manuscript that somehow got becalmed around page 200, and dust it off and look at it with fresh eyes.

The world and all its choices and possibilities awaits, because today is a brand new day that’s never been used

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Too Much Information!

by Barbara Wood last modified May 31, 2018 08:31

(image of cartoon woman with head open

I am often asked if I have a Twitter account.  I think I do.  At least, I recall signing up for it because my publisher recommended it.  But I don't use the darned thing.

You see, I have a mailbox out on my sidewalk where bills and catalogues are delivered.  I have a land line telephone that rings and stores messages on a machine.  I have a cell phone that chimes when I get voice mail and texts.  I have email that bings every time a message drops in. I have a website that I visit regularly to chat and retrieve messages. I have a Facebook page that I visit regularly to chat and retrieve messages.

But I draw the line at Twitter and Tweet.  I worry that if I open one more line of communication my brain will explode.  Plus, I am after all, in the business of writing novels.  How can I get anything written if I am at constant beck and call?

I am still being dragged into the twenty-first century, kicking and screaming.


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Vital Signs and #metoo

by Barbara Wood last modified May 20, 2018 10:23

My novel about women doctors, “Vital Signs,” is being reissued in several countries, thirty years after its initial publication.  I am told that it has to do with the current international Me Too Movement, as the book’s content is as timely today as it was three decades ago.

The inspiration for “Vital Signs” sprang from my experiences, in the early 1970’s, as an operating room nurse.  I witnessed first-hand the steep challenges and blind prejudice women had to face and overcome in order to enter the all-male world of medicine.  “Settle for being a nurse,” the men would say.  Further, once in that world, women doctors found themselves shunned and criticized by their male counterparts, and in fact did not receive their full due from the women nurses either.

Great strides and sweeping changes have been made since then – bravo to those gutsy women who stood their ground.  However, thirty-five years later, we still have a ways to go yet.  A close friend of mine is an Emergency Room physician, and she tells me that even in this day and age she still sometimes goes into the cubicle and introduces herself, and the patient (usually an older man) will say, “Are you a real doctor?”


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Happy Mother's Day

by Barbara Wood last modified May 13, 2018 05:53

To all the amazing Moms out there!

Enjoy your day :)

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Just Write

by Barbara Wood last modified May 09, 2018 08:12

(image of pen and paper)

One of my favorite writers, Maeve Binchy, gave us this advice:  “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”
     Brilliant, yet simple, advice.
     Many writers, myself included, get stuck on a paragraph, a character, a scene.  It’s not exactly writer’s block, it’s just that we’re trying to perfect something.  So we work on that scene, that character description, that bit of dialogue.  Because it has to be perfect, right?  So we work on it for days or weeks.  And the book never gets written.
     We are all guilty of it.
     I do it.  I have a bit of description.  I want to make I perfect. So I work at it, for hours, possibly days.  And I have lost sight of the goal.  Ernest Hemingway did it, so did John Steinbeck (I would bet even Shakespeare did it).  To make that scene, that piece of description just right.  Going to make it perfect but the story, the novel, the play never ends up getting finished.
     But what does that kind of behavior do?  It keeps us from writing the story or book that we are aiming to write.  It holds us back!  Okay, you’re writing … but are you really writing?
      What Maeve says is, “Just write it.”  Because you can always go back to it and polish it.  The point is to just write.  That’s all. Don’t fuss and dither.  Don’t go to dictionaries.  Don’t agonize over sentences or adjectives.  Just write it
     That’s how books and stories get written.


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What's Up?

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 29, 2018 20:54

When writing about a specific locale – whether a city or a country – it is wise to do your homework and make sure your characters engage in dialogue that suits the area.  Local jargon, slang and idioms, for sure, (Texans say, “Boy howdy,” New Yorkers do not) but also topics of conversations.  For example, if your characters live in Southern California they must always bring up two subjects first: traffic, and the smog.  Oh, you can touch upon minor incidentals such as brush fires or mudslides or the heat or the rising/falling costs of houses, or “Did you feel that earthquake last night?”  But at any gathering or just meeting a friend for lunch, everyone has to comment first on his or her experience on the roads getting to the party or restaurant or whatever, and then they have to weigh in on the day’s air quality.  Continue . . .

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A Chance Meeting

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 23, 2018 06:48

Last night my husband and I were at our favorite restaurant, and we met an interesting man. My husband met him first. I got a place at the bar where we usually have dinner, and began chatting with some of the regulars. I saw my husband being friendly with some people in a booth. Soon, he came hurrying over to me and said there was a man he wanted me to meet. I went over and was introduced to "John." He was a tall, attractive man with a vibrant personality. He was having dinner with his family and telling interesting stories. Soon, others were stopping by the table to meet John. Other friends of ours came over until there was a crowd there, listening to John's stories, laughing with him and his family. Next thing we know, we're all having our pictures taken with John. After a while, the crowd dispersed to tables and the bar, but not without hugging John first and saying it was great meeting him. Back at the bar we were all talking about this remarkable man who drank red wine and golfed every day. His uniqueness? John is 104 years old. It was an amazing and not-to-be forgotten moment. I think that was why we were all drawn to him, everyone wanting to shake John’s hand, and having our pictures taken with him as though he were a famous celebrity. All these strangers patting him on the back and congratulating him, and he positively soaked it up! I guess we wanted his magic to rub off on us, we wanted him to sprinkle some of his lucky fairy dust on us. We all went back to the bar saying to one another, "Imagine, living that long and still enjoying health and life." I guess you could say John gave us all hope.

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The Far River

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 15, 2018 16:10

I enjoyed writing my newest book, “The Far River,” (my 30th, actually) as it was about German immigrants, the Schallers, coming to California to make a new life for themselves, and the challenges and trials they had to overcome.  I could relate to that experience because I was an immigrant to California myself and found many strange new things I had to adjust to.  One of the biggest challenges was the language. Ironically, we came from England, but Americans couldn’t understand us! Oh, they had heard English before, in movies, but it was the posh kind that James Bond speaks.  My family came from northern England (Liverpool-Manchester) which is a whole different form of English altogether!  This was before the invasion of the Beatles (after that, Americans considered a north-country accent as cool).  But before then, Americans didn’t know what to make of us.  My brother and I especially, as we were in grade school and all the kids made fun of us.  We worked hard to sound like Roy Rogers.  But it baffled us – Americans actually pronounce their “R’s” and say their “T’s” like “D’s.”  And none of the kids had any idea what a “jam buttie” was or a “dripping sandwich.”
     And don’t even get me started on the difference between “Zed” and “Zee.”

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Soup Anyone?


Happy Father's Day


School's Out!

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Aug 08, 2018

New Book in Germany: Das Goldene Tal

May 12, 2018

Hippokratova přísaha

Nov 27, 2017

My Next Book - The Far River

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Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Wood. All rights reserved.