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Behind The Words

A journal by Barbara Wood

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Facing My Fears

by Barbara Wood last modified May 19, 2016 06:56

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I was told I needed to have an MRI. This was not joyous news as I am a dedicated claustrophobe and do not relish being squished in a dark coffin-like tube for nearly an hour with loud banging deafening me. I hemmed and hawed. I tried to find excuses. And then my kindly doctor who vaguely resembles George Clooney which is all the medical credentials I need, informed me of the new “open” MRI machines. They are designed for children and the claustrophobic. I was still wary, but the procedure had to be done.
On the front entrance of the imaging center, before you even open the door, there is a sign that says, “Please inform personnel if you are claustrophobic.” This did not encourage me. At the sign-in window, there is a sign that says, “Please let us know if you are claustrophobic.” My false courage started to leave me.
Being taken into the Inner Sanctum, I saw more signs about claustrophobia. Now I really started to feel the walls closing in. “Are you wearing any metal?” the technician asked me. “Do you have any metal inside your body? Any bullets or other shrapnel?” Shrapnel???? Hey, I look like a soccer mom. “Have you ever worked as a welder?” Welder????? “Do you have any foreign objects in your eyes?” Was this a joke? I started to look for the hidden TV camera.

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Research, Limousines and Wine!

by Barbara Wood last modified May 15, 2016 14:13

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I am often asked if I have other people do research for me, and I always say Not at all!  I love doing my own research, it’s half the fun of writing a novel.  At the moment, my research is especially fun as my newest book (“The Far River”) is about wine making in California – specifically Spanish and Germans wines (Tempranilla, Garnacha, Cava, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir).  Naturally, this requires a thorough understanding and knowledge of wines, and as it just so happens I live very close to Southern California’s wine growing region, I am obligated to pay visits to the lovely wineries in Temecula and Escondido.  (It’s hard work but someone has to do it!)  Fortunately, there are these wonderful services offered by local companies where you can hire a limousine and a sober driver and be taken from winery to winery and you can enjoy all the tasting you want and have a nice snooze on the way home.
     I’m thinking of writing my next book about a cheesecake restaurant.

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Happy Mother's Day!

by Barbara Wood last modified May 08, 2016 05:45

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Happy Mother's Day

to Moms around the World!







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Palm Springs - an Inspiration

by Barbara Wood last modified May 03, 2016 10:24

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Palm Springs is called Hollywood’s Playground because many celebrities and movie people have vacation homes there. Palm Springs is also known for its golf courses – in fact, I’ve been told that the Palm Springs area has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world. But there is more to the desert resort than golf and tennis and swimming pools. As I got into the research before starting to write “Land of the Afternoon Sun,” I was astounded at the rich history I uncovered in this delightful “playground” just fifty miles from where I live.

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Afternoon Sun

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 27, 2016 12:23

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A book’s title is very important and can even be crucial to its success or lack thereof. I wonder, for instance, if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby,” would have achieved as much success if the author had stayed with his original title, “Trimalchio of West Egg.” Or how about Margaret Mitchell’s original title for “Gone With the Wind” – “Pansy.”
As I was writing my newest novel, “Land of the Afternoon Sun,” (coming out in July) I went through a series of titles, none of which grabbed me. And then I read a poem by Lord Tennyson, called “The Lotos-eaters” in which he says, “In the afternoon they came unto a land in which it seemed always afternoon.” And it struck me as perfect for my book, as the story takes place in Palm Springs, a desert resort community in Southern California where, yes, it does seem like it is always afternoon.

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Sometimes, They've Got To Go

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 20, 2016 10:33

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A Facebook friend sent me this charming image.  I replied, "so true, so true".

 I've had to kill off many characters in my books - some deserved it, others did not.  And readers have not been shy to let me know their anger, or confusion, or hurt when I've killed off a favorite character.  To those readers, I'm so sorry!  However, it had to be done to move the plot along.  I should add, that the decisions were not easy ones and I shed many tears as I wrote their death scenes. 


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Through The Cracks

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 03, 2016 06:35

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I heard a phrase on the radio this morning, "Pain is part of healing". The article was about doctors over prescribing opioids & the effects on their patients. Well I listened further and then drifted to my own thoughts (as I often do). I thought about my characters that I'm currently writing about & previous characters - mainly the female protagonists, and yes, they are all overcoming something - and often it's something very painful in their past. This pain though, propels them forward on a quest, mission or adventure and by the time the story is over, there is healing for my characters. (Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way in my stories).

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Spring Is In The Air

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 26, 2016 19:27

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Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Spring.

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The Time Is Now

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 14, 2016 08:26

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This is advice I give to myself ALL THE TIME!!




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I Hope You Find Your Perfect Book Today

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 03, 2016 08:11

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In Memory

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 23, 2016 15:39

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"Words to live by:

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." - Harper Lee, (from To Kill A Mockingbird).




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Bold New Barbie

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 07, 2016 11:59

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If you've read my bio on my website or attended one of my book events, you may know that I began story telling at a very young age. Before I could read and write, I made up stories and told them out loud to a captive audience of dolls and bears. My Mom watched quietly out of sight, so as not to disturb me, and told me later that I would arrange my audience in neat rows, and launch into a fantastic tale.

One member of my audience was a Barbie doll. I liked her then and liked her enough when I was much older to begin collecting Barbies. Barbie was magical. I put her in the realm of "fantasy doll". I did not see her as a representation of what a women was or could be or needed to be. For me, Barbie was a doll. Something to play with and have an adventure with (along with all my other dolls and teddy bears).

It recently read about Mattel's bold new move to introduce a selection of Babies with different body types, skin tones, eye colors and hairstyles. Maybe it's a good thing that more realistic body types are now available. I think having a choice is refreshing. I believe though that girls will always be attracted to the "over the top" fantasy Barbie - the doll who's just out of our reach. The doll who sits serenely in all her glory and listens ever so intently to a young girl's story.

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You Are You!

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 31, 2016 09:46

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Find Your Mountain!

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 25, 2016 05:47

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"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So .... get on your way!" -- Dr. Seuss




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National Popcorn Day

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 19, 2016 07:27

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Today is National Popcorn Day. Pick up a book that engrosses you and makes you smile, (maybe one of mine).  Curl up with it and a bucket of popcorn. If you have a hankering for something other than butter, try these toppings: cinnamon, chocolate chip, pumpkin spice, cilantro/lime, garlic & olive oil, curry powder & coconut oil. ENJOY!!

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Encouraging Words

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 12, 2016 09:22

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Those of you who made hew year's resolutions, I hope it's going well. The new year is always a good time to take stock and set goals. Here are a few quotes from famous authors that I find encouraging: 

“Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil - but there is no way around them.”  ~Isaac Asimov

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”  ~Robert Benchley

“Being a writer can be an unhealthy profession - no regular hours and so many temptations!”  ~Barbara Wood

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”  ~Ray Bradbury

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly.” ~C. J. Cherryh

“A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.” ~Marguerite Yourcenar

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When The End Can Be The Beginning

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 04, 2016 06:45

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I read an article recently where archaeologists in England made a fascinating discovery in the chapel of St. Morell in Leicestershire.  They discovered a 700 year old pair of skeletons- a man and a woman holding hands.  My writer's brain leapt into action, wanting to know what this couple's story was.  How did they end up together in this chapel? Did they really die hand in hand, or were they posed like this?  How old were they were?  Where did they come from?  Were they on a pilgrimage? What were their names, their professions?  If I had spent more time on this, I probably could have fleshed out an outline for a novel.  Their ending prompted me to think of their beginning, just like I have done in some of my novels.  In Virgins of Paradise, I wrote the final paragraph first and worked toward it.  That final paragraph never changed.   Starting at the end can provide an intriguing beginning.

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Happy New Year!

by Barbara Wood last modified Dec 31, 2015 06:21

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Happy New Year. I hope that in 2016 all your dreams come true!




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I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas

by Barbara Wood last modified Dec 23, 2015 12:58

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One of my morning rituals is to check the weather channel. During the Winter I want to know how rainy or cold it's going to be so that I can dig out my sweaters from the back of my closet and rummage around for an umbrella (that barely gets any use) . El NiƱo promises to be strong this winter, bringing with it lashing of rain to Southern California, although I hear, not enough to make up for the years of drought.

And during the Summer (which seems is year round here), I want to know exactly how hot is it going to be. There is a difference in how I react to say 99 degrees and 105 degrees and I need to be prepared! Experiencing our Summer heat has been particularly helpful in writing scenes that take place in sweltering jungles (Woman of a thousand secrets) or desert like climates (Virgins of Paradise). Wintry landscapes and snow storms I would really have to imagine in order to create those scenes, or perhaps I could take in a few great movies for inspiration (Fargo, Frozen River).

I watched White Christmas last night while I wrapped gifts. The snow was white and glistening, and the jewel tone outfits seemed to burst through the screen. I actually felt a little chilly watching it, so I grabbed one of my sweaters that rarely sees the light of day. I dreamed of living on the East Coast or the Bavarian Alps with a cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine, watching the snow fall in huge flakes while I sat beside a toasty fire. The dream soon faded though, as I have no idea how to shovel snow!

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Emma and Liam

by Barbara Wood last modified Dec 16, 2015 09:34

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The most popular baby names in the USA for 2015 are Liam and Emma. I sympathize with expectant parents about what to call their precious bundles. Whether I'm writing a story in medieval times, the 1800's, or current day, choosing names for my characters is a huge undertaking. First, I must consider the character’s age, then race, then place of birth. Sometimes, just introducing the character by name fills in a lot of details for the reader. A woman named Bunny conjures up a different image from a woman named Gertrude. When your heroine walks on the stage, and you say her name is LaTisha, you can bet your reader won’t picture a blue-eyed blonde. Likewise, Sean O’Leary won’t make you think of Latin lovers.

Margaret Mitchell’s original name for Scarlett was Pansy. Her editor suggested the change. And Rhett: imagine if Mitchell had named him Barney!

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Perfect View


Parking Woes


Christmas In July

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Jul 18, 2017

Audio: The Serpent & the Staff

Jun 13, 2017

Terres D'esperance

May 19, 2017

The Blessing Stone

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Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Wood. All rights reserved.