Friday, February 1, 2013

Plotting a Road Trip: Here's to the Beginnings!

            Hi! I’m Kathleen Y’Barbo and I write historical and contemporary novels. I’m also a wife, mom, and, thanks to my recent marriage to my hero in combat boots, a grandmother. But that’s not all.
            I've had a love affair with long, aimless drives well before I found love with a man who shared that passion. Sliding behind the wheel, plugging in the iPod or adjusting Pandora radio, and then pointing the car toward an unknown destination has long been my idea of a grand day.
            If the weather's nice, the top is down and the sunglasses are on. Always, there is the requisite Diet Dr. Pepper or iced tea (aka the house wine of the South) in the poorly designed item that passes for a cup-holder in a Mini Cooper. It's all great fun, especially when our drive takes us down odd little country roads kicking up a dust trail in our path while I plan, plot, and generally look for things that I can--and generally do--use in my novels.
            Now I'm back at my desk doing another kind of wandering, this time on the page. A new book, a Southern historical romance with a dash of steampunk is brewing. This book has a tentative title, a publisher's signature on a contract, and is already a synopsis with at least one character who will see print in a previous novel before his story is told. It's all exciting stuff, this new beginning, though any writer who tells you he or she isn't at least a tiny bit terrified at not living up to any prior books...well, I digress.
            So, I'm thinking about this man with whom I will be spending the next few months (yes, my husband knows all about him), and I'm filling in the gaps left by the brevity of the synopsis and the few conversations he is allowed in the previous book in the series. Instead of the requisite character worksheets or plotting exercises that some authors swear by, what comes to mind as I plan his tale is an image I saw on a dirt road last week when my husband and I were on one of our aimless rambles, and I was certainly not looking for writing inspiration.
            A gloriously beautiful hawk perched on a low branch so near the road I could almost reach over and touch it. Its stare was jarring, the way it almost dared us to approach. And then, abruptly, the massive bird attempted to fly...and flopped to the ground with great indignity. My heart hurt for that hawk, so proud even as it was wounded. Nothing showed on the outside until it made a move.
            From that hawk comes the germ of an idea that will fill in some of the blanks in a certain New Orleans Pinkerton agent, circa 1887. His pride, oh, I know where that comes from. But his hidden wounds? Those are part of the journey, and right now I don't know the destination.
            Thus, I am on the road where? In this case the destination is to THE END, even though I am still plotting the beginning. Won't you join me? 
            And while you're waiting to see what I do with my hawk-turned-hero, won't you consider taking a peek at the story that set this whole idea in motion? Flora's Wish, the first book in my brand new series The Secret Lives of Will Tucker (Harvest House Publishers), releases today! 

Here's what Publishers Weekly said about Flora's Wish: 
            "Fans of post-Civil War stories set in the South will find much to enjoy in Y'Barbo's first in the Secret Lives of Will Tucker series. "Fatal Flora," called such because of the deaths of her four fiances, is eager to marry Will Tucker when she meets up with him in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Their initial meeting results in Flora Brimm of the Natchez Brimms in handcuffs and trying to explain to her proper and formidable grandmother what's going on. Flora and Lucas seem destined to work together on the case, with Lucas vowing Tucker is guilty and Flora saying he isn't. As they get to know each other, Lucas discovers Flora is more than a spoiled Southern belle and she discovers Lucas is more than just a stubborn Pinkerton. But will Flora marry Tucker to save her inheritance? Historical romance fans will adore this charming story."
About Kathleen Y’Barbo:
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of forty-five novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and a former member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at


  1. Thank you, Kathleen, for taking me along on your drive. Your voice is one I could waltz to, if I knew how.

  2. Kathleen, I've never read any of your books, but if they flow the way this post does, they must be very good. Congrats on your new release!

  3. I'll teach you Christina! Love to Waltz. Best dance ever invented. ;o) Kathleen, I had to giggle when you said your husband knows about this man. I'm with you on the sweet the tea! Too bad it has so many calories. I always waver do I get a diet drink or sweet tea? Neither are good for me so I go with taste and sweet tea wins every time.

  4. Oh, your hawk-hero drew me in immediately, Kathleen. I love the way you share your inspiration process. Few things as romantic as a drive through the countryside with our soul mate.

  5. Enjoyed this peek into your life, Kathleen. More than once, we've packed our bags for a week long trip, tossed the kids in the car, then got to the end of the driveway, look at each other and say, "Which way?" :)

  6. Enjoyed this post, Kathleen. My first thought when I saw that picture of you and B was, who is that masked man? :) I'm so glad you found a guy who loves road trips like you do.

  7. Thanks for sharing! I have been married to a military man (now retired) 22 years. We are truly blessed with our heroes. I look forward to reading your books :)

  8. I love to see the hawks in a tree top and then watch as he flys away...we have one near our home that we catch a glimpse of from time to the idea that you chose his strength to put into your hero. I will be looking for the book.
    I think I am going to like this new site.
    Paula O(

  9. Love the picture. My husband and I do the same thing! Just get in the car and drive.

  10. Hi Kathleen. What a fun peek into your life, and into how your writer's mind works. Thanks for sharing!.

  11. Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for taking us along on your journey. I love road trips too. And the hawk story ... ah, drew me right in. So excited to read more from you and all the writers on this blog.

  12. Love the look of the new book I do love that era and seeing the South rebuild. Not sure about diet dr pepper. tried normal dr pepper once and it was one time to many. Root beer I can almost drink but dr pepper tasted like nasty medicine to this Aussie.

    Love the new blog. Have subscribed to the blog.

  13. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. Poor hawk,though. Hopefully he healed up.

  14. Well love taking the journey with you! Your a very catching writer!

  15. I've been reading about Flora's Wish and am looking forward to actually reading the book. I enjoyed the other books I read that were written by you, so I expect to really like this one as well. It's interesting to read of your inspiration for your new hero.
    I have to agree with Jenny Blake about Dr. Pepper. When we lived in Texas a few years ago, I went with my son's class to the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. We were served Dr. Pepper ice cream floats. I thought it was a waste of good ice cream! I much prefer root beer floats. The museum was interesting, though.

  16. Loved coming along your road trip with you. Had to chuckle at your remark about the man with whom you'd be spending a few months. My hubby is aware of that with me too, but he doesn't seem too effected by it. And the road trips? Yep. We both love them. With or without the little munchkins. :) I'm all alone with the sweet tea though. He's an unsweetened tea guy. Blech!

  17. I really love your books. Thank you for being here as we are able to get to know you and your work more intimately. It is fun to know the why behind the books.
    Helen Morell-Bailey

  18. Good evening, Ms. Y'Barbo,

    Its been an exciting 24 hours for me, as I am newly discovering the awesomeness of this blog!! :) I even subscribed by RSS feed so that I will not miss anything come March + beyond! :) Laughs. I wanted to say thank you for your lovely husband for serving our country, as I always appreciate those who are dedicated to service! My family and I support the deployed through Soldiers' Angels, and its always such a joy whenever we are able to provide a smile to someone who is not expecting mail! Little smiles from the homefront! :)

    As I started to settle into your introduction, I came to a full-stop when I read "Southern historical fiction with a bit of Steampunk thrown in" -- leaping lizards! I cannot believe my luck! :) :) I have been on a serious quest for a few years to seek out steampunk that I can chew on without feeling like I've walked down the most disparing of desperation! :/ Soo much of Steampunk is oppressively dark and underlit in dreary storylines! I've found a few that are re-writing the genre to be more akin to what I think we all know it can be, and so, I cannot wait to read more about this emerging project!! I mean, how seriously wicked is this!?!

    I'm the retrotechnologic girl of my friends',... the one who dreams owning a retrofitted + restored 1930s noiseless/portable typewriter, as much as a workhorse of a machine from the 1940s + 1950s! I thrive on road trips, where like you've found yourself, the rambling along highways and biways not always readable on a map are generally the best places to be at, because you get a slice of Americana that can be best served as the underpinnings of character sketches! Hidden townes, best kept secret watering holes, and barely a stoplight hamlets,... oooh, yes, I know your passion for travel quite well indeed! :) I bet you put everything you observe right into your books, too! What a captive audience you must have! :)

    I see Cooper's + Red Tailed Hawks quite often where I live! One juv hawk landed quite industriously on the line {phone}, yet when the winds shifted and kicked up a bit of ineritia, I hate to tell you, but he dug deep into his talons to lay claim on the line, as the winds rustled up his wings and nearly unhooked him right off that wire!! He was beyond startled, but the winds died down, and he curiously looked below his tail feathers to find me staring up at him with both awe and caution! I didn't want him to fall, but my curious heart had to snap a picture of him once he righted himself!

    Its amazing what nature and wildlife can give us, when we least expect to find them! :) I love my walks observing the natural world and allowing my creative spirit to wash over me at the very same time! :) Kudos to you for doing the same!

    Ahh... the 'secret lives of'.... if that were ever the best way to hook a new reader!!! I look forward to your future posts! Cheers!!

  19. Enjoyed your post, Kathleen. We, too, enjoy a day trip without a planned route. We've photographed tombstones in small roadside cemeteries to post on Findagrave. We've found some incredible stones along the way.