Meet the Lady in Red – Barbara Barrett

Mentors

In my debut novel, The Sleepover Clause, my heroine, Aubrey Carpenter, figures out early on that the hero, Mitch McKenna, dislikes his job helping his two brothers customize luxury motor coaches. He’d much rather be practicing law, which was the career path he was following until health and job difficulties prompted his brothers to set up their new business. Mitch put aside his own aspirations in order to help them succeed in their venture.

When Aubrey suggests Mitch at least let his brothers know how he feels about participating in the family business, he first denies her suspicion and later accuses her of meddling where it isn’t appreciated.

It might have ended there, with Aubrey pushing and Mitch resisting, had Mitch’s old attorney friend and mentor, Orville Drummond, not joined forces with Aubrey to help Mitch find the courage to break away from his brothers. In fact, it’s actually Orville, for whom Mitch clerked while he was in law school, who presents him with an offer he can hardly turn down, although Mitch does at first.

I love developing my secondary characters almost as much as my main characters. Since they don’t have to carry the plot, they can get away with more than the hero and heroine. They can provide the comedy, be the moral compass, provide the shoulder to cry on, or lend an ear to listen to the hero and heroine as they experience conflict after conflict.

Orville can’t make Mitch change or take action; Mitch has to do that for himself. But Orville can provide other options or serve as the voice of reason or as Mitch’s cheerleader. At one point or another in the story, Orville does each of these.

When I first began my job in Iowa state government, I had a mentor, the director of my agency. She saw something in me from the day I was hired that I had yet to know was there. Was there favoritism involved? Maybe, a little. She didn’t hire me to work for her, nor did she promote me. But she encouraged me and provided me with opportunities to prove myself those first years on the job.

Our work association lasted a little less than a decade. She passed away shortly after she retired. But had she not been there cheering me on, listening, suggesting, I don’t know if I would have stayed in that job as long as I did. Or experienced the success and job satisfaction that I did.

Question: How about you? Have you had a mentor in your life? And if you were lucky enough to have that experience, how did it affect the rest of your life choices?     

Barbara Barrett can’t help being a bit schizo when it comes to her lifestyle, since she lives half the year in Florida (guess which season) and the other half in her home state of Iowa. She believes she has the best of both worlds, with visits to the Mouse in winter and her six grandchildren in summer. Although she has been writing romance fiction for several years, her debut novel, The Sleepover Clause, was just released this September by Crimson Romance. While she has refined her craft, she has also been active in RWA, particularly the Kiss of Death chapter (someday she’s going to start that cozy mystery series), chairing their annual conference planning committee for two years, including New York City.

website: http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com

Twitter: @bbarrettbooks

Now available at: Crimson Romance ebooks, Amazon, B&N and iTunes

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25 Comments

  1. Welcome, Barbara. It’s great to have you. Lovely post!
    -R.T. Wolfe

    • Thanks, R.T. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here with this fantastic group of romance writeres.

  2. Enjoyed your post. You never know where the circles of your influence will make a difference.
    J.R.

  3. I was lucky to have a mentor in my career as well. It was a coworker at the time who later became my boss. She took me under her wing and introduced me to an entirely new field which ended up forming my new career in IT. At the time it was a field that was dominated by men and very few women. She was so supportive and nurturing of my talents and helped focus me in directions that led to many opportunities.

    • Hey, C. Glad to have you here. I didn’t know that about you. Funny, how we both found mentors in the same place. But then, in those days, the environment was there to foster growth and development.

  4. great post, barabara. yeah, it makes life so much better having mentors and mentoring others. why keep information learned the hard way to yourself? sleepover sounds like a great book with lots of in-depth characters.

    • Nora, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don’t think you can actively look for a mentor. I think it’s something that just happens, and hopefully, we’re smart enough to see it and run with it. Sleepover was a pleasure to write. I

  5. My mentor was an interior designer. I managed her office and had a distant dream of one day writing a novel. After years of working around her creative energy and the fabulous results of a seed in her mind turning into a showstopping showcase home I caught my own creative fire. When I asked to go part time so that I could write I expected her to be furious. Instead she hugged me hard and said “I’ve been waiting for this. I know you can do it.”

    • Sarah, I’m glad she didn’t mind your going part-time, because I’ve seen the results of that creativity she fostered in you. If she wasn’t psychic, she was certainly perceptive. And generous. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always appreciate your support.

  6. Enjoyed the post and the great photo of you! Gary

  7. I had a couple of mentors when I worked at The University of Iowa. I considered both of them colleagues more than mentors, but that is what they were. They listened to my problems and were supportive and were able to offer suggestion as they had been with the U longer than I had been. There were many “political” things going on behind the scenes. Sorry about the cliches.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Marilyn. I remember you talking about some of the people at the U of I who helped you aspire to greater things. Most of us can do it on our own, but it’s great to have others in our corner cheering us on.

  8. What’s really cool is when two people can be mentors for each other. R.T. Wolfe has been a mentor to me, (although her proper title is manager). She has offered me countless tips, helped me through technological nightmares, and supported me with her kindness and good will. I have mentored her by…okay, she did most of the mentoring, but I offered support and comic relief. Here’s to those who are selflessly willing to help others!

    • M.J., that’s great that you’ve had each other. I like the part about “comic relief.” I think that’s my role at times as well.

  9. Great post, Barbara, and thank you for sharing. If encouraging, supportive and creative friends are mentors my life is blessed with them. Wouldn’t have been where I am today without them!

    • Pam, what a great attitude! Most of have people in the background rooting us on, urging us to fly higher, but not all of us recognize what they’re doing. I’m glad you’ve been able to see that.

  10. I have a mentor in my writing career. And honestly, I bless her for staying with me.

    • Lynn, Glad you stopped by and left a comment. I’m glad you have someone in your writing career who’s mentoring you. Keeps us going when the words won’t come, doesn’t it?

  11. Very nice post, Barbara. I have an erotic writing mentor. In my advertising career, I have learned from both my managers and employees! I have reconnected on Facebook with advertising salespeople that I mentored in the 1980s! It was very rewarding to hear from them.

    • Lilou, Wow, you’ve been able to track people down from the 80s? That’s great. I was fortunate to work with several of the same people for three decades. Although that’s showing my age, it’s so wonderful to have them still in my life as friends. Some of them threw me a launch party last week for which I am extremely grateful.

  12. Great post, Barbara. When I went back to school in my late 30’s to do a science degree and had to redo all my high school sciences and maths, I had one wonderful math teacher who not only took the time to teach me calculus and algebra, but also lessons that have helped me deal with my sometimes paralyzing need for perfection. I hear his voice saying, it’s good enough, let it go.

    • Sharon, Isn’t that great how “voices” come back to remind us of the things our mentors taught us? Although I don’t consider her a mentor, I can still hear my high school English teacher reminding us that compound sentences with two independent clauses needed to be separated with a comma.

  13. Interesting coincidence that I should see your post just after I agreed to meet with my ‘mentor’ and an individual who is compiling stories about experiences of aging nuns in this order. I’ve been thinking about the influence this one person has had on my life. Being the nun in charge of my cottage at the orphanage I grew up in, she was mother, father, aunt, uncle and grandparents to me. She saw me through school yard scrapes and high school crushes. I’ve kept in touch with her all these years and she continues to be a source of guidance and inspiration even into her 90’s. I am looking forward to our visit later in October.

    Congratulation on your success. Sandy finished and enjoyed your book. You may be switching her over to read more romance novels.

    • Hi, Joe, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m glad Sandy enjoyed the book. Have a good visit with your mentor.


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