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Indiana Blogs: Mari Barnes Writes

By Jessicanunemaker
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This marks another addition to the regular feature here at little Indiana: Indiana Blogs! If you are an Indiana Blogger, please use the contact form and send me an email. You may be featured right here on little Indiana.

Indiana Blogs: ML BarnesIndiana Blogs: ML Barnes

Indiana Blogs: ML Barnes

Indiana Blogger ML Barnes Writes is that peek inside of a writer’s mind that you’ve always wanted. You know, in case mine isn’t enough.

She’s funny. She’s clever. Oh–and she writes books. Lots of books. Books for kids and books for grown-ups. But they all have one thing in common: good clean fun!

Tree lover. Whovian. Walker. Explorer Searching for the Mothership. She’s got a lot of names for herself. Meet Mari. Who writes.

Indiana Blogs: ML Barnes/Flying Turtle Publishing

Why did you start Flying Turtle Publishing?
I wrote the first draft of Parting River Jordan in November of 2005 while participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I was so surprised to find that I wasn’t nauseated when I re-read it that I decided to spend some time re-writing and trying to shape it into a real book.

Fast forward to 2008, when I got brave enough to look for an agent. I had heard all the stories of books being rejected dozens of times, so I was ready to start collecting rejection slips. My third submission got me an agent who asked to read the entire book. That was huge; I was so excited!

Well, she turned it down with possibly the nicest rejection I’ll ever receive. She said that she enjoyed the book; it made her laugh. But that she wouldn’t represent it because she preferred books with only one main character. It dawned on me then how subjective this process could be. I could be turned down for any of a number of reasons. I wrote the book to entertain my mother. She wasn’t getting any younger and neither was I, so I decided to publish myself. I didn’t have a clue that doing so would mean starting a publishing company.

I began blogging when I published in 2009. The blog was called Publishing Without a Parachute and I tried to chronicle the huge mistakes I was making on the self-publishing journey, so that others might avoid them. The problem was that the marketing/blogging/promoting so overwhelmed me, that I stopped blogging.

I started again on the Flying Turtle website in 2011 because conventional business wisdom says “You have to have a blog.” Even if you don’t have a compelling reason. Well, now I do have a reason. mlbarneswrites.com is an invitation to tea. It’s inviting readers to hang out and get to know me and, hopefully, to share themselves with me.

What about that name? Why Flying Turtle?
The Flying Turtle is me. A turtle feels comfortable and safe everywhere because its home is always with it. And a turtle with wings (imagination) can go as far as its wings will take it and still be at home wherever it goes.

What are three of your most favorite posts?

  • 7 things that Keep Me from Writing
  • Where’s the Sex
  • The Stone Soup Review because it lets me be a reader.

What keeps you ready and raring to post? Why do you blog?
I’m a cliché as a writer, kind of quiet and introverted, but I’ve met some readers who really like the books. They knew the names of the characters and wanted to know what was going to happen to them. My words have made connections and I want to keep that going.

You don’t just read books–you write them! What are you working on now?
I’m working on a third River Jordan book. Crossing River Jordan ended with a question: Who is Katelyn’s father? So, the story picks up from there. Also, I’ve got a new children’s book in production, Kaylah and the Cupcake Box. It’s a counting book and there’s a version for boys, Kenny and the Cupcake Box.

I think I saw somewhere that you grew up in a family surrounded by great storytellers. Have you always written or did you fall into it somehow?
My family was full of great storytellers and some of my earliest memories involve my grandfather reading to me. Not just kids’ books but everything. We read a lot of field guides—birds, fish, flowers, you name it. I wrote a two-line poem for school and won an award. That was when I got the writing bug, but I was discouraged from pursuing it by well-meaning family members. Got to college and get a good job was the rule at my house. My youngest child was in college before I got serious about writing.

Dinner! If you could have any five AUTHORS over for dinner, living or dead, who would they be–and why?
Louisa May Alcott. Her Little Women meant everything to me. I so wanted to be Jo March and write in a garret. Langston Hughes was the first black writer I’d been introduced to and his poetry was gorgeous and his Jesse. B. Semple stories were so funny. Zilpha Keatly Synder wrote Black and Blue Magic, which got me all caught up in fantasy. Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine changed the way I looked at words. And finally, Douglas Adams. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dr. Who—Adams was brilliant.

And boy that was hard because I thought of eight others, not the least of which was Shakespeare.

Finally–what are some of your favorite books of all time?
Whee, I get to get in some of the others! The Stand by Stephen King, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Last of Breed by Louis L’Amour, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I could go on all day.

Is there anything else that you would like little Indiana readers to know about you or your blog?
Only that reader input makes better writers. Your favorite writers really need to hear from you; your opinions count. One of my favorite reviews was only three stars, but the reader was kind in her corrections and thoughtful in her critique. I took every word to heart and I think (hope) it helped me grow as a writer.

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