Tuesday, September 4, 2012


My friend Leslie Karst has started a new blog called Custard and Clues, which is at least somewhat aligned with her  new venture of writing mystery novels. Checking it out last night, I learned about something called the Gearing Up to Get An Agent blogfest/contest.

To be honest, I wasn't really gearing up to do much of anything in September, but on the other hand, I do have a lot of unpitched and unpublished work, and you never know, so...here we go.

Deana Barnhart

Not entirely forthcoming biographical notes:

I live in Santa Cruz, California, which I first came to to attend the university here. Although I have tried several times to escape, it's never ultimately worked out, and I have worked for many years now at a large independent bookstore here. Still trying to figure out how that happened, but for your purposes, that means that I know quite a lot about the realities of the publishing world from a a very particular angle. So feel free to ask questions, as long as you know that some of the answers may be disheartening.

I've written in a lot of different forms and I like trying out new genres and new media. I've even co-authored a trivia book about Southern California (my birthplace). I  have a lot of blogs, which is probably a mistake, and the most popular one is one called Confessions of Ignorance, which I think people like because they are comforted by the fact that I know even less than they do.

As far as actually getting published by other people, other than the trivia book, my success to date has been in the realm of short stories. I've recently put in a few links on this blog so that people who enjoy the form can access these from here.

I have several longer manuscripts, though, some of which I've tried to get an agent for, without success. I'll probably try the most recent one in the pitch festival here. Should be interesting. ("Interesting" is often used as a cover word for "terrifying").

Meet and Greet Questions and Answers:

Where do you write?

I used to do almost all my writing in coffee shops, but gradually that has shifted over to working almost entirely at home.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Once you look past a truly appalling pile of clutter (I'm the kind of person who watches Hoarders and worries) there is a really beautiful garden, which, not surprisingly is maintained entirely by my landlady, and not by me. When I first moved in here, it was a kind of dark, ferny redwood garden, which I liked. But then a giant tree fell down, luckily not on my house, and now it is a sunny and entirely different garden. There's a metaphor in that somewhere.

Favorite time to write?

I like to write in daylight, I don't really care when. At night, I pretty much like to turn off and be a complete sloth. But facing different deadlines at various times in my life, I've learned that preference is only that--preference. You can do an awful lot of writing when you're "too tired and don't really feel like it".

Drink of choice while writing?

I used to drink a lot of coffee while I wrote, but now I don't really drink anything. If there happens to be a beer nearby, though...

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

This is a funny thing. At home, I need it quiet. But if I'm writing out somewhere and there's background music, I really don't mind it, and usually only half notice it.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

I somehow got drawn into the world of spycraft. It started by reading Barry Eisler and watching Burn Notice on television and becoming more and more intrigued about how the world looks from a spy's point of view. Then I almost accidentally took a spy writing workshop from D. S. Kane at the Muse Online Writers Conference last year, and then took the plunge and wrote out the whole thing for last year's Nanowrimo. There are aspects of all this that are not unlike being recruited into the spy world itself.

What's your most valuable writing tip?

Don't let excuses bog you down too much. Don't wait for ideal situations or the perfect story or some aspect of your life to change before you really 'get serious'. Just start.



  1. Hi Seana!

    Nice to meet you, and thanks for dropping by my blog!

    Love your awesome writing tip. I'm been guilty of making excuses like "but there's no cake! I can't write without cake!" yeah. No more excuses.

    Best of luck with GUTGAA!

    1. Hi Kristy--

      Yes, maybe we should do some kind of compilation of everyone's tips because we can all learn much from each other.

      For anyone else hopping by, Kristy's blog is Two Nerds. One Dream. Zero Results.

      Good luck, Kristy!

  2. Greetings!

    I'm hopping over from GUTGAA and checking some blogs along the way. Nice to meet you! You have a lovely blog...good luck with GUTGAA!

    Donna L Martin

    1. Thanks for taking time to check this one out, Donna! And now I am of course hopping over to yours.

  3. Always wanted to own or work in a bookstore, dream job. Nice to meet you here on GUTGAA.

    1. Well, it's a beleaguered industry and as we were discussing the other day here, not what mistakenly sometimes think of as a retirement job, but I will say that it is never boring. And, for a writer, you couldn't be too much closer to the source.

      Thanks for dropping by here.

      For anyone else, Yolanda's blog is Defending the Truth.

  4. I would love to own a coffee, reading / bookstore -- where writer's spend lots and lots of time together. Heck I would love to have such a place, dark, cozy, and full of books -- the older the better. Oops, dreaming out loud again.

    Thank you for the plug. Just curious, do you know Nancy Lynn Jarvis? She writes mysteries, and she's from Santa Cruz. Just wondering...

  5. We do carry her books, which I know because I do the mystery section. I will have to check her out now. Thanks!

  6. "I wasn't really gearing up to do much of anything this September" That made me laugh. And beer is my drink of choice when I write. :) Great to meet you and see your blog!

  7. Roomthirty3, great to have you here. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one doing this who was acquainted with alcohol...

  8. Hey!

    Just dropping by during my optimal reading time to say nice to meet you! Have you read much Ian Fleming? He is the ultimate spy author in my books. Pick up any of the Bond novels and you'll definitely find some inspiration :)

    Cheers and have fun during #GUTGAA!


    1. Thanks for dropping by here, John. I have to admit that I haven't read Fleming, though, like everyone, I've seen a few of the movies. A bit of Le Carre, a dash of Barry Eisler, and my most recent find, Andrew Kaplan are all I can claim. Actually, come to think of it, I did read a lot of Mrs. Pollifax at one point...

      Just checked out your blog, and though I'm not sure my browser is going to allow me to comment there, it looks great. In case I don't make the cut over there, your Jordan experience would make a great premise for a spy novel. Just sayin...

  9. Very good advice. It's nice to meet a fellow California Girl on the tour, although I haven't lived there in years. :)

    1. Thanks, Liana. I like your Don't Quit advice too. Having just gotten a rejection on a short story, I will testify that there is always a temptation toward that kind of reaction.

  10. How does one "almost accidentally take a spy writing workshop"? Just wondering...

    And okay, I admit---I do occasionally sip a bit of the bourbon and branch when I'm writing after dinner

    1. Bourbon and branch sounds a lot classier than beer somehow, Leslie.

      Yeah, I was vaguely interested in spy stuff at the time of the last Muse Online Writers Conference when I noticed that there was a spy writing workshop and decided to just 'check it out'. Little did I know that this was a very slippery slope.

      For anyone who's reading along here and might like to work on spy fiction. Go over to the Muse Online Writers Conference and sign up. I see that D.S. Kane is leading another workshop this year. He's gruff, but really, really good.

  11. Nice to meet you, Seana. You have very intriguing blog titles. Love the Confessions of Ignorance name and story dump. Best wishes on your pitch!

  12. Thanks, Romelle. I noticed belatedly that there is an official website with the Story Dump name, so I suppose they'll make me give it up at some point...

  13. I have heard lots of things about the Muse writing conference... I need to check it out!

    Nice to meet you and hope you enjoy GUTGAA!

  14. Charlie, check it out for sure! Here's the link.Registration needs to happen before the 15th.

    I never know what I'm going to get out of the Muse Conference, but I always get something.

  15. Nice to meet you. I love coffee, too. Good luck with GUTGAA.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Angie. As for the squirrels that seemed to keep popping up in the comments on your blog, I had a lot more squirrel action to watch before the tree fell down in my yard. They're still there, but just not as much for my entertainment value.

  16. Hello to you from Los Angeles, CA! I love Santa Cruz and writing just like you! Isn't this GUTGAA a fantastic journey? Wishing you the best and thanking you for posting the other Contest, too. Always nice to meet another Author! Muaaah!

    Dr Margaret Aranda

  17. Whereabouts in L.A, Dr. Margaret? I was born in Santa Monica and lived in Venice and Buena Park before my parents moved north. And my sister lives in the Pacific Palisades.

    Yes, it's always inspiring to see so many projects and so many people fitting them in to their already overly committed lives.

  18. Ha! Hoarders. Sometimes it scares me to watch that show, to...
    Hello from GUTGAA!
    Talynn #28

  19. Hello to you too, Ink in the Book!

    Hoarders is one those shows where you think, well, I'm not THAT bad, but look around feverishly to try and make sure that's still true...