Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Pen & Muse Romantic Short Story Contest Winner, Bobbi Kilbarger!

Congratulations to Bobbi Kilbarger! She is the winner of the The Pen & Muse Blog Romantic Short Story Contest for the Unpublished Author Category.
Learn more about Bobbi and get to read an excerpt of her winning
short story, On Ocassion!

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!


I'm originally from a small town of about 600 people called Thompsonville, but I currently live in Carbondale, IL with my husband and two year old son.

Let's see, about myself... I'm a happily married, stay-at-home Mom who loves writing (duh!). I play video games regularly, especially Final Fantasy XI, and I’m addicted to reading publishing industry blogs and celebrity gossip websites.

Speaking of blogs, I’m currently keeping a blog chronicling my journey into writing my first book. It’s mostly full of mistakes I’ve made and how I’m learning from them as I continue to study the industry, but I enjoy writing it. The blog can be found at http://willows-inner-thoughts.blogspot.com/ if anyone’s interested. (Yeah, shameless plug, but how often does an unpublished writer get interviewed, lol!)



What inspires you to write? How long have you been writing?

I joke that my Writing Gremlin inspires me to write. He's a little, green gremlin with a monocle and British accent who decided that I should be the vessel to write the stories he comes up with. He just appeared one day with an idea for a story and hounded me at all hours of the day and night until I agreed to team up with him to write it, as well as any other stories that tickle his fancy.

I'd say that I've been writing in one way or another since first or second grade and even have a small book of poetry that I wrote at around that age. I have a bunch of short stories that I wrote in grade school and junior high as well as journals full of poetry written in high school, all of which will hopefully never see the light of day.



Tell us a bit about your story On Occasion. What inspired to you to write it? Did you have a similar experience?

While I am married to my best friend, our story is nothing like Megan and Joseph's. I wish that I could've had something like this happen to me at 19, how romantic would that have been? My life was seriously lacking in the romance department until I was well into college though, never even had a date before then!

On Occasion… is the story of what happens when you realize that you’re in love with your best friend. Actually, it’s about what happens when you accidentally let that friend know your feelings and the awkwardness that occurs afterward.

I’m not really sure what inspired this story. Part of me says that the characters appeared through a medicine-induced haze at the beginning of the year. You see, I had been sick with sinus and ear infections for about a month and on all kinds of antihistamines the entire time. Well, due to having an enormous case of medicine-head, I was unable to work on my novel. There were just too many story lines to keep straight, but I was desperate to write something, anything. Well, one day I woke up after having the cutest dream and couldn’t get the characters from it to leave me alone. All I wanted to do was curl up in a blanket and mope because I couldn’t write my novel, but lucky for me, Megan was very insistent that her story be told. I finally said, “Fine!” and sat down and typed up the dream.

The week after writing up the story, I checked my favorite blogs and saw the post announcing this contest and thought, “Hmmm… I could finish Megan and Joseph's story and submit it. It’d be really good experience for me, learning how to ‘let go’ of something I’ve written and let others judge it… You know what? I’ll do it!” I also figured that if I was lucky enough to place in the contest, it would be something to add to query letters once I finish my novel and start sending it out to agents. Sending off the completed story was so nerve-wracking though, I’d never entered any type of writing contest before this one. I had the story ready for three days before I actually emailed it, I think. My husband almost had to take the laptop from me and send it off because I was so nervous. "I'll just read through it one more time..."

So, yeah… that’s pretty much the story of how On Occasion… came to be; from foggy medicine-head dreams to anxiety-filled submission. I’d tell you how it felt to open the email saying that I won, but I’m still a little bit numb about that at the moment. Once my brain starts working again and I stop re-checking my email to make sure that I didn’t imagine the whole thing, I’ll let you know, lol.



Do you have any have any other works in progress that you want to share?

My main WIP is a paranormal romance about a girl who is able to channel the Greek gods and goddesses, currently called Instinct. It’s a really fun story about how police cadet, Casey Parker deals with this new “gift” while trying to lead a normal life. And of course it couldn’t be a paranormal romance without a love interest for her… or two…

I also have a folder on my laptop full of outlined stories that I would love to have time to write. They range from middle school stories, through adult romance, all the way to science fiction. It’ll probably be a while before I can move on to these ideas though as Instinct is currently outlined to be the first in a four-part series.


What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?

Don’t let anyone keep you from your dream of writing. I let people convince me that writing wasn’t the best future for me and quit while I was in college and now I find myself wondering where I'd be in my writing if I hadn't quit. So, never give up!

Also, research the industry. There are so many amazing blogs written by agents and editors as well as ones by published authors. I currently have 52 blogs on my Google Reader that I follow for industry news and tips. Read everything you can, study it as if you were going to be tested on it later (and you will, once you start submitting your work). Don't just read everything you can, really absorb it and try to apply it to your situation. People complete special training programs to work in other industries, why should writing be any different?



What are your favorite books at the moment?

Oooh, let’s see here… to be honest, while I absolutely love reading, between chasing down an over-active toddler and writing, I really haven't had much time to read in the past few months. The most recent book that I've read and really enjoyed was Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in this series, Eternal Hearts, that will be officially released in May.

I'm also dying to get my hands on a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan later this month, unless I can get my hands on an ARC in one of the many contests being held to celebrate it's release. It just sounds amazing!



What is your favorite word? Least favorite?

Well, at the moment my favorite word is, “congratulations” lol. Nothing better than hearing that after a long day.

I’d probably have to say that my least favorite word is “regret”. It’s something that I try to live my life without and it’s always heartbreaking to hear people talk about the things that they regret in their lives.

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Thanks again Denisse for holding this contest and for believing in my short story enough to award it the grand prize for unpublished authors. Also, congratulations to the other winners! I hope I didn't prattle on too much on my answers. It seems that I have the "gift of gab" when it comes to typing, lol!

Excerpt :

I hate Christmas. Not only do I never get anything that I actually want, but this year I had to drive four hours in a blizzard to get home. Well, not home really- not this year at least.
Typically, right now I’d be sitting in the living room at my parents’ house watching football with Dad while Mom worked on our Christmas Eve dinner. Then Christmas morning we’d exchange gifts and I’d end up with either a savings bond or a roadside emergency kit for my truck. Exactly what every girl wants, right?

None of that this year though. This year I’m staying with the Reed’s, family friends so close you’d think Sam, Joseph, and Peggy were my cousins rather than my best friends. Well, Peggy is like a little sister to me, but she’s only eight.

Right now my parents are probably making their way to their cabin for the night. My mother won a trip for two on a holiday cruise in the Caribbean as part of some radio contest. I think I spent a week straight on the phone convincing them to go; that I would be fine without them for one holiday.

So here I am, spending Christmas with my second family. I’ve really missed them this past year while I was away at college, Joseph especially. I didn’t even realize that my feelings had changed for him until I woke up around 3 a.m. my first night here. That’s when the dreams started…
The dreams are innocent enough though, just repeats of the previous day as it would have played out if we were dating. Our epic snow ball fight ending with our snuggling by the fireplace in the family room… Not avoiding the mistletoe in the front hall, but taking advantage of the holiday tradition every chance we can…

These dreams don’t mean anything though, right? I’m not doomed to pine after my best friend for the rest of our lives, am I?

If you'd like to learn more about Bobbi, check out her blog : Willow's Inner Thoughts

8 comments:

  1. Congrats Bobbi!!! Great interview and excerpt!

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  2. So you have a gremlin, eh, Bobbi? My muse is Persephone, the Queen of Hell. Your little guy sounds considerably more friendly and amusing! Good luck with your stories.

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  3. Thanks Eliza and Miriam! Yeah, I have a writing gremlin that helps me write. I've even given a few out to friends who needed help writing stuff, lol!

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  4. I enjoyed reading your excerpt, Bobbi. Congratulations and good luck with your writing!

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  5. Good luck with your writing! Bobbi has been great. :)

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  6. Thanks Pat and Denisse! *Snoopy Dances!*

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  7. Congratulations, from a lurker heretofore. And i love your gremlin!

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  8. Thanks Mand! And my writing gremlin says, "'ello!"

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