Barb DeLong – Writing Magic

I didn’t start out writing paranormal romance. As a youngster, I loved all the westerns that were on TV at the time. Dating myself, I know. You’d think a western historical romance would be in my writing future, and I did devour a lot of those as a reader in later years. Horses and hunky cowboys – what’s not to like?  iOCX7EjJdTlDkbSF5Y9mWhIJ_9xkZa0jUU7XoajAWLo

Most of my romance writing life until fairly recently has been in the contemporary romance genre. A story about a big-time lawyer, burnt out and needing a change, goes to work on a Kentucky thoroughbred breeding farm. A harried widow and mother of three kids gets kicked out of her rented home along with a pregnant Afghan hound, a sweet boa constrictor and various other pets. A mushroom researcher in the Pacific Northwest, in danger of losing her grant, is aided by an undercover cop and a very rascally raccoon.

If you didn’t notice, animals of all sorts make their way into my stories. When I finally turned to paranormal romance, animals came along for the ride. I’ve read many paranormals, sci-fi’s, fantasies, and got my fill of werewolves, vampires, hybrids thereof and other weird and wonderful creations. Most of these stories were dark, serious, world-as-we-know-it threatening. When I came across the light-hearted and humorous, I loved it. One of the first books I read where I laughed out loud was Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I loved Jill’s slightly inept witch. This is what I wanted to write–paranormals with a light-hearted touch.

I watched Hocus Pocus, The Good Witch, Practical Magic, and other iconic humorous movies about witches and how they wielded their powers for good or mischief. I read more light-hearted paranormals. I took notes, studied the craft of writing funny. Took more notes. Ideas swirled like the ether rising from a smoldering cauldron. My series, Charmed by a Witch, was born. Book One in the series, my current work-in-progress called Charm’d, is about a witch who can communicate tele-magically with animals. She has a ferret familiar with powers of her own. She can disappear and appear at will.

I find in animals a pureness of spirit, a sweet innocence and guileless honesty. They surprise and delight me. That they should follow me into my paranormals was only natural. My quirky witch and her animal entourage make putting fingers to keyboard a happy occasion.

Introducing . . .Barb DeLong!

It all started when I was twelve years old, this passion for romance. At least, writing about it. I combined my love of westerns, which were the big thing on TV at the tiBarbPhotome (Cheyenne – sigh!), with a pre-teen’s notion of romance, and pecked away on an old typewriter over summer break. I still have those yellowed pages with the two-tone black and red letters, where laughably, cut and paste literally meant cut and paste. I won my first writing contest that same year in Toronto’s I Love My Daddy Because contest. In twenty-five words or less I did just that in a quirky, humorous style and won a shiny new two-wheeler. I was on my way!

Then life intervened – hectic high school, college, marriage, kids, a move to California from Canada. Don’t get me wrong. I’d been writing the whole time, just not romantic fiction: articles for company and car club newsletters; dry as dust aerospace engineering documents and maintenance manuals; children’s books self-published for a family craft business; a family memoir anthology; some really bad poetry. Yeah, that sort of thing kept me busy until I read about a local adult education novel writing class led by Maralys Wills. I’d been reading romances by the armful for years, so why not go back to my roots and try my hand at writing them? My first visit to class changed my life. I met two would-be romance writers who introduced me to Romance Writers of America and the local Orange County Chapter.

Since then, I’ve been a finalist in several romance writing contests for unpublished writers. In 2015, I was thrilled to win OCC’s coveted first place Charlotte Award for my humorous paranormal Charm’d. My contemporary short story “The Guy With the Dragon Tattoo” appears in the anthology Romancing the Pages.

So what do I write about? I call it paranormal light-hearted. The dark, world- and soul-crushing paranormals I’ve read have awesome world building and fantastical characters, but I can’t write them. I’m not happy if I’m not writing humor, so my paranormals are infused with the loopy stuff. Animals of all kinds (horses and raccoons being faves) show up frequently. Can’t help myself. Even though I’m almost an arachnophobe, I seem to tuck a spider in a cozy story corner somewhere.  But who knows? One day I may dust off that old western romance and complete that hunky cowboy historical from my youth. Meantime, I’m happily working on a humorous paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch, filled with the magic of love, laughter and happily ever after.