Interview with Barbara Neville

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest, Tomahawk Trail, is the first book in the Cha'a Many Horses Series I also have ten books in the Spirit Animal series. The tenth being Wind Blows Grass Grows Stars Twinkle Above. On the Rocks is the first. I like humor in my books, so I went with that and wrote what I know which is the outdoors and being a cowhand. I am not a big city girl, neither is my antagonist, Annie. Annie tells the stories herself in first person. I quote Annie Talks to Horses here: "I wrote these journals, in part, to dispel the image of cowgirls as mere girlfriends and wives of cowboys. The kind who wear western shirts, dresses, boots, concho belts with shiny buckles and all. They got all the shiny western bling and they call theirselves cowgirls. These gals are the ones who, while their cowboys are out cousin’ cows, shoein’ the rough string and,(everyone’s favorite) fixin’ fence; are home fixin’ their makeup and chattin’ with there gal friends. Now, true, they are a breed of cowgirls, and more power to ‘em.
"But some of us are a different breed.
“We are not just cow ‘girls’ but true female cow ‘boys’. We do the dirty work, from fixin’ fence, to cuttin’ sacks and squeezin’ out the oysters. By golly, we can do it all day ever’day, just like the boys.
So, saddle yore bronc and suck it up. We’re gonna open the gate and let ‘er rip!
And, oh yeah. Watch you're ass boys, ‘cause we just might kick it.“
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My sister asked what I actually did on a cattle roundup. I thought maybe others would like to read about it too. I started the book at roundup and let my imagination run wild.
What I ended up with is the ten book and growing Spirit Animal series. And the new series premier, Tomahawk Trail, is historic western fiction, with Native American characters, It takes place in 1885 Arizona, USA and Sonora, Mexico.It is available in paperback now on Ctreatespace and in preorder on this site.
The Spirit Animal series. The eleventh of which is Hell to Pay, my entry into 2016 NaNoWriMo. It is not what you would expect. It’s all about Cowboys and Injins. It’s told by a tough cowgirl/Injin named Annie Talks To Horses.
Her story takes place in the twenty-sixth century. It may be the future, but our cowboys ride horses. I'll let her tell it:
"You see, five hundred years ago were the Troubles. Earth was blown to smithereens. The lucky people got out just before. Pioneered new planets. War moved out into space. Things got blown back to primitive. Humankind clawed their way back out, ruled by the Federals. Progress made them nervous, so the Feds passed a law declaring all the newly explored planets as wilderness. No internal combustion engines or electronics are allowed beyond the spaceport on planet Rock.
The law is meant to save mankind from itself. The problem with that? Outlaws are beyond the law."
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I really love escaping into my characters' world. It is an affirmation of the endurance of the cowboy culture on into the twenty-sixth century.In the future, people still need farmers and ranchers to grow their food. As a rancher myself, the books fuel my optimism for the future of humankind and provide a venue to share my thoughts.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans, the people who love my books, are awesome! I love hearing that someone understands what I am trying to say and likes the way I say it. Vernacular, warts and all.
What are you working on next?
The eleventh book in the Spirit Animal series, working title: "Hell to Pay" for National Novel Writing Month.. Lots of laughs, shoot'em ups, parties and surprises!
The first book in the Cha'a Many Horses series is just coming out
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My factual and fictional world, ranching. I get up at five and enjoy my coffee while I get the first morning book public relations work started, emails, web pages and such. Around seven I milk and feed. Then breakfast. After that, my writing day starts. I try to get out to ride a horse and ride or walk the goats, too. No time for sleeping in.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I raise dairy and meat goats, cows, chickens, guinea hens, peacocks and Great Pyrenees working livestock guardian dogs like the big white dog in the books. I ride my horses to work the livestock, check fence and see the country. I also like to hike and rockhound..
What is your writing process?
I write in snatches. A chapter begins with a sentence. My characters run with it. I never sit in a quiet room with a blank page in front of me. I use Scrivener. My cork boards are full of notes, from one to fifty words for the most part. If I run out of ideas, I read through all those cards until my brain gets joggled. Then I run with it.
I also read books, listen to music, watch TV and movies. I often stop about ten minutes in and start typing on my book. What I am writing usually has no relation to what I was reading or watching. Somehow my brain works best in the background. It's like my fore-brain is engaged by the medium, leaving my hind-brain with the freedom to work.
Describe your desk
Leather recliner. Seriously, I like my feet up. Have a TV tray for coffee, tea and beer. And an LED desk lamp that uses 1.6 watts to light my black keyboard. All the masses of book stuff are in contained in the little laptop on my lap! Amazing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember my mom taking me to the library at age 10. I told the librarian I liked cowboys. They took me back and introduced me to Zane Grey.I had read before, but this opened up a world I had only seen in movies and on television. Then we moved to Spain and had no TV or movies and about ten books in the apartment. After two years of drought, we moved onto a military base which had a library and movie theater I could walk to. Everyday I read a book, rode my horse, then went to the movies in the evening (Westerns preferred). What a life. I grew up and became a cowhand.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I lived all over the world. The experience taught me that no matter what a person's language, culture, skin color, religion, whatever, we are all just folks and should give each other the space we need to be ourselves.
Who are your favorite authors?
Robert B. Parker, Michael Crichton, Craig Johnson, Larry McMurtry, Robert Crais, Andy Weir, Joss Whedon, Dick Francis. Michael Bunker, Hugh Howey, Janet Evanovich, Tony Hillerman, Ann Hillerman, Elizabeth Peters. Most of them have a strong thread of humor. My favorite story is a buddy situation like Spenser and Hawk, Longmire and Henry Standing Bear, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. where the two know each other well enough to be comfortable enough to wisecrack and be real together. I strive for that with my characters, too. I write what I like to read. In Firefly, it was a wisecracking ensemble. I believe smartass humor is genetic. I almost forgot Stephanie Plum and Lula!
What do you read for pleasure?
Humorous westerns, humorous mysteries, humorous sci fi. I like dry humor a la Clint Eastwood, too. But Spenser and Elvis Cole are my favorite smart mouthed detectives. Longmire and Stephanie Plum fit in there too. I read third person books, like Stuart Woods, I love Stone and Dino. But first person, character driven stories are my passion. Unfortunately they are much harder to find. I heard Robert Crais speak recently. He said that he started in first person with Elvis Cole and wrote e a bunch of Elvis Cole books. But then he wanted to write a Joe Pike book. Joe never talks. He had no choice but to go third person. The Elvis Cole books where Elvis describes what he thinks Joe's one word sentences, shrugs and meaningful looks though his black sunglasses read better for me. Elvis is such a card.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
A Dick Francis, a Spenser, A Jim Chee, a Michael Crichton, and a Longmire. I read authors, not books.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I love to use search engines, read reviews, I always download and read the excerpts before I buy. I don't like most books, But I love the rest. I want first person narrative, humor, and action. I want adventure. I prefer small town, country or wilderness settings. Books that meet my criteria are hard to find, but worth the search. If I find an author I like, I read all their books. I want to get so engrossed in a book, that I come out dazed. I like good looking, tall and sexy, too. People whose skins I can crawl into and take a ride. I need fully drawn characters not cardboard cutouts, I read a lot of excerpts and book descriptions before I find one I like. It is harrowing. That is why I stick with the authors I love.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to take a photo, outdoors with at least a horse in it. Third or fourth book will have a dog, I'm thinking.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
On the Rocks is the first.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I had Kindle apps on my laptop and Android tablet. The tablet is really handy. I can read at the Farmers Market while I wait for customers. I suspect any ereader would be fine, as long as I can read the book, who cares. Although I hear the Kindle Paperwhite rules for reading outdoors. As soon as I sell enough books, I plan to buy one.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just signed up and have great hopes. Looks like an awesome outfit.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Still learning. I like Goodreads Giveaways. And I sell books in person at Markets and Festivals. Both of those are for paperbacks, but they get my name and books out there. Word of mouth is a great seller. I am new to Smashwords, so we'll see how it goes.
When did you first start writing?
Four years ago.
Published 2016-11-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Cowboy & Injin Dictionary: The Official Companion to the Cha'a Many Horses Series
Series: Cha'a Many Horses. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 3,680. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier, Fiction » Historical » USA
A companion volume to Barbara Neville's Cha'a Many Horses series. Some unconventional spelling is used in the Cha’a Many Horses and Spirit Animal books to impart an authentic cowboy feel to the narrative. Here is a guide to the more unusual vernacular terms, along with the Spanish, Apache, Hawaiian Pidgin and assorted other words used in the books.
Cowboy & Injin Suspense: Two Adventures in One
Series: Spirit Animal Box Set, Book 4. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 168,670. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Literary collections » Native American
Two revisionist western books in one. Only the Strong Survive: A 2015 NaNoWriMo winner. Annie many Horses has a new clan of Injin warriors and friends, they set out to find a peaceful agrarian life on Planet Rock. Between the gunfights, anyway. Life is never simple. Broken Warrior: Our long haired Injin heroes are back. Huntin' buffalo, like their ancestors before them. Then there's a twist.
Cowboy & Injin Frontier: Two Adventure Novels in One
Series: Spirit Animal Box Set, Book 3. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 126,050. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Literary collections » Native American
Two revisionist western books in one. Rogue Lightning: A feisty cowgirl with a snarky mouth continues her adventures in the wilderness. Still wanted, she must travel with care. A Flash of Lightning: Sizzling energy, snarky dialogue. Annie and her companions, war veterans all, return to their planet in this adventure, at least for a while. Action-packed and humorous.
Cowboy & Injin Mystery: Two Cowgirl Adventure Novels
Series: Spirit Animal Box Set, Book 2. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 117,400. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Western
Two revisionist western books in one. Cowgirls Rock: Laws are meant to save mankind from itself. The problem? Outlaws are beyond the law. Our cowgirl hero gets help from a livestock guardian dog this time out. Off Grid Planet: Will the hit & miss snipers win out? Will the Amish settlers find reach their goal? The dog gets in a mess of her own. Our adventurers ride camels across the desert.
Cowboy Dictionary: The Official Companion to the Spirit Animal Series
Series: Spirit Animal, Book 0. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 4,280. Language: English. Published: August 11, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Western
A companion volume to Barbara Neville's Spirit Animal series. The books are written in cowboy vernacular. To assist those who may not have watched enough Western movies, I have created a word list: coboy,Spanish, Brit, Hawaiian pidgin and more. Also, lists of characters, gadgets, outfits, and planets. Plus, an old map.
Cowgirl Adventures
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 139,260. Language: English. Published: September 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
Two revisionist western books in one. Cowgirls Just Wanna Have Fun: Can even the toughest cowgirl survive? First it’s the shooters on horseback, then the bartender, then a lawdog goes missing. There’s a hanging. And a lot of snarky dialogue. Cowgirls Rock: Laws are meant to save mankind from itself. The problem? Outlaws are beyond the law. Our cowgirl hero gets help from a livestock guardian dog.
Cowgirl Thrillers
Series: Spirit Animal Box Set, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 137,570. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Western
Two revisionist western books in one. On the Rocks: Wanted, dead or alive. Can she hide? A young cowgirl, falsely accused, searches for a new life. There’s a big reward. And not much hope. Cowgirls Just Wanna Have Fun: Can even the toughest cowgirl survive? First it’s the shooters on horseback, then the bartender, then a lawdog goes missing. There’s a hanging. And a lot of snarky dialogue.