Barbara wishes she could say that she was born to write.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Her first creative effort explored the adventures of a pink, polka-dotted, flying elephant named Lulu in Mr. Brent's 4th grade class at Smith School in West Hartford, Connecticut. While her classmates praised Lulu's laugh-out-loud wacky weekend visit to her grandparents, Mr. Brent ranked Barbara's story-weaving skills near the bottom of the schoolyard sandbox.
This ranking, combined with her abysmal spelling (the residue of trauma sustained after throwing up on her spelling book in Mrs. Sackett's 2nd grade class), convinced her that her future lay in pursuits other than inking the blank page.
So she did what creatively driven girls growing up in the 'burbs did in the early '60s: she nursed a crush on Paul McCartney and focused her talents on swimming.
Many laps and trophies later, as a junior in high school, she entered a short story, "Murder at Lincoln Downs," in the Hartford Courant's contest and won an Honorable Mention.
Barbara wishes she could say that she received praise and support for her newly recognized literary talent. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It was early in the consciousness-raising '70s and her father was sure that anything his daughter wrote was anti-establishment, Ralph Nader-reveling crap.
Dissuaded from writing once again, Barbara did what optimistic college-bound girls did in the early '70s: continued to nurse her crush on Paul McCartney (in spite of his marriage to Linda) and focused her talents on biology.
At Wellesley College, Barbara churned out lab reports and published her first paper-"Developmental Distribution of Microsperoxisomes in the Rat Submandibular Gland" (Nov. 1977). While she almost landed a Rhodes Scholarship the first year women were eligible, most folks didn't understand a word she wrote. Yet despite her critics, her opus received 50 reprint requests-a strong mid-list effort.
Maybe she did have something to say?
"Not so fast," chirped the critics.
Upon graduation, she did what upwardly mobile college graduates did in the late '70s: she followed in her father's footsteps and landed a job as a stockbroker in Seattle. (Astute readers will note that Seattle is the farthest civilized destination from Hartford still in the lower 48.)
Like Julia Roberts' character in Mona Lisa Smile, Barbara didn't fit in. Hawking stocks and bonds did, however, arm her with the knowledge and tools to survive as a writer.
Wall Street taught her that true wealth is not measured in dollars and cents; that paths to financial security are paved with thrift; and to always borrow money when you don't need the money.
Like Julia, Barbara left Wall Street for foreign lands.
During the years that followed, Barbara honed her skills as a WRITER. Her lean, persuasive prose sold condos in downtown Seattle, business ops in Venezuela, and much in-between.
By 1992, she was back on U.S. soil working for an Armenian cultural organization (until then the most Armenian thing about her was her last name). She met and married the handsome and talented Armenian scholar, writer, editor, and oftentimes persona non grata in the turbulent world of Armenian affairs, Dr. Vatche Ghazarian.
Four years later, Barbara joined forces with her husband to found Mayreni Publishing. Together they have built an internationally respected, bill-paying-profitable small press.
Today, when not wandering the globe (a hard-to-break habit), Barbara is happy to speak, read, or jump up and down holding a barking baby sea lion on her head for any and all audiences interested in her books.Barbara is over Paul. She still swims. And she hopes her non-linear path to becoming a writer will encourage others to follow their destiny and persevere.