Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Interview with my dear friend and mentor, Linda J Pedley…

June 29, 2015

Before we start, I would like to say without Linda’s solid friendship, belief in my writing ability and encouragement, I, for one, would not be a published author. Her constant drive to enable numerous authors to realize their publishing dreams is not only commendable but a reflection of her generosity of spirit and expertise in making a manuscript become a published work. Linda What inspired you to write your first book? Although other books have been published before An Elizabethan Affair was finished, I am going to speak of EA as my first novel length idea. It was inspired by my love for Shakespeare and deep longing for finding that perfect soul mate. I have always wanted to write a novel – it is on my list of life long goals and/or dreams written some time ago. As a writer, it was an obvious destination for my journey. Elizabethan Affair How did you come up with the title? It is inspired by my secret obsession of falling in love with that which or whom you cannot have… It refers to affair as in not only of the clandestine variety, but of or concerning the Elizabethan era. It puts forth the truth, yet alludes to the impossible, drawing together fact and fiction. Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?  I have contributed submissions (poetry, short stories, and essays) to a number of anthologies, co-authored history books, and contributed to a memoir writing instruction workbook. I am currently ghost writing a 3 book memoir for a client, and a business humor series. I have 2 novels published (An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle), 2 novellas of a YA series published (A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth), and have several others in various stages, including the 3rd novella in the YA adventure series (A Journey of Desires). Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? With regard to An Elizabethan Affair – I guess the main message would be to never give up on your dreams no matter how big, how out there, or seemingly impossible they may be. Of course, we know we can never go back and have a time travel affair, no matter how much you wished for it, but the allusion to living for your passion is there. Do what you love. How much of the book is realistic? I did a lot of research and a lot of reading on Shakespeare and Elizabethan times – and based on that, it is my hope that references and descriptions are as realistic as they can possibly be. There are advantages to writing of something so distant that those things we know to be true are usually easy to find – the rest can be left to speculation with imagination playing a huge part in drawing the work together. Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I based the book, obviously, on William Shakespeare’s life. The life of co-protagonist, modern day Elizabeth, is fictitious with real characteristics based on my own life – single mom, love of writing, love for the words of the masters of literature, and some of the references were based on my experience of living for a short time during 2005 in Toronto. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Nothing would change in this book. I used part of it to apply for a summer writing program in Toronto at Humber College. The author mentor I worked with suggested cutting all the description to clean up the manuscript. Like all good students, I took her suggestions to heart, but did not have the heart to cut it as suggested – it was the type of book I was going for and the way it is written suits the subject. Always be true to your own spirit in your work. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for reading and supporting writers/authors and the literary arts. It is this connection that encourages us to continue to share, although a writer will always write, whether publishing or not. Journey I What is your favourite theme/genre to write? There is no one favorite – I like to experience variety in my writing journey. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? Anything that exploits children. A recent challenge was to ghost write a book on the topic of abuse to the worst degree – a memoir – so you know it to be true. What book are you reading now? My own novella one to ensure there is continuity in the follow up editions. As an editor and publisher, I am always reading and am privy to new works to be released by my own company. Nothing else at this time from already published works. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Through my company I have read some amazing work and am so appreciative of the chance to share an author’s journey in that way. Do you see writing as a career? Definitely, yes. Part of my journey. In different ways. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Behind the lap top writing. The setting might change (hopefully to mountainous or nature inspired views) – but the passion will not go away. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Focusing on my own work while fulfilling responsibilities to client’s projects. But, a weekend retreat is always welcome on the agenda for writing. Have you ever hated something you wrote? Not really. If it is not for publishing or public, then private it doesn’t matter. I don’t write anything to hurt anyone and there are topics I won’t write on so I cannot end up hating if for one reason or another. What book do you wish you had written? I don’t. I love my own style and writing and never wish to have done what someone else has done – I love the vision that comes from others’ works, such as Shakespeare, Tolkien, poet Frost, et al., and hope that one day something I have created is used in a similar fashion – to inspire others to follow their own journey. What is your best marketing tip?

  1. Don’t sell yourself short.
  2. Don’t oversell yourself.

(Sounds contradictory, but it covers the range from: “be humble, appreciative, proud, and own your work” to “don’t constantly stick in others’ faces with buy my book, buy my book, buy my book…”)

  1. If you don’t know, ask.

What genre is your next project? What is it about? I have not decided what project will be next – I have a novel to edit written a few years ago. I have to format and release on of my novels on EBook, and another vice versa – in print. I have several ideas on file awaiting their turn, and other projects poking their heads into current business. Genre? Not sure. A Journey of Truth Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Novella II is just released, A Journey of Truth, which continues the story of Aaslan and his sister, Aisha, from A Journey of Brothers, released in 2012. Novella III, A Journey of Desires, completes the 3 part YA adventure series set in Turkey. (No, I’ve never been there… research!) How do we find your books, blog and bio? I publish through my own company Dream Write Publishing. You can find my books in print and online, POD and EBook. You can follow me on my blog “Freeing the Creative Spirit” for ongoing writing, projects, travel writing & photography, reflections on my writing life, poetry, etc. with links to my social media pages, and for more information about me.

Pauline Holyoak Award Winning Author…

June 25, 2015

PaulineWhat inspired you to write your first book? – Every summer, when I was a child, we would visit my aunt and uncle at their quaint little cottage on Salisbury Plain. It was called Scotland Lodge and was situated not far from the historical Stonehenge. My uncle worked as a farm hand for the local squire. My aunt tended the manor house. It was there as I roamed free, deep within the English countryside, that I experienced joy, enchantment and some very strange and frightening occurrences. It was like a fairytale kingdom with a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland (the old place still emanates a strange and eerie essence) and was led by some mysterious force into concocting this story and writing this trilogy. It is from my mystifying experiences at Scotland Lodge that this story has emerged.


Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)? – Yes, Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge was my first book. I have four published books, my trilogy and one children’s book. I have just finished my second children’s book and hope to get it published by the end of the year.


How much of the book is realistic? – About 50%. Scary…! I know.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? – All of my characters are based on people I know, family members and friends. It’s up to them to figure out, who’s who…lol

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? – My protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She is a little bit of my mom, a little bit of my grandmother. The good bits and the bad bits…

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? – Not one thing!

Ultimate Sacrifice

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to aspiring authors? – It’s not as hard as you think. A novel is a story about people; it’s as simple as that. It has a beginning, middle, an end, and a whole lot of conflict in between. The author creates the people, involves them in the conflict, and justifies their reason for being there. Writing a successful novel depends on four things –a little talent, lots of determination, a vivid imagination and skill. No one can teach you the first three but skill is something you ‘can’ learn. The average reader demands several things of a novel – a strong plot, action, well developed and colorful characters, believable character motivation, a well-defined back ground, a strong style that brings vivid images to mind, and good grammar. Readers want to be entertained and if you can put emotion, dreams, and desire on paper, you ‘can’ write a novel.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project? – The last page, of the last book, in my trilogy. I share my unearthly experiences at Merryweather Lodge, with my readers.

What is your favourite theme/genre to write? – Paranormal and horror but I also like writing children’s books.

What are you currently reading? – Excuses Be Gone! (for the second time) By, Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have read all his books. He inspires me!

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? – I could never write erotica. Every time I write a love scene, I hear my mother’s scolding voice in my head, “Be a good girl, our Pauline. “She had high moral standards for her

Melanie gets a Nanny

Do you have any pets? Yes, I love animals. I have a ginger cat named Sam U.L. And an adorable Shetland Sheepdog, named Maggie Mae.

Do you see writing as a career? – It is my life..

What do you enjoy most about writing? – Working from home and the freedom to write whenever I please.

Do you have a favorite place to write? For convenience, I write in my office, at my desk. But my favorite place to write is outside, in a secluded spot, surrounded by Mother Nature. She inspires me..

Where do you see yourself in ten years? – On the Bestsellers list! You can’t blame a girl for dreaming.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? – The editing. I hate it!!!

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? – I like to plan my stories but sometimes my protagonist gets her fingers on the key board and takes me where ‘she’ wants to go. I let her get on with it…

What age did you start writing stories/poems? – As soon as I could write and before that I wrote stories in my head and told them to my imaginary friend. She was always so attentive. lol

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? – England. I grew up there and it will always be home to me. If it wasn’t for my children and their families living here in Canada, I’d move back to England, tomorrow.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? – My friends!!!

Have you ever hated something you wrote? – Not if it was published. Well, I wouldn’t admit to it…lol

What book do you wish you had written? – Harry Potter..! Who wouldn’t?

Do you spend much time marketing? – Oh yes, much more than I care to. Years ago one would write a book, get it published then sit back and collect the royalties. It’s not that way anymore. Most authors are not salesmen, public speakers or comfortable being in the limelight but we are expected to promote ourselves, as well as our books, even by the big publishing houses. I attend writer’s functions, book sales and hold speaking engagements, whenever I can. The internet of course, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote your book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, do online interviews, reviews and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but it’s an important element in establishing ones writing career.

What genre is your next project? What is it about? – It’s a children’s fantasy.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book? – It’s called, Carly’s Incredible Dream. It’s about a young girl with huge imagination, who wakes up one day, in a land of dreams…

How do we find your books, blog, and bio? This is my website all of my links are on here. Please pop over and visit me there. View my videos, read my articles and find out what makes me tick!

Connect with Pauline and her books:


Facebook. HTTP://

My children’s book is available at.

My adult books are available

Book Review: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

June 22, 2015


Herland 1915

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first heard about Herland a couple of years after I wrote my first NaNoWriMo in 2009, resulting in the basis of my novel, Life in Slake Patch. The premise of my speculative novel, Life in Slake Patch, is a future matriarchal society forced by a global war’s destruction of the planets civilization and a large proportion of the male population, to take control. This developed a segregated lifestyle maintaining men and women into defined roles. The population is bound by strict rules on activities, living quarters and parings (marriage).

So when I discovered the Herland story, I was curious to read it. Maybe it was my naivety but I assumed the book would be the usual novel length, however it is only 124 pages, so more novella than novel. Due to a series of writing activities – writing a further four novels, publishing two children’s books and an adult fantasy and launching my freelance career, I never seemed to get the time to buy Herland. Well until a couple of weeks ago!

It is surprising how Gilman formed the concept of an all female land in an era when women were seen as delicate housebound wives. Although, Gilman was hardly typical of her time as she was a turn-of-the-century social critic and lecturer. Her short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is probably more widely known than Herland. The style of Herland is of course a reflection of the era’s writing style but even so fascinating and enthralling. Gilman tells the story of a feminist utopia from the viewpoint of a trio of men, who discover it by chance. This was my first surprise as my novel, Life in Slake Patch; written I hasten to add with no knowledge of Herland; from the viewpoint of a young man living in the male compound, Slake.

Gilman’s verbiage can distract the flow of the story, which in itself does not have the modern trait of increasing action and concluding climax. In truth it is monotone rather than stereo, devoid of suspense. However, it has beautifully written exposition giving the reader a real feel of the land and its inhabitants. I feel Gilman must have had an expansive imagination not only because she created a woman only land, but also she obviously thought of the ‘perfect’ woman world, cut free of the stereo type she personally experienced. Gilman goes into great detail on how the fruit trees were cultivated, the traditional meat animals were foregone and the garments the women wore were practical and comfortable. She writes in great detail of their psyche and how the population works together and abides to a thoughtful and exacting structure of life.Her explanation of their history is also creative.

The male narrator explains throughout the book how he and his companions try to impress the women of their male dominated civilization. Over time two of these men find that Herland has a much better way of life, utilizing forethought and planning, which over the generations made the utopia. One man is, however, not convinced and is determined to ‘show’ the female leaders, how they should be mastered.

In our modern age it is probably thought of as a naive story but at the time I would think it was shocking. Women ruling their own world and equal to men! The women of Herland were strong, capable and fearless of the men. Their interest was purely educational, a thirst for  knowledge of the world beyond their fortified enclave. The woman’s way of life was based on motherhood. This was their governing and abiding focus in everything they did, from nurturing the female only babies to caring for each other to sustaining themselves.

The second surprise was Gilman’s explanation of how the women managed to reproduce without men. It is a kind of immaculate conception, (actually a parthenogenesis process), which occurred several generations after all the men were killed and the women cut off from the outside world. One woman gave birth and her daughters also carried the genetic ability to reproduce. In our modern day of science fiction and fantasy rich environment, where anything is possible this seems fanciful but in 1915, I would think it was inconceivable (pardon the pun!) to most of the population.

Although, I bore in mind the era in which it was written whilst reading, Herland is quite exceptional in its concept. Gilman was a woman before her time and I’m sure if it were written today in our accepted style, it would be a great hit with speculative and fantasy lovers.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman  1860-1935

Excerpt # 5 Clickety Click…

June 18, 2015

monster claw

Before Alice could ask their destination, Totoran began transitioning, she follow suit, shrugging and stretching into her Griffian form. Leaping from the bedroom window both winged forms soared into the early evening sky. Alice flew to one side of Totoran making note of their route over the forest and towards the mountains. The air began to cool the closer they got to the snowcapped peaks. Totoran turned to face her regularly encouraging her with a smile but she could see his concern. Flight was a nighttime activity normally to prevent discovery by low flying aircraft or hikers with binoculars. Alice viewed the terrain below as the trees gave way to rocky outcrops. She looked up just in time to see Totoran deftly change direction and dive sharply to the right. In her haste, Alice swiveled too quickly and plunged a few hundred feet before regaining her flight. Totoran was far ahead of her and she called out.

“Totoran, please, wait for me!”

With expert ease, he swung around and hovered in place, smiling at her plea. Alice caught up to him and thanked him for waiting.

“We have another thirty minutes flight, are you okay? Do you need to rest?”

“No let’s keep flying, I’m all right.”

Alice was tired and her wings ached deep into her shoulders but she knew if she stopped now it would be harder to start flying again. She flapped hard then glided to ease the pain as it continued to radiate through her back. She wondered if she should ask to stop but Totoran signaled and pointed to a massive rock formation projecting from the side of a grey, mist covered mountain. Alice followed Totoran’s movements exactly as he twisted and turned through overhangs and narrow fissures in the rocks.

“We need to hover and descend slowly, Alice. You have done well mimicking my movements until now. Stay focused and copy me.”

Alice spread her wings fully and hovered to one side of her guide. Gradually, a formation of carved rock faces came into view. Alice saw balconies, windows and doorways. Cloaked figures walked narrow paths carved into the rock faces. Totoran landed on a ledge and waited for Alice. She landed beside him.

“We are home, our ancestral home and the place you and all of our kind are safe.”

Totoran turned and walked toward a large entranceway. Alice noticed passing Griffian’s bowed their heads at him but dismissed her without a second glance. The doors at the entrance opened slowly as they approached by two menacing Griffians holding long jagged edged swords. Alice quickened her pace to walk in Totoran’s shadow and kept her head low. The interior was a vast cavern with thousands of tool marks on the stone from the floor to ceiling. There were tables fashioned from solid blocks of rock and ornate chairs carved from quartz. With no natural light the cavern’s gloom was illuminated with hundreds of candles. Wax dripped into containers set below them. They must reuse it, Alice thought. She turned to Totoran to ask how long he had lived in the cavern but while she’d inspected the rock room, he’d walked out of sight.

Unsure what to do and afraid to approach the large guards at the door, she stood still hoping Totoran returned quickly.

“May I help you?”

A small voice made Alice jump. An old woman with black eyes and teeth grinned at Alice. Alice kept her manners and did not grimace at the rotting teeth but answered as sweetly as she could.

“I seem to have lost my guide. His name is Totoran. Have you seen him? Do you know which way he went?”

“You mean the Prince?”

“Oh no, not a prince. I mean Totoran. He guided me here.”

“My young one, you are quite innocent. Totoran is the Prince of the Griffians and one day he will become King. He probably went into the Staterooms to speak with his father. Best you sit here for a while. I can bring you refreshments.”

“Totoran is really the prince? Oh my, how stupid of me. I will stay here and wait for him. I am quite thirsty and hungry, if I may have something. Thank you.”

The old woman shuffled away. When she was out of sight, Alice wondered what she would bring back. She didn’t have to wait long. With her arrival heralded by soft scuffing on the stone floor, the withered faced woman brought back a wooden dish full of thinly sliced raw meat.

“This will satisfy your hunger.”

When Alice’s nose creased and her mouth grimaced, the woman chuckled softly.

“Not fully developed then, are we? No matter I have something you will find more palatable.”

Alice sighed in relief as the dish was discarded on the table. The replacement dish was indeed more to Alice’s liking, cooked meat paddy and a large juicy tomato.

“Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name. I’m Alice.”

“I am called Wrightsen, if you need anything else just call. I have duties to see to.”

“Will I be allowed to stay here?”

“Of course but do not wander along the corridors unless escorted. Parts of the caverns are not for novices.”

Alice watched fascinated by the many Griffians walking through the grand hall. She could tell the ages of the ones in human form, but the others in full transition were less obvious in their age. She gradually realized she was a curiosity in the community as an increasing number of visitors either walked from one side of the hall to the other or merely peered at her from numerous vantage points. Alice began to feel self-conscious but had no option but to sit and wait.

“Alice, come we will find you quarters.”

Totoran’s voice was a welcome one. Alice let out a sigh and turned to face him but could not help let out a gasp at his magnificent robes.

“Please do not let my appearance intimidate you, Alice. My father expects me to dress properly when at home.”

Totoran leaned towards her and whispered.

“I’d rather be out flying and free of these heavy robes to be honest. Come I will show you to your room. Then we can explore.”

“Alice stayed close to Totoran as they walked along several corridors. Eyes glanced at her from the many bowed heads as they passed Griffians going about their daily tasks. She was amazed at the scale of the palace.

“How long did it take to dig all of this out of the mountain, Totoran? We seem to have walked for a long time.”

“The first visitors manipulated an original cave in the mountain but it has taken a thousand generations to carve out the palace and surrounding dwellings to today’s magnificent state. We still carve out new areas every year to accommodate newcomers, repair damaged areas or clear rock falls.”

“You must have some powerful machinery to do all this.”

Alice was surprised at Totoran’s laughter. What did I say that was funny?

             “I apologize, Alice the thought of any machinery being capable of this kind of endeavor is funny.”

“Well, I know they use explosives and massive rock crushing machines to drive through railway tunnels. I thought you would have something similar.”

“Well, yes that is true but the human’s methods are crude and more destructive than need be. Their explosions cause stress to the integrity of the rock and cracks inevitably result leaving unstable areas. We do not endanger lives with such methods.”

“So what do you use then?”

“We have miners who did the rock.”

“Well I gathered that but what tools do they use?”

Totoran turned to her as if to speak but instead took hold of her arm and guided her into a less imposing corridor. The light was dim and Alice was glad of Totoran’s hand. As they turned a corner the previous dull sound of pounding became deafening. Alice covered her ears. Totoran pointed ahead and downward. Alice followed the direction of his finger. Before her in a large cavern were huge beasts with large crab-like claws digging into the rock as though it was butter. Huge wooden carts on tracks stood behind them gradually filling up as the mining creatures threw boulders over their shoulders into them. Alice stood wide-eyed until Totoran tapped her on the shoulder and motioned for them to leave the way they had come. Once they were far enough away Alice uncovered her ears and spoke to Totoran in awe.

“They made slicing the rock look so easy. That is incredible. Are they Griffian’s like us?”

“Not exactly. They are a mutation of a creature from our own planet especially bred for mining.

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