All posts by mandyevebarnett

About mandyevebarnett

I have lived on several continents in my life - because of this I have a deep sense of their varied spiritual, physical and emotional depths. My imagination draws from my unconscious and remembered events and feelings giving my creativity a unique flavour. My children's books - Rumble's First Scare, Ockleberries to the Rescue and Clickety Click are available to purchase here- www.dreamwritepublishing.ca The Rython Kingdom, an e-book fantasy is available on Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Print version from Dream Write as above. My blog is - http://www.mandyevebarnett..com

Author Interview – Sandra Hurst


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Sandra Hurst

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That definitely depends on what I’m writing. Some scenes flow so easily onto the paper with very little effort. My imagination sees the pictures, hears the voices, and obeys. Other times it can be emotionally harrowing. It can take me days to get over the death of a beloved character, even though I made the decision to kill her off.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Handling my own nature is the hard part for me. I tend to be very distractible and moderately obsessive. There is always that one more piece of research, a new book to read, and, Oh Look! I got a facebook mention. My mind will bounce to anything new and shiny and sometimes when it lands on a topic I find it hard to let go and get back to the writing. There is a definite benefit to this type of mind though, once I start writing and the scenes are flying, I will keep going until someone pulls me out.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I actually do write under a synonym. I work in the legal profession and was advised that it might be better not to use my real name for security purposes.

yketa4

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have been so lucky! Two of the first people I met when I started to write were Rebekah Raymond and J.J. Reichenbach, they, along with several others convinced me that my ‘baboon crap’ was worth the effort and helped me get started learning the craft of writing.

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

My original plan was three standalone books in the same world. But the story doesn’t seem to be working out that way.  It looks like being a three-book series.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

In the beginning I’d say joining the Alexandra Writers Centre Society, a local writers group that runs classes on everything from writing technique, to plotting, to poetry. Once my book was underway, I hired a good editor whose knowledge of her craft and determination to present my work at its best is the reason Y’keta is a polished, professional read.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was little, we had a burgundy set of children’s encyclopaedia’s and I would put on performances in the living room and insist that my family listen to the stories and legends that I read. I grew up on the stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and the Fae. What else could I ever be?

I love the authors who can make words dance and sentences MEAN things. This has led me to authors like Guy Gavriel Kay, and Don Dellilo. I would give my left ovary (not so dramatic a thing since at 55 those parts are hardly crucial) to sit down with either of these gentlemen, or even better their writing notes, for an afternoon!

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

That’s a hard question, there are so many good novels that go just under the popular radar. For me M.K. Wren’s Sword of the Lamb is a definite favourite. How will a government that has spanned centuries react when faced with political and social unrest? How does this affect the people born to a world that has never changed? If you enjoyed Asimov’s foundation series, you will probably like this one.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Oh fun! I think I would take a raven as my spirit animal. They are known for being wise birds but also for having a sense of fun and mischief.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Eeep. Do I have to admit it? At least eight, there is just not enough time!

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

For me its all about the reader’s reaction. Yes, the sales are great (PLEASE – buy the books), but if one person says to me that my words opened their eyes to a bigger world, or that I showed them the power of words and the beauty that they can bring, then I’m a success.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I originally didn’t think that I was researching to write a book when I started out to write Y’keta. About five years ago, my husband found out that he was part Cree. At that time, I went back to the indigenous legends I’d learned growing up in Northern Alberta as a way to teach my son the history and culture that my husband never learned.  For more than four years I studied the language and history of several different indigenous cultures.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

When the words are flowing I write two to three hours a day. When things aren’t so easy and I’m struggling with a scene or a plot point it’s harder, but I try to keep to writing something every day. Whether poetry, or as part of my ongoing books.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I try to find names that will work within the cultures of the story taking into consideration the ‘hardness’ or ‘softness’ of certain sounds and whether they match the character. In Y’keta, I borrowed the name of a traveller that my friend met in Ontario (Y’keta) and adjusted the name of my cousin, Sian.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

In my work-in-progress, D’vhan, there is a scene where a young child dies. Writing it was emotionally crippling and took me to some very dark areas of my past. It was a necessary part of the story, but very very hard.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write fantasy because the words are my way of exploring a world I can’t see. I’m a mythmaker, there is nothing that gives me more creative juice than asking a question and then building a world to find the answer. Myths and fantasy give us the opportunity to look at ourselves in new and often unusual ways, to play a huge game of ‘what if’ and see where the answers will fall. I find the basic understanding is the same when I’m working on romance books, except that you are now playing what if with relationships and feelings.

  1. How long have you been writing?

According to my mum I have always written stories and poems. I wrote my first ‘official’ poem in Grade four and had my first work published in a school magazine in 1977.

  1. What inspires you?  

There are so many people that inspire me, whether they are historical figures or literary ones. I think the common thread in all of them is that they had the opportunity to quit, every reason to say I’m too old, too tired, it’s just easier to let it be someone else’s problem. This kind of hero, unwilling, often flawed, yet willing to step up, gets me every time.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

Finding time to write is an ongoing issue for me. I have started to take myself on writing dates, the people at the local Starbucks know my name and how I want my coffee, they don’t ask anymore.  I also have a great group of writer friends that hold sleepovers now and then. Much laughter, much wine, and many words have come from these weekends.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I’ve got three projects on the go at the moment, with a never empty folder of ideas on the backburner.

The next book in the Sky Road Trilogy, D’vhan, is in the ‘necklace’ stage of drafting. I’ve got several pearls but I’m missing the chain of story movement that will tie them together.

I am working on a romance that will be part of an upcoming series of novellas with my contribution, Peace Out, slated for May 2018.

There is also a chapbook of poetry in the works, although at the moment the prose has centre stage.

Romance novella, Peace Out releases on May 4th.  Video.  

Peace Out video link. 

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I am plotting a YA Fantasy based on a world where the center of the earth is molten magic and drilling is creating imbalance and magic quakes – Geomages! I’ve also got poetry,plans for a darker themed adult fantasy about a dying world that even the gods have abandoned, two other romance novels and a space opera. So much to do! It’s going to be fun.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

Website:       http://www.delusionsof literacy.com

Twitter           _SandraHurst
Facebook:    SandraHurst.Author

Wednesday Writing Prompt


Apologies – I forgot to schedule this post.

The prompt today is ‘ a glimpse out of a window’. What do you see?

window

Here’s my effort.

It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.
Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window. Instinct makes her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.
“Hello, who are you?”
The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.
“Come follow – you will find.”
“Find what, where are we going?”
Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms. The dark lady stops in the centre of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.
“Write its story, Janice and release me.”
“Release you – I don’t understand?”
“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”
“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”
“You know my story it is deep within you.”
Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk, puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?
A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.
Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.
During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.
Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.
Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and reveled in the adulation.
As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.
The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.

Why not share yours in the comments?

Genres of Literature – Graphic Novels


graphic

The definition of a graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. However, the term is not strictly defined, though Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition is “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book”, while its simplest definition is given as “cartoon drawings that tell a story and are published as a book”

Obviously, some will say these are not ‘novels’ in the traditional sense at all. One such author, Alan Moore believed: “It’s a marketing term…that I never had any sympathy with. The term ‘comic’ does just as well for me…The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book’ and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel Comics – because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, they’d stick six issues under a glossy cover and called it graphic novel under the action hero’s name.

However, the term ‘graphic novel’ is broadly applied to include non-fiction, anthologized and fiction works and is distinguished from the term ‘comic book’, as this refers to comic periodicals. 

Richard Kyle, a fan historian coined the term ‘graphic novel’ in 1964 and the term gained popularity in the comic community from 1978 and especially with the start of the Marvel graphic novel line in 1982. The book industry began using ‘graphic novel’ as a book shelf category in 2001. Most comics historians agree that the first real ‘graphic novel’ was Will Eisner’s A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories published in 1978. Decidedly adult in its images, themes, and language, Eisner’s book spoke to the generation that had first grown up with superhero comics in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

I found a fascinating link regarding the history of graphic novels. Take a look: http://libguides.marymede.vic.edu.au/graphic_novels/history

 

Author Interview Nathan Hystad


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Nathan

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I do most of my writing in the morning, but after a shower. I get up just after 5 am and get an early start at the day. It energizes me, and gets my brain and body going. I find that by doing this, I can go to my day job and be extremely productive. If I’m on a push, or am doing NaNoWriMo (writing 50K words in a month) I’ll write right after work as well, before dinner. I am not a late-night writer.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I don’t get writers block. I have very specific projects, and for the most part they are outlined, at least as bullet points, with the tighter plot in my head. I made writing part of my daily routine last summer, and when you do that, you get trained to need that time. But if I have to choose something, I’ll say golfing. In the summer I love to go golfing once or twice a week, and that can end up taking out some desk time.

The Event

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

My novels are all currently under my real name, but I do have a series coming out late this year that will be using a pen name. It’s a collaborative project, and it works out better that way.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve been lucky enough to make a really close-knit group of author friends that I talk to on a daily basis. Without them I wouldn’t be the same writer today. I also interact with a wide net of amazing indie science fiction authors. Being able to bounce ideas off them, whether its marketing or cover ideas is priceless. They are all virtual friends, but I’m heading to a 20bookstoVegas event this November where I’m going to meet a bunch of them.

New Threat

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’ve written two stand alone’s so far. Sleepy Grove is a supernatural thriller about a woman who works at a cemetery and see spirits. It was a great experience but I don’t think it will see the light of day. Red Creek is out May 18th, and is a hometown horror. It may be my best novel to date (according to me) and I had such a great time writing it.

That leads to what I’ve done with my Sci-Fi series, The Survivors. It starts with The Event, and so far it’s a three book series with the first two out, and book three out May 29th.

They say splitting genres isn’t ideal, but I have so many stories to tell, that I will break conventions to get them out there if necessary.

New World

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Covers and editing. A book needs professional editing, and when I was publishing my first Explorations anthology, I found the artist many of the top selling SF authors were using and had him custom make the cover. I’ve used him for nearly all of my Woodbridge books, and all 4 of my own novels. Tom Edwards is amazing!

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was a reader from a young age. My mom claims to have taught me to read when I was 3, and I loved to read. I remember winning the book award in grade one, which was basically a construction paper bird travelling around the room on a scale of books read. I still have little stories from grade 3-4 I wrote.

Explorations

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I read a lot of books, mostly fantasy and science fiction. I also have read a ton of indie stuff, so I could name far too many that are under-appreciated.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’d be a duck. Calm on the surface, but flailing around under the water.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have Sleepy Grove sitting there, and me and my writing partner are working on a 3 book series to release this fall. Book one is done, and I’m currently writing book 2.

Explorations 2

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

I’ve never wanted to write that masterpiece high school students read in a hundred years. I want to write books people can enjoy, and move on to the next one. My first book only came out two months ago, and I still have a best-seller tag on Amazon, so I’ve already surpassed any life-time goals on that front.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Depends on the project. I use google maps a lot, and to be honest, I try to write what I know. You’ll see a lot of New York in my writing, and that’s because I’ve been there on vacation four times, and love the place. I find that life experience is the best research for writing you can find.

Red Creek

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I write almost every day of the week, and would say I spend at least 20 hours on book stuff a week. (Plus the time thinking about it…)

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Some of the names are nuggets for people I know, and some are random. I try to fit a name with the vibe of the character or location. Not a lot of science to it for me.

The LAST cITY

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I’ve written some heavy scenes. The Event has a particularly emotional one. The main character’s wife died a few years before the book, and I have a few flashbacks of them together at the start of the book, which are relevant to the plot of the series. Here’s an excerpt:

Janine was in bed sleeping soundly when I stepped into the room. The hot soup cup was burning my hands, and I just stood there with the pain. I felt like I needed the distraction, like the burning would make my other pain go away somehow. Even though we were in our own house, the smell of the hospital still stuck in my nostrils, and I wasn’t sure if the chemical scent would ever be gone.

It was time, and Janine demanded to come home for the end. How could I deny that beautiful woman’s wishes when she was so small and frail, her life slipping away in hours and minutes instead of decades and years like someone her age should have left?

I put the soup down, sat at the foot of the bed, and just watched her breathe. The sounds lulled me, and I felt my own eyes getting droopy. I lay down and curled up beside my wife like I always did when we went to bed. Even if it was too warm, I needed to feel her body next to mine to fall asleep. I’d become dependent on her in so many ways, and I had no idea what I was going to do when she was gone. As I closed my eyes, I thought about dying and wondered if we would be together in some sort of afterlife if I ended my own life when she was gone. My last thoughts were of a bottle of whiskey and a vial of pills before sleep took over my exhausted body.

I woke to her touch. A soft kiss on my lips; her hair cascading down on my face. I cried and felt shame in my pain. She was the one dying and I was the one crying about it like a baby constantly. The worst part was, it seemed like she was okay with having a husband who couldn’t stop blubbering.

“Janny, I love you so much. I’m so sorry this happened,” I blurted between sobs.

She looked me in the eyes, and for the first time in weeks, I saw her own eyes well up. A single tear fell slowly and splashed on my cheek. It mingled with my own, and somehow, I felt better for it.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I love science fiction, and always have. It was natural for me to write there. I also have a long-time love of horror, and needed to write in that genre too. My main focus will be in Sci-fi now that I’ve found success there, but hope to still do some passion projects.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I used to dabble, but really only for the last 4 years. I started to write, and the floodgates opened up inside me. There was no turning back.

cRIME

  1. What inspires you?  

A lot of things. The outdoors, trees, green grass, the smell of autumn, the energy of a big city…so many things inspire my thought process, and I take them all and use it in my writing.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

Routine. I get up early to do it. No excuses.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on my final final final proof read of Red Creek, and about to send New World (Survivors book 3) to my formatter.

Baby

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I’m going to be releasing a 3 book pen name series this fall, as well as book 4 of The Survivors. From there, I have many plans for 2019!

  1. Share a link to your author website.

You can follow along at www.nathanhystad.com I haven’t been around it to blog much lately, but you can follow my newsletter from there, and see what I’m up to. I also run www.scifiexplorations.com with some friends where we promote the best indie authors and their deals and new releases. Follow along there for some amazing promotions.

Bio:

Nathan Hystad is an author from outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He lives there with his wife, dog and piles of books. He runs Woodbridge Press, and is the series editor and creator of the Explorations series of anthologies. 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


prompts

Today I will give you the prompt  we used at my writing group’s meeting last night. It stirred up some great responses, two of which required more time than 10 minutes. This included mine, so here is the completed story.

Unexpected Tattoo

In your morning shower, you notice a tattoo on your body that you don’t remember getting. What is it? How did you get it? What does it mean?

I trudged to the bathroom, peering through half closed eyes avoiding the bright sunlight flowing through the windows. In my drunken state, I had forgotten to close the curtains. My head thudded in time to my footsteps. My body ached. What had we done last night?

Turning the faucet, I braved a glance at myself in the mirror. Black smudges of mascara gave me the look of a panda. What a state! Pulling the shower curtain across the tub, I let the hot water refresh me, slowly revitalizing my body. With a large amount of shower gel on my hands I began washing. Ouch, my left shoulder smarted as I rubbed with the flannel.

I looked down at my arm to see a multi colored tattoo. What the hell? When did that happen? Oh my God, how drunk was I?

I inspected the new ink – a sword across a shield embossed with a bear head, jaws open, teeth bared. As I gazed at the image a memory emerged. The tavern at the lake has been crowded and my friends and I had joined the locals as they relayed stories of a local legend. A massive bear larger than life, who took pet animals in the dead of night.

One hunter among the group showed us a huge scar across his back, the result of an encounter with this bear. He was lucky to escape with his life. He told us he had been hunting deer and was about to take aim when the bear appeared out of nowhere behind him and struck his back. The force of the blow pushed him tumbling him down an outcrop to the river below. He was convinced he would surely have died if he had not fallen. Spellbound by this tale we raised a glass to his escape.

Now my mind tried to grasp the remainder of the evening but it was hazy to say the least. Once showered, dried and dressed, I forgo breakfast as my stomach rolled unpleasantly at the thought and poured strong hot coffee into a mug. I sat on the window seat and people watched for a while. Thank goodness it was Sunday and I could lazy around all day recovering. I must of dozed off because my cell woke me. The sun was higher and hot through the glass.

“Where are you?”

“At home of course, why?”

“You are so late for work, Gail. Are you coming in today?”

“What? It’s Sunday.”

“Nope, Monday and it’s ten o’clock. So are you coming in?”

I looked around my apartment, at the traffic below my window and then the dried coffee spill on the floor. How could I have slept for so ling?

“Are you still there? Hello?”

“Yes, yes, I’m here. Look I need to sort out a few things, I’ll be in tomorrow.”

“Was it that heavy a night?”

“I was home all night. I’ll see you tomorrow, Sandra.”

I stood but staggered back down my feet throbbed in pain. I looked down – my feet were covered in mud and grass. What the hell is going on? I just showered. That’s when I saw the trail of muddy foot prints and – what is that? Blood!

Clutching my cell I crept toward the bathroom following the tracks. My head swam and then I was in a forest. The cold grass and morning dew chilled my feet and I shivered. This is the most intense dream I have ever had.

“Gailen, get down!”

The shout was just behind me, I froze and two large hands pushed me to the forest floor. I looked in surprise at the hunter who’d relayed his tale of the bear that night.

“What’s going on, this dream is intense.”

“No dream, Gailen, you are returned.”

“Hang on, my name is Gail not Gailen and…”

“No time to talk we must run, the beast will smell us soon enough.”

The hunter pulled me by one hand, all the time I cursed as sharp sticks and stones pierced the soles of my feet. He did not let me stop but pulled with a strength and urgency that scared me. As we approached a steep embankment I hesitated looking both ways for another route, but a sharp tug on my hand sent me flying and tumbling down the steep bank. I cried out several times as my body struck hard objects. At the bottom, the hunter picked me up as easily as a feather and looked intensely into my eyes.

“Gailen, you are returned and must fulfill your destiny. You and only you can defeat the beast. It is foretold. You bare the mark.” He pointed to my new tattoo.

“Hold on. Firstly, my name is Gail, secondly this tattoo appeared out of nowhere yesterday – might have been the day before actually – but I have no destiny and I just wish this dream would stop. It is much too real for me.”

“The Queen of Light hid you in another realm for your own safety but with the beast grown so, she had no choice but to bring you back. You must kill it and save the kingdom.”

“Okay, so now this is a fantasy dream? I’m going to wake up any minute.”

“Gailen, listen to me. Your life in the other realm was temporary, this is your true home. Do you not remember?”

“No, of course I don’t this isn’t real.”

“It is real. You must see the seer and get your memories back as soon as possible. The beast is rampaging villages as we speak, he must be stopped and you are the one who can stop it. Come we will go to the wise one.”

I will stop this story here as it has taken on it’s own momentum! I will carry on the story later.

Why not try this prompt and tell us about an unexpected tattoo?

bear