Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – VS Holmes – Creative Edge

July 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


VS Holmes

  1. What attracted you to write series?

Both my series actually started as stand-alones! Most of my projects begin as single novels and then I realize the story either has much more to be told (in the case of Nel Bently) or it needs a lot more room (Blood of Titans). I love slow-burn, complex stories, both when reading and writing, so I think I naturally gravitate toward characters and tales that won’t let me go easily.

  1. You have two genres – sci-fi and fantasy. re both equally important to you? If so why.

My writing process and the pacing between the two genres vary wildly and I’m usually working on one tale in each genre at any given point. I don’t really have a favourite, though I think writing fantasy might come easier, as that’s where I started professionally writing. Science fiction, for me, is about hope and road-maps to those futures (even if they’re a bit dark too) and I need that to balance out the drama and scope of my fantasy worlds. Writing any genre, though, is about finding the truth of that particular story.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

For Nel, a lot of the inspiration understandably comes from my day job as an archaeologist, though Nel started on academic sites and I do contract work. So many of the unique places I end up and the wonderful and bizarre people I meet inspire my settings and characters. I’m also a huge “what if” person and enjoy lots of solitude and instrumental music to rattle around in my mental card catalogue.

 

  1. How long does it take you to write your first draft of an idea?

Since my process differs from genre to genre, it really depends on the project! With sci-fi it’s about four months and fantasy eight–the first half I spend dawdling and the second racing my deadline and speed writing. When not on deadline, though, I like to languish in my worlds. I’ll spend over a year fiddling with ideas outside of my main project. Once those ideas are promoted I usually have about 20% of what will be the final book (and many, many typos!).

  1. How much plotting do you do for each series?

A huge amount. I tend to be a very organized writer, in part to make order of my disorganized internal world. When I’m doing in depth revisions on a novel, I have the outline of the next book or series overview open and I’ll jot down key things that need to be paid off, or little cameos I want to include. Many main series events or character arcs are laid out by the time I’ve finished the first book in a series, even if I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there yet. That said, I re-outline at the mid point in my drafting and again at the end, so while I have to have it organized, the content itself is subject to change!

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to write?

While traveling! I enjoy writing on planes and trains and ferries! Movement helps me think, and a lot of my plot knots are worked out on my long commutes to project areas (don’t worry, I use voice-to-text to keep track while driving!) But honestly, nothing really beats my own desk in the early morning. It’s such a sanctuary for me.

  1. If you were one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?

This is tough–mostly because I know what they’ll have to endure! But I think I’d choose to be Firas (Blood of Titans: Restored), the fun-loving bartender from the slums and love interest for the nation’s mercurial, not-quite-human king. I love his bar and sense of community, not to mention his dancing skills are fantastic! I also adore Azimir, but honestly, I’d just like to have him as a best friend. Everyone needs an Azimir in their life.

 

  1. You are an advocate for disabled and queer representation in your work. May we ask what prefaced that decision?

Short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to write characters, who are like myself–I’m gender queer, pansexual, and disabled. Growing up, especially as a teen, it was really hard to find books with characters, who loved and felt the way I do. Queer representation is something that is necessary for our communities and so much of it is tragic or stereotypes, or written for the straight, cis gaze. I wanted to actually write our stories from within. Then, five years ago I discovered that my “aches and pains” were actually a degenerative autoimmune condition that attacks my connective tissue. My way of navigating the world has changed drastically since then, but nothing sparks the imagination like being limited. I aim to write worlds and characters to show all we can do, rather than fall back on harmful tropes. Fiction, especially SFF, is a perfect medium for exploring how we want our world to look and how to make it more accessible and accepting.

blood 

  1. Tell us about your new releases.

My newest release is Blood and Mercy, the final book in Blood of Titans: Restored. It follows two main characters: Rih, a Deaf former soldier plotting rebellion and Keplan a queer, teenaged god. Both face a political marriage and the aftermath of a divine war. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.

My next sci-fi release is this October, Covid-willing, and will be the fourth Nel Bently book, Heretics. Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.

 

  1. How can readers contact you?

You can check out my website, www.vsholmes.com, and grab a free sci-fi or fantasy short to see if you like my work, read my FAQ, and send me an email. Plus, if you become an Explorer you’ll get exclusive updates, free books, and more. Of course, I’m also on various social media.

  1. What social media sites are you on?

I’m most active and candid on Twitter and Instagram @VS_Holmes (if you don’t mind the occasional picture of bugs and bones.) I’m also on Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

  1. Do you have a message for your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my worlds and characters as much as I enjoy creating them, and I hope you’ve found someone in my work who speaks to you, or a tiny dream and the strength to hold fast.

Bio:

V.S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.

When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.

LINKS:

Site: http://www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvsholmes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

 

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Little Writing History and Longest Words

July 28, 2020
mandyevebarnett


My friend and I went on a super day road trip yesterday (avoiding any human contact of course!) It was a day of nature, history and some surprises. Our main destination was Hard Luck Canyon, which has a time line to show the human events that occurred as the canyon gradually continued to form. I loved this sign noting the beginning of writing. Something unique to humans and without which we would not have stories.

IMG_6342

I will share a little writing history with you, if I may. It is generally agreed that the earliest form of writing appeared almost 5,500 years ago in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Early pictorial signs began to be substituted by a complex system of characters representing the sounds of Sumerian (the language of Sumer in Southern Mesopotamia). It is not clear which civilization invented writing first, but Egyptian writing has some Sumerian influence. The earliest proof of language existed in the Kish Tablet found in Iraq. The first written story was the The Epic of Gilgamesh. It is a mythologized account of an historical figure, Gilgamesh, a ruler of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, believed to have ruled sometime between 2700-2500 BC.

This has given us a written, rather than verbal history, along with tales of Gods and Goddess’, fables, fairy tales, history and knowledge of the world around us. Just for fun I am also sharing the longest words, currently in circulation.

The current champ!

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis
Welsh place name.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch), a Welsh word (place name) that translates roughly as “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”.

This one is fun and ironic!

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – the fear of long words.

And one we all know and practiced until we could say it as children.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

The longest word in Shakespeare’s works is Honorificabilitudinitatibus

Some of the delightful surprises on our trip were – Minions, a Tinman, a castle and a lighthouse.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – To Illustrate or Not

July 23, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I have submitted five submissions for an anthology to be released in the fall. It is a second volume to be published by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. This second book is also full of prompts to inspire our creativity. Each prompt has a few responses from other writers to give the reader an idea of the variety of stories and poems that can be inspired by the same picture prompt. It is a great exercise book for writers of any skill level.

If you are interested in purchasing the first book here is the link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/product-page/writing-prompt-journey-the-road-to-your-creativity

I did submit a drawing for the first book (see here) and have created another for the second book. Drawing and painting were my first creative outlet, so to practice again on the odd occasion is enjoyable.

After sending my illustration, I began to think of images, I have commissioned for my children’s and YA books. Each has been tailored made for that particular age group and style, I envisaged for my children’s and YA books. I am lucky to have access for several artists, who use different mediums.

Then I thought, why is it adult novels are so rarely illustrated? I recently interviewed Ann Charles, who has beautiful illustrations for her novels drawn by her brother. I feel they enhance the stories as does Ann.

So what is the main pitfall for including illustrations? You may have guessed it – money! The bottom line is printing drawings involves more ink thus more expense. So are there any illustrated adult novels out there?

I managed to find these links – so the answer is yes.

https://electricliterature.com/7-illustrated-novels-for-adults/

https://rivetedlit.com/2017/07/17/7-awesome-illustrated-novels/

https://simplyframed.com/blogs/blog/10-illustrated-books-for-adult-shelves

Given the option would you like to have illustrations in your novels?

 

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Chance Bear Encounter

July 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I count myself extremely lucky to have seen a bear and her two cubs on Saturday, when we took the dogs to Elk Island Park for a walk. A few minutes earlier or later and we wouldn’t have seen them. A fortuitous encounter indeed. I was totally surprised and delighted, as I had no idea bears were in the park! I thought bear sightings were just for the mountains. We have visited on numerous occasions and never seen bears. Bison, ducks, coots, hawks, eagles, pelicans and geese, of course, with the occasional deer, coyote, moose and once a fisher.

Escapes into nature are always good for the mind, body and soul and special events like this make them even more special.

In other news, I completed an illustration for a second prompt book launching in September. Yes, I do draw but not often. It was my creative craft of choice, when I was younger but writing has superseded it now.

Here is the book and my drawing. The prompt was dry leaves and humbugs. If you want the first book before the next one comes out, here is the link. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/shop

Book News

I am totally immersed in this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41044147-library-of-souls and was delighted to find there are six books (so far) in the series. So here’s to more adventures for Jacob and his peculiar friends. 

What are you currently reading?

Which book did you last review? Share the link for others to read.

111

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Borrowing Etiquette

July 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


brown book page

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Does the thought of lending a book fill you with dread or are you happy to share the joy of a book?

What has your experience been with lending books? I have suffered the lost of books but also the happy return of some too. It has enlightened me to whom I should lend to and who not! So what are the ‘rules’ for borrowing?

There are a few rules to lending a book. Please add any you can think of too.

Don’t eat messy foods while reading a book – yours or anyone else’s for that matter.

Don’t fold over the pages, use a bookmark.

person holding story book

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Don’t write in, underline, or highlight anything.

Don’t put the book face-down or break the spine.

Don’t take the book in the bath or to the pool.

person reading book on white bathtub

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Keep the book in a safe zones – away from children and pets.

Ensure all surfaces are clean before setting the book down on them.

If something does happen to the book, offer to replace it.

Ask permission before passing it on to another friend.

Don’t lose the dust jacket.

book stack books classic knowledge

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Don’t borrow the book until you’re ready to read it. Don’t just put it on your TBR pile.

When in doubt, treat the book like a library book and give the book back in a timely manner. Set a date on your calendar to return it.

Ask the lender when they need the book back adhere to that date. If it’s taking a long time to read the book, check in with your friend and ask if you can have an extension.

Return the book in the same condition you received it.

It is a privilege to borrow a book so don’t abuse that favour.

Tell me your book lending and borrowing tales in the comments.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.